James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Henry Dearborn, 16 December 1812

From Henry Dearborn

Albany Decemr. 16th. 1812.


Permit me to observe that I concider it of the utmost importance that improvements should be effected as soon as may be in the Staff Departments of the Army, and especially in that of the Quartr. Mastr. Genl. and it is indispen[s]able that the Q, M, G, should be a real man of business, in addition to good talents, general information & integrity, he should be habitually industrious, energetic & prompt, in the descharge of the important duties of the office, and should possess a capacity for inspiring all his under officers with zeal & activity, in short a Q, M. G should see every thing, anticipate every thing, so as to be prepared at all times, as far as humane foresight will admit, for every emergency. Many Gentlemen may be very well qualified for a Genl. officer in the line, who would not be well qualified for the office of Q. M. G. I most sincerely wish that Genl. Lewis, who I have a great respect for, might be satisfactorily provided for in the line, he would like the change, and if several additional Majr. Genl. should be appointed he would be a prominent candidate for one of them. I am not personally acquainted with any Gentlemen who I think as well qualified for the place of Q, M. G as Genl. Wim. King1 of Massachusetts, and I most ardently hope that he, or some other Gentleman eaqually well qualified will be appointed to that important office. It will be impracticable to carry on another Campaign, without great improvements in the Q M——s Department, and such a change as I have alluded to, might undoubtedly be made to very great advantage to the public service.

On mature reflection I have concidered it my duty to observe, as my deliberate opinnion, that measures ought to be taken without delay, for raising such an additional regular force North of the Potomack and on the Ohio as would, with those already authorised by law, amount to 30,000. men to be apportioned on the several States nearly as follows,

Ohio 1300 Connecticut 1 300
Kentuckey 2000 Rhode Island 400
Maryland 2000 Massachusetts 5 500
Deleware 200 New Hampshire 1 600
Pennsylvania 6000 Vermont  1 500
Jersey 1200 10 300
New York  7000 19 700
19700 30,000

What additional force may be necessary to raise South of the Potomack, I have not concidered. To raise the force I have proposed, will require only one thirteenth part of the enrolled Militia of the respective States, or five men from each Company of Militia consisting of 75 men, and if so very small a proportion of our Countrymen cannot be induced to enter the Army, we ought not to think of prosicuting a war with a view to any Offencive opperations, nor indeed, any war whatever. I have concidered it my duty to express to you Sir, the foregoing opinnions, and I cannot but hope that you may concider it expedient to urge on Congress the absolute necessary of being prepared for prosicuting the war with such effect, as will command a speedy & honourable peace. I am fully persuaded that a strong message to Congress, urging the propriety of raising a large additional regular force, would have a desirable effect in several respects, and that it is generally expected, and by your best friends concidered necessary. I must beg you Sir, to excuse the freedom with which I have expressed my sentiments & opinnions, I am persuaded you will not impute to me other than honest motives. With sentiments of the highest respect I am Sir your Obedient Servant

H. Dearborn

RC (NN: Monroe Papers).

1William King (1768–1852), half-brother of Rufus King, was a successful merchant and shipbuilder in Bath, Maine. He was a representative to the Massachusetts General Court in 1795 and 1803–6 and to the state senate in 1807–8. A militia major general, he received a colonel’s commission in the U.S. Army on 18 July 1813, serving in the adjutant general’s office. King took an active role in the movement to separate Maine from Massachusetts and served as Maine’s first governor, 1820–21 (Sobel and Raimo, Biographical Directory of the Governors, 2:595; Hamersly, Complete Regular Army Register of the U.S., 87).

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