The Governor, in his annual message at the opening of the session of the Legislature, on the 4th of January, 1814, made on the existing war between Great Britain and the United States remarks which are not inapplicable to the conflict destined long after to originate in the systematic oppression attempted to be enforced by the Northern and Western States against the Southern members of the Confederacy, through a long series of unconstitutional aggressions inspired by an inordinate love of political power and plunder, by sectional jealousies and interests, and also by an hereditary, innate, and domineering spirit of Puritan fanaticism. "The enemy," said Claiborne, "wholly regardless of the dictates of justice and moderation, shows no disposition to arrest the desolation of war. The mediation of Russia, so readily accepted by the President of the United States, has been rejected, and the accustomed courtesy of an audience has been denied to our ambassadors. The time, however, is not distant when this repulsive deportment shall be changed, and when we shall exclaim — How the mighty has fallen! An overruling Providence directs the destinies of nations, and moulds their conduct to His purposes. Eight-and‑thirty years ago, Great Britain manifested a p309 spirit of injustice similar to that which at present influence her councils. A policy alike wicked and absurd was avowed, and a system of violence and tyranny toward America pursued. In every stage of oppression our fathers petitioned for redress, but their repeated petitions were only answered by repeated injuries. Hence it was that the war of the Revolution enlisted in its support the hand and heart of every true American. The people willed it, and they found no difficulty in conquering for themselves and posterity the rich blessings of peace and independence." The Governor does not shrink from exposing to the Representatives of the people the anticipated evils of war in all their horrid nakedness. He vividly describes the prostration of agriculture and commerce. He laments the burdens which must necessarily be inflicted on all classes of society for the support of fleets and armies, the loss of life and the general increase of human woes, but he consoles himself and those whom he addresses with the assurance that the evil of war which he so feelingly deplores has been productive of good, by unfolding the internal resources of Louisiana, and by pointing out their use.
"During a tour," he said, "which I made the past summer and fall, through the different counties of Louisiana, the loom and the wheel attracted much of my attention. I was often within view of the one and the sound of the other. Our fair countrywomen, to me always interesting, never before appeared as much so. Everywhere I saw evidences of their industry and domestic economy. The effects of such examples were obvious. Fathers of families have retrenched their expenses, and the young men are more inclined to industrious pursuits. These habits will conduce no less to the welfare of individuals than to that of the State. The times call for private and public frugality. The p310 existing taxes, greater than at any prior period, must necessarily be counted. The surplus revenue which, for several years, had accumulated under the late Territorial Government, was all exhausted by the donations to literary institutions, the remuneration to sufferers from the late insurrection in 1810, and the expenses incurred by the Convention of Orleans. The State administration commenced at an inauspicious moment. An empty treasury was not the greatest difficulty to encounter. The war which immediately ensued depressed commercial enterprise, and discouraged agricultural exertion; nor was the hurricane in 1812 more destructive to the fruits of the farmer's industry than the subsequent overflowings of the Mississippi. Hence have arisen our final embarrassments; hence the difficulty which may in some parishes attend the payment of the public imposts."
Among the objects recommended by the Executive to the attention of the Legislature was a revision of the system of criminal jurisprudence then in vigor. "It does not answer the end of justice," observed Claiborne, "and is attended with very serious expenses to the State." He took this occasion to insist on the necessity of making provisions for the employment of convicts sentenced to hard labor in such a manner as to remunerate the State for the charges incident to their support, or of substituting for imprisonment some immediate corporal punishment. He also suggested to the Legislature, that in a government like the one which had been recently inaugurated in Louisiana, it was desirable that the people should know the laws by which they were governed. "At present," he said, "we are referred to civil, common, and statute law, and how few are there who can give a legal opinion upon any question of interest? This glorious uncertainty may suit those who p311 have leisure and inclination to profit from the researches of civilians and reporters; but it illy comports with the convenience of the great mass of the citizens. The statute laws have become voluminous. Acts amendatory and supplementary to former acts — in addition to, or repealing in whole or in part, former acts, are so numerous as to confuse inquiry. It might probably be a work of labor to reduce into one view the remedy afforded for every wrong, and the means of pursuing redress; but it would not be an arduous undertaking to bring into one act all the statutes upon the same subject, and I recommend that provision be made for such a compilation."
These remarks of the Executive show that Louisiana, on the very threshold of its existence as a sovereign State, was already suffering from too much legislation. Then, as now, almost every member of both houses took his seat with the intention to change, modify, or abrogate some pre-existing law, or introduce some new enactment, either to promote, as he thought, the general welfare of the community, or to serve his own private purposes, if not those of designing men of whom he had become the tool. It seems also that, in those purer days of State adolescence, bribery, corruption, and other undue influences were not unknown; for Claiborne requests the Legislature to inquire into and to check this "fruitful source of evil." "It ought never to be forgotten," he said, "that a free representation forms the basis and greatest excellence of representative government, and that, whenever the freedom of opinion at elections is destroyed, the fairest principle of Republicanism is gone." He finally complimented the General Assembly on the improvements which had lately taken place in the organization of the militia. He remarked that, on the 8th of July and 6th of September last, having issued p312 orders for holding in readiness a disposable militia force to take the field at a moment's warning, the cheerful compliance by most of the corps was a proof of the love of country by which they were animated, and of the promptitude with which they would have obeyed a further call.
On the 20th of January, the Governor was informed by the United States Collector that four hundred and fifteen negroes had lately been consigned to Pierre and John Lafitte at Barataria, and that they were to be sold at public auction. The Collector requested that a strong force be organized "to defeat the purpose of these law infractors." Four days after, the news reached New Orleans that Stout, a temporary inspector of the revenue, who had been stationed by the Collector near the place called the "temple" at Barataria, and who had with him twelve men, had been attacked by John Lafitte and his companions. Stout had been killed, and two of his followers dangerously wounded; the rest had been made prisoners. The Collector immediately laid before the Governor all the circumstances of this outrage, with these remarks:1 "It is high time that these contrabandists, dispersed throughout the State, should be taught to respect our laws, and I hold it my duty to call on your Excellency for a force adequate to the exigency of the case."
The Governor sent to the Legislature copies of the two communications which he had received from the Collector on the subject, with the recommendation that suitable provisions be made to break up the establishment of those lawless men on the coast of Louisiana. He informed them that this duty was to be performed by the State, because the General commanding the Federal troops in the district which embraced Louisiana had declared that he found it inconvenient to the service p313 to withdraw at the moment any part of them from the important and exposed posts which they occupied, although he had proposed, should any militia force be employed, to afford such facilities in rations, camp equipage, munitions and other supplies, as might conveniently be issued from the public stores.
"My present powers are doubtless competent to the ordering of a detachment of militia on this service, but I owe it to myself and to the State to guard against even the probability of a miscarriage. For it would indeed be a melancholy occurrence, if the men to be detailed for this duty, encouraged to disobedience by the late conduct of some militia corps, should furnish evidence of the inability of the Executive to enforce, on this occasion, the supremacy of the laws. I therefore recommend this subject to your immediate consideration." He further added: "The evil requires a strong corrective. Force must be resorted to. These lawless men can alone be operated upon by their fears and the certainty of punishment. I have not been enabled to ascertain their numbers; by some they are estimated from one hundred to one hundred and fifty, and by others they are represented to be from three hundred to five hundred; and it is added, that their principal place of depot for their plunder, an island within the Lake Barataria, is defended by several pieces of cannon." "But," continued the Governor, "so systematic is the plan on which this daring attempt against the laws of our country is conducted — so numerous and bold are the followers of Lafitte, and, I grieve to say it, such is the countenance afforded him by some of our citizens, to me unknown, that all efforts to apprehend this high offender have hitherto been baffled." A Committee was appointed by the General Assembly to communicate with the Governor on the subject to which he had called their attention. But in the mean p314 time, Lafitte, with the utmost unconcern as to ultimate consequences, was in the daily habit of sending his contraband goods to Donaldsonville, situated at the junction of Bayou Lafourche with the Mississippi, and to several other points of the river, under the escort of strong detachments of armed men, who put at defiance all interference with their trade.2 His confidence seems to have been well founded, since the Legislature, on account of the want of funds, postponed to some more opportune moment the organization of the military expedition which Claiborne had so earnestly solicited.
Time elapsed, and the pirates of Barataria, as they were called, remained undisturbed, but Collector Dubourg and the Governor were not discouraged by the supineness of the Legislature of the State, or the indifference of the Federal Government. On the 2d of March, he sent again the following message to the General Assembly:
"I lay before you a letter which was addressed to me on yesterday by Colonel Dubourg, the Collector for the District of Louisiana, from which you will perceive the great and continued violations, within this State, of the non-intercourse, the embargo, and other laws of the United States, and the necessity of affording to the officers of the revenue the support of an armed force whilst in the discharge of their duty. General Flournoy not deeming it prudent to withdraw, for the present, any of the regular troops under his command from the important and exposed posts they occupy, the Collector of the District conceives it a duty, in conformity with instructions from the General Government, to apply once more to the Chief Magistrate of Louisiana for such aid as will enable the officers of the revenue to fulfill their obligations.
p315 "I entreat you, therefore, to furnish me with the means of co-operating, on this occasion, with promptitude and effect. It is desirable to disperse those desperate men on Lake Barataria, whose piracies have rendered our shores a terror to neutral flags, and diverted from New Orleans that lucrative intercourse with Vera Cruz and other neutral ports which formerly filled our Banks with the richest deposits. It is no less an object to put an end to that system of smuggling which exists to the disgrace of the State, the injury of the fair trader, and the diminution, as I am advised, of the circulating medium of this city in so great a degree as is likely to produce serious commercial embarrassments, than it is important, above all, to prevent breaches of the embargo law, and to mar the projects of those traitors who would wish to carry supplies to the enemy. To enable me to accomplish those ends, or at least some of them, I ask for authority to raise by voluntary enlistment a force not less than one captain, one first lieutenant, one second lieutenant, one third lieutenant, one drummer, one fifer, and one hundred privates, to serve for six months unless sooner discharged, and to be employed under the orders of the Governor in dispersing any armed association of individuals within this State, having for object the violation of the laws of the United States, and to assist the officers of the revenue in enforcing the provisions of the embargo, non-intercourse, and other acts of Congress. The officers, non-commissioned officers and privates to be entitled to the same pay, rations and emoluments as are allowed the troops of the United States, and to be subject to the rules and articles of war as prescribed by Congress.
[. . .]
"As this corps will be solely employed in enforcing the laws of the United States, I am persuaded the General p316 Government will readily defray any expense which may attend the raising and maintaining of the same. But if in this reasonable expectation we should be disappointed, I would advise that the corps be immediately discharged, for the present embarrassments of our treasury will not admit of its remaining in service at the expense of the State."
This message could not, and did not, produce on the General Assembly the stimulating effect which was desired by the Executive. Most of the members of that body were aware that their constituents thought themselves much benefited by the illicit trade which the Governor wished to suppress, and they did not care to be put to the expense and trouble of collecting revenue for a Government which could not make itself respected by a handful of depredators, whom it affected to look upon as the scum of the earth. The backwardness of the Legislature to act in this matter was extremely unpalatable to Claiborne; the more so, because he was already much annoyed by the persevering opposition of the Senate to many of his appointments, and particularly in relation to the filling up of the vacancy on the Supreme Bench occasioned by the resignation of D. Hall, who had accepted from the President a commission as District Judge of the United States in and for the State of Louisiana. The Governor had made five successive nominations to supply that vacancy, which had been rejected by the Senate. As the time for the adjournment of that body was drawing near, the Governor thought proper to submit to the Attorney-General, F. X. Martin, the following questions:
1st. "Whether, in filling up a vacancy in the Supreme Court during the session of the Senate, the Governor is not bound, according to the true intent and spirit of the Constitution, to exercise his free agency in the nominating p317 power, and whether he ought not to resist all attempts of the Senate to influence or direct him in the nomination?
2d. "Whether, if the Senate continue to reject every individual proposed by the Governor, until the one they wish to be appointed be presented, the vacancy may be filled during the recess of the Legislature?
3d. "Whether, the Supreme Court may not be considered as competent to the dispatch of business, two judges being present, the existence of the vacancy notwithstanding?"
The Attorney-General, in his reply, expressed himself as not being able to conceive that a doubt might exist as to the obligation under which the Constitution had placed the Governor, to exert his free agency in the exercise of so important an act as the nomination of one of the chief judiciary magistrates, and absolutely to repel the slightest attempt from any man, or body of men, not excepting the Senate, to influence or direct his nomination by any other means than by affording him information or advice. The Attorney-General felt no hesitation in saying that, if it were possible that a majority of the Senate should attempt to force the Governor to nominate a person whom, in his judgment, he might consider as unfit for the office, or improper to be appointed, and should, for the purpose of insuring compliance to their wishes, determine on rejecting every other person whom the Governor might propose, then it would become the duty of the Governor to resist such an encroachment, because it would be a violation of the Constitution.
