George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 22 November 1780

From Major General William Heath

West Point Novr 22d 1780

Dear General

I have just received the inclosed letter, and state of provisions at Fort Schuyler, from Colo Malcom.1 It seems no time is to be lost in forwarding provisions. As Colonel Blane is probably by this time at Head Quarters, I beg leave to submit to your Excellency, his being directed to order, the number of Cattle mentioned by Colonel Malcom, to Albany as soon as possible. By late accounts from the Eastward, a great number of Cattle are comeing on.2 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most Obedient Servant

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1Heath enclosed a communication from Henry Glen, deputy quartermaster general, to Col. William Malcom headed “State of Provisions” at Fort Schuyler, N.Y., and dated 8 Nov.; the other enclosure was a letter from Malcom to Heath written at Newburgh, N.Y., on 16 Nov. (both DLC:GW). Malcom’s letter detailed the current disposition of troops along the New York frontier and then advised: “It will be impossible either to Subsist the Garrison of Fort Scuyler or any Number of Troops between that & Albany unless the beef is orderd from the Eastward … it is certain that unless some immediate Measures are taken to forward Cattle, the Garrison will be abandon’d—not above 20 of the Cattle mentioned in the estimate were appropriated for the use of the Garrison—they were used by Wesenfiels Regt on the Communication.” Malcom wanted “50 or 60 good” cattle sent “to Albany—those from this State are not worth driving to Fort Scuyler” (the cover of this letter is addressed to Heath at West Point).

Glen’s communication on provisions at Fort Schuyler showed 147 barrels “of flour each weighing 190 lbs” and “50 Head of Cattle,” each weighing “250 lbs,” in store on 5 October. With each man in the garrison requiring one pound of each every day, changes in the size of the garrison, and some additions to available flour and cattle, Glen figured that beef could be provided until 24 Jan. 1781 for a garrison of 180 men, and flour until 12 March 1781. Glen added a postscript: “the first convoy of provisions for F. Schuyler may go off in slays by the 15th Decr if any thing of an early winter; it is necessary that the Agents for procuring provisions have a supply of beef flour & rum ready by that time.”

Heath began a letter to Malcom from West Point on 22 Nov.: “Your favor of the 16th did not Come to hand Untill this evening I am exceedingly sorry to hear of the Shortness of Provision on the northern frontiers, I have transmitted your Letter and the State of Provisions at Fort Schuyler to his Excellency General Washington apprehending that the Commissary General is at Head Quarters, and have requested the General to direct fifty head of Cattle to be Sent on by the Commissary as Soon as possible” (MHi: Heath Papers).

2Heath struck out two additional paragraphs before the complimentary closing on his draft: “Colo. Malcom Strongly Solicits Coarse Cloth for a Watch Coat, a waist coat and Breeches, and a few yds of Linnen from the Store shall his request be granted?

“The Grand forage will be made precisely at the time appointed.” For the forage operation, see Heath to GW, 17–18 November.

GW replied to Heath from headquarters at Passaic Falls on 27 Nov.: “I have recd your favr of the 22d inclosing a letter from Colo. Malcom—If there should be such a surplus of Cattle as to enable you to spare any for Fort schuyler, it will be very agreeable to me, as my first Wish is to have that post supplied and secured” (LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers). Heath replied to GW on 29 November.

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