John Macrae to Thomas Mann Randolph


Before you leave us, I am induced by considerations & circumstances which I will state, to solicit your approbation & aid in obtaining a furlough some time this Winter to return home. Six months after my appointment in the Army my father died intestate, leaving nine parentless children beside myself, too young to assume any part in the management of their estate. Their property is barely sufficient with judicious arrangement & strict œconomy to provide for their wants and a tolerable education. I was urged by the importunities of affection and the entreaties of dependence, to resign my commission, that I might conduct their infant minds and cultivate their essential interests; but animated by the desire of serving my country in the cause of justice, and deeming patriotism paramount to every other obligation, I resolved to break through domestic ties to fulfil my public duties. I made such arrangements as my situation would permit for the benefit & comfort of my family, and last Spring came on the frontier and took command of my Compy near at Ft Niagara. Since then I have endeavored thro’ the medium of my correspondence to regulate my domestic affairs; but to my sorrow, I understand, that the pre-existing arrangements are inadequate, & that my personal attention is requisite to save our property from disastrous loss. Knowing that applications for furloughs are numerous & excuses for making them ingenious, if it would be more satisfactory to you, or more likely to promote my object, I am willing to exhibit passages of my letters from home & to procure the testimony of Lt Hayes (who came from my neighborhood) to corroborate my this representation.

I am well aware that in the public service private interests & ties should not be suffered to contravene official duties. But in this case my object may be attained in a way not incompatible with the obligations I owe my country. The Season for active operations has passed and we shall go into quarters: when my Compy becomes stationary and I make the necessary preparations for them its comfortable accommodations (which probably will be done by the last of Decr) I wish my furlough to commence. I shd then leave an officer well worthy of his trust, and my presence could not be indispensible.

With respect to my services during the compaign, I will say nothing—I will leave my companions to report. I will observe however, that my health has been so good that I believe the rosters of the Army will shew that I have missed but two tours of duty since I joined it.

May I not then without impropriety, beg a short suspension from my public avocations to save the interests of a large & infantile family, & not for my personal gratifications? May I not with justice ask for two months’ absence after the termination of the campaign, to promote the interests of a family of children which I sacrificed to participate in the prosecution of it? My presence during the months of January & February [. . .] for which I request a furlough cannot be very important: and these would be sufficient to enable t me to go & return, and spend two or three weeks at home.

I am fearful that applications of this kind are so numerous that they will not be listened to with attention or patience; but if I fail in my object, I trust that the considerations & feelings which activate me, will furnish my excuse.

With respect & esteem I am, Sir, yr mot obt Svt
J Macrae
Capt 20th Infy.
RC (MHi); addressed: “Colo T. M. Randolph 20th Infantry Present”; endorsed by Randolph: “J. McRae Nov. 1813.”
John Macrae
Date Range
November 1, 1813 to November 30, 1813