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The residue of the force approached the upper town, and the battle soon became general. The Indians presented themselves at every point, and fought with the desperate bravery of real fanatics. The well directed fire, however, of the artillery, added to the charge of the bayonet, soon forced them to take refuge in the out houses, thickets and copses in rear of the town; many it is believed concealed themselves in caves, previously formed for the purpose of secure retreat in the high bluff of the river, which was thickly covered with reed and brush wood. The Indians of the friendly party, who accompanied us on the expedition, were divided into four companies, and placed under the command of leaders of their selection. They were, by engagement entered into the day previous, to have crossed the river above the town and been posted on the opposite shore during the action, for the purpose of firing on such of the enemy as might attempt to escape, or keep in check any reinforcement which might probably be thrown in from the neighboring town; but owing to the difficulty of the ford and the coldness of the weather, and the lateness of the hour, this arrangement failed, and their leaders were directed to cross Canleebee creek and occupy that flank, to prevent escapes from the Tallassee town. Some time after the action commenced, our red friends thronged in disorder in the rear of our lines. The Cowetaws under M'Intosh, and Tookaubatchians under Mad Dog's son, fell in on our flanks, and fought with an intrepidity worthy of any troops.
At 9 o'clock the enemy was completely driven from the plain, and the houses of both towns wrapped in flames. As we were then 60 miles from any depot of provisions, and our five days' rations pretty much reduced, in the heart of an enemy's country, which in a few moments could have poured from its numerous towns hosts of the fiercest warriors, as soon as the dead and wounded were properly disposed of, I ordered the place to be abandoned, and the troops to commence their march to Chatahouchie.
It is difficult to determine the strength of the enemy; but from the information of some of the chiefs, which it is said can be relied on, there were assembled at Autossee warriors from eight towns, for its defence, it being their beloved ground, on which they proclaimed no white man could approach without inevitable destruction. It is difficult to give a precise account of the loss of the enemy; but from the number which were lying scattered over the field, together with those destroyed in the towns, and the many slain on the bank of the river, which respectable officers affirm they saw lying in heaps at the water's edge, where they had been precipitated by their surviving friends, their loss in killed, independent of their wounded, must have been at least 200, (among whom were the Autossee and Tallassee kings) and from the circumstance of their making no efforts to molest our return, probably greater. The number of buildings burnt, some of a superior
order for the dwellings of savases, and filled with valuable articles, is supposed to be 400.
Adjutant general Newman rendered important services during the action, by his cool and deliberate courage. My aid, major Crawford, discharged with promptitude the duties of a brave and meritorious officer. Major Pace, who acted as field aid, also distinguished himself; both these gentlemen had their horses shot under them, and the latter lost his. Doctor Williamson, hospital surgeon, and doctor Clopton, were prompt and attentive in the discharge of their duty towards the wounded during the
Major Freeman, at the head of Irwin's troop of cavalry, and part of Steele's, made a furious and successful charge upon a body of Indians, sabred several and completely defeated them: captain Thomas and his company, captain Adams and lieutenant Hendon's rifle companies killed a great many Indians, and deserve particular praise. Captain Barton's company was in the hottest of the battle, and fought like soldiers. Captain Myrick, captain Little, captain King, captain Broadnax, captain Cleveland, captain Joseph T. Cunningham, and captain Lee, with their companies, distinguished themselves. Brigadier general Shackleford was of great service in bringing the troops into action; and adjutant Broadnax, and major Montgomery, who acted as assistant adjutant, showed great activity and courage. Major Booth used his best endeavors in bringing his battalion to action, and major Watson's battalion acted with considerable spirit. Irwin's, Patterson's, and Steele's troops of cavalry, whenever an opportunity presented, charged with success. Lieutenant Strong had his horse shot and narrowly escaped, and quarter master Fennell displayed the greatest heroism, and miraculously escaped, though badly wounded, after having his horse shot from under him. The topographical engineer was vigilant in his endeavours to render service.
The troops deserve the highest praise for their fortitude in enduring hunger, cold, and fatigue, without a murmur, having marched 120 miles in 7 days.
The friendly Indians lost several killed and wounded, the number not exactly known. Captain Barton, an active and intelligent officer, (the bearer of these despatches) can more particularly explain to your excellency the conduct, movements, and operations of the army.
Major general Pinckney.
I have the honour to be, &c.
Killed and wounded in the action on the 29th of November, 1813. Total killed, 11; wounded, 54.
Extract of a letter from brigadier general Izard to major general Wilkinson, dated
"PLATTSBURG, December 6th, 1813. "There is an unavoidable delay in the returns of the regiments of this division, proceeding from the extreme inexperience of the officers of all grades, now with them; almost every efficient officer is either sick, or was furloughed by major general Hampton at the moment of his own departure: those that remain are barely enough to perform the routine of duty in this canton
Extract of a letter from general Wilkinson to the Secretary of War, dated
MALONE, December 8th, 1813. "The unavoidable delay of the express (as no reliance can be placed in the mail from this place) enables me to send you the copy of a letter from general Izard, dated the 6th instant, which exhibits additional expositions of the pernicious and unwarrantable conduct of major general Hampton. I will not charge this man with traitorous designs, but I apprehend, in any other government, a military officer who first defeated the object of a campaign by disobedience of orders, and then, without authority, furloughed all the efficient officers of the division he commanded on a national frontier, in the vicinity of an enemy, would incur heavy penalties."
