James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Gavino (Abstract), 15 May 1805

§ From John Gavino

15 May 1805, Gibraltar. No. 8. “I had this honor of adressing you down to 29th: Ulto. per No: 6,1 & No: 7 under 1st: Inst: since then Lord Nelsons fleet of 11 Sail the Line, one frigate & some Smaller Vessels reach this Bay, but only taried a few hours, when proceeded to the Westward.

“I have now before me the honor of your favour 11th: March last [not found] acceding to my request for leave of absince for a few Months2 and for which am thankfull, but it may now be some time before I avail myself thereof.

“Two days ago arrived admiral Night from England (who remains here as Port admiral)3 with 3 Sail the Line, some Gun Briggs &ca: and 6000 Troops under Command of Sir James Craig,4 among them there is some Cavaldry, on a Secret Expedition in the Mediterranean, they will proceed this day or Tomorrow with adl: Sir Richard Bickerton5 for their destination.

“The Brig Siren Capn: Stuart was lately here, & went yesterday for Tanger & a Cruise.

“You have herewith a dispatch from Consul Simpson of Tanger.”6

Adds in a postscript: “The 2 Gun Briggs from England are to remain on this Station.”

RC (DNA: RG 59, CD, Gibraltar, vol. 3). 2 pp.; docketed by Wagner as received 1 Aug.

1See Gavino to JM, 26 Apr. 1805, with the postscript dated 29 Apr. 1805.

2For Gavino’s request for a leave of absence, see his 11 Nov. 1804 letter to JM (PJM-SS, description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (9 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends 8:280–81).

3Rear Adm. Sir John Knight entered the Royal Navy as a youth in 1758 and served during the American Revolution until he was captured and imprisoned for a number of months. After his release through a prisoner exchange, he continued on active duty, mainly against the French. Promoted to rear admiral in early 1801, he was inactive following the Peace of Amiens but was recalled into service in 1805 and succeeded Sir Richard Hussey Bickerton as port admiral at Gibraltar (James Ralfe, The Naval Biography of Great Britain: Consisting of Historical Memoirs of Those Officers of the British Navy Who Distinguished Themselves during the Reign of His Majesty George III [4 vols.; 1828; reprint, Boston, 1972], 2:353–56; Edward Fraser, The Enemy at Trafalgar: An Account of the Battle from Eye-Witnesses’ Narratives and Letters and Despatches from the French and Spanish Fleets [New York, 1906], 226).

4Sir James Henry Craig (1748–1812) was born at Gibraltar, entered the British army at fifteen, and fought in the American Revolution, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1781. In 1795 he and Vice Adm. George Keith Elphinstone captured Cape Town, where Craig remained as governor until 1797 before being sent to India, where he was promoted to lieutenant general in 1801, after which he returned to England. In 1805 he was sent to the Mediterranean to command the British force in Italy, but poor health compelled his return to England the following year. In 1807 he was named governor of Canada, a post he held until 1811, when his deteriorating health again forced his return to England, where he died shortly after arrival (Halpenny, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 5:205, 206, 213).

5Sir Richard Hussey Bickerton (1759–1832) entered the Royal Navy at twelve to serve on the ship commanded by his father, Sir Richard Bickerton (1727–92). The younger Bickerton was promoted to rear admiral in 1799 and was commander in chief in the Mediterranean between the Peace of Amiens and the renewal of war in 1803, after which he became second in command under Horatio Nelson. In 1805 he returned to England and became a member of the Admiralty Board, serving until 1812. From 1808 to 1812, he represented Poole in Parliament. He was named lieutenant general of the Marines in 1818 and general of the corps in 1830.

6The forwarded dispatch was probably James Simpson to JM, 6 May 1805.

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