George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 8 November 1779

From Major General William Heath

Camp Peeks kill [N.Y.] Novr 8. 1779

Dear General,

I have the honor to present your Excellency the enclosed Letter just received from Col. Armand.1

The secrecy, the prudent precaution, the expedition and the strict order and discipline which so evidently mark every part of Colo. Armand’s Conduct in effecting this Enterprise I flatter myself will meet your Excellencys fullest approbation. I have the honor to be With the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most obedt Servant

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison wrote Heath on 9 Nov.: “Your Letter of Yesterday, respecting the capture of Bearmore, has been received—and shall be presented to His Excellency, the General, when he returns. The affair seems to have been conducted with great address by Colo. Armand. I have nothing new to communicate” (MHi: Heath Papers).

1The enclosed letter from Colonel Armand to Heath, written at Sing Sing, N.Y., on this date, reads: “the day before yesterday i advanced with my corps to tarretown in order to be more in readiness to know when the ennemy should retraite to the other side of kingbridge and trayed to pick up some of their rear guard in their retraite; yesterday morning I heard that Mjor bermore was come from newyork to his house three miles below delancis bridge and upon the sound [East] river. i marched my infantery and Dragoons by mile squair road, and Halted till night four miles this side of willams bridge. betwint five and six, i marched my men, put a post of infantery upon willams bridge, and the reste of the infantery hundred yard from the bridge behind stone walls; this was in order to keap Col. warm [Wurmb] from Cutting of my retraite; what he Could do only by willams bridge; then i advanced, with twenty two dragoons to Mjor bermore quarter which my men surrendered [surrounded], as to not let pass one man, i came out from my horse, and came in to the house where i had the pleasure of taking prisoner Mjor bermore and five men none belonging to the kings service, five horses saddles &c. as my order was that no dragoon should come out from his horse to plunder; we have left’d the house most as it was when we Came in. i had forbid plunder, because, in that time Germon men could assemble together, that i was five miles and more behind Col. warm, and that others troops of the ennemy were incamped betwint two and three miles from Mjor bermore quarter.

“i was effrayed that in lousing time i should louse my prise which i considered to be good and perhaps louse all my men, being so far of anny support as they were.

“i have not burned the house nor anny of the things that were in, as the same had done no good to the Country.

“i retraited as fast as i could till tarretown, where all my men followed me, without the least accident, nor desertion. as they have been extremely fatigued and obey my orders in not plundering i have given them four hundred Dollars.

“we are all here now, and to morrow as we want some Day to repose i shall march to the mouth of Crotton river.

“i desire this newse of bermore being taken may please to you and his Excellency gnl wasinghston, and the entreprise be looked upon, as a prooff of my respect and gratitude to this Country. … bermore is very unwell, by the fattigue of his journey to my quarter as Soon he’l be better i shall sind him to you with the rest of the prisoner, one Say that he was ready taken and on parole; but as he was with bermore i had not time to Consider upon the matter, so he is with” (DLC:GW).

Heath replied to Armand from Peekskill on the same date: “your favor of this Day is handed to me by Major Lyman your Conduct, and that of your Officers and Soldiers in Surprising and takeing Major Bearmore and others, and which it appears you Conducted with Such Secrecy Precaution Expedition Address great order & Discipline not only do you honor, but afford me particular pleasure and Satisfaction as your Friend—Accept my Thanks for this repeated Instance of your Zeal and Gallantry, and present them to the Officers and men of your Corps whose good behaviour on this occasion deserve the highest Commendations, I have wrote His Excellency General Washington and enclosed him Your Letter.” Heath wrote and then struck out a final paragraph that reads: “please to take particular care to prevent the Escape of the Prisoners, and if Major Bearmore is unwell attend to his Health” (MHi: Heath Papers; see also Armand to Heath, 9 Nov., in MHi: Heath Papers). For the subsequent handling of Loyalist major Mansfield Bearmore, see Heath to GW, 10 Nov. (second letter).

The Connecticut Courant, and the Weekly Intelligencer (Hartford) for 16 Nov., under the heading “FISH-KILL, November 12,” printed an account of Armand’s capture of Bearmore: “Camp, Peeks-Kill, November 8, 1779. Last night Colonel Armand, with 100 infantry, and about 30 horse, marched down as far as Williams’s, within four miles of Kingsbridge; where he posted his infantry to cover his retreat, and with 20 dragoons pushed to Maj. Bearmore’s quarters, at Alderman Logget’s [Leggett’s], three miles below Williams’s bridge; where he arrived about nine o’clock, took Major Bearmore and five other prisoners, a number of horses, saddles, &c. and returned without the loss of a single man; although Col. Worm, with a body of eight hundred Germans, lay this side Kingsbridge, and might have interrupted his retreat at Williams’s, by marching less than two miles. This enterprize not only reflects great honour on Colonel Armand, but renders the State essential service, by suppressing the exertions of one of their most partizan officers, whose uniform endeavours have been to distress and injure the inhabitants of this country.”

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