Page images

On the same morning a detachment of militia, under major Bennet, stationed at Lewiston Heights, was attacked by a party of savages: but the major and his little corps, by making a desperate charge, effected their retreat after being surrounded by several hundred, with the loss of six or eight, who doubtless were killed; among whom were two sons of captain Jones, Indian interpreter. The villages of Youngstown, Lewiston, Manchester, and the Indian Tuscarora village, were reduced to ashes, and the inoffensive inhabitants who could not escape, were, without regard to age or sex, inhumanly butchered by savages headed by BRITISH officers painted. A British officer who is taken prisoner avows that many small children were murdered by their Indians. Major Mallory, who was stationed at Schlosser, with about forty Canadian volunteers, advanced to Lewiston Heights, and compelled the advanced guard of the enemy to fall back to the foot of the mountain. The major is a meritorious officer; he fought the enemy two days, and contended every inch of ground to the Tonawanta creek. In these actions lieutenant Lowe of the 23d regiment United States army, and eight of the Canadian volunteers were killed. I had myself, three days previous to the attack on the Niagara, left it with a view of providing for the defence of this place, Black Rock, and the other villages on this frontier. I came here without troops, and have called out the militia of Genesee, Niagara, and Chataugay counties en masse.

This place was then thought to be in most imminent danger, as well as the shipping, but I have no doubt is now perfectly secure. Volunteers are coming in, in great numbers; they are, however, a species of troops that cannot be expected to continue in service for a long time. In a few days one thousand detached militia, lately drafted, will be on.

I have the honour to be, &c.

GEORGE M'CLURE, Brigadier general commanding.

Honourable John Armstrong, Secretary of War.


December 30th, 1813.

I have only time to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 25th instant, and to add that this frontier is wholly desolate. The British crossed over, supported by a strong party of Indians, at a little before daylight this morning, near Black Rock. They were met by the militia under my command with spirit; but overpowered by numbers and discipline of the enemy, the militia gave way and fled on every side; every attempt to rally them was ineffectual. The enemy's purpose was obtained, and the flourishing village of BUFFALO LAID IN RUINS. The Niagara prospect of uniting our forces, of driving the enemy from Bur

frontier now lies open and naked to our enemies. Your judgment will direct you what is most proper in this emergency. I am exhausted with fatigue and must defer particulars till to-morrow. Many valuable lives are lost.

I have the honour to be, &c.

Governor Tompkins.

A. HALL, Major general.


GENESEE, NEW YORK, January 1st, 1814. The late descent of the enemy on our frontier, and the horrid outrages committed on our defenceless inhabitants by the British allies, being laid to my misconduct as commanding officer of the American forces on the frontier, and although my conduct has been approved by the Secretary of War, the commander in chief of this state, and by general Harrison, before his departure, still I deem it a duty which I owe to my own reputation, in order to put a stop to the evil reports which are propagated against me, without knowing my orders, or the means which I had in my power to execute them, to give a brief statement of my most prominent acts since I have had the honour of so important a command. On my arrival at Fort George, and previous to the departure of general Wilkinson with his army from that post, I suggested to the general the necessity of marching out against the enemy at Cross Roads and Four Mile Creek; that his army, with the addition of my militia, were sufficient to take or destroy all the British forces in that neighbourhood, which would leave nothing more for the militia to do than to protect and keep in order the inhabitants of that part of the province, as otherwise our frontier would be liable to be invaded. This proposition, however, was not agreed to, as the general's instructions were of a different nature. The general left with me colonel Scott and 800 regulars, who were to remain until I considered my force suflicient to hold the fort without them, when they were to march to Sackett's Harbour.

About the 12th of October, the British army commenced their retreat towards the head of the lake. I issued orders for my militia to pursue, which was promptly obeyed. We advanced as far as the Twelve Mile Creek, and within a short distance of the enemy's rear guard, when colonel Scott sent an express, requesting me to return, and said that he would abandon the fort next day, and march with his troops for Sackett's Harbour; and at the same time detained my provisions and ammunition wagons, which compelled me to abandon the further pursuit of the enemy, and induced them to make a stand on the heights of Burlington. I was then left with about 1000 effective militia in Fort George, and 250 Indians, a force not more than sufficient to garrison the post. On the arrival of general Harrison's army, I was elated with the

lington, taking possession of that post, and giving peace to the Upper Province and our frontier. We were prepared to march in 24 hours, when the arrival of commodore Chauncey with orders for that excellent officer, general Harrison, to repair immediately with his army to Sackett's Harbour, frustrated it. I remonstrated against his going off, as will be seen in a correspondence between the general and myself; but in vain. By this movement all my expectations were blasted, and I foresaw the consequences, unless a reinforcement was immediately sent on to supply the place of the drafted militia whose term of service would shortly expire. I considered my force, which had become ungovernable, as then insufficient to go against the enemy. The object of the last expedition to the Twenty Mile Creek, is fully explained in the general order which I issued on my return. For six weeks before the militia were discharged, I wrote, and continued writing, to the Secretary of War, the necessity of sending on a detachment of militia or regular troops; that I found it impossible to retain the militia in service one day beyond their term; I also stated, from the best information, the enemy's forces. I offered a bounty of two dollars per month, for one or two months, but without effect. Some few of colonel Bloom's regiment took the bounty, and immediately disappeared, and I was compelled to grant a discharge to the militia and volunteers, which left me about 60 effective regulars of the 24th United States infantry, under captain Rogers, to garrison Fort George. I summoned a council of the officers, and put the question "Is the fort tenable with the present number of men ?" They unanimously gave it as their opinion, that it would be madness in the extreme to pretend to hold it, and recommended its evacuation immediately, as the enemy's advance was then within eight miles. I accordingly gave orders for all the arms, ammunition and public stores, of every description, to be sent across the river, which was principally effected (though the enemy advanced so rapidly that ten of my men were made prisoners) and ordered the town of Newark to be burnt. This act, however distressing to the inhabitants and my feelings, was by order of the Secretary of War, and I believe at the same time proper. The inhabitants had twelve hours notice to remove their effects, and such as chose to come across the river were provided with all the necessaries of life. I left captain Leonard in the command of Fort Niagara, with about 160 effective regulars, and pointed out verbally, and particularly in a general order, how he should prepare for an attack, which would certainly take place. I stationed colonel Grieves's artillerists, consisting of about twenty men, with two pieces of artillery, at Lewiston, under the command of major Bennet, and made them a present of 400 dollars for volunteering their services three weeks; but before that place was attacked they nearly all deserted, except the officers, who bravely defended themselves, and cut their way through the savages. The Canadian volunteers,

