Page images

a quarter of a mile of the enemy, when they commenced a fire on us with a howitzer, from which no injury was received. The line of battle was instantly formed and the whole detachment ordered to move on in the direction of the enemy without delay. The river at this time being between us and the enemy's lines, we succeeded well in crossing it, though the ice in many places was extremely slippery. Having crossed at this instant the long roll was beat, the signal for a general charge, when I ordered major Groves and major Madison to possess themselves of the houses and picketing about which the enemy had chiefly collected, and where they had placed their cannon. This order was executed in a few minutes; and both their battalions advanced amidst an incessant shower of bullets: neither the picketing nor the fencing over which they had to pass, retarded their progress to successthe enemy were dislodged in that quarter. Meantime colonel Allen had fallen in with them at considerable distance to the right, when after pursuing them to the woods (a distance of more than half a mile) they then made a stand with their howitzer and small arms covered by a chain of inclosed lots and a group of houses, having in their rear a thick brushy wood full of fallen timber. I directed brigade major Garrard (one of my aids) to instruct majors Groves and Madison to possess themselves of the wood on the left, and to move up towards the main body of the enemy as fast as practicable, to divert their attention from colonel Allen. At the moment the fire commenced, those battalions of the right wing advanced. The enemy were soon driven from the fences and houses, and our troops began to enter the wood after them. The fight now became close and extremely hot on the right wing, the enemy concentrating the chief of both kinds to force the line. They were still however kept moving in retreat, although slowly, our men being much exhausted. My orders to majors Groves and Madison were executed with despatch and success, which, joined with the exertions of colonel Allen's line, completely routed the enemy. The distance they retreated before us was not less than two miles, and every foot of the way under a continual charge. The battle lasted from 3 o'clock till dark. The detachment was then drawn off in good order, and encamped at the place which the enemy had first occupied, being the best for a camp then near us. The gallant conduct of lieutenant colonel Allen, during every charge of this warmly contested action, has raised for him no ordinary military merit. Majors Groves and Madison deserve high praise for their undeviating attention to orders and the energy and despatch with which they executed them. Captain Ballard led the van with great skill and bravery. I take this opportunity of tendering my most hearty thanks to brigade major Garrard, captain Smith and adjutant M'Caller, who acted as my aids-de-camp, for the great support they gave me during the whole of the action. The company officers acted with great bravery. It would be almost an endless task to particularize all who have

distinguished themselves; for as all had an opportunity so to do, there was none but what accepted it. There was not a solitary instance of a retreat on our part. Both officers and soldiers supported the "double character of Americans and Kentuckians."

I have not been able to ascertain the exact force of the enemy, but from the best information, there were between 80 and 100 British troops, and about 400 Indians. Major Reynolds was present, and it is understood, commanded the whole. The number of their killed and wounded is unknown, we having left the woods after dark, so that not only during the battle, but after night, they had an opportunity of carrying off all, except those who were left on the field where the action first commenced, say about fifteen. But from the blood, the trails of bodies dragged off, and the reports from the people who live near this place, the slaughter must have been great. One Indian and two of the Canadian militia were taken prisoners. So steady and composed were our men in this assault, that while the enemy were killed or drawn from the houses, not a woman or child was hurt. Our loss in killed 12, and 55 wounded. One has since died. I have the honour to be, &c. WILLIAM LEWIS, Commdt. of the detachment.

Brigadier general Winchester.



CAMP ON CANYING RIVER, January 26th, 1815.

As the senior officer who escaped from the disaster which befell our troops under general Winchester on the 22d instant, it becomes my duty to report to you so much of that affair as comes within my knowledge.

On the morning of the 19th instant I marched from the camp at the Rapids of the Miami with the detachment under colonel Wells, consisting of about 300 men, including officers, to reinforce colonel Lewis at the river Raisin. Shortly after we left camp, general Winchester passed us in a carryall, and as I understand, reached the advanced troops that night. Our detachment arrived there about 3 o'clock, P. M. on the 20th, except captain Morris's company. It had been left as a rear guard with the baggage, and did not join us at all.

We found the detachment under lieutenant colonel Lewis encamped in the gardens on the north side of the river Raisin at French Town; not in any regular order, and apparently as they had settled down in the night after the battle of the 18th. The field officers were generally in houses. General Winchester had taken up his quarters in the house of Mr. Navarre, about three quarters of a mile from the troops, and on the opposite side of the river.

The land was cleared and entirely open, except fencing and some buildings for near a mile on every side from the encampment.

The detachment under colonel Wells encamped below, and on the right of the other troops, about one hundred yards from them, in ground entirely open; three companies in a line leading from the river; the fourth at right angles to those three, and leading down the river. These troops had about ten rounds of ammunition. They paraded and called their rolls as usual; the others did not.

On the morning of the 21st there was a talk of moving, and encamping on better ground, and in regular order. The general and some of the field officers rode out to view ground for that purpose, but nothing was done.

Our spies were not sent out to my knowledge after I reached camp. I saw them on the 21st, and understood that on that evening orders were given for their going out on the 22d.

The fixed ammunition, which was sent from the Rapids on the 21st, was taken to general Winchester's quarters at Mr. Navarre's on that evening. It remained there and was not distributed.

