George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clinton, 4 January 1781

Head Quarters New Windsor 4th Jany 1781.

Dear Sir

I am extremely sorry to acquaint your Excellency that an event of a most alarming nature, but which I have long apprehended, would happen in some part of the Army has taken place in the pennsylvania line cantonned near Morris town—General Wayne informs me that on the night of the 1st instant a mutiny was excited among the non Commd Officers and privates—several Officers were killed and wounded in endeavouring to quell it in the first instance, but resistance was soon found vain—The troops paraded with their Arms, seized the Artillery of the division, and marched off in a body towards Philada declaring their resolution to proceed to that City and lay their grievances before Congress—Genl Wayne—Colo. Butler and Colo. Stewart will endeavour to remain with them, to keep them from committing excesses upon the Country, and in hopes that some favourable opening may be found to bring them to reason—What will be the event of this affair I do not know, or whether the spirit of defection will be confined to that line. The Officers have been apprehensive of something of a like nature among the troops at these posts, who have the same causes of complaint—Should this unfortunately be the case, we have no resource left for the security of the posts but the Militia, who would with difficulty be got in in-sufficient numbers before the enemy might take advantage of the Revolt, for I have not the least doubt, but they will hope to see the same spirit prevail among the troops here as among those at Morris town and will be prepared for such an event—The River is intirely open and so far favorable—Under these circumstances, I think it indispensably necessary that your Excellency should be as near the posts as possible—Your influence with the Militia would give a spring to their exertions, and your advice upon such an occasion would be of infinite service to me. If the session can be carried on by the Lieutenant Governor, I shall be glad to see you as soon as possible. But should any favorable accounts from below, or an assurance of the affections of the troops here make your presence unnecessary, I shall dispatch an Express to you by the Road on the East side of the River. I imagine the foregoing will have reached Albany, but not perhaps circumstantially—Your Excellency will therefore communicate so much of it as you may think expedient. I have the honor to be &c.

N-Ar: George Clinton Papers.

Index Entries