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As may be supposed, the blockade of the was most likely to be directed. With tho Chesapeake, and the threatening position ta whole coast thus on the alert it was not to be ken up by the fleet, off Hampton Roads, placed expected that the preparations which were the Americans on the qui vive, especially as openly made towards the end of June by many tongued rumour had been busied in the British Squadron would escape observaascribing plans and intentions of every de tion. “ Accordingly,” as James has it “ Crascription to the British Admiral.
ney Island being rather weakly manned, the
commanding officer at Norfolk sent one hunThe flotilla had failed in their attack on the
dred and fifty of the Constellation's seamen Junon, thereby demonstrating that gun boats
and marines, to a battery of eighteen pound. alone could effect nothing: the Constellation
ers in the north west, and about four hun. could not venture from under the batteries,
dred and eighty Virginia Militia, exclusive of and as there was, consequently, really no force
officers, to reinforce a detachment of artillery, by which the British could be attacked by
stationed with two twenty four and four six water, the Americans were compelled to en
pounders on the west side of the island. dure the sight of a hostile squadron daily be.
Captain Tarbell's Sifteen gun boats were also fore their eyes, with the mortifying conviction
moored in the best position for contributing forced on them, that, inasmuch as they had been fomenters of the war, so were they now
to the defence of the post.” It will thus be the principal sufferers -So strict was the
seen that very formidable preparations for the
defence of this port were adopted, and the blockade that it was not only impossible for any vessel to escape the cruisers which guar
following despatch from Admiral Warren to ded the passage between Cape Henry and
Mr Croker announcing the failure of the at
tack on Craney Island will not wholly bo Cape Charles, but it was an enterprise attended with great risk for any vessel to leave the unprepared for. James, Elizabeth, York, or in fact, any of the From Admiral Warren to Mr. Croker. rivers which disembogue into the Chesapeake San Domingo, Hampton-roads, bay.
Chesapeake, June 24, 1813. All that was, under these circumstances,
SIR-I request you will inform their lordleft for the Americans was to prepare against ships, that, from the information received of attacks, and we accordingly find in “Sketches the enemy's fortifying Craney Island, and it of the war" that upwards of ten thousand being necessary to obtain possession of that militia were assembled round Norfolk and its place, to enable the light ships and vessels to ricinity, the points against which an attack proceed up the narrow channel towards
Norfolk, to transport the troops over on that sending boats, in broad-day-light, to feel their side for them to attack the new fort and lines way to the shore, over shoals and mud in the rear of which the Constellation frigate banks, and that in the teeth of a very formi. was anchored, I directed the troops under dable battery._* But still had the veil of Sir Sydney Beckwith to be landed upon the darkness been allowed to screen the boats continent within the nearest point to that from view, and an hour of the night chosen, place, and a reinforcement of seamen and when the tide had covered the shoals with marines from the ships; but upon approaching deep water, the same little party might have the island, from the extreme shoalness of the carried the batteries, and a defeat as disgracewater on the sea side, and the difficulty of|ful to those that caused, as honorable to getting across from the land, as well as the those that suffered in it, been converted into island itself being fortified with a number of a victory. As it was the victory at Craney guns and men from the frigate and militia, Island, dressed up to advantage in the Ameriand flanked by fifteen gun-boats, I considered, can Official account, and properly commented in consequence of the representation of the on by the Government editors, was hailed officer commanding the troops, of the difficulty throughout the Union as a glorious triumph of their passing over from the land, that the fit for Americans to achiere.” persevering in the attempt would cost more We fully concede with many of James men than the number with us would permit, ohjections, especially as to the injudicious se as the other forts must have been stormed lection of open daylight and an ebb tide. And. before the frigate and dock-yard could have although the particulars of the casualties are been destroyed; I therefore ordered the not given in Admiral Warı en's despatch, yet troops to be re-embarked.
other sources show that it was precisely to I am happy to say, the loss in the above these causes that the failure was to be attriaffair, (returns of which are enclosed) has not buted. been considerable, and only two boats sunk. In the first place there was an open parado
I have to regret, that Captain Hanshett, of of boats and an unwonted bustle round the His Majesty's ship Diadem, who volunteered British vessels; This was of course not unobhis services, and led the division of boats with served by the enemy, who thus had time, great gallantry, was severely wounded by a afforded to them to mature their plans of ball in tlie thigh.
defence. In the second place the first part. The officers and men behaved with much of the expedition of some seventeen or eigber bravery and if it had been possible to have teen boats with about eight hundred men, got at the enemy, I am persuaded would have under Sir Sydney Beckwith, was landed at a soon gained the place.
place called Peg's point, an untenable pose I have the honor to be, &c. tion, and from whence a movement, in sup
J. B. WARREN. port of the main body, could not be made. J. W. Croker, Esq.
After remaining in this position for some A return of officers, seamen, and marines, time, the troops were re-embarked and re
belonging to His Majesty's ships, killed, turned to the feet. The actual attack was wounded, and missing, in the attack on made by a body about equally strong as the Craney Island, June 22d.
first division, and we would observe here, Killed, none-wounded, eight-missing, that it was made contrary to the opinion and ten.
advice of Captains Harshett, Maude, and Return of land forces killed, wounded, and Romilly, however, overruled by the decision missing, in same attack.
