Fire destroyed the War Department office in 1800. For decades historians believed that its files, and the window they provide into the early federal government, had been lost forever. This collection unites copies of the lost files in a digital archive that reconstitutes this invaluable historical resource. Read more about the restoration of the collection »

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The U.S. Army in 1786: Difficulty Keeping Recruits at West Point

Letter from Deputy Commissary of Military Stores William Price to Secretary at War Henry Knox

In addition to proposing a detailed plan for the cleaning of the arms stored at the West Point Army Post (where the U.S. Regiment was garrisoned), William Price, Deputy Commissary of Military Stores and officer in charge of West Point, reported to Secretary at War Henry Knox that seven new recruits from New York and Connecticut, most likely destined for service on the Ohio frontier, had deserted the garrison. Only one could be found, “a young fellow” who was homesick, but two were suspected to have boarded a vessel bound for Nova Scotia. “But it is almost impossible to catch them,” Price lamented to Knox, “for the moment they are out of the garrison the inhabitants will rather secret than inform of them, and let them pass where they will – no civil officer pretends to examine them.”