George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 21 January 1781

From Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

Trenton 21st Jany 1781

Dear General

In obedience to the Orders of the Commissioners appointed by Congress to settle the terms of Inlistments of the Pennsa Line, we have already Discharged, the Chief part of the Artillery, first, Second, third, fourth & fifth Regiments, I could wish that the Commissioners had given time for the Officers to produce the Attestations before they made the Oath so common, the papers were collected the soonest possible, the Inlistments Generally & expresly for the War. but the birds were flown—I won’t say that it was not (in some Degree) an Act of expediency, in order to get the Artillery, spare Amunition, & part of the small arms out of the Soldiers hands, these I have taken the precaution to forward by Water to Phila. where the respective Quarter masters attend the Inspection & overhauling the Whole.

from present Appearances we shall retain near two thirds of the remaining troops, their Inlistments having come to hand, these will be all furloughed by Order of the Commissioners, & the following rendezvous’s assigned them on the Ides of March,1 being the Circles in which the Regiments were Originally Inlisted Viz. 1st & 2nd Phila. 3rd Reading 4th Carlisle 5th York & Chester 6th Lancaster.

The recruiting business will Commence in a few days under proper Officers with very pointed Instructions to guard against British Deserters &ca &ca, & to lodge Duplicates of the Respective attestations in proper Offices, to which appeals may be made, should the fortuitious events of War, or frequent removal of Baggage occation the loss of papers as heretofore.

however I must request your Excellency’s Instructions on this head, as well as for my General line of Conduct in this essential Service. with particular Orders what to do with the troops when they begin to Assemble at their respective Rendezvous’s.

I am now fully convinced that there is no situation in life but what admits of some consolation, ours once appeared very gloomy—but more lucid & pleasing prospects begin to dawn, the Soldiery are as Impatient of liberty, as they were of Service, & are as Importunate to be reinlisted as they were to be Discharged, money is fast collecting for the purpose, & I hope a few Weeks will put it into my power to Announce to your Excellency a Reclaimed & formidable Line.

I shall not take up your time, or hurt your feelings by a picture of our situation, fatigue & Difficulty for these last twenty tedious days & Nights, I shall only mention that we have not rolled in luxury, or slept on beds of roses, G——r R——ds zeal yesterday has not added to our repose or security2—however the Storm has subsided but not without some address & Danger, about five days more will put a period to this fatiguing business.

Inclosed is a Return of the Officers with their ranks & Dates of Commissions—in the Six Regiments of Infantry belonging to the Pennsa Line, as also of the retireing Officers, the Captain Lieuts. are not arranged, altho’ several of them wish to continue in Service, could they retain their rank & do duty as Captains, to this the Sub[alter]ns seem adverse, as many of them were senior Lieuts. to those who are now Capt. Lieuts.3—Congress having been silent respecting their case—I must request your Excellency’s advice and Orders on the Occation, for which Capt. Lieut. Bush of the 7th now attends.4 I have the honor to be your Excellency’s most Obt and very Hume Sert

Anty Wayne

N.B. I have one favor to request of your Excellency—to Appoint some Other person to superintend the Recruiting Service—& employ me in a way more suited to my Disposition i.e. in the Field.5

ALS, DLC:GW; ADfS, PHi: Wayne Papers; ADfS, PHi: Wayne Papers.

1The ides of March refers to the 15th day of that month.

2Wayne may be referring to the refusal of Joseph Reed, president of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council, to grant the officers of the state’s line additional money beyond the £40 advanced to the field officers and £30 advanced to the junior officers (see Reed and James Potter to GW, 19 Feb.).

3The enclosed version of the arrangement of the Pennsylvania officers has not been identified. A manuscript version, dated 17 Jan., is in PHi: Wayne Papers. A printed version, with the same date, enclosed with Reed and Potter to GW, 19 Feb., is in DLC:GW.

4John Bush (1755–1806) joined the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment as an ensign in June 1776. He transferred to the 7th Pennsylvania Regiment as a lieutenant in March 1777 and became a captain lieutenant in April 1780. In January 1781, Bush transferred to the 3d Pennsylvania Regiment and rose to the rank of captain the following December. He left the army in January 1783.

5GW replied to Wayne on 27 Jan. and 2 February.

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