George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 18 September 1779

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters West Point Septr 18th 1779

Dr Sir

I have your favors of the 14th & 17th.1 Genl Knox is just now absent, but when he returns, I will inquire into the necessity of keeping the guard, you mention at Litchfield.2

North Castle Church3 would certainly be a very ineligible situation for Genl Howe. From his letter to me, he had not taken post there, but was rather reconnoitering a proper position.4 I had a particular object in view when I ordered the troops to move to pines bridge, but now seeing little or no probability of the matters taking place which induced me to send them down; I have therefore directed Genl Howe to march again with Glovers and Nixons Brigades to the Neighbourhood of lower Salem.5 I am Dr Sr Yr Most Obet, servt

Go: Washington

Be pleased to forward the inclosed to Genl Howe immediately—I have since writing the above met with a conveyance for it.

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS.

1These letters have not been found.

2GW again wrote to Heath on this subject on 1 October.

3GW is referring to the area around St. George’s Episcopal Church, also known as New Castle Corner (now Mount Kisco, N.Y.), about two miles southeast of Pine’s Bridge, N.Y.

4GW apparently is referring to Robert Howe’s letter to him of 16 Sept., which has not been found (see GW to Howe, this date). Howe had reported to Heath on 16 Sept. that, in compliance with GW’s orders to move to the Croton River (see GW to Howe, 13 Sept.), he had marched his division to Pine’s Bridge that day; however, finding the position there unsuitable, Howe wrote that he had returned to a position near North Castle Church “to remain for the Night at least.” After receiving Howe’s letter, Heath wrote to Howe on 17 Sept. that he considered Howe’s position at North Castle Church “nither So Safe or advantageous under present Circumstances as that at or near Pines Bridge,” but Heath left the choice of ground to Howe’s “Instructions from his Excellency” and Howe’s “own good Judgment” (MHi: Heath Papers).

5GW sent the initial movement orders to Howe in his letter of 13 Sept., and retracted them in his letter to Howe of this date, which he enclosed in this letter to Heath.

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