George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 23 December 1780

To Major General William Heath

New Windsor 23d Decr 1780

Dr Sir,

Some days ago, General McDougall informed me, that a Majr Hayes (I think that was the name)—or Hughes, had suggested to him, that the Inhabitants of Westchester County could, without inconvenience to themselves, spare at least Ten thousand Bushels of Indian Corn and Five hundred Tons of Hay; and that a number of Pettiaugua’s sent to the nearest good Landings to the Foragers (but not too low for fear of loosing them) would aid the Waggons, & get it off with much ease.1

This measure, though desirable at all times and particularly so in our circumstances, I postponed, because I thought it would interfere too much with the building of Hutts, & injure the Men on that acct2—but if it was possible for you now, or before the river closes (thereby preventing the aid of the water craft)—to avail the Garrison of this resource, it ought by no means to be neglected, as it may have a double operation—serving us, & injuring the enemy. Genl McDougal added—if I recollect right—that the People would receive certificates—but their not doing it, should be no bar to our obtaining what they can spare.

He mentioned Colo. Hull as a fit Officer to command—or at least to be with—the Foraging Party, from his perfect knowledge of the Country, & People. Hayes, or Hughes might also be useful in the execution of such a project—& if I remember right, he told me he now was, or had been in the Qr Masters department. but more particular information may be had of this person from Genl McDougal.

Having received information that a good road might be opened to the Garrison on the West side of the river, and knowing the indispensable necessity of it in case of Frost, I have employed Captn Machin to mark it out, and when done you will please to order a party to work on it, as it may become essential (as their is no Magazine at West point) to the existance of the Garrison when the river closes.3 I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, MHi: Heath Papers; copy, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Maj. Gen. Alexander McDougall was in the New York Highlands until leaving for Philadelphia to serve as a congressional delegate from New York (see GW’s second letter to Nathanael Greene, 13 Dec., and n.4).

2GW refers to the construction of huts for the army’s winter encampment (see his letter to Samuel Huntington, 28 Nov., and n.12).

3Heath replied to GW from West Point on this date, 3:00 P.M.: “I am this moment honored with yours of this date, I had in view the Object you are pleased to mention, except the bringing up the forage by water, as your Excellency will observe by mine of this morning, The reinforcment is gone down, I am happy in having appointed Lt Colo. Hull to the Command, the person mentioned, by General McDougall, is Colonel Hughes D.Q.M., he is now at Albany, but probably Others of the Department, (I believe a Major Campbell at the village) can Conduct the business, I will Send for him.

“The road you are pleased to mention, will be of great utility, every thing in my power shall be done to have it compleated” (ALS, DLC:GW; see also Heath’s earlier letter to GW on this date and another on 28 Dec.).

John Campbell (d. 1798) served as foragemaster and deputy quartermaster general with his principal post at Continental Village, N.Y. (see depositions in his pension file, DNA: RG 15, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800–1900).

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