Page images

and a company (about sixty) of Glengarry a position on the line of Dundas street, where Fencibles. Armstrong adds; “in the contest he remained, taking no part in the action. that followed, Forsyth lost some men, but no We do not blame Adjutant Gen. Shaw for credit.” We grant the former, as the defence this, as we presume he had his orders, but made by the handful of men, thenon the ground, we question the judgment which placed him was so determined that Forsyth would have in such a position, as it was not probable that found it difficult to effect a landing had he not the Americans would advance by that route, been speedily reinforced by Major King and leaving in the rear, a force which,'small as it a battalion of infantry. The landing of the was, had kept them in check for six hours. main body under General Pike now enabled On the retreat of the British, a movement the enemy to advance more boldly, and to effected through the woods, the Americans drive back the British, (whose numbers had advanced and carried, without much resistbeen in the meantime increased by the arrival ance, the first defence: advancing towards of some two hundred and twenty militia, and the second, and observing the fire cease sudfifty of the Newfoundland regiment,) from one denly, Pike concluded, and not unreasonably, position to another. The stand made at some that it was for the purpose of making of these positions was very gallant, as two proposals for a surrender, and unfortunately companies of the 8th regiment (about two halted his troops while yet at a distance of hundred strong) had now joined. James two hundred yards from the main battery. says, “the whole of the American troops, at We say, unfortunately, as, had they advanced, this time on shore, amounted, by their own the major part of them must have perished in accounts, to upwards of one thousand. These the explosion which took place on the firing were met by two hundred and ten men of the of the magazine, which had been just 8th, and Newfoundland, regiments, and about blown up by Sergeant Marshall to prevent the two hundred and twenty militia, who made a enemy gaining possession of a large quantity formidable charge upon the American column, of powder deposited there. Ingersol styles and partially compelled it to retire.” Rein. the blowing up of the magazine “a vile stratforced, however, by the fresh troops that agem;" and Thomson accuses General Sheaffe were continually being landed, the Americans of treacherously ordering the train to be laid, rallied and compelled the British to retire, and of artsully placing several cart loads of partially covered in their retreat by the stones to increase the effect. This is quite inbatteries which, insignificant as they were, correct, as we do not think Sheaffe clever had still done good service, by partially occu- enough to have suggested such a plan; besides, pying the attention of the enemy's vessels, Marshall distinctly stated that had he known which had by this time, from their light General Sheaffe wished it, or had it occurred draught of water, approached within gun-shot. to himself, he could easily have blown up the The companies of the 8th regiment suffered enemy by giving ten minutes more port fire. materially from their ignorance of the roads, llad he done so, the destruction of the whole the grenadiers being nearly annihilated, and column would have been the natural consethis was the more to be regretted, as their quence. A vast amount of nonsense, relative gallantry was without any beneficial results, to this affair, has been penned by American the main landing having been effected before historians, who do not seem to reflect that their arrival. General Sheaffe appears to have this was an invading force, and that the mine laid his plans very badly; by early dawn the has always been a legitimate mode either of alarm of the enemies' approach was given; attack or defence. In the present instance, yet so confused does every movement appear the only object in blowing up the magazine to have been, that we find only a few Indians was to prevent General Pike getting possesand a handful of militia on the spot to oppose sion of the powder; it was, therefore, blown up, a landing, while the two companies of the 8th and very clumsily too, it was done, as several were left to find their way through woods of the British troops were killed or wounded and cover without proper direction or guides. by the explosion. We heartily agree with We find, in addition, Adjutant Gen. Shaw, with James, “that even had the whole column a body of men and a brass six-pounder, taking up been destroyed, the Americans would but

have met their deserts;" and if disposed to tached to the British military and naval service, commiserate the poor soldiers, at least, we wish, who had been captured, should be paroled ; that with him, " that their places had been filled private property of every kind should be resby the American President, and the ninety- pected, and that all public stores should be eight members of the Legislature who voted given up to the captors. We have italicised for the war.” The explosion, partial as were the words “who had been captured," as the its effects, killed and wounded more than two Americans got possession of the militia rolls hundred Americans, spreading its mischief far and included amongst the list of prisoners on and wide, and creating in the remainder much parole, many who had never laid down their temporary alarm and confusion. The stones arms, and whom it was never contemplated to and rubbish were throwu as far as the decks include in the list. We give Sheaffu's disof the vessels near the shore, and, according patch, with his list of killed and wounded: to Ingersol, “the water shocked as with an

