James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Richard Cavett, 26 August 1812

From Richard Cavett

Chillicothe August 26th: 1812

Dear Sir

You have before this heard the melancholy and distressing news of our a[r]my at Detroit, being sold, and surrendered to the British, an army that with a good commander as able to sweep canada to the walls of Quebec. I hope and trust that evry exertion will be made by you in order to organize another a[r]my immediately of sufficient strength to be sure of Vi[c]tory, it will at least now agreeable to my weak opinion take 15,000 men at the lowest calculation with a good General at their head, there will be this week about 4000 men at urbana from Kentucky and this state—if you order out about 5000 from the westren part of Pennsylvania, and about 3000 more from Kentucky and Virginie and the balance from this state this fall is the time, (not a moment to spair) the roads will be good ⟨to⟩ Detroit for 3 months yet, & the[y] are impracti[c]able in the spring, let the army in the first place cross below Detroit and Take Malden first, then we will be sure of Detroit—it will never do you may rely on it to let the eneny [sic] remain there this winter—the war measures would be damped, and the Eastern states in all probability would break off—everything now must be rushed on with the greatest possible energy—the people here are all willing except a nest of Tories in this place, we want arms and amunition the troops from Pennsylvania ought to bring all the cannon possible. I hope you will excuse these lines from a Volu[n]teer who has fought 3 battles, one at the brid[g]e ovr Aux Canards,1 and two at Browntown,2 the last we drove the Indians and when Col, McArther was obliged to deliver to the British Officer Elliott3 I cleared myself those observations although weak I hope will be of advantage to you. I am Respectfully your soldier

Richard Cavett4

RC (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, C-447:6). Docketed as received in the War Department on 31 Aug. 1812; torn.

1Cavett probably referred to a series of mid-July skirmishes between Ohio troops under Lewis Cass and British soldiers and Indians at a bridge across the Canard River about five miles from Fort Malden (Ernest A. Cruikshank, ed., Documents Relating to the Invasion of Canada and the Surrender of Detroit, 1812 [1912; reprint, New York, 1971], 71–72, 89–90).

2In the first week of August, Ohio volunteers under the command of Maj. Thomas Van Horne were engaged in a skirmish with Indians in and around Brownstown. The scene was repeated under the command of Lt. Col. James Miller shortly afterward, but this time the Indians were reinforced with British troops. Van Horne and Miller had been on their way to rendezvous with Colonel Brush’s regiment, for which they were to provide an escort to Detroit (Michigan Historical Collections 40 [1929]: 438, 463; Cruikshank, Documents Relating to the Invasion of Canada, 125–27, 136).

3Capt. William Elliott received Colonel McArthur’s surrender at the river Rouge on 16 Aug. 1812 (ibid., 172).

4Richard Cavett was a private in Capt. Williams Key’s company of Ohio militia (Paul Drake, comp., Roster of Ohio Soldiers in the War of 1812 [1916; reprint, Bowie, Md., 1995], 25).

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