tv Alexander Hamiltons Military Career CSPAN August 3, 2021 9:52am-11:03am EDT
service. next on american history tv, history historian damien cregeau talks about alexander hamilton's military career. the dey mansion in new jersey hosted this event. welcome to the dey mansion, washington's headquarters. i'm so happy that all of you are here and joining us today for this program. if you have not been here before, definitely after the lecture today please stay and take a tour with our staff and just before i introduce our guest speaker. we do have light refreshments for you in the kitchen, coffee, tea, cheese, crackers, cookies.
please feel free to get up and take what you like. rest rooms are in this building. you do not have to go to the visitor center, they're also in the kitchen, there's a door, open it. the rest rooms are over there. our staff today, we have ken who's in the back there. we have kelly who i'm not sure where he's hiding at this moment, and then you have myself. i am the director of the department of cultural and historical affairs and the director of this site. so we, again, we are fortunate enough to have damien cregeau to share his knowledge and expertise on alexander hamilton and his wise to military fame and glory. so mr. cregeau graduated from hillsdale college with a bachelor's degree in history and from colorado state university with a master's degree in history. mr. cregeau has been an independent historian researching, writing, and giving presentations throughout the northeast since 2007. he's a scholar of the american
revolution with research interests that include espionage during the war. he has published historical features, the journal of the u.s. marine corps as well as the american spirit financial history, and the journal of the american revolution. he has given presentations on espionage and the revolution to such groups as the north jersey revolutionary war in morris town. he's been here before in 2017 with another wonderful presentation. the francis tavern museum in new york city and the fbi museums new york office. fbi's new york office. mr. cregeau is a long-time resident of southern new jersey. he and his wife who's here today in the front are long-time reenactors and they own two houses in connecticut dating from 1765. one belonged to a private in the war, and the other belonged to three brothers, each of whom became generals as well as owners of the house in
secession. without further ado, damien cregeau. >> wonderful to have all of you here today. i was joking earlier, we have our flanking maneuvers, left and right flank in our adjoining rooms, much like the battle of monmouth. wonderful to have everyone packed into our room that meets the 18th century converging with the 20th century. we can be high-tech. i feel much the same as does my wife because i've been a long-time reenactor. you can see me dressed as an officer, a captain in the u.s. army. i have reenacted at the battle of monmouth three times in sweltering heat like today, and there i am speaking twice for the alexander hamilton awareness society of which i'm a member. i've spoken twice at alexander hamilton's grave, which of course is at trinity church in downtown manhattan. a very challenging place to
speak when you're dealing with construction noise and traffic. >> i wrote an article one time called the six degrees of alexander hamilton and the huntington's of norwich, and it's because my wife and i own the general huptington house in norwich. the house is pictured on the left. there's his portrait based on his miniature painting by john trumable and his brother-in-law. and her famous younger brother, john trumble pat painter and -- we got blown out of the water, $26,000 for a pair of epilets, okay. the hamilton we know, there's so little that we know. there's so much in which we focus on his accomplishments as
treasury secretary, for the infamous duel. we know how the story ends, he's going to be killed by aaron burr, and then a few other things, you know, these so-called rumors about scandals and so forth. and a little bit about his military accomplishments, so that's what i'm focusing on today because that's what we tend to not know, and here is a portrait by john trumble. like alexander hamilton, he also at one point served as an aide to general george washington during the revolution. he served the shortest. he was there for about three weeks, a very talented artist. this is his portrait that was used for the $10 bill. there's a lot more to him than that head. there's the entire full length portrait that sits in new york city hall. we've had the permission from city hall to reprice to hang in our house. i hope that's what you take away
from today is the appreciation for the all the amazing accomplishments not just as an aide to washington. that's a heavy portion of it. you're going to see a lot more than that. starts out as a captain, and then he's later lieutenant colonel, and this is probably i'd say one of the best known portraits of hamilton in a military uniform during the american revolution. the new york artillery. there's one problem, he's not dressed as ab artillery officer, i know this a reenactor in scholar revolution, that hat is the hat of a light infantry officer at yorktown late in the war. certainly his uniform is very similar to the one he's wearing when he was in the artillery. >> this is the portrait you probably have not seen. how many of you know hamilton towards the end of his life was a major general at the end. it's by william weaver, circa
1800, here he is, and we'll get to that story in a little bit, towards the end. there's someone else who came from humble beginnings, grows up on a remote island, starts out as an artillery officer and becomes an incredibly famous military leader and that of course is napoleon bonaparte. there's an interesting comparison you can make between those two. it was the quickest way that you could rise in the military ranks. it's like if you're a baseball fan like i am, if you want to get to the majors quickly, get drafted as a catcher, you'll make it to the majors. young hamilton, what do we know about him before we get into military career, i wanted to give a little bit of a warmup. not a whole lot in terms of illustration. on the left we have something in black and white that's hard to find in color. it's alexander hamilton, we think, it's attributed to him. we have no proof. there's little provenance to
that. working for a merchant in st. croix. his mother rachel was a wonderful woman, a wonderful role model. rachel was a very bright whom in her day was quite rare, had quite a large collection of books, so you should be aware of what an inspiration she was to him and his learning. on the right a much more documented painting by charles wilson peel. it's at the columbia rare books library. they no longer show that because of the popularity of the musical. you no longer have the access that 12 of us were lucky enough. it was wonderful to get to ee that and hold their wedding rings and that's where those items are located at. some friends of mine run an organization called the hearts
of oak. this was alexander hamilton's first military organization. it started out known as the corsigans, interesting link again to napoleon. it gets renamed the hearts of oak. and on the red hearts or the caps it says liberty or death. beautiful unusual bright green uniforms and as you noticed from the photo on the right, they've been here to the dey mansion. this is from their facebook page. they've also been as you see from the center photo at grange there, hamilton's estate in upper manhattan. where did the alexander hamilton train his hearts of oak new york militia unit, in the churchyard of st. paul's chapel on broadway. i don't know how you do that without multiple tripping hazards with headstones. that church has been there a long time. there were plenty of headstones already made of stone and wood in the 1770s. that's where they trained. if you have not been there, i highly encourage you do.
