James Madison Papers

John G. Jackson to Dolley Payne Madison, 11 December 1812

John G. Jackson to Dolley Payne Madison

Clarksburg Decr. 11th 1812

My dear Sister

I am again at Clarksburg after an absence of two months, worse than mispent in the western Country. I have not even the consolation to believe that any benefit has resulted to the community from my expedition, & therefore there is no offset for ⟨m⟩y in⟨di⟩vidual sacrifices of time & money. I left General Harrison at Franklinton about the 1st. instant & the Virginia troops at Delaware four or five days afterwards. After the maturest reflection I have formed the opinion that H will not be able to march his Army to Detroit this winter; the transportation is very tardy & the state of the roads so impassible that it is difficult to supply the respectiv⟨e⟩ detachments of the Army with provision at their various encampments. A few days before I left Genl. H he sent about 700 men principally mounted; to attack the Indians on the Wabash.1 I determined with the expressed approbation of Genl. H and of Colo. Campbell2 who commanded the expedition as well as Major Ball & Colo. Simmerell,3 who went under him to accompany them, those officers invited me to partake of their tents &C & I had no doubt that they honestly felt the friendly dispositions they expressed towards me. Judge then of my surprise when I learned on the next day that Campbell & Ball signified to the Genl. that altho they felt well disposed towards me, and had no doubt that nothing would occur to interrupt that feeling, yet as theirs was a subordinate command & neither of them held the rank which I did, & altho I had no command, my standing was such as to induce a belief that whatever credit was acquired would be so divided as to assign a large share to me, & in so far diminish theirs. I never dreamt until this discovery that I would have to encounter a temper so illiberal—for I had supposed that in proportion as the characters commanded […] conspicuous so would the credit of their commanders be enhanced, and as I had no command & would not assume any my case could not furnish an exception. They it seems reasoned differently, & by doing so presented an obstacle to my going further or remaining longer to my mind insurmountable and I resolved to return home. Genl. H expressed a willingness that I should be with him as a volunteer aid & said he would write me when he took up his line of march & I could then join him. On these terms we parted. I cannot say on retrospecting the conduct of the Genl. that I have any cause to be dissatisfied with it, & it may be that the letter which he shall write me will induce me to return to the army, having looked forward so long & determinately I dislike very much to abandon the enterprise. Altho I did not kill any of our enemies I was daily spilling the blood of the deer &c on my route. I carried my Rifle all the way threw away my cane & never enjoyed better health. I am now almost as strong as ever. I heard that Mr M had written me in answer to mine from Franklinton4 but I never recd. his letter it was h⟨an⟩ded about so as never to reach me. I re⟨joice⟩ exceedingly that he has triumphed over Federalists, apostates, tories & all the combined crew of ⟨o⟩ppose⟨rs⟩. I have been much pressed to offer for Congress & if my services were of any value or my vote could influence the measures which I espouse I would consent to it but I have no faith in either; &, as at present inclined if I do not fight for my Country I shall stand aloof entirely. I saw John Payne at Franklinton acting as an assistant to the Q Master Colo Morrison. I hope & believe he will do well.

I enclose a letter to Mr. Forrest cant you get him to answer it, I have not been able to extract one line from him since I was at Washington.

We are all well & send you much love. Yours truly

J G Jackson

RC (ViHi). Torn.

1On 25 Nov. 1812 Harrison ordered Lt. Col. John B. Campbell to take action against Miami Indian villages along the Mississinewa River, part of the Wabash River system. Harrison believed that the inhabitants of those villages posed a danger to Winchester’s supply routes. On 17 Dec., Campbell’s forces arrived at a minor Miami village, attacked, and took prisoners. The following day Campbell’s forces were themselves attacked. After an hour-long battle, they drove back the Indian forces with moderate casualties, successfully neutralizing the threat from that area (Harrison to Campbell, 25 Nov. 1812, and Campbell to Harrison, 18 Dec. 1812, in Esarey, Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison, Indiana Historical Collections, 2:228–31, 248–49).

2John B. Campbell of Virginia was serving as a lieutenant colonel in the Nineteenth Infantry Regiment in the fall of 1812. He was promoted by brevet to the rank of colonel on 18 Dec. 1812 for his efforts in the Mississinewa expedition and was killed at the Battle of Chippewa on 5 July 1814 (ibid., 2:179 n. 1; Heitman, Historical Register description begins Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, from Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903 (2 vols.; Washington, 1903). description ends , 1:278).

3Jackson referred to James Simrall (1781–1823), colonel of a regiment of Kentucky Light Dragoons (Esarey, Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison, Indiana Historical Collections, 2:145 and n. 3).

4Jackson probably referred to JM’s 4 Nov. 1812 letter in reply to Jackson’s of 21 Oct.

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