« PreviousContinue »
from the left, to reinforce the troops at Fort Erie, viz: captain Wattles', lieutenant Cantine's, and lientenant Brown's companies, and one of the 19th under captain Chunn. They were in the fort during the time of the explosion, and their conduct is highly spoken of by major Brooke, their commanding officer, Indeed, from the high state to which that regiment has been brought by major Brooke, I am convinced that no troops will behave better.
In submitting to your view the conduct of the troops under my eommand on this occasion, I find every thing to applaud, nothing to reprehend. The utmost coolness and subordination was manifested, both by the 21st and 23d regiments. To major Wood I feel particularly indebted. This officer's merits are so well known, that approbation can scarcely add to his reputation. He has the merit, with the Spartan band, in connexion with captain Towson's artillery, of defeating a vaunting foe of six times his force. Major Brooke did every thing in his power; and it affords me pleasure at all times to call the attention of the general commanding to this amiable and accomplished officer.
The officers commanding companies immediately engaged, have my highest commendation. Their conduct was most judicious and gallant. I cannot refrain from adverting to the manner in which captain Towson's artillery was served; I have never seen it equalled. This officer has so often distinguished himself, that to say simply that he is in action, is a volume of eulogium ; the army, only to be informed he is there, by a spontaneous assent, are at once satisfied that he has performed well his part. I have no idea that there is an artillery officer in any service superior to him in the knowledge and performance of his duty.
The officers I have mentioned as commanding companies of the 21st and 230 regiments, are particularly commended by their commanding officers. Captain Marston, a most valuable officer, commanded a first line of three companies opposed to the enemy's column. Captain Ropes commanded the companies of reserve. Major Wood reports in the highest terms of the good conduct of the subalterns. Lieutenant Riddle, of the 15th, attached to the 21st, and Hall, and ensigns Bean, Jones, Cumming, and Thomas, of the 19th, as being extremely active, and performing their duties with alacrity.
The manner in which lieutenant Belknap, of the 23d, retired with bis picket guard from before the enemy's column, excites my particular commendation. He gave orders to fire three times as he was retreating to camp, himself bringing up the rear. la this gallant manner, he kept the light advance of the enemy in check, for a distance of two or three hundred yards. I have to regret, that when entering our lines after his troops, the enemy pushed so close upon him that he received a severe wounil from a bayonet
Lieutenant Bushnel and Cissney, of the 19th, while gallantly engaged with the enemy at Fort Erie, were both severely, if not mortally, wounded. Their conduct merits the warmest approbation.
Permit me to recommend to your notice, the good conduct of my staff, lieutenant Kirby, of the corps of artillery, my aid-decamp, and lieutenant Holding, acting brigade major; their activity and zeal was entirely to my satisfaction.
I close this long report, with stating to you, in the highest terms of approbation, the skilfulness exhibited by doctor Fuller, surgeon of the 23d, and doctor Trowbridge, surgeon of the 21st infantry, with their mates doctor Gale, of the 23d, and doctors Everett and Allen, of the 21st; their active, humane, and judicious treatment of the wounded, both of the enemy and of our own, together with their steady and constant attention to the duties of their station, must have attracted your personal observation, and I am confident will receive your approbation.
I have the honour to be, &c.
E. W. RIPLEY,
Brig. Gen. Comd’g 2d Brigade. Brigadier general Gaines.
Ú. S. SHIP ADAMS, HAMPDEN, (MAINE.)
