This letter was written by Lt. James Duncan (1813-1849), an 1834 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. He served with the garrison at Savannah, Georgia 1834-35, at the Military Academy as Asst. Professor of Mathematics in 1835, and was in the Florida War against the Seminole Indians 1835-36 (2d Artillery) where he was wounded. He was in the 2d Florida War in 1838 and was stationed at Buffalo, New York 1838-39. When he wrote this letter in 1839, he was enroute to the Camp of Instruction near Trenton, New Jersey. He continued in the service and breveted Colonoel during the War with Mexico. He died in 1849 at Mobile, Alabama.
Duncan wrote the letter to Edwin W. Morgan, an 1837 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. Morgan also served in the Florida War, 2d Artillery, with Duncan. He resigned his commission in May 1839 to become the Principal Asst. Engineer of the State of Pennsylvania (1839-1846). During the Mexican War, he was reappointed to the U.S. Army as Major, 11th Infantry.
Addressed to E. W. Morgan, Esq., Wysox, Bradford County, Pennsylvania
25 June 1839
I leave here for Washington Camp near Trenton, New Jersey, tomorrow morning. Of course I am in a —– of a hurry. I have only time to say to you that I intend to write you a long letter on the Erie Canal somewhere between this place & Albany.
I have some intelligence of importance to communicate and much gossip. In the mean time will you be so good as to refer to your Quarter Master accounts and see if you ever paid Hall any thing. If so, up to what time? If you did not pay him, please give me a certificate of his pay per month. I find by reference to my accounts that I paid him for two months before I took command at Picolata [Florida]. If you paid him for the same time, the man has imposed upon me — it was damned bold in him if he has done so for nothing but the most unpardonable stupidity on my part prevented his detection. Do throw what light upon the subject you can as early as your convenience will permit. My direction you have.
I send you three Buffalonians containing each a chapter on “The Florida War Ended Again” — [Alexander] Macomb’s treaty Pontiac &c. The satire is broad but some of the strokes tell well. The writer is not known — possibly you can assist us to guess him out; after you have read them, send them to Mr. Mason with our compliments. He don’t like or respect [Alexander] Macomb [Jr.] much better than we do.
As I am in a great hurry, you will I know excuse me till the long letter before mentioned reaches you.
Write to me at Trenton. — J. Duncan