George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Arthur St. Clair, 8 January 1781

From Major General Arthur St. Clair

Morris Town [N.J.] Janry 8th 1781


Your Excellency will have received an Account of the serious Nature of the Mutiny of the Pennsylvania Troops and their apparent Disposition to keep Post at Prince Town by the Marquis’s Letters and mine of Yesterday.1 Since Which we have no Accounts from them—but last Night a Person was sent to Us, charged with a Letter to their Leaders by Sir Henry Clinton who with Genl Kyhausen, is upon Staaten Island—the General Import is a Pardon of all past Offences, immediate payment of all Arrears of Pay, Cloathing Provisions & Depreciation, due them by Congress without any Expectation of military Service, unless voluntary, upon their returning to their Allegiance, and proposal for them to send Commissioners to treat at Amboy, where they would be met by Persons properly authorised, and that Faith shoud be pledged for the Performance of every thing there agreed on; and an Advice to post themselves behind South River where a Body of british Troops would be sent to protect them2—We have farther learned that in Case they come into these Propositions a Party is to be landed at Elizabeth Town, & another at Amboy by way of Diversion—As we are totally unaccquainted with your Excellencys Intentions or what Measures you mean to take upon this Occasion, we are at a loss what Use to make of this Intelligence, but as the Person is accquainted with the Contents of the Letter, we have determined to detain him untill Night, in Hopes your Excellency may arrive, and if not some Measures must be taken to send him back so as to deceive Sir Henry, and this Morning I sent Orders to Genl Heard, who is at Brunswick to post Parties on all the Roads leading to Prince Town to stop and carefully search every Person going in or coming out of Prince Town to prevent any Intercourse betwixt that Place and the Ennemy, as Numbers are employed on the same Errand as the Person who came to Us—If your Excellency is not coming this Way, I beg I may be honoured with your Orders, but it is my Opinion that your Presence is very necessary here,3 and am with the greatest Respect Sir Your most obedient humble Servant

Ar. St Clair


1See Lafayette to GW, and St. Clair to GW, both 7 January. St. Clair probably rendered “Letters” inaccurately because no second letter from Lafayette to GW on that date has been found.

2Although he evidently carried the same proposals, this emissary from British general Henry Clinton was not one of the two emissaries taken by the mutineers at Princeton (see Continental Congress Committee on the Pennsylvania Line to GW, 7 Jan.). St. Clair sent this emissary to Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne, asking that he let the emissary go forward to the mutineers with his message and return with their answer so that the American officers “might be certain of their intentions with respect to the enemy” (St. Clair to Wayne, 9 Jan., in Smith, St. Clair Papers description begins William Henry Smith, ed. The St. Clair Papers. The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair: Soldier of the Revolutionary War; President of the Continental Congress; and Governor of the North-Western Territory with his Correspondence and other Papers. 2 vols. Cincinnati, 1882. description ends , 1:535).

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