« PreviousContinue »
latter, without the slightest hesitation, says: "On the morning after the battle, the Americans, under generals Ripley and Porter, reconnoitred the enemy, who did not shew any disposition to renew the contest; and then burned the enemy's barracks, and a bridge at Chippeway: after which they returned to Fort-Erie."* Mr. Thomson attempts to qualify and alter the meaning of general Brown's orders; and to prove that the enemy was a fifth time" reinforced.” “Under such circumstances,” he adds, “it would have been highly injudicious to have attacked him." “General Ripley," proceeds Mr. Thomson,“ seeing the impossibility of regaining the field of battle, and the probability of his own flanks being compelled to fall back, by the immense superiority of the enemy's numbers, turned his army towards the Chippeway, whence, having first destroyed the bridge over that stream, as well as the platforms which he had previously constructed at the enemy's old works there, he pursued his retreat towards Fort-Erie; and reached it, in good order, on the following day:» General Wilkinson says "General Ripley, finding the enemy strongly posted, in superior force, judiciously retired; and then a scene ensued, which has been carefully concealed from the public. By the improvidence of general Brown, the deficiency of transport provided for
* Hist. of the War, p. 257.
his baggage, stores, and provisions, had not bèen remedied; and a great portion of it was now found necessary to the accommodation of his wounded and sick. The necessity of a retreat could be no longer concealed or delayed; and the consequences were, that a considerable quantity of provisions, stores, and camp-equipage, with a number of tents, were thrown into the river, or burnt. I have this fact from an officer left with the command which performed this duty.”*
This is what Mr. Thomson calls, retreating « in good order.” But for the strong pique which general Wilkinson bears to general Brown, the above fact would not have reached us through an American channel. Mr. O'Connor, by way of giving a daring feature to this orderly retreat, declares that the Americans “ burnt the enemy's barracks :" why did he not tell us, that they valiantly set fire to Street's mills, the property of a private individual ?
* Sketches of the War, p. 302.
Newly erected works at Fort-Erie, and vigorous
preparations of defence on the part of the Ame. rican garrison-Discharge of the sedentary militiu-Arrival of the right and left wings of De Watteville's regiment, and investment of FortErie by general Drummond-Relative force of the besiegers, and besieged-Unsuccessful atlack upon Black Rock-State of the defences at FortErie-Affairs of piquets-Carriage of boats over-land to Lake-Erie, and gallant capture of two out of three American armed schooners stationed off the fort-Cannonade between the Brie tish and, Americans at Fort-Erie- Advance of the British to the assault of that fort_Unprepared state, and consequent repulse, of the right column of attack-Proceedings of the left and centre columns-Intrepid behaviour of the Bria tish at one of the bastions—Accidental destruction of that bastion, and heavy loss and repulse of the British-American Accounts-Remarks on sir George Prevost's intercepted letters-Real cause of the failure American atrocities at Fort-Talbot on Lake Erie-Proposal of an armistice by the British commander-in-chief in the Canadas~ Assent of the American government, if extended to the water-Prompt refusal of the British admiral in the Chesapeake-Agreement for exchange of prisoners of war-Immediate
discharge of American prisoners--Shameful delay in discharging the British prisonersTheir suffering state in consequence.
No sooner had the American army got safe to Fort-Erie, than general Ripley, now the commanding officer, directed the lines of defence to be extended, the fort enlarged, and new batteries erected.* With the aid of his engineers, defences of abattis, traverses, intrenchments, and redoubts, were instantly commenced ; and, from the 27th of July until the ed or 3d of August, the troops were employed, night and day, in placing the works in a state to sustain the expected, and almost certain attack.*
After discharging the whole of the sedentary militia, general Drummond, as soon as the engineer had constructed a temporary bridge across the Chippeway, for the carriage of the troops and cannon, pushed forward to invest Fort-Erie; within two miles of which he arrived on the 3d of August. Having been joined by the right and left wings of De Watteville's, under lieutenant-colonel Fischer, from Kingston, and the 41st regiment, under lieutenant-colonel Tucker, from the forts George and Mississaga, now garrisoned by the remains (except the light company) of the 89th, the general's force amounted to, - not as Mr. Thomson, with an artful
* Sketches of the War, p. 303.
attempt at exactness, says, “ 5352,” but 3150 men; partly embodied militia.
The British general, having approached to within about 700 yards of the enemy's fort; and, having got from Fort-George some battering pieces, and a serjeant's party with rockets, com, menced digging intrenchments, and erecting batteries, to overcome the powerful defences constructing on the part of the besieged; while the latter, with unceasing alacrity, were rendering their position hourly more formidable. As to the number of troops within the fort, the most studied concealment runs through all the American accounts. Admitting as many as 1000 to have been placed hors du combat, in their dearbought“ victory" of the 25th, general Ripley would still have under his command 3000 men ; protected by the fort within which they were intrenched; by the batteries at Black Rock; and by the three armed schooners, Porcupine, Tigress, and Ohio.
In order to facilitate the attack upon FortErie, it became necessary to capture or destroy the Black Rock batteries and armed vessels; to whose heavy flanking fire the British troops, in their advance to the assault, would necessarily be exposed. To effect the first of these objects, lieutenant-colonel Tucker, at the head of six companies of the 41st, the light company of the 89th, and two flank companies (very weak)