George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 12 July 1780

From Major General William Heath

Newport [R.I.] July 12th 1780

Dear General—

I arrived here the last Night & this morning had the honor of congratulating Monsr le Compte de rochambeau, and monsieur le chevalier de Terney on their Safe arrival in this harbour. The Fleet consists of Seven sail of the line—the duke de Burgogne of 80 Guns. le Neptune and le Conquerant of 74—le Jazon L’Eville—L’Ardent and Le Provence of 64—le Fantasque Hospital Ship of 64—mounts 40 Guns—two frigates and two Bombs—with about 5000 Land forces and 1000 marines. The inhabitants appear disposed to treat our Allies with much respect. The Town is to be illuminated this Evening by a vote of the Inhabitants1—for myself, I am charmed with the officers. I have promised them every assistance in my power. Monsieur Rochambeau has desired me to publish an advertisement inviting the inhabitants to bring Small meats Vegetables &c. &c. to market & that they shall receive hard money in payment—this, the Compte intended with a good view to our Currency—I have told him it will have a different effect, and that even at a distance—I shall therefore only assure the farmers that they will receive a handsome price.2 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most obedient Servant

W. Heath

P.S. Enclosed is Copy of a resolve of the General assembly of this State.3 I have ventured to grant a pardon to Such deserters from Colo. Green’s Regt as return by the first of Septr Next,4 (& hope it will meet your Excellencys approbation)—as some of the deserters are at a distance.5


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

1The Newport Mercury (R.I.) for Saturday, 15 July, reported: “Last Tuesday arrived here from France, a Fleet of Men of War and Transports, consisting of 44 Sail, having on board 6000 very fine Troops … In Consequence of which this Town was beautifully illuminated on Wednesday Evening, and Thirteen grand Rockets were fired in Front of the State-House. The brillant Appearance of the numerous Gentlemen Officers of the Fleet and Army of our illustrious Ally, who were on Shore, with that of the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Town, and the Joy which every Friend to Liberty expressed on the happy Occasion, afforded a most pleasing Prospect of the future Felicity and Grandeur of this Country, in Alliance with the most polite, powerful and generous Nation in the World.”

A French army officer onboard a transport recorded his impression of the illumination in his journal: “The effect was beautiful from the middle of the harbor. The next morning we saluted them with 13 guns” (Rice and Brown, American Campaigns of Rochambeau’s Army description begins Howard C. Rice, Jr., and Anne S. K. Brown, eds. The American Campaigns of Rochambeau’s Army, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783. 2 vols. Princeton, N.J., 1972. description ends , 1:17).

2Heath’s advertisement of this date reads: “A DETACHMENT of the Army and Fleet of our Great Ally, his Most Christian Majesty … having arrived in this Harbour: The good People of this and the neighbouring States, whose Situation makes it elegible, are invited and requested to bring to the Market of Newport, all Kinds of small Meats, Poultry, Milk, Vegetables, &c. for which they will receive a generous Price, serve their Friends, and benefit themselves.

“The Markets will be so regulated as to prevent Impositions, either in buying or selling” (Newport Mercury, 15 July; see also “Heath Papers,” description begins “The Heath Papers.” Parts 1–3. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th ser., 4:1–285; 7th ser., vols. 4–5. Boston, 1878–1905. description ends 3:83).

3The enclosed resolution, passed in the July session of the Rhode Island general assembly, reads: “That his Excellency General Washington be requested to pardon all the Deserters from the Troops of this State who may join their respective Corps by a time which he may think proper to fix and thus General Heath be requested to issue a pardon for all the Deserters from Colo. Greens Regiment who may join by a time he may think proper to fix” (DLC:GW; see also GW to William Greene, 3 Aug.).

4Heath’s proclamation, dated 11 July at Newport, quoted the above resolution and then offered “a free and full PARDON to all Deserters, at this Time absent from the Regiment commanded by Col. CHRISTOPHER GREENE, who shall return to their Duty in said Corps, wherever it may be, before the first Day of September next” (Newport Mercury, 15 July; a draft of the proclamation, dated 11 July but filed with the 16 July documents, is in MHi: Heath Papers).

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