11.04.2014

Letter from William Charles Cole Claiborne to Andrew Jackson

New Orleans
November 4th. 1814--

Sir,

            Your communication of the 23d. Ultimo is before me. The Tennessee volunteers under General Coffee have no doubt reached you, & the Drafted men under General Taylor, will not I hope be long delayed. We are all solicitous to learn, that affairs on the Mobile, were arranged to your Satisfaction, and that you should pay this section of your Military District an early visit. The Detachments you have ordered from Tennessee to New Orleans cannot arrive too Soon; The Prospects of peace are at an end. The terms submitted by the English commissioners, would, to a conquered people, be vastly humiliating--But a Nation Great, powerful and free, could not consent even to consider them, without compromitting its dignity and honor. Lest these extraordinary propositions may not have reached you, I enclose a paper containing them; I forebear to make any comment; They will be read by every American, and excite but one feeling, one opinion; I consider our country now, as standing upon elevated and sure ground; The People will be united, and the Enemy made to accede to Just conditions. I am sensible of the inexpediency of dividing too much the forces in this state; My object has been, and that is to concentrate the Greater Part of the disposable Militia force, near New Orleans. The Settlement on the Lafourche was exposed, and as that Bayou was one of the Avenues by which New Orleans could be approached, it was deemed prudent to assume and fortify a position on the same, and I am happy it meets your approbation. The Detachment on Barrataria, may if the occasion required, be recalled in 48 hours; in the meantime, they serve as Videttes on one of the avenues of approach. The Militia from Baton Rouge, are posted at the English Turn, where Colo. Macrea contemplates repairing and manning a Battery and throwing up a field work, behind which the militia & other Troops, in the event of an attack, may fight with more confidence. It is believed by may Persons (and myself among the number) that the Mississippi may probably be the avenue of approach selected by the Enemy; If so, & he comes in force, the fate of New Orleans will be decided at the English Turn. A wind with which a Fleet might ascend from the Balize, will not serve thro' the turn; Hence Batteries at the turn, could act to advantage, & the Enemy to hasten his steps, must make his way by land. Colo. Shaumberg and Mr. Benjamin Morgan, descending a few Days since to Fort St. Philip, were solicited to favour me with their opinion as to the state of the defences on the Mississippi, and of the sites most proper to be occupied. I now take the Liberty to enclose their original Report, and to recommend it to your consideration. You will observe that Fort St. Philip is represented to be dificient in men. That I learn will be immediately remedied by Colo. MacRea, who sends on a reinforcement; the Colonel had also previously determined to complete the Fort at the English Turn, alluded to in the Report; but how far that officer may feel himself authorised to reoccupy the Post at the Balize, I am not yet fully informed. You will observe Sir, that this; is deemed by Colo. Shaumburg & Mr. Morgan a most important measure, and as absolutely essential to the security of this city, against all approaches by way of the Missippi. So far as regards the advised co-operation on the part of the navy, in the defence of the Balize & South West Pass, I have been informed by Captain Patterson, that it cannot be given, without abandoning the lakes, and leaving the communication between New Orleans & Mobile wholly insecure. Captain Patterson complains much of the want of sailors. The Brig Etna has not more, than 26 persons on board; The ship louisiana is wholly without sailors, nor can they be obtained; 6 Gun Boats & one schooner is Captain Patterson's effective force; he was asked by me, whether he had authority to purchase vessels, and answered it had been expressly denied him; but that nevertheless in case of exigency he would purchase; but thought it useless, as additional sailors could not now be procured on this station. Captain Patterson seems disposed to co-operate with promptitude and zeal in such manner, as his means permit; but is of opinion, that these will not enable him for the Present, to do more, than to guard the lakes, and Keep the communication free between this city & Mobile.
         In a late letter I advised you of the Publication of your address to the free-men of colour. Its effects are begining to be manifested; a Mr. Bourgeois, a Frenchman by Birth, but who has resided here for several years & supports a good character, came to me to day & said he could raise a company of 100 men, provided, he could receive the commission of captain. I requested him to raise the same without delay & promised to recommend him to the General commanding the District, who alone had the power of commissioning him. There are I am told two other Gentlemen who desire to raise companies; but they have not yet named the subject to me.
        You have been informed of the contents of an intercepted letter written by Colo. Colliel A Spanish officer, to a Captain Morales; of Pensacola. This Letter was submitted, for the opinion of the Attorney General of the state, as to the measures proper to be pursued against the writer. The Attorny General was of opinion, that the courts could take no Cognizance of the same; But that the Governor might order the writer to leave the state, and in case of refusal, to send him off by force. I accordingly sir, ordered Colo. Colliel to take his departure in 48 hours for Pensacola, and gave him the necessary passports. I hope this measure may meet your approbation. It is a Just retaliation for the treatment lately observed of the Governor of Pensacola, towards some american citizens, and may induce the Spaniards residing among us, to be less communicative on subjects which relate to our military movements. Mr. Abner L. Duncan who goes direct to Head Quarters, will have the honor to deliver you this Letter; You have long Known him & therefore no recommendation from me is necessary. Mr. Duncan feels a lively Interest in all measures which promise to give security to our country, and as regards the Present condition of our military preparations in this state, he can give you much useful Information. I am sir, with the greatest Respect Your humble Servt.

                                                                                             William C. C. Claiborne

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