Cantonment of the Army near Newburgh.

Head-quarters of the Officers.

Nicola's Proposition to Washington.

New Windsor in December, 1780, where he remained until June, 1781, when the French, who had quartered during the winter at Newport and Lebanon, formed a junction with the Americans on the Hudson. In April, 1782, he established his head-quarters at Newburgh, two miles above the village of New Windsor, where he continued most of the time until November, 1783, when the Continental army was disbanded.


For a short time in the autumn of 1782, while the head-quarters of Washington were at Newburgh, the main portion of the army was encamped at Verplanck's Point, in pursuance of an engagement with Rochambeau to form a junction of the American and French forces at that place, on the return of the latter from Virginia. The allies marched eastward late in autumn, when the American army crossed the Hudson at West Point, traversed the mountains, and arrived in the township of New Windsor on the 28th of November, where it was hutted for the winter. The main portion of the army was encamped in the neighborhood of Snake Hill; of this we will write presently. Washington continued his head-quarters at the stone house at Newburgh; Generals Knox and Greene, who had the immediate command of the chief forces and of the artillery, were quartered at the house of John Ellison (now Captain Charles Morton's), in the vicinity of the main camp near Snake Hill; Gates and St. Clair, with the hospital stores, were at Edmonston's, at The Square; La Fayette was at William Ellison's, near by; and the Baron Steuben was at the house of Samuel Verplanck, on the Fishkill side of the river.

At Newburgh occurred one of the most painful events in the military life of Washington. For a long time the discontents among the officers and soldiers in the army respecting the arrearages of their pay and their future prospects, had been increasing, and in the spring of 1782 became alarmingly manifest. Complaints were frequently made to the commanderin-chief. Feeling the justice of these complaints, his sympathy was fully alive to the inter

Lewis Nicola

ests of his companions in arms. Colonel Nicola, an experienced officer, and a gentleman possessed of much weight of character, was usually the medium for communicating to him, verbally, their complaints, wishes, and fears. In May, Colonel Nicola addressed a letter to Washington, the tenor of which struck harshly upon the tenderest chord in that great man's feelings. After some general remarks on the deplorable condition of the army, and the little hope they could have of being properly rewarded by Congress, the cǝlonel entered into a political disquisition on the different forms of government, and came to the conclusion that republics are, of all others, the least susceptible of stability, and the least capable of securing the rights, freedom, and power of individuals. He therefore inferred that America could never become prosperous under such a form of government, and that the English government was nearer perfection than any other. He then proceeded to express his opinion that such a government would be the choice of the people, after due consideration, and added, "In this case it will, I believe, be uncontroverted, that the same abilities which have led us through difficulties apparently insurmountable by human power to victory and glory-those qualities, that have merited and obtained the universal esteem and veneration of an army-would be most likely to conduct and direct us in the smoother paths of peace. Some people have so connected the idea of tyranny and monarchy as to find it very difficult to separate them. It may, therefore, be requisite to give the head of such a constitution as I propose some title apparently more moderate; but, if all other things were once adjusted, I believe strong arguments might be produced for admitting the title of KING, which I conceive would be attended with some national advantage." How amazingly Colonel Nicola, and those officers and civilians (and they, doubtless, were not a few) whom he represented, misapprehended the true character of Washington, may be readily inferred from the prompt and severe rebuke which they received from his hand. The commander-in-chief replied as follows:

James Mosher. Isaac Ward, Baltus Nierpos, Gamaliel Bailey, Moses Thomas, Eleazer Owens, Adam Einbler, Samuel Little, Benjamin Dunning, Samuel Reed."

Washington's Letter of Rebuke to Nicola.

Patriotism of the Chief.

Discontents in the Army.

Memorial to Congress.