"The Constitution has provided," said the Attorney-General, "that judges of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the joint act of the Governor and the Senate. Now, in the case put, were the Governor to yield p318 to the Senate, the judge would be appointed by their sole act. The Governor could not be said to have participated in the appointment, if he were forced into compliance. Neither the Governor nor the Senate can alone appoint a judge. If the person chosen by the Governor be not agreeable to the Senate, it becomes his duty to look for another person it may approve. Likewise, if the Senate desire that the office may be filled by a person whom the Governor disapproves, it becomes their bounden duty to abandon him, and fairly to exercise a sound judgment on every person presented afterward, until one agreeable both to the Governor and Senate is fallen upon. For it cannot be concluded that, because the gentleman whom the Senate imagine to be most suitable does not appear in the same light to the Governor, no appointment is to take place, or that the Governor may allow the Senate to choose alone." [. . .]
The Attorney-General further said, that if such a disagreement between the Senate and the Executive were unfortunately persisted in, and if the Senate adjourned without advising, or consenting to, a nomination, the vacancy could not be filled till the next meeting of the Senate, because the text of the Constitution is, that the Governor shall have power to fill up vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Legislature, by granting commissions that shall expire at the end of the next session. "If, after he has had an opportunity of consulting the Senate," argued the Attorney-General, "the Governor were to appoint a judge, he would, by his sole act, do that which the Constitution has said should be done by the joint act of him and the Senate. He would annihilate the right of the Senate in the same manner as they would his, if a majority of that body were to bind themselves to reject every person proposed by him, till p319 the Governor offered the one they had determined upon."
Lastly, the Attorney-General believed that the Supreme Court was competent to transact business, when two judges were on the Bench, notwithstanding the vacancy of the third seat. He further stated that the three learned jurists who had filled the bench of the Supreme Court had always acted on that principle, as the Constitution provided that two judges should form a quorum.
The official opinion of the Attorney-General failed to bring to a concert of action the two conflicting powers, and the Senate adjourned without any appointment being made for the Supreme Court.
On the 23d of March, Claiborne, having received information that a number of individuals within the limits and jurisdiction of the State were engaged in raising troops, and preparing the means for a hostile incursion into the Spanish province of Texas, with a view of aiding in the overthrow of the Government of Spain in and over that province, and having been instructed by the Federal Government to take the necessary and proper steps to prevent any design of the kind from being carried into effect, issued a proclamation cautioning each and every good citizen of Louisiana, and all other persons within the limits and jurisdiction of the same, against being concerned in, or in any manner giving aid and countenance to, any such unauthorized expedition, and warning them of the penalties to be incurred thereby. He further strictly charged and commanded every officer, civil and military, within the State, each in his proper station, to be vigilant and active in opposing and preventing measures so contrary to the laws, and so hazardous to the peace and tranquillity of this and other States of the Union, and in securing and bringing to trial, judgment and punishment every such offender. This p320 proclamation put an end to the intended expedition for the present, the principal leaders of which were a Doctor John H. Robinson, who had been in the service of the United States Government, General Toledo, late commander of the revolutionists in the province of Texas, and General Humbert, a Frenchman, who, having incurred the displeasure of Napoleon, had been exiled from his country, and was ready to embark in any kind of reckless adventure to better his fortune.
Seven days after the issuing of this proclamation, there came out of the Executive Office a public document, in the shape of a circular to the officers of the militia, which, to be understood, requires a short retrospect into past events. It has been stated before, that Claiborne, on the 25th of December, had issued orders to carry into execution a requisition made by the President on the State of Louisiana, for the raising of an auxiliary force to be enlisted in the service of the United States. In the interior counties of Louisiana this requisition met with no opposition. It was promptly obeyed,3 and the militia of the Second Division, which included the district of Baton Rouge and the more western counties of the State, were promptly arrayed, and marched to the point of general rendezvous, the Magazine Barracks, opposite New Orleans. But in some of the settlements on the Mississippi, and particularly in the city of New Orleans, which were embraced within the first division of the militia, a great spirit of insubordination was manifested, if Claiborne's testimony is to be taken as entirely correct. The people were told through the medium of the public prints, that there was "no law to authorize, and no necessity to justify the requisition." The Governor was denounced as "the tyrant of the day, and resistance to his orders was advised." The public mind was greatly p321 agitated, and the general feeling evidently much inclined against him. "With the exception," writes Claiborne, "of three or four companies of the city militia, whose conduct met my highest approbation, my orders were not only disregarded, but resolutions expressive of determined disobedience were entered into by the non-commissioned officers and privates of several separate corps, and transmitted to me. It is, however, due to the corps to add, that their resolutions conveyed assurances of the promptitude with which they would repair to arms in case of actual invasion, and some of them expressed a readiness to do duty by companies within the city and suburbs under their own officers. But all protested against entering the service of the United States, either as volunteer or drafted militia."
This was the language of Claiborne in March. It certainly expressed views and sentiments in relation to the militia very different from those contained in his message to the Legislature in the beginning of January, and recorded in the preceding pages. With regard to the Legislature itself, he wrote to General Flournoy: "I had anticipated support from the Legislature of the State, and flattered myself that their sanction of the measure would have calmed the angry passions, and invited to harmony and subordination. But the Senate of Louisiana, in their answer to my address to the two Houses, thought proper, in relation to the "requisition," to use a language which tended still more to indispose the public sentiment, and a report made by a Committee of that honorable body, which went, not only to declare the requisition illegal and unnecessary, but indirectly to question the purity of the motive which directed my conduct, was lost merely by the casting vote of the President. In the House of Representatives, an expression of approbation was rejected by, I believe, one vote, and although p322 no censure direct was attempted, yet a refusal to approve left an impression on the public mind no less injurious to my authority than the avowed hostility of the Senate."
The arrival about this time at the Magazine Barracks of near four hundred of the militia of the Second Division, gave Claiborne some reason to hope that so patriotic an example might produce beneficial effects; and on the 21st of February, he issued a proclamation renewing the orders of the 25th of December, and directing defaulters of every rank to be proceeded against in such manner as military usage and the laws might justify. But this had no other effect than to inflame still more the public mind, and to draw down upon him an increased mass of abuse. It was again asserted in the public prints that there was no law, no necessity, no danger to justify such a measure; and the opposing of force to force, if necessary, was not only advised, but almost determined on. The officers commanding most of the city corps were assembled with the most conciliatory views on the part of Major-General Villeré, but with no satisfactory result. On the contrary, to the declaration of a positive unwillingness to obey the requisition, which, on a former occasion, had been expressed by the non-commissioned officers and privates, was now added a like determination by their several commanders, who, however, gave the most emphatic assurances of their readiness "to turn out in case of actual invasion," and who declared that, in the mean time, their men did not object to do duty by companies under the orders of militia officers within the city and suburbs, but to be relieved at short intervals. The secret of all this opposition was, the invincible repugnance of the Creole and French population to be enlisted in the service of the United States under officers not of their own choosing, and their apprehension p323 of being sent out of the State, for which alone they were disposed at that time to shed their blood.
These occurrences did not pass unnoticed by the militia stationed at the Magazine Barracks, and chiefly composed of Americans. Their officers had a meeting, and sent to Claiborne an address, in which they protested for themselves and their men against being mustered into the service of the United States, until his orders of the 25th of December, 1813, and 21st of February, 1814, were obeyed by the city militia; and, being wrought to a high degree of excitement, "they made a tender of their services to enforce obedience." This circumstance, when known, produced so much irritation in the bosoms of those who were thus threatened, that it would have led to a civil war, and to the drenching of the streets of New Orleans with blood, if Claiborne had acted with less discretion and prudence. "It is unnecessary to say," he wrote to Flournoy, "that such tender of service was not accepted. Neither my judgment nor my feelings approved of the raising of the arm of one citizen against his brother. The detachment of militia at the Magazine Barracks were in consequence given to understand, that against the city corps I should alone direct the force of the law, which at best was feeble, but would, I fear, in the present case, prove wholly inoperative, from the unwillingness of the people to co-operate; and that, in like manner, no coercion would be used to muster the militia from the interior into the service of the United States." This determination discontented that detachment of militia to such an extent, that more than forty men deserted in a single night, and Claiborne thought it prudent to discharge the rest and send them back to their respective counties.
"I shall never cease to lament," such were Claiborne's expressions of mournful regret to Flournoy, "that this p324 measure of the Government should have been wholly defeated, by the very people for whose benefit it was intended, and for whose safety I believed it to have been necessary. A militia requisition is at all times unpleasant, and I had calculated on some trouble in carrying the late one into effect. But I confess that anything like a general combination against it had not entered my mind. I am happy, however, in the belief that the great body of the militia are yet sound, and, in the event of an invasion, I persuade myself that the city corps would meet the enemy with promptitude and firmness. But what I must regret is, that they will not submit to such previous discipline as is certainly necessary to their combating with advantage. Hence, in the moment of peril, we must place our greatest reliance on the regular troops, and if the State is seriously menaced, a due regard to its safety would urge their immediate augmentation. Among those who opposed your requisition for a militia military force were, doubtless, many individuals who really believed it unnecessary, illegal, and oppressive. But there were others, whose opposition was more guided by personal than public considerations. I have been too long in power in Louisiana not to have attracted the jealousy of some, the envy of others, and the ill-will of many. How far all this may have been deserved, is not for me to determine. But I am not conscious of ever having wronged an individual, or betrayed for a moment the trust reposed in me. Pending the late election for Governor of Louisiana my pretensions were resisted with great warmth and perseverance by several influential citizens of New Orleans. I nevertheless succeeded, to the great disappointment and chagrin of my opponents. In politics as in war, the vanquished party often seek an opportunity for revenge. The present was a fit occasion. The requisition was observed p325 to be unpleasant to the cultivator, the mechanic and the merchant, and my opponents found the less difficulty in bringing the public prejudices against the measure to bear against the man. I repeat, Sir, that there were individuals among whom I had the mortification to find some of my old friends, who conscientiously believed the requisition unnecessary and oppressive. But among those who clamored most against it, are men whose views of ambition and personal aggrandizement I have opposed, and will continue to oppose, so long as I shall esteem those views inconsistent with the public weal. These men have certainly succeeded in lessening me in the confidence of a people whose approbation, next to an approving conscience, I am most solicitous to secure. But in their efforts to injure me, I much fear that they have also injured a State whose safety and prosperity constituted the first and greatest objects of my care."
These are the circumstances in which originated the "circular" to which I have already referred. In that document Claiborne vindicated the authority under which he had acted; he cited the instructions he had received, and demonstrated the necessity of obedience on his part.
"The direction of the national force, of which the militia constitutes the greater portion," he observed, "belongs to the General Government. The Constitution of the United States gives to Congress power to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection and repel invasion; for organizing, arming and disciplining such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States. In the exercise of this power, by an act passed on the 28th of February, 1795, it is declared that, whenever the United States shall be invaded, or be in imminent danger of invasion from any foreign nation, or Indian tribe, it shall be lawful for the p326 President of the United States to call forth such number of the militia of the State, or States, most convenient to the place of danger, or scene of action, as he may judge necessary to repel such invasion; and by another act passed on the 10th of April, 1812, one hundred thousand militia are placed at the disposition of the President for the same purposes, to be apportioned by him among the several States of the Union from the latest militia returns in the Department of War, and in cases where such returns have not been made, by such other data as he shall judge equitable. Both or either of these laws authorized the late demand on the Governor of Louisiana for a thousand militia. The authority of the first act has never been questioned, and that of the second is acknowledged by almost every State and Territory within the Union. A paper is, at this moment, before me, which announces the march of two strong detachments of the North Carolina and South Carolina militia to the Creek Nation, under the requisition of Major-General Pinckney. Is it possible that the Governors of these States, and such other Governors as have from time to time turned out their militia at the call of the President, have done right, and I alone am in error?
"In 1806, when the Spaniards had crossed the Sabine, a requisition from General Wilkinson (acting under the authority of the President) on the Executive of the then Territory of Orleans for a militia force was obeyed and, to make up the quota, a draft was ordered and enforced. Yet that requisition had no greater legal force than the late one.
[. . .]
