Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

gard to the preservation of peace renders it expedient to retain.

The only objects for which an American army can be kept up in time of peace are, to garrison the fortresses on the sea-board with such numbers as should be necessary to preserve them from dilapidation; to establish posts on the frontiers sufficient to protect them from Indian incursions; to preserve some knowledge of the military art; and to form a nucleus around which an army may be collected in the event of a war. For these purposes a comparatively small number is necessary. The congress which were in session at the time when the treaty of peace was ratified, fixed the military establishment at ten thousand. The number of field officers then in service amounted to two hundred and sixteen; and of regimental to two thousand and fifty-five; of the former thirty-nine, and of the latter four hundred and fifty were to be retained. In making this selection the executive had a delicate and difficult task to perform. The late war had called into active service a fine corps of officers, many of whom had distinguished themselves on various interesting occasions. The exchange of a military for a civil life is seldom desired by an officer; with few exceptions, all were anxious to be retained, and the claims among a great proportion were so nearly balanced, that a designation of the requisite number must necessarily disappoint the expectations, and wound the feelings of many.

Board of General Officers. Generals Brown, Jackson, Gaines, Scott, Macomb, and Ripley, the first two with the rank of major general, and the last four as brigadiers, were retained in service, and ordered to repair to Washington to assist in organizing the establishment.

They were instructed to recommend such only as were competent to engage an enemy in the field. Distinguished military and approved moral character was to form the basis of their selections. Where the claims of the candidates were in these respects equal, length of service, a capacity for civil pursuits, and their pecuniary circumstances might be taken into account. Where neither direct nor collateral circumstances furnished a distinction, their decision might be governed by lot. Under these instructions the board of general officers proceeded to make the selection, and early in May, reported a list of the requisite number of officers to be retained, which was approved by the president, and occasioned much less dissatisfaction than was apprehended. In publishing the orders for disbanding the army, Mr. Dallas, the acting secretary at war, remarks, “that the president desires it to be distinctly understood that, from the designation of the officers who are retained, nothing more is to be inferred than his approbation of the designated individuals, without derogating, in any degree, from the fame or worth of those whose lot it is to retire. The American army of the war of 1812, has hitherto successfully emulated the patriotism and valor of the army of 1776. The closing scene of the example remains to be performed; having established the independence oi' their country, the revolutionary war. riors cheerfully returned to the walks of civil life, many of them became the benefactors and ornaments of society, in the prosecution of various arts and professions, and all of them, as well as the veteran few who survive the lapse of time, have been the objects of grateful recollection, and constant regard. It is for the American army, now dissolved, to pursue the same honorable course, in order to enjoy the same inestimable reward. The hope may be respectfully indulged, that the beneficence of the legislative authority will beam upon suffering merit. An admiring nation will unite the civil with the martial honors, which adorn its heroes, and posterity in its theme of gratitude will indiscriminately praise the protectors and the founders of American Independence.”

In pursuance of this advice, most of the disbanded officers returned to their civil occupations without complaint. A number, however, who had resorted to Washington for the purpose of procuring themselves to be retained in service, attempted to call a general convention of their brethren at Harrisburgh in Pennsylvania, for the purpose of soliciting a further reward for their services from the government. Soon after the determination of the executive was known in relation to the persons to be retained, a publication appeared in the National Intelligencer, calling upon the disbanded officers to hold meetings in their respective districts on the 1st of September, for the purpose of appointing delegates to the proposed convention; the objects of which were stated to be,

To apply to the general government for such pecuniary emolument as would place the discharged officers of the late army on a footing with those of the revolutionary war:

To obtain pensions for the individuals of any grade and rank, who, by their services and sufferings had merited them :

To obtain from the next congress a grant of the land which had been proposod to be given them by the last:

And to endeavor to obtain an act of the government to secure to them a preference in any military corps hereafter to be raised.

These propositions were immediately answered by a publication from a disbanded officer through the same channel, in which the proposed convention is severely reprobated. Thc writer indignantly spurns at the idea of soliciting pensions from the government, except for those who have sustained wounds which disable them from labor.

Those who have distinguished themselves in the late war, the writer observes, have the best guaranty for commissions in any future army, and it is highly unbecoming their spirit and dignity to solicit pensions or employment from the government. This timely and well written reply put an end to those complaints, and nothing further was heard of the proposed convention.

Military Districts. By an order from the war department, of the 17th of May, 1815, the United States, for military purposes, were divided into two districts: the northern, comprehending all the country north of Virginia, and including the state of Ohio, and the territories of Indiana and Michigan; and the southern, comprehending all the residue. The northern was assigned to General Brown, with Brigailiers Scott and Macomb; and the southern, to Gen. Jackson, with Brigadiers Gaines and Ripley.