Kingston, May 5th, 1813. earthquake."

Sir,- I did myself the honor of writing to your General Pike was literally stoned to death, Excellency, on my route from York, to commuhis brcast and sides were crushed, and he lin- uicate the mortifying intelligence that the enemy gered in great agony till he expired. Gen. had obtained possession of that place on the 27th Pike was a native of New Jersey, and is repre- of April. I shall now give your Excellency a sented to have been a gallant and thorough- further detail of that event. bred soldier, and one of the best commanders

In the evening of the 26th, information was the Americans had. His death was a glorious received that many vessels had been seen to the one. Through motives of humanity he halted eastward. Very carly the next morning, they to prevent unnecessary effusion of blood, and were discovered lying-to, not far from the harpaltry as was the victory gained with such over- bor; after some time had elapsed, they made whelming odds, still he had the satisfaction of sail, and to the number of sixteen, of various deknowing that he had gained a victory, such as scriptions, anchored off the shore, some distance it was. Thompson and Ingersol are very elo- to the westward. Boats full of troops were imquent onhis death; "carried on board the mediately seen assembling near the commodore's Commodore's ship, General Pike was laid on

ship, under cover of whose fire, and that of other a mattress, and asking for the British captured

vessels, and aided by the wind, they soon effected flag to be laid under his head, in a few hours a landing, in spite of a spirited opposition from

Major Givens and about forty Indians. A comhe nobly breathed his last upon it, without a

pany of Glengarry lightinfantry, which had been or sigh."

dered to support them, had, by some mistake (not All honor we are ready to pay to the brave in the smallest degree imputable to its commanman who dies a sacrifice for his country, but der,) been led in another direction, and came late considering the inmense superiority of num. into action. The other troops, consisting of two bers, by which, after a long and desperate companies of the 8th (or King's regiment), and struggle, the feat of supplanting the flag was about a company of the royal Newfoundland reachieved, the officiousness of the American giment, with some militia, encountered the enemy historians has conferred more of ridicule than in a thick wood. Captain M.Neal, of the King's of honor


the last moments of their hero. regiment, was killed, while gallantly leading his General Shcaffe was careful to avail himself company, which suffered severely. The troops of the temporary panic into which the enemy at length fell back; they rallied several times, had been thrown, and collecting what regular but could not maintain the contest against the force he could, and leaving to their own resour

greatly superior and increasing numbers of the ces the civil authorities and embodied militia,

enemy. They retired under cover of our batter

ies, which were engaged with some of the enemy's he made a hasty retreat in the direction of

vessels that had moved nigher to the harbour. Kingston, destroying, as he passed along, two By some unfortunate accident the magazine at ships on the stocks, and a magazine of military the western battery blew up, and killed and and naval stores in the harbour. The defence wounded a considerable number of men, and of the town being no longer practicable, a crippled the battery. It became too evident that surrender necessarily followed, by which it our numbers and means of defence were inadewas stipulated, that the militia and others at-' quate to the task of maintaining possession of

York against the vast superiority of force brought Incorporated Militia-Capt. Jarvis, volunteer, against it. The troops were withdrawn towards Hartney, barrack-master. the torm, and were finally ordered to retreat on

Richard LEONARD, the road to Kingston ; the powder magazine was Acting deputy-assistant-adjutant-general. blown up, and the new ship and naval stores de

