Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to James McHenry, 30 July 1799

To James McHenry

New York July 30th 1799


On a subject, not very familiar to my experience I thot it well to consult others (one at a distance)1 which has occasioned a delay in fulfilling the object of your letter of the 24th of June respecting regulations for issuing straw, fuel &.

I send you herewith the result of my enquiries and reflections.2 In regard to fuel, the late improvements in the construction of chimneys by Count Rumford,3 which may be adopted in quarters and garrisons, has had influence in diminishing the quantity, which independant of this circumstance is conceived to be too liberal in your plan. This being in the view of œconomy a matter of great importance, I would advise that an abstract be made of those chapters of Court Rumford’s treatise which are applicable to chimnies in order that a printed copy be furnished to each commanding Officer of a Garrison &c. Mr Jonathan Williams would execute this in an eligible manner.4 The more Simple and concise the abstract, the better.

The Scheme of regulation now Submitted contemplates, likewise that the officers will be arranged in Messes of six to a Mess.

Give me leave to ask whether in the future construction of barracks it will not be expedient to have the rooms large enough to contain each twelve men. It has been found that messes of this number conduce to the comfort of the Tr⟨oops⟩ preventing waste & consequently rendering ⟨the⟩ Supply more ample. The effect of the arran⟨gement⟩ in relation to fuel is very obvious.

In the field it is usual for the ⟨troops⟩ to provide themselves with fuel; & straw is fur⟨nished⟩ as it can be had. The regulations are there⟨fore confin⟩ed to Troops in Garrisons & Quarters.

With great respect I ⟨have⟩ the honor to be, sir   yr. ob. Ser.

A. Hamilton

The Secy of War

Copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

2“Regulations to be observed in the delivery and distribution of fuel, straw and stationary to the Army respecting horses furnished to Officers & respecting those which they may keep themselves” (Df, in the handwriting of William LeConte with additions and corrections in H’s handwriting, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; copy, in the handwriting of Ethan Brown, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

3Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, Of Chimney fireplaces, with proposals for improving them, to save fuel; render dwelling-houses more comfortable and salubrious, and effectually to prevent chimnies from smoking (3rd ed., London: Printed for T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies, 1797).

4Williams had performed similar tasks for H in the past. See Williams to H, June 17, July 11, 1799.

Index Entries