George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 6 September 1779

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters West Point Septr 6th 1779


Inclosed you will find a representation from Capt. Titus Watson of the Connecticut line in which he states his having been injured by the promotion of Capt. Cleft, a junior officer to a Majority, in violation of his rights as a senr officer, and urges the determination of a Board of Officers to this effect of which he produces certificates which are also inclosed1—As Capt. Watson states, that the arrangement of the Connecticut line was made in his absence which might have prevented a proper knowledge of facts, and as the proceedings of the Board of Officers do not appear to have been reported to Head Quarters or the Board of War; it is necessary the case should have a rehearing, that if Capt. Watson has really been injured, he may have redress—You will therefore be pleased to appoint a second Board of Officers consisting of the field Officers of the Connecticut line except Major Cleft to ascertain the relative rank of Captains Cleft and Watson previous to the promotion of the former to a majority and to inquire into the p[r]inciples upon which that promotion was made—You will transmit the pr[o]ceedings of the Board to me. I am Sir Yr Most Obet, servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

On 8 Sept., GW wrote to Heath from headquarters at West Point: “I have just now received yours of this date accompanied by the letter from Genls Parsons & Huntington to you setting forth the unwillingness of the field officers of the Connecticut line to decide on the claims of Capts. Cleft & Watson—as this unwillingness exists, the Board you have ordered may be suspended until something further can be done in the matter” (LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). Heath’s letter to GW of 8 Sept. has not been found; the enclosure has not been identified. In the general orders of 10 Sept., GW ordered a board of five field officers from non-Connecticut regiments to decide the issue; the board’s decision in favor of Maj. Wills Clift was published in general orders on 9 Oct. (see also Heath to GW, 15 Oct., and GW to Heath, 20 Oct., first letter).

1The enclosures have not been identified. For Capt. Titus Watson’s “representation” and one of the certificates that he sent to GW, see Watson to GW, 26 June, and n.2 to that document.

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