Thomas Jefferson Papers

Henry Dearborn’s Plan for Reorganizing the Army, [7 December 1801]

Henry Dearborn’s Plan for Reorganizing the Army

[7 Dec. 1801]

Proposed Military Peace Establishment.

List of Posts and the Force proposed for each.

Names of Posts In what State, &ca. No. of Comps of Artillery No of Comps of Infantry
Michilimackinac   North Western Territory   1 1
Detroit   Dit to   1 4
Niagara   New York   1 1
Fort Wayne   North Western Territory     1
Pittsburgh & Cincinnati   Pennsylvania & N.W. Terry.     1
St. Vincennes   Indiana Territory     1
Fort Massac   near the mouth of the Ohio     1
Southwest Point, &ca.   Tennessee   1 2
Chickasaw Bluffs   On the Mississippi   1  
Fort Adams   On Ditto—near the Spanish Boundary   1 4
Fort   On the Mobile river, near the Spanish Boundary }   1
Fort Green, Fort Wilkinson & (say) Cumberland Island } Georgia   1 3
Fort Moultrie, &ca. & Fort Johnston   South Carolina & North Carolina   2  
Forts Norfolk, &ca. & Fort McHenry   Virginia & Maryland   2  
Fort Mifflin & the Arsenal   near Philadelphia, Pennsylva.   2  
Fort Jay & Westpoint   New York   2  
Fort Wolcott & Fort Trumbull   Rhode Island & Connecticut   2  
Fort Independence, and Magazine at Springfield } Massachusetts   2  
Fort Constitution and Fort } New Hampshire & District of Maine } 1  
Total.   20 20
Twenty Companies of Artillery, and
Twenty Companies of Infantry.

Organization of the proposed Military Peace Establishment.

One Regiment of Artillery, to consist of

   1 Colonel,

   1 Lieutenant Colonel,

   4 Majors,

   4 Teachers of Music, and 20 Companies, each to consist of

   1 Captain,

   1 First Lieutenant,

   1 Second Lieutenant,

   2 Cadets,

   4 Sergeants,

   4 Corporals,

   4 Musicians,

   8 Artificers and

  56 Privates.

Total—Artillery—Non-Commissioned Officers, Musicians, Artificers and Privates—(exclusive of Cadets.)—1,524.

Two Regiments of Infantry, to consist of, each,

   1 Colonel,

   1 Lieutenant Colonel,

   1 Major,

   1 Adjutant,

   1 Quarter Master,

   1 Sergeant Major,

   1 Quarter Master Sergeant,

   2 Teachers of Music,

and 10 Companies, each to consist of

   1 Captain,

   1 First Lieutenant,

   1 Second Lieutenant,

   1 Ensign,

   4 Sergeants,

   4 Corporals,

   4 Musicians, and

  64 Privates.

Total—Infantry—Non Commissioned Officers, Musicians
  and privates 1,528
Total Artillery (as above) 1,524

Total Artillery and Infantry, exclusive of Commissioned Officers and Cadets, Three Thousand and fifty two.

Commissioned Officers and Cadets, One hundred & ninety two. Total—Artillery and Infantry—Three Thousand, two hundred and forty four.

Adjutants and Quarter Masters to be taken from the line.

In addition to the foregoing, a Corps of Engineers, organized as follows, is proposed, viz;

1 principal Engineer, with the rank, pay & emoluments of a Major;

2 Assistant Engineers, with the rank, pay & emoluments of Captains;

2 other Assistants, with the rank, pay & emoluments of First Lieutenants;

2 other Assistants, with the rank, pay & emoluments of Second Lieutenants;

10 Cadets, with the pay of 16 Dollars per month & two Rations per Day.

The Corps to be so organized by law as to admit of the promotion of the principal Engineer to the rank, pay & emoluments of a Lieutenant-Colonel, and thence to those of a Colonel; and of the promotion of the several Assistants and Cadets to the several grades before mentioned: which promotions should be made by the President of the United States, with a view to particular merit, and without regard to original rank. Those with the rank of Field-Officers to be called Engineers, and the other Officers Assistant Engineers. The Corps, in time of peace to be restricted to, at most, 1 Colonel, 1 Lieutenant Colonel, 2 Majors, 4 Captains, 4 First Lieutenants, 4 Second Lieutenants & 4 Cadets.

This Corps to be stationed generally at the Military Academy at Westpoint, subject to the orders of the President of the United States.

The principal Engineer, and, in his absence, the next in rank, to have the superintendance of the Military School, under the direction of the President of the United States.

