The Second War With England.
livered when it became necessary. The cartridge-boxes which had been sent to Chester must have been sadly out of order, for in the same letter the Secretary says in respect to them, "Although not of the best quality, (they) will at least serve for a short campaign. Any man who receives a box can easily put a few more tacks to secure the belts." On the same day Secretary Boileau wrote to Deputy Quartermaster-General Foering, "That in case of a threatened invasion of the shores of the Delaware, and you should be called upon by Brig.-Gen. Brooke, of the Third Division, or Maj.-Gen. Steele, of the said division, for arms, equipments, and ammunition, that you furnish them with what may be deemed necessary."
The idea of gathering the militia into camps of instruction seems to have been the suggestion of President Monroe, for April 6, 1814, he wrote to Gen. Joseph Bloomfield, stating that the military organization, "ought to be assembled and a camp formed," suggesting that such cantonment should be on "some commanding, healthy ground between the Schuylkill and the heights of the Brandywine." The President urged the gathering of this force at once, as "we must keep together a nucleus at least of an army, with every necessary equipment, sufficiently strong to oppose the enemy on his landing until you can get the whole together to overwhelm him."1
|1 Penna. Archives, 2d series, vol. vii. p. 735.|
In the early summer of 1814 the inhabitants of the Middle and Southern seaboard States were fully aware tbat England, now that peace in Europe had apparently released a large force of veteran soldiers from service there, and that they were under orders to America, meditated a decisive movement against the United States, and, being uncertain where the blow would be struck, made every effort to place all exposed situations on our coast in a position of defense. Hence when the city of Washington fell before the British army under Ross, on the 18th of August, when the incendiary Cockburn had applied the torch to the unfinished capitol, the library of Congress, the President's house, and other public buildings, and Baltimore was menaced, Governor Snyder promptly, on Aug. 27, 1814, issued a general order, setting forth that "the recent destruction of the capital of the United States, the threatened and probable conflagration of the metropolis of a sister State, and the general threatening aspect of affairs, warranted the opinion that an attack is mediated by the enemy on the shores of the Delaware." To repel the foe and to guard against surprise, he deemed it necessary to have a sufficient force "of freemen" ready for every emergency, and therefore required that the militia generally of the counties of Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, Lancaster, Dauphin, Lebanon, Berks, Schuylkill, Lehigh, Northampton, and Pike, in addition to those drafted for the service of the United States, under orders of July 22d, who were already subject to the orders of Gen. Bloomfield, "be held in readiness to march at a moment's warning."
The militia of Pennsylvania having been ordered to assemble at the town of York to the number of five thousand, on Sept. 8, 1814, Governor Snyder wrote to Gen. Bloomfield that he proposed asking the Secretary of War to transfer the troops to the shores of the Delaware for the defense of the city of Philadelphia and the country along the river. In his letter to President Monroe dated September 9th, the Governor advocated this movement, adding that the authorities "must at present rely upon the patriotic feeling which pervades Pennsylvania, rather than on coercing obedience to our militia laws, and before that feeling can have an effect, the enemy, by rapid movements, may have effected his depredatory incursions." He suggested a locality for the camp should be selected so that the troops would be marched in a few days either to the Delaware River or Chesapeake Bay. On the 10th, Governor Snyder wrote to the President that about six thousand volunteers had arrived in Philadelphia and many others were on the march to that city; that Gen. Bloomfield thought a camp should be formed at Marcus Hook, where the volunteers should be organized under United States regulations, and Gen. Bloomfield would himself take command of the forces. The Governor was of the opinion that inasmuch as the militia had selected their own company officers, they would be unwilling to be consolidated into other bodies and have strange commanders placed over them. He, therefore, suggested that they should be organized in accordance with the laws of the State, in battalions and regiments, under which they would willingly serve the term of three months for which they had enlisted.
Immediately below Marcus Hook, to command the river, extensive earthworks were hastily constructed and mounted with cannon, while between Ridley and Crum Creeks earthwork were erected to control the Queen's Highway to Philadelphia. So intense was the alarm in the borough of Chester and county of Delaware that the records were packed and ready to be transported, if necessary, at a moment's notice to the interior of the State.
On Sept. 18, 1814, Secretary Boileau wrote to Gen. Brooke that, during the alarm at Elkton the preceding summer, three hundred stands of arms had been sent to Chester for the use of the militia. These muskets Gen. Brooke was ordered to have delivered to him, and if any repairs to them were needed, to have them mended in the neighborhood, if possible, but if that could not be done, to send them to the State arsenal at Philadelphia for that purpose. He also required Gen. Brooke to inquire for and take into his possession the cartridge-boxes which had been forwarded to Chester at the same time the muskets were sent.
We learn, from a letter written by Secretary Boileau,