George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Anthony Wayne and Colonels Richard Butler and Walter Stewart, 4 January 1781

From Brigadier General Anthony Wayne and Colonels Richard Butler and Walter Stewart

Prince Town [N.J.] 4th Jany 1781

Dear General

Your own anxiety & distress of mind, is the best Criterion to judge of ours by—the Inclosed copy of Orders, propositions, Interogatories & Answers, will Inform you of our prospects & Situation.1

If with the assistance of the Governor & Council, or a Committee from that body, this unhappy business can not be settled, your presence & Influence will be more proper in an Other Quarter than with us.2

to the last Question, or note we declined giving an answer, but refered them to No. ⟨6⟩3—what the result may be is yet uncertain, we would hope for the best, as it seems to be the Disposition of the Line to fight the Common Enemy, however they may differ with us in Other respects—whether these are their real sentiments or not, will soon be Determined if the Intelligence contained in the Inclosed Copy of a letter from Colo. Crane is true.4

The Militia of New Jersey are Alarmed & Collecting to dispute their Advance whatever point they may land in.5

any change must be an Alleviation to our present feelings—however we have one resort left, for which we trust, we shall be more envied than pitied.6 Adieu Dear General & believe us with much Esteem your Most Obt Hume Serts

Anty Wayne
Richd Butler
Walter Stewart

LS, DLC:GW; DfS, PHi: Wayne Papers. Wayne wrote “6. O Clock P.M.” and “⅌ Express” on the cover of the LS.

Capt. Joseph McClellan’s diary entry for this date reads: “Set out from Bound-brook, and halted at Cranbury until evening. Moved from this place and halted at Allentown at seven o’clock at night. The soldiery by this time were in Princeton, (the officers circled around the left of the soldiery east and south of Princeton to Allentown, which is about twelve miles south easterly from Princeton.)” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 11:632–33).

British major Frederick Mackenzie recorded in his diary entry for this date: “Undoubted intelligence received that the whole Pennsylvania line have Mutinied.

“In consequence of this Information The Commander in Chief has ordered the British Grenadiers and Light Infantry, three Battalions of Hessian Grenadiers, and the Jagers, to march at day break toMorrow towards Denyces ferry, from whence if there is occasion he intends to go with them to South Amboy, in Jersey, to favor the revolt, and keep the Militia back.” Mackenzie concludes his entry with an observation that if their embarkation is delayed, the troops “are to be cantoned in the Neighbourhood of Denyces … ’till something more is known” (Mackenzie Diary description begins Diary of Frederick Mackenzie Giving a Daily Narrative of His Military Service as an Officer of the Regiment of Royal Welch Fusiliers during the Years 1775–1781 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1930. description ends , 2:42–44; see also n.4 below).

1Wayne, Butler, and Stewart enclosed a document containing copies of seven letters and documents (DLC:GW). The first is a letter labeled “No. 1” from Wayne to the mutineers written at “Mount Kemble” on 2 Jan.: “Agreeable to the propositions of a very great proportion of the worthy Soldierly last evening—Gen. Wayne hereby desires—the nonCommissiond officers & privates to appoint one man from each Regiment to represent their grieveances to the General, who on the Honor of a gentleman and a Soldier does hereby Solemnly promise to exert every nerve to obtain a redress of those grieveances—and he further plights that honor that no man Shall receive the least injury on account of the part they have taken on this occasion, and that the persons of those who may be appointed to Settle this affair Shall be held Sacred & inviolate.

“the General hopes Soon to return to Camp with all his brother Soldiers who took a little tour last evening.”

The second document, labeled “No. 2,” reads: “In pursuance of the within order a Serjt from each Regiment meet General Wayne Colonels Butler, & Stewart & mention the following grieveances vizt:

“Many Men Continued in the Service after the expirations of their inlistments.

“the Arrearages of pay and the depreciation not yet made up—and the Soldiers Suffering every extreame for want of money & Clothing.

