George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Israel Shreve, 17 January 1781

From Colonel Israel Shreve

Jersey Camp 17th Jany 1781

Dear General

the Legislature of this State have passed a Law to make up the depreciation of pay to our line. Commissioners are appointed to Immediately Settle with us. this Seems to give pretty general Satisfaction for the present.1

But I fear the Pennsylvania Menouvre Relative to the discharges of those men who were Enlisted to Serve for three years or dureing the war, will have a bad Effect upon some of our men2—though happy for us but few are in the Same predicament.

I Enclose a Late Law for filling up our Regiments &c.3

Col. Barber will Inform your Excellency the reason why our arangement has not taken place.4

Assoon as Matters are a little more Setled I beg your Excys Permission for leave of Absence a few weeks, when the Command will devolve upon Col. Barber whose Abilities are well known to Your Excy therefore needs nothing said upon that head.5 I am with great Regard your Excys Most Obedt Servt

I. Shreve Col. Comdt


1The New Jersey legislature passed “An ACT for making Compensation to the Troops of this State, in the Service of the United States, for the Depreciation of their Pay,” on 6 January. It named three commissioners “to adjust, settle and determine the Depreciation of the established Pay of every such Officer, non-commissioned Officer and Private” from 1 Feb. 1777 to 1 Aug. 1780, in accordance with a scale of depreciation provided in the act (N.J. Acts, 15 Nov. 1780–9 Jan. 1781 description begins Acts of the Fifth General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey, At a Session begun at Trenton on the 24th Day of October, 1780, and continued by Adjournments. Trenton, 1781. description ends , pp. 32–36, quotes on 32–33).

2The mutineers could swear enlistment terms in the absence of official records (see Anthony Wayne to GW, 8 Jan., n.1; see also Arthur St. Clair to GW, this date).

3A printed version of “An ACT for completing and keeping up the Quota of Troops belonging to this State, in the Service of the United States,” passed by the New Jersey legislature on 26 Dec. 1780, is in DLC:GW. The act, among its other provisions, called for the enlistment of 300 volunteers by 1 March 1781, who were to continue in “Service during the present War with Great-Britain.” It also directed the governor to request that GW send officers into the state’s counties to enlist and forward the recruits.

4The new establishment of the Continental army required a new arrangement of officers in the New Jersey regiments (see General Orders, 1 Nov.; see also GW to John Sullivan, 17 Dec., and Shreve to GW, 29 Dec.).

5GW replied to Shreve from headquarters at New Windsor on 20 Jan.: “I have just received your favor of the 17th by Colonel Barber, covering an Act of the Legislature for compleating the Regiments of New Jersey—by this Resolution I find, I am requested to Order as many Officers from your Line on the recruiting service as I shall ⟨j⟩udge necessary. And as I conceive it to be of the greatest importance to have the Army compleated before the opening of the Campaign; No exertions on our part should be wanting. You will be pleased therefore to order as many Officers on this service, as can be spared from the necessary command of the Men now in Camp; there should be at least one sent to each County—who besides paying strict attention to the Instructions formerly given on this subject will govern themselves agreeably to the Act of the Assembly of the 26th of December 178[0].

“When the affairs of your Command are properly arranged, I shall have no objection to your being absent a short time” (LS [photostat], in David Humphreys’s writing, ViMtvL; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). GW’s aide-de-camp David Humphreys mistakenly wrote “1780” on the LS; on the draft, which is also in his writing, Humphreys wrote “1781.”

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