« PreviousContinue »
regiment of men a month to make it so that we could rake it. On the east it is worse yet. On the west a spring run affords another bank which cannot be removed. On the north a hill commands us completely, which I know from experience, as I could not pass from one block house to the other without being fired upon,
Indeed, sir, the Indians have nothing more to do than to possess themselves of these places and cut off every man that shows himself outside; for we must have wood in the winter and cold season. The fact is that I will positively evacuate this post by the 15th of November next, if there is no means taken to render the lives of the men more secure. The truth is, that it ought not to be occupied in a time of war, since it cannot be bettered in the place where it stands; it ought to be moved off this point entirely. I have not a yoke of cattle to provide us with a stick of wood, and if I had, I have no forage. You now will know my determination, and I hope you will endeavour to render me some relief.
I am, with respect yours, &c,
Lieut. 1st Regt. Lt. Infy. Comg. Lieut. Col. D. Bissell.
CRUISE OF THE SCHOONER ROSSIE, October, 1812.
Extract from the log-book of the Schooner Rossie, Commodore
July 12th, sailed from Baltimore. July 15th, left Cape Henry. July 17th, spoke ship Electra, of Philadelphia, informed her of the war. July 21st, spoke brig Triton, of Portsmouth, informed her of the war. Spoke ship Rising Sun, of Baltimore, informed her of the war. July 22d, seized brig Nymph, of Newburyport, for breach of the non-importation law; spoke ship Reserve of Bath ; brig, from Lisbon to New-London, informed her of the war. July 23d, was chased by a frigate; fired 25 shot at us ; outsailed her. July 30th, chased by a frigate ; outsailed her. July 31st, took and burnt the ship Princess-Royal, August 1st, took and manned the ship Kitty; 2d, took and burnt the following: brig Fame, brig Devonshire, schooner Squid, and took the brig Brothers—put on board her 60 prisoners, and sent her to St. Johns, to be exchanged for as many Americans. 3d, took and sunk the brig Henry and schooner Race-horse ; burnt the schooner Halifax, manned the brig William (arrived) and gave the schooner Two Brothers to 40 prisoners, and sent them to St. Johns, on parole. 9th, took the ship Jeanie, after a short action ; she mounting 12 guns ; sent her for the United States (arrived.) 10th, seized the brig Rebecca, of Saco, from London, for a breach of the non-importation law, (arrived.) 14th, spoke brig Hazard, from Cadiz, informed her of the war. 16th, spoke ship Hercules, from Malta, informed her of the war. 17th, spoke brig Favorite, from Cadiz to Boston. 20th, spoke brig John Adams, who had been captured and plundered by the Guerriere, and let go. August 25th, seized ship Euphrates, of New Bedford, for breach of the non-importation law, (arrived.) 28th, spoke a brig, prize to the Benjamin Franklin, privateer. 29th, spoke ship Jewell, of Portland, informed her of the war. 30th, spoke schooner Ann and Mary, of New London, informed her of the war. September 7, spoke brig from Providence, Rhode Island, in distress ; left her under care of the Revenue Cutter, of Newport. 9th, chased by three ships of war, a short chase. 10th, spoke ship Joseph, from Bonavista, informed her of the war. 10th, spoke a brig, prize to the schooner Saratoga, of New York. 12th, chased by a frigate six hours; outsailed her. 16th, took his Britannic majesty's packet ship Princess Amelia, after a severe action of nearly an hour, at pistol-shot distance. The captain, sailing-master, and one man was killed, the master's mate and six men wounded. We had Mr. Long, first lieutenant, severely wounded, and six men (most of whom have recovered), the ship cut to pieces, and the Rossie much injured in sails and rigging. September 16th, fell in with three ships and a brig armed, exchanged shot with the commodore, received an 18 pound shot through our quarter, wounded a man and lodged in our pump; continued to dog and watch the above vessels 4 days, in hopes to separate them, but in vain. September 23d, spoke the private armed schooner Globe, captain Murphy, of Baltimore, went in pursuit of the above vessels, but could not fall in with them. 25th, spoke a Spanish brig bound to Porto-Rico. October 8th, took (in company with the Globe,) the schooner Jubilee, and sent her in. 9th, spoke a Spanish schooner from Palma to Porto-Rico. 10th, chased and spoke the privateer schooner Rapid, of CharTeston, S. C. 52 days out, had taken nothing. 22d, seized the ship Merimack, for breach of the non-importation act. Result is, three thousand six hundred and ninety-eight tons of shipping, and two hundred and seventeen prisoners—valued at upwards of one million five hundred thousand dollars.
