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CHAPTER X.

CONTEXTS.

untoward circumstances, it was not in my Fort Meigs.-Slaughter of captives.-Descent power to reach him within three weeks of the

upon York.-Errors of the Commanders.- period I had proposed, and at which time he Descent pon Fort George.

might have been captured or destroyed. Ingersol, in his historical sketch, touches

From the incessant and heavy rains we exbut slightly on this affair, perienced, and during which our batteries Fort Meigs.

and appears indeed, to were constructed, it was not until the morning introduce it, only for the purpose of depre- of the 1st inst., the fifth day after our arrival ciating the regulars and militia. “Fort Meigs at the mouth of the river, twelve miles was beseiged by Proctor and Tecumseh, with from the enemy, that our batteries could be SEVERAL THOUSAND English AND INDIANS, * opened. who, after many days bombardment, were The enemy, who occupied several acres of compelled to retire. Indians, even under so commanding ground, strongly defended by valiant a leader as Tecumsch, are of little use block-houses, and the batteries well furnished in besieging a fortificd place; and, WITHOUT with ordnance, had, during our approach, so THE INDIANS, the English SOLDIERS SELDOM PER- completely entrenched and covered himself, as FORMED MUCR."

to render unavailing every effort of our artilGeneral Proctor's modest despatch will lery, though well served, and in batteries most shew exactly what was effected.

judiciously placed and constructed, under the

able direction of Captain Dixon, of the Royal Upper Canada, Sandwich, May 14th, 1813. Sir,–From the circumstances of the war,

Engineers, of whose ability and unwearied I have judged it expedient to make a direct zeal, shown particularly on this occasion, I

. report to your Excellency of the operations cannot speak too highly. and present state in this district.

Though the attack has not answered fully

the purpose intended, I have the satisfaction In the expectation of being able to reach the enemy, who had taken post near the foot

to inform your Excellency of the fortunate

result of an attack of the enemy, aided by & of the Rapids of the Miami, before the rein

sally of most of their garrison, made on the forcement and supplies could arrive, for which

morning of the 5th inst., by a reinforcement he only waited to commence active operations

which descended the river a considerable disagainst us, I determined to attack him without

tance in a very short time, consisting of two delay, and with every means in my power;

corps, Dudley's and Rosswell's, amounting to but from the necessary preparations and some

thirteen hundred men, under the command of

Brigadier-Goneral Green Clay. The attack •We gave, in our last chapter, the exact number of regulars, Militia and Indians,

was very sudden, on both sides of the river.

The enemy were for a few minutes in posses- prisoners, and plunder, of which they had sion of our batteries, and took some prisoners. taken a considerable quantity in the boats of After a severe contest, though not of long con- the enemy. tinuance, the enemy gave way, and except Before the ordnance could be withdrawn the body of those who sallied from the fort, from the batteries, I was left with Tecumseh, must have been mostly killed or taken. and less than twenty chiefs and warriors, a

In this decisive affair, the officers and men circumstanee which strongly proves that, of the 41st Regiment, who charged and routed under present circumstances at least, our the enemy near the batteries, well maintained Indian force is not a disposable one, or perthe great reputation of the corps. Where all manent, though occasionally a most powerful deserve praise, it is difficult to distinguish. aid. I have, however, brought off all the Capt. Muir, an old officer, who has seen much ordnance; and, indeed, have not lest any. service, had the good fortune to be in the im- thing behind; part of the ordnance was mediate command of these brave men. Be- embarked under the fire of the enemy. sides my obligations to Captain Chambers, for The service on which we were employed his unwearied cxertions preparatory to, and has been, though short, a very severe one; on the expedition, as Deputy-Assistant Quar- and too much praise cannot be given to both ter-Master-General, I have to notice his gal- officers and men, for the cheerfulness with lant conduct in attacking the enemy near the which, on every occasion, they met the service. batteries at the point of the bayonet; a ser- To Lieut.-Colonel Warburton I feel many vice in which he was well supported by Lieuts. obligations, for the aid he zealously afforded Bullock and Clements of the 41st regiment, me on every occasion. From my Brigade and Lieut. Le Breton of the Royal Newfound Major, Lieut. McLean, I received the same land regiment. The courage and activity dis- zealous assistance as on former occasions. To played through the whole scene of action by Captain Mockler, Royal Newfoundland Regt, the Indian chiefs and warriors contributed who acted as my Aide-de-Camp, I am much largely to our success. I have not been able indebted for the assistance afforded me. to ascertain the amount of the prisoners in Lieutenant Le Breton, of the Newfoundland possession of the Indians. I have sent off, Regiment, assistant engineer, by his unweaaccording to agreement, near five hundred ried exertions, rendered essential service, as prisoners to the river Huron, near Sandusky. did Lieutenant Gardiner, of the 41st Regi

