George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 4 February 1781

From Major General William Heath

West point, Feby 4 1781

Dear General,

Yesterday I was honored with your’s of the 2d.1

Immediately upon receiving the signification of your pleasure, I called on the state Clothiers for a return of Blankets received by them since the last delivery; enclosed are those from Connecticut and New Hampshire.2 that from Massachusetts was made from Fish kill to the Clothier-general’s Office.

I endeavoured to learn from Major General Howe the cause of the detention of Colonel Scammell’s Detachment in Jersey, and to state it precisely to your Excellency; I am sorry that I was unfortunate, or thought to be so deficient as to give you any grounds for surprise.

Major Campbell informs me that considerable quantities of Forage may be brought from below the lines, if teams can be obtained; but that it is not possible to obtain them in this State; that there are teams in the neighbouring towns in Connecticut, and as near the Forage as those in this State, which are worn down. The difficulty is to obtain them. The Quartermasters have nothing to induce them. I beg leave to submit it to your Excellency’s consideration, that the Quartermaster-general may take such measures as may be thought proper, either by writing to Governor Trumbull for an impress Warrant, or to exercise his own authority if competent, and the getting off the Forage should be thought of consequence sufficient to require the exercise of it.

Major Cartwright, who has been for several years in my family as one of my Aids de Camp, (and lately gone to Boston) has requested leave to resign. He has no other connection with the Army. Will your Excellency please to give the discharge, or shall I do it? He has served with fidelity and honor.

I thank your Excellency for information of the resolution of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to clothe their Troops. The honorable the Speaker has lately informed me that the Commonwealth were determin’d to do every thing in their power for the Army—that a large quantity of Clothing had gone on some time since, which he flattered himself had arrived at the Army—and that an Express who would deliver me the letter would bring on a sum of Money. In a postscript to his letter, he observes the Express was detained, & something further would be done.3 This was before the arrival of General Knox; since which, your Excellency, I presume, is fully informed of what has been done; which I think every one will consider as very generous.4

Colo. Smith, late Deputy Quartermaster at Springfield, informed me yesterday; that about fifty hogsheads of woolen Clothing was at that place when he came away, and had been there for some time. This is probably the Clothing which the Speaker supposed had arrived at the Army.5 I have the honor to be With the greatest respect Your Excellency’s Most obedient Servant

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

2These returns have not been identified.

3The letter from Caleb Davis to Heath, dated at Boston on 30 Dec. 1780, is in MHi: Heath Papers. Heath did not receive the letter until 31 Jan. 1781 (see Heath to Davis, 2 Feb., MHi: Heath Papers; see also “Heath Papers,” description begins “The Heath Papers.” Parts 1–3. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th ser., 4:1–285; 7th ser., vols. 4–5. Boston, 1878–1905. description ends 3:169–71).

4Brig. Gen. Henry Knox had been on an assignment in the New England states (see GW to Knox, 7 Jan.; see also Knox to GW, 7 Feb.).

5GW replied to Heath on 5 Feb. from headquarters at New Windsor: “I am favored with your Letter of Yesterday.

“It would be very desireable to obtain the forage from below the Lines. I shall advise Col. Pickering of the Matter, and suggest your observations to him.

“I will give Major Cartwright a Discharge from the service, agreeably to his request” (LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; GW signed the cover of the LS). For the letter on forage, see GW to Timothy Pickering, 5 February.

Maj. Thomas Cartwright’s discharge reads: “Major Thomas Cartwright, Aid De Camp to Major General Heath, having sollocited permission to retire from the Army, is hereby honorably discharged from the Service of the United States. Given Under My hand at Head Quarters New Windsor this 5th day of Febry 1781” (Df, in David Humphreys’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

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