Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to James McHenry, 28 August 1799

To James McHenry

New York Aug 28 1799


It would appear from the representations of G Wilkinson that the number of officers of the four old Regiments1 who have reported themselves to me pursuant to your notification2 bear no comparison to the number actually absent. The case seems to require some more decisive measure.

I submit whether it will not be expedient for you to signify in the public papers throughout the States that all Officers of the first second third and fourth Regiments of Infantry and of the first Regiment of Artillery who are absent from their corps from whatever cause are as soon as possible to report themselves to the Secy of War liable to render an account for any unnecessary delay and that all such of them who do not so report themselves within 4 months from the date of the notification will be presumed to have resigned their commissions.

The measure is a strong one but the protracted absence of these officers is intolerable. A remedy is essential & to be effectual it must be strong.

With great respect &

Js McHenry Esq

ADf, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1This is a reference to the infantry regiments composing the Regular Army. See the introductory note to H to James Gunn, December 22, 1798.

2This “notification,” dated April 15, 1799, reads: “All Officers within the States of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode-Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, belonging to the first, second, third and fourth regiments of Infantry, and the first and second regiments of Artillery, now upon furlough, or absent from their commands will, without delay, report themselves to Major General Hamilton, and obey his orders. James M’Henry Secy of War” (Gazette of the United States, and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, April 16, 1799). In accordance with this order H received the following letters: Isaac Smith for his son, Charles Smith, to H, April 16, 1799; Jonathan Cass to H, April 30, 1799; Yelverton Peyton to H, April 30, June 1, 1799; Benjamin Brookes to H, May 8, 1799; Joshua Rogers to H, May 18, 1799; Thomas Underwood to H, August 26, 1799 (all listed in the appendix to this volume).

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