Alexander Hamilton Papers

Enclosure: Remarks Upon the Proposed Regulations for the Recruiting Service, [28 July 1798]

Remarks upon the proposed Regulations for the Recruiting Service7

[New York, July 28, 1798]

Article III The penalty on the officer in this article appears to be of questionable expediency. It may hurt the service more by discouraging exertion than benefit it by the œconomy which it may promote. It is believed the general responsibility of the Officer ought to be relied upon.8
Article IV The utility of this restriction is doubtful. There are men above the common class in qualification, very desireable as non commissioned officers, who might be willing to engage as such and useful in inducing others to engage, but who would not enter into the service as privates.9
Article V Perhaps it may be well to allow a limited small portion of this bounty to be advanced immediately as earnest money to bind the individual in his own opinion. In raw recruits there are apt to be sudden fluct[u]ations of mind which render it desireable to fix at once their condition—otherwise many a good soldier may be lost. It is easy on this subject to refine too much.10
Article VII It is not recollected what these injunctions are. If they are of a nature to alarm the mind of the recruit concerning the rigour of his future lot the article had better be omitted.11
Article XIII It is not recollected whether the articles of War allow of such Courts Martial. It is taken for granted they do—but it is a point on which there should be no misconception.12
Article XXI The utility of this is not obvious. While the sale at an under price may prove a loss to the soldier—he is deprived of cloathing which may be useful when off duty. The French have a practice of allowing particular cloathing for the intervals of duty. Why should his shirts be sold? 13
Article XXII Will suspicion thus openly & formally manifested be useful?14
Article XXVII See the Remark on article the IVth.15
Article XXIX There is perhaps too much detail here. It may be sufficient to direct that recruits should be instructed immediately after being inlisted. The recruiting officers will not be the proper persons to instruct. Officers stationed at the different rendezvouses must perform this duty.16
Article XXX Quare whether this postponement of the bounty after the soldier joins his corps will not be a discouragement to the recruiting service?17
Article XXXIII last clause. Will it not be useful that deserters in one district with descriptions of their persons should be reported to the superintending officers in all the other districts, to the end that they also may endeavour to apprehend & secure them?18

July 28th.

The foregoing remarks comprise all the ideas which occurred on a cursory perusal of the Regulations. Several of them may not be well founded. Those least relied upon are upon Articles the V & XXI.


7ADS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

8The relevant sentence in Article III reads: “… Any recruiting officer enlisting a transient person who shall desert before marching from the place of rendezvous shall reimburse out of his pay the loss sustained by such desertion.”

9Article IV reads: “No recruit is to be enlisted or attested in any other capacity than as a private soldier.”

10The portion of Article V to which H is referring reads: “… no part of the bounty to which a recruit is entitled, before joining his company or corps, is to be advanced until he shall have been sworn before a magistrate according to the form herein prescribed.”

11Article VII reads: “The injunctions of section 3, article 1, of the articles of War, are to be observed towards each recruit.”

The articles of war were originally adopted by the Continental Congress on September 20, 1776 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , V, 788–807). Although they were amended on several occasions, they were continued in force after the adoption of the Constitution under the provisions of “An Act for regulating the Military Establishment of the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 119–21 [April 30, 1790]). In 1794 the articles of war which were then in effect were published as Rules and Articles for the Better Government of the Troops, Raised, or to be raised, and kept in pay, by and at the expence of the United States of America (Philadelphia: Printed by Steiner and Kammerer, 1794). In this edition, Article 14, which had been amended on May 31, 1786 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXX, 316–22), was called “Administration of Justice” and was printed as an appendix to the articles of war.

