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Henry Burbeck papers, 1735, 1775-1866 (majority within 1802-1813)

3 linear feet

The Henry Burbeck papers consist of military and personal correspondence of Brigadier General Henry Burbeck, a career artillery officer in the United States Army (1775-1784, 1786-1815). The papers include Burbeck's incoming correspondence; drafts of outgoing letters; and returns, muster rolls, and other items submitted to Burbeck by officers under his command. The collection is particularly strong in its documentation of the administration and development of the artillery branch of the United States Army in the decade leading up to the War of 1812.

The Henry Burbeck papers (approximately 2,300 items) consist of military and personal correspondence of Brigadier General Henry Burbeck, a career artillery officer in the United States army (1775-1784, 1786-1815). The papers include Burbeck's incoming correspondence (approx. 1,350 items), drafts of outgoing letters (approx. 360 items), returns and muster rolls submitted to Burbeck by officers under his command (approx. 190 items), an orderly book, manuscript maps (10 items), and other financial and military papers. The collection is particularly strong in documenting the administration and development of the artillery branch of the United States Army in the decade leading up to the outbreak of the War of 1812.

The Correspondence and Documents series (approximately 2,220 items) contains Burbeck’s incoming and outgoing correspondence with military officers, army contractors, politicians, and other officials. Frequent correspondents represented in the collection include Secretary of War Henry Dearborn; as well as artillery officers Amos Stoddard, Moses Porter, Richard Whiley, George Armistead, James House, Nehemiah Freeman; and many others. Over seventy incoming letters are addressed to Secretary of War Henry Dearborn, which were then forwarded to Burbeck. The series includes returns, muster rolls, inventories, receipts, General Orders, instructions, memorandums, courts-martial documents, contracts, oaths of allegiance, and other miscellaneous items.

The bulk of the manuscripts in this series reveal practical day to day concerns of U.S. Army artillery officers, such as recruitment of men, desertions, provisions, payments, and exercises and drills. A frequent topic of concern was the recruitment and provisioning of musicians. Over 10 letters and documents, for example, relate to Francesco Masi, an Italian musician who served under Captain Nehemiah Freeman at Fort Independence in Boston harbor. Additional regular subjects include the planning and construction of artillery and shot, and the construction of coastal and internal fortifications. Henry Burbeck and other officers provided detailed reports on the forts occupied and constructed by American troops. Examples include: Fort Hale (October 24, 1811), Fort Trumbull (Oct 25, 1811), Fort Eustis (September 11, 1810), Castle Williams (October 1810), Fort Independence (October 5, 1811), Fort Niagara (September 29, 1808), Fort Detroit (November 5, 1808), Fort Mifflin (November 17, 1811), Newport, Rhode Island (October 25, 1811), Fort Norfolk and Fort Nelson (November 4, 1811), and Fort Powhatan (December 14, 1811).

Many letters are concerned with the design and testing of guns, shot, and gun-carriages. These subjects are especially prevalent in correspondence between Burbeck and contractors Jacob Eustis and Henry Foxall; and correspondence between Burbeck, Lieutenant Samuel Perkins, and Captain George Bomford, head of the United States Arsenal at New York. The collection's correspondence is focused almost exclusively on military affairs, with only a small number of letters related to Burbeck’s personal affairs. One example is twelve letters between Burbeck and Elisha Sigourney, an associate in Boston, concerning financial matters.

Selected items of note include:
  • Marriage certificate dated February 27, 1790, for Henry Burbeck and Abigail Webb for their wedding on February 25, 1790.
  • Magret Dowland ALS dated March 2, 1803. An enlisted man’s wife asked for back pay owed to her for working as Matron of the Hospital.
  • A copy of instructions given by Burbeck to Captain John Whistler dated July 13, 1803, in which he gave Whistler instructions to establish Fort Dearborn.
  • Simon Levy ALS dated April 12, 1805. Levy, the first Jewish and second ever graduate of West Point, asked to be transferred for health reasons.
  • Return J. Meigs, Sr. ALS dated January 1, 1807. Meigs wrote concerning settler and Native American relations in Tennessee.
  • Samuel Dyson ALS dated August 10, 1807. Dyson wrote that he had received news of an imminent Native American attack on Detroit.
  • Draft from Henry Burbeck dated November 1808. Burbeck wrote to John Walbach complaining of being sent to Detroit.
  • Satterlee Clark ALS dated November 2, 1811. Clark gave a detailed description (5 pages) of a fight between a sergeant and an artificer on the wharf in Annapolis.
  • Draft from Henry Burbeck dated February 8-9, 1812. On the back of this draft, Burbeck wrote to an unnamed correspondent giving his feelings on how women should sit for their portrait.

