George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Heath, 7 May 1782

Highlands, May 7. 1782.

Dear General,

Enclosed are two newspapers which came to hand the last evening—they are the latest I have received.

The day before yesterday about eighty recruits arrived from Massachusetts, in general very indifferent—a number of them negroes, some old men and boys—among them are also two french men who confess they were marines on board, and deserted from a french frigate in Boston harbour—How colonel Badlam could muster and forward them, I am at loss to determine. What shall be done with the frenchmen?

The boatmen and others on constant hard duty complain that they are reduced to a single ration, which is insufficient to support them on hard duty. Ought they not to receive a ration and half, as usual?

Some mutinous intentions have lately been discovered in the Connecticut line—three of the supposed principals are confined in the provost at West point—they will be brought before a general court-martial this day. Two of them I am informed, are serjeants.

A very great uneasiness continues among the regimental officers respecting the mode of receiving their provisions. The commissaries will not issue to the field officers, except they draw regimentally—as appears by the enclosed from one of them—similar notes were sent to other field officers. If the officers draw with their men and the whole of the provisions for a regiment are weighed at one draught the provisions will not hold out—a suspicion will arise that the officers not only pick out the best pieces, but also receive their full weight while the deficiency falls on the men. Ought not the provisions according to the usual custom of armies to be weighed in as many draughts as there are companies—and will not the service be promoted, as well as the field officers gratified in drawing their own provisions and for their servants without arms, by themselves?

I am informed that the contractors require from each regiment a return specifying the number of men present, and also of those absent; by this means the clerk in the commissaries store will have the most accurate knowledge of the whole strength of the army present, on command, sick, &c. which I think ought to be known by the commander in chief only. Too much care cannot be taken to prevent impositions in the provision returns, but is it not too dangerous for a clerk in a store to be possessed of accurate returns of the strength of the army? I beg leave to submit it to your Excellency’s consideration.

Doctor Townsend informed me yesterday, that he had received a signification of your pleasure through doctor Craik, to put a stop to inoculation. I have mentioned it in the orders of this day. I am apprehensive that there may be infection in some of the quarters—have directed, where it is probable, that the men who have not had the small-pox, be put in tents as near their respective corps as may be safe. If your Excellency does not approve of this mode, such other shall be adopted as you may think proper. I have the honor to be, With the greatest respect, Your Excellency’s Most obedient servant

W. Heath

P.S. Colonel Swift has this moment called at my quarters, & shewn me your letter to him of yesterday, respecting the mutineers.

A soldier belonging to one of the Connecticut regiments, some time since transfered to the corps of invalids being recovered, colonel Swift wishes he may be returned to the regiment to which he formerly belonged. Is it admissible?

W. Heath

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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