DescriptionGeneral Henry Burbeck Military Archive spanning the years 1763 through 1839 and comprised of five linear feet of folders containing hand-drawn maps of forts, fort returns and reports, military letters and documents, military manuals, notebooks, and a dozen books. Most items are dated between 1800 and 1812. Among the letters are those from secretaries of war, U.S. representatives and senators, army officers, military contractors and agents, clerks, and various military personnel. Also included are Burbeck's own drafts and fair copies.
During the Revolutionary War, Henry Burbeck (1754-1848) served as an artillery officer in Henry Knox's Continental Artillery Regiment, participating in the battles of Bunker Hill, Brandywine, Monmouth, and others. He wintered with General Washington at Valley Forge. At the conclusion of the war, he spent three years out of the army, but went back in 1786 as a colonel in the artillery battalion. From 1787 through 1790, he commanded the fort at West Point. At the outbreak of the War of 1812, Burbeck was assigned command of the Regiment of Artillerists. Throughout the war, he commanded different important posts, such as New York Harbor's defenses and, after being brevetted brigadier general in 1813, the Second Military District in New London, Connecticut. He retired from the U.S. Military in 1815, but remained in New London until his death in 1848.
One of the more interesting items in the archive is Burbeck's draft of his descriptions of the Revolutionary War battles at Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. The draft reads in part as written, "The Regt. of Artillery raised in 1775 under the command of Col Gredley who declined being too old of which my father was Lt. Col expired on the 31 Decbr. A New Regt. was be raised which was offred to Him. He declind and recommended Henry Knox to be the Colonel. Genl Knox felt very delicate on the on the subject but my Father insisted. He knew Knox some years before this - When the Troops marched from Cambridge my Father resinged being 60 years of age. I knew Genl. Knox when he opened a Book Store and stationary the largest in N. England. It was a great resort for the British Officers and Tory Ladies." (This document is quoted in several books about the Revolutionary War and Henry Knox.) Burbeck has signed the undated document. Also included is a Burbeck letter to General Henry Knox, dated 1789.
Most of the items contain information about numerous American forts, both in the east and west: Ellis Island, West Point, Fort McHenry, Fort Michilimackinac, Fort Wolcott, Fort Trumbull, Fort Eustis, Fort Columbus, Fort Independence, Fort Detroit, Fort Wayne, Greenleaf's Point, Fort Claiborne, Fort Adams, Fort Belle Fontain, Fort Niagara, Fort Baton Rouge, Fort Severn, Fort Wilkinson, Fort Nelson, Fort Norfolk, Fort Constitution, New York Harbor, Fort Mifflin, and others, many in Tennessee and the Mississippi Territory.
Hand-drawn maps of forts
Fort Defiance (1794), 8.5" x 12.75", "Plan of Fort Defiance erected at the Confluence of the Miami & AuGlaise Rivers in August 1794."
A Plan of the Nineteen Manoeuvres by Lieut. J. English of the 9th Foot. As Published by Authority in 1801. 24" x 17.5". Hand colored and backed with fabric.
Fort Recovery (n.d., ca. 1810), 13" x 8", showing the Wabash River.
Fort Tammany (n.d., ca. 1810), 15" x 9.5", "S. East view of Fort St. Tammany. N. Harward to Major H. Burbeck," viewing the fort from the "River St. Mary's" and showing the stockade, barracks, and other buildings, along with a large thirteen-star American flag flying over the fort.
Unidentified location (n.d.), 21" x 8", identifying roads and other points of interest. "Mt. Pleasant" and "Jefferson" are written in pencil in the center of the map.
Unnamed fort along the Delaware River (n.d.), 9" x 9.75", identifying eleven points of interest within the fort walls, such as the citadel, guard house, magazine, and flag staff.
Fort Leanue (n.d.), 15.75" x 8", handcolored, identifying eight points within the forts, including the officers' quarters, soldiers' barracks, and military agent's store.
Plan of a parapet at Fort Sumner with fourteen artillery pieces (n.d.), 15.5" x 19.5".
Other maps include those of Fort Norfolk, Fort Mackinac, and Fort Constitution (drawn on the pages of a letter dated 1810).
