Alexander Hamilton Papers
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To Alexander Hamilton from James Wilkinson, 24 March 1800

From James Wilkinson

Head Quarters [Mississippi Territory]
Fort Adams on the Mississippi
March 24th. 1800

Sir,

I transmit you under cover a duplicate of my last communication,1 and have the singular pleasure to inform you that the Snow Acteon, with the ordnance & public Stores, shiped for this post at New-York arrived here on the 21st. instant, in thirty days from New Orleans; by this operation much time and much expence has been saved, and the delusions which have prevailed with regard to the Navigation of this River, by vessels of the Ocean have been removed.

The troops destined for the Garrison of this post, except a portion of the Garrison of Fort McHenry, are assembled here; the transfer proposed will take effect this day, and the organization will be completed tomorrow.

It is with sensible concern I announce to you the death of Major Kersey2 of the 3d. Regiment, who on the 18th. instant in a reincounter with Lieutenant Marks3 of the same corps was run through the Body and expired on the 21st. The Lieutenant is in arrest and will be brought before a general Court Martial, for the violation of the 3d. & 5th. articles of the 2d. Section of the articles of war,4 & of the 20th article of the appendix to the same.5 This transaction presents in a light most unfavorable to Mr. Marks, but in a case which goes to affect life & honor, I forbear prejudgement and will barely assure you, that justice shall be done if attainable by my authority and the judgement of his peers.

Major Kerseys death will promote Captain Pike,6 whose Company I shall transfer to Captain Heth,7 and if the Captain should be still east of the mountains, I wish him to be ordered to the Chickasaw Bluffs (Fort Pickering) where he is to command. The companies proposed for the garrison of this post, will be Rickards,8 Wades,9 Greggs,10 & Steeles,11 who have two subalterns only among them, & Mr. Marks makes one of these.

You have under cover a General Return for the last month, from which you may discover the great deficiency of Officers to the Troops in this quarter.

I have no intelligence of the approach of Lieutenant Colonel Gaither,12 but shall be ready to commence my voyage by the 15th. or 20th. of the next month, and Should the Armed vessel arrive by that period13 and I have no news of the Colonel I shall leave the command here with Major Cushing,14 and embark for the most convenient Atlantic port.

Captain Guion15 is delayed by an enquiry into his conduct, as late Pay-Master to the Troops here, but will not be suffered to remain an unnecessary day.

We continue in tranquility with our neighbours.

Most Respecfully   I am Sir   your Obedt. Servant

Ja. Wilkinson

Major General Hamilton

LS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

2William Kersey, a resident of New Jersey and a veteran of the American Revolution.

3Peter S. Marks of Virginia was dismissed from the Army on August 19, 1800 (Heitman, United States Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, From Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903 (Washington, 1903). description ends , I, 689).

4Section II, Article 3, reads: “Any officer or soldier who shall begin, excite, cause or join, in any mutiny or sedition, in the troop, company or regiment to which he belongs, or in any other troop or company in the service of the United States, or in any party, post, detachment or guard, on any pretence whatsoever, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as by a court-martial shall be inflicted” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , V, 789).

Section II, Article 5, reads: “Any officer or soldier who shall strike his superior officer, or draw, or shall lift up any weapon, or offer any violence against him, being in the execution of his office, on any pretence whatsoever, or shall disobey any lawful command of his superior officer, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall, according to the nature of his offence, be inflicted upon him by the sentence of a court-martial” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , V, 790).

5Article 14, or the “Administration of Justice,” was printed as an appendix to the 1794 edition of Rules and Articles for the Better Government of the Troops. See H to Jonathan Dayton, August 6, 1798, note 11. Section 20 of this appendix reads: “Whatever Commissioned Officer shall be convicted before a general Court-Martial, of behaving in a scandalous and infamous manner, such as is unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, shall be dismissed the service” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXX, 320).

7John Heth of Virginia was a captain in the Third Regiment of Infantry.

8William Rickard of Massachusetts was a veteran of the American Revolution and a captain in the Third Regiment of Infantry.

9John Wade of Pennsylvania was a captain in the Third Regiment of Infantry.

10Aaron Gregg of Virginia was a captain in the Third Regiment of Infantry.

11John Steele, a resident of Pennsylvania and a veteran of the American Revolution, was a captain in the Third Regiment of Infantry.

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