« PreviousContinue »
of the lake, as the boats and perogues built upon the Miami will answer the purpose. With regard to the quantum of force, my opinion is, that not only the regular troops, designated in your letter, but a large auxiliary corps of militia should be employed. The only objection arises from the expensiveness of troops of that description. This, however, could not be an object, considering the very short time that it would be necessary to employ them. Let the moment for the commencement of the march from the Rapids be fixed, and the militia might be taken to that point, proceed and accomplish the object, and return home in two months.
Amongst the reasons which make it necessary to employ a large force, I am sorry to mention the dismay and disinclination to the service which appears to prevail in the western country. Numbers must give that confidence which ought to be produced by conscious
valour and intrepidity, which never existed in any army in a superior degree, than amongst the great part of the militia which were with me through the winter. The new drafts from this state are entirely of another character, and are not to be depended upon. I have no doubt, however, but a sufficient number of good men can be procured, and should they be allowed to serve on horseback, Kentucky would furnish some regiments that would not be inferior to those that fought at the river Raisin, and they were, in my opinion, superior to any militia that ever took the field in modern times. Eight troops of cavalry have been formed in Kentucky to offer me their service; and several of them were intended for twelve month's volunteers. Governor Shelby has some thought of taking the field in person-a number of good men will follow him. He thinks that an address from me to the people of the state would produce a good effect. I have strong objections to those addresses, but will nevertheless have recourse to one, should other means fail of bringing forward a sufficient force. Every exertion shall, in the mean time, be used to forward the recruiting service; for a few weeks I think that my services would be more useful in that, than any other employment. I have the honour to be
WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON. Hon. John Armstrong.
UNITED STATES' SHIP HORNET,
Holmes' Hole, March 19th, 1813. SIR,
I have the honour to inform you of the arrival, at this port, of the United States' ship Hornet, under my command, from a cruise of 145 days, and to state to you, that after commodore Bainbridge left the coast of Brazils, (on the 6th of January last,) the Hornet continued off the harbour of St. Salvador, blockading the Bonne Citoyenne until the 24th, when the Montagu 74 hove in sight and chased me into the harbour; but night coming on, I wore and stood to the southward. Knowing that she had left Rio Janeiro for the express purpose of relieving the Bonne Citoyenne and the packet, (which I had also blockaded for fourteen days, and obliged her to send her mail to Rio, in a Portuguese smack,) I judged it most prudent to change my cruising ground, and stood to the eastward, with the view of cruising off Pernambuco,--and on the 4th day of February, captured the English brig Resolution, from Rio Janeiro, bound to Moranham, with coffee, jerked beef, flour, fustic and butter, and about 25,000 dollars in specie. As the brig sailed dull, and could ill spare hands to man her, I took out the money and set her on fire. I then run down the coast for Moranham, and cruised there a short time; from thence ran off Surrinam. After cruising off that coast from the 5th to the 22d of February, without meeting a vessel, I stood for Demarara, with an intention, should I not be fortunate on that station, to run through the West Indies, on my way to the United States. But on the morning of the 24th, I discovered a brig to leeward, to which I gave chase ; ran into quarter less four, and not having a pilot, was obliged to haul off-the fort at the entrance of Damarära river at this time bearing south west, distance about 24 leagues. Previously to giving up the chase, I discovered a vessel at anchor without the bar, with English colours flying, ap parently a brig of war. In beating round Corobano bank, in order to get at her, at half past 3 P. M. I discovered another sail on my weather quarter, edging down for us. At 4 20 minutes she hoisted English colours, at which time we discovered her to be a large man of war brig;-beat to quarters, and cleared ship for action ; kept close by the wind, in order, if possible, to get the weather
gage, At 5 10 minutes, finding I could weather the enemy, I hoisted American colours, and tacked. At 5 20 minutes, in passing each other, exchanged broadsides within half pistol shot. Observing the enemy in the act of wearing, I bore up, received his starboard broadside, ran him close on board on the starboard quarter, and kept up such a heavy and well directed fire, that in less than fifteen minutes he surrendered, being literally cut to pieces, and hoisted an ensign, union down, from his fore rigging, as a signal of distress. Shortly after, his main-mast went by the board despatched lieutenant Shubrick on board, who soon returned with her first lieutenant, who reported her to be his Britannic majesty's late brig Peacock, commanded by captain William Peake, who fell in the latter part of the action--that a number of her crew were killed and wounded, and that she was sinking fast, having then six feet of water in her hold :-despatched the boats immediately for the wounded, and brought both vessels to anchor. Such shot holes as could be got at, were then plugged; her guns thrown overboard, and every possible exertion used to keep her afloat, until the prisoners could be removed, by
pumping and bailing, but without effect, and she unfortunately gunk in five and a half fathoms waters, carrying down thirteen of her crew, and three of my brave fellows, viz: John Hart, Joseph Williams, and Hannibal Boyd. Lieutenant Conner, midshipman Cooper, and the remainder of the Hornet's crew, employed in removing the prisoners, with difficulty saved themselves by jumping in a boat that was lying on her bows as she went down. Four men, of the thirteen mentioned, were so fortunate as to gain the foretop, and were afterwards taken off by the boats. Previous to her going down, four of her men took to her stern boat, which had been much damaged during the action, which I hope reached the shore in safety: but from the heavy sea running at the time, the shattered state of the boat, and the difficulty of landing on the coast, I much fear they were lost. I have not been able to ascertain from her officers the exact number killed. Captain Peake and four men were found dead on board. The master, one midshipman, carpenter, and captain's clerk, and twenty-nine seamen were wounded, most of them very severely, three of whom died of their wounds after being removed, and nine drowned. Our loss was trifling in comparison. John Place, killed ; Samuel Coulsạn and Joseph Dalryinple, slightly wounded ; George Coffin and Lewis Todd, severely burnt by the explosion of a cartridge. Todd survived only a few days. Our rigging and sails were much cut; one shot through the fore-mast, and the bowsprit slightly injured. Our hull received little or no damage. At the time the Peacock was brought to action, the L'Espeigle, (the brig mentioned above as being at anchor) mounting sixteen two and thirty pound carronades, and two long nines, lay about six miles in shore, and could plainly see the whole of the action. Apprehensive that she would beat out to the assistance of her consort, such exertions were made by my officers and crew in repairing damages, &c. that by 9 o'clock the boats were stowed, a new set of sails bent, and the ship completely ready for action. At 2 A. M. got under weigh, and stood by the wind to the northward and westward, under easy sail.
