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Memorial Day Tributes - Syndicated Feature Articles

John Dickinson Sherman and Elmo Scott Watson - the preeminent historical feature writers of their day - penned these priceless Memorial Day tributes for newspapers across the nation.

Spirit of Memorial Day, 1923 - By John Dickinson Sherman
- Providence County Times - May 29, 1923

Blue, Gray and Khaki - Memorial Day - By John Dickinson Sherman
- Providence County Times - May 20, 1924

Memorial Day, 1924
- Providence County Times - May 27, 1924

John Dickinson Sherman died on Mar 20, 1926
Memorial Day, 1926
Three Forks News - May 20, 1926 (in Feb 18 link)

Memorial Day, 1927 - By Elmo Scott Watson
Dayton Review - May 26, 1927

Memorial Day - By Elmo Scott Watson
- Providence County Times, May 17, 1929

Where Sleeps the Unknown Soldier - By Elmo Scott Watson
- Carbon County News, May 23, 1929 (in Mar 28 link)

The First Memorial Day - By Elmo Scott Watson
- The Pentwater News, May 16, 1930

The Indian's Memorial Day - By Elmo Scott Watson
- Providence County Times - May 8, 1931 and May 15


Memorial Day: Wreaths of Memory - By Elmo Scott Watson
Dayton Review - May 25, 1933

A Living Memorial to the Soldier Dead - By Elmo Scott Watson
- The Pentwater News, May 25, 1934

Arlington - Sacred Shrine Of American Devtion On Memorial Day
- The Pentwater News, May 29, 1936

Who Gave Us Memorial Day? - By Elmo Scott Watson
- Pueblo Indicator - May 22, 1937

Thomas Nast - Prince of Caricaturists - Drew a Famous Memorial Day Picture - By Elmo Scott Watson
Pueblo Indicator - May 28, 1938



What follows are some selected articles from the links above, as well as a personally chosen selection of feature articles, editorials, and addresses from various online newspapers representing key milestones in the nation's observance of this hallowed day of rememberance....












"You feel small in the presence of dead men, and ashamed at being alive, and you don’t ask silly questions."
 Ernie Pyle - The Death of Captain Waskow, Jan. 10, 1944



US War Dead Honored on Memorial Day 1945/05/31 - YouTube 13, 2006 - 7 min - Uploaded by UniversalNewsreels
1) "As America shifts her armed might to finish off the last remaining Axis power, she pauses to honor her ...
1) "As America shifts her armed might to finish off the last remaining Axis power, she pauses to honor her heroes who were slain in this and in previous wars. In Arlington National Cemetery, Colonel Lowry, representing President Truman, places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The National Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y. is visited by thousands who pay their respects to the fallen heroes who lie there. Riverside Drive, N.Y.C., is the scene of the annual service parade, in which thousands of marchers and onlookers give honour to The Flag and to the men who have died while defending it. Anzio Battlefield, Italy is revisited by U.S. Rangers, who after fighting there had been imprisoned by the Nazis until freed by the Russians. Prior to shipping home, the Rangers honor their comrades who lie buried there." scenes of Tomb of Unknown Soldier wreath laid by Col. Lowery, National Cemetery in Brooklyn, 25,000 parade in New York, first time no Civil War veteran able to participate, soldiers visit Italy cemetery; 















Memorial Day about more than barbecue

The Southern - May 21, 2012
"The Revolutionary War. The War of 1812. The Civil War. The Spanish-American War. World War I. World War II. Korea. Vietnam. Afghanistan. Iraq. The list of America’s many wars and conflicts spans the entire history of our great nation.  Although these struggles were fought in different places and at different times, they share one factor: Some American soldiers survived the hostilities and returned safely to their loved ones, but many others did not....In recent years, however, the true purpose of this noble holiday has been gradually fading away. For many people, Memorial Day means simply taking a day off from work or having a backyard barbecue or merely signaling the official start of the long-awaited summer season. But all of these misconceptions detract from the real meaning of Memorial Day.
In actuality, Memorial Day should be the second most meaningful and respected of all American holidays, right after Independence Day on July 4....HARRY MOSLEY of Carterville [Il] is a retired professor of English."

A Tribute Song -"Rows And Rows"- by The Wagoneers
from the compilation CD The Essential Wagoneers





Army of the United States - 1853 Organizational Review - Gardner

I found another, what I consider, rare military history article and  feel the need to post it, for no other reason that its obscurity, buried in a general magazine of the time had so much unique history on offer.

Readers of this blog may remember in the first post Introduction - On lost lineages and legacies
the statement on "military research interests" which led to its creation and, subsequently, the extensive quoting from sources such as independent Army historian William A. Ganoe to set forth and explain the beginning tragedy which led to U.S. Regular Army units losing, for the first time, the bulk of its War of Independence heritage (by the rules of the lineage and battle honors game); and again, following the Second War of Independence, losing it through an illogical and incoherent re-organizational scheme.  As Ganoe framed the 1815 situation:

"In the war just passed the army had played its part in burlesque and tragedy. It had been more pitiful than in the Revolution. Yet when the affair was over, the country did not absurdly disband its entire force, principally because there was the fresh memory of a sound spanking. Instead a law was passed limiting the army to 10,000 men and a corps of engineers....Some sinister effort must have been at work to deprive all the old regiments of their traditions and spirit. For no plan could have more shrewdly dammed any existing pride and affiliations than the following:

The old 1st Infantry went into the new 3rd Infantry;
the old 2nd went into the new 1st;
the old 3rd, into the new 1st;
the old 4th, into the new 5th;
the old 5th, into the new 8th;
the old 6th, into the new 2nd;
the old 7th, into the new 1st; and
the old 8th, into the new 7th.

The new 1st was then made up of the old 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 44th;
the new 2nd, of the old 6th, 16th, 22nd, 23rd, and 32nd;
the new 3rd, of the old 1st, 17th, 19th, and 28th;
the new 4th, of the old 12th, 14th, 18th, 20th, 36th, and 38th;
the new 5th, of the old 4th, 9th, 13th, 21st, 40th, and 46th (revised correction in 1949?)
the new 6th, of the old 11th, 25th, 27th, 29th, and 37th;
the new 7th, of the old 8th, 24th, and 39th;
and the new 8th, of the 5th, 10th, 15th, 31st, 33rd, 34th, 35th, 39th, 41st, 42nd, 43rd, 45th.

The eight remaining infantry regiments were smaller than their war predecessors because, although the number of companies in each remained at ten, every company contained 78 men instead of 103. There was no effort to preserve the honors or traditional numbers of any of the prewar regiments. The 1st was merged with other regiments and re-designated the 3d, and the old 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th were likewise lost in the remains of disbanded regiments. The new numbers were founded on the seniority of the colonels, the senior colonel commanding the 1st, and so forth. As a consequence of the reduction, 25,000 infantrymen were separated from the service. Another consequence was that the form of the infantry establishment was set roughly for the next thirty years. Not until the Mexican War, thirty-one years later, was it substantially expanded.
Not only were the units of the army diabolically jumbled but its size had to shrink to about one-sixth its former self. Officers and men had to be ejected and the remainder readjusted with a natural wrecking of ambition and spirit. Neither was their any solace to the remnants in being sent in small scattered fractions to lonely frontier posts and seacoast fortifications" p.147

William A. Ganoe, The History of the United States Army, (Appleton­ Century Company, NY, 1942 )

Turning to my recent "find." It contains a very interesting discussion on the reduction of 1815, and what the author believed should have happened, written in the wake of the Army's organizational schemes and perceived failures in conjunction with the Mexican War. 

