8.01.2014

Letter from Joshua Barney to Sec. of Navy Jones

CAPTAIN JOSHUA BARNEY, FLOTILLA SERVICE, TO SECRETARY OF THE NAVY JONES
US. Cutter Scorpion, August 1st 1814
Sir,
I have considered the situation of the flotilla, and passed in view the conduct of the Enemy since I came into this river, and if I am to Judge from what has passed, I am led to believe we have little to apprehend at present; … during my blockade they had tasted the sweets of Plunder of Tobacco & Negroes, they were then determined to continue that Species of Warfare, … whilst plundering & burning, they, and their partisans here & in Washington threw the blame of such warfare on the Administration and the flotilla; …
The question now is, what is the best to be done with this part of the flotilla should an occasion present for us to get out, where are we to go, it will be difficult if not impossible to get up the Potomac. … for let us act with what secrecy & precaution we will, such A Novel affair would be known all over the state in two days, and the enemy would know it in twelve hours, for all the lower part of Calvert County is in their quiet possession, where they act as they please, and where too many Traitors reside; These fiends travel up through the Country, they hear & see everything, and the next day they are at home, where the British officers visit and learn everything that passes, therefore by the time my barges had reached South River, the enemy who could run up in 6 hours would be there also.
Another Idea presents itself would not the Enemy prefer my being anywhere else… Their object being plunder, where does such a harvest present itself, as on the head waters of the Patuxent; I do know, that at Nottingham, Pig Point, Upper Marlborough, Queen Anns, and in the several private warehouses on these waters, there is nearly 6,000 Hogsheads of Tobacco, which the enemy know, & could they get it off, is worth to them three millions of dollars, exclusive of at least 1000 Negroes which would go off with them; This is a great temptation, more than can be presented to them throughout the U S; and I am well convinced had not the flotilla got out of St. Leonard’s the sweep would have been made before this day, (& if a  sufficient force arrives may yet be attempted.)
For what purpose does the enemy collect all their Craft prizes, they formerly burnt them, they now preserve them, unless to enter our shoal waters & carry off Plunder; The Admiral has been heard to say that he could take the City of Washington with more ease, than the flotilla where we now are; …
Sir, they never have, and I believe never will be resisted by the Inhabitants near this river, The Militia officers being mostly in their Interest, encouraging the enemy and discourage such as are disposed to act by exaggerated accounts of the enemies forces etc.
If you had seen the Panic that appears to strike all classes at hearing of the enemy, you would quickly coincide with me in saying that when they See them, (if they could be prevailed upon to stay & See them) they would make no defence whatever, for should 100 men land twenty miles below this, the numbers would increase (by report) to 1000 before they reached here, and when the 100 did arrive, they would be looked upon as the Advance guard of 2000 more; no resistance would be made for fear of the arrival of the supposed main army which were following. Thus sir, before the real number could be known the mischief would be done; I see it daily, I had sent an officer and 10 men to bring up a couple of yawls which belonged to the Gunboats and had been left at St. Leonard’s creek, on their way up the Militia which had been stationed on their river, gave way in every direction at the appearance of these two boats— a small schooner which also escaped from St. Leonard’s came up, the people at lower Marlborough ran out of town, called on a Militia officer and declared the enemy had come up and landed 500 Men from a schooner, this I had from the Officer himself a Mr. Contee. Such Sir, is the situation here, the officers worse than the men & the moment I leave Nottingham the Inhabitants leave it also, they have no confidence in any other defence for the place, there is 1000 hogsheads of Tobacco here, it will soon go, this will encourage the enemy for further enterprise.
On the other hand should the enemy come up in force by land I must retire, until I meet, land forces of our own, to cooperate, we then might do much and perhaps by a decisive effort put and end to the War in this Quarter, by completely beating them, for under all circumstances I am led to believe that if they do anything, or attempt anything of consequence it will be in this Quarter, for reasons already given, first, for Rich plunder, secondly, if successful!, they can march to the Capitol with as much ease and in as short a distance as from any other place.
After receiving your letter of the 27th… requesting my "Opinion" respecting the flotilla's going to Queen-Anns etc. I sent my Son up the River to sound and inform himself, he has returned last night and gives the following report.
— Annexed —
should it be determined to cross the flotilla by land, I will cheerfully and expeditiously carry your orders into execution; my calculation is as follows…13 barges & 1 Galley at average of 5 tons …15 long guns. …average l/2 tons eh. …15 Carronades 42: 32 & 24 Ib. average % say. 10 Shot of the 15 Vessels ...... average ….. 221/2…Rigging, Masts, yards, anchors, cables, Water casks, small arms stores etc….155 tons; Say 3 horses pr. ton will require 465 horses = 56 pr. of dray wheels & 64 Wagons, to transport all at once and be carried across in One day. In proportion of force the time of transportation will be longer.
I have the satisfaction to tell you that I have not more than ten men sick, except the wounded who are all getting well, nor have we had at any time since I came into the River a greater number of sick at a time. …
I am respectfully your Obt. Servant
Joshua Barney

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