George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 15 July 1777

From Major General William Heath

Boston July 15. 1777

Dear General

This will be handed to your Excellency by Monr D’Avaux, late a Major in the French Cavalry, as he informs. He came to this place in the Freedom a Brig. of War, Capt. Clouston of this State,1 He has come to serve in our Army, and has desired a line from me to your Excellency.

By Express yesterday from our Army at the Nor[t]hward, we are informed, that a considerable number of Officers and Soldiers were lost in the Retreat, among the former, Colonels, Francis & Hale.2 I have the Honor to be very respectfully Your Excellency’s Most Hble Servt

W. Heath

LS, DNA:PCC, item 152; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1Nicolas d’Avaux (d’Avout, d’Avoust; b. 1740), who was an uncle of one of Napoleon’s marshals, Louis-Nicolas Davout, was commissioned a lieutenant in the Carabiniers in June 1762 and promoted to captain in August 1767. D’Avaux left Nantes for America in May 1777 and arrived in Boston in mid-July 1777 (see GW’s second letter to Hancock, 25 July 1777, and note 1). The Freedom, a 12–gun Massachusetts navy brig commanded by Capt. John Clouston, arrived at Boston with a load of military stores on Sunday, 6 July 1777, from Nantes, France, after a voyage of forty days. The Freedom had captured sixteen vessels since it had sailed from Marblehead, Mass., on 8 March. See the Boston Continental Journal, 10 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 , 9:255.

2Ebenezer Francis (1743–1777) of Medford, Mass., who served as a captain in Col. John Mansfield’s Massachusetts Regiment from May to December 1775, was appointed colonel of the 11th Massachusetts Regiment in November 1776. Francis was killed when the British attacked the rear guard of St. Clair’s retreating army at Hubbardton, Vt., on 7 July 1777. Nathan Hale (1743–1780) of Tyringham, Mass., was commissioned major of the 3d New Hampshire Regiment in April 1775. He became lieutenant colonel of the 2d New Hampshire Regiment in November 1776 and was promoted to colonel in April 1777. Hale was captured at Hubbardton on 7 July and not exchanged until September 1780.

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