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· Arnold is appointed a Brigadier in the British Service and
invades Virginia....Plan to capture him....Mutiny in the American Camp.... Violence of the Pennsylvania Line....Order restored.... Weak State of the Army.... The French Court grants a Loan to the United States.... Exertion of the States to enable the General to open the Campaign.... The French Troops march to the American Camp....Plan to surprisç the British Post at King's Bridge.... Expedition to Virginia.... Count de Grasse arrives in the Chesapeak.... Yorktown besieged....British Redoubts stormed.... The British make á Sortie....Lord Cornwallis attempts to escape.... He capit. ulates and surrenders his Posts.... Indecisive Action between the French and English Fleets.... Sir Henry, too late, em: barks his Troops for Yorktown.... Thanks of Congress to the American and French Commanders, and to the Army.... General St. Clair dispatched to Carolina.... The other Corps of the Army return to the Neighbourhood of New York, and go into Winter Quarters.
1781. ARNOLD, having been appointed a Brigadier General in the British army, was with a. bout sixteen hundred men detached to invade Vir. ginia. With his armed ships, he sailed up James' river, and at Richmond and other places destroyed publick and private property to a great amount. He at length indicated a design to establish a permanent post at Portsmouth.
The French fleet since its arrival on the American coast had been blocked up in the harbour of New Port, and the land forces had remained inactive in the town. But about this time the British blockading squadron suffered by a violent storm, and a temporary superiority was given to the French.
General Washington thought that a fair opportunity presented to strike a decisive blow at the British detachment in Virginia, and to obtain the person of Arnold. In pursuance of this scheme, the General detached the Marquis La Fayette to Virginia with twelve hundred of the American infantry : At the same time he requested the cooperation of the French from Rhode Island. The commanding officers gladly embraced the opportunity to engage in active services, that might prove advantageous to their American allies.
On the death of Admiral de Turney, at New Port, the command of the feet devolved on D'Est. anches. In compliance with the request of General WASHINGTON, he sailed with his whole squad
ron for the Chesapeak, having eleven MARCH 8.
hundred land troops on board. The British Admiral Arbuthnot having repaired the damages, sustained by the storm, immediately followed the French, and on the 25th an action took place between the two hostile fleets. The battle ended without loss to either fleet, but the fruits of victory were on the side of the English. The joint expe.
dition was frustrated, the French returned to New : Port, and Arnold was rescued from the fate which
The winter of 1781 in a degree renewed the pri. vations and sufferings of the American army. The men were badly clothed and scantily fed ; and they had served almost a year without pay. Without murmuring they long endured their accumulated distresses. But the fortitude of the firmest men may be worn down. Disheartened by their suffer. ings, 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 griev
The mutiny defied opposition. In the ato tempt 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, “Genral, 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 conser with them. They demanded the redress of their grievarices 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 sur. render of the British emissaries. This they refuss ed, declaring that " what they had done was only a duty they owed their country, and they neither de. sired, 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 Com. mittee to compromise with the soldiery, to whom the gentlemen from Congress transferred their pow.
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 Pennsyl. vania. Some of the Jersey brigade at Pompton caught their complaining spirit, and imitated their mutinous example.
The mutineers were most. ly 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 govern. ment 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 disso . lution of his army. 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 unea. siness remained, and these were not confined to the army. The money received into the national treas. ury from taxes imposed by state authorities, bore no proportion to the publick expense. zines were exhausted, and the states were so defi.