De Bow's Review, Volume 15 (Google eBook)
James Dunwoody Brownson De Bow and others, 1853
LII.—THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES, by Colonel GARDNER, Washington. D. C (p. 448)

For those not interested in reading the full article, here are some key extracted excerpts:


A Great improvement in the military intelligence of the country has been apparent, since the first battles of the Rio Grande, in the late war. It is now generally conceded by military men —including all the well-informed of the officers of volunteers— that experience in service and instruction, either at the military school or in the field, are requisite qualifications for command.
It is admitted, in short, that while our citizens in arms have more efficiency, their lives are safer under the direction of men who have some knowledge of service in the field, than under those who are without any, whatever may be their personal qualities or civic distinction.
At the declaration of the war which is called our second war of independence, we had the amount of twelve regiments then in service—estimating the artillery of twenty companies as a double regiment—to wit: one regiment of light artillery, one of light dragoons, the two of artillery, seven of infantry, and one of riflemen. The youngest of these had been organized and in service four years. Can any one doubt that if these regiments had been filled to the war establishment, and assembled in a division of twelve thousand men, under any general-in-chief (having only a firmness of purpose equal to that of Henry Dearborn), it would have been sufficient to overcome any forces which the enemy possessed, or had at any time collected, in Canada? Had this little army been formed into brigades, and commanded by their rightful, though casual, seniors—as was the case at the commencement of the late war, under Gen. Taylor (himself a brevet brigadier),—and the general staff selected from the officers then present, inclusive of the Corps of Engineers,—how long would the posts of Montreal and Quebec have stood uncaptured before it? The regiments of volunteers, and those called "year's men," subsequently raised, could have been more fitly, and less expensively, employed in the local defences of the country. This appeared to have been the design of the War Department, in the first organization of the nine military districts; but there seems to have been no unity of plan, at any time, in the councils of the government.
"What an economy of expenditure would have resulted from this course!
The constitutional objection with some of our State troops—so disreputable to the government of a republic—to crossing its boundary, would in such case also have been avoided.

Experience and Science Necessary

A brief view of the course which was pursued in conducting that war will readily account for the exhaustion of the treasury, and of nearly all the government's credit; and from commencing at the extremity of the line, instead of advancing on the main posts at the centre, with the essential defect of organization, to which reference is made, may be easily understood the causes of our disastrous failures.
It is a fact, that after nearly two years of the war had expired, we had scarcely one general officer qualified to lead a brigade, until such of the colonels of experience, as Macomb, Thomas A. Smith, Bissell, Gaines, and Scott,* were promoted; Pike and Covington having been killed, and Cushing assigned to the defence of a district.
Can there be a doubt that for the command of a division, a brigade, a regiment, or a company, an officer of twenty, ten, or three years' experience in service, will be superior to one who has been but twenty, ten, or three months in commission? The proposition is so simple, that it would seem to require an apology for stating it—it being recollected that war is truly called an art—that no human art was ever acquired by intuition— and though battles have been won under tyros, or men without instruction, no exception can be deduced from these; for certainly there is no science, art, or craft, in which man's capacity can be developed, without preparatory trial or training.
A free display of the knowledge and ability possessed by an be attained by adequate experience and the full practice of discipline; and the longer the experience and the more the practice, the greater, of course, will be the self-reliance and self-possession. It is preposterous to expect that a citizen, whatever may be his personal bravery, can exhibit such qualities in his first engagement, or on his first command of men in action. He may exhibit rashness—of which numerous instances will at once occur to the memory; and many instances, too, of the consequent waste of his men's lives will be recollected. Thus it will ever be found that in those parts of battle-fields where have been displayed the least military foresight and skill, there will be the greatest destruction. of life, with the least success, not alone to be accounted for by the superiority of an opposing force. Such may be assumed to have been the case, from the representations of officers of the volunteer regiments themselves, on the luft of our line in the victory of Cerro Gordo. And in parts of the great battles of the Valley of Mexico, instances can be named where the superiority of opposing forces could not have been sufficient to account for the partially disastrous results....
The great names also of Brown and Jackson, under whom the reputation of our country for superiority in arms was first established, may be cited as exceptions to the rule requiring
* Of the other officers, who had been in service before the declaration of war, and were subsequently distinguished in the grades they held, either in battle or by being selected for staff commissions, the following names were entirely overlooked at the time of the appointment of general and field-officers for the new levies, required for immediate and efficient service:
[Of Field-Officers:) Kingsbury, C. Freeman, Backus, Milton, James Miller, Fenwick, McEea, Nicoll, Stoddard, Bowyer, Laval, Eustis, Floyd, Posey, and Geo. Gibson.
Of the Artillery: (Capts.) Read, N. Freeman, Beall, Whiley, Wollstonecraft, House, [prom, in 1813,] Walbach, A. B. and Geo. Armistead, Wilson, E. Humphreys; (Lieuts.) Hanks, Gates, Gansevoort, Provcaux, Bennett, E. A. Allen, Darragh, Lomax, Sat. Clark, Fay, M. Mason, Vandeventcr, Fitzgerald, Ewing, Sands, T. J. Beall, and Ezra Smith.
Of Light Artillery: (Capts.) Macpherson, J. N. Mcintosh, McDowell, L. Leonard; (Lieuts ) Melvin, Thornton, Stribling, Boisaubin, Ketchum, Arms, Irvine, J. R. Bell, Murdoch, Randolph, W. F. Hobart, and Sumter.
Of Light Dragoons: ("Capts.) Helms, Hayne, Halsey, Cummings; (Lieuts.) Littlejohn, Haig, Hukill, Boardman, Kean, H. Whiting, and Birch.
Of the 1st Infantry: (Capts.) J. Whistler, Heald, Clemson, Swan, Pinkney, Stark, Hughes, Baker; (Lieuts.) Whitlock, Symmes, Knight, Kingsley, H. Johnson, Brownson, T. Hamilton, Albright, Ostrander, Perkins, Helm, Bryson, Page, Campbell, Stansbury, Vasquez, and Bissell.
Of the 2d Infantry: (Capts.) Boote, Campbell, Arbuckle, Carson, Pratt, Brevoort, Miller; (Lieuts.) Chambcrlin, Luckett, Peyton, Pemberton,Warc, Davis, Brownlow, Wirt, H. Bradley, Willis, Villard, and Bliss.
Of the 3d Infantry: (Capts.) Bird, Nicks, Atkinson, Woodruff, Clinch, Dinkins; (Lieuts.) H. G, White, W. S. Hamilton, Butler, Chotard, Herriot, Laval, and Morley.
Of the 4th Infantry: (Capts.) Cook, Prescott, Snelling, Barton, Adams, Fuller; (Lieuts.) C. Larrabee, J. L. Eastman, Peckham, Gooding, Bacon, and Greenhough.
Of the 5th Infantry: (Capts.) Bankhead, Johnson, Brooke, Whartenby, Chambers, Dorman; (Lieuts.) Opie, R. H. Boll, R. Carson, Jamison, and Saunders.
Of the 6th Infantry: (Capts.) Beebe, Machesney, Nelson, Arrowsmith, G. Humphreys, Walworth, Muhlenberg, Sterry; (Lieuts.) Ed. Webb, Shell, and Thompson, [since killed in Florida.]
Of the 7th, Infantry: (Capts.) Blue, Oldham, Dohcrty, Cutler, Z. Taylor, [since President,] Overton, C. Nicholas, A. A. White; (Lieuts.) Broutin, Robinson, Waide, Vail, G. O. Allen, and E. Montgomery.
Of the Riflemen: (Capts.) Sevier, McDonald, Forsyth, H. R. Graham, Visscher, Hays, L. Morgan, Appling; (Lieuts.) Josh. Hamilton, Patterson, Ramsey, and Smyth.
No more gallant and accomplished officers than these could be found in any army in the world....
...The few (of the officers then in service not named in the list preceding) who were honored with higher commissions in the new regiments, were all, who were living, retained by the Board of Generals, at the reduction of the army, with their advanced rank. And several of those named in the list, who were subsequently advanced, were also retained in the same manner. But it will be admitted by all who have any personal knowledge of the officers passed over, that any of them— referring to the greater part—would have been equally distinguished, and rendered as valuable service to their country, if the same opportunity had been afforded them, by the same appreciation of their merits. A consideration of the highest importance—indeed the only one—for it is not pretended that these officers had any claim individually, beyond their right to promotion in their several corps—is the confident Relief and reliance, that in the future engagements with the enemy, very different results would have been accomplished...
At the conclusion of that war, when the great reduction of the army took place, the organization of a permanent peace establishment was finally adjusted in the councils of the nation, having a wise view to the most effective preparation for future war. The theory of a distinguished statesman[Calhoun], who succeeded to the direction of the war department, was adopted,—to preserve such a general staff, and a skeleton of corps for the line, as could, in the event of war, be most promptly enlarged to a full and effective war establishment. But what has been exhibited on the occurrence of the event contemplated? When the late war broke out, and the legislative power was called into action, the whole theory, so obviously suited to the purpose then to be effected, was almost entirely disregarded. After the provision for recruiting an increase of the rank and file, the 'skeleton' was left to act by itself; and when officers were required for the additional forces to be raised, the officers of the old corps were left as they were, with their existing companies and corps!
We had then, besides the corps of the general staff, fourteen regiments in service; all the officers of which were more regularly trained and accomplished than those of any other army in the world,—for no family influence, royal or noble, had ever interfered with their just advancement—(the rules of promotion having been enforced by the Senate.) The battles of Palo Alto and La Palma had been fought, when there were eleven new regiments added to the army—which were officered, as of old, from civil life! The result was, that out of two hundred and sixty-four appointments, of the rank of field-officers and captains, but seven were taken from the army,* and less than twenty selected from the thousands of retired officers of great merit and experience; some of whom had been distinguished in the field; and would eagerly have engaged in the new war, with the mere advancement in rank to which they were entitled, granting that they were not made subordinate to those who had no pretension to the rank conferred. Of the volunteer regiments, the officers were principally chosen by the volunteers themselves, and they, were commissioned, of course, by the state governments; but there were more men of military education chosen for the volunteers, than there were in the regular regiments. Some of those from the army, who received appointments in the new corps, were of undoubted merit; but they were all indebted to the favor of influence "at court" for their preferment.
* These were Colonel Andrews, (Paymaster;) Lieut.-Colonel Fremont, (Second Lieut, and Brevet Captain of Topographical Engineers.) Lieut.-Colonel Graham, (Brevet Major of Infantry, of thirty years' service ;) Lieut -Colonel Johnston, (Captain Topographical Engineers ;) Major F. Hamilton, (a first Lieut, of Dragoons;) Major Taicott, (first Lieut, of Ordnance;) and Major Woods, (a (Captain of Infantry.)...
What is the secret of the so unvarying good conduct and prowess displayed by our regular troops, in the battles of the Rio Grande (and no other description of troops was there), conquering a superior and well-organized force, commanded by the ablest of the Mexican generals? It is, that every officer in our line, of all the grades of rank, was conscious that he held the precise position to which he was entitled,—no room being left for any impulse, but that of displaying to his superiors his best ability and gallantry, and winning for his corps and his country the greatest triumph.
If the military establishment of the.republic had been kept distinct, and men of political ambition had not been translated to it, there would never have been any interference by military men with political affairs; and our peace establishment, as we have endeavored to show, could have been made amply sufficient for any future military service, which would ever be required on this continent. A military institution to be efficient, must always be conducted on principles essentially repugnant to these of free government; and therefore the profession of arms ought, under such a government, to be kept carefully distinct, as well as subordinate. The case of Washington, it was admitted by all, stood alone; and could never be made a parallel for the position of any future military chief, under the Constitution. But as statesmen have committed the first error, and politicians have adopted the last, for the facility of popular management, it only remains for us to abide the consequences....
It has long been an impression of the writer, that on the reduction of the army, at the peace of 1815, the esprit du corps, so highly estimated and carefully cherished in every service but ours, might have been made available, not only as a future incentive of pride and emulation in the regiments retained, but to add greatly to the inducement and facility of enlistment among the people of the several states; so essential a want, whenever the crisis demands a sudden increase of the regiments to a war establishment. It was simply by preserving the numbers of the distinguished regiments, and those from which distinguished officers had arisen; and by arranging the officers retained, as near as might be, to their former numbers. Though the time has elapsed when this can be done, yet every reader who has been in the service, will take an interest in the following project: which, it will be perceived, has a double relation to the states from which the regiments, were originally raised, and to the distinction they acquired, both by their members individually, and as corps....

