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and they had served almost a year
pay. Without murmuring they long endured their accumulated distresses. But the fortitude of the firmest men may be worn down. Disheartened by their sufferings, despairing of relief, and dissatisfied, that their country did not make more effectual exertions for their support, the spirit of mutiny broke out with alarming appearances.
The Pennsylvania line stationed at Morristown, with the exception of three regiments revolted. On a concerted signal, the non-commissioned officers and privates turned out with their arms, and announced the design of marching to the seat of Congress, there to demand a redress of their intolerable grievances. The mutiny defied opposition. In the attempt to quell it, one officer was killed, and several dangerously wounded. General Wayne, in a threatening attitude, drew his pistol, the mutineers presented their bayonets to his breast and said, General, we love and respect you, but if you fire, you are a dead man. We are not going to the enemy, on the contrary if they were now to come out, you should see us fight under your orders with as much alacrity as ever ; but we will no longer be amused, we are determined on obtaining what is our just due.” Thirteen hundred of them, under officers of their own election, marched in order for Princeton with their arms and six field pieces. They committed no other act of violence, than to demand of the inhabitants provisions for their necessary support.
Congress sent a committee of their own body
to confer with them. They demanded the redress of their grievances as the basis of accommodation. Sir Henry Clinton sent out agents to invite them to his standard, promising them more advantageous terms than those demanded of Congress. They with indignation rejected his proposals, and delivered over his emissaries to General Wayne, who hanged them as spies. President Reed offered the mutineers a purse of an hundred guineas as a reward for the surrender of the British emissaries. This they refused, declaring that “what they had done was only a duty they owed their country, and they neither desired, nor would receive any reward but the approbation of that country, for which they had so often fought and bled.”
The Council of Pennsylvania appointed Mr. Reed, their President, and General Potter, a committee to compromise with the soldiery, to whom the gentlemen from Congress transferred their powers. The committee felt themselves compelled to yield more to the demands of these soldiers in a state of mutiny, than would have retained them quietly in their ranks, had the government of Pennsylvania seasonably attended to their pressing wants. Most of the artillerists, and many of the infantry were discharged, because their time of service was vaguely expressed in the orders under which they had inlisted. The residue received furloughs for forty days; and the whole line was, for this period, absolutely dissolved.
, The evil did not rest with the troops of Pennsylvania. Some of the Jersey brigade at Pompton
caught their complaining spirit, and imitated their mutinous example. The mutineers were mostly foreigners, and they made the same claims upon the country, which had been granted to the Pennsylvania line.
The former instance of mutiny had taken place at a distance from head quarters, and General Washington, upon serious deliberation, had resolved, not to hazard his authority as Commander in Chief, in the, attempt to bring the revolters to order by the influence of his personal character ; but to leave the delicate transaction with the civil government of the state ; and he was satisfied with the issue. But he perceived the importance of arresting the progress of a spirit, which threatened the dissolution of his asmy. Relying on the firmness and patriotism of the New England battalions, which were composed almost exclusively of native Americans, he determined to reduce the Jersey revolters to unconditional subjection. General Howe was detached on this service, which he promptly performed. Two or three of the ring leaders were executed on the spot, and complete subordination was restored in the brigade.
The mutiny was suppressed, but causes of uneasines remained, and these were not confined to the army. The inoney received into the national treasury from taxes imposed by state authorities, bore no proportion to the public expense.
The magazines were exhausted, and the states were so deficient in furnishing provisions for the army, that supplies of every description were of necessity obtained by impressment. Public 'credit being gone, the certificates of property in this manner taken, were considered of little value, and general uneasiness and murmuring ensued. These evils threatened the destruction of the army, and the loss of the American cause, unless a vital remedy was speedily applied to the public disease.
The Court of London became intimately acquainted with the interior situation of the United States, and in consequence entertained sanguine expectations of a complete conquest of the States south of the Hudson. The letters of Lord George Germaine, to Sir Henry Clinton, which were written at this period, urged him in the strongest language, to embrace the favourable opportunity to disperse the remnant of General Washington's army, and to push his conquest of the revolted colonies.
The spring of 1781 opened a gloomy prospect to the Commander in Chief. Congress liad made a requisition upon the several states for an army consisting of thirty-seven thousand men. In May, the states, from New Jersey to New Hampshire inclusive, had not in the field more than seven thousand infantry. The men were generally new recruits, and time had not been given to discipline them. The cavalry and artillery, at no period during the campaign, amounted to one thousand men. Supplies of provisions were greatly deficient, and the soldiers were almost naked, the clothing for the army, expected from Europe, not having arrived. The quarter master's depart
ment had neither funds nor credit, and the transportation of stores could be made only by impressments, aided by a military force. Measures of this violent nature excited great uneasiness among the inhabitants; and General Washington expected that actual resistance would be made to them. These difficulties had been foreseen by the Coinmander in Chief, and he had made every possible exertion to obviate them. He had repeatedly made known the urgent wants of the army to Congress and to the states, and had sent officers of the greatest influence into the respective governments to enforce his statements.
The mind of General Washington sunk not under bis embarrassments. He had fully reflected upon the dangers incident to his situation, and his resolution rose to meet them. While pondering upon his desperate prospects, he received the grateful intelligence, that the government of France had loaned the United States six millions of livres, a part of which sum was advanced in arms and clothing for the army; and a part paid to the draughts of General Washington. Information was also given, that this government had resolved to employ a respectable fleet in the American seas the next summer.
The plan of vigorous operations was resumed, and it was determined by General Washington and the French commanders, that New York should be the first object of their attack. On this occasion the Commander in Chief addressed letters to the executives of the New England states,