Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Colonel Timothy Pickering, [25 October 1780]

To Colonel Timothy Pickering1

[Totowa, New Jersey, October 25, 1780]2


You will have the boats at Dodd’s3 and those now with the army, properly furnished with oars, transported by horses for the sake of expedition—brought to the Notch,4 tomorrow evening precisely at five O Clock (i e half an hour before sunset) where they will receive further orders. You will have with each set a confidential person on whom you can absolutely rely for punctuality to a moment. The greatest secrecy is necessary, and it is essential that the boats should not arrive a moment sooner nor later than the time fixed.

You will have fresh teams ready at the same place at the same time under a confidential person also, to relieve those in the Waggons, in order to transport the boats with the more celerity.

I am Sir   Yr. most Obed ser

Alex Hamilton
Aide De Camp

If you will be so good as to call at Head Quarters this evening there may be some other points.

The note mentioned by Mr. Garanger5 was of a personal nature.6 Your messenger went away this morning before I could write an answer. The boats are to be kept in readiness ’till further order. Good night My Dear Sir


ALS, RG 93, War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, Manuscripts #26393, National Archives.

1Pickering, a resident of Salem, Massachusetts, a lawyer, and a member of the state militia, held several local and state offices before leading a contingent of his state’s militia to join the Continental Army during the winter of 1776–1777. On May 7, 1777, he was appointed adjutant general to George Washington, and on November 7, 1777, he was elected to the Board of War, but he continued to serve as adjutant general until January 13, 1778. On August 5, 1780, he was appointed colonel and quartermaster general of the Army.

The preparations described in this letter arose because Washington thought that the British might attack his headquarters near the falls of the Passaic River in the present-day city of Paterson, New Jersey (H to Joshua Mersereau, October 24, 1780 [PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , II, 488]). See also Washington’s “Disposition for opposing the Enemy while we were Encamped at the Falls of Passaic,” 1780 (AD, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).

2Totowa is on the Passaic River and is immediately west of Paterson in Passaic County, New Jersey.

3Dodd’s Tavern was on a branch of the Passaic River four or five miles west of Little Falls, which, in turn, is directly south of Totowa.

4The “Notch” is a cleft in Weasel Mountain, which lies between present-day Clifton, New Jersey, and Little Falls, New Jersey.

5Lewis Garanger.

6In MS, “natural.”

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