August 22d, 1814. SIR,
On the 16th, at noon, our latitude by D. R. and two double altitudes was 42 20, and the longitude determined by morning and evening observstions of a chronometer, which had four times proven correct within 10 miles during our preceding and present cruize, was 66 54, the wind was fresh from south south-west, and the sea smooth. In the afternoon, two vessels were discovered in chase, but at such a distance that we could not ascertain their force. The weather became very fogay at night, and the wind remaining fresh from the same quarter, I determined to push for some port of Massachusetts bay, near Portsmouth, and steered the proper course for that purpose. Deeming it extremely probable we should meet some of the enemy's vessels during the night, our prisoners were confined in the hold, and our crew remained at quarters. We sailed from 10 to 11 knots an hour, till 2 A. M. when, as I expected to be, we were in 72 fathoms water. Our estimated distance from cape Ann, 60 miles. At 4 A. M. while in the act of preparing for sounding again, the look-outs forward, announced breakers ahead, and in a moment after, the ship struck upon a rock, going 104 knots. Believing it impossible she could bear such a shock, the prisoners were first released from their confinement below, that they might have a chance to save their lives in common with ourselves upon the rocky shore, which was now visible about 30 yards distant. On sounding the pumps,
no unusual quantity of water was at first discovered, and all sails were laid aback in hopes of forcing the ship off. It was, however, discovered in a few minutes, she was leaking so fast that it was deemed proper to remain on the rock until day-light. We accordingly furled the light sails, and clewed up courses and topsails. Day soon enabled us to distinguish objects through the fog, at 2 or 300 yards distance, and to ascertain the hopelessness of saving the ship. Her cutwater was entirely destroyed below the nine foot mark; the depth of water under her fore foot, between five and six feet; forward of her starboard main chains, 12 feet; astern, seven fathoms, into which the ship from the situation of
her bows, was depressed below her stern ports. The wind fresh . and a number of rocks just to leeward, a considerable surf. From
the small portion of land that was visible, it was generally believed to be the pubble of cape Neddock, not far from Portsmouth. Hoisted out our boats, sent the small ones to seek a place where a landing might be most safely effected. In the mean time, engaged in getting our sick into the larger boats, with their bedding, clothes and provisions, ready for landing. The boats soon returned, having fortunately discovered a small chasm in the rock capable of admitting a boat, and a ravine connected with it, in which the sick might be sheltered in some degree from the weather. Having secured the safety of the sick, it was determined, from motives
of humanity, to send the prisoners next, with every thing belonging to them, and with sails, tarpaulins and medicines for the further comfort of the sick. A surgeons' mate was also sent, and the charge of the whole committed to the purser, Mr. Rodgers. Knowing it to be near low water when the ship struck, I determined to make every effort with the remaining portion of our crew, to get her off, when the tide should rise, though with little hope that she could be kept long above water, as we had ascertained the leak to be about nine feet an hour. Our only kedge had been early laid out on our weather quarter to keep her as nearly in the same position as possible; and our only heavy anchor was now let go from the waist, to prevent her swinging into very deep water, should she go off, and to keep her from the rocks and reefs to leeward, should she float. At 10 A. M. it became evident that the tide would light her off,-furled the topsails and light square sails ; carried the kedge out from the bow, two cables lengths off shore, and continued to send such articles out of the ship as we could most conveniently spare, in case of floating. After some heavy strains, at half past 10, the surf lifted her off, and she swung to her anchor. Manned all the pumps and found we could gain upon her. The flood tide being nearly done, it was necessary to get her under weigh, instantly to reap
the advantages of its weather current, the rocks astern and to leeward not being half the ship's length distant. Hove up, canted her off shore with the kedge and head sails, and fortunately passed from 10 to 50 yards to windward of the rocks and reefs which extended
about three fourths of a mile from the land. All hands were enployed at the pumps and sails, during the night, in the hope of being able to reach Portland the next day. At day light, the weather was clear, and you may judge our surprise at discovering ourselves near the island of mount Desart. This discovery excited the greatest anxiety for the fate of our companions. Many of the islands in the vicinity, were uninhabited-we were igporant on which they were, and they were probably exposed to all the inclemencies of the weather, while suffering the pain of that dreadful disease the scurvy. I soon fell in with two fishing boats, both of which. I despatched in search of them, and then used every possible diligence to get into Penobscot bay, which we fortunately effected during the night; and I had the happiness to hear the next morning, that our sick companions had all been safely conveyed to Camden, with the exception of one who had expired. My first intention was to have stopt at Castine, but was induced to proceed to this place, as one much better calculated for a vessel in our situation. The extent of the injury which she has received, cannot yet be known. Our pumps are continually in motion. I have procured a light ship, and shall take every thing out of her, and then lay her on shore, as the only means of ascertaining her damages at this place. I cannot conclude this communication, without recommending, in the strongest terms, the uncommon good conduct of the officers, seamen and marines on this occasion. Never were my orders executed with more promptitude or less confusion. Their coolness during the time the ship was upon and among the rocks, could only be surpassed by their cheerful endurance of unremitted and the most fatiguing Yabour. Nothing but the former could bave rescued her from her perilous situation, and but for the latter, she would have been rescued in vain.