The foregoing plans contemplate the appointments of Surgeons and Mates to Posts, and not to Regiments; and the appointments of Paymasters to Districts and not to particular Corps. There should be a Surgeon or Mate to each post, and the pay-districts may be six—the Paymasters to be stationed as follows. viz:

One at Detroit—to pay the troops at that post, at Niagara, at Michilimackinac and Fort Wayne—and to have an Assistant to reside at Michilimackinac.

One at Fort Adams—to pay the troops on the Mississippi & Mobile, and to have an Assistant to reside on the Ohio.

One at Savannah—to pay the troops in Georgia and South Carolina.

One at Fort McHenry, near Baltimore—to pay the troops at that post, at Norfolk and at Philadelphia.

One at New York—to pay the troops at that place, at Westpoint, in Connecticut & Rhode Island.

One at Boston—to pay the troops in Massachusetts, including the District of Maine, and in New Hampshire.

The Troops in Tennessee may be paid by the Agent of the War Department resident in that state, and those in North-Carolina, by an Assistant stationed there.

The Paymaster of the Army to be authorised to appoint, with the Consent of the President of the United States, the several Paymasters and Assistants, taking sufficient security for their faithful performance of their duties. The Paymasters & their Assistants to have charge of, and account for all Clothing delivered to the troops within their respective districts.

At each post, one of the Officers should do the duty of Assistant Military Agent, as a substitute for an Assistant of the Quarter Master General’s Department; for which service he should be allowed, say, from eight to twelve Dollars per month extra, according to the number of troops at each post.

The whole of the troops to be mustered and inspected, at least once in every year, and more frequently when practicable, by the Commanding Field-Officers of the respective Pay Districts, for which service and the extra expences attending the performance of it, those Officers should receive a reasonable compensation; it should also be their duty to examine all muster and pay-rolls made by other Officers in their absence, and report any errors which may be discovered to the Paymaster of the Army. All musters & inspections, not made as above, should be made by the Commanding Officers of the respective posts, and when not made by a Field-Officer, the pay-rolls certified by such commanding Officer, should be also certified by the Surgeon or Surgeon’s Mate at the Post.

From the dispersed situation of the troops, and the various and distant directions in which their supplies are necessarily to be conveyed, a Quarter Master General can be of but little use, compared with the duties which such an Officer is expected to perform, with an Army in the field: it is therefore proposed to substitute, say, three Military Agents, whose duty it shall be to receive and forward all military stores and other articles, not only for the troops in their respective Departments, but also, all goods, annuities, &ca. for the Indians, and to account annually with the Department of War, for all property which may pass through their hands, and for all monies which they shall expend.—One of these Agents should reside either at New York, Albany or Schenectady; one at Philadelphia, and one at Savannah in Georgia: the pay of each of them to be equal to the pay and emoluments, say, of a Major in the Army, and bonds should be given for their faithful performance of their duties.

It will be proper to make the Officers, who may be appointed Assistant Military Agents at Pittsburgh and Niagara, a greater additional compensation for the duties which they will have to perform as such, than is above recommended to be made to the like officers at the posts generally.

The establishment, proposed above, contemplates the appointment of one General Officer, with one or two Aids de Camp, and one detail Officer, who may be designated as Adjutant & Inspector of the Army: the Aids de Camp to be taken from the line of Captains or Subalterns, and the Adjutant & Inspector from the line of Field-Officers.

The General and the Adjutant & Inspector should reside at such central position, as would best enable them to communicate with the Government and the different posts. The General should be allowed such pay per month, as will be sufficient, without any other such emoluments as rations, forage, quarter master’s stores, &ca. &ca. except Stationary—by which means all disputes in settling his accounts would be avoided.

The Adjutant and Inspector should receive   dollars per month, in addition to his pay and emoluments in the line, and no other emoluments, except Stationary.

The Aid de Camp should be allowed   dollars per month, in addition to his pay in the line.

The Paymaster of the Army should reside at or near the seat of Government, and should have a certain monthly pay, without any emoluments.

It may be advisable to allow the General, the Pay-master, and the Adjutant and Inspector to frank their public letters.

MS (DLC); in a clerk’s hand; undated; endorsed by TJ as received from the War Department on 7 Dec. and “Military establishmt.”