"When it was found incompatible with the protection due to the other States to add to the number of regular troops on this station, the President had reason to calculate p327 on the prompt and zealous co-operation of the local militia. But the result will, I suspect, be a subject of as much surprise to him as it has been of disappointment and chagrin to me. Do not the citizens of Louisiana enjoy equal privileges with citizens of other States, and have they not the same interests to defend? Are we not exposed to as great dangers? Or do we apprehend less injury from an invading foe? I could here enlarge on, and satisfactorily demonstrate, the expediency of the requisition, but prudence forbids me to be more explicit. Would it have been politic to await the actual approach of an enemy? It might have been too late to insure our safety. When clouds appear which portend a storm, does the prudent mariner delay his preparations until the blow commences? When the officer of the main-top announces danger, do those below doubt the fact? When the sentinel gives the alarm, ought not every man to repair to his post? And when the President of the United States directed measures to be taken to defend New Orleans against an attack by the enemy, did it become me to say there was no danger, no necessity? Let it not be said that the force required would have left any section of the State too weak for the maintenance of a proper internal police. Certain counties were wholly exempt; in assigning the quota to others, a due regard was paid to the local situation, and from no one Parish was a greater detachment drawn than the free population safely permitted.
[. . .]
"I shall say nothing, Sir, of the abuse, the invectives, with which, for the last few months, the newspapers of this city have been charged. An honest man has little to fear from paper batteries. I have been exposed to them for sixteen years, and I do not find that against the integrity of my private or public life they have made p328 the smallest breach. It is true that, during the first two or three years of my residence in New Orleans, what with the warmth of the natural and political atmosphere, my blood was occasionally up to fever heat. But I am happily acclimated to both. The freedom of the press is justly considered the bulwark of liberty, and will, I trust, be always supported by the principles of our Government and the opinions of the people. That this freedom in Louisiana has been carried to excess is seen and regretted. Perhaps it is an inseparable evil from the good with which it is allied; perhaps it is a shoot which cannot be stripped from the stalk without injuring the plant itself. However desirable, therefore, these measures may be which might correct without enslaving the press, it would be hazardous to attempt them. The newspapers have had much agency in defeating the late requisition. But their denunciation should at all times be received with the greatest caution, for they are often directed against the wisest measures.
"I have already apprised you that General Flournoy was vested with authority to call out the militia of the 7th District, within which Louisiana is included. That this authority will be used with discretion I have no doubt. During the last winter we were indebted for our safety more to the forbearance of the enemy than to our own preparations for defence. But no blame ought to attach to the commanding general. Could his wishes have been complied with, a reinforcement of regular troops, recently arrived, would have reached him earlier, which, with a column of one thousand militia, drawn principally from the interior, would have allayed much of the anxiety so lately felt for the safety of this capital. At this season of the year, it is most probable we shall remain undisturbed, and a hope is cherished that, in the p329 course of the summer, the sword will be sheathed. The enemy may, perhaps, incline to peace, and may accede to just and honorable terms of accommodation. That this may be the result of pending negotiations is greatly to be desired. But I confess it is rather what I wish than what I calculate on. The rulers of Great Britain, exalted by the success of the allies, and profiting of the extensive markets opened on the Continent for English manufactures, will, I fear, be more disposed to persist than to relax in their unjust pretensions toward America. In such event, it will only remain for the United States to prosecute the war with increased energies. I entreat you, therefore, to permit no consideration to dampen your ardor in your country's cause, or to abate your exertions in organizing and disciplining the militia. Should a requisition be again made on the Executive of this State (under the orders of the President of the United States) for an auxiliary force, I have shown it to be my sacred duty to meet it, and I shall expect your zealous co-operation. What is there of novelty or oppression in requisitions of this nature? In what country, civilized or savage, have men esteemed it oppression to be called upon to resist the invader? Now that the allied armies are advancing toward the Rhine, France is said to be encircled with a forest of bayonets. When French forces were drawn to the seaboard, and an invasion of the fast-anchored isle menaced, no Englishman was exempt from the military service. Ask the Revolutionary patriot how often, during the War of Independence, he has left the plow for the tented field? Does the spirit of our fathers sleep, or do we wish to shrink from a participation in whatever privation, trials, or dangers the safety of our common country shall render necessary? Every true American and each faithful Louisianian will answer in the negative."
This appeal, notwithstanding the p330 earnestness of its tone, did not seem to have an immediate effect on those to whom it was addressed.
On the 14th of April, Congress repealed the embargo and non-importation laws, but it was difficult for the commerce of New Orleans, under the circumstances in which it was then placed, to recuperate from the blow which it had received under the influence of that restrictive legislation; and, in the course of that month, the Banks of the city suspended specie payment, as Banks invariably do whenever there is a political crisis of any importance.
About the same time, official accounts of the fall of the French Emperor having reached New Orleans, produced great excitement in a city where the population which was French by birth, or of French descent, was so large. Besides, it was anticipated that England, being delivered from her gigantic antagonist, would be left free to continue the war against the United States without impediment, and with all her collected energies. A report became prevalent that, as one of the conditions of peace, she would demand the retrocession of Louisiana to Spain, her faithful ally, who had protested against the cession of that province by Napoleon to the United States. This report was said to have come from Spanish officers at Pensacola and Havana, who had conveyed the information to their friends in New Orleans, and also from the Spanish Minister at Washington. Folch, the late Governor of Pensacola, had recently arrived at Havana, and had expressed his belief that Spain would resort to arms, if necessary, to repossess herself of Louisiana. Referring to all the rumors which agitated the public mind in New Orleans, Claiborne thus expressed himself in a dispatch to the Secretary of State at Washington, dated on the 7th of May: "I will not undertake to say whether such be really the views of the Spanish Government, but if there be any grounds to accredit p331 the report in circulation, the expediency of increasing the regular force on this station must be manifest. How far the militia of Louisiana in the event of a war with Spain may be relied on, remains to be proved. There is evidently a Spanish party here, but I have never thought it numerous. Should however, an invasion ensue, I could not feel the State secure, unless there was a respectable regular force around which the well-disposed citizens might rally with confidence."
When Claiborne had felt the necessity, as previously recorded, to disband the corps of four hundred men of the Second Division who had assembled at the New Orleans Magazine Barracks in pursuance of the requisition of the United States, the Legislature, although strongly opposed to that requisition, had appropriated five thousand dollars to pay the expenses of the temporary muster, and Claiborne, on behalf of the State, had claimed the reimbursement of that sum from the United States. It was refunded, and, in acknowledging payment, Claiborne said to the Secretary of War, in a letter of the 30th of June: "This will, I trust, be received in Louisiana as a proof of the legality of such requisition. The opposition of the city corps, the indisposition of the Legislature to support the late call, have impressed the French and Creole inhabitants of the State, very generally, with an opinion that my orders on that occasion were unnecessary, illegal and oppressive. Indeed, certain influential inhabitants of New Orleans, by whose exertions, in and out of the Legislature, the requisition ultimately failed, have had the address so to manage this subject, as to bring it to bear on the State elections which are to commence on the 4th of July. The people have been told that I was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, and I verily believe that an impeachment was at one time contemplated."
On the 15th of July, Claiborne informed the Secretary p332 of the Navy that late letters from Pensacola and Havana spoke confidently of the design of Spain to repossess herself of Louisiana, and he added: "I observe with regret that many citizens of this State seem to think that their connection with the United States has become precarious. For myself, however, I have not hesitated to assert that my country will never consent to sever the Union, and that the power does not exist that can deprive the United States of the sovereignty of Louisiana."
In the mean time, the Creek Indians having sued for a cessation of hostilities, General Jackson granted it to them, and a treaty of peace was signed, on behalf of their nation, and by General Jackson in the name of the United States. It was stipulated as one of its conditions, that the Creek Nation should abandon all communication, and cease to hold any intercourse, with any British or Spanish post, garrison or town, and that they should not admit among them any agent or trader who should not have authority from the United States to hold commercial, or any other intercourse, with their tribes.
Notwithstanding this treaty, some British officers, who had landed at the bay of Apalachicola with several pieces of artillery and a few companies of regulars, had succeeded in rallying a certain number of the Creeks around the British standard. Other Indians, from almost all the tribes who dwelt to the eastward of the Choctaws, had joined this band of discontented Creeks, and those barbarians were supplied with arms, and drilled, so far as their habits and savage nature permitted the instruction. The object of the English was to gather a sufficient force to attack Fort Bowyer, at Mobilleº Point, which was looked upon as an important basis of operations against Louisiana.4
p333 There could be no doubt now that Louisiana was to be invaded, and, on the 6th of August, Claiborne, in obedience to instructions from the Federal Government, issued orders that one thousand men of the Louisiana militia, being the quota assigned to the State by the requisition addressed to the Executives of the several States, be organized and held in readiness for immediate service and with the least possible delay, expressing at the same time his firm reliance on the cheerful participation of Louisiana with her sister States in whatever trials or dangers the safety of their common country would demand. "If the latest reports from Europe are to be accredited," he said, "the enemy has determined on a most vigilant prosecution of the war. It is added, that this section of the Union is to be attacked with the design of wresting Louisiana from the hands of the United States and restoring it to Spain.
"A project so chimerical illy comports with that character for wisdom to which the English Government aspires, nor is it believed to be seriously contemplated. That the bare rumor, however, of such a design should awaken some anxiety, is cause of no surprise. But if there be individuals so much deceived as to suppose its accomplishment possible, they are cautioned against being instrumental in deceiving others. The principles of the American Government, no less than the interest and honor of the American people, forbid the relinquishment of one inch of the American Territory. Whilst the Western rivers flow, no foreign power can hold, or detach Louisiana from the United States. She may, indeed, be temporarily exposed to an invading foe, but, until by some convulsion of nature, that numerous, gallant, and hardy race of men inhabiting the vast tract of country watering the tributary streams of the Mississippi shall become extinct, the political destiny of Louisiana is p334 placed beyond the possibility of a change. Her connection, interest and government must remain American."
On the 12th of the same month, Claiborne sent to the Secretary of War a copy of the orders which he had issued on the 6th, and observed to him in relation to the requisition: "This timely measure of precaution on the part of the President will, I trust, meet the zealous support of every lover of his country. To this moment, not the slightest opposition to it has been manifested in this section of the Union, and I am happy in the belief that, on the present occasion, the force required of me will be arrayed with less difficulty than was experienced in meeting the late requisition made of me by General Flournoy, under the orders of the President. You will observe, Sir, that, in my orders, I make allusion to the report of a design on the part of the enemy to wrest Louisiana from the hands of the United States and restore it to Spain! A stranger to the public feeling and sentiment here might think me incorrect in noticing a rumor of the kind. But believe me, Sir, it had made a serious impression in this State. Some of the inhabitants sincerely desire a retrocession, and many seemed to consider it not only practicable, but highly probable. To caution, therefore, my fellow-citizens against harboring such a sentiment, appeared to me a duty, and more so since I was fearful they might otherwise be led to a course of conduct which would weaken their allegiance to the United States. How far this caution may produce the desired effect time will evince. But, at present, appearances are very favorable to the proudest wish of my heart, and which is, that, in any event, the Louisianians may prove faithful to themselves and to the Government of the United States."
The same day on which this communication was addressed to the Secretary of War, Claiborne wrote to p335 General Jackson, who was expected in New Orleans, to take command of the troops and provide for its safety, a letter in which he informed him that, in a late interview with the officers of the several militia corps of the city, he had been assured of their zealous aid in carrying into effect the orders of the 6th of August in relation to the Federal requisition. "How far their efforts," said Claiborne, "may be seconded by the body of the people, will in a short time be shown. On the native Americans and a vast majority of the Creoles of the country I place much confidence, nor do I doubt the fidelity of many Europeans who have long resided in the country. But there are others much devoted to the interest of Spain, and their partiality for the English is not less observable than their dislike for the American Government. Among the militia of New Orleans there is a battalion of chosen men of color, organized under a special act of the Legislature, of which I inclose a copy for your perusal. Under the Spanish Government the men of color of New Orleans were always relied on in times of difficulties, and on several occasions evinced in the field the greatest firmness and courage. Under the late Territorial Government, as well as that of the State of Louisiana, much unwillingness was manifested in organizing and placing arms in the hands of free men of color. By the first it was wholly refused, but the latter has thought it advisable to recognize a battalion with limited numbers, and under certain restrictions. The command of the battalion is committed to Colonel Fortier, a respectable and rich merchant of New Orleans, and the second in command is Major Lacoste, a rich and respectable planter.
"With these gentlemen, and the officers attached to companies (these last being men of color), I had an interview on yesterday, and assured them that, in the hour p336 of peril, I should rely on their valor and fidelity to the United States. In return, they expressed their devotion to their country and their readiness to defend it. They added their desire that all free men of color in New Orleans and vicinity, whom they represented to be about six hundred, might be organized and received as a part of the militia, giving me to understand that such a measure would afford much satisfaction, and excite their greatest zeal in the cause of the United States.
