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arrangement was made. Colonel Van Rensselaer was to command one column, 300 militia ; and lieutenant colonel Chrystie a column of the same number of regular troops.
Every precaution was now adopted as to boats, and the most confidential and experienced men to manage them. At an early hour in the night, lieutenant colonel Chrystie marched his detachment, by the rear road, from Niagara, to camp. At 7 in the evening lieutenant colonel Stranahan's regiment moved from Niagara Falls; at 8 o'clock Mead's; and at 9, lieutenant colonel Blain's regiment marched from the same place. All were in camp in good season. Agreeably to my orders issued upon this occasion, the two columns were to pass over together; and soon as the heights should be carried, 'lieutenant colonel Fenwick's flying artillery was to pass over ; then major Mullany's detachment of regulars, and other troops to follow in order.
At dawn of day the boats were in readiness, and the troops commenced embarking, under the cover of a commanding battery, mounting 2 eighteen pounders and 2 sixes. The movements were soon discovered, and a brisk fire of musketry was poured from the whole line of the Canada shore. Our battery then opened to sweep the shore ; but it was, for some minutes, too dark to direct much fire with safety. A brisk cannonade was now opened upon the boats from three different batteries. Our battery returned their fire, and occasionally threw grape upon the shore, and was itself served with shells from a small mortar of the enemy's. Colonel Scott, of the artillery, by hastening his march from Niagara Falls in the night, arrived in season to return the enemy's fire with 2 six pounders.
The boats were somewhat embarrassed with the eddies, as well as with a shower of shot : but colonel Van Rensselaer, with about 100 men, soon effected his landing amidst a tremendous fire directed upon him from every point: but to the astonishment of all who witnessed the scene, this van of the column advanced slowly against the fire. It was a serious misfortune to the van, and indeed to the whole expedition, that in a few minutes after landing, colonel Van Rensselaer received four wounds. A ball passed through his right thigh, entering just below the hip bone; another shot passed through the same thigh, a little below; the third through the calf of his leg; and a fourth contused his heel. This was quite a crisis in the expedition. Under so severe a fire it was difficult to form raw troops. By some mismanagement of the boatmen, lieutenant colonel Chrystie did not arrive until some time after this, and was wounded in the hand in passing the river. Colonel Van Rensselaer was still able to stand ; and with great presence of mind ordered his officers to proceed with repidity and storm the fort. This service was gallantly performed, and the enemy driven down the hill in every direction. Soon after this both parties were considerably reinforced, and the conflict was renewed in several places; many of the enemy
took shelter behind a stone guard-house, where a piece of ordnance was now briskly served. I ordered the fire of our battery directed upon the guard-house; and it was so effectually done, that with eight or ten shot the fire was silenced. The enemy then retreated behind a large store-house ; but in a short time the route became general, and the enemy's fire was silenced except from a one gun battery, so far down the river as to be out of the reach of our heavy ordnance, and our light pieces could not silence it. A number of boats now passed over unannoyed, except from the one unsilenced gun. For some time after I had passed over, the victory seemed complete; but in the expectation of further attacks, I was taking measures for fortifying my camp immediately—the direction of this service I committed to lieutenant Totten of the engineers. But very soon the enemy was reinforced by a detachment of several hundred Indians from Chippawa-they commenced a furious attack, but were promptly met and routed by the rifle and bayonet. By this time I perceived my troops were embarking very slowly. I passed immediately over to accelerate their movements; but to my utter astonishment, I found at the very moment when complete victory was in our hands, the ardor of the unengaged troops had entirely subsided. I rode in all directions-urged men by every consideration to pass over, but in vain. Lieutenant colonel Bloom who had been wounded in action, returned, mounted his horse and rode through the camp; as did also judge Peck, who happened to be here, exhorting the companies to proceed, but all in vain.
