George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 13 August 1779

From Major General William Heath

Mandavilles [Dutchess County, N.Y.]
Augst 13th 1779

Dear General

I take the Liberty to enclose a paragraph of a Letter which I received from Genl Nixon on yesterday, The Ground on which that Brigade is encamped was before occupied by General Huntingtons Brigade—I desired General Nixon to mention another Spot if he had one in view, He has this morning as your Excellency will observe proposed Balled Hill1—I would request your Opinion of the propriety of the Brigades moving to that place, there is no Spot of Ground proper for an Encampment within the Gorge2 except at a Considerable distance, I would not trouble your Excellency on this Subject were it not for the particular Situation, of that Post.

On receiving a verbal Signification of your Excellencys Pleasure on yesterday for countermanding the Detachment destined to the Sound, it was immediately done the Detachment had marched as far as the village,3 before the order could overtake them.4 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect your Excellencys most obedient Servt

W. Heath

ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

GW replied on this date: “I have to acknowlege your favor of today. I dine with Gen. Putnam and shall take occasion in going there, or on my return, to call at your quarters and talk over the subject of your letter” (Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW).

1The enclosures have not been identified, but the first probably was taken from Brig. Gen. John Nixon’s letter to Heath of 12 August, dated from “Warrens House,” reading in part: “The Disagreable Situation of my Brigade Being Pent up Between the mountains—which Obstructs the free Course of the circumambient air—and the many Complaints of boath officers and Soldiers of Late—Induces me to Suggest to your Honor whether it might not be Expedient to move the Encampment (if it Should be only for 2 or 3 Days) where the Country is more open—& the air more free—I fear we Shall have a very Sickly Camp if we remain much Longer where we now are” (MHi: Heath Papers).

Bald Hill, also known as Gallows Hill, is located approximately one mile south of Continental Village and two miles north of Peekskill in Westchester County, New York.

2Heath wrote “George.” The “Gorge” was the area in the Highlands just northwest of Continental Village, N.Y., where the road between Peekskill, N.Y., and West Point passed between several high, steep peaks. For Heath’s posting of Brig. Gen. Jedediah Huntington’s Connecticut brigade in that position, see Heath to GW, 1 July.

3Heath is referring to Continental Village, New York.

4These troops, which had begun their march at noon on 12 Aug., were the four companies Heath had ordered detached from the Connecticut Line for the raid planned by Maj. Gen. Robert Howe and Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons against a British-Loyalist fort on Lloyd Neck, Long Island (see Heath to GW, 12 Aug.). Heath’s countermanding orders to Lt. Col. Ebenezer Gray, the detachment’s commander, dated 12 Aug. at 1 P.M. from Mandeville’s (Dutchess County, N.Y.), directed him to return the troops to Mandeville’s because of “orders this moment recd from his Excellency Genl Washington” (MHi: Heath Papers). Heath later informed Parsons that the detachment “had but just marched” when he received GW’s orders to countermand its march (Heath to Parsons, 14 Aug.; see also Heath to Howe, 12 Aug. [letter dated 1 P.M.], both MHi: Heath Papers). For GW’s somewhat cryptic explanation of his reasons for canceling the expedition, see GW to Howe, 15 August. For Parsons’s proposal for this expedition and GW’s qualified approval of the operation, see Heath to GW, 10 Aug. (first letter), and GW’s first letter to Heath of the same date (see also Heath to GW, 11 Aug.). The raid was deferred until September, when Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge successfully carried out the attack (see GW to Howe, 11 Sept).

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