For the Nashville Clarion of December 15, 1812–Preface

I think most of the following is self-explanatory.

Reprinted by the Wilmington American Watchman, January 13, 1813

“Thursday the 10th instant, was the day fixed upon for the rendezvous of the Volunteers.  It was a day looked to with the most anxious expectation by all the friends of the country.  The character, the honor of the state was put to stake, and the result was to decide the question, whether the representatives of Tennessee had spoke the truth when they vouched for the patriotism of their constituents, or whether those gentlemen were correct who undertook to say that the western countries might well clamor for war because she was in no danger of feeling its dangers and calamities.

It will be remembered that fifteen hundred men was the number required to rendezvous, that from West Tennessee alone the whole were required to come; a district of country which thirty years ago first received the impression of a white man’s track, which at this time has but one Representative in the Congress of the United States.  It will also be recollected the country to the defence of which they  were ordered to repair, was at a vast distance from their homes.  New Orleans, the ostensible point of destination, could not be reached under a voyage of 1300 miles upon the Cumberland, the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers; and the return march would be at least eight hundred miles over land, five hundred of which would be thro’ a wilderness inhabited only by  savages.  But New Orleans was considered as nothing but a post which they were to visit on their way.  Mobile and Pensacola, upwards of two hundred miles further off, were in all probability the real points of destination, and both these places were without the limits of the United States.  . . .                   The day arrived!  One more bitterly cold had never been experienced in the same season in a latitude so southern.  It was truly the first day of winter.  A piercing north east was blowing in the morning, and at one o’clock a heavy fall of snow had set in, and continued to drive with great violence during the whole day.  But the zeal of the volunteers breasted the fury of the elements.–Before eight o’clock some companies were perceived to be entering the town; by 11 they were pouring in shoals, and the streets and public squares were continually filled with crowds of men who pressed upon the heels of each other; orderly in their  behaviour, animated in their step, and cheerful amid ‘the peltings of the pitiless storm.’  By four o’clock in the evening 1,800 volunteers had filed through the streets of Nashville, and pitched their tents on the hills which overlook the town.  . . .

Citizens of all ranks of all political descriptions congratulated each other that one more proof was exhibited in behalf of free governments which the monarchists have so often styled inefficient, weak, and incapable to defend or assert their rights.  Strangers from different states beheld the scene with admiration, they said they had often been where Volunteers had turned out; but they had never seen such a turning out as that.  In fact we have never seen any thing like it ourselves.  We do not pretend to know every thing which history contains; but we aver we know of no instance in history, where on the simple request of the government, a detachment so large, with a surplus so great, rendezvoused with so much precision on a given day, at a given point, prepared to make a voyage of 1300 miles in search of any enemy their government shall point out to them.  . . .

In the evening Gov. Blount, the general [Jackson] and a multitude of the citizens visited the encampment.  They there witnessed a scene of cheerful activity which cannot be rivalled.  They saw some men with their feet clearing away the snow to get a place for pitching a tent; and others cutting and conveying wood; some kindling fires; others with buckets in their hands running for water.  The palace of the Thuilleries never presented an aspect of such entire satisfaction.

The next day dispatches arrived from 5 companies to inform the gen. they were upon the way, and to make their excuse for not having arrived the day before.  These companies increase the number of volunteers to about two thousand men; that is about 500 more called for.”

About the Author

Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.

Mary Bowden