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Fort Meigs.


untoward circumstances, it was not in my

From the incessant and heavy rains we experienced, and during which our batteries were constructed, it was not until the morning of the 1st inst., the fifth day after our arrival at the mouth of the river, twelve miles from the enemy, that our batteries could be opened.

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 upon Fort George. might have been captured or destroyed. INGERSOL, in his historical sketch, touches but slightly on this affair, and appears indeed, to introduce it, only for the purpose of depreciating the regulars and militia. "Fort Meigs was beseiged by Proctor and Tecumseh, with SEVERAL THOUSAND ENGLISH AND INDIANS,* who, after many days bombardment, were compelled to retire. Indians, even under so valiant a leader as Tecumseh, are of little use in besieging a fortificd place; and, WITHOUT THE INDIANS, the ENGLISH SOLDIERS SELDOM PERFORMED MUCH."

The enemy, who occupied several acres of commanding ground, strongly defended by block-houses, and the batteries well furnished with ordnance, had, during our approach, so completely entrenched and covered himself, as to render unavailing every effort of our artil

General Proctor's modest despatch will lery, though well served, and in batteries most shew exactly what was effected.

Upper Canada, Sandwich, May 14th, 1813.
SIR,-From the circumstances of the war,

I have judged it expedient to make a direct
report to your Excellency of the operations
and present state in this district.

In the expectation of being able to reach the enemy, who had taken post near the foot of the Rapids of the Miami, before the reinforcement and supplies could arrive, for which he only waited to commence active operations against us, I determined to attack him without delay, and with every means in my power; but from the necessary preparations and some

We gave, in our last chapter, the exact number of regulars, Militia and Indians,

judiciously placed and constructed, under the able direction of Captain Dixon, of the Royal Engineers, of whose ability and unwearied zeal, shown particularly on this occasion, I cannot speak too highly.

Though the attack has not answered fully the purpose intended, I have the satisfaction to inform your Excellency of the fortunate result of an attack of the enemy, aided by a sally of most of their garrison, made on the morning of the 5th inst., by a reinforcement which descended the river a considerable distance in a very short time, consisting of two corps, Dudley's and Rosswell's, amounting to thirteen hundred men, under the command of Brigadier-General Green Clay. The attack 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 the body of those who sallied from the fort, must have been mostly killed or taken.

Before the ordnance could be withdrawn from the batteries, I was left with Tecumseh, 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 left anyservice, 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 his unwearied exertions preparatory to, and on the expedition, as Deputy-Assistant Quarter-Master-General, I have to notice his gal lant conduct in attacking the enemy near the batteries at the point of the bayonet; a service in which he was well supported by Lieuts. Bullock and Clements of the 41st regiment, and Lieut. Le Breton of the Royal Newfound land regiment. The courage and activity displayed through the whole scene of action by the Indian chiefs and warriors contributed largely to our success. I have not been able to ascertain the amount of the prisoners in possession of the Indians. I have sent off, according to agreement, near five hundred prisoners to the river Huron, near Sandusky. I have proposed an exchange, which is referred to the American Government.

I could not ascertain the amount of the enemy's loss in killed, from the extent of the scene of action, and mostly in the woods. I conceive his loss, in killed and wounded, to have been between one thousand and one thousand two hundred men.

These unfortunate people were not volunteers, and complete Kentucky's quota. If the enemy had been permitted to receive his reinforcements and supplies undisturbed, I should have had at this critical juncture to contend with him for Detroit, or perhaps on this shore.

I had not the option of retaining my position on the Miami. Half of the militia had left us. I received a deputation from the chiefs, counselling me to return, as they could not prevent their people, as was their custom after any battle of consequence, returning to beir villages with their wounded, their

The service on which we were employed has been, though short, a very severe one; and too much praise cannot be given to both officers and men, for the cheerfulness with which, on every occasion, they met the service. To Lieut.-Colonel Warburton I feel many obligations, for the aid he zealously afforded me on every occasion. From my Brigade Major, Lieut. McLean, I received the same zealous assistance as on former occasions. To Captain Mockler, Royal Newfoundland Regt, who acted as my Aide-de-Camp, I am much indebted for the assistance afforded me.

Lieutenant Le Breton, of the Newfoundland Regiment, assistant engineer, by his unwearied exertions, rendered essential service, as did Lieutenant Gardiner, of the 41st Regiment, from his science in artillery. The Royal Artillery, in the laborious duties they performed, displayed their usual unwearied zeal, and were well assisted by the Royal Newfoundland (under Lieutenant Garden) as additional gunners. The laborious duties which the Marines, under Commodore Hall, were called upon to perform, have been most cheerfully met, and the most essential service performed.

I have the honor to send an embarkation return of the force that served under my command at the Miami, exclusive of the Indians, who may be stated at twelve hundred.

I also enclose a return of our killed, wounded, and prisoners, who have, however, been exchanged.

