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river, about fifty miles from the city. The condition of his army there was very deplorable. Their distresses from want of pay, provisions, and clothing, rose to such a height, that a mutiny, in the Pennsylvania line, broke out, and was only quelled by force and the execution of the ringleader. These difficulties kept the army from undertaking any active measures, during the summer, in South Carolina.
Savannah was still in possession of the British, in considerable force, commanded by General Clarke. General Wayne, with a part of the American army, was detached into Georgia, to operate against that post. On the 19th of May, he encountered and defeated a party of the British, sent out to cover the advance of some Indian allies, and drove them with loss into the city. A few weeks afterwards, he defeated the Indian succors, marching from the Creek nation into Savannah. These skirmishes closed the war in Georgia. The British immediately afterwards determined upon evacuating Savannah. The merchants made terms with General Wayne for the protection of
July 11th. their property, and the security of those who might desire to adhere to the British. The garrison embarked on the 11th of July, and General Wayne occupied the city on the same day.
After the recovery of Savannah, General Wayne joined General Greene, with his force, and the joint army moved towards Charleston. The British army were by their orders confined to defensive operations entirely, and were preparing to evacuate the city. Unhappily, in the correspondence between the commanding generals on the subject of purchasing supplies for the British, differences arose, and parties continued to be sent out to seize on them by force. In one of these excursions, a smart skirmish occurred at Page's Point, on the 27th of August, in which Colonel Laurens, a popular and distinguished officer, was mortally wounded. This was the last bloodshed in South Carolina. The intention of the British to abandon the State was publicly announced, but the preparations went on slowly. Commissioners were appointed on both sides, within the city, to settle terms for protecting the rights of property, and a convention settled for the purpose, which was little observed by the enemy. At length the embarkation of the troops
was completed. On the same day, the civil authorities reoccupied the city, and resumed their functions.
On that day, therefore, after a distressing invasion of about three years, the war in the South terminated.
At the north, no engagement occurred after the battle of Yorktown. That success, the prospects of a speedy peace which it held forth, the movements in Europe, especially in England, consequent upon it, and the pacific overtures of Sir Guy Carleton, who arrived in the spring to supersede Clinton as commander-in-chief, had the effect of suspending all active operations in both armies. But the difficulties of Congress and the Commander-in-chief increased alarmingly. Victory had the customary effect of relaxing the efforts of the States, and the expectation of peace enforced an immediate attention to the condition of public affairs, and the means of complying with public engagements, and providing for heavy arrearages to the army and in the civil service. These new and urgent claims were advanced with increasing discontent, now that the pressure of foreign danger was thought to be removed, and the attention of all classes, more especially the soldiers, became turned to the future. At the same time, so entirely had the means of the treasury failed, from a deficiency in the rates of taxation and the mode of collection, that Congress depended for some time on a monthly grant, from France, of 500,000 livres, for defraying the current expenses. This sum was insufficient, and only the financial expedients of Robert Morris, with the aid of the Bank of North America, by anticipating the taxes, enabled them to keep up the public service.
Neither officers nor men had received any pay for a considerable time; their support with the necessaries of existence was hardly provided for, and, in the midst of present want, they received intimation that Congress was about to reduce the army, and in September that determination was publicly made known. A more just ground for discontent and alarm to the army, could not well be imagined, and fears were entertained that open mutiny would be the consequence. The reduction of the establishment would throw a large part of them out of the service, without compensation for the past, or substantial provision for the future. Most of them had spent the flower of their lives, and many of them their own private fortunes, in sustaining the cause of Independence, and all were now about to be turned out to
penury, without even the means to carry them home, and with no prospect of future subsistence. This, after all their sufferings and services, their trials and sacrifices, and the glorious result which they had achieved for an ungrateful country, as they with justice complained, could not but exasperate their minds, and sting them into violent complaints: it threatened to drive them into acts of insubordination and outrage. In September, Washington wrote to the secretary at war, a new officer, appointed a few months before “I wish not to heighten the shades of the picture, so far as real life would justify me in doing, or I would give anecdotes of patriotism and distress, which have scarcely ever been paralleled, never surpassed in the history of mankind. But you may rely upon it, the patience and long-suffering of this army are almost exhausted, and there never was so great a spirit of discontent as at this instant."
