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1981.justed, that the committee of congress returned to Phi
ladelphia. The same day congress agreed upon a circular letter to the states. They mentioned in it, that an immediate provision for the pay of the army was indispensably necessary. They estimated the sum to be forwarded by the respective states from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire inclusive, at 879,342 dollars. It was calculated on six months pay in specie value ; and the advance of one half without delay, and the remainder by the first of the following April, were strongly urged.
The success of the Pennsylvania revolters encouraged about 160 of the Jersey brigade to seek redress in a similar way on the 20th of the same month. Their number was not alarming. A temporizing conduct was no longer needful. Obedience might be enforced with safety. The American general, Robert Howe, was sent off with a large detachment from the main army, with orders to compel the mutineers to unconditional submission, and to listen to no terms while they were in a state of resistance, and on their reduction instantly to execute a few of the most active and incendiary leaders ; for gen. Washington preferred any extremity to a compromise. When he arrived, instant submission was required; and the two ringleaders were directly taken, tried, and executed. The British wished to benefit by this revolt; and forwarded proposals by one Woodroff; but he instantly delivered them to the American officers. Thus were the high hopes which Clinton had entertained from the revolt of the Pennsylvania line, completely bafied: while a striking instance presented itself of the prevailing unfavorable disposition of the suffering troops, with respect to the British government.
Previous to these military convulsions congress had 1781. taken a step, from which they promised themselves future relief, though it could not be obtained immediately. They had on the 23d of December, commissioned lieut. col. John Laurens, as special minister at the court of Versailles, to procure the wanted aids. Two days before, they directed the president to write to the ministers plenipotentiary at Versailles and Madrid, defiring them to apply to the courts at which they respectively reside, to use means for obtaining the release and exchange of the honorable Henry Laurens, [the lieut. colonel's father] the news of whose commitment to the Tower had reached them. Means were taken to impress the chevalier de la Luzerne with a sense of the calamitous situation in which the United States were, that so his information might add weight to the colonel's negotiation. Gen. Greene said to him in a letter of Jan. the gth—“ If France lends not a speedy aid to this diftressed people, I fear the country will be for ever lost.” The commander in chief furnished the colonel with the following thoughts on the 15th of January.-" To me Jan. it appears evident :-1. That considering the diffused 15. population of these states, the consequent difficulty of drawing together its resources, the composition and temper of
part of its inhabitants, the want of a sufficient stock of national strength as a foundation for revenue, and the almost total extinction of commerce, the efforts we have been compelled to make for carrying on the war, have exceeded the natural abilities of this country and by degrees brought it to a crisis, which renders immediate efficacious succours from abroad indispensable to its safety :-2. That, notwithstanding from the confu
1781. fion always attending a revolution, from our having had
governments to frame, and every species of civil and
be a foundation for substantial arrangements of finance, 1781. to revive public credit, and give vigor to future operations; secondly, the vast importance of a decided effort of the allied arms on this continent the ensuing campaign, to effectuate once for all the great objects of the alliance, the liberty and independence of these states :9. That next to a loan of money a constant superiority on these coasts is the object most interesting :-10. That an additional succour of troops would be extremely desirable :-II. That no nation will have it more in its power to repay what it borrows than this : our debts are hitherto small.-The people are discontented, but it is with the feeble and oppressive mode of conducting the war, not with the war itself. A large majority are still firmly attached to the independence of these states.” To Dr. Franklin the general wrote the same day—“ To me nothing appears more evident, than that the period of our opposition will very shortly arrive, if our allies cannot afford us that effectual aid, particularly in money and a naval superiority, which is now folicited." Το what purposes such superiority was to be applied, a letter of the roth of February declared, which said_" In the conference between count de Rochambeau and myself it was agreed, that if by the aid of our allies we can have a naval superiority through the next campaign, and an army of thirty thousand men (or double the force of the enemy at New York and its dependencies) early enough in the season to operate in that quarter, to prefer it to every other object; and applications have been made to the court of France in this spirit. If we should find ourselves unable to undertake this more capital expedition; and if we have means equal to it,
1980. we shall attempt a secondary object. The reduction of
Charlestown, Savannah, &c. may come into contemplation.” The prospect of giving relief to the southern states, by an operation against New York, was the principal inducement for proposing it.
The southern operations have been peculiar. Before they are related, let it be remarked, that when
gen. Gates passed through Richmond on his way home, the Virginia house of delegates on December the 28th “ Resolved, nemine contradicente, That a committee of four be appointed to wait on major general Gates, and to assure him of the high regard and esteem of this house :—That the remembrance of his former glorious services cannot be obliterated by any reverse of fortune, but that this house, ever mindful of his great merit, will omit no opportunity of testifying to the world the gratitude which, as a member of the American union, this country owes to him in his military character.” To this resolve, when communicated by the committee of four, the general answered the same day-"Sirs, I shall ever remember with the utmost gratitude, the high honor this day done me, by the honorable the house of delegates of Virginia. When I engaged in the noble cause of freedom and the United States, I devoted myself entirely to the service of obtaining the great end of their union. That I have been once unfortunate is my great mortification; but let the event of my future fervices be what they may, they will, as they always have been, be directed by the most faithful integrity, and animated by the truest zeal for the honor and interest of the United States."