George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 4 November 1780

From Major General William Heath

West Point Novr 4th 1780

Dear General

I have just received a letter from his Excellency Govornor Clinton, dated at Poughkeepsie, the 3d inst., in which is the following Paragraph:

“By two Expresses, who arrived last night from Albany, I am informed, that the enemy, under Major Carleton, are returning from Ticonderoga towards Skeensborough, with a reinforcement of 500. Their force amounts now to 1600, so that we hourly expect to hear of further depredations. I have again ordered out the Militia to meet them, and Gansevoorts regiment is in that Quarter.”1

By the last accounts I had from Colonel Weisenfels regiment, they were at Schenecctidy waiting for the provissions, which they were to escorte to Fort Schuyler. Govornor Clinton has not asked for any assistance. If your Excellency should think any necssary, upon receiving your pleasure, it shall be ordered.2

A complaint containing several charges, was yesterday lodged against Colo. Hazen by Major Reid of his regiment. The Colonel is ordered in arrest, and a general Court Martial will be appointed for his tryal.3 I have the honor to be With the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most Obedt Servant

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers. GW acknowledged this letter when he wrote Heath on 9 November.

1For New York governor George Clinton’s full letter to Heath dated 3 Nov., see MHi: Heath Papers; see also Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 6:373–74. Heath replied to Clinton from West Point on 5 Nov., beginning: “I was yesterday honored with yours of the 3d Inst; am sorry to hear that the Enemy are again in motion towards the Frontiers, as many defenceless inhabitants will probably be rendered very miserable by it: however, as Gansevoorts’s Regiment is nigh at hand, and the militia of that part of the country very spirited, I hope they will be able to give a good account of them” (Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 6:382–83). Reports of a renewed British advance proved erroneous (see Clinton to GW, 5 Nov., n.2; see also William Malcom to GW, 7 Nov.).

2GW directed reinforcements to the New York frontier (see his letter to Heath, 6 Nov., found at GW’s second letter to Clinton, same date, n.1.

Heath wrote Brig. Gen. James Clinton from West Point on 5 Nov. regarding Lt. Col. Frederick Weissenfels’s regiment escorting supplies from Schnectady to Fort Schuyler: “I do not know what Instructions His Excellency General Washington gave you on that head, but if he was Silent in that particular I think it is of great importance, that this business should be attended to immediately, as the water Transportation will Soon be Obstructed and it will be impossible to forward provisions by Land, consequently the Garrison will be drove to great extremity if not to the necessity of abandoning the Post before Spring, as you are much better acquainted with that part of the Country than I am, and the necessity of Improving the present moment, I rest assured that nothing necessary to be done will be omitted” (MHi: Heath Papers; see also James Clinton to GW, 19 Nov., n.2).

3Maj. James Randolph Reid had written GW from West Point on 3 Nov.: “The Return made by Col. Hazen of the Officers of his Regt, is false with respect to myself—I am entitled to a Majority in June 1777 I beg your Excellency will not permit the Return to go to the board of war before we can have it adjusted in that instance—relying on your Excellency’s justice” (ALS, MeHi). GW replied to Reid from headquarters at Preakness on 6 Nov.: “In consequence of your letter of the 3d I have written to Colo. Hazen and desired him to let me know how it happens that his return of the date of your Commission differs from that which you alledge to be the time at which you were intitled to your Majority” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

GW also wrote Col. Moses Hazen from headquarters on 6 Nov.: “I have recd your favr of the 28th ulto respecting the Canadian prisoners—I have a letter from Major Reid complaining that in a Return of the Officers of your Regt made by you to the Board of War, you have made a false return of the date of his Commission, which he alledges ought to be in June 1777. This is a matter of which I am altogether ignorant, but as Major Reid has made a representation to me upon the subject, I am under the necessity of calling upon you to know the reason of the difference between his claim and your Return” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; Tilghman struck out “complaint” in the draft before writing “representation” above the line; see also Hazen to GW, 28 Oct.). Hazen replied to GW on 12 November.

Index Entries