« PreviousContinue »
owing to their long guns, and its being mostly directed at the Lawrence, I made sail, and directed the other vessels to follow, for the purpose of closing with the enemy. Every brace and bowline being soon shot away, she became unmanageable, notwithstanding the great exertions of the sailing master. In this situation, she sustained the action upwards of two hours within .eanister distance, until every gun was rendered useless, and the greater part of her crew either killed or wounded. Finding she could no longer annoy the enemy, I left her in charge of lieutenant Yarnall, who, I was convinced, from the bravery already displayed by him, would do what would comport with the honour of the flag. At half past two, the wind springing up, captain Elliot was enabled to bring his vessel, the Niagara, gallantly into close action. I immediately went on board of her, when he anticipated my wish by volunteering to bring the schooner which had been kept astern by the lightness of the wind, into close action. It was with unspeakable
pain that I saw, soon after I got on board the Niagara, the flag of the Lawrence come down, although I was perfectly sensible that she had been defended to the last, and that to have continued to make a show of resistance would have been a wanton sacrifice of the remains of her brave crew. But the enemy was not able to take possession of her, and circumstances soon permitted her flag again to be hoisted. At 45 minutes past 2, the signal was made for "close action.” The Niagara being very little injured, I determined to pass through the enemy's line, bore up and passed ahead of their two ships and a brig, giving a raking fire to them from the starboard guns, and to a large schooner and sloop, from the larboard side, at half pistol shot distance. The smaller vessels at this time having got within grape and canister distance, under the direction of captain Elliot, and keeping up a well directed fire, the two shipy, a brig, and a schooner surrendered, a schooner and sloop making a vain attempt to escape.
Those officers and men who were immediately under my observation, evinced the greatest gallantry, and I have no doubt that all others conducted themselves as became American officers and seamen. Lieutenant Yarnall, first of the Lawrence, although several times wounded, refused to quit the deck. Midshipman Forrest (doing duty as lieutenant) and sailing master Taylor, were of great assistance to me. I'have great pain in stating to you, the death of lieutenant Brook of the marines, and midshipman Laub, both of the Lawrence, and midshipman John Clarke of the Scorpion : they were valuable and promising officers. Mr. Hambleton, purser, who volunteered his services on deck, was severely wounded late in the action. Midshipmen Claxton and Swartout of the Lawrence, were severely wounded. On board the Niagara, lieutenants Smith and Edwards, and midshipman Webster (doing duty as sailing master) behaved in a very handsome manner. Captain Brevoort of the army, who acted as a volunteer in the capacity of a marine officer, on board that vessely is an excellent and brave officer, and with his musketry, did great execution. Lieutenant Turner, commanding the Caledonia, brought that vessel into action in the most able manner, and is an officer that in all situations, may be relied on. The Ariel, lieutenant Parker, and Scorpion, sailing master Champlin, were enabled to get early into action, and were of great service. Captain Elliot speaks in the highest terms of Mr. Magrath, purser, who had been despatched in a boat on service, previous to my getting on board the Niagara ; and, being a seaman, since the action has rendered essential service in taking charge of one of the prizes. Of captain Elliot, already so well known to the government, it would be almost superfluous to speak; in this action, he evinced his characteristic bravery and judgment; and, since the close of the action, has given me the most able and essential assistance.
I have the honour to enclose you a return of the killed and wounded, together with a statement of the relative force of the squadrons. The captain and first lieutenant of the Queen Charlotte, and first lieutenant of the Detroit, were killed. Captain Barclay, senior officer, and the commander of the Lady Prevost, severely wounded. Their loss in killed and wounded, I have not yet been able to ascertain ; it must, however, have been very great.
Very respectfully, &c.
0. H. PERRY. Hon. Wm. Jones, Secretary of the Navy.
Statement of the force of the British squadron. Ship Detroit,
19 guns-1 on pivot and 2 howitzers. Queen Charlotte,
17 guns, 1
do. Schooner Lady Prevost,
13 do. 1
do. Brig Hunter,
10 do. Sloop Little Belt, ,
3 do. Schooner Chippeway,
1 do. and 2 swivels.
Note The Detroit is a new ship, very strongly built, and mounts long twenty-fours, eighteens, and twelves.
Statement of the force of the United States' squadron.
3 do. Schooner Ariel,
4 do. (1 burst early in action) Scorpion,
2 do. Somers,
2 do. and 2 swivels Sloop Trippe,
1 do. Schooner Tygress,
1 do. Porcupine,
The exact number of the enemy's force, has not been ascertained, but I have good reason to believe that it exceeded ours, by nearly 100 men. List of killed and wounded on board the United States' squadron,
under command of O. H. Perry, esq. in the action of the 10th of September, 1813.
