From James H. Boyle
Lake Ontario Sackets Harbour
April 16th. 1813.
The late appointments and promotions made in the 2nd. and 3rd. Regiments of Artillery are viewed and felt, with feelings of the most lively kind—so much so, that a remonstrance has been sent on, to the Honle. Secretary of War, signed by Col. Macomb and every officer here present of his regiment, complaining of the injustice done them—of promoting citizens and officers of other Regiments over their heads.1
Similar circumstances have induced all the officers of the 25th. Infantry, to forward on a remonstrance, setting forth their grievances in a moving & impressive manner.2 Also the man, who has almost devoted the best of his days to the Service, who has courted danger in every shape, who has undergone all the Fatigues and Hardships of a winters campaign, in this inclement climate, and who is willing to sacrifice his life, his little all, for the Honor and happiness of Country, has some reason to complain, (particularly,) when he beholds his only hope of reward, bestowed upon officers of an other regiment and upon Citizens; who have scarcely ever Seen a Soldier in full uniform; or, have ever heard the fire of a Cannon.3
Ample docuements and Letters, could be Obtained; from my former & Present commanding officer, expressive of the zeal and enterprize which has at all times been manifested by me, for the Service, and of the Deprivations and sufferings which I have undergone since stationed here. But feel too proud to ask, too independant to recieve them—I stand alone upon my humble merit. The warm and disinterested recommendation of the whole of the Kentucky and one third of the Pensylvania Delegation; in my behalf to the Honle. W. Eustis, for the commission which I now hold, bears honorable Testimony to him and to my Country, that I am neither unworthy, or, undeserving of its confidence.4
The promotion of Col. Izard to a Brigadier, leaves a vacancy of a Majority in the 2nd Regiment of Artille[r]y: my former services, in the Marine Corps, give me claims over, every capt. in that regiment also over every one in my own, having originally held an elder commission than any in it.5
From these considerations, I appeal to you Sir; feeling the fullest confidence that my former Services and present pretensions for promotion, will not be passd. over unoticed. With the Highest Sentiments of Respect, I have the Honor to be, your most obedient & Most humble Servant
James H. Boyle
Capt. 3rd. R. U.S. Artillery
RC (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, B-145:7). Docketed as received in the War Department in April 1813.
1. Col. Alexander Macomb and nineteen other officers of the Third Regiment of Artillery, including Boyle, signed a letter to John Armstrong, dated 1 Apr. 1813, protesting the appointment of “officers of other Regiments and … Citizens” to vacancies within the Third Regiment. Armstrong wrote on the cover of the letter, “What citizens have been appd. to this Regiment?” A reply signed by Thomas Cushing follows: “The Recent appointments in the 2d Regiment of Artillery were to original vacancies, and Such as the officers of that Regiment could not claim by the Regulations heretofore established in Relation to promotion” (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, M-103:7). (Cushing evidently intended to refer to the Third Regiment of Artillery). In March 1813, James House and George Armistead of the Regiment of Artillerists had been promoted to lieutenant colonel and major, respectively, in the Third Artillery, and Thomas Chrystie, a civilian from New York, had been commissioned as a second lieutenant in that regiment. House and Armistead were nominated and their appointments confirmed in early March, but Chrystie, having received his commission between sessions of Congress, was nominated on 15 June and confirmed on 7 July (Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 2:331, 333–34, 355, 358, 383; Heitman, Historical Register description begins Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, from Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903 (2 vols.; Washington, 1903). description ends , 1:169, 544).
Perhaps for this reason, when Armstrong replied to Macomb on 28 Apr. 1813, he asserted that no appointments of “persons not hitherto in the Army” had been made to the Third Regiment of Artillery (DNA: RG 107, LSMA). House’s and Armistead’s appointments were justified, Armstrong argued, by the rule that based promotion on seniority within the entire Artillery Corps rather than within individual regiments. He noted, further, that House’s appointment was to “an original vacancy which never had been filled,” and that the Senate had previously stipulated that “accidental vacancies be filled by promotion—& that original vacancies be filled in such way as it may please the President & Senate.” In conclusion he mentioned Boyle’s letter to JM, observing that “it was certainly not very prudent in this gentleman to have excited a question of Rank,” since eleven captains in his own regiment, and many others in the First and Second Regiments of Artillery, held seniority over him.
2. Major Joseph Lee Smith and eleven other officers of the Twenty-fifth Regiment of Infantry wrote Armstrong on 1 Apr. 1813 (DNA: RG 94, Letters Received, filed under “Smith”) stating their opposition to filling vacancies within their regiment “by the Appointment of Citizens in preference to the promotion of the Officers of the line.” Noting that their regiment had been “recruited principally in Connecticutt and Rhode Island, in the midst of bitter opposition,” they argued that it would be “peculiarly unjust” to fill the vacancies “but by the promotion of its own Officers,” and threatened to resign if such outside appointments were made. On 26 June and 28 July 1813, JM nominated a total of twenty-six officers for the Twenty-fifth Regiment of Infantry, of which all but three were from within that regiment (Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 2:376–77, 401, 414–15; Hamersly, Complete Regular Army Register of the U.S., 80).
3. The War Department received numerous complaints of this nature during the War of 1812, many of which stemmed from an act of Congress of 20 Jan. 1813 authorizing an additional major for each regiment and a third lieutenant in each company. The new positions were regarded as original vacancies, and many were filled through appointments of citizens and transfers. Soldiers already in service, however, thought the openings should be filled from within, and registered their protests accordingly (William B. Skelton, An American Profession of Arms: The Army Officer Corps, 1784–1861 [Lawrence, Kansas, 1992], 50).
4. On 10 Dec. 1811 the War Department received a recommendation by Henry Clay that Boyle be appointed to a captaincy. A similar recommendation by Kentucky senators John Pope and George M. Bibb arrived in the War Department on 10 Jan. 1812 (DNA: RG 107, Registers of Letters Received by the Secretary of War).
5. On 26 June 1813, JM nominated Jacob Hindman, a captain in the Second Regiment of Artillery, to fill the vacant majority created by George Izard’s and other promotions. The Senate approved the nomination on 29 June. Boyle was not promoted until 5 May 1814, when he was breveted a major for gallant conduct in the defense of Fort Oswego (Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 2:376, 379; Heitman, Historical Register description begins Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, from Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903 (2 vols.; Washington, 1903). description ends , 1:236).