“that it is very hurtfull to the feelings of the Soldiery—to be prevented from disposeing of their depreciation Certificates as they please, with⟨out⟩ Consulting any person on the occasion.

“it is agreed on the part of the General & Colonels, that one disinterested Serjt or privat from each Regt Shall with the Commanding Officer of the Corps where an inlistment is disputed determine on the Case.

“a Serjeant from each Regt to be appointed to carry an address to Congress backd by the General & field Officers.”

The third document is labeled “No. 3” and read: “Proposals from a Committee of Serjeants now representing the Pennsylva. Line, Artillery &ca.

“Article 1st—That all and every such men a[s] were Inlisted in the Year 1776 or 1777 and receiv’d the Bounty of Twenty Dollars shall be without any delay discharg’d, And all arrearages of Pay, be paid to the said men, without any fraud, Cloathing Included.

“Article 2nd—Such men as W⟨ere⟩ Inlisted since the Year 1777, and receiv’d the 120 Dollars Bounty, or any more Additions shall be Intitled to their discharges at the Expiration of three Years, from the date of their said Inlistment’s, and their full depretiation of Pay, and all Arrears of Cloathing.

“Article 3d—That all such men, that belong to the different Regiments as are Inlisted of late for the War, that they shall receive the remainder part of their Bounty And pay, And All Arrears of Cloathing; That they shall return to their respective Corps, And do their duty as formerly and no Aspersion to be cast, or no grievance to be repeated to the said men.

“Article 4th—Those Soldiers that are Intitled to receive their discharges, and all Arrears of pay And Cloathing, shall not be Compell’d to stay by any former Officers Commanding any longer time than what is agreeable to their Own pleasure and dispositions, And those that do remain for a small time as Volunteers, that they shall be at their own disposal at Pleasure.

“Article 5th—As we now depend And rely upon You General Wayne for to represent and repeal our Grievances, we do agree in Conjunction from this date, Jany 4th in Six days for to Compleat and Settle every such demand as the above five Articles mention’d.

“Article 6th—That the whole line are Actually agreed And determin’d to support these above Articles in every Particular.”

The fourth is a letter labeled “No. 4” from Wayne to the committee of sergeants written at Princeton on 4 Jan.: “General Wayne having maturely Considered the foregoing proposition⟨s⟩ & Articles presented to him by the Serjeants in behalf of themselves the Artillery & Privates of the Pennsa. Line thinks proper to Return the following Answer Viz.:

“1st That all such Non Commissiond office[r]s and Soldiers as are justly entitled to their Discharges, Shall be Immediatly setled with, their Accounts properly Adjusted and Certificates for the pay & arrears of pay, & Cloathing given them Agreeable to the Resolves of Congress—and the late act of the Honourable Assembly of Pennsa. for making up the Depriciation & be Dischargd the Service of the United States.

“2d That all Such Non Commissiond Officers and Privates belonging to the Respective Regiments of Artillery or Infantry as are not Intitled to their Discharges, Shall be Also Setled with &, Certificates given them for their pay Depreciation & Clothing in like maner as those before mentioned, which Certificates are to be Redeemable at as Short A Period as the Nature of the case will Admit of, to be paid in hard Cash or an Equivelant of the Current money of these States & be Immediatly furnished with Comfortable warm Cloathing they Returning to their duty as worthy faithful Soldiers.

“These propositions are founded on principles ⟨of⟩ justice And Honour between the United States & the Soldiery, which is all that Reasonable men can Expect or that the General can promise Consistant with his Station & Duty & the mutual benefit of this Country & the Lines which he has had the Honour so long to Command.

“If the Soldiery are Determined not to let Reason & justice Govern on this Occasion—he has only to lament the Fatal & Unfortunate Sittuation to which they will Reduce themselves & their Country.”

The fifth is an undated letter labeled “No. 5” from the committee of sergeants to Wayne: “We woud be glad that you woud inform us who those men are that you mean, that are intitled to their discharges, as we jointly think that you dont deem the men inlisted with the bounty of twenty dollars to be entitled to their discharges—therefore Sir be part[i]cluar what you Say & do—as we reasonably think it is our due.”