"SIR,-With a mixture of great surprise and astonishment, I have read with attention the sentiments you have submitted to my perusal. Be assured, sir, no occurrence in the course of this war has given me more painful sensations than your information of there being such ideas existing in the army as you have expressed, and which I must view with abhorrence and reprehend with severity. For the present, the communication of them will rest in my own bosom, unless some further agitation of the matter shall make a disclosure necessary. I am much at a loss to conceive what part of my conduct could have given encouragement to an address which to me seems big with the greatest mischiefs that can befall my country. If I am not deceived in the knowledge of myself, you could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable. At the same time, in justice to my own feelings, I must add, that no man possesses a more serious wish to see ample justice done to the army than I do; and, as far as my power and influence, in a constitutional way, extend, they shall be employed to the utmost of my abilities to effect it, should there be any occasion. Let me conjure you, then, if you have any regard for your country, concern for yourself or posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind, and never communicate, as from yourself or any one else, a sentiment of the like nature. am, &c."


In this affair the disinterested patriotism of Washington shone with its brightest luster. At the head of a victorious army; beloved and venerated by it and by the people; with personal influence unbounded, and with power in possession for consummating almost any political scheme not apparently derogatory to good government, he receives from an officer whom he greatly esteems, and who speaks for himself and others, an offer of the scepter of supreme rule and the crown of royalty! What a bribe! Yet he does not hesitate for a moment; he does not stop to revolve in his mind any ideas of advantage in the proposed scheme, but at once rebukes the author sternly but kindly, and impresses his signet of strongest disapprobation upon the proposal. History can not present a parallel.

The apprehensions which this event produced in the mind of Washington, though allayed for a while, were painfully revived a few months later. The same circumstances of present hardship and gloomy prospects that disturbed the army when Nicola addressed Washington, not only continued to exist, but reasons for discontent daily increased. After the return of the army from Verplanck's Point, and their settlement in winter quarters in the neighborhood of Newburgh and New Windsor, the officers and soldiers had leisure to reflect upon their situation and prospects. Expecting a dissolution of the Revolutionary government when peace should be established, and a thorough reorganization of civil and military af fairs, they apprehended great difficulties and losses in the adjustment of their claims, particularly those appertaining to the long arrearages of their pay. They were aware of the poverty of the treasury and the inefficiency of the existing government in commanding resources for its replenishment; a condition arising from the disposition of individual states to deny the right of Congress to ask for pecuniary aid from their respective treasuries in satisfying public creditors. This actual state of things, and no apparent security for a future adjustment of their claims, caused great excitement and uneasiness among the officers and soldiers, and in December they addressed a memorial to Congress on the subject of their grievances. A committee, composed of General M Dougal, Colonel Ogden, and Colonel Brooks, were appointed to carry the memorial to Philadelphia, lay it before Congress, and explain its import. Congress appointed a committee, consisting of a delegate from each. state, to consider the memorial. The committee reported, and, on the 25th of January, Congress passed a series of resolutions, which were not very satisfactory. In



1 Sparks's Life and Writings of Washington, viii., 300, 302. Washington's letter to Colonel Nicola is dated at Newburgh, 22d May, 1782.

* This memorial comprehended five different articles: 1. Present pay; 2. A settlement of the accounts of the arrearages of pay, and security for what was due; 3. A commutation of the half-pay authorized by different resolutions of Congress, for an equivalent in gross; 4. A settlement of the accounts of deficiencies of rations and compensation; 5. A settlement of the accounts of deficiencies of clothing and compensation.

Action of the Officers. Major Armstrong.

Resolutions of Congress respecting Claims. The Army still dissatisfied.

regard to present pay, the superintendent of finance was directed to make "such payment and in such measure as he shall think proper," as soon as the state of public finances would permit. In relation to arrearages and the settlement of accounts, it was resolved" that the several states be called upon to complete, without delay, the settlements with their respect

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ive lines of the army, up to the 1st day of August, 1783, and that the superintendent of finance be directed to take such measures as shall appear to him most proper for effecting the settlement from that period." Concern. ing security for what should be found due on such settlement, Congress declared, by resolution, that they would "make every effort in their power to obtain from the respective states substantial funds, adequate to the object of funding the whole debt of the United States, and will enter upon an immediate and full consideration of the nature of such funds, and the most likely mode of obtaining them."

