James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Elbridge Gerry, 5 March 1814

From Elbridge Gerry

Washington 5th March 1814

Dear Sir,

I think it necessary to communicate in toto, General Boyd’s letter to me of the 22d of Feby, & also Doctor Eustis’ of the 14th, on the subject of promotions over the General.1 Some part of the former, indicates an intention to have confined the letter to my own inspection; but I prefer your perusal of both, confidentially. I can give no opinion on the subject, & submit it implicitly to your decision; being with the most perfect esteem & respect, your obedt sert

E. Gerry

RC and enclosures (DLC). For enclosures, see n. 1.

1In his 14 Feb. 1814 letter to Gerry, William Eustis observed that the recent promotions of George Izard and Jacob Brown to the rank of major general would place Brig. Gen. John P. Boyd, formerly their senior in rank, under their command, to which prospect Boyd objected, particularly in the case of Brown. Eustis suggested that this “dilemma” be resolved by breveting Boyd a major general for gallantry in battle, dated anterior to Izard’s and Brown’s promotions. On 22 Feb. 1814 Boyd complained to Gerry “in the confidence of respectful friendship” that the situation reflected negatively on his military reputation and proved army discrimination against officers from New England. He requested Gerry’s help in obtaining a predated brevet promotion. His efforts were unavailing, and he was honorably discharged in 1815, despite his wish to be retained in the peacetime army. He later published a vindication of his military conduct (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.; 1903; reprint, Baltimore, 1994). description ends 1:236; John P. Boyd, Documents and Facts, Relative to Military Events, during the Late War [n.p., 1815; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 36261], 1–3).

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