George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 3 December 1780

From Major General William Heath

West Point December 3d 1780

Dear General

I have been honored with yours of the 28th Ulto1—have made a distribution of the Troops assigned to my Command, conformable to your pleasure, where it has been signifyed, & in other cases, have acted according to my own discretion, and hope it will meet your Excellencys approbation.2

The New Jersey Line have gone to Pompton.3 The New York Regiments, now embarking their baggage in order to proceed to Albany.4

The Connecticutt Line, with Colonel Webbs regiment sent over to them, are hutting back of Constitution Island, to the North of Danforths, in very good ground, and near the Post.5 This Line has one regiment assigned to the North Redoubt, another to the middle Redoubt and a third to Constitution Island—as their alarm Post, and a Detachment of eighty men hutted near the North Redoubt, to be at hand to support the Guards, in case of an attack, untill the regiments assigned to the respective Posts can arrive; the remainder of the Line, to be ready to act as occasion may require. This Line mounts a Captains Guard at the Continental Village, a Captains Guard at Constitution Island, and a Subalterns guard in the North Redoubt and the same in the middle Redoubt.

Massachusetts Line drawing for their Quarters there disposition as follows:

1st Brigade to hutt in the woods back of the Garrison.

2d Brigade quartered in the great Barrack.

3d Brigade to occupy the Hutts built by the York Line.

4th Brigade quartered in the Barracks in Fort Clinton &c. This Brigade have the defence of Fort Clinton, and its Dependancies—Two regiments of the Massachusetts Line are assigned to the defence of Fort Putnam. One to Fort Wyllys—[One to] Fort Webb—[One to] No. ⟨1⟩


Map 3. GW’s plan for the army’s winter encampment included Massachusetts regiments manning redoubts 1–4 in the hills west of the West Point forts. (Illustrated by Rick Britton. Copyright Rick Britton 2019)

[One to] No. 2 [One to] No. 3. [One to] No. 46—The remainder of the Line to act as occasion may require.

The 2d Rhode Island regiment are gone to hutt near Robinsons Mills.

The New Hampshire Line hutted in the Highlands North East of Soldiers Fortune.

2d Dragoons gone to Connecticutt.7 A Detachment of 150 regular Troops, with some State Militia on the Lines, with orders to patrole from the Hudsons river above Croton, to Pines bridge & down to North Cast⟨le⟩ and Bedford.

Colonel Hazens regiment gone to Fish Kill to do the duties at that Post.

Horses have been sent off—Six months Levies discharging in the manner proposed by you[r] Excellency.8

I am sorry that it is not in my power to add, that we are well supplyed with provisions.9 I have the honor to be With the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most Obedient Servant

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers. GW acknowledged this letter when he wrote Heath on 8 December.

2Heath’s disposition of troops implemented GW’s plan for the army’s winter encampment (see GW to Samuel Huntington, 28 Nov., and n.12).

4Heath wrote in his memoirs for 4 Dec.: “The three New York regiments sailed for Albany, where they were to take winter-quarters” (Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 280).

5For the location of Danforth’s house, apparently the residence of William Danforth, see Heath’s first letter to GW, 25 June 1779, n.1; see also Jedediah Huntington to GW, 2 Dec. 1780.

6Heath describes how individual Massachusetts regiments manned the redoubts numbered 1 through 4 in the hills west of the West Point forts.

7See GW to Elisha Sheldon, 27 Nov., and the source note to that document; see also Heath to GW, 29 November.

8Heath later wrote that he “began to discharge the six-months men, beginning with those who were the worst clothed and unfit for duty,” on 1 Dec. (Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 280).

9See Udny Hay to GW, 23 Nov., and n.1 to that document; see also GW to Hay, 27 Nov., n.4.

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