HEAD QUARTERS, FORT NIAGARA, December 12th, 1813. Captain Leonard will, as soon as possible, have a proportion of hand grenades in the different block houses, and give directions to the officers of the infantry where they should be posted with their men, in case of an attack; and should they not be able to maintain the outworks, to repair to the block and mess houses; and have every thing arranged in such a manner as though he expected an immediate attack.
Much is expected of captain Leonard, from his long experience and knowledge of duty; and the general feels confident he will be well supported by lieutenant Loomas, of the artillery, as well as the officers of the infantry.
By order of brigadier general George M'Clure.
Lieutenant 15th U. S. Inf. & Vol. A. de Camp
ADDRESS OF GENERAL M'CLURE.
To the inhabitants of Niagara, Genesee and Chataugay. The present crisis is truly alarming. The enemy are preparing to invade your frontier, and let their savages loose upon your families and property. It is now in your power to avoid that evil, by repairing to Lewistown, Schlosser and Buffalo. Every man who is able to bear arms is not only invited but required to repair to the above rallying points, for a few days, until a detachment of militia arrives. The enemy are now laying waste their own country; every man who does not take up arms, or who are disposed to remain neutral, are inhumanly butchered, their property plundered, and their buildings destroyed. Information has just been received that six or eight of their most respectable inhabitants, between Queenston and Fort George, have fallen victims to their barbarity. Every man in the province is required to take up arms, and he that refuses is wantonly butchered. What then, fellow citizens, have you to expect from such an enemy, should they invade your frontier? Think of the consequences; be not lulled into a belief, that because you reside a few miles from the river, that you are secure: No, fellow citizens, the place to meet them is on the beach. Then you will have it in your power to chastise them; but should they be suffered to penetrate into the interior with their savages, the scene will be horrid!
If, then, you love your country and are determined to defend its rights; if you love your families, and are determined to protect them; if you value your property, and are determined to preserve it, you will fly to arms and hasten to meet the enemy, should they dare to set foot on our shores.
Since the above was prepared, I have received intelligence from a credible inhabitant from Canada, (who has just escaped from thence) that the enemy are concentrating all their forces and boats at Fort George, and have fixed upon to-morrow night for attacking, Fort Niagara; and should they succeed, they will lay waste our whole frontier. In that case, our supply of arms, which are deposited at Fort Niagara, will be cut off. Therefore all who have arms, accoutrements or ammunition, will do well to bring them, and all who have horses will come mounted.
Brigadier general commanding Niagara frontier.
HEAD QUARTERS, BUFFALO, December 18th, 1818.
Extract of a letter from commodore Stephen Decatur to the Secretary of the Navy.
NEW LONDON, December 20th, 1813.
"Some few nights since, the weather promised an opportunity for this squadron to get to sea, and it was said on shore that we
intended to make the attempt. In the course of the evening twe blue lights were burnt on both the points at the harbour's mouth a signals to the enemy, and there is not a doubt, but that they have, by signals and otherwise, instantaneous information of our movements. Great but unsuccessful exertions have been made to detect those who communicate with the enemy by signal. The editor of the New London Gazette, to alarm them, and in a hope to prevent the repetition of these signals, stated in that newspaper, that they had been observed, and ventured to denounce those who had made them in animated and indignant terms. The consequence is, that he has incurred the express censure of some of his neighbours. Notwithstanding these signals have been repeated and have been seen by twenty persons at least in this squadron, there are men in New London who have the hardihood to affect to disbelieve it, and the effrontery to avow their disbelief. "I have the honour to be, &c.
Honourable William Jones, Secretary of the Navy.
HEAD QUARTERS, BUFFALO, December 22d, 1813.
I regret to be under the necessity of announcing to you the mortifying intelligence of the loss of Fort Niagara. On the morning of the 19th instant, about four o'clock, the enemy crossed the river at the Five Mile Meadows in great force, consisting of regulars and Indians, who made their way undiscovered to the garrison,which, from the most correct information I can collect, was completely surprised. Our men were nearly all asleep in their tents; the enemy rushed in and commenced a most horrible slaughter. Such as escaped the fury of the first onset, retired to the old messhouse, where they kept up a destructive fire on the enemy, until a want of ammunition compelled them to surrender. Although our force was very inferior and comparatively small indeed, I am induced to think that the disaster is not attributable to any want of troops, but to gross neglect in the commanding officer of the fort, captain Leonard, in not preparing, being ready, and looking out for the expected attack.
I have not been able to ascertain correctly the number of killed and wounded. About twenty regulars have escaped out of the fort, some badly wounded. Lieutenant Peck, 24th regiment, is killed, and it is said three others. You will perceive, sir, by the enclosed general orders, that I apprehended an attack, and made the necessary arrangements to meet it, but have reason to believe, from information received by those who have made their escape, that the commandant did not in any respect comply with those orders.