George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 6 January 1781

To Samuel Huntington

Head Quarters New Windsor 6th Jany 1781.


Congress must have been long ere this, informed by General Wayne of the Mutiny of the Pennsylvania Troops on the 1st instant, and I have no doubt but he has kept them regularly advised of what happened afterwards.1 I have heard nothing particular from those troops, since they reached the neighbourhood of Somerset Court House, at which place they shewed some signs of a better disposition than at first. The only favorable circumstance is, their not having attempted to make a push for the Enemy. I should have immediately, upon the receipt of this alarm⟨ing⟩ intelligence, have proceeded to Morris town and from thence to wherever the troops might be, had matters been in such a situation here, as to have justified my leaving these important posts, without being well assured of the temper and affections of the Garrison, who labor under nearly the same distresses, and have, in some degree, the same caus⟨es⟩ of complaint as the Pennsylvanians, and, more especially, as the Officers had, a little time ago, acquainted me, that they had discovered some symptoms of a similar intention. Luckily, however, no such disposition has yet appeared. But as the distresses of the troops for Flour and for some species of Cloathing are great, and they may only want some plausible pretext for breaking out, I am strongly advised by the General Officers present, not to leave this place, particularly as the River is intirely free of Ice, and therefore favorable for the enemy to take the advantage of such an event, should it unfortunately happen.

General Wayne—Colo. R. Butler and Colo. Stewart will keep with the Line, and as they are extremely popular Officers, they will, I think, have every possible effect upon the Men. I wrote to General Wayne upon the subject of what appeared to me the proper mode of conducting himself, and desired him to forward a Copy of my letter to Congress.2

I every moment expect further intelligence from below, and should matters seem indispensably to require my presence, I will set out. His Excelly Govr Clinton is here, and will remain in the neighbourhood, ready to call in his Militia, should there be any defection in the Continental Troops.

I do myself the honor to inclose the Copy of a letter which I have written to the four Eastern States,3 preparatory to the requisition, which I most earnestly intreat Congress may make upon them and the others for an advance of pay and supplies, if the public funds are not in condition to furnish what is necessary for the purpose. Matters are now come to a Crisis, and I should be wanting in duty to my Country, and unworthy of that confidence which Congress have been pleased in so many instances to repose in me, were I to hesitate in giving it as my opinion, that altho’ the other troops, who are more generally composed of Natives, and may therefore have ⟨at⟩tachments of a stronger nature, may bear their distresses somewhat longer than the Pennsylvanians, yet, that it will be dangerous to put their patience further to the test. They may, for what I know, be only waiting to see the effects of the Pennsylvania insurrection; and it will be therefore far better to meet them with a part of their just dues, than to put them to the necessity of demanding them in a manner disreputable and prejudicial to the service and the Cause, and totally subversive of all military discipline.

I have received your Excellency’s favor of the 28th ulto and am exceedingly obliged by the very agreeable southern intelligence which you have been pleased to communicate.4 I have the honor to be with the greatest Respect Yr Excellency’s Most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 15 Jan. (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 , 19:57). For Huntington’s acknowledgement, see his letter to GW, 13 Jan., postscript.

1For the mutiny of the Pennsylvania troops, see Anthony Wayne to GW, 2 Jan., and the source note to that document. On learning of the mutiny, Congress had formed a committee to negotiate with the mutineers in conjunction with representatives from the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council (see GW to Wayne, 3–4 Jan., n.7, and Wayne, Richard Butler, and Walter Stewart to GW, 4 Jan., n.2).

2See GW to Wayne, 3–4 January; the copy sent to Congress, certified by Henry Latimer, is in DNA:PCC, item 152.

4Huntington had communicated reports on successes at Blackstocks and Rugeley’s Mills, S.C. (see Huntington to GW, 28—29 Dec. 1780, and n.2 to that document; see also General Orders, this date).

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