it's the site of the first memorial to a fallen general in u.s. history and that is brigadier general richard montgomery who was killed unfortunately way ahead of his time for death in the attack of quebec city and ben franklin felt so guilty about that, that he wanted to have this elaborate memorial put up for him there. you can see that in the front of the church. now, was this the first meeting of george washington and alexander hamilton? i'm talking about the story that they met at fort bunker hill in lower manhattan april of '76. we don't know. maybe they met there. maybe they didn't. it's more likely that washington and hamilton met later in 1776 during washington's organized retreat through the state of new jersey. okay. but this is possible. bayard's hill, ill point it out on the a map is the highest
point at that point in lower manhattan. unfortunately manhattan's contours changed over time so we lost our hills and dales substantially, so you wouldn't know where bayard's hill is now, but i'll show it to you on a map in a minute. one thing we do know is that alexander hamilton's artillery unit does fire on two british ships. they are the h.m.s. phoenix and the h.m.s. rose and this occurred on july 12th, 1776. so we're talking just a weak week after the declaration has been red by washington's to the troops in lower manhattan. the h.m.s. rose is a ship used. hamilton and burr, it's not proven but it's likely they did cover george washington as well as general israel putnam's retreat through manhattan from the left side, that is the dark red that represents all of what
new york city was as of 1776. question, greenwich village was a separate village. manhattan was just that little tip, new york city rather. we just don't have substantial proof of it. this wonderful high resolution map which i wish i had time to blow up does show the location of bayard's hill, which was right there. that was the fort bunker hill used by alexander hamilton and his artillery. now another question comes up. was hamilton at the battle of white plains? probably not. thanks to the scholarship of my friend michael newton who is also speaking today at another location, michael is a scholar of alexander hamilton and has written not one but two books on hamilton. hamilton the formative years and discovering hamilton and what michael has been able to demonstrate with primary source evidence is that 9/10 of the
artillery were not at the battle of white plains. there's a nine out of ten chance that hamilton was not there and furthermore neither henry knox or george washington mention hamilton or his unit by name. now this we do know for sure. hamilton first full-fledged combat, he's not just shooting at two ships in the river and, you know, a cannon explodes near him a few minutes later. this is full combat now. my grandfather was a career marine, i can appreciate how traumatic this must have been. he was at rutrutgers. this is brunswick, new jersey. it was the queen's college campus. it wasn't known as rutgers, just like columbia was formerly known as king's college. that's where hamilton was attending for a few years and would have graduated had war not broken out. my charming wife here -- it says
from the class of 1899, early december, 1776, alexander hamilton not a graduate of king's college as the sign says had a battery horse artillery and crossed the fort of the rareton delaying the advance of the british across the river while washington withdrew through princeton to trenton, and that is indeed true. there are multiple eyewitness reports saying hamilton's artillery unit delivered withering fire that dramatically slowed down the advance of the british forces there right where my wife rode every morning for rutgers crew on the rariton river. i love to make reference to the local stuff. we can also say alexander hamilton helping find american industry. we are west of patterson falls. washington crossing the delaware, famous scene by emmanuel lutz on christmas night december 25th into the morning of the 26th.
a large life-sized painting, but here's a realistic one that came out much more recently in 2011 and debuted at the new york historical society. you can see it was at nighttime. it was a different kind of craft. there's a cannon, maybe it's hamilton's and so on and so forth. not good weather. similarly, another painting by connecticut's own don troyani, amazingly talented painter who is now retired. this is one of his last paintings he did, victory or death. and it's hamilton and washington and others including the future president james monroe also an artillery officer under knox for the battle of trenton. there they are in the early morning light trudging through the ice and snow. you can imagine how cold they must have felt. hamilton's artillery was indeed at both battles of trenton. what do i mean? we hear of the battle of trenton. what do i mean battle with, just like there's two battles of saratoga, there are two battles of trenton. the second one is not as famous.
