George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 25 June 1779

From Major General William Heath

Highlands [N.Y.] Danforths House1
June 25th 1779

Dear General

I do myself the honor to transmit the enclosed Intelligence received from Genl Huntington the last night about Ten oClock2—and request your Excellencys direction respectg the arms brought out by Deserters.

I take the Liberty to enclose Several Papers received from Colo. Allen the Day before I left Boston.3

I shall endeavour to have the Troops in this Quarter in readiness for any emergency. have the Honor to be with the greatest respect your Excellencys most obedient Servt

W. Heath

ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1Danforth’s house, apparently the residence of William Danforth, was east of Constitution Island, near a road leading to the Hudson River (about one and a half miles away) and another road leading south toward Continental Village.

2The enclosure was a letter from Brig. Gen. Jedediah Huntington to Heath, written on the evening of 24 June: “Two hundred Light Horse were out at Crumpond this Morning—surprised two Militia piquets—killd and took a Number—how many I am not informed, by best Information about 30—at same time 130 Light Infantry came out from the point made an Excursion & return’d. from the Intelligence I had—I did not think they had any thing in View this side of Crumpond—I had two Companies of Light Infantry ready to send into peeks Skill Hollow or to reinforce at Gallows Hill as Circumstances might require—the light Horse abovementioned were by last Accounts at pines Bridge—I have the Number of the Party from the point by a Deserter who left them on the March & who says four others left them just before he did—shall I detain the Arms of Deserters, if so, how shall I direct them paid—The Deserter says all the shipping of force are gone from the point—Troops remain the same—I give You Joy on Your Return to the Army and shall be very happy in executing Your Commands” (MHi: Heath Papers).

3For Heath’s departure from Boston, see Heath to GW, 5 June, and n.2 to that document. The enclosures have not been identified but probably included letters of 18 May from John Allan to Heath and from John Starr to Allan, both written at Machias, Maine; and John Prebble’s statement, dated 30 April, which Allan received on 18 May as Continental agent for Indians in the eastern department.

Allan’s letter reads in part: “I have the Honor to Acquaint you, my safe Arrival at this place, this day about Two OClock, where I found every matter in as good Condition as Could be expected, the Gentlemen whom I Left, have Discharged their Duty with Honor, & keep’d the Indians togeather, notwithstanding the Vigorous Steps pursued by the Britains.

“To morrow shall dispatch of Intillegence among the Indians & Expect soon to have a Multitude about me; But Notwithstanding all this, I have every reason to Expect, the greatest Difficultys, & if some immediate assistance is not Given all that has been done will be fruitless—The backwardness & Delays in furnishing supplys for such a Department as this, makes every matter that is Attempted appear uncertain, & what I woud willingly be doing, both for my own Honor & reputation as well as the Advantage & Interest of our Great Cause & Country is prevented by a something I Cannot Conceive.

“You will see by the Inclosed Intelligence recd from Penobscutt the plan Laying by our Cruel & Bloody Enemy, it is probable it may be nothing but a fenace [finesse] of theirs, but Certain it is, that the Express &c. Arrived here, & the Indians of this Department in the Greatest flutter, Add to this a hedious & Maloncholy Countenances on the poor Inhabitants, who appear to have no Alternative to Chuse.

“I do not think the Enemy has any great Expectation from such an Attempt, only to ruin & distroy the poor people of these Infant Settlements, to Glutt their revenge & Malice, Those Employ’d are Desperadoes, but few Indians among them, but Like the Band of ruffins on the Susquahanah (the whites are far beyond Savages when they Take upon them that Charecter) Distroying all Indescreminantly. I Trust good Sir, that your Endeavours will not be wanting, to urge the Consequence of these matters to our Civil Rulers.

“I have allso Inclosed to you, Intillegence reced from Nova Scotia, The person I sent is a Trusty good man, Upon Conversing with him I find it is Uncertain what the Enemy intends doing, only that they are Securing every Avenue, & fortifying every Necessary post Towards Canada by St John’s, so that a Constant Communication is Now keepd up.

“I must request of you to Transmitt to His Exc[e]llency the General, these matters, with my respectfull & Dutifull Complements, time will not permit me to write him so fully as I Coud wish, as I send this by Express on hearing the Penobscott News, which I tho’t best not to Delay” (DLC:GW).

Starr’s letter reads: “Agreeable to your Directions I left Machias the 18th February last & proceeded to Cumberland in Nova Scotia, where I Arrived the 13th of March following where I Immediately Distributed Count De Estangs Proclamations & Monsier Holkers letters to the Indians among the Inhabitants, both French & English.

“I Then made Enquiry Respecting the Millitary Force in that Province, & the Most Authentic Accts that Cou’d be Obtaind the following is a State of the Same Vizt.

