Page images

break their muskets; or if they are without rations for a day, desert.*

I have made you this frank disclosure, without admitting your authority to require it, under the impression that you are patriotic and candid men; and that you will not censure me for following the cautious counsels of experience; nor join in the senseless clamor excited against me by an interested man.

I have some reason to believe that the cautious counsel given by the superior officers of my command, was good. From deserters, we learn that 2,314 rations are issued daily on the frontiers on the British side. Captain King, prisoner at Fort George, writes to an officer thus-" tell our friends to take better care of themselves than it appears I have done."

I am, gentlemen, with great respect, yours, &c.

Brigadier General.

To Messrs. George M'Clure, Lewis Birdsall, John Griffin, and William B. Rochester, a committee from the patriotic citizens of the western counties of New York.

P. S. It will be observed that the force ready could be no otherwise ascertained than by an actual embarkation, it being uncertain what portion of the volunteer force would embark.



Two miles above Silver Heels, December 12th, 1812.

After a fatiguing march of three days and one night from Greenville, I arrived with the detachment under my command at a town on the Mississinewa, thought by the spies to be Silver Heel's town; but proved to be a town settled by a mixture of Delaware and Miami Indians.

About 8 o'clock on the morning of the 17th, a charge was made upon the town, when many fled over the river, others surrendered; those who fled made resistance after crossing, by firing across the river. Thirty-seven prisoners are taken, whom I shall bring in with me, including men, women and children; seven warriors were killed. After disposing of the prisoners, I marched a detachment down the river, and burned three villages without resistance. I then returned and encamped on the ground where stood the first village attacked.

This morning about day-light, or a little before, my camp was attacked by a party of Indians (the number unknown, but supposed to be between 2 and 300) on my right line, occupied by major

* Six hundred of general Tannehill's brigade deserted in twenty-four hours. A court martial of this brigade have fined a man twelve and an half cents for the crime of desertion!

Ball's squadron, who gallantly resisted them for about three quar ters of an hour, when the Indians retreated, after being most gallantly charged by captain Trotter, at the head of his troop of cavalry. We lost in the first action, one killed and one wounded (by accident the last); in the action of this morning, we have eight killed and about thirty-five or forty wounded. Not having yet gotten a report, I am unable to state the number exactly. The Indians have lost about forty killed, from the discoveries now made; the spies are out at present ascertaining the number. I have sent to Greenville for a reinforcement, and send you this hasty sketch. A detailed report shall be hereafter made known to you, noticing particularly those companies and individuals who have distinguished themselves signally.

I anticipate another attack before I reach Greenville, but rest assured, my dear general, that they shall be warmly received. I have a detachment composed of the bravest fellows, both officers and soldiers, in the world. Our return will be commenced this morning. Among our killed, I have to deplore the loss of the brave captain Pierce. Lieutenant Waltz, of captain Markle's troop of cavalry, is also mortally wounded. Their gallant conduct shall be noticed hereafter.

Yours, with the greatest respect and esteem,

General W. H. Harrison,

Commanding N. W. army.

JOHN B. CAMPBELL, Lt. Col. 19th Reg. U. S. Infantry.


In the Gazette of last week, I promised to give an account of some of the most prominent transactions of the 28th of November and 1st of December. Having since that time, received from general Smyth, assurances, which, as a man of honor, I am bound to believe, that the course pursued by him on those days, was such as was required by his orders and instructions from the Secretary of War and general Dearborn, this communication will assume a character quite different from the one then contemplated. I am pledged, however, to the public, to give facts, which I shall proceed to do without comment; leaving it to time to develope the object of military movements which have appeared to me and others not only extraordinary, but inexplicable.

On the 27th of November there were collected at this point a military force of about 4,500 effective men; consisting of regular troops, New York, Pennsylvania, and Baltimore volunteers, all under the command of general Smyth. There were lying at the

Navy Yard near Black Rock, which had been previously prepared for the purpose of transporting the troops across the river

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



70 public boats calculated to carry 40 men each
5 long boats belonging to individuals, but which had been taken
into the public service, calculated to carry 100 men each
10 scows for artillery, and 25 men each

besides a number of small boats.


At 2 o'clock on that day, I received a copy of general Smyth's order for the march of all the troops, the succeeding morning at revellie, to the Navy Yard, to embark for Canada. Iimmediately gave orders for the New York volunteers, who had been placed under my command, to parade at 4 o'clock in the morning at their encampment about one and a half miles from the Navy Yard. In the evening, I learnt that the parties mentioned in general Smyth's despatch, were to cross the river at 11 o'clock at night, to attack the enemy's batteries opposite Black Rock. General. Smyth not being here, I waited on lieutenant Angus, and suggest ed to him the propriety (if within the scope of his orders) of postponing the enterprize until nearly morning, to give as little time as possible, before the passage of the army, for the enemy's troops to collect from their stations down the river. They landed at three in the morning, under a severe fire of musketry and grape shot from two pieces of flying artillery. Lieutenant Angus, with our little band of sailors, assisted by captain Craig and a few of his party, attacked the principal force of the enemy, consisting of about 100, at the Red House (the seamen charging with their pikes and swords, against muskets and bayonets) and routed them in all directions. Captain Dox, who took a distinguished part in this affair, was severely wounded. After a hard and destructive engagement, the enemy was completely dispersed, the two field pieces spiked, and the house in which the enemy quartered, fired. The seamen returned to our shore, bringing off their wounded and several prisoners. Out of 12 naval officers who embarked in this enterprize, nine of them, with more than half their men, were killed or wounded. If bravery be a virtue, if the gratitude of a country be due to those who gallantly and desperately asserted its rights, the government will make ample and honourable provision for the heirs of those brave tars who fell on this occasion, as well as for those who survived. Captain King proceeded to spike and dismount the guns in the batteries. Lieutenant colonel Boerstler dispersed the enemy lower down the river, taking a number of prisoners.