it's known as the bat of asamprink creek. not a color drawing that could be found on the right. it is well documented that hamilton much like he did at brunswick over the river uses his cannon -- overshadowed by the surprise attack at trenton a few days later as well as the second surprise attack, which is the u.s. army at princeton. the problem is, yes, hamilton's artillery is somewhere in the battle of princeton. we don't know exactly where and there is no evidence whatsoever for the lofty legend, but it tells a great story that he fires a cannon with multiple shots at nassau hall and decapitates king george iii's whose portrait hanging on the wall inside. it makes a great story, but
there is no evidence for such a tale, but it's a good one. there were offers not from one or two but actually three very well-known generals in the american revolution at the time. the one on the left is the one you may not have heard of but many of you are from new jersey so hopefully you have. it's general william alexander aka lord sterling who was buried just 75 feet from alexander alt trinity church. it's my friend john restoe who followed up my suggestion to put u.s. flags there. i thank john for doing that. it's important that we mark him. an incredible brave general in multiple battles including the battle of new york as well as the battle of monmouth, and he lived not far from here. he had the huge estate. one of the reasons we don't remember him is that his house burned down, but we have that beautiful state park there. hamilton receives an offer from lord sterling, come be my aid. he receives an offer from the
fighting quaker. each time hamilton amazingly says thanks but no thanks. what does he yearn for? battlefield command. he's worried if he takes a desk job he doesn't rise as quickly, doesn't achieve the prestige as quickly as he would if he were on the battlefield. and of course we know much again like the titanic story, that it's going to end with yorktown. he will finally achieve that heroism he yearns for on the battle. in the meantime, someone named george washington comes along and that's an offer he can't refuse. he still takes a month to think it over. he's like a good attorney. i'll wait on this, let me think on this. he finally says yes. washington had made the offer in january of '77, had invited him to his headquarters for a dinner. i think hamilton was convinced this is definitely going to be well worth it. our first proof is washington's orders of march 1st, 1777, and it reads, headquarters
morristown, alexander hamilton esquire is appointed aid to camp to the commander in chief, and is to be respected and obeyed as such. extract of general orders, alexander you're going to hear about scamel later during the siege of yorktown. you can find transcriptions like this letter on the library of congress's website. of course the collection of the washington papers housed by the library of congress. the transcriptions are at founders archives.org. a lot of authors will say this is all happening when hamilton's 22 years old. he's actually 20. michael newton and other scholars were able to prove alexander was not born in '55. he was born in '57. think of where you were at 20. were you helping washington as his chief of staff. could you have risen in battles as many times as he could. most of them are in their early
30s. note on the screen, 19th aide-de-camp already. there was a lot of turnover. there's a wonderful book by a local author named arthur lefkowitz about washington's 32 aids to camp. hamilton serves as aide to washington from 1777 to april of '81. that's four years. quite a stretch, a very colorful stretch filled with frustrations and all kinds of peaks and valleys so washington at that point has headquarters set up not far from here at jacob arnold's tavern on the green. not the famous tavern on the green. there's a sign there for it as you probably know if you've been there and unfortunately the arnold's tavern burnt down in 1918. a fire. washington typically had five aides and/or secretaries. secretaries were probably doing most of the writing side of things. aides were also doing writing, but what i would guess, there's no proof of this, but my
assumption would be when washington's distinguishing between a secretary and an aide, the aide might have more varied activities, reconnaissance missions and so forth whereas the secretary's going to stay back at headquarters including here at dey mansion which we'll talk about and that's probably how the labor was split up. most at any time was seven. can you imagine seven of them sleeping in the same room or even sitting in the same room on a hot day like today or the cold times. the typical task as i mentioned was writing copying letters for washington copious is an understatement. copious amounts of writing and letters, and they were often dictated by washington to his aides including hamilton now as i just stoop here for a refresher. you have some aides to his excellency george washington. he was particularly fond of and someone who basically became an
honorary stepson and the three aides would be alexander hamilton, david humphreys of derby, connecticut, there in the center later in life and on the right a composite of george washington, markita lafayette, and tench tillman. tench tillman is the third of those three aides he was very close with. tillman is the one you least likely have heard of. he was incredible, a talented man. he died in 1786. he died quite young, and that is very unfortunate. here's a blowup of that painting by charles wilson peele that hangs in annapolis, washington, lafayette and tillman. now, another interesting thing speaking of triptics are the three officers standing on morristown green. we're talking about this statue put up not long ago on the green. it represents lafayette standing
on the left. the 5'7" hamilton in the middle and the ever so tall giraffe like george washington on the right. was george 6'3", probably not. he was probably more like 6'1" like myself. there's been some new scholarship on his height. okay? now, one of the things that gets overlooked is alexander hamilton's provisions mission into philadelphia. this is quite interesting and it gets overva overshadowed. you have to feed mars. you must feed it, especially as they're about to go into winter encampment at valley forge. it's late september '77 and hamilton is sent by washington with other officers to go on horseback and go into downtown philadelphia and gather as many horses, general supplies you can think of food basically, clothing, and blankets in the city of philadelphia. why? because they know they're going to lose the city to british.