The Revolutionary War Reminiscences series (11 items) contains draft copies of letters written by Burbeck in the later years of his life, in which he described his service in the American Revolution. He focused particularly on his memories of the evacuation of New York in September 1776. Of particular note is one draft (December 24, 1847) in which Burbeck wrote in detail about the changes in uniform and appearance of American officers after the arrival of Baron Von Steuben. At least one of the drafts was intended for Charles Davies of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati.

The Orderly Book series (1 item) contains a 114-page bound volume dating from January 2, 1784, to May 16, 1784. This volume respects day to day activities of the First American Regiment, a unit of the Continental Army organized at West Point in the months following the ratification of the Treaty of Paris (1783). Most of the entries regard daily duty assignments, courts-martial proceedings, and promotions. The orderly book concludes weeks before the disbandment of the regiment.

The Maps series (10 items) is made up primarily of manuscript maps of fortifications dating from 1790 to 1811. One item of note is the 1790 map of Fort St. Tammany given to Burbeck by Surgeon's Mate Nathan Hayward. Burbeck personally oversaw the construction of Fort St. Tammany, and this item contains a detailed depiction of the garrison, complete with an American flag. Please see the "Separated Items" section of the finding aid below for a complete list of the maps present in the Henry Burbeck papers.

The Printed Materials series (58 items) is comprised of printed circulars issued by the United States Government and Army, blank enlistment forms, and personal materials collected by and about Henry Burbeck (including newspaper articles and other published items). A copy of the Second Congress's 1791Act for Making Further and More Effectual Provision for the Protection of the Frontier of the United States is housed in the Oversize Printed Materials folder. A small number of bound items include a copy of Andre; a Tragedy in Five Acts (1798), and 19th century booklets on military and artillery tactics. Two copies of an engraved portrait of Henry Burbeck, by Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin are also present.

In addition to this finding aid, the Clements Library has created three other research aids:


James McHenry papers, 1777-1832

3 linear feet

The James McHenry papers contain correspondence and documents related to the political career of James McHenry. The majority of the materials pertain to his tenure as Secretary of War from 1796 to 1800.

The James McHenry papers contain over 800 items related the life and career of James McHenry. Included in the materials are approximately 670 letters and 106 documents, primarily related to McHenry's political career, as well as financial records and miscellaneous documents, including poetry and genealogical materials. The majority of the correspondence and documents are drafts or retained manuscript copies.

The Correspondence and Documents series spans 1777-1832, with the bulk of materials concentrated around 1796 to 1803. The first box of the collection contains documents and correspondence related to McHenry's service in the Revolutionary War, including correspondence with Sir Henry Clinton, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton. The materials include a draft of a letter to British general Henry Clinton regarding his military failures, written in McHenry's hand but signed "Z" (October 26, 1779), as well as a copy of a letter allegedly written by Clinton to Lord George Germain, which McHenry sent to Samuel Louden of the New York Packet to be published (March 24, 1780). The postwar materials in the collection pertain to McHenry's tenure as a Maryland statesman. Along with documents related to McHenry's political career during those years is a letter dated August 13, 1794, which relates news of the massacre of French colonists at Fort Dauphin in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), led by Jean-François, an important figure in the Haitian Revolution.

