George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Heath, 13 March 1782

Head quarters, Highlands, March 13th 1782.

Dear General,

By the last post I was honored with yours of the 28th ultimo, and two of the 4th instant.

The mode proposed for supplying the officers with clothing, is to some of them agreeable, to others disagreeable—on which side the majority lays, I am at loss to determine. Necessity will probably oblige many to accept the offer. They have for a long time been expecting some relief of money—they are as wretched as can be conceived of—in a regiment, perhaps, not ten dollars can be mustered by the officers belonging to it. Many of them have been obliged to borrow money of inhabitants and run in debt to them for necessaries, upon promises of payment in a short time. I need not point to your Excellency their feelings, when they are dunned by the peasants for small sums and at a loss what answer to give them. Many of them have families, from whom they have been long absent, and whose circumstances require a part of their wages, and have probably for months past been flattered with representations of relief—have obtained monies from their neighbors upon the expectation of having it in their power soon to repay them. These several considerations taken together, produce reflections in the mind of the officer, not friendly to his own comfort, or the public service. They have been so often deceived with paper money and depreciation notes that any thing of the kind is scarcely listened to—they have generally proved opportunities for sharpers to feather their nests. From all that I see, or can gather from the officers, there never was a period when some money from some quarter was more necessary for the good of the service, than at present.

I have heard nothing from general Schuyler on the subject of one of your letters of the 4th since he informed me that a scout had been sent out. I am rather apprehensive that the season will be too far advanced to expect any advantage. But every attention shall be paid to the object, if it shall appear probable of Success. Colonel Tupper, who now commands at the northward, informs me, that about twenty Indians have been down to the little falls on the Mohawk river, burnt one house, and taken one prisoner.

I had some time since directed that the recruits should be drilled and instructed in the first rudiments of their duty, with all possible attention, and the old soldiers until the ground got dry, exercised by companies in the manual exercise, firings, &c. that when the weather will admit of their forming battalion, they may be perfected in their manoeuvres. We yet continue to put under inoculation such recruits as come on who have not had the small-pox. How long shall the practice be continued?

I have written to Colonel Varick for the paper you are pleased to mention as the criterion to determine the validity of challenges in the general court-martial for the trial of major general McDougall. Your Excellency mentions that a line to Colonel Varick was enclosed—it was some how omitted—none came under my cover.

I am sorry that so many obstacles and delays happen in this business. I had flattered myself with the hopes of obtaining a short leave of absence before the campaign opened, to make a visit to the eastward—From a winter’s very close confinement, my health, as well as some private concerns strongly urge it—And it is my wish, when such indulgence can be obtained, it may be at a season, eligible, as it respects myself and the public service. I am with the highest respect, Your Excellency’s Most obedient Servant

W. Heath

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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