Saturday, April 30, 2016

A French Artillery Officer with the Northwestern Army, 1813

On April 22, 1852 the Nashville, Tennessee Union and American reported that:
On Thursday night about 1 o'clock a fire broke out in the house of J. Longette, on Market street, , near Broad. The upper portion of the house, occupied by the family, was consumed the first story, -occupied as a barroom, partially escaped. The most distressing feature of the calamity was the death of three persons, an old man, named Charles Madiss, and two children of J. Longette, one about ten and the other six years old. They were suffocated before assistance could be rendered them. Mr. Madiss, we understand, was a native of France, "and came to this country in 1800. He fought in the war of 1812, and was, we are told, at the memorable battle of New Orleans. He was about sixty years old. 

Charles Madiss was appointed Conductor of Artillery, a staff ordnance officer equivalent to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, in the Northwest Army under William Henry Harrison on November  He was "an officer of the navy in his native country," "distinguished for his great zeal in our cause, and for his knowledge of all the duties of the artillery service." (Robert B. McAfee, History of the Late War in the Western Country, 248-49).

Harrison selected him for a expedition that was to cross the frozen Lake Erie in February 1813 and burn the British ships laid up for the winter at Amherstburg. Although the expedition turned back at the Lake Erie islands when they found open water in their path, according to Robert B. McAfee  no "more proper person (could) have been selected for firing the vessels than Mr. Madiss, from his intimate acquaintance with every thing relating to them, and his acknowledged bravery which he had displayed in the campaign of general Hull."

It is unknown when he left the NW Army, or for that matter whether he indeed served as interpreter for General Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, as his grave site long suggested.