James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edward Coles, 22 May 1813

From Edward Coles

Philadelphia May 22d 1813

Dear Sir

As a good deal of feeling has been excited here by some military appointments, made during the present recess of the Senate, I consider it my duty to give some facts, and a hint of an impression which prevails with some of the best friends of the State and General Government. Are you apprised that all the appointments, many of which are important ones too, that have been lately made in this part of the State, have been conferred on anti-Snyderites, or of the Leib party? I have been told by several of your political friends who seemed to be acquainted with particulars that the Adjutant General,1 the Assistant Adjt. Gen., the Assistant Inspector Genl., three field Officers, a Cap. of Cavalry, one or two Captains of artillery or Infantry have been lately appointed and all of them of this opposition party. But above all the late Editor of the Whig Chronicle (Goodman) without any particular qualifications received from the hands of Leib on his return from the last session of Congress the Commission of Cap. of Artillery, and has, I am told, worn the uniform and received the pay as such untill about a week since when it was discovered there was no vacancy in the artily., and Col. Fotterall, lately appointed in the 12 months service, has been requested (it is said by the Sec. of War) to recommend Goodman to you as a Captain in his Regiment.2

To give you some idea of the feeling which exists here relative to some of these appointments, it is only necessary to refer you to Mr. Ingersoll for the particulars of the insult given by the Militia at the late simi-annual parade, where Gen. Bloomfield and staff being invited by the officer of the day to review the Militia, it was ascertained that they would not submit to be reviewed, if Dun, the Assistant Adjutant General, formed one of the Generals staff, and to prevent a riot he was ordered by Gen. Bloomfield to return to his quarters in the City.3 But in this case the objections were not so much to the party to which he belonged as to the moral character and standing of the Man.

I find but few persons censuring you for these appointments, but an impression prevails with many that the Secretary of War thinks too highly of Duane and his friends, and suffer them to have too much influence over him. Enough has come to my knowledge to induce me to make this impression known to you.

I have received your late letter enclosing me a draft on the Pennsylvania Bank. By the enclosed to Mrs. M. you will be informed of my health &c &c.4 With the most affectionate regard and esteem I am your friend

Edward Coles

RC (ICHi). Docketed by JM.

1William Duane was appointed adjutant general of the Pennsylvania military district in March 1813 (Higginbotham, Keystone in the Democratic Arch, 276).

2Stephen E. Fotterall was commissioned as a colonel in the Thirty-second Regiment of Infantry on 6 May 1813. George F. Goodman, who had been commissioned a captain in the Sixteenth Regiment of Infantry on 18 Mar. 1813, was transferred to the Thirty-second on 27 May 1813 (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 , 1:432, 463).

3Robert Dunn was named assistant adjutant general at the rank of major on 26 Mar. 1813 but was struck from the Army rolls on 2 Apr. 1814 (ibid., 389).

4Coles’s letter to Dolley Madison of 22 May 1813 reported that his health was “much improved during the last week,” but that he nevertheless did not allow himself “to make very sanguine calculations” as to when he would be well enough to leave Philadelphia (ICHi).

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