George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Israel Shreve, 8 January 1781

From Colonel Israel Shreve

Pompton-Camp [N.J.] 8th Jany 1781

In consequence of General Wayne’s orders of the 2d instant, a battalion was formed of about 250 men of those in the Brigade who were best clothed, and marched the day following to Morristown under the command of Lieut. Colonel Barber. The clothing did not arrive till yesterday when I meant to have followed with the remainder of the troops but reasons which I presume Your Excellency will deem sufficient have induced me to decline this step. My situation is critical: I could not have marched more than a Captain’s command exclusive of the necessary guards and detachments; and I am sorry to inform Your Excellency that the soldiers present appear to be exceedingly mortified and disgusted on account of the unspeakably bad quality and scanty supply of clothes. add to these the reasons assigned in a letter of Colonel Barber’s which for Your Excellency’s satisfaction I take the liberty to enclose.1 Upon the whole I think it most eligible to continue the different commands and detachments and remain in my present situation, prepared to act as exigencies may require.

Of seventy four Jersey men in the regiment late Colonel Spencer’s only thirty one have joined the Brigade, several of whom were without arms. The arms of those who had any were in the worst condition and most of them unfit for service. The men are good. Enclosed is a return of the whole in which the absent are accounted for.2 The surplus clothing of the regiment is at Stoney-Point: I could wish that such articles as were drawn for the men of the Jersey Brigade who are not present might be ordered to this place.

I shall immediately set out for Chatham to learn more particularly the situation of affairs in that quarter and finally settle the arrangement of the Brigade with Colonel Dayton who is at that place.3

The Command for Wyoming marches to day.4 I have the honor to be Your Excellency’s Most Obdt servt

I. Shreve Col. Comdt

ALS, DLC:GW; ADf, NjR: Israel Shreve Papers. GW replied to Shreve on 9 January.

1The enclosed letter from Lt. Col. Francis Barber to Shreve, dated at Morristown, N.J., on 6 Jan., reads: “I received yours inclosing General Wayne’s to you, yesterday morning. It was undoubtedly bad policy to send the Jersey troops from their encampment, unless with an evident design against the enemy. The cause of the Pennsylvanians is, I fear too much considered as a just and common cause. The situation of the battalion I have the command of is delicate, and I have the greatest reason to be apprehensive of consequences. Some men of the 1st regiment have been trying to foment an insurrection they as yet have been altogether unsuccessful in the 2d and 3d. The other officers and myself were up almost all last night expecting an attempt, but I now enjoy the happiness to think that the party was small originally and could procure very few adherents. In order to create a diversion from this unhappy affair, I have been advised and indeed it was my own opinion, to march the battalion to Chatham. Their attention will more likely be fixed on the enemy. I march to day and will quarter there this night. I think you had best avoid Morristown unless you are bound by orders. Nothing from Gen: Wayne on the insurgents. … Since closing my letter I am informed that the Pennsylvanians are stopped & are come to terms” (DLC:GW; see also Anthony Wayne to GW, 2 Jan.).

2The enclosed undated “List of the Men of Col. Spencer’s Regiment belonging to the Jersey Line, and where they Are” lists four sergeants, one corporal, one drummer, and twenty-five privates as having “Join’d the Jersey Brigade”; twelve privates as waiters on officers; one sergeant, one corporal, and five privates on command or otherwise assigned to various duties and posts; eleven privates absent sick; seven privates on furlough; one corporal “Not Accounted for”; one private in jail; and two privates deserted (DLC:GW).

3Shreve and Col. Elias Dayton were settling the arrangement of the officers who would remain in the brigade after its reduction from three regiments to two in the new organization of the army (see General Orders, 1 Nov. 1780).

4For this detachment, see GW to Samuel Huntington, 2 Jan., and n.5.

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