George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 24 February 1781

From Major General William Heath

West point. Feb. 24. 1781.

Dear General

I am this moment honored with your’s of the 22d and 23d instant.1 Captain Smart, on the late reform was arranged in Colonel Greaton’s regiment. I have taken the liberty to dela2 the word Sprout’s, and insert Greatons, in the discharge.

I gave Major General Parsons a copy of the paragraph in your Excellency’s letter of the 19th relative to sending back the insufficient recruits, and forwarding those sent to the respective places of rendezvous, and requested him to act comformable, without loss of time—I will second that request on the present occasion.3

I have directed the Beacons on Butter hill and Fish kill mountain to be repaired, and guards posted at them4—an alarm Gun to be sent to Fort Montgomery—Have been constantly inculcating on the officers the having every thing in the most perfect readiness for instant defence. The commanding officers at Verplank’s and Stoney points, by their instructions, are to make the most obstinate resistance if attacked. Your Excellency makes no mention of the Block house at Dobbs’ ferry, neither do I know your pleasure respecting that post. The instructions to the officer, having been given by your Excellency—Its present garrison consists of a subaltern, & twenty-five men, not long since sent there from Captain Welles’ company.5 I have been obliged, during the winter, to relieve the post with provisions and have generally directed that twenty or thirty days provisions be kept in reserve. I will pursue any other measures you may please to direct.

Our stock of salted meat is by no means so large as it ought to be either at this post or within the reach of it. I yesterday desired Mr Stevens to urge the forwarding on salted provisions with all possible dispatch from Connecticut.6 There is a considerable quantity of flour in the magazines but the greater part of it is at New Windsor & Fish kill I shall endeavor to have it got down as soon as the river will admit. I am a little apprehensive that the logs for the Chain are not in so great forwardness as we could wish, occasioned by the embarrassments in the Quarter master general’s department on account of forage and money. A Captain Nevin has been for some time employed in procuring the logs some where back of New Windsor.7 I shall make a point of putting every thing in the best posture of defence so far as is in my power. 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. GW replied to Heath on 27 February.

1See GW to Heath, 22 and 23 February.

2The writer evidently meant to write “dele,” meaning to delete from a text (OED description begins James A. H. Murray et al., eds. The Oxford English Dictionary: Being a Corrected Re-Issue with an Introduction, Supplement, and Bibliography of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles. 12 vols. 1933. Reprint. Oxford, England, 1970. description ends ). For the reorganization of the Continental army, see General Orders, 1 Nov. 1780.

3See GW to Heath, 19 Feb. 1781. Heath’s letters to Maj. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons are dated 20 and 25 Feb. (MHi: Heath Papers).

4See Heath to Moses Hazen, 24 Feb. (MHi: Heath Papers).

5See Heath to GW, 10 Feb., and n.1 to that document.

6Heath’s letter to Nathaniel Stevens of 23 Feb. is in MHi: Heath Papers.

7GW had ordered Capt. Daniel Niven of the corps of engineers to procure new logs to float the defensive chain across the Hudson River (see his letter to Niven of 12 Dec. 1780; see also Heath’s second letter to GW, 15 Nov., n.3).

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