On mustering next morning, found we had 277 souls on board, including the crew of the American brig Hunter, of Portland, taken a few days before by the Peacock. And, as we had been on two-thirds allowance of provisions for some time, and had but 3,400 gallons of water on board, I reduced the allowance to three pints a man, and determined to make the best of my way to the United States.
The Peacock was deservedly styled one of the finest vessels of her class in the British navy, probably about the tonnage of the Hornet. Her beam was greater by five inches; but her extreme length not so great by four feet. She mounted sixteen twenty-four pound carronades, two long nines, one twelve pound carronade on her top-gallant-forecastle, as a shifting gun, and one four or six pounder, and two swivels mounted aft. I find by her quarter bill, that her crew consisted of 134 men, four of whom were absent in a prize.
The cool and determined conduct of my officers and crew during the action, and their almost unexampled exertions afterwards, entitle them to my warmest acknowledgments, and I beg leave most earnestly to recommend them to the notice of government.
By the indisposition of lieutenant Stewart, I was deprived of the services of an excellent officer: had he been able to stand the deck, I am confident his exertions would not bave been surpassed by any one on board. I should be doing injustice to the merits of lieutenant Shubrick, and acting lieutenants Conner and Newton; were I not to recommend them particularly to your notice. Lieutenant Shubrick was in the actions with the Guerriere and Java. Captain Hull and commodore Bainbridge can bear testimony as to his coolness and good conduct on both occasions. With the greatest respect, I remain, &c.
JAMES LAWRENCE. Hon. Wm. Jones, Secretary of the Navy.
P. S. At the commencement of the action my sailing master and seven men were absent in a prize, and lieutenant Stewart and six men on the sick list.
SACKETT'S HARBOR, April 25th, 1813. When the debarkation shall take place on the enemy's shore, major Forsyth’s light troops, formed in four platoons, shall be first landed. They will advance a small distance from the shore, and form the chain to cover the landing of the troops. They will not fire, unless they discover the approach of a body of the enemy, but will make prisoners of every person who may be passing, and send to the general. They will be followed by the regimental platoons of the first brigade, with two pieces of Brook's artillery, one on the right and one on the left flank, covered by their musketry, and the small detachments of riflemen, of the 15th and 16th infantry. Then will be landed the three platoons of the reserve of the first brigade, under major Swan; then major Eustis, with his train of artillery, covered by his own inusketry, then colonel M'Clure's volunteers in four platoons, followed by the 21st regiment, in six platoons. When the troops shall move in column, either to meet the enemy or take a position, it will be in the following order, viz: 1st, Forsyth's riflemen, with proper front and flank guards; the regiments of the first brigade, with their pieces; then three platoons of reserve; major Eustis's train
of artillery; volunteer corps; twenty-first regiment; each corps sending out proper flank-guards. When the enemy shall be discovered in front, the riflemen will form the chain, and maintain their ground, until they have the signal (the preparative) or receive orders to retire, at which they will retreat with the greatest velocity, and form equally on the two flanks of the regiments of the first brigade, and then renew their fire. The three reserve pla. toons of this line will form under the orders of major Swan, one hundred yards in the rear of the colours, ready to support any part which may show an unsteady countenance. Major Eustis and his train will form in the rear of this reserve, ready to act where circumstances may dictate.
· The second line will be composed of the 21st infantry, in six platoons, flanked by colonel M'Clure’s volunteers, equally divided, as light troops. The whole under the orders of colonel Ripley.
It is expected that every corps will be mindful of the honour of the American arms, and the disgraces which have recently tarnished our arms; and endeavour, by a cool and determined discharge of their duty, to support the one, and wipe off the other. The riflemen in front will maintain their ground at all hazards, until ordered to retire, as will every corps of the army. With an assurance of being duly supported, should the commanding general find it prudent to withdraw the front line, he will give orders to retire by the heads of platoons, covered by the riflemen; and the second line will advance by the heads of platoons, pass the intervals, and form the line; call in the light troops, and renew the action : but the general may find it proper to bring up the second line, on one or both flanks, to charge in columns, or perform a variety of manouvres which it would be impossible to foresee. But as a general rule, whatever may be the directions of line at the commencement of the action, the corps will form as before directed. If they then advance in line, it may be in parallel eschelons of platoons, or otherwise, as the ground or circumstances may dictate.
No man will load until ordered, except the light troops in front, until within a short distance of the enemy, and then charge bayonets; thus letting the enemy see, that we can meet them with their own weapons. Any man firing, or quitting his post, without orders, must be put to instant death, as an example may be necessary. Platoon officers will pay the greatest attention to the coolness and aim of their men in the fire; their regularity and dressing in the charge. The field officers will watch over the conduct of the whole. Courage and bravery in the field do not more distinguish the soldier, than humanity after victory; and whatever examples the savage allies of our enemies may have given us, the general confidently hopes, that the blood of an unresisting or yielding enemy, will never stain the weapons of the soldiers of his column.