George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Robert Howe, 25-26 January 1781

From Major General Robert Howe

Ringwood [N.J.] 25th[–26] january 1781.

Dear sir

I have been endeavouring ever Since I arrived here, I.E. about one o’clock, to learn with Certainty the Motions and designs of the Insurgents, They were assembled at Chatam, and from thence are Said to be returning to their huts, where, they mean to Negotiate,1 for tho’ they profess to be inclined to open a treaty, they have, by no Means, adopted those Subordinate Ideas which alone can give existance to Military discipline, or atone for offences incapable of aggravation. I have Sent officers to Colonels Shrieve & Dayton requesting them to Suspend all Kinds of negociation farther than to Amuse, and to inform me of the ultimate views of the revolted troops—I shall be happy if they intend the jersey hutt’s to be the Scene of their Negociation, as it will Save us the trouble of a longer March, and I impatiently wish the arrival of the artillery and the detatchments of the Conecticut and New hampshire lines. I have Sent to order the latter to Suffran’s where they will Meet orders or if already there, to inform me by express—The former, I presume, is following me and I have Written to press their arrival2—I, momentarily, expect intelligence and, if the Mutineers are not returning, I Shall proceed to morrow towards Pompton, if nothing arises to forbid it. I chuse rather to Send officers to Cols. Dayton & Shrieve than to write to them lest my letters might fall into improper hands. I have requested them to come to me or to appoint a place where I can meet them without delay, and I flatter myself I shall Soon give your Excellency a good account of those insurgents.

the March the detatchment Now with Me have made is a Circumstance (considering the difficulties they met with) much to their credit & I hope may be taken as a proof of their good disposition as to the present Service and a happy presage of their future Conduct. I am with great respect Dear Sir Your Excellency’s Most obedient and Most humble servant

Robert Howe

26th 7 o clock. A.M. Since I wrote the above I have heard from Col. Shreve by Major Cummins who informs me that the mutineers have So far returned to duty as to permit their officers to take Command of them and Came to their huts last Night, but with this condition, that a Committee is to Sit on tuesday3 for the purpose of inquiring into their grievances and to discharge those men who Can prove they were inlisted for a less time than during the war. In Short tho’ I can not properly understand the terms proposed, yet I understand enough to think that it is but little better than the Second part of the pensylvania tune, which I, by no means, incline to dance to, and unless you should forbid my taking Measures to act (occasionnally) in Conformity with the orders given me at parting,4 I persuade myself I shall bring this Matter to a Conclusion in a manner more consistant with your Excellency’s wishes and the principles of Service than the Committee can do and that in my opinion without much trouble or blood Shed.5 I earnestly wish the arrival of the artillery and have written to hasten it up by putting it on Sleds.6 I have detained the express untill this time in hopes of Seeing Col. Shreve whom I momentarily expected, but now Send him off as you may be Anxious to hear from me. If when he does arrive his adjustment is a proper one I shall not counteract it.

I take the liberty to Inclose a letter for General Heath which I beg You will please to forward.7

LS, DLC:GW. For Howe’s comfortable lodgings in Ringwood, see his letter to GW, 25 Jan., n.2.

1The huts of these New Jersey troops were at Pompton, New Jersey.

2Howe’s letter on this subject has not been identified.

3The following Tuesday was 30 January.

4For these orders, see GW to Howe, 22 January.

5Howe refers to the committee appointed by the New Jersey legislature to examine into the terms of enlistment of the state’s troops (see Frederick Frelinghuysen to GW, 20 Jan.).

6Howe’s letter on this subject has not been identified.

7This letter has not been identified.

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