George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 13 January 1778

From Major General William Heath

Boston January 13. 1778

Dear General

This will be handed to your Excellency by Mr Francis, a french Merchant belonging to the House from which we have received our ample Supply of Ordnance, Ordnance Stores, Fire Arms &c. He is come over to secure his Remittances, and will I am confident receive that respect from our Countrymen that his assistance afforded at a time of need justly merit.1

Part of the Cannon and Stores which arrived at Portsmouth are brought here, and will be forwarded to the Arsenals, as soon as money arrives to defrey the expence of transportation.2

General Hamilton has been sounded on the matter of his Exchange—he appears inclined, and observed, that he would see Genl Burgoyne, and converse him on the Subject and acquaint me further: If the latter does not discourage it I rather think it will be effected. As soon as I am ascertained I will do my self the honor to acquaint your Excellency. I have the Honor to be very respectfully Your Excellency’s Obedient Hble Servt

W. Heath


1Jean-Baptiste-Lazare Théveneau de Francy (d. 1783), who sailed from Marseilles on 26 Sept. 1777 on the same ship as Steuben, arrived at Portsmouth, N.H., on 1 Dec. as the agent of Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, who represented the Paris firm Roderique Hortalez & Company. This firm, secretly financed by the French and Spanish governments, had supplied the United States with quantities of munitions and clothing since 1776 and recently had provided powder and ammunition that proved crucial for the campaign of 1777. Francy left Boston for York on 14 Jan. 1778 and eventually reached agreement with the Continental Congress committee of commerce to secure payment for past shipments and to settle contracts for the future (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 , 10:315–21). He continued to act as agent for Beaumarchais until the summer of 1780, when he returned to France. For more on Francy’s activities in America, see Brian N. Morton, “Beaumarchais, Francy, Steuben, and Lafayette: An Unpublished Correspondence,” French Review 49, 6 (May 1976): 943–59.

2The cannon and stores had arrived aboard the French ship Flamand on 1 Dec. 1777; the same ship carried Steuben and Francy (see Heath to GW, 7 Dec. 1777).

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