I have proposed an exchange, which is ment, from his science in artillery. The Royal referred to the American Government. Artillery, in the laborious duties they per

I could not ascertain the amount of the formed, displayed their usual unwearied zeal, enemy's loss in killed, from the extent of the and were well assisted by the Royal New. scene of action, and mostly in the woods. I foundland (under Lieutenant Garden) as addiconceive his loss, in killed and wounded, to tional gunners. The laborious duties which have been between one thousand and one the Marines, under Commodore Hall, were thousand two hundred men.

called upon to perform, have been most cheer. These unfortunate people were not volun- fully met, and the most essential service perteers, and complete Kentucky's quota. If formed. the enemy had been permitted to receive his I have the honor to send an embarkation reinforcements and supplies undisturbed, I return of the force that served under my comshould have had at this critical juncture to mand at the Miami, exclusive of the Indians, contend with him for Detroit, or perhaps on who may be stated at twelve hundred. this shore.

I also enclose a return of our killed, woundI had not the option of retaining my posi- ed, and prisoners, who have, however, been tion on the Miami. Half of the militia had exchanged. left us. I received a deputation from the I have taken upon me to give the rank of chiefs, counselling me to return, as they could Major to the six Captains of the line, as militia not prevent their people, as was their custom were employed on the same service with them; after any battle of consequence, returning to some of them are old officers; all of them de beir villages with their wounded, their serving; any mark of your Excellency's appro

me.

bation of them would be extremely grateful to rather garbling of this document, and we can

only account for this proceeding (the expung. I beg leare to mention the four volunteers ing from the despatch of that part of it we of the 41st regiment, Wilkinson, Richardson, have just quoted) as ascribing it to the necesLaing, and Proctor, as worthy of promotion. sity which existed, that the war should, at all I have the honor to be, &c. hazards, be rendered popular, and that it was,

Henry Proctor, therefore, found expedient to keep alive the

Brig.-Gen. Comg. spirit of animosity which they had by this I beg to acknowledge the indefatigable time partially succeeded in arousing, and exertions of the Commissariat.

which it had been their aim to establish, by (Signed) Henry Proctor. circulating tales calculated to kindle a feeling To His Excellency Lieut.-Gen.

of revenge throughout the length and breadth Sir G. Prevost, Bart., &c.

of the Union. It will be accordingly found

that those tales are the most highly seasoned It will be perceived, by his dispatch, that which were produced by the Government

General Proctor does organs. Slaughter of captives.

not attach quite so much importance to the Indian force as Ingersol

We left Commodore Chauncey with a large would fain make out. He and other American

fleet at Sackett's Harbor,

Descent upon York, writers have always made this arm of the

ready to co-operate in “allied force” a convenient excuse for any

the meditated combined attack on Canada. mistakes or failures, and we have, accordingly, It had been at one time proposed that this already shewn that to the dread inspired by attack should have been commenced by a this force was “Jull's deplorable surrender" movement on Kingston, and that the two ascribed, while, in another instance, “to the brigades wintering on Lake Champlain, and vile use made by Proctor, with Elliot's aid, amounting to twenty-five hundred men, should of the terror of the savages," all the disasters be placed in sleighs, and transported under at the River Raisin were attributed.

