James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 6 June 1812

From Thomas Jefferson

Monticello June 6. 12.

Dear Sir

I have taken the liberty of drawing the attention of the Secretary at War to a small depot of military stores at N. London, and leave the letter open for your perusal.1 Be so good as to seal it before delivery. I really thought that Genl. Dearborne had removed them to Lynchburg, undoubtedly a safer and more convenient deposit.

Our county is the only one I have heard of which has required a draught. This proceeded from a mistake of the Colo. who thought he could not recieve individual offers, but that the whole quota of 241. must present themselves at once. Every one however manifests the utmost alacrity; of the 241. there having been but 10. absentees at the first muster called. A further proof is that capt Carr’s company of volunteer cavalry being specifically called for by the Governor, tho’ consisting of but 28. when called on, has got up to 50 by new engagements since their call was known. The only enquiry they make is whether they are to go to Canada or Florida? Not a man, as far as I have learnt, entertains any of those doubts which puzzle the lawyers of Congress, & astonish common sense, whether it is lawful for them to pursue a retreating enemy across the boundary line of the Union?2

I hope Barlow’s correspondence3 has satisfied all our Quixots who thought we should undertake nothing less than to fight all Europe at once. I inclose you a letter from Dr. Bruff,4 a mighty good, and very ingenious man. His method of manufacturing bullets and shot, has the merit of increasing their specific gravity greatly (being made by compression) and rendering them as much heavier & better than the common leaden bullet, as that is than an iron one. It is a pity he should not have the benefit of furnishing the public when it would be equally to their benefit also. God bless you.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers); FC (DLC: Jefferson Papers). For enclosures, see nn. 1 and 4.

1Jefferson’s 6 June letter to William Eustis (2 pp.) drew the secretary of war’s attention to the condition of some military stores in “an old log house” about half a mile outside New London, Virginia. The storekeeper had been residing in a western region for some two or three years, and the “exposed state of the magazine,” Jefferson wrote, was “a ground of apprehension to the timid, and of censure to the grumblers & malcontents who are not a few in that quarter.” Reminding Eustis that he had previously raised this matter with Eustis’s predecessor in the War Department and believing that Dearborn had already removed some of the stores, Jefferson suggested that Eustis instruct a nearby recruiting officer, Captain Buckner, to relocate the remaining stores to Lynchburg, about twelve miles away on the James River. There the stores could be guarded by the officer in charge of the recruiting station, at a place that enjoyed better communication with other parts of the state (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

2Much of the congressional debate on legislation relating to both militia and volunteer forces in January and February 1812 had been taken up with questions about whether the administration could employ these forces either beyond the limits of an adjoining state or beyond the limits of the U.S. itself (see Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 12th Cong., 1st sess., 728–49, 750–64, 765–80, 781–94, 796–800, 1058–69).

4Jefferson enclosed a one-page printed prospectus he had received from Thomas Bruff of Washington under a 30 May dateline for “Opening a Factory for making solid shot by machinery.” The prospectus offered two hundred shares for public subscription (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

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