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To James Madison from Alexander J. Dallas, [ca. 9 May 1815]

From Alexander J. Dallas

[ca. 9 May 1815]

Dear Sir.

I transmit to you the concluding Reports of the Board of Officers;1 and, I presume, that they will express a wish to be discharged, as soon as you have seen their plans. Upon the whole, they have furnished very good materials; and I will prepare from them a general report of the Department, for your consideration and sanction; which, when approved, will be the proper official document for publication. The necessary arrangements of the peace establishment, will still give you time to hear from Europe, without making the events there a specific cause of delay.

I inclose two letters from Genl. Brown.2 He presses, you will see, Major Gardner for additional honors. If, however, the Major’s character and conduct are such as have been described to me in conversation, by Genl. Ripley, General Scott, and Genl. Wilkinson, I still think Major Butler should be preferred to him. The subject may be kept in suspence for some days without any disadvantage.

In an interview of this morning, General Brown stated, that at Genl. Scott’s instance, he mentioned the wish of that Gentleman to go to Europe, in pursuit of professional instruction &c. retaining only his rank, pay, and emoluments. I declared, that so far as my voice went, he should be gratified; and that I would submit the question at once to you. Genl. Scott would do us credit abroad; and I do not think, that the service would suffer by his temporary absence. If, however, you should assent to Genl. Scott’s request, I presume he would not leave us, while there is the slightest doubt of the effect of European events upon our military establishment.

Genl. Brown’s letter, relative to the purchase of a site for a military station on the waters of the St. Lawrence, merits consideration. He says that he is willing to purchase the necessary tract of land, and to look to Congress for his reimbursement, at the next Session. There are many things to be considered, before the proposed change of situation can be correctly estimated, in its consequences of advantages and disadvantages. What can we do with our Ships on the Stocks at Sacket’s Harbour? If the war had commenced on Genl. Brown’s plan, we should not have had the troubles, nor the glories, of the Lake conflicts; and if we are to expect war again, his plan is probably the best mode of preparing for it.

The disposition of the Troops appears to me to be judicious, in its outline. The Artillery will be at the Atlantic posts; & the Infantry and the Riflemen, will be on the northern Frontier; and, particularly, in the neighborhood of the Indians and British traders. Genl. Brown has arranged the Northern Division to his own mind; and it will be right to allow Genl. Jackson to modify the arrangement for the Southern Division, if he wishes to do so. I am, Dear Sir, most respectfully & faithfully Yrs.

A. J. Dallas

RC (CSmH). Undated; conjectural date supplied based on comparison with JM to Dallas, 10 May 1815. For surviving enclosures, see n. 1.

1Dallas probably enclosed two reports, both signed by Maj. Gen. Jacob Brown as president of the board of officers. The first, dated 6 May 1815, detailed the board’s recommended placement of the light artillery, corps of artillery, infantry, and rifle regiment at posts throughout the United States. The second, dated 8 May 1815, advised that the four chaplains retained in the peace establishment be given faculty status at the U.S. Military Academy, where they would teach “moral philosophy, the latin, spanish & French languages, natural & experimental philosophy &ca &ca.” Referring to its earlier assessment of the chaplains currently in service (see Dallas to JM, 5 May 1815, n. 1), the board declared that these men were “totally unfit for stations in [the military academy], particularly Jones, Booge & Elliott,” but that “suitable persons might easily be found for the pay and emoluments of a chaplain, which at west point might be worth one thousand or twelve hundred dollars.” The board recommended, as well, that the ordnance and commissary departments be retained in their present form. JM submitted copies of the reports (the former 3 pp.; the latter 2 pp.) to the Senate on 13 Feb. 1816 (DNA: RG 46, Executive Proceedings, Other Records, 14B–D1).

2Brown’s letters recommending Maj. Charles K. Gardner, who had served as his adjutant general at the rank of colonel during the War of 1812, have not been found. The association between the two was, however, a source of aggravation for Maj. Gen. Eleazer W. Ripley, who believed that Gardner was responsible for the criticism of Ripley’s conduct contained in Brown’s 7 Aug. 1814 report of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane (for the report, see PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (9 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends 8:116 n. 1). In a continuing effort to salvage his own reputation, Ripley had Gardner arrested and court-martialed in the fall of 1815 on charges including cowardice, neglect of duty, and conduct unbecoming an officer, but Gardner was found not guilty on all counts (Morris, Sword of the Border, 190–91).

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