Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Josias Carvel Hall, 15 September 1799

From Josias Carvel Hall, 15 September 1799

Havre-de-Grace Septr. 15th—99


I have the Mortification to report an other desertion. He had leave of absence yesterday morning to get his Clothes washed & took that opportunity to go off about 7 O’Clock in the Morning—was reported to me between 10 & 11 O’Clock. The General-Court-Martial then siting I directed to be adjourned & every officer not immediately on Duty in the Battalion to go in Pursuit. Those who could obtain Horses to take a more distant Circuit & those who had none to take a File of Men each & explore the Neighborhood in all Directions. An Officer has gone off to Baltimore with Intent to be there last Night. Some of the most trusty Soldiers with two Days Provision are gone with Orders to take different Directions & search the Country round I will not spare eithr Trouble or Expence to put a Stop to this shameful Practice Horsemens Tents arrived last Night. I have given Orders that no Officer shall absent himself from the Encampment without leave—That all Soldiers found 200 yards from his Post without leave or half a Mile without a written pass shall be punished by Sentance of a Court-Martial I have directed the Roll to be called besides the usual times at least three times at irregular Hours thro’ the Night. The Soldiers to be constantly under Arms except a reasonable time for sleeping & eating &c

I have given them to understand that no Relaxation or Indulgence can be given ’till a Stop is put to the scandelouse Vice. They are well fed & provided for & in addition, the River in front of their Camp, abounds with Fish. I have purchased Hooks & Lines & ordered a Man from each Company to provide some to be distributed in the Battalion every Day, So they have no app apology on the Score of Living.

I have been confined by Indisposition for some Days: But have again got so that I can visit the Camp in my Carriage: Yet there has been no Delay from that Cause. It was only yesterday that the last Detachment arrived in Camp. I have mustered all this Battalion. You will observe I have passed some rather under size. They are very handsome, lively, promising Lad who will quickly arrive to the requisite Hight You will farther Observe I have passed two Men conditionally. One complains of his Leg, the other of his Arm. On a very careful Examination with the Surgeon we can discover nothing amiss. I suspect it is pretence They shall receive no pay ’till that is ascertained. To hasten the Decision I have directed them to be constantly employed as Camp-Color Men

Early this Week I expect to forward you the Monthly Return & Sentence of the Court-Martial. It would have been done earlier: But we have been interrupted by the Muster & the Persuit of these Deserters So soon as this is done I shall select as many Officers as are necessary to take Charge of the Recruits here stationed & dismiss the others to their recruiting Stations, to be changed every four or five Weeks I expect all this will be dispatched by the middle of the Week; when I hope to be well enough to ride to George Town & muster those.

With great Consideration I have the Honor to be Sir Your most Obdt Servt

J. Carvel Hall

I am happy to inform you the Deserter was taken about ⟨—⟩ O’Clock last Night


(ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). On the cover H wrote a draft of his reply: "Express my satisfaction. Observe that his judgment will guide him in determing how long some of the precautions such as the nocturnal roll call can be continued without harassing the Soldiers & producing disagreeable impressions on their minds. All is chearfully left to his prudence."

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