Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to John De Barth Walbach, 17 April 1799

To John De Barth Walbach1

New York, April 17, 1799. “My object is to See exemplified the elementary evolutions of the Cavalry according to the Systems of Prussia,2 France,3 and Great Britain4 in order to compare them with each other and Select the best. For this purpose I wished you to instruct in those different evolutions a troop of Volunteer horse.… You will readily understand that I do not wish to extend your attention to the more complicated movements—but to the simple formation into Columns and display in line.”

Copy, in the handwriting of Ethan Brown, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Walbach, a native of Germany, had been appointed a lieutenant in the Light Dragoons on January 8, 1799 (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 298, 303).

2For the regulations of the Prussian cavalry, see Max Jähns, Geschichte der Kriegswissenschaften vornehmlich in Deutschland (Munich and Leipzig, 1891), 2607–38.

3Instruction provisoire arrêteé par le Roi concernant l’Exercice & les Manœuvres des Troupes à Cheval. Du 20 Mai 1788 (Paris: Imp. Royale, 1788) was amended by Changemens faits à l’Ordonnance provisoire concernant les Manœuvres des Troupes à Cheval. Formation et Ecole d’Escadron (Paris: Imp. Royale, 1789). Both documents were published in a single volume in several editions before being replaced in 1798 by Instruction concernant l’Exercice et les Manœuvres des Troupes à Cheval, Rédigée sur les Ordonnances actuellement en activité, et suivie de Cent trente sept Planches (Paris: Magimel, 1798), which was modeled on the 1788–1789 rules. A separate volume of plates entitled Planches relatives à l’Instruction concernant l’Exercise et les Manœuvres des Troupes à Cheval … (Paris: Magimel, 1798) was published as a supplement to the 1798 edition. Although the 1788 edition mentioned the volume of plates, that volume was not published until 1798.

4[Sir David Dundas], Instructions and Regulations for the Formation and Movements of the Cavalry (London: Printed for the War Office by T. Egerton, n.d.). An order of June 17, 1796, made this work the official manual for the British cavalry.

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