James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Falvey Frazer, 15 December 1813

From Falvey Frazer

Fort Washington 15th Decembr 1813.

My Unhappy situation compells me to take the liberty of addressing your excellancey on a subject that I acknowledge myself to be liable to punnishment for the offense committed is that of taking the liberty of going to see my wife in Baltimore without the approbation of My officers the fact is I had made application for leave of absence for a few days prior to My departure from the Fort and was denied consequently hearing of my wifes Violent indisposition and that she was at the point of death induced me to Violate the rules and articles of war but not with an intention to abscoind from service entirely May it Please your Excellencey I have been in the service of the United States for eighteen years and can say with propriety that I was never confined a day before this period which can be proven by Gentlemen of the first rank1 at the time I was taken prisoner I had everythings prepared for my return to the Fort which can be proven I have during life shewn a disposition to serve my Country and have still, therefore if your excellency will take this into consideration and have me liberated from this Misserable confinement I shall ever endeavour to prove to the Gentleman whoes command I may be under the fidelity I have in serving my country My character may be had from Colo, A. Y Nichols whoes command I have served Under. I am May Please your excellencey at this time confined at Fort Washington and from what I can learn will remain in this deplorable situation all Winter without providence directs the aid of Some benevolent hand to my assistance therefore with every honorable principal of a soldier I crave your excellancys assistance.2 I am with due respect to my Country your excellanceys most dutyfull soldier to command

Falvey Frazer

RC (DNA: RG 94, Letters Received, filed under “Frazer”).

1Frazer, a native of King William County, Virginia, was court-martialed twice in 1811: the first time for attempting to force a sentinel to let him pass unauthorized, on which charge he was acquitted; the second time for drunkenness, for which he was sentenced to twenty-five lashes, though the punishment was remitted. He reenlisted and was promoted to sergeant in the summer of 1813 (DNA: RG 94, Registers of Enlistments, 1798–1815, 9:59).

2Frazer wrote to John Armstrong on 30 Dec. 1813 requesting release or a court-martial (DNA: RG 94, Letters Received, filed under “Frazer”). The latter took place on 14 Feb. 1814 at Fort Washington, and Frazer pleaded not guilty to the charge of desertion. He was nevertheless found guilty, reduced to ranks, and sentenced to be placed in ball and chain, perform one month of police duty, ride the wooden horse one hour a day for three days, and have half his pay stopped to cover costs. The commanding officer approved the sentence (DNA: RG 153, General Court Martial Case Files, Y-69).

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