December 8 1812: Gasconading General Smyth

On December 8, 1812, James Heighe Blake (see photo above from wikipedia)  writes to Lewis Summers an interesting letter from Washington, where he recounts the latest political and military news. Blake is a physician, and will be the third mayor of Washington, D.C., in 1813. In his letter he  notes that General Smyth has fallen out of favour as a result of his "gasconading". 

Washington City Decr. 8th. 1812

My Dr. Sir - I have the pleasure of acknowledging the receipt of your highly esteemed favor of the 12th of Sept and must offer as an apology for not writing you sooner my multifarious concerns and having nothing to communicate but what you get through the News papers -- At present much speculation is excited respecting the Change that has taken & those that are likely to take place in the Executive Cabinet. --

The Secretary of War has at last yielded to public opinion and resigned - the vacancy is not yet filled -- Genls. Armstrong, Dearborn and Wilkinson & Mr. Crawford; Senator from Georgia, are all spoken of to fill the place -- my opinion is, that Armstrong will have the appointment - Eustis's conduct as Secretary has been severely censured on the floor of Congress. Col. Taylor Senator from South Caroline a few days ago pronounced on the floor of the Senate the severest Phillipic against him ever delivered there.

Genl. Dearborn 'tis said is daily expected on here to hand in his resignation on account of his bad health -- And it is also reported that Col. Monroe is to be appointed Lt. Genl. of our Armies and Genl. Wilkinson to be ordered on here to take the command of the right wing being the next most honorable station . -

Mr. Gallatin is spoken of for Secretary of State & Comptroller Rush for Secy of the Treasury -- Mr. Russell our late charge Des affaires from London for Comptroller -- Mr. Chenes of Charleton & Capt. Jones of Philadelphia, are both spoken of for Secretary of the Navy. - Certain it is that most of the Departments require a change of its head a the public voice calls for a change. What I have given you is what I have just got from a pretty good source -- however it is in great measure conjectural. This has been a very unfortunate campaign with our Military - Harrisons movements are very tardy & complained of -- Nothing yet done to the North & a part of our troops gone into Winter quarters - Genl. Alexr. Smith has issued several proclamations -- which have been very generally execrated & ridiculed -- If he goes into Canada & makes a Successful sta[rt] he may raise his fame -- but otherwise he [will] fall, in consequence of his gasconading...

Official News has arrived here of the cap[torn] of the British frigate Macedonia, Capt ... mounting 50 Guns by Commodore Decatur - after an Action of only 17 Minutes, in which we lost 10 killed & wounded and the Enemy 106, -- Both Frigates have arrived at New London. In consequence of this Intelligence our city is illuminated & a grand Ball given. The war in future will be prosecuted with more energy -- & the increase of pay will fill the ranks. - Congress is engaged on the Subject of the Merchants Bonds -- the result of their deliberations is doubtful  -- I shall always be happy to hear from you & believe me to be with much Esteem -- very truly yr. friend -

James H.,Blake

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