George Washington Versus the Continental Army

Showdown at the New Windsor Cantonment, 1782–1783


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About the Book

The Revolutionary War was nearing its end in early 1783. In his Hudson Highlands stronghold, General Washington kept a wary eye on the British force in New York City, 60 miles away. His army, owed months of back pay, and his officers frustrated by the negotiations over their promised pension, chafed under martial authority.
A nationalist faction in Congress seized upon this discontent to instigate the Newburgh Conspiracy, a plot by Continental Army officers to menace civil officials who opposed the Impost, a 5% tax on imports to be collected by the central government, to satisfy the nation’s debts. The army—by this time a formidable force of seasoned veterans—was provoked into threatening the very liberties it had fought to defend. This book examines this last major crisis of the Revolution, when Washington stood between his men and the American people.

About the Author(s)

Michael S. McGurty is the historic site manager of New Windsor Cantonment & Knox’s Headquarters State Historic sites in New York. A retired infantry New York Army National Guard lieutenant colonel, he was one of the first military responders to the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001, and served two tours in Afghanistan as an advisor to the Afghan National Army.

Bibliographic Details

Michael S. McGurty
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 237
Bibliographic Info: 34 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9237-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5083-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Chapter 1. “The camp behind Snake Hill”: Introduction 5
Chapter 2. “The Timber was heavy and the work very fatiguing”: Constructing the Log City—Lieutenant Ebenezer Elmer, 2nd New Jersey Regiment 18
Chapter 3. “Our God and Soldier we like adore”: The Diverse Residents of the Camp 33
Chapter 4. “The service is much impeded, desertion vastly encreased, and the disposition of the Troops extremely soured, by the frequent want of Provisions”: The Failure of the Country to Provide for the Army and the Effect on Soldier Health 43
Chapter 5. “A tolerably decent appearance”: Clothing, Gear, Flags, and Identity 57
Chapter 6. “So usefull a Scheme”: The Temple of Virtue 77
Chapter 7. “Had this day been wanting, the world has never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining”: The Newburgh Conspiracy 92
Chapter 8. “Awakening again the spirit of Emulation and love of Military Parade”: Manning the Force and Training for Battle 118
Chapter 9. “No Military neglects or excesses shall go unpunished”: A Decline in Discipline and Increased Challenges to Authority 126
Chapter 10. “Retiring from the field of Glory with Joy in their countenances, but poverty in their pockets”: The Shameful Disbandment of the Continental Army 140
Chapter 11. Denouement: The Conclusion 147
Appendix 1. Organization of the Continental Army in New York and Northern New Jersey in 1782–83 165
Appendix 2. Paying the Continental Army 168
Appendix 3. Duty for the Lines 171
Appendix 4. Deaths at the New Windsor Cantonment 173
Appendix 5. The Two Anonymous Letters to the Officers of the Army and General Washington’s Response 175
Appendix 6. The Mountainville Hut 180
Chapter Notes 183
Bibliography 213
Index 221