Alexander Hamilton Papers
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To Alexander Hamilton from John J. U. Rivardi, 3 April 1799

From John J. U. Rivardi1

Niagara [New York] April 3, 1799. Discusses the weaknesses of United States forts on the Great Lakes. Encloses “the Plan of Detroit.”2 Complains about contractors buying too much flour and about delays in settling quartermaster’s accounts and lack of reinforcements. States: “Sir John Johnson having politely offered me To Take charge of whatever I Should want to Send To Detroit & Mackinac, I gave him the letters which you directed me To forward To the Officers commanding these two Posts. Major Burbeck3 will receive his three Months earlier than he could by any other Conveyance.…” Cites other examples of friendship and cooperation between the British and American garrisons at Niagara and recommends Enoch Humphrey as a cadet. States: “I was interrupted by Mr. Burke4 great Vicar of Canada & a man perfectly acquainted with this Country, he observed To me during diner that he firmly believes the whole of the rumor among the Indians5 To have arisen from the Secret Machinations of Some Individuals employed in that Department, because an Indian War would make their fortunes.…” Complains that James McHenry does nothing to investigate Captain James Bruff’s charges6 and states that he wishes to press charges against Bruff.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1A native of Switzerland, Rivardi was a major in the First Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers and was commanding officer at Fort Niagara.

2The original of the plan, drawn by Rivardi and dated at Niagara, March 29, 1799, is in the William L. Clements Library of the University of Michigan.

3Henry Burbeck, a resident of Massachusetts and a veteran of the American Revolution, was lieutenant colonel commandant of the First Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers and was stationed at Fort Michilimackinac.

4Edmond Burke, a native of Ireland, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1781. In 1787 he immigrated to Canada and held a variety of ecclesiastical posts before becoming Vicar General of Quebec in 1795. In 1799 he was also serving as chaplain to the British garrison at Fort George at Niagara.

5For an explanation of these rumors, see Rivardi to H, March 21, 1799, notes 21 and 23.

6In this letter Rivardi enclosed copies of James Bruff to Rivardi, January 15, 1799; Bruff to James McHenry, January 15, 1799 (copies, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). Rivardi noted on these copies: “I thought best to forward this Copy of Captn. Bruffs letter & charges, the Mail being on the Start I can not possibly Send my defense which is prepared long ago & in the Opinion of My friends More than Satisfactory. JJUR. I transmitted the Original to the Secretary of War.” For Bruff’s complaint, see Rivardi to H, March 21, 1799, note 13. See also Tobias Lear to H, March 30, 1799 (listed in the appendix to Volume XXII); McHenry to H, first letter of April 1, 1799 (listed in the appendix to this volume).

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