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From Alexander Hamilton to Brigadier General Henry Knox, [26 March 1779]

To Brigadier General Henry Knox

[Headquarters, Middlebrook, New Jersey, March 26, 1779. “This will be delivered to you by Mr. Garranger, who comes to pass through a probation with you.1 He is to give you such proofs of his knowledge in the theory and practice of artillery as you shall deem satisfactory. He will, on your certificate of the same, be recommended to Congress for an appointment as Preceptor to the artillery, or something of that kind, with the honorary rank of Captain, as you proposed at Philadelphia. If he really is what he pretends to be, I imagine such a man might be made very useful.” Letter not found.]

The Collector: An Historical Magazine for Autograph and Book Plate Collectors, IX (January, 1896), 51.

1In PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , II, 25, this letter is listed as a “letter not found.”

Lewis Garanger was a captain of bombardiers in Major General Philippe Charles Jean Baptiste Tronson du Coudray’s French artillery. Garanger was captured by the British and released in November, 1778, after a year in prison. On June 2, 1779, he requested that Congress grant him on account two thousand dollars for his service and “misfortunes” he had suffered, as well as an additional sum to enable him “to go to camp and to stay in it,” where he would be “in the park of artillery in which … I will continue to execute the orders of the Generals and expect patiently the time where his Excellency General washington will propose to the honorable congress, under what title, and to what functions he will think the most useful to appoint me in the service of the united states” (ALS, Reel 95, Item 78, X, p. 145, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives). On June 10, 1779, Congress granted him fifteen hundred dollars on account and ordered “That Mons. Garanger … proceed to the grand army, there to exhibit such proofs of his talents and merit as may be deemed necessary to enable the Commander in Chief to certify to Congress the propriety or inexpediency of retaining him in the service of the United States, and in what rank, if he shall entitle himself to a favorable certificate from General Washington” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937; Reprinted, New York, 1968). description ends , XIV, 710–11). Washington endorsed this proposal (Washington to the Board of War, July 27, 1779 [PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , II, 114]), and in September, 1779, the Board of War again approved the arrangement (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937; Reprinted, New York, 1968). description ends , XIV, 711, note 1). Garanger was tested by Major Sebastian Bauman at West Point (H to Bauman, February 14, 1781; two letters of April 13, 1781 [PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , II, 559–60, 590–91]), but he failed to exhibit “proofs of his talents” (Bauman to Knox, April 17, 1781 [ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress]; Knox to Washington, April 18, 1781 [LS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress]). On April 28, 1781, Knox issued him a certificate of service and granted him permission to return to France (DS, Henry Knox Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston). Although Knox wrote to H on June 28, 1779 (printed in this volume), that Garanger had “renounced all claims to rank or command,” Garanger maintained in a memorial to Congress, dated October 28, 1783, that that was not the case because “When I joined the army I could not speak English at all: General Knox thought himself proficient enough in French to treat of my affairs in that language but really we could not understand one another …” (ADS, Reel 95, Item 78, X, p. 459, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives). Garanger was still petitioning Congress in 1783 to employ him in some capacity in the military establishment. On June 18, 1783, he sent Elias Boudinot, President of Congress, two memorials, one “Containing some projects of Military Establishments, and the proposal of some means which would improve and Extend those now existing in the United States …” and another “Containing some Demands, which I think myself Intitled to form, and some which are relative to the Execution of my proposals …” (ADS, Reel 95, Item 78, X, p. 437, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives). One of Garanger’s requests was “a Commission of Captain Bombardiers for himself, and one of Lieutenant for his Brother entered in the same time as him in the Continental Service, and both dated from the first of October, 1776” (ADS, “Second Memorial of Captain Garanger, Reel 95, Item 78, X, p. 441, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives). See also “Reflections, observations, and Proposals relative to the Military Service of the United States” (ADS, Reel 95, Item 78, X, pp. 445–58, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives). On June 19, 1783, this letter was read in Congress (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937; Reprinted, New York, 1968). description ends , XXIV, 402).

On October 28, 1783, Garanger, who was then in debtors’ prison in Philadelphia, addressed another memorial to Congress, containing a history of his military service in America and copies of correspondence from Generals Knox and Washington concerning his earlier wartime activities. Garanger requested an advance of two hundred pounds Pennsylvania currency on the sum he believed the Government owed him (ADS, Reel 95, Item 78, X, pp. 455–62, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives). In November, 1783, he received an unspecified amount from the Government in the form of Treasury certificates (“Petition of Lewis Garanger in behalf of himself and his brother Charles Garanger, relative to the principal and interest of their certificates, subsistence, &c,” February 11, 1793 [ADS, RG 46, Records of the United States Senate, Petitions and Memorials, Resolutions of State Legislatures and Related Documents, National Archives]).

In January, 1792, Garanger petitioned Congress on behalf of himself and his brother for additional compensation. His petition was referred to a select committee which made a favorable report on April 26, 1792, and the House passed a bill on January 2, 1793, entitled “An Act to authorize the settlement of the accounts of Lewis Garanger for military services during the late war,” but the Senate failed to pass it (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826). description ends , I, 587, 628, 630, 634, 660; “Report on the petition of Lewis Garanger, in behalf of himself, and his brother Charles Garanger, referred on the 24th of January last” [D, RG 233, Records of the House of Representatives, Select Committee Reports, I, National Archives]). Garanger petitioned Congress, again unsuccessfully, in 1793, 1810, and 1813.

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