John Tyler photo

Special Message

May 16, 1842

To the Senate:

Having directed hostilities in Florida to cease, the time seems to have arrived for distinguishing with appropriate honors the brave army that have so long encountered the perils of savage warfare in a country presenting every imaginable difficulty and in seasons and under a climate fruitful of disease. The history of the hardships which our soldiers have endured, of the patience and perseverance which have enabled them to triumph over obstacles altogether unexampled, and of the gallantry which they have exhibited on every occasion which a subtle and skulking foe would allow them to improve is so familiar as not to require repetition at my hands. But justice to the officers and men now in Florida demands that their privations, sufferings, and dauntless exertions during a summer's campaign in such a climate, which for the first time was witnessed during the last year, should be specially commended. The foe has not been allowed opportunity either to plant or to cultivate or to reap. The season, which to him has usually been one of repose and preparation for renewed conflict, has been vigorously occupied by incessant and harassing pursuit, by penetrating his hiding places and laying waste his rude dwellings, and by driving him from swamp to swamp and from everglade to everglade. True, disease and death have been encountered at the same time and in the same pursuit, but they have been disregarded by a brave and gallant army, determined on fulfilling to the uttermost the duties assigned them, however inglorious they might esteem the particular service in which they were engaged.

To all who have been thus engaged the executive department, responding to the universal sentiment of the country, has already awarded the meed of approbation. There must, however, in all such cases be some who, availing themselves of the occasions which fortune afforded, have distinguished themselves for "gallant actions and meritorious conduct" beyond the usual high gallantry and great merit which an intelligent public opinion concedes to the whole Army. To express to these the sense which their Government cherishes of their public conduct and to hold up to their fellow-citizens the bright example of their courage, constancy, and patriotic devotion would seem to be but the performance of the very duty contemplated by that provision of our laws which authorizes the issuing of brevet commissions.

Fortunately for the country, a long peace, interrupted only by difficulties with Indians at particular points, has afforded few occasions for the exercise of this power, and it may be regarded as favorable to the encouragement of a proper military spirit throughout the Army that an opportunity is now given to evince the readiness of the Government to reward unusual merit with a peculiar and lasting distinction.

I therefore nominate to the Senate the persons whose names are contained in the accompanying list* for brevet commissions for services in Florida. That the number is large is evidence only of the value of the services rendered during a contest that has continued nearly as long as the War of the Revolution. The difficulty has been to reduce the number as much as possible without injustice to any, and to accomplish this great and mature consideration has been bestowed on the case of every officer who has served in Florida.



John Tyler, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives