George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 17 July 1778

From Major General William Heath

Head Quarters Boston July 17th 1778

Dear Genl

The day before yesterday I received a letter from Peter Colt Esqr. A.C.G. of Purchases of which the enclosd is a copy1 The provissions in our Magazines are by no means very considerable; but finding Mr Colt so pressing, and not knowing but the most fatal consequences might take place if salted provisions were not sent on, I immediately gave orders for Six Hundred Barrels of pork and four Hundred Barrels of Beef to be forwarded without delay from the Magazine at Westborough.2 If the Enemy should not come this way we shall not feel the want of it, but if they should our Magazines will be found very scanty, If Your Excellency should be of opinion that the whole of the before mentioned Quantity will not be necessary, permit me to request that orders may be sent to Mr Colt to stop what may not be thought needful, otherwise the whole will go on—the provisions are exceedingly good; but the transporting them by land so great a distance is a disagreeable consideration.3 I have the honor to be With great respect Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Servt

W. Heath

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

1Colt’s letter to Heath was written from Hartford on 30 June (MHi: Heath Papers), but the copy enclosed to GW is incorrectly dated “Boston July 17th.” The enclosed text reads in part: “In consequence of the Army under command of his Excellency General Washington comeing this way—I am call’d on by General Gates for more salted provissions than this State can possibly furnish.

“If we can not draw any supplies from Massachusetts the army must suffer greatly if part are not obliged to disband—I have no occassion to remin’d your honor of the ill consequence of feeding the army wholly on fresh were it in our power not to mention the absolute necessity of salted meat for scouting parties &C.—and I do assure you that the whole of our collections in this quarter are sent forward and nearly expended There is a quantity in the hands of Jos. Baker Esqr. of Westown which is the most convenient Deposit for this Post—I must request your Honor to give directions to have as much of that meat as can with safety be spared from your command to be forwarded to this place from whence we will forward it to the army” (DLC:GW).

2See Heath to Joseph Baker, 15 July (MHi: Heath Papers).

3Westborough, Mass., is about sixty-five miles northeast of Hartford.

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