George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 20 May 1778

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters Valley Forge 20th May 1778.

Dear sir,

Your very agreeable favor of the 4th Instant, with your acceptable present, came to hand last night. I shall direct a guard to releive Captn Hutchens at Reading, and give every necessary instruction for the safe conduct of his charge.1

I do not wonder at Gen. Masseys answer to your letter, it is in a stile of ignorant insult that has often, of late, characterised the writings of British officers.

The inclosed letters to Major Curtis, Ensign Jones, and Adjutant Dunckerley, are confirming their resignations which they sent me;2 You will therefore be pleased to call upon the gentlemen for their commissions and transmit them by first opportunity. You will also see that they are not indebted to their regts.

All our accounts from Philadelphia concur in confirming the opinion that the enemy mean to embark from Philadelphia. But there is no divining their destination, or where they design to operate next.

I hope the remainder of the fleet from France will be equally fortunate with the two you have mentioned. I am dear sir, your most obt & very hble servt

Go: Washington

N.B. Mr Heister is liberated and has returned to his home.

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

1For orders relating to the movement of the specie wagons, see GW to Robert Lettis Hooper, Jr., this date, and to John Finley, 4 June.

2See William Courtis to GW, 28 April. Ensign Winzer Jones’s undated letter to GW reads: “This Petition humbly sheweth that your Memorialist has received a Commission to act as Ensign in the Regiment of Foot whereof John Graton Esqr. is Colonel by virtue of which Commission he has acted, as Ensign of said Regiment for the space of twelve Months and that he by reason of weakness of Body arising from a long and tedious disease is not able to undergo the fatigues of Body to which his situation renders him liable and the Pay to which he is entitled not being sufficient to maintain your Memorialist. he humbly asks your Excellency for a discharge from the Service” (DNA: RG 93, War Department).

GW replied to Jones on 20 May: “I received your memorial and am sorry that the state of your health will not admit of your continuing longer in the service. I therefore accept and confirm your resignation; and you will not be considered in future as an officer in the Continental army” (DNA: RG 93, War Department).

Joseph Dunckerley had been appointed adjutant of Col. David Henley’s Additional Continental Regiment in March 1777 and settled in Boston. His letter of resignation to GW, dated 3 May from Boston, reads: “Since the commencement of Hostilities, through Principle, I Absconded from the British Army. Since Accepted of the Adjutantcy of Col. Henley’s Regt having Previously Wrote, to my Friends in London; by whose Interest, I Expected a Discharge from the British Army; but have never Reciev’d an Answer. The Unequal Chance I Run, by Appearing in the Field: (If made a Prisoner) according to the Law of Nations I must Expect immediately Death. I therefore intercede with Your Excelency to accept of my Resignation. If I Should Recieve a Letter from London with my Discharge, the Zeal I have for America will Oblidge me to Appear with Pleasure in the Field” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 20166).

GW replied to Dunckerley on 20 May: “I received yours of the 3d Instant but considering your situation I am willing to comply with your request and accept of your resignation—you will not therefore be looked any longer as an officer in the continental army acting under your present commission” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 18400).

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