Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Henry Knox, 18 April 1793

To Henry Knox

Treasury Department
April 18. 1793


The requests contained in your letter of the 15 of April have been complied with.1

There are two points arising out of the Estimate of the Qr. Master General,2 which you transmitted, to which I beg leave to call your attention.

One Item of Expenditure in the estimate is 450 Pack-Horses. It has been noticed to me by the Accounting Officers of the Treasury, that there appear to have been already expended in the purchase of this article a large sum by the present Qr. Master’s Department. And it is recollected that a very considerable number of horses were purchased and paid for, for the use of the Campaign under General St Clair,3 a great part of which survived the Campaign and it is understood were put out to be recruited for future service.

This renders it desireable that Inquiry should be made what ultimately became of those horses—what are the calculations of the quantity of transportation for which so extensive a provision of pack-horses is intended?

I submit also to your consideration whether under the prospects of the Campaign the provision need be made at once to the extent contemplated or may be made successively, so always as to be in measure for ulterior operations. The maintenance of a superfluous number of Packhorses, when not required for service, has an objectionable side on the score of expence. Whether the procuring them much sooner than they will be wanted may not have other inconveniences is for you to determine.

In making these suggestions, I certainly do not mean to throw any impediment in the way of timely preparation. This is a primary idea. But if expence can be saved by a delay in providing not injurious, it is of course to be desired.

Another item in the estimate of the Qr. Master General is 12000 Dollars for pay of his Department to the 1st of July.

This sum appears considerable especially as seperate sums are estimated for Horse Masters Waggon Masters and Drivers. No light on this head can be obtained from any accounts heretofore rendered at the Treasury. I understood you that none was possessed by your department.

Hence the necessity of an inquiry into the circumstances.

With respect & esteem I have the honor to be Sir Your Obedt serv

The Secretary at War

ADf, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

1Letter not found. H had acquired the responsibility for “all purchases and contracts for supplying the army with provisions, clothing, supplies in the quartermaster’s department, military stores, Indian goods, and all other supplies or articles for the use of the department of war” in 1792 when these functions had been removed from the War Department and lodged in the Treasury Department under the terms of “An Act making alterations in the Treasury and War Departments” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 279–81 [May 8, 1792]). See also H to George Washington, August 10, 1792.

2James O’Hara had replaced Samuel Hodgdon as quartermaster general of the Army in April, 1792. O’Hara and his deputy quartermaster general, John Belli, were engaged in supplying provisions to the troops at Pittsburgh and at the forts along the Ohio and Great Miami rivers.

3After the defeat of Major General Arthur St. Clair by the Indians in November, 1791, plans had been made for a new campaign against the western tribes. “An Act for making farther and more effectual Provision for the Protection of the Frontiers of the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 241–43 [March 5, 1792]) had increased the forces on the frontier and provided for a virtual reorganization of the Army. In April, 1792, Major General Anthony Wayne was appointed commanding officer to superintend the reorganization and training of the Army in preparation for a new Indian campaign. Although Indian attacks continued on the frontier during 1792, the campaign was delayed awaiting the outcome of peace negotiations with the Indians at a proposed conference in the summer of 1793. See George Washington to H, February 17, 1793; “Conversation with George Hammond,” November 22, December 15–28, 1792; H to Hammond, December 29, 1792; “Cabinet Meeting. Opinion Respecting the Proposed Treaty with the Indians Northwest of the Ohio,” February 25, 1793.

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