George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 15 July 1779

From Major General William Heath

Canaan [Fairfield County, Conn.]
July 15. 1779

Dear General.

Yesterday morning I sent off the heavy baggage of the Division and march’d from Ridgfield to this place. The Enemys Fleet got under Sail in the morning and Stood from the Long Island Side towards the Main, & continued tacking & turning one way and the other through the day. Several deserters who came off informed that General Clinton was with his whole Army, Pioneers & guides at Maroneck1 I was then apprehensive that his intention was to draw the Troops down to Stamford; and then push his Army and turn our right flank. I therefore detach’d two Regiments with a field piece to Stamford2 & took post with the remainder of the Division at a cross road which came from King street,3 On which I supposed it probable General Clinton might advance⟨,⟩4 when it came night the Fleet Stood down the Sound & were Supposed to come to off Greenwich. I shall this day move the Division, except the detached regiments, & take post on Some Strong grounds about half way between Ridgfield and Bedford. I think this centrical position will best cover the Country, enable me to afford succours to the left & keep open the communication with the main army. I shall carefully watch the motions of the Enemy and endeavor to harrass them when it is practicable.

General Parsons informs me that the Inhabitants in the vicinity of Stamford would gladly thresh out and Sell their wheat if any Person should appear to purchase & pay for it. As this would greatly benefit the Public at this time, I Submit to your Excellency the propriety of directing the Commissary General of purchases immediately to attend to it. I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most obedt Servant

W. Heath

⟨P.⟩S. deserters are frequently ⟨C⟩oming off from the Enemy.

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers. Mutilated material on the LS is supplied in angle brackets from Heath’s draft manuscript.

1Heath is referring to Mamaroneck, New York.

2The regiments sent to Stamford were the 1st Connecticut, under Col. Josiah Starr, and the 6th Connecticut, under Col. Return Jonathan Meigs.

3King Street was an old colonial road that ran roughly along the border between New York and Connecticut northwest of White Plains.

4Heath had elaborated on these comments in his letter to Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons written at Canaan on 14 July: “Your favor from Stamford is this moment handed to me, I have detached Starrs and Meigss Regts to Joyn you, and have halted the remainder of the Division above this place where they are to remain this night, as I cannot by any means think it adviseable to march the whole Division too low down, being Confident that Genl Clinton is manouvreing to Draw our Troops as far below as Possible By two Deserters who Came in this Day, and by Intelligence from an Officer belonging to the Light Horse, his whole Army are at and near Maroneck, If the whole Division moving down to Stamford, and Genl Clinton should move by the way of Bedford and pound ridge, he could with ease gain our right flank, and altho we Could retreat from his Superior Force to the Eastward, yet he would Cut off our Communication with General Washington which must be prevented at every Hazard, I shall endeavour to keep a most vigilant look Out Improve any opportunity that offers and avoid being out Generaled by him” (MHi: Heath Papers; see also Heath to Oliver Wolcott, Sr., 15 July, MHi: Heath Papers, and Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs, description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends 221-23). In his letter from Stamford, Conn., on 14 July, Parsons informed Heath: “when I have rconoiterd the Ground here I will meet you between this & Canaan I think it absolutely necessary to make some Disposition here & reconoitre the Ground” (MHi: Heath Papers).

Index Entries