Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from George Washington, 26 October 1794

From George Washington

Susquehanna Wrights Ferry1 [Pennsylvania] 26th Oct

Dear Sir,

I little advanced of this, yesterday afternoon, I met an Express with the letters herewith enclosed for you, with others for the Army; with which I have directed him to proceed.

Thus far I have proceeded without accident to Man, horse or Carriage, altho’ the latter has had wherewith to try its goodness; especially in ascending the North Mountain from Skinners2 by a wrong road; that is by the old road which (never was good) and is rendered next to impassable by neglect.

I heard great complaints of Gurneys Corps3 (& some of the Artillery) along the road to Strasburgh. There I parted from their Rout. In some places, I was told they did not leave a plate, a spoon, a glass or a knife; and this owing, in a great measure I was informed, to their being left without Officers. At most if not all the encampments, I found the fences in a manner burnt up. I pray you to mention this to Govr. Mifflin (and indeed to the Qr. Mr. General)4 with a request (to the former) that the most pointed orders may be given, and every precaution used, to prevent the like on the return of the Army. If the Officers, from impatience to get home, should leave their respective commands; in a word, if they do not march with, and keep the Soldiers in their ranks and from stragling or loitering behind, the borderers on that road will sustain inconceivable damage from the disorderly Troops; whose names will be execrated for, and the service disgrac⟨ed⟩ by, such conduct.

There were some letters put into the hands of Govr. Lee5 which it would be well for you to repossess yourself of. Among these were two to Messrs. Lynn6 Mr Ross’7 to you8 and Messrs. Findley’s and Redicks’9 to me. Occasion may require the⟨m.⟩

I rode yesterday afternoon thro’ the rain from York Town to this place, and got twice in the height of it, hung, (and delayed by that means) on the rocks in the middle of the Susquehanna, but I did not feel half as much for my own situation as I did on acct. of the Troops on the Mountains, and of the effect the rain might have on the Roads through the glades.10

I do not intend further than Lancaster today. But on Tuesday, if no accident happens I expect to be landed in the City of Philadelphia. My best wishes attend you, and all with you.

Yours sincerely

Go: Washington

P.S. I hope you will be enabled by Hook, or by Crook, to send B——11 and H——12 together with a certain Mr. Guthrie,13 to Philadelphia for their winter Quarters.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Wright’s Ferry was one of the first ferries on the Susquehanna River and for many years the most important one on the lower part of the river. It was named for John Wright, a Quaker who came from Chester County, Pennsylvania, and settled on the east bank of the river, where Columbia now stands (John Gibson, ed., History of York County, Pennsylvania, from the Earliest Period to the Present Time, Divided into General, Special, Township and Borough Histories, with a Biographical Department Appended [Chicago, 1886], 595).

2The place known as Skinner’s was situated approximately three miles west of Strasburg at the foot of North Mountain in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. It was named for John Skinner, who in 1786 under contract from the Pennsylvania General Assembly built a road which was part of the new public road from Strasburg to Burnt Cabins. In 1789 Skinner was one of three commissioners appointed to review and mark out the road from Bedford to Pittsburgh (M. K. Burgner, “The Early Traveled Highways about Upper Strasburg,” Kittochtinny Historical Society. Papers Read before the Society. May, 1922 to March 1st, 1929 [n.p., 1929], X, 412–13; E. H. Blackburn and W. H. Welfley, History of Bedford and Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania, with Genealogical and Personal History … [New York, 1906], II, 192).

3Colonel Francis Gurney was commander of the New Jersey brigade of infantry. On October 27, 1794, Governor Richard Howell of New Jersey issued the following division orders: “The troops of New Jersey are scandalized by the petty pilferings of a few who dishonor their fathers and their state, and every individual suffers for the faults of a few. All are hereby instructed to suppress the ignominious practice.” Regimental orders of the same date read as follows: “… the officers commanding companies should be made accountable for the damage done by their companies to the inhabitants, and the officers commanding platoons are strictly ordered to keep their platoons properly dressed on their march, and that no man leave their ranks without leave of his officer” (“Journal by Major William Gould,” description begins “Journal by Major William Gould, of the New Jersey Infantry, During an Expedition into Pennsylvania in 1794,” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, III (1849). description ends 183–84).

4Clement Biddle.

5Governor Henry Lee of Virginia, commander in chief of the militia army.

6John Lynn had been deputy inspector of the excise in Washington County, Pennsylvania. In 1791 he had been forced by opponents of the excise to resign.

7James Ross was a Federalist politician and lawyer from Washington, Pennsylvania. On August 6, 1794, Washington had appointed him one of the United States commissioners to confer with representatives of the insurgents. See H and Henry Knox to Washington, August 5, 1794, note 3.

8Letter not found.

9William Findley and David Redick. See Washington to Edmund Randolph, October 11, 1794.

13James Guthrie was an opponent of the excise laws.

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