James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne, 23 December 1804 (Abstract)

§ From William C. C. Claiborne

23 December 1804, New Orleans. “The Bark Hero arrived in this Harbour three days ago. The French Prisoners have all escaped, some have gone into the Country for employment: a few remain in the City and others have entered as Sailors on Board of Merchant Vessels. The Situation of the Sick and wounded Englishmen on Board the Hero is peculiarly distressing: they are without Hospital Stores of any kind, Medical attendance, or any Provisions except a little Salt-beef, or the means of obtaining the necessary Supplies.

“There being no British Consul or Agent in this City, and those unfortunate Strangers having applied to me for Succour I addressed on this day to Colonel Freeman a letter of which the enclosure No 1 is a copy,1 and received the answer No 2.2 During the detention of the Hero at Plaquemine, the Sick and wounded, as well French as English were furnished by my order with fresh provisions, and the Captain of the Hero speaks favourably of the humane attention of Captain Nicolls the Officer Commanding at Plaquemine, and of Doctor Williamson the Surgeon of the Garrison, to the sick and wounded.”

Adds in a postscript: “The Account of Supplies furnished the Sick and wounded at Plaquemine amounted to Forty one Dollars, and which I have paid.”3

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 5); letterbook copy (LU: Claiborne Letterbook). RC 2 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner as received 21 Feb. For enclosures, see nn.

1Enclosure no. 1 is a copy of Claiborne to Lt. Col. Constant Freeman, 23 Dec. 1804 (1 p.; docketed by Wagner; printed in Rowland, Claiborne Letter Books description begins Dunbar Rowland, ed., Official Letter Books of W. C. C. Claiborne, 1801–1816 (6 vols.; Jackson, Miss., 1917). description ends , 3:29), approving Freeman’s order to Dr. Rogers to have the ailing British removed to the marine hospital, asking how many were to be admitted and what orders Freeman had given for their accommodation, and stressing that “a just Neutrality” enjoined such “Acts of innocent kindness to both of the Belligerent Powers.”

2Enclosure no. 2 is Freeman’s 23 Dec. 1804 reply (2 pp.; docketed by Wagner), stating that he had given only the orders Claiborne had heard, since Dr. Rogers said Claiborne would be communicating with Freeman on the subject. Freeman said he would order the men admitted and would direct that a strict account be kept of provisions and hospital stores provided them, adding that Rogers said only seven men and an officer needed attention.

3Also filed with the RC are a partial list (1 p.) of the prisoners remaining on board the Hero, signed 4 Nov. 1804 by Capt. Jean-Baptiste Juge; an 11 Nov. 1804 statement (1 p.) of the condition of the prisoners on board signed by M. Williamson; an 11 Dec. letter from Capt. Abimael Nicoll at Fort Plaquemine to Claiborne (1 p.) enclosing a receipt (1 p.) for rice and meat obtained for the prisoners at a cost of $41.20; Nicoll’s 11 Dec. 1804 draft (1 p.) against Claiborne for that amount; a 21 Dec. 1804 receipt (1 p.) from a New Orleans company for $41.20 received from Claiborne; an 8 Dec. 1804 receipt (1 p.) from Capt. John Calver for the supplies; and a 12 Nov. 1804 statement (1 p.) by Calver that twenty-one invalids and nine crew members comprised the “English remaining onboard of the Norfolk Hero Cartell.”

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