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From the Cullum File of Heman Allen Fay

October 22, 1847
Contributed by
Susan Fay McGinn
Mary McGinn Vickers

transcribed and annotated by Linda Fay Kaufman
Heman Allen's page
Bennington and Vermont Directory
lines, lists and links
Albany Oct. 22. 1847.
I have received your circular of the 1st Inst. & reply as shortly & fully as I can -- thus --
1st. I was appointed a Cadet of the U. S. Military Academy in the month of March 1807 -- (the exact day I know not, having mislaid the Warrant) -- I was 27 years of age when I entered that school -- In June 1808, I was appointed a 2nd Lieut, (by the by, I knew as much when I entered said School, as was thought necessary at that day,) the Commission was signed by Th. Jefferson, then Pres. of the U. S. -- was, in due course of promotions, (for few resigned, & none died); appointed a 1st Lieut. of the "Corps of Artillery", said Corps consisting of twenty Companies; scattered from Dan to Beersheba, & a 2nd Lieut. at the bottom, had to make a most prodigious climbing to get a-head one hoist -- very well -- after serving at various Posts on the Sea-Board, until the Peace of 1815, I was left out of the Peace Establishment, at the Annapolis Station, crippled & wholly unable for the time) to do Military duty, altho' whole in heart & soul -- being thrown to the Winds, out of my employ, with a family, I was appointed in 1816, by Col. James R. Mullany QuartermasterGeneral of the Northern Division, an Assistant Barrack Master! -- & in 3 months afterwards was, by him, appointed Principal Forage Master, & having the Chief Settlement of accounts in his Office -- but after being in his Office about two years, he being a man of very irrascible tempers, an Irishmen, & a free drinker of Wine; was exceedingly obstreperous, & difficult to live with -- some of my friends understanding the State of Affairs, obtained for me the place of Military Store Keeper at Albany, N.Y. -- to this place I took up my residence in 1817 -- & in 1820 I was appointed (in addition) Agent of the QuarterMaster General's Dept. by Gen. Jesup, which duties I discharged to the entire satisfaction of all concerned (so far as I know, or believe) until the Month of July 1842; when that Janus faced, double dealing every honest Man, John C. Spencer, being Secretary of War, & having not the fear of God before his eyes, but favor to an Irishman who had (he says) done him a personal service on the Canada frontier in 1813) sent me a letter of dismission, & the said Irishman a letter of appointment to my place -- said Irishman says, "no man knows, or will know, except himself, the particular acts of favor which he rendered to the said John C. Spencer -- I told him it was (probably) a case he dare not make known -- it is a glorious family, (John C's,) one Son slung up at the yard arm of the Somers Brig, & another sent to Texas, for forging two checks on his father, for $500 cash!!!
Blessed Man -- Christian Man -- Episcopalian Christian -- High Church, which does not believe in Conversion--which believes that Baptism is Conversion!!! -- the Lord have Mercy upon him according to the multitude of his tender mercies -- & I am now here, living moderately upon my limited means, 49 years of age, with a family of 5 Boys and one girl -- Respectfully, your most obedient.
(pray send me a Register when published)-- Heman A. Fay--
James R. Mullany
Major 3/13/1812 - 3/3/1813; Lieutenant-Colonel 3/3/1812 - 5/17/1815; Quartermaster-General Northern Division -- 29 April 1816 - 14 April 1818. From: Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, QUARTERMASTER'S DEPARTMENT, pp 39-40 et al.
Brig. Gen. T. S. Jesup
Major 4/6/1812 - 4/18/1814; Lieutenant-Colonel 4/30/1817 - 5/18/1818; Quartermaster-General 5/8/1818 - 6/10/1860. From: Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, QUARTERMASTER'S DEPARTMENT, pp 21, 39 et al.
John Canfield Spencer (1788-1855)
" also known as John C. Spencer of New York. Born in Hudson, Columbia County, N.Y., January 8, 1788. Son of Ambrose Spencer. Democrat. Served in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812; U.S. Representative from New York 21st District, 1817-19; member of New York state assembly from Ontario County, 1819-21, 1831, 1833; Speaker of the New York State Assembly, 1819-20; member of New York state senate 7th District, 1825-28; secretary of state of New York, 1839-42; U.S. Secretary of War, 1841-43; U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, 1843-44. Methodist. Died in Albany, Albany County, N.Y., May 18, 1855. Interment at Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, N.Y. See also: congressional biography." From: The Political Graveyard.
The Congressional Biography has essentially the same information:
"SPENCER, John Canfield, (son of Ambrose Spencer), a Representative from New York; born in Hudson, N.Y., January 8, 1788; was graduated from Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., in 1806; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1809 and commenced practice in Canandaigua, N.Y.; served in the War of 1812; Judge Advocate General in 1813; postmaster of Canandaigua, N.Y.; assistant attorney general for western New York in 1815; elected as a Republican to the Fifteenth Congress (March 4, 1817-March 3, 1819); was not a candidate for renomination in 1818; member of the State assembly in 1820 and 1821, and served one year as speaker; served in the State senate 1824-1828; special attorney general to prosecute the abductors of Morgan; again a member of the State assembly in 1831 and 1832; secretary of state of New York in 1839; appointed Secretary of War by President Tyler October 12, 1841, and served until March 3, 1843; Secretary of the Treasury March 3, 1843, to May 2, 1844, when he resigned; nominated by President Tyler to the United States Supreme Court on January 9, 1844, but was rejected by the Senate; died in Albany, N.Y., May 17, 1855; interment in Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, N.Y."
The full story of the Somers incident is told at History of USS Somers. It includes the following statement: "Mackenzie headed for the Virgin Islands hoping to meet Vandalia at St. Thomas before returning to New York. On the passage to the West Indies, the officers noticed a steady worsening of morale. On the 26th, Mackenzie arrested Midshipman Philip Spencer, the son of Secretary of War Spencer, for inciting mutiny. The next day, Boatswain's Mate Samuel Cromwell and Seaman Elisha Small were also put in irons.
"An investigation by the officers of the ship over the next few days indicated that these men were plotting to take over the ship, throw the officers and loyal members of the crew to the sharks, and then to use Somers for piracy. On 1 December, the officers reported that they had "come to a cool, decided, and unanimous opinion" that the prisoners were "guilty of a full and determined intention to commit a mutiny;" and they recommended that the three be put to death. The plotters were promptly hanged.
"Somers reached St. Thomas on 5 December and returned to New York on the 14th. She remained there during a naval court of inquiry which investigated the mutiny and the execution and the subsequent court martial. Both proceedings exonerated Mackenzie."