George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 7–10 February 1778

From Major General William Heath

Head Quarters Boston Feby 7[–10] 1778

Dear General

I have received the honor of yours of the 2d Instant pr Captain Hopkins of Colo. Moylans Light Dragoons.1 shall afford him every assistance in my power.

Brigadier General Learned called upon me a day or two since and requested that I would transmit your Excellency the enclosed Certificates, and represent his present state of Health. In the Campaign of 1775 by a violent fall he received a breach which greatly incapacitates him for business especially in the winter. He cannot ride without much inconvenience, and if he happens to wet his feet, is attacked with the most excruciating pain. He has proposed to resign his Commission; but the Honble Mr Hancock & my self have persuaded him to delay it for the present, as in a Summers Campaign he may render his Country essential Service. He is anxious to know your Excellency’s pleasure.2

Colonel Hazen was here a few days since to obtain several Articles requisite for the Troops intended to make the Irruption into the upper District of Canada. He requested that a small Scout of Ten or Twelve men might be sent from the upper Settlements on Kenebeck river to the french Settlements on Chaudier to spread a report of a large body of Troops coming that way. I have adopted the proposal and have ordered a party to proceed accordingly. I have directed them to proceed with all proper precaution, to report that they are sent forward to mark a road, and that a large Body of Troops are to follow, they are to enquire if provisions can be purchased for the Army, at what rate &c. and indeed to hold up every colouring of deception, and to make a precipitate return, this may perhaps divert their force.

General Burgoyne has received the Resolve of Congress forbiding his Embarkation with much concern, rather than resentment.3 I have the honor to be With great respect Your Excellency’s Obedient Hble Servant

W. Heath

Feby 10th P.S. In consequence of the late resolutions of Congress for detaining the Troops of the Convention, I have had several applications from the Officers for permission to return to Europe on parole, or to be exchanged, in particular one from Lt Colo. Anstruther and another from Lord Napier, and I doubt not many others will apply. As the circumstances of the families of these Two Officers are particular I beg leave to recommend to your Excellency the Exchange of them or of Colo. Anstruther in particular whose whole conduct here has been very becoming the Gentleman & Soldier in his Condition. I have enclosed their letters to me to the Hone Congress.4


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

1Heath is referring to GW’s letter to him of 2 January.

3Congress resolved on 8 Jan. to suspend the embarkation of Burgoyne’s army for England until Great Britain ratified the Saratoga Convention (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 10:35).

4Heath’s letter to Congress of 7–10 Feb. and the letters which it enclosed, to Heath from Lt. Col. John Anstruther and Lt. Francis Napier, both dated 9 Feb., are in DNA:PCC, item 57. Congress read Heath’s letter and its enclosures on 25 Feb. and referred it to a committee of three, and on 2 Mar., Congress resolved to permit Anstruther, but not Napier, to proceed to Rhode Island on condition that Anstruther be exchanged for Ethan Allen (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 10:196, 213). Allen was exchanged for Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell on 3 May, however, and Anstruther had to wait several months before securing his return to Scotland. John Anstruther (1736–1815) had been commissioned a captain of the 63d Regiment of Foot in July 1762, major of the same regiment in November 1766, and lieutenant colonel of the 62d Regiment of Foot in October 1773. Francis, seventh Baron Napier (1758–1823), had entered the 31st Regiment of Foot as an ensign in December 1774 and secured promotion to lieutenant in March 1776. Captured with Burgoyne at Saratoga, Napier eventually made it back to England on parole, being finally exchanged only in October 1780.

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