« PreviousContinue »
bank and see in what direction the Indians had retired/; but before he reached the opposite shore every horseman, whose horse was in camp was mounted to follow. It was in vain I made an attempt to keep them back till they were formed; they broke off in num: bers from two to thirty, mostly without their officers, and crossed the woods in every direction : a party of 15 fell on the trail of the Indians, and at seven or eight miles distance overtook them ; but as the Indians were superior to them, and formed, our men without waiting for a dischage from the enemy returned to camp. Logan, and the other Indians in our camp, were of the opinion that there was a considerable force of the enemy lying down the river, and offered to spy down. Early on the following morning they left our camp with instructions to proceed four miles below the Little Rapids, a distance of fourteen miles. They returned at evening, having found no trail of any size excepting the party which had been pursued, and those they computed at about forty ; that they had proceeded on towards the waters of Lake Michigan, and not on the direction to the Rapids. That the British and Indians which had fled before general Winchester, had retreated with apparent precipitancy, drawing their carriages over large logs, and tearing down every sappling that stood in their way.
Scarcely had this scout left our camp, when I received the following order from general Winchester:
“CAMP, NEAR DEFIANCE, October 6, 1812. SIR,
Believing it to be essential that the Indians who committed the murder yesterday near your camp should be pursued and routed, or their strength and situation ascertained, and as that duty can be best, and most expeditiously done with mounted men, you will this morning pursue their trail with a part or the whole of your force, and dislodge, kill, and destroy them if in your power. This duty performed, you can take the course directed by general Harrison. The attitude of the enemy requires this change in your destination, and as commander of the northwestern army, I have deemed it my duty to make it. If you do not return to report you will send an officer for that purpose.
J. WINCHESTER. Brig. Gen. Comdg. left wing N.W. army General Tupper. I waited on general Winchester immediately on receipt of the foregoing order, informing him of having previously sent out a scout, and the object of it: that the Indians had the evening before been overtaken seven or eight miles from our camp; and their number computed at from 20 to 40: that in all probability they had then advanced too far to be overtaken without a long pursuit: that our horses were feeble, and that I wished to preserve as much of their strength as possible for the general object
of the expedition; and that if it was agreeable to him we would wait the return of the scout, to take such measures as were deemed proper on their return. General Winchester made no objections to this arrangement; at the same time I informed him that we had not three rounds of ammunition to a man, and requested him to order me a supply. He replied to me that he would order his ammunition examined, and would endeavour to furnish me a part of what was required to complete the 12 rounds. My brigade quarter master attended this day and returned at evening with information that no ammunition could be had. Early the following morning I ordered the horses for a march, and repaired to general Winchester's quarters, and again reques. ted a supply of two thousand cartridges, being about one-third of the quantity required ; without which I could not feel myself justifiable in proceeding on the expedition. In answer he stated to me, that he had but six thousand cartridges not issued; that his men had but very few in their boxes ; that he had a good supply of powder and ball, but no paper; the latter was in the wagons and expected to arrive that or the day following—and then directed me to return to my camp and make report of the actual quantity on band, and he would then inform me whether he would deliver the two thousand cartridges. I hastened back to my camp, and gave the necessary orders for furnishing the return ; but in a few minutes after, received from general Winchester the following order:
General Tupper. Longer delay inconsistent with strict military principles cannot be indulged; you will therefore proceed immediately on the reconnoitering duty ordered yesterday with the troops under your command, except colonel Simral's corps, who shall return without delay to the settlement, to recruit their horses, agreeably to general Harrison's orders.
Brigadier General, &c. When colonel Simral's company moved off, a large proportion of two companies of major Roper's battalion from Kentucky followed, which reduced that battalion, (being the whole force now remaining from Kentucky) to less than eighty men. I was indebted to colonel Simral for all the cartridges he had exceping two rounds; but as the most of them had been damaged and dried, they did not add one sound round to each man. I was on the point of taking up the line of march to execute general Winchester's orders, when colonel Allen, commanding a regiment of Kentucky troops in general Winchester's camp, came up, and informed me he had obtained leave to accompany me to the Rapids in any station I thought proper to place him, from a soldier upwards. I thankfully accepted his services and caused him to be announced as an aid. Colonel Allen proposed, that as it was general Winchester's wish that the troops should move on the direct route to the Rapids, that none should be taken but such as would go freely. The experiment was made, when about 400 volunteered for the service. Scarcely had the troops moved forward from the ranks, when colonel Allen beckoned me aside and shewed me an order which general Winchester had that moment forwarded to him, giving colonel Allen the command of the men ordered for the Rapids. I requested of colonel Allen a copy of this order, which he declined giving. It would be difficult for me to describe the state of my feelings at this moment: I turned to the troops which had refused to volunteer, and ordered them across the Auglaise on the route you directed me to take, as the best calculated to carry your orders into effect. When it was found that general Winchester had superseded me in the command, the whole force from Ohio crossed the Auglaise and refused to march as directed by general Winchester. Colonel Allen and major Brush returned to general Winchester, who assured them he had ' mistook the object of colonel Allen's request. General Win- . chester then proposed to divide the force and have a part to move on the direct route to the Rapids, the other to proceed by Tawa towns, to unite at a certain time 12 miles above the Rapids. I was unwilling to consent to this measure. The force united was not half the number you thought necessary to order on the most secret route. A division of less than 500 men, to meet in an enemy's country, where many circumstances might prevent their junction, was to me a measure I could only consent to by compulson-this measure was in the end abandoned.