In these resolutions, Congress, feeble in actual power and resources, made no definite promises of present relief or future justice; and when General Knox, who had been appointed by the army to correspond with their committee, reported the facts, the discon- February 8, tent and dissatisfaction was quite as 1783.


great as before the action of Congress. Some thought it necessary to further make known their sentiments and enforce their claims, and to this end it was deemed advisable to act with energy. A plan was arranged among a few "for assembling the officers, not in mass, but by representation; and for passing a series of resolutions, which, in the hands of their committee, and of their auxiliaries in Congress, would furnish a new and powerful lever" of operation. Major John Armstrong,' General Gates's aid-de-camp, a young officer of six-and

1 Journals of Congress, viii., 82. The remainder of the report was referred to a committee consisting of Messrs. Mann, Osgood, Fitzsimmons, Gervais, Hamilton, and Wilson.

2 John Armstrong was born at Carlisle, in Pennsylvania, on the 25th of November, 1758. He was the youngest of two sons of General John Armstrong, of Carlisle, distinguished by his services in the French and Indian war in 1756. In 1775, at the most critical period of the American Revolution, young Armstrong, then a student of Princeton College, joined the army as a volunteer in Potter's Pennsylvania regiment. He was soon after appointed aid-de-camp by General Hugh Mercer, and remained with him till the connection was severed on the bloody field of Princeton by the death of his chief. He subsequently occupied the same position in the family of Major-general Gates, and served through the campaign which ended in the capture of Burgoyne. In 1780 he was made adjutant general of the Southern army, but falling sick of fever on the Pedee, was succeeded by Colonel Otho Williams, a short time previous to the defeat at Camden. Resuming his place as aid, he remained with General Gates till the close of the war. He was the author of the celebrated Newburgh Addresses, the object of which has been greatly misrepresented, and very generally misunderstood. They were intended to awaken in Congress and the States a sense of justice toward its creditors, particularly toward the army, then about to be disbanded without requital for its services, toils, and sufferings. General Washington, in 1797, bore testimony to the patriotic motives of the author.

Armstrong's first civil appointments were those of Secretary of the State of Pennsylvania, and adjutant general, under Dickenson's and Franklin's administrations; posts which he continued to occupy till 1787, when he was chosen a member of the old Congress. In the autumn of the same year, he was appointed by Congress one of the three judges for the Western Territory; this appointment he declined, and having married, in 1789, a sister of Chancellor Livingston, of New York, removed to that state. Here he purchased a farm, and devoted himself to agricultural pursuits; and, though offered by President Washington, in 1793, the place of United States supervisor of the collection of internal revenue in the State of New York, he declined this and other invitations to public office, until, in the year 1800, he was elected United States senator by an almost unanimous vote of both houses of the Legislature. Having resigned in 1802, he was again

