James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Eleazer Bradshaw Billings, 17 March 1814

From Eleazer Bradshaw Billings

Franklin, Teny, March 17h. 1814

Dear Sir

Justice & Hon To Myself & Country Demands this information of My Situation, I am Arrested though Suspended, by Majr Wm. Peaccock of the 39h. for reenlisting Men from 12 Mo. to During the War, by this Management you, Excey, will See I have Saved the Govment about $500, in obtaing 5 Men & prolonging their Term of Service perh⟨a⟩ps During life or at lea⟨st the⟩ pleasure of the Govment & Deducted their first Bounty from that I was Authorized to pay—Entirely advantageous to the Govment, If this be Erroneous it is through a Zeal to promote the Good of My Country, howe[v]er I shall not Give up the Men untill Authorized by proper Authority, My only anxiety is that the Govment May be posse[sse]d with the pleasing Belief of My real Zeal in its Support, I think I Know Something of Nature the rise & fall of Empires & nations there Still remains Something to be Done to the Hon. Sir of Your Presidency, Your Excellency will reccollect in his message to Congress Last that America proud though young needed a force Adequate &c., the Great point—and the bent of My inclination will not Let me rest without the might of my Servis & the Testimony of a Journy 1400 Mils at my own expense, Aught Hon. the humble Capascity of a Lieut, Moreo[v]er My Conduct in the recruiting Service here as will ⟨appear?⟩ hereafter by Citizens of the Most Respectability in this State, it woud be Cruel in the Extreme to Take a Mans Commission from what he is Commissiond for, I therefore with Cheerfullness Say the Govment will Justify the one who with all his Zeal & Energy Strives to do justice to it,1 and Moreo[v]er I will forget the Fatigues in the Service of My Country, As an Amiable Affectionate Woman will forget her Labours in pregnancy, I am with unfegnd Respect & Esteem His Exculleny, Devotd he. Sert

E.B. Billings

Lt 44h. Regt Ify

RC (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, B-451:7).

1Billings was court-martialed in New Orleans on 16 May 1814. Charged with unofficer-like and ungentlemanly conduct on specifications of fraudulently enlisting recruits, committing perjury regarding the enlistments, illegally disposing of deserters’ horses with intent to defraud the United States, and lending money on usury, he pled not guilty. He argued that the evidence against him on the enlistments was insufficient for conviction, particularly since much of it was given by the recruited men, who had a motive to lie. The other offences were too minor to merit attention, he declared, and moreover he had no criminal intent. He was nevertheless found guilty of fraudulent enlistment and dismissed from the Army on 20 May 1814 (DNA: RG 153, General Court Martial Case Files, F-5; 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 1:218).

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