George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 15 December 1780

From Major General William Heath

Garrison West Point Decr 15th 1780

Dear General

I some days since signifyed to Colonel Hazen, your opinion respecting the Arrest of Major Reid1—I this morning received his answer, Coppy of which I take the liberty to enclose.2

We are now turning our attention to the salting a quantity of the Beef in bulk at this Post—Colonel Hay has also proposed its being done in hutts, at the Connecticutt & New Hampshire Quarters.3 The obstacles are the want of boards or planks, for erecting & secureing proper places—The materials cannot be procured here—A quantity of boards &c. expected here, have been stopped at New Windsor, or New Burgh—Perhaps they are wanted as much there as here—if they are not I wish a part of them might be spared, to compleat the Store; as the Beef Cattle are every day wasteing, & the Season nearly arrived, when it will be very difficult, if possible to execute the business.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. GW replied to Heath on 16 December.

1See James Randolph Reid to GW, 7 Dec., and n.2 to that document.

2The enclosure was an extract from Col. Moses Hazen’s letter to Heath written at Fishkill, N.Y., on 14 Dec. to explain that the charges against Maj. James Randolph Reid “are of such a nature that I cannot withdraw the Arrest—nor are the Witnesses all here that will be wanted in support of the charges—I wish not to add to Major Reids misfortune by prolonging the time of his confinement—But at the same time his conduct has been such in the regiment (tho undiscovered) that merits but little indulgence in his present situation … should your honor suppose I am warranted in the charges exhibited against him, his present sufferings are not severe.” Hazen wanted to try Reid no earlier than the end of the month: “Sooner I am afraid the evidences will not be ready, as some of the witnesses are at a distance, and other Kinds of testimony are now in Congress. I have taken every necessary precaution to have them all here by the time proposed, & hope I shall not be disappointed” (DLC:GW; Hazen’s full letter is in MHi: Heath Papers).

3For the winter encampments of the Connecticut and New Hampshire lines, see GW to Heath, 26 Nov., n.5, and to Samuel Huntington, 28 Nov., and n.5.

4Lt. Col. Udny Hay, New York state agent, had written Heath from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on 13 Dec. fearing the “many contingencies” involved in salting beef at West Point and suggesting “that a sufficiency might be salted in a hutt built for the purpose where the Connecticutt and N: Hampshire Brigades are stationd to serve them till about the middle of March.” Hay added that New York governor George Clinton had “issued a general impress warrant for wheat and flour, I hope it will have a good effect, though I longd much to have been in possession of it a fortnight agoe—Every exertion for supplying the Fort shall be made by me as far as the means putt into my hands will possibly admitt, I wish to God they were more adequate to the purpose” (MHi: Heath Papers; see also Clinton to GW, this date).

Heath replied to Hay from West Point on 16 Dec.: “I hope the advantage of Salting the Beef in bulk will answer our most Sanguine expectations, I would by all means have a very considerable quantity secured in that way at this Post as well as at the Connecticut and New Hampshire Hutts. …

“I am glad to hear his Excellency the Governor has been pleased to grant an Empress warrant to take Wheat and Flour, I am certain we shall want all you will be able to Obtain by every method of which you can avail yourself we are now nearly out of Flour” (MHi: Heath Papers).

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