Algiers. The situation in which the United States were placed in relation to Algiers, forbade any reduction of their naval establishment. The war in defence of maritime rights had scarcely closed, before it became necessary to commence another for the protection of American commerce and seamen against Algerine piracies. The northern coast of Africa, bordering on the Mediterranean, formerly the seat of commerce and the arts, has for several centuries been occupied by a mixture of several barbarous nations, disavowing the common principles which regulate the intercourse of civilized society. Mahometans in their religion, they consider all Christians as enemies of the true faith, and deem it a meritorious act to plunder their property and enslave their persons, whenever they fall within their power. On these principles they carry on a piratical warfare against all Christian nations who do not purchase an exemption by tributary treaties. Divided into several regencies, with a population not much exceeding half a million in the whole, a single European power might subdue them with less expense, and more honor, than to pay them the re

quired tribute ; but national interests and prejudices have hitherto prevented them from taking this honorable course, and induced them to seek the protection of their commerce by disgraceful stipends. Encouraged by this policy, the Barbary powers have enriched themselves, gradually acquired strength, and reduced their piracy to a system.

The regency of Algiers is the principal, and by far the most formidable of these powers. The dominions of the dey commence on the southern border of the Mediterranean, at about the meredian of London, and extend easterly four hundred and sixty miles ; and in breadth from the sea to the desert, an average of seventy. This territory contains a mixed population of four hundred thousand, consisting of Turks, Arabs, Jews, and renegado Christians, one fifth of which is collected in the city of Algiers.. This city is situated on the side of a hill, rising suddenly from the shore of a capacious bay, in the western section of the territory : it is surrounded by a wall thirty feet high, a mile and a half in circumference, and twelve feet thick; its approaches are defended by five hundred cannon. The houses are generally built of brick or stone, contiguous to each other, with flat roofs, 80 that a person may pass on their tops nearly from one end of the city to the other. The dey's palace and some of the principal mosques are mag. nificent buildings; the whole makes a beautiful and commanding appearance from the harbor ; this city

the only one of any consequence in the territory, and has a considerable commerce; but the principal source of its revenue and wealth, is the system of piratical warfare carried on against Christian nations.

Algerine piracy. Soon after the close of the revolutionary war, the commerce of the United States began to extend itself to the Mediterranean, and being entirely unprotected, became an object of cupidity to the Barbary powers. Without any previous notice, and without any pretext other than that congress had not purchased their friendship by a tribute, the Algerine corsairs, between the years 1785 and 1793, captured and carried into Algiers fifteen American vessels. The ships and cargoes were made prizes, and their officers and crews, amounting to one hundred and eighty, condemned to slavery in its worst forms. Under the confederation, congress had no means to protect commerce, or to ransom their unhappy citizens. Their situation attracted the early notice of the American government under the constitution : *but without a navy, and without an adequate revenue, it could do no more than adopt the European tributary system.

First treaty with Algiers. Negotiations were set on foot under the direction of Colonel Humphrey, the American minister at Madrid, which terminated in the year 1795, in a treaty providing for the ransom of the captives, for $800,000, being about eight thousand dollars for each person, then remaining alive, and the payment of an annual tribute of twenty-three thousand dollars in maritime stores. Sufficient funds were provided, but owing to the confused state of things in Europe, it became impossible to remit them by the time stipulated in the treaty. This delay was made a pretext for further exactions. The dey refused to deliver up the captives, and his ultimate compliance was purchased by a further present of a frigate of the value of one hundred thousand dollars. The tribute continued to be paid, and peace with the dey preserved, until the commencernent of the war of 1812. At this period his maritime strength had considerably increased by his exactions from the United States and several European powers. He was induced to believe that a war between Great Britain and America, would annihilate the naval power of the latter, and render its commerce a rich and unprotected prey to his corsairs. He had then just concluded a treaty with Portugal, by which he had exchanged the privilege of pirating on the commerce of that nation for an annual tribute. About the same period his old enemies, the Sicilians, had purchased the protection of England, by which he was deterred from pirating on them. The principal source of his revenue arising from a share in the prizes of his corsairs, was by these circumstances greatly diminished, and he was induced to seek a war with the United States to replenish his coffers, and give employment to his marine.

Pretences of the dey for the renewal of his piracies. With a power governed by principles like those of the dey of Algiers, little pretence or provocation was necessary. In the present instance his claims were; that the cargo of the ship Allegany, which arrived at Algiers in July, 1812, with naval stores for the payment of the annual tribute, stipulated by the treaty of 1795, did not contain such an assortment of articles as he had right to expect : and that the year mentioned in that treaty, was the lunar year of the Mahometan calendar, embracing twelve revolutions of the moon, and a period of three hundred and

« ZurückWeiter »