The alarm of the soldiery, from the dilatory and unsatisfactory proceedings of Congress in their behalf, was further aggravated by the belief that it was not the design to fulfil the terms of the resolution of October 1780, granting the offi
pay for life. A party opposition to this measure existed in congress, no funds were pledged for complying with it, and the adoption of the confederation, requiring the assent of nine States to appropriations, made its confirmation uncertain. They thought they saw an insidious attempt to disband them, by means of furloughs, without redressing any of their grievances; and as the prospects of peace brightened, their resentment increased. In December, they remonstrated more vehemently with the Commander-inchief, by whose personal interposition and exhortations their forbearance so long had been preserved, and adopted an energetic memorial to Congress, praying for an early adjustment of their claims, the payment of their arrearages, and a sum in commutation of their half pay under the resolution of October 1780.
Congress was now placed in a position of extreme embarrassment; with an exhausted treasury, and an army almost in mutiny, demanding what was justly due, but which there were no means within reach to supply. The winter was passed in this distracted condition. Congress could give no hope of final settlement satisfactory to the army; Washington alone, by the exertion of his unbounded populari!y, restrained them from breaking out into violence. The
news of the conclusion of the preliminaries of peace, in the spring, brought affairs to a crisis of excitement and danger. March 10, On the 10th of March 1783, an anonymous call
1783. was circulated through the army, inviting a meeting of officers for the next day, to take into consideration the unfavorable accounts from Philadelphia, and “what measures, if any, should be adopted to obtain that redress of grievances which they seemed to have solicited in vain." On the same day, an anonymous address to the officers was circulated, drawn up with spirit, power of language and passion, and admirably calculated to inflame them to violent measures. The author, as afterwards ascertained, was Major John Armstrong.
What might have been the result of a meeting, summoned under such circumstances of real wrong and deep suffering, by appeals so inflammatory, it is impossible to conjecture. Washington, with a firmness and prudence, well tempered to the emergency, threw himself forward, to still the rising tempest. Issuing a general order, he expressed his marked disapprobation of these disorderly proceedings, and the irregular call for the meeting, and summoned the general and field officers, and a representation from the companies and staff to meet on Saturday, the 15th, to hear the report from Philadelphia, to adopt further measures, and report to the Commander-in-chief. The head-quarters were then at Newburgh, on the Hudson river.
The meeting took place, as directed, and General Gates, as senior officer, assumed the chair. Washington delivered them a long and patriotic address, upon their condition and prospects, urging them to longer forbearance, to a trust in the good faith and justice of their country, and reprobating the language and designs of the anonymous addresses. His dignified expostulations produced the happiest effect. The weight of his personal character, the general veneration for his integrity, and admiration for his services, enforced the appeal which he pressed upon them, in behalf of good order, patience, and fidelity to the laws.
A series of resolutions were unanimously adopted, declaring the designs of the anonymous addresses to be “infa. mous," re-approving their determination, that "no circumstances of distress or danger should induce a conduct that might tend to sully the reputation and glory which they had acquired at the price of their blood and eight years faithful services;" and expressing "unshaken confidence in the justice of Congress, and their country,” and that “the representatives of America would not disband nor disperse the army until their accounts are liquidated, their balances accurately ascertained, and adequate funds established for their payment."
These noble and magnanimous proceedings elevate the character of the revolutionary army even beyond the lustre of their military triumphs. A victory over want, over privation, over resentment and the sense of wrong, all stimulated by the consciousness of power, won by the simple force of patriotic principle, is an example of public virtue, of which military annals has no equal in dignity and true glory.
Their self-denial was not long after rewarded by such provision as the utmost means of Congress enabled them to raise. A vote of nine States, the requisite number under the Articles, was obtained for a commutation of the half pay, for five years full pay, and the treasury, by great efforts, found them four months full pay in part discharge of arrear· ages. Thus the machinations of incendiaries were foiled, and
the army proved itself as worthy of the highest admiration for civil virtues, as of the highest gratitude for military services. The slight disorders which occasionally took place among portions of the troops, when about to be disbanded, were not of magnitude sufficient, to detract from this well merited reputation. In June a few of the Pennsylvania corps mutinied, and were joined by about two hundred from the Southern army. They surrounded the State House in Philadelphia, and clamored for pay, but without proceeding to actual violence. They were easily dispersed.
On the 17th of August, the British commander-in-chief informed the President of Congress that he had received his final orders for withdrawing his majesty's forces from New York. Congress soon after issued general orders that such of the soldiers as had enlisted during the war, should be discharged one the 3d of November ensuing. The British army and fleet evacuated New York, ,
Nov. 25th. their last remaining possession in America, on the 25th of November, and on the same day, General Washington, with Governor Clinton, and their respective suites, followed by a prodigious concourse of citizens, entered the city in triumph. On the 4th of December, General Washington took an affecting farewell of his officers, and departed