Wednesday, 23 January 2013

23rd January 1813: General Maitland issues a circular to West Riding Magistrates about the withdrawal of troops

York, 23d January, 1813.



As it is my intention to make an immediate change in the distribution of that part of the force under my orders, employed in the West Riding, and, as it is probable a further change may eventually take place, considerably diminishing the amount of that force, I feel it a duty incumbent upon me, to make you aware of the nature of the immediate change, that you may adopt such local measures, should you deem any necessary, as to you may appear fitting for the security if your division. Hitherto the troops have been detached all over the country, as circumstances, and the information I received, rendered it necessary: they were kept in a great state of activity, and constantly on the alert, with a view to the general tranquillity of the country.

The experience, however, of the last two months having plainly indicated that the temper of the country was considerably changed, and that he deluded men who have been guilty of the atrocities that had occurred, had either repented of their illegal courses, or had been intimidated to forbearance from future outrage; and having now before us, the heavy but necessary and salutary example of the late executions in this place, for which the happiest effects must justly be expected to rise, it is deemed adviseable that the feeling of the country should have a full and fair trial, by withdrawing all the numerous detachments, by the ceasing of all military activity, and by allowing the general temper to manifest itself in the most free and unfettered manner. All the detachments are, therefore, forthwith, with very few exceptions, to be called in; nor shall I give way, without the strongest reasons, to any applications that may be made, either for their continuance in part or in whole.

If, in the opinion of the magistrates, any protection is necessary in any part of their division, it is expected they will find that protection, by calling forth such local force as they have now had ample time to organize, and which, under the present circumstances, appears to be fully adequate to the purpose of local protection.

Should the same spirit happily continue to prevail, and no further symptoms of dissatisfaction shew themselves, a diminution of the large force employed by His Majesty in the West-Riding, will materially take place within a short time; which leads me, still further, to be anxious to make this statement to you, that you may keep in view, the necessity of preserving in those measures for local protection, to which you must eventually look for safety and security.

I trust it is unnecessary for me to add, that should our just and well grounded expectations of the restoration of tranquillity, unfortunately not be realized, you will find, on my part, the same wish and anxiety to give every military aid, which has been my uniform study since I honor to command in this part of the country.


This can found in Raynes (1817, pp.131-134). A draft version, with text that didn't make it to the finalised version, can be found at HO 40/2/9.

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