George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 8 September 1780

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters Bergen County 8th Sepr 1780

Dear Sir

I have recd your favors of the 31st ulto and 3d instant. I should have been very glad had the situation of the Works, which Count de Rochambeau is constructing for the defence of the Island, admitted of the immediate dismission of the three months Massachusetts Militia, but as it does not, and the Count seems very desirous of compleating them, we cannot but consent to their staying out their term of service, should it be necessary.1

I make no doubt but the State will do every thing possible to accommodate the French Troops should circumstances require them to take up their winter quarters in Rhode Island.

We have received accounts of a very disagreeable nature from the Southward. General Gates does not enter into particulars, but only mentions that the Army under his command had been totally defeated on the 16th Augt near Camden in South Carolina. It is much to be feared that the whole of the Maryland line have either fallen or been taken, as the Militia broke upon the first onset, and left them exposed to a very superior force.2 I am Dear Sir Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

2See Horatio Gates to GW, 30 Aug., n.1.

Heath replied to GW from Newport on 11 Sept.: “I am just honored with yours of the 8th Instant. I am exceedingly Sorry to hear of the defeat of the Southern Army. I fear it Will enable the Enemy to extend their conquests in that quarter, or feeling themselves secure there they will withdraw a considerable part of their force to act elsewhere—either against the Army under your immediate command, or embolden them to make an attempt on the French Army here.

“Admiral Arbuthnot has return’d With his fleet nearly to his old station, for a day or two past has been between Montook-point and Gardner’s Island &ca” (LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers; see also Heath to GW, 19 Sept., n.2).

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