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General Heath to Pierre Van Cortlandt



Peekskill, December 3d, 1776.

SIR: Your favours of the 27th and 28th of November are before me. I should have sooner acknowledged the receipt of them, had not a multiplicity of pressing avocations prevented. It gives me the highest satisfaction to find my endeavours to serve the publick cause meet with the approbation of so respectable a body as the honourable Convention of the State of New-York.

I have the pleasure also to acquaint you, that by a letter received from his Excellency General Washington, dated at Brunswick, the 29th of November, his Excellency is pleased to express his approbation of my offers of assistance in obstructing the passage of the North River, as it is an object of so much consideration that too much attention cannot be paid to it.

I am sorry to find that a number of soldiers, both sick and well, have obtruded themselves upon you, and thank you for the kind assistance which has been afforded to them. They were not of my division; but having come within the limits of my command, I immediately gave orders for those who were fit for duty to join their regiment, and that a Surgeon of the hospital should attend the sick; and I am surprised this evening to find that the latter has been neglected. I have this evening directed Dr˙ McKnight to repair to Fishkill to-morrow. He has promised that he will attend, with medicines, &c.

I yesterday ordered to Fort Montgomery a quantity of sheet iron, which is to be forwarded to the Forest of Dean, in order to complete the stores for the use of the Northern Army.

I shall pay a particular attention to the posts and passes on the west side of Hudson' s river, which lie within the limits of my command, and shall order over, from time to time, such reinforcements as our strength will admit of, or the exigencies of affairs require. At present, as General Lee is passing that way with a very respectable body of troops, any reinforcement of our posts there is unnecessary.

I thank the honourable Convention for the measures which they have taken to afford speedy aid, in case occasion should require it, on the west side of Hudson' s river, by holding the Militia of Orange and Ulster Counties in readiness to march at a moment' s notice.

A hospital for the reception of the sick of my department, is extremely wanted. Doctor McKnight, who is my principal Surgeon, acquaints me that the academy at Fishkill is well calculated for that purpose, and has been recommended to him by some gentlemen of the Committee. If it is unimproved, and it should be agreeable to the honourable Convention that it should be used as an hospital, it will benefit the publick. If it should appear disagreeable, a house must be somewhere or another built or fitted up.

I am, sir, with respect and esteem, your most obedient and very humble servant,


To Pierre Van Cortlandt, Esq˙, Vice President of the Committee of Safety of the State of New-York, Fishkill.