Friday, March 06, 2009

Tobias E. Stansbury, Jr. & William Stansbury 1814.

This information is on the Stansbury’s of Maryland. I had been looking for a new page to do and ran across this information and found it very interesting and I think you will as well. This information is part of the evidence given in a petition to Congress on the burning and the destruction of their property. There will be a lot of legal talk about the destruction of the United States citizens property being destroyed by an enemy, but I think one should know some of the laws, as researcher looking into our family’s we will run into legal documents from time to time and cannot understand what it’s trying to say. I from time to time do and will put legal talk into my stories to help you understand why they did or did not get their relief or claims.

On the night of 11th of September, 1814, a company of cavalry commanded by Captain Benjamin Wilson, and a battalion of riflemen commanded by Major Beale Randal, arrived at the farm then in the occupancy of the Stansbury’s, and took possession of the dwelling-house, and such of the out—houses as were not filled with grain and hay, and occupied the same till about one o’clock in the afternoon of the succeeding day, when a squadron of the enemy ascended the river, and, on coming up against the house, commenced a discharge of rockets and shot; some of the rockets, it is alleged, fell very near the house; upon which the troops retreated, and several of them, who are witnesses in this case, state that, when they were about half a mile from the farm, they discovered that two stacks of hay upon said farm were on fire.

Frederick O’Brien states that he resided on a farm situate immediately on the Patapsco river, near the city of Baltimore, and adjoining the farm in the occupancy of the Stansbury’s that, on the night of the 13th of September, 1814, a party of the enemy came to his house with lanterns, and proceeded to the farm of the Stansbury’s, and burnt their dwelling-house, granary, barn, and a large brick building, called the still-house, but which for many years had been used as a granary or barn; and “that there were many houses and farms in view, and convenient to said property, but that none of the houses, except those of the Stansbury’s, were burnt by the enemy.”

The Stansbury’s allege that their property, of the description and value set forth in the following list, was destroyed, viz:

Wheat in the straw, the production of 53 and a half, bushels sowing, averaging ten bushels to one sowing, amounting to 535 bushels, at $1.50,-----$802.50

Oats in the straw, the product of 68-half, bushels sowing, averaging fifteen bushels to one sowing, amounting to 1,027 and a half, bushels, at 75 cents,-----$770.62 and a half.

Wheat and oat straw,-------$175.

Six tons of timothy hay, at $20,----$120.

Thirty barrels of corn, at $4----$120.

Crop of flax,----$20.

Thirty bushels large potatoes,----$30.

Farming utensils in general,----$75.

One seine and rope,----$120.

Household and kitchen furniture, consisting of mahogany bedsteads, tables, &c.--$160.

Amounting, in the whole, to---$2,423.12 and a half.

The claims committee foundings.

If the burning of the property was in consequence of a military occupation by the United States, the claimants are entitled to remuneration to the amount of its value; and that such was at least a pretext for the burning, is pretty evident, if the witness O’Brien is to be believed, who states that no other buildings were burnt, although there were many in the vicinity. The committee are, however, of opinion that the evidence is insufficient to establish any part of the claim; there being none, except the affidavit of one of the claimants, who states “that the foregoing estimate is just and true, according to the best of his knowledge and belief;” and the affidavit of Colonel Josias Green and Thomas I. Jones, who, without saying any thing as to their means of knowledge, “depose and say that they have no personal knowledge of the burning and destruction of the property of Tobias E. Stansbury, Jun., and William Stansbury by the British, on the 13th, of September in he year 1814, but that they have heard and believe that some was burnt and destroyed by them, and that the annexed estimates, sworn to by Tobias E. Stansbury, Jun., is a correct estimate of the sustained on that occasion.”

Admitting the evidence was perfectly satisfactory as to the loss, and the amount of it, the committee are of opinion that a case is not made out in which, by law of the 9th, of April, 1816, or upon any other proper grounds, the claimants would be entitled to relief unless the Government should proceed upon the principles of remunerating for all losses resulting from the acts of the enemy whether lawful or otherwise. It is believe by the committee that the Government can in no case be bound to remunerate for losses incident to a state of war, except where property shall have been destroyed by, it’s officers or agents; or where Government shall have imparted to it a character which, by usages of civilized warfare, would justify it’s destruction by an enemy.

This being admitted it presents a question of some difficulty to determine what acts of the Government will, and will mot, give to the property of it’s citizens that character. On this point the committee respectfully suggest what appears to them the only safe and correct rule, and one by which they shall be governed in their decisions, unless overruled by the House.

If the buildings of the citizens shall be occupied as places of deposited for military supplies, and the burning of them shall be necessary to effect the destruction of such supplies, or if occupied as a places of defense or as a barracks, they might while thus occupied, legally be destroyed, and the owners claim compensation from the Government. It is however, believed that the circumstance of troops having temporarily and partially occupied the house of a citizen whose family and effects shall not have been removed from it, can no more give to it a military character then thr removal of the family of a citizen into “barracks” then the occupancy of the troops would give to such barracks the character of private property.

The committee are aware that the rule they are disposed to adopt maybe thought somewhat a rigid one, so far as it effects their suffering fellow-citizens; and it certainly is more so then they would willingly act upon, were there no considerations to be taken into view other then simply a question between the Government and the sufferers; but the committee are of the opinion that in connexion with this subject, there are considerations of national policy which ought not, and cannot, with safety be over looked.

It is the duty of all Governments, particularly that of the United States, to circumscribe within the narrowest possible limit’s the losses and sufferings to which their citizens shall be exposed during a state of war; and it is with a view to that object that, by the usage of civilized warfare, private property and citizens unarmed, except upon the high seas, are exempt from destruction or capture.

The committee apprehend it will readily be perceived that to whatever extent the Government shall remunerate for losses by the acts of an enemy, it well, to the same extent, so far sanction their legality as to preclude itself from even uttering a complaint against an enemy who in the future, wars shall commit the like acts; while the direct tendency of extending remuneration to cases not strictly legal would be to invite an enemy to spread his devastations, far and wide, not for the purpose of producing individual calamity, but to effect nation bankruptcy; and thus subdue and conquer with the torch a nation who could not be overcome by the bravery or skill of fleets and armies legally employed.

The buildings of the claimants were partially occupied by troops of the United States, from some time in the night of the 11th, of September, until about one o’clock in the afternoon of the succeeding day and were destroyed on the night of the 13th. It is therefore believe that, unless the committee are altogether cannot be said that the burning was justifiable on the grounds of a military occupation. They therefore recommend the adoption of the following resolution:

Resolved, That such is the charter of the loss alleged to have been sustained by the claimants, that were the proof satisfactory as to the amount, it ought not to be allowed.


Anonymous said...

We are Stansbury descendants living exactly where this took place in Maryland and really learned something reading this. Thank you and we will try to establish accounts to contact you with your permission.

Dennis Segelquist said...

You may wrire to me any time, your questions well be most welcome. My address can be be found in my profile.