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that they are to proceed, with their united forces, by the route of Birch Island and Lake Ontario to Venango. Their object is to be Fort Pitt and the western posts. It is also said, that Connolly carries blank commissions, which are to be given to persons already in the country, and that there are several hundred persons now in the neighbourhood of Fort Pitt, who are to join him. As this last corresponds with a suspicion, which Colonel Brodhead entertains, I have written to him to take measures to secure or remove every suspected person. I am, Sir, &c.
TO LIEUTENANT-COLONEL ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
New Windsor, 27 April, 1781. DEAR SIR, Your letter of this date has not a little embarrassed me.* You must remember the ferment in the Pennsylvania line the last campaign, occasioned by the appointment of Major Macpherson, and you know the uneasiness that at this moment exists among the eastern troops on account of the commands conferred upon Colonel Gimat and Major Galvan, although it was the result of absolute necessity.
Should circumstances admit of the formation of another advanced corps, of which I see very little prospect from present appearances, it can be but small, and must be composed almost entirely of eastern troops; and to add to the discontents of the officers of those lines by the further appointment of an officer of your rank to the command of it, or in it, would, I am certain, involve me in a difficulty of a very disagreeable and delicate nature, and might perhaps lead to consequences more serious than it is easy to imagine. While I adhere firmly to the right of making such appointments as you request, I am at the same time obliged to reflect, that it will not do to push that right too far, more especially in a service like ours, and at a time so critical as the present. · I am convinced, that no officer can with justice dispute your merit and abilities. The opposition heretofore made has not been for the want of those qualifications in the gentlemen, who are and have been the objects of discontent. The officers of the line contend, without having reference to particular persons, that it is a hardship and reflection upon them to introduce brevet officers into commands, of some permanence, in which there are more opportunities of distinguishing themselves, than in the line of the army at large, and with the men they have had the trouble to discipline and prepare for the field.
* Having received a commission in the army of the United States, in consequence of a resolution of Congress for granting commissions to aids-de-camp, Colonel Hamilton applied for actual employment in a light corps. He was not now an aid-de-camp.
My principal concern arises from an apprehension, that you will impute my refusal of your request to other motives, than those I have expressed; but I beg you to be assured I am only influenced by the reasons, which I have mentioned. I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO COUNT DE ROCHAMBEAU.
New Windsor, 30 April, 1781. SIR, I assure your Excellency, that I feel extreme pain at the occasion of that part of your letter of the 26th instant, which relates to an intercepted letter of mine
published by the enemy.* I am unhappy that an accident should have put it in their power to give to the world any thing from me, which may contain an implication the least disagreeable to you, or to the Chevalier Destouches. I assure you sincerely, that I have no copy of the original letter in my possession, so that I am unable by a comparison to determine how far the publication may be just. The enemy have fabricated whole letters for me, and even a series of letters; and it is not improbable that they may have given a different turn to some of my expressions in the present instance. It would however be disingenuous in me not to acknowledge, that I believe the general import to be true.
The copy, however, which your Excellency has sent to me, differs in some respects from that which the enemy
* After quoting the extract from the letter to Lund Washington (copied above in the note to a letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, April 220), Count de Rochambeau said;
“If this was really written by your Excellency, I shall beg leave to observe, that the result of this reflection would seem to be, that we have had here the choice of two expeditions proposed, and that we have preferred the less to a more considerable undertaking, which your Excellency desired. If such is the meaning, I beg your Excellency to call to mind, that the line-of-battle ship and the two frigates went out of Newport on the 9th of February, on a demand made by Congress and the State of Virginia to the Chevalier Destouches; that your letter, with the plan for the going out of the whole fleet with a detachment of one thousand Frenchmen to act conjointly with the Marquis de Lafayette, bears date the 15th ; that I did not receive it till the 19th; that, having given an instant communication of it to M. Destouches, I had the honor on the 20th to send his answer to your Excellency; and that, no later than the day after the gale of wind, which weakened the British fleet towards the end of January, by the loss of the Culloden, I offered all the land forces that could possibly be transported by the navy, and have not ceased to do it since. I shall not mention to you the reasons, that delayed the departure of M. Destouches's squadron, because they do not come under my cognizance. I only state these facts to call to your mind these dates, which I beg you to verify by your correspondence, that you may be entirely persuaded, that there will never be the least delay in what concerns the troops whom I command, in the execution of your orders, as soon as I shall receive them.” — MS. Letter, April 26th.
have published, as you will perceive by the enclosed Gazette. Whatever construction it may bear, I beg your Excellency will consider the letter as private to a friend, a gentleman who has the direction of my affairs at home, totally unconnected with public affairs, and on whose discretion I could absolutely rely. No idea of the same kind has ever gone to any public body.
When I say, that I believe the general import of the publication to be true, I mean it in this sense, that there did appear to me a degree of delay in executing the enterprise suggested by me, of the causes of which I was not well apprized, and an idea of this kind was probably expressed in my letter to Mr. Washington. As to the apparent insinuation, that the first expedition had been preferred to the one proposed by me, I could not have intended to convey it, in its fullest latitude, because it would have been unjust. I could not but have recollected, that my formal proposal did not reach you till after the departure of the first squadron, though the suggestion of it was previous. My letter however was written in haste, and might have been inaccurately expressed. I have lately learnt, though not officially, that the cause of the delay I have alluded to was a want of supplies for the fleet. Impressed with a real esteem for and confidence in the Chevalier Destouches, I have heard this circumstance with satisfaction.
With this explanation, I leave the matter to his candor and to yours, and flatter myself it will make no impressions inconsistent with an entire persuasion of my sincere esteem and attachment. I have the honor to be, with perfect respect, &c.*
* In M. de Rochambeau's reply to the above, he expressed himself entirely satisfied. See a further explanation in the note appended to
TO MAJOR BENJAMIN TALLMADGE.
New Windsor, 30 April, 1781. Dear Sir, Fully impressed with the idea of the utility of early, regular, and accurate communication of the kind in contemplation, I shall make no difficulty in acceding to the proposal contained in your private letter from Newport. But at the same time that I am engaging in behalf of the United States a liberal reward for the services of the C--s,* of whose fidelity and ability I entertain a high opinion, it is certainly but reasonable, from patriotism and every other principle, that their exertions should be proportionably great, to subserve essentially the interest of the public. All the interior and minute arrangements of the correspondence I request that you will settle with them as expeditiously and advantageously as may be, and especially that you will urge, in very forcible terms, the necessity of having the communication as circumstantial, frequent, and expeditious as possible.
The great objects of information you are very well acquainted with ; such as arrivals, embarkations, preparations for movements, alterations of positions, situations of posts, fortifications, garrisons, strength or weakness of each, distribution and strength of corps, and, in general, every thing which can be interesting and important for us to know.
Besides these, you are also sensible there are many things upon a smaller scale, which are necessary to be reported, and that whatever intelligence is communicated ought to be, not in general terms, but in detail,
the letter to General Schuyler, March 23d; and in the letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, April 22d.
* Two spies in New York, who assumed the names of Samuel Culper, and Culper Junior.