George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 6 January 1781

From Major General William Heath

Garrison West Point Jany 6th 1781

Dear General

Since I had the honor of seeing your Excellency yesterday, I have assembled the Commanding Officers of regiments, and advised with them on the subject of the mutiny in the Pensylvania Line, and a proper communication of it to the Troops here.1 I also wrote General Parsons on the occassion.2 I am happy to find that nothing at present is to be apprehended from any of the Troops in this Quarter on either side of the river, that many of the men treat the conduct of the Pensylvanians, with contempt & ridicule, and seem rather to pride themselves, in exhibiting, under similar sufferings, a more soldierly behaviour. I wish if possible they may receive speedy releif, and not be longer held under tryals, which in any age or Country, I think would be thought too much for human nature long to struggle with. They may be easily pleased; & if their real wants only were supplied, not a murmur would exist among them.

His Excellency Govornor Hancock of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has desired me to furnish him with exact returns, of all the Non Commissioned Officers & men belonging to that Commonwealth, with their description, by whom inlisted &c. to serve dureing the war in the fifteen Battallions Corps of Light Dragoons, Artillery, & Artillery Artificers, or that are in any other Corps, not belonging to that Commonwealth—I am takeing measures to obtain such returns from the regiments of Infantry belonging to the Commonwealth, from Sheldons Light Dragoons, Colonel Cranes regiment of Artillery, and Colo. Baldwins Artificers; shall be much obliged to your Excellency for information, whether there are any men serveing in any other Corps, which belong to Massachusetts, in particular Colonel Armands, & whether by any returns lodged with you their number can be ascertained.3 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most Obedient Servant

W. Heath

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

1See Anthony Wayne to GW, 2 Jan., and the source note to that document.

2Heath had written Maj. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons on 5 Jan.: “You have doubtless heard of what has taken place in the Pensylvania Line vizt that they have mutinied and marched towards Philadelphia, as it is Impossible to keep this a Secret it is best it Should be properly divulged to the Troops This is the wish of his Excellency the Commander in Chief who has Just now been here, I therefore request you would be pleased immediately on receipt hereof to Call the Commanding officers of Regts together, and Let them hand it to the Commissioned Officers, the Commissioned to the nonCommissiond and they to the Privates for it is best not as yet to mention it [in] public orders—it may be mentioned in Such a way as to cause our Troops to feel an ambition on the reflection of the exhibition of more virtue under equal trials, I wish you also to enquire of the Officers the present temper of the men and whether there is any the Least grounds, to apprehend any disagreable Consequences happening in your Line.” Heath described “last accounts” about the mutiny and how GW again had written Congress “most pointedly and pressingly on this occasion and does not doubt but every thing in their power will be done immediately—please let me hear from you as Soon as possible” (MHi: Heath Papers; see also GW to Samuel Huntington, this date). Parsons began his reply to Heath on the same date, 6:00 P.M.: “I this Moment receivd yours, previous to which I had made Enquiry and am not able to Find any Uneasiness in the Connectt Line” (MHi: Heath Papers).

3No reply from GW to Heath has been found.

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