George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 12 January 1781

To Major General William Heath

New Windsor 12th Jan: 1781

Dear Sir,

The Marqs De la Fayette Colo. Laurens & others arrived here yesterday, but bring no later accts than those I had with me at West-point1—nor have I heard any thing further from the revolted Troops, or the Comee of Congress since Genl Sullivans Letter which you heard read.2 I beg therefore that the detachment may be hurried, and I informed when it will be ready to move.3 I will direct Colo. Blaine to wait upon you and fix matters with respect to the article of Provision.4

Majr Genl Howe applied to me yesterday for the Command of this Detachment. In point of right he ought to have it—but in point of policy, it might be better to give it to either General Parsons or General Glover—and this I told him; but ultimately desired him to fix the matter with you and the other two Gentn, who might be more competent judges of the weight of my observations to him than I could be myself. determine it as you will, I shall be satisfied.5

When the Detachment Marches, you will be pleased to pay particular attention that each work is sufficiently manned & provided—that the Guard Boats below are uncommonly watchful. that upon the appearance of any force on the Water they fire alarm Guns at Stony or Verplanks point & not depending on this, send Expresses besides—that a field piece with a small guard be stationed at Fort Montgomery for the more certain receiving and communicating the alarm at Kings-ferry6—That every means be used to obtain intelligence of the Enemys designs at New York. And in a word every possible deligence used, and attention given, to the security of the Post in the absence of the Detachment.7 I am. Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the ALS.

1For the meeting at West Point on 11 Jan., see GW to Heath, 10 January.

3For the detachment and its composition, see Heath to GW, 11 January.

4GW’s directions to Ephraim Blaine, commissary general of purchases, were likely verbal.

5Heath appointed Maj. Gen. Robert Howe to the command.

6The British army had captured and razed Fort Montgomery during an expedition up the Hudson River in October 1777, but in 1779 the Continental army had constructed a redan with embrasures for artillery at the site (see Rufus Putnam to GW, 8 Aug. 1779, and n.4 to that document).

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