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distance but by impressment, and to this painful and oppressive mode, he was obliged frequently to
The unbounded confidence placed in his patriotism, wisdom and prudence, enabled him to carry these measures into effect, among a people tenacious of individual rights, and jealous of the encroachment of power.
The pay of the officers of the army had scarcely more than a nominal value. They were unable to support the appearance of gentlemen, or to furnish themselves with the conveniences which their situation required. The pride essential to the soldier was deeply wounded, general dissatisfaction manifested itself, and increased the perplexities of the Commander in Chief. The officers of whole lines belonging to some of the States in a body, gave notice that on a certain day, they should resign their commissions, unless provision was made for their honourable support. The animated representation of the danger of this rash measure to that country in whose service they had heroically suffered, induced them to proffer their services as volunteers until their successors should be appointed. This, their General without hesitation rejected, and the officers reluct. antly consented to remain in the army.
A statement of the great difficulties which the General encountered, led Congress to depute a Committee of their body to camp, to consult with him upon measures necessary to be adopted to re. move the grievances of the army. This Committee reported, " That the army was unpaid for five months ; that it seldom had more than six days
provision in advance, and was on several occasions for several successive days, without meat; that the army was destitute of forage; that the medical department had neither sugar, tea, chocolate, wine or spir. ituous liquors of any kind ; that every department of the army was without money, and had not even the shadow of credit left; that the patience of the soldiers, borne down by the pressure of complicated sufferings, was on the point of being exhausted.”
Congress possessed not the means to apply adequate remedies to these threatening evils. They passed a resolution, which was all they could do, “ That Congress will make good to the line of the army, and to the independent corps thereof, the deficiencies of their original pay, which had been occasioned by the depreciation of the continental curren. cy; and that money or other articles heretofore re. ceived, should be considered as advanced on ac. count, to be comprehended in the settlement finally to be made." This resolution was published in general orders, and produced a good effect; but did not remove the complaints of officers or men. The promise of future compensation from a country, whose neglect was conceived to be the source of all their sufferings, they deemed a feeble basis of de. pendence, at the moment they were severely preş. sed by privations of every kind.
Murmurs at length broke out into acMarch 25. tual mutiny. Two of the Connecticut regiments paraded under arms announcing the intention to return home, or by their arms to obtain subsistence. The other regiments from Connecticut
although they did not join in the revolt, exhibited no inclination to aid in suppressing the mutineers, but by the spirited and prudent exertions of the officers, the ringleaders were secured, and the regiments brought back to their duty.
The perplexities of a General, who commands an army in this situation, are not to be described. When the officers represented to the soldiery the greatness of the cause in which they were engaged, and stated the late resolution of Congress in their favour, they answered, that for five months they had received no pay, and that the depreciated state of the currency would render their pay of no value when received ; they wanted present relief, and not promises of distant compensation ; their sufferings were too great to be supported ; and they must have im. mediate and substantial recompense for their servic
To the complaints of the army were joined murmurs of the inhabitants of New Jersey, on account of the frequent requisitions unavoidably made
These disaffcctions were carried to New York with the customary exaggerations of rumour. Gencral Knyphausen, the commanding officer at that post, supposing the American citizens and soldiers ripe for revolt, passed over into New Jersey with
five thousand men, to avail himself of fa. JUNE 6.
vourable events, and probably with the in tention to drive General WASHINGTON from his camp at Morristown.
He took the road to Springfield, and the behaviour of the Americans soon convinced him, he had been deceived in the report of their disaffected and mutinous disposition. The troops detached from the army to oppose his progress, fought with obstinate bravery ; and the inhabitants seizing their arms with alacrity, emulated the spirit and persevering courage of the regular soldier. The enemy finding he must encounter serious opposition, halted at Connecticut farms, consigned most of the buildings of that village to the flames, and then retreated to Elizabeth point, opposite to Staten Island.
While General Knyphausen lay at Elizabeth point, Sir Henry Clinton, with four thousand men, returned from the conquest of Charleston, South Ca. rolina, and joined him at that place. On the 23d of June Sir Henry moved by different routes, five thousand infantry, and a large body of cavalry, with twenty pieces of artillery, towards Springfield. General WASHINGTON supposed that his determined object was the destruction of the American camp and stores at Morristown. The effective force at this time under his immediate command, amounted to little more than three thousand men.
Not being able to contend with the enemy, but with the advantage of ground, he made the best disposition of his small force to defend his post, and detached General Green with a thousand men to guard the defiles on the road, and particularly to dispute the enemy's passage of the bridge near Springfield. This service was performed with great military judgment, and with the spirit and efficacy of disciplined courage. When overpowered by numbers, General Green drew up his brave band on the heights back of Spring
of the enemy
field. Sir Henry Clinton was not disposed to attack him in his strong position, nor to encounter the danger of proceeding to Morristown, and leaving Green in his rear; he therefore relinquished the object of his expedition, and burning the town of Springfield returned to New York.
General WASHINGTON keenly felt this insult offered to his country, and was deeply mortified at his inability to repel it. In a letter to a friend he. observed, “ You but too well know, and will regret with me the cause which justifies this insulting ma. neuvre on the part
It deeply affects the honour of the States, a vindication of which could not be attempted in our present circumstances, without most intimately hazarding their security ; at least so far as it may depend on the security of the army. Their character, their interest, their all that is dear, call upon them, in the most pressing manner to place the army immediately on a respectable footing.”
Late in the spring the Marquis La Fayette returned from France with the pleasing intelligence that his government had resolved to assist the United States, by employing, this year, a respectable land and naval force in America.
This grateful information reanimated the publick mind, and gave a new stimulus to the agency of Congress, and of the governments of the several states ; that preparation might be made to cooperate with the French armament on its arrival.
This event excited anew in the breast of the Commander in Chief the mingled emotions of ambi.