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Art. VII.

Memoirs of Major-Gen. Heath,
containing Anecdotes, Details of
Skirmishes, Battles, and other Mi-

litary Events, during the American
. Written by himself. pp.
388. 8vo. Thomas & Andrews.
Boston. 1798.

THE work here presented to the
public is written by one who
sustained the important character of
Major-General in the American ar-
my, from the commencement to the
termination of the late revolution-
ary war.

From a person of such rank, and
who was an eye-witness of many of
the transactions of that memorable
period, the reader will, doubtless,
expect many new and interesting
details, many curious and instructive
anecdotes, and many pleasing illus-
trations of that portion of the histo-
ry of our country. He will not,
however, have proceeded far in the
barren tract of this writer, before
he discovers how delusive are such
expectations. In vain will he look
for the purity, correctness and pre-
cision, the modesty and dignity,
the unaffected ease and elegance,
he has often admired in the produc-
tions of Caesar and of Sully.

The volume before us contains
no well digested narrative, no regu-
lar concatenation of causes and ef-
fects, no just delineation of cha-
racter, no striking descriptions; is
enriched with no felicities of ex-
pression and remark; but is a mea-
gre journal, a dry gazette account of
facts, often trivial and unimportant,
arranged in exact chronological or-
der, from day to day, from June,
1775, to December, 1793.

The author, indeed, seems aware
of the essential defects in the plan
and execution of his work; for he
observes, in his introduction, that,
“to preserve and perpetuate a daily
journal of occurrences, through
nearly the whole of the late war, is
the present object” of these me-
moirs: “and although his pages
are not decorated with the flowers

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of Greece and Rome; and, for
their diction, cannot claim the pa-
tronage of the learned, they contain
a state of facts, in detail, which may
not be unpleasing to posterity.”—
That the work was originally des-
tined, by the author, for the in-
struction and amusement of future
ages, we are informed by his adver-
tisement—“That it was not the in-
tention to publish these memoirs
during the life-time of the writer.
They were penned for his own re-
and the information and sa-
tisfaction of his own family as well
as posterity. The pressing impor-
tunity of very many is the sole rea-
son of their appearing at this time.”

How far the advice of the author's
friends was discreet, or whether the
present or a future generation will
regard these memoirs with the same
complacency and satisfaction as the
writer or his friends, we presume
not to determine.

Whether the facts told are stated
with the absolute veracity requisite
in an historian, we leave it to others,
better acquainted with the subject
and its incidents, to decide.

The author has availed himself
of the privilege of a writer of his
own memoirs, and has lost no op-
portunity to exhibit himself as the
most prominent and distinguished
figure in the group. Our limits do
not permit us to make many ex-
tracts: but we claim the indulgence
of our readers in selecting one or
two passages, as specimens of our
author's style and manner. The
first relates to the origin of our au-
thor, and is taken from the first
page of his memoirs.

“Major-General William Heath de-
scended from an ancient family in Rox-
bury, near Boston, in Massachusetts, and
is of the fifth generation of the family
who have inherited the same real estate,
(taken up in a state of nature) not large,
but fertile, and pleasantly situated. He
was born March 2d, (old stile) 1737,

was brought up a farmer, of which pro-
fession he is yet passionately fond. He
is of middling stature, light complexion,
very corpulent, and bald-headed, which
led the French officers who served in
America very frequently to compare him
to the Marquis of Granby.* From his
childhood he was remarkably fond of
military exercises, which passion grew up
with him, and, as he arrived at years of
maturity, led him to procure, and atten-
tively to study, every military treatise in
the English language which was obtain-
able. This, with a strong memory, ren-
dered him fully acquainted with the
theory of war, in all its branches and du-
ties, from the private soldier to the com-
mander in chief.”

In 1765 Mr. Heath went to Bos-
ton, where he was chosen Lieute-
nant, and afterwards a Captain, in
the “ancient and honourable ar-
tillery company.”

