Page images

infantry under major Wood, enabled me to see the enemy's column of about 1500 men approaching on that point; his advance was not checked, until it had approached within ten feet of our infantry: A line of loose brush representing an abattis only intervened ; a column of the enemy attempted to pass round the abattis through the water, where it was nearly breast deep. Apprehending that this point would be carried, I ordered a detachment of riflemen and infantry to its support, but having met with. the gallant commander, major Wood, was assured by him that he could defend his position without reinforcements. At this moment the enemy were repulsed, but instantly renewed the charge and were again repulsed. My attention was now called to the right, where vur batteries and lines were soon lighted by a most brilliant fire of cannon and musketry; it announced the approach of the centre and left columns of the enemy, under colonels Drummond and Scott; the latter was received by the veteran 9th, under the command of captain Foster, and captains Broughton and Harding's companies of New York and Pennsylvania volunteers, aided bs a six pounder judiciously posted by major M‘Ree, chief engineer, who was most active and useful at this point; they were repulsed. That of the centre, led by colonel Drummond, was not long kept in check; it approached at once every assailable point of the fort, and with scaling ladders ascended the parapet, but was repulsed with dreadful carnage. The assault was twice repeated, and as often checked, but the enemy having moved round the ditch covered by darkness, added to the heavy cloud of smoke which had rolled from our cannon and musketry, enveloping surrounding objects, repeated the charge, re-ascended the ladders; their pikes, bayonets and spears fell upon our gallant artillerists. The gallant spirits of our favourite captain Williams and lieutenants la Donough and Watmough, with their brave men, were overcome. The two former, and several of their men, received deadly wounds. Our bastion was lost; lieutenant M.Donough, being severely wounded, demanded quarter; it was refused by colonel Drummond. The lieutenant then seized a hand spike and nobly defended himself until he was shot down with a pistol by the monster who had refused him quarter, who often reiterated the order"give the damned yankees no quarter.” This officer, whose bravery, if it had been seasoned with virtue, would have entitled him to the admiration of every soldier. This hardened murderer soon met his fate. He was shot through the breast by

of the regiment, while repeating the order it to give no quarter."

The battle now raged with increased fury on the right, but on the left the enemy was repulsed and put to flight. I'hence and from the centre, I ordered reinforcements. They were promptly sent by brigadier general Ripley, and brigadier general Porter. Captain Fanning, of the corps of artillery, kept up a spirited and destructive fire with his field pieces, on the enemy attempting to

approach the fort. Major Hindman's gallant efforts, aided by major Trimble, having failed to drive the enemy from the bastion, with the remaining artillerists and infantry in the fort, captain Birdsall, of the 4th rifle regiment, with a detachment of riflemen, gallantry rushed in through the gateway to their assistance, and with some infantry, charged the enemy, but was repulsed, and the captain severely wounded. A detachment from the 11th, 19th, and 22d infantry, under captain Foster, of the 11th, were introduced over the interior bastion, for the purpose of charging the enemy. Major Hall, assistant inspector general, very handsonely tendered his services to lead the charge. The charge was gallantly made by captain Foster and major Hall, but owing to the narrowness of the passage up to the bastion, admitting oniy two or three men abreast, it failed. It was often repeated, and as often checked ; the enemy's force in the bastion was, however, much cut to pieces and diminished by our artillery and small arms. At this moment every operation was arrested by the explosion of some cartridges deposited in the end of the stone building adjoining the contested bastion. The explosion was tremendous-it was decisive; the bastion was restored. At this moment, captain Biddle was ordered to cause a field piece to be posted so as to enfilade the exterior plain and salient glacis. The captain, though not recovered from a severe contusion in the shoulder, received from one of the enemy's shells, promptly took his position, and served his field piece with vivacity and effect. Captain Fanning's battery likewise played upon them at this time with great effect. The enemy were in a few moments entirely defeated, taken or put to flight, leaving on the field 222 killed, 174 wounded, and 186 prisoners. A large portion are so severely wounded, that they can. not survive; the slightly wounded, it is presumed, were carried off.

To brigadier general Ripley, much credit is due for the judicious disposition of the left wing, previous to the action, and tor the steady disciplined courage manifested by him and his immediate command, and for the promptness with which he complied with my orders for reinforcement during the action. Brigadier general Porter, commanding the New York and Pennsylvania volunteers, manifested a degree of vigilance and judgment in his preparatory arrangements, as well as military skill and courage in the action, which proves him to be worthy the confidence of his country, and the brave volunteers who fought under him. Of the volunteers, captains Broughton and Harding with their detachments posted on the right, and attached to the line cominanded by captain E. Foster, of the veteran 9th infantry, handsomely contributed to the repulse of the left column of the enemy under colonel Scott.

The judicious preparations and steady conduct of lieutenant colonel Aspinwall, commanding the first brigade, merit approbation.

To major MʻRee, chief engineer, the greatest credit is due for the excellent arrangement and skilful execution of his plans for fortifying and defending the right, and for his correct and seasonable suggestions to regain the bastion. Major Wood, of the engineers, also greatly contributed to the previous measures of defence. He has accepted the command of a regiment of infantry, (the 21st,) for which he has often proved himself well qualified, but never so conspicuously as on this occasion.

Towson's battery emitted a constant sheet of fire. Wood's small arms lighted up the space, and repulsed five terrible charges made between the battery and the lake. Brigadier general Ripley speaks in high terms of the officers and men engaged, particularly captains Marston and Ropes, lieutenants Riddle of the 15th, doing duty with the 21st) and Hall; ensigns Benn, Jones, Cummings and Thomas of the 21st, and Keally and Green of the 19th.