actual reorganization as stated in the 1815 Army Register for comparison with above
A compilation of registers of the army of the United States, from 1815 to 1837 (inclusive.), United States. War Office, William A. Gordon

Remarks continued:

If this organization and arrangement had obtained (with the same officers who were in service), the reduction and derangement which took place in 1821 would not, in all probability, have been passed by Congress. It is easy to perceive how much more readily inclined the country and its representatives would have been, to preserve the distinguished numbers of these regiments, and to resist their reduction, with the powerful influence they would have had from the pride of the states. In the event of war, when the increase of the establishment became necessary—under the same influence, and the influence of wisdom in sustaining the best interests of the country, the advantage would have been secured to the existing establishment, of enlarging the corps on these numbers, and even, with the omitted numbers, of forming a brigade of each. The officers of these could have supplied, at least, the field-officers and captains of seventeen full regiments. From the efficient officers who had retired, during a long peace, from the army, after a public notification had been issued by the war department, a selection, for reappointment in the enlarged or added corps, could have been made ; with a stipulation, by legal provision, that no retired officer should be appointed to a higher grade than that he would have held had he continued in service.
Previously to such enlargement, on the first occurrence of a war, as in that of 1846, though but few of the officers of the old corps continued in the field, and the esprit du corps became, as it were, traditional—if the same prowess and gallantry displayed by the officers then engaged had been achieved under the organization proposed, with the designated numbers preserved—what might not have been the enthusiasm felt and expressed throughout the country for the accumulated glory of these corps!
A political objection may be raised to this plan of organization—that it might lay the foundation of sectional jealousy and division; but it will be found, on further examination, that it would result in the reverse of an objection, and produce advantages. In the event of a "rebellion," it would furnish the means of avoiding the use of that corps of troops which may appertain to the section involved; and in the case of servile'" insurrection," vice versa.
The chief officers of the several departments of the government, under the President, are selected and appointed in reference to the different sections of the country. There is sufficient unity and nationality in the Supreme Court, though strictly constituted from the several sections of the Union. And in the cabinet council, there has been no want of nationality, though in its formation the sections are regarded.
Excepting the navy, whose organization seems best adapted to its destination, the army is the only institution in the organization of which the sections are not regarded; and is, of course, without the benefit of sectional interest in its preservation, and without that powerful incentive in the separate corps to noble emulation and achievement....
There is another method by which a more effectual inducement and facility could be given, throughout the interior of the country, to enlistments, and thereby effect a two-fold advantage—first, to secure its influence for the great desideratum of more rapid enlistments; and secondly, to improve thepersonnel of the ranks, and thereby lessen the enormous evil of desertion,—an evil for which no remedy, in the least effective, has ever been devised. It is, to select, out of the forty sergeants and non-commissioned staff of each regiment, three or four, annually, for promotion to brevet second lieutenants, the selection being made on the recommendation of their commanders. It is well understood, that the officers of the army, generally, arc opposed to this measure; they say, that old non-commissioned officers, of great merit, arc rendered valueless when made commissioned officers. This may be true, in reference to the old sergeants; but not to the young, who have sufficient education. If you expect ever to draw into the ranks of your regular regiments the young men of spirit and ambition, who are natives of the soil, you must furnish them some inducement and opening for the exercise of their ambition. Furnish them, at least, the prospect ot meeting, in a portion of the ranks of each company, a few of their own caste, with whom they can associate, without feeling that they have degraded themselves to the level of the slaves of the old world, or the refuse of our populous cities; and can thus be saved from the insuperable inclination to desert on the first opportunity. The military institution is necessarily the same in all countries; but it is believed that, for some years past, there are more non-commissioned officers in the British service annually promoted in the same number of regiments than in ours. It is an example which should not be contemned in the government of a republic.
Whether, in connection with this proposition, the thought could be entertained of limiting the Military Academy to the instruction of cadets solely for the scientific corps, inclusive of the artillery ;—whether, in that case, a surplus number would be requisite, from which a selection could be made, leaving a portion to be disbanded at every annual examination—or otherwise, whether such an organization could be given to the scientific and staff corps, as to commence their first appointments with the grade of captain, or first lieutenant, in each; so that all vacancies might be filled by selection of the most competent from all the subalterns of the army—with, perhaps, a previous trial "on extra duty," as formerly in those corps—are suggestions which may be left to the future influence of military intelligence and economy over the law-making and executive authorities.
A great objection to any change touching the organization of the army, or its system of government, is the vacillation it causes, in addition to that already of record, in the legislation of Congress; by which changes heretofore, and the mode of carrying the laws into effect by executive acts, the consequences have been, to depress the pride of the corps affected, and injure the spirit and efficiency of the army. An exhibit of all the acts passed by Congress for changes of organization, increase and reduction of the army, brought together in a tabular abstract—as will be seen prefixed to the Dictionary of the Army under notice—will surprise the reader, whether a military man or statesman. The present organization has continued longer than that of any former period; and having shown its efficiency so admirably through the Mexican war, in the general system of the staff departments, as well as in the different arms of the line, it will evidently be best to preserve it as it is.
DeBow's Review was a widely circulated magazine of "agricultural, commercial, and industrial progress and resource" in the American South during the upper middle of the 19th century, from 1846 until 1884....contained everything from agricultural reports, statistical data, and economic analysis to literature, political opinion, and commentary. wiki
The next big reduction, of course, was in 1821. Readers of the blog will recollect that this was when the unique and elite Rifle Regiment, of 1808-1821, was disbanded.

