George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 7 February 1777

From Major General William Heath

West Chester [N.Y.] Feby 7th 1777.

Dear General

Inclosed is the Opinion of Mr Duer & other Gentlemen of the Committee of Convention of the State of New York1—Since I wrote mine of Yesterday, I have seen General Lincoln & Mr Duer, both of whom are in sentiment with me that there is but little prospect of Advantage from an attempt to surprise Fort Independence, as the Enemy appear very alert—I have ordered the Troops to be in readiness to effect what the Committee propose as to burning the forage, the day after tomorrow—And on the next day one of General Lincoln’s Regiments will march to join your Excellency, & will be followed sucessively by Three others—General Lincoln is to leave 600 men of his Division at Peekskill, which with Col. Gilman’s Regiment from the State of New Hampshire, will I think be a Sufficient Guard, for the Passes of the Highlands and Forts, at present—The Connecticut Militia are to remain to cover the Foragers &c. until your Excellency shall think fit to give further Orders.

Major General Lincoln will set out for your Quarters the day after to morrow, & hopes to be with you by monday Evening.

The Scheme mentioned to be proposed by Quimby, was to supply us with Salt in large Quantities, and to receive provisions, or hard money Therefore I rejected his proposal & have since confined him—he proposed that the Salt should be delivered at some port on the Sound.2 I have the Honor to be very respectfully your Excellencys most Humble Servt

W. Heath

P.S. I expect to be at Peeks Kill on monday next,3 If your Excellency should have any orders for the Recruiting Officers of the Regiments in Massachusetts Bay, I shall Carefully Issue them, I shall at Peeks Kill wait your Orders.

ALS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1William Duer’s letter to Heath of 6 Feb. contains the committee’s estimate of the troop strength necessary to cover the foraging wagons and its views on the propriety of destroying the hay and grain in Westchester County that lay exposed to British foraging parties. “With respect to the first point,” writes Duer, “the Committee are of Opinion, that a Body of at least Twelve hundred men, whose Term of Inlistment is of five weeks Duration will be necessary in order to execute the Business of foraging with safety, & ease to the men, as from the best Intelligence we can obtain, the strength of the Enemy at the Bridge & to the Northward of it, including the Garrison of Fort Independence cannot fall short of Eight hundred men. With respect to the second point the committee are of Opinion that it will be essential to the public Service to destroy all the forage & Grain to the Southward of the post Road from New Rochell to East Chester—From thence Southwesterly of the Road from East Chester to Benjn Hunt’s, from thence Southwesterly of the Road from said Benjn Hunt’s to Col. Phillips’s excepting so much as the foraging may be able to carry off on the day on which this Business is to be carried into Execution” (DLC:GW).

2In his letter to Heath of 6 Feb., Duer writes that “from Intelligence received by the Committee of the Character of one Moses Quimby, who propos’d to you this day an extra’ordinary Scheme of Commerce between us & the Enemy, the Committee are of Opinion, that he is a person of a very suspicious Character, & that he ought immediately to be seized—we have therefore to request the favor of you, that you will immediately detatch a small party to apprehend him; in Case he is not at your Quarters, he will probably be found at the House of Mr Uriah Field to whom he is nearly related” (DLC:GW). Two men by the name of Moses Quimby (Quinby) lived in Westchester County at this time.

3The following Monday was 10 Feb. 1777.

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