James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jones, 16 May 1814

From William Jones

Navy Department May 16. 1814

Dear Sir

The enclosed are copies of letters from Commodore Chauncey which came to hand yesterday.1 The public papers will inform you of the attack made by the enemy upon the village of Oswego and I have the satisfaction to say that whatever may have been the issue it could not involve any of our Ordnance or naval Stores as none had been sent below the falls from which the whole either had or would in a few days be forwarded to Sacketts Harbour direct by land, as the roads were good and the distance not more than 40 miles. Mr Anderson who had been charged with the whole transportation had succeeded so far as to warrant his return to Albany and his last letter had relieved me from all anxiety on that subject. I think the enemy must have had two of his new Ships with him but not his large ship. He has made a desperate effort with the hope of intercepting our cannon & naval stores at Oswego. By the mail of to day we shall be better informed. I had the pleasure to receive and answer your favor of the 4th. with such information as I then possessed but as Mr Monroe informs me that one of the mails from this place was lost about that time I am uncertain whether it reached you and do not recollect its precise date.2 Very Sincerely and respectfully your Obdt Servt

W Jones

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM. Enclosures not found, but see n. 1.

1The enclosures were probably copies of Capt. Isaac Chauncey’s two letters to Jones of 7 May 1814 (DNA: RG 45, Captains’ Letters; first letter printed in Dudley, Naval War of 1812, 3:465). In the first (2 pp.), Chauncey reported that the British had attacked Oswego, that the post was well defended, but that he did not yet know the outcome of the battle. He believed that the entire British fleet was on the lake and might blockade Oswego but did not plan a counterattack because his force was smaller. In the event of a blockade, he wrote, guns and stores would be transported to Sackets Harbor by land. The second letter (1 p.), dated at 5:00 p.m., stated that Chauncey had seen the British fleet on its way back to Kingston about an hour earlier, and that he had heard rumors of an overwhelming British victory at Oswego but did not credit them. This letter and an extract of the first were published in the Daily National Intelligencer on 17 May 1814.

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