December 1820 - "..out there the army, having passed through its nameless period, was growing in quality while the government was looking with skeptical eyes at its size. It was too much to expect over 7,000,000 people to support 10,000 soldiers." Ganoe, p. 157
Jackson's own "plan for the reduction of the army" in 1820 would have left the Rifle Regiment intact.

The Papers of Andrew Jackson: 1816-1820, Andrew Jackson, Sam B. Smith, Harriet Fason Chappell Owsley, Harold D. Moser, Univ. of Tennessee Press, Aug 14, 1994 - 700 pages - p. 387

According to a recent interpretation by David and Jeanne Heidler, the real impetus behind the reduction of 1821, had more to do with fears of a potential Caesar [Jackson] and his control of the standing army, then pure budget cutting motives in the wake of the financial panic of 1819.

for an excellent summary of this period and issues at play see
Bradon J Smith: Thesis Beyond Politics: The Political Development of Presidential Signing Statements in Historical Context
by B Smith - 2010 - pp. 6-18
"The Act “To reduce and fix the Military Establishment of the United States” of March 2nd 1821 called for a mass reduction in the officer corps and reassignment of responsibilities to lower officer grades. It also shifted the conflict over military administration from a military-civilian axis to that of an executive legislative battle.
The Congress’s initial intent for the legislation was that power be diminished at the expense of the military, not the executive branch. After Jackson had so clearly thumbed his nose at his superiors and, in the eyes of many legislators, attempted to build a cult of  loyalty within his officer corps, many politician’s minds turned to the classical history of Caesar’s tactics and feared that Jackson could potentially head a military coup.[12] This is certainly reflected in the provisions of the legislation that would pass both houses and receive the president’s endorsement. p. 10
...Throughout this debate it is clear that the end of the conflict with the Seminoles, the securing of Florida, and the nation’s debt were the key conditions that precipitated in the proposal of the legislation. After each substantial conflict in the history of the young American state, most notably the War of 1812, similar actions were taken. But by no means do these rationales preclude the consideration of Andrew Jackson’s conduct as an important factor between both proponents and opponents of the military reduction. Was Jackson an indispensable general, who had delivered the nation from the hands of the British and protected further protected it from the attacks of the Seminoles? Or was he an overzealous, firebrand, whose ambition resembled that of a rising tyrant? These were certainly open questions in the minds of many American statesmen in 1821 and though Jackson’s conduct was not the centerpiece issue of this legislation, it certainly was paramount in the consideration of the bill and key to understanding the contemporary political context of the actors’ actions.
...Despite the fact that Monroe had found a place for Jackson to continue his service, that did not keep him from registering his objections to the legislation after endorsing it. It is these dichotomous elements of endorsement and objection by which historical and legal scholarship has identified his “Special Message” of January 17, 1822 as a “signing statement”....p. 12
But upon examination of the origin of the 1821 Act “On fixing the nation’s military peacetime establishment” one begins to understand how Monroe’s actions were interpreted as a twofold subversion of the Congressional will. The legislative body certainly was suspicious of the idea of a large, peacetime standing body, and the professional officers that were characteristic of it. In addition to this general suspicion the Congress had taken note of the conduct of Andrew Jackson, and was well aware that the proposed legislation likely would have been pushed out from military service by an administration agreeing to abide by the legislatively mandated reduction. Monroe in his second message noted the somewhat absurd notion that the “defender of New Orleans” might be driven of the nation’s service and writes of the other arrangements had been made.[37] p.17
...But it is not solely recognition of Jackson’s importance that Monroe battled with Congress, but due in large part to a desire to protect the executive prerogative in administration of the military. Monroe routinely cites the spirit of the legislation and the Constitution in giving the president appointment power, and he sought to protect this privilege, regardless of what Jackson’s recommendations were.
...The victories of Jackson in [The War of ] 1812 and his securing of Florida from the continental powers created a new sense of military nationalism that was coordinate of the “Era of Good Feelings.”[40] However, Monroe’s signing statement highlights new internal political battles. Among institutions, conflict existed between the executive and legislative branches over military administration. Amongst men, it pitted would be presidents in the legislative branch, such as Clay, versus a would-be military general turned president, Andrew Jackson, whose victories had brought about a new nationalist culture. Monroe, less concerned with his future and more so with the security and administration of the American state, sought to protect this national sentiment as a condition important for collegial government and “Republican Saints” lest the nation be split by renewed faction and sectionalism. He did not seek to protect Jackson for Jackson’s own sake.
Additionally, the military had been the most instrumental in securing American security and domination on the continent, requisites for the forthcoming Monroe doctrine, treaties with the British after the War of 1812 and the Spanish after Jackson’s acquisition of the Florida territories was only achieved after victory.
...Thus the examination of Monroe’s signing statement reveals not a mere disagreement with Congress but a profound tension in purpose, scope, and power. To be certain, the executive branch was jealous of its control of the military and eschewed any congressional fetters. The Congress was likewise suspicious of the military and the executive branch in its efforts to consolidate power. Though the judiciary is absent from this particular battle, the philosophical principles of the founders and the system set forth by the Constitution are clearly evident in this particular examination of the signing statement. The legislative and executive branches are naturally at tension with one another and act to check the other’s power. It’s a struggle that is central and fundamental to understanding American history, the breadth of which is impossible to capture in hundreds of books. Signing statements are just one element of this narrative, and this section, focusing on the very first, demonstrates how this idea of executive-legislative tensions is evident even in an “Era of Good Feelings.” p. 18


* General Jackson was utterly opposed to this reduction of the army. A Mr. Humphrey, of New Tork, describes a letter received by his brother from General Jackson: "The letter alluded to was written about the time when the last reduction of the army took place: it is at my command, and although I do not feel justified in placing it before the public, I will mention some of the most striking features it presents. Among other expressions he says, in express terms—' the government ought to be d——d—instead of reducing the army in a republic like this, it should bo increased tenfold.' He ridicules the idea of depending upon our militia, speaks of reducing them to a proper state of subordination as an impossibiity, and of their utter inefficiency in cases of emergency! He dilates on the extent of our frontier, and the extreme impropriety of leaving our remote posts with the inadequate garrisons to which they are necessarily reduced in consequence of the diminution of the army. In fact, the general tenor of the letter is that of decided and bitter animadversion upon the measures pursued by the general government.—New York American, October, 1828.

