James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Henry Dearborn, 24 July 1813

From Henry Dearborn

Utica July 24th. 1813


From the unequivocal and positive order received from the Secretary of War, (a copy of which I take the liberty of enclosing) I had no option but implicit obedience.1 My health had so far improved as to enable me to reassume the command on the 26th. of June, of which I notified the Secretary of War.2 I received a letter from the Secretary of War dated May 27th. in which I was informed that Majr. Genl. Hampton would set out on the next day for this Army.3 I anxiously expected his arrival by the 18th. or 20th. of June, but by a letter dated the 30th. of June from the Secrty. of War I was informed that an Army was forming in Vermont, and that Genl.s Hampton & Parker were destined to that Army.4 From a daily expectation of the Arrival of Genl. Hampton at Niagara, I advised Majr. Genl. Lewis to proceed to Sackets Harbour to take command of the Troops assembled & assembling at that place.

As I am suspended from all commands, I shall retire to my family near Boston, I shall never complain of being so disposed of as the good of the service may require, but the perticular manner of perfor[m]ing an act, gives a charactor to the act itself. And concidering the peculier manner & time of my removal from command, I trust it will not be deemed improper to afford me the satisfaction of an enquirey for investigating any part of my conduct that may have been deemed improper, and on which my suspention from command may have been predicated.

RC and enclosure (DLC); Tr (MeHi). RC unsigned; docketed by JM, “Dearborn H.” For enclosure, see n. 1.

1The enclosed copy of John Armstrong’s letter to Dearborn of 6 July 1813 (1 p.; in Dearborn’s hand) reads as follows: “I have the Presidents orders to express to you his decision, that you retire from the command of District No. 9 & of the Troops within the same, until your health be reestablished, and until further orders.” Public outrage over the U.S. loss in the Battle of the Beechwoods (Beaver Dams) (see Bolling Hall to JM, 8 July 1813, n. 1), in addition to the numerous other failures of the northern campaign, provided Armstrong with the political wherewithal to carry out Dearborn’s removal (Quimby, The U.S. Army in the War of 1812, 1:250, 251).

2In his letter to Armstrong of 6 July 1813, Dearborn wrote: “Since I resumed the command, my health and Strength have hourly improved, and I hope shortly to regain them in their wonted vigor” (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, D-153:7). The general had been suffering from fever since May 1813, and by mid-June had relinquished command of the army at Fort George to Maj. Gen. Morgan Lewis and, after Lewis’s departure for Sackets Harbor, to Brig. Gen. John Parker Boyd (Quimby, The U.S. Army in the War of 1812, 1:230, 248).

3Armstrong wrote Dearborn on 26 May 1813: “Brigr. General Parker leaves this tomorrow for your Head Quarters—Major General Hampton will soon be with you.” Armstrong’s letter to Dearborn of 27 May 1813 did not mention Hampton (DNA: RG 107, LSMA).

4Letter not found.

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