War of 1812: S.N.A.F.U.

The Order Book for Military District #2 (CT and RI) was very tame, but as I mentioned, the last entry referred to “hardships & privations.”  Having started on transcribing a letter book of Brigadier General Thomas H. Cushing, I begin to have an idea of what he meant.

Unfortunately this book begins in September 1814, while Cushing arrived at his command in June; this suggests there may be a volume of letters missing.  Regardless, the first letter (Sept. 8), includes these remarks to the Secretary of War (James Armstrong):

Destitute as I am of field Artillery, of camp Equipage, of a Quarter Master Department and an Engineer, and depending entirely on New York for ammunition, without an officer of the ordnance Department, or any other person here to prepare and forward requisitions, and receive and distribute the articles as they arrive, you will readily see the embarrassments under which I labour, and that it is impossible for me to be prepared, as I ought to be, to meet and repel an invading Enemy.

The second letter, of September 9, expounds to the Commanding General of Ordnance in Washington (Decius Wadsworth) at more length:

Your letter of the 19th of August was received in due course of mail, and by it I find that I am to depend on New York for ammunition and ordnance stores, but without an officer of your department or any other person near me to make and forward the necessary requisitions, as to receive and distribute the articles as they arrive.

The effect of this arrangement is to convert the commander of the District into a conductor of Military Stores, + leave him and his District at the mercy of the Enemy.

Since the receipt of your letter I have drawn from New York ammunition to complete the Stock at Forts Trumbull and Griswold to one hundred rounds per Gun, and some ordnance stores and implements for the pieces.  These articles were addressed to me by the Deputy Quarter Master General in New York who agreed with the teamster that between Eight and nine hundred dollars should be paid for transportation on delivery at this place.  When they arrived, I had neither Quarter Master or any other public agent with funds to meet the payment, and had not Mr. Goddard who I had appointed Quarter Master pro tem but could not supply with money, advanced his own, the public property might have been attached and sold to pay for transportation.

Seriously embarrassing.  I feel for the guy, I really do.

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