George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 8 April 1778

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters Valley Forge 8th April 1778

Dear Sir

I have been favd with yours of the 23d and 24th ulto.1 Finding that Colo. Lee cannot be prevailed upon to remain in the service I have represented his Case and that of Major Swazee to Congress and expect in my next to inform you of their acceptation of their Commissions.2 If Capt. Aldens circumstances are such that he cannot conveniently continue in the Army you may give him a discharge, first seeing that he has settled his Regimental Accounts and accounted for any public money that he may have received for recruiting or other purposes.3

I am exceedingly anxious to hear what Steps the State of Massachusets have taken to raise their Recruits—for what time—and what numbers are voted.4

It is shameful to see the number of Men that have been admitted to Furloughs. In some Brigades5 they amount to nearly as many as the men present and fit for duty. I must beg you to issue positive orders for every Man belonging to the Regiments of your State, whose furloughs have expired, to join their Corps under pain of being treated as deserters.6 Many Officers have likewise exceeded their terms and they should also be ordered to join their Regiments without loss of time.

You must be sensible that the lateness of raising the Recruits can only be compensated by hurrying them to the Army after they are raised; and I therefore depend much upon your assiduity in doing it. And I desire that whenever an Officer sets out with a party of Men, that he may have a reasonable time allowed him for reaching Camp, which if he exceeds, he must be accountable for. I would have this done to prevent unnecessary delay upon the Road. I am Dear Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

2See GW to Henry Laurens, 4 April, and note 4 to that document.

3GW probably is referring to Capt. Robert Allen of Col. Ichabod Alden’s regiment, who wrote GW on 23 Mar. asking permission to resign. Allen explained that Heath had informed him a resignation could not be granted without GW’s permission, and he continued, “I am unwilling to trouble your Excellency with a detail of the just reasons, I have to offer in my favor, to justify my soliciting a discharge and shall only beg of your Exellency, to permit Major General Heath (who is well acquainted with my character) to give me a Dismission if on examination he shall find my reasons to be well founded” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 2386). Allen, who had been commissioned a captain of the 7th Massachusetts Regiment on 1 Jan. 1777, resigned in September (see Heath to GW, 10 Sept. 1778).

4On the draft Tilghman continued this paragraph with several sentences that were then struck out: “I have been informed that by some strange mode of calculating they make their deficiency only twelve hundred Men. The Returns are the only true tests, and by comparing the amount of them when they were transmitted at the end of the Campaign with the amount of what 15 Regiments ought to be the beginning of this the deficiency will appear to be very much greater.”

5On the draft Tilghman originally wrote, “By the last Return of Nixons Brigade,” but he struck those words out.

6Heath issued an order to this effect in his general orders of 30 April (MHi: Heath Papers).

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