George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 11 December 1776

From Major General William Heath

Haverstraw [N.Y.] Decr 11th 1776

Dear General

I received your Orders the night before last for the march of General Parsons’s Brigade,1 and yesterday noon the Three Regiments at Peeks-Kill began their march, making about 500 men which are now here—I have ordered Huntingtons and Tylers to Joyn me they may make about three Hundred men, after leaving a Captain & 50 men as a Guard at the Pass in the mountains2 Colonel Vose with Greatons Bonds & Porters is now Seven miles advanced I have Sent to him to Halt untill I come up Unless He Should have received orders for his Conduct either from your Excellency, General Lee or Gates—He has about 500 men which will make in the whole about 1300 men. I find the Inhabitants to be in the Utmost Distress, the Tories are Joyning the Enemy and Insulting and Disarming the Whigs, Striping them of their Cattle Effects &c. Complaints Petitions &c. are Continually presenting for releif and the Greatest Complaints are from Orange Town, Clerks Town and the neighbourhood of Hackensack—I cannot pass therefore without Securing this neighbourhood, I think therefore to move by the way of Orange Town and Paramus to Curb the Disaffected and if by any means it should appear that the Enemy have not a Body of Troops at fort Lee or E[nglish] Neighbourhood and But a Small Detachment at Hackensack, to Endeavour to Dislodge them, if it should be Possible, I should be glad to know your Excellencys further Pleasure.3

On Saturday last a schooner with a Flagg Came up the River with The Revd Charls Inglis, and one Mr Moor on Board to Sollicit of the Convention their Families which are now at Fish-Kills or in that vicinity, I gave orders for the Flag to be treated with the Utmost Politeness & Respect and at the Same time with as great precaution, I have forbid their going up either by Land or water, and have Stoped the vessel Below the Ferry I sent the Letters to the Convention after Examination, And have wrote to them that I shall not Consent to either of the Persons going to Fish-Kills or to their Families being Permitted to be Sent to the City, as it appears to me that the Cause may receive Injury thereby Distrust is the mother of Security—The Flag waits an answer from Convention, But my Consent shall not be given Unless directed by your Excellency—I have ordered the Gally to lye near the Schooner and to Keep her Boats Rowing Round her all night4—The men of war have Sailed Down the River. I have the Honor ⟨to be⟩ with great respect your Excellencys most Humble Servt

W. Heath

ALS, DLC:GW; copy, MHi: Heath Papers. The cover of the ALS is addressed: “To His Excellency Gl Washington at Trenton favoured per Colo. Trumbull.”

1See GW to Heath, 7 December.

2These two regiments had been stationed at Ramapo Bridge to guard Smith’s Clove.

3Col. William Malcom wrote Heath on this date from Clarkstown, N.Y.: “Your Honor very Justly observes that I am ‘almost in an Enemys Country’—I cannot get intelligence beyond the Circle of my Quarters but What is brought by my Scouts—I Sent of[f] at three O’Clock this morning 50 men & 3 officers, With design to Surprize a Tory Guard House—I hope they’l Succeed, & I move Down[war]d in about an Hour with the Residue of the party—I beg Your Honor will Send over as soon as possible at least 200 or 250 men—The Country from Tappan is all in arms—On Sunday [8 Dec.] they were calld together & had Kings Arms & Am[m]u[nition] deliverd out among them—Whether there is any of the Enemys Regular Troops below, abt Fort Lee & E[nglish] Neighbourhood I cannot find out—& I really think my party insuff[icien]t to take post at Tappan but Our friends are so distressed thereabouts that I think it an indispensible duty to Attempt Supportg them—My people are now almost unfitt for duty on Account of their Cloaths—& So much marching as we have had this way hath renderd them bare-footed—So that, I really do not think they can Stay after the Middle of the Month—If the Reinforcement appears to day, I hope before Monday [16 Dec.] to Run over the Tory Ground—& Scatter their Gangs—they are Recruiting from Hackensack round by Pyramis [Paramus] to Tappan—& even up towards Ringwood. . . . I have thought it my duty to Remind Your Honor of the near Approach of my peoples being disbanded, that we may be able to effect some thing before, & that a party may be here to Supply our Duty—which be assured sir is very Necessary—at least for the present” (MHi: Heath Papers). The English Neighborhood was the area around present-day Englewood, New Jersey.

