James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Enos R. Childs, 8 June 1814

From Enos R. Childs

June 8th. 1814 Charleston (S.C.)


Haveing been under an arrest for nearly eight months, and wrote to the Secretary of the Navy requesting a Court Martial or otherwise to be released, to which I have recieved no answer1—I have taken the liberty of informing you of some of the cercumstances which took place and the cause of my arrest sailing master Bessett Comdr. of U.S. Schr. Aligater on the twenty fourth of Octr. last there being no other officer on board the Schr. but masters mate Todd, Pilot and myself, Mr Todd being sick I requested the Pilot to releave me to my supper, haveing been on deck the whole day; during my supper Mr. Bessett came up from below and inquired for the officer of the deck. Mr. Hatch (Pilot) acting as master of the vessel by order of Comdr. Dent, replied that he was, and had releaved me to my supper, Mr. Bessett then ordered all hands to be called to muster, I immediately came on Deck, took up the muster role and asked Mr. Bessett if I should muster the crew, he turned Short round and said before all hands, I did not call you, sir, and immediately ordered the Boatswain to take charge of the starboard Watch, Gunner the larboard, and Carpenter the middle Watch—leaving me out entirely. I then told Mr. Bessett that if this was the way he treated me I should not do any further duty on board of the vessel, untill I heard from the Honble. secretary or Commdr. of the station. I went below immediately and wrote to the secreta⟨ry⟩ concerning the treatment I recivd from Mr. Bessett2 and on the 26th. I recd. my arrest from him he has since preferred against me the following charges—which I can at any time justify myself

charge 1st. for frequent disobedient of orders

Charge 2nd. for leaving my station as officer of the dec⟨k⟩ before regularly releaved on the evening of the 24th. Octr leaving at that time the deck without any person who could be considered as an officer.

Charge 3rd. Neglecting all Kind of duty for 24 hours in absenting myself from the Deck.

Further Comments to you Sir would be Superflous. I beg leave, to request you to favor me with a Court Martial or to be otherwise released, as I am plased in a situation wherein I can be of no service to my country although an expence. Hoping Sir that you will take my situation into consideration.

Please to excuse my boldness for addressing you in this manner. I have the Honor With the greatest respect to remain Your Most Obt. Servant

Enos R Childs3

Mids. U S Navy

RC (DNA: RG 45, Letters from Commissioned Officers below the Rank of Commander). William Jones wrote in pencil on the cover: “Has Captain Dent ever exhibited charges against this man.”

1Childs to William Jones, 28 Apr. 1814 (DNA: RG 45, Letters from Commissioned Officers below the Rank of Commander).

2Childs probably referred to his letter to Jones of 26 Oct. 1813 (ibid.).

3Enos R. Childs (1794–1852), a Maryland native, was appointed midshipman on 18 June 1812 and promoted to lieutenant on 27 Apr. 1816. He resigned from the navy on 1 Apr. 1825 (“Notes and Queries,” Maryland Historical Magazine 37 [1942]: 88; Callahan, List of Officers of the Navy, description begins Edward W. Callahan, List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900 (New York, 1901). description ends 112).

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