"To this request I have for the present given no further compliance than to order that a census of the free men of color be taken and submitted to me without delay. These men, Sir, for the most part, sustain good characters. Many of them have extensive connections, and much property to defend, and all seem attached to arms. The mode of acting toward them at the present crisis is an inquiry of importance. If we give them not our confidence, the enemy will be encouraged to intrigue and corrupt them. Inured to the climate of Louisiana, and with constitutions and habits adapted to its changes the men of color are well calculated to render service in this quarter, and in the event of invasion might be made particularly useful. I think a corps of three or four hundred might be easily raised, who would willingly enter into the service of the United States for six months, provided they be employed in Louisiana. I wish to know how far you might be authorized to receive such troops, and also your opinion as to the expediency of employing them."
On the 15th of August, General Jackson wrote a letter to Governor Claiborne, requesting that all the quota of the Louisiana militia to be furnished for the service of the United States be held in a state of preparation to march to any point required at a moment's warning. The Governor issued orders accordingly on the 5th of p337 September, in which he said: "The Commander-in‑Chief, confiding in the patriotism of the several corps attached to the Second Division, assures himself that, at this moment of peril, they will deserve well of their country. Louisiana is openly menaced, and it is believed that the force destined to invade her is at this time assembled at Apalachicola and Pensacola. Major-General Jackson, commanding the Seventh Military District, who has often led the Western warriors to victory, invites them to lose no time in preparing for the defence of the State. This gallant commander is now at or near Mobile, watching the movements of the enemy, and making preparations to cover and defend this section of the Union. He will in due time receive reinforcements from the other States on the Mississippi. He calculates also on the zealous support of the Louisianians, and must not be disappointed. The time has come when every man must do his duty, when no faithful American will be absent from his post."
It was indeed high time to prepare for defence, for the enemy was fast approaching. Colonel Nicholls, of the British Artillery, with a body of troops which had sailed in the sloops-of‑war Hermes and Caron from Bermuda, had stopped at Havana in the hope of obtaining the co-operation of the Captain-General, and the assistance of some gunboats and other small vessels to be furnished by that officer, with permission to land the British troops and artillery at Pensacola. In these expectations Colonel Nicholls was disappointed; nevertheless, he landed at Pensacola without any serious opposition from the Spanish Governor of that place, established in its his headquarters, and proceeded to enlist and drill without concealment the Indians whom he could tempt into British service, and who openly wore the British uniform in the streets, in violation of the laws of neutrality which p338 Spain was bound to observe.5 The same officer dated from Pensacola, on the 29th of August, the following proclamation:
"Natives of Louisiana! On you the first call is made to assist in liberating from a faithless, imbecile government, your paternal soil. Spaniards, Frenchmen, Italians, and Britons, whether settled or residing for a time in Louisiana, on you also I call to aid me in this just cause. The American usurpation in this country must be abolished, and the lawful owners of the soil put in possession. I am at the head of a large body of Indians, well armed, disciplined, and commanded by British officers — a good train of artillery, with every requisite, seconded by the powerful aid of a numerous British and Spanish squadron of ships and vessels of war. Be not alarmed, inhabitants of the country, at our approach; the same good faith and disinterestedness which has distinguished the conduct of Britons in Europe, accompanies them here. You will have no fear of litigious taxes imposed upon you for the purpose of carrying on an unnatural and unjust war; your property, your laws, the peace and tranquillity of your country will be guaranteed to you by men who will suffer no infringement of theirs; rest assured that these brave Red Men only burn with an ardent desire of satisfaction for the wrongs they have suffered from the Americans, to join you in liberating these Southern Provinces from their yoke and drive them into the limits formerly prescribed by my sovereign. The Indians have pledged themselves, in the most solemn manner, not to injure, in the slightest degree, the persons or properties of any but enemies to their Spanish or English fathers; a flag over any door, whether Spanish, French, or British, will be a certain protection, nor dare any Indian put his foot on the threshold thereof, under penalty of death from his own countrymen. Not even an enemy will an Indian put to death, except resisting in arms; and, as for injuring helpless women and children, the Red Men, by their good conduct and treatment to them, will (if it be possible) make the Americans blush for their more inhuman conduct lately on the Escambia, and within a neutral territory.
Inhabitants of Kentucky, you have too long borne with grievous impositions; the whole brunt of the war has fallen on your brave sons; be imposed on no longer, but either range yourself under the standard of your forefathers, or observe a strict neutrality. If p339 you comply with either of these offers, whatever provisions you send down will be paid for in dollars, and the safety of the persons bringing it, as well as the free navigation of the Mississippi, guaranteed to you.
"Men of Kentucky, let me call to your view (and I trust to your abhorrence) the conduct of those factions which hurried you into this civil, unjust and unnatural war. At a time when Great Britain was straining every nerve in defence of her own and the liberties of the world — when the bravest of her sons were fighting and bleeding in so sacred a cause — when she was spending millions of her treasure in endeavoring to pull down one of the most formidable and dangerous tyrants that ever disgraced the form of man — when groaning Europe was almost in her last gasp — when Britons alone showed an undaunted front — basely did those assassins endeavor to stab her from the rear. She has turned on them, renovated from the bloody but successful struggle; Europe is happy and free, and she now hastens justly to avenge the unprovoked insult. Show them that you are not collectively unjust; leave that contemptible few to shift for themselves; let these slaves of the tyrant send an embassy to Elba, and implore his aid; but let every honest, upright American spurn them with merited contempt. After the experience of twenty-one years, can you any longer support those brawlers for liberty, who call it freedom, when themselves are free? Be no longer their dupes; accept of my offers; everything I have promised in this paper I guarantee to you on the sacred honor of a British officer."
This document, so faulty in style, and so deficient in common sense, produced no more effect on those to whom it was addressed, than if it had forever remained locked up in the confused brains which gave it to the world. The object of this inconsiderable expedition under Colonel Nicholls, but the forerunner of the truly formidable one which was behind, seems to have been to sound the disposition of the inhabitants of the Floridas, Louisiana and Kentucky, to procure the necessary information for more important operations, and to secure pilots to conduct the main expedition to our coast and to our waters, rather than attempt anything of a decisive character. It is worthy of remark that, in the above recited proclamation p340 issued by Colonel Nicholls it was openly declared that the Spaniards, who were called in it the lawful owners of the soil, were again to be put in possession of Louisiana, and that a Spanish squadron was expected to co-operate with the British fleet. Researches in the archives of Spain would probably demonstrate whether this assertion was true. If true, it is probable that the expected co-operation of Spain was prevented by political necessities which compelled the Government of Ferdinand VII to turn all its attention, energies and resources to those disorders which at the time were beginning to threaten its existence at home.
Even in addressing his own troops, Colonel Nicholls had professed that the invasion of Louisiana was intended more for the benefit of its inhabitants and of Spain, than for the interest of Great Britain; for in his orders of the day to the first colonial battalion of the Royal Corps of Marines, his first words were:
"A cause so sacred as that which has led you to draw your swords in Europe will make you unsheath them in America, and I trust you will use them with equal credit and advantage. In Europe your arms were not employed in defence of your country only, but of all those who groaned in the chains of oppression, and in America they are to have the same direction. The people whom you are now to aid and assist have suffered robberies and murders committed on them by Americans.
"The noble Spanish nation has grieved to see her territories insulted, having been robbed and despoiled of a portion of them while she was overwhelmed with distress, and held down by the chains which a tyrant had imposed on her, gloriously struggling for the greatest of all possible blessings, true liberty. The treacherous Americans, who call themselves free, have attacked her, like assassins, while she was fallen. But the day of p341 retribution is fast approaching. These atrocities will excite horror in the heart of a British soldier; they will stimulate you to avenge them, and you will avenge them like British soldiers. Valor, then, and humanity!"
The gathering storm, so visible on a not distant horizon, increased Claiborne's anxieties, and he wrote to General Jackson that preparations for offence and defence should rapidly progress, and that, on his part, nothing would be omitted which his means permitted, to give him (the General), whenever called upon, the most prompt support. "But," said he, "those means are at least extremely limited. With a population differing in language, customs, manners, and sentiments, you need not be surprised if I should not with entire certainty calculate on the support of the people."
Such communications, and they were frequent, must have produced a deep impression on Jackson's mind, and must have confirmed the worst apprehensions which he might have entertained; for, a few days before, Claiborne had informed him that the militia of the State was undisciplined, for the most part unarmed, and infected with a leaven of disobedience, which had been encouraged by the Legislature. "Upon the whole," said he to General Jackson, "I cannot disguise from you the fact that, if Louisiana should be attacked, we must principally depend for security upon the prompt movement of the regular troops under your command, and the militia of the Western States and Territories. At this moment we are in a very unprepared and defenceless condition. Several important points of defence remain unoccupied, and, in case of a sudden attack, this capital would, I fear, fall an easy sacrifice. I beg you, Sir, to pay us a visit as early as your public duties may permit. Your presence here is greatly desirable, for some arrangements might be made which would contribute much to our safety."
p342 Hardly had a few days elapsed, when he again addressed General Jackson in these terms: "Contrary to what I had anticipated, the battalion of freemen of color have not acted to‑day with their accustomed propriety. The great majority were absent from parade, and much discontent is said to prevail. The officers have assured me that this discontent is local, or rather of a personal nature, and not directed against the Government. I, however, strongly suspect that some Spanish or English agent has made injurious impressions on the minds of the people. But the subject shall be fully probed, and the result communicated to you; for, charged as you are, Sir, with the defence of the 7th Militia District, in which Louisiana is included, I should consider myself wanting in duty not to keep you advised of every occurrence which may in any manner affect the safety of this State."
On the 26th of the same month he reverted to the subject which seemed to agitate his mind, and again communicated to General Jackson his gloomy apprehensions.
"I cannot," he wrote, "disguise from you the fact that I have a difficult people to manage. At this moment, no opposition to the requisition has manifested itself; but I am not seconded with that ardent zeal which, in my opinion, the crisis demands. We look with great anxiety to your movements, and place our greatest reliance for safety on the energy and patriotism of the Western States. In Louisiana there are many faithful citizens, but I repeat that there are others in whose attachment to the United States I cannot confide. These last persuade themselves that Spain will soon repossess herself of Louisiana, and they seem to believe that a combined Spanish and English force will soon appear on our coast.
[. . .]
p343 "I need not assure you of my entire confidence in you as a commander, and of the pleasure I shall experience in supporting all your measures for the common defence. But, Sir, a cause of indescribable chagrin to me is, that I am not at the head of a united and willing people. Native Americans, native Louisianians, Frenchmen and Spaniards, with some Englishmen, compose the mass of the population. Among them there exists much jealousy, and as great difference in political sentiment as in their language and habits. But, nevertheless, if Louisiana is supported by a respectable body of regular troops, or of Western militia, I trust and believe that I shall be enabled to bring to your aid a national and faithful corps of Louisiana militia; but if we are left to rely principally on our own resources, I fear existing jealousies will lead to distrust so general, that we shall be enabled to make but a feeble resistance."
Two days after, on the 29th, Claiborne, according to his constitutional habit, had oscillated from distrust to confidence, and wrote as follows to General Jackson: "The militia of Louisiana seem much better disposed than they were last year to take the field, and I hope to be enabled to array this State's quota of the requisition without difficulty." The reason for this change ought to have been apparent to his mind. The year preceding, the citizens of Louisiana did not believe in the rumors of danger with which they were threatened, and were, therefore, loath to turn away from their ordinary pursuits and the comforts of home. But when the invasion with which they had been menaced became a demonstrated calamity against which they had to guard their country, they, to one man, sprang to such arms as were within their reach.
In the beginning of September, Claiborne addressed to Girod, the Mayor of New Orleans, a communication p344 enjoining the utmost vigilance and the strictest police with respect to the admission and residence of strangers in the city. "The attention of the Mayor and City Council to this interesting subject is," he said, "respectfully invited. It is confidently reported that a British officer, coming from the Balize, passed whole weeks in this city, and unless some efficient measures by the city authorities are promptly resorted to, I fear that their visits may be repeated, and without detection."
On the 8th, he issued general orders for the militia, in which he stimulated their zeal in these words:
"The Commander-in‑Chief persuades himself that no efforts which have been, or may be made, to divide us, will prove successful. The intrigues, the means of corruption by which in other countries our enemy has so much profited, will doubtless be attempted here. But his character is well understood, and it is hoped that his arts will not avail him. In defence of our homes and families there surely will be but one opinion — one sentiment. The American citizen, on contrasting his situation with that of the citizen or subject of any other country on earth, will see abundant cause to be content with his destiny. He must be aware how little he can gain, and how much he must lose, by a revolution or change of government.
