George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 29 January 1781

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters New Windsor Janry 29th 1781

Dear Sir

From the excessive hurry of business, I have not had it in my power, to notice particularly the contents of your Letter of the 20th Instant.1 I immediately directed the Quarter Master General to have the Provisions you mentioned forwarded to West Point by land or water without a moments delay. I presume he has taken the necessary Measures.2 Col. Wadsworth informs me there is a probability the salted Provisions from Connecticut will be got on, if the sleighing continues. He also mentions that some Cattle may be expected in a few days.3

The proceedings of the Court Martial on Oliver Richards are not at Head Quarter⟨s.⟩ Colonel Scammell may return them to you.4

Altho the Petition of the Non Commissioned Officers of Col. Sprouts Regiment was conceived in decent terms & presented with respect, yet every thing that looks like combination ought to be discountenanced; while the Men are assured; that whatever can be done to redress all their real greivances, will be strenuously attempted. The good disposition shewn by the Troops at these Posts in general, and by the Detachment under the command of Major Genl Howe in particular, entitles them to every mark of consideration, and will I doubt not have a powerful influence in procuring a speedy relief from the hardships under which they labor—My endeavours will never be wanting to have ample justice done to them.5

The mode of transferring to the Corps of Invalids, is not sufficiently known to me, to be explicit on that subject.6

With respect to your enquiry, whether it is allowable for the Officers belonging to one State, to enlist men belonging to another? I am clearly of opinion it is not. And will give Orders effectually to prevent it in future7—but in the instance of Capt. Machin, who I am informed has recruited five or six Men, of the Massachusetts Line, whose time of service was expiring; I would recommend, that if the recruiting Money which has been paid them, cannot be replaced by Officers of that Line; that these Men should notwithstanding be retained in service, and be delivered to the New York Line; where I am further informed an exchange may be made of these Recruits for an equal number of Men belonging to the State of New York, now serving in Col. Cranes Regt of Artillery. If one of these expedients is not adopted, I do not see, but the Bounty & Men will be finally lost to the service—A Sergt of Capt. Machin waits upon you with this.

As there is a quantity of ⟨Blan⟩kets ready to be delivered to the Troo⟨ps,⟩ I could wish to have a Return immediately made, of the Number which have been sent on from any of the New England States to their Troops since the last delivery, that a distribution may be made in proportion to the real wants.8 I am Dear Sir With great regard & esteem Your Most Obed. Servant

Go: Washington

LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Mutilated portions of the LS are supplied in angle brackets from the draft, which is also in Humphreys’s writing. GW signed the cover of the LS.

1Heath wrote two letters to GW on 20 January. Most of this letter is a reply to Heath’s first letter of that date.

3No letter from Jeremiah Wadsworth to GW on this subject has been found.

4For the discovery of the court-martial papers in the case of Oliver Richards, see GW to Heath, 11 February.

5Maj. Gen. Robert Howe praised the troops under his command sent to suppress the mutiny in the New Jersey line (see his letter to GW of 27 Jan.).

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