Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from James McHenry, 16 April 1799

From James McHenry

War Department, April 16, 1799. “I have received this morning your two letters dated the 15. instant.…1 Several Officers appointed to the new Regiments had expressed uneasiness upon the ground of not receiving their Commissions. I know however the uneasiness among some of them proceeded from another cause. They were apprehensive they were to receive no pay ’till called into actual service, while some of them would have hoped that the first commissioned would be intitled to priority of Rank. To quiet any apprehensions on the first account and remove any expectations on the second I issued a circular letter upon the first of April instant of which the enclosed is a Copy.2 I do not know whether you recollect that Commissions were not issued to the Officers of the Army directed to be raised in 17923 ’till a twelve month after their appointment.… The field Officers for New Hampshire viz. One Lieutenant Colonel and one Major and one Major for Vermont cannot possibly be appointed for some time. The Representation from New Hampshire just before the rising of Congress4 requested that nominations to the President might be delayed till they could return home and have an opportunity to forward me the names of qualified persons to fill these Offices. I have not yet heard from them and after I do I must transmit my choice to the President for his approbation before I can announce their being appointed.…”

LS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; LS, letterpress copy, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress.

1One letter of April 15 is printed above. In the second letter, which is listed in the appendix to this volume, H discusses a letter he received from Lieutenant Nathaniel Leonard in command of soldiers from the Second Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers at Windsor, Vermont.

2This circular reads: “Major General Hamilton being charged with the recruiting service, you will hold yourself in readiness to obey such orders or instructions, relative thereto, as may be transmitted to you directly from him, or through your commanding officer.

“The materials for the appointment of officers to be drawn from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, being yet incomplete, no final arrangement can be made respecting relative rank; it has therefore been thought adviseable to postpone any partial issue of commissions, until the officers from these states shall be appointed.

“Your pay and emoluments will comence from the date of your letter of acceptance. (Copy, enclosed in McHenry to John Adams, April 8, 1799 [ALS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston].)

3This is a reference to the force raised under the authority of “An Act for making farther and more effectual Provision for the Protection of the Frontiers of the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845); II (Boston, 1850). description ends 241–43 [March 5, 1792]).

4The Third Session of the Fifth Congress had adjourned on March 3, 1799.

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