George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 30 June 1779

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters New Windsor June 30—79

Dr Sir,

In consideration of the scarcity of forage, where you now are, and the plenty, which you mention to be at the Continental village, I think it will be best for one or both the1 Brigades, Parsons & Huntington’s to move to that place—Nixon’s will remain where it is.2

In this position it will be necessary to be very vigilant against a surprise, particularly from a sudden movement of the enemy by water. I doubt not you will use every proper precaution. I am Sir Yr Most Obedt serv.

Go: Washington

P.S. As I wish to have the works at West Point prosecuted vigorously as a primary object, perhaps if it can be done with safety it will3 be best to let Huntington’s brigade go to the village & Parson’s remain where it is to assist in forwarding the works—I leave this however to your discretion.

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Both the draft manuscript and Varick transcript are addressed inaccurately to Maj. Gen. Alexander McDougall.

1At this place on the draft manuscript, which also is in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton, there first was written “the two.” Hamilton then struck out those words and wrote “one or both the” above the line.

2GW’s orders were prompted by letters of 29 June from brigadier generals Jedediah Huntington and Samuel Holden Parsons to Heath, both in MHi: Heath Papers, on dwindling forage at their current positions across from West Point. Huntington’s letter reads: “As Forrage grows so scarce here that we are obliged to send Part of our Horses almost down to the [Continental] Village and as the Enemy are cheifly gone from the point—would not You think it best to send my Brigade to the Village for the sake of the Forrage there, which will be soon dryed up. . . . P.S. we can at the Village cover your Left effectually, & easily retreat, if necessary, to our present Ground—if we go from this now, we shall leave some Forrage for the Troops at the River.” Heath replied to Huntington from his headquarters at Danforth’s house in the Highlands, N.Y., in a letter of the same date: “Your favor of this date proposing a removal of your Brigade to the village was handed to me Just as his Excellency Genl Washington Called at my Quarters, Upon my Shewing him your Letter he desiered that I would not give any particular orders for a Change of the present disposition of the Division Untill tomorrow when he would write me on the Subject, as Soon as I receive a Signification of his pleasure it shall be Communicated” (MHi: Heath Papers). In his letter, Parsons suggested that he send half of his brigade’s horses to Danbury, Connecticut.

3At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton initially wrote “will.” He then struck out that word and wrote “may” above the line.

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