Edwd. BAYNES, stroyed. Lieutenant-Colonel Chewett and Major

Adjutant.general, North America. Allen of the militia, residents in the town, were instructed to treat with the American command Terms of capitulation entered into on the 27th

April, 1813. for the surrender of the town of ers for terms; a statement of those agreed on York, in l'pper Canada, to the army am navy with Major-General Dearborn and Commodore of the United States, under the command of Chauncey, is transmitted to your Excellency, with

Major-General Dearborn and Commodore

Chauncey : returns of the killed and wounded, &c. The ac

That the troops, regular and militin, at this counts of the number of the enemy vary from

post, and the naval oslicers and seamen, shall be eighteen huadred and ninety to three thousand. surrendered prisoners of war. The troops, regu. We had about six hundred, including militia and lar and militia, to ground their arms immediately dock-yardmen. The quality of these troops was

on parade, and the naval ollicers and semen be

immediately surrendered. so superior a de-cription, and their general disposition so good, that, under legs unfavourable be immediately given up to the commanding offi

That all public stores, naval and military, shall circumstances, I should have felt confident of cers of the army and navy of the United Statessuccess, in spite of the disparity of numbers. As that all private property shall be guaranteed to it was, the contest, which commenced between the citizens of the town of York. six and seven o'clock, was maintained for nearly shall be retained by thein-that such surgeons as

That all papers belonging to the civil officers eight hours.

may be procured to attend the wounded of the When we had proceeded some miles from British regulars and Canadian militia shall not be York, we met the light infantry of the King's re- considered prisoners of war.

That one lieutenant-colonel, one major, thirteen ment, on its route for Fort George; it retired with us and covered the retreat, which was elected captains, nine lieutenants, eleven ensigns, one

quarter-master, ore deputy adjutant.general of without molestation from the enemy.

the militia, namely-
I have the honor to be, &c.,

Lieut. Col. Chewett, George Mustard,
R. II. SHEAFFE, Major-General.

Major Allen.

Barnet Vinderburch,

Robert Stanton, Ilis Excellency Sir George Prevost, &c. John Wilson,

George Ridotit,

Wm. Jarvis, Return of killed, wounded, prisoners, and miss. John Button,

Peter Robinson,

Eduard M Mahon, ing, of the troops engaged at York, under the Reuben Richardson, John Wilson, command of Sir Roger Hall Sheaffe, on the John Arnold,

Ely Plavior. 27th ultimo:

James Fenwick,
James Mustard,

Andrew Thomipson,
Kingston, May 10th, 1813.

Duncan Cameron,

Alfred Senalle, Total-One captain, one sergeant-major, four David Thompson, Donald McArthur, serjeants, one drummer, fifty-two rank and file, John Robinson,

William Smith,
Samuel Ridout,

Andrew Mercer, three gunners, killed: one ensign, two serjeants,

Thomas Hamilton,

James Chewett, one drummer, thirty rank and file, wounded ; one

John Burn,

George Kiuki lieutenant, four serjeants, one drummer, thirty- William Jarvis.

Edward Thompson, six rank and file, one driver, wounded and pri QUARTER-MASTER.

Charles Denison,

George Denison, soners; six rank and file, one bombardier, three Charles Baynes.

Darcey Boulton. gunners, prisoners ; six rank and file, one gunner, John H. Shultz, missing.

Nineteen serjeants, four corporals, and two Names of officers killed and wounded. hundred and four rank and file. Killed-8th (or King's regiment) — Captain Of the field train department, Wm. Dunbar; of M'Neal, volunteer D. Maclean, clerk of the llouse the provincial navy, Captain Frs. Govereaux,

Lieutenant Green, Mi Ishipmen John Ridout, of Assembly.

