George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 29 July 1780

From Major General William Heath

Newport July 29th 1780

Dear General,

We remain nearly in the same situation here as when I had the honor last to write you.1 The militia have been coming in, but few are yet collected. I was in hopes that they might have been Stoped this morning, to which General Counte de Rochambeau had just consented, when I received a Letter from Governor Trumbull of the 27th in which he observes, “The following intelligence, I have in a Letter from Colo. Welles dated at Greenwich the 25th Instant—Vizt:

“The Enemy are all gone except Delancys from East & West Chester,2 and a very great embarkation taking place—Commonly believed they are going to the Eastward. An officer of my Regiment just arrived from below, informs that the embarkation is almost universal from New York Long Island, and frogs point3—That General Clinton’s baggage is all on Ship board—If it was not for the Transports which have come through Hell-Gate, I should think the West Indies was their object—but time must determine their movements.”4 In consequence of this intelligence Count de Rochambeau, has desired that the militia may not be Stoped, or Sent back untill further intelligence is received.

As I am anxious to be with the Army and resume my Command, and as part of my Baggage is now there. I request by the return of the Express, your Excellencys pleasure, whether I shall proceed immediately. The manner in which you are pleased to express yourself in your former Letters, leaves a doubt on my mind, whether it was your intention until further orders5—and by the Express’ return, matters will be brought to a Certainty here with respect to the intentions of the Enemy—indeed, it will be very disagreable to me to be here longer than is necessary, without Troops to Command.6 I have the honor to be With the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most obedient Servant.

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers. For the conveyance of the LS, see Lafayette to GW, this date.

2Loyalist colonel James De Lancey commanded the Westchester County Refugees and Militia.

3For this British operation, see GW to Rochambeau, 27 July (second letter), n.3.

4Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.’s letter to Heath of 27 July is in MHi: Heath Papers. For the receipt of this intelligence by the Connecticut council on 27 July, see Conn. Public Records description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894–. description ends , 3:138.

5In his letter to Heath of 29 June, GW had written that Heath could expect to rejoin the army “as soon as you have put matters in proper train for the reception and accomodation of our Allies.”

6GW replied to Heath on 3 August.

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