George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Generals William Heath and John Sullivan, 18 October 1778

To Major Generals William Heath and John Sullivan

Head Quarters Fredericksburg 18th October 17781

Dear Sir

I have just recd intelligence, bearing strong marks of authenticity, that the enemy mean a total evacuation of New York.2 Various are the conjectures of their destination. I cannot think that they mean to attempt any thing against Boston considering the danger of carrying a heavy Fleet round Cape Cod at this advanced season; but to be prepared at all events, I had, upon the first intimation3 of an embarkation, ordered two of the Brigades stationed at Danbury to move Eastward as far as Harford;4 I shall now order the third to follow. By the time they arrive there we shall probably come at a knowledge of the real intentions of the Enemy. I have communicated all my intelligence in the fullest manner to the Count D’Estaing, that he may make such preparations as circumstances seem to require.5 I am Dear Sir Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

p.s. Your favr of the 12th has come to hand.6

LS, addressed to Heath, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, addressed to Heath and Sullivan, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, addressed to Heath and Sullivan, DLC:GW. The draft and the Varick transcript do not include the postscript, which apparently was added only to the letter to Heath. For other variations in the text of the draft and the Varick transcript, see notes 1 and 3.

1The dateline on the draft includes the time of day: “9 OClock p.m.” It also appears on the Varick transcript.

2GW apparently is referring to the intelligence in Stirling’s letter to him of 16 Oct. and its enclosures, which GW received between eight and nine o’clock this evening, and Charles Scott’s second letter to him of 17 Oct. and its enclosure, which GW also received on this date (see GW to Scott, this date, and GW to Stirling, 19 Oct.).

3The draft and the Varick transcript both read: “intelligence.”

5GW is referring to his letter to d’Estaing of this date, which he apparently sent with his letter to Heath of this date (see Heath to GW, 23 Oct.).

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