By sun-rise in the morning, most of the troops had arrived at the place of embarkation, and the day was fine. I marched 300 of the volunteers who had rallied under general Smyth's invitation, well armed and provided, and in high spirits; about 150 more, who came in the evening before, were at Buffaloe drawing their arms and ammunition, with orders to join us as soon as possible. I

stationed my men as instructed by general Smyth, in a field at the Navy Yard, with directions to wait for further orders. The parties who had crossed in the night, aided by our batteries, which at daylight opened a powerful and well directed fire, and a piece of light artillery on the island, under charge of captain Gibson, had driven every thing from the opposite shore. Colonel Winder, an officer of great intelligence, zeal and bravery, under the mistaken apprehension that the party under lieutenant colonel Boerstler were in danger of being cut off, made an unsuccessful attempt (though his own boat landed) to land 250 men at a difficult point down the river, and had returned as stated by general Smyth. The general embarkation now commenced, but it went on so tardily, that at 12 o'clock, the whole of the regular troops, and colonel Swift's regiment, were not in boats. A considerable number of boats were lying on the shores of the river and creek, having been thrown up by the high water of the preceding day. Several were in the creek half filled with water and ice. I called on general Smyth and proposed to occupy part of these boats with my volunteers, many of whom were impatient to embark. Being, however, at this moment informed by colonel Porter, that the boats which had been used by colonel Winder were lying about a mile below, major Chapin and myself, with about 30 men, went down the shore, brought up five boats, filled them with men, and arrived at Black Rock, the point at which it was proposed to put off, as soon as any of the regular troops. About 2 o'clock, all the troops, which it appeared were intended to be crossed at first, collected in a group of boats at Black Rock under the cover of our batteries. I have seen no official account of the number of men in the boats. My opinion was that the number exceeded 2,000. Most men of observation who were present, estimated it at 2,600; the men were in fine spirits, and desirous of crossing.

General Tannehill's volunteers, colonel F. M'Clure's regiment, some riflemen, cavalry, &c. amounting to about 2,000, were still paraded on the shore, and, as I am informed, were ready to cross. Several boats of sufficient capacity to carry about 1000 men, were still lying at the Navy Yard unoccupied. I have not been able to learn that any order or request was made for the embarkation of the troops, other than the regulars, of colonel Swift's regiment. The enemy, estimated at about 500, were drawn up in a line about half a mile from the river.

After remaining in the boats till late in the afternoon, an order was received to disembark. It produced among the officers and men generally great discontent and murmuring, which was, however, in some degree allayed by assurances that the expedition was only postponed for a short time, until our boats could be better prepared.

On Sunday another order was issued by general Smyth, for the march of the troops to the Navy Yard, to embark at 9 o'clock on Monday morning. I was at Buffaloe when it was received, and found that it was generally, as to time and manner, disapproved

by the officers of the volunteers. I saw general Smyth in the evening at Black Rock, with colonel Winder, and stated my objections to his plan. The enemy had remounted his guns on the batteries, so as to render it inexpedient to cross at the favorable point which had been taken on Saturday, above the island that covers the Navy Yard. Immediately below the island, the enemy lay in force, much augmented in consequence of the affair of Saturday, occupying a line of shore of about a mile, where the current is rapid, and the banks abrupt. I did not believe it possible to effect a landing with raw troops, in any tolerable order, if at all, in the face of the flying artillery and infantry, which a full view of our movements in the day time would enable them to oppose us. I proposed to postpone the expedition till night-to march and embark the troops silently-to put off about an hour and a half before day-light, so as to pass this dangerous line of shore in the dark, when we should suffer less from their fire, and to land about five miles below the Navy Yard, where the stream and the banks of the river were peculiarly favourable to a safe and orderly landing. Colonel Winder seconded with great earnestness and force, and it was adopted. The army was to embark at 3 o'clock on Tuesday morning, and to proceed at half past 4, according to the order of a line of battle submitted a few days before by general Smyth; the regulars on the right, or in the front boat; general Tannehill's troops in the centre, and the New York volunteers on the left. I was to go in the front boat with a chosen set of men, direct the landing, and join the New York volunteers on their arrival.

On Monday evening, seven boats for colonel Swift's regiment, and eight for the late volunteers, were brought some distance up the river, and left at different points, to avoid the noise and confusion of embarking the whole army at one place. At half past 3 on Tuesday morning, the eight boats were filled with volunteers (a corps of which has, on every occasion while on the lines, shown great exactness of discipline, promptitude and zeal for the service,) had embarked, and the residue were embarking. Not a man of the regular infantry was in the boats for about half an hour, when colonel Winder's regiment entered their boats with great order and silence.

About three quarters of an hour after this, the remaining regulars commenced the embarkation, when I dropped down to the front of the line, with a flag in my boat, to designate it as the leading boat. I was accompanied by majors Cyrenius Chapin, and John W. Macomb, captain Mills, of the cavalry, adjutant Chase, and quarter master Chapin, two pilots and about 25 volunteers of Buffaloe, under lieutenant Haynes.

I mention the names of these gentlemen, because they had before decidedly objected to passing at the proposed point by daylight; but when day appeared, and one of the men raised some difficulty on that account, he was induced to remain, and it was unanimously agreed to incur the additional hazard, and patiently

« PreviousContinue »