Dearborn sent a copy of the first element of this document, the table containing the list of posts with the number of companies allocated to each garrison, to the House of Representatives on 23 Dec. 1801. That version of the table was titled “Estimate of all the Posts and Stations where Garrisons will be expedient, and of the number of men required for each garrison.” A note at the foot of the table stated that each of the 20 companies of infantry and 20 companies of artillery would consist of 76 men, not counting commissioned officers and cadets (MS in DNA: RG 233, RCSH, 7th Cong., 1st sess., in a clerk’s hand, signed by Dearborn; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Military Affairs, 1:156). At some point TJ received another copy of the table. That version, titled “A proposed Military, Peace establishment,” designated the company at Massac to be artillery rather than infantry, and showed all three companies at Southwest Point to be infantry. According to that table, each company would have 72 rank and file (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 119:20553; in a clerk’s hand).

Also on 23 Dec., Dearborn transmitted to the House of Representatives “A General Return of the Army of the United States” in tabular form, prepared by the army’s inspector, Major Thomas H. Cushing. The return showed the numbers of officers and enlisted men of each rank, and the numbers called for by the existing organization of the army. According to that report, which was dated 19 Dec., the army consisted of 4,051 officers and men, some 1,384 less than the authorized number of 5,438. The return included two troops of dismounted cavalry, two regiments of artillerists and engineers, and four regiments of infantry (DNA: RG 233, RCSH, 7th Cong., 1st sess.; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Military Affairs, 1:155). In TJ’s papers there is a “Disposition proposed for the Artillerists and Engineers, 1801,” showing the locations of 32 companies making up two regiments of artillerists and engineers. TJ also received an undated “Return of the present Military Establishment of the United States complete,” which was probably from 1801 since it is in the same handwriting as the “Disposition,” and, like the return that Dearborn sent to the House in December, accounted for two troops of cavalry, two regiments of artillery, and four regiments of infantry. The undated return, which reported the potential size of the army rather than numbers of men actually in service, showed an aggregate number of 5,598 officers and enlisted men (DLC: TJ Papers, 119:20554, 20558; in a clerk’s hand).

Jonathan Williams called on Dearborn early in December 1801 and found the secretary of war “fully occupied” with the plan for the organization of the army’s “Peace Establishment.” Dearborn shared the details of the proposal with Williams but asked him to keep the plan secret. TJ broached the subject of a reduction of the size of the army in his annual message, and on 22 Dec. the House of Representatives passed a resolution asking the secretary of war for “a statement of the present Military establishment; together with an estimate of all the posts and stations where garrisons will be expedient, and of the number of men requisite for each garrison.” Dearborn’s transmittal of the “Estimate of all the Posts” and the “General Return of the Army” to the House on 23 Dec. was in response to that resolution. The promptness of his response, and the similarity of the resolution’s specifications to documents he already had on hand, imply that he and TJ had been expecting the resolution. The House received the documents on 24 Dec., and on the 30th passed a resolution declaring that it was “expedient to reduce the Military establishment of the United States.” Dearborn privately conveyed the army reorganization plan to Congressman Joseph B. Varnum, who was on the committee. Reporting for the committee on 11 Jan. 1802, Varnum introduced a bill founded on Dearborn’s prospectus. The “Act fixing the military peace establishment of the United States” became law on 16 Mch. (Crackel, Mr. Jefferson’s Army description begins Theodore J. Crackel, Mr. Jefferson’s Army: Political and Social Reform of the Military Establishment, 1801–1809, New York, 1987 description ends , 40–3; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:24, 26, 28–9, 45; Dearborn to the speaker of the House, 23 Dec. 1801, in DNA: RG 233, RCSH, 7th Cong., 1st sess.; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:132–7).

The act of 16 Mch. followed the plan printed above with regard to the size and organization of the army, calling for one regiment of artillery and two infantry regiments of the sizes indicated by Dearborn’s proposal. The act omitted any provision for teachers of music in the artillery regiment and called for that regiment to have an adjutant. There would be no quartermaster general, regimental quartermasters, or quartermaster sergeants. The statute authorized the president to establish a corps of engineers with officers and cadets of the ranks listed in Dearborn’s plan. The army would have two surgeons and 25 surgeons’ mates, “to be attached to garrisons or posts, and not to corps.” Seven paymasters and two assistant paymasters, under a paymaster of the army, would be appointed from the ranks of the army’s commissioned officers and “attached to such districts as the President of the United States shall direct.” Mirroring Dearborn’s proposal, the law called for three military agents along with assistant agents at the posts. Under the act, the army would have one general officer, a brigadier, supported by an aide-de-camp and another officer acting as both adjutant and inspector. Those two officers of the general’s staff were to have the ranks indicated by the secretary’s plan (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:133, 137).

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