George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Nathaniel Heard, 9 June 1780

To Brigadier General Nathaniel Heard

H. qrs [Springfield] June 9. 1780


If the Enemy mean to make a movement into the Country to Morris Town—it is likely they will attempt it to night—and if they do, they may endeavour to proceed by a Road either more to our right or left, than any one on which we have Troops. From this consideration and the importance of having every avenue guarded by which they may attempt to gain our Rear, I shall be exceedingly glad—if You can procure & send Three or Four very trusty Horsemen on whom you can depend—on each of the Roads under the above description to patrol the night & who will give the earliest communication of the advance of the Enemy. The Road which leads through the Mountain by the way of the Scot’s plains—I wish to be particularly attended to.1 Should You not be perfectly informed of the Roads on which we have Troops—Baron Steuben will inform You.2 I am Sir.

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

On this date, Heard replied to GW: “Agreable to your Request I have Dispatched the horse you Requested to be Sent on the Road with Leads from Scotch Plains to Morris town and Shall Send you Imediatly if any moove[men]t Should happen on Said Road” (ALS, DLC:GW). Heard commanded the New Jersey militia that had assembled to oppose the British incursion into New Jersey. For this offensive, see Battle of Connecticut Farms, 7–8 June.

On 10 June, Heard wrote New Jersey governor William Livingston from Springfield. That letter in part reads: “This morning his Excellency General Washington applyed to me for more of the Militia to Join the main Army. Agreeable thereto I have ordered out all those of Hunterdon & Colonel Scudder’s of Middlesex—Colonel Neilson’s those of Somerset Essex & Morris being already here” (Prince, Livingston Papers description begins Carl E. Prince et al., eds. The Papers of William Livingston. 5 vols. Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., 1979–88. description ends , 3:425).

GW’s aide-de-camp Richard Kidder Meade prepared an undated document on the New Jersey militia and the Continental corps in the army’s advanced force, which GW docketed: “An imperfect & more than probably—an enlarged acct of the Jersey Militia at Springfield June. 1780” (DLC:GW).

The document showed nine New Jersey militia regiments from five counties present by 10 June, totaling 2,840 men. In a table, GW wrote the counties next to the names of the colonels. GW then wrote below the table: “And Six Regiments more are expected—viz. [Lt. Col. William] Scudder—Middlesex [Col. Joseph] Beaver[s] Hunterdon [Col.Joseph] Phillips [Hunterdon] [Lt. Col. William] Chamberlain[—Hunterdon] [Col. William] Shrieve—Burlington [Col. Thomas] Reynolds[—Burlington].” Meade indicated that the primary Continental units in the advanced force were three regiments of Brig. Gen. William Maxwell’s brigade.

The document also showed deployment of the militia regiments. One regiment was paired with Maj. Caleb Gibbs’s 150-man corps and assigned to guard Vauxhall Road (abbreviated “V.H.”). Maxwell’s brigade was paired with a militia regiment, given two pieces of artillery, and assigned to guard the Elizabethtown Road (abbreviated “E.R.”). GW wrote that Col. Elias Dayton’s regiment and a militia regiment were assigned as “Cover to Maxwell.” GW also intended to place two militia regiments on the road leading south to Westfield, New Jersey.

1GW is referring to the road that led south from Elizabeth, N.J., to a point west of Rahway before continuing west to Scotch Plains, across the First and Second Watchung mountains to Beagle’s Bridge, and then across Long Hill to Morristown.

2The following text is marked out at this place on the draft: “You will be pleased to let me know the reason for firing a Cannon just now.”

Major General Steuben commanded the advance corps of the army (see the general orders for this date).

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