James Madison Papers

William Shaler to James Monroe, 13 March 1813

William Shaler to James Monroe

Natchitoches March 13 1813


By an indirect occasion to Natches I have the honor to inform you that an express has just arrived here with letters from the Mexican camp at La Bahia which confirm the intelligence previously received by desertors and communicated by my letter of the 6 in.1 The papers I have the honor to enclose herewith contain the best account of those occurrences, and as they are corroborated by many other letters and by all reports from that quarter, they seem entitled to full credit.2 General Adair is again urgently solicited to go out and take the command.

I engaged a confidential person who was going out to Nacogdoches to make inquiry of the desertors mentioned in my last, respecting Doctor Robinson: he has just returned and informs me that he learnt of those persons that Doctor Robinson left San Antonio with an escort for Coaghuila in company with the reverend fathers “Huerta” and “Salza”3 and an american resident in that country, by the name of Quist, state prisoners; and that on their arrival in Coaghuila the Doctor was also arrested and confined: since when they have heard nothing further of him: they further say that the reason of his arrest, as reported at Governor Salcedo’s headquarters was his having given false information of the march of the volunteers. I have the honor to be with verry great respect, Sir your most faithfull humble servant

Wm. Shaler4

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, Communications from Special Agents). Docketed by Monroe, “For the President / 13 March 1813 / Mr Shaler.” For enclosures, see n. 2.

1Shaler probably referred to his letter to Monroe of 5 Mar. 1813, no copy of which reached the State Department (NHi: Shaler Letterbooks, Gilder Lehrman Collection).

2Shaler enclosed a copy of a letter from José Bernardo Maximiliano Gutiérrez de Lara to Major Reuben Ross, 24 Feb. 1813 (3 pp.), and an extract of a letter from William Fisher, “adjutant of the Army,” to a “gentleman” at Natchitoches, 13 Feb. 1813 (2 pp.). Gutiérrez reported a decisive victory by republican troops over Texas governor Manuel Salcedo’s loyalists at La Bahía (Goliad) on 10 Feb. 1813, and stated that Salcedo’s retreating army might disintegrate before reaching San Antonio. He instructed Ross to inform “the friends of the republican cause” that the road to La Bahía was now safe and that “any articles of merchandize for the use of the army or of the citizens will be admitted free of duty.” Ross was to send any volunteers he had recruited to La Bahía “without delay,” and to forward clothing for the troops there. Extracts from the letter were printed in the Daily National Intelligencer of 8 May 1813. The extract from Fisher’s letter described the 10 Feb. battle at La Bahía.

3Shaler probably referred to the Nacogdoches priests Father Huerta and Father Sosa, whom the insurgents had attempted to recruit for their cause in 1811 (Hatcher, The Opening of Texas, 213).

4William Shaler (1773–1833), a merchant, author, and diplomat, gained a substantial knowledge of Spanish America from his commercial voyages to South America and California during the early 1800s. In 1810, JM commissioned him as an agent to Cuba and Mexico, with the assignment of collecting intelligence and promoting U.S. interests in the region. Shaler spent more than a year in Cuba before being expelled by suspicious Spanish authorities but never managed to enter Mexico. His mission ended in 1813, when the defeat of revolutionary forces at San Antonio made further hopes for Mexican independence unrealistic. He then served as U.S. consul general in Algiers from 1815 to 1829 and spent the rest of his life as U.S. consul in Havana, where he died of cholera. His published works include essays on California and Algiers (Nichols, Advance Agents of American Destiny, 51, 81, 84, 90–92, 102, 108, 149, 155–56; see also Madison and the Problem of Mexican Independence: The Gutiérrez-Magee Raid of August 1812, PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 5:235–244).

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