Head Quarters, 7th Military District. Mobile,
Novr. 20th. 1814.
I reached this place last evening, and have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your two letters if the 19th and 21st. ulto. That of the 19th respecting the preservation of arms has been promptly attended to: and a general order issued upon the subject, which will, I hope, perfectly secure the desireable objects which the government has in view.
My communication of the 14th inst. will have advised you of my visit to, and return from Pensacola. By those of a previous date, you have been informed of the hostility of the Governor of West Florida towards the U. States, and the aid which he gave to our declared enemy. In addition to this, I have only to call your attention to the facility afforded to the British, by a position at Pensacola, for driving off the cattle of our citizens; and to the disaffected amongst us, of holding correspondence with them, and furnishing them with supplies. About eight days before I marched, four hundred head of cattle were driven from the Alabama to the enemy, by whom I have not been able to discover; part of them was regained by me, driven back, and delivered to the contractor, with orders to him to account to the individuals who owned them.
I flatter myself that I have left such an impression on the mind of the Governor of Pensacola, that he will respect the American character, and hereafter prevent his neutrality from being infringed. Should he suffer the British again to occupy his Town, and the Indians to return, this district cannot be protected, unless they are (as you have expressed in your letter of the 7th. Septr.) promptly expelled.
I need not again mention to you the geographical situation of that place, the goodness of the harbour, and the ease with which our enemy can thence attack any point on the coast, either in the 6th. or 7th. Military Districts; and keep up their constant intrigue with the Indians. These have all been embraced in my former communications.
Let me state, that it is with nations as with individuals: let them sternly know, that our rights will be respected, that the least infringement will be punished, and they will respect your rights and live in good neighborhood. We have nothing to expect from the friendship of Spain; her weakness, and the exposed situation of her American possessions, will alone secure her good offices.
From the conduct of the Choctaws in the late expedition, I have every reason to hope, that their attachment to our cause, is ensured. The inconvenience attending the Indian forces, is, that you cannot keep them in the field; as soon as they perform an excursion, and take a scalp, they must go home and dance. The greater part of those in service will now go home. The Chickasaws are on their way to join me. Col. Hawkins writes to me, that he has taken the field at the head of the friendly Creeks, to chastise the Seminoles, who have shewn a spirit of hostility against us. The Cherokees inform me they will be with me shortly.
I leave this for New Orleans on the 22nd. inst. and if my health permits, shall reach there in twelve days. I travel by land to have a view of the points at which the enemy might effect a landing.
It is with regret I do this, before the arrival of Genl. Winchester, as Genl. Taylor, of East Tennessee, will be up in a few days, and being the eldest officer, will assume the command. He has delayed the militia on their march, constantly complaining, and rumor states, is very subject to intoxication. I have, by a special order, confined his command to the militia; leaving Lieut. Col. Arbuckle, of 3rd. Infy. (who, having no recruiting officers, left Washington to visit me,) in command of Fort Charlotte, Fort Bowyer, and the 3rd Regt. U.S. Infantry, with instructions to cooperate with the militia for the general defence of this quarter, until the arrival of Genl. Winchester. I hope Lieut. Col. Arbuckle will be permitted to remain in command here, as he is the only officer of that rank, of the U.S. army, in this quarter, since the order to Col. Sparks to superintend the recruiting service for his Regiment. If he is not permitted to remain, when the militia and regulars act together, the Colonels of militia will of course command. This will be unsafe. One of his majors can superintend the Recruiting district, as soon as Col. Milton returns the officers and men destined for that service. He has deigned to advise me that they are on their return march, and that he has resigned.
I have ordered Genl. Coffee with two thousand of his Brigade, to march and cover New Orleans, until the militia from West Tennessee, and those from Kentucky reach that point. I have ordered the Dragoons from the Mississippi Territory to a half way point between this and New Orleans to be foraged (there being no longer any supplies in this quarter.) This squadron can be ordered to either point at which their services are most wanted. I have directed about 1000 volunteer horse, part of Genl. Coffee's Brigade, with what Indian force can be raised, to scour the Escambia, Yellow Water, &c. &c. under command of Major Blue of the 39th. Infantry; with orders of the necessary supplies if forage and provisions can be obtained, to pursue the fugitive Creeks into the Seminole towns, and destroy them and their crops. Thus I leave this section of my district, and its security much depends on the arrival of General Winchester to take the command.
The recruits of the 24th and 39th. ordered to this point have not arrived; nor have I had any account of them since their march. They ought to have been up as soon as Capt. W. O. Butler, of the 44th. who joined me on the 1st. inst. He marched with the spirit of an officer who panted with ardour to meet the enemy.
Before I close this communication, permit me to suggest a plan, which will, on a fair experiment, do away, or lessen the expences incurred under the existing mode of calling militia forces into the field, whenever there happens to be a deficiency in the regular force in any particular quarter. Let the government determine on the number of troops necessary to be employed: for example, say 150,000 men. This number should be apportioned to the different states, agreeably to the representation thereof, and called into service for and during the war. The respective quotas will, in my opinion, be soon raised, by the premiums offered by those subjects to militia duty, rather than to be harassed by repeated drafts. Let the bounty at present offered by government, be also given. It will insure an immediate force in the field; who (being placed under the officers now in commission, and the most experienced men selected for office,) will present an effective army in every quarter, sufficient to drive all enemies from your shores, and to reduce Canada.
At once to put an end to the Indian warfare in the North West, offer a large bounty in land, in that territory, to an army who will wed themselves to engage in that contest and make themselves masters of the soil, furnish them arms and rations only, and you will have immediate possession of the country, and, notwithstanding the pretensions of Great Britain, to the contrary, peace with the Indians. I have the honor to be, With respect and consideration, Your most obedt. servant,
Major Genl Comdg.