It is a duty I owe to colonel Allen, that I have not the smallest reason to believe, he was privy to the order of general Winchester, giving to him the command: his character, and every part of his conduct on that occasion, convinces me he is above it.
The whole force proceeded to Tawa towns, where we reached the day following. Early on the morning of the 9th, I ordered the march for the Rapids, when at the distance of half a mile it was found our whole force was reduced to 200 men, exclusive of officers: the other part of the force had refused to march, and remained in the encampment: scarcely a man marched from the second battalion of colonel Findley's regiment, commanded by major Taylor. Manary's company of United States' rangers, both officers and soldiers, refused to march.
When it was ascertained that our whole force for the Rapids was reduced to 200 men, I called a council of the officers to determine whether with that force it was advisable to proceed on to the Rapids.
The council considered that our force was not sufficient to carry the first object of your orders into effect; that we were too numerous to act as a spy party, and too weak to carry offensive operations into the enemy's country; and that it would be improper and unadvisable under those circumstances to continue the expedition.
With the then remaining force I proceeded to this place, where I directed colonel Findley and major Roper, to discharge such men only as had continued to do their duty.
Thus, sir, has terminated an expedition, at one time capable of tearing the British flag from the walls of Detroit, wherein our troops might have returned with the pleasing reflection of having rendered their country an essential service.
It is a duty, sir, I owe to the officers of the Kentucky forces, to colonel Findley and the officers of his first battalion, to say that they were zealous of pressing forward the expedition ; while the officers of the second battalion, commanded by major Taylor, with few exceptions, were shrinking from their duty, and shamefully deserting the cause of their country.
The detaching of colonel Simral's regiment from our force stands proininent among the causes of our failure. Already was there a panic in some parts of our camp: the enemy that had retired at general Winchester's approach had been greatly magnified. The day succeeding the alarm general Winchester drew in one wing of his lines and strengthened his camp with a breast work. Even this circumstance was noticed, and urged as an evidence, that he apprehended a force superior to his own. Thus, when imaginary obstacles unite with those that are real, to oppose the movement of a force so insubordinate, as that
man's will is his law, little can be expected to the officers, but a plentiful harvest of mortification and disgrace.
It cannot be denied that at the time those men refused to march, that there was a scarcity of provisions in the camp; not three days rations of meat to each officer and soldier remained, and no bread or Aour. But we had found at those towns, an abundant supply of good sound corn, together with nearly 30 bushels cured when green, or tossamonona. Our sufferings with this supply could not have been great in going or returning from the Rapids.
The man whose courage and patriotism expires when his rations are reduced, ought never to place himself between his country and his enemies.
When you shall have examined and considered the whole causes of our failure, should doubts rest on your mind whether some part of it does not attach to my conduct, may I not hope, sir, that you will order a court of enquiry, that I may have an oppor. tunity of meeting an investigation.
I have the honour to be yours, &c.
EDW. W. TUPPER,
Brigadier General. Gen. William Henry Harrison.
HEAD QUARTERS, LEWISTOWN, October 14, 1812. SIR, As the movements of the army
command, since I had last the honour to address you on the 8th instant, have been of a very important character, producing consequences serious to many individuals; establishing facts actually connected with the interest of the service and the safety of the army; and as I stand prominently responsible for some of these consequences, I beg leave to explain to you, sir, and through you to my country, the situation and circumstances in which I have had to act, and the reasons and motives which governed me; and if the result is not all that might have been wished, it is such, that when the whole ground shall be viewed, I shall cheerfully submit myself to the judgment of my country:
In my letter of the 8th instant I apprized you that a crisis in this campaign was rapidly advancing; and that (to repeat the same words) “ the blow must be soon struck, or all the toil and expense of the campaign go for nothing, and worse than nothing; for the whole will be tinged with dishonour."
Under such impressions, I had on the 5th instant written to brigadier general Smyth, of the United States' forces, requesting an interview with him, major general Hall, and the commandants of the United States' regiments, for the purpose of conferring upon the subject of future operations. I wrote major general Hall to the same purport. On the 11th, I had received no answer from general Smyth; but in a note to me on the 10th,
general Hall mentioned that general Smyth had not yet then agreed upon any day for the consultation.
In the mean time, the partial success of lieutenant Elliott, at Black Rock, (of which however I have received no official information) began to excite a strong disposition in the troops to act. This was expressed to me through various channels in the shape of an alternative : that they must have orders to act ; or at all hazards, they would go home. I forbear here commenting upon the obvious consequences to me, personally, of longer withholding my orders under such circumstances. I had a conference with lieutenant colonel
as to the possibility of getting some person to pass over to Canada and obtain correct information. On the morning of the 4th, he wrote to me that he had procured the man who bore his letter to go over. Instructions were given him; he passed over-obtained such information as warranted an immediate attack. This was confidentially communicated to several of my first officers, and produced great zeal to act; more especially as it might have a controlling effect upon the movements at Detroit, where it was supposed general Brock had gone with all the force he dared spare from the Niagara frontier. The best preparations in my power were, therefore, made to dislodge the enemy from the heights of Queenstown, and possess ourselves of the village, where