James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Monroe, [22 August 1814]

To James Monroe

10 OC. A.M [22 August 1814]

Dear Sir

Since mine of this morning Tatham has arived and speaks of reinforcements to the first Column of the Enemy at Notingham. Taylor, I understand is also here just from Parker, with a report that the Enemy have 3000 in the Potowmac. This must be a great exaggeration, if there be not more shipping than we know of. It wd. seem not improbable that if they have land force of any sensible importance, that it would be equal to some distinct object, otherwise it wd. not be taken from the real operative force. It is sd. Parker is moving up parallel with the frigates; but at what point they were I do not learn. I take for granted that there are arrangements where you are for quick intelligence from every important point. The papers of all the Offices are under way to retired places. I fear not much can be done more than has been done, to strengthen the hands of Gen’l. W. As fast as succours arrive here they will be hastened on, but the crisis I presume will be of such short duration, that but few even from the neighboring country will be on the ground before it is over. Genl. Douglas’s Brigade will receive another spur—so will the militia who are to rendevouz at a Church in Fairfax near this.1 Wadsworth is taking measures for defensive works on the road about Bladensbg.

It appears that the re-inforcements in Canada, amount to 8 or 10,000. Yrs.

J. M.

RC (DLC: Monroe Papers). Docketed by Monroe: “Augt 1814.” Undated; conjectural date supplied based on the docket and on comparison with JM to Monroe, 22 Aug. 1814 (first letter).

1On 22 Aug. 1814 Virginia militia Brig. Gen. Hugh Douglas received an order to “march [his] brigade immediately to Washington.” The same evening, JM sent State Department chief clerk John Graham to Virginia militia Col. George Minor, whose regiment was assembling at Wren’s Tavern in Fairfax County, with a message to “hasten on the troops.” Minor, however, had been ordered by Douglas to march part of his force to the aid of Brig. Gen. John P. Hungerford in Virginia’s Northern Neck. In light of the changed circumstances, Minor and Graham decided to try to have this order rescinded so that Minor could bring all of his troops to Washington. Armstrong, reviewing the army with JM at Long Old Fields the next morning, refused to act on the matter in the absence of Brig. Gen. William H. Winder, upon which JM issued a direct order summoning Minor’s regiment to the city. When they arrived that evening, Minor was told by Armstrong that he would have to wait until the next day to get arms for his men. After searching several hours the following morning for Col. Henry Carberry, the officer to whom Armstrong had referred him, Minor finally got orders from Winder for distribution of the arms. By the time this was accomplished and the regiment left for Bladensburg, the battle was over (Thomas L. McKenney, Reply to Kosciusko Armstrong’s Assault upon Col. McKenney’s Narrative of the Causes That Led to General Armstrong’s Resignation of the Office of Secretary of War in 1814 [New York, 1847], 8; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Military Affairs, 1:567–69).

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