The bulk of the collection, representing 1796 to 1803, documents McHenry's tenure as secretary of war under presidents Washington and Adams. The correspondence and documents relate to military structures, provisions, international relations, treaties, politics, and relations with Native American tribes. The collection contains frequent correspondence with other cabinet members and politicians, including Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott as well as President George Washington, John Adams, and the Marquis de Lafayette. McHenry served as secretary of war during the Quasi-War with France and, as a staunch Federalist, favored positive relations with Britain over France. A large portion of the correspondence during this period relates to the ongoing feud with that country. A letter from James Winchester to McHenry describes the suspicion with which the Federalists regarded Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans, who favored closer relations with France: "…tho' they will not openly shew at this time their predilection for France, they will discover it in the first calamitous event which may happen to our Country. Depend on it they are not to be trusted. I speak of the party here" (April 18, 1789). Several months later McHenry wrote in an unaddressed letter draft that he believed the President should recommend a declaration of war with France to Congress. He also expressed his concerns over "a faction within the country constantly on the watch and ready to seize upon every act of the Executive which may be converted into an engine to disaffect the people to the government" (November 25, 1798).

In addition to national and international politics, many of the items relate to U.S. relations with Native American tribes, including the Creek, Chickasaw, and Miami. The materials frequently concern attempts to maintain peace and create treaties with the tribes, as well as to prevent them from giving their loyalty to other countries, such as Britain, France, or Spain. Box 2 contains a copy of a "Talk of the Chickasaw Chiefs at the Bluffs represented by Wolf's Friend, Ugalayacabé" regarding the tribe's concerns about the Americans: "Tell me if I may return to my Nation to appease the tumult of their minds. Shall I tell them the talk of the Americans is falsehood? Shall I assure our warriors our children and our women that your flag will always wave over our land, or tell them to prepare to die?" [1797]. This box also contains a small series of letters from General Anthony Wayne, written from his headquarters in Detroit, where he was stationed before his death, after successfully leading U.S. troops in the Northwest Indian War (August 29 to October 3, 1796). After the war, Miami Chief Little Turtle, became a proponent of friendly relations with the Americans. McHenry wrote to him upon his resignation as secretary of war, thanking him for his friendship: "…I shall carry with me the remembrance of your fidelity, your good sense, your honest regard for your own people, your sensibility and eloquent discourse in their favour, and what is precious to me as an individual, a belief that I shall always retain your friendship" (May 30, 1800). Other documents include an extract of a letter from Major Thomas Cushing to Brigadier General James Wilkinson, writing that he had given gifts to the Native Americans in order to prevent them from siding with the Spanish at New Orleans, who were attempting to win their favor (February 15, 1800).

Boxes 6 through 8 contain correspondence and documents written after McHenry's resignation as secretary of war at the end of May 1800. Though he retired from politics, his letters document that he maintained a keen interest in domestic and international issues. Senator Uriah Tracy wrote regular letters to McHenry in February 1801, keeping him up-to-date on the daily events regarding the presidential election between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. After the election, McHenry wrote a letter to U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands William Vans Murray, in which he discussed the election and why public opinion had shifted from the Federalists to Jefferson: "I still am of opinion, that we should have gained nothing by the election of Mr. Burr, could it have been accomplished by federal means. The general sentiment is so strong and ardent for Mr. Jefferson, that experience alone can correct it" (February 23, 1801). This section of correspondence also contains a draft of a letter to the speaker of the House of Representatives containing McHenry's defense against charges brought against him regarding disbursements while secretary of war (December 22, 1802), as well as his opinions of current political happenings, including the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and the Embargo Act of 1807. Several of the letters written during this period also relate to McHenry's low opinion of John Adams, who forced him out of office. In a series of letters exchanged by McHenry and Oliver Wolcott in 1800, McHenry described his anger regarding Adams, and expressed regret that Adams remained in office after George Washington left. Over ten years later, McHenry wrote a letter to Timothy Pickering, responding to a series of memoirs Adams had printed in the Boston Patriot . He accused Adams of making significant errors and misrepresentations, and mused, "How many recollections have these puerile letters awakened. Still in his own opinion, the greatest man of the age. I see he will carry with him to the grave, his vanity, his weaknesses and follies, specimens of which we have so often witnessed and always endeavored to veil from the public" (February 23, 1811).

