George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 1 February 1781

From Major General William Heath

West point Febry 1st 1781

Dear General

Major General Howe returned yesterday from the Jersies,1 I expected the Battalion Sent from the Lines Under the Command of Colo. Scammell would have returned with the other Troops, but the General informed me that he had n[e]ither Seen or heard from Colo. Scammell,2 Upon which I immediately Sent off an express to Colo. Scammell with orders for him to return with the Detachment up[on] the receipt of the order,3 General Howe has Just now received a Letter from him, advising that he did not arrive at Pompton untill the other detachment had come off, that he has taken a position below the Jersey line and posted Guards on the Several avenues leading from the Hutts, that it was the opinion of Some of the Jersey officers that his remaining in that position a few Days might have a very good tendency, that the Committee had not gone through with the examination of the Inlistments, that probably, their decision would not be conformable to the expectations of some of the soldiers, and that desertions might be Consequent, for these reasons he intended to remain there untill he received further orders, I have therefore Sent another express with discretionary orders for him to return, or Stay a few Days longer as the appearance of things may require.4

I am Just informed that the Small Pox is in all places in this vicinity and at the Park of Artillery, as there are Some few of the Troops who have not had it, will it not be adviseable for Such as incline, to have it?5 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect your Excellencys most obedient Servant

W. Heath M. General

ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1For Maj. Gen. Robert Howe’s command of the forces sent to suppress the mutiny in the New Jersey brigade, see GW to Howe, 22 Jan., and Howe to GW, 27 January.

2Col. Alexander Scammell’s New Hampshire battalion had been on the east side of the Hudson River supporting an attack on a Loyalist encampment in southern Westchester County, N.Y. (see Heath to GW, 28 Jan., n.1). Designated as a part of the force dispatched to suppress the mutiny, the battalion had been delayed in leaving Westchester County and arrived late in New Jersey (see Heath to GW, 25 Jan., n.3). The New Hampshire troops were retained in New Jersey on GW’s orders (see GW to Howe, 29 Jan.; see also Howe’s second letter to GW of that date).

3On 31 Jan., Heath wrote Scammell: “Major General Howe has this moment returned with the Detachment which were Sent into the Jersies Under his Command, I expected you would return with him, he informs me that he had heard nothing from you, you will please therefore on receipt hereof to return immediately, either by Kings ferry, or the road by ringwood and the Forrest of Dean, as you may think best, and least fatigueing to the men” (MHi: Heath Papers).

Scammell’s reply to Heath, dated 1 Feb. at Pompton, N.J., reads: “I am honor’d this Evening with your letter of the 31st Ult. In answer I beg leave to inform you that I arriv’d at this place the 29nth of Jany in the evening—On my arrival (& not before) I was inform’d that Genl Howe had return’d with the detachment under his command. As my men were much fatigu’d with marching, I purpos’d returning the 31st giving them one day to refresh themselves—But on information from Colo. Shreive that he had wrote to Genl Howe requesting that his detachment might remain a few days longer and that Gl Howe had consented, and agreed to remain himself at Smiths Clove I pressum’d it would be most proper for me to remain in my present station till further orders. And accordingly wrote to Genl Howe. But my Letter has either miscarried or did not overtake him previous to the writing of your Letter—I shall march very early Tomorrow morning by way of Kakeat if the weather will permit, and expect to cross Kings Ferry at 12 oClock the 3d Inst.” (DLC:GW).

4On this date, Heath wrote Scammell that “Major General Howe has this moment Shewn me a Letter from You of the 31st Ulto which Seems to render your continuing in your present Situation a few Days longer advisable if from the appearance of things when you receive this Such should be your opinion, you will please to remain untill you think the occasion for it is removed, unless you should receive contrary orders” (MHi: Heath Papers).

Scammell’s reply to Heath, dated at Verplanck Point, N.Y., on 3 Feb. at 12:00 P.M., reads: “In obedience to your Order of the 31st Ulto I marchd yesterday Morning 10 oClock from Pumpton quarter’d at Kakeat last Night and had cross’d part of my Battalion over Kings Ferry when I was honor’d with yours of the 1st Inst. When I left Pumpton, the Jersey Line appear’d to be settled down to a very considerable degree of Tranquility. & seem’d to be rather chagrin’d than mutinous. The Committee had made considerable progress in examining the men’s Inlistments, and out of a Regt & half of the men present they had discharg’d but two, And altho so many of them faild in their pretended claims, I could not learn that they discover’d any dissatisfaction. And as the british Troops had left staten Island, and return’d to their quarters, I presume I should have left Pumpton by this morning had your letter reach’d me Yesterday. As there was no apparent necessity for my remaining longer—When I wrote Genl Howe we fully & hourly expected the british would have landed in force at Elizabeth Town. & we were uncertain what effect the Hand Bills from Sr Harry might have had upon the minds of the Jersey Troops. But I believe now there is nothing to be apprehended from either. The Troops under my command will reach their Hutts this evening, except Colo. Hazen’s men. I shall do myself the honor of waiting upon you Tomorrow” (DLC:GW).

Index Entries