George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 7 January 1781

From Major General Lafayette

Morristown [N.J.] January the 7th 1781

My dear General

As You will Receive a letter from General St Clair Who had been desir’d By Congress to Go with me to the pensilvania line,1 I have Nothing to Add But that I am here with him, and that I Impatiently Wait for Your Arrival which has been Announc’d By Mjor fishBurne on his Going through this place.2

This Affair is the More Serious As the Men have Appointed A Committee Compos’d of theyr Ring leaders through whom every thing Goes to the Soldiers3—they Also have officers of theyr own Making, and Seem determined in theyr Resolution Nothing is to be hoped But from force or Such a division among them as would produce A partial dissolution—the Militia don’t Seem Very willing to fight them—General Waine was in hopes that they Could be divided—But how far he May succeed I do Not know.

Your Going there Would be extremely imprudent, and the probability of Succes is not By far Such as to justify Your exposing YourSelf to Any danger of the kind—the less So as the possessing of Your person Would be an inducement to theyr joining the ennemy.

We hear that there has been the Night Before last Some Commotion in C[o]l[on]el Barber’s detachment—But it has been Stopped without any Grat difficulty.4

General St Clair Will let You know how we Came among them, and how we have been Advis’d By theyr Committee to Make a Short Retreat—Adieu, My dear General, in waïting for You or for Your orders5 I have the honor to be Most Respectfully and Affectionately Your Most obedient humble Servant


ALS, PEL; copy, PEL.

For Lafayette’s reports to French minister La Luzerne of 4 Jan. and of this date on the mutiny of the Pennsylvania line, see Lafayette Papers description begins Stanley J. Idzerda et al., eds. Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790. 5 vols. Ithaca, N.Y., 1977-83. description ends , 3:276–81.

1For Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair’s report on the current state of the mutiny in the Pennsylvania line, see his letter to GW of this date.

2GW had decided to remain at New Windsor (see his letter to Anthony Wayne, 3–4 Jan., postscript).

3Lafayette refers to the mutineers’ committee of sergeants.

4Lt. Col. Francis Barber’s command had been detached from the New Jersey brigade (see Israel Shreve to GW, 8 Jan., and n.1 to that document).

5GW did not reply to Lafayette, but see GW to St. Clair, 10 January. By 13 Jan., Lafayette had returned to the West Point area (see the entry for 13 Jan. in Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 285).

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