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.