the command of General Pike, by the most The Elliot here spoken of has been frankly eligible route, and with the greatest possible acknowledged by Thomson, in his sketches of rapidity to Kingston; where (being joined by the war, to have been “an American by birth, such force as could be brought from Sackett's a native of Maryland.” The thrilling tales Harbor) they should, by surprise or assault, of cruelty and bloodshed,” so liberally inter- carry that post, destroy the shipping wintering woven into their narratives by most of the there, and subsequently be governed by cirAmerican chroniclers of these times, exhibit cumstances, in either retaining the position or so much of the character of romance, that it in withdrawing from it. This plan was, howwere idle to attempt the refutation of the ever, abandoned, probably from reports of the many and curious fictions; we may, however, increased strength of the British, and the one remark, en passant, that whilst we do not detailed in our last chapter, substituted. The admit that cruelty was ever practiced, where two letters from General Armstrong, Secretary the British could interfere, in the present at War, lay open the whole plan of operations, instance the individual most obnoxious to and prove most conclusively how well incensure was acknowledged to have been one

formed the American commanders were of of themselves. We close this part of our

Sir George Prevost's weakness at that time, subject, by also reminding the readers of although misled afterwards by the false reports these "thrilling tales,” that in General Win- which ultimately led to the change in plans. chester's official despatch, (as he wrote it) he

(First Letter.) expressed himself highly gratified with the

February 10th. attention which had been paid to him, his "I have the President's orders to comofficers, and the prisoners generally, by the municate to you, as expeditiously as possible, British.”

the outline of campaign which you will imA signal proof of American Jisingenuous-mediately institute and pursuc against Upper ness is to be found in the suppression, or ! Canada :

400

1st. 4000 troops will be assembled at

(Second Letter.) Sackett's Harbor.

February 24th. 24. 3000 will be brought together at Buffalo "Before I left New York, and, till very and its vicinity.

recently, since my arrival here, I was informed 31. The former of these corps will be em- through various channels, that a winter or barked and transported under convoy of the spring attack upon Kingston was not practic fleet to Kingston, where they will be landed. cable, on account the snow which generally King-ton, its garrison, and the British ships lies to the depth of two, and sometimes of wintering in the harbor of that place will be three feet, over all that northern region during its first object. Its second object will be those seasons. llence it is that in the plan York, (the capital of Upper Canada) the recently communicated, it was thought safest stores collected, and the two frigates building and best to make the attack by a combination there. Its third object, Forts George and Eric, of naval and military means, and to approach and their dependencies. In the attainment of our object, not by directly crossing the St. this last there will be a co-operation between Lawrence on the ice, but by setting out from the two corps. The composition of these will Sackett's Larbor, in concert with, and under be as follows:

convoy of the fleet. Later information differs 1st. Bloomfield's Brigade....

1,436 from that on which this plan was founded; 2d. Chandler's do.

1,014 and the fortunate issue of Major Forsyth's last 3d. Philadelphia detachment.

400 expedition shews, that small enterprises, at 4th. Baltimore do.

300 least, may be successfully exceented at the 5th. Carlisle do. 200, present season.

The advices, given in your 6tb, Greenbush do.

letter of the 11th instant, have a bearing also 7th. Sackett's Harbor do.

250 on the same point, and to the same effect. If 8th. Several corps at Buffalo under the the enemy be really weak at Kingston, and

command of General Porter, and approachable by land and ice, Pike, (who will the recruits belonging thereto.. 3,000 be a brigadier in a day or two,) may be put

into motion from Lake Champlain by the

Total...... 7,030 Chateaugay route, (in sleighs) and, with the The time for executing the enterprise will two brigades, cross the St. Lawrence where be governed by the opening of Lake Ontario, it may be thought best, destroy the armed which usually takes place about the 1st of ships, and seize and hold Kingston, until you April

can join him with the other corps destined for The Adjutant-General has orders to put the the future objects of the expedition; and, if more southern detachments in march as ex

pressed by Prevost before such junction can peditiously as possible. The two brigades on be effected, he may withdraw bimself to Lake Champlain you will move so as to give Sackett's Harbor, or other place of security, them full time to reach their place of destina- on our side of the line. This would be much tion by the 25th of March. The route by the shorter road to the object, and perhaps Elizabeth will, I think, be the shortest and the safer one, as the St. Lawrence is now every best. They will be replaced by some new where well bridged, and offers no obstruction raised regiments from the east.

