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To Alexander Hamilton from Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, [1–25 March 1800]

From Charles Cotesworth Pinckney1

[Shepherdstown, Virginia, March 1–25, 1800]


Dear Sr:

Be so good as to inform me if your general orders relative to rank of the 9th: of last September2 are means to operate within a Regiment, or whether they are only intended to decide the rank when officers of different Regiments meet together. Till I hear your determination, I shall confine them to the latter construction, because I remember we took a great deal of pains to arrange the internal Rank within the Regiments. The particular reason for my begging the favour of you to explain this matter is because Major Beal3 a most excellent officer of the 9th Regiment, and who, I well recollect we intended should have been Colonel of the Regiment, if Coll: Hall’s4 Friends had not said he would serve, (& who was appointed because he had been a good Colonel the last War), is likely I hear to lose that place, and that Major Hopkins under the construction made at the War office of your order, is to take it. Major Beal expressly stands as first Major in the copy of the nomination delivered me by Coll. Lear,5 & his name precedes Major Hopkin’s in the list sent me to the Southward from the War office. I do not know a better Major in the service than Major Beal; he has great military talents and is a very superior officer. I have had no opportunity yet of knowing the merit of Major Hopkins, as he has but lately arrived here; but his reputation for military Talents does not stand in comparison with Major Beals. He was a Captain in Baylor’s6 Regiment last War, & Brigr: Genl: Washington7 informs me, he considered him as one of the most indifferent officers in it. Coll. Watts8 who is also here coincides in opinion with him. With respects to Mrs. Hamilton I remain

Yrs truly

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Majr: Genl: Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1On February 28, 1800, in a letter which has not been found, Major David Hopkins wrote to H inquiring about his relative rank in the Ninth Infantry Regiment. On March 10, 1800, in a letter listed in the appendix to this volume, H forwarded Hopkins’s letter to James McHenry, and the Secretary of War replied on March 19. On March 26, H sent to McHenry the undated letter from Pinckney printed above.

2General order not found, but see McHenry to H, second letter of July 2, September 3, 1799; H to McHenry, July 8, 1799.

3William D. Beall, a resident of Maryland and a veteran of the American Revolution, was appointed a major in the Ninth Regiment of Infantry on January 8, 1800 (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 299, 303; 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, 202).

4Josias Carvel Hall was lieutenant colonel commandant of the Ninth Regiment of Infantry.

5Tobias Lear.

6George Baylor of Virginia, who was an aide-de-camp to George Washington during the American Revolution, was taken prisoner at Tappan in September, 1778, and then exchanged. He subsequently commanded the First Regiment of Continental Dragoons and served in that capacity until the end of the war.

7William Washington.

8John Watts of Virginia had served under Baylor during the American Revolution. On January 8, 1800, he was appointed lieutenant colonel commandant of the Light Dragoons (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 298, 303).

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