George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 8 October 1776

From Major General William Heath

Kingsbridge Octr 8th 1776

Dear General

Being Posted at Some Distance from The other General Officers of the State of Massachusetts Bay, I have found it very difficult to Obtain their Opinion of the Field Officers Proper to be Recommended, to that State, to Serve in the Army in future, General Nixon was at my Quarters on Yesterday, General Fellows was on Duty and Could not attend. I did with General Nixon arrainge The Officers for 12 Regiments whose Names are in the Inclos’d List1—I shew the List this morning to General Lincoln, who Joyns with us in Sentiment and Desired that Lieut. Colo. Seth Read of Colo. Patersons Regiment might be Added for a Regiment, I think He is worthy of one, We have put Colo. Prescott on the List—our motive was his past Heroic Conduct—I think He will not Serve after the Present Campaign, and I submit it to your Excellency’s better Judgment, whether it be best to put him on the List or not, Parks, Fuller, Hamblin, Peters, and Thompson are at Present Captains,2 I wish to Know your Excellency Opinion of this List, And whether it be your Pleasure, That we should proceed to Communicate it, to such of the Field officers as we Can, and Obtain from them a Recommendation of Capts. and Subalterns most proper to Serve in the New Army, we Also beg leave to propose an alteration in the List, (if it should appear to be for the Interest of the Service) this Day or tomorrow, as a more Particular Enquiry is makeing with respect to Several of the Officers, whose Conduct Since in the army, is better Known to Some other General officers.

I also take the Liberty to Inclose to your Excellency, The Sentence of a General Court Martial, upon Two Subaltern Officers and beg leave to Suggest to your Excellency (In Case your Excellency should approve the Sentences) if it might not be as well, to remitt the mulcts—Especially in the Case of Smedes.3 I have the Honor to be &c.

W. Heath

ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1This list has not been identified.

2Col. William Prescott left the army at the end of 1776. The captains mentioned here are Warham Parks, Nathan Fuller, Eleazer Hamlin, Andrew or Nathan Peters, and Joseph Thompson.

3The court-martial proceedings of 7 Oct. against lieutenants John Hulbert of Col. John Chester’s Connecticut State Regiment and Abraham Smedes of Lt. Col. Johannes Hardenbergh’s regiment of New York militia levies are in MHi: Heath Papers. Hulbert was charged with “having deserted the Camp in Time of Danger and being absent 26 Days without Leave.” Following the retreat from Long Island, he had been ordered to escort the regiment’s baggage to a safe place two or three miles north of New York City, but instead of stopping there, he had proceeded to his home 126 miles away. Hulbert was found guilty only of absence without leave, and he was sentenced to be cashiered and was mulcted (fined) one month’s pay. Smedes, who was tried “for spreading a false and malicious Report concerning Col: Hardenburgh’s Conduct on the Day of the Retreat from New York” and “for absenting himself from the Regt without Leave,” was found guilty of both charges. Smedes was sentenced on the first charge to “beg the Col.’s pardon at the Head of the Regt and confess that the whole was a scandalous, malicious Lie without the least Foundation, & that this Confession be inserted in the public papers.” On the second charge he was sentenced to be cashiered and mulcted one month’s pay. At the end of the enclosed copy of these court-martial proceedings, GW wrote: “Both of the foregoing Judgments are approvd by Go: Washington.” The document was returned to Heath with GW’s first letter to him of 9 October.

Index Entries