Head Quarters, 7th Military District Town of Mobile,
Octr. 7th. 1814.
Your letter of the 20th. ulto. reached me on the night of the 4th. inst. and had I not been confined by extreme indisposition, it should have been answered by the return mail.
With all the attention of which I have devoted to the examination of my order calling into the field the quota of the militia from Tennessee, I cannot discover wherein it requires the militia to be furnished otherwise than "as organized." Should there be such a passage in the order, let me beg you to point it out.
I have not been placed in my present situation by my government merely to conciliate the feelings of the militia and you well know, that I shall endeavor to do my duty, and defend my country with the means in my possession, regardless of popular whims or the murmurs of a mutinous faction; of men, who talk of their feelings for their country's rights, interests and honour; but who have never justified their feelings by their actions.
At Fort Jackson, very recently, has been furnished a disgraceful proof of the existence of such a faction. At a moment when the safety, nay, the very existence, of our government required all our strength to keep down the influence of the enemy among the conquered Creeks, opinions were insidiously propagated, which resulted in dangerous, open mutiny. Those concerned in it, declare themselves to have been induced to it by the ground taken by Genl. Washington, and by the explanation of the law given by you last fall; by which, they say, they cannot be continued in the Service of the United States, longer than three months at any one time. But sir, were you to say to these deluded people, publicly, what is the truth, that their term of service was six months, and that for that space of time they were bound to perform all the duties of the soldiers of the United States, our State would be no longer degraded in the eyes of the Union by continued mutinies. Even now, sir, a remedy may be applied to this evil. Let a proclamation be issued, publishing their mutiny and desertion, directing every step to be taken for their apprehension; and ordering them, when apprehended, to be immediately sent to my Head Quarters.
In my appeal to the people for their voluntary service, I left them free to the choice of all, other than their field officers. In this exception I was justified by long experience, which has shown that to fill the superior stations in an army, requires a degree of information and energy, which is not ordinarily possessed by those individuals, who wou'd, most probably, unite the suffrages of the Soldiery. What is the fact established by the recent disturbances among the militia, governed by men of their own choice? It is that he alone will become their idol, who gives the greatest latitude to their insubordination. Permit me, here, also to observe, that the good of the service would be materially promoted, if the example of the patriotic Shelby were followed; if in assigning Commands, respect was paid, rather to merit and qualifications for duty, than to the date of Commissions.
However, I shall be very thankful, for any volunteers, in any shape, which your Excellency may be pleased to send. Our Country needs them. I had hoped, and do still hope to see you stand forward in a patriotic appeal to the citizens of Tennessee on this subject; inviting them to the field to save their country from subjugation and ruin. We have too long rested on feeling, unsupported by proper action. By a careless, misplaced confidence our Capital has been lost, and we shall not recover the national disgrace, unless energy becomes the order of the day. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, Your most obt. servt.