James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Armstrong, 7 January 1814

From John Armstrong

Jan 7th. 1813 [1814]


I am ill & confined to my room, otherwise I should have handed to you the enclosed.1 We are better off at Detroit in point of force than was expected. The number of sick is very great—12672 out of an Aggregate of 2527. The absentees are also numerous 337 + not accounted for. I am Sir, with the highest respect Your most Ob. servt.

J. Armstrong

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM. Date corrected to 1814 based on evidence in n. 1 and the fact that Armstrong did not assume office as secretary of war until 5 Feb. 1813. For enclosure, see n. 1.

1Armstrong provided numbers from and may have enclosed a 1 Dec. 1813 return of troops at Detroit signed by Capt. Charles Gratiot (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, C-238:7), a copy of which Brig. Gen. Lewis Cass enclosed in his 17 Dec. 1813 letter to Armstrong (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, C-278:7). The return showed 643 rank and file present for duty. In the letter, Cass described his force as “inadequate to any thing but defensive measures” and reported that, in his capacity as governor, he had ordered out 200 Michigan Territory militia. He also enclosed a copy of his 17 Dec. 1813 letter to Ohio governor Return Jonathan Meigs Jr., requesting that Meigs detach 1,000 Ohio militia for service on the Detroit frontier pending Armstrong’s approval. The secretary of war’s earlier fear of an even worse situation at Detroit was evident in his 1 Jan. 1814 letter to Maj. Gen. William Henry Harrison, in which he noted that Cass’s brigade had “suffered a most rapid & alarming diminution” due to sickness, that his last return showed no more than 470 rank and file fit for duty, and that that number may have been further reduced by half (DNA: RG 107, LSMA; printed in Esarey, Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison, Indiana Historical Collections, 2:615–16).

2Gratiot’s report has 1,261.

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