BLACK ROCK, October 9, 1812. SIR,
I have the honour to inform you that on the morning of the 8th instant, two British vessels, which I was informed were his Britannic majesty's brig Detroit, late the United States' brig Adams, and the brig Hunter, mounting 14 guns, but which afterwards proved to be the brig Caledonia, both said to be well armed
and manned, came down the lake and anchored under the protection of fort Erie. Having been on the lines for some time, and in a measure inactively employed, I determined to make an attack, and if possible to get possession of them. A strong inducement to this attempt arose from a consideration that with these two vessels and to those which I have purchased and am fitting out, I should be enabled to meet the remainder of the British force on the Upper lakes, and save an incalculable ex. pense and labour to the government. On the morning of their arrival I heard that our seamen were but a short distance from this place, and immediately despatched an express to the officers, directing them to use all possible despatch in getting their men to this place, as I had an important service to perform. On their arrival, which was about 12 o'clock, I discovered that they had only 20 pistols, and neither cutlasses nor battle axes. But on application to generals Smyth and Hall of the regulars and militia, I was supplied with a few arms, and general Smyth was so good, on my request, as immediately to detach 50 men from the regulars, armed with muskets.
By 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I had my men selected and stationed in two boats, which I had previously prepared for the purpose. With these boats, 50 men in each, and under circumstances very disadvantageous, my men having scarcely had time to refresh themselves after a fatiguing march of 500 miles, I put off from the mouth of Buffaloe creek, at 1 o'clock the following morning, and at 3 I was along side the vessels. In the space of about 10 minutes, I had the prisoners all secured, the top-sails sheeted home, and the vessels under way. Unfortunately the wind was not sufficiently strong to get me up against a rapid current into the lake, where I had understood another armed vessel lay at anchor, and I was obliged to run down the river, by the forts, under a heavy fire of round, grape, and canister, from a number of pieces of heavy ordnance, and several pieces of flying artillery, was compelled to anchor at a distance of about 400 yards from two of their batteries. After the discharge of the first gun, from the flying artillery, I hailed the shore, and observed to the officer, that if another gun was fired I would bring the prisoners on deck, and expose them to the same fate we would all share; but notwithstanding, they disregarded the caution and continued a constant and destructive fire. One single moment's reflection determined me not to commit an act that would subject me to the imputation of barbarity. The Caledonia had been beached, in as safe a position as the circumstances would admit of, under one of our batteries at the Black Rock. I now brought all the guns of the Detroit on one side next the enemy, stationed the men at them, and directed a fire which was continued as long as our ammunition lasted and circumstances permitted. During the contest I endeavoured to get the Detroit on our side by sending a line, there being no
wind, on shore, with all the line I could muster; but the current being so strong, the boat could not reach the shore. I then hailed our shore, and requested that warps should be made fast on land, and sent on board : the attempt to all which again proved useless. As the fire was such as would, in all probability, sink the vessel in a short time, I determined to drift down the river out of the reach of the batteries, and make a stand against the flying artillery. I accordingly cut the cable, made sail with very light airs, and at that instant discovered that the pilot bad abandoned me. I dropped astern for about 10 minutes, when I was
I brought up on our shore on Squaw island-got the boarding boat ready, had the prisoners put in and sent on shore, with directions for the officer to return for me and what property we could get from the brig. He did not return, owing to the difficulty in the boat's getting on shore. Discovering a skiff under the counter, I put the four remaining prisoners in the boat, and with my officers I went on shore to bring the boat off. I asked for protection to the brig of lieutenant colonel Scott, who readily gave it. At this moment I discovered a boat with about 40 soldiers from the British side, making for the brig. They got on board, but were soon compelled to abandon her, with the loss of nearly all their men. During the whole of this morning both sides of the river kept up alternately a continual fire on the brig, and so much injured her that it was impossible to have floated her. Before I left her, she had several shot of large size in her bends, her sails in ribbons, and rigging all cut to pieces. To
my officers and men I feel under great obligation. To captain Towson and lieutenant Roach of the 2d regiment of artil-, lery, ensign Prestman of the infantry, captain Chapin, Mr. John M'Comb, Messrs. John Town, Thomas Dain, Peter Overstocks, and James Sloan, resident gentlemen of Buffaloe, for their soldier and sailor-like conduct. In a word, sir, every man fought as if with their hearts animated only by the interest and honour of their country.
