George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Anthony Wayne, 3 September 1780

Camp Liberty Pole Sepr 3rd 1780

Dear Sir

When I was first informed of the discontent that pervaded the whole of the Field Officers of the Pennsa line on acc’t of the appointment of Major MacPherson to a Command in the Light Infantry—it gave me much pain—but when I found the effect it had on their minds was such as would probably produce a General resignation—I felt every sensation that could possibly take place in a breast, Interested—deeply Interested in the fate of this Country—I saw the train of evils which would inevitably follow—I dreaded the dissolution of a line upon which the fate of America in a great degree depended—I looked forward to an other Campaign—I reviewed this Army in the State it would be reduced to by the middle of January, when the mass of people who now compose it would return to their respective States—except those engaged for the War—among’ whom—few very few of the Pennsa line would remain—having no local attatchment to detain them after the dissolution of a Corps of Officers with whom they had so often fought & bled—& who they loved & Esteemed.

but when in Idea I saw your Excellency at the head of a Debilitated Corps, obliged to give way before a powerful & Dessolating Army, experiencing the most poignant distress at the Devestation which you could not prevent.

these considerations gave a sensation which the nicest feelings—& truest friendship only knows the force of—the agitation in which you must have seen me—the Indifatigable pains I took to divert the Gentlemen from their purpose, Genl Irvine’s & my own letters to you, & the Inclosed to the field Officers, must convince your Excellency that we did not at this alarming crisis—remain Idle, torpid unconcerned spectators.

Yet there has not been wanting Invidious Incendiaries, capable of Insinuating (even to some of your Excellency’s family) that from being disappointed in a Command I was fond of—I had (in place of preventing a most fatal disaster) endeavoured to lay a train which in its consequences might p[re]cipitate this Country into ruin.

I don’t know whether most to pity or detest, the weakness of the head—or the badness of the heart—of that man who knowing me—could be capable of sporting so base an Idea.

a Conduct of this nature is only suited to those whose Condition in Domestick life can not be worsted by any change of fortune—this is not my Situation—I have with your Excellency & many others every Inducement to wish a happy & speedy termination of this contest and now anxiously wait for—& will with avidity seize the moment in which I can (with safety to my Country) return to Domestick life—a life that I am fond of—& where I shall be free from, & escape those Invidious Innuendo’s, that I have ground to believe have in other Quarters—& upon other Occations been lately practiced with too much success.

will you have the goodness to pardon this Intrusion & attribute it to the feelings of a Soldier jealous—very jealous of his honor—and who experiences some consolation by communicating them to his General & his friend which is all the relief that Circumstances will admit of until fortune will be so kind as to unmask the man—who in the Dark—& by the darkest Innuendo’s has stabed at the Character of your Excellency’s Most Obt & Affectionate Huml. Sert

Anty Wayne

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Saturday 2 oClock P.M. 12th Augt 1780

My dear Sir

I have this momint received information (in confidence) that the Captains & Subal[ns] have caught the flame—and say they are determined not to rise on the ruin or disgrace of the Field Officers, should their resignations be accepted, but will soon follow them—Pray should not His Excellency be privately acquainted with this additional distressing circumstance—something however ought to be done instantly—but what that something is I know not—my mind is at present so agitated I have scarce a single Idea left—for Gods sake—but I need not urge you I know how you also feel & how you have already exerted your abilities. I am Dear Sir Yours Most Sincerely

Wm Irvine


Tappan 12th Augt 1780


Let us intreat you by the sacred ties of honor, friendship & Patriotism—well to consider the measure recommended by us last evening—& however your feelings may be wounded—reflect that ages yet to come may owe their happiness, or misery—to the dicission of this hour.

Your own fate is so Involved with that of your Country’s—that the same cause which hurts the one, will mortally Wound the other.

for god’s sake be as a band of brothers & rise superior to every Injury—whether real or Imaginary—at least for this Campaign, which probably will produce a Conviction to the World—that America owes her freedom to the temporary sacrifice you now make.

You will also reflect that this is a favor solicited by men, who would bleed to Death drop by drop—to defend your honor as soon as that of your very Affectionate Hum. Serts

Anty Wayne

Wm Irvine

N.B. at all events do not come to a final decission (should it be contrary to this request) befor 7. O’Clock in the morning when we may have something to offer that may meet your Approbation.

Index Entries