Very respectfully, &c. .
DEFENCE OF FORT ERIE.
HEAD QUARTERS, .
Fort Erie, U. C. August 23d, 1814. SIR,
I have the honour to communicate, for the information of the department of war, the particulars of the battle fought at this place, on the 15th instant, between the left wing of the ad division of the northern army, under my command, and the British forces in the peninsula of Upper Canada, commanded by lieutenant general Drummond, which terminated in a signal victory in favour of the United American arms,
Our position on the margin of the lake, at the entrance of the Niagara river, being nearly a horizontal plain, twelve or fifteen feet above the surface of the water, possessing few natural advantages, had been strengthened in front by temporary parapet breast works, entrenchments and abattis, with two batteries and six field pieces. The small unfinished fort, Erie, with a 24, 18, and 12 pounder, forms the north-east, and the Douglass battery, with an 18 and 6 pounder near the edge of the lake, the south-east angle of our right. The left is defended by a redoubt battery, with six field pieces just thrown up on a small ridge. Our rear was left open to the lake, bordered by a rocky shore of easy ascent. The battery on the left was defended by captain Tow. son®; fort Erie, by captain Williams, with major Trimble's command of the 19th infantry; the batteries on the front, by captains Biddle and Fanning; the whole of the artillery commanded by major Hindman. Parts of the 11th, 9th, and 22d infantry (of the late veteran brigade of major general Scott) were posted on the right, under the command of lieutenant colonel Aspinwall
. General Ripley's brigade, consisting of the 21st and 23d, defended the left." General Porter's brigade of New York and Pennsylvania volunteers, with our distinguished riflemen, occupied the centre.
I have heretofore omitted stating to you, that during the 13th and 14th, the enemy had kept up a brisk cannonade, which was sharply returned from our batteries, without any considerable loss on our part. At 6 P. M. one of their shells lodged in a small magazine in fort Erie, which was fortunately almost empty. It blew up with an explosion more awful in appearance, than injurious in its effects, as it did not disable a man, or derange a gun. It occasioned but a momentary cessation of the thunders of the artillery on both sides; it was followed by a loud and joyous shout by the British army, which was instantly returned on our part, and captain Williams, amidst the smoke of the explosion, renewed the contest by an animated roar of his heavy cannon.
From the supposed loss of our ammunition, and the consequent depression such an event was likely to produce upon the minds of our men, I felt persuaded that this explosion would lead the enemy to assault, and made my arrangements accordingly. The annexed paper No. 1, is a copy of lieutenant general Drummond'a order, and plan of attack. [Not published.]
The night was dark, and the early part of it raining, but the faithful sentinel slept not; one third of the troops were up at their posts. At half past two o'clock, the right column of the enemy approached, and though enveloped in darkness black as his designs and principles, was distinctly heard on our left, and promptly marked by our musketry under major Wood, and can. non under captain Towson. Being mounted at the moment, I repaired to the point of attack, where the sheet of fire rolling from Towson's battery, and the musketry of the left wing of the 21st