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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 enlisted. 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 result. But he perceived the importance of arresting the progress of a spirit, which threatened the dissolution 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 ringleaders were executed on the spot, and complete subordination was restored in the brigade.
The mutiny was suppressed, but causes of uneasi. ness remained, and these were not confined to the army. The money received into the national treasury from taxes imposed by state authorities, bore no proportion to the publick expense. The magazines were exhausted, and the states were so deficient in fur
nishing provisions for the army, that supplies of every description were of necessity obtained by impressment. Publick 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 publick disease.
The Court of London became intimately acquainted with the interiour 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, 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 had 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 department 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 Commander 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 his 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, and of New-Jersey, earnestly calling upon them to fill up their battalions, and to furnish their quotas of provision.
The near prospect of terminating the war animated these States to unusual exertions. The number of men indeed fell short of the requisition of Congress; but effectual measures were adopted to supply the army with provisions. Under the system of state requisition, meat, spirit, and salt were drawn from New England. A convention of delegates from these states met at Providence and adopted a system of monthly supplies, through the campaign. As soon as this plan could be carried into operation, the supplies of these articles were regular and competent.
Requisitions of flour were made from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. New-York and New. Jersey, having been much exhausted by the depredations of the enemy, and by the necessary impressments of the American army, the chief dependence for this essential article was placed on Pennsylvania. The Legislature of the state was not vigorous in its measures, and a scarcity of flour was apprehended.
At this period, Mr. Robert Morris of Philadelphia, a member of Congress from that state, a merchant of much intelligence and enterprise, was entrusted with the management of the finances of the United States. To him the Legislature of Pennsylvania transferred the taxes appropriated to furnish the requisitions of Congress upon that state; and he in consequence contracted to supply the national requisition. By his personal agency and credit, he established temporary funds, amply supplied the army with flour, and furnished the Quarter Master General with the means effectually to execute the duties of his department. Through the campaign the movements of the army were made with facility and expedition.
In June, the French troops marched from Newport to the Head Quarters of the American army. As they approached the North river, General WASHINGTON laid a plan to surprise the British works at King's bridge. On the night of the 2d of July, the plan was to be carried into execution. At this time it was expected Count Rochambeau would reach the scene of action, to assist in maintaining the ground, which the Ameri. can troops might gain. To secure his co-operation, the Commander in Chief sent an Aid to the Count re. questing him to direct his route to King's bridge, and to regulate his march in such a manner as to be at that place by the specified time.
To mask the design, and to give a reason for the movement of the American army, which might not excite the suspicion of the British Commander, General WASHINGTON, in orders on the 30th of June mentioned that a junction with the French troops might VOL. II.
soon be expected. He, in subsequent orders, gave in. formation that the French army would not come to that ground, and as the General was desirous of showing all the respect in his power to those generous allies, who were hastening with the zeal of friends, and the ardour of soldiers, to share the fatigues and dangers of the campaign, he proposed to receive them at some other more convenient place; and for this purpose would march the whole line of the American army at three in the morning.”
General Lincoln was appointed to command the detachment, which was to assail the works at King's bridge, and on the night of the 1st of July, he embarked in boats at Teller's point, and with muffled oars passed down the North river, undiscovered, to Dobb's ferry. At this place his boats and his men were concealed. He reconnoitred the works to be attacked, and found that a British detachment which had been some time in New-Jersey, had returned, and was encamped in force on the north end of York Island, and that an armed ship was in such a manner, stationed in the river, as to render it impossible for the American boats, without discovery, to approach the landing place. The attempt upon the enemy was of course relinquished.
General WASHINGTON extended his orders to an enterprise, to be carried into effect, should the attempt on King's bridge fail. This was to bear off a corps of cmigrants which, under the command of Colonel Delancy, was posted above the British. The execution of this plan was left principally with the French, and General Lincoln was directed to take a position that would prevent the retreat of Delancy, and protect the flanks of the French from the British reinforcements from the Island. But the French troops did not in season reach the scene of action, and this scheme also failed. At day light a sharp skirmish took place between General Lincoln and a party of British light