In the articles of war adopted by the Continental Congress on September 20, 1776, Section III, Article 1, reads: “Every non-commissioned officer and soldier, who shall inlist himself in the service of the United States, shall at the time of his so inlisting, or within six days afterwards, have the articles for the government of the forces of the United States read to him, and shall, by the officer who inlisted him, or by the commanding officer of the troop or company into which he was inlisted, be taken before the next justice of the peace, or chief magistrate of any city or town-corporate, not being an officer of the army, or, where recourse cannot be had to the civil magistrate, before the judge-advocate, and, in his presence, shall take the following oath, or affirmation, if conscientiously scrupulous about taking an oath:

I swear, or affirm, (as the case may be,) to be true to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever; and to observe and obey the orders of the Continental Congress, and the orders of the generals and officers set over me by them.

“Which justice or magistrate is to give the officer a certificate, signifying that the man inlisted, did take the said oath or affirmation.” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , V, 790.)

12Article XIII reads: “Courts Martial to consist of three commissioned officers, may be ordered at the discretion of the officer commanding a regimental circle or a district, for the trial of such offences as shall be committed by the non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the recruiting parties under his command, and which would be cognizable by a regimental court-martial, the said officer to decide upon the sentences of such court-martial and direct the punishments awarded, to be executed, or remitted as he shall think expedient.” For the revelant sections on courts-martial, see Articles 3 and 4 of the articles of war as revised by the Continental Congress on May 31, 1786 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXX, 317).

13Article XXI reads: “No recruit is to be permitted to keep in his possession, after being sworn, any clothing except that which he may receive from the public. The officer is therefore, to oblige him to dispose of all his private clothing immediately, or to take the keeping of it upon himself, ’till an opportunity offers to sell it for account of the recruit.”

14Article XXII reads: “No recruit is to be allowed to absent himself from his quarters ’till such time as he has proved himself faithful, without a corporal or trusty private to attend him.”

15Article XXVII reads: “No recruiting officer is to promise a recruit that he shall be a non-commissioned officer; but he is permitted to empower any recruit to act as a non-commissioned officer to a squad or to the first or second class herein after mentioned until the recruits shall join the companies or regiments to which they are destined, for the purpose of giving such recruit an opportunity to shew by his conduct, whether he is qualified for promotion when it can take place in the course of service.”

16Article XXIX reads: “Every recruiting officer will cause his recruits to be separated into two classes, and will begin to instruct them immediately after their being sworn.

“The first class to consist of those recruits who have learned the step and management of their arms.

“The new recruits to form the second class and be instructed in their positions to march and in the manual exercise at least once every day (Sundays excepted) by a skilful sergeant, corporal or soldier. Instructions may be given to the recruits of the second class in quarters, on parade, or under cover in bad weather, first one by one, then two by two, and lastly in parties. But they are not to be taught the management of their arms ’till after they have been habituated to the different positions and steps, commencing by the simplest and progressively advancing to the most complex.

“When the officer shall judge a recruit qualified to pass to the first class he will give orders accordingly.

“The exercise of the first class will be directed and superintended by the recruiting officer, and be the same as is usual for the perfecting of a company for actual service.”

17Article XXX reads: “Each recruiting officer shall transmit monthly to the officer of the district a duplicate receipt, signed by each recruit, for the bounty he shall have received within that period. This regulation is to be strictly observed ’till the recruits have joined their respective corps, after which it is not allowable for the officer to make them any payment on account of their bounty. It is to be understood also, that no credit will be allowed to a recruiting officer in the settlement of his accounts, which is not substantiated by such receipts thus transmitted, and that whatever part of the bounty remains due to a recruit on his union with his corps, or company, shall not be paid by the recruiting officer, but be stated in the first pay-roll after his arrival, and paid to him at the same time as his pay.”

18The last paragraph of Article XXXIII reads: “On the desertion of a recruit, besides the usual exertions and means to be employed on such occasions, the recruiting officer will transmit, as soon as possible, a description of the deserter to the field officer of the district, and will cause all descriptions of deserters that may be sent to him, to be entered in a book kept for that purpose, and will use his endeavors to discover and apprehend all deserters.”

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