From James McHenry
War Department 13 March 1799
I received your private letter of the 10th inst. last night.
The mode in which the laws are published prevents me from receiving any of them sometimes for six weeks or two months after their being inacted, unless I take copies of them from the originals lodged with the Secry. of State and get them printed. This is what I have done with the organization1 and eventual army acts,2 and shall as soon as they are printed send you some copies.
The 5 Sect. of the recruiting instruction was filled up for inlistments in the 4 old Regiments and artillery corps.3 For inlistments in the 12 Regiments of Infantry & 6 troops of Light Dragoons, it will be filled up “for and during the continuance of the existing differences between the U.S. and French Republic”4 according to your conception.
The 13 sect. of the recruiting instructions5 is founded on the 3 article of the articles of war under the head administration of justice, art. 3, p 32 & 33.6 It is supposed that the officer commanding in each district will be a field officer.
I expect to be able to send you in a few days the list of officers conformably to the schedule A formed & reported by Gen Washington7 with the exception of the alterations and directions of which you have been informed and that have originated in non-acceptances.8
In your letter of Febry the 16th9 it is said “It is very material to me to have without delay the distribution of the additional 12 Regts & troops of horse &c &c” It is certain I understood this request to apply to the distribution of the 4 Regts. of Infantry and the cavalry, stations for eight of the 12 Regiments of Infantry only having been fixed on by the Commander in Chief. Where did the Commander in Chief contemplate to station these 4 regts. and the cavalry? I shall subjoin to the list aforesaid the officers appointed from Connecticut, arranged into companies by Mr Tracy10 agreeably to the principle of contiguity or local convenience.
Quarter Masters, adjutants & Pay-Masters to Regiments by the late organization act must be Lieutenants and as such appointed by the Presidemt. Whether the law admits of the choice of Pay master from among the Lieutenants under the new organization being made by the officers, I cannot answer at this moment, my copy of the act being with the Printer. The pay master by the act, must give bond & security for the faithful discharge of his duties at least it was so intended.11
When you receive a copy of the schedule A you will determine whether to take the Captains and their subalterns as there arranged or to refer to their respective colonels for a new and different distribution.
I recvd. your letter dated the 5th inst on the 11th. I shall attend as soon as possible to its contents.
We have got an insurrection in Northampton County and adjoining parts,12 which will require the presence of some of the military force to aid the Marshall to secure offenders. A proclamation will issue to day declaring its existence &c. It is contemplated to employ on this occasion the volunteers only,13 a late law having authorised the President to use these in all cases in which he is authorised to employ Militia.14
Majr Gen Hamilton
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; ADfS, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress.
1. “An Act for the better organizing of the Troops of the United States; and for other purposes” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 749–55 [March 3, 1799]).
2. “An Act giving eventual authority to the President of the United States to augment the Army” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 725–27 [March 2, 1799]).
4. This quotation is taken from Section 2 of “An Act to augment the Army of the United States, and for other purposes” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 604 [July 16, 1798]).
5. For Article XIII of the 1798 edition of a War Department pamphlet entitled Rules and Regulations Respecting the Recruiting Service, see H to Jonathan Dayton, August 6, 1798, note 12.
6. McHenry is referring to Section III of Article 14 of the articles of war, which was called “Administration of Justice” in the 1794 edition of Rules and Articles for the Better Government of the Troops. See H to Dayton, August 6, 1798, note 11. Section III reads: “Every Officer commanding a regiment or Corps, may appoint of his own regiment or corps, Courts-Martial, to consist of three Commissioned Officers, for the trial of offences, not Capital, and the inflicting Corporeal punishments, and decide upon their sentences. For the same purpose, all Officers commanding any of the garrisons, forts, barracks, or other place where the troops consist of different Corps, may assemble Courts-Martial, to consist of three commissioned officers, and decide upon their sentences” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXX, 317).
7. For the table exhibiting the proportion of officers and men in each state, see McHenry to George Washington, November 10, 1798, printed as an enclosure to Washington to H, November 12, 1798. See also H’s draft of Washington to McHenry, first letter of December 13, 1798.
9. This letter is listed in the appendix to this volume.
10. This document is entitled “Schedule B” and is divided into two parts. The first, called “Connecticut Appointments,” is signed by Uriah Tracy and dated March 12, 1799. The second part of the document is entitled “Appointments for the Army” (copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).
11. For the legislation concerning the points raised in this paragraph, see “An Act for the better organizing of the Troops of the United States, and for other purposes” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 749–55).
12. This is a reference to Fries’s Rebellion, the term used to describe the resistance in Bucks, Northampton, and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania to a Federal property tax imposed by two acts of Congress. The acts in question were “An Act to provide for the valuation of Lands and Dwelling-Houses, and the enumeration of Slaves within the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 580–91 [July 9, 1798]) and “An Act to lay and collect a direct tax within the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 597–604 [July 14, 1799]). John Fries, an itinerant auctioneer and a captain of a militia company in both the American Revolution and the Whiskey Insurrection, is generally considered to have been the leader of those opposed to the collection of the tax.
After threats of violence and armed opposition had made it impossible for the responsible officials in the three counties to carry out the provision of the law, President Adams on March 12, 1799, issued a proclamation calling out the Army to suppress “combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings” (Gazette of the United States, and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, March 12, 1799). Fries, who with other leaders of the opposition was quickly captured, was twice tried for treason and sentenced to be hanged (Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States During the Administrations of Washington and Adams [Philadelphia, 1849], 458–648). In a letter dated May, 1800, he petitioned Adams for a pardon, and on May 23, 1800, the President issued a proclamation granting a “full, free, and absolute pardon, to all and every person or persons concerned in the said insurrection …” (Wharton, State Trials, 641–42).
13. This is a reference to the Volunteer Corps originally authorized by “An Act authorizing the President of the United States to raise a Provisional Army” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 558–61 [May 28, 1798]). See the introductory note to H to James Gunn, December 22, 1798.
14. This is a reference to Section 7 of “An Act giving eventual authority to the President of the United States to augment the Army” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 726 [March 2, 1799]), which authorized the President to use the volunteers “… in all cases, and to effect all the purposes for which he is authorized to call forth the militia by the act, entitled ‘An act to provide for calling forth the militia, to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions, and to repeal the act now in force for these purposes.’”