"If there be any citizen who believes that his rights and property would be respected by an invading foe, the weakness of his head would excite pity. If there be an individual who supposes the kind of force with which we are menaced could be restrained from acts of violence, he knows little of the character of those allies of Great Britain who committed the massacre at Fort Mimms.
"In these evil days, small indeed is the portion of affliction which has hitherto befallen Louisiana. When a hostile army breaks into the territory of a nation, its p345 course is marked with scenes of desolation which centuries of industry cannot repair. With what union, with what zeal, should all our energies be exerted to defend our country against like misfortunes!"
The same day on which he issued these general orders for the militia of Louisiana, he wrote to Governor Shelby, of Kentucky, to impress him with the urgency of forwarding to the defence of New Orleans all the troops which were expected from that State. "I do not know," he said, "how far I shall be supported by the militia of my own State. It grieves me to say that, to this moment, there has not been manifested all that union and zeal which the crisis demands, and which is so essential to our safety. There is despondency among the Louisianians which palsies all my preparations for defence. They see no strong regular force around which to rally, and they seem to think themselves not within the reach of seasonable succor from the Western States. But were a strong detachment of the militia of your State to descend the Mississippi, it would, I am persuaded, inspire my fellow-citizens here with confidence, and call forth their zealous and united effort in the defence of the country and Government."
On the 15th, a very numerous and respectable meeting of the citizens of New Orleans and its vicinity was held, pursuant to public notice, at Tremoulet's Coffee House, to consider the propriety of naming a committee to co-operate with the constituted authorities of the State and General Government in suggesting measures of defence, and calling out the force of the country in the press emergency. Edward Livingston was called to the chair, and Richard Relf was appointed Secretary. Livingston, after an eloquent speech, proposed the following Resolutions:
"Resolved, That on all important national questions it is proper, p346 and in urgent emergencies it is necessary, for the citizens of a free government to aid their magistrates and officers by a proffer of their support in the performance of their functions.
"Resolved, That in this State such an expression of public opinion is peculiarly proper, because the enemy has dared to allege that we are disaffected to our government, and ready to assist him in his attempts on our independence — an allegation which we declare to be false and insidious, tending to create doubts of our fidelity to the Union of which we are a member, and which we repel with the indignation they are calculated to inspire.
"Resolved, That a union with the other States is necessary to the prosperity of this, and that while we rely upon them for assistance and protection, we will not be wanting in every exertion proportionate to our strength, in order to maintain internal tranquillity, repel invasion, and preserve to the United States this important accession to its commerce and security.
"Resolved, as the sense of this assembly, that the good people of this State are attached to the Government of the United States, and that they will repel with indignation every attempt to create disaffection and weaken the force of the country, by exciting dissensions and jealousies at a moment when union is most necessary.
"Resolved, That we consider the present as a crisis serious, but not alarming — that our country is capable of defence — that we do not despair of the Republic, and that we will, at the risk of our lives and fortunes, defend it.
"Resolved, That a committee of nine members be appointed to co-operate with the constituted civil and military authorities in suggesting means of defence, and calling forth the energies of the country to repel invasion and preserve domestic tranquillity."
Edward Livingston, Pierre Foucher, Dusuau de La Croix, B. Morgan, G. M. Ogden, D. Bouligny, J. N. Destréhan, J. Blanque and A. Macarty were appointed on the Committee.
They immediately issued the following address:
"Fellow-citizens:— Named by a numerous assembly of the citizens of New Orleans to aid the constituted authorities in devising the most certain means of guarding against the dangers which threaten you, our first duty is to apprise you of the extent of those dangers. Your open enemy is preparing to attack you from without, and, by p347 means of his vile agents dispersed through the country, endeavors to excite to insurrection a more cruel and dangerous one in the midst of you.
"Fellow-citizens, the most perfect union is necessary among all the individuals who compose our community; all have an equal interest in yielding a free and full obedience to their magistrates and officers, and in forwarding their views for the public good; all have not only their property, but their very existence, at stake. You have, through your representatives in the Convention, contracted the solemn obligation of becoming an integral part of the United States of America; by this measure you secured your own sovereignty, and acquired the invaluable blessing of independence. God forbid that we should believe there are any among us disposed to fail in the sacred duty required by fidelity and honor. A just idea of the geographical situation of your country will convince you that your safety, and in a greater degree your prosperity, depends on your being irrevocably and faithfully attached to a union with the other States. But if there exist among you men base or mad enough to undervalue their duties and their true interest, let them tremble on considering the dreadful evils they will bring down upon themselves and upon us, if by their criminal indifference they favor the enterprises of the enemy against our beloved country.
"Fellow-citizens, the navigation of the Mississippi is as necessarily to two millions of our Western brethren, as the blood is to the pulsation of the heart. Those brave men, closely attached to the Union, will never suffer, whatever seducing offers may be made to them, the State of Louisiana to be subject to a foreign power; and should the events of war enable the enemy to occupy it, they will make every sacrifice to recover a country so necessary to their existence. A war ruinous to you would be the consequence; the enemy, to whom you would have had the weakness to yield, would subject you to a military despotism, of all others the most dreadful; your estates, your slaves, your persons would be put in requisition, and you would be forced, at the point of the bayonet, to fight against those very men whom you have voluntarily chosen for fellow-citizens and brethren. Beloved countrymen, listen to the men honored by your confidence, and who will endeavor to merit it. Listen to the voice of honor, of duty, and of nature. Unite! Form but one body, one soul, and defend to the last extremity your sovereignty, your property; defend your own lives, and the dearer existence of your wives and children."
It is not known why Blanque, who was one of the p348 Committee and one of the leading members of the Legislature, did not sign this address, which it is impossible to read without inferring from its tone that its authors had some secret misgivings as to the existence of that unity of feeling and action which they so pathetically recommended, and of which they affected to have no doubts.
On the 17th, Claiborne sent to Girod, the Mayor of the City, a communication, in which he informed that magistrate that New Orleans had been of late visited by a number of persons of suspicious conduct and character, and among them, as he had reasons to believe, by agents of the enemy, who had been busily engaged in exciting the negroes to insurrection. He said he knew that the powers of the City Council were merely local, and that its means of action were circumscribed, but nevertheless he invited the city authorities to co-operate with him as far as they could, and he invited them also to a careful revision of the several ordinances relative to the admission and residence of strangers, and to the police of slaves. "Regulations the most rigid on these points," he said, "are highly desirable. Such as are now in force were made in the calm of peace, and may not be suited to the evil times on which we have fallen. We must not scruple, at the present moment, about the exercise of authority; we must proceed direct to our object, and do whatever may depend upon us for the general security."
In the mean time, the British were carrying on with activity their plan of invasion. Their first effort was directed against Fort Bowyer, which, commanding the entrance of Mobile Bay, and consequently the navigation of the rivers which empty into it, was a point of considerable military importance, particularly in contributing to the success of the intended operations against p349 Louisiana.6 It also commands that species of Archipelago which extends in a parallel direction to Pass Marianne and Pass Christianne, affording to its possessors an exclusive control over the navigation of the coast of West Florida. This important strategical point was defended by Fort Bowyer, which was but a very incomplete fortification. It was destitute of casemates even for the sick, the ammunition and provisions. Moreover, it was badly situated, as it was commanded by several mounds of sand at the distance of two to three hundred yards. The garrison, under Major Lawrence, consisted of one hundred and thirty men, including officers, with twenty pieces of cannon, but indifferently mounted. Some of them were on temporary platforms, and the men were exposed from their knees upward.
On the morning of the 12th, the enemy landed six hundred Indians and one hundred and thirty marines. In the evening, two English sloops-of‑war and two brigs anchored within •six miles east of the fort.
On the 13th and 14th, the forces of the enemy which were to operate on land were engaged in reconnoitering the back part of the fort, and in fortifying their own position. A few cannon-balls and shells were exchanged between the belligerents, without much effect on either side. Early on the morning of the 15th, the movements of the enemy gave clear indications of his intention to attack, and a very active communication was perceived between the ships and the troops on shore. The conflict was to be an unequal one; for, as I have said, the Americans numbered only one hundred and thirty men with twenty pieces of artillery, whilst the British forces amounted to thirteen hundred and thirty men, with ninety-two guns, ninety of which were thirty‑two-pound p350 carronades. Their fleet consisted of the sloops Hermes and Caron, and of the brigs Sophia and Anaconda, under the command of Captain Percy.
Major Lawrence, at this critical moment, called a council of all his officers. They unanimously agreed to make the most obstinate and vigilant defence, and adopted the following resolution:
"That in case of being, by imperious necessity, compelled to surrender (which could only happen in the last extremity, on the ramparts being entirely battered down, and the garrison almost wholly destroyed, so that any further resistance would be evidently useless), no capitulation should be agreed on, unless it had for its fundamental article that the officers and privates should retain their arms and their private property, and that on no pretext should the Indians be suffered to commit any outrage on their persons or property; and unless full assurance were given them that they would be treated as prisoners of war, according to the custom established among civilized nations."
All the officers of this Spartan band unanimously swore that in no case, nor on any pretext, would they recede from the above conditions; and they pledged themselves to each other that, in case of the death of any of them, the survivors would still consider themselves bound to adhere to what had been resolved on.
Late in the afternoon, at half-past four, the Hermes came to anchor within musket-shot of the fort's batteries, and the other three ships took their line of battle behind her. Soon the engagement became general, and a land battery, which had been established by the enemy at seven hundred yards from the fort, opened fire against it with a twelve-pounder and a six-inch howitzer. It was soon silenced, however, but the firing between the ships p351 and the fort was kept up with great fury until half-past five, when the English commander's flag was carried away by a cannon-ball.
On observing this occurrence, Major Lawrence instantly ordered the fire to cease, thus chivalrously pausing for a further manifestation of the intention of the enemy, who also discontinued firing for about five minutes, at the expiration of which all doubts were removed by a broadside from one of the ships, and the hoisting up of a new flag on board of the Hermes. The fort replied with all its guns, and the battle continued for some time without any abatement, when the Hermes, having had her cable cut, was carried away by the current, and presented her prow to the fort, whose well-directed fire swept her deck for fifteen or twenty minutes. At the moment when the fire was most intense, the flag-staff of the fort was shot away; but the Hermes, instead of following the example so recently set by Major Lawrence, redoubled her fire instead of suspending it, and each one of the other ships poured her broadside against the fort. When the American flag thus accidentally disappeared, the land forces, thinking that the fort was to surrender, hastily advanced toward it, with loud shrieks on the part of the Indians, but a few discharges of grape-shot sent them away to seek shelter behind their sand mounds, and the star-spangled banner soon rose up again on the edge of the parapet in a still more defiant position. During this interval, the Hermes, having not been able to repair the loss of her cable, had drifted away with the current •about a mile, when she got aground, and was set on fire and abandoned by the British. Soon after, the other ships, which had been much damaged, retired gradually beyond the reach of our guns, and finally disappeared seaward. At 11 o'clock the Hermes blew up, suddenly illuminating with her explosion the late scene of p352 that fierce contest, on which now had settled the darkness and the repose of night.
The Americans were justly proud of this victory, for its results were remarkable, considering the disparity of the forces engaged and of the implements of war used on this occasion. They had only twelve guns which could be brought to bear on the enemy, and these guns were worked by inexperienced men, who knew nothing of the artillery service, with which even some of their officers were far from being familiar. Yet they succeeded, with very little loss, in signally defeating an enemy whose superiority has been shown to be so striking. Only two of their guns had been silenced; their killed did not exceed four, which was also the number of their wounded, whilst the British had one hundred and sixty-two men killed and seventy wounded, losing one 28‑gun ship, and having the other three badly damaged. The humiliation of the enemy was complete, and made keener from the fact that Captain Percy, relying with too much pride on the number of troops and guns with which he was to attack Fort Bowyer, had openly boasted that he would take it in twenty minutes.
This victory produced great elation, and was looked upon as the welcome harbinger of future triumphs. On the 21st, General Jackson issued from his headquarters at Mobile the two following proclamations — one addressed to the white population of Louisiana, and the other to its free colored inhabitants:
"Louisianians, the base, the perfidious Britons have attempted to invade your country; they had the temerity to attack Fort Bowyer with their incongruous horde of Indians and negro assassins; they seemed to have forgotten that this fort was defended by freemen; they were not long indulged in their error; the gallant Lawrence, with his little Spartan band, has given them a lesson that will last for ages; he has taught them what men can do, when fighting for their liberty and contending against slaves. He has p353 convinced Sir W. H. Percy that his companions-in‑arms are not to be conquered by proclamations, and that the strongest British bark is not invulnerable to the force of American artillery, directed by the steady, nervous arm of a freeman.
