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28 guns. Its garrison, under the same commander too, consisted, at this time, of 375 officers and soldiers. *
On the morning of the 12th, M.M.S. Hermes, of 22, Carron, of 20, and Sophie and Childers, of 18 guns each, under the orders of captain W. 11. Percy, of the first-named ship, anchored on the coast, about six miles to the eastward of Fort-Bówyer; wbich this officer had unadvisedly determined to attack. The ships, with great difficulty, owing to the narrowness of the channel, and the numerous shoals, arrived, on the afternoon of the 15th, in the neighbourhood of the fort. The Hermes, at last, gained a station within musket-shot distance; the Sophie, Carron, and Childers, anchoring in a line a-stern of her. Previously to this, a detachment of, not “ 120” + but 60 marines, and not “ 600”+ but 120 Indians, with a 5-inch howitzer, but no “12pounder," under the orders of major Nicolls, of the marines, had disembarked on the peninsula. Sixty of the Indians, under lieutenant Castle, had been detached to secure the pass of Bonsecours, 27 miles to the eastward of the fort; so that major Nicolls had, under his command, not 730, + but 120 marines and Indians.
The great distance at which the Carron and Childers had unavoidably anchored, confined the effective cannonade, on the part of the British, to
* Appendix, No. 112. Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 40.
the Hermes and Sophie ; nor was the latter's fire of much use, as, owing to the rottenness of her timbers, and her defective equipment, her carronades drew or turned over at every fire. The Hermes, before she had fired many broadsides, “ having her cable cut, was carried away by the current, and presented her head to the fort. In that position she remained from 15 to 20 minutes, whilst the raking fire from the fort swept, fore and aft, almost every thing on deck."* Soon afterwards the Hermes grounded, directly in front of the fort. Every means to get her off having failed, captain Percy, taking out of her the whole of his wounded, set her on fire. He had but one boat left, and that with only three qars. As a proof of the American captain Lawrence's “ characteristic humanity,” the fort, on this “ memorable day for the garri. son,” fired round and grape at the boat, till she got out of gun-shot. The Hermes and Sopbie were the only vessels that sustained any injury. The loss of the one was 25 men killed, and 24 wounded; of the other, six. killed, and 16 wounded ; total, with one marine killed on shore, 32 killed, and 40 wounded : while the American editors, major Latour inclusive, have made the British loss before FortBowyer, 162 killed, and 70 wounded.t The Americans acknowledge a loss of four killed, and four wounded. t No event of the war has been
Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 38. + Ibid. p. 40.
made. more of than the indiscreet attack upon Fort-Bowyer. Major Latour, misnaming one vessel, and converting into frigate-built ships the corvettes Hermes and Carron, gives each of the latter “ twenty eight 32-pound carronades," * and crews in proportion. He, then, states the whole “ effective British force at 92 guns, and 1330 men ;"* which he modestly opposes to eight guns, (all that he says would bear,) and 130 men. Where did this writer learn, that both broadsides of a ship can act together, upon a single object? Major Latour, palpably ridiculous as his statements are, has, however, no criticism to dread in the United States of America.
The attack upon Fort-Bowyer unmasking, at once, the designs of the British upon Louisiana, major-general Jackson, of the United States); army, who, having superseded general Wilkinson, was at this time at Mobile, began making defensive arrangements; and, among them, adopted the extraordinary resolution of taking possession, “ without waiting for the authority of his government,” † of the Spanish post of Pensacola, and the contiguous forts. Having assembled 4000 troops, he was enabled, through the treachery of the Spanish governor, to effect his object, on the 7th and sth of November, without bloodshed. Leaving garrisons in the captured forts, the major-general, with the *Latour'sWar in Louis. p. 40. +Sketches of the War, p. 346. remainder of his troops, departed for New Orleans; where he arrived on the 2d of December. Since the 10th of the preceding month, the governor of Louisiana had informed the legislature, that the British were about to attack the state, with from 12 to 15000 men; and that he was in daily expectation of considerable rés inforcements from Kentucky and Tennessee.
Without a brief description of Louisiana, and particularly of the line of maritime invasion to which New Orleans is exposed, the important operations about to be detailed, will not be so readily understood. The boundaries of Loui. siana may be seen upon any map of the North American continent: it is only necessary here to state, that this great expanse of territory has a frontier, with the Spanish internal provinces of 1900 miles; a line of sea-coast, on the Pacific Oceán, of 500 miles; a frontier with the British dominions of 1700 miles ; thence, following the Mississippi, by comparative course, 1400 miles; and along the gulf of Mexico 700 miles: from the mouth of the Perdido to the 31° N. latitude, 40 miles ; along the latter parallel, 240 miles ; having an outline of 6480 miles, and 1352860 square miles of surface. The parish of New Orleans is bounded north by Lake Pontehartrain and the Rigolets, east by lake Borgne and the parish of Plaquemines, south-east by the gulf
* Darby's Louisiana, p. 12.
of Mexico, and west by the parishes of St. Ber. nard and the interior of Lefourche ; possessing an area of 1300 square miles. The city of New Orleans, the capital of the parish, and of the state of Louisiana, stànds upon the left bank of the Mississippi, 105 miles, following the stream, and 90 miles, in a direct line, from its mouth. The present population of the city is estimated at 23242 persons.
* The line of maritime invasion extends from Lake Pontchartrain, on the east, to the river Tesche, on the west, intersected by several bays, inlets, and rivers, which furnish avenues of approach to the metropolis. But the flatness of the coast is every where anfavorable for the debarkation of troops; and the bays and inlets being all obstructed by shoals or bars, no landing can be effected, but by boats, except up the Mississippi ; and that has a bar at its mouth, which shoals to 13 or 14 feet water.
On the 7th of December, commodore Patter. son, the naval commander at New Orleans, received a letter from Pensacola, dated on the 5th, stating that a British fleet of 60 sail, having on hoard a large body of troops, had arrived off the bar, and were destined for New Orleans. The commodore immediately ordered the gun-boats at the station to proceed to the passes Mariana and Christiana, leading into lake Borgne; by which, and Jake Pontchartrain, it was thought
• Darby's Louisiana, p. 185.