they decided they're not going to put a fight in the city. they will stay out towards white marsh and eventually valley forge and receive the supplies there. and what's key in hamilton's handling of the special operation is his discretion as to who he will take these supplies from. he doesn't just take them nilly willy from everyone. if you're poor and you rely on your horse for your transportation, he does not take the horse. if you're one of those families who's a strong patriot rather than a loyalist, what more you can put on a horse before the british comes to the city, he also doesn't take from those people. that discretion is quite telling. there's so many times in which we get overshadowed with later life scandals, many of which were refuted to not realize how kindhearted a gentleman hamilton was, and this mission as you can figure out really helped the state of the continental army
during the winter encampment, particularly those blankets. another mission that gets overshadowed. the emissary trip, he's sent as the official representative of george washington in late fall of 1777. he will serve as washington's proxy. leave the philadelphia region. go all the way up. it's going to take him weeks to get there. washington needs his three brigades back. he had left three brigades to horatio gates to fight in the saratoga campaign in upstate new york earlier that year. washington needs them back and he would like to have them among them daniel morgan's riflemen. this mission takes most of november into december. when hamilton meets gates it's in albany. the battle is over. he's glowing in the aftermath of the victory, and one of the challenges that hamilton of course will encounter is that he's a 20-year-old aide who's born on an island. he's dealing with someone in
gates who is well established with the new england and northeastern aristocracy who's very powerful, old enough to be his dad, and is a two-star general. do you think he wants to hear from a 20-year-old colonel that washington would like three brigades back? does gates have any respect for george washington for that matter? no. not at all. so much like some of the politics that we all witness or participate in modern times, there's politics in that time around the military, and alexander hamilton's first attempts are fruitless. they're futile. he then finally decides he's been duped. when gates says, okay, fine, you can have patterson's brigade, he looks at patterson's brigade and says it's way under strength. he does some detective work in albany and finds out within days patterson's brigade has already been wiped out at the saratoga campaign. there's been huge attrition numbers. that's not even a full brigade.
he's duping me. he's conning me. he puts in both writing in person, face-to-face heated exchanges to gates who finally relents after weeks he says, fine, okay, i will finally relent to washington's demands. and it shows how much trust that hamilton received from washington to go on this mission. similarly after he meets with gates, he then has to meet with an equally incorrigible general william putnam, he doesn't want to listen to alexander hamilton either. at this point, putnam's old enough to probably be his grandfather because putnam is in his 60s. he says, no, i'm not giving up my soldiers. he too will eventually relent to hamilton's strong demands. hamilton knows when he has to turn the screws a little bit and really forcefully speak on behalf of george washington. it's for that reason we can have this quote here from my friend michael newton who writes, quote, by granting hamilton
discretion in his mission, washington left the entire course of the war and possibly its outcome in the hands of his youngest aide. hamilton had already earned washington's complete trust. that's from page 220 of the formative years. so of course george washington hadn't won at saratoga. in fact, he had basically lost at the battles of brandywine and germantown outside of philadelphia earlier that fall or the same time period. so at that point, gates is getting all the rave success, which he didn't deserve. it should be skyler's, arnold's koes kush goes, but gates will take the fame. the rivals include benjamin rush and many other powerful people like john adams. rush says i think that they're actually ruled by generals green, general knox and colonel
hamilton. why do i want to mention the three of them? look at how hamilton is only a 20-year-old aide and he's already seen as influential as two senior generals in the american revolution. that says a lot about alexander hamilton's leadership ability and the confidence that washington placed upon him. we all know the general story of valley forge. here is washington's headquarters at valley forge. it's the isaac pots who was a wealthy quaker who lived in philadelphia most of the time. this is his summer house. so it only has one working fireplace in the main part of the house, built in 1773, and washington and his so-called family, his family were his aides and his secretaries, okay, not literally his biological family, but those who were living with him day in and day out from sunrise to sundown working together. and they will live at isaac pots house for quite some time, december of '77 to june of '78
aside from the hasbrook. you can see the beautiful wood paneling just like we have here. it's a cozy interior, it's about 16 feet long. everyone has to pack in there and there are some events that are quite influential where lots of people are packed in there, much like we are today. hamilton's blueprint for reorganizing the army is often overlooked. he has this beautiful blue print that he drafts in the bleak mid winter. january 29, 1778 he composes a massive document of 16,000 words. that is quite a lot of writing. hamilton was verbose with his speech as well as with his written word, and it detailed the necessary steps required by congress to completely reorganize the army. congress was in shambles, the army was in shambles. we've seen that in recent
military and political history. we have plenty of historic precedent to draw from for that for inspiration. there were ideas contributed by many of the various generals, including nathaniel green to create this blueprint and the wording is mostly by alexander hamilton. it's kind of a harbinger of all the work he will pour into all the other documents he can think of, most famously the federalist papers. there's a variety of tasks for hamilton as an aide. a mini time out here. correspondence with generals of course taking up most of the volume. we have all these one and two-star generals that are militia and continental army that washington's receiving and sending letters to. correspondence with congress, you know, you're talking about all of the presidents of congress starting with john hancock and samuel huntington of connecticut and everyone else, john adams, john jay.
