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From James Madison to John Armstrong, 15 August 1814

To John Armstrong

Aug. 15. 1814

Note to Secy of War on a letter of Jennings Dy: Coy. of purchases, and an endorsemt. by the Secy. of War:1 & on a letter &c. from Genl. Cushing relating to attack on Stonington.2

As a little time will probably decide as to the force allotted by the Enemy to the Chesapeake, it may be as well not to reject the addl. 500. called out by Govr. Barbour for the security of Richd. & that Quarter.

The step taken by Genl. Winder (receivg 2000 under Gen: Parker into service of the US.) is to be supported of course.3 There may be a difficulty as to Parker who is a Majr. Genl. but otherwise a desireable officer, as well on acct. of his military experience as of his local knowledge and of the popular confidence in him.

The attack on Stonington enfor⟨ce⟩s the policy of preparation for Hot Shot ⟨w⟩here ever practicable.

FC (DLC); Tr (DLC, series 3). FC in JM’s hand; parts of words in angle brackets supplied from Tr.

1Army contractor Robert C. Jennings’s 12 Aug. 1814 letter to Armstrong has not been found, but the War Department register contains an entry for a letter from Jennings dated 8 Sept. 1814, listed with letters received in August 1814 and summarized as “Relative to the Supply of Troops. Wishes to be advised whether those under Governor Barbour are in the Service of the U.S.” (DNA: RG 107, Registers of Letters Received). Armstrong acknowledged receipt of the 12 Aug. 1814 letter on 15 Aug., ordering Jennings to “furnish all the troops that have been called into the service of the United States and referred to in your letter—to wit—2,500 at Richmond and the 2,000 within the northern neck” (DNA: RG 107, LSMA).

2On 15 Aug. 1814 the Daily National Intelligencer reported the 9 Aug. attack on Stonington, Connecticut, by British naval forces under Capt. Sir Thomas Hardy, who had sent word that women and children should leave the town within an hour because it “would be laid in ashes.” Armed with only three cannon, the inhabitants held the British off that night, but the attack was resumed the following morning. An account of the ensuing events published in the Boston Daily Advertiser on 19 Aug. revealed that Hardy had notified town officials on 10 Aug. that if “Mrs. Stewart, wife of James Stewart, Esq. late H M. Consul at New-London, and their children “were sent out to his ship by eight o’clock the next morning he would spare the town, otherwise he would destroy it (for Stewart’s efforts to remove his family from New London, see Thomas H. Cushing to Armstrong, 8 Aug. 1814 [printed above], and nn.). The town leaders replied that they had no authority in the case, which Cushing had submitted to the secretary of war. Hardy thereupon renewed the bombardment but inflicted few casualties and little damage; he “relinquished the hope of burning the town” and left Stonington on 13 Aug. 1814.

3Brig. Gen. William H. Winder drafted a letter to Virginia governor James Barbour on 8 Aug. 1814, stating that he had just received a 17 July 1814 letter from Armstrong authorizing him to call out as many as two thousand Virginia militiamen. He inquired where Barbour would order these troops to rendezvous, asked for information on their equipment and for officer lists, and said that in place of some of them he would accept the Northern Neck militia already in state service. Virginia Dep. Adj. Gen. Claiborne Gooch replied for Barbour on 12 Aug. 1814, enclosing 1) a general order of the same date that authorized Winder to call out troops from the fifth, sixth, and fourteenth brigades of Virginia militia, and 2) a copy of Gooch’s 12 Aug. 1814 letter to Virginia Maj. Gen. Alexander Parker, commander of the Virginia militia on the Northern Neck, ordering Parker to “raise and organize” up to two thousand militia and volunteers to serve there under Winder’s command. Gooch assured Winder that “every assistance and co-operation which the State authorities can afford will be cheerfully yielded,” stated that points of rendezvous would be assigned and “other arrangements” made after the troops had been raised, and in a postscript advised him to relieve the militia currently in service by making the newly authorized requisitions (DNA: RG 153, General Court Martial Case Files, G-11).

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