James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jones, 28 May 1813

From William Jones

May 28. 1813


I enclose 11. letters received by the mail of this day from Commodore Chauncey. Nos. 17. to 27.1

The most material are Nos. 22 to 27. inclusive some surgeons and mates have gone on and others are going. Captain Sinclair is here and goes on in the mail tomorrow to take the command of the New Ship at Sacketts Harbour. We have had no Marines to send on and have not succeeded in recruiting any on account of the army wages & bounty which I mentioned to you some time since. Lieut Brooks of the Marines with a recruiting party is long since in the vicinity of Erie recruiting.

Captain Wainwright is daily expected from Charleston S. C. with 40 Marines and will take on 100. to the Lakes.

Several Naval Lieutenants & Midshipmen have gone on and more are going. Lieutenant Trenchard with 40 Seamen has just left New York and 40 more will follow in a few days.

When you have perused the letters permit me to ask the favor of their return as I wish to write Commodore Chauncey this evening.2

I have no direct accounts from Erie but Genl Armstrong tells me one of his letters states that one of the Sloops of War was to have been launched yesterday and as they are very strong there in mechanecks & seamen &c I have no doubt the force there will soon be in readiness for active service.

On the subject of the Treasury permit me to ask you to turn to the law authorizing the President to designate the port of entry on the Mobile and to determine whether the power thereby vested included that of Changing the place after the first designation or whether it will be necessary to apply to Congress for authority to remove the Custom House from Fort Stoddart to Mobile which is now necessary and without delay.3 I am very respectfully your obdt Servt.

W Jones

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1The enclosed letters from Isaac Chauncey to Jones (13 pp.; DNA: RG 45, Captains’ Letters) included Nos. 17 through 21, all dated 15 May 1813 (No. 21 printed in Dudley, Naval War of 1812, 2:462), discussing a court-martial, recordkeeping matters, the capture of several U.S. seamen and acting Lt. James A. Dudley, intelligence regarding British ships at Kingston, and the movement of U.S. forces to Niagara. Nos. 22 and 23, dated 16 May, reported the arrival of 147 “very fine” U.S. seamen at Sackets Harbor and requested “a Surgeon and two Mates … for the New Ship” to help deal with the “prevailing fever.” No. 24, 17 May, informed Jones that the U.S. fleet, “with about 1100 Troops on board,” had sailed for Niagara the previous evening; No. 25, 19 May, stated that Chauncey had “dispatched the Lady of the Lake, with Br. Genl. Chandler and Suite, for Niagara,” and was “still waiting for reinforcements” at Sackets Harbor; No. 26, 20 May, predicted that the new ship at Sackets Harbor would be finished by 1 June, and requested that its officers be “ordered on as Soon as possible;” and No. 27, 21 May, reported the arrival of reinforcements and Chauncey’s plans to “proceed for Niagara this Evening.”

2Jones wrote Chauncey on 31 May 1813 acknowledging receipt of Chauncey’s Nos. 17 to 27, conveying JM’s “warmest thanks … for the masterly execution of the plans which led to the fall of York,” stating his own and JM’s wish that Chauncey return to Sackets Harbor to protect the new ship, and adding that the president wished the ship to be named after Brig. Gen. Zebulon Montgomery Pike. Jones could send Chauncey only “about one hundred marines,” he wrote, since the members of that corps were few and widely dispersed, and recruiting had become more difficult due to “the pay and bounty given by the Army.” He enumerated the officers and men who had been sent to Lakes Ontario and Erie, stated that the additional officers Chauncey had requested would be immediately ordered to join him, and asked to be informed if Chauncey considered a “further extension” of the U.S. naval force on the lakes necessary (DNA: RG 45, Confidential Letters Sent).

3Jones referred to Section 11 of “An Act for laying and collecting duties on imports and tonnage within the territories ceded to the United States …” (Mobile Act), 24 Feb. 1804, which empowered the president to “erect the shores, waters and inlets of the bay and river Mobile … into a separate district, and to establish such place within the same, as he shall deem expedient, to be the port of entry and delivery for such district.” On 22 July 1813, JM signed an act of Congress stipulating that “the town of Mobile shall be … the sole port of entry for the district” (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 2:251–54, 3:35).

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