Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Brigadier General Henry Knox, [9 July 1780]

To Brigadier General Henry Knox

[Preakness, New Jersey, July 9, 1780]

Dr Sir

We wish to know the number of heavy cannon we might bring into an operation against New York—already in the possession of The Continental distinguishing the Iron from the Brass.1 We are writing to The French General.2

Yr most Obed

Alex Hamilton

also the Mortars their different sizes.3

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1These cannons were to be used for an attack on New York City, which Washington hoped could be undertaken by combined French and Continental forces during the summer or autumn of 1780 (Washington to Nathanael Greene, July 15, 1780 [LS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress]; Washington to Knox, July 15, 1780 [PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , II, 357]; Washington to Major General Alexander McDougall, July 2, 1780 [printed in this volume]). The French, however, were unwilling to cooperate on this project (Washington to James Duane, October 4, 1780 [Df, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress]), and the attack never took place.

2The French fleet arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, on July 11, 1780, and on July 15 Washington drew up a plan for the joint attack on New York City. This plan was in the form of a memorandum to the French commanders at Newport, Lieutenant General Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, and Charles Henri d’Arsac, chevalier de Ternay, and it was delivered to them by Lafayette (“Memorandum for Concerting a Plan of Operations” [GW description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington, 1931–1944). description ends , XIX, 174–76]).

3Knox endorsed this letter: “A note from, and to, Colo Hamilton, Sunday 9th July 1780.” Knox’s letter to H has not been found.

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