Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Henry Knox, 3 November 1792

From Henry Knox1

War department,
3d. November 1792


I have considered maturely of the magazines of provisions, the meat part whereof to be salted, which the service may require to be kept in advance for the garrisons and divisions of the troops north west of the Ohio. I have the honor to transmit you the result, which has been approved by the President of the United States, and the general subject of which has been transmitted to Major General Wayne.2

To wit.

Fort Jefferson. } The garrisons may be } Rations
—— St. Clair. from 120 each, to 150, but ye. 450 for 90 days. 40,500
—— Hamilton latter number is taken

Additional quantities.

Fort Jefferson 50,000
—— St. Clair 50,000 100,000
Posts. Probable
No of
Fort Knox 120 130 21,600.
Fort Steuben 60 90 5,400.
Galliopolis 40 90 3,600.
Blockhouse dry Ridge 12 90 1,080.
Marietta 70 90 6,300.
Fort Franklin 120 180 21,600
Additional 10,000 31,600
Big Beaver 40 90 3,600
General Wayne’s encampment 50,000 122.680
Total 262.680

The garrisons generally ought to be furnished with three months rations in advance. This has been a fixed principle, and is a proper precaution to be taken against the evils of a blockade or siege.

But it seems necessary to place a further quantity in the advance posts at Forts Jefferson and St. Clair. This quantity will probably be required to serve to replenish any desultory parties which may be ordered out during the winter, or early in the spring, or to serve for contingencies which cannot now be specified.

Fort Knox being very distant, and supplies precarious, it is thought proper the garrison should have six months provisions in the Magazine—and it being difficult to communicate with Fort Franklin in winter—and moreover, it being a place to which the friendly Indians must resort, it ought to have for its own garrison six months provisions, and Ten thousand rations for the extra purposes of the Indians.

As Fort Washington will be the main post at the lower parts of the Ohio, and from which detachments and succours will be made to the advanced posts, and also the point from which desultory expeditions will be furnished, it ought to be supplied with One hundred thousand rations in advance.

The position which General Wayne will occupy north of the Ohio, being liable at times to have its communication interrupted, it ought to have the Fifty thousand rations mentioned.

I have the honor to be   Sir   Your obedient servant

H Knox

The hon. the secretary of the Treasury

Copy, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

1After the defeat of Major General Arthur St. Clair’s expedition against the western Indians on November 4, 1791, the newly reorganized United States Army was placed under the command of Major General Anthony Wayne, and preparations were made for a new campaign against the Indians in the Northwest. On August 1, 1792, George Washington requested Knox to report on the supplies necessary for the Army on the western frontier (GW description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington, 1931–1944). description ends , XXXII, 104), and it was in this context that Knox wrote the letter printed above.

For background to this letter, see Washington to H, August 1, 1792 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , XII, 146–47); H to Washington, August 10, 1792 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , XII, 185–86).

On November 9, 1792, Knox sent a copy of his letter to H printed above to Wayne (Richard C. Knopf, ed., Anthony Wayne, A Name in Arms: Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation: The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence [Pittsburgh, 1960], 131).

2Knox to Wayne, November 2, 1792 (Knopf, Wayne, 125–28).

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