George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 25 July 1780

From Major General William Heath

New Port July 25th 1780 9 oClock P.M.

Dear General

This Afternoon the Intelligence contained in the enclosed came to Hand,1 upon which General Rochambeau immediately made a requisition for 2000 Militia. I Have Called upon Governor Greene for 1500 Men and on Brigadier Godfrey of the Brigade in the County of Bristol (Massachusetts) for 800, General Rochambeau Saies that in Six days he shall be safe without the Assistance of the Militia. I Have Written to the Council at Boston that if their Militia for Reinforcing the Army for three Months are detached and not Marched that those from the Counties of Suffolk, Plymouth Barnstable and Bristol may March to Tiverton which will not be greatly out of their Way to the place of their distination,2 and Should Sir Henry Clinton be coming this Way May Answer a good Purpose, it will Also be Less burthensome to the Militia who After so great drafts as ha⟨ve⟩ been lately made will think an Additional one in the Midst of Harvest Almost unsurmountable.

If Sir Henry should not Come this way there shall be no needless detention of any of the Levies, The Marquiss de la Fayatte is in Sentiment with me in this Particular; I hope it will no⟨t⟩ be disagreable to your Exellency, it Cannot a⟨t⟩ any rate make a Detention of more than five or Six days, It is with pain that I call on the Militia to turn out, but General Rochambeau is so pressing in his Applicatio⟨n⟩ that he cannot be denied, Indeed if Sir Henry Clinton has a Land force to Spare from New york adequate to the Enterprise I think he never had a more inviting Object than the present Situation and Curcumstances of things offer⟨ed⟩ him here. I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most obedt Servt

W. Heath

P.S. The Article of Bread will be Obtained I fear with much difficulty, for the Troops that Will Assemble Here.

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers. GW replied to Heath on 31 July.

1The enclosed copy of an extract of a letter from Henry Babcock to unknown recipients, dated Monday, 24 July, at Westerly, R.I., reads: “This moment I have received an account from a person who left Long Island last night—who saw a Friend of his a man of undoubted Character (my informant says) that left New York last Fryday who assured him that General Clinton was embarking ten thousand Troops for Rhode Island That the English Admiral had detachd from his Squadron two Frigates to convoy the British Troops thro the Sound.

“The Person who brought the above intelligence from Long Island is a young Gentleman of undoubted veracity and Son to a Member of the Assembly of New York State who fled from Long Island & resided a year with his Family in my house at Stonington [Conn.] and he may be relied upon—he says the person who informd him is a man of Character” (DLC:GW).

2The drafts of Heath’s letters to Rhode Island governor William Greene, Brig. Gen. George Godfrey, and Massachusetts council president James Bowdoin, all of this date, are in MHi: Heath Papers.

George Godfrey (1720–1793), of Taunton, Mass., was named brigadier general of the Bristol County militia in January 1776.

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