George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 16 July 1779

From Major General William Heath

Ridgfield [Conn.] July 16. 1779

Dear General.

I do myself the honor to forward the enclosed intelligence this moment come to hand.1

I believe our manœuvres here have induced Sir Henry Clinton to alter his. I have ordered one of the2 Regiments Sent to Stamford to join the Division immediately,3 have order’d a detachment to move towards North Castle to observe the motions of the Enemy in that quarter4 & have directed the militia at Crompond to obtain certain intelligence if possible of what passes at Tarry Town.5 I shall watch their motions narrowly and guide my manœuvres by theirs. I have the honor to be very respectfully Your Excellencys Most obedt Servant

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1This enclosure may have been a letter from Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons to Heath, written at Stamford, Conn., this date. That letter reads: “I was Yesterday over Byram Bridge to Sawpitts, & sent into King’s Street & onto Kniffen’s Hill. the Accounts I can procure from the Inhabitants are somewhat confusd but I beleive it Certain that the greater Part of the Force at Maroneck has removed from thence towards the Plains and by Two Deserters who Came in last Night. I am informd they have marchd to Mile Square and that Clinton’s Head Quarters are at Phillips’s. The Fleet left this Place Yesterday & Saild Westward, they were last Night as far west as New Rochel at Anchor under Long Island, the Wind & Tide were headed them. I have not a Single Horsman and after to Day shall not be able to inform you of any Events here but by the Neighbours who may pass you but I wish to hear from you whenever any Events render it necessary. from the Place, I imagine you, it appears to me expedient that some Scouts well acquainted with the Country should be sent over to Tarry Town to find out the Movment of the Enemy in that Quarter; I beleive we shall soon hear of them up the River. I intend moving part of my Troops to Horseneck to Day” (MHi: Heath Papers).

2Heath’s draft manuscript reads “Two” after this word.

3In a letter to Parsons of this date, Heath detailed these orders: “As the Enemy have removed Considerably to the westward, I think it expedient that our force Should Collect I would therefor have Starrs Regiment and the detachment under Major Leavenworth, Joyn the Division as Soon as may be Meigs Regt with the Field Peice will remain with you which with the Militia will I think be Sufficient to Cover the Sea Coast in your Quarter, for the Present” (MHi: Heath Papers; see also Heath to GW, 15 July [first letter], and notes 2 and 4 to that document). Parsons replied to Heath on 17 July that the requested troops could not march any sooner than 18 July because “they are advancd to Horseneck & a Scout out” (MHi: Heath Papers).

4What appears to be directions for this detachment may be found in a letter from Heath to “Officer Commanding the Infantry on the Lines,” dated 17 July, reading in part: “The Detachment of the Division of which you are to take Command is designed to advance to where you are in the first Instance to take Post, for the Protection of the Inhabitants but more especially for the Support of the Light Dragoons advanced in the front for the purpose of Obtaining the earliest notice of the motions of the Enemy to Curb their incursions and intercept their reconnoitreing & Plundering Parties, your Situation requires particular precaution, your Detachment is to be Judiciously Quartered, and by no means allowed to Stroll about, the Small Guards and Pickets which it will be necessary for you to mount must exercise the greatest Vigilance & your Sentinels alertness. it will be proper frequently to Change the Posts which you occupy, you will at all times endeavour to Support the Cavalry, you have nothing to fear from that of the Enemy, Provided you keep your men Cool & in good order … If the Enemy should advance in Superior Force you will retreat to wards the Division, Disputing every defile in your rear, and immediately Send off an Express for relief which you may Depend on receiving … any intelligence that can be obtaind of the least Consequence is to be transmitted to Head Quarters” (MHi: Heath Papers).

5Heath conveyed these directions to either Col. Samuel Drake or Maj. Nathaniel Delavan, Westchester County, N.Y., militia officers, in a letter of this date: “I have Just received Intelligence that General Clinton has removed with his Army from Maroneck to Mile Square, or towards the Plains, If your Patroles can Safely Discover what Passes on the Tarry Town road or in the Neighbourhood of North Castle I shall be much obliged to you for the Intelligence, and I wish to be favored with any other Intelligence that you may be able to Obtain, the movement of the army this way has I beleive Induced Sr Henry to alter his manœuvres” (MHi: Heath Papers).

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