George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 3 September 1779

From Major General William Heath

Mandavilles [Dutchess County, N.Y.]
Sept. 3rd 1779:

Dear General

I take the Liberty to enclose a Letter from Lt Colo. Badlam and another1 from Capt. Stillwell which were received the last Evening.2 I received a hint of the escape of the Culprits the Day before yesterday about noon from Colo. Hay,3 on which I gave immediate orders to all the Officers of Guards and Patroles to keep a good look out on all the roads and if Possible to take them up, but the nature of the Grounds is Such that there is but little probability of their being apprehended.

Whether or not the person who has the Charge of the provost at Fishkill is the most proper person to be entrusted with that Duty is not for me to Determine neither do I know him but am informed this is not the first instance of those Committed to his Charge makeing their escape. I have the honor to be with the greatest respect your Excellencys most obedient Servt

W. Heath

ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers. The letter is docketed 1 September.

1Heath inadvertently wrote “anothre.”

2Lt. Col. Ezra Badlam’s letter to Heath, dated 1 Sept. at Fishkill, N.Y., reads: “Last Night (I Belive through the Neglect of the Provost Marshal) five of the most atrocious Villens that was Ever Confind, made their Escape from the Provost in this Place by Forceing through the Sentrys, amoung which is the Noted Vantastle. They made for New York if the Officers Commanding our lines ware made acquainted with the affair Prehaps Some of them may be Taken again this Evening. The Names of the Officers Commanding upon the Lines is unknown to me—therefore I make Bold to Trouble your Honour upon the Subject” (MHi: Heath Papers). The letter from Capt. Elias Stillwell has not been identified.

Elias Stillwell (c.1748–1824), of New Haven, Conn., served as a private in the Lexington Alarm of April 1775. He was commissioned an ensign in the 1st Connecticut Regiment in May 1775, and he then transferred to the 22d Continental Infantry Regiment as a second lieutenant in January 1776. Stillwell became a captain lieutenant in the 3d Connecticut Regiment in January 1777 and a captain in July 1779. He transferred to the 1st Connecticut Regiment in January 1781. He served in this regiment until he left the army in June 1783.

3Lt. Col. Udny Hay’s letter to Heath, dated 1 Sept. at Fishkill, reads: “Upon my arrival here just now I find five desperate villains have made their escape from the Provost this morning about two hours before day light As I find no intelligence has been forwarded as yett to any officer either on the lines or any place else I take the liberty of giving you the earliest notice in my power—They were all Tories and remarkeable for their villainies” (MHi: Heath Papers).

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