The Bound Items series consists of a diary, a published book of letters, a book of U.S. Army regulations, an account book, and a book of poetry. McHenry kept the diary from June 18 to July 24, 1778, beginning it at Valley Forge. It contains accounts of daily events, intelligence, orders, the Battle of Monmouth, and the march of Washington's army to White Plains, New York. The 1931 book, entitled Letters of James McHenry to Governor Thomas Sim Lee is the correspondence written by James McHenry to Maryland governor Thomas Sim Lee during the 1781 Yorktown Campaign. The book of army regulations spans ca. 1797-1798, while the account book covers 1816-1824. The book of poetry is handwritten but undated and unsigned.

In addition to this finding aid, the Clements Library has created a full list of letter-writers in the James McHenry papers: James McHenry Contributor List.


Sylvester Day collection, 1813-1920

17 items

The Sylvester Day collection (1813-1920) is made up of 17 letters and documents written by or related to Sylvester Day, a surgeon for the United States military during the War of 1812.

The Sylvester Day collection (1813-1920) is made up of 17 letters and documents written by or related to Sylvester Day, a surgeon for the United States military during the War of 1812, respecting Day's work, his son's education, and additional topics.

Day wrote to his son, Hannibal, praising his academic successes and urging him to continue working hard. Day wrote, "it affords me much pleasure to hear from you, and learn that you are assiduous in the prosecution of your studies … I have no doubt of your being qualified to enter college by next commencement" (October 17, 1817). In a second letter to Hannibal, Day wrote, "It affords me much satisfaction to hear of your good conduct and progress in your studies. I wish you to perfect yourself in the rudiments of arithmetic" (March 27, 1818).

Items pertaining to Day's claims against the United States for reparations reveal the surgeon's professional work ethic. The testimony of David Beard, a purveyor and resident of Detroit, provides insight into Day's dedication to his patients. Beard recalled that Day volunteered to stay in Detroit, even after its surrender to British troops, in order to "attend upon the sick and wounded American prisoners who were unable to be removed. These services were specially important at that time, as no other medical man of either army remained there" (January 6, 1835). The official memorial of Sylvester Day contains an account of Day's departure after the surrender of Detroit and his subsequent detainment and loss of property at the hands of his own countrymen. Day's attorney claimed, "the petitioner ordered on shore, but forbidden to take his baggage & effects which remained in the vessel, and was destroyed when she was burnt by order of Col. Schuyler" (undated).

Three manuscripts from the United States War Department outline milestone dates of Day's military career, along with the locations of specific postings and different positions he held over his lifetime. Also of note is an illustrated, partially printed document certifying Day's contribution of five dollars towards the building of the Washington Monument. This contribution entitled Day to "all the privileges of Membership in the Washington National Monument Society," and bears printed signatures of Zachary Taylor, Elisha Whittlesey, and George Watterston (July 12, 1850). The collection also contains a dinner invitation from Michigan's Governor Lewis Cass, as well as a request for medical aid or referral from General Alexander Macomb in regard to his wife.


Thomas Flournoy papers, 1799-1827

0.5 linear feet

The Thomas Flournoy papers consist of letters, documents, and receipts of Flournoy, a lawyer from Augusta, Georgia, who commanded in the South during the War of 1812. He served as commissioner to the Creek Indians between 1820 and 1836. The collection consists of over 90 letters, around 20 documents, six receipts, and a lock of hair.

The Correspondence series contains around 25 items relating to Flournoy's military and War of 1812 service, including letters, returns, requisitions, reports, orders, and petitions. They cover a range of topics, such as desertions, courts martials, supplies, and appointments. Approximately 20 letters relate to his position as United States commissioner to the Creek Indians (1820).