there were negotiations for prisoner exchanges. that often gets overlooked. hamilton was very skilled at the nuances of prisoner exchanges with the british. and in fact, at one point some 600 soldiers were exchanged from the british back to the americans, i believe it was at elizabeth sometime in the middle of the war, and hamilton handled all of that along with the help of eliza blew mow. there were diplomatic measures for hamilton to handle with france. alexander hamilton and john lawrence his good friend were both fluent in french, and for that reason they could be sent by washington in the middle of the war to meet with admiral disdang when his fleet anchored off the coast of new jersey. then there was my favorite topic, the intelligence in the american war in which hamilton had to help george washington who was indeed the spy master with handling all of the different generals and case officers and independent agents who were feeding him all kinds
of intelligence, some good, some not so good, and of course constantly suspicions of double agents or moles just like a tv show or a novel. two spy rings were particularly important, most of us have heard of the benjamin tall midge's cull per spy ring that operated through sata -- right out of here in new jersey into staten island, that's colonel elias dayton of what was then called elizabethtown, modern day city of elizabeth into staten island. they at the same time were trying to call the same intelligence about new york city that tall midge's agents were doing. what washington figured out is if you have to have redun tan -- redundancy. great quote by robert troop. quote, the pen for our army was held by hamilton.
indeed, that's why we know so much of hamilton's and washington's inner thoughts during the revolution is because of the pen of hamilton and washington is quoted in regards to hamilton as saying, quote, hamilton was his principle and most confidential aide, that pretty much says it all. continuing with the theme of spies, alexander hamilton is also not buried near lord sterling, but also the famous hercules mulligan. mulligan helped occasionally with the ring. he was more of an independent agent. hamilton and mulligan already knew each other from the manhattan days, very early. mulligan was a tailor and it just so happened that of course as a tailor he would be improving or providing new uniforms for british leadership. so that's a great eavesdropping opportunity to pick up
information, and he's also housing, one of the things that we were rebelling against, july 4th of '76 was the quartering of troops and his home where he and his wife lived at 23 queen street, the tavern area of manhattan also had officers from a regiment, and so he's able to receive some information from that time as well. he talks about this in his so-called narrative later in life, and it's also the reason why we know that his younger brother hugh was also involved in gathering intelligence. he was a merchant at a nearby marketplace and he could gather information from the british. the mulligan brothers really did a great job through hamilton to washington to provide timely intelligence in addition to the core of the culprit ring and the aforementioned dayton ring. it's also quite possible, we don't have strong proof but we
have circumsubstantial proof. washington also has hamilton assigned to help the baron von stoi van major general. his second language is french, so john lawrence and alexander hamilton french speakers fluent are able to help stoyvan whip this rather shoddy army into proper professional shape at valley forge. he's doing the drills interspersed with french curse words and other things and hamilton has to be judicious in how he translates. von steuben was a bit of a hot head. had he done all the things he claimed he'd done back in pressure. probably not. he probably was not a baron. he was documented as a major in
the prussian army. there's a painting of him by the famous ralph earl after the american revolution. hamilton is also a translator for the famous marquee delafayette who was like a son to george washington. lafayette was such a charming young aristocrat as the 19-year-old boy general, washington took him under his wing. he's also going to help with the lesser known general but who's important as an army engineer and that is louis deporte who worked at valley forge and monmouth. something i like to study and i'm writing a scholarly article about this, that hardly gets talked about are washington's many councils of war during the american revolution. there are two in particular that i find fascinating because of
who's there. let's read through the list and imagine them crammed into isaac pots living room. we have george washington, charles lee, nathaniel green, benedict arnold, he's limping in because he's the military governor of philadelphia at the time. lord sterling, mar keed lafayette, baron von steuben. henry knox, matt anthony wayne, jedediah and the just mentioned due por ta. that's quite a list and to top it off who's taking notes and making suggestions off the record, alexander hamilton who himself will become a major general later in life. it's a who's who. that is the moment i would pick if i had to go back in time in the american revolution. i would pick being in that room at that time to think of who was in there. so they're meaning to figure out the strategy for the summer of 1778.
eventually of course it becomes what we famously know here in new jersey as the battle of monmouth. alexander hamilton not well-known, he rides out in advance of the battle and is doing reconnaissance. he's doing an advanced intelligence operation on horseback for several days for washington and lafayette. this is long before any encounters with charles lee on the battlefield, okay? several days. and it's very help. in order to set up the placement of lee, lafayette and eventually washington. and yes, in the famous confrontation between lee and washington it was just prior to that an altercation between hamilton and lee. and hamilton handled it pretty well as you're going to see here. he's incredulous. he cannot believe that lee would be retreating in some kind of disorganized fashion when he should actually be attacking the rear guard of the british force with its baggage train moving ever so slowly, crawling through middle of nowhere new jersey at the time.
and hamilton's quote of bravery is recounted by charles lee himself during his trial weeks later. the quote from hamilton was, quote, i will stay here with you, my dear general and die with you. let us all die here rather than retreat. it's a testament to hamilton's bravery and thinking on his feet as well as he's rallying the forces which was largely successful just as washington comes on to the scene. similarly, we have another aide to washington, future secretary of war james mchenry writing to elias budno, i am happy to have it in my power to mention the merit of colonel hamilton. there's typos here but in -- recon northing the enemy and rallying and cheering but whether he or colonel lawrence deserves most of our accommodations is somewhat doubtful. both had their horses shot out from under them, both exited similar proofs of bravery.
