Skip to main content
View PDF

MVB, Notes for United States v. Hull (notes for evidence summation), c23 March 1814

The United States


Wm. Hull

Notes for Summing up the evidence on the 23d. March 1814

1st An Introductory Statement of the formation of the army, the march to Detroit, The ^its^ passage into Canada its continuance there, retreat & final surrender.

2d. The consequences which the Surrender produced result of the Campaign produced

3d. The fault must lay with the Govrmt the Army or the Genl. & be it where it may it is proper that it should be investigated & known.

4th. The Genl. in his Defense has attributed it to

1st. The Want of attention & support of the Governt

2d. The Bad conduct & dissolution of his Troops, generally & their Want of Discipline in particular.

3d. The The mutinous Conduct of his Officers.

and to Support those charges his ^he^ has more than Intimated

1st. That the Governmt have promoted his officers to induce ^excite^ a Zeal in them  agt. for his conviction &,

2d. That these officers have testifyed by their conduct that the favours done them have not ben misapplyed

It will be my duty to refu if the facts will warrant it, to refute these odious criminations & lay the blame where it ought to rest.

The Three Charges are

1st. Treason

2d. Unofficerlike Conduct

3d. Cowardice.

The First is with great pleasure abandoned as unsupported & unsupportable.

The Seccond & Third have ben fully Supported.

Although these charges are supported by various specifications they substantially resolve themselves into the following, viz

I. Waiting remaining one month in Canada, with a competent force from the reduction of Malden wasting his resources & destroying the confidence of the enemy ^army & Inhabitants of Canada^ & after having done so, recrossing the river without adequate cause & without effecting one single object of the Campain Invasion or Campaign

IIdly. In inefficient exertion to open his communication with the river raisin by the Detachment of Van Ho ^of the forces and^ Van Horne & miller

IIId. In criminally neglecting ^omitting^ to prevent the enemy from erecting their Batteries opposite to Detroit

IVth. In not be fore-seing that the enemy would land at Spring Wells, in not taking measures to resist their landing by fortified & finally in refusing to permit his Officers to take mea the means which were in their power ^on the night of the 15th. of August^ to draw from their mooring the Enemies Vessels under cover of which it was well known they intended to land the next moring & in omitting to meet them on the Beach, while landing, but on the contrary suffing them to land in peace.

Vth. In making a Surrender of the fort of Detroit and army under his command, to a force Inferior in numbers & quality, without any adequate cause, ^for^ doing it in a manner the most disgracefull & and unmilitary, accepting Submittg to Terms in the last degree ^Injurious^ dishonorable to himself & Injurious to his country upon the impulse of personal fear & that only—an Impartial & full consideration of those points is all that is necessary &, ^c^ to his

Ist. The march of the army without order of Battle

2d. The imprudent dispatch of the Vessel from the river rais rapids

3d. The neglect to discipline his Troops

4th. The loss of time in mak in suffering the troops to dress & undress to make empty parades at Small villages after knowledge of the Declaration of War,

are but auxillary facts, which it is unnecessary minutely to consider but which serve to give a character to the whole campaign & point to the source from which all the disasters of the army Sprang.

1. Genl Hull arrived at Detroit or rather at Spring Wells on the 5th. July, with full knowledge that War exhisted.

2d. When he arrived at Detroit his orders were under the Letter of the 18th. of June “to make such arrangement for the Defence of the Country as in his Judgment might be necessary & wait for further orders.”

3d. On the 7th. of July, Genl. Hull writes to the Secy at War as follows “In your Letter of the 18th. June you direct me to adopt measures for the Security of the Country & wait further orders I regret that I have not a larger Lattitude.”

4th. On the 9th. of July he recd. or had received a Letter from the Secy at War “in which he is authorized should the force under his command be equal to the enterprise consistent with the Safety of his own posts to take possession of Malden & extend his conquests as circumstances might Justify.

& he is at the same time informed that an adequate force could not soon be relyed on for the Reduction of the enemies posts below him (viz, Niag Fort Gorge & Erie)."

Such was Genl. Hulls situation at the as it respected his rights & his Duties so far as they depended upon the orders of his Govermnt, befo whether therefor the Number & condition of his force, compared with that of the enemy, the State of his artillery & munitions of War & every other circumstance proper to be considered would authorise the ^an^ Invasion or not of the enemies Teritory or not was as it ought to be committed to his discretion.