I have taken upon me to give the rank of Major to the six Captains of the line, as militia were employed on the same service with them; some of them are old officers; all of them deserving; any mark of your Excellency's appro

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


I beg leave to mention the four volunteers
of the 41st regiment, Wilkinson, Richardson,
Laing, and Proctor, as worthy of promotion.
I have the honor to be, &c.

Brig. Gen. Comg.

only account for this proceeding (the expunging from the despatch of that part of it we have just quoted) as ascribing it to the necessity which existed, that the war should, at all hazards, be rendered popular, and that it was, therefore, found expedient to keep alive the spirit of animosity which they had by this time partially succeeded in arousing, and which it had been their aim to establish, by HENRY PROCTOR. circulating tales calculated to kindle a feeling of revenge throughout the length and breadth of the Union. It will be accordingly found that those tales are the most highly seasoned which were produced by the Government organs.

I beg to acknowledge the indefatigable exertions of the Commissariat.


To His Excellency Lieut.-Gen.
Sir G. Prevost, Bart., &c.

It will be perceived, by his dispatch, that General Proctor does Slaughter of captives. not attach quite so much importance to the Indian force as Ingersol would fain make out. He and other American writers have always made this arm of the "allied force" a convenient excuse for any

mistakes or failures, and we have, accordingly, already shewn that to the dread inspired by this force was "Hull's deplorable surrender" ascribed, while, in another instance, "to the vile use made by Proctor, with Elliot's aid, of the terror of the savages," all the disasters

at the River Raisin were attributed.

The Elliot here spoken of has been frankly acknowledged by Thomson, in his sketches of the war, to have been “an American by birth, a native of Maryland." "The thrilling tales of cruelty and bloodshed," so liberally interwoven into their narratives by most of the American chroniclers of these times, exhibit so much of the character of romance, that it were idle to attempt the refutation of the many and curious fictions; we may, however, remark, en passant, that whilst we do not admit that cruelty was ever practiced, where the British could interfere, in the present

instance the individual most obnoxious to censure was acknowledged to have been one of themselves. We close this part of our subject, by also reminding the readers of these "thrilling tales," that in General Winchester's official despatch, (as he wrote it) he expressed himself "highly gratified with the attention which had been paid to him, his officers, and the prisoners generally, by the British."

We left Commodore Chauncey with a large fleet at Sackett's Harbor, Descent upon York. ready to co-operate in the meditated combined attack on Canada.

It had been at one time proposed that this attack should have been commenced by a movement on Kingston, and that the two brigades wintering on Lake Champlain, and amounting to twenty-five hundred men, should be placed in sleighs, and transported under the command of General Pike, by the most eligible route, and with the greatest possible rapidity to Kingston; where (being joined by such force as could be brought from Sackett's Harbor) they should, by surprise or assault, carry that post, destroy the shipping wintering there, and subsequently be governed by circumstances, in either retaining the position or in withdrawing from it. This plan was, however, abandoned, probably from reports of the increased strength of the British, and the one detailed in our last chapter, substituted. The two letters from General Armstrong, Secretary at War, lay open the whole plan of operations,

prove most conclusively how well in-
formed the American commanders were of

Sir George Prevost's weakness at that time,
although misled afterwards by the false reports
which ultimately led to the change in plans.
(First Letter.)

February 10th. "I have the President's orders to communicate to you, as expeditiously as possible, the outline of campaign which you will imA signal proof of American disingenuous-mediately institute and pursue against Upper ness is to be found in the suppression, or Canada:

1st. 4000 troops will be assembled at Sackett's Harbor.

2d. 3000 will be brought together at Buffalo and its vicinity.

3d. The former of these corps will be embarked and transported under convoy of the flect to Kingston, where they will be landed. Kingston, its garrison, and the British ships wintering in the harbor of that place will be its first object. Its second object will be York, (the capital of Upper Canada) the stores collected, and the two frigates building there. Its third object, Forts George and Eric, and their dependencies. In the attainment of this last there will be a co-operation between the two corps. The composition of these will be as follows:

1st. Bloomfield's Brigade......

2d. Chandler's do.

3d. Philadelphia detachment.



(Second Letter.)

February 24th. "Before I left New York, and, till very recently, since my arrival here, I was informed through various channels, that a winter or spring attack upon Kingston was not practicable, on account of the snow which generally lies to the depth of two, and sometimes of three feet, over all that northern region during those seasons. Hence it is that in the plan recently communicated, it was thought safest and best to make the attack by a combination of naval and military means, and to approach our object, not by directly crossing the St. Lawrence on the ice, but by setting out from Sackett's Harbor, in concert with, and under convoy of the fleet. Later information differs from that on which this plan was founded; and the fortunate issue of Major Forsyth's last 400 expedition shews, that small enterprises, at 300 least, may be successfully excecuted at the 200 present season. The advices, given in your 400 letter of the 11th instant, have a bearing also 250 on the same point, and to the same effect. If the enemy be really weak at Kingston, and approachable by land and ice, Pike, (who will be a brigadier in a day or two,) may be put into motion from Lake Champlain by the Chateaugay route, (in sleighs) and, with the two brigades, cross the St. Lawrence where it may be thought best, destroy the armed ships, and seize and hold Kingston, until you 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 himself 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 Elizabeth will, I think, be the shortest and best. They will be replaced by some new raised regiments from the east.

