George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 17 August 1779

From Major General William Heath

Mandavilles [Dutchess County, N.Y.]
Augst 17th 1779

Dear General

I am informed that one Richardson1 a Surgeons mate belonging to Colo. Greatons Regt was taken Prisoner at Verplanks Point when Fort De La Fayattee2 fell into the Hands of the Enemy, and that he is the only person of the faculty belonging to the american army that is now a prisoner—The officers of the Regt are very desireous if Possible to have him exchanged for one of the mates taken at Stony Point, If consistant with your Excellency pleasure—and have desired me to submit it. I have the honor to be with greatest respect your Excellencys most Obedient Servt

W. Heath

ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

On 21 Aug., GW replied to Heath from headquarters: “I will inquire of the Commy of prisoners whether no person of Mr Richardsons Rank has a prior right of Exchange and if there should not be, to propose him for a Mate taken at Stoney Point” (LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers). GW wrote to the commissary general of prisoners, John Beatty, on the following day.

1Abijah Richardson (1752–1822), of Medway, Mass., became surgeon’s mate of the 3d Massachusetts regiment in January 1777. He was captured at Fort Lafayette in June 1779 and exchanged in September 1779. After his exchange, Richardson continued to serve as surgeon’s mate of the 3d Massachusetts until July 1780, when he transferred to the 5th Massachusetts Regiment as surgeon. He left the army in January 1781.

2Fort Lafayette, overlooking the Hudson River, was the main fortification at Verplanck Point, N.Y., and guarded the eastern landing of King’s Ferry.

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