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many of the horses attached to the army had died, or were rendered unfit for use. General WASHINGTON therefore struggled with almost insuperable difficulties in supplying the army. He possessed no ineans to transport provisions from a distance but by impressment, and to this painful and oppressive mode, he was obliged frequently to recur. The unbounded confi. dence placed in his patriotism, wisdom, and prudence, enabled him to carry these measures into effect, ami ng 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 situa tion 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 ineasure 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 re. jected, and the officers reluctantly consented to remain in the army.
A statement of the great difficulties which the Gene ral encountered, led Congress to depute a Committee of their body to camp, to consult with him upon mea. sures necessary to be adopted to remove the grievan. ces of the army. This Comunittee reported, “ That the army was unpaid for five inonths : that it seldom had more than six days provision in adrance, and was on several occasions for several successive days, with. out meat; that the army was destitute of forage ; that
the medical department had neither sugar, tea, chocolate, wine, or spirituous 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 Con. gress 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 currency; and that money or other articles heretofore received, should be considered as advanced on account, to be comprehended in the settlement finally to be made.” This resolution was published in general orders, and produced a good effuct; 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 dependence, at the moment they were severely pressed by privations of every kind.
Murmurs at length broke out into actual March 25. mutiny. Two of the Connecticut regi
ments 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 ergaged, and stated the late resolution of Congress in their favour, they
answered, that for five months they had received no ray, 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 suppurted; and they must have immediate and substantial recompense for their services. To the complaints of the army were joined murmurs of the inhabitants of New Jersey, on account of the frequent requisitions unavoidably made upon them.
These disaffections were carried to New-York with the cristomary exaggerations of rumour. General Knyphausen, the commanding officer at that post, sup. posing the American citizens and soldiers ripe for revolt, passed over into New Jersey with five thousand
men, to avail himself of favourable events, JUNE 6. and probably with the intention 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-Carolina, 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 Washing. TON supposed that his determined object was the de
struction of the American camp and stores at Morris. town. 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 disci. plined courage. When overpowered by numbers, General Green drew up his brave band on the heights back of Springfield. 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 inabili. ty 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 maneuvre on the part of the enemy. 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 forco in America.
This grateful information re-animated the publick
mind, and gave a new stimulus to the agency of Con. gress, and of the governments of the several states ; that preparation might be made to co-operate with the French armament on its arrival.
This event excited anew in the breast of the Commander in Chief the mingled emotions of ambition and patriotism. His country having solicited foreign aid, he felt the disgrace she must suffer, should the allies find her in a situation not to second their friendly assistance. He anticipated the deep wound that would be inflicted on his own feelings, should the French Commanders find him the nominal head of a naked, destitute, and inefficient army. To prevent the evils that were apprehended, he addressed a circular letter to the governments of the states, urging them to exertions proportionate to the present prospect of their country, and painting to their view the picture of dishonour and ruin that must arise from the neglect to improve this prosperous tide in their affairs.
Vigorous measures were in consequence adopted by Congress and by the states to recruit the army, to lay up magazines, and to enable their General to comply with the reasonable expectations of their allies ; but the agency of different bodies was necessary to carry these publick measures into effect, and their operation was dilatory. On the 20th of June General Washington informed Congress that the army was yet destitute of many essential articles of clothing. “For the troops,” he observed, “to be without clothing at any time is highly injurious to the service, and distressing to our feelings; but the want will be more peculiarly mortifying when they come to act with our allies. If it be possible I have no doubt immediate measures will be taken to relieve their dis. tresses.
“ It is also inost sincerely to be wished that there would be some supplies of clothing furnished to the officers. There are a great many whose condition is