George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Heath, 23 May 1782

Highlands, May 23. 1782.

Dear General,

In obedience to a resolution of Congress sent me the last fall, and which I communicated to your Excellency, I have been endeavouring to obtain the documents necessary to ascertain the quantity of forage consumed by the allied army in West Chester county the last campaign. I wrote once and again to colonel Pickering, quartermaster-general of the American army, for a return of the number of horses, oxen, &c. kept by the French army; yesterday I received from him the enclosed letter and papers. The letter from general Beville exhibits his sentiments on the case in dispute; but no return of the number of horses, &c. is transmitted. The state of New York entertain sentiments very different from those expressed by general Beville—and Congress have directed that just and equitable measures be taken to ascertain the quantity of forage consumed. The arbitrators have met once, and their meeting now stands adjourned to the 20. of June next, when they are to meet and complete the business. If the returns from the french army are not obtained, a settlement will be a leap in the dark: and on the other hand, there is little probability of obtaining them before the 20. of June; and indeed from the tenor of general Beville’s letter, they will not be transmitted unless called for by your Excellency. I therefore beg leave to submit the matter to your consideration, and request your opinion and advice on the subject. I wish a return of the several papers enclosed after your Excellency has read them, as I have not taken copies. I have the honor to be, With the greatest respect, Your Excellency’s Most obedient servant

W. Heath

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


5 Feb. 1782

Extract of a letter from Major General Heath to Colonel Pickering Q.M.G: dated Head Quarters Highlands Feby 5th 1782.

‘Dear sir’

‘I was the last evening honored with letters from his Excellency the commander in chief—in one of them he is pleased to express himself as follows.’

"If colonel Pickering has not left the north river, he can inform you whether any, or what steps have been taken to procure a return of the horses and cattle of the French Army which were in the camp at West Chester—Should nothing have been done, the request will go properly from him to General de Beville, the quarter master general."

‘Please my dear sir, to let me be favored with those returns as soon as possible. You are fully sensible how anxious the state is for a settlement, and how essential it is that those returns should be previously obtained.’



Philadelphia Feby 9th 1782


Sometime in last autumn, General Heath, who then commanded & still commands the American troops on the Hudson, was directed by Congress to take equitable measures for ascertaining the quantity of forage consumed by the allied army while it lay near Dobbs ferry, in the county of West Chester in the state of New York. This resolution of Congress was handed to me during the siege of york town. So far as the American troops were concerned, I was already prepared with my returns of the number of horses & oxen which had been supported by the forage obtained in West Chester County, and supposed I had no occasion to meddle with what concerned the French Army. But this moment I have received from General Heath a letter on the subject, from which it appears to be the opinion of General Washington, that the application for the necessary returns of the horses & oxen of the French Army, which were subsisted on the forage taken in West Chester county, should be made by you to me. An extract from this letter I do myself the honour to inclose.

No account having been taken or appraisement made, at the time, of the several quantities & species of forage collected & used by the allied army while in West Chester County there is no way left for ascertaing the same, but by finding the numbers of horses & oxen which during the time were subsisted on that forage. But there will be some difference between the French and American Army: the former I suppose received very considerable supplies of grain from elsewhere; but the latter subsisted almost entirely on the West Chester forage. To prevent therefore an undue charge, it will be necessary for you to certify, as nearly as you can, the quantities of grain for forage, which were supplied to your army from other places than West Chester County. This Certificate, with the returns of the horses and oxen in your army while we lay in that county, I beg you to transmit to me as speedily as possible, that so I may fulfil the views of the Commander in Chief. I have the honour to be &c.

Tim: Pickering Q.M.G.


Philadelphia May 11. 1782.


On the 8th instant I received the letter from General Beville of which the inclosed is a copy. I also inclose copies of my two letters which he refers to, & of the extract from yours which I sent him therewith. From the information these will furnish, you will judge what further steps are to be taken relative to the forage consumed by the allied army in the county of West Chester, in the state of New-York. I have the honour to be, with great regard, sir, your most obedt servt

Tim: Pickering Q.M.G.

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