George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 19 January 1781

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters [New Windsor] Janry 19. 1781

Dear Sir

I received last Night your favors of the 16th and 18th Instant. and will attend to the subjects of them as early as possible.1 Indeed I shall write immediately to Govr Trumbull Govr Hancock, and the Agents of that State at Springfield, to forward on the supplies of Beef Cattle, unless they will expect to see a dissolution of the Army.2

I approve of the Arrangements made for carrying into execution the proposed enterprize, as reported by Colo. Humphrys, I have only to advise that it should be conducted with the most perfect secrecy, and executed at the time fixed upon if possible.3 The State of the River is such as will prevent the crossing of the Detachment of the Marichausie Corps. Nor will Col. Humphrys be able to attend. Of this you will be pleased to inform Genl Parsons or Col. Hull.4 I am Dear Sir With very great esteem Your Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS.

1See Heath to GW, 16 and 18 January.

3For the “enterprize,” a raid on the Loyalist outpost at Morrisania, N.Y., see Heath to GW, 6 Jan.(third letter) , n.1, and 10 Jan. (first letter); see also GW to Heath, 7 January. On 17 Jan., Heath had summoned Lt. Col. Hull, who would command the raiding force, to West Point, presumably to discuss the attack (see Heath to Hull, 17 Jan., MHi: Heath Papers). GW’s aide-de-camp David Humphreys evidently attended the conference.

4On this date, Heath wrote Maj. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons, who would be in overall command: “I have Just received a Letter from His Excellency General Washington in which he is pleased to express his approbation, of the arrangments for the intended enterprise, but informs me that in consequence of the State of the River n[e]ither Colonel Humphries or the Marichausie Horse will be able to Join Colo. Hull, he must therefore do without them.

“This morning I sent over a Barrel of rum Ten Barrels hard Bread and five of Salted Beef, I hope they will arrive in Season—The river is closeing up and whether I shall be able to get this over on the morning is uncertain, wishing you Success” (MHi: Heath Papers).

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