Louis Baupré, Clerk, James Langsilon, one boatWounded-Royal Newfoundland Regiment-swain, fifteen naval artificers; of His Majesty's Lieutenant D. Keven, prisoner.

regular troops, Lieutenant De Keren, one serGlengarry Light lufantry— Eusign Robins, jeant-major; and of the royal artillery, one hom

bardier and three gunners, shall be surrendered slightly.

prisoners of war, and accounted for in the er. General Staff -Captain Loring, 104th regihange of prisoners between the United States ment, slightly.

and Great Britain.




(Signed) G. E. MITCIIELL, Lieut.-Col. "they set fire, not only to the public build

3rd A. U. S.

ings, civil as well as military, but to a tavern SAMUELS. CONNOR, Major and

some distance from York; and were proceedA. DC. to Maj.-Gen. Dearborn. WILLIAJ KISG, Major.

ing upon the same charitable errand to latt's 15th 'U. S. Infantry. Mills, had they not been deterred by informaJESSE D. ELLIOTT, Lieut. tion of Indians being in the neighbourhood."

U. S. Navy. Christie is, however, silent on this point, and W. CHEWETT, Lient.-Col. Com.

we are induced from the circumstance, as well 3rd Regt. York Militia.

as from information gained from the actors in W. ALLEN, Major 3rd Regt.

York Militia. the scene to consider James' statement as F. GAURREAL, Lieut. M. Dpt. rather highly coloured. Ingersol does not According to the capitulation the total of pri- rank the advantage that occurred hy the capsoners amounted to two hundred and nipety- ture of York, at a very high rate, “with the three, yet some American accounts swelled exception,” he says, " of the English General's this number, one, to seven hundred and fifty, musical snuff box, which was an object of another, to nine hundred and thirty. These much interest to some of our officers, and a assertions, too, were made in the face of Gen. scalp which Major Forsyth forind suspended Dearborn's official letter, in whichit will have ove the speaker's chair, we gained but barren been seen he does not, including Indians, rate honor by the capture of York, of which no the British force at more than eight hundred. permanent possession was taken." Smail as this force was, had it not been for Touching the scalp here mentioner, Ingerthe unfortunate (as we deem it) halt of the sol pretends to give an official lettor from 8th on their way from Kingston to Fort George, Commodore Chauncey to the Hon. William the Americans would have had a still smaller Jones, Secretary of the Navy, in which the force to contend with. Sir George Prevost Commodore is made to write: and General Sheaffe deserve great censure for

Sir, I have the honor to present you, by this affair of York—the one for allowing mil. the hands of Lieut. Dudley, the British standitary and naval stores to be deposited, and a ard taken at York, on the 27th April last, comparatively large sloop of war to be built, accompanied by the mace, over which hung a in an exposed situation-the other for gross human scalp. negligence in not ordering the fortifications to " This atrocious ornament," continues Inbe put in order, and neglecting to take proper gersol, was sent to the Secretary of War, measures fur concentrating his troops and en- General Armstrong, who refuse:l to receive or suring something like order and regularity. suffer it to remain in his cabinet.” Armstrong General Sheaffe was shortly afterwards super- in relation to this affair, writes, “our trophies seded in the command, in Upper Canada, by were fewer but better taken care of. One Major General Du Rottenburg, and, returning human scaip, a prize made, as we understand, toMontreal, he took the command of the troops by the Commodore, was offered, but not acin that district.

cepted, as a decoration to the walls of the war The Americans gained possession of a great office.” It will be observed that Armstrong quantity of naval stores, of which the destruc- does not say hor, or where, Commodore tion had been neglected. The greatest loss, Chauncey acquired this valuable trophy, but however, was that of the ships-one of which from the expertness of the back rood-men in had been nearly planked. Fortunately the scalping, (we have already given one or two brig Prince Regent had left the harbor some instances of this,) it is not at all unlikely, but three days before the attack, thereby escap- that the scalp in question was that of an uning capture. The stores taken at York, writes fortunate Indian who was shot while in a tree, Ingersol,“ by another mistake, were burnt by the Americans, in their advance on the at Sackett's Ilarbour," so that the Americans town, on the other hand, it may be gathered had not even this to boast of as a recompense from Armstrong's words, that Chauncey himfor the loss of so many men. James evidently self took the scalp, which he afterwards offered seems disposed to accuse the Americans of as a prize to decorate the walls of the war oflice. dealing harshly with the town, and states that! Ingersol devotes six and a half pages to this


