Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Baron von Steuben, [23 July 1780]

To Baron von Steuben1

[Preakness, New Jersey, July 23, 1780]

I have received My Dear Baron your two letters of the 16th. and 18th.2 On the formation the light infantry, The General has already written to you.3 I presume it will be ultimately nearly as you have proposed.

Smith4 set out some days since to join you. Bradford,5 I am told is undecided about entering into the office. Col Scammell6 has promised to bring him to me, and if he accepts we will forward him.

I believe Trescot7 will be appointed in the light infantry. Entre nous tis not easy to find good Majors for the corps in the Massachusettes line; and as it will act a good deal with the French troops, we wish it (for this additional reason) to be well officered. Trescot will answer the purpose; but he is not yet to know that he is in contemplation.

We shall not long continue in our present position. The distinctions of departments are an old story which now do not exist except with respect to South Carolina. You are with a detachment of the main army.

I dare say all you are doing will be found right. I shall join my beau pere to save you from the cord.

The arrangement for your department was unfortunately sent to Congress soon after you went from here with the most pressing instances to determine upon it without delay. We have heard nothing of it since. We have repeated our prayers and exhortations. If we get no answer in three or four days we must determine for ourselves.

Major Francs8 is returned from Philadelphia; but I have not seen him since the arrival of your letter. I will make the inquiry you wish when I see him. Can you do any thing for him in your department?

A severe stroke upon us is that our arms expected from France are not arrived. I do not know how we shall be able to arm our recruits.

Graves sailed from the Hook the 19th. He had been playing off and on two days.

Adieu My Dear Baron and believe me always with the most respectful attachmen[t]   Yr. most Obed

A Hamilton

ALS, New-York Historical Society, New York City.

1Von Steuben was at West Point.

2Neither letter found.

3Washington to von Steuben, July 22, 1780 (George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).

4Perhaps Lieutenant Colonel William S. Smith of New York, but this cannot be stated with certainty.

5Major William Bradford, Sherburne’s Additional Continental Regiment. On July 22, Washington wrote to von Steuben: “Major Bradford will have directions to join and assist you in performing the duties of your Department” (George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).

6Colonel Alexander Scammel, adjutant general, Continental Army.

7Major Lemuel Trescott, Sixteenth Massachusetts Regiment.

8Major David S. Franks, aide-de-camp to Major General Benedict Arnold. For a full account of Franks’ career, see Franks to George Washington, May 12, 1789 (ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; copy [undated] in the handwriting of Franks, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

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