Not long after this promotion,
“our Captain” was elected a Co-
lonel of the first regiment of mili-
tia in Suffolk: and, by a resolve of
Congress, in June, 1775, “our
Colonel” was appointed a Major-

The first shedding of blood by
the British is thus described by “our

“On the 19th, at day-break, our Ge-
neral was awoke, called from his bed,
and informed that a detachment of the
British army were out; that they had
crossed from Boston to Phipps' farm in
boats, and had gone towards Concord,
as was supposed, with intent to destroy
the public stores. They probably had
notice that the committees had met, the
preceding day, at Wetherby's tavern, at
Menotomy; for, when they came oppo-
site the house, they halted. Several of
the gentlemen slept there during the
night. Among them were Col. Orne,
Col. Lee, and Mr. Gerry. One of them
awoke, and informed the others that a
body of the British were before the house.
They immediately made their escape,
without time to dress themselves, at the
back door, receiving some injury from
obstacles in the way, in their undressed
state. They made their way into the
fields. The country was immediately
alarmed, and the minute-men and mi-

  * “Chastellux's Travels.”

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litia turned out with great spirit. Near
Lexington meeting-house the British
found the militia of that town drawn up
by the road. Towards these they ad-
vanced, ordered them to disperse, huz-
zaed, and fired upon them; when seve-
ral were killed and wounded, and the
rest dispersed. This was the first shed-
ding of blood in the American war.”

The “delicate and important”
charge of the captured army of Ge-
neral Burgoyne was confided to
“our General.” The following
will show his spirit on that occa-
sion, and, perhaps, be amusing as
an anecdote.

November 8th.—Our General sent
one of his aids to accompany General
Burgoyne and the other officers into Bos-
ton, by the way of Roxbury: they arrived
some time before dinner, as was intended,
that business might be considered. The
parole was shewn to them, and the arti-
cles for their government in quarters,
with which they were well pleased. But
here a discovery was first made of some-
thing which they wished to retain while
in our country, and which our General
would never, for a moment, allow. Gen.
Phillips, turning to our General, observ-
ed, ‘Sir, you well know the disposition
of soldiers, and that they will, more or
less, in all armies, commit some disor-
ders: suppose you should delegate to
Gen. Burgoyne the power of seeing your
orders executed.’ Our General replied,
that he knew the disposition of soldiers,
and also the necessity of order and dis-
cipline; that he was not only willing, but
expected that Gen. Burgoyne, and every
other officer, would exert themselves to
keep order; that, for this purpose, among
themselves, and for internal order and
obedience, he might command and pu-
nish as might appear to be necessary; but
in no case to attempt capital punishment.
But as to the exercise of his own com-
mand, and enforcement of his own or-
ders when necessary, was a jurisdiction
which Gen. Burgoyne must not expect
to exercise while here. Gen. Burgoyne
smiled, and Gen. Phillips turned it off by
saying, ‘I only meant it for your ease-
ment, Sir.’

“Before dinner was done, so great was
the curiosity of the citizens of both sexes,
and of all ages and descriptions, to get a
peep at Gen. Burgoyne, that the streets
were filled, the doors, windows, the tops
of the houses and fences crowded. Gen.

Burgoyne had asked our General if he
would indulge him to go out of town by
the way of Charlestown, which was in-
stantly granted. When he was ready to
depart, our General told him that he
should accompany him to the ferry; and
a procession was formed, the American
gentlemen mixing with the British. The
streets were so crowded that it was diffi-
cult getting along; but not a word or a
gesture that was disrespectful. When ar-
rived opposite to the Province-House,
Gen. Burgoyne turned round to the other
Generals, and observed, ‘There is the
former residence of the Governor;’ when
some person on the side of the street,
and in a tone fully to be heard, added,
and on the other side is the riding-school;
alluding to the Old South Meeting-house
having been put to that use in 1775: but
the General, who must have heard it,
made no reply, but soon after observed,
‘Sir, I am astonished at the civility of
your people; for were you walking
the streets of London, in my situation,
you would not escape insult.’ When ar-
rived at the ferry-ways, the crowd were
down to the water's edge; but when the
boat put off, there was not the least in-
decency or wry countenance discovered.
—O my dear countrymen! how did this,
your dignified conduct, at that moment,
charm my very soul! Such conduct flows
from a greatness of mind that goes to con-
quer a world.”


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