From Major Henry Harnage
Cambridge [Mass.] March 27th 179
I must beg leave to represent to Your Excellency, that upon the removal of the Troops of the Convention, from this State, to Charlotte-Ville, in Virginia; Capn Hawker’s ill State of Health, and the Effects resulting from my Wounds render’d such a Journey impracticable to Our Situation!1 Major General Phillips was sensible of our Infirmities, and gave His Permission, to Our remaining in this Province, untill the Spring of the Year, with a possitive Injunction upon us, then to join our Corps, if We were not in the mean time exchanged—The Commander in Chief of the Eastern District, assented to Our remaining in the Massachusets Province;2 As we have heard nothing from Newyork, to flatter us, with the hopes of an Exchange; and the Time approaches that our Duty points out to us an indispensable Necessity of our repairing to Virginia, give me leave to Submit to your Excellency our present Situation!
Mrs Harnage is within four months, of making an Addition to my Family! Her tender Constitution, the length of the Journey, the Difficulties to encounter through a strange Country; and the want of proper Conveyances, are very alarming to a Lady in her Situation! The very Reflection makes her very unhappy!3 Judge then Sir, what must be my feelings, as a Husband, and a man! As an Officer I know that I must repair to my Post to avoid Censure! As the Father of a Family I am distrest beyond measure, having neither Horses, nor Carriage. The enormous expence of hiring a Conveyance, (cou’d such be had) for Mrs Harnage, Myself, and Capn Hawker; together with Carriages for our Servants, and Baggage, are truly alarming to limited Circumstances! These things, (particularly Mrs Harnage’s Condition,) press together very strong upon my mind! In this Situation permit me to address Your Excellency, as an Officer, and a Gentleman, and from your known Character I have every thing to hope in behalf of the unfortunate! My earnest request to You Sir, is, for Permission for me, and my Family, with Capn Hawker our Relation and Disabled, to go by way of Rhode Island to Newyork, and from Thence by Water to Frederick’s Burg, or any Town, nearest to Charlotte Ville, which you may chuse to point out! Our Parole of Honor, shall be left with the Commander in Chief of this District, that We will repair with all dispatch to the Troops of the Convention! If Your Excellency will be so kind to alleviate our Misfortunes so far, We shall ever retain a most grateful Remembrance of the same!
I must beg Your answer as soon as possible, because we must leave this the end of next month, not only upon account of mine and Capn Hawker’s promise to General Phillips; but also upon account of Mrs Harnage; She, for urgent reasons; Must even undertake the Journey by Land, rather than remain here any longer4—I have the Honor to be with the truest Respect—Your Excellency’s most Obedient and most humble—Servant:
Henry Harnage Major in 62d Regiment British
ALS, enclosed in GW to John Jay, 12 April 1779, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169. Harnage’s letter was covered by one of 28 March from Horatio Gates to GW.
1. For the removal of the Convention Army from the vicinity of Boston to the Albemarle Barracks near Charlottesville, Va., between 9 Nov. 1778 and January 1779, see GW to Theodorick Bland, 8 Nov. 1778, and the source note to that document, and Bland to GW, 17 Jan. 1779. Henry Harnage (1739–1826), commissioned an ensign in the 4th Regiment of Foot in 1756 and a lieutenant the next year, transferred to the newly formed 62d Regiment of Foot in 1758. With this regiment, he was commissioned captain in May 1767 and major in December 1775. Harnage suffered a severe abdominal wound on 19 Sept. 1777 at the Battle of Freeman’s Farm and was taken prisoner when Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne surrendered his army at Saratoga on 17 Oct. 1777. Disabled from his wound, Harnage secured permission to stay behind in Cambridge, Mass., when the Convention Army was moved to Virginia, and his persistent efforts to be exchanged or paroled finally succeeded in spring 1780. Harnage returned to Great Britain in November of that year, rejoined his regiment after its repatriation in 1781, became lieutenant colonel of the 104th Regiment of Foot in March 1782, and soon after retired from the army.
Erle (Earle) Hawker (b. circa 1740) was Harnage’s close friend and possibly a cousin of that officer’s wife, Honour. Commissioned ensign in the 4th Regiment of Foot in 1756 and lieutenant in 1757, Hawker transferred to the 62d Regiment in 1758. He served in Canada during the French and Indian War and then spent five years in the West Indies. He was commissioned captain-lieutenant in May 1770 and captain in March 1772. Departing with his regiment from England to Canada in spring 1776, Hawker saw action at the Battle of Trois-Riviéres, Quebec, on 8 June. He participated throughout Burgoyne’s campaign of 1777 and surrendered with that general’s army. Illness apparently kept Hawker in Cambridge, and he was paroled with Harnage. Hawker retired from the British army on half-pay in 1783.
