George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 20 October 1778

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters Fredericksburgh 20th Otbr 1778

Dear sir

In my last letter of the 18th Instant I observed that the whole current of intelligence from New-york suggested an immediate evacuation of the City—My accounts from different quarters still wear the same complexion. An intelligent officer stationed at Amboy reports—“that the 16th Otbr about twelve ships fell down to the Hook—and the 17th early in the morning about one hundred ships of war, and transports also fell down to the hook”—Lord Stirling who transmits this information, says, that signal guns have been firing all day (17th) in New-york bay, which he supposes were for more ships to follow.1 I am Dr Sir your most hble sert

Go: Washington

LS, in James McHenry’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; copy, MHi: Miscellaneous Collection; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW franked the addressed cover of the LS. GW apparently sent his letter to d’Estaing of this date with this letter to Heath (see Heath to GW, 23 Oct.).

McHenry first docketed the draft manuscript: “20th Octr 1778 to Gen. Heath & Genl Sullivan.” Both of those names were subsequently struck out, and Robert Hanson Harrison wrote “& Gen Heath” below them. At the end of the text on the draft manuscript, McHenry first wrote: “I have directed Brigadier General Stark from Albany to join your command.” That sentence, a similar version of which appears in GW’s letter to John Sullivan of this date, was subsequently struck out.

1For this intelligence report from Capt. David Hopkins, see Stirling to GW, 17 October.

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