To Colonel Alexander McDougall1
[New York, March 17, 1776]
Newyork. March 17th 1776. Recived of Col. McDougall Seventy three Pounds, Nineteen Shillings and a Penny half penny for the Pay of the Commissioned Non-Commissioned officers and privates of my Company to the first Instant for which I [have] given three other receipts.2
Alex: Hamilton Capt
DS, New-York Historical Society, New York City.
1. Alexander McDougall, prominent Revolutionary War general, gained his first military experience as a commander of privateers from 1756 to 1763. After the French and Indian War, McDougall returned to New York City where he became a successful merchant. Because of his opposition to the royal government he was dubbed the “Wilkes of America.” A member of the first and second Provincial Congresses, he was among the most prominent of the radical leaders in New York City. Appointed colonel of the First New York Regiment in 1775, he was made a Continental brigadier general in 1776 and major general the following year.
2. Verso is entitled: “Pay Roll of the Artillery Company of the Colony of New York at Present under the Command of Jas. Moore, Capt Leiut, from the time of their Inlistment to 1st March (exclusive) 1776.” It is dated “10 March 1776” and signed “Jas. Moore Capt. Leiut.” The payroll is printed in Colls. of N. Y. Hist. Soc. for 1915 description begins Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1915 (New York, 1916). description ends , 338–41.
As early as the spring of 1775, H had joined the volunteers who drilled every morning in St. George’s Churchyard in New York City, and in August he had been under fire when he assisted in the removal of cannon from the Battery. On January 6, 1776, the Provincial Congress ordered that an artillery company be raised for the defense of New York, and H, who had studied gunnery, apparently sought command of it. On February 23, 1776, it was recorded in the Journals of the Provincial Congress that:
“Col. McDougall recommended Mr. Alexander Hamilton for captain of a company of artillery; Mr. James Moore for captain-lieutenant; and [Martin] Johnson who was in service last year, and who was lately appointed by the Committee of Safety, for first lieutenant.
“Ordered, That the appointment of those officers be taken into consideration tomorrow morning” (Journals of the Provincial Congress, of the State of New-York description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety and Council of Safety of the State of New-York. 1775–1776–1777 (Albany, 1842). description ends , I, 321).
There is no record of action on the day following, but on March 14, 1776, H received his official appointment. An entry of that date in the Journals of the Congress reads:
“A certificate of Stephen Badlam, capt. of artillery, was read and filed. He thereby certifies that he has examined Alexander Hamilton and judges him qualified to command a company of artillery.
“Ordered, That the said Alexander Hamilton be, and he is hereby, appointed captain of the Provincial company of artillery of this Colony” (Journals of the Provincial Congress of the State of New-York description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety and Council of Safety of the State of New-York. 1775–1776–1777 (Albany, 1842). description ends , I, 359).