Pennsylvania Line Mutiny

Pennsylvania was at the center of the Revolutionary War. It was the state in which Independence was declared from Great Britain, as it housed the First and Second Continental Congress. It was also the state in which such famous battles as Valley Forge and the Battle of Brandywine. By the 1780s, the British Army had turned its attention to the southern states, leaving Pennsylvania without much military conflict. One major event that did happen, was the Pennsylvania Line Mutiny.

Throughout the Revolutionary War, the Pennsylvania soldiers endured great turmoil. They were badly fed, poorly clothed, received little to no pay for their military service, and had to endure the hardships of a northern winter. On New Years Day in 1781, several regiments of soldiers on the Pennsylvania Line armed themselves and prepared to leave camp without permission. While there was little bloodshed, General Wayne realized there was nothing he could have done to stop the 2000 soldiers from leaving camp, so he let them go. The soldiers complaints dealt with the terms of enlistment in the colonial army. Enlistment was suppressed to be for three years or until the end of the war. The soldiers believed that it was which ever came first, while the government claimed it was either or.

The British General Sir Henry Clinton tried to get the mutineers to join the British Army by offering them large rewards. The soldiers were loyal to the Colonial Army and still considered themselves Patriots. The messengers from the British Army were charged as spies and hanged. General Wayne and the President of Pennsylvania Joseph Reed met with the leaders of the mutiny, and eventually were able to come to an agreement. To make up for back payment, the soldiers agreed to accept certificates instead of colonial money that was not worth much. The certificates could be exchanged for full value at another time. Also all men that had served three years were granted an honorrable discharge. Two-thirds of the discharged soldiers would go on to reenlist. This event was significant, because it was the most successful insurrection by the Colonial Army during the Revolutionary War.


A picture depicting the Pennsylvania Line Mutiny.


Photo Source: digitalgallery.nypl.orgĀ 

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