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any pledge to meet general Brown at the head of the Lake; but on the contrary, when we parted at Sackett's Harbor, I told him distinctly, that I should not visit the head of the Lake, unless the enemy's fleet did. I can ascribe the intimation of general Brown, that he expected the co-operation of the fleet to no other motive, than a cautious attempt to provide an apology for the public, against any contingent disaster to which his army might be ex
But, sir, if any one will take the trouble to examine the topography of the peninsula, (the scene of the general's operations,) he will discover that this fleet could be of no more service to general Brown, or his army, than it could to an army in Tennessee.
General Brown has never been able to penetrate nearer to lake Ontario than Queenstown, and the enemy is in possession of all the intermediate country; so that I could not even communicate with the army, but by a circuitous route of 70 or 80 miles.
Admitting general Brown could have invested Fort George, the only service he could have derived from the fleet, would be our preventing the supplies of the enemy from entering the Niagara river; for the water is so shallow, that the large vessels could not approach within two miles of their works. General Brown had therefore two abundantly sufficient reasons for not expecting the co-operation of this fleet; it was not promised him—and was chimerical in itself.
My fixed determination has always been to seek a meeting with the enemy the moment the feet was ready, and, to deprive him of any apology for not meeting me, I have sent four guns on shore from the Superior, to reduce her armament in number to an equality with the Prince Regent's, yielding the advantage of their 68 pounders. The Mohawk mounted two guns less than the Princess Charlotte, and the Montreal and Niagara are equal to the General Pike and Madison. I have detached, on separate service, all the brigs; and am blockading his four ships with our four ships, in hopes that this may induce him to come out.
I have the honour to be, &c.
ISAAC CHAUNCEY. Honourable William Jones,
Secretary of the Navy.
UNITED STATES' SHIP SUPERIOR, OFF KINGSTON,
August 10th, 1814. SIR,
Great anxiety of mind and severe bodily exertions have at length broken down the best constitution, and subjected me to a violent fever that confined me for eighteen days. This misfortune was no more to be foreseen than prevented, but was particularly severe at the moment it happened, as it induced a delay of five or six days in the sailing of the feet.
In the early part of July, I expected the fleet would be made ready for sailing by the 10th or 15th ; but many of the mechanics were taken sick, and amongst them the block-makers and blacksmiths, so that the Mohawk could not be furnished with blocks and iron works for the gun and spar decks before the 24th or 25th ultimo, when she was reported ready by captain Jones. As considerable anxiety had been manifested by the public to have the fleet on the lake, I should have asked captain Jones to take charge of it and go out, but I was then recovering my health, and was confident I should be able in three or four days to go on board myself. There was an additional reason for submitting to this delay in the difficulty I found in making the changes of commanders, neither of them being willing to be separated from his officers and men, and a change of crews through the fleet being inadmissible.
In the afternoon of the 31st of July, I was taken on board, but it was calm, and I did not sail before the next morning.
To satisfy at once whatever expectations the public had been led to entertain of the sufficiency of this squadron to take and maintain the ascendancy on this lake, and at the same time to expose the futility of promises, the fulfilment of which had been rested on our appearance at the head of the lake, I got under weigh at 4 o'clock in the morning of the 1st instant, and steered for the mouth of the Niagara. Owing to light winds, I did not arrive oft there before the 5th. There we intercepted one of the enemy's brigy, running over from York to Niagara with truops, and ran her on shore about six miles to the westward of Fort George. I ordered the Sylph in, to anchor as near to the enemy as she could with safety, and to destroy her. Captain Elliot run in, in a very gallant manner, to withiu froin 300 to 500 yards of her, and was about anchoring, when the enemy set fire to her and she soon after blew up. This vessel was a schooner the last year, and called the Beresford-since they altered her to a brig, they changed her name, and I have not been able to ascertain it. She mounted 14 guns ; 12 twenty-four pound carronades, and two long nine pounders.
Finding the enemy had two other brigs and a schooner in the Niagara river, I determined to leave a force to watch them, and selected the Jefferson, Sylph and Oneida for that purpose, and placed the whole under the orders of captain Ridgely. Having looked into York without discovering any vessel of the enemy, left Niagara with the remainder of the squadron, on the evening of the 7th, and arrived here on the 9th. We found one of the enemy's ships in the offing, and chased her into Kingston.
My anxiety to return to this end of the lake, was increased by the knowledge I had of the weakness of Sackett's Harbor, and the apprehension that the enemy might receive large reinforcements at Kingston, and, embarking some of his troops on board his feet, make a dash at the harbor and burn it with all my stores
during our absence. When I left the harbor, there were but about 700 regular troops fit for duty. It is true a few militia had been called in, but little could be expected of them should an attack be made. My apprehension, it seems, was groundless, the enemy having contented himself with annoying, in some trifling degree the coasters between Oswego and the harbor in his boats.
I cannot forbear expressing the regret I feel, that so much sensation has been excited in the public mind, because this squadron did not sail so soon as the wise heads that conduct our newspapers have presumed to think I ought. I need not suggest to one of your experience, that a man of war may appear
eye landsman, perfectly ready for sea, when she is deficient in many of the most essential points of her armament, nor how unworthy I should have proved myself of the high trust reposed in me, had I ventured to sea in the face of an enemy of equal force, without being ready to meet him in one hour after my anchor was weighed.
