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To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 19 February 1780

From Major General William Heath

Highlands [N.Y.] Feb. 19. 1780.

Dear General,

I am just honored with yours of the 15th: have given orders to have the returns made as soon as possible, and have enjoined on Lt Colo. Brooks not to loose a moment in having them accomplished.

Major General Howe arrived here a few days since:1 I intended to have set out immediately for new England, but, the mild weather sitting in which has rendered the roads almost impassible, I am yet detain’d here.

No Flour has yet arrived from Easton or Sussex County:2 I apprehend the badness of the roads has detain’d it. The Legislature of the State of new york have just passed an act entitled “An act more effectually to supply the army with Flour” I hope it will answer the purposes intended.3

Enclosed your Excellency will find certificate of the time when Lt Peabody resign’d his commission.4

Capt. Flowers of the 3d massachusetts Regt has requested leave to resign his commission: Enclosed are the certificates required.5

I should before this time have transmitted to your Excellency the report of the court of enquiry respecting the Public Hydes; but, not being satisfied With the manner in which the investigation was at first made, I have desired the court to sit again, the report will be forwarded when it comes to hand.6

The enclosed Letter Colo. Nixon sent to me yesterday:7 I have endeavored to dissuade him from resigning his commission—He informs me that his private affairs are such as require his attention for about two months, and that he is loath to ask for leave of absence for so long time at this season.

He has commanded the first Brigade since the beginning of January, has been in the service from the 19th of April ’75—and, very attentive to his duty. to your Excellencys determination it is submitted.

Several of the Field officers commanding Regiments in the massachusetts Line Since the receipt of the new Commissions, have represented that several officers have no commissions sent, and some others have the time of their rank wrongly inserted—and others wrongly number’d—Whether there be grounds for the whole, or not, I cannot say, as no Coppy of the arrangement was taken here—I believe there are some mistakes, but, it is a matter so dangerous to touch that I have avoided more than to desire the officers to point out the supposed mistakes:8 those that I have received I take the Liberty to enclose,9 and wish your Excellency would direct whether enquiry Shall be made and, if so, in what way. By General Paterson’s and Colo. M. Jackson’s certificates, the proper arrangement of the 8th Regt was not given in, which occasioned the mistakes mentioned by Colo. Jackson.10 I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most obedient Servt

W. Heath

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

1GW had ordered Maj. Gen. Robert Howe to assume command of the Highlands department while Heath was on leave (see GW to Howe, 5 Feb.).

3For this legislation, see George Clinton to GW, 21 February.

4GW requested this information in his letter to Heath of 2 February. The enclosed certificate has not been identified.

5The enclosed certificates have not been identified.

6Heath probably is referring to the inquiry that GW had directed him to make into the conduct of Moses Hatfield (see GW to Heath, 12 Jan.; see also Heath to GW, 2–3 Feb., n.6).

7Col. Thomas Nixon’s letter to Heath, dated at “Soldiers Fortune,” N.Y., on 18 Feb., reads: “When the present War first commenced, I Chearfully and heartily engaged in the noble Cause, leaving the whole of my domestick Business in a very confused and unsettled state; and as I have, from that period to the present day been so steadily detained in publick service that I have had little or no opportunity to take the necessary care of my own private Interest, altho many Difficulties are daily arising therein in Consequence of my detention, which must soon, and has already terminated greatly to my Disadvantage.

“I must beg leave to acquaint your Honor that, altho I still remain as firmly attatched to the Interest of my Country as any Man Breathing, am as anxious for its welfare, and have its prosperity as much at heart as is possible for any person; yet the abovementioned Circumstances, together with other matters loudly Calls for my presence at home: I would therefore solicit Your Honor’s greatest Influence with his Excellency that I may be permitted to Resign the Station I am now Honored with Immediately to some other person more worthy to fill it—at the same time Sir I would wish his Excellency may be acquainted that I entertain the highest, and most Grateful sense of the Honor and respect that has been exhibited towards me hitherto—that my highest hope is that my past services has been acceptable; and that in case this request is Granted my most strenuous exertions for the Good of the service shall be constantly employed as much as possible, consistent with a Domestic Life” (DLC:GW).

8For this arrangement, which GW and Heath had spent much effort in formulating, and the long wait for the commissions to arrive from the Board of War, see GW to John Jay, 5 Aug. 1779 (first letter), and n.7 to that document; see also Heath to GW, 23 Oct. 1779.

9These enclosures have not been identified.

10GW replied on 2 March (first letter).

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