Page images
PDF
EPUB

of Portland, taken a few days before by the Peacock. And, as we had been on two thirds allowance of provisions for some time, and bad but 3,400 gallons of water on board, I reduced the allowance to three pints a inan, and determined to make the best of my way to the U. States.

The Peacock was deservedly styled one of the finest vessels of her class in the British navy; probably about the tonage of the Hornet. Her beam was greater by five inches ; but her extreme len gth not so great by four feet. She mounted 16 twenty four pound carronades, two long nines, one twelve pound carronade on her top-gallant forecastle, as a shifting gun, and one 4 or 6 pounder, and 2 swivels mounted aft." I find by her quarter bill that her crew consisted of 134 men, four of whom were absent in a prize. With the greatest respect, &c.

JAMES LAWRENCE.

P. S. At the commencement of the action my sailing master and seven men were absent in a prize, and Lieut. Stewart, and six men on the sick list.

CHAPTER VII.

a

CAPTURE OF LITTLE YORK.
Gen. Dearborn to the Secretary of War.

H. Q. York, Upper Canada, April 28, 1813. SIR–After a detention of some days by adverse: winds, we arrived at this place yesterday morning, and at 8 o'clock commenced landing the troops about 3 miles westward from the town, and one and a half from the enemy's works. The wind was high and in an unfavorable direction for the boats, which prevented the landing of the troops at a clear field, the scite of the ancient French fort Tarento. It prevented also many of the armed vessels from taking positions, which would have most effectually covered our landing—but every thing that could be done was effected.

The riflemen under Major Forsyth first landed, under a heavy fire from Indians and other troops. Gen. Sheaffe commanded in person. He had collected his whole force in the woods near the point where the wind compelled our

a

troops to land. His force consisted of 700 regulars and militia, and 100 Indians. Major Forsyth was supported as promptly as possible; but the contest was sharp and severe for nearly half an hour, and the enemy were repulsed by a number far inferior to theirs. As soon as Gen. Pike landed with 7 or 800 men, and the remainder of the troops were pushing for the shore, the enemy retreated to their works. Our troops were now formed on the ground ori

. ginally intended for their landing, advanced through thick wood, and after carrying one battery by assault, were moving on in columns towards the main work; when in sixty rods of this, a tremendous explosion took place from a magazine previously prepared, and which threw out such immense quantities of stone as most seriously to injure our troops. I have not yet been able to collect the returns of the killed and wounded; but our loss will, I fear, exceed 100; and among these I have to lament the loss of that brave and excellent officer Brig. General Pike, who received a contusion from a large stone, which terminated his valuable life within a few hours. His loss will be severely felt.

Previously to this explosion the enemy had retired into the town, excepting a party of regulars, to the number of 40, who did not escape the effects of the shock, and were destroyed.

General Sheaffe moved off with the regular troops, and left directions with the commanding officer of the militia to make the best terms he could. In the mean time all further

. resistance on the part of the enemy ceased, and the outlines of a capitulation were agreed upon.

As soon as I learned that Gen. Pike had been wounded, I went on shore. To the Gen. I had been induced to confide the immediate attack, from a knowledge that it was his wish, and that he would have felt mortified had it not been given to him.

Every movement was under my view. The troops behaved with great firmness, and deserve much applause, particularly those tirst engaged, and under circumstances which would have tried the steadiness of veterans.

Notwithstanding the enemy's advantage in position and numbers in the commencement of action, their loss was greater than ours, especially in officers. It was with great

[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]

exertion that the small vessels of the fleet could work into the harbor against a gale of wind, but as soon as they got into a proper position, a tremendous cannonade opened upon the enemy's batteries, and was kept up against them, until they were carried or blown up, and had, no doubt, a powerful effect upon the enemy.

We have not the means of transporting the prisoners and must of course leave them on parole. I have the honor to be, &c.

HENRY DEARBORN:

Com. Chauncey to the Secretary of the Navy.

U.S. Ship Madison, off York, April 28, 1813. SIR-Agreeably to your instructions and arrangements made with Major-Gen. Dearborn, I took on board of the squadron under my command the Gen. and suite, and about 1700 troops, and left Sackett's Harbor on the 25th inst. for this place. We arrived here yesterday morning and took a position about one mile to the south and westward of the enemy's principal fort, and as near the shore as we could with safety to the vessels. The place fixed upon by the Major Gen. and myself for landing the troops, was the scite of the old French fort Tarento.

