Bar Story #1: Hamilton's Command

“Alexander Hamilton in the Uniform of the New York Artillery" by Alonzo Chappel (1828–1887)

“Alexander Hamilton in the Uniform of the New York Artillery" by Alonzo Chappel (1828–1887)

Cool bar story: On this day in 1776, Alexander Hamilton is named Captain of the New York Provincial Company of Artillery in NYC. It is his first military command, and at only 19 years of age, he was a bold choice.

Hamilton was a student at King’s College (now Columbia University) a year earlier when the battles of Lexington & Concord kicked off the American Revolution. In response, he and many fellow students joined the newly formed city militia, the "Hearts of Oak." They drilled before classes each day in the graveyard of St. Paul’s Chapel in lower Manhattan (still standing today) in uniforms they made themselves, which displayed the motto: “Liberty or Death.” In August of 1775, after the British evacuated Boston, Hamilton led this ragtag unit in a raid on the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan and, under fire from the HMS Asia in the upper bay, successfully seized the fortification and its cannons. From then onward, the "Hearts of Oak" held the Battery and operated as a volunteer artillery unit.

As the Revolution heated up in 1776, Hamilton had built a reputation as a intelligent & capable young leader, and thus was selected to raise & organize the new NY Provincial Company of Artillery, of which he was elected by his fellow soldiers to command as Captain on March 14, 1776.

It was in this role that he would go on to make a name for himself across the colonies, commanding his unit with distinction in battle, including at White Plains and Trenton. Many generals in the Continental Army requested Hamilton join their command staffs, but it would be General George Washington who saw the most potential in the young officer, appointing him as his Chief of Staff in 1777; a position Hamilton would hold for the next 4 years.

Longing to resume combat command, Hamilton requested to return to the line units in 1781, which Washington granted despite his preference to retain Hamilton on his staff. He was promoted to Colonel, and took the lead of 3 battalions at the Siege of Yorktown, where he personally led his men under cover of darkness to take the British redoubts defending the city with bayonets at close quarters; a move that forced the British to surrender the city, thus ending the Revolution.

Alexander Hamilton would go on to serve as NY’s representative to the newly formed Congress of the Confederation, and become a central advocate and architect of the United States Constitution. So much Able. #america #craftyourindependence