George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Livingston, 23 January 1781

To William Livingston

New Windsor Jany 23d ⟨1781⟩

Dear Sir,

Having received information from Colo. Shreve of the defection of the Jersey line,1 and apprehending the most dangerous consequences may ensue unless an immediate stop shall be put to such horrid proceedings; I am now taking the most vigorous coercive measures for that purpose.

I thought it necessary your Excellency should be apprized of my intention, in order to prevent any compromise being made with the Mu⟨ti⟩neers; as well as to have the Mili⟨tia⟩ of the State in readiness to co-oper⟨ate⟩ with the detachment I have order⟨ed⟩ under Major General Howe to quel the insurrection.2

I doubt not, we shall deriv⟨e⟩ every aid from the good Poeple of Your State in suppressing this Mutiny not only from a conviction of the dangerous tendency of such proceedings to effect the entire dissolution of the Army, but as it may affect Civil, as well as Military Authority to have a redress of grievances demanded with Arms—and also from a sense of the unreasonable conduct of the Jersey Troops in revolting at a time when the State was exerting itself to redress all their real grievances.3

It will be necessary to take you⟨r⟩ measures with secresy & advise (Ge⟨nl⟩ Howe) the Commanding Officer of the detachment of them—who will mar⟨ch⟩ (if the heavy fall of Snow last Night does not render it impracticable) by the rout of Ringwood, Pompton &ca.4 I have the honor to be wi⟨th⟩ great respt & regd D⟨r Sir⟩ Yr Most Obt & Most Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, enclosed in GW to Philemon Dickinson, this date, NjR: William Livingston Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Except for the closing, mutilated portions of the ALS are supplied in angle brackets from the draft. GW signed the cover of the ALS. GW wrote portions of the last two paragraphs on the draft, which is otherwise in the writing of his aide-de-camp David Humphreys.

Livingston replied to GW on 28 Jan. from Bordentown, N.J.: “I have just been honoured with your Excellency’s favour of the 23d instant, & am greatly mortified at the defection of the Jersey Line. I should immediately have given orders agreeably to your Excellency’s request, had I not at the same time receiv’d Intelligence of their being returnd to their duty.

“I am very apprehensive that the army will suffer for the want of supplies as much this winter as they did the last, & perhaps not bear it with equal good humour. But the want of money to procure them, is not to be cured by any other device in the power of human Invention” (ALS, DLC:GW; GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote “no ansr” on the docket). GW acknowledged this letter when he wrote Livingston on 13 Feb., but see also GW to Livingston, 27 January.

3For this effort to redress the grievances of the New Jersey soldiers, see Frederick Frelinghuysen to GW, 20 January.

4The detachment marched through the snow (see Howe’s first letter to GW of 25 Jan.).

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