George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 12 November 1780

To Major General William Heath

Hd Qrs Passaic Falls 12th Nov: 1780

Dear Sir,

Upon a full view of what (from the returns) must be the state of our Army when the Levies leave it the first of January1—and of the little prospect there is of getting the places of many, if any of them supplied by that time2—and when the importance of West point and the Southern communication with it is taken into consideration I can think of no better disposition of the Army for Winter Quarters than the following:

Pensylvania line—somewhere in the neighbourhood of Morris Town.

Jersey line—About Pompton—in the clove of the Mountain—with a detachment from it at the other clove near Suffrans.3

York line—[(]The Troops of that State being chiefly there already and the Northern and Western frontier much harrassed)4 to continue at Albany.

Connecticut & Massachusetts lines—(being about adequate to the number required) to be at West point—the former on the East and the [latter] on the West side of the River.

New Hampshire & Rhode Island—at the gorge of the Mountain near the Continental village—and to furnish a detachment more to the left—say—about Robinsons Mills.

Sheldons horse—On Connecticut river at Colchester or Middletown.

Moylans horse—In Pensylvania perhaps reading.

The Marischause—(If it is not reduced)5 to be somewhere in the rear of New Windsor—and

The Park of Artillery—at or near New Windsor.

This disposition is not yet announced to the Army, nor is it known to the Genl Officers of it (otherwise than by conjecture)—for which reason, and because it may undergo a change I would not, as yet, have any thing said of it.

If it takes place my own quarters will, more than probably, be at or near New Windsor as the central point.

Building Barracks, Hutts &ca near the Works for the Troops destined for the defence of the Post should undergo no interruption on acct of the change this distribution may occasion. How far the Hutts at Soldiers fortune, or Genl Glovers Incampment may be necessary I cannot undertake to determine, because I do not know, precisely, the relative situation of these places to the works.6

Your favor of the 10th is receivd—I approve much of your intended forage in which include Cattle &ca—but for particular reasons I wish the execution of it to be delayed a little if there is no inconvenience resulting from it7—In the meanwhile make every necessary arrangement for it in your own mind that the business may be suddenly entered upon when you hear from me again on the subject.8 I am—Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt Ser⟨v⟩t

Go: Washington

ALS, MHi: Heath Papers; ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Material in square brackets is taken from GW’s draft. GW wrote “(Private)” on the cover of the ALS.

1These levies had been raised for the current campaign.

2A new arrangement of the Continental army went into effect on 1 Jan. 1781, but GW properly anticipated delay in recruiting (see General Orders, 1 Nov. 1780).

3A gap near Pompton, N.J., provided access to Smiths Clove, New York.

4The placement of the opening parenthesis follows GW’s draft.

5The Maréchaussée Corps remained in existence (see Samuel Huntington to GW, 6 Dec.; see also General Orders, 10 Nov.).

6For the Continental army’s winter encampment, see GW to Huntington, 28 Nov., and n.12.

8Heath replied to GW from West Point on 13 Nov. (first letter): “I was this day honored with yours of the 12th. your proposed disposition of the Army to winter Quarters, under the circumstances in which it will probably be, at the time the levies leave it, and the Other Objects in view, is I think as eligible as any that can be adopted.

“The Old Hutts built by General Glovers Brigade, and those at Soldiers Fortune, are perhaps not disadvantageously situated for the Troops destined to the defence of the works on the east side of the River, but none of these are at present improved, or repairing. Colo. Hazens Regt is hutting not far from the North redoubt; and the New Hampshire Line dislikeing the hutts at Soldiers fortune; and the distance they must be Obliged to fetch their wood, are hutting a little more to the eastward, on the road that leads down to Colonel Drakes; they are erecting exceeding good hutts, but are not so far to the left as the place mentioned by your Excellency near Robinsons Mills.

“We are not yet ready for the proposed grand Forage, and it will be some days before we shall be, the principal difficulty is, the Obtaining a Sufficient number of Teams, the Cattle will be included, nothing shall be put in execution Untill your pleasure is further signified” (ALS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers; Heath wrote “(private)” on the cover of the ALS). New York militia colonel Samuel Drake resided in Westchester County, New York.

For the eventual execution of the forage operation, see Heath to GW, 17–18 Nov.; see also Heath to GW, 10 Nov., and GW’s first letter to Heath, 16 Nov.).

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