Page images
PDF
EPUB

St. Mary's creek; but found, in the different parts of the country, the same quiet and submissive conduct on the part of the inhabitants, as in the places visited on the 12th. The account of the preceding operations on the coasts of the Chesapeake, with a battalion of marines, a detachment of marine-artillery and of seamen, in all, under 700 men, is extracted exclusively, from rear-admiral Cockburn's official report of his proceedings: the truth of which is tacitly admitted by the silence of tbe American historians on the subject; although the British accounts had long previously come to their hands.

While the British nien-of-war were lying in the rivers of the Chesapeake, the negroes from the neighbouring plantations were continually flocking to the banks ; entreating, by the most piteous signs, to be rescued from a life of slavery. Could such appeals be made in vain ?--They were taken off, by hundreds; and obtained from an enemy that liberty, which their own free country denied to them. It was in vain that the American government, by asserting, through the medium of the prints “known to be friendly to the war,” that the British, after receiving the pegroes, “shipped the wretches to the West Indies, where they were sold as slaves, for the benefit of British officers," * attempted to check

History of the War. p. 183.

the flow of slave-emigration. This plan failing, the editor of the “ Norfolk Herald” was instructed or induced to say:-" To take cattle or other stock, would be consistent with the usage of civilized warfare; but to take negroes, who are human beings; to tear them for ever from their kindred and connexions, is what we should never expect from a Christian nation, especially one that has done so much to abolish the slave-trade. There are negroes in Virginia, and, we believe, in all the southern states, who have their interests and affections as strongly engrafted in their hearts, as the whites, and who feel the sacred ties of filial, parental, and conjugal affection, equally strong, and who are warmly attached to their owners, and the scenes of their nativity. To those, no inducement which the enemy could offer, would be sufficient to tempt them away. To drag them

away,

then, by force, would be the greatest cruelty. Yet, it is reserved for England, who boats of her religion and love of humanity, to practice this piece of cruelty, so repugnant to the dictates of Christianity and civilization.” *

Whether this article was penned at Washington, or on board of one of the British ships in the bay, it is the happiest piece of satire, that has appeared in an American newspaper.

It commences with an unqualified admission, that,

* History of the War, p. 185.

to take cattle or other stock” is “s consistent with the usage of civilized warfare;" whereas, in all the American histories, not excepting that even from which the extract is made, the British are accused of “plundering large quantities of cattle." As, however, the British commanders, whenever the owners could be found, invariably paid for what they did take, the admission is of little use. But are not those “ human beings, who have their interests and affections as strongly engrafted in their hearts as the whites," part, and a valuable part too, of the stock” of an American planter ?--The reader 'has only to take up a Charlestown, a Washington, a Richmond, or even a " Norfolk” newspaper, and a whole side of advertisements, will presently assure him of the degrading fact. Let it not be concealed either, that the treatment of the slaves in, and who form so great a portion of the southern population of, the United States, is ten-times more horrid and disgusting than any thing that occurs among a similar class of “ human beings” in the British West Indies. In addition to the accounts published in the American newspapers, and the description given, and marks shown by, the refugee-slaves themselves, it is only necessary, in order to substantiate the fact, to refer to the code of laws by which the American, in comparison with that by which the British, negroes are governed. We freely admit that,

“to drag away, by force,” those slaves who (if any such are to be found in the United States) are “warmly attached to their owners and to the place of their nativity," would be “the greatest cruelty.” But who has done so ? The British in the Chesapeake, as the Americans themselves inform us, were frequently straitened for provisions; how ridiculous, then, is the charge, that the captains of ships, by way of encreasing the consumption on board, and without any corresponding benefit, should send parties on shore, first to catch,-in which they must have been tolerably active,--and then to “ drag away," the slaves of the American planters. If, for receiving on board such as voluntarily offered themselves, the British officers required any other sanction than the dictates of Christianity and civilization,” they might find it in the following resolution, submitted to the consideration of the house of representatives of the United States, by Mr. Fisk, of Vermont :-" Resolved, that the committee on public lands be instructed to enquire into the expediency of giving to each déserter from the British army, during the present war, 100 acres of the public lands, such deserter actually settling the same."* We have here a fine specimen of the “ national honor of the United States, about which so much has been said and written!

* National Intelligencer, Sept. 28th, 1814.

CHAPTER XIX.

Early intimation of the attack upon Washington

Defensive preparations in consequence-Arrival at Bermuda of troops from France-Departure of general Ross in the Tonnant for the ChesapeakeReconnoissance on shore by the latter and rear-admiral Cockburn-Meditated attack upon Washington-- Arrival of the troops from Ber

muda--Different routes to Washington--Captain . Gordon's affair in the Potomac-Disembarea

tion of the troops at Benedict in the Patuxent: Pursuit, by the combined forces, of commodore

Barney's flotilla-Its destruction March of the British troops-Their arrival at Upper Marlborough-Rear-admiral Cockburn's junction

with them - Advance of the British towards - Washington-Correct American account of their * number---Retreat of the American army by Bla

densburg to Washington-Further advance of the British-American account of general. Winder's force-Re-advance to Bladensburg---Appearance on the field of the president of the

United States-American account of the battle of Bladensburg - Flight of the Americans Mutual loss Behaviour of Mr. Madison--His narrow escape from captureAmerican plans of

« PreviousContinue »