George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 10 August 1779

From Major General William Heath

Mandavilles [Dutchess County, N.Y.]
Augst 10th 1779

Dear General

General parsons has represented to me that the Enemy have a small enclosed Work on Lloyds neck on Long Island in which about 25 Men mount every night who are furnished from a detachment of about 100 who are posted in that neighborhood. He thinks that with 150 men he can cross over in whale boats and surprize them with ease and is soliciting that he may make the attempt some night this week. I told the General the last Evening that I would lay the matter before your Excellency, which I now beg leave to do for your determination. Genl Parsons proposed taking the party from General Glovers Brigade: to this I objected for several reasons too obvious to need mentioning. I observed to the General that 150 men was by no means a proper Command for him but he seems much intent on it, Says he has Boats ready & can make the attempt by Friday night next.1 Your Excellency will determine whether it be an object worthy of attention and whether the prospect of Success will justify the attempt.2

The enclosed paper was given me yesterday by General Parsons. I beg your excellencys direction whether Leach Shall be sent in or not.3 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellencys most obedt Serv.

W. Heath

Copy, MHi: Heath Papers.

1The next Friday was 13 August.

2For GW’s qualified approval of the operation, see GW to Heath, this date (first letter). After receiving this authorization from GW, Heath wrote to Maj. Gen. Robert Howe and Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons with detailed instructions for the raid, and Howe and Parsons continued their preparations (see Heath to Howe and Heath to Parsons, 10 Aug. [MHi:Heath Papers], and Heath to GW, 11 Aug.). Heath and Howe assigned troops for the raid (see Heath to GW, 12 Aug., and n.2 to that document). But shortly after the troops for the raid assembled and began their march to the Sound, GW countermanded his authorization for “private motives” (see Heath to GW, 13 Aug. and GW to Howe, 15 Aug.). The raid was deferred until September, when it was successfully undertaken by Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge (see GW to Howe, 11 Sept.).

3The enclosed paper has not been identified, but for the disposition of Ebenezer Leech, see GW’s first letter to Heath of this date, and n.3 to that document. For the order of the Connecticut legislature, made at Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam’s request, directing the exchange of Leech and others held in the state’s jails for certain citizens of Connecticut and Massachusetts held by the British, see Conn. Public Records, description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894–. description ends 2:289–90.

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