this is just another testament of hamilton's incredible bravery in battle. here are two scenes that are fairly well-known from the battle of monmouth. the one on the left more famous than the one of the right. the one on the right showing the altercation between lee and washington. something that's largely overlooked, and it could have been incredibly impactful, hamilton and lawrence progressive idea that we could have african-american soldiers in the continental army, how progressive. lafayette was also an advocate of this. hamilton and lawrence will ask congress in writing several times, would you please allow blacks to enlist in southern regiments in the u.s. army. there was a manpower shortage, and largely the population of the south was largely loyalist. it was more of a civil war down there. it would help fill the number shortage. they both believed that
african-americans were both very bright and very brave in battle. and yet unfortunately it fell on deaf ears. congress just would not do it. so many of the congressmen were, in fact, slave owning plantation owners from the south like john lawrence's own father henry. now we can get into dayton's ring for one minute. this is colonel who will later become one of the last colonels promoted to brigadier general during the wartime and his communications to hamilton. there's a key one on july 21st of 1780. dayton informs washington of a british fleet that is leaving new york city and heading towards new port via long island sound. there's one problem. george washington is absent. he's out on an errand of some sort. lafayette receives the letter, realizes, i must immediately dispatch this news to lafayette who is in connecticut. to get it to him is enough of a
challenge. lafayette has to get it from there over to rhode island. that's a complicated operation. it works quickly enough. and they were able to warn the french. the british do not wind up actually attacking new port. they staten island to call it off for whatever reason. maybe they've been tipped off. we just don't know. that in fact is not the case because their intelligence came in two days later, same intelligence that the british were leaving, it just wasn't as punctual in its announcement. the famous treason of benedict arnold. major general benedict arnold is of connecticut. born in norwich, lives as a wealthy merchant in new haven. and he is beginning his communication, one of the common misunderstanding is that his trader's activities are confined
to september of 1780. it had been going on for 16 months. it goes on for 16 months. this portrait to the right is the only known proven portrait of benedict arnold from life, all the other portraits are based off this one or fakes. this was done by french portrait painter while he was military governor in philadelphia. and washington is lafayette hamilton and henry knox and others at the hartford conference at jeremiah wadsworth's house in downtown hartford conferring with the french general and his -- this is september of 1780. it's the same stretch of time, those three days. it's around like 21st, 22nd, 23rd. the same 22nd is when alexander
hamilton, benedict arnold rather is meeting with john andre, aka john anderson, and they are meeting south of west point. it's on the same day. so uncanny timing. after that conference in hartford washington is returning with hamilton and lafayette and others back to west point to meet with hamilton, i mean arnold rather to go over the fortifications at west point. arnold is absent. he's gone. washington is trying to figure out why isn't he here? something's amiss. now it's very clear that arnold has already decided he's going to escape on the aptly named h.m.s. vulture. a great one for a traitor, and hamilton decides immediately the quick thinking officer that he is that he must prepare the army for a possible counterattack. first he attempts to capture arnold himself. he jumps on horseback with the aforementioned james mchenry and they gallop for 12 miles along
the hudson. that is a hapless mission. they do not capture arnold. but right after that he writes of this attempt to george washington his boss and he plans on writing momentarily to general green and colonel megs. he writes to general green 30 miles south of west point and also to colonel return megs of the light infantry regiment. they both could quickly respond to the area that would save not only west point but george washington and the rest of headquarters. here is hamilton's letter to green, quote, there has just been unfolded at this place a scene of the blackest treason. arnold has fled to the enemy. andre the british general is in our possession as a spy. i came here in pursuit of anld but was too late. i advise putting the army under marching orders and detaching a
brigade immediately this way. hamilton and the fetching, a charming man and woman. peggy shipman was the paris hilton or kardashian of her day. she was quite the dashing figure. she had her own crush on the fetching john andre. a man of many talents. he could sing, he could dance. he could write poetry, and yes, he drew her. and as the kiddies would say now a selfie the night before he is hung. he's a very bright man. she will keep a lock of his hair, john andre's hair the rest of her life in her drawer. it's found when she dies. what's the point of this? to tall midge and hamilton, they're tasked with having to keep an eye on john andre. they are both very impressed, both charged by the amazing personality of john andre. he pleas through them, would you
please shoot me with a volley of execution fire rather than hang me as a spy. that attempt fails. you can tell in the writings that they were touched by their time with andre and his having to be hung which was payback for the hanging of nathan hale years earlier. i have to mention when hamilton and washington were here was two long visits of about a month each, july of 1780 and october of 1780. i mentioned it now so that you can think about how washington and hamilton were responding still to the aftershocks from arnold's treason when they were here the second time, if these walls could talk. here's july of 1781. it's the final turning point, alexander hamilton had gotten married december 14th to the fetching elizabeth aka betsy skyler up in albany at her dad's beautiful mansion there, a beautiful brick mansion like this one, and seven months later
july 31st, hamilton finally gets what he had always wanted for, a field command. washington's orders, quote, the light companies will form a battalion under command of lieutenant colonel hamilton. after the formation of the battalion lieutenant colonel hamilton will join the advance corps under the orders of colonel scamel. hamilton's so happy. we already know what alexander hamilton looks like. he works with the aforementioned john lawrence in this beautiful bejewelled frame on the left. in the center is finally an illustration of that colonel alexander scamel of new hampshire and on the right is lieutenant colonel ebenezer huntington of norwich, connecticut, whose house we own. now the complication here is that alexander scamel in the middle is the highest ranking officer killed during the siege
of yorktown. he's unfortunately killed in a surprise attack. he is shot in the back, mortally wounded. winds up dying in williamsburg and writes in his dying words to ebenezer huntington to take over the light infantry battalion or regiment. the three of them knew each other well and the unfortunate twist of fate i suppose for heroism that ebenezer huntington decides he would like to serve the narc lep tick general benjamin lincoln, the second ranking general as his acting aide to camp. alexander hamilton will then be tasked with helping lead -- he's going to lead but helping the general assault. readout ten will be taken by the americans, they're adjacent to each other, about 500 yards apart. we have been on that original ground for the 225th anniversary as reenactors. hamilton is tasked with readout ten. it's going to take a while.