2. Harnage is referring to Maj. Gen. William Heath, who had appealed successfully to Congress on behalf of the prisoners (see Harnage to Heath, 27 Oct. 1778, DNA:PCC, item 157, and 30 Oct. 1778, Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs, 196; Heath to Henry Laurens, 29 Oct. 1778, DNA:PCC, item 157; and JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 12:1114).
3. Honour Harnage (d. 1790), whose maiden name was Mary Honour Paynter, married Harnage in December 1758 and gave birth to at least nine children. Having accompanied her husband on Burgoyne’s campaign of 1777, she remained with him when he was taken prisoner and also appealed for his exchange or parole. Honour Harnage expressed her anxieties to Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates in a letter of 23 March 1779, found in Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers,” description begins James Gregory and Thomas Dunnings, eds. “Horatio Gates Papers, 1726–1828.” Sanford, N.C., 1979. Microfilm. description ends which reads: “It is hop’d you will Excuse, this intrusion from a female hand! the fears and apprehensions of Our Sex, often oblige us, though unwillingly, to intrude our Cares, (from hopes of relief) on those, whom by the strict rules of Decorum, we have no right to trouble with our sufferings—But Sir, your compassionate Attention towards the unfortunate, universally known, and experienced, (I am not so base to speak the language of flattery) are motives that give strength to my Pen in the following sollicitation.
“To undertake a Journey by land from hence to Virginia is I fear beyond my powers, in my present Situation; even had we, or were we able to procure, the necessary Conveyances! Within four months I expect to augment my family, how then can I venture on such a Journey? and to remain here, will be of worse consequence, as I have not with me nor am I able to procure, either Nurses, Cloths, Assistance, or any one requisite, that the Situation will naturally demand, and require! Thus circumstanced can you not General allow the Major, with Capn Hawker, and our family, for without them I will not stir, to remove from hence, by land to Rhode Island, giving every necessary parole, and Security, that we will immediately go by Sea to join the Troops under Convention at Charlotte Ville? Do if you can grant this my request, which, with the flattering attention, and favors, already shewn us, will be acknowledged to my last breath! But if Fate says it can not be! We will proceed by Land from hence, as to stay here, without Convenience and unassisted, is impossible!
“Alarmed by a Report of your intending soon to quit Boston, I am the more anxious, and precipitate in my request.” Honour Harnage sent this letter to Gates under cover of one of the same date to his wife Elizabeth, also in Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers,” description begins James Gregory and Thomas Dunnings, eds. “Horatio Gates Papers, 1726–1828.” Sanford, N.C., 1979. Microfilm. description ends which reads: “I take the liberty of sending you the inclosed unsealed. Requesting you will first peruse, and then be at the trouble of presenting it, to the General? it wou’d be, to call in question, your well known generosity, and tender feelings, to desire your Influence, in support of what my Distresses have therein obliged me to set forth!”
4. For GW’s referral of Harnage’s appeal to Congress, see GW to John Jay, 12 April, DNA:PCC, item 152, and GW to Gates, same date, NHi: Gates Papers. Congress denied Harnage’s request but found no objection to him and Hawker “remaining where they are” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:448–49; see also Jay to GW, 14 April, DLC:GW; Harnage to Gates, 22 April, in Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers” description begins James Gregory and Thomas Dunnings, eds. “Horatio Gates Papers, 1726–1828.” Sanford, N.C., 1979. Microfilm. description ends ; and Harnage to William Phillips, 2 June, and Phillips to Jay, 8 Aug., both in DNA:PCC, item 57). Efforts to accommodate Harnage and Hawker continued until they were paroled in spring 1780 (see GW to Gates, 1 May and 22 Oct. 1779, and Gates to GW, 15 Oct. 1779, all three in NHi: Gates Papers; Harnage to GW, 24 May 1779 and >25 April 1780, GW to Harnage, 11 June 1779, Honour Harnage to GW, 25 Aug. 1779, GW to Honour Harnage, 13 Sept. 1779, William Phillips to GW, 8 Jan. and 23 Aug. 1780, GW to Phillips, 16 Jan. 1780, and GW to John Beatty, 4 April 1780, all nine in DLC:GW; William Heath to GW, 29 May 1779, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 31544; GW to Jay, 5 Sept. 1779, DNA:PCC, item 152; GW to Arthur St. Clair, 2 April 1780, NjMoHP; see also Harnage to Gates, 14 July and 5 Aug. 1779, Hawker to Gates, 12 Oct. 1779, and Honour Harnage to Gates, 13 Oct. 1779, all four in Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers” description begins James Gregory and Thomas Dunnings, eds. “Horatio Gates Papers, 1726–1828.” Sanford, N.C., 1979. Microfilm. description ends ; and Phillips to Jay, 8 Aug. 1779, DNA:PCC, item 57).