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after Hamilton entered Washington's staff, he disclosed to Duer, in Congress, the embarrassments they caused :
“The bearer of this is Mr. Malmedi, a French gentleman of learning, abilities, and experience. I believe he thinks himself entitled to preferment, and comes to Congress for that purpose.
“ At the recommendation of General Lee, he was made brigadier-general by the State of Rhode Island, and filled the station to the satisfaction of his employers, as appears by a letter from Governor Cook, speaking of him in the highest terms of approbation.
“ This had led him to hope that he would be adopted by the continent on an equal footing. But in this he will no doubt be mistaken, as there are many insuperable objections to such a measure.
“ Among others, it would tend to raise the expectations of the Frenchmen, in general already too high, to a pitch which it would be impossible to gratify or endure. It might not, however, be amiss to do whatever propriety would warrant to keep him in good humor, as he is a man of sense and merit.
“I think policy would justify the advancing him a step higher than his former continental rank.
Congress, in the beginning, went upon a very injudicious plan with respect to Frenchmen. To every adventurer that came, without even the shadow of credentials, they gave the rank of field officers. This circumstance, seconding the aspiring disposition natural to those people, carried the expectations of those who really had any pretensions to the character of officers, to such a length, that exceeded all the bounds of moderation. As it was impossible to pursue this impolitic plan, the Congress have begun to retrench their excessive liberality; and the consequence has been universal disgust and discontent.
“ It would perhaps be injurious, as the French are much addicted to national punctilio, to run into the opposite extreme to that first embraced, and by that mean create a general clamor and dissatisfaction. Policy suggests the propriety of discriminating a few of the most deserving, and endeavoring to keep them in temper, even by gratifying them beyond what they can reasonably pretend to. This will enable us to shake off the despicable part with safety, and to turn a deaf ear to the exorbitant demands of the many. It will be easily believed in France that their want of merit occasioned their want of success, from the extraordinary marks of favor that have been conferred on others; whereas, the united voice of complaint from the whole, might make ill impressions in their own country, which it is not our interest should exist.
“We are already greatly embarrassed with the Frenchmen among us, and from the genius of the people, shall continue to be so. It were to be wished that our agents in France, instead of courting them to come out, were instructed to give no encouragement, but where they could not help it; that is, where applications were made to them by persons countenanced and supported by great men whom it would be impolitic to disoblige. Be assured, sir, we shall never be able to satisfy them, and they can be of no use to us, at least for some time. Their ignorance of our language, of the disposition of the people, the resources and deficiencies of the country, their own habits and tempers,—all these are disqualifications that put it out of their power to be of real use or service to us. You will consider what I have said as entirely my own sentiments, and believe me to be with regard."
Though it was the policy of the cabal to foster these men, who, finding Washington unwilling to promote their
views at the sacrifice of the public interests, became its active instruments, yet when its power declined, Congress passed a resolution to check the evil.
Amid the various objects of moment which occupied his mind, Washington's iemper could ill brook the importunities with which he was continually beset; and he was occasionally drawn into expressions of opinion which were readily seized upon, and made the subject of unpleasant comments. His objection was not to meritorious, useful men, but “ to adventurers," as Hamilton expressed it. "These men," Washington wrote to Richard Henry Lee, “ have no attachment nor ties to the country, further than interest binds them; they have no influence, and are ignorant of the language they are to receive and give orders in; consequently great trouble or much confusion must follow.” “Our officers think it exceedingly hard, after they have toiled in this service, and probably have sustained many losses, to have strangers put over them, whose merit is not equal to their own, but whose effrontery will take no denial." "I am haunted and teased to death by the importunity of some, and dissatisfaction of others.” The exception is his vindication. “My ideas, * in this representation, do not extend to artillery officers and engineers. The first of these will be useful if they do not break in upon the arrangement of that corps already established by order of Congress ; the second are absolutely necessary, and not to be had here.” +
Another source of difficulty, and one productive of the most serious inconveniences, especially when viewed in connection with the preceding topic, was the imperfect condition of the regiments.
* Washington's Writings, iv., 424.
+ They came, “ loaded with debts, and ruined at home in reputation.”— Abbé Robin's Narrative.
The field officers in commission were so numerous, that adequate commands were in vain sought to be provided for them. It became necessary to combine selections from different corps; whence arose another difficulty,the appointment of officers from one State, to the command of the troops of another.
To remedy these defects—to devise a plan for the reduction of the regiments—to regulate rank, and to introduce system into the civil departments of the army, were the first objects which the commander-in-chief desired to accomplish, and which he pressed upon the attention of Congress with unremitting solicitude.
To aid these designs, within a short time after the army had taken up their winter-quarters, the committee appointed for that purpose repaired to camp.
On the twenty-eighth of January, a paper was submitted to them, giving a general outline of the defects in, and proposing amendments to, the existing arrangements. This production was digested with great labor, and bears marks of the most studied precision of language, and of a most careful arrangement of its parts. Its details had, doubtless, been well considered by Washington and others. But from two successive drafts in his handwriting, upon which are seen minute notes of reference to the heads of the different departments of the army, the paper, as completed, is manifestly the work of Hamilton.
The primary measure suggested in this plan was “a half-pay and pensionary establishment," a measure indicated by principles of justice, “ by the frequent resignations daily happening, and the more frequent importunities for permission to resign, and from some officers of the greatest merit.” The next consideration was, “ the completing the regiments and altering their establishment.” The failure to enlist by bounties indicated the necessity
of a resort to some other method. The mode proposed, though“ a disagreeable alternative,” yet deemed “unavoidable," was “by drafts from the militia.” As drafting for the war, or for a term of years, would probably be disgusting and dangerous, an annual draft of men was recommended. On or before a specified day, these drafted men were to be invited to re-enlist, and as an inducement, a bounty was offered.
“A new establishment of the regiments” was next proposed, omitting the rank of full colonels, for the reason that the enemy had none; and inconveniences in the exchange of prisoners would thus be avoided. The number of company officers was also to be reduced. An augmentation of the cavalry was recommended, and its establishment stated. The next topic was, “the arrangement of the army.” The troops from North Carolina were to be consolidated, and were either to join the main army, or to aid South Carolina or Virginia. The inducement to recommend this measure was stated to be " the possibility of the enemy's attempting a more southern expedition the next campaign.” “ This they may do,” it was observed, “ in order to gain possession of the capital of another State, which will give reputation to their arms in Europe, distress our trade, and abridge our supplies ; at the same time will enable ADMINISTRATION, in another instance, to avail themselves of the illusory idea they endeavor to hold up to the nation—to keep its hopes alive, and extract fresh contributions—that every State, whose capital is possessed, is conquered."
An exposition follows of the probable contributions in men by the respective States. The result anticipated was,—that the establishment would consist of eighty battalions, amounting, if complete, rank and file, to forty thousand three hundred and twenty. Plans for the artil