In Hallifax commanded by General McClain 3000
In Garrisson at Fort Cumberland D[itt]o by Lieut. Colo. Gorham 120
At Windsor Emegrants D[itt]o by Capt. McDonald 100
At Cornwallis D[itt]o by Capt. Campbell 50
At Annopolis D[itt]o by [——] 100
At St Johns River D[itt]o by Major Studholm 120
Total 3490

“The Garrisson at Cumberland is to be Soon Reliev’d by a Party of a New Raised Regiment, called the Orrange Rangers, Commanded by Lieut. Colo. Byard.

“About the latter End of March last, the Harbour of Hallifax was left with only one Frigate to Guard it, No News of the Arrivl of any Naval Force as yet, The Troops in General are well Supply’d, the Garrisson at Cumberland is Made very Strong, Mounting about 24 Pieces of Cannon, 9—6 & 4 Pounders all the Fortresses in the Province (Except Annopolis) is Made very Strong, for what End or Design cannot learn.

“The Accadians are almost to a Man unanimous Warmly Attached to the American cause, & on Receiving Count De Estangs Proclamations & your Letters, in my Presence Burnt the Certificates, which they had from the British Government.

“The Indians when in Company with Americans are very Zealous for the Cause but are Constantly in the Garrisson & Receiving very Great Supplys from the Enemy who Seemt to be under No Apprehensions that the Indians will hurt them.

“Superintendent Franklin & Bailey the Priest is gone along the Eastern Coast, a Chapple is Errected at Merremeshee [Miramichi] very large Supplys lay’d in there & Chelour Bay—The Indians to Receive payments for all Dammages Sustained by them the last war & Otherwise.

“The Stocks of Cattle are rather more than they were in the beginning of the War, and all other Supplys Plenty.

“There is large Supplys of English Goods in General thro’ the Province— Great Quantitys of Provissions & other Supplys Daily Expected from Britain & Ireland.

“Colo. Johnson was in Hallifax the beginning of the Winter with a Number of the Mowhawk Indians on Some Important Business, but cou’d Not learn what it was.

“The Civil Courts of Justice are Conducted in a Very Arbit⟨r⟩ary Manner, & None but a few who are Very Zealous for that Government can have any Chance for Justice.

“Many who are Friends to America have been prosecuted to Halifax, & Judgment Recover’d against them in a Very unjust Manner by which themselves & Familys are Ruined” (DLC:GW).

Prebble’s statement reads: “John Neptan & Orono came into Prebble’s at Penobscutt Falls by Express sent by John Marsh from John Prebble, & was Inform’d that a Message with Wampum was Sent from Captain [Stephen] Smith at Machias Deputy-Superintendant to Acquaint the whole Tribe that Col: Allan requested their Assembling at Machias the 25th of May to Receive the Priest &c. & to bring their Peltry with them.

“Then John Neptan Presents three Small Strings of Wampum & Says (holding the first String) These are Sent our Tribe from Canada by two young Men About three Weeks ago.

“1st String, we Send you this to Open your Eyes.

“2d String, that you may See a great way.

“3d String that your Eyes may be Open’d to hear, & fix your hearts, that you may have a Right Understanding to what I am going to tell you.

“Then Presenting a Large Belt of 1500 white Wampum Said, this Likewise was Sent us from Canada with this Message.

“‘Brothers, Dont have any Connections with the Americans, Remove your Selves off from them & Not keep with them, for Powder & Balls has No Respect to Persons, for if we should find one of our Brothers Dead it wou’d Make us Sorry & Angry.

“‘The Americans have no Knowledge of what they are About in Fighting the Great King of England, but now the King is in Earnest & Determin’d to whip them Severely, we Send you this Great Belt of Wampum for every one of you to See & think off & to Shew it to the St Johns & Miamai’s & let them Know what we Say & Return the Belt back to me Immediately, The Indians are coming aCross the Woods as Soon as the Leaves are as big as our Nails, and are Determined to Destroy the White People—300 on the River Penobscutt, 300 upon Norridgwalk River, & 300 upon Cohos, There is 300 Barrels of Flour at Soccacon for the Support of the Indians who are coming aCross the Country.

“‘Brothers of Penobscutt we have Provission Enough in Canada to last 30 Years if the War should last So long, Dont think this Belt of Wampum is Sent for Nothing, Dont Make a Laugh & Scorn of it, it is the Truth we Send you & you may Depend upon it.

“‘Brothers there is Now at & Near Canada 9000 Indians Ready to Execute any Orders they may Receive from the British General in Canada.

“‘Brothers, the Indians were so Rejoiced to get the Wampum carried to your Tribe that they Danced & Drank three Days & Nights & Licquor was given them as free as Water’” (DLC:GW).

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