George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 30 August 1778

From Major General William Heath

Head Quarters Boston 30th Augt 1778

Dear General

I have been honored with the receipt of yours of the 14th Instant.1

I beg leave to observe to your Excellency that a large Sum of Money is now due to the United States from the British Government for Supplies furnished to the Troops of the Convention and that the pay Master and Commissary to those Troops were just going for Rhode Island with the Accounts to obtain the money, when the Expedition against that place was whispered on which I stoped them. As it can now answer no purpose to permit them to go to Rhode Island I wish to be informed whether you have any objection to their going to New York, & by what rout you will have them go: To embarke at some port on the Sound or pass by the way of your Head Quarters, whether they shall proceed as soon as I receive your answer, or upon account of the present situation of our Army it will be best to delay it longer. Your Excellency will remember that Mr Commissary Clarke carried the last accounts to Philadelphia2 and I apprehend no objection can now be made to his being sent to New York unless on account of some particular situation of our Army which leads me to request your Excellency’s opinion & direction before I permi⟨t⟩ him and the pay Master to proceed. Nea⟨r⟩ Six Months Supplies are now due, the United States are the only Sufferers by so much money lying dead.

Inclosed is a Letter which I received the last night from Portsmouth with a request to forward it with care.3

I also take the liberty to inclose a Schedule of provisions which I received the last night from the Major of the French Fleet and said to be necessary for three Months Supply for them; but how this quantity can be procured here, especially the Flour, I cannot tell.4 I have the Honor to be With great respect Your Excellency’s Obedt Servant

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADf, MHi: Heath Papers; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 152; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 169. The extract in item 152 was enclosed with GW’s letter to Henry Laurens of 7 Sept.; both extracts consist of the last paragraph and the schedule of provisions.

1At this point on the draft, Heath wrote and struck out the following paragraph: “I am extremely Sorry to have given your Excellency so much Trouble with General Phillips’s request for an Officer to go to Canada by the way of the Lakes as to write to Congress on the Subject—Your Excellency is Sensible that the Troops of the Convention, Stipulated that if they found it necessary to Send for their Clothing & other Baggage to Canada they should be permitted to do it in the most Convenient manner and the necessary Passports granted for the purpose accordingly when application was made to me for that purpose the last april I immediately gave the necessary Pass Ports for an Officer to go by the way of Hallifax—as that officer has not Since been heard off Genl Phillips wished to have another go by the way of the Lakes (that their Baggage may if Possible arrive before the Cold Season Commences) as I did not know the Situation of our Posts on that Rout it being out of my Department and whether it would be Politick or Impolitick to allow an officer to go that way I thought it my Duty to Submit the propriety of it to your Excellency and to Crave your direction as to that rout.”

2See Heath to GW, 18 Jan., and note 1 to that document.

3The enclosure has not been identified. Thomas Martin, a Portsmouth, N.H., merchant and state legislator, had written Heath from Portsmouth on 26 Aug. that “The inclosed letter to His Excellency General Washington being of importance to a Lady” had “embolden’d” him to request Heath to forward it by “the earliest and safest conveyance” (MHi: Heath Papers).

4The schedule of provisions reads: “1090000 lb. Bread or 1190000 lb. Flour[,] 260000 lb. Pork[,] 400 Quintals Fish[,] 240000 lb. Beans or peas[,] 5 or 6 Quintals Mustard[,] 720 Cords of Wood” (DLC:GW).

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