James Madison Papers

James Wilkinson to John Armstrong, 26 November 1813

James Wilkinson to John Armstrong

Dr Manns—near French Mills—
Borders of Canada
—26th. Novr 1813


Perceiving that the Albany Argus, is endeavouring to mislead the Public Judgement, by shamefully misrepresenting my Conduct, and endeavouring to gloss that of Genl Hampton,1 & reflecting that it was my orders, & not yours, which he disobeyed, I have sent forward to have him arrested, & having received an intimation, that he was about to quit the District without leave, I shall in such case, transmit the arrest to Washington.

Walbach having left me to join you, I have agreeably to your proposition appointed Major Pinckney to succeed him.

I am still harassed by a tremendous Quartan Ague & fever, and with the advice of my Physician am about to remove my Quarters to Malone, where you will please to address me. With great respect I have the Honor to be Sir Your Obt Hubl. Sevt.

Ja Wilkinson

P.S. This moment I have recieved the inclosed from Col. Bissell, & with it send the information of the deserter, from which you will perceive, that my apprehensions for our depot at Chateaugay four corners was well founded, and but for my prompt precaution, every thing there would have been lost.2 I send you the copy of another letter, which I beg you to consider private, to shew you, what has been the conduct of Genl Hampton.3 Major Noon just from Plattsburg confirms this information and observes, from the appearances on the road, the movement of the division from the four Corners to Platsburg, looked more like a flight than a retreat.

Ja Wilkinson

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 107, LRUS, W-1813). Marked in an unidentified hand: “Shown to the President.” For enclosures, see nn. 2–3.

1On 23 Nov. 1813 the Albany Argus reported that the “abrupt and unexpected” end of the campaign against Montreal was generally attributed to “a difference of opinion said to exist between the Generals, Wilkinson and Hampton, in relation to their place of junction. The former directed Hampton to unite with him at St. Regis—the latter thought a point lower down would be better, and took measures accordingly. So soon as this was known to Wilkinson, the army was ordered to hut at Salmon river for the winter.” The writer stated that he would “say nothing at present of the conduct of either of these generals.”

2Wilkinson enclosed a copy of Col. Daniel Bissell’s letter to him of 25 Nov. 1813 (1 p.), informing Wilkinson that Bissell was sending him a deserter from the British forces, whose report had led Bissell to expect a British attack on the U.S. post at Chateaugay. The statement of the deserter, Jonathan Powers (1 p.), indicated that Powers had marched with five hundred infantry and fifty cavalry to attack Chateaugay on 23 Nov. 1813, but that the British had retreated the next day. Powers also reported that the British force engaged against Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton’s army in the Battle of Chateaugay on 26 Oct. 1813 included a total of five companies of Voltigeurs, Canadian fencibles, and Canadian militia, and that approximately two hundred Indians had participated briefly in the action.

3The enclosure was Bissell’s 19 Nov. 1813 letter to Wilkinson (2 pp.), stating that he had found the U.S. post at Chateaugay in disarray after Hampton’s departure, with provisions and equipment scattered about unsecured.

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