George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 18 November 1780

From Major General William Heath

West point November 18th 1780

Dear General,

I have been honored with yours of the 16th Inst.1 The Officers of the Jersey Brigade assure me on honor that the recruits borne on the return exhibited by them were enlisted Since the Month of March last: I have therefore given them an order for the Cloathing, reducing the Articles of Shirts and Hose to one of the former, and a pair of the latter each.

Mr Ludwick has just finished the Ovens, and this day began baking.2 An uneasiness is likely to arise, which it is necessary to prevent. in the establishment of the ration the troops are to receive one pound of Bread or Flour ⅌ day—the former is supposed by many to be hard Bread, Since a pound of Flour will make more than a pound of soft bread, and if the bread is slack baked, Still much more, therefore to do justice to the Troops, I am informed that General McDougal when he commanded here directed that for One hundred pounds of Flour 120 pounds of bread should be delivered by the Bakers. General Paterson required five pounds more; but the former seems to have been considered as a standing rule by the Artillery who have remained at the post. the other troops naturally fall in with them, and are forming an opinion that if they receive but one pound of Soft bread, or indeed any thing less than what has been the practice, they are injured.

The officers have represented to me that an alteration at this time, when the Troops have so many discouragements to encounter, will be attended with bad consequences to the Service.

Mr Ludwick informs me that if one hundred and twenty pounds of soft bread, is Delivered for one hundred pounds of Flour, there will remain about ten pounds on every hundred towards defraying the expences of baking—for my own part, I am fully of opinion that the 120 pounds ought to be delivered, but as an order published to that purpose by me, may be productive of uneasiness in other parts of the Army, I request your Excellency’s opinion on the matter as soon as may be convenient: in the mean time I have verbally directed Mr Ludwick to deliver Bread as has been before practiced here: in this way ten pounds in the hundred which now go to the private bakers will be saved to the public and uneasiness among the troops avoided.

Lt Colonel Antill with his Wife and three or four Children have just come out of New York. he has applied to me for relief, being unable at present to provide for his family3 I have given orders for one ration of provisions to be issued to his Wife and one ration to the children collectively, making With his own four rations to be charged to his Account until your pleasure is signified—I submit it accordingly—Lt Colonel Antill informs me that many convention Soldiers get to New York from Albermarle in Virginia by a cross route passing the Delaware below Mud Island, and from thence to the Cedar Swamps, near the Sea Shore towards Sandy hook—that provisions are Secretly conveyed for them, and distributed by the tories, and that not less than Six hundred have come to New York that way, that officers are appointed to receive and muster them, &c.4 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.

2Christopher Ludwick, director of baking for the Continental army, had been ordered to erect ovens at West Point (see Nathanael Greene to GW, 13 Oct., source note).

3For Lt. Col. Edward Antill and his family, see his letter to GW, 27 March. A recent prisoner exchange had ended his imprisonment (see GW to Abraham Skinner, 8 Nov.). A subsequent investigation into Antill’s capture resulted in his exoneration (see General Orders, 20 Dec. 1780 and 1 Jan. 1781).

Col. James Livingston had begun a letter to Heath from Verplanck Point, N.Y., on 14 Nov. 1780: “Lieut. Colo. Antil with his Family is just arrived at this place in a Flagg from New York, and at his Request have detained the Flagg here till I have your pleasure” (MHi: Heath Papers). Heath’s reply to Livingston on 15 Nov. did not mention Antill (see MHi: Heath Papers).

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