George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 21 May 1779

From Major General William Heath

Head Quarters Boston May 21st 1779

Dear General

In the month of September last Standing in need of an aid De Camp in conformity to the resolution of the Hon. Congress of the 27th May 17781 I appointed one from the line vizt Capt. Thomas Cartwright of Colo. Henry Jacksons Regt Since which in the new arrainging the officers of His Regiment Captain Cartwright was omitted, The Colonel apprehending as he has Since declared that Capt. Cartwright was provided for by being in my Family. Under these Circumstances I request your Excellencys Opinion and direction, whether Capt. Cartwright can Continue as one of my aids, or must quit the army. He is an officer of abilities and to me appears quallified to discharge the duties of the office with reputation to himself and Honor to his Country which makes me desireous to have him Continue in my family if Consistant with the establishment of the army.2

Four vessells have lately arrived here from Carolina with Rice having but in the whole about Twelve hundred & thirty Tierces Several other vessels which were expected with rice have not yet arrived, which makes it probable that they may have fallen into the hands of Some of the Enemys Cruizers.3 I have the Honor to be with the greatest respect your Excellencys most obedient Servt

W. Heath

P.S. the Brigt. Lusane with about 320 Tierces of Rice is arrived at Bedford, the Continental Sloop Providence, has retaken a Schooner laden with the Same Comodity, and Sent her into the Same Port.4


ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1Congress had resolved on that date that “two aids de camp be allowed to each major general, who shall for the future appoint them out of the captains or subalterns” (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 , 11:542).

2No reply from GW on this subject has been found, but Capt. Thomas Cartwright continued to serve as Heath’s aide until March 1781, when he resigned; see GW to Heath, 24 and 25 March 1781 (both in MHi: Heath Papers), and Heath to GW, 24 March 1781 (DLC:GW).

3One of the vessels laden with rice that had fallen into enemy hands was the brig Isaac; see Benjamin Ford to GW, 13 May. The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser (Boston) reported on 20 May that “four vessels have arrived here, from South-Carolina, laden with rice, belonging to the Continent.” The rice shipments were important because of a shortage of flour in Massachusetts; see Joseph Reed to GW, 14 April, and n.13 to that document.

4The Boston Gazette, and the Country Journal reported on 17 May that “The Privateer Sloop Providence, has taken a Privateer Brig fitted out by Admiral Gambier at New York, after the severest Conflict of any that has happened during the present War; and also retaken a Schooner from South Carolina and carried them both safe into port. The Providence in the Engagement with the Brig, had two Men killed, and 12 wounded.” The Massachusetts Spy; or, American Oracle of Liberty (Boston) reported on 20 May that the Providence had entered port with the captured brig as well as a “valuable ship, with 400 teirces of rice.”

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