4th. Baltimore

5th. Carlisle

6th. Greenbush




7th. Sackett's Harbor do.

8th. Several corps at Buffalo under the

command of General Porter, and
the recruits belonging thereto.. 3,000

Total...... 7,030 The time for executing the enterprise will be governed by the opening of Lake Ontario, which usually takes place about the 1st of April.

You will put into your movements as much privacy as may be compatible with their execution. They may be masked by reports that Sackett's Harbor is in danger, and that their principal effort will be made on the Niagara, in co-operation with General Har rison. As the route to Sackett's Harbor and to Niagara is for a considerable distance the same, it may be well to intimate, even in orders, that the latter is the destination of the two brigades now at Lake Champlain."

the shorter road to the object, and perhaps the safer one, as the St. Lawrence is now every where well bridged, and offers no obstruction to either attack or retreat. Such a movement, will, no doubt, Le soon known to Prevost, and cannot but disquiet him. The dilemma it presents will be serious. Either he must give up his western posts, or, to save them, he must carry himself in force, and promptly, to Upper Canada. In the latter case he will be embarrassed for subsistence. His convoys of provision will be open to our attacks, on a line of nearly one hundred miles, and his position at Montreal much weakened. Another decided advantage will be, to let us into the

secret of his real strength. If he be able to make heavy detachments to cover, or to recover Kingston, and to protect his supplies, and after all maintain himself at Montreal and on Lake Champlain, he is stronger than I imagine, or than any well-authenticated reports make him to be.

With regard to our magazines, my belief is, that we have nothing to fear; because, as stated above, Prevost's attention must be given to the western posts, and to our movements against them. He will not dare to advance southwardly, while a heavy corps is operating on his flank, and menacing his line of communication. But on the other sup. position, they (the magazines) may be easily secured; 1st, by taking them to Willsborough; or, 2d, to Burlington; or, 3d, by a militia call, to protect them where they are. Orders are given for the march of the eastern volunteers, excepting Ulmer's regiment, and two companies of axe-men, sent to open the route to the Chaudière.

The southern detachment will be much stronger than I had supposed. That from Philadelphia will amount to nearly one thousand effectives."

Although we are enabled from these letters to make out what was the original plan, we are left without much information as to the real reason why it was abandoned. Even Armstrong, although Secretary at War, and commenting on this particular enterprise at considerable length, is comparatively silent on this point, we may, therefore, with some degree of confidence, ascribe it to General Dearborn's and Commodore Chauncey's representations, influenced doubtless by private information gained through their spies.

Be this matter, however, as it may, on the 25th April, 1813, Commodore Chauncey's fleet sailed from Sackett's Harbor for York, having on board General Dearborn, as Generalin-chief, and a considerable force. It is not easy to get at the exact number of troops sent on this enterprise, nor to ascertain the materiel of which it was composed. General Dearborn does not enumerate them, and most American historians have taken the number mentioned by Chauncey, who says that "he took on board the General and suite, and about seventeen hundred men." Ingersol reduces, on what authority we are ignorant,

this number to sixteen hundred, but an Albany paper, says James, actually states the number at "about five thousand." This is an evident exaggeration, but we think we may safely put the numbers down, after comparing the various accounts, including the crews of the armed vessels, at between two thousand five hundred and three thousand men.

This force reached its destination on the 27th, and preparations were immediately made for landing the troops. York seems at this time to have been in an almost defenceless condition, and a very reprehensible apathy appears to have prevailed. James represents that "the guns upon the batteries, being without trunnions, were mounted upon wooden sticks, with iron hoops, and, therefore, became of very little use. Others of the guns belonged to the ship that was building, and lay on the ground, partly covered with snow and frozen mud," James also mentions that the accidental circumstance of the Duke of Gloucester brig being in the port, undergoing some repairs, enabled the garrison to mount, on temporary field works, a few six-pounders. Still the defences were of the most insignificant character, and we are at a loss to account for the undertaking the building of vessels in a place so open to, and unprepared for, an attack.

Their various positions having been taken up by the armed vessels destined to cover the landing, and take part in the attack on the batteries, the debarkation of the troops began about eight o'clock in the morning, and Forsyth with his rifle corps were the first who attempted to make good a landing.

The spot at which the landing was intended to have been made was close to the site of an old French fort, and will be found on reference to the plan at the head of the chapter; the boats were, however, carried by a strong breeze and heavy sea, considerably to leeward of the intended point, and nearly half a mile to the westward the landing was effected. Armstrong says this spot was "thickly covered with brushwood, and already occupied by British and Indian marksmen." Ilad the spot been occupied as thus represented, the chances are, when we consider with what difficulty they overcame a mere handful of men, that the Americans would never have landed on that day; in reality it was occupied by Major Givens, with about five-and-twenty Indians,

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