Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Vol. 3

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Author: Arthur St. Clair

U.S. History

From Major-General St. Clair.

Morristown, 7 January, 1781.

SIR,

Your Excellency has heard of the shameful defection of the Pennsylvania line; and I am very much concerned to inform you that, as yet, there is no prospect, that we know of, of any desire appearing in them to return to their duty. I happened to be in Philadelphia the day the accounts of it arrived there, and set out early next morning, in company with the Marquis de Lafayette, to make trial of what influence we might have; but, though we were suffered to come into Princeton, and there was an appearance of satisfaction in the countenance of the troops, we were not allowed to have any communication with them. A Committee of Sergeants, who are doubtless at the bottom of the whole, have got the business into their own hands; and no person is allowed to speak to the soldiery, but through them.

Their demands are no less than an almost total dissolution of the line. They are, to the best of my recollection,—the discharge of all those who have been enlisted in the years 1777 and ’78, and who received the bounty of twenty and one hundred and twenty dollars; immediate payment of their arrears and depreciation; and a general indemnity. General Wayne, in answer to those demands, made them such promises as ought to have satisfied reasonable men, looking only for redress of grievances, whether real or imaginary; but they were rejected; so that I have no doubt but emissaries from the enemy are amongst them, and believe that nothing but force will reduce them to reason. Unhappily, however, there seems to be no disposition in the militia of this State to come to that method; and it was the opinion of the Governor, and such members of the Legislature as we saw at Trenton, that they should be suffered to pass the Delaware. This I informed Governor Reed of, from that place, that he might have time to take the proper measures; but they seem disposed to keep post at Princeton. Whilst we were at the last place, Colonel Laurens came up, and we very soon after received a notice that our being in town was very disagreeable, and desiring us, for our own safety, to retire; and our stay was afterwards limited to an hour and a half As we had no prospect of being of service, we set off, lest they should think of detaining us. We have since heard that they have made General Wayne, Colonels Butler, and Stewart, prisoners; but the most alarming circumstance is, their having organized themselves, and appointed all the necessary officers.

There are still a few men at the huts, to whom I have sent this morning, with an assurance that they will be considered principally in whatever may be done for the line at large, and have directed that they may be collected and marched to Persipenny, to render their communication with the revolters more difficult; and have given directions for removing the remaining artillery and ammunition to Luckysunny.

We were unfortunate to miss Major Fishbourn, and have no knowledge of your Excellency’s intentions. I thought it probable that you might have come down to this place. If that is not your design, I beg I may be favored with your Excellency’s instructions; and am, with the greatest respect, Sir,

Your most obedient servant,

ARTHUR CLAIR ST..

P. S. I have not learned that any movements of the enemy indicate an intention Co enter Jersey; yet I cannot persuade myself that they will not endeavour to avail themselves of this disaster, though, perhaps, they may defer it until it is certain that force is necessary.

After Major Fishbourn’s departure from Princeton, from a desire expressed by the Committee to confer with some of the Council of Pennsylvania, General Wayne sent an express to Philadelphia, requesting some of that body to meet them. They were expected to arrive yesterday.

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Chicago: Arthur St. Clair, "From Major-General St. Clair.," Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Vol. 3 in Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, ed. Jared Sparks (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1853), 195–198. Original Sources, accessed September 30, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L8HRG4Z7R5F5Q97.

MLA: St. Clair, Arthur. "From Major-General St. Clair." Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Vol. 3, in Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, edited by Jared Sparks, Vol. 3, Freeport, NY, Books for Libraries Press, 1853, pp. 195–198. Original Sources. 30 Sep. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L8HRG4Z7R5F5Q97.

Harvard: St. Clair, A, 'From Major-General St. Clair.' in Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Vol. 3. cited in 1853, Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, ed. , Books for Libraries Press, Freeport, NY, pp.195–198. Original Sources, retrieved 30 September 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L8HRG4Z7R5F5Q97.