George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 24 October 1778

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters Fredericksbg 24th October 1778

Dear Sir

If the fleet of Men of War and Transports, which have lately sailed, should appear off Boston, be pleased instantly to send an Express to meet Genl Gates with information of it, that he may hasten the march of the six Brigades under the command of himself and General Mcdougall.1 Be pleased also to advise me of it with the greatest dispatch, as I mean, should such an event take place, to set out immediately and take the command of the Army at Boston. I am Dear Sir Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

p.s. Endeavour to be certain that the Enemy have Troops off the Harbour as well as ships of War, before you advise Genl Gates. I think it very probable that the Men of War may blockade the Harbour while the transports continue their Course, should they have another destination. It is not my intention that the Brigades should move further than Harford without the Enemy actually attempt Boston.

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in Heath to the Massachusetts council, 25 Oct. 1778, M-Ar; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The copy of this letter that GW enclosed in his letter to Henry Laurens of 29 Oct. has not been found. GW franked the addressed cover of the LS.

1For GW’s ordering of the three brigades of Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates’s division and the three brigades of Maj. Gen. Alexander McDougall’s division to march toward Hartford to be able to support the French fleet at Boston sooner in case of need, see GW to d’Estaing, 16 Oct., and note 2 to that document; GW to Gates, 18, 20 Oct.; General Orders, 19 and 22 Oct.; and GW to McDougall, 23 October.

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