To the Board of War
Head Qrs [Valley Forge] Decr 22. 1777.
Your favor of the 14th Instant I received on Saturday Evening.1 The Release of Genl Thompson is what I wish much to effect. No circumstances have arisen since his captivity by which it could be accomplished. Your Letter is the first & only information, I have had respecting Genl Hamiltons desire of being exchanged & remaining in America, having never received a Line from Genl Gates or any intelligence from him or any other person upon the Subject. However, that Genl Thompson may have a chance of being releived from his present disagreeable situation and of being in a situation to give the States his services, I have written to Genl Heath to inquire into the matter & to mention it to Genl Hamilton.2 If it is wished by him and Genl Burgoyne which I shall know from Genl Heath, I am hopeful Genl Howe will consent to an Exchange.3 I have the Honor to be Gentn Your Most Obedt Servant
Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
3. For the progress of these negotiations, see Heath to GW, 6 and 13 Jan., Horatio Gates to GW, 25 April, GW to Gates, 1 May, and to Heath, 5 May 1778. For their denouement, specifically the realization that Hamilton and the other brigadier generals captured at Saratoga only held that rank on the North American continent and therefore could be exchanged only as colonels, see Heath to GW, 23 May 1778. Brig. Gen. William Thompson was not exchanged until October 1780.