James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Kirkpatrick, 1 November 1804 (Abstract)

§ From William Kirkpatrick

1 November 1804, Malaga. “You will herewith find inclosed Copy of my Last Letter to You dated 29 Sepr., since then the Sickness with which this City has been so severely visited, has continued on the decline, the Mortality not now exceeding One to three pr day, or the total number of sick, in the Hospitals, Suburb & Town twelve, we may therefore consider Ourselves as freed from this shocking Distemper, but our Port is kept strictly shut in Virtue of Orders from Madrid, no Goods Wheat excepted, being allowed to be landed, or of any Denomination to be shipt off. It is uncertain how long this restriction so prejudicial to Trade, and the Inhabitants at large of this part, of the Country may last. I have much Satisfaction in forwarding You Copy of a Letter I have just received from Richd O’Brien Esqr. dated Malta 5/12 Sepr.,1 since the Squadron has been so considerably reinforced, we expect soon to be advised of further Success, unless the advanced Season, should prevent Commodore Barron from acting. The Sickness at Velez has equally declined, as well as at all our inland Towns, it is to be hoped every Symptom of the Disorder will have disappeared throughout the Kingdom of Granada in the Course of this Month, but a rigorous Quarantine, it is supposed will be imposed, before our Communicns are opened with other parts of Spain.”

RC and enclosure (DNA: RG 59, CD, Málaga, vol. 1). RC 1 p.; marked “Duplicate”; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Kirkpatrick. For enclosure, see n. 1.

1The enclosure is a transcript of Richard O’Brien to Kirkpatrick, 5 and 12 Sept. 1804 (4 pp.) that is almost identical in wording to O’Brien’s 5 and 12 Sept. 1804 letters to John Gavino (see Gavino to JM, 25 Oct. 1804 and n. 1). In his 5 Sept. letter O’Brien wrote that the Americans had attacked Tripoli, killing or capturing seventy-six Tripolitans but losing Lt. James Decatur. The Americans attacked again on 7 Aug., losing twelve men, and O’Brien estimated the Tripolitans lost five hundred in the two attacks. He also stated that on 29 Aug. U.S. vessels entered Tripoli harbor and destroyed several gunboats and a polacre; in this attack Tripoli had “at least 300 men killed.” O’Brien added in a postscript that the present U.S. forces could not defeat the Tripolitans, but the combined fleet should be able to drive the pasha and his council from the city. In his letter of 12 Sept. O’Brien wrote that Samuel Barron had arrived on 5 Sept., leaving the Congress and Essex at Gibraltar to watch the Moroccans; that the President and Constellation had left for Tripoli on 7 and 8 Sept., respectively; and that a Maltese vessel had reported that a U.S. fireship had entered Tripoli harbor and exploded, doing “a great deal of damage,” with two officers and twelve crew members “blown to attoms.” O’Brien said he planned to return with his family in the John Adams and asked Kirkpatrick to forward a copy of his letter to JM. For Preble’s 18 Sept. 1804 report to Robert Smith of the actions against Tripoli, see Knox, Naval Documents, Barbary Wars description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers (6 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1939–44). description ends , 4:293–308.

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