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May 21 1812: Baynes to Brock



On May 21, 1812 Colonel Edward Baynes, on the staff of Sir George Prévost in Lower Canada, writes to Major General Brock in Upper Canada. Baynes copies extracts from the dispatch of Augustus Foster, the British Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States who describes the political situation in the United States. Foster says the war party in Congress comes from the Western and Southern states while the northern and eastern states are opposed. Foster has a shrewd observation that the Democratic-Republican party, now the rulling party, is divided between "the old revolutionists" and the "jealous of younger men" who are now taking the lead in the call for war. Baynes' letter is reproduced below.


Colonel Baynes to Major-General Brock
QUEBEC, May 21, 1812.
Sir George has allowed me to make the following extracts from a dispatch of Mr. Foster's, dated the 28th April, which I do in the minister's own words: "The American government affect now to have taken every step incumbent on the executive as preparatory to war, and leave the ultimate decision to congress, as vested by the constitution in that body, which is fluctuating as the sea: there is a great party in the house of representatives for war, composed principally of the western and southern states--members who have little to lose, and may gain, while the northern and eastern states are vehement against it. The embargo seems to have been resolved upon, because at the moment they did not know what else to do. The cabinet wished only sixty days--the senate made it ninety. Our government leaves no room to expect a repeal of the order in council, yet they wait for the return of the Hornet. Something decisive must then be known; perhaps when they become completely convinced of Bonaparte's playing upon them, it will end in declaring against France. The question of adjournment was lost, notwithstanding there was an absolute majority known a few minutes before in its favor. The ruling party are split into many; the old revolutionists, jealous of younger men taking a lead. The army cannot, I conceive, soon be filled up--they get few recruits."

You will have heard, long ere you receive this, that the 49th regiment is ordered home; the 41st are by the same authority to return to Europe, but Sir George will not, under existing circumstances, attempt to relieve the posts in Upper Canada, so that there will be no immediate change in your quarter. Sir George regrets that he has not field officers of the description you require to command at Kingston and Amherstburg. The only prospect of relief in that respect which he has in view, is from the arrival of the absent inspecting
field officers.

The arrangement you propose respecting the unfortunate delinquents of the 41st regiment, will perfectly meet the approbation of Sir George, who approved of your not forwarding the resignation of the younger members, or indeed of any, if they are worthy of consideration.

Kempt has brought his name into notice in the assault of La Picurina, an outwork at Badajoz, where he commanded, being on duty in the trenches. The Glengary levy goes on swimmingly.

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