It had long been the intention of General Jackson to resign his commission in the army as soon as the difference with Spain should have been brought to a peaceful conclusion. An important reduction in the army,*[see above] long contemplated, was effected in the spring of 1821, and left the General without an adequate command....His mode of bidding farewell to the army...was in the terms following:


"Montpelier [Alabama], May 31, 1821.

"This day, officers and soldiers, closes my military functions, and, consequently, dissolves the military connection which has hitherto existed between you and myself, as the Commander of the Southern Division of the army of the United States. Many of us have passed together days of toil and nights of vigilance. Together we have seen the termination of one British and two Indian wars, in which we have encountered fatigues, privations and dangers. Attachments and friendships formed by associations of this kind are the most durable, and my feelings will not permit me, in retiring from military command, to take a silent leave of my companions in arms.

"Justice to you and to my own feelings requires that I should place before our common country the testimony of my approbation of your military conduct, and the expression of my individual regard. Under the present organization for the reduction of the army, agreeably to the act of Congress, many valuable officers who have served with me have been suddenly deprived of the profession which they had embraced, and thrown upon the world. But let this be your consolation, that the gratitude of your country still cherishes you as her defenders and deliverers, while wisdom condemns the hasty and ill-timed policy which has occasioned your disbandonment; and that, too, while security was yet to be given to our extensive frontier, by the erection of the necessary fortifications for its defense, greatly extended as that frontier has been by the recent acquisitions of the Floridas. But you, fellow-soldiers, have that which can not be taken from you—the consciousness of having done your duty, and with your brother officers who are retained, of having defended the American eagle wherever it was endangered.
"To you, my brother officers, who are retained in the service of your country, permit me to recommend the cultivation of that harmony and friendship towards each other which will render you a band of brothers. It is your duty so to conduct yourselves on all occasions as that your enemies shall have no just cause for censure. It ought to be borne in mind that every captain should be to his company as a father, and should treat it as his family—as his children. Continue, then, as heretofore, when under my command, to watch over it with a father's tenderness and care. Treat them like children, admonish them, and if, unhappily, admonition will not have the desired effect—coercion must. The want of discipline and order will inevitably produce a spirit of insubordination, as destructive to an army as cowardice, and will as certainly lead to disaster and disgrace in the hour of battle: this, as you regard your military reputation and your country's good, you must prevent. Imploring from heaven a blessing upon you all, I bid you an affectionate adieu.

"Andrew Jackson, "Major-General, Commanding the Division of the South."

Life of Andrew Jackson, by James Parton Mason Brothers, 1861, pp. 589-591


Contrast the above with today; when our political/military seniors, in lock-step, willingly vouchsafe the administration's line on downsizing and continued gender-military experimentation!
NO MORE dire and deadly battles to be fought by infantrymen, with their accompanying stark deprivations, sometimes fighting for mere survival against the elements, as well as a formidable enemy.  Study but a few of our "ancient battles" of Guadalcanal, Buna, Tarawa, Gela, Salerno, Bernhardt Line, San Pietro, Cassino, Anzio, D-Day through Break-out, Mytchkina, Peleliu,The Bulge,  Leyte, Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Taejon, Pusan, Naktong, Hoengsong, Chosin, Kunu-ri, Chipyong-ni, Blood Ridge, Heartbreak Ridge, Ia Drang, Khe San, Dak To, Tet, Hamburger Hill, Mogadishu, Roberts name but a countless few...

Yes, we've come a long way baby!

Rangers (and Rangerettes), Lead The Way!


The U.S. 3rd Rifle Regiment in Virginia - 1814-15

Why was the 3rd Rifle Regiment detained in Virginia during late 1814? Until recently I had referred to the following two accounts to conclude that most of the regiment, made up of southern recruits, was enroute Washington (after its burning in August) for assignment further north. While this is substantively correct, the source documents are vastly more illuminating.

First, here are the two general accounts mentioned above:

North Carolina - The War of 1812 The Known Military Units from North Carolina, 2007
"US Army Major William S. Hamilton was appointed to the rank of *Colonel and placed in charge of recruiting in the state of North Carolina. He considered the War of 1812 to be a golden opportunity for those with "a pure spirit and a sacred impulse." He promised to equip volunteers in "Rifle dress and give you your favorite weapon, and ... you will cover youselves with glory." The pay ranged from $8-$12 per month, plus a $124 bounty for enlisting and 160 acres of free land when the war was over. Newspapers across the state printed reports of volunteers on their way to a rendezvous prior to marching off to war..In January of 1815, Colonel Hamilton was at last released from recruiting duties in North Carolina and stationed in Fredericksburg, Virginia, to winter before going north in the spring. His troops were not needed, however, since the treaty of peace had just been signed."
* Actually Hamilton was appointed the 3rd Rifle Regiment's Lieutenant Colonel on 21 February, 1814. The Colonel and Commander of the 3rd Rifles was William King; who was also appointed on 21 February, 1814 shortly after the Regiment was authorized; along with the 2nd and 4th Rifle Regiments.

A Stranger and a Sojourner: Peter Caulder, Free Black Frontiersman in Antebellum Arkansas
by Billy D. Higgins, University of Arkansas Press, 2005
Higgin's traces the 1814 route of elements of the 3rd Rifle Regiment through Virginia in November 1814 with halts at *Bottoms Bridge and Fredericksburg, Virginia, finally arriving in Washington D.C. where it encamped at Greenleaf Point (today's Fort McNair) before the war ended in February 1815.
Higgins' states that "...Threats by Adm. Alexander **Cochrane, nicknamed "the Goth" by terrorized seaboard residents, to burn "every assailable city" on the east coast may have forced the riflemen to remain longer in southeast Virginia in order to defend *Norfolk. In mid-November the regiment, now beefed up with two hundred additional infantrymen, moved north to Fredericksburg where Peter Caulder spent his first Christmas away....the ***Regiment stayed along the Rappahannock for the month of January because of the general ill health of a number of riflemen and because of British threats to the Potomac estuary." p.21

RG notes on Higgin's narrative:
* Bottom's Bridge, 16 miles east of Richmond, is some considerable distance, 75 plus miles, and across the Hampton Roads, from Norfolk. Defense of Norfolk proper would not, therefore, have been facilitated.
** By December, Cochrane was far away leading the British fleet in the attack against New Orleans. Instead, it was the equally infamous British Admiral George Cockburn, who after the failure to take Baltimore, continued raiding in the Chesapeake area until the end of the war. Interestingly, because he eventually settled in Louisiana, Lieutenant Colonel William S. Hamilton's uniform coat ended up on display at the nearby Cabildo...
***Not all of the regiment.  Authorised strength was 1060 for a Rifle Regiment - and was never reached for most units during the war (post-war strength for an RR was set at 840). Presumably, another 500 or so were to be collected at the various recruiting depots or encampments in NC, SC, VA and TN. One of the 3rd Rifle's two Regimental Majors, Walter H. Overton, was in command at Fort St. Philip as of 15 December, which guarded the passage of the Mississippi River from its mouth to New Orleans; he "gallantly" and successfully defended it. From available documents, it does not appear that he was accompanied by a detachment from the 3rd Rifles. Overton had been a Captain in the 7th Infantry Regiment before being promoted to Major in the Rifles; the 7th and its fellow regular 44th Infantry Regiment fought at New Orleans.
see below for further information gleaned on why Major Overton of the Rifles was in Louisiana Territory at this time.

