In 1783, in the stronghold of the Hudson Highlands during the latter years of the American Revolution, General George Washington kept a wary eye on the British force in the city of New York, 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.
The book George Washington Versus the Continental Army: Showdown at the New Windsor Cantonment, 1782-1783 (McFarland, 2023) by Michael S. McGurty examines this last major crisis of the American Revolution, when George Washington stood between his men and the American people.
Michael 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 11th, 2001 and served two tours in Afghanistan as an advisor to the Afghan National Army.
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