Washington's Aides (1778)
Thirty-two men served as secretaries, or aides-de-camp, to General George Washington during the course of the Revolutionary War. Among them were:
- Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Hamilton, the illegitimate son of a West Indies planter who was sent to New Jersey for education, joined Washington’s staff in 1777. After the war, he married Betsy Schuyler and became a very successful lawyer in New York City. He played a key role in the calling of the Constitutional Convention and was named Secretary of the Treasury by President George Washington, the key person in the forming of the new nation's economic policies. He died in 1804 after a duel with his political rival Aaron Burr.
- Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Hanson Harrison of Alexandria,
Virginia, had been Washington’s lawyer before the war and joined his staff
in 1775. In 1776, he became Washington’s military secretary, a position he
held until 1781. After the war, he served as a judge in Maryland.
John Laurens came from a wealthy family in Charleston, South Carolina. His
father, Henry Laurens, was the presiding officer of the Continental Congress.
He joined Washington’s staff after the Battle of Brandywine Creek in 1777.
Later, as an aide in the southern campaign, Laurens carried General Benjamin
Lincoln’s response to an ultimatum to Augustine Prevost. Laurens also
traveled to France to seek financial aid for the new united States, then died
in a skirmish in his home state in 1782.
- Dr. James McHenry immigrated from Ireland to Baltimore
and studied medicine under Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia. He served in
the Continental Army as a surgeon before he was appointed as a secretary to
Washington in 1778. After the war, McHenry was elected to the Maryland
legislature, was a delegate at the Constitutional Convention, and served as
Secretary of War in Washington’s administration. Fort McHenry in Baltimore
Harbor is named for him.
- Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Kidder Meade of Virginia was
the grandson of a governor of North Carolina. He joined Washington’s staff
in 1777 and was frequently used to deliver dispatches and orders. Meade
and Alexander Hamilton became close friends. After the war, he returned to
farming and occasionally visited his former commander-in-chief at Mount
Vernon. Meade died in 1805, apparently from gout and the effects of many
years of military life.
- Lieutenant-Colonel Tench Tilghman, a member of a wealthy Maryland family, was a merchant in Philadelphia before he joined the Pennsylvania Militia and then the Continental Army. In 1776, he became a personal and military secretary to George Washington. He died shortly after the war ended
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