Imágenes de página

1780. there were fuch instances of professional fkill, courage

and dexterity, constantly displayed on the part of the French, as were before unknown in their marine.

The present letter will be kept ready to send off in: ftantly, whenever the opportunity of a safe conveyance offers.


Roxbury, April 21, 1781.


48. TH

THE Massachusetts government was greatly alarmed

rival of


Knox with an account of the Pennsylvania line's having revolted, and marched off from Morristown. Gov. Hancock had been prepared to expect an event of that kind, though in a different quarter : for gen. Glover wrote to him on the 11th of the preceding month. It is now four days since your line of the army has eaten one mouthful of bread. We have no money: nor will any body trust us. The best of wheat is at this moment selling in the state of New York for three fourths of a dollar (3s. 4 d. į sterling] per bushel, and your army is itarving for want. On the ift of January something will turn up if not speedily prevented, which your officers cannot be answerable for.” Several



[ocr errors]

causes contributed to produce the revolt of the Penn-1781,
sylvania line. The officers, when they inlisted the men,
imagined that the war would not continue more than
three years; and thought, at their inlistment; of hold-
ing them no longer than for that term at furthest, though
they were to be discharged sooner was the war ended :
the men understood the agreement in the same manner.
The officers finding the war did not close as was ex-
pected, and recruiting difficult ; the soldiers also being
well trained by the three years service; they were
unwilling to part with them, and imposed a new sense
upon the original agreement, viz. that the men were
Sold to serve the whole war, though it lasted beyond
the three years. This the men resented as an impo-
sition, and submitted to only from neceflity, and till the
moment should offer for the redress of such an iniquitous
grievance. The officers, to footh the soldiers, relaxed
in their discipline, which made the men feel their own
importance. Major M‘Pherson having quitted the Bri-
tish service in an honorable way, and attached himself
to the Americans, gen. Washington, when occasion re-
quired his forming a particular corps, gave the com-
mand of it to the major in token of respect, and by
way of encouragement. Upon that the Pennsylvania
officers formed themselves into parties; combined in an
opposition to the appointment; and offered to resign
their commissions upon the occasion. They also coun-
tenanced the non-commiffioned officers of their line to
unite in applying to head quarters for certain favors.
Such conduct contributed to strengthen and ripen that
disposition which produced the revolt. The language
which the officers of rank talked upon these occasions,



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1781. within the hearing of the injured soldiers, was not un

noticed; but was applied to direct the conduct of the latter, while it cherished their discontent; so that the revolt would have taken place before, had the opportunity and prospect of success been equally favorable. To the capital grievance abovementioned must be added --the total want of pay for near twelve months--the want of clothing--and not unfrequently the want of provision beyond description. A further aggravation was produced by the arrival in camp of a deputation from the Pennsylvania state with 600 half joes, to be given, three, to each man, as a bounty to each of the fix months levies (whose time was then expiring) that would inlist again for the war. This was too much for the veterans. The commencement of the new year was to be celebrated, which occafioned the men's being

charged with more than a common allowance of spirit. Jan.

The operation of this upon the animal frame, and the other circumstances conspiring, the Pennsylvania line mutinied. The whole, except three regiments, upon a signal for the purpose, turned out under arms without their officers, and declared for a redress of grievances. Gen. Wayne and the other officers did every thing in their power to quell the tumult. But the troops said « We neither can, nor will be any longer amused. We are determined, at every hazard, to march in a body to congress and obtain redress.” On Wayne's cocking his .pistols, there were a hundred bayonets at his breast wich---- We love you, we respect you, but you are 2 dead man if


fire. Dorot mistake us, we are not going to the enemy: on the contrary, were they now to come out, you shouick fee lis fight under your orders

with as much resolution and alacrity as ever.” Several 1781.
officers were wounded and a captain killed in vainly at-
tempting to reduce them. The three regiments paraded
under their officers; but being called upon by the others
to join them, and threatened with death in case of re-
fufal, and actually fired on, they complied. They then
seized upon six field pieces, and forcing the artillery men
who had not joined them, to do it instantly, under penalty of
being every man bayonetted, the mutiny became general.
They were about 1300, and began their march at night: :
the next day Wayne forwarded provisions after them, to
prevent the otherwise inevitable depredation which would
be made on private property. He and three principal
officers, supposed highest in their esteem, concluded
upon following and mixing with them, that they might
affift with their advice, and prevent outrages. They
were civilly received, and acquired much of the confi-
dence of the mutineers. These however elected tem-
porary officers from their own body; and appointed a
sergeant major, who had formerly deserted from the Bri-
tish army, to be their commander. - They marched
through the country with greater regularity and good con-
duct, and did less damage, than could have been ex-
pected. By the third day they were at Princeton.

When the news of their revolt reached gen. Wash-
ington, the Pennsylvania government, and the congress,
they were all much alarmed, left the example-should
prove infectious. The commander in chief concluded
upon sending off immediately a proper person to the
eastern states, to enforcé upon them the doing of some-
thing without delay for the relief and comfort of their
respective lines. Hard money was to be found in the
C 2


[ocr errors]

1781. hands of but one officer, sufficient for the expences of

the journey, which could not' be otherwise performed
with a speed answerable to the emergency.

Gen. Knox
had obtained a small quantity, which was destined for
the procurement of those family supplies which he must
otherwise have wanted. This annexed to his other qua-
lifications, made him the best and the only agent that
gen. Washington could employ. He readily engaged
in the service, notwithstanding its being the depth of
winter, and carried with him a letter of January the 5th,
wherein his excellency faid-" It is vain to think an
army can be kept together much longer, under such a
variety of sufferings as ours have experienced ; and un-
less some immediate and speedy measures are adopted
to furnish at least three months pay to the troops, in
money which will be of some value to them; and at the
same time ways and means are devised to clothe and
feed them better (more regularly I mean, the worst that
can befall us may be expected. I refer you to gen.
Knox, &c.” His success was such, that Washington
wrote to him about a month after-" The states whose
determinations you report, have done themselves honor
by their liberality, and by their ready attention to the

your mission.”
When Sir Henry Clinton received intelligence of the
revolt, he left no means untried that could turn it to
the advantage of the British. He sent two spies by way
of Amboy, and two of Elizabeth town (all Americans)
to treat as agents from himself with the mutineers. The
last two were counter-spies ; who gave information of
the others upon being designedly taken up; and had the
proposals with which they were intrusted taken from


object of

[ocr errors]


« AnteriorContinuar »