George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 25 May 1778

From Major General William Heath

Head Quarters Boston May 25th 1778

Dear General

A Colonel Armand is here with a number of recruiting Officers of his Corps. He has for some time been expecting orders from Congress to inlist such of the foreign Troops as appear disposed to enter our service, and is continually harrassing me to Cloath such as he has already inlisted—I wish to do every thing in my power to promote the public service, but at present am at a loss in this matter. The former Resolves and orders have been against inlisting Prisoners or Deserters, without, distinction, the late address of Congress to the foreign troops in the service of the King of Great Britain rather bears a construction in favor of inlisting them.1 I wish a signification of your pleasure on this head—great numbers of them are disposed to inlist.

Since writing my other letter I have received the inclosed packet from Major General Phillips, by which your Excellency will perceive his inclination to be exchanged.2 I have the honor to be Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servant

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADf, MHi: Heath Papers.

1See Henry Laurens’s second letter to GW of 3 May and note 3.

2The only identified portion of the enclosed “packet” is a “Return of Officers who have Apply’d to be exchanged,” listing twenty British officers from nine regiments (DLC:GW). Tench Tilghman wrote Elias Boudinot respecting this return on 11 June: “The inclosed will make you fully Master of the subject. His Excellency has no objection to your sending Lieut. Heldren in, and if Lieut. Holtzingen has a right of Exchange that he should [send] the Officer in return for him. Genl Heath has sent us a list of upwards of twenty of the Convention Officers who are willing to exchange themselves and Genl Philips is negotiating for himself. He speaks of Generals Thompson and Waterbury for him. By the great alteration of expression and the cordiality that runs thro’ all the public letters from these once haughty Dons you may plainly perceive that tempora mutantus” (DLC: Elias Boudinot Papers).

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