This circumstanced he was bound to know,

Ist. That on the entering the enemies Territory he was bound to it would be his duty to offer protection to the Inhabitants

2d. That the honor & Interest of his country required that his operations should be such as to afford instant redemption to the pledge he made & immediate by affording immediate security to such as woul should expose themselves to the vengeance of their goverment by Joining his Standard or submitting to his Govermt

3d. That the Fort Malden & the military post at Amherstburg, were as was as a Depot for military Stores, as an refuge resort & resort for I and Invitation to the Savage Nations which surrounded it, as a notorious monument to them & the surrounding country, that the power of the enemy remained ascendant was of the last importance, and that of course the fa it was indispensably necessary to the future success of the Campaign, that the Invasion of Canada & the fall of Malden should be contemporaneous.

4th. That if this great object could not be effected, either for want of Numbers, for want of artillery or for any other cause, untill these causes were removed, the Invasion would not only be an empty parade, but might & most probably would lead to disaster & disgrace, & should be avoided.

5th. Under these circumstances he co crossed the River and ass exercised the discretion which was committed to him & assumed the responsibility attendant thereon.

6th. On enting Canada, instead of moving down to Detro Malden or its neighborhod as his army expected, he encamped opposite the point, he had started from. Issued a proclamation promising conquest & protection, & the first effort to obtain the one & afford the other was to dig entrenchments & build fortifications round his own Camp.

7th. The Inhabitants respecting the American name & sympathising with her interest ^her Sons^ flocked in crowds to his Standard & accepted his protection.

8th. Within those ^fatal^ trenches he remained from the 12th. of July untill the 7th & 8th. of August, nearly one month when he recrossed the river ^with his main Body^ & in two or three days thereafter evacuated the Country, without effecting one Solitary object for he entered it, leaving the Citizens Inhabitants who had joined him to their fate & reaping by the Invasion nought but a rich Harvest of national Disgrace & producing nought but individual calamity.

And the Question arises to what cause is this failure to be attributed & why was not Malden taken. Whether it might or might not have ben taken must depend

Ist. On the American force it amount & Condition

IId. The Enemies force.

IIId. The Strenght of the Work, & the artillery necessary to its reduction

I. The American force.

vide. The testimony of major Jessup, see analysis.

1800. Their artillery consisted of

3 Brass 6 Ponder mounted on travelling carriages

2, D. 4 Pondrs

1 Do -3

1 8½ Inch Brass Howitzer

1 5½ Inch Ditto.

3 2½ Do.

3 Iron six ponders mounted.

IId. The Enemies force.

vide, analysis under that head, a by which it will appear that there was at no time from the 12th July till the 7th. August more than 225 Reglar & from 1 to 3 or 4 Militia constantly changing and a few Indians

III. The Strenght of the Works at Maldn see Genl. Cass & Captn Dalibies Testimony & refer to the map.

From these it results,

Ist. That Malden might have ben taken by assault.

2d. That to wait for the Artillery could only be to take it at less Cost.

For all the object of artillery could be to make a Breach & the State of the Works afforded that with But

The facts will shew that the two 24 poundrs could be of little use,

Explain, why, they wo Contest betwen the Heavy artillery would have ben unequal after all they could bring more than two pieces of equal metal to bear upon them & would have dismounted them & after all they would have had to depend upon the Infantry.

No Excuse for not taking Malden could can ^therefore^ be derived from either of the above sources, & aware of this Genl Hull & his counsel are driven to the necessity of impeaching the Conduct of his Troops, which they do in the following manner.

I The Troops Volunteers insubordinate

2d. The officers were mutinos

3d. They were but militia & therefore not to be depended on

This attack is as unfound as it is ungracious in Genl. Hull to make it. The Evidence to refute it consists as it respects the Troops

Ist. In gen the general conduct of the troops, their Volunteering, their respectability, & their perseverance untill abandoned by their Gen

2d. This is proved by the Letters of Genl. Hull which read,

3d. Their conduct at all times when called to ^probable^ action or sent upon Detachmt

Viz under Mc.Arthur

Do. Cass & McArthur

Ditto, Cass & Miller

4th. In action <distinctly> at Maguaga

5th. Explain the reason of their Flight under Van Horne.

 As it Respects the officers

1st. In the Letters of Gen Hull relating to each of them.

2d. Their individual conduct viz.

Ist. McArthur in his Detachmt up the River Thames, in his detachment to the river raisin, in his readiness on all occassion to Observe order & his Declaration about going to Malden.

Answer the attack on him

2d. Cass, in the his conduct at the Bridge, on the Detachmt with McArthur & his general readiness & ability

Answer the charge agt him & shew what he meant when he stated their declaration to he had in his Letter to Tillyman viz. the Imbecility ^&c^ of the Genl

3d. Col. Miller, although called a conspirator. If the glory he acquired at Tippecanoe should require any additional applause, the occasion would be found, in his whole conduct during this Campaign & particular in the Battle of Maguaga

4th. Taylor, V Horne, Jessup & Snelling have each in their Turn rcd. the applause of the Genl. & he is not at Liberty to denounce them now because theyir Testimony operates agt. him.

