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My Dear Sir, Yours of the 29th ultimo and 12th instant have been received. The former should have been answered sooner, had I not been absent in Virginia, where I had gone to to take my family for the advantage of our mountain air.
We have just heard with equal astonishment and concern, that General Hall has surrendered, by capitulation, the army under his command at Detroit, to the British force opposed to him. The circumstances attending this most mortifying and humiliating event are not known ; but, so far as we are informed on the subject, there appears to be no justification of it. I can not suspect his integrity ; I rather suppose that a panic had seized the whole force, and that he and they became victims of his want of energy, promptitude of decision, and those resources, the characteristics of great minds in difficult emergencies. We understand that, after passing the river, he suffered his communication to be cut off with the States of Ohio and Kentucky, and without making any active movement in front to strike terror into the enemy, he remained tranquil, thereby evincing a want of confidence in his own means, and giving time to collect his forces together. No intelligence justifies the belief that he gave battle in a single instance. It appears that he surrendered on a summons from Fort Sandwich, on the opposite side of the river, after the firing of some cannon or mortars, which did no great mischief.
Before this disastrous event was known, the force, now, I presume, on its march, was ordered from Kentucky, and the appointment of brigadier had been conferred on Governor Harrison. Your letters had produced all the effect on those subjects, which their solidity justly merited.
I most sincerely wish that the President could dispose of me, at this juncture, in the military line. If circumstances would permit, and it should be thought that I could render any service, I would, in a very few days, join our forces assembling beyond the Ohio, and endeavor to recover the ground which we have lost. He left this to-day for Virginia, as did Mr. Gallatin for New York, but expresses being sent for them, they will probably both return to-morrow.
- James Monroe
- The Private Correspondence of Henry Clay, Edited by Calvin Colton, Ll.D. 1856