66 pages 2 hours read

Ron Chernow

Alexander Hamilton

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 2004

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Chapters 5-10

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 5 Summary: “The Little Lion”

According to Washington’s adopted grandson, Washington was “charmed by the brilliant courage and admirable skill” (100) Hamilton showed during the retreat.

On Christmas day, Washington’s men captured 1,000 Hessian soldiers after taking them by surprise. On January 3, Washington achieved another victory that boosted morale and replenished the army over the winter. As a result, a legend began growing around Hamilton: He was a young, educated, courageous college student who never lost his composure and who inspired men older than him. On January 20, Washington wrote a letter to Hamilton, asking him to work directly on his staff as his aide-de-camp. His promotion included the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Though excited by the offer, “such was his craving for battlefield distinction that [Hamilton] balked at taking a job that would chain him to a desk” (102). That spring, Hamilton studied Washington during a pause in war. They had much in common, but there were already the signs of what would become future disagreements. Chernow writes that, “The two men had clashing temperaments and frequently showed more mutual respect than true affection” (105). Late in Washington’s life, it would become more obvious that his affection for Hamilton was genuine, once he was freed from the burden of command.