George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clinton, 4 January 1781

To George Clinton

Head Quarters New Windsor 4th Jany 1781.

⟨Dear Sir

I am extremely sorry to acquaint your⟩ Excellency ⟨that an event of a most alarming⟩ nature, but ⟨which I have long apprehended would⟩ happen in some part of the ⟨Army, has⟩ taken place in the Pennsylvania ⟨line cantonned⟩ near Morris Town. General Wayne ⟨informs me⟩ that on the night of the 1st instant a M⟨utiny⟩ was excited among the non Commissioned officers ⟨and⟩ privates—several officers were killed and wou⟨nded⟩ in endeavouring to quell it in the first ins⟨tance,⟩ but resistance was soon found vain. The troops paraded with their Arms, seized the Artill⟨ery of⟩ the division and marched off in a ⟨body⟩ toward⟨s⟩ Philada declaring their resolution to proceed to that City and lay their grievances before Congress⟨—⟩General Wayne—Colo. Butler and Colo. Stewart will endeavour to remain with them to keep ⟨them⟩ from committing excesses upon the Country, and in hopes that some favorable opening may be found to bring them to reason.1 What will be the event of this affair I do not know, or whether the spirit of defection will be confined to that line⟨. The Officers have been apprehensive of something of a like nature among the troops at these posts, who have the same causes of com⟩plaint. Should ⟨this unfortunately be the⟩ case, we have no resource ⟨left for the⟩ security of the posts, but the Militia, ⟨who wo⟩uld with difficulty be got in, in sufficient numbers, before the enemy might take advantage of the Revolt, for I have not the least doubt but they will hope to see the same spirit prevail among the troops here as among those at Morris Town, and will be prepared for such an event. The River is intirely open, and so far favorable. Under these circumstances, I think it indispensably necessary that your Excellency should be as near the posts as possible. Your influence with the Militia would give a spring to their exertions, and your advice upon such an occasion would be of infinite service to me. If the Session can be carried on by the Lieutenant Governor, I shall be glad to see your Excellency as soon as possible: But should any favorable accounts from below, or an assurance of the affection of the troops here make your presence unnecessary, I shall dispatch an Express to you by the Road on the East ⟨side of the River. I imagine the foregoing will have reached Albany, but not perhaps circum⟩stantially—⟨Your Excellency will therefore commu⟩nicate so much of ⟨it as you may think expedient⟩. I have the ⟨honor to be⟩ with the greatest ⟨mutilated⟩ Esteem Yr Excellency ⟨mutilated⟩ Most obt Servant

Go: Washington

LS (partially burned), in Tench Tilghman’s writing, N-Ar: Clinton Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Burned and illegible portions of the LS are supplied in angle brackets from the draft, which is also in Tilghman’s writing.

Clinton replied to GW on 5 Jan. at 2:00 p.m.: “I have this Moment received your Excellency’s Letter of Yesterday, and will do myself the Honor of waiting upon you immediately. I did intend to set out for Albany the Beginning of next Week, but my Presence there can be dispensed with for ten Days or longer without any material Inconvenience & I shall be happy in the present alarming & disagreable Situation of Affairs to render your Excellency every Assistance in my Power” (ADfS, N-Ar: Clinton Papers).

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