[Two days previous to the action, 57 men unfit for duty in the small vessels. On board the Lawrence,-Killed 22,- Wounded 61-Total 83 Niagara,
2 Scorpion, 2
S. HAMBLETON, Purser. 0. H. PERRY, Captain and Senior officer.
UNITED STATES' SHIP GENERAL PIKE,
Off Duck Island, September 13th, 1813. SIR,
On the 7th, at day-light, the enemy's fleet was discovered close in with Niagara river, wind from the southward ;-made the signal, weighed with the fleet (prepared for action) and stood out of the river after him; he immediately made all sail to the northward. We made sail in chase, with our heavy schooners in tow, and have continued the chase all around the lake, night and day, until yesterday morning, when he succeeded in getting into Amherst bay, which is so little known to our pilots, and said to be full of shoals, that they are not willing to take me in there. I shall, however, (unless driven from my station by a gale of wind) endeavour to watch him so close, as to prevent his getting out
upon the lake.
During our long chase we frequently got within from one to two miles of the enemy, but our heavy sailing schooners prevented our closing with him, until the 11th, off Genesee river; we carried a breeze with us while he lay becalmed, to within about three fourths of a mile of him, when he took the breeze, and we had a running fight of three and a half hours, but by his superior sailing, he escaped me and run into Amherst bay yesterday morning. In the course of our chase, on the 11th, I got several broadsides from this ship upon the enemy, which must have done him considerable injury, as many of the shot were seen to strike him, and people
were observed over the side, plugging shot holes. A few shot struck our hull, and a little rigging was cut, but nothing of importance not a man was hurt.
I was much disappointed that sir James refused to fight me, as he was so much superior in point of force, both in guns having upwards of 20 guns more than we have, and heaves a greater weight of shot. This ship, the Madison, and the Sylph, have each of them a schooner constantly in tow, yet the others cannot sail as fast as the enemy's squadron, which gives him decidedly the advantage, and puts it in his power to engage me when and how he chooses.
I have the honour to be, &c.
ISAAC CHAUNCEY. Hon. Wm. Jones, Secretary of the Navy.
CANANDAIGUA, September 14th, 1813. SIR,
A large number of the patriotic citizens of this and the adjacent towns, anxious to do their duty in a crisis so interesting to the nation in general, and to this part of the country in particular, have associated themselves to volunteer their services to the United States for the residue of the campaign at least.
In order to effectuate their intentions, however, it will be necessary that their inovements should receive your approbation and sanction, and that they should be assured of, that the corps, whether a company, battalion, or (as is possible) a regiment, should be received, organized, and countenanced by your order and authority. The lateness of the season, and the anxiety of the members, induce us to request an early and authoritative reply, that the association may be equipped according to law, and be useful to their country this season. It may not be hardly decorous for us to say it, but we must observe, that the subscribers will prove to be obedient and brave soldiers.
In their behalf, I am, &c.
DANIEL RODMAN. Major general Wilkinson,
or the officer commanding at Fort George,
U. S, NAVY YARD, PORTSMOUTH,
September 14th, 1813. SIR,
I have the honour to forward to you, by the mail, the flags of the late British brig Boxer, which were nailed to her mast heads at the time she engaged, and was captured by the United States' brig Enterprize.
Great as the pleasure is that I derive from performing this part of my duty, I need not tell you how different my feelings would have been, could the gallant Burrows have had this honour !
He went into action most gallantly, and the difference of injury done the two vessels proves how nobly he fought,
I have the honour to be, &c.
ISAAC HULL. Hon. Wm. Jones, Secretary of the Navy.
BLACK ROCK, September 17th, 1813. SIR,
In consequence of encouragements from general Boyd, that a general and decisive movement was about to be made by the army, and that an additional force was desirable, we repaired to fort George about five weeks ago, with 500 men, consisting of volunteers, militia, and Indians. Most of us remained here for twelve or fourteen days, but our hopes not being realized, the men continually dispersed and went home, not however without expectations, again encouraged by generals Boyd and Williams, that we should be shortly called on again to aid in operations, which the people in this part of the country, so long harrassed by the calamities of war, feel so strong an interest in forwarding. Under similar expectations many of our friends in the interior have intimated to us their readiness to join with respectable reinforcements on the shortest notice : and we are informed that one company, about 70 strong, is actually on its march, and will arrive here to-day or tothorrow.
We are at this moment much at a loss how to act, and our difficulty is increased by the various rumours and conjectures circulated by the different officers daily arriving from head quarters, some of whom represent that no offensive operations are to be undertaken on this frontier, but that the regular army is immediately to be marched, either to the east to attack Kingston, or to the west to join general Harrison. Others state that an attack is to be made on the British forces in the vicinity of this place.
Under these circumstances, we are induced to inquire of you whether such a force as we have it in our power to raise is desired by you to effectuate your plans, and if so, in what numbers, and at what time? If your object be to sally out upon the enemy at fort George, we could bring you a respectable force. But, on the contrary, if you meditate an attack at some other point, and the withdrawal of the regular troops from fort George, and placing this frontier on the defensive only, by means of militia, we would observe that our prepared force is of such a character as could not be engaged in this service.
Upon the supposition that you intend to withdraw the regular troops from this frontier, we beg leave to submit a proposition for your consideration.
We believe we are not incorrect in saying that it would require nearly quite as great a force to defend this line of frontier against a given force of the enemy, as it would to attack and subdue that