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past-could have induced them to resign at so critical a juncture."
The intelligence conveyed in this letter made a serious impression on the commander in chief. He was strongly attached to the army, and to its interests ; had witnessed its virtue, and its sufferings; and lamented sincerely its present distresses. The justice of the complaints made by the officers could not be denied; but the most fatal conse quences were to be apprehended from the measure they had adopted. Relying on their patriotism, and on his own influence, he immediately wrote to General Maxwell a letter to be laid before them, in which mingling the sensibility of a friend with the duties of a general, he addressed to their understand. ing, and to their patriotism, observations calculated to invite their whole attention to the consequences which must result from the step they were about to take.
“ There is nothing," proceeds the letter, “ which has happened in the course of the war that has given me so much pain as the remonstrance you mention from the officers of the first Jersey regiment. I cannot but consider it as a hasty and imprudent step, which on more cool consideration they will themselves condemn. I am
I am very sensible of the inconveniences under which the officers of the army labour, and I hope they do me the justice to believe that my endeavours to procure them relief are incessant. There is more difficulty,
however, in satisfying their wishes than perhaps they are aware of. Our resources have been hitherto very limited. The situation of our money is no small embarrassment ; for which though there are remedies, they cannot be the work of a moment. Government is not insensible of the merits and sacrifices of the officers, nor, I am persuaded, unwilling to make a compensation; but it is a truth, of which a little observation must convince us, that it is very much straitened in the means. Great allowances ought to be made on this account for any delay and seeming backwardness which may appear. Some of the states, indeed, have done as generously as it is at this juncture in their power ; and if others have been less expeditious, it ought to be ascribed to some peculiar cause, which a little time, aided by example, will remove. The patience and perseverance of the army have been, under every disadvantage, such as to do them the highest honour, both at home and abroad; and have inspired me with an unlimited confidence in their virtue, which has consoled me amidst every perplexity and reverse of fortune to which our affairs, in a struggle of this nature, were necessarily exposed. Now that we have made so great a progress to the attainment of the end we have in view, so that we cannot fail without a most shameful desertion of our own interest, any thing like a change of conduct would imply a very unhappy
change of principles, and a forgetfulness as well of what we owe to ourselves, as to our country. Did I suppose it possible this would be the case, even in a single regiment of the army, I should be mortified and chagrined beyond expression. I should feel it as a wound given to my own honour, which I consider as embarked with that of the army at large. But this I believe to be impossible. Any corps that was about to set an example of the kind, would weigh well the consequences; and no officer of common discernment and sensibility would hazard them. If they should stand alone in it, independent of other consequences, what would be their feelings on reflecting that they had held themselves out to the world in a point of light inferior to the rest of the army ? Or if their example should be followed, and become general, how could they console themselves for having been the foremost in bringing ruin and disgrace upon their country? They would remember that the army would share a double portion of the general infamy and distress, and that the character of an American officer would become as despicable as it is now glorious.
“ I confess the appearances, in the present instance, are disagreeable ; but I am convinced they seem to mean more than they really do. The Jersey officers have not been outdone by any others in the qualities either of citizens or soldiers; and I am confident no part of them would seriously
intend any thing that would be a stain to their former reputation. The gentlemen cannot be in earnest; they have only reasoned wrong about the means of obtaining a good end; and, on consideration, I hope and flatter myself, they will renounce what must appear improper. At the opening of a campaign, when under marching orders for an important service, their own honour, duty to the public and to themselves, and a regard to military propriety, will not suffer them to persist in a measure which would be a violation of them all. It will even wound their delicacy coolly to reflect, that they have hazarded a step which has an air of dictating terms to their country, by taking advantage of the necessity of the moment,
“ The declaration they have made to the state, at so critical a time, that unless they obtain relief in the short period of three days, they must be considered out of the service, has very much that aspect; and the seeming relaxation of continuing until the state can have a reasonable time to provide other officers, will be thought only a superficial veil. I am now to request that you will convey my sentiments to the gentlemen concerned, and endeavour to make them sensible that they are in an error. The service for which the regiment was intended will not admit of delay. It must at all events march on Monday morning, in the first place to this camp, and further directions will be
given when it arrives. I am sure I shall not be mistaken in expecting a prompt and cheerful obedience.”
The representations of this letter, though not without influence, did not completely produce the desired effect. The officers did not recede from their claims. In an address to the commander in chief, they declared their unhappiness that any act of theirs should give him pain; but proceeded to justify the step they had taken. Repeated memorials had been presented to their legislature, which had been received with promises of attention, but had been regularly neglected. “At length," said they, “ we have lost all confidence in our legislature. Reason and experience forbid that we should have any. Few of us have private fortunes; many have families who already are suffering every thing that can be received from an ungrateful country. Are we then to suffer all the inconve. niences, fatigues, and dangers, of a military life, , while our wives and our children are perishing for want of common necessaries at home ; and that without the most distant prospect of reward, for our pay is now only nominal? We are sensible that your Excellency cannot wish nor desire this from us.
“ We are sorry that you should imagine we meant to disobey orders. It was, and still is, our determination to march with our regiment, and to