George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 19 October 1780

From Major General William Heath

West point Octr 19. 1780.

Dear General

The enclosed request from the Gentlemen of the Hospital, and the paper respecting Colo. Campbell, who is now here, (and I am told was in Canada with General Montgomery) were put into my hand by Major General Greene. I request your Excellency’s opinion and direction respecting them.1

Two Dragoons of Sheldon’s Regiment were lately Sentenced to be executed: the Sentence has been put in execution on one of them, the officers of the Regiment solicit a pardon for the other. Shall I grant it?2

Since I began writing I was honored with yours of the 18th.3 I have been looking round the Works and find much out of order.4 I Shall endeavor to put things in order as fast as possible, but find difficulties and embarrassm⟨ents⟩ in every department—hope we Shall be able to surmount them.5 I request Your Excellency’s answer as soon as may be agreable. I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, Your Excellency’s Most obedt Servt

W. Heath

P.S. The Deputy Judge advocate informs me that the Sentence of a General Court Martial on two Culprits Were before General Arnold and not published. he apprehends the procedings are among Genl Arnolds papers.6 One of the prisoners has since escaped—the other is in this provost. the Sentences Were Capital.7


ALS, DLC:GW; Df, MHi: Heath Papers. GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman docketed the ALS: “Colo. Campbells applications to pay and Rations” (see GW to Samuel Huntington, 29 Oct., DNA:PCC, item 152).

1One enclosure was from Charles McKnight, Continental army chief hospital physician, to Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene dated 16 Oct. and presented hospital officers “in the greatest Want imaginable, (as Gentlemen) of Cloathing” (DLC:GW; see also Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 6:401, and McKnight to Heath, and Heath to McKnight, both 23 Oct., MHi: Heath Papers). For the other enclosure, see the source note above. Heath had succeeded Greene as commander at West Point (see GW to Heath, 14 Oct.).

Following the opening paragraph in the draft, a passage was written and struck out on vulnerable munitions at Providence (see Heath to GW, 24 Oct., and n.7 to that document).

2Heath pardoned the soldier (see his letter to GW, 26 Oct.; see also John Jameson to Heath, 18 Oct., and Heath to Jameson, 19 Oct., MHi: Heath Papers).

3For GW to Heath, 18 Oct., see Heath to GW, 17 Oct., n.4.

4About a dozen words are struck out in the draft at this point. Some pertain to “Two Regiments,” likely the Continental regiments posted near King’s Ferry, N.Y. (see Heath to GW, 20 Oct.).

5Apparently on 22 Oct., Lieutenant Colonel Gouvion wrote GW from West Point: “I Received last night the Letter your Excellency has honoured me with, your orders concerning the Safety of this post Shall be exactly comply’d with.

“I found very extraordinary that in a place where there is So many publick buildings as in this, there is no[t] the least preparation made in case of an accident by fire, which can be attended with bad consequences; I represented to day that matter to General heath, desiring him to order the engine to be immediately repaired, I will have Some long ladders made for the Same purpose, and Some for the use of the Works, as they are of the utmost necessity he gave me Leave to Set the carpenters immediately at Work.

“I Would not give you any account of Such trifles, if I did not Know how much your Excellency is anxious to have all the best precautions taken” (ALS, DLC:GW; Tilghman wrote “22d October 1780 from Colo. Gouvion at West point” on the docket). GW’s letter to Gouvion has not been found.

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