George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 31 August 1780

From Major General William Heath

Newport Augt 31st 1780

Dear General,

By the master of a Small Vessell who left Martha’s Vineyard yesterday morning I learn that Admiral Arbuthnot is at that place with nine Sail of the line, eight other Ships of War of different rates and two tenders—that he has made a demand of 11000 lb. of Beef and Mutton to be delivered every other day at 5d. ⅌ lb. that the inhabitants had represented to him that they could not Comply With the requisition without being very soon involved in great Distress. On which the Admiral assured the inhabitants that he would not insist on the full quantity demanded if they would deliver as much as their ability would allow.1 that it was said Admiral Arbuthnot taking Station near the Vineyard was to prevent a junction of the Second Division of the French Fleet, which can be better effected from his present than his late station. this probably is his object as the prevailing winds in the approaching Season will be in favor of it.2 Enclosed is the report of two Deserters from long Island and the last intelligence I have received from that quarter.3 I have the honor to be With the greatest respect Your Excellency’s Most Obedient servant

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers. GW replied to Heath on 8 September.

1Lieutenant General Rochambeau’s aide-de-camp Ludwig von Closen wrote in his journal entry for 19 Aug. that the inhabitants of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., “have always been very devoted to the English” (Acomb, Closen Journal description begins Evelyn M. Acomb, ed. The Revolutionary Journal of Baron Ludwig von Closen, 1780–1783. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1958. description ends , 37; see also Heath to GW, 3 Sept., n.6).

3The enclosure from Lt. Col. William Ledyard to Heath, written at New London, Conn., on 29 Aug. (Tuesday), reads: “by two Deserters from the British at the East end of Long Island which Arrivd here lately am informed that the British Troops began their March last Thursday for the West end of the Island, am also informed by a Credible person that Just before the British Marchd for the West end of the Island General Clinton receivd an Express from New York upon Receipt of which he walked the Room about an hour then gave Orders for both his horse & other Troops to March imeadietly, it appears they went of very precipitate.

“Two small British Ships past this Harbour Yesterday Standing to the Eastwd will be very much Obligd for a Line if any thing worthy of Notice” (DLC:GW).

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