I ran across the following more specific mention of the 3rd's whereabouts during this period:

"Lt. Col. Hamilton's orders to proceed to the Northern Neck with five hundred men of the 3rd Rifle Regiment (1814 Nov. 3);"

A Guide to the Governor James Barbour Executive Papers, 1812-1814 A Collection in the Library of Virginia, Accession Number 41557

Following this "lead" resulted in the subsequent tidbits:

Calendar of Virginia State papers and other manuscripts: ... preserved in the Capitol at Richmond (Google eBook) Virginia, Henry W. Flournoy, R.F. Walker, 1892

Nov. 3
War Department

James Monroe To The Governor.

Your Excellency's letters of October 22nd and 31st have been received.

My letter to General Porter of October 25th, a copy of which is herewith inclosed, will supercede the necessity for any further requisitions on Virginia at this time for the defence of Norfolk.

Lt.-Col. Hamilton is ordered with 500 men of the 3rd Rifle Regiment to the Northern Neck of Virginia, and will be stationed there during the winter, until those troops arrive from North Carolina. Gen'l Scott will provide for the defence of that part of his district by posting 500 detached militia in that quarter.

I am, &c.

 pp. 412-13

Nov 7, 1814
W. Scott (Gen'l U. S. A.) To The Governor.

By authority invested, as the commander of this district, I have the honor to request that your Excellency will cause to be detached from the militia under your command, four complete companies of Infantry and one of Artillery, to be organized into a battalion for the defence of that part of the State of Virginia (within my district), lying between the Potomac and the Rappahannock rivers. This battalion will be accepted as a part of the Virginia quota under the requisition of the War Department, bearing date the 4th of July, 1814, and it is desirable that it rendezvous as early as possible at Cox's house, near Yeocomico church, Westmoreland county. Your Excellency will oblige me by instructing your Adjutant-General to furnish me with the name of the oflicer who may be detailed for this command.

It may be satisfactory to add that Lieut-Colonel Hamilton, an excellent officer, with a battalion of U. S. Riflemen, is now in march from North Carolina for the same rendezvous in Westmoreland. He may be expected to reach his destination by the first of next month, when the Virginia battalion will be discharged.

I am, &c.

W.A. Scott


Then, on November 30, 1814, Admiral Cockburn sailed up the Rappahannock River, shelled and occupied Tappahannock from November 30-December 2nd with a principal force of eight schooners and upwards of 15 reported barges.. pp. 401-403

The threat was real and this indeed was the reasoning behind the 3rd Rifle Regiment's extended stay near Fredericksburg as relayed by:

Jas. Monroe (sect'y) To The Governor.

Jan. 4, 1815
War Department

"Col. Hamilton's Corps, stationed at present at Fredericksburg, will, it is hoped, afford some protection to a part of the Northern neck, and as the Spring opens, and our means are enlarged, other measures must be taken for the protection of the lower end. In the meantime you are hereby authorized to detail a force not exceeding 500 men, of which 250 may be mounted for the defence of Gloucester and Williamsburg. It is deeply to be regretted that against an enemy who violates every principle of humanity and civilized warfare, it is not in the power of the Government to extend protection to every part which is exposed to his incursions."


Niles Weekly Register - Volume 7 - Saturday, January 14, 1815, p. 319
A fine company of U. S. riflemen left their encampment near Rogersville, Ten. on the 29th ult. for Hagerstown, Md. we presume on their way to the northern frontier....
The court martial met at Utica the 3d inst. and adjourned to the 8th, to suit gen. Wilkinson's convenience, who was not prepared for the trial....
[next sentence omitted]
Seven hundred regulars, five hundred riflemen and two hundred infantry, recruited in North and South Carolina, have reached Richmond on their way to the northern army in the spring; but to remain for the present about Fredericksburg, subject to the orders of major-general Scott."


Niles Weekly Register - Volume 7 - Saturday, February 25, 1815, p. 410

"Compliment to Americans.—A letter from a person of distinction in Canada is published in a Halifax paper, in defence of Sir George Prevost. The following is an extract:
"The principal cause of lamentation appears to be, that we have lost more men (in proportion) here, than in Spain. Is the commander of the forces to be blamed because the Americans fight obstinately and well; and that this is the real cause of the disproportionate slaughter that has roused the morbid sensibility and peevishness of some, no one here will doubt.
The officers of the army from Spain, who have been engaged in Upper Canada, have acknowledged, that they never saw such determined charges as were made by the Americans in the late actions.
"An officer who has been in all the actions on the peninsula, told me the otlier day, that he never witnessed such obstinate courage as they shewed. His singular, but forcible expression was, "they do not know, sir, when they are beaten, they do not know when they ought to go away."
In the action on the 25th July, the Americans charged to the very muzzles of our cannon, and actually bayonetted the artillerymen who were at their guns. Their cliarges were not once or twice only, but repeated and long, and the steadiness of British soldiers alone could have withstood them. This, added to the woody nature of the country in which the war has been carried on, and which gave the enemy great advantage in using riflemen (a description of force little used in our army,) will sufficiently account for the slaughter that has taken place in our ranks."

Related Timeline

July 20-26, 1814: British Raids along Nomini Creek, Westmoreland County
1,200 British troops raid Westmoreland County and plunder homes. British burn neighboring plantations and remove slaves. Admiral Cockburn declares that poison has been given to his troops.

August 7, 1814: British Occupy Wicomico Church, Northumberland County
Historical Marker: Ten British ships and smaller vessels appeared on the Coan River and sent three barges to capture three American schooners situated within two miles of Northumberland Court House. The Lancaster County militia repulsed the attack until British reinforcements arrived. Before leaving, the British seized the schooners and destroyed property at Northumberland Court House.

August 24, 1814: The Burning of Washington D.C.
With troop numbers swollen with newly arrived Napoleonic War veterans, the British capture and burn the new capital, Washington D.C. following the American loss at the Battle of Bladensburg.

September 12, 1814: Attack on Fort McHenry, Maryland The British begin an attack on Baltimore at Fort McHenry and North Point but are repelled by the American forces and withdraw. Francis Scott Key pens the "Star Spangled Banner."

October 4, 1814: British Invade Northumberland County
Historical Marker: Two British detachments of 3,000 infantry invade Northumberland County from the Coan River. After initially resisting, the outnumbered militia retreated. The British captured ammunition, arms, and personal property before debarking

November 30, 1814: British Occupy Tappahannock, Essex County
Admiral Cockburn shelled Tappahannock from November 30-December 2nd with a force of eight schooners, outnumbering the Essex Militia who possessed a single cannon. The British force thereafter attacked plantations along both sides of the Rappahannock River.
"On November 30 1814, a force of eight schooners along with thirteen troop and supply ships were sighted off Middlessex. The heavily outnumbered Essex Militia with one cannon was no match for this force and a short naval barrage of the town left no doubt about who had the upper hand. During their three days of occupation, nearly all the homes were pillaged and even some Ritchie family graves were desecrated.
Thomas Ritchie was a well-known critic of England in his role as editor of the Richmond Enquirer. Afterwards, the British force continued to strike individual plantations along both sides of the Rappahannock.
Local militia, however, effectively ambushed a detachment of British at Jones' Point and learned from deserters that Urbanna was the next target. Brigadier General John Cocke ordered all militia units in the area to Urbanna. The sizeable show of force deterred the British and the Rappahannock remained safe for the remainder of the war." - from the Essex County Museum and Historical Society

December 6, 1814: British Engagement at North Farnham Church, Richmond County
The British land by Sharp's Landing and march to North Farnham Church in a plan to occupy Warsaw. They are met by Virginia militia who engage the British troops. One militiaman is killed and the captain of the regiment, Captain Shackleford is wounded and captured. The British return to their ships and twelve intoxicated British soldiers are taken as prisoners.


"This letter is taken from the original, which exists in the Jackson MSS. A copy also exists in the hand of a clerk, evidently made when the original was sent, and which, it is interesting to see, contains misspellings not in the original."