It ought in justice to be recollected, that the building and equipment of vessels on the Atlantic, are unattended by any of the great difficulties which we have to encounter on this lake; there every department abounds with facilities. A commander makes a requisition, and articles of every description are furnished in 12 hours; but this fleet has been built and fitted in the wilderness, where there are no agents and chandlers' shops and founderies, &c. &c. to supply our wants, but every thing is to be created; and yet I shall not decline a comparison of what has been done here, with any thing done on the Atlantic, in the building or equipment of vessels. The Guerriere, for instance, has been building and fitting upwards of twelve months in the city of Philadelphia, and is not yet ready. The President frigate went into the navy yard at New York, for some partial repairs, a few days after the keel of the Superior was laid ; since then, two frigates of a large class and two sloops of war of the largest class, have been built and fitted here, and have sailed before the President is ready for sea, although every article of their armament and rigging has been transported from New York in despite of obstacles almost insurmountable. I will go further, sir, for it is due to the unremitted and unsurpassed exertions of those who have served the public under my command, and will challenge the world to produce a parallel instance, in which the same number of vessels of such dimensions have been built and fitted in the same time by the same number of workmen.
I confess that I am mortified in not having succeeded in satisfying the expectations of the public, but it would be infinitely more painful, could I find any want of zeal or exertion in my endeavours to serve them, to which I could in any degree impute their disappointment.
I have the honour to be, &c.
ISAAC CHAUNCEY, Hon, Wm, Jones.
HEAD QUARTERS, FORT ERIE, August 13th, 1814. SIR,
It has become my painful duty to announce to you the loss of that brave and excellent officer major Morgan, of the 1st rifle regiment. He fell at the head of his corps, in an affair with the enerny, on the 12th instant, after a display of gallantry worthy of the corps, and meriting the gratitude of his country.
I had desired him to send a detachment of from 80 to 100 men to cut off a working party, supported by a guard of the enemy's light troops, engaged in opening an avenue for a battery in our rear, having directed to have his corps ready to support, in case the enemy
should be reinforced. The detachment was commanded by captain Birdsall, who attacked and drove the enemy; but when about to return to camp, he discovered a large force approaching: The firing having continued longer than the major expected, he moved up the moment the enemy's reinforcements made their appearance. A warm conflict ensued, in which they were forced back, but discovering additional reinforcements, and receiving my order to fall back, on the appearance of a large force, the major gave the signal with his bugle to retire ; at this moment he received a ball in his head. He was brought from the field, together with his men who were killed and wounded. Of the former were two riflemen and a New York volunteer, who, unsolicited, accompanied the riftemen with a small party of his corps, under the command of lieutenant Goodfellow, who, I am informed, has distinguished himself on similar occasions, and for whom, permit me to request a commission in one of the rifle regiments.
I have the honour to be, &c.
EDMUND P. GAINES. Honourable Secretary of Was.
DEFEAT OF THE BRITISH AT FORT ERIE.
HEAD QUARTERS, FORT ERIF, U, C.
August 15th, 1814. SIR,
My heart is gladdened with gratitude to Heaven and joy to my country, to have it in my power to inform you that the gallant army under my command has this morning beaten the enemy commanded by lieutenant general Drummond, after a severe conflict of near three hours, commencing at 2 o'clock this morning. They attacked us on each flank, got possession of the salient bastion of the old fort Erie, which was regained at point of the bayonet, with a dreadful slaughter. The enemy's loss in killed and prisoners, is about 600; near 300 killed. Our loss is considerable, but I think not one-tenth as great as that of the enemy. I will not
detain the express to give you the particulars. I am preparing my force to follow up the blow.
With great respect, &c.
Brig. Gen. Commanding. Honourable Secretary of War.
GENERAL RIPLEY'S REPORT.
FORT ERIE, August 17th, 1814. SIR,
I take the liberty of reporting you the cause of operations on the left flank of the camp, during the action of the 15th instant.
From indications satisfactory to me, I was persuaded very early of the enemy's design of attacking us in our position. Before any alarm, I caused iny brigade to occupy their alarm posts. On the first fire of the picket, captain Towson opened his artillery apon them from fort Williams, in a style which does him infinite credit. It was continued with very great effect upon enemy during the whole action.
The enemy advanced with fixed bayonets, and attempted to enter our works between the fort and water. They brought ladders for the purpose of scaling, and in order to prevent their troops from resorting to any other course excepting the bayonet, had caused all the flints to be taken from their muskets. The column that approached in this direction consisted of colonel Fischer's command, and amounting in number to at least 1500 men; and, according to the representations of prisoners, they were 2,000 strong. "The companies posted at the point of the works, which they attempted to escalade, were captain Ross's, captain Marston's, lieutenant Bowman's, and lieutenant Larned's, of the 21st regiment, not exceeding 250 men, under command of major Wood, of the engineer corps. On the enemy's approach they opened their musketry upon them in a manner the most powerful. ` Fort Williams and this little band, emitted one broad uninterrupted sheet of light. The enemy were repulsed. They rallied, came on a second time to the charge, and a party waded round our line by the lake, and came in on the flank ; but a reserve of two companies, posted in the commencement of the action to support this point, marched up and fired upon the party, who were all killed or taken. Five times in this manner did the enemy advance to the charge; five times were their columns beaten back in the utmost confusion by a force one-sixth of their numbers; till at length finding the contest unavailing, they retired. At this point we made 147 prisoners.
During the contest in this quarter, the lines of the whole of the left wing were perfectly lined, in addition to the reserves; and I found myself able to detach three companies of the 23d regiment