Major Hindinan, and the whole of the artillery under the command of that excellent officer, displayed a degree of gallantry and good conduct not to be surpassed. The particular situation of captain Towson, and the much lamented captain Williams and lieutenant M.Donough, and that of lieutenant Watmough, as already described, with their respective commands, rendered them most conspicuous. The courage and good conduct of lieutenant Zantzinger and lieutenant Childs, is spoken of in high terms by major Hindman and captain Towson, as also that of serjeant major Denhon. Captains Biddle and Fanning, on the centre and right of their entrenchments, threw their shot to the right, left and front, and annoyed the Indians and light troops of the enemy approaching from the woods. Lieutenant Fontaine in his zeal to meet the enemy, was unfortunately wounded and made prisoner, Lieutenant Bird was active and useful, and in fact every individual belonging to the corps did their duty.

The detachment of Scott's gallant brigade, consisting of parts of the 9th, 11th and 221 infantry, did its duty in a manner worthy the high reputation the brigade had acquired at Chippewa, and at the falls of Niagara. The 9th, under the command of captain Edmund Foster, was actively engaged against the left of the enemy, and with the aid of lieutenant Douglass's corps of bombardeirs, commanding the water battery, and of that of the volunteers, under captains Broughton and Harding, effected their repulse. The good conduct of lieutenants Childs, Cushman and Foot, and ensign Blake, deserves commendation.

The officers killed, are captain Williams and lieutenant M Nonough of the artillery. Wounded, lieutenant Watmough of the artillery ; ensign Cissney 19th ; lieutenant Bushnel 21st; lieutenants Brown and Belknap 23d; and captain Birdsall, 4th rifle regiment, all severely.

Lieutenant Fontaine of the artillery, who was taken prisoner, writes from the British camp, that he fortunately fell into the

hands of the Indians, who, after taking his money, treated him kindly. It would seem, then, that these savages had not joined in the resolution to give no quarter.

To Major Jones, assistant adjutant general, and major Hall, assistant inspector general ; captain Harris of the dragoons, volunteer aid-de-camp; lieutenant Belton, aid-de-camp, much credit is due for their constant vigilance and strict attention to every duty previous to the action, and the steady courage, zeal and activity, which they manifested during the action.

The surgeons, doctors Fuller 23d, Trowbridge 21st, with their mates; doctors Gale of the 23d, and Everitt and Allen of the 21st, deserve the warmest approbation, for their indefatigable exertions and humane attention to the wounded of our army, as well as to the prisoners who fell into their hands.

I have the honour to be, &c.

E. P. GAINES, Brig. Gen. Comdg. Hon. John Armstrong, Secretary of War. Report of the killed, wounded and prisoners, taken at the battle

of Erie, U. C. August 15th, 1814. Killed, left on the field, 229-wounded, left on the field, 174 prisoners, 186. Grand total, 582.

Two hundred supposed to be killed on the left flank, near Snake Hill (in the water) and permitted to float down the Niagara. The number on the right flank, near the woods, could not be ascertained.

Given at the inspector general's office, Fort Erie, Upper Capada.


Assist. Inspt. Gen. Brig. Gen. E. P. Gaines, &c.


August 26th, 1814.


In my report of the battle of the 15th instant, I inadvertently omitted the names of captain Chunn of the 19th, lieutenants Bowman and Larned, of the 21st, and Jewitt of the 11th infantry, as also my brigade major, lieutenant Gleason; each of whom bore a conspicuous part in the action, and whom I beg leave to recommend to your notice. Lieutenants Bowman and Larned commanded companies in the 21st, which so gallantly beat the enemy's right column. Captain Chunn with his company was doing duty with the same regiment. I also omitted mentioning that a part of this regiment pursued the enemy's right upwards of a mile, and took 100 prisoners ; his left was also pursued, and

more than an hundred prisoners were taken beyond our works. These facts prove, that the affair was not merely a defence of our position, or a mere repulse of the enemy, as I find it called by some. As regards myself, I am satisfied with the result, and am not disposed to make any difficulty about the name by which the affair may be called; but it is due to the brave men I have the honour to command, that I should say, that the affair was to the enemy a sore beating and a defeat, and it was to us a handsome victory.

Our position is growing stronger every day by the exertions of majors M.Ree and Wood, and the officers and men generally. We keep up a smart cannonade. One of the enemy's pickets yesterday approached nearer to ours than usual. Major Brooks, officer of the day, added 100 men to our picket, attacked and drove them in with considerable loss; the major brought in about 30 muskets. In this affair, however, we have to lament the loss of another gallant officer, captain Wattles, of the 23d ; our loss was otherwise inconsiderable.

I have the honour to be, &c.


Brigadier General Commanding. Hon. John Armstrong, Secretary of War.


BALTIMORE, August 27th, 1814. SIR,

When the enemy arrived at the mouth of Potomac, of all the militia which I had been authorized to assemble there were but about 1,700 in the field, from 13 to 1400 under general Stansbury near this place, and about 250 at Bladensburg, under lieutenant colonel Kramer; the slow progress of draft, and the imperfect organization, with the ineffectiveness of the laws to compel them to turn out, rendered it impossible to have procured more.

The militia of this state, and the contiguous parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania, were called on en masse, but the former militia law of Pennsylvania had expired on the 1st of June or July, and the one adopted in its place is not to take effect in organizing the militia before October. No aid, therefore, has been received from that state.

After all the force that could be put at my disposal in that short time, and making such dispositions as I deemed best calculated to present the most respectable force at whatever point the enemy might strike, I was enabled by the most active and harrassing movements of the troops, to interpose before the enemy at Bladensburg, about 5000 men, including 350 regulars, and commodore Barney's command. Much the largest portion of this force arrived on the ground when the enemy were in sight, and were

« PreviousContinue »