Mobile, August 28, 1814.;7 oclock a m.

TO COLONEL ROBERT BUTLER [Adjutant General of the U.S. Army]
 Refeerring you to instructions Contained in my letter of the 27th instant, I have to request that you will notify the contractor with out loss of time to forward to the differrent Posts therein named the Quantity of previsions therein required. Major Pier speaking the French and spanish Tongue is much wanted, must be ordered on to Join me without loss of time. Capt William O Butler is enterprising, and such services will be much wanted here. Rifle men will be of great use in harrassing the enemy. I want all recruits of this Description within the M Distric, and Majr Overton may be of great use in commanding this description of Troops. But should there be a senior officer of Rifle corps, whoes experience is equal to majr. Overton-;it is not intended that he should be overlooked, altho I have a high opinion of the sprightly Talents of the majr. expidetion must be the order of the day-;the watchword Victory or death, or [A]merica will be apportioned amonghst the powers of [E]urope.
I have enclosed to Governor Blount a short account of the information recd. last evening, the grater part if not the whole may be relied on as facts. you can see and judge for yourself. I wish you would see Majr Jack Reid, now Captain in the 44th know of him wheather he is coming on, if not advise me thereof that I may appoint another aid de, camp the labour is too severe for Capt. Butlar, and I have been rather indisposed for a few days. as soon as the duty pointed out in this and mine of the 27th is acted upon by you, you will repair hither without loosing a moment.
I leave you to Judge how many of the Officers of the U States army you will order on, not withstanding the rules laid down in the register, under present appearances and prospects of danger, no officer would hesitate in obaying the order. still I do not wish any officer ordered on that might tend to Injure the recruting service. All I want is a sufficient number to aid in commanding the Militia. I shall expect to here from you often and I will keep you constantly advised of the positions and strength of the enemy.
I am respectfully yr mo [o]bt. sevt
Colo John Williams of the 39th would be of great benefit to me. I have enclosed an open note for your perusal, and wish you to inclose it to him with any further remarks. I inclose three lines to Mrs. Jackson please deliver...."

Elsewhere in these manuscripts, Bassett makes note that: Jackson and Judge John Overton, W.H. Overton's uncle,  were "most intimate" friends.  

Correspondence of Andrew Jackson. Edited by John Spencer Bassett

[Note - I had to save this file from the Library of Congress as a text file to read and piece together!]

John Overton succeeded Jackson upon the bench of the Superior Court of Tennessee and the "records of the Cypress Land Company, an Alabama Company in which a number of Tennesseans had an interest. Andrew Jackson, John Overton and James Winchester purchased the John Rice grant on which Memphis was founded."
Claybrooke and Overton Papers, 1747-1894 -


"Dec. 18th...Major Waltie H. Overton of one of the Rifle Corps, arrived about this time from Nashville, Tennessee, on furlough. On discovering the situation of the country, he solicited an immediate command, which was granted him by placing him as commanding Officer at Fort St. Philips, to which place he repaired without delay. This proved to be a judicious situation to the command of that important post...."
Major Howell Tatum's journal while acting topographical engineer (1814) to General Jackson, commanding the Seventh military district, Volumes 7-8, by Howell Tatum, Dept. of history of Smith college, 1922
 One might speculate then, in view of Jackson expressed intent to acquire the services of "Rifle men" under a senior Rifle Corps officer, that the 3rd Rifles, having been formed in the southeast, would have been a possible candidate for deployment.  Moreover, it's commander, William King was on friendly relations with Jackson dating from the battle of Horseshoe Bend and might have been the type of "senior Rifle Corps" officer Jackson had desired. (Later, in 1818, Jackson was to install King as Military Governor of occupied West Florida when he ousted the Spanish.) However, as events would conspire, actions in and around the Chesapeake Bay dictated other uses for the 3rd Rifles by the Secretary of War and Army leadership in Washington.  Concurrently, the 2nd Rifles, recruited in Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky, might also have seemed a potential choice, coming as they did from Jackson's own "neck of the woods" and with access to faster river transportation or even cross-country movement down to New Orleans (both modes used by the Tennessee and Kentucky reinforcements).  However, the 2nd Rifles had only mustered 187 riflemen by November of 1814.  Jackson, meanwhile, got his "rifle men," in the form of the Tennessee and Kentucky volunteers, just in time for the big battle he would fight and win.  Nevertheless, a regular Rifle Regiment's participation in the great victory to come would have been a battle honor, to rank alongside those earned at The Capture of York, Fort George, Sandy Creek, Conjockta Creek, Fort Erie, and Plattsburgh, and others not mentioned. It is certain that, if they had fought there, it would have been their most famous, and likely only remembered action, in the minds of an enlightened and concerned citizenry.

After The Victory at New Orleans:

Jackson's desires, insofar as unit composition are explicitly revealed in this letter to the War Department - he wanted "reliable regulars" - 5000 of them - with 1000 to be Riflemen!


This letter is in the War Dept. files, and a draft of it is in the Jackson MSS.

New Orleans,
January 25, 1815.


 I advised you on the 20th that the enemy had two nights before, decamped and returned to his flotilla. No circumstances have since transpired to make it certain whether he intends to abandon his original purpose altogether or to exert his efforts for its accomplishment at some other point. I am perswaded however that the discomfiture he has met with has left him without the means of prosecuting it for the present with any hopes of success; But having manifested, by bringing with him all the preparations for the immediate establishment of colonial government, not only the facility with which he calculated on attaining his object, but the high value which he set upon it, it is not improbable that though disappointed in his hopes of easy success he may not have finally relinquished his intention. The interval of his absence ought therefore to be industriously employed in providing the most effectual means against his possible return. My opinion is that for the effectual defence of this District, should the enemy meditate a renewal of his attempts, not less than 5000 regular troops are necessary; and for defence, that is the only description of troops upon which reliance can be placed. It is true, the militia who were sent hither from the Country above, on the
late emergency have approved themselves worthy the high confidence we had in them, and shewn indeed, that for such a purpose they are inferior to no troops in the world; but it is only for purposes thus temporary that they can be considered as valuable. The short periods of their engagements, not more than their habits of life by which when they have made one excursion or fought one battle, they are so strongly recalled to their famil[i]es and home render them a very unequal match, in continued warfare, for men who following arms as a profession, are scarcely entitled to merit for perseverance.

The secrecy and expedition with which the enemy was enabled to approach us with so powerful a force, is also a proof that that by which his future designs must be resisted ought not to depend upon accident in its arrival or be subject to delay in its application. As composing a part of the force which may be necessary for the defence of this country I would beg leave to recommend 6 companies of Light Artillery, and 1000 riflemen as peculiarly suitable; and permit me also to remark that an able engineer is greatly wanted here, and cannot be sent too soon. Officers are greatly wanted to complete the 3d, 7th, and 44th Regts which are very deficient.

The innumerable bayous and outlets from the Lakes which had hitherto been so little known, or regarded, gave to the enemy on his late incursion facilities of which it will be my duty to deprive him hereafter; and when I shall have succeeded in that, the force which would otherwise be necessary for the defence of this country, will bear considerable diminution.

I will further take the liberty to suggest that the Block ship, now lying on lake Ponchartrain in an unfinished state ought immediately to be completed; why she has been thus left I am quite at a loss to conjecture; as she is peculiarly adapted to the defence of the lakes. What makes it the more remarkable is that the covering which has been provided for her has probably cost the government more than it would to have completed her. Col Haynes to whom this is entrusted will be enabled from the opportunities he has had, and his accuracy of observation to afford much useful information on the several points to which I have referred as well as on others relative to the situation and the proper defences of this Country.

