George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 16 June 1777

From Major General William Heath

Boston June 16th 1777.

Dear General

Since my last1 the Deputy Pay Master Genl has received from the Honble Continental Congress, Warrents on the Loan Office for a Supply of Monies. We have purchased about One Hundred Horses for the Cannon and Ammunition Waggons, As soon as the latter are compleated, the whole will be sent on without loss of time.

Saturday last a prize Brig. was sent in Here by Comodore Manly.2 She was bound from London to New York Laden with Duck, Cordage &c. The same day two Brigs. arrived from Bilboa. They were sent the last Fall from this place by Mr Miller Deputy Commissary, and were almost Loaded at Bilboa with Salt in order to Return, when by order of Mr Lee & others part of the Salt was unloaded and the Vessels Loaded with Anchors, Cables, Cordage, Duck, Linens, &c., One of them has Cordage compleat for a Ship of 7 or 800 Tons a Large Ship was soon to follow laden with the same kind of Articles, those arrived in the two Brigs. are Consigned to the Honble James Warren Esqr. by direction of Elbridge Gerry Esqr. Member of Congress, General Warren is Surprised that they should come Consigned to him and is pretty Confident that they are the property of the United States, Mr Gerry could not send them on his own Account. Their being sent in Vessels fitted out by the Continental Commissary is another Strong Evidence that they belong to the Continent, We shall Unload and Store the Effects untill the Matter is ascertained.

I have this Moment recd the inclosed Letter from General Spencer, Your Excellency will Observe that he expects the pay of a Separate Command, and also pay for a Secretary, Dy Adjt General and a Brigade Major. I beg your Excellency’s direction as soon as possible, As the several Officers, I suppose want their pay, and I am at some loss in the matter.3 I have the honor be with great Respect Your Excellency’s Most Obt Servt

W. Heath

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

2The previous Saturday was 14 June 1777. The British brigantine Littleton, commanded by Capt. William Johnson, was captured on the high seas by the Continental navy frigates Boston and Hancock on 29 May 1777 while en route from London to New York. According to the Boston Continental prize agent, John Bradford, “they took her in Lattde 39d . . 2om she has on board by information from one of her men, eight Tons Iron, twenty Chaldron Coal, ten tons of Cordage a Quantity of Duck, which is much damag’d, a parcell of Slops with some Linnens; not a paper is come to hand, for it seems whilst the Capts were perusing them, a Sixty four Gun Ship with four merchant Ships Appear’d, which prevented the return of the papers, however the Brig [was] long enough in sight, to see our Frigates Run Round her, and make their own sport, Capt [John] Manley Bid her a Challenge, by hauling up his Courses and heaving his main Top sail to the Mast, in order to draw her from her Convoy, that the Boston might carry off some of the Ships, But the Brittain was aware of his design, and would not be taken in the trap” (Bradford to the Continental Marine Committee, 19 June 1777, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends , 9:141; see also Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 130). The Littleton was libeled in late June 1777 and sold along with its cargo later this summer (see Trial and Condemnation in Massachusetts Maritime Court of the Prize Brigantine Littleton, 29 July 1777, in Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends , 9:350–52, and Independent Chronicle [Boston], 11 Sept. 1777; see also ibid., 909–10).

3Heath enclosed a copy of Brig. Gen. Joseph Spencer’s letter to him of 13 June 1777, written at Providence, R.I., requesting pay for Spencer and his staff (DLC:GW).

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