George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 31 October 1778

From Major General William Heath

Head Quarters Boston 31st Octr 1778

Dear General

I now do myself the honor to inclose copies of several Letters which have passed between Major General Phillips and me if your Excellency shoud think it worth your while to give them a perusal.

The reasons of first restricting him to his House &c. are fully known. The expressions contained in some of his Letters since, in particular that of the first of October, were the reasons for my refusing longer to transact public business with him. In every instance, since the Troops of the Convention have been placed under my direction, I have made it my aim to treat them with the utmost politeness, humanity and generosity, in every part of my conduct towards them.

Some time since—Major General Phillips requested leave for Lieutenant Vallancy Asst Q.M. Genl of the Troops of Convention to go to New York to procure Cloathing for those Troops, for particular reasons, thinking it not for the interest of my Country to allow Lieut. Vallancy to go in, I refused it; but gave my consent for Lieut. Campbell, another Assistant Quarter Master Genl to go, who accordingly went in one of the returning Flags, (and has lately returned with the Cloathing) on the 27 of Septr General Phillips again applied for leave for Lieut. Vallancy to go in; (No. 1 is Copy) as Mr Clarke, the Commissary, was at that time going to Rhode Island and New-York with the public Accounts, and Lieut. Campbell then prosecuting his Commission, I, in a letter of the 30th to Genl Phillips (No. 2) denied the request as unnecessary. On which I reced an answer from him on the 1st of Octr (No. 3) on receipt of which, having the honor to hold a Commission in the Army of the United States of America I thought it my duty to treat him in the manner I have done.1 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellency’s Most obedt Servant

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers. GW replied to this letter on 12 Nov. 1778 (DLC:GW).

1At this place on the draft, Heath included the following phrase: “and Cherfully Submit my Conduct to your Excellency.” The enclosed copies of William Phillips’s letters to Heath of 27 Sept. and 1 Oct., and Heath’s letter to Phillips of 30 Sept., are in DLC:GW. In the first part of the latter letter, Heath wrote Phillips that “I shall ever be ready to contribute to every necessary measure for the comfort & convenience of the Troops of the Convention, but, as Mr Campbell had my permission to go to Rhode Island for the express purpose of obtaining Cloathing and necessaries for the Troops, and if you should think it expedient may have his Commission enlarged by orders sent by Mr Clarke I cannot see the least necessity for Lieutenant Vallancy’s going on the Same business, and altho’ it may be improper or impossible for Mr Clarke to do this business yet I think Mr Campbell fully competent.”

Phillips replied in the first part of his letter to Heath of 1 Oct.: “I have received your Letter of yesterdays date and cannot help observing upon it, that many professions of good intentions towards the Troops of Convention which you make in words you destroy by refusing those things which alone can make your actions correspond with the terms of your Letters.

“And this is the case in the present instance, where you write of your great desire of contributing to the conveniency and comfort of these Troops, and at the Same time refuse your consent for an officer’s going to New York by which alone these comforts and conveniencys can properly be obtaind.

“Lieutenant Campbell was permitted by you to go to Rhode Island in a returning Victualling Ship, on board of which he went but was detain’d Several weeks as you well know in the harbor of Boston by your orders, upon the Vessell’s Sailing it run on Shore somewhere on this Coast, it was got off again and not being able to get into Newport harbor it proceed as I have hear’d to New York, but of this I cannot be certain, as I have never had any intelligence about the Vessell or about Lieutenant Campbell—He certainly has not been at Rhode Island as Major Genl Pigots letter of the 14th September makes no mention of him.

“Your proposing therefore that I should send my orders to Lieutenant Campbell must be a mere invention of excuse for your not allowing an officer going from hence. Lieutenant Campbell may be at New York—At Rhode Island—Upon the Sea Near the Harbor of Boston—It is impossible for me to guess about him—Under this description how can I with any propriety trust to the accident of my orders meeting him for that cloathing, Blanketting and necessaries, without which the Troops of Convention must perish in cold and misery.” William Campbell had been commissioned a lieutenant in the 24th Regiment of Foot in 1772.

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