James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jones, 6 June 1814

From William Jones

Navy Department June 6. 1814


In obedience to your order of the 3d Inst I have the honor to Report the Several documents herewith enclosed lettered from A to H containing all the information in this Department on the various subjects of your enquiry.1 I am with great respect Sir your Obdt Servt

W Jones

RC and enclosures (DLC); letterbook copy and letterbook copy of enclosures (DNA: RG 45, LSP). For enclosures, all dated 6 June 1814 and signed by Jones, see n. 1.

1The enclosures marked “A” (1 p.), “B” (2 pp.), and “C” (1 p.) detailed the U.S. naval force on lakes Champlain, Ontario, and Erie, respectively. The fleet on Lake Champlain consisted of one ship, one schooner, one sloop, six two-gun galleys, and four one-gun galleys; all but the last four had “sailed … in pursuit of the enemy” on 26 May 1814. On Lake Ontario, the United States had three ships, four brigs, and eleven schooners, in addition to a ship scheduled to be launched on 10 June. All the vessels would be ready for service by the end of the month if they could be manned, Jones wrote, noting that recruiting was difficult and that he was depending on the army to provide some of the additional personnel needed. Two ships, four brigs, and eight schooners constituted the U.S. force on Lake Erie, with three of the brigs and perhaps two of the schooners destined for use in “the expedition to Lake Huron.”

The enclosure marked “D” (2 pp.) consisted of two statements listing the British naval forces on lakes Champlain and Ontario. On the former, they included one brig, three sloops, eleven galleys, and one barge, with five additional galleys under construction on the Sorel [Richelieu] River. The statement for Lake Ontario was a 15 Mar. 1814 report by Capt. Isaac Chauncey, enumerating the British force as two ships, two brigs, and two schooners “fitted and ready for service,” two additional ships to be finished by the end of April, and a final ship that, according to more recent reports, would mount ninety or one hundred guns and was slated to be launched in July 1814.

The enclosure marked “E” (3 pp.) listed eighteen U.S. naval stations “on the Atlantic Frontier,” including New Orleans, and the vessels at or intended for each of them. These included a total of three seventy-fours under construction, nine frigates, only two of which were deemed “ready for sea,” six sloops of war in varying states of preparation, a steam floating battery at New York, and a large number of gunboats and other vessels. The enclosure marked “F” (8 pp.) consisted of copies and extracts of letters to Jones from navy personnel reporting the presence of British vessels on the Atlantic coast in the spring of 1814, and a summary of these reports listing a total of six British seventy-fours, twelve frigates, one razee, one sloop of war, “several Private Armed Vessels,” and seven additional “74’s, Frigates, &c.”

The letterbook copies of the enclosures included, in addition, Capt. Isaac Hull’s 11 May 1814 letter to Jones, marked “G” (3 pp.), stating Hull’s anticipation of a British attack on Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Hull enclosed a copy of a letter “from a respectable Gentleman in New Haven” that supported his conclusions, and that, according to a Navy Department note, was “marked with the letter H & placed on Private files.”

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