Most of the letters are from officers and concern an array of topics, including court-martials; new recruits; deserters; wounded soldiers; soldiers' physical examinations; artillery and munitions; fort conditions; military appointments; the construction of siege works; and relations between the army, Indians, and local settlers. Through these letters, soldiers and officers also report for duty, request supplies (including an 1808 request from New Orleans for mosquito netting), offer notifications of their promotions, and request furloughs and transfers. Some letters are cover letters sent with weekly, monthly, or quarterly returns. A few letters have free franks on their address panels. Some describe various fortifications, such as a six-page letter describing Fort Independence in 1811.
The archive contains letters signed by three war secretaries: Henry Dearborn (twelve letters, all dated between 1803 and 1808); William Eustis (two, dated 1810 and 1811); and Lewis Cass (two, dated 1834 and 1835). Many letters were written to the secretary of war and then referred to Burbeck.
Other letters are signed by Amos Stoddard, Robert Brent (appointed by Thomas Jefferson as the first mayor of Washington, D.C.), George Bomford (Head of Ordnance, U.S. Army and the inventor of the Columbiad), Daniel Parker, Callender Irvine, Congressman Arthur Livermore, William R. Boote, Brigadier General Thomas H. Cushing, Senator Thomas Worthington, Senator Samuel White, George Armistead (from Fort McHenry), John Cotton Smith, and Benjamin Lincoln. Many fair copies and true copies are included, such as one from Anthony Wayne (1792, issuing orders) and another from Daniel D. Tompkin (1812).
One letter, written by William Watson ("Lt. of Artillery") on October 21, 1802, complains to Burbeck that the citizens at Fort Sumner were interfering with his ability to bring a private in the army to trial ("The Citizens are not my friends, and I am sure will not be"). Another, written from soldiers in the "Territory of Louisiana" in1805, asks the U.S. Congress for an increase in wages. In an unsigned 1807 letter, Fort Detroit is warned of an imminent Indian attack.
Many regard civilian contractors to the military, including those between the War Department and artillery suppliers such as cannon manufacturers discussing estimates and providing invoices for artillery production. In one letter dated 1799, John McClellan writes of notifying General [Alexander] Hamilton about the improper conduct of a contractor named Daniel Henshaw. In another, Senator Samuel White writes War Secretary Henry Dearborn in 1807 about the uniforms supplied by contractors and worn by field officers.
In at least two letters, Burbeck received advice on how best to defend the forts under his command from the enemy. One is a letter written by Jacob Welch of Boston in 1807. As a veteran of the Revolutionary War, Welch again offered his services to the military, and he submits suggestions for the defense of Boston. Specifically, he recommends improvements and substitutions for round cannonballs. Accompanying his letter are patterns and drawings illustrating his ideas. In the second letter, anonymously signed "Mars," Burbeck receives more advice on how best to defend New York (March 1813).
Returns and reports
Also in the archive are numerous weekly, monthly, and quarterly returns from forts and posts. One return is "An Explanation and Description of the Fortifications in the Harbour of Newport Rhode Island." This report, six pages dated October 25, 1811, is signed by James House and describes the placement, dimensions, and materials of the structures in the fort, along with descriptions of the batteries. Another, from Fort Columbus dated 1807, is a "Return of Prisoners Sentenced to hard Labour at Fort Columbus."
The various reports record inventories of provisions, clothing, military stores, ammunition, quartermaster stores, rations, "Remarks" on soldier's conduct, and more. One is a "Report of the Forts and Posts in the Interior. From the Mississippi to Niagra on Lake Ontario," listing the forts and their conditions (ca. 1810). Another is a report of an artillery experiment carried out in 1808. Also included are several muster rolls (including a muster roll of recruits at Fort McHenry, under the command of Captain George Armistead, 1810).
Orderly Book. No. 42. From Jany 2, 1784 to May 16, 1784, containing assignments and regulations. "American Regiment" is handwritten on the front cover.
Short Instructions to Officers (1798).
Prospectus of the American Artillerist's Companion (1807).
Rules & Regulations for the Army (1813).
Printed notes from the United States Military Philosophical Society (1813).
Official Army Register for 1822.
Extracts From the Minutes of the United States Military Philosophical Society, at an Occasional Meeting Held at Washington, January 30, 1808 (23 pages).
West's Military Figures, For the Practice of Tacticks; By Which the Movements of a Battalion, or Larger Body of Troops, May be displayed upon the present improved System (London: S. W. Fores, n.d.). 24pp. With original wraps.
