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No. 14] Twelfth CONGRESS.... First Session.
[Debates in Congress---Continued.]
DECEMBER 17, 1811, In support of his motion to reduce the number of regiments propos
ed in the bill to raise an additional military force, and in reply to Mr. Giles
MR. ANDERSON said, he was mot a little surprised to hear the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. Gila-s) say that he was unprepared to oppole a very unexpected motion, when he (Mr. A.) had two days before, whilst the bill was under consideration, suggested his intention, in his place, to make the motion he had now made; upon which the honorable inember expressed a wish to postpone the consideration of the question, and immediately mov. ed the postponement of the bill which was not opposed, and of course prevailed. Mr. A. faid, that the motion was not, there. fore, made without due notice, and, he would add, without due confideration. He had consulted with a number of the members of this honorable bodly, for whose judgement and opinions he had great respect, and with whose approbation, and he might indeed add, at whose instance, the motion had been made. He was, however, himselt ready and willing to meet all the responsibility that might attach to it ; notwithstanding the surprise of the honorable member as to the quarter from which it had come.
Mr. A. said, he should not pretend to reply to all the various observations the gentleman had thought proper to make, very many of which he considered altogether irrelevant to the quel. tion under consideration, but which might, perhaps, answer some other purpose which the honorable member might liave in view.
Mr. Anderson said, he was as stronglu impressed with the ne. ceflity of a sufficient force, for the invasion of Canada, as the gentleman from Virginia could possibly be, and not a single expres. fion had efcaped him to induce a belief that he should be un. willing to vote a proper and ainple force for that fervice; but he differed greatly with the gentleman as to the kind of force we ought immediately to employ. The honorable member appear. ed to place his fole dependence upon regular troops ; and yet, if he understood his argument, he was decidedly in favor of making a descent upon Canada early in the spring. As to the time, Mr. A. agreed with him ; but as to the means, he certainly diffred very greatly from him. The number of regulars contı mplated by the gentleman could not possibly be raised within the ine; he was therefore of opinion, that a less number ought to be infrted in the bill It should be recollected that we had very r ci-nt. ly authorised the regiments infrihe peace establishment to be fi!!, -4; they would r:quire at least 6,000 men; add thereto 25,000
more, the number proposed by the honorable member; and he would ask him to answer candidly, whether he really believed that so great a number of regular troops could be enlisted within the time required for the firvice to be performed. Mr. A, said, impressed, as lie was, with a firm belief that not more than half the number proposed by the honorable member could be enlisted within the time they must take the field in order to act efficiently against Canada, he could not fee the propriety of retaining the whole number contemplated by the bill. Mr. A. faid, it must be well known to every gentleman, that the invasion of Canada must necessarily take place before the breaking up of the ice in the river St. Lawrence; otherwise, twice 25,000 would be required_becaufa large reinforcements, as soon as an opportunity prefented, would most certainly be thrown into that country. Mr. A. faid, upon a fair view of the whole subject, as it present. ed itself to him, he was decidedly of opinion that the number of regular troops to be raised by that bill, ought not to exceed 16,. 000, and he had no hesitation in saying, that in his opinion, as efficient a force would be raised under such a provifion within the time limited for taking the field, as would be raised were the pref. ent number in the bill retained-and in the former case, we 1hould prove to our enemics, that we were able to raise fuch number of regular troops as might be wanted upon a sudden e. mergency ; but in the latter, we should not be able to make the fame exhibit. What then would be the consequence? You would give a most mortifying proof that your means were not commensurate to your ends; that your plan had been badly di. gested, and worse executed. And surely the gentleman can have no define no present fuch a state of things, at the very mo. ment when all the energies of the nation seem to be required. Mr. A. said, to avoid this extraordinary exhibit, was also one of his objects; and this, in his opinion, could be done by taking the course he had contemplated ; reduce the number of regulars and supply the deficiency by volunteers. This, he firmly believe ed, was in our power. Combine the two corps ; take nearly an e. qual number of each; and the object intended could be