Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 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.

Phillips, William (1731?-1781) to [David Henley]

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also request a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04764.71 Author/Creator: Phillips, William (1731?-1781) Place Written: Cambridge, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter Date: no date Pagination: 2 p. ; 32.4 x 20.3 cm.

Summary of Content: Written by General Phillips as an officer under General John Burgoyne to Colonel Henley, former commander of the Prospect Hill barracks where many of the captured Convention troops were situated. Henley was brought before a court martial due to allegations of murder and mistreatment of British soldiers. Recipient is inferred from the content of the memorandum written above the letter. Memorandum says "Col: Henley wrote a letter to G: Ps:," which apologized for his improper use of language. "G: Ps:" is probably General Phillips. The letter below the memorandum is an answer to Henley's apology and says "the unguarded epithets you applied to me," which is Phillips, not Burgoyne, as the index for the collection states. This hybrid memorandum-letter has multiple corrections and might be a draft. In the letter itself he mentions a previous letter Henley sent respecting "the unguarded epithets you applied to me upon two different occasions." Says his explanation has influenced him positively and claims "I not only accept it as full satisfaction but feel an emulation not to be undone in propriety." Hopes Henley will understand he only said things in a zealous fashion to procure a court martial, not personal spite. Says his actions and conduct since have been exemplar.

Background Information:

People: Kingston, Robert M

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Revolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryBattleBattle of SaratogaConvention ArmyPrisoner of WarMilitary LawMorality and Ethics

Sub Era:

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources