William Simmons was an accountant for the United States War Department in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, until a disagreement with then-Secretary of War John Armstrong, Jr. led to his dismissal in August, 1814. Simmons produced a substantial number of memoes, letters, and papers in his time with the department, most of which survive today.
William Simmons had been terminated by Secretary of War John Armstrong, Jr. two weeks before the British invaded Washington, D.C. in August, 1814. Despite his termination, Simmons still oversaw the evacuation of the War Department in compliance with General William Winder's order. This included removing any ordinance that might fall into British hands.
Sam Houston arrived in Washington just as Simmons was to carry away two twelve-pound cannons. While Simmons thought Winder a fool, he was not prepared to leave the guns to the brash Houston. Nonetheless, with some cajoling and not a little lying, Houston changed Simmons's mind. Simmons left the guns and headed for Georgetown.