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Henry Knox’s Report on Military Preparations, with Cabinet Opinion, 6 September 1793

Henry Knox’s Report on Military Preparations, with Cabinet Opinion

War Department September 6. 1793.

The Secretary of War humbly reports to the President of the United States

That the following measures appear necessary to be taken in order in some degree to place the United States in a situation to guard themselves from injury by any of the belligerent powers of Europe.

1st To have all the small arms of the United States put in order for immediate use.

2dly To have all the cannon in possession of the United States whether for the field or for batteries, either new mounted or repaired as the case may require.

3d To purchase one hundred tons of Lead.

4th To purchase one hundred tons of Saltpetre or the equivalent in Gun powder.

5th To have the useless brass cannon in the arsenal at Springfield cast into field pieces, and to have the same mounted.

6th To engage one thousand rifles to be made.1 7th To remove the surplus arms and stores from Philadelphia to Trenton.2 8th To remove the surplus stores from West point to Albany.3

7th To remove the surplus arms and stores from Philadelphia to Trenton.2

8th To remove the surplus stores from West point to Albany.3

9th To make certain repairs at Forts Putnam, and Clinton at West point on Hudson’s river, so as to prevent its being surprized or insulted.4

Most of these measures have been put in train in pursuance of certain verbal directions from the President of the United States, but the subscriber humbly conceives it proper to submit a connected view thereof for his approbation, as it will be necessary to prepare estimates of the expences attendant thereon, in order to be laid before the next session of Congress.5 All which is respectfully submitted.

H. Knox secy of War

We are of opinion that the preceding measures should be carried into effect.6

Th: Jefferson

Edm: Randolph

DS, DLC:GW.

1This suggestion may have been related to a proposed expedition to “punish” the Creek Indians and secure the southwestern frontier. In a meeting with Knox on 24 July, Gen. Andrew Pickens of South Carolina suggested that the army for that purpose should include “One thousand good riflemen,” although he thought that the rifles “might with difficulty be collected upon the frontiers” (see the enclosure in Knox to GW, 25 July).

2Knox’s return of ordnance, arms, and military stores, submitted to GW on 14 Dec. and to the Senate on 16 Dec., included ordnance and stores at Philadelphia (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 , 1:50–52).

3Knox’s letter to GW, 14 Dec., states that the surplus stores had been “removed temporarily.”

4In Knox’s “Estimate of the Expenses of the War Department, for the Year One thousand, Seven hundred and Ninety four,” 10 Dec. 1793, he suggested an appropriation of $10,000 for “Repairs of Fortifications at West-Point” (DNA: RG 233, Reports of the Treasury Department, 2nd Congress, 2nd Session–4th Congress, 1st Session, 4:104–15). By the summer of 1794, repairs had begun on Fort Putnam and were in contemplation for Fort Clinton (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 , 1:104).

5In December, when Knox made the “Estimate of the Expenses” for 1794, he included appropriations for most of these items among “the following enumerated buildings, repairs, and articles, directed to be made and purchased by the President of the United States.” In the War Department appropriation approved on 21 March 1794, Congress included $202,783.34 “For repairs and articles directed to be made and purchased by the President of the United States” (Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends , 1:346–47).

6The preceding sentence is in Thomas Jefferson’s writing. Alexander Hamilton probably was absent because of illness (see GW to Hamilton, this date).

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