effected, Mr. A. faid he was convinced that it was the mode the President had contemplated; and he entirely approved it ; and if the honorable member had attended to another part of the President's mellage where it speaks of volunteers, he must himself have been convinced, that the President did not mean to make the descent upon Canada with the 10,000 regulars only ; which had been underhood, as the gentleman had ftated, to be the auxiliary force referred to in the message itself. He fays-"I recommend accordingly, that adequate provifion be made for filling the ranks and prolonging the enlistment of the regular troops ; for an auxiliary force to be engaged for a more limited time ; for the acceptance of volunteer corps, whose patriotic ardor may court a participation in urgent services. The manner in which the Prefident
fpeaks of the volunteers, can leave no doubt upon the mind of any one as to the service in which they were to be employed they are evidently intended to be united with the regular troops to perform the urgent services, according to the express lan. guage of the message. Mr. A. would ask the honorable mem. ber, what was the urgent service meant by the President ? Most certainly a descent upon Canada, in which the regulars and volunteers were equally to participate. Why then the hon. member had taken so much pains to prove that the 10,000 regulars were the only military force with which the Prefident had intended to perform the urgent service referred to in his mes. fage, Mr. A. was at a loss to comprehend; for he understood the message and the object of it very differently ; and he should have expected that the candor of the honorable member would have induced him to have given the message a fair interpretation. That he had not done fo, must be supposed to proceed from his recent but very strong attachment to a regular military force. However anti-republican this doctrine had formerly been, it seemed now to be viewed through a different medium by the honorable member from Virginia. Mr. A. faid, that having, as he thought, proved, by a fair interpretation of the President's mellage, that he intended to unite the volunteers, (that might be thought requifit) with the regular troops, to perform the urgent fervices of which he speaks, he would endeavor to present a fair and impartial view of the course recommended by the President, and compare it with the course which had been taken and so ftrinuously supported by the honorable member from Virginia. The President had recommended the raising of volunteers; and it was incidentally made known, that the auxiliary force spoken of, was 10.000 regular troops If then provision had bein im- . mediately made by law for raising ten thousand regular troops, and alfo for raising volunteers, those troops now would be in a ftate of preparation ; a considerable number of the regular troops would ere now have been enlisted, and the chance of getting the whole number greatly increased. Iftimie had been affyrded, as it ought to have been, the law passed within two or three weeks after Congress met, wbieh might have been clone, a sufficient regular force would, in all probability, have been in a state of readinefs in all the month of April ; and the number of volunteers, which might have been required to make up the necessary force, would no doubt long since have offered their fervices, and the whole have been in a state of preparation to take the field in a time to have performed the arduous fervice contemplated by the Prt filent. But instead of that course having been pursued, what has been done? Your first military bill, reported only a few days ago, is now under confideration : the feffion now almost half expired, and at this läte period, the honorable member, to whom, as chairman of the committee, &c. the whole management of the military business was referred, infifts upon raising 25,000 regular troops, whose duty it thall be to make a descent upon Canada, in all the month of May. Can the gentleman be serious? Does he believe it practicable? If he docs, Mr. A. faid, he thould be obliged to believe, that the honorable member was in earnest some days ago, when he assured the Senate, that he knew very little of military affairs. Mr. A. faid, from the proofs we have re. peatedly had, of the difficulty of obtaining men by enlistment for so long a time as five years, and the want in our country of those kinds of materials of which regular troops are made, he did not believe that one half the number proposed to be raised by the bill could be enlisted within the time required. Mr. A. faid, altho' he was not as much in the habit of prophesying as the honorable member, he would, under all circumstances, adventure to predict, that the scheme of now raising twenty five thousand regular troops, to perform the arduous service contemplated in the President's message, would entirely
fail, and that the course pointed out by the President must at last be adopted; that is, to unite volunteers with regular troops.
