George Washington Papers

Circular to the States, 29 January 1781

Circular to the States

Head Quarters New Windsor 29th January 1781.

Dear sir

In the letter which I did myself the honor of writing to you the 22nd instant, I informed you of the revolt of the Jersey Troops, and of the measures I intended to pursue in consequence.1 I have now the pleasure to inform you that Major Genl Howe, with the detachment under his command surrounded the Mutineers in their Quarters on the morning of the 27th brought them without dificulty to an unconditional surrender and had two of the most active instigators, immediately tried & executed. It was judged unnecessary to extend the example further, as there was every appearance of genuine contrition.2 I hope this will completely extinguish the spirit of Mutiny, if effectual measure⟨s⟩ are taken to prevent it’s revival, by rendering the situation of the soldiery more tolerable than it has heretofore been. Without this, it may be smothered for a while, but it must again brea⟨k⟩ out with greater violence. It is not to be expected that an Army can be permanently held together by those ties on which we have too long depended.

I cannot omit doing justice to the detachment which was sent on this service. There was in it’s behaviour every mark of fidelity, Obedience, disapprobation of the conduct of the Mutineers, and a conviction of the necessity of bringing them to submission and punishment. They made a long march over Mountainous roads and through a deep snow with the greatest patience, and obeyed every order with alacrity.3 I have the honor to be, with great esteem and respect Sir Your Obedt and Most Humble servant.

Go: Washington

P.S. I have had the honor to receive your favor of the 16th inst. by Colonel Dennison.4

LS, in William Colfax’s writing, addressed to Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., Ct: Trumbull Papers; LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, addressed to New York governor George Clinton, NNebgGW; LS, in Humphreys’s writing, addressed to Rhode Island governor William Greene, DeHi; LS, in Colfax’s writing, addressed to Massachusetts governor John Hancock, M-Ar; LS, in Colfax’s writing, addressed to New Hampshire council president Meshech Weare, Nh-Ar: Weare Papers; DfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW wrote the complimentary closing on the draft. Colfax mistakenly dated the LS addressed to Weare as 22 January. The LS addressed to Hancock, the LS addressed to Weare, and the draft have no postscript. GW signed the cover of the LS addressed to Hancock. The postscript of the LS addressed to Clinton reads: “I have received your favor of the 26th Inst.” The postscript of the LS addressed to Greene reads: “I am favored with Your Letter of 22nd Inst.” See Clinton to GW, 26 Jan., and Greene to GW, 22 January.

3For the detachment and its march into New Jersey, see GW to Howe, 22 Jan., and Howe to GW, 25 and 25–26 January.

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