Slike strani

to Wayne, requesting a personal interview at four o'clock in the afternoon, at four miles' distance from Princeton. Wayne was moreover told to inform the troops, that he (Reed) would be there to receive any propositions from them, and redress any injuries they might have sustained; but that, after the indignities they had offered to the marquis and General St. Clair, he could not venture to put himself in their power.

Wayne, knowing that the letter was intended for his troops more than for himself, read it publicly on the parade. It had a good effect upon the sergeants and many of the men. The idea that the president of their State should have to leave the seat of government and stoop to treat with them, touched their sectional pride and their home feelings. They gathered round the horseman who had brought the letter, and inquired anxiously whether President Reed was unkindly disposed towards them; intimating privately their dislike to the business in which they were engaged.

Still, it was not thought prudent for President Reed to trust himself within their camp. Wayne promised to meet him on the following day (7th), though it seemed uncertain whether he was master of himself, or whether he was not a kind of prisoner. Tidings had just been received of the movements of Sir Henry Clinton, and of tempting overtures he intended to make, and it was feared the men might listen to them. Three of the light-horse were sent in the direction of Amboy to keep a look-out for any landing of the enemy.

At this critical juncture, two of Sir Henry's emissaries arrived in the camp, and delivered to the leaders


of the malcontents, a paper containing his seductive proposals and promises. The mutineers, though openly arrayed in arms against their government, spurned at the idea of turning "Arnolds," as they termed it. The emissaries were seized and conducted to General Wayne, who placed them in confinement, promising that they should be liberated, should the pending negotiation fail.

This incident had a great effect in inspiring hope of the ultimate loyalty of the troops; and the favorable representations of the temper of the men, made by General Wayne in a personal interview, determined President Reed to venture among them. The consequences of their desertion to the enemy were too alarming to be risked. "I have but one life to lose," said he, "and my country has the first claim to it." *

As he approached Princeton with his suite, he found guards regularly posted, who turned out and saluted him in military style. The whole line was drawn out under arms near the college and the artillery on the point of firing a salute. He prevented it, lest it should alarm the country. It was a hard task for him to ride along the line as if reviewing troops regularly organized; but the crisis required some sacrifice of the kind. The sergeants were all in the places of their respective officers, and saluted the president as he passed; never were mutineers more orderly and de


The propositions now offered to the troops were: -To discharge all those who had enlisted indefinitely

* Letter to the Executive Council.

for three years or during the war; the fact to be inquired into by three commissioners appointed by the executive—where the original enlistment could not be produced in evidence, the oath of the soldier to suffice.

To give immediate certificates for the deficit in their pay caused by the depreciation of the currency, and the arrearages to be settled as soon as circumstances would permit.

To furnish them immediately with certain specified articles of clothing which were most wanted.

These propositions proving satisfactory, the troops set out for Trenton, where the negotiation was concluded.

Most of the artillerists and many of the infantry obtained their discharges; some on their oaths, others on account of the vague terms under which they had been enlisted; forty days' furlough was given to the rest, and thus, for a time, the whole insurgent force was dissolved.

The two spies who had tampered with the fidelity of the troops were tried by a court-martial, found guilty, and hanged at the cross-roads near Trenton. A reward of fifty guineas each, was offered to two sergeants who had arrested and delivered them up. They declined accepting it; saying, they had merely acted by order of the board of sergeants. The hundred guineas were then offered to the board. Their reply is worthy of record. "It was not," said they, "for the sake or through any expectation of reward, but for the love of our country, that we sent the spies immediately to General Wayne; we therefore do not consider ourselves entitled to any other reward but the love of

[ocr errors]




our country, and do jointly agree, to accept of no other."

The accommodation entered into with the mutineers of the Pennsylvania line appeared to Washington of doubtful policy, and likely to have a pernicious effect on the whole army. His apprehensions were soon justified by events. On the night of the 20th of January, a part of the Jersey troops, stationed at Pompton, rose in arms, claiming the same terms just yielded to the Pennsylvanians. For a time, it was feared the revolt would spread throughout the line.

Sir Henry Clinton was again on the alert. Troops were sent to Staten Island to be ready to cross into the Jerseys, and an emissary was despatched to tempt the mutineers with seductive offers.

In this instance, Washington adopted a more rigorous course than in the other. The present insurgents were not so formidable in point of numbers as the Pennsylvanians; the greater part of them, also, were foreigners, for whom he felt less sympathy than for native troops. He was convinced too of the fidelity of the troops under his immediate command, who were from the Eastern States. A detachment from the Massachusetts line was sent under Major-general Howe, who was instructed to compel the mutineers to unconditional submission; to grant them no terms while in arms, or in a state of resistance; and on their surrender, instantly to execute a few of the most active and incendiary leaders. "You will also try," added he, "to avail yourself of the services of the militia, representing to them how dangerous to civil liberty, is the precedent of armed soldiers dictating to their country."

His orders were punctually obeyed, and were crowned with complete success. Howe had the good fortune, after a tedious night-march, to surprise the mutineers napping in their huts just at daybreak. Five minutes only were allowed them to parade with out their arms and give up their ringleaders. This was instantly complied with, and two of them were executed on the spot. Thus, the mutiny was quelled, the officers resumed their command, and all things were restored to order. *

Thus terminated an insurrection, which, for a time, had spread alarm among the friends of American liberty, and excited the highest hopes of its foes. The circumstances connected with it had ultimately a beneficial effect in strengthening the confidence of those friends, by proving that however the Americans might quarrel with their own government, nothing could again rally them under the royal standard.

A great cause of satisfaction to Washington was the ratification of the articles of confederation between the States, which took place not long after this agitating juncture. A set of articles had been submitted to Congress by Dr. Franklin, as far back as 1775. A form had been prepared and digested by a committee in 1776, and agreed upon, with some modifications in 1777, but had ever since remained in abeyance, in consequence of objections made by individual States. The confederation was now complete, and Washington, in a letter to the President of Congress, congratulated him and the body over which he presided, on an event

* Memoir of Major Shaw, by Hon. Josiah Quincy, p. 89.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »