George Washington Papers

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

From Major General William Heath

Garrison West Point Decr 18th 1780

Dear General

I have sent a Detachment under the Command of a capable diligent Field Officer to dismount, launch and bring up the boats from Kings Ferry; which have lately been brought there on Carriages. I wish the Quarter Master General or one of his assistants, may point out the most proper place at murderers Creek for laying them up; that the Officer on his arrival, may meet his directions—It is not probable the Boats will be up at Murderers Creek before tomorrow.1

Two of the Prisoners of war who lately made their escape from the Provost at Fish Kill, have been taken up, and brought back, by a party of Militia;2 one of the Militia who took them represents to me, that his Son & a near Friend of his are Prisoners with the Enemy—He requests that they may be exchanged for the Prisoners retaken—I have answered him, that I would mention it to your Excellency.3 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 19 December.

1Q.M. Gen. Timothy Pickering had begun a letter to Heath from Newburgh, N.Y., on 16 Dec., 6:00 P.M.: “I have just dispatched a letter to you requesting a party of a hundred men may be sent to bring up to Murderers Creek the boats on carriages at Kings ferry (MHi: Heath Papers; see also General Orders, 11 Dec., and n.2 to that document). Pickering’s earlier letter to Heath on 16 Dec. told him to expect twenty-two boats at King’s Ferry, N.Y., and that GW had directed the boats being lodged “in Murderer’s Creek” (MHi: Heath Papers; see also GW to Roger Welles, 13 Dec., n.10). Heath responded to Pickering from West Point on 17 Dec. that he had ordered a detachment “to parade tomorrow morning for the purpose of dismounting launching and bringing up the Boats mentioned in your Letter, I think it will be necessary for Some person from your department to view and fix upon a proper place at Murderers Creek for laying up the Boats, Some additional Guard Boats and some repairs to the few now down the river are absolutely necessary” (MHi: Heath Papers). The failure of this detachment to provide assistance greatly impeded the desired movement of boats and prompted additional efforts to secure small craft along the Hudson River (see Heath to John Greaton, 19 Dec., and James Livingston to Heath, same date, both in MHi: Heath Papers).

3Heath struck out the start of another paragraph on his draft: “By an Act of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and a Proclamation of Your Excellency Consequent thereon deserters, from the Massachusetts Line who, embraced the benefit of the act.”

Index Entries