George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens, 30 January 1781

To Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens

New Windsor 30th Jany 1781

Dear Sir,

Before this letter reaches Boston, you will, no doubt have heard ⟨o⟩f the revolt of part of the Jersey line—I did not hesitate a moment upon the report of it in determining to bring the matter to a speedy issue, by adopting the most vigorous coercion—accordingly a detachment marched from the Posts below, and on the Morning of the 27th surrounded their Quarters & brought them—without opposition to unconditional submission. Two of the principal actors were immediatily executed on the spot, & the remainder exhibiting genuine signs of contrition, were pardoned.1

Much praise is due to the detachment which Marched to quell the Insurgents; for its obedience, patience and perseverence in traversing the Highlands through Snow; Eighteen or twenty Inches deep;2 and its readiness to execute any order the emergency of the case should require.

Letters by the last Southern Post advise me of Arnolds having landed high up James River—Marching to Richmond—destroying a few Public Stores, and a public foundary—and then retiring to the place of his debarkation—Since which I have heard Nothing further of him.3 I am also advised, by General Greene, that the detachment under the command of Leslie had landed (on the 21st Ulto) at Charles Town; and was on ⟨its⟩ March to join Lord Cornwallis⟨. that⟩ from the exhausted State of ⟨the Country⟩ about Charlottesburg, he had ⟨moved⟩ to his left, and had taken a position at a place called checaws on the E⟨ast⟩ side of the River Pedee. His pre⟨sent⟩ circumstances, and future pr⟨ospects⟩ are distressing & gloomy.4 ⟨How⟩ loud are our calls from every qu⟨ar⟩ter for a decisive Naval superiority, and how might the enemy be crushed if we had it!

I have recollected (in addition to the Mem[orandu]m I gave you at headq⟨uarters⟩5[)] a few articles, by the purchase ⟨of⟩ which you will oblige me.6 Ti⟨lghman⟩ has recovered of his fever, but i⟨s very⟩ weak & Low—We all unite in bes⟨t⟩ wishes for you,7 and I am—most sincerely⟨, and⟩ Affectionately Dr Sir Yr Obedt Serv.

Go: Washington

ALS, CSmH; ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Mutilated portions of the ALS are supplied in angle brackets from the draft.

1GW wrote “forgiven” on the draft instead of this word. For orders to put down the mutiny by force, see GW to Robert Howe, 22 Jan.; see also Israel Shreve to GW, 20 Jan., and the source note to that document. For the suppression of the mutiny, see Howe to GW, 27 January.

5GW had written “Head Qs” on his draft. For the memorandum, see GW to Laurens, 15 Jan. (first letter), source note.

6An undated document filed with the draft reads: “Colonel Laurens will be so good as to bring the following things for Genl Washington.

“A travelling Razor case with every thing compleat—to be strong—portable—& compendious—Leather perhaps would be best.

“A Vest pocket reconnoiterer—or Telescope.

“A very small case of pocket Instruments containing a Scale, dividers & ca.

“A good Saddle, bridle & furniture (excluding Pistols) fit for a republican General.

“A Watch string.”

The list concludes: “1 Dozn dishes sized” variously; “4 dozn Soup & 8 dozn Shallow Plates,” all items “of Tin or something very light for the Field” (AD, DLC:GW).

7For Laurens’s mission to France, see his letter to GW, 7 Jan., and n.2 to that document.

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