Meeting of Officers privately called. Anonymous Address to the Army. Dangerous Tendency of its Recommendations. twenty, and possessing much ability, was chosen to write an address to the army suited to the subject; and this, with an anonymous notification of a meeting of the officers, was circulated privately." The address exhibits superior talents, and was calculated to make a deep impression upon the minds of the malcontents. Referring to his personal feelings, and his sacrifices for his country, the writer plays upon the sensibilities of his readers, and prepares their minds for a relinquishment of their faith in the justice of their country, already weakened by circumstances. Faith," he says, “ has its limits as well as temper, and there are points beyond which neither can be stretched without sinking into cowardice or plunging into credulity. This, my friends, I conceive to be your situation; hurried to the verge of both, another step would ruin you forever. To be tame and unprovoked, when injuries press hard upon you, is more than weakness; but to look up for kinder usage, without one manly effort of your own, would fix your character, and show the world how richly you deserved the chains you broke." He then takes a review of the past and present — their wrongs and their complaints—their petitions and the denials of redress and then says, "If this, then, be your treatment while the swords you wear are necessary for the defense of America, what have you to expect from peace, when your voice shall sink, and your strength dissipate by division; when those very swords, the instruments and companions of your glory, shall be taken from your sides, and no remaining mark of military distinction left but your wants, infirmities, and scars? Can you, then, consent to be the only sufferers by the Revolution, and, retiring from the field, grow old in poverty, wretchedness, and contempt ? Can you consent to wade through the vile mire of dependency, and owe the miserable remnant of that life to charity, which has hitherto been spent in honor? you can, go, and carry with you the jest of Tories and the scorn of Whigs; the ridicule, and, what is worse, the pity of the world! Go, starve, and be forgotten." The writer now changes from appeal to advice. "I would advise you, therefore," he says, "to come to some final opinion upon what you can bear and what you will suffer. If your determination be in proportion to your wrongs, carry your appeal from the justice to the fears of government. Change the milk-and-water style of your last memorial; assume elected in 1803, and, the year following, appointed by Mr. Jefferson minister plenipotentiary to France; which post, at a very critical period of our relations with that country, he filled with distinguished ability for more than six years, discharging incidentally the functions of a separate mission to Spain with which he was invested.


In 1812 he was appointed a brigadier general in the United States army, and commanded in the city of New York until called by Mr. Madison, in 1813, to the War Department. This office he accepted with reluctance, and with little anticipation of success to our arms. In effecting salutary changes in the army, by substituting young and able officers for the old ones who had held subordinate stations in the army of the Revolution, he made many enemies. The capture of the city of Washington in 1814 led to his retirement from office. Public opinion held him responsible for this misfortune, but, as documentary history has shown, without justice. No man took office with purer motives, or retired from it with a better claim to have faithfully discharged its duties.

General Armstrong died at his residence at Red Hook, N. Y., on the 1st of April, 1843, in the eightyfifth year of his age. He was among the remarkable men of a remarkable generation. The productions

of his pen entitle him to rank with the ablest writers of his time and country. These consist of a voluminous correspondence, diplomatic and military; a valuable treatise on agriculture, the result of some experience and much reading; and "Notices of the War of 1812," a work written with great vigor of style. The portrait of General Armstrong, printed on the preceding page, is from a painting in possession of his daughter, Mrs. William B. Astor, drawn from life by John Wesley Jarvis.

1 This notice was circulated on the 10th of March, 1783. It was in manuscript, as well as the anonymous address that followed. The originals were carried by a major, who was a deputy inspector under Baron Steuben, to the office of Barber, the adjutant general, where, every morning, aids-de-camp, majors of brigades, and adjutants of regiments were assembled, all of whom, who chose to do so, took copies and circulated them. Among the transcribers was the adjutant of the commander-in-chief's guard, who probably furnished him with the copies that were transmitted to Congress. The following is a copy of the anonymous notification :

"A meeting of the field officers is requested at the Public Building on Tuesday next at eleven o'clock. A commissioned officer from each company is expected, and a delegate from the medical staff. The object of this convention is to consider the late letter of our representatives in Philadelphia, and what measures (if any) should be adopted to obtain that redress of grievances which they seem to have solicited in vain."

Bold Tone of the Address. Similar Opinions held by Hamilton. Washington's Counteraction. Second anonymous Address.

a bolder tone, decent, but lively, spirited, and determined; and suspect the man who would advise to more moderation and longer forbearance. Let two or three men who can feel as well as write, be appointed to draw up your last remonstrance—for I would no longer give it the suing, soft, unsuccessful epithet of memorial." He advises them to talk boldly to Congress, and to warn that body that the slightest mark of indignity from then now would operate like the grave, to part them and the army forever; "that in any political event, the army has its alternative. If peace, that nothing shall separate you from your arms but death; if war, that, courting the auspices and inviting the direction of your illustrious leader, you will retire to some unsettled country, smile in your turn, and mock when their fear cometh on.' Let it represent, also, that should they comply with the request of your late memorial, it would make you more happy, and them more respectable."

