George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 25 July 1779

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters [West Point] July the 25th 1779

Dr Sir

I am extremely anxious to obtain accurate information of the Garrison & Works on Verplanks point; I therefore request that you will have the post as particularly and critically examined as you can. The Officers sent on the duty will endeavour to ascertain, whether there are New Works constructed or raising—their number and their nature—whether inclosed or otherwise—and in what part. They will also attend to the appearance & number of the Tents, as these may in some measure assist in forming an estimate of the Enemy’s force. If there shoud be any Deserters, or persons met, who have been in the Garrison, and in whom confidence can be placed, the Officers will inquire particularly of them, what Corps compose it—and the strength of each; also what quantity of Artillery there is and the size—and who commands at the post.1 In case they inquire of the Country people who have been in, they should be well convinced of their attachment, as otherwise the Enemy may be informed of the circumstance and from thence be alarmed and induced to observe a more vigilant conduct than they might have done. I am Dr Sir with great regard Yr Most Obedt sert

Go: Washington

P.S. I send by the Boat Elisha Daniels. His Story is that he lived at Crompond—went to the Enemy since they took post at Verplank’s point—and deserted from them a few days ago. You will have him kept under guard till you can inform yourself of his character and the circumstances that attended his going in and his return—when you will be able to determine whether he may be released with propriety.2

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1In response to GW’s request, Heath wrote Brig. Gen. John Nixon from Mandeville’s (Dutchess County, N.Y.) on 26 July: “His Excellency the Commander in Chief is exceedingly desireous if Possible to Obtain Authentick Intelligence of the Enemy Situation and numbers on Verplanks Point and whether any new works are erected or additions made to the old One, I would therefore request that you direct Such officers belonging to your Brigade as are best acquainted with the ground in the vicinity of the Point to reconnoitre the Enemy with the greatest attention and report their observations let this be Continued from Day to Day” (MHi: Heath Papers).

2Heath wrote former Westchester County militia major Joseph Strang from the Highlands, N.Y., on this date: “One Elijah Daniols has lately deserted from the Enemy at Verplanks Point, he alledges to have belonged to Peckskill and that he lived on the road to Crompond, Sais he was persuaded by Several Persons to Joyn the Enemy that he knows you and that you know him, I should be much obliged to you Sir for his Character and Conduct as far as may have come to your knowledge and the circumstances of his going off” (MHi: Heath Papers). A letter of 5 Aug. from Heath, still at the Highlands, to Westchester County militia colonel Samuel Drake reads: “I have in Custody here One Elijah Daniels who not long Since Deserted from Robinson’s Corps he Says he formerly lived with Capt Jere[mia]h Drake—I should be much Obliged to you for the former Conduct and Character of this man if you have any knowledge of him he Says he knows you an answer by the first opportunity will much oblidge” (MHi: Heath Papers).

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