James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Cadwalader, 30 May 1812

From Thomas Cadwalader

Philada. 30. May 1812.


I have just received, from an authentic Source, a piece of Information, in regard to the military State of Canada, which I deem it my duty to lay before you. My Correspendent states that “there are several Regiments on their way to Canada, and two new Regts. of Riflemen have been raised in the Province, of about 500. each—one called the Glengary Light Infantry, the other the Canadian Voltigeurs.1 They have also 50,000 effective Militia, besides 5000. Regulars, several companies of Artillery, and a Corps of Cavalry, recently embodied at Quebec.” This Information may not be useless, hereafter, in enabling the Government to make the requisite preparations, should an expedition to that quarter be contemplated. I need hardly suggest to you my wish that this communication may be considered as a private one—and, not feeling myself at liberty to mention the source from which these details have been furnished, I can only give them on my own responsibility. I have the honor to be, With high Consideration, & respect, sir, Your obt: & hble: servt:

Thos. Cadwalader2


1On 2 June 1812 the National Intelligencer printed an extract dismissing these reports of Canadian voltigeurs as having been misunderstood by Federalist editors in the U.S. The corps was, according to the newspaper, no more than a “voluntary detachment of militia,” enticed into service by excessively high bounties, and as such not to be compared to regular troops. Nor, according to the extract, were there any grounds for supposing that “patriotic ardor” was flourishing in Canada to a higher degree than in the U.S.

2Thomas Cadwalader (1779–1841), member of a prominent Philadelphia family, had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1795. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1801, and married a daughter of Clement Biddle. He was also an officer in the Second Troop of the Philadelphia City Cavalry and in February 1812 had risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel. During the War of 1812 he was to be active in organizing the defenses of Philadelphia against possible British attack (Pa. Magazine of History and Biography, 53 [1929]: 283–86).

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