"Louisianians, the proud Briton, the natural and sworn enemy of all Frenchmen, has called upon you, by proclamation, to aid him in his tyranny, and to prostrate the holy temple of our liberty. Can Louisianians, can Frenchmen, can Americans, ever stoop to be the slaves or allies of Britain?
"The proud, vain-glorious boaster, Colonel Nicholls, when he addressed you, Louisianians and Kentuckians, had forgotten that you were the votaries of freedom, or he never would have pledged the honor of a British officer for the faithful performance of his promise to lure you from your fidelity to the government of your choice. I ask you, Louisianians, can we place any confidence in the honor of men who have courted an alliance with pirates and robbers? Have not these noble Britons, these honorable men, Colonel Nicholls and the Honorable Captain W. H. Percy, the true representatives of their royal master, done this? Have they not made offers to the pirates of Barataria to join them and their holy cause? And have they not dared to insult you by calling on you to associate, as brethren, with them and these hellish banditti?
"Louisianians, the government of your choice is engaged in a just and honorable contest for the security of your individual and national rights. On you, a part of America, the only country on earth where every man enjoys freedom, where its blessings are alike extended to the poor and the rich, she calls to protect these rights from the invading usurpation of Britain, and she calls not in vain. I well know that every man whose soul beats high at the proud title of freeman; that every Louisianian, either by birth or adoption, will promptly obey the voice of his country, will rally round the eagle of Columbia, secure it from the pending danger, or nobly die in the last ditch in its defence.
"The individual who refuses to defend his rights when called upon by his government deserves to be a slave, and must be punished as an enemy to his country, and a friend to her foe.
"The undersigned has been intrusted with the defence of your country. On you he relies to aid in this important duty; in this reliance he hopes not to be mistaken. He trusts in the justice of his cause and the patriotism of his countrymen. Confident that any future attempt to invade our soil will be repelled as the last, he calls not upon either pirates or robbers to join him in the glorious cause."
p354 This document did not escape criticism. It was thought by some to be written in an undignified tone of anger, which had betrayed its author into the use of epithets both unbecoming and untrue in their application. Britons were not "slaves," and it was hardly possible to proclaim them to be in this degraded condition, without ranking still lower the rest of mankind, with the exception of the Americans. The Louisianians were very unwilling thus to admit constructively that they had been slaves, even when living under Governments by which the liberties and rights of subjects were far more restricted, than by the one which has been the boast and glory of Great Britain since the overthrow of the Stuarts. The word "slave" applied to Englishmen grated harshly, notwithstanding national antipathies, on the ears of Frenchmen, Spaniards and other Europeans, who constituted a numerous body in New Orleans, and who felt instinctively that this contemptuous expression could not strike England without glancing from her breast to their own. It might be inferred that they were at best but emancipated slaves among the free-born Americans. Hence this address was looked upon by the discontented as a poor specimen of tact and policy; and there were others who took pleasure in railing at the assertion, so complacently repeated, that the Louisianians were bound in honor to defend the Government of the United States, as "the Government of their choice," when it was so well known how little they had been consulted on the subject, and how harshly they had been treated on their first contact with their new brethren — with that great national family into whose bosom it had been expressly stipulated that they should be admitted on a footing of equality with the other members. These censorious remarks, however, did not produce much effect on the mass of the population. But his second proclamation was p355 considered more objectionable even by the well-affected. It was addressed to the free colored men, and ran as follows:
"Through a mistaken policy you have heretofore been deprived of a participation in the glorious struggle for national rights in which our country is engaged. This no longer shall exist.
"As sons of freedom, you are now called upon to defend our most inestimable blessing. As Americans, your country looks with confidence to her adopted children for a valorous support, as a faithful return for the advantages enjoyed under her mild and equitable government. As fathers, husbands, and brothers, you are summoned to rally round the standard of the eagle, to defend all which is dear in existence.
"Your country, although calling for your exertions, does not wish you to engage in her cause without amply remunerating you for the services rendered. Your intelligent minds are not to be led away by false representations. Your love of honor would cause you to despise the man who should attempt to deceive you. In the sincerity of a soldier and the language of truth I address you.
"To every noble-hearted, generous freeman — men of color, volunteering to serve during the present contest with Great Britain, and no longer, there will be paid the same bounty in money and lands now received by the white soldiers of the United States, viz.: one hundred and twenty-four dollars in money, and one hundred and sixty acres of land. The non-commissioned officers and privates will also be entitled to the same monthly pay and daily rations, and clothes, furnished to any American soldier.
"On enrolling yourself in companies, the Major-General commanding will select officers for your government from your white fellow-citizens. Your non-commissioned officers will be appointed from among yourselves.
"Due regard will be paid to the feelings of freemen and soldiers. You will not, by being associated with white men in the same corps, be exposed to improper comparisons, or unjust sarcasm. As a distinct, independent battalion, or regiment, pursuing the path of glory, you will, undivided, receive the applause and gratitude of your countrymen.
"To assure you of the sincerity of my intentions and my anxiety to engage your invaluable services to our country, I have communicated my wishes to the Governor of Louisiana, who is fully p356 informed as to the manner of enrollment, and will give you every necessary information on the subject of this address."
This proclamation was looked upon by many as exceedingly objectionable, on the ground of its putting the colored men too much on a footing of equality with the whites. It was denied that the native mulattoes of Louisiana were entitled to the appellation of "sons of freedom," and that the colored refugees from St. Domingo had any claim to being called the "adopted children" of the State. It was still more strenuously denied that they could, whether "natives" or "adopted children," be properly designated as "Americans," — a question which was judicially raised years afterward, and which was decided in the negative by the Supreme Court of the United States. Even those who were the best disposed toward that peculiar class of the population objected to their being raised to the dignity of being denominated as the "fellow-citizens" and the "countrymen" of the white race. Claiborne had foreseen, as will be seen hereafter, the bad effect to be produced by this last proclamation, and had in vain sought to avert it by sending gentle hints on the subject to General Jackson.
Whilst planning against Fort Bowyer the attack which has been described, and which was so signally defeated, the English had not been unmindful of another point from which, as alluded to in one of General Jackson's proclamations, they had hoped to derive assistance in their contemplated invasion of Louisiana. This was the Bay of Barataria, which was known by them to be the asylum of a large number of desperate outlaws, who were supposed to be inimical to the Government of the United States, by which they were proscribed. On the 3d of September, an English brig had anchored •six miles from the Barataria Pass, and had sent ashore a flag of truce with Captain McWilliams and Captain Lockyer, of the p357 British Navy, as special messengers to John Lafitte and his associates. They delivered to that individual a letter from Colonel Nicholls, who addressed Lafitte as "The Commandant at Barataria," and in the following style:
"I have arrived in the Floridas for the purpose of annoying the only enemy Great Britain has in the world, as France and England are now friends. I call on you, with your brave followers, to enter into the service of Great Britain, in which you shall have the rank of a captain. Lands will be given to you all, in proportion to your respective ranks, on a peace taking place, and I invite you on the following terms: Your property shall be guaranteed to you, and your persons protected — in return for which I ask you to cease all hostility is against Spain, or the allies of Great Britain — your ships and vessels to be placed under the orders of the commanding officer on this station, until the commander-in‑chief's pleasure is known; but I guarantee their full value, at all events. I herewith inclose you a copy of my proclamation to the inhabitants of Louisiana, which will, I trust, point out to you the honorable intentions of my Government. You may be a useful assistant to me in forwarding them; therefore, if you determine, lose no time. The bearer of this, Captain McWilliams, will satisfy you on any other point you may be anxious to learn, as will Captain Lockyer, of the Sophia, who brings him to you. We have a powerful reinforcement on its way here, and I hope to cut out some other work for the Americans than oppressing the inhabitants of Louisiana. Be expeditious in your resolves, and rely on the verity of your very humble servant."
It is certainly not possible to suppose from the tone of this letter, and the offers which it contains, that Colonel Nicholls, of the British Army, would ever have dared, under any circumstances, to address such a communication to any one whom he considered as justly bearing the character of a "captain of pirates," which imputation John Lafitte had always protested against, and indignantly repelled as a calumnious aspersion.
To this letter of Colonel Nicholls were annexed the instructions given by Sir W. H. Percy, Captain of His Britannic Majesty's ship Hermes, and senior officer in p358 the Gulf of Mexico, to Captain Lockyer, of his Majesty's sloop Sophia. In that document he applies the softest and most guarded language to Lafitte and his companions, in relation to their status, and designates them as the "inhabitants of Barataria." It ran as follows:
"Having understood that some British merchantmen have been detained, taken into, and sold by the inhabitants of, Barataria, I have directed Captain Lockyer to proceed to that place and inquire into the circumstances, with positive orders to demand instant restitution, and, in case of refusal, to destroy to his utmost every vessel there, as well as to carry destruction over the whole place; and, at the same time, I have assured him of the co-operation of all his Majesty's naval forces on this station. I trust, at the same time, that the inhabitants of Barataria, consulting their own interest, will not make it necessary to proceed to such extremities. I hold out at the same time a war instantly destructive to them, and, on the other hand, should they be inclined to assist Great Britain in her just and unprovoked war against the United States, the security of their property, the blessings of the British Constitution; and should they be inclined to settle on this continent, lands will, at the conclusion of the war, be allotted to them in his Majesty's colonies in America. In return for all these concessions on the part of Great Britain, I expect that the directions of their armed vessels will be put into my hands (for which they will be remunerated) — the instant cessation of hostilities against the Spanish Government, and the restitution of any undisposed property of that nation.
"Should any inhabitants be inclined to volunteer their services into his Majesty's forces, either naval or military, for limited service, they will be received; and if any British subject, being at Barataria, wishes to return to his native country, he will, on joining his Majesty's service, receive free pardon."
It is evident that Sir W. H. Percy, in concert with Colonel Nicholls, did not choose to consider "the inhabitants of Barataria" in any other light than belligerents against Spain. It certainly did not suit his purpose to acknowledge them as "pirates, or bandits."
The British officers, on landing, met with considerable hostility from those whom they had come to visit, but p359 were protected by John Lafitte. What passed between that chief of outlaws and the British emissaries is thus related by Major La Carriere Latour, who knew Lafitte personally, who served with him under the orders of General Jackson, when Lafitte's proffered assistance was accepted, and who may have heard from his own lips all the details of that interesting interview. "When Mr. Lafitte," says Latour, "had perused these papers, Captain Lockyer enlarged on the subject of them, and proposed to him to enter into the service of his Britannic Majesty with all those who were under his command, or over whom he had sufficient influence; and likewise to lay at the disposal of the officers of his Britannic Majesty the armed vessels he had at Barataria, to aid in the intended attack of the fort of Mobile. He insisted much on the great advantages that would thence result to himself and his crews; offered him the rank of Captain in the British service, and the sum of thirty thousand dollars, payable at his option, in Pensacola or New Orleans, and urged him not to let slip this opportunity of acquiring fortune and consideration. On Mr. Lafitte's requiring a few days to reflect upon these offers, Captain Lockyer observed to him that no reflection would be necessary respecting proposals that obviously precluded hesitation, as he was a Frenchman, and of course now a friend to Great Britain, proscribed by the American Government, exposed to infamy, and had a brother, at that very time, loaded with irons in the jail of New Orleans. He added that, in the British service, he would have a fair prospect of promotion; that having such a knowledge of the country, his services would be of the greatest importance in carrying on the operations which the British Government had planned against Lower Louisiana; that, as soon as possession was obtained, the army would penetrate into the upper country, p360 and act in concert with the forces in Canada; that everything was already prepared for carrying on the war against the American Government in that quarter with unusual vigor; that they were nearly sure of success, expecting to find little or no opposition from the French and Spanish population of Louisiana, whose interests, mentions and customs were more congenial with theirs than with those of the Americans; that, finally, the insurrection of the negroes, to whom they would offer freedom, was one of the chief means they intended to employ, being confident of its success.
"To all these splendid promises, all these ensnaring insinuations, Mr. Lafitte replied that, in a few days, he would give a final answer; his object in this procrastination being to gain time to inform the State officers of this nefarious project. Having occasion to go to some distance for a short time, the persons who had proposed to send the British officers prisoners to New Orleans went and seized them in his absence, and confined both them and the crew of their pinnace in a secure place, leaving a guard at the door. The British officers sent for Mr. Lafitte; but he, fearing an insurrection of the crews of the privateers, thought it advisable not to see them, until he had persuaded their captains and other officers to desist from the measures on which they seemed bent. With this view, he represented to the latter that, besides the infamy that would attach to them, if they treated as prisoners persons who had come with a flag of truce, they would lose the opportunity of discovering the extent of the projects of the British against Louisiana, and learning the names of their agents in the country. While Mr. Lafitte was thus endeavoring to bring over his people to his sentiments, the British remained prisoners the whole night, the sloop-of‑war continuing at anchor before the Pass, waiting for the return of the p361 officers. Early the next morning, Mr. Lafitte caused them to be released from their confinement, and saw them safe aboard their pinnace, apologizing for the disagreeable treatment they had received, and which it had not been in his power to prevent."