At this time a large reinforcement from Fort George, were discovered coming up the river. As the battery on the hill was considered an important check against their ascending the heights, measures were immediately taken to send them a fresh supply of ammunition, as I had learnt there was left only 20 shot for the 18 pounders. The reinforcement, however, obliqued to the right from the road, and formed a junction with the Indians in the rear of the heights. Finding to my infinite mortification, that no reinforcement would pass over; seeing that another se vere conflict must soon commence; and knowing that the brave men on the heights were quite exhausted and nearly out of ammunition, all I could do was to send them a fresh supply of cartridges. At this critical moment I despatched a note to general Wadsworth, acquainting him with our situation-leaving the course to be pursued much to his own judgment, with assurance, that if he thought best to retreat, I would endeavour to send as many boats as I could command, and cover his retreat, by every fire I could safely make. But the boats were dispersed many of the boatmen had fled, panic struck, and but few got off
. But my note could but have little more than have reached general Wadsworth, about 4 o'clock, when a most severe and obstinate conflict commenced and continued about half an hour, with a tre
mendous fire of cannon, Aying artillery and musketry. The enemy succeeded in repossessing their battery; and gaining advantage on every side, the brave men who had gained the victory, exhausted of strength and ammunition, and grieved at the unpardonable neglect of their fellow-soldiers, gave up the conflict.
I can only add, that the victory was really won; but lost for the want of a small reinforcement. One-third part of the idle men might have saved all.
I have been so pressed with the various duties of burying the dead, providing for the wounded, collecting the public property, negotiating an exchange of prisoners, and all the concerns consequent of such a battle, that I have not been able to forward this despatch at as early an hour as I could have wished. I shall soon forward you another despatch, in which I shall endeavour to point out to you the conduct of some most gallant and deserving officers.
But I cannot in justice close this without expressing the very great obligation I am under to brigadier general Wadsworth, colonel Van Rensselaer, colonel Scott, lieutenant colonels Chrystie and Fenwick, and captain Gibson. Many others have also behaved most gallantly. As I have reason to believe that many of our troops Aed to the woods, with the hope of crossing the river, I have not been able to learn the probable number of killed, wounded and prisoners. The slaughter of our troops must have been very considerable. And the enemy have suffered severely,
General Brock is among their slain, and his aid-de-camp mortally wounded.
I have the honour to be yours, &c.
STN. VAN RENSSELAER, Maj. Gen. Major general Dearborn.
EXPEDITION AGAINST THE FLORIDA INDIANS.
NEW-HOPE, ST. JOHN'S, October 19th, 1812. DEAR SIR,
I have now the honour of transmitting to your excellency, an account of the several engagements which have taken place, between the Lotchaway and Alligator Indians, and the detachment of Georgia volunteers, under my command. As the object of this expedition, and the views of the persons engaged in it, have been misconstrued, and mis-statements, relative to its protraction, circulated, I ask the indulgence of your excellency, to detail every transaction, from its commencement to its termination. I arrived upon St. John's, in obedience to your orders, about the 15th of August, with the whole of my detachment, consisting of about 250 men including officers, and with a few on
the sick report. I immediately waited on colonel Smith, before Augustine, and received orders dated 21st of August, to proceed immediately against the hostile Indians, within the province of East Florida, and destroy their towns, provisions, and settlements. I then returned to the detachment upon the St. John's, and made every preparation to comply with my orders, by dispatching parties to procure horses, from the few inhabitants that had not fled from the province, in preparing packs and provisions, and taking every step which I deemed necessary, to ensure success to the enterprize. In consequence of the sickness of myself, and nearly one half the detachment, the period of our marching was delayed until the 24th of September; and, when just upon the eve of departing, an express arrived from colonel Smith, informing me, that his provision wagons and the escort were 'attacked by a body of negroes and Indians, and ordering me to join him immediately, with 90 men, and bring all the horses and carriages I could command, for the removal of his baggage, field pieces, and sick; he having only 70 men fit for duty. I marched to the relief of the colonel, with 130 men and 25 horses, and assisted him in removing to the block-house, upon Davis's creek. This service delayed, for a few days, our expedition to the nation; and when the detachment again assembled upon the St. John's and were about to commence their march, the men had but six or seven days to serve.
