George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Abner Nash, 23 January 1781

To Abner Nash

Head Quarters New Windsor Janry 23d 1781


I am honored with your Excellency’s Letter of the 14th of Decr—that of a prior date, which you mention to have written in answer to Mine by Major General Greene, I have not had the pleasure to receive—but such Misfortunes are not to be wondered at, when we consider the distance of the conveyance, and the negligence of those who are frequently concerned in it.1

It is extremely to be regretted, that the States have delayed so long to raise an Army for the War—I am pleased to find my opinion on that subject coincides so exactly with that of your Excellency; and hope it is not yet too late to attempt so salutary a Measure.

The spirit of Enterprize which seems to prevail so conspicuously among the Troops at the Southward, gives me great satisfaction. It will be a happy circumstance, if the Militia & other Troops now in the field should be able to hold the Enemy in check, untill a greater & better supplied regular force can be established.

In a Postscript to my Letter of 10th Decr I did myself the honor to advise you, that an embarkation was then preparing at New York, which was conjectured to be destined Southward2—The Detachment for that service, after undergoing several changes, and being reduced to nearly 1600 men under the Command of Arnold, saild about the 22nd Ulto3—Upon my obtaining intelligence of this, I gave information to General Greene, by whom I presumed the communication would be made to your Excellency.4

Since the departure of this Fleet, I have had no official accounts, but from a variety of Reports the Troops have landed near Richmond in Virginia,5 the particulars would undoubtedly be communicated to you more accurately & expeditiously from that Quarter, than they could from this, even ’tho we were well acquainted with them.

No event of any magnitude has taken place since my last,6 except an unhappy affair in the Pennsylvania Line. On the 1st of Janry a Mutiny was excited among the Non Commissioned Officers & Privates, in which some lives were lost. The Troops Marched in a body from Morris Town to Prince Town, where they remained some days, & from thence to Trenton; where a compromise has taken place, & Commissioners appointed by the Committee of Congress are sitting to examine into their Complaints, redress their real greivances & effect a settlement—It is worthy of remark that the Mutineers, have given the Enemy sufficient proff of their attachment to the Country, by delivering up the Emissaries who were sent with very advantageous Offers to allure them within the British Lines. They also refused a reward for giving them up—The British Agents have been executed as Spies.7

Some disturbance, I am just informed, has happened among the Troops of Jersey, but I do not learn of what nature or how extensive the defection is likely to prove among them, as they are at a distance from me8—While every thing from abroad wears a favorable aspect, our internal affairs, especially those of finance appear but too much the reverse—The want of Pay, Cloathing, & Provisions is productive of evils, from which we scarcely know how we shall be able to extricate ourselves—And to add to our calamities, we are sensible the Troops in the southern Department participate in all our embarrassments & distresses.9 I have the honor to be With great esteem & regard Your Excellencys.

Df, in David Humphreys’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Nash’s letter to GW “of a prior date” has not been found. GW’s letter to Nash carried by Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, the commander of the southern army, likely refers to GW’s circular to the states of 18 Oct. 1780. The version of that letter sent to Nash has not been found.

2This letter has not been found but was similar to that written to Virginia governor Thomas Jefferson on 10 Dec. 1780 (see Circular to the State Executives, that date, source note).

3For the sailing of this expedition under the command of British brigadier general Benedict Arnold destined for Chesapeake Bay, see GW to Samuel Huntington, 27 Dec. 1780, n.2.

4See GW to Greene, 2 Jan. 1781; see also GW to Greene, 13 (first letter) and 27 Dec. 1780.

6GW’s last known letter to Nash is that of 10 Dec. 1780, found at Circular to State Executives, 10 Dec., source note.

7See Anthony Wayne to GW, 2 Jan. 1781, and the source note to that document.

8See Israel Shreve to GW, 20 Jan., and the source note to that document.

9Nash replied to GW on 19 March (DLC:GW).

Index Entries