To Col. A. P. Hayne, Jackson gave written instructions in a letter of Jan. 25, and in them he embodied his recommendations for the reward by promotion of the officers who had distinguished themselves during the campaign. See Parton (II. 275), where the letter of instructions is given. In writing to Hayne, Jackson said that he did not make his suggestions to the Secretary of War himself because he was “prevented by motives of delicacy and other causes”. But he might have saved himself trouble in this respect, for on March 27, 1815, he received from the War Department a request for his suggestions of promotions;to be forwarded by mail, if Jackson found himself unable to go to Washington in person."
Correspondence of Andrew Jackson. Edited by John Spencer Bassett

Jackson and "The Rifle Corps" - postwar:

After the war, when Jackson became the Major General in command of the Southern Division (MG Jacob Brown commanded the Northern Division) he was still desirous of gaining the complete services of the now consolidated Rifle Regiment. He wrote to the Secretary of War W H Crawford requesting him to
"enable me to bring to the support of the Lower Country, at the shortest possible notice, the 8th. Regiment & the Rifle Corps"
The Papers of Andrew Jackson: 1816-1820, Andrew Jackson, Sam B. Smith, Harriet Fason Chappell Owsley, Harold D. Moser, Univ. of Tennessee Press, Aug 14, 1994 - 700 pages - p. 61

By January 1817, Jackson's request had been realized; with two companies of riflemen from Natchitoches moved to St Louis (replaced by the 8th Infantry) and two companies of riflemen at Green Bay in the Northern Division transferred to the Southern Division's 9th Department, commanded by Brigadier General (brevet) Thomas A. Smith, on the Mississippi.

For more on the Rifle Regiment during the period 1816-1821 see
Report Of Inspection Of The Ninth Military Department, 1819
The Mississippi Valley Historical Review
By Mississippi Valley Historical Association
Published by Mississippi Valley Historical Association, 1921
Item notes: v. 7

or at my May 2009 posting

Report Of Inspection Of The Ninth Military Department, 1819


The Rifle Regiment, as the force of choice for the"western" frontier missions of force projection, presence and deterrence, in which they performed "useful service," missed out on the brief First Seminole War (1818-19) conducted by Jackson, who used, again, the Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia militia as well as a small force of regulars from the 4th Infantry (King) and 7th Infantry Regiments to seize Florida - where once stationed detachments of the First Rifle Regiment, in 1812 and 1815, had played a key if not decisive role.

Both regiments were initially commanded by former War of 1812 Rifle officers in the reorganization of 1815; William King (4th) and James McDonald (7th).  Indeed, my next post, Army of the United States - 1853 Organizational Review - Gardner
reveals how the four wartime Rifle Regiment commanders and other key subordinates figured disproportionately and prominently in the selection of Regimental Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels for the post-war eight Infantry and one Rifle Regiments (downsized from nearly 50 wartime regiments of infantry and rifles).
However, James McDonald, Colonel of the 7th resigned in April 1817 (replaced by David Brearley).  Daniel Appling was the Major of the 7th until his untimely death in March 1817. Original 1st Rifles and post-war Regimental commander, T.A Smith, resigned in Nov 1818. William King (2nd Rifles) would face court-martial in 1820. Talbot Chambers (4th Rifles), last Colonel of the post-war Rifle Regiment, was cashiered for drunkenness in 1826. Colonel Anthony Butler (2nd Rifles) would be reduced; and later became Jackson's chargĂ© d'affaires in Mexico City although Jackson would come to consider him a "scamp" for his swashbuckling, unprincipaled dealings, and scandalous conduct. Lieutenant Colonel George Croghan (2nd Rifles), who initially resigned, later rejoined the Army and rose to prominence as an Inspector General.

Jackson's own plan for the reduction of the Army in 1820 would have left the Rifle Regiment intact.

The Papers of Andrew Jackson: 1816-1820, Andrew Jackson, Sam B. Smith, Harriet Fason Chappell Owsley, Harold D. Moser, Univ. of Tennessee Press, Aug 14, 1994 - 700 pages - p. 387

Nevertheless, as it came to pass, with its disbandment in 1821, and with its original stalwarts and legends all killed (Benjamin Forsyth, Ludowick Morgan, and James Gibson), deceased (Daniel Appling) or resigned (T.A. Smith), the deeds of the Rifle Regiments, together with the passing of each rifleman, receded into relative obscurity - a largely forgotten corps from a largely Forgotten War.

A compilation of registers of the army of the United States, from 1815 to 1837 (inclusive.), United States. War Office, William A. Gordon

List of officers of the army of the United States from 1779 to 1900, by William Henry Powell, 1900

Complete regular army register of the United States for one hundred years (1779 to 1879) : Hamersly, Thomas Holdup Stevens (Volume yr.1881)

The Seminole Wars 1818-58, By Ron Field
Osprey Publishing, Aug 18, 2009 - 48 pages - preview

The United States Army in the War of 1812: concise biographies of commanders and operational histories of regiments, with bibliographies of published and primary resources, by John C. Fredriksen, McFarland & Co, 2009, p. 286

As part of my continuing homage to the Rifle Regiments and Rangers of the War of 1812, I've recently been having fun posting tidbits to the Historical Marker database

Three markers I have added info to are:
Fort Russell
Fort Atkinson
Benjamin Forsyth

I also recently became aware of a new book on Forsyth entitled "The Insolent Enemy." From what I've read online it looks to be a good read.

However, the google entry I find for the author's book is somewhat misleading "The life and times of Benjamin Forsyth, War of 1812 hero and 1st US Rifle Regiment Commander." While he was one of the best - perhaps the "ultimate partisan soldier" as is claimed - he was NOT the Regimental Commander.  That honor belonged to Colonel, later Brigadier General Thomas A. Smith.  Forsyth was only one of  ten Company Commanders of the First US Regiment of Riflemen (the "national color" of the Rifle Regiment completed in 1808, ...bore the inscription "1st Rifle Regt.).

See my post Rifle Regiments - officer sketches for more on the deeds of Smith, Forsyth, Appling, Morgan and many others.

Thinking about Smith and his exploits in the Patriot War in East Florida in 1812, leads me as well to the First Rifle Regiment elements left behind under Captain Abraham Massias to face the last "Forgotten Invasion of the War of 1812," at Point Peter, near St Mary's Georgia, in 1815.  Recently, family members scouted out the Cumberland Island Museum for me - and to look for my friend "Rudy" the rifleman

A wonderful mannequin-rifleman is on display - although the hat cap plate is dated for 1815...still, I will have to pay my respects!
For more accurate information on Riflemen Cap Plates see:

The Project Gutenberg EBook of American Military Insignia 1800-1851, 
by J. Duncan Campbell, 1963 
or the same book - U.S. National Museum; nos. 34- Smithsonian Institution
American Military Insignia 1800-1851 by J. Duncan Campbell and Edgar M. Howell 


Niles Weekly Register - Volume 6 - Saturday, April 16, 1814, p 115


Washington, March 17, 1814.
The uniform of the non-commissioned officers, privates and musicians of the rifle regiments, will,
hereafter, be as follows, viz.
A short coat of grey cloth, single breasted, flat yellow buttons, which shall exhibit a bugle surrounded
by stars, with the number of the regiment within the curve of the bugle; one row of ten buttons
in front, three on each sleeve, and three on each skirl, lengthwise, with blind button holes of
black twist or braid in herring bone form.
A waistcoat of grey cloth with sleeves of the same. Pantaloons of grey cloth. The Jefferson
shoe, rising two inches above the ankle joint, and not higher.
Leather caps, with a plate and design similar to that of the button, and a short green pompon in
For field or active service the officers will wear uniforms like those of the privates, excepting as to
On other occasions they are permitted to wear the uniform of the artillery; except as to the buttons,
the position of them, &c. which shall be the same with the field coat.
Epaulets of gold.
Yellow mounted sabres for officers and non commissioned officers.
By order of secretary of war,
J. B. WALBACH, Ad'j. gen.


see also
for more Niles Weekly Register Volumes with articles containing Rifle Regiment / Rifle Corps / Riflemen accounts