On March 15 1813, Andrew Jackson is furious. He received the night before a letter from the newly appointed Secretary of War John Armstrong dismiss him and his troops. Jackson had been marching to New Orleans, when he had been ordered to stop with his men in Natchez, Mississippi. Now he is being dismissed. Jackson is particularly angry that he is being asked to give up his equipment, in particular the tents, which he will need to march the 500 miles back to Nashville. He will refuse to comply with that part of his orders.
Andrew Jackson writes to William Berkeley Lewis:
…you can Judge whether in all civilized urope, or the barberous climes of africa is has its fellow–the supposition when the order was written that we were 800 miles from home–and our whole detachment sick and well deprived of every supply furnished by government even the Pack horses that might have removed the sick home &c &c, But I have not thought proper to yield all. I bring home my sick or perish in the attempt- an enquiry will be made how this ss has been transacted when time will permit and how far our representative after his pompous call on the Patriotism of his constituents under the act of February & July 6th can Justify this neglect towards those brave fellows who has turned out to defend their country–I feel too much I must change the subject–Supplies I am intitled to, and I will have, I have credit, no money but when all resources fails I have horses adeiu my friend–
Jackson`s letter to John Armstrong is reproduced below:
By this days mail I recd. yr. letter bearing date of the 5th. Jany. war department 1813-This was previous to yr. being in office at the head of that department which induces me to believe, that their must be a mistake in the date, otherwise it must be an unofficial act, as the official acct. of yr. taking possession of that office appears to be of date the 3rd. Feby. 1813. Allways obedient to the orders of my superiors and the will of the government when made known through a proper organ, I shall in persuance of the above advice, immediately deliver over to the Q. Master of this department all public property in my hands that can be spared from the convenience and health of my troops on their return to Nashville-it being the place where they were rendexvouzed by the orders of the president of the United States, and to which place I shall march them, so soon as the necessary supplies can be had for that purpose.
If it is intended by yr. letter or order which runs thus “The causes for embodying and marching the corps under yr. command to New Orleans having ceased to exist, you’ll on receipt of this letter consider it dismissed from public service and have delivered over to Majr. Genl. Wilkinson all articles of public property that have been put into its possession-If it was intended by this order that we should be dismissed eight hundred miles from home, deprived of arms, tents and supplies for the sick-of our arms and supplies for the well, it appears that these brave men, who certainly deserve better fate and return from their government was intended by this order to be sacrificed-Those that could escape from the insalubrious climate, are to be deprived of the necessary support and meet death by famine The remaining few to be deprived of their arms pass through the savage land, where our women children and defencelesss citizans are daily murdered-Yet thro. that barbarous clime, must our band of citizan soldiers wander and fall a sacrifice to the Tomhawk and scalping knife of the wilderness our sick left naked in the open field and remain without supplies without nourishment or an earthly comfort-Was this the language of the act calling on the citizans to rally round the Government of their choice, which brought this band of heroes the best citizans and wealth of our country into the field, and whose attention to order discipline and harmony forbade ample services to their country-who tendered their services to march and support the Eagles of their country to the heights of Abraham on the North, or to the burning and unwholesome climate of the South-These men had no constitutional bounderies but that of their insulted Government, its rights privileges and its laws-Yet this order is given by a friend of the war measures, an old revolutionary officer-who knows the privations of a soldier who exercised his talents (not at a very prudent moment) in their behalf on the close of the last war This same hand! Yes, the same hand writes an order to consign to distruction a well organised detachment of near two thousand men, well disciplined for the time (I say none better) fit for the service, willing to march any where and that too Eight hundred miles from home–I annimated those brave men to take the field-I thank my God they are entitled to their Arms to defend them from the Indians scalping knife and believing as I do that it is such patriots as I have the honor to command that our country and its liberties are to be saved and defended-that a well organized militia is the bulwark of our Nation-I have no hesitation in giving the lie to the modern doctrine that it is inefficient to defend the liberties of our country, and that standing armies are necessary-in time of peace-I mean to commence my march to Nashville in a few days at which place I expect the troops to be paid and the necessary supplies furnished by the agents of the Government while payment is making, after which I will dismiss them to their homes and their families–