George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 11 March 1779

From Major General William Heath

Roxbury [Mass.] March 11th 1779

Dear General.

It is now upwards of four months since I had the honor to receive yours of the 29th of Octr, inclosing a resolve of the Hon. Congress of the 22nd of the same month, directing that Major General Gates should forthwith repair to Boston to take Command of the Continental Forces that were or might be in the Eastern district. Your Excellency in that letter was pleased to observe, “I inclose you the Coppy of a resolve of Congress of the 22nd instant, which cam⟨e⟩ to hand yesterday.” and in your lett⟨er⟩ of the 6th of Novr you were pleased to observe, that the Command at Boston had by that time devolved on General Gates, without the least hint whether I was to remain here Untill further orders, or repair to some other post. From this indeterminate Silence of the resolve, and your Excellencys Letters, as to my future destination, or what line of Conduct it was my duty to pursue, I felt myself not a little embarrassed, which I took the liberty to express in a letter which I did myself the honor to address to your Excellency on the first of Decemr, which I committed to the care of the Hon. Mr Holker for safe delivery, A very considerable time has since elapsed, during which I have been most anxiously waiting an Answer, but to this moment am not honored with one, This circumstance, with the silence of the resolve, and your Excellencys letters before mentioned respecting me, I must confess are to me incomprehensible, I must therefore intreat that your Excellency would be pleased to signify to me the reasons of it, that I may without further delay be able to act agreable to your expectations by pursuing that mode of Conduct which the interest of my Country, and my own honor require.1 With the most perfect Attachment & respect I have the honor to be your Excellencys most Obedient humble Servant

W. Heath

ALS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1GW replied to Heath in a letter of 26 March. Heath had written, but did not send, to GW a letter of 22 Feb. on the same subject. It reads: “Some time in the month of December last, I did myself the honor to write you by the Hon: Mr Holker; when I expressed no small anxiety, that I had not received a signification of your Excellency’s pleasure respecting my future destination. I have been impatiently waiting an answer to that letter; but have not yet been honored with one. I now begin to doubt whether it ever reached you. As the season is advanceing, when the Army will be in motion, my solicitude if possible to render my Country service, induces me again to express my earnest wishes to have an active station; & as soon as your Excellency thinks it convenient to receive your orders for that purpose; and permit me to add Sir no one will more chearfully obey them” (ALS, MHi: Heath Papers). Heath docketed this letter: “To Genl Washington on not receiving an answer to a former Letter Feby 22nd 1779 this letter not Sent on.”

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