George Washington Papers

To George Washington from General William Howe, 10 March 1778

From General William Howe

Philadelphia 10th March 1778.


I cannot refrain expressing my Surprise upon the Receipt of your Letter dated on the 9th Instant, desiring that the Meeting of the Commissioners, appointed by yourself to be on the Day following, should be deferred, and to so remote a Period as the last of the Month, when you must be sensible how essential this Meeting is, to the Relief of the Prisoners on both Sides, and particularly of those with you, whose Sufferings are extreme from the Want of the Necessaries lately intended for them, which by the most unjustifiable Means they were prevented from receiving; Upon these Considerations I am to request you will propose some Day in the ensuing Week, for entering upon the Business of the Commission.

My Order for the sending of General Lee to Philadelphia by Sea, was prior to my Knowledge of General Prescot’s Arrival at New York; I have since signified my Permission for him to come hither by Land, accompanied by Major Williams of the British Artillery, agreeable to the General’s own Request.1

When the Agreement was concluded upon to appoint Commissioners to settle a General Exchange, I expected there would have been as much Expedition used in returning Lieutt Colonel Campbell and the Hessian Field Officers, as in returning Major General Prescot, and that the Cartel might have been finished by the Time of the Arrival of General Lee: If however there should be any Objection to General Prescot’s remaining at New York, unti⟨l⟩ the aforementioned Officers are sent in, he shall, to avoid Altercati⟨on,⟩ be returned upon Requisition. With due Respect I am, Sir Your most obedient Servant.

W. Howe

LS, DLC:GW; copy, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, enclosed in GW to Henry Laurens, 12 Mar., DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; two copies, P.R.O., 30/55, Carleton Papers; two copies, P.R.O., Colonial Office, Secretary of State’s Correspondence with Commander-in-Chief, North America; copy, ScHi: Henry Laurens Papers.

1Maj. Griffith Williams, who had been commissioned a first lieutenant of the 1st Battalion of Artillery in 1755, promoted to captain in 1760, and given the rank of major in the army in 1772, was Gen. John Burgoyne’s senior artillery officer on the Saratoga expedition. According to the Royal Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia) of 27 Mar. 1778, Williams and Charles Lee, accompanied by Joshua Loring, traveled by land, leaving New York on 22 Mar. and arriving at Philadelphia on 25 Mar. (see also Whinyates, Services of Francis Downman description begins F. A. Whinyates, ed. The Services of Lieut.-Colonel Francis Downman, R.A., in France, North America, and the West Indies, between the Years 1758 and 1784. Woolwich, England, 1898. description ends , 57). By May 1779 Williams had returned to London, where he was soliciting a pension based on thirty-six years of service, but he remained in the artillery at least until 1785 and was given a promotion to colonel dated 1 Dec. 1782.

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