On July 17, 1814, Maryland native James Haines McCulloh, Jr., (1793-1870) received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania with a final essay on the castor-oil plant.
Back in early May, Baltimore judge Joseph Nicholson wrote to Thomas Jefferson hoping to arrange an introduction for McCulloh who shared Jefferson’s interest in the “aboriginal history” of the United States. McCulloh’s visit to Monticello had to wait, however, as he soon received a commission in the U.S. Army as Garrison Surgeon at Fort McHenry.
On May 27, 1814, Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane wrote to Rear Admiral George Cockburn, describing the need to pay for intelligence and ensure that British attacks could be directed to “do them the greatest injury and facilitate the Escape of their Negroes.”
Private and Confidential
Asia 27 May 1814 Bermuda
My dear Sir,
As I daily look for the arrival of the Marines and it being probable from the lateness of the Season that nothing equal to what was intended can take place, the Troops being required for the Defence of Canada, I must therefore confine myself to minor objects, attainable by a force not exceeding 1,500 Men.
I have therefore to beg that you will endeavor to procure the most correct information possible of the Force and position of the Enemy within the Chesapeake and to the Southward with the Situations where Landings can be made to do them the greatest injury and facilitate the Escape of their Negroes— such information can be only come at by paying for it—you have therefore authority to do so.
It is of material consequence to know exactly their military force at the different Stations, as it may be necessary to make distant and partial attacks to draw off their force from the point of real attack. You will therefore see what consequence it is to obtain the best information on those heads which may be difficult unless you can find some enterprising characters who run all risks for money, with which you may assure them of being well remunerated if their intelligence is found correct.
Adieu my dear sir, ever most sincerely Yrs
This letter is cross-posted from the Blog of 1812 courtesy the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum.
On March 11, 1814, Admiral Alexander Cochrane wrote to British Governor General George Prevost in Halifax, Nova Scotia from on board the HMS Asia docked in Bermuda. Cochrane outlined his plan to draw American forces away from Canada by making a “considerable diversion in the Chesapeake Bay.” Cochrane also felt optimistic about the prospects of “facilitate the desertion of the Negroes, and their Families,” and the possibility of arming formerly enslaved men to fight against slave-holders in the Chesapeake region.
HMS. Asia, Bermuda 11th March 1814
I have the honor to acquaint Your Excellency of my arrival at Bermuda, to Succeed Admiral Sir John Warren in the Command of His Majesty’s Ships on the Coast of America, from the St: Lawrence to the Mississippi, and I take this early occasion of assuring Your Excellency of my most cordial concurrence in every measure that can be conducive to the good of His Majesty’s Service; Rear Admiral Griffiths will have my directions to Second your views to the utmost of his power,—
And I hope to be able to make a very considerable diversion in the Chesapeake Bay, to draw off in part the Enemy’s efforts against Canada—
It is my intention to fortify one of the Islands in the Chesapeake, to facilitate the desertion of the Negroes, and their Families, who are to have their choice of either entering into His Majesty’s Service, or to be settled with their Families at Trinidad or in the British American Provinces— Recruiting Parties are to be sent from all the West India Regiments to Bermuda, and those who may choose to enlist, are to have their Wives and Families Provided for in the same manner, as those permitted to attend the Regiments abroad, by which it is hoped in a certain time the Regiments will furnish their own Recruits—
As two additional Battalion of Marines are on their way out, with the Recruits I expect to raise from the Negroes joined to the 102 Regt. all of which will be under the immediate Command of Major General Conran, I hope to be able to Keep the Enemy in a constant alarm so as to prevent their sparing any part of their Military force from the State, South of the Delaware, which if I succeed in, I do not believe from the temper of the Eastern states that they will be able to recruit their Army from thence—
I have the honor to remain etc.
[Signed] A. Cochrane March 11, 1814