George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 28 March 1794

From Henry Knox

[Philadelphia] March 28 1794


The enclosed, being the opinion of the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of the Treasury, I pray your directions whether the three French Gentlemen shall be employed as temporary Engineers—They are to be with me at 12 o’clock.1 The same direction is requested with respect to three Artillerists now at Baltimore.2 I have the honor to be Sir, With the greatest respect, Your most obt Servt

H. Knox


1The enclosed opinion of this date, which was written by Edmund Randolph and signed “Agreed” by Alexander Hamilton, reads: “I could not see Mr Fauchet yesterday; and indeed I would prefer saying nothing more about. My opinion is, that the government ought to avoid employing French Engineers notoriously obnoxious to their Republic; but not to go in quest of disqualifications. If the Minister complains, he may be told of our distress for such characters, and the protection which French vessels will receive from our fortifications. At any rate, it will be true enough to recede, if this should be necessary, when the complaint comes—As to Vincent, he is clear, to my mind, in consequence of Sonthonax’s certificate” (DLC:GW).

Four French refugees received appointments. Charles Vincent became the temporary engineer responsible for fortifying the harbor and city of New York (Knox to Vincent, 1 April). Nicholas-Francis Martinon served as the temporary engineer for the fortifications at Wilmington and Ocracoke, N.C. (Knox to Martinon, 11 April). Paul Hyacinte Perrault (d. 1834) later served as an engineer in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812, continuing in service until at least 1817. He was appointed the temporary engineer for the fortifications at Charleston and Georgetown, S.C., and at Savannah and St. Mary’s, Ga. (Knox to Perrault, 11 April). John (Jean-Baptiste-Arthur) Vermonnet (b. 1750) served with U.S. forces during the Revolutionary War, and he came to the United States in 1793 after being stationed in Saint Domingue. He received an appointment as the temporary engineer for the fortifications at Annapolis, Md., and Alexandria, Va. (Knox to Vermonnet, 12 May). For Knox’s letters of appointment and his later correspondence with these engineers, see ASP, Military Affairs description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:72–81, 93–104.

2The artillerists at Baltimore have not been identified.

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