Mr. A. faid he trusted that the honorable member and himself had in view the fame object, but differed as to the means of car. rying it into effect. The means proposed by the honorable member were regular troops only. If then the bill should pass to raise 25,0CO, entire d: pendance would, in all probability, be placed on the regular troops, ordered to be raised; the consequence, as he had before faid, would be, that the whole objcét most fail. He was therefore for taking the regular troops that could be raised in time, and supplying the additional puriber of nuen, which might be wanted, by volunteers-15 or 20,000 of whom could, he had no doubt, be brought into the field, before 10,000 of the regular troops, contemplated by the bill, could be enlifted. By this mode (notwithstanding fo much time had been loft) an efficient army might be yet provided in time to carry into effect the objects of the government, which, Mr. A. faid,' he did not be. lieve, could or would be done, if de pendance were placed upon the regular troops. Notwithstanding the little confidence which the honorable member feems disposed to place in the volunteers, Mr. A. faid, he had no hesitation in giving it, as his moft decided opinion, that at least as much dependance might be placed upon the volunteers, as upon the newly raised regular troops. The volunteers would have the same chance of discipline that the new regulars would have. A sufficient number of those who offered their fervices might be called into the field, as early as the feason would admit, and placed under striet discipline; to which for their own honor they would readily submit-nay, require, it left to their own choice for the first object they would have in view would be to acquire military skill; and they would not only be very foon pri pared to perform field duty, but might entirely be depended upon for any other service. Witness the prowess of the volunteers at the battle of the Wabash, nnd these had not been disciplined at all. Mr. A. faid, he expected the honorable memberwould admit, that the materials of which the volunteers would be composed, would be at least equal to those of which the regular troops would be formed ; and the officers of the volunteer corps bring appointed by the president, would, he had no doubt, faithfully perform their duty. Trofe, said Mr. A. are completely in our power ; and he considered it our best policy, as well as our duty, to bring them into action. Mr. A. fairl, in addition to the efficiency of the means which le proposed to bring into the field, it would have one very considerable advantage over the regular army of the honorable member. It would be more conformable to the true principles of the constitution, and would con. fequently be more acceptable to the nation. The confidence irith which he had spokon of volunteers, was not founded upon vifiun. ary theory, but practical experience ; he had often in the revolution had opportunity to witness their military ardor and persevering firmness : on two occasions in particular, the one at Connecticut Farms, the other at Springfield, in the spring of 1780. The enemy had a Ivanced, in forcc about 2000, to a place called Connecticut Farms, abr ut four miles from Elizabethtown, in New Jersey. The only troops that were within striking distance tu op. pose this force, was the brigade of Jirfey Regulars, containing then about a thousand men; many voluntcers, however, focked to their standari -the en my were met by this forci -a battle ensued-the Aine rican army had the advantage of the ground; but the right wing of the enemy extended fo far, that if not fud. denly checked, it would have enabled them to have Aanked our left. It was necessary to prevent it; services of this kid most be promptly renderer-400 regulars and 200 volunteers were or. dered to execute it ; no more could be spared from the line. A good position alone could have justified the attempt, with the disparity of numbers. It was first made by mance ivre, but it was soon found, it could only be done with the bayonet. A determined charge was made, and it was successful; the enemy were repulfed ; the volunteers were upon the left; not a man broke his ranks. Some brave fellows fell, but their places were immedi. ately filled ; all hehaved with the firmness of yeterans. The next day those troops had the thanks of General Washington in gencral orders. The volunteers had only joined the regulars a few days before the action.
In about two weeks after, the enemy advanced in greater forceabout 5000—the troops who had been in the former action had kept their position where the battle had been fought; it was advantageous for an inferior force ; it was a defile, covered for some distance on the right by a morass ; on the left it was not well protected. Against this position, the enemy again advanced ; and by their increased numbers, they were enabled to extend their right wing so far as completely to turn our left. We were obliged to retreat ; but not without having kept the enemy a considerable time in check. You know,