George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 19 August 1780

From Major General William Heath

Newport Augst 19th 1780

Dear General

Enclosed is an application from Lieut. Cooke, for leave to resign his Commission in Colo. Greenes Regiment, impaired health occasions his request.1

The enclosed Letters from New-London are just come to hand, I apprehend the enemy have some Small enterprise in contemplation.2

The master of a vessel Just arrived at Dartmouth reports that he saw a Fleet of Sixty Sail off Nantucket, who or what they were is not known.3 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect your Excellency’s most Obedient Servant

W. Heath

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

1Both the letter from Col. Christopher Greene to Heath of 18 Aug., recommending an honorable discharge for Lt. John Cooke, and a certificate of 19 Aug. from the paymaster of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, verifying that Cooke owed no debts to the public, are in DLC:GW.

John Cooke (Cook) joined the 1st Rhode Island Regiment as an ensign in January 1777. He later became the regiment’s quartermaster and rose to lieutenant in June 1778. He left the army in the latter part of 1780.

2The enclosed letter from Thomas Shaw to Heath, dated 18 Aug. at New London, Conn., reads: “The British fleet still continue at Gardiners Island, & are under sail every day anchoring again at night the same place—the 16th Six Ships came from the Westward & joined them, imagine one of them to be a Frigate, the others transports with provisions—yesterday Six or Seven Ships Sail’d from the Fleet to the Eastward.

“By deserters from the Fleet & off the Island we learn that the enemy still hold up their going to Rhode Island & also that they have began to colect a Fleet at White Stone & that a number of Troops are at that place ready to embark, with what truth I can’t Say” (DLC:GW).

3This fleet, though not as numerous as here reported, probably was the British fleet, which had recently sailed and taken station south of Nantucket Island (see Marriot Arbuthnot to Henry Clinton, 18 Aug., in Willcox, American Rebellion description begins William B. Willcox, ed. The American Rebellion: Sir Henry Clinton’s Narrative of His Campaigns, 1775–1782, with an Appendix of Original Documents. New Haven, 1954. description ends , 451).

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