George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Elias Dayton, 24 January 1781

Chatham Jany 24th 1781


On Sunday morning I was alarmed with an account that the Jersey brigade had revolted, were directing their march this way and were in the neighbourhood of this place. I immediately desired the officers of the detachment upon this station to sound the sentiments of the men under their immediate command, who soon discovered that they had no inclination to join with the seditious part of the brigade, but rather chose to avoid them. I gave permission to the major part of these to retire to their own homes and such of the remainder as were not prevailed upon to join them, were directed to lay at Springfield until further orders.

When the revolters were collected, the commissioners appointed by the assembly to enquire into & redress the grievances of the brigade with myself acquainted them with what powers we were vested and at the same time assured them that when they are turned to their duty & not till then, we would hear and treat with them. A point which they strongly contested was that their own oaths should be admissible in determining the terms of their enlistments as with the Pensylvanians; this we did not think proper by any means to grant them and they finally gave it up. They marched this day on their return to the huts with Colo: Shreeve only, where they have promised again to put themselves under the command of their officers. As soon as the men who were permitted to go out of the way, are collected, I shall detach a guard with the cannon to Morris town and send on, the others to the huts. As I am not without my fears, that, when they discover they are not discharged agreable to their wishes by the commissioners, they may again become seditious and not consider themselves amenable to the orders of their officers, I would wish to be instructed by your excellency, whether in that case it would not be adviseable to call in the militia, who, I am of opinion can be at any time collected for that purpose, and make use of more rigorous measures to humble them.

I am happy to acquaint your Excellency that I am greatly recovered, altho my health and strength are not yet sufficiently establish’d to warrant my continuance in camp at this season of the year.

The enemy are now putting on board of vessels, quantities of military & ordinance stores, in which tis also said that troops are to be embarked, their destination is entirely unknown. May not the British have in expectation a general revolt of the army, and from those expectations, have their eye upon West point? I am Sir your Excellencys most obedient and Hbl. servant

Elias Dayton

P.S. Enclosed is a copy of the pardon granted the mutineers—several of which did not comply with it, who are proper objects, of whom I would wish to see made examples of.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Chatham Jany 23, 1781

The Commandant of the Jersey Brigade in answer to the petition of the Sergeants for a general pardon, observes that in consideration of the Brigade’s haveing revolted before they were made acquainted with the resolution of the legislature directing an inquiry into their enlistments and of their agreeing immediately upon their being informed of said resolution to return to their duty and of their haveing neither shed blood nor done violence to the person of any officer or inhabitant; he hereby promises a pardon to all such as immediately without hesitation shall return to their duty and conduct themselves in a soldierly manner. Those who shall, notwithstanding this unmerited proffer of clemency, refuse obedience, must expect the reward due to such obstinate villainy.

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