Source Documents - PA Line Mutiny

Notes and Acknowledgments

The primary source for this article is the Pennsylvania Archives, Second Series Volume XI.  Published in 1880, this book (though in somewhat delicate condition) is the best source for the Pennsylvania Line’s mutiny.  Anyone doing further research on the subject should turn here first.  The copy I found was located in the stacks of the Pattee Library, University Park, PA.  Much of Carl Van Doren’s book Mutiny in January comes directly from that volume.  Van Doren’s work is a readable narrative of the mutiny – anyone looking for a general overview of the entire event should find a copy of it.

The works by Rosswurm, Carp and Neimeyer were helpful as general information for the Continental Army during the war.  They examine the big picture, and include specific information about the Pennsylvania Line’s mutiny.

Those sources I used concerning patriotism and American consciousness were only moderately helpful.  I found what I expected when I started – an unwillingness on the part of authors to tackle the definition of “patriotism,” or to assign that label to anyone throughout history.  By no means do I blame them, as it is typically just a controversial tool of rhetoric.

Most of my research and focus came thanks to the help of Eric Novotny, Humanities Librarian and Coordinator of the Arts and Humanities Library Reference Collections and Services.  Dr. William Pencak, Professor of American History at the Pennsylvania State University, provided similar help and recommended a number of volumes that were invaluable to my research.

This article encapsulates about six months of on and off research.  It is not as ambitious as originally conceived, but hopefully remains an educational and accurate piece of history, on an often unaddressed event in American history.


PASS vol. XI (p. 631):  This is the January 1st, 1783 entry from the diary of Capt. Joseph McClellan of the 9th  Pennsylvania regiment.  It describes the beginning of the revolt. Also, the editors included further research volumes.  The January 2nd entry is also shown in the document image.

View PASS vol. XI (p. 631) PDF

PASS vol. XI (p. 633-634):  This document shows the grievances delivered to Wayne on January 4th by the board of sergeants.  It directly reflects the problems which the soldiers wanted redressed.  The document also includes Wayne’s reply and attempt to end the mutiny.

View PASS vol. XI (p. 633-634)  PDF

PASS vol. XI (p. 649):  This is a letter dated January 7th from President Joseph Reed of Pennsylvania to the Committee of Congress where he mentions the soldiers’ refusal of the British offer of defection.

View PASS vol. XI (p. 649)  PDF

PASS vol. XI (p. 660-661):   This is a letter dated January 8th  from Philadelphia from Matthias Slough to Jasper Yeats.  Slough mentions the particulars of the revolt up to that point and the refusal of the soldiers to listen to British offers of defection.

View PASS vol. XI (p. 660-661)  PDF

Stille’s Wayne (p.118-119):   This is a letter by Anthony Wayne dated February 8th, 1778. It illustrates the poor clothing and supply condition of the Pennsylvania soldiers even three years before the general mutiny.

View Stille’s Wayne (p.118-119):  

Sparks’ Washington’s Writings (p. 352-354):   This is a circular letter from General Washington dated January 5th, 1781 pleading with the governors of various states to take better care of their soldiers, lest the recent mutiny should spread to the rest of the Continental Army.

View Sparks’ Washington’s Writings (p. 352-354)  PDF

Reed’s The Life of Reed (p. 313-315):  This is a letter from Anthony Wayne to President Reed where he refers to his soldiers as a “skeleton of an army.”

View Reed’s The Life of Reed (p. 313-315)  PDF