A notebook that appears to be a handwritten transcription of a military manual, complete with hand-drawn representations of the several plates from the manual. Written in pencil on the back of the front cover, "Peter Tulip / Lexington." The first page, not part of the transcription, reads, "1775 April 18 Tuesday Will: Burbeck came from the Castle - Fryday got out from Boston - Saturday came to Cambridge April 22d 1775 - Provincial congress Watertown April 28 1775 Willm: Burbeck allowance for his Pay --."
Andre; A Tragedy, in Five Acts (New York: T. & J. Swords, 1798, 109 pages). This copy is missing the cover, title page, and introduction; it begins with the preface.
Rules and Articles, For the Better Government of the Troops, Raised, or To Be Raised, and Kept in Pay, By, and At the Expence of the United states of America (no publishing information, 89 pages). Signed by Burbeck with annotations in the margins. The front cover is missing.
This archive contains many lists of soldiers, lists of promotions, lists of officers (one, naming artillerymen with service dated 1775-1783), a list of artillerists under Col. Burbeck, a list of officers in the 3rd Battalion of Artillery "in the service of the United at the conclusion of the late American war" (a true copy dated 1810 from a 1783 roster; all are listed as dead), a partly-printed list of crewmembers aboard the Thomas Gordan bound for Rotterdam from New Hampshire (1807), and more.
"An abstract of pay due to the Officers & Soldiers of a Company raizd for the defence of Castle & Governors Islands Command by the Honble Thomas Cushing Esq. from the 25th Oct. 1783 to the 24th Jany 1784," listing numerous officers and soldiers, their ranks, etc, and pay. William Burbeck is the captain-lieutenant.
A partly-printed military appointment issued by the State of New York, 1786.
A list of officers arrested for various reasons (1793).
"Invoice of Indian Goods Delivered in Charge of Major Henry Burbeck" (Greenville, 1796).
A true copy of an Act of Congress (1797) concerning the U.S. military.
Hand-drawn tables showing artillery test results; "Regulations Respecting Salutes"; and weather reports form Washington for months in 1800 and 1802.
Circular calling for other Revolutionary officer veterans to join other officer veterans from Pittsburg in lobbying Congress to fully remunerate all veterans (1808). Signed by three veterans.
A Pennsylvania recruiting report (1808).
A receipt for thirty-five pieces of artillery received at the U.S. Arsenal in 1810.
Information on the British army, such as a list entitled "British Force on the Lakes occupied by the 41st Reg. Lieut. Col Proctor Commandant." Seven British posts/forts are listed with the number of men at each, including Fort George (250 men). All are in the "Province of Upper Canada." Other letters are included from the commanders of English ships of war near New London concerning American prisoners (1813), some sent under a "flag of truce."
Numerous checks drawn on the Manhattan Company of New York, all dated 1813 and signed by Burbeck to various officers.
Several blank, printed military equipment weekly return forms.
Circulars (1790-1830) concerning military matters, senate bills and acts, and claims of Revolutionary War veterans.
Printed Act of Congress (1791).
Bills of lading (1808 and 1810).
Manuscripts explaining the characteristics of recruits and how to execute deserters (n.d., ca. 1810).
Blank printed receipts.
Burbeck's personal items
Some items in the archive are more personal to General Burbeck, including two images of Burbeck; newspaper clippings; an inventory of "Public Furniture left in the Commanding Officers Quarters by Colonel Burbeck 1 June 1809"; a checking and deposit register ("Bank Book") dated 1809-1812; an invitation from the "Commander in Chief" to attend the review of an artillery brigade's review (n.d.); printed bank drafts (1829-1831); military expense account as a brigadier general (including the cost of three personal servants); a partly-printed letter giving notice to Burbeck of his semi-annual payment as a veteran of the Revolutionary War; a Charlotte Burbeck manuscript; the marriage certificate for Henry Burbeck and "Miss Abigail Webb," dated Feb. 27, 1790 (his first wife); and a document concerning Lucy Burbeck's widow's pension (1853). Lucy was the general's second wife. When she died in 1880, she was one of only a few to still receive a pension from the Revolutionary War.)
Listed above is a sampling of the large amount of material in this archive. The archive is well organized and has been well cared for. It is worthy of much further research.
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