George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 13 December 1780

From Major General William Heath

Garrison West Point Decr 13th 1780

Dear General

On the receipt of the enclosed application from Mr Brooks, just before your arrival;1 I directed two Field Officers from the Massachusetts Line, & one from Connecticutt Line, to make the survey—The Officer from the Connecticutt Line was absent, the other two attended the service inclosed is their report.2 They inform me verbally that by cutting & putting the parts of garments together, some good ones might be made from the damaged Cloathing—as for instance—The forepart of a shirt & one sleeve may be good, the other sleeve & back fit for nothing; parting the two & throwing away one half would make a good shirt—The same is the case with the other articles, Whether it will be best, to order the Clothier to have them overhawled, & repaired, or sold, is submitted to your Excellencys determination.3

Yesterday Colonel Hazen informed me, that fifteen Prisoners of war had made their escape from the Provost at Fish Kill, that it was supposed the Sentinels were bribed—The Sentinel & several of the guard are confined, in order to tryal—It is really very unaccountable, that so many Prisoners have at one time & another, made their escape from that Provost—If our finances would admit of it, a better place of security I believe is necessary—As soon as it was known that the Prisoners had escaped, notice was given to all the out Guards & Patroles if possible to apprehend them.4 I have the honor to be With the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most Obedient Servant

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers. Heath drafted only the postscript; the body of the draft is in another handwriting. GW’s aide-de-camp David Humphreys docketed the LS: “Directions given to Mr [John] Moylan Not to dispose of Clothing &c.”

1Heath means GW’s arrival at New Windsor (see GW to Heath, 28 Nov., and n.5).

2One enclosure was a letter from David Brooks, deputy clothier general, to Heath written at Newburgh, N.Y., on 4 Dec.: “I am directed by the Clothier General to Make sale of Sundry damaged Clothing that is in Store to raise some Mon[e]y for the defraying incidental Expences in the Department; and for that purpose to apply to you for two field Officers to examine And condemn such Articles as may be unfit for service. I beg therefor you will be kind enough to appoint two officers for the above purpose, & let them attend at my quarters as soon as may be convenient” (DLC:GW).

The other enclosure was a “Return of damaged Cloathing in the Public Store at Newburgh,” dated 8 December. It listed 59 coats, 138 vests, 106 pairs of woolen breeches, 500 shirts, 15 pairs of officer shoes, 457 pairs of common shoes, 5 pairs of “Morgersons” (possibly moccasins), 95 pairs of hose, 287 linen overalls, 53 pairs of linen gaiters, 3 hunting shirts, and 14 pieces of linen. “Agreeable to General Orders of the 6th Inst. we the subscribers proceeded to NewBurgh and and found the above Articles of Cloathing damaged.” Col. John Greaton and Maj. Nathaniel Winslow signed the return at West Point on 11 Dec. (DLC:GW).

3See the source note above.

4Heath later reported the capture of two prisoners (see his first letter to GW, 18 Dec.; see also GW to Heath, 19 Dec.).

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