Page images
PDF
EPUB

Navy Yard near Black Rock, which had been previously prepared for the purpose of transporting the troops across the river 70 public boats calculated to carry 40 men each

2800 5 long boats belonging to individuals, but which had been taken

into the public service, calculated to carry 100 men each 500 10 scows for artillery, and 25 men each

250

.

3550

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. I immediately 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 seainen 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 offi. cial 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, how, ever, 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 evering 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 offabout 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

Wait the order of the general to put off. At day-light we discovered the troops disembarking, and were informed that the invasion of Canada had been abandoned for this season, and that the troops were ordered to winter quarters. A scene of confusion ensued, which it is difficult to describe-about 4000 men, without order or restraint, discharging their muskets in every direction.

About 1000 volunteers came in under general Smyth's proclamation, but owing to the state of the roads, which was bad beyond example, many did not arrive until after the 1st of December.

It is impossible for me to form any estimate of the number of troops embarked at any time this morning; it was yet scarcely light, and I was at one end of a line of boats occupying a distance of half a mile. When the volunteers first arrived at the navy yard, and it was found that the regular troops had not yet appeared, their officers were instructed to permit them to land and keep themselves warm by exercise, as the boats were covered with snow which had fallen during the night; but they were instructed not to leave the side of the boats, that they might immediately re-enter.

PETER B. PORTER. Black Rock, December 14, 1812.

HEAD QUARTERS, FRANKLINTON,

January 30, 1813. SIR,

I have the honour to enclose you, herewith, the official report of lieutenant colonel Campbell, of his expedition against the Mississineway towns, of the 25th ultimo, and 1st instant. I am entirely satisfied with the colonel's conduct, and beg leave to recommend him, major Ball, and the rest of the officers and soldiers of the detachment, who were fortunate enough to have an opportunity of distinguishing themselves, to the notice of the president. I will venture to predict that colonel Campbell's future career will support the character he has obtained in the commencement of his military service. Major Ball, my friend and associate in general Wayne's army, would do honour to any service. Lieutenant colonel Simral deserves great credit for the excellent discipline of his regiment, which perhaps equals that of any other regiment of light dragoons on the continent. The character of major M‘Dowell has long been established in Kentucky for intrepidity. At an

age

when most men retire to the enjoyment of ease, this hardy veteran solicits every post of difficulty, fatigue and danger, with the ardour of a youthful warrior. The conduct of the other officers is so particularly described by colonel Campbell, that it is unnecessary for me to repeat them. Knowing each individual, I heartly accord in the sentiments he has expressed of their merits. There is, however, a circumstance which colonel Campbell has neglected to mention, that is so honourable to a young

hero, now no more, as well as to the army, that I cannot pass it over. Major MDowell, captain Trotter, and captain Hite, have all informed me that lieutenant Waltz, of captain Markle's troop. of volunteer dragoons, like the gallant Spencer, could not be brought to leave his post, after having received two wounds, one of which shattered his arm. In this situation he was moving his horse to make a charge when a 'ball passed through his head. In short, sir, the whole detachment have redeemed a solemn pledge given to me at the moment of their departure, that they would obey their officers and support the character of American soldiers.

I have the honour to be yours, &c.

WILLIAM HENRY HÁRRISON. Honourable James Monroe,

acting Secretary of War.

(INCLOSURE.)

FORT GREENVILLE, December 25th, 1812. I left this place on my march out, on the 14th, with 600 rank and file, which number was reduced on my march by the return of some who became sick. My first order of march was in five columns, colonel Simral's regiment in two on the left, the infantry in one on the centre, and major Ball's squadron in two on the right. There were also strong front, rear, and flank guards, who marched at a distance from the columns of from two to four hundred yards, as the ground would permit.

From the flank guards I ordered small parties occasionally to examine the country to the right and left, and report to me whether they had made any discoveries. My encampments were in a square form, covering ground sufficient to embrace the horses within the first line of fires, without being crowded. I had a second line of fires made around the camp at the distance of sixty yards, outside of which, and opposite to each angle of the camp, å redoubt was constructed, in which the guards were placed. The want of axes prevented me from making the outer fires and constructing the redoubts as well as I wished. I had one-third of the men on guard every night, and formed a chain of sentinels around the camp so close that the enemy could not possibly penetrate without being discovered. At day-light each morning I sent out parties to patrole it at a considerable distance from camp. I found it necessary in a day or two to vary my order of marchy and directed the infantry and riflemen to march in two columns one on each side of the road. The pack horses and baggage, as also the detachment staff, in the road between them. Major Ball's squadron in four columns, on the right, and colonel Simral's regi. ment in four on the left. The flank columns served as guards.

« PreviousContinue »