Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 65,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Burgoyne, John (1722-1792) to William Heath

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04764.51 Author/Creator: Burgoyne, John (1722-1792) Place Written: Cambridge, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 12 January 1778 Pagination: 1

Summary of Content: Written by General Burgoyne as commander of the captured British Convention Army to General Heath as commander of the district where the Convention Army is situated. References Heath's letter of 10 January 1778, where Heath expressed anger over abuses committed by British troops. Says he will respond to Heath's complaints later, because he does not want to be diverted from the matter of Colonel David Henley, the commandant of the Prospect Hill barracks accused of murder and abusing British troops, by "collateral matter." Says Heath was taking the matter with Henley in a slight and indifferent manner. Accuses Henley of "unprovoked" and "wanton" bloodshed in three instances. Claims Henley made himself "Judge and Executioner." Says will prove it with "incontestable evidence." Asks how Heath can put him off by a court of inquiry where neither judges nor witnesses will have to operate under oath. Complains that this incident should not be looked at in a court of inquiry, which has a specific legal meaning. Says the inquiry will be unfair without the use of an oath. Claims they are being held under "the sanction of a truce, and the publick faith is pledged for our safe conduct, by the universal law of Nations we have a right to personal protection." Formerly protests, in the name of Great Britain, against a court of inquiry and demands a court martial of Henley. Marked "No. 43" near docket.

People: Kingston, Robert M.

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Keywords/Subjects: Revolutionary War, Revolutionary War General, Military History, Battle, Battle of Saratoga, Convention Army, Prisoner of War, Death, Crime, Military Law, Oath, Judiciary, Truce

Sub Era: The War for Independence