But ^3dly^ they were but militia & Genl. Hull says he found in the revolutionary war that militia were not to be depended on.

He has forgot what the militia did at:

Bunker Hilll


Kings Mountain & that nearly the same troops who conquered him were conquered in their turn by Ohio ^& Kentucky^ Militia under the Command of the Hero of Kings Mountain at the moravian towns.

No, Although the militia during the last war like the regular Troops sometimes behaved well & sometimes well ^bad^, it is during the presnt war that their reputation generally have been blasted by converting them into Constitution quibbles but as the brave Ohio militia ^of the West^ did ^have^ not followed that example they are not subject to the censure.

The not taking Malden therefore is without excuse, but if not take it

Ist. Why did he not invest it,

The reason assigned ^viz^ that he wanted to be near Detroit to have his gun carriages built is ridiculous, it would have ben some wha easier to bring the Carriages to the army than to It was wise to keep the army by at ^or near^ the Work Shops.

2d. The Investing it so might have produced a surrender, would certainly have cut off communication by land & over awed the Indians.

The non-investment Therefore stands without a pretence of Excuse.

On the 7th. of August the two 24 pounders for which the army had waited a month were ready. Why was not an immediate descent then made & why was Canada evacuated?

The reasons given for considered

I. The enemy had the command of the lake.

I. This he knew before he entered it & that it would not be altered except by success on land.

2d. ^The Command of the lake^ It was ^not^ necessary to him to take the Troops down & his operations were not in part retarded by it the want of it

3d. Whatever effect therefore the Command of the Lakes might have had on the War generally on the particular opperations in which he was enggaged it had no effect.

IId. His communication wo with Ohio was cut off.

I. Taking Malden would have restored it

2d. Taking Malden was the only way to restore it from the conclusive reason given by Genl. McArthur as stated in Major Trembles Testimony

IIId. The fall of Mackinac.

I. The alarm upon this Subject was unfounded, for the reasons stated in Genl. Taylor Testimony

2d. How could that post with its 570 men prevent the Savages from coming down.

3d. If the fall of Mackinac had so great an effect upon the Savages, how much greater would the fall of Malden have had.

4th. It had no effect in fact, the Indians did not come down untill they had ben up ^to^ <time> <to> of the fall of Detroit.

IV. The Letter of McKinzy

I. This was a piece of imposition & a man of the least reflection must have seen that it was so.

2d. The account of the enemies force contained in it was ridiculously extravagant it was sent to Detroit with a full knowledge that it would fall into Genl Hulls hands

vide the Letter

3d. Genl Hull must have viewd it in that light, for it does not appear that he ever submitted it to his officers

Vth. The Letters of Porter Genls. Porter & Hall giving an account of probable reinforcements.

I. They never reached Genl Hull till after the evacuation see Genl. Taylors testimony

2d. They were dated ^the 4th August^ at Niagara at a Distance of about 300 miles from Sandwich & could not by any human possibility have reachd there by the 7th Augt.

The evacuation therefore was the result of unfounded alarm & without cause.

II. The two attempts to open the communication considered viz

I. The detachment under Van Horne

Ist. It was insufficient, that insufficiency was pointed out by his officers

2d. The facts stated in the Genls. ^final^ communication to Govermt shews that the Sdisposition of the Indians in that quarter rendered it manifestly insufficient

3d. The result proved the Correctness of the opinion of his officers.

IId. The Detachment under Col Miller

I. The object was to open the Communication u

2d. That was effected at the expence of much valuable Blood.

3d. Instead of sending him c provision sufficient to enable him to reap the fruits of his victory, he sent but enough, for a Breakfast & followed that up by an express order to return without any pressing fo necessity arising from the ap certain approach of any force which athreatened Detroit.

III. Neglecting to prevent the enemy from erecting their Batteries opposite Detroit.

The excuse for the

I. That the Batteries were erecting in the fwith the full knowledge of the Genl. appears from the Testimony of Cass, McArthur & Taylor

2d. That it was in the power of the Genl. to prevent them appears fully by the Testimony of Captn. Dalliby.

3d.  That he was applyed to for permission to do so apply and Before they were compleated & that he ^refused permission &^ gave an answer the most ridiculous & unmilitary appears also from the Testimony of Both Capt Dallaby & Major Munson.

4th. The reason alleged for not doing it viz, “That he thought there to be measures of Defence only” is unworthy of refutation.

IVth. Not permitting his officers to annoy the Vessels opposite Spring Wells on the night of the 15th. & not taking measures to have the enemy met at on the landing

I. That they intended to land & at that place was self evident

2d. That their Vessels might have been driven from their mooring appears by the Testimony of Taylor, Snelling and Jessup.

