When it was necessary, peace-loving as he was, Washington could fight. His clear sense of the thing that must not be done as well as the thing that must be done was what made him of such value both as General and as President.
This incident shows his strength, his firmness, and his quickness to act. At one time, Colonel Glover's Marblehead soldiers and Morgan's Virginia riflemen had fallen into a disgraceful quarrel. The Virginians had laughed at the somewhat peculiar dialect and the short round jackets of the fishermen soldiers; the Marbleheaders, on the other hand, had made fun of the hunting-shirts and leggings of the riflemen.
The two regiments had gone on from words to blows, until at last, as Washington rode up, they were in full riot.
In an instant Washington's practiced eye took in the situation. Leaping from his horse, and throwing the bridle to his servant Pompey, who stood near, he dashed into the midst of the fight, seized two of the biggest, brawniest of the riflemen by their throats, and holding them at arm's length, shook them, until with surprise and breathlessness they were glad to cry for quarter.
Then, quietly giving orders that the two men be taken to their camps and that there should be no more quarreling between the two regiments, he rode away, leaving all—officers and soldiers—blank with amazement at this sudden outburst from their commander-in-chief.