George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 10 July 1779

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters New Windsor July 10th 1779

Dr Sir,

I have received repeated intelligence this morning that besides the detachment which went from New Haven, the enemy in considerable force was moving by land towards horse neck, with a good many pieces of Artillery and a large number of Waggons.1 My accounts are that the first mentioned detachment had left New Haven, gone to Fairfield burnt the Town reimbarked and were off Norwalk, where ’tis imagined they will land, destroy that place and the two bodies join to ravage and distress the Country—The Militia are said to be assembling with great spirit; but in order to keep up that spirit and give efficacy to their exertions, I have determined to send the two Connecticut Brigades that way, under your command.2 You will therefore be pleased to march tomorrow morning as early as possible, in the first instance towards crompond, thence by way of Bedford or Ridgefield as circumstances may point out, regulating your movements by those of the enemy giveing all the aid and countenance you can consistent with prudence, to the Militia to repress their depredations—and keeping in view your communication with the Forts,3 should the enemy return to make a movement against them—The present may only be a diversion of our force the better to facilitate an enterprise on this river—To guard against the success of such a plan you will take every measure in your power to watch the enemy’s motions, and will so far make yours correspond as to be in measure with them in this quarter; so far as it may be practicable.4

You will direct Col. Moylan with the Cavalry and infantry under his command to join you at such place as you may think proper.5

You will open a correspondence with Genl Parsons whose information of the movements of the Militia will enable you the better to regulate yours6—and you will be pleased to advise me dayly of your progress the progress of the enemy and of every material occurrence.

General Glover marched the 7th Inst. from Providence to join this army. The inclosed will show you the last orders given him.7 This is on a supposition the enemy would have returned from their excursion— But if their ravages should continue, you will give such orders to him, to join you, or otherwise, as circumstances may require. I am with great regard Dr Sir Yr Most Obet, servant

Go: Washington

P.s. Be pleased to forward the enclosed to Genl Parsons.8

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Heath later wrote that he received this letter at about 6:00 P.M. on this date (see Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs, description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends 221).

1GW’s particular sources of information concerning British operations in Connecticut likely were letters to him from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 7 July; from Norwalk, Conn., Officials and Stephen St. John, 9 July; and from Samuel Holden Parsons, same date.

2GW’s decision placed under Heath the brigades of brigadier generals Jedediah Huntington and Samuel Holden Parsons. With Parsons on detached duty, Col. Samuel Wyllys commanded his brigade.

3GW is referring to the forts in the vicinity of West Point.

4Heath wrote Huntington a letter from Mandeville’s (Dutchess County, N.Y.), this date, 6:00 P.M. It reads: “I have this moment received Orders from Genl Washington to march Early to morrow morning with the Two Connecticut Brigades by the Way of Crompond towards Bedford, you will please immediately to give the necessary Orders to your Brigade to be in readiness, The Division will march by the Left Consequently your Brigade will be in front, you will be ready to march early in the morning but not move Untill further orders, The men are to Carry two Day Provisions, Cooked If your heavy baggage is in a place of Security it had best be left and can be Sent for should it be necessary. As Soon as you have given the necessary orders to have the Brigade in readiness I would wish to See you here, with your Commissary, the Quartermaster should be directed to repair the Road & Bridges between you & Crompond if it be necessary” (MHi: Heath Papers).

Heath also wrote Wyllys a letter on this date: “The Two Connecticut Brigades are to move early tomorrow morning towards Crompond, the men are to take Two Days Provisions Cooked, or Salt Pork, If the Heavy Baggage is in places of Safety it had best be left. The Division will March to the Left, The Guards to be Called in at Revellee tomorrow morning and Joyn their respective Regts The particular Orders will be given before the Troops march” (MHi: Heath Papers). Heath’s “Order of March” for his division, also this date, is in MHi: Heath Papers.

5Heath wrote Col. Stephen Moylan a letter from Mandeville’s on 11 July: “I have received Orders from The Commander in Chief to move with a Division of the Army toward, Bedford and Ridgefield, am in hopes to reach Crompond this Evening if the rain Should not prevent, you will please to move forward with the Cavalry and Infantry Under your Command, to Joyn me with all Possible Dispatch and Joyn me at Hoits or on this Side if Possible, whenever you advance Send forward one or Two Horsemen to give notice of your advance to prevent accident” (MHi: Heath Papers).

6Heath wrote Parsons a letter from Mandeville’s on 11 July that in part reads: “enclosed is a Letter which was Sent me the last Evening by His Excellency General Washington The Brigades will march Immediately takeing The rout of Crompond to Bedford or Ridgefield my movements will be governed by those of the Enemy please to inform me of your Situation and force, let me hear often from you with whatever Intelligence you Can obtain of the enemys numbers or movements” (MHi: Heath Papers).

7For this enclosure, see GW to John Glover, 9–10 July.

8The enclosure likely was the final version of GW to Parsons, this date.

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