George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Heath, 19 June 1782

Highlands June 19th 1782

Dear General

Capt. Williams Brigade Major of the 2nd Massachusetts Brigade, has been tried at a General Court Martial for not furnishing a detail laid on the Brigade by the D.A.G., has been acquitted by the Court and the Judgment approved by your Excellency, this has been done in consequence of Colonel Putnam Commandant of the Brigade forbiding Capt. Williams furnishing the detail, Colonel Putnam consequently stands answerable for countermanding the order, I am informed he will attempt to Justify his conduct, on a pretence that it was not known how far my Command extended, and that I had not a right to order the detail from your Excellencys Order of the 4th of April, I apprehended a doubt could not exist—the order of the 9th instant is expressed in a manner which seems to imply a doubt, it is certainly wounding discipline to have an order openly Oppugrated with impunity, on the other hand it will be a loss of time and much trouble to arrest and try, if there is not a basis to support the trial, and it should finally be Supposed that my command was not made sufficiently explicit. I am well aware of the delicacy of the case and an Opinion being given thereon, I therefore only request your Excellencys Opinion whether from the several circumstances, it be advisable to have the matter prosecuted or dropt, I have no doubt in my own mind but from the expression of the order of the 9th instant, if there is no doubt as to my command, the matter is clear, if there is, my Situation has been unfortunate for if I could not Issue the disputed order, I do not See that I could Issue any other with propriety. I have the honor to be with the greatest respect your Excellencys most Obedient Servant

W. Heath

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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