George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Arthur St. Clair, 12 January 1781

To Major General Arthur St. Clair

Head Quarters New Windsor Janry 12 1781

Dear Sir

The Receipt of your Letter of the 9th inclosing One from General Wayne has, if possible, added to my embarrassments.1 I had heard from General Sullivan and Lord Stirling that the Mutineers had delivered up the British Emissaries immediately upon their arrival at Prince Town2—From this, I was in hopes that they had precluded themselves from all assistance from that quarter, and that the reduction of them by force, should matters come to extremities, would not be difficult—But now their conduct appears to me in this light—they have made known the propositions offered by Sir Henry Clinton, only by way of threat, and seem to say, if you do not grant our terms we can obtain them elsewhere.3

At the meeting with the General and Field Officers Yesterday, it was almost the universal opinion that their Men might be depended on, I therefore gave directions for a Detachment of 10004 to be prepared and held in readiness5—If things are in a train of Negotiation, as would seem to be the case, from General Waynes’ postscript, ⟨to⟩6 move a force between Trenton and the Enemy might create suspicions in the minds of the Mutineers and make them fly to the Enemy for safety.

I do not think it prudent to write to the Committee of Congress—to Governor Reed—or to General Wayne, lest my Letters should be stopped. I think therefore from a consideration of the subject in every light, that it will be best for you to go down to the Pennsylvania side opposite Trenton and send for some of the Gentlemen over—There enquire minutely into the situation of affairs, and if there are no hopes of a reasonable compromise, get from them an opinion of what ought ultimately to be done. If force should be determined upon, the Governors of Pennyslvania & Jersey should instantly make arrangements for bringing out as many of the Militia, as can be collected, while the Detachment above mentioned is marching from hence.7

That the intercourse between Trenton & this place may be as expeditious as possible, desire Colonel Nelson to fix a relay of Expresses from the neighbourhood of Trenton to Morris Town,8 and let ⟨the Quarter Master at Morris town⟩ continue ⟨them from thence to this place.9 I am Dr Sr⟩.

L, in David Humphreys’s writing, OHi: Arthur St. Clair Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Only a small portion of the final page of the L is present; the missing text is supplied in angle brackets from the draft, which is in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman.

3In his letter to GW of 8 Jan., Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne had reported that the Pennsylvania mutineers had not handed over the emissaries sent by British general Henry Clinton.

4An asterisk references a comment in GW’s writing at the bottom of the page: “this number shd be exagerated if spoken of.”

5For the meeting, see GW to William Heath, 10 January. For the detachment, see Heath to GW, 11 January.

6This word is supplied from the draft because of mutilation to the recipient’s copy.

7GW wrote the previous nine words on the draft.

8John Neilson was a brigadier general of the New Jersey militia and deputy quartermaster general of the state.

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