Page images

maintain a retreating fire upon the column of the enemy as it advanced; which, while his flanks were secure, would undoubtedly have retarded, galled, and cut them sensibly; but, after the first shot, which will be found in the under-work of the bridge, his men introduced the wrong end of the cartridge, and, instead of drawing it to get it out, depressed the muzzle of the piece until the trail and wheels overturned, and, by this time, the enemy was so near as to oblige them to flee for safety. Seeing the troops on his right give way, colonel Thornton advanced, crossed the conduit, and ascended the opposite side of the ravine; but was so warmly received by commodore Barney's battery of three 18 pounders at 4, * that, after some pause and fluctuation, he turned to his left, and displayed in a field in 2, 2, where he, for a few rounds, coinbated a valorous little band of the marine corps, commanded by captain Miller, with three 12-pounders, in 3, and the flotilla-men of commodore Barney, in 5, 5; which forced him to incline to his left, and endeavour to turn the American right, by a wood, in 2, 2, 2, 2, where he was met by colonel Beall, who was formed under the summit of a conical hill, in 6, 6." General Wilkinson then introduces a long letter from colonel Beall ; from which we gather, that, after firing a few rounds, the latter and his

* See Plate VI.

regiment, took to their heels. After a resistance, which, coinpared to the behaviour of the Ameri rican troops in general, may be termed gallant, the flotilla-inen and marines retreated ; leaving upon the field, their commanders, commodore Barney and captain Miller, severely wounded; and who, along with their guns, fell into the hands of the British. · Without considering that the American right was reinforced by its retreating left, or the British left by its advancing right, we may state the relative numbers, at this end of the field, as-750 British and 2500 Amee. ricans. Ten pieces of cannon were taken ; but not above 120 prisoners.;* owing,” says rearadmiral Cockburn, « to the swiftness with which the enemy went off, and the fatigue our army had previously undergone.": † The retreating American troops proceeded, with all haste, towards Washington ; and the British troops, including the rear-division, which had, just at the close of the short scuffle, arrived úpón the ground, halted, to' take some refressiment. · Had it not been for the American artillery, the loss of the British would have been very trifling. We find 24 pieces marked upon general Wilkinson's diagram. I Those at hi com. pletely enfiladed the bridge, and were very destructive to the advancing column. Under


* App. No. 66.

+ App. No, 62. # See Plate VI. h, 0, 10, 4, 3, t t. VOL. II.


Smith says:

these circumstances, the British loss amounted to, one captain, two lieutenants, five serjeants, and 56 rank and file, killed ; two lieutenantcolonels, one major, one captain, 14 lieutenants, two ensigns, 10 serjeants, and 155 rank and file, wounded; total, 64 killed, 185 wounded : grand total, 249. Of the American loss we have no very acourate account. Mr. Thomson, in the single instance of the Bladensburg battle, does not say a word on the subject. Doctor

says:-“ General Winder supposed that the loss of his army was from 30 to 40 killed, and from 50 to 60 wounded. It is believed, , however, that this is a large computation ; for doctor Catlet, the attending surgeon, stated the killed at 10 or 12; and the wounded, some of whom died, at 30." | As the British two 3-pounders and howitzer, being stationed near to e, in Bladensburg village, were of little service; and, as the Americans did not stay to receive many rounds of musketry, nor one thrust of the bayonet, their trifling loss is by no means extraordinary. Without wishing to exult over a fallen foe, we may express our surprise, that the classical ground, in the neighbourhood of which “ the meritorious conquerors of Tecumseh,” among other American troops, were drawn up, should have failed to inspire them

*App. No. 66. + Hist. of the U. States, Vol. III. p. 298. I Thermopyla, Tiber, &c. Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. I. p. 770; and our Vol. I. p. 294.

with a portion of that.. Roman," or, in reference to “ American," or second degree valor,” spoken of by an American congress-man.*

What became of Mr. Madison ? is a question the reader is, no doubt, anxious to have solved. We shall here quote, and let it be understood that we are quoting, the words of an American writer :—"Not all the allurements of fame, not all the obligations of duty, nor the solemn invocations of honor, could excite a spark of courage: the love of a life which had become useless to mankind, and served but to embarrass the public councils, and prejudice the public cause, stifled the voice of patriotism, and prevailed over the love of glory; and, at the very first shot, the trembling coward, with a faltering voice,' exclaimed: Come, general Armstrong; come, colonel Munro ; let us go, and leave it to the commanding general.'”ť. According to the testimony of Mr. William Simmons, one of the witnesses examined by the American committee of investigation,' assembled in consequence of the capture of Washington, the American president, the attorney-general, and secretaries of war and state, were indebted to his information, for not having fallen into the hands of major-general Ross, rear-admiral Cockburn, colonel Thornton, and a number of staff-officers, who, in their undress coats, had entered BlaSee

+ Wilkinson's Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 783.



densburg, by a circuitous route, unobserved by any but Mr. Simmons. A delay of five minutes would, it appears, bave placed the commanderin-chief of the armies of the United States, and the whole executive corps, in the hands of the British

Europeans, often to their cost, read accounts of the fine rich land to be met with, in almost all parts of the United States. It is a matter of equal policy, to show the existence of markets capable of carrying off the abundant produce of so fruitful a soil : therefore, most plans of towns or cities sent to Europe from the United States, have their sites ready covered with all the streets, which even a century may not see built. We have now before us a large folding map of the city of New York, with all its squares filled


in black, resembling a map of London, rather than of Liverpool, which it scarcely reaches in population. It will not, then, surprise the reader, that the city of Washington, or, as the bard of Lalla Rookh once sang

66 This famed metropolis, where Fancy sees

Squares in morasses, obelisks in trees;
Which travelling fools and gazetteers adorn,
With shrines onbuilt, and heroes yet unborn ;"

covering, as it does, about eight square miles of ground, should contain no more than 400 houses;

« PreviousContinue »