George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Heath, 29 May 1782

Highlands, May 29. 1782.

Dear General,

Captain Pray has just written me that he lately sent a serjeant and two men as a patrole down below the block-house at Dobbs’ ferry as far as the ship, to observe if there was not a communication kept up with the main. The ship’s boat with the lieutenant on board came over to the Jersey shore after two deserters who had crossed—the serjeant and two men fired on the boat and drove her off—it is supposed the lieutenant was wounded. The serjeant afterwards, contrary to his orders, went down below fort Lee in the night, was attacked by the refugees, himself wounded, and with the two men taken prisoners and carried to New York, where the serjeant remains; but the two men have just arrived here, each under parole. Enclosed is a copy of one of the paroles. I have ordered them to their regiments—not to be put on duty, or to be absent until I know your pleasure respecting them. I think the paroling soldiers in this way, is a finished piece of craftiness; it was practiced by sir Guy Carleton when he commanded in Canada—and may be productive of most pernicious consequences if allowed at this time. The lads, when I told them they were not to regard such a parole, and that they must join their regiments, at once discovered that they expected to have had leave to go home. What mode of conduct they ought to observe, and whether the commissary of prisoners should give credit as for two men received, or that no regard should be paid to the paroles, your excellency’s superior wisdom can best determine.

A soldier by the name of Peter Cumings Gilbert belonging to the 2d Massachusetts regiment, has just given me the enclosed letter from the honorable mr Prescott, covering a certificate from captain Stratton of Gilbert’s surrendering himself to him—He deserted in the month of April last. I can only observe that mr Prescott is a gentleman of distinguished character in Massachusetts, and that from the appearance of the lad, he is fully sensible of his error and folly, and that he will behave better in future. I therefore beg leave to submit his case and attendant circumstances to your consideration.

In consequence of the resignation of the judge advocate general, and one of his deputies, the general courts-martial cannot transact the necessary business which lays before them. Endeavours have been used to prevail on some gentleman to act pro tempore, but it is declined—as no compensation it is said, can be allowed for it. In such case, what shall be done? I have the honor to be With the highest respect, Your Excellency’s Most obedient servant,

W. Heath

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Littelton 6the May 1782

This Sertyfy that Corpll Gilbart in the 2 Mastts Regt in Capt. Adm Baileys Company frely & with out Controle Deliverd him Self to me as A Deserter from Sd Regt & Company this Day at four O’Clock A:M.

Aron Straton Capt.


Groton 15th May 1782

Dear General

I do myself the honor to address you in behalf of Peters Cumings Gilbert who lately deserted the Army; the young man was sensible of his Error & immediately resign’d himself to an Officer as will appear by Certificate, he Sustains a good Character & assures me he will return to his Duty & let the World know he is an honest man & good Soldier—I should be happy to have him receive his pardon, for which purpose I have wrote to Colo. Sprout, and am sure it will give you great pleasure to forgive the Offence when it is consistent with honor. I am,dear sir, with sentiments of great Esteem & respect, your very Huml. Servt

Oliver Prescott


26 May 1782

I Augustus Peck of New haven in the province of Connecticut do hereby pledge my faith and word of honor to his excellency Sir Guy Carlton, that I shall not do or say any thing contrary to the interest of his majesty or his government, and that whenever required so to do, I shall repair to whatever place his excellency, or any other his majesty’s commander in chief in America shall judge expedient to order me. Given under my hand at New York, this 26. day of May 1782.

Witness John Hullart

Augustus Peck, private

4th Connecticut regt

Index Entries