The prisoners I have turned over to the military. The Detroit mounted 6 six pound long guns, a commanding lieutenant of marines, a boatswain and gunner, and 56 men-about 30 American prisoners on board, muskets, pistols, cutlasses, and battle-axes. În boarding her I lost one man, one officer wounded, Mr. John C. Cummings, acting midshipman, a bayonet through the leg ; his conduct was correct, and deserves the notice of the department. The Caledonia mounted two small guns, blunderbusses, pistols, muskets, cutlasses, and boarding pikes, 12 men including officers, 10 prisoners on board. The boat boarding her was cominanded by sailing master George Watts, who performed his duty in a masterly style. But one man killed, and four wounded bad, I am afraid mortally. I enclose you a list of the officers and men engaged in the enterprize, and also a view of the lake and river in the different situations of attack. In a day or two
I shall forward the names of the prisoners. The Caledonia belongs to the N. W.company, loaded with furs, worth I understand $ 200,000.
I have the honour to be
JESSE D. ELLIOT. The Hon. Paul Hamilton,
Secretary U. S. Navy.
URBANA, October 12th, 1812. SIR,
On receiving your orders of the 4th instant to proceed to the Rapids with the whole force of mounted men under my command,
whose horses were in a condition to perform the service ; I caused an examination to be immediately had ; and found that there still remained 960 men, including officers, in a condition to march, including also captain Bacon, and one other company, which left us the morning following.
The beeves expected at general Winchester's camp, did not arrive so as to enable us to draw, till the morning of the 5th. A good number of the men were destitute of provision the day you left Defiance. There being no flower to be issued to the mounted men, I ordered that eight days rations of beef should be drawn and immediately jerked, so as to lighten, and prepare it for the expedition, intending to move off on the evening of the 5th. On examining our ammunition it had been found that during the excessive rains which fell, while you were marching us from St. Mary's to Defiance, it had become so damaged as to be entirely useless; not two rounds of sound cartridges were left to a man. I ordered returns made, so that each man should be furnished with 12 rounds. This return amounted to 4500 cartridges for the musket men, exclusive of major Roper's battalion ; the ammunition of the riflemen having received very little damage. Quarter master Basey called on the quarter master in general Winchester's camp and returned without a supply. About 1 o'clock this day, a man belonging to Manary's company of rangers was killed and scalped across the Miami, within two hundred yards of our camp. I gave immediate orders to arms, and in five minutes to horse, but owing to our being compelled to confine our horses during the night, and graze them by day, for want of forage; the greater part at this moment were under keepers nearly one mile from our camp up the Auglaise. Conceiving from the bold manner in which the Indians approached our camp, that it was possible a considerable body was not distant, I wished to form the men and proceed over the river, by which we should be in a situation to contend with a considerable force, or pursue to effect a small one. In the mean time I permitted major Brush to cross over with about 50 foot to examine the