Immediately after the departure of the British officers, John Lafitte addressed, on the 4th of September, to John Blanque, a leading member of the Legislature, a letter, in which he began with saying: "Though proscribed by my adopted country, I will never let slip any occasion of serving her, or of proving that she has never ceased to be dear to me. Of this you will see here a convincing proof." He then related to Blanque what had happened, and forwarded to him the papers which had been left in his hands by Captains Lockyer and McWilliams. "You will see from their contents," continued Lafitte, "the advantages which I might have derived from that kind of association." Three days later, on the 7th, he addressed to Blanque this second letter: "Sir, you will always find me eager to evince my devotedness to the good of the country, of which I endeavored to give some proof in my letter of the 4th, which I make no doubt you received. Amongst other papers that have fallen into my hands, I send you a scrap which appears to me of sufficient importance to merit your attention.7 Since the departure of the officer who came with the flag of truce, his ship, with two other ships of war, have remained on the coast within sight. Doubtless this point is considered as important. We have hitherto kept on a respectable defensive; if, however, the British attach to the possession of this place the importance they give us room to suspect they do, they may employ means above our strength. I know p362 not whether, in that case, proposals of intelligence with the Government would be out of season. It is always from my high opinion of your enlightened mind that I request you to advise me in this affair."
Within this letter was inclosed another, which was addressed, and to be delivered, to Claiborne.
"In the firm persuasion," wrote the outlaw to the Chief Magistrate of the State, who had repeatedly made every exertion to have him captured and punished as a bandit, "that the choice made of you to fill the office of First Magistrate of this State was dictated by the esteem of your fellow-citizens and was conferred on merit, I confidently address you on an affair on which may depend the safety of the country.
"I offer to you to restore to this State several citizens, who, perhaps in your eyes, have lost that sacred title. I offer you them, however, such as you would wish to find them, ready to exert their utmost efforts in defence of the country. This point of Louisiana which I occupy is of great importance in the present crisis. I tender my services to defend it; and the only reward I ask is that a stop be put to the proscription against me and my adherents, by an act of oblivion for all that has been done hitherto. I am the stray sheep wishing to return to the sheepfold. If you were thoroughly acquainted with the nature of my offences, I should appear to you much less guilty, and still worthy to discharge the duties of a good citizen. I have never sailed under any flag but that of the Republic of Carthagena, and my vessels are perfectly regular in that respect. If I could have brought my lawful prizes into the ports of this State, I should not have employed the illicit means which caused me to be proscribed. I decline saying more on the subject until I have the honor of your Excellency's answer, which, I am persuaded can only be p363 dictated by wisdom. Should your answer not be favorable to my ardent desires, I declare to you that I will instantly leave the country, to avoid the imputation of having co-operated toward an invasion on this point, which cannot fail to take place, and to rest secure in the acquittal of my own conscience."
These two letters of John Lafitte the younger were forwarded to their destination by Pierre Lafitte, the elder, who had found the means not to remain long in the jail where he was incarcerated in New Orleans, and who added to the package this note to Blanque: "On my arrival here, I was informed of all the occurrences that have taken place. I think I may justly commend my brother's conduct under such difficult circumstances. I am persuaded he could not have made a better choice than in making you the depositary of the papers that were sent to us, and which may be of great importance to the State. Being fully determined to follow the plan that may reconcile us with the Government, I herewith send you a letter directed to his Excellency the Governor, which I submit to your discretion to deliver, or not, as you may think proper. I have not yet been honored with an answer from you. The moments are precious; pray, send me an answer that may serve to direct my measures in the circumstances in which I find myself." It is certainly difficult to imagine, in presence of the noble attitude taken by these two men, that, culpable as they undoubtedly were in many respects, they could be guilty of the atrocious crimes attributed to them, and deserved the appellation of "pirates."
Claiborne, to whom Blanque delivered the letters of the Baratarian chiefs, with the papers which accompanied them, submitted the whole to a council of the principal officers of the army, militia and navy, which he had convened to deliberate on the subject. They recommended p364 that there be no intercourse or correspondence whatever with any of "those people." Major-General Villeré was the only one who expressed a different opinion. Governor Claiborne agreed with him, but acquiesced in the decision of the majority.8
Whilst the two outlawed brothers were thus generously sacrificing their own private interest and the most advantageous offers, to the desire of protecting Louisiana against invasion, there was in preparation for their destruction an expedition which was carried through, notwithstanding a full knowledge of the patriotic course they were pursuing. That expedition had been got up at the earnest instigation of Claiborne, and organized under the command of Commodore Patterson, and of Colonel Ross of the U. S. Army. It succeeded in completely breaking up the establishment of the Baratarians, and in capturing many of them. Some made their escape, and among them the two Lafittes, who fled to the German Coast, where they found friendly aid and efficient shelter. Commodore Patterson and Colonel Ross returned to New Orleans with the vessels of the Baratarians and a very rich booty, which they claimed lawful prize.
On the 19th of September, Claiborne wrote to General Jackson, informing him of the success of the expedition, and of the seizure of the "ill-begotten treasures of the pirates," as they were called. He further said:
"The only difficulty I have hitherto experienced in meeting the requisition has been in the city, and exclusively from some European Frenchmen, who, after giving in their adherence to Louis XVIII have, through the French Consul, claimed exemption from the draft as French subjects. The question of exemption, however, is now under discussion before a special court of inquiry, p365 and I am not without hopes that these ungrateful men may yet be brought to a discharge of their duties. The body of city militia begin to manifest a proper feeling and conduct, and perform with cheerfulness patrol duty.
[. . .]
"I have taken means to acquire information daily from the Pass of Chef Menteur, as also from the various Passes in the vicinity of Terre aux Boeufs. But I am vastly solicitous about the Pass of Barataria. Excuse me for suggesting the expediency of your directing immediate possession to be taken of Grande Terre, the spot from which the pirates were recently expelled, and of occupying the place called the 'Temple.' "
The next day, he resumed the pen, to inform General Jackson that Louisiana had much to apprehend from domestic insurrection, and that he had every reason to believe that the enemy had been intriguing with the slaves. "In my letter of yesterday," he said, "I mentioned that many of the fugitives from Barataria had reached the city. Among them are some St. Domingo negroes of the most desperate character, and no worse than most of their white associates." He added, that he had called the attention of the Mayor and City Council to these facts; that he had strongly urged the necessity of adopting stringent measures; and that the city authorities "seemed fully impressed with the importance of the crisis."
In relation to the address of General Jackson to the free people of color, dated on the 21st of September, which I have recited in the preceding pages, Governor Claiborne sent him the following observations, on the 17th of October: "The publication of your address to the free people of color is delayed a few days. An unfortunate misunderstanding between the officers of the battalion of color, which excites much interest, is the p366 subject of investigation before a court of inquiry now sitting. The difficulty will, I hope, soon be arranged. In the mean time, I have deemed it best to postpone giving publicity to your address. I cannot disguise from you the fact that many excellent citizens will disapprove the policy you wish to be observed toward the free people of color. The battalion already organized, limited as it is, excites much interest, and I should not be surprised if, at the ensuing Legislature, an attempt should be made to put it down. I must confess that, for myself, I have no cause to lament the confidence which the Local Government has placed in these men. Their general deportment has been correct, and they have done nothing to create in my mind any doubt as to their fidelity. It does appear to me that, at the present crisis, these men ought to be attended to; that it is not probable they will remain careless and disinterested spectators of the present contest, and more particularly if the war should be brought into the bosom of Louisiana; but, on the contrary, that their feelings and best wishes would be enlisted in some way, and that if we distrusted their fidelity, the enemy might the more acquire their confidence. But this mode of reasoning makes no impression upon some respectable citizens here. They think that, in putting arms in the hands of men of color, we only add to the force of the enemy, and that nothing short of placing them in every respect upon a footing of equality with white citizens (which our Constitution forbids) could conciliate their affections. To two gentlemen of influence, members of the Committee of Defence, with whom I conversed on last evening, your policy of raising a regiment of free men of color was suggested, with the observation that, by removing it from the State, the jealousy and distrust of the citizens would surely cease. They, however, seemed to think that the measure was advisable, p367 provided there would be a guarantee against the return of the regiment; but that if, at the close of the war, the individuals were to settle in Louisiana with the knowledge of the use of arms, and that pride of destination which a soldier's pursuits so naturally inspire, they would prove dangerous. Such are the sentiments of men well informed and well disposed, and I transmit them for your perusal. My impression is, that several companies composed of men of color may be raised upon the plan you suggest; but I cannot say to what number. Such as are natives of Louisiana are much attached to their families and homes, and I am inclined to think would not enlist during the war; but such as have emigrated from St. Domingo and Cuba may probably be desirous to join the army."
Referring to the general condition of the public mind, he added: "A patriotic spirit pervades this State, and I observe with sincere pleasure that you possess the entire confidence of the people." As to Lafitte and his companions, the attitude of hostility which they had taken toward the British, the valuable information which they had imparted to Claiborne, and the offer of their services, do not seem to have softened his disposition toward them, and changed his views of their demerits; for he thus expressed himself when mentioning them to General Jackson: "Since the pirates of Barataria have been dislodged from Grande Terre, they have taken post at Last Island, near the mouth of the Lafourche."
On the 24th of October, Claiborne wrote to Fromentin, one of the Senators for Louisiana in Congress: "I have made and am still making every possible exertion to defend Louisiana against all attacks from within and without. I am zealously supported by Major-Generals Villeré and Thomas, and have reason to be content with the patriotic spirit which pervades the State. There are, p368 indeed, individuals on whose friendly disposition toward the American Government I cannot depend, but I calculate with certainty on the fidelity of the great mass of the population. There has unquestionably been of late a change in the public opinion, and I see with pleasure that the best informed citizens are perfectly convinced that the safety and welfare of Louisiana can alone be secured by an indissoluble union with the American States." He addressed the Secretary of State, Mr. Monroe, in the same spirit, and gave him the same encouraging information, but added: "I must not, however, disguise from you the fact that Louisiana must look for permanent safety to the support of our gallant Western States."
It is gratifying to see that, as time progressed, Claiborne's confidence in the people of Louisiana became better rooted in his mind, for, in a communication by him to General Jackson, dated October 2, the following passage is to be found: "Your address to the Louisianians is well received, and will make a favorable impression. A feeble attempt has been made in a paper called the Louisiana Gazette to take exception to its style and manner, but I do not learn that a single worthy citizen unites in opinion with this newspaper scribbler. The natives of Louisiana are for the most part a gallant and virtuous people, and I am proud in the belief that, in any event, they will prove faithful to the United States."
As to the address of the General to the free people of color, I have already said that Claiborne had been somewhat startled by its tone; that he had mildly insinuated to its author that it would be unpalatable to the white population, and that the publication of it "had been suspended for the present." The well-known temper of General Jackson must, however, have precluded the hope that he would change or modify his course on the subject. p369 It does not seem that he proved more pliant on this occasion than on any other, for, on the 24th of October, Claiborne wrote to him: "Your address to the chosen men of color will be printed on this day. I will use my best efforts to promote your wishes, but I do not know with what success. I have already apprised you of the distrust which exists here against this class of people. I believe it to be ill-founded; but its existence may, and I fear has, in some degree, indisposed them toward us. The difficulty among the officers of the battalion of color of which I informed you is nearly arranged, and I continue to think that, in the hour of trial, they will prove a meritorious corps. Fort St. Philip, at Plaquemine, is in need, I learn, of a reinforcement. If it meets your approbation, I will detach to that post a lieutenant and forty men of color." Certainly nothing could better prove than this proposition the real confidence which Claiborne professed to repose in the men of color.
