George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 24 January 1781

To Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Head Quarters New Windsor Jany 24th 1781


I have been duly honored with your Excellency’s letter of the 10th and 13th instant.1 The 20th I had the pleasure of writing to you fully, principally on the subject of the Pensylvania line.2

It is with equal mortification and regret, I find myself obliged to add to that, the account of a second mutiny, which I had apprehended and which has lately taken place in the Jersey troops—When the advices came away, it was only partial, that corps being divided into several detachments; but it was imagined the revolt of one part had been in consequence of a preconcerted plan between the whole and that the remainder would follow the example. Immediately on receiving the intelligence, I sent a detachment from these posts, under the command of Major General Howe, with orders to compel the mutineers to unconditional submission3—and I have requested the civil authority not to interpose with any terms of conciliation.4 It appears to me essential, that this spirit should be suppressed by force, and by the exemplary punishment, of the principal instigators of the defection.

The complaints and demands of these mutineers resemble those of the Pensylvanians.

It is hard to say with certainty how far the disposition which has now appeared may extend itself among troops, who have so many causes of dissatisfaction, but I hope we shall be able to stop the progress of the evil here.

The Count De Custine, The Marquis De Lavale, and Mr De la Corbiere who have done me the honor to call upon me on their return to Rhode Island will communicate to you all we learn, concerning Arnolds descent in Virginia.5 ’Tis said by later accounts that he had reimbarked—perhaps to fall upon some other point.6 We have no other intelligence.7 I have the honor to be With sincere esteem Yr Excellency’s Most Obed. serv.

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, CtY-BR:R; Df, DLC:GW; Rochambeau’s French translation, CtY-BR:R; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 7; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1See Rochambeau to GW, 10 and 13 January.

5Antoine Madeleine de La Corbiére (1743–1831) joined the Saintonge Regiment as an ensign in 1759, became a lieutenant in 1760, and rose to captain in 1774. For his conduct during the siege of Yorktown, La Corbiére was made a chevalier of the royal and military order of Saint-Louis in 1781. He retired in 1787, emigrated in 1791, and served in the royal army of Condé against republican France from 1792 to 1801. At the restoration of the monarchy in 1815, he obtained the rank of colonel.

On 23 Jan., GW wrote Lt. Col. John Laurens from New Windsor: “At the particular request of the Count De Custine I give you the trouble of the Inclosed” (ALS, NNC; GW signed the cover and addressed it to “John Laurens Esq. recomd to the care of His Exy Govr Hancock[.] Boston”). The enclosure has not been identified. For the presence of Laurens in Boston, see GW to Laurens, 15 Jan., n.2.

6For reports of the British expedition to Chesapeake Bay led by Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold, see Steuben to GW, 8, 11, and 29 Jan.; see also Thomas Jefferson to GW, 10 January.

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