to either attack or retreat. Such a movement, You will put into your movements as much will, no doubt, le soon known to Prevost, and privacy as may be compatible with their cannot but disquiet himn. The dilemma it execution. They may be masked by reports presents will be serious. Either he must give that Sackett's Harbor is in danger, and that

up his western posts, or, to save them, he their principal effort will be made on the must carry himself in force, and promptly, to Niagara, in co-operation with General Ilar Upper Canada. In the latter case he will be rison. As the route to Sackett's Harbor and embarrassed for subsistence. L'is convoys of to Niagara is for a con-iderable distance the provision will be open to our atiаcks, on 2 same, it may be well to intimate, even in line of nearly one hundred miles, and his orders, that the latter is the destination of the position at Montreal much weakened. Another tuo brigades now at Lake Champlain.” decided advantage will be, to let us into the

secret of his real strength. If he be able to this number to sixteen hundred, but an albany make heavy detachments to cover, or to paper, says James, actually states the number recover Kingston, and to protect his supplies, at "about five thousand." This is an evident and after all maintain himself at Montreal and exaggeration, but we think we may safely put on Lake Champlain, he is stronger than I the numbers down, after comparing the various imagined, or than any well-authenticated accounts, including the crews of the armed reports make him to be.

vessels, at between two thousand fire hunWith regard to our magazines, my belief is, dred and three thousand men. that we have nothing to fear; because, as This force reached its destination on the stated above, Prevost's attention must be 27th, and preparations were immediately made given to the western posts, and to our move for landing the troops. York seems at this ments against them. He will not dare to time to have been in an almost defenceless advance southwardly, while a heavy corps is condition, and a very reprehensible apathy operating on his slank, and menacing his line appears to have prevailed. James represents of communication. But on the other sup- that “the guns upon the batteries, being position, they (the magazines) may be easily without trunnions, were mounted upon wooden secured; 1st, by taking them to Willsborough; sticks, with iron hoops, and, therefore, became or, 21, to Burlington; or, 31, by a militia call, of very little usc. Others of the gins belonged to protect them where they are. Orders are to the ship that was building, and lay on the given for the march of the eastern volunteers, ground, partly covered with snow and frozen excepting Ulmer's regiment, and two com- mud," James also mentions that the accidental panies of axc-men, sent to open the route to circumstance of the Duke of Gloucester brig the Chaudière.

being in the port, undergoing some repairs, The southern detachment will be much enabled the garrison to mount, on temporary stronger than I had supposed. That from field works, a few six-pounders. Still the Philadelphia will amount to nearly one thou- defences were of the most insignificant charsand effectives."

acter, and we are at a loss to account for the Although we are enabled from these letters undertaking the building of vessels in a place to make out what was the original plan, we so open to, and unprepared for, an attack. are left without much information as to the Their various positions having been taken real reason why it was abandoned. Even up by the armed vessels destined to cover the Armstrong, althongh Secretary at War, and landing, and take part in the attack on commenting on this particular enterprise at the batteries, the debarkation of the troops considerable length, is comparatively silent on begin about eight o'clock in the morning, and this point, we may, therefore, with some Forsyth with his rifle corps were the first degree of confidence, ascribe it to General who attempted to make good a landing. Dearborn's and Commodore Chauncey's re The spot at which the landing was intended presentations, influenced doubtless by private to have been made was close to the site of an information gained through their spies. old French fort, and will be found on reference

Be this matter, however, as it may, on the to the plan at the head of the chapter; the boats 25th April, 1813, Commodore Chauncey's were, however, carried by a strong breeze fleet sailed from Sackett's Harbor for York, and heavy sea, considerably to leeward of the having on board General Dearborn, as General- intended point, and nearly half a mile to the in-chief, anti a considerable force. It is not westward the landing was effected. Armeasy to get at the exact number of troops strong says this spot was "thickly covered sent on this enterprise, nor to ascertain the with brushwood, and already occupied by materiel of which it was composed. General British and Indian marksmen.” Nind the spot Dearborn does not enumerate them, and most been occupied as thus represented, the chances American historians have taken the number are, when we consider with what difficulty mentioned hy Chauncey, who says that "he they overcame a mere handful of men, that took on board the General and suite, and the Americans would never have landed on about suventeen hundred men." Ingersol that day; in reality it was occupied by Major reduces, on what authority we are ignorant, Givens, with about five-and-tvventy Indians,

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