The debarkation commenced about 8 o'clock, A. M. and was completed about 10. The wind blowing heavy from the eastward, the boats fell to leeward of the position fixed upon, and were in consequence exposed to a galling fire from the enemy, who had taken a position in a thick wood - near where the first troops landed; however, the cool intrepidity of the oflicers and men overcame every obstacle. Their attack upon the enemy was so vigorous, that he fled in every direction, leaving a great many of his killed and wounded upon the field. As soon as the troops were landled, I directed the schooners to take a position near the forts, in order that the attack on them by the army and navy might be simultaneous. The schooners were obliged to beat

up to their position, which they did in a very handsome order, under a very heavy fire from the enemy's batteries, and took a position within about 600 yards of their principal fort, and opened a heavy cannonade upon

the

enemy which did great execution, and very much contributed to their final destruction. The troops, as soon as landed,

a

a

were formed under the immediate orders of Brig. General Pike, who led in a most gallant manner the attack upon the forts, and after having carried two redoubts in their approach to the principal work, (the enemy having previously Iy laid a train) blew up his magazine, which in its effects upon our troops was dreadful, having killed and wounded a great many, and amongst the former, the ever to be lamented Brig. General Pike, who fell at the head of his column by a contusion received by a heavy stone from the magazine. His death at this time is much to be regretted, as he had the perfect confidence of the Major-General; and his known activity, zeal, and experience, makes his loss a national one.

In consequence of the fall of Gen. Pike, the command of the troops devolved for a time upou Col. Pierce, who soon after took possession of the towp. At about 2, P. M. the American flag was substituted for the British, and at about four, our troops were in quiet possession of the town. As soon as Gen. Dearborn learnt the situation of Gen. Pike, he landed and assumed the command, I have the honor of enclosing a copy of the capitulation, which was entered into, and approved by Gen. Dearborn and myself.

The enemy set fire to some of his principal stores, containing large quantities of naval and military stores, as well as a large ship upon the stocks nearly finished-the only vessel found here is the Duke of Gloucester, undergoing repairs--the prince regent left here on the 24th for Kmgston. We have not yet had a return made of the naval and military stores, coosequently can form 'no correct idea of the quantity, but have made arrangements to have all taken on board that we can receive--the rest will be destroyed.

I have to regret the death of midshipmen Thompsou and Ratfield, and several seamen killed the exact number I do not know, as the returns from the different vessels have not yet been received. I have the honor to be, &c.

ISAAC CHAUNCEY.

TERMS OF CAPITULATION, Entered into on the 27th of April, 1813, for the surrender

of the town of York, in Upper Canada, to the army and navy of the United States, under the command of MajorGen. Dearborn and Commodore Chauncey.

.

That the troops, regular and militia, at this post, and the naval officers and seamen, shall be surrendered prisoners of war. The troops, regular and militia, are to ground their arms immediately on parole, and the naval officers and seamen be immediately surrendered.

That all public stores, naval and military shall be immediately given up to the commanding officers of the army and navy

of the U. States. That all private property shall be guaranteed to the citizens of the town of York.

That all papers belonging to the civil officers shall be retained by them--that such surgeons as may be procured to attend the wounded of the British regulars and Canadian militia shall not be considered prisoners of war.

That I Lieut. Col. 1 Major, 13 Capts, 9 Lieuts. 11 Ensigns, I Quarter-master, 1 deputy adjutant-General, 19 serjeants, 4 corporals, and 204 rank and tile, of the militia. of the field train department 1, of the proviacial navy 21, of his majesty's troops 2, and of the royal artillery 1 bombardier and 3 gunners, shall be snrrendered as prisoners of war, and accounted for in the exchange of prisoners between the U. States and G Britain. G. S. MITCHELL, Lt. Col. 3d A. U.S. SAMUEL S. CONNER, Maj. and A.D. C. to

Maj. Gen. Dearborn.
WILLIAM KING, Maj. U. S. Infantry.

JESSE D. ELLIOT, Lieut. U. S. Navy.
W.CHEWITT, Lt. Col. com. 3d Reg. Y. militia.

W. ALLAN, Maj. 31 Reg. York militia. : F. GAURREAU, Lieut. M. Dpt.

Gen. Dearborn to the Secretary of War.

NIAGARA, May 3, 1813. (Extract.] York was one immense magazine, which supplied Niagara, Detroit, and fort George. The troops were halted a few moments to bring up the heavy artillery to play on the block house, when Gen. Sheaffe despairing of holding the town, ordered fire to be put to the principal magazine, in which was deposited 500 barrels of powder, and an immense quantity of shells and shot. The explosion was tremendous, and raked our column from front to J'ear with such effect that it killed 52, and wounded 180 of our men, among the latter was brig. Gen. Pike, who died

« PreviousContinue »