The Pulteney Malcolm papers contain 46 items relating to the service of British admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm, including 43 letters, 3 logbooks bound together in one volume, Malcolm’s service statement, and a miscellaneous document with descriptions of the British attempt to take New Orleans. Most of the items date from 1814-1817.
The correspondence series primarily consists of letters Malcolm wrote to his wife Clementina (and a few to his sisters) from 1814 to 1815. At the beginning of this period, Malcolm was stationed with his fleet at Bordeaux, during the immediate aftermath of Napoleon’s initial abdication and exile. In his letters, he discussed the end of the war with the French, his opinions of the city, major events, and important people. He wrote about his attempts to pacify his captains, who were angry about discovering their assignment to America by reading about it in the newspapers and by hearing about it from other officers (Letters #4 and #5 [May 1814]). By June 1814, Malcolm and his flagship, the Royal Oak , had set out for America, where they would provide naval support for the British forces. His letters from this period document major events from the last part of the war, including the capture and burning of Washington, the Battles of Baltimore and New Orleans, and the peace negotiations. His letters also document his opinions of fellow officers, including Admiral Alexander Cochrane; his desire for peace and to return home; and his views on America. While sailing from Bermuda to the United States, Malcolm wrote: “the Americans will be inclined to Peace, but there is a set of turbulent men amongst them, that will not listen to reason. I believe that a Republick to be great must like the Romans be always at War in order to find employ for the disquiet spirits” (Letter #19, 3 August ). The last letter from this period is from 1815, written onboard the Royal Oak as Malcolm sailed home from America. During the voyage Malcolm learned that Napoleon had just returned from exile on Elba and was once again in France.
The three logbooks in the collection are bound together into one volume. The first logbook, kept from June 1, 1814-May 28, 1816 on the H.M.S. Royal Oak , includes accounts of the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, and provides a daily record of naval support for the British army during the Battle of New Orleans. The second logbook, kept from June 13-July 25, 1815 on the H.M.S. Tartarus , documents the period Malcolm spent commanding a squadron in the North Sea, while giving naval support to the Duke of Wellington before Napoleon’s final defeat. The final logbook, from the H.M.S. Newcastle , March 28, 1815-August 16, 1817, deals primarily with the blockade of St. Helena, during Napoleon’s exile to that island. The volume also contains two watercolor drawings, two pen and ink drawings, a pencil sketch, five charts, two plans and four maps. Maps within the collection include several maps of the Chesapeake Bay region, as well as two maps of St. Helena. A map of the island of St. Michael, and a second of the American coastline are housed separately within the Map Division.
Other documents include an 1812 supply order from Rear Admiral George Cockburn to Captain Ross of the H.M.S. Marlborough ; an incomplete document entitled “Chapter 21” that concerns the British attempt to capture New Orleans; an 1830 letter from Malcolm to Secretary to the Admiralty John W. Croker, in which Malcolm addressed the situation, pay, and unemployment of secretaries to admirals; and a service statement for Malcolm, which details his entire career in the Royal Navy from 1778 to 1837, including ranks, dates, ships, and notes on actions.