Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to James McHenry, 31 July 1799

To James McHenry

N. York July 31st. 1799


I have the honor to transmit the proceedings of two General Courts Martial in the cases of Capt. Frye & Doctor Osborne1 with transcripts of general Orders containing my opinion concerning them.2

You will observe the ill use which has been made by Capt. Frye of a correspondence with you, and my remark on that point.3 It is understood that this circumstance had weight with the Court.4

With great respect &c

Secy. of War

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

1Although these proceedings have not been found, McHenry sent transcripts of the records of the courts-martial of Frederick Frye and Samuel Osborne to H on August 14, 1799 (in a letter listed in the appendix to this volume). These transcripts are in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

2These general orders have not been found.

3Although some of the relevant documents have not been found, it is possible to reconstruct the events which caused H to rebuke McHenry.

On October 8, 1799, Major Adam Hoops, commanding officer at Fort Jay, New York, charged that Captain Frye had been guilty of, among other things, “mustering early in the month of February last the detachment or company of the first regiment of artillerists and Engineers in garrison at Fort Jay Himself” (copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, enclosed in McHenry to H, March 14, 1799 [listed in the appendix to this volume]). During the court-martial proceedings, Frye maintained that he had acted under the authority granted to him by McHenry in a letter dated January 10, 1799. McHenry’s letter to Frye has not been found, but see McHenry to H, August 2, 1799. For Osborne’s court-martial and an earlier court-martial of Frye on different charges, see McHenry to H, January 29, 1799; H to McHenry, second letter of March 18, 1799, notes 4 and 5.

4This letter was enclosed in the letter to McHenry of the same date printed below.

Index Entries