1.25.2015

Letter from Andrew Jackson to James Monroe

Head Quarters 7. M. District
New Orleans
25. Jan. 1815
Sir,
     I advised you on the 20th that the enemy had two nights before, decamped & returned to his fltilla. No circumstances have since transpired to make it certain whether he intends to abandon his orginal purpose altogether or to exert his efforts for its accomplishment at some other point. I am persuaded however that the discomfiture he has met with has left him without the means of prosecuting it for the present with any hopes of success; But having manifested, by bringing with him all the preparations for the immediate establishment of colonial government, not only the facility with which he calculated on attaining his object, but the high value which he set upon it, it is not improbable that though disappointed in his hopes of easy success he may not have finally relinquished his intention.  The interval of his absence ought there fore to be industriously employed in providing the most effectual means against his possible return.  My opinion is that for the effectual defence of this District, should the enemy meditate a renewal of his attempts, not less than 5000 regular troops are necessary; & for permanent defence, that is the only description of troops upon which reliance can be placed. It is true, the militia who were sent hither from the country above, on the late emergency have approved themselves worthy the high confidence we had in them, & shewn indeed, that for such a purpose they are inferior to no troops in the in the world; but it is only for purposes thus temporary that they can be considered as valuable. The short periods of their engagements, not more than their habits of life by which when they have made one excursion or fought one battle, they are so strongly recalled to their familes & home render them a very unequal match, in continued warfare, for men who following arms as a profession, are scarcely entitled to merit for perseverance.
     The secrecy & expedition with which the enemy was enabled to approach us with so powerful a force, is also a proof that that by which his arrival or be subject to delay in its application.
     As composing a part of the force which may be necessary for the defence of this country I would beg leave to recommend 6 companies of Light artillery, & 1000 riflemen as peculiarly suitable; & permit me also to remark that an able engineer is greatly wanted here, & cannot be sent too soon.
     Officers are greatly wanted to complete the 3d. 7th. & 44th Regts which are very deficient.
     The innumerable bayous & outlets from the Lakes which had hitherto been so little known or regarded, gave to the enemy on his late incursion facilities <advantages> of which it will be my duty to deprive him hereafter; & when I shall have succeeded in that, the force which would otherwise be necessary for the defence of this country, will bear considerable diminution.
     I will further take the liberty to suggest that the Block ship, now lying on lake Ponchartrain in an unfinished state ought immediately to be completed; Why she has been thus left I am quite at a loss to conjecture, as she is peculiarly adapted to the defence of the lakes. What makes it the more remarkable is that the covering which has been provided for her has probably cost the government more than it would to have completed her.
     Col Haynes to whom this is entrusted will be enabled from the opportunities he has had, & his accuracy of observation to afford much useful information on the several points to which I have referred as well as on others relative to the situation & the proper defences of this country.

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