The sixth is a letter labeled “No. 6” from Wayne to the committee of sergeants dated 4 Jan. at Princeton: “the question asked me by the Committee of Serjeants is of Such important Consequence, and on which So great a variety of opinions are given—and your not chuseing to leave it to the decision of a Committee of yourSelves and the Colonel of the Regt where any dispute might arise agreeable to the propositions of yesterday. I Cannot think myself fully impowerd to decide upon the occasion, but will immediatly Send of[f] an express to the Governor & Council of Pensilvania and desire a Committee of that Body to meet the Line at Trenton or elsewhere—Who With Myself Colonels Butler & Stewart, Will give you a full and explicit answer.”

The seventh is an undated letter labeled “No. 7” from the committee of sergeants to Wayne: “as we now are upon a principal of honor justice & right, we are now So well Situated to receive any gentleman of rank at this post, as if we were to march any further, & therefore I woud not have you think that we cannot settle these matters by Such a formidable Body of Men as we are—therefore shoud be glad you woud be explicit in your Expresses or otherwise we must take Some measures that will procure our own happiness.”

2After being advised of the mutiny on 5 Jan., “and it appearing to be of great importance to put a stop as soon as possible to so dangerous a measure,” the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council unanimously decided that its president, Joseph Reed, and council member James Potter should “set out for New Jersey … to quiet the minds of the said people, and if nothing less will satisfy them, to discharge the whole of them” (Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 12:593).

Also on 5 Jan., Congress ordered that the committee formed to confer with the council about the mutiny “be instructed to act in concert with the said executive, and fully empowered to take such measures as may appear necessary to quiet the disturbances in the Pen[n]sylvania line” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 19:25). The committee and the council agreed to send Reed and Potter to meet the mutineers and that the committee of Congress would follow them the next morning (see Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 12:593).

3The number is illegible, but the writers appear to refer to enclosure number six (see n.1 above).

4The enclosure included copies of letters from Jacob Crane to Wayne written at Elizabeth, N.J., on 4 Jan. and an intelligence report from “A.B.” written the same date at 5:00 A.M., presumably addressed to Wayne (DLC:GW). The intelligence report reads: “Agreeable to the Permission that I receiv’d of Mr ⟨mutilated⟩, that he receiv’d of Major Fishbourne, I went over to New York, And have Just now return’d. Yesterday About Twelve OClock the British got the News of the Unhappy disturbances in your Camp; Nothing could possibly have given them so much pleasure, every preparation is making among them to come out and make a descent on Jersey. I think South Amboy is their Object. they expect those in Mutiny will Immediately Join them, a Person on whom I can rely told me that Capt. Land, was order’d to have all the flatt Bottom’d Boats ready upon the Shortest Notice.

“If they come out it will be with Considerable force, and may be expected within Twenty four hours from this time.”

Crane’s letter reads: “I have had the Above Person present and Examin’d Him, therefore You may rely on the Above Intelligence. I should be very glad you would let me know how it is with you; I have heard nothing from You since Night before last. The Malitia here has Collected tolerable, for the time they receiv’d Orders at this place” (see also the source note above).

5The New Jersey Privy Council met at Trenton on 3 January. The minutes read: “Whereas the Board have received advice that The Pennsylvania line have mutinied, from which there is great reason to apprehend a descent from the Enemy into this State. The Board therefore advised His Excellency to Order General Dickinson to call out the Militia from Hunterdon and Burlington … and that General Dickinson be requested to take the Command of the Same” (Bernstein, N.J. Privy Council Minutes description begins David A. Bernstein, ed. Minutes of the Governor’s Privy Council, 1777–1789. Trenton, 1974. In New Jersey Archives, 3d ser., vol. 1. description ends , 192).

6For GW’s reply, see his letter to Wayne of 8 January.

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