Several examples include:
  • Around ten letters pertinent to legal disputes between Flournoy and Judge George Walton, and the resulting duel between Flournoy and the judge's nephew John Carter Walton (1799-1804).
  • This series also incorporates around 20 family letters, including three from his nephew Matthew Wells (November 12, 1806, May 12, 1816, and May 4, 1837), one letter and one letter fragment from his brother John James Flournoy, 15 from his brother Matthew Flournoy, and one reply to Matthew his brother. These discuss business, professional favors, death of a son in Fayette, Kentucky, and family news.
  • Letter by Thomas H. Cushing to Thomas Flournoy, on receipt of Flournoy's acceptance of the appointment as Brigadier General (July 17, 1812).
  • Letter by Col. Jno. Pray to Thomas Flournoy, giving him an evaluation of conditions, strategic issues, and risks at Savannah, Georgia, referencing African Americans (November 3, 1812).
  • Draft letter by Thomas Flournoy respecting the removal of Lt. Col. Houston of the 8th Regiment Infantry (commanding at Savannah) as a result of "mental derangement, which disqualifies him for command." Suspended until further order (November 16, 1812).
  • Four official letters between Flournoy and Patrick Jack, colonel of the 8th Regiment of U.S. Infantry (1812).
  • A letter from William Harris Crawford, the U.S. minister to France, concerning the management and politics of the war (November 30, 1812).
  • A letter from John Houstoun McIntosh, director of the Territory of East Florida, concerning the settlers of Talbot Island and Nassau River, East Florida (December 26, 1812).
  • An inspection return from the 3rd Regiment of Georgia militia at Point Peter Battery, Florida [January 9, 1813].
  • A copy of Brigadier General Ferdinand Leigh Claiborne's "Talk to the Choctaw Indians" (August 2, 1813).
  • A letter from Choctaw Chief Pushmataha (Pooshemataha), signed with his mark, to James Wilkinson, discussing murdered and imprisoned Choctaw Indians (August 9, 1813).
  • Three letters between Flournoy and Former South Carolina Governor and Creek Indian negotiator Andrew Pickins, Jr., concerning treaties with the Creek Indians (August 21, 28, and October 30, 1820).
  • Three items to and from John C. Calhoun of the War Department.
  • Letter from William H. Crawford to Thomas Flournoy, on Georgia and Kentucky politics. "The present governor admits of nothing like neutrality. Whoever is not devoted to him is considered his enemy." (October 2, 1820).
  • Nine letters with David Brydie Mitchell, including a communication from Tustunnuggee Thlocco (Tiger Tail) and Tustunnuggee Hopoie (November 10, 1820).
  • A letter to John Clarke of Augusta, Georgia, concerning claims of Georgia residents for Creek lands (October 4, 1820).
  • An eight page letter from Thomas Flournoy to Rev. Dr. Davies pertains to Flournoy's responses to a sermon sent by Davies. He noted that he asked Judge Longstreet questions about scripture, naming 1 Corinthians 15 in particular, and that Longstreet apparently discussed it in church. An indirect source told Flournoy that he "asked a number of Infidel questions of Longstreet, which he refused to answer" (April 27, 1840).
  • A letter from Flournoy's nephew, Thomas C. Flournoy, includes content on Kentucky land business and politics. He praised the oratory skills of Senator Corwin of Ohio (May 17, 1849).

The Documents series (20 items) consists of a list of rules for the duel between Flournoy and Walton (1804); general orders appointing Thomas Flournoy as aide de camp to the Commander in Chief, with rank of Lieutenant Colonel (April 6, 1804); reports on the arms, ammunition, and crew of the gun vessels at the Georgia Station (1813); weekly reports and morning reports of the troops stationed at Fort St. Philip, Fort St. Charles, New Orleans, and for the 2nd Regiment of Light Dragoons; orders from the Southern Department; a transaction record at the Bank of Augusta; and a memo listing "Order of Correspondence relating to the Treaty with the Creek Indians" (1820); and the last will and testament of Thomas Flournoy (July 20, 1856).

The Receipts series (6 items) is comprised of receipts deposited in the Bank of Augusta, Georgia; 2 payments made to John Campbell; and 2 receipts for sugar and brandy.

The papers also include a lock of Thomas Flournoy's Hair, clipped when he was 46 years old.