March 11,

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A copy of these papers was put into the hands of the commander-in-chief on the day of their circulation, and he wisely determined to guide and control the proceedings thus begun, rather than to check and discourage them by any act of severity. In general orders the next morning, he referred to the anonymous papers and the meeting. He express1783. ed his disapprobation of the whole proceeding as disorderly; at the same time, he requested that the general and field officers, with one officer from each company, and a proper representation of the staff of the army, should assemble at twelve o'clock on Saturday the 15th, at the New Building (at which the other meeting was called), for the purpose of hearing the report of the committee of the army to Congress. He requested the senior officer in rank (General Gates) to preside at the meeting. On the appearance of this order, the writer of the anonymous address put forth another, rather more subdued in its tone, in which he sought to convince the officers that Washington approved of the scheme, the time of meeting only being changed. The design of this interpretation the commander-in-chief took care to frustrate, by conversing personally and individually with those officers in whose good sense and integrity he had confidence. He impressed their minds with a sense of the danger that must attend any rash act at such a crisis, inculcated moderation, and exerted all


1 This sentence, particularly alluded to by Washington in his address to the officers, was the one which drew down upon the head of the writer the fiercest anathemas of public opinion, and he alone has been held responsible for the suggestion that the army should use its power to intimidate Congress. Such a conclusion is unwarrantable. It is not likely that a young man of twenty-six, acting in the capacity of aid, should, without the promptings of men of greater experience who surrounded him, propose so bold a measIt is well known, too, that many officers, whose patriotism was never suspected, were privy to the preparation of the address, and suggested many of its sentiments; and there can be no reasonable doubt that General Gates was a prominent actor. Nor was the idea confined to that particular time and place. General Hamilton, one of the purest patriots of the Revolution, wrote to Washington from Philadelphia, a month before (February 7, 1783), on the subject of the grievances of the army, in which he held similar language. After referring to the deplorable condition of the finances, the prevailing opinion in the army "that the disposition to recompense their services will cease with the necessity for them," and lamenting "that appearances afford too much ground for their distrust," he held the following language: "It becomes a serious inquiry, What is the true line of policy? The claims of the army, urged with moderation but with firmness, may operate on those weak minds which are influenced by their apprehensions more than by their judgments, so as to produce a concurrence in the measures which the exigencies of affairs demand. They may add weight to the applications of Congress to the several states. So far, a useful turn may be given to them." What was this but "carrying their appeal from the justice to the fears of government?" Hamilton further remarked, that the difficulty would be "to keep a complaining and suffering army within the bounds of moderation;" and advised Washington not to discountenance their endeavors to procure redress, but, "by the intervention of confidential and prudent persons, to take the direction of them." Hamilton was at that time a member of Congress. In a letter to him, written on the 12th of March, Washington remarked that all was tranquillity in the camp until after the arrival from Philadelphia of “a certain gentleman" (General Walter Stewart), and intimated that the discontents in the army were made active by members of Congress, who wished to see the delinquent states thus forced to do justice. Hamilton, in reply, admitted that he had urged the propriety "of uniting the influence of the public creditors" (of whom the soldiers were the most meritorious) "and the army, to prevail upon the states to enter into their views."† But, while Hamilton held these views, he deprecated the idea of the army turning its power against the civil government. "There would be no chance of success," he said, "without having recourse to means

that would reverse our Revolution."

* See the Life of Hamilton, by his son, John C. Hamilton, ii., 47.

† Ibid., ii., 71.

Ibid., ii., 158.

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