Changing the Course of History Part 2 Mutiny

Rocks on a Hillside or a Grave? pen sketch by Wendy Harty Jan 2021

“Where you going”?


Home” came the answer!

George Washington was the commander of the entire Continental Army. Conditions for the army were deplorable. He wrote many letters citing the corruptions and lack of concern on the part of state governments and the part the Continental Congress played in fostering the poor conditions. There were many mutinies especially towards the end of the war. Back in the cold harsh winter of 1781, there was the Pompton Mutiny, a revolt of Continental Army troops. About 300 soldiers were incited to riot after consuming copious amounts of liquor, in an encampment where they had wearied of the war. George Washington ordered a troop from West Point who surrounded and surprised the mutineers. In a deep woods, on a bleak and desolate mountain ridge two crude piles of rocks marks the spots of the dishonored graves. The 300 men gave an unconditional surrender and the two instigators were executed on the spot by firing squad by twelve of their tearful former soldiers. The troops were penitent and contrite.

That winter there was also the Pennsylvania Line Mutiny. Pennsylvania was very stingy. If you served under Pennsylvania for three years you received $20 bounty. The fight was over the enlistment terms. Congress said that soldiers were bound to serve for the duration of the war if the war lasted more than three years. The soldiers were demanding higher pay and better housing conditions. Clinton fighting on the British side offered the Pennsylvanians their pay from British purses if they gave up the rebel cause. The Pennsylvanians were too patriotic to accept the British offer. The British envoys were hung for treason! Philadelphia was about to prepare and ratify the Articles of Confederation. The troops had gathered food, supplies and horses with the intention to march on Congress. Were they just a peaceful protest or not? They didn’t get to find out for after a month The Pennsylvania Council negotiated with the leaders of the mutiny which proved satisfactory. The soldiers won and returned to fight for the Continental Army.

A mutiny at the end of the war again with Pennsylvania who failed to protect the United States Congress was the primary reason why the framers of the Constitution decided to create a federal district. 400 soldiers mobbed their Congress demanding payment. The soldiers blocked the door and refused to allow the delegates to leave. With the ending of the War and the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788, Congress created the District of Columbia, to serve as the new federal capital. This is where January 6, 2021 another mob stormed Congress. I wonder what George Washington would do? Today is February 9, 2021 and a trial is underway today using the words incite, insurrection and impeachment.

Jan 6, 2021 Congress, Washington D.C.

The following letter was originally re-discovered by Mrs. Guy McCabe, of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in the Valley Forge Museum. It was written by my 4th Great Grandfather Isaac Gibbs at Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. Paragraph 2:

Army Camp, at Valley Forge, PA, March 5th, 1778 Loving Brother (probably Thomas Gibbs) During our stay here our men began to mistrust they were going to the southward to join General Washington, and began to be very uneasy and we determined, some of them, not to cross the North River again, and on the 5th in November (1777), at night a number out of our third New Hampshire Regiment those slung their packs and paraded in order to march home. This soon was known, and the officers of the Regiment began to stir about to know what was the route, and more forward than the rest, went out to meet them, and coming up to a man who was at the head of the party, demanded of him who he was and where he was going. Being told, “Home,” he immediately drew his sword, and run it through the whole charge. – through Captain Beal’s body. They both dropped to the ground, and the party went peaceably to their barracks again. These two men died the next day.

Dear Great Great Great Great Grandfather Isaac Gibbs: I imagine the story of the mutiny just before you reached Valley Forge may have had something to do with you putting on a cheerful countenance, Paragraph 5 of your letter reads: It is very remarkable that our troops, amidst all their hardships which they suffered, still keep a steady, solid fortitude of mind so much so that General Washington, a few days ago proclaimed his public thanks to the whole of General Poore’s Brigade for their peaceable and man-like behavior. I always believed an “atta boy” gives a lot of encouragement to keep moving forward. You stayed with the army and served for eight years until your discharge March 21st, 1780. I find this a remarkable feat of courage, resiliency and fortitude. Atta boy!

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