To James McHenry
Trenton1 October 12. 1799
It is now time to contemplate the distribution of the Troops of the UStates into Divisions and Brigades. The arrangement which appears to me expedient for the present is this—“That the four old Regiments shall form One Division and two Brigades2 the twelve new ones Two Divisions and four Brigades.”
The very great sphere of action to which the former are destined, including important and complicated objects, appears to me to render it expedient that not more than two Regiments shall constitute a Brigade. But the latter ’till there should be actual service, when the system supposes that the number of each Regiment would be increased, may for the mere purposes of discipline and arrangement, be conveniently formed three to a Brigade. The disposition for Winter Quarters3 accords with this idea.
Correspondent Officers should be appointed; who are principally Generals Quarter Masters and Inspectors.
The latter are of the competency of the Inspector General who will proceed without delay to make the appointments.
If the non appointment of the Quarter Master General provided for by the Act of the 3d. of March last for the better organising of the Army4 or the absence of the former Quarter Master General5 be an impediment to the regular course of constituting a Deputy Quarter Master General to each Military District and Division and Brigade Quarter a substitute must be adopted.
Usage, founded on necessity in similar cases, would authorise each Commanding General to designate persons provisionly to perform the duties. But he cannot annex the extra compensation and without this or the expectation of it the business would labour.
I request your Interposition. I deem essential the immediate appointment within my command of a Deputy Quarter Master General and one Division and two Brigade Quarter Masters and I will observe incidentaly that the same thing must be requisite within the Command of General Pinckney.6
As to Generals, The President must decide. With the Western Army there is no Major General and only one Brigadier.7 Two Brigadiers were appointed for the Additional Army, but no more than one is understood to have accepted.8 I am anxious that the deficiency should be supplied. The discipline of the Troops ought to be accelerated. It must suffer more or less as often as one organ is transferred from its proper situation to another.
I entreat a prompt decision on the subject of Quarter Masters.
With great respect I have the honor to be Sir Yr. Obed ser
PS I beg to remind you of the appointment of ⟨a⟩ Major for the 12th. Regt.9
James Mc.Henry Esq
ADf, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. See H to McHenry, first letter of October 12, 1799, note 1.
2. See “Organization proposed for the first Division of Infantry in the Army of the United States consisting of the 1st 2d 3d & 4th Regiments formed into two Brigades” (D, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). H endorsed this document “Proposed Organisation.”
5. This is a reference to John Wilkins, Jr.
6. See H to McHenry, first letter of October 12, 1799, note 10.
7. James Wilkinson.
8. H is mistaken. Four brigadier generals were originally nominated on July 13, 1798, by President Adams: John Brooks of Massachusetts, William Washington of South Carolina, Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey, and William S. Smith of New York (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 292). The Senate refused to confirm Smith (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 293), and on July 19, 1799, William North was named in his place (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 293). Dayton and Brooks refused their appointments; Washington and North accepted.
9. Christopher Hutton had declined to accept a commission as the second major in the Twelfth Regiment. Lieutenant Colonel William S. Smith had recommended first Theodosius Fowler and then Captain Dowe J. Fondey for the post. Since H and Smith disagreed over this change in Smith’s recommendation, the matter was submitted to Adams. See H to McHenry, June 22, 1799, note 2.
On June 25, 1799, McHenry sent to Adams copies of H’s letters of May 7, 1799, and May 22, 1799 (listed in the appendix to this volume), together with extracts of Smith to H, May 16, June 18, 1799 (both listed in the appendix to this volume), and recommended that Fondey be given the promotion (ALS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston). On July 1, 1799, Adams wrote to McHenry: “If you believe Fonda has a shade in his favor, you are at liberty to appoint him …” (LC, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston). McHenry acknowledged receipt of this letter on July 6, 1799 (ALS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston), but took no action on the matter until he received H’s letter printed above. In his reply, October 15, 1799 (listed in the appendix to this volume), McHenry reminded H that he had recommended Fondey’s promotion in his letter to H of July 8, 1799, which has not been found, and that he had been waiting for H’s answer. He then stated: “As you have not advised to the contrary, I transmit to you his letter of appointment and request that you would have the same forwarded. Should you have any objection … you will be pleased to return it.”