Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Josiah Meigs, 18 September 1813

To Josiah Meigs

Monticello Sep. 18. 13.

Dear Sir

I thank you for the information contained in your letter of Aug. 25. I confess that when I heard of the atrocities committed by the English troops at Hampton, I did not believe them; but subsequent evidence has placed them beyond doubt. to this has been added information from another quarter which proves the violation of women to be their habitual practice in war. mr Hamilton, a son of Alexander Hamilton, of course a federalist and Angloman, and who was with the British army in Spain some time, declares it is their constant practice, and that at the taking Badajoz, he was himself eye-witness to it in the streets, & that the officers did not attempt to restrain it. the information contained in your letter proves it is not merely a recent practice. this is a trait of barbarism, in addition to their encoragement of the savage cruelties, & their brutal treatment of prisoners of war, which I had not attached to their character. I am happy to hear that yourself & family enjoy good health & tender you the assurance of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr Josiah Meigs”; endorsed by TJ.

Alexander Hamilton, the namesake son of America’s first secretary of the treasury, was present at the bloody siege of badajoz. Following its capture on 6 Apr. 1812 by forces under the command of Arthur Wellesley, Viscount Wellington, the city was sacked for two full days (New York Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 21 Aug. 1875; Ian C. Robertson, Wellington at War in the Peninsula, 1808–1814 [2000], 10, 196–8).

Index Entries

  • Badajoz, Spain search
  • Great Britain; atrocities committed by search
  • Great Britain; military operations of in Spain and Portugal search
  • Great Britain; treatment of prisoners of war by search
  • Hamilton, Alexander (1757–1804); family of search
  • Hamilton, Alexander (1786–1875) search
  • Hampton, Va.; British attack on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; British atrocities search
  • Meigs, Josiah; and British atrocities search
  • Meigs, Josiah; letters to search
  • War of1812; British attack on Hampton, Va. search
  • Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of (formerly Viscount); Peninsular campaigns of search
  • women; raped by British servicemen search