On the morning of the 21st, colonel Wells returned on some business to the camp at the Rapids and left the detachment under us to my command. He advised that the officers and men should remain at their posts as there was a probability of an attack.

That evening a rumour reached us that the enemy were coming against us with 3 or 4,000 men, and would be with us before day. I expected that the field officers would have been called together, and a consultation held and instructions given to meet the event should it happen. It was not done. I directed the officers under my command to form in case of an attack, so as to close the vacancy between us and the other troops.

At day break on the next morning, and during the beating of revellie, two of our sentinels fired alarm guns, and immediately the enemy commenced a heavy cannonade from six or eight pieces, with bomb shells and canister shot, followed up by small arms. The troops under my command, and apparently throughout the line, were soon formed, and returned the fire very briskly.

The enemy consisted of British forces in the centre, as extensive, and apparently in closer order than we were; and Indians on both flanks extending quite to our rear.

The action was warmly contested for near half an hour, at which time the Indians laid under cover of some fencing, and a band approached so near as to gall us severely in the flanks, whilst the British kept up an incessant fire in front. Our troops then began to give way; they retreated to the river. I then for the first time during the action saw general Winchester. He directed in a voice not loud, to form under the north bank of the river. Lieutenant colonels Lewis and Allen were present and assisted in rallying and forming the men. A considerable number took their position, and some of them renewed their fire, but it was not

dong kept, as the Indians were still on our flank and fast gaining

our rear.

A second attempt was made to form the troops about sixty yards on this side of the river along some fences, but not many of them formed. A third effort was made in some woods after crossing a branch, about a mile and a half from the place of action. Colonel Lewis was the only field officer I saw there. We used our endeavours to rally the men, but they could not then be stopped; the pursuit was then very hot. After continuing with the men about half a mile further, and finding nothing more could be done, I took captain Graves, who was wounded, behind me, and my son by the hand, and left the road and reached camp with them.

General Winchester and lieutenant colonel Lewis were riding slowly at the head of the retreat when I saw them rest; they could to all appearance easily have left the footmen and made their escape, had they intended leaving the men.

I have been informed from sources I cannot doubt, that frequent enquiries were made for ammunition during the action. The men appeared ardent and obedient to orders whilst it lasted.

When the first attempt was made to rally them, they could, I have no doubt, have been completely formed, had the place afforded an advantageous position. It did not appear to me to

possess any.

During the retreat our men kept up an occasional but not a regular fire.

I received no orders from the general during the action. The order to form under the river bank was all I heard. The other orders to rally probably came from him.

The enemy must have been at least double our numbers. Many think much beyond it.

I have the honour to be, &c.

Maj. 2d B. 1st Reg. L. V. M.

General Wm. H. Harrison.


MALDEN, January 23d, 1813.

A detachment from the left wing of the north-western army, under my command, at French Town, on the river Raisin, was attacked on the 22d instant by a force greatly superior in number, aided by several pieces of artillery. The action commenced at the dawn of day; the picket guards were driven in, and a heavy fire opened on the whole line, by which a part thereof were thrown into disorder; and, being ordered to retire a small distance, in order to form on more advantageous ground, I found the enemy doubling our flank with force and rapidity.

A desuctive fire was sustained for some time; at length borne dow by numbers, the few of us that remained with the party that retired from the lines, submitted. The remainder of our force, in number about four hundred, continued to defend themselves with great gallantry, in an unequal contest, against small arms and artillery, until I was brought in as a prisoner to that part of the field occupied by the enemy.

At this latter place I understood that our troops were defending themselves in a state of desperation, and was informed by the commanding officer of the enemy, that he would afford them an opportunity of surrendering themselves prisoners of war; to which I acceded. I was the more ready to make the surrender, from being assured, that unless done quickly, the buildings adjacent would be immediately set on fire, and that no responsibility would be taken for the conduct of the savages, who were then assembled in great numbers. In this critical situation, being desirous to preserve the lives of a number of our brave fellows who still held out, I sent a flag to them, and agreed with the commanding officer of the enemy, that they should be surrendered prisoners of war on condition of being protected from the savages, allowed to retain their private property, and having their side arms returned to them. It is impossible for me to ascertain with certainty the loss we have sustained in this action, from the impracticability of knowing the number who have made their escape.

Thirty-five officers, and about four hundred and eighty-seven non-commissioned officers and privates, are prisoners of war. A list of the names of the officers is herewith enclosed to you. Our loss in killed is considerable. However unfortunate may seem the affair of yesterday, I am flattered by a belief, that no material error is chargeable upon myself, and that still less censure is deserved by the troops I had the honour of commanding. With the exception of that portion of our force, which was thrown into disorder, no troops have ever behaved with more determined intrepidity.

Hon. Secretary of War.

I have the honour to be, &c.
Brig. Gen. U. S. army.


WAR DEPARTMENT, February 10th, 1813.

I have the President's orders to communicate to you, as expeditiously as possible, the outline of campaign which you will immediately institute and pursue against Upper Canada.

1st. Four thousand troops will be assembled at Sacket's Harbor 2d. Three thousand will be brought together at Buffaloe and its vicinity.

« PreviousContinue »