Lot 38: Continental Army Major General WILLIAM HEATH Signed Revolutionary War Document
Historic Autographs, Civil War Encased Postage Stamps, Colonial, Revolutionary War, Federal Era, Coins, Currency, Medals
December 10, 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
1778 Continental Army Major General William Heath Signed Together with Ebenezer Hancock - Brother of John
WILLIAM HEATH (1737-1814). Major General in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, original member of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati.
EBENEZER HANCOCK (1741-1819). Brother of John Hancock, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence", the 4th and 13th President of the Continental Congress.
March 23, 1778-Dated Revolutionary War, Manuscript Document Signed, "W. Heath MG" (Major General), 2 pages, measures 8.25" x 11.5", at Boston, Choice Very Fine. Boldly written in rich brown and easily readable on very clean period laid paper. Letter is written to Thomas Hancock, Deputy Paymaster General of the Forces of the United States of America, ordering him to pay Nathaniel Barber, Deputy Commissary of Military Stores the sum of $196 for four Continental Army soldiers' wages. The account of these soldiers is fully stated on the verso, with Signed Endorsements by Nathaniel Barber and Ebenezer Hancock, Deputy Paymaster General. Tiny stamp hinge reinforced edge tear at top, choice Docket on the reverse. A historic, very nice content American Revolutionary War financial document that is excellent for display. Very rare having the dual signature combination inclusive of Ebenezer Hancock (1741-1819), Brother of John Hancock, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence" and the 4th and 13th President of the Continental Congress. Ebenezer also was the keeper of the Powder house, Paymaster General of Continental Army, a Fire Warden, Selectman, and the Inspector of the Massachusetts Mint.
William Heath (March 7, 1737 - January 24, 1814) was an American farmer, soldier, and political leader from Massachusetts who served as a Major General in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.
Heath made his home for his entire life at his family's farm in Roxbury, Massachusetts (present day Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, part of the city of Boston). He was born on a farm that had been settled in 1636 by his ancestors. He became active in the militia, and was a captain of the Roxbury Company of the Suffolk County militia regiment in 1760. By 1770 he was the regiment's colonel and its commanding officer.
In 1765 he was elected as a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts and was elected as the Company's lieutenant in 1768 and as its captain in 1770.
In December 1774 the revolutionary government in Massachusetts commissioned him as a brigadier general. He commanded Massachusetts forces during the last stage of the Battle of Lexington and Concord in April 1775. As the siege of Boston began, Heath devoted himself to training the militia involved in the siege. In June of that year, Massachusetts named him a major general in the state troops, and the Continental Congress commissioned him a brigadier general in the newly formed Continental Army.
In 1776 Heath participated in the defense of New York City, and was one of those who urged General Washington not to abandon the city. He saw action at Long Island, Harlem Heights, and White Plains. In August 1776 he was promoted to major general in the Continental Army, but Washington had doubts about Heath's abilities and posted him where no action was expected. In November he was placed in command of forces in the Hudson River Highlands. In January 1777, Washington instructed Heath to attack Fort Independence in New York in support of Washington's actions at Trenton and Princeton, but Heath's attack was botched and his troops were routed. He was censured by Washington and thereafter was never given command of troops in combat.
General Heath was placed in charge of the Convention Army of John Burgoyne's surrendered troops after the Battle of Saratoga. In 1780 he returned to command the Highland Department after Benedict Arnold's treason.
Heath was listed as an original member of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati.
After the Revolutionary War, General Heath was a member of the Massachusetts Convention that ratified the United States Constitution in 1788. He served in the state Senate 1791-1792, and as a probate court judge. In 1806 he was elected the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, but declined the office.
He died at home in Roxbury on January 24, 1814, and was buried nearby in Forest Hills Cemetery The town of Heath, Massachusetts, is named in his honor.
Ebenezer Hancock (1741-1819), was the Brother of John Hancock, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence" and the 4th and 13th President of the Continental Congress. Ebenezer also was the keeper of the Powder house, Paymaster General of Continental Army, a Fire Warden, Selectman, and the Inspector of the Massachusetts Mint.