About this time, I received a letter from colonel Smith, advising me to propose to the detachment, an extension of their service for 15 or 20 days longer, as the time for which they were engaged was deemed insufficient to accomplish any object of the expedition. This measure I had contemplated, and its sanction by the colonel, met with my most hearty approbation; for I was unwilling to proceed to an enemy's country, with a single man who would declare, that in any event, he would not serve a day longer than the time for which he had originally volunteered.
I accordingly assembled the detachment, and, after stating the necessity of a tender of further service, proposed that the men should volunteer for three weeks longer-when 84 men, including officers, stepped out, and were enrolled, which, with the addition of 23 volunteer militia, sent to my aid, by colonel Smith, and 9 patriots, under the command of captain Cone, made my whole force amount to 117. With this small body, provided with 4 days provisions, and 12 horses, I was determined to proceed to the nation, and give those merciless savages, at least, one battle ; and I was emboldened in this determination, by the strong expectation of being succoured by a body of cavalry from St. Mary's; and which, it has since appeared, did assemble at Colerain, but proceeded no further. On the evening of the 24th of September, we left the St. John's, marching in Indian file; Captain Humphrey's company of riflemen in front, Captain Fort's company, under the command of lieutenant Fannin, in the centre, and captain
Coleman's company, with Cone's detachment, under the command of lieutenant Broadnax, in the rear. A small party marched in front of the main body, and another in the rear. The openness of the ground (except in particular places) rendered it unnecessary to employ men upon the right and left. Our encampinents, at night, (there being three companies) were in the form of a triangle, with the baggage in the centre; the men, with their clothes on, lying with their feet pointing outwards, and their firelocks in their arms. In case of an attack, the officers were instructed to bring up their companies, upon the right and left of the company fronting the enemy, and attend to the Indian mode of fighting, until ordered to charge. In case of meeting the enemy upon our march, Humphrey's company was instructed to file off to the right; Fort's company to advance, and form to the front, in single rank; and Coleman's company to file off to the left: the whole, then, to advance, in the form of a crescent, and endeavour to encircle the enemy. On the morning of the 4th day of our march, when we were within 6 or 7 miles of the Lotchaway towns, our advanced party discovered a body of Indians, marching along the path, meeting us, and, at the same moment, they appeared to have discovered us. As soon as I was informed of it, I lost no time in giving the necessary directions for the companies to advance, and obey the instructions which had been previously given to them, and which appeared exactly suited to the situation in which we found the
As soon as Fort's company (at the head of which I had placed myself) had advanced to its proper ground, I discovered the Indians falling back, and making every preparation for battle, by unslinging their packs, priming their rifles, and each man taking his tree. We continued to advance, taking advantage of the trees in our progress, until we were within 150 yards of the Indians, when many of them fired, and I instantly ordered the charge, which drove them from behind the trees, and caused them to retire with the greatest precipitation, our men, all the while, firing at them, slew several; and, by repeated charges, drove them half a mile, when they took shelter in the swamp. It unfortunately happened, (I presume through inadvertance) that Humphrey's company in filing to the right, took too great a circuit, got a small swamp between them and the enemy, and thereby rendered the victory less decisive than it would have been, had the whole charged together, and before the Indians had dispersed themselves, and extended their force (which they soon did) near half a mile up and down the swamp. The company however was of service afterwards, in preventing the enemy after their dispersion from entering our camp, retaking their baggage and provision (all of which fell into our hands) or falling upon the wounded that had been sent to the rear. The action, including the skirmishing upon the flanks, lasted two hours and a half-the Indians frequently attempting to outflank us, and get in our rear, but were repulsed by the com