it takes six minutes because alexander hamiltons decides we're not going to wait for the miners to clear the space safely for us to stream through as light infantry with our bayonets and sabers. no shots fired. bayonets and sabers. it's a nighttime attack just after sunset. here's one painting on the right. that's how he actually would have been dressed that evening on the left. here's another alternate view, which shows the energy of what it would be like. it's interesting as a reenactor, i have stormed a redoubt, it's quite interesting to do even when you're doing it fake without real gunfire. then we have the famous painting of lord corn wall lis's surrender at york town. there's three versions of this painting. one's at yale, another in hartford, and the third is at the u.s. capitol rotunda. they get bigger and bigger as they get re-created. in that particular painting i would show on the right are
ebenezer huntington on horseback. scamel could not be portrayed because he'd already been killed. i'm going to briefly point them out here on the right. right here. huntington's up there and hamilton and lawrence are there. i'm just going to wipe my brow because of all the sweat. that way i'm not reflecting too much. i don't want to look like the bejewelled john lawrence with diamonds. so alexander hamilton does not get enough credit. we all know how the war ends, the patriots win, the british are defeated. yorktown is not the actual end of the war. we couldn't have anticipated that but that's how it turned out to be in terms of major battles. let's turn to 1790. we know that hamilton has been working as treasury secretary. he also founds the u.s. revenue cutter service. he is considered the father of the u.s. coast guard. i go there every graduation to
give an award right there on that spot, right there, and i was there for the unveiling of this beautiful sculpture by benjamin victor. it was donated by the class of 1963 last fall, and that is the appropriately named hamilton hall. that's the main administration hall at the coast guard academy in new london, connecticut. there's a painting inside hamilton hall and that is of him running the revenue service. you can see an early u.s. flag in the background, a cutter, full sail, and a light house, and that's by this chinese painter. some illustrations of the u.s. revenue cutter service at the time, there was one named after colonel alexander scamel, that's on the left. i've blown that up in showing you on the right, and then what we could consider the seal for the revenue cutter service, semper paradis, always ready of course is the motto for the coast guard. tied in with that is u.s.
customs, the collecting of taxes and import duties along with the revenue cutter service intercepting privateers and so forth. around this time, 1789 washington had just become president. he asked his old friend who had been at the battle of monmouth with him and hamilton and others, jedediah huntington to serve as a port of customs collector at new london, which also included not just the that i mean -- tham s river but the connecticut river. it was built around 1800 and there are many letters between jedediah huntington and alexander hamilton dealing with whale oil for the light house lamps and so forth. then there's this quasi war with france. it takes place a little over a year, 1798 into '99. it also begins in may of 1798 when a french privateer off the
coast of new york harbor captures several american vessels. that's embarrassing. so hamilton of course is ever offering his opinions and is quoted, this is too much humiliation after all that is passed he says in a letter to of course his friend and former fellow aide secretary of war james mchenry. there's a major problem. john adams realizes he has a potential military crisis on his hands. there's shots fired in open ocean on the atlantic. he needs a military commander. would you please return to military service. george washington was the only one who ever did this, the only president. commander in chief, then president and then back to running the u.s. military. that's never happened before. and washington says yes, but on one condition. alexander hamilton must be my second in command. i'm not taking field command, he will. john adams is incredulous, how
dare you make such an imposition on me. that's preposterous, and it takes many weeks for adams to eventually calm down and realize, okay, if i'm going to get washington out of this deal, i have to put my personal agenda aside and my personal feelings about hamilton aside and recognize that i must put up with major general alexander hamilton as part of the deal. here's a quote from john adams as to hamilton's influence at this time. late 1790s, quote, such was the influence of mr. hamilton in congress that without running a recommendation for the president, that meaning himself, adams, they, congress, passed a bill to raise an army, and that's from page 553 of ron chernow's seminole engrossing biography of hamilton. i have to say, chernow does the best job of going through of course hamilton's later military service and adams is just incredulous, and of course you have to keep in mind hamilton
had served as a congressman from the state of new york at that point before becoming treasury secretary. here's a letter to george washington to hamilton in which he's negotiating about how he'll take this role on as major general. quote, if you command, washington, the place in which i, hamilton should hope to be most useful is that of inspector general with a command in the line. he wants that field command, and washington, trust me was done with doing field command at 66 years old. he wanted it to go to hamilton. this i would accept, and it included the rank and pay of a major general. the other generals who were going to serve in the war were incredulous. they were just as in shock as john adams. i'm going to be a general but i have to serve under alexander hamilton? i'm henry knox. i was already a general in the american revolution. i have to serve under hamilton? again, a testament to how high hamilton had climbed and deservedly so in the eyes of
former president george washington. here's hamilton's letter around that same time, we're talking late 1798 to oliver wolkit jr. of connecticut. hamilton says u.s. should boost taxes and by the way while you're preparing for war, take out a large loan and finally, quote, establish an academy for aaron burr is politicking for position. he's playing footies with the federalists. that effort did peter out. here's a portrait of major general hamilton.
