George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Nathanael Greene, 2 February 1781

To Major General Nathanael Greene

Head Quarters New Windsor Febry 2nd 1781.

Dear Sir.

From the general idea I have been able to acquire of the Country by Maps, as well as from the description you give of it, & its resources, Your Position at the Cheraws, on the East Side of the Pedee seems to have been very judiciously chosen. The Motives for Detaching Brigadier Genl Morgan, And the objects given him in charge, appear also to be supported upon just Military Principles. It will be obtaining a great point, if you should be able to streighten the Enemy’s Quarters, & prevent them from prosecuting offensive operations, untill your Army can be put on a more reputable footing in point of Numbers & supplies.1

After Congress had placed Col. Armands & Leiut. Col. Lee’s Corps on the new Establishment, application was made for my opinion, in what Manner it would be eligible to have them mounted & supplied: in answer to which I proposed it should be done by the Continent at large, thro’ the Board of War:2 since which Congress have passed the enclosed Resolution No. 2. respecting the compleating of Col. Armands Corps3—at what period it may be proper to carry this act into execution, cir[c]umstances alone must dictate. In the present situation, it was undoubtedly best to send the remains of this Corps to Virginia to recruit—Which I fear will not be fit for service, for a considerable time, unless Col. Armand should succeed in his proposal of going to France, to procure, on his own credit, a supply of Cloaths Arms, Accoutrements &C.4

You will be pleased to observe, I have also transmitted a Copy of the Resolution of the 1st of Janry No. 1. Expressing the sense of Congress respecting the Arranging of the Officers who have been or are Prisoners.5

Since I wrote to you on the 9th and added a Postscript of the 11th of January. the Emissaries from the Enemy have been executed, and the affair of the Pennsylvania Line compromised, by the intervention of the Civil Authority of the State: This (tho perhaps the only measure that could have been adopted in our circumstances) has been productive of ill consequences, by inducing Other Troops to follow the same example6—I mean a part of the Jersey Line, who Mutinied in the same Manner on the 19th Ulto.—Determined to put a stop to this conduct, & to restore discipline, at every hazard, I immediately ordered a Detachment to march from West Point, under the Command of Major General Howe, who surrounded the Mutineers by surprize in their Quarters, reduced them to unconditional submission, & executed two of their Instigators on the spot7—This has totally quelled the spirit of Mutiny, and every thing is now quiet—Indeed the Detachment under Gen. Howe, deserves infinite credit—And the remainder of the Troops at these Posts, discovered the best disposition on the occasion.

The States seem to be somewhat roused from their late supine condition—Congress have called in the most pressing manner for Money & supplies8—And we hope more vigorous & effectual exertions will be the consequence.

About 10 Days ago, General Parsons attempted, with a Detachment from the Line, to surprize the Refugee Corps at Morrissania—he succeeded so far as to Capture 54 of DeLancey’s Corps, destroy their Huts, a quantity of Forage, & the Pontoon Bridge over Harlem Creek—he also brought of[f] a Large number of Cattle & Horses; with inconsiderable loss9—I am Dear Sir.

Df, in David Humphreys’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Greene replied to GW on 28 February.

2For the new establishment of the Continental army, see General Orders, 1 November. On 21 Oct. 1780, Congress resolved “that the Commander in Chief be authorised to direct a mode for compleating, recruiting and supplying” the two partisan corps (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 18:960; see also Samuel Huntington to GW, 26 Oct., and n.1 to that document). For GW’s proposal, see his letter to Huntington of 7 November.

3The enclosure has not been identified. For the resolution, see Huntington to GW, 6 Jan. 1781, n.2.

4See Armand to GW, 11 Jan.; see also Huntington to GW, 27 Jan., and n.3 to that document.

5The enclosure has not been identified. For the resolution, see Huntington to GW, 2 Jan., n.2.

6For the execution of British emissaries and the settlement of the Pennsylvania line mutiny, see Continental Congress Committee on the Pennsylvania Line to GW, 10–11 Jan., and Anthony Wayne to GW, 11, 21, and 28 Jan.; see also GW to Greene, 9–11 January.

7See GW to Robert Howe, 22 Jan., and Howe to GW, 27 Jan.; see also Israel Shreve to GW, 20 Jan., and the source note to that document.

9For details of this attack, see William Heath to GW, 28 Jan., n.1.

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