Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to James Wilkinson, 5 March 1800

To James Wilkinson1

New York March 5. 1800


Col Hamtramck has transmitted me copies of letters from him to you of the 24 & 26th of November2 1,3 204 and 255 of December.

A definitive organization of the four Regiments of the old establishment has been made by the Department of War of which the inclosed is a copy & must govern.6 This exhibits the state in which the Officers of those Regiments stand in the records of that Department.

Few transpositions have been made. These few may give some though not much facility to the execution of the general plan. The staff are established as nearly in conformity with your views as the circumstances would permit. You will however understand that the appointment of Capt Shaumberg7 as B. Q M cannot be absolute till it shall have received the sanction of Mr. Wilkins Qr. M General.8

It is expected that the incorporation of the men of the several regiments in the manner heretofore communicated by you to Col Hamtramck will be carried into execution. It will be easier for the officers to change their places than for the men to be transported great distances. The former must of course be directed, so that Officers and men may be together. Our general plan (except as to the alteration in the distribution of the Officers) is to stand.

You will observe the remark respecting transfers in the letter of the 20th. of December. Your prohibition was doubtless proper, the transfers of men from one Regiment to another being always the exercise of a very delicate authority & one peculiarly proper to be reserved to the Chief Officer of a Military District or command (being in the case of the Western army yourself)—Yet the transfer of supernumeraries is proper and it is well that it should be carried into effect in all existing cases. It is expected that Col Hamtramck (to whom this letter will go open) will take the requisite previous measures for the incorporation of the troops in the plan prescribed and that he will unite with the transfer of supernumeraries.

The paragraph respecting the Indians in the letter of the 26 of November was immediately communicated to the Secy of War,9 who I presume, has given direction concerning the subject of it. While the system of separating the management of Indian affairs from the Military and confining it to the Superintendants and their Agents continues, it is for us to conform to it with every good disposition. If there are intrinsic objections they will manifest themselves in the practice. If there are not the public service will be promoted and the Military disburthened of cares which will always subject them to suspicion and criticism.10

A Division or brigade Inspector is to furnish his own horses and he must be allowed to draw forage for such as he may have not exceeding two. The equivalent in money for want of a specific provision cannot at present be allowed.11

The Detachments in a course of recruiting under Majors Bradley12 Buel13 & Cass14 will as soon as the roads permit be marched to Fort Fayette15 there to receive their final destination.

With great consideration esteem & regard I am Sir   Yr Obed Ser

B General Wilkinson

ADf, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1This letter was enclosed in H to John F. Hamtramck, March 5, 1800.

2For the letters which Hamtramck sent to Wilkinson on November 24, 26, 1800, see Hamtramck to H, November 29, 1799, note 4.

3This letter was enclosed in Hamtramck to H, December 1, 1799, which is listed in the appendix to this volume. In this letter Hamtramck wrote to Wilkinson: “… That part of your Orders which say that I am not to make any transfers or change of position which has not been expressly authorized in your Letter, will I fear (from the great distance between us) embarrass me very much, for by the present letter of your Order I can not order any Supernumerary non Commissioned Officer or Soldier who might happen to be in certain Companies to be transferred to another.”

4This letter was enclosed in Hamtramck to H, December 20, 1799, which is listed in the appendix to this volume. In this letter Hamtramck wrote to Wilkinson that Captain Peter Shoemaker’s company of the Third Regiment of Infantry had arrived at Pittsburgh and suggested that a brigade inspector be given an “allowance for Forage.”

5This letter is enclosed in Hamtramck to H, December 25, 1799. Hamtramck wrote two letters to H on this date, and both are listed in the appendix to this volume. In his letter to Wilkinson, Hamtramck wrote that Lieutenant Colonel Henry Burbeck had arrived in Detroit with two companies and that Captain Cornelius Lyman’s company had arrived at Niagara.

7Bartholomew Shaumburgh. See H to McHenry, February 21, March 5, 1800; McHenry to H, February 27, 1800.

8In a letter listed in the appendix to this volume and dated March 8, 1800, H wrote to John Wilkins, Jr., and asked for his “sanction” of Shaumburgh’s appointment as brigade quartermaster.

On March 21, 1800, in a letter listed in the appendix to this volume, Wilkins wrote to H that Shaumburgh could not be appointed because the law stipulated that no one above the rank of first lieutenant could serve as a brigade quartermaster. For the statute in question, see Section 7 of “An Act for the better organizing of the Troops of the United States; and for other purposes” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845); II (Boston, 1850). description ends 749–50 [March 3, 1799]).

10In the margin opposite this paragraph H wrote: “Qr.

11In the margin opposite this paragraph H wrote: “Write to Secy of War.” See H to McHenry, March 7, 1800.

12Daniel Bradley had been recruiting for the Fourth Regiment of Infantry in the South. See Charles Cotesworth Pinckney to H, January 21, 1800; McHenry to H; February 27, 1800, note 2.

13John H. Buell had been recruiting for the Second Regiment of Infantry in Vermont. See “Circular to the Officers of the Second Regiment of Infantry,” September 20, 1799; H to Buell and Jonathan Cass, September 21, 1799 (both listed in the appendix to Volume XXIII).

14Jonathan Cass had been recruiting for the First Regiment of Infantry in Delaware. See “Circular to the Officers of the First Regiment of Infantry,” September 20, 1799; H to Buell and Cass, September 21, 1799 (both listed in the appendix to Volume XXIII).

15Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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