we don't note who painted it, even what decade. we don't know what the medal is on his lapel. it was donated and hangs in washington, d.c. otherwise known as anderson house. one general who's known as much as jockeying for position is ebenezer huntington. this is a painting again by john trumble. there are two of these.
november/december of 1798 they meet at a good federalist who had military experience from the sourt because they were afraid the french might attack the south. he will come up from charleston for this meeting along with secretary of war james mchenry. hamilton has organized out how everything's going to work with platoons and companies and regimens and battalions. it's very organized. it shows how obsessive-compulsive hamilton was with details including the uniforms and even the soldiers' huts. after the five weeks were over until philadelphia, hamiton will then return to his office at 36th greenwich street in
manhattan. there's an encampment not all too far from here. that is scotch plains, new jersey. it is a site picked by new jersey's own. this was an office from elizabeth just like all the others i've mentioned. that's aaron ogden. one of the other things that gets overlooked is alexander's membership in the so-called society of cincinnati. this is the diamond eagle. it was presented by the french navy in philadelphia. that was their first meeting
every three years. of course it was owned by george washington until his death on december 14 th, 1799 at mt. vernon. it has some 200 diamonds and other jewels that make i want up. of course upon his death sometimes after martha washington, the widow, will send the medal to alexander hamilton. for many decades it has been owned by the society of cincinnati and is housed in a vault at anderson house in d.c. beautiful piece. i end on a very poignant note, which is the last letters between george washington and alexander hamhamilton. obviously george washington doesn't know he's about to die.
they involve the creation of a military academy. enclosed is a letter on the subject of a mill fair academy. washington will then reply on december 12th. he will die two days later. he writes to hamilton, sir, i have duly received your letter of the 28th. the establishment of an institution of this kind upon a respectable and extensive basis has ever been considered an object of primary importance of this nation.
leaving this task to others who had better qualified them for the execution of it. washington closes. i sincerely hope the subject will meet with due attention for the reasons of its establishment which you have so clearly pointed out in your letter to the secretary mr. prevail upon the legislature to place it upon a permanent and respectful footing. your most obedient servant, george washington. that's the end. thank you, everyone. [ applause ] >> so we are going to do a q and a. we have c-span taping this event. so if you want to have a
question we're going to have a mike brought to you so they can capture what you're saying. >> including from the flanks. >> damian, i believe one of your slides depicted a private home used as military headquarters at some point. did general washington solicit homeowners to use these private dwellings as headquarters or did he just say i'm taking over. >> it was kind of a blend of the two. sometimes he was already acquainted with the owner, other times it's a pretty quick convincing. yeah. i really don't know the details
to answer it. >> thanks you for a terrific lecture. >> do you have any consideration in 1794 with the whiskey rebellion, is there evidence of what they were going militarily of that? >> it crossed my mind briefly that i should mention it. we're talking about the whiskey rebellion is them distilling whiskey out in the ohio territory. america's always had a very independent spirit. they were rebelling they would have to pay some kind of tax. hamilton had no problem putting taxes on people because he felt it was the only way to ensure our independence. on the military side of things
we do have an illustration of this. a beautiful painting shows george washington going out at a later age inspecting the troops at ft. cumberland. i really wasn't sure how i was going to have the time to incorporate it all but i left it out. you can read about it in newton and chernow and others. other questions? there must be more. it's. >> was lawrence hamilton related
to alexander hamilton? >> i have no idea. i've never looked into that. i know there are several descendents of alexander hamilton who took on great roles in the military. for that particular leader, we'd have to look it up or ask a descendant. >> what did washington die from? >> he had gone out on his horse that day in mt. vernon, his plantation in virginia. it was a cold, rainy day and he got sick from the wet clothing. of course, what do you do in 1799 when you get cold and sick. they bring in leeches and do blood letting. that's not going to make you better. it's going to make you worse. it exacerbated what could have
been a preventible cold. how symbolish that he dies at the very end of that century. i have a patriot ancestor. he wrote the day that the news arrived of washington's death, historians will do justice which i cannot. thank you, everyone. it's wonderful to be here. on thursday terrorism experts examine the threat of domestic terrorism and extremism before the senate home land security and government affairs