George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens, 7 January 1781

From Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens

Morris Town [N.J.] 7th Jany 1781.

My Dear General.

On my arrival at this place last night, I learnt that Major Fishburn had announced Your Excellencys intention of coming this way immediately1—The uncertainty whether you wd give a preference to the boon-town road or that by Mr Lotts, and the indispensability of a conference with Your Excellency on the subject of my mission to Europe, determine me to expect you here.2

Generals St Clair and de lafayette will inform Your Excellency of their embassy to the Mutiners3—General Wayne with Cols. Stewart and Butler remained among them with a view of disuniting them and endeavouring to effect a secession of Stewarts Regiment. I am sorry to say, that from the circumstance of their organising themselves & appointing officers of their own, as well as every other part of their conduct—I am persuaded nothing but a superior investing Force—will reduce them to reason—Hitherto they have proceeded without opposition—far from experiencing any inconvenience—they enjoy all the advantages they could wish from the change—and consequently have no motive to return to their duty—Our Officers have treated and harangued under every disadvantage—as the Leaders of the Mutiny have hitherto felt themselves capable of giving the Law—in my opinion the sooner decisive measures are taken—the greater facility there

Map 3. The mutiny of the Pennsylvania line and, later, the New Jersey line, once again made northeast New Jersey the scene of military operations. (Illustrated by Rick Britton. Copyright Rick Britton 2021)

will be in terminating this unhappy affair—and the fewer lives will be sacrificed—A superior force properly disposed, and a proclamation from Your Excellency will make Numbers return to their colours—and obviate the necessity of coming to blows—The Force of Jersey and pennsilvania, with a detachment from the Continental Army are certainly adequate to this business—Happily the Enemy are much reduced by detachments. I have the honor to be with every sentiment of attachment and respect Your Excellencys mo⟨mutilated

John Lau⟨rens⟩


1GW had decided to remain at New Windsor (see his letter to Anthony Wayne, 3–4 Jan., postscript).

2Congress had appointed Laurens special minister to the French court with the mission of explaining the current state of military affairs in North America and seeking additional aid from that court, including money, military stores, and additional naval reinforcements (see Laurens to GW, 23 Dec. 1780, found at Laurens to GW, 6 Nov. 1780, n.2; and 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 , 18:1141, 1183–88; see also GW’s first letter to Laurens, 15 Jan., and Samuel Huntington to Benjamin Franklin and to John Laurens, both 1 Jan., in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 16:526–27).

3See Arthur St. Clair to GW, and Lafayette to GW, both this date.

Index Entries