“The General no doubt had good reason for his course,” said Kinnison. “He believed it to be his duty to do everything for the safety of the men he commanded, and expecting to be assailed by a much larger force than his own, he did right to destroy the foes he had in camp. I know it must have shocked his feelings to give the order, but he was a man who couldn’t shrink or be driven from the plain line of duty. Now, there was that affair with the Pennsylvania line, at Morristown. I’ve heard several men who were at Morristown at the time, say that Wayne was wrong in daring to oppose the mutineers—that their demands were just and reasonable, and he ought rather to have led, than opposed them. But every man who knows anything of the duty of a general and a patriot must applaud Wayne.”
“Can’t you give us an account of that mutiny at Morristown?” enquired Hand.
THE MUTINY AT MORRISTOWN.
“I can tell you what was told me by men who engaged in it,” said Kinnison. “For myself, I was at that time, with the Massachusetts troops at Middlebrook. The Pennsylvania line, numbering about two thousand men, was stationed at the old camp ground at Morristown. Most of these men believed that their term of service expired at the end of the year 1779, though Congress and some of the generals thought otherwise, or that the men were enlisted to serve until the end of the war. This difficulty about the term of enlistment was the seed of the mutiny. But there were many other things that would have roused any other men to revolt. The Pennsylvanians had not received any pay for twelve months, and during the severest part of the fall, they suffered for the want of food and clothing. To expect men to bear such treatment and remain in the army when there was the slightest pretext for leaving, it was building on a sandy foundation. Patriotism and starvation were not as agreeable to common soldiers as they were to some members of Congress. Even some of the officers—men who depended upon their pay to support their families while fighting for liberty—grumbled at the conduct of those who should have supplied them. This gave the men courage, and they determined to act boldly. They appointed a serjeant-major their major-general, and at a given signal on the morning of the 1st of January, the whole line, except a part of three regiments, paraded under arms, and without their regular officers, marched to the magazines, supplied themselves with provisions and ammunition, and secured six field-pieces, to which they attached horses from General Wayne’s stables. The regular officers collected those who had not joined the mutineers, and tried to restore order; but some of the mutineers fired, killed Captain Billings, and, I believe, wounded several of his men. They then ordered those who remained with the officers to join them or meet death by the bayonet, and they obeyed. Then General Wayne appeared, and, by