one scalp, raking up all the horrors of the nor did he make allowances for the strong revolutionary war, and proving most distinctly east wind; yet there is very little doubt but how safe he, in common with other American that, had General Dearborn been a man of writers, were to make up a case of cruelty, energy, much more might have been effected. even by implication, against the British. A still more glaring instance of want of

judgment occurred, however, in the next Sheaffe was superseded, as it is supposed, movement we have to touch upon ; the descent Errors of the Com. for his blunders in the upon Fort George, at the mouth of the manders.

defence of York, and Niagara River. certainly not without cause, as he appears on the occasion to have acted without judg. One object of the expedition against York; ment or any fixed plan. Numerous as his Descent upon Fort the capture of the stores, mistakes were, they still sink into insigni


having been accomplishficance, when we compare them with those of ed, the troops were re-embarked, in the hope the American commanders, who failed in two that they would be able to proceed to the great points, the capture of the frigate, and second and more important movement, withthe prevention of Sheaffe's escape. Had out loss of time. Baffled, however, by light General Dearborn been on the field, instead and adverse winds, it was not till the sixth of being in safety three miles from the shore, day (8th of May) after leaving York, that they on Pike's death, he might have prevented the arrived off Fort George. It now cost General escape of Sheaffe with the main body of the Dearborn three weeks to dispatch his wounded regulars; as it was, Col. Pierce, who succeeded to Sackett's Harbor, and bring thence reinto the command, was totally without orders, forcements; as Ingersol says, “a month of and knew not what to do. This would have been precious time was consumed before the attack most important, for situated as Great Britain, on Fort George, and then again the co at that time, was, she could have ill afforded mander-in-chief remained on board a vessel; to send more men to this country, and, scanty while his army, six thousand strong, attacked as were the means of defence, the capture of and carried the place.” Sheaffe's force, small as it was, would have The British force on the Niagara line been a fatal blow. General Armstrong, in his amounted, at that time, to about eighteen letter to Dearborn, dwells particularly on this hundred regulars, and five hundred militia. point, and writes, “I am assured that the The regular force consisted of the 49th Regt regular force in both the Canadas has at no and of detachments from the 8th, 41st, Glentime since the declaration of war, exceeded garry and Newfoundland corps, with a small three thousand men; and at the present time, body of artillery, the whole commanded by by casualties, this force has been reduced at Brigadier General Vincent. Eight companies least one-fifth. Taking then this fact for of the 49th, five companies of the 8th, three granted, we cannot doubt but that in all companies of the Glengarry, two of the Newcases in which a British commander is con- foundland regiment, and a portion of the strained to act defensively, his policy will be artillery, were stationed at Fort George, that adopted by Shcaffe, to prefer the pre-"amounting,” says James, "to less than one servation of his troops to that of his post, and thousand rank and file.” About three hunthus carrying off the kernel, leave us only the dred militia and some fifty Indians were also shell. In your late affair, it appears to me stationed at this post. We have seen on that had the descent been made between the Armstrong's authority, that the Americans town and the barracks, things would have numbered, with the reinforcements drain turned out better. On that plan, the two from Sackett's Harbor, six thousand men. A batteries you had to encounter, would have sufficient superiority (six to one) having been been left out of the combat,and Shcaffe, instead secured, the American general considered of retreating to Kingston, must have retreated himself prepared for the attack on the post, to Fort George." General Armstrong's igno- before which he had spent three weeks, and rance of the nature of the ground has led him on the 27th May, the batteries on the American to make some remarks not quite deserved : side of the Niagara being ready for action, and

« PreviousContinue »