3d. That the enemy were principally opposite Spring Wells, that a part of his forces might with Safety have ben marched to Spring Wells to contest the landing of the enemy, & that if over powered they might retreat to Detroit is evident from all the testimony & that it ought to have ben done is most evident.

Vth. & Lastly, The Capitulation.

This charge I will consider in three ^four^ points of view viz

I. Its necessity

2d. The manner in which it was done

3d. The Terms upon which it was made

4th. The Charge of Cowardice as connected with it.

1st. Its necessity, This must arise either from

1st. a Superior force so as to render the place indefensible to a certainty & no hope of speedy succor

2d. From a want of Provisions or

3dly. a Want of amunition

had Authority had authority

I. Numbers

1st. The American force was at least 1400 ^independent of^ the Detachment under ^Cols^ Cass & McArthur viz

700 of Volunteers the residue of the 3 Regmnts

From 3 to 400 regulars &

from 3 to 500 Michigan militia

This appears from the Testimony all ^most of^ the Witnesses & particularly that of Major Jessup who refers to the Letter published by Genl Cass

2d. The enemies force could of that not ^be^ more than 700 White Troops of which a less proportion were regulars than the americans & let it be remembered that the american regulars were principally of the 4th. Regimnt. The Indian forces did not exceed 300.

3d. The american Troops had all the advantage derivable from possession of the beach & all the means of annoyance stated by Major Jessup & a vast superiority in artillery

4th. The Situation of the Detachment under Cass & McArthur, wh of which it is reasonable to presume the enemy were apprised was well calculated to alarm them & ultimately effectually to cut off their retreat.

5th. Under these circumstances there can exhist no reasonable doubt but that properly commanded they would have compleatly defeated the enemy in the field

If this however owing to any cause whatever they had ben driven in the field they could have retreated to the fort & it would be mis-spending the time of the court to shew that the force opposed to them could not have taken the fort in any way, unless they had been obliged to surrender either for the want fort

1st. of Provision

2d of Amunition

That there were provisions enough to have lasted them at least 20 Days is apparent.

For this see the Testimony of under that Head in the annalysis.

That there was an abundance of amunition see the Testimony or that head in the analysis

There was therefore no present or probable necessity of Surrendering, & with Cass & McArthur in their rear & 13 or 1400 men in their front it it is not to be supposed that the enemy would have remained long before Detroit if the Surrender had been refused.

 Here examine the reason assigned mainly that although he might have defeated Brock, an other army would have come & that he surrendered to stop the effusion of Blood.

IId. The manner in which it was made

See analysis under that head & the succeeding one relating to the crowding the troops in the fort vs

I. The note of unconditional Surrender is got by Snelling, before a gun was fired

          2d. The Declaration to the Officers when they came up viz “gentlemen I shall surrender" 


         3d The Declaration repeated at the motte “I surrender


        4th. The Repetition of it at in Dysons room on being refused protection to the Canadians. “Well I shall Surrender”


5. Crowding all the Troops into the fort before they returd to Dysons Room to settle the Terms.

6th. British Detachment suffered to march in before articles settled

7th. Enemy suffered to gain possession of our Batteries rendrng defence altogether unavailing whatever Terms should ^might^ be required.

IIId. The Terms

I. no permission to inform the goverment

2d. no Stipulation for the Canadians

3d. Nor for the Honors of War

Here animadvert with becoming severity on the singularly offensive remark in the defence that the honors of War is but “a piece of empty Pageantry.”

IV The Charge of Cowardice

I. The whole transaction has the evidence of cowardice Stamped on its every feature

Hee never took a measure to ascertain the number of the foe, he hever addressed the troops & attempted to encourage them. He never shew a dispositi[on] or evidence of Intention to fight. He never was seen at the head of his Troops, or did one single at which he ought to have done, but on the contrary while from a Thousand considerations his whole Soule should have ben in arms he sat with his back agt. the Ramparts, chewing tobacco.

But the evidence of his cowardice does not rest on Inference but [is] ^<fully>^ proved by Testimony the fact is established by a Volume of the most irrefutable Testimony ^evidence^.

The Credibility of the Witnesses has been

Here State the Evidence from the analysis, under the head of Cowarde

Lastly answer the objection to the Credibility of the Witnesses as founded

Ist. in their personal demeanor

2d. The favour rcd. from governmt

and lastly the illiberal charge of Persecution as founded on the Publication of Brown Book & the Comment on Genl Cass' Testimony in the argus.

The United States


Brigr. Genl Wm. Hull

Notes for summing

up the evidence

M.V.Buren Spl.

Judge advocate




M. Van

M Van B

Source: DLC Library of Congress
Collection: MVB Papers (DLC)
Series: Series 2 (1 January 1812-16 February 1815)