The best way to narrate events faithfully, and to convey impressively a correct idea of the moral tone and of the manners of society at any particular epoch is, in my opinion, to borrow the very language of those who have described them as witnesses, and frequently as participators in what they recorded. Under this impression, I give in full the following letter addressed by Claiborne, on the 30th of October, to Mr. Rush, the Attorney-General of the United States at Washington:
"You no doubt have heard that the late expedition to Barataria had eventuated in the entire dispersion of the pirates and smugglers, and capture of nearly all their cruisers. It is greatly to be regretted that neither the General nor State Government had not sooner been enabled to put down these banditti. The length of time they were permitted to continue their evil practices added much to their strength, and led the people here p370 to view their course as less vicious. Measures tending to the prevention of crimes can alone relieve us from the distress of punishing them. Had such measures in relation to the offenders in question been earlier taken, we should not have to lament the frequency of their commission. I have been at great pains to convince the people of this State that smuggling was a moral offence. But in this I have only partially succeeded. There are individuals here who, in every other respect, fulfill with exemplary integrity all the duties devolving upon them as fathers of families and as citizens; but as regards smuggling, although they may not be personally concerned, they attach no censure to those who are. It is the influence of education, of habit, of bad example. Formerly, under the Government of Spain, smuggling in Louisiana was universally practiced from the highest to the lowest member of society. To show you the light in which it was then viewed, I will only observe that, occasionally in conversation with ladies, I have denounced smuggling as dishonest, and very generally a reply, in substance as follows, would be returned: That is impossible, for my grandfather, or my father, or my husband was, under the Spanish Government, a great smuggler, and he was always esteemed an honest man. It takes time to remove the influence of prejudice, of example, of former habits. Much has already been done to reconcile the Louisianians to the Government, laws and usages of the United States, and more must yet be done to do away all traces of those improper feelings and sentiments which originated with, and were fostered under, the corrupt Government of Spain. Prosecutions are now pending in the District Court against several of the Barataria offenders, and, in the course of the investigation, it is probable that the number implicated will be very considerable. Justice demands that the most culpable be p371 punished with severity. But I see no good end to be attained by making the penalties of the law to fall extensively and heavily. The example is not the less imposing, by circumscribing the number of its victims; and the mercy which should dictate it seldom fails to make a salutary and lasting impression. Should the President think proper to instruct the Attorney for the District of Louisiana to select a few of the most hardened offenders of Barataria for trial, and to forbear to prosecute all others concerned, I think such an act of clemency would be well received, and be attended, at the present moment, with the best effects. A sympathy for these offenders is certainly more or less felt by many of the Louisianians. With some it arises from national attachment, but with most from their late trade and intercourse with them. Should the Attorney for the District be instructed not to prosecute the case of minor offenders, it is desirable that such instructions be accompanied with the opinion of the Executive as to the offence of smuggling, and that publicity be given to the same. Such a document would, I am persuaded, be productive of great good. It may be I am in error. Some of my countrymen of talents and virtue think differently. But, for myself, I have always thought that as much may be done with the Louisianians by a mild policy as with any people I ever knew. Such impression has always influenced my public conduct. It is true I have often failed in my objects, but a chief magistrate, with more talents and discretion than I possess, who should pursue such a course of policy, could not fail to succeed."
These are noble sentiments, and they are expressed with a simplicity of manner and a modesty of feeling which reflects much honor on the memory of Claiborne, whose benevolence and kindness of heart have already been fully established in the pages of this History.
p372 A treaty of peace had been signed between the Creek Nation and the United States in the month of August, as previously recorded in this narrative, but some of the tribes constituting that nation had refused their assent to the treaty, and continued their hostilities. They used to procure clothing, ammunition and arms from the Spaniards, and sell in Pensacola the fruits of their depredations on American property. Generalº Jackson had demanded satisfaction from the Governor of Pensacola, but it had been refused. To make matters worse, the British force which, allied with six hundred Creek warriors, had lately attacked Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point, had departed from Pensacola, and after being defeated, had returned to that town, whose forts were suffered to be garrisoned by the British. Moreover, the Spanish authorities had even arrested and imprisoned some American citizens who were suspected of being unfriendly to the British Government.
Jackson, thinking that these facts constituted a breach of neutrality and a violation of the laws of nations, concluded that he was authorized to dispossess the British and their Indian allies of the shelter which they had found in Pensacola, and which they used as a base of operations. He, therefore, assembled near Fort Montgomery, on the River Alabama, an army of about four thousand men, composed of a detachment of regulars, of militia of Tennessee, and of a battalion of volunteer dragoons of Mississippi. On the 6th of November, this army encamped within •three miles of Pensacola. General Jackson sent Major Peire9 to demand that an American garrison be received in the fort St. Michael and Barrancas, until the Spanish Government could procure a sufficient force to enable it to maintain its neutrality against the British, who had possessed themselves p373 of these fortresses, notwithstanding the remonstrances and protest of the Spanish Governor, with the assurance on the part of the American General that his forces should be withdrawn as soon as a Spanish force sufficiently numerous to make itself respected should arrive. On these propositions having been refused, Major Peire declared that recourse would be had to arms.
On the next day, the 7th of November, the attack was made. The Spaniards were too feeble in numbers to make any effective resistance to the four thousand men who were under the control of General Jackson, and the small town of Pensacola was taken without much difficulty. It had no fortified walls, and the American column easily penetrated without any opposition into the principal street, where it met a Spanish battery of two pieces, which, having fired once, was carried at the point of the bayonet. Then all further resistance ceased. The loss of the Americans was eleven killed and wounded; that of the Spaniards still less. Shortly after, Fort Michael surrendered, and Fort Barrancas was evacuated, after having been partially blown up by the Spanish commandant, who, with his men, took refuge on board of the British ships in Bay, which departed unmolested. The object of the expedition having been obtained, Jackson hastened to return to Mobile.
Bonaparte, whose fall from the imperial throne I have already mentioned, had many enthusiastic admirers in Louisiana, particularly among the French population, by whom the Bourbons were proportionately hated. When the French Consul, the Chevalier de Tousard,a who had been appointed to that office in New Orleans by the recently established Government of Louis XVIII, arrived at his post, he found that he had to overcome strong prejudices, and even decided hostility. His person was insulted, and p374 violence was offered to his house, from which the arms of the King of France, appended to its front, were taken down and carried away. Some of the rioters were apprehended, and bound to good behavior; but the outrage having been renewed, Claiborne, on the 2d of November, issued a proclamation, in which he announced that, whereas it was essential to the preservation of order, and especially due to the good understanding which happily existed between the government of the United States and that of France, that such indecorous and unprovoked attacks and indignities should not be continued, or remain unpunished, he thought it his duty to notify the good citizens and the inhabitants of the State, that the Chevalier de Tousard was to be respected as the accredited Consul of the King of France in Louisiana, and to recommend to the civil officers of the State to be active and vigilant in suppressing any attempt that might be made to ill-treat or to insult the said Consul, or to offer any violence or indignity to his dwelling. He furthermore offered a reward of two hundred dollars for the discovery and apprehension of the person or persons who had forcibly taken and carried away the arms of the sovereign of France, which the Consul, according to custom, had placed on the door of his dwelling.
On the 5th, Claiborne thus wrote to General Jackson: "In this city there are several uniform militia corps of much promise, and my impression is, that on these, with other companies of the militia, much confidence may be reposed in the moment of trial. There are individuals who believe otherwise; it may be I am in error, but there certainly has been a sensible change in the public mind. There is not displayed by the people at large that enthusiastic ardor which is to be found in the Western States, but there is no symptom of opposition to p375 the Government and laws. A strong hatred is manifested toward the enemy, and a determination expressed to unite in the defence of the State. You will observe, Sir, that I speak of the people at large. I know there are some disaffected characters, and in this city there are many vagabonds, who, if the occasion served, would be disposed for mischief. The Legislature of the State will be in session on the 10th instant, and their zealous support, at this moment of danger, will confirm the Louisianians in their present good disposition. But if, unfortunately, a spirit anything like that which led the Legislature, the last winter, to oppose a militia requisition, should again prevail, I shall encounter great embarrassment. But, as I have already observed, a great change in the public mind has apparently taken place; many members of the Legislature have always had American feelings and sentiments; others, whom I have lately seen, profess the most patriotic intentions, and all will, I hope, act a part which the crisis advises, and the surety of the country demands."
On the 10th, as Claiborne had informed General Jackson, the Legislature met in extra session at the request of the Governor, who, the next day, sent them a message, in which he said: "An English commander has dared to make his first call on the Louisianians, and to invite them to outrage the very ashes of their fathers, and welcome an English army on their paternal soil! He has added insult to injury, by first inviting us to the desertion of our country, and then by supposing us capable of cowardly displaying at our dwellings a foreign flag as a passport to his protection. I am, however, fully apprised of the profound contempt with which this base address has everywhere been received; and in the patriotic ardor which pervades the State, I behold a pledge of its fidelity and devotion to the American p376 Union. This ardor, this American spirit, has been tested by the facility with which the late requisition for an auxiliary force of militia infantry has been carried into effect."
He added: "In addition to the forces now in the field, and those expected from Tennessee and Kentucky, I shall, if the danger of invasion increases, order out the whole, or such part of the militia as may be deemed expedient; but, to do so with effect, the Executive arm must be strengthened, and such funds provided as may be requisite to procure all necessary supplies. In times of public danger no able-bodied citizen, when ordered into the field, should be excused from serving, either in person, or by substitute. When our homes and families are menaced, we should not commute the personal services of a citizen for a sum in money. The expenses incident to all movements of militia under the immediate authority of the State must be defrayed by the State. As these movements, on the present occasion, will have for object the common defence, the expenses will probably hereafter be reimbursed by the General Government, but the State must make the advance."
The object of Claiborne in convening the Legislature was "to strengthen the arm of the Executive, and provide such funds as might be requisite to procure all necessary supplies." Beyond that, their services were not needed, in his opinion. Claiborne, whose views had frequently been thwarted by both Chambers, and who was not on the best of terms with either, particularly with the Senate, felt a nervous anxiety to get rid of them as soon as possible. He therefore, in his Message, gave them the following hints: "To all the subjects which may come under your deliberation I recommend the most unwearied attention. The Treasury is illy calculated to meet the expenditures incident to a protracted session, p377 and I sincerely hope you may be enabled speedily to dispatch all necessary business. The times are eventful, and your early return to your respective parishes may become desirable. We are exposed to many perils. The enemy is disposed to do us every ill, and will use all his means. We know not how soon we may be called upon to defend everything dear to us as citizens and fathers of families. I have exacted from the military officers throughout the State a faithful discharge of duty, and endeavored to awaken all the vigilance which the crisis demands. Your counsel and example in your respective parishes will tend greatly to the support of measures for the public good. They will particularly invite to that harmony, mutual confidence and mutual exertion, so promotive of tranquillity within, and so essential to our security from without."
Five days later, he laid before the General Assembly an extract of a letter from Jackson, which gave positive assurance of the danger with which Louisiana was threatened. "Recent information from the most correct sources," said the General to Claiborne, "has been received of an expedition of twelve or fifteen thousand men, sailing from Ireland early in September last, intended to attempt the conquest of Louisiana. You will therefore see the necessity of preparing for service, at an hour's notice, the whole body of the Louisiana militia. I rely on your patriotism and activity, and hope not to be disappointed."
On the 17th of November, Claiborne wrote to General Jackson: "It is certainly true that the Louisianians have of late manifested the most patriotic disposition, and that, if the spirit which exists be cherished and encouraged, we have everything to hope from the majority of this population. The Legislature have not as yet done anything to damp the public ardor. But I hope p378 this body will be justly impressed with the dangers to which we are exposed, and will warmly second all my efforts. But I fear, I much fear, they will not act with the promptitude and the energy which the crisis demands." Such language from a man who had been, without any interruption, the Executive of Louisiana since 1803, and who was supposed to be thoroughly acquainted with its population, could not but produce a deep impression, and will explain subsequent events.
About this same time, he expressed the same apprehensions to Governor Blount of Tennessee: "But," said he, "we shall, in any event, be made secure by those brave and determined men who are hastening from Tennessee and Kentucky. I await their arrival with much anxiety."
Such was the condition of Louisiana as described in the preceding pages, when Jackson departed by land from Mobile for New Orleans, on the 21st of November.
1 Executive Journal.
2 Executive Journal. The pages can no longer be referred to, as they cease to be numbered.
3 Claiborne's Letter to Gen. Thomas Flournoy, March 3d, 1814.
4 Martin's History, vol. 2, p323.
5 Historical Memoir of the War in West Florida and Louisiana in 1814‑15, by Major A. Lacarriere Latour, p11.
6 Lacarriere Latour's Historical Memoir, p31.
7 It was an anonymous communication from Havana, giving information of the intended operations of the enemy.
8 Martin's History of Louisiana, p329, vol. 2.
9 Lacarriere Latour's Historical Memoir, p46.
a French military engineer Louis de Tousard has half a claim to being the founder of the United States Military Academy. His background and his proposal to the American Secretary of War (1798) for a military school are examined in some detail in "The Forgotten 'Founder' of West Point", Military Affairs 24:177‑188.
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