The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

From General Robert Howe

Your letter my Dear Friend Reachd me a few days since & was receivd as a pleasing Testimony that a man I so truly regard & love had not forgotten me tho' involved in Business & perplexity sufficient to apologize for any neglect of Correspondence. I feel exceedingly for your situation. I always thought it would be vexatious & embarassing and would keep you continually at all you could do, but strongly as I had painted this to myself, your letter gives me reason to think it is still much worse than I feared. I feel for you be assur'd Every thing sympathizing Friendship can induce; for your happiness can suffer no Diminution without a very sensible wound to mine. At the same time that I say this I can not wish you from thence, for as I know no man that could have been sent so capable of Encountering the Difficulties you mention. I should Condemn my self could I wish you away. I am sorry you have not met with Colo Drayton. I am persuaded you would have found him what I wrote you of him, and I really am anxious to serve him. I the more wonder at your not seeing him, as I mention'd in a letter to him that I had recommended him to your notice. Had I not long since got over being surprised at any political Operation; I should wonder at the Information you give me respecting parties, not that they Existed but at their existing between the characters you mention. Your method of conducting your self upon this occasion I highly applaud, & I hope and doubt not its good effect.
We also have had our Embarassments, the sources of them I need not enumerate to you. [Things?] have principally sprang from those causes you, and I, have so frequently Descanted upon, & most of them have been by us foretold, & expected. You can not but have heard of the mutiny of the whole Pensylvania line, & the murder of some of their officiers & Brother soldiers who offered to support the officers. Our Good General was desirous of Coercing them, a party was form'd for this purpose, and the command was to have been mine, But Civil Authority took the management of this matter to themselves. A Treaty was open'd with them, Even while they had arms in their hands, and the affair has been Quieted as I am informed at the loss of at least one half of the Division by Discharges; & that the murders committed were not attoned for nor are they to be atton'd for. The mode fallen upon where original inlistments could not be found (How few of which Exist at this time) was to take the soldiers oath in his own cause, the consequence of which you know & will I persuade myself agree with me in opinion, that perjury had authority to become frequent.
Whilst this was Transacting the Jesey line caught the Infection, & went off in a Body. The General Instantly order'd, me off with a Detachment, the Result of which the enclos'd copy of my letter to him will inform you. I have often in conversation mentioned to you the good opinion I had of, & the confidence I plac'd in the New England Troops but highly as I thought of them, they have Exalted themselves exceedingly with me by their conduct in the Expedition against the Insurgents. The service was peculiar. It was not against a common Enemy, but against a Brother soldier who held out as the object of his aim only a redress of Grievances, while they were actually suffering under similar grievances; to Rise superior to the feelings which those reflections could not but Excite, plainly Demonstrates that a sense of duty & love of their Country, precedes with them every other considera tion, and it should pull from community its applause, rewards & blessings. I think to write to Mr Hancock upon this subject tomorrow or next day, & this, or something like this, will I say to him.
When the General upon the Pennsylvania revolt call'd all the General Officers together, & all the Field Officers of the [ ] New England Line, and asked their opinion whether the men would march cheerfully on, & Act faithfully in such a service, will it not Excite your Indignation to be told that any person should Express doubts upon the Occasion, and yet there were two, or three, & those high up who not only doubted, but urged that the men had greatly suffer'd, that they had grievances, that this was to be feared, & 'tother apprehended, in short Buggaboo's & Hobgoblins, started up in their fancys, which however well meant, I did not approve, tho' I regard the men who uttered them.
I pledged, myself, to the General that the men, would go, and that they would acquit themselves, just as they did & in this opinion I was supported by Every officer, those above mentioned Excepted.
The States have not (I mean some of them) seconded Congress in their Efforts to obtain an army for the war, and the policy of Three years men appears to be the prevailing System. I only wish that they have no reason to regret it. Remember me very particularly to your Family. Write to me often, very often, I beg of you. Be as happy as I wish you, and you will be very happy indeed. I am, my Dear sir, with affection & friendship

Yours sincerely &c.

Robt Howe

PS Dont complain of my bad writing for I have done my best, but learn to read it.
Autograph letter signed (NjP) 7 pp.