Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from John F. Hamtramck, 5 February 1800

From John F. Hamtramck

Pittsburgh February 5th. 1800


The reason of my troubling you with this Letter, is that I had calculated on receiving Orders from you on some points that were mentioned in some of my Letters to General Wilkinson; this opinion was founded on the difficulty of my hearing from that General occasioned by the very great distance between us.1 It is also not improbable that some of my Letters may be obscure to you, tho inteligible to him, his knowing well their text; and least it should be the case I will observe that when I wrote him on the organization of the Troops, I alluded to the organization he had ordered2 of the 1st. 2 and 3d Regiments; some Companies of one were to be transfered to another, as also some Officers—but by a subsequent Order3 he directed me not to do anything in it till further Orders. The Secretary of War having he said objected to the organization;4 in this was also comprehended the relief of Detroit next Spring by the 1st Regiment, and a part of that Garrison was directed to be transfered to the first Regiment, which made me say to him in my Letter of the 20th ultimo5 (a copy of which I have had the honor to send you) that his having directed me to do nothing in the organization till further orders, had also prevented me from doing anything in the movements which were to take place in the Spring, for the latter was so much connected with the organization that it was impossible to execute one without interfering with the other. The General in his arrangements had himself appointed the Pay Master, Qr. Master and Adjutants of the 1st & 2d Regiments, which circumstance made me observe to him in my Letter of the 1st of December, that I believed a Pay Master had been elected in the 2d Regiment, and that one was probably nominated in the 1st—that in either case I wished to know if those he had appointed were to be, or the others.6 Since which I have received information that one had actually been appointed in the 2d Regiment, the information of which I had the honor of communicating to you some time ago.7

I should long ago have had the honor of writing you on the subject, and detailing such inconveniences as appeared to me to Exist at the time I received his orders, and of those measures which appeared to be the best calculated to promote the arrangements he wished for; but as I no more considered myself intitled to your immediate correspondence, and only the organ of General Wilkinson I declined it.

I have the honor to be sir with very great Respect   your most obedient and very humble servant

J. Hamtramck

Major General Hamilton

P.S. Lieut Payton,8 the Q M of the 1st Regt is now in the States. I want him very much.

LS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1James Wilkinson’s headquarters were at Natchez, Mississippi Territory, and Hamtramck’s headquarters were at Pittsburgh. When Hamtramck wrote the letter printed above, Wilkinson was at sea between Havana and New Orleans on the return trip to his headquarters after conferring with H and James McHenry in Trenton, New Jersey. See Wilkinson to H, December 15 (two letters), 22, 1799, January 20, February 12, 1800.

2For Wilkinson’s instructions to Hamtramck, see Wilkinson to Hamtramck, November 6, 1799 (copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). In this letter Wilkinson also wrote: “Your command is to extend from Niagara to Massac inclusive, & your own station will be at Pitts Burgh—but you are to make no transfers or changes of position, which have not been expressly authorized.…” For Wilkinson’s proposals for shifts in personnel and companies, see H to James McHenry, October 31, 1799. See also Wilkinson to H, September 6, 1799, note 22.

3This order has not been found, but see Wilkinson to H, November 21, 1799.

5See Hamtramck to Wilkinson, January 20, 1800, enclosed in Hamtramck to H, January 20, 1800 (listed in the appendix to this volume).

6See Hamtramck to Wilkinson, December 1, 1799, enclosed in Hamtramck to H, December 1, 1799 (listed in the appendix to this volume).

7On January 20, 1800, Hamtramck wrote to Wilkinson: “Second Lieut Jno [John] Wilson of the 2d Regiment of Infantry has been nominated a Pay Master by his Colonel and a number of the Officers.…”

8On April 30, 1799, Yelverton Peyton, a lieutenant in the First Infantry Regiment, wrote from Philadelphia to H: “In obedience to an order of the Honble James McHenry Secy of War, of the 15th Inst I have the honor to report myself as Leiutenant & Qr Master of the 1st US. Regiment of Infantry, on leave of absence for recovery of my health. I am at present unfit for duty.… I have now to request of you, a furlough for the reestablishment of my health only.” In a letter dated May 2, 1799, H granted Peyton’s request. On October 7 and November 20, 1799, Peyton wrote to H that he was prepared to report for duty on January 1, 1800. On January 6, 1800, H instructed Peyton to report to Major Jonathan Cass of the Third Regiment of Infantry, at Wilmington, Delaware, and “take his orders.” All the letters mentioned above are listed in the appropriate appendices of the volumes of The Papers of Alexander Hamilton.

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