Alexander Hamilton served as a Captain of the New York Independent Artillery Company during the first two years of the American Revolution. As a result of his reputation as a fine writer, Hamilton was invited to join General Washington's personal staff with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He quickly earned General Washington's trust. So much so that in October of the same year, the 20-year-old colonel was sent as a personal emissary of the commander-in-chief to Albany, New York. Hamilton was requesting the return of infantry brigades that had been lent to General Horatio Gates during the recent Saratoga Campaign. Hamilton completed this most difficult task, thereby further gaining Washington's favor.
Hamilton returned to the main army in late January 1778, while the army was at Valley Forge. There the young colonel continued to work with Washington's staff at his new headquarters in the Isaac Potts House. Hamilton's closest friends were his fellow aide-de-camp, Colonel John Laurens of South Carolina, and the young Marquis de Lafayette. Hamilton and Laurens were both fluent French speakers, which helped to communicate with French officers now in camp. The Prussian 'Drillmaster of the Army' General Fredrick von Steuben wrote the first official United States infantry manual in French. Laurens and Hamilton both assisted in the translation work of this drill manual.
Hamilton and other aides-de-camp wrote letters to governors, and members of Congress, asking for supplies. On February 13th, 1778, Hamilton wrote to New York Governor George Clinton:
"…exert yourself upon this occasion, our distress in infinite…Desertions have been immense and strong features of mutiny begin to show themselves…"
Hamilton helped plan with Washington the military campaign for the next year. Robert Hanson Harrison, a fellow aide, recognized his great energy and skills and nicknamed him "the little lion," as Hamilton was able to successfully complete multiple tasks that were required at this critical time in the American Revolution.
Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. New York: Penguin, 2004. Print.
Lefkowitz, Arthur S. George Washington's Indispensable Men. Stackpole Books, 2003. Print.
Newton, Michael E. Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years. Eleftheria Publishing, 2015. Print.
Last updated: August 9, 2019