about 40 in number, under major Mallory, an officer of great merit, I stationed at Schlosser, and went myself to Buffalo to provide for the safety of that place, and Black Rock, which I trust is out of danger, having called out the militia of Niagara en


The public are now in possession of some of the leading facts which have governed my conduct in the discharge of the trust assigned me, and I appeal to the candour of every dispassionate man to determine with what justice my feelings as a citizen, and pride as a soldier, have been wounded, and my character aspersed. If insubordination to the orders of superiors are justifiable, I may have failed in my defence. If to have suppressed the risings of mutiny is reprehensible, then also am I not justified. If to have enforced the disciplinary laws of a camp is a proceeding unwarranted, then have I been in error. But, fellow citizens, I do not think so meanly of you as to credit the monstrous supposition, that you will deliberately advocate such strange hypothesis. Your prejudices against me have been the result of feelings misled by the acts of my enemies, and not the result of your sober judgment, operating upon facts and principles. Those facts are now before you. On those facts judge me in your candour, and I will abide your decision.


Captain Shaler, of the privateer governor Tompkins, to his agents in New York, dated

AT SEA, January 1st, 1814.

Two days after despatching the Nereid I took a whaleman, from London, bound for the South seas; but she being of no value I took out such stores, &c. as I could stow; and being much lumbered with prisoners and baggage, I put them on board and ordered her for Falmouth.

The chasing this ship had taken me some distance off my ground, and, owing to calms, I could not regain it until the 25th ultimo, when at sun-rise three sail were discovered ahead, and we made sail in chase. The wind being light, we came slowly up with them. On a nearer approach they proved to be two ships and a brig. One of the ships had all the appearance of a large transport; and from their manouvres, they appeared to have concerted measures for a mutual defence; and the large ship appeared prepared to take the bulk of an action. Boats were seen passing to and from her; she had boarding nettings almost up to her tops; she also had her topmast studding sail booms out, with the sails at their ends, ready for a running fight. Her ports appeared to be pointed, and she had something on deck resembling a merchantman's boat; and, after all, what the deuce do you think she was? Why have a little patience and I will tell you.

At S P. M. a sudden squall struck us from the northward, and the ship not yet having received it, before I could get in our light sails, and almost before I could turn round, I was under the guns, not of a transport, but of a LARGE FRIGATE, and not more than one-third of a mile from her. I immediately hauled down English colors, which I previously had up, set three American ensigns, trimmed our sails by the wind, and commenced a brisk fire from our little battery; but this was returned with woeful interest. Her first broad side killed two men, and wounded six others, two of whom severely, one since dead. It also blew up one of my salt boxes, with two nine pound cartridges. This communicated fire to a number of pistols, and three tube boxes that were lying on the companion way; all of which exploded, and some of the tubes penetrated through a small crevice under the companion leaf, and found their way to the cabin floor; but that being wet, and the fire screen broken up, no further accident took place.

This, together with the tremendous fire from the frigate, I assure you, made warm work on the Tompkins's quarter deck; but thanks to her heels, and the exertions of my brave officers and crew, I have still the command of her. When she opened her fire upon me, it was about half past three. I was then a little abaft her beam. To have attempted to tack, in a hard squall, would at least have exposed me to a raking fire; and to have attempted it and miss would have been attended with the inevitable loss of the schooner. I therefore thought it most prudent to take her fire on the tack on which I was; and this I was exposed to from the position which I have mentioned until I passed her bow; she all the while standing on with me, and almost as fast as ourselves; and such a tune as was played round my ears, I assure you, I never wish to hear again in the same key. At 4 her shot began to fall short of us; at half past four, the wind dying away, and the enemy still holding it, his shot again began to reach us; got out sweeps, and turned all hands to. I also threw over all the lumber from the deck, and about 2000 weight of shot from the after hold. From about 5, A. M. all his shot fell short of us. At about 25 minutes after 5, the enemy hove about, and I was glad to get so well clear of one of the most quarrelsome companions that I ever met with. After the first broadside from the frigate, no shot struck the hull of the Tompkins; but the water was literally in a foam all around her. The moment before the squall struck us, I told Mr. Farnum that she was too heavy or us, and he went forward with a glass to take another look; when the squall took the schooner as if by magic, and was up with her before we could get in our light sails.

My officers conducted themselves in a way that would have done honour to a more permanent service: Mr. Farnum, first lieutenant, conducted himself with his usual vigor. Mr. Acheson,

« PreviousContinue »