George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier Generals William Irvine and Anthony Wayne, 17 January 1781

From Brigadier Generals William Irvine and Anthony Wayne

Trenton January 17⟨th⟩ 1781


I would have wrote your Excellency on my Arrival at Princetown—but did not like to give you trouble as General Wayne informed me he had acquainted you minutely of every particular—the late turn affairs have taken you are also informed of—It was an exceeding unfortunate proposal of the Committee of Congress & Governor Reed—to take the Mens Oaths—a number of the inlistments being lost—all these will swear off—out of three Regiments that are settled with—only about one hundred are retained—these are Furloughed1—It is generally agreed that it will be best to Furlough all who remain—appoint placees of Rendezvous for the Regiments in the spring.2

The present unfortunate situation of our affairs will make it indispensably necessary to use every possible exertion to Recruit the line—I know not what mode the State will take for this purpose—however as no body of the Men will remain worth keeping together—General Wayne & myself think it will be best for him & I to superintend the Recruiting service in different parts of the State3—as soon as the business is settled here I mean to go to Philadelphia there to remain for Your Excellencys Orders—The State have not yet given us either Money or instructions for Recruiting—Many of the Mutineers who are discharged are, now pestering us to reinlist them—If proper steps are taken I hope & make no doubt we, shall by the first of May, have Our line compleat—and on surer and better terms than ever—I beg the favour of your Excellencys directions for my line of conduct—I have the honor to be Your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Servant

Wm Irvine

Dear General

The constant duty to which the Committee of Congress have put me, has prevented my being very particular as to the Minucia of our unfortunate affair—I can only in General say that from present Appearances a very great proportion of the Line will be discharged, not for want of Inlistments for the War—but for want of time to produce them, the Commissioners from expediency—tenders the Oath where an attestation don’t Immediately Appear, the Arms & Accoutrements are put up in Chests & sent Regimentally to Phila.—the Artillery 4 pieces & Spare Amunition got to Phila. last Evening.

I shall write you very fully in a day or two4—in the Interim I must beg your Excellency to point out a line of Conduct for the Officers to Observe in the Recruiting business as we shall have very few men left, but what will be Dischar[g] ed—or furloughed until the first of March. I have the Honor to be with much Esteem Your Excellency’s Most Obt Hume Sert

Anty Wayne

ALS, DLC:GW; Df, PHi: William Irvine Papers. Each officer wrote and signed his portion. Only Irvine’s section is included in the draft. GW replied to each officer separately (see GW to Wayne, 2 Feb., and to Irvine, 3 Feb.).

1For more details on settling with the mutineers, see Arthur St. Clair to GW, this date.

2Irvine specified in the draft that the regiments were “to reassemble in March.” The following additional sentence appears on the draft at this point: “As the late law of the State will by no means have the desired effect in producing the Men—some new plan must be Immediately fallen on.”

3On the draft, Irvine stated that Wayne would supervise recruiting “at Philadelphia—and I in the western parts of the State.”

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