George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 28 August 1780

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters near the liberty Pole [N.J.]
August 28th 1780

Dear Sir

I have received your letter of the 22d. The late European intelligence has so altered the immediate prospects of the Campaign, that I think it adviseable to dismiss the Militia now in service and prevent any other coming out for the present. You will therefore let those now with you return home as soon as their services are no longer thought necessary by the Count de Rochambeau, for as the probability of operating in this quarter is greatly diminished, and that of an operation elsewhere remote, it becomes our duty to reduce our expences and œconomise our supplies as much as possible.1

With respect to what you mention concerning the works erecting on Butts hill, if our allies expect we are to contribute to the expence of it, we shall be obliged, in delicacy to do it; but if it could have been avoided, it would have better suited the present state of our affairs—I do not consider the works raising on the Island as of any great utility to us further than as they contribute to the safety of our Allies; and the expence which may be incurred will in my opinion have little other equivalent than this—You will therefore easily conceive, that I should be glad every thing of this kind might be avoided, so far as it can be done without impeaching the generosity of the States; for while our Allies are sending Fleets and Armies to our assistance and maintaining them at their own expence in our Country, it might not be decent to refuse bearing such little expences as they seem to expect us to bear; but we ought not to volunteer any thing of this kind; and I am persuaded you will not—You will act agreeable to these ideas.2

With respect to the culprits you mention, you have my consent to pardon such of them as you think proper.3

I omitted acknowledging your two favors of the 19th. You will accept Lieut. Cooks resignation in the usual forms.4 I am with great regard Dear Sir Your Mo. Obet & hum. Servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. A copy of the LS that Heath received later in September has not been found (see Heath to GW, 6 and 14 Sept., and GW to Heath, 10 Sept.). Heath replied to GW on 9 September.

1For GW’s reason to dismiss militia regiments, see his letter to James Bowdoin, this date, and n.2 to that document; see also Heath to GW, 22 August.

2After an aborted British attack against Rhode Island in July, over a thousand militia from New England began fortifying Aquidneck Island to secure the French forces (see GW’s second letter to Rochambeau, 27 July, n.3, and Heath to GW, 9–12 Aug.; see also Balch, Blanchard Journal description begins Thomas Balch, ed. The Journal of Claude Blanchard, Commissary of the French Auxiliary Army Sent to the United States during the American Revolution. 1780–1783. Translated from a French Manuscript, by William Duane. Albany, 1876. description ends , 53). These militia continued working into late October (see GW to William Greene, this date, n.2; Heath to GW, 3 Sept.; and Christopher Greene to GW, 27 Oct.).

3Heath spared one of four deserters from execution (see Heath to GW, 13 Aug.; see also Heath to Daniel Dexter and to Christopher Greene, both 11 Sept., MHi: Heath Papers).

4For Lt. John Cooke, see Heath to GW, 19 Aug. (first letter), n.1, and 19 Sept., n.5.

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