4The privately hired schooner Hope came up the Hudson River from New York City under a flag of truce carrying three Loyalists who wished to obtain permission from the New York convention to move their families from the Hudson highlands to the city. Charles Inglis (1734–1816), assistant rector of Trinity Church in New York City, had sent his wife Margaret Crooke Inglis (d. 1783) and their young children to New Windsor for safety in October 1775, and during the summer of 1776 he had moved them to Goshen (see Inglis to James Duane, 8 Dec. 1776, in Force, American Archives, 5th ser. description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 3:1154–55; for Mrs. Inglis’s earlier effort to obtain permission to go to New York City, see her letter to Duane of 28 Nov., ibid., 898, and N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:746). John Moore, a clerk in the New York customs house and private secretary to the superintendant of customs, wrote Pierre Van Cortlandt on 9 Dec. that his wife Judith Livingston Moore was either at his father’s house at West Point or the house of her father James Livingston (d. 1790) at Poughkeepsie (Force, American Archives, 5th ser. description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 3:1155–56). Philip John Livingston (b. 1752) who had been appointed high sheriff of Dutchess County in 1773. fled to Staten Island sometime earlier this year, apparently leaving his wife Frances Bayard Livingston in Dutchess County, and he now intended, he wrote James Duane on 9 Dec., to move with her to Jamaica in the West Indies (ibid., 1156).

Heath says in his letter to Pierre Van Cortlandt of 10 Dec. that the schooner Hope came up the river on 8 Dec., which was a Sunday, and that he ordered the vessel to stop at Verplanck Point, the eastern terminus of King’s Ferry (MHi: Heath Papers; see also Ann Hawkes Hay to Heath, Heath to Hay, and Robert Magaw to the Continental commanding officer at the posts on the Hudson River, all dated 8 Dec., MHi: Heath Papers, and Inglis to Heath, this date, MHi: Heath Papers). The row galley that guarded the Hope was the Lady Washington commanded by Benjamin Tupper. The letters that Heath forwarded to the New York committee of safety with his letter to Van Cortlandt of 10 Dec. were Inglis’s letter to Duane of 8 Dec., Moore’s letter to Van Cortlandt of 9 Dec., Livingston’s letter to Duane of 9 Dec., and twelve other cards and letters from other persons regarding various matters.

The committee of safety received those letters on this date and referred the ones regarding the return of family members to a committee (see N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:748–49; see also Force, American Archives, 5th ser. description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 3:1153–57, and the New York committee of safety to Heath, this date, MHi: Heath Papers). The committee reported two days later and recommended that Inglis’s, Moore’s, and Livingston’s requests “be rejected, not only because they [the committee members] conceive it would be dangerous to permit them to pass up into the country, but because a permission to their families to go to New-York, with their effects, would, besides furnishing a dangerous channel of intelligence, prove an incentive to rebellion, and be an act of direct aid and comfort to the enemies of the freedom and independence of the United States of North America” (ibid., 1204–7). The committee of safety gave the three men permission to move their families, nevertheless, and they were so informed on 16 Dec. (see Thomas Moffat to John McKesson, 17 Dec., ibid., 1263; see also the New York Convention to Howe, 21 Dec., ibid., 1351). For GW’s opinion in favor of allowing the families to go to New York, see his letter to Heath of 16 December. Everything was ready for the return voyage by 24 Dec., when Heath gave his permission for the flag ship carrying the families to proceed to New York (see Nicholas Fish to Heath, 23 Dec., ibid., 1380, and Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 114).

Philip John Livingston’s stated intention of moving to Jamaica apparently was a ruse to facilitate obtaining permission to move his family to New York City (see Jones, History of New York description begins Thomas Jones. History of New York during The Revolutionary War, and of the Leading Events in the Other Colonies at that Period. Edited by Edward Floyd De Lancey. 2 vols. New York, 1879. description ends , 2:16, n.2). Livingston remained in the city until the end of the war, succeeding his father in 1780 as superintendent of derelict property. John Moore apparently continued to be employed in the New York customshouse during the war years (see ibid., 163). Charles Inglis became rector of Trinty Church in 1777, and from 1778 to 1783 he served as chaplain to the British garrison at New York and to the New Jersey Volunteers, a Loyalist corps. A prolific writer, Inglis in 1776 published a pamphlet attacking Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, and throughout the war years he wrote numerous articles and letters championing the royal cause in Loyalist newspapers. Oxford University conferred a doctorate of divinity on Inglis in 1778. Inglis left New York at the end of the war, and in 1787 he became bishop of Nova Scotia.

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