James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Jonathan R. Spann, 15 September 1812 (Abstract)

§ From Jonathan R. Spann

15 September 1812, Charleston. Observes that his courtmartial proceedings will be forwarded to JM for a final decision.1 Requests JM’s “particular attention, to the testimony, on the different Charges & Specifications.” Refers JM to his defense in the court-martial record, an affidavit from one of the men in his company, and a statement he had published in the newspaper.2 Requests that JM “Suspend a desison in the Cace” until all Spann’s papers can be laid before him.3 Intends to proceed to Washington as soon as possible.

RC (DNA: RG 153, Court-Martial Orders, 1810–24). 3 pp.

1The court-martial of Spann, a captain in the Light Artillery Regiment, commenced on 15 July and concluded on 3 Sept. 1812. He was found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer, specifically cheating at cards, failing to purchase gaiters after appropriating money from his troops for that purpose, failing to distribute bounty money to his troops, and stealing the pay of one of his men, Thomas Bryant. He was also charged with violating Article 12 of the rules and articles of war by “Taking a private of his Company a few miles from Charleston & giving him a furlough for several months” and Article 36 by embezzling public clothing for the use of his slave (DNA: RG 153, Proceedings of Courts-Martial, vol. 4, entry 14).

2On 12 Sept. 1812 the Charleston Times published a statement from Spann denying the charge that he had misappropriated government property when he ordered that his slave be clothed from public stores.

3Several other letters from Spann requesting a review of his case and a new trial are listed in the Registers of Letters Received by the Secretary of War but have not been found (DNA: RG 107). Eustis replied to Spann on 30 Oct. 1812 to explain that there were no grounds for a new trial (DNA: RG 107, LSMA).

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