George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 7 November 1780

From Major General William Heath

West point November 7 1780

Dear General

Mr Reynolds of Murderers Creek, now here left Albany on Saturday last, about 4 oClock P.M.1 He Says the Enemy crossed Lake George last thursday, Supposed to be about 800. upon which the detachment stationed at Fort Edward abandoned that place and retreated to Saratoga, where Colonel Gansevoort’s regiment was.2

The Militia of Albany marched up on Saturday. they turned out with great Spirit. General Schuyler had written to General Ten broek on friday Evening, that Colonel Allen was ready at the Grants With 300 Men, and it was Supposed the Enemy would meet With a Warm reception;3 but, that the prospect of provisions in that part of the Country, are distressing. that it was with great difficulty Mr Lush, one of the States Agents assistants, Could procure two days provisions for the Troops that Were at Saratoga.4

This Shews my Dear General, pretty plainly, that nothing is to be expected for this post from that quarter. Mr Reynolds further informs me that there is not a barrell of Salted Meat putting up at Albany, or any other place in the State that he knows of. These reports encrease my concern and every hour convinces me that uncommon and the most vigorous exertions are immediately necessary to prevent that which, as matters are now dragging on, may be easily, and pretty certainly, conjectured. The Country is every where full of provisions.5 I have the honor to be With every sentiment of respect & esteem Your Excellencys Most obedient Servt

W. Heath

P.S. Yours of the 6th this moment came to hand. If I could fully rely on the intelligence brought by Mr Reynolds I should hope that Gansevoorts Regiment and the Militia would be Sufficient to check and defeat the Enemy, but lest they should not, I have ordered the 1st & 5th New York Regiments to embark with all possible expedition & proceed to Albany.6 The 2d Regiment I have detained here at present they are hutted near the redoubts, and their Number is inconsiderable, and our duty so great that it will be difficult to Spare them. The Garrison here will be weak after the York troops are gone, and are much Scattered on Cutting wood and other duties, & by the absence of the light Infantry.7


LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers; copy (extract), enclosed with GW to Samuel Huntington, this date, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 169. The extracts include the entire LS except for the closing and postscript. GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman copied the extract in DNA:PCC, item 152.

1The previous Saturday was 4 November.

2For another account of the retreat from Fort Edward, N.Y., see Philip Schuyler to GW, 31 Oct.–1 Nov., n.10.

3Numerous reports of renewed British attacks along the New York frontier proved erroneous (see George Clinton to GW, 5 Nov., and notes 1 and 2 to that document; see also William Malcom to GW, this date).

4Richard Lush (c.1747–1817), whose brother Stephen was Governor Clinton’s secretary, served as deputy state agent for Albany County, N.Y., and became a prominent resident of Albany after the war.

6For GW’s letter to Heath dated 6 Nov., and Heath’s subsequent correspondence, see GW’s second letter to Clinton, same date, n.1.

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