of Captain Perchell, the senior officer. It Killed, six-wounded, sixteen-missing, will thus be seen that the.commanding officer one hundred and four.
had just half the force he calculated on for The policy of making this attack has been very much questioned, and some of James'
*Here James indulges in a bit of the patriot objections appear to have a considerable show ic, about British basing their hopes of success of reason. He says, “ There can be only on valour, oot numbers, whic'ı we can afford Bei one opinion, surely, about the wisdom of leave outi
the demonstration, a fact that must not be It is also note worthy that in not one of the forgotten when we come to compare Ameri- accounts is there one allusion to the boats can accounts. From the shallowness of the having grounded, the sole cause of the failure, water, the tide being out, some of the boats as experience had proved that the militia got aground on a mud bank some hundred could not be depended on in an attack by re. and fifty yards from the muzzles of the guns gular troops. The Niagara frontier suffi. manned by the Constellation's men. In this ciently proves the correctness of this assertion, position it is not very wonderful that two Armstrong's account differs considerably from of the boats were sunk and many of the the others, but even he falls into a mistake, crews killed, especially when we add that He states, " the disposable force of the enemy the boats were ashore so close to the beach was divided into two corps, one of which, emthat the American Marines and Militia; by barked into boats, and carried directly to its wading in a short distance, could pick off the object, attempted to make good a descent men while struggling in the water. Admiral on the northern side of the Island ; while the Warren's wording of his despatch is about as other landed on the main, and availing itsel? absurd as some of the American accounts. of a shoal, which, at low water, was fordable The Admiral slurs over the real reasons why by infantry, forced its way to the western his men were obliged to abandon the enter- side. Though made with a considerable de. prise, but it would have been much more cre- gree of steadiness, both attacks failed. ditable if he had confessed honestly that the The mistake, made in this paragraph, is attack, injudiciously planned, was a total that the troops crossed from the main land failure. His account, glossing over the affair, to the Island, and took part in the attack. differs so widely from those of American That this was not the case is certain from writers that the reader is tempted to enquire the fact that the other writers, whose vari. farther, and the consequence is, that the Ad- ous accounts we have been criticising, make miral is convicted of the very fault with which no mention of a fact which would assuredly we charge—Thompson, O'Connor, Smith and not have been lost sight of by them, desirous Ingersol.
as they were of making as great a parade of We have fairly stated the British force, national valor as possible. and their loss; we will now examine the Looking at the descent on Craney Island American version of the affair. One* makes in the most favorable light it can be regarded the British force, that landed in front of the in no other light than as a badly planned deIsland battery, consist of four thousand men, monstration, to be regretted for two reasons, but forgetting shortly after his random figures, -one, the loss of life and honor to the in the next page he states “ that three thou- British—the other, that an opportunity was sand British soldiers, sailors and marines were afforded to American writers of asserting that opposed to four hundred and eighty Virginia the attack on Hampton and the outrages militia, and one hundred and fifty sailors and committed there were in revenge for the marines.” Mr. O'Connor redaces the force failure at Craney Island. at Crane, Island to fifteeen hundred men, We have already stated that large bodies only thus doubling them, but to make his of troop had been collected in and around country some amends for this, he quadruples Norfolk, and as it was supposed that a consid. the force that landed on the main, stating erable body was stationed at Hampton, it was them at three thousand strong. Commodore resolved that an attack should be made on that Cassin in a postcript to one of his letters post; accordingly, on the night of the 25th adopts the same number, and even Ingersol, of June, about two thousand men, under the who from having been the latest writer has command of Sir Sidney Beckwith, in a dibad more opportunity afforded of learning vision of boats, covered by the Mohawk Sloop, the truth, falls into the same error and makes landed, and, after some resistance, carried by the British troops twenty-five hundred strong storm the enemy's defences. adding besides fifty boats full of men. The two despatches from admiral Warren
and Sir Sydney Beckwith will be found to con: "Sketches of the Warp. 215.
taiô all necessary particulars of the attack,
differing but little, in these points from Ame- | night of the 25th instant, and by the excellent rican accounts.
arrangements of rear-admiral Cockburn, who San Domingo, Hampton-roads, Chesapeake, was pleased in person to superintend the June 27th, 1813.
advance under lieutenant-colonel Napier, conSIR, -I request to inform their lordships, sisting of the 102d regiment, two companies that the enemy having a post at Hampton, of Canadian Chasseurs, three companies of defended by a considerable corps, command- marines from the squadron, with two 6 ing the communication between the upper pounders from the marine artillery, were part of the country and Norfolk ; I considered landed half an hour before daylight the next it advisable, and with a view to cut off their morning, about two miles to the westward of resources, to direct it to be attacked by the the town, and the royal marine battalions, troops composing the flying corps attached under lieutenant-colonel Williams, were to this squadron ; and having instructed rear- brought on shore so expeditiously that the admiral Cockburn to conduct the naval part column was speedily enabled to move forward. of the expedition, and placed captain Pechell With a view to turn the enemy's position, with the Mohawk sloop and launches, as a our march was directed towards the great covering force, under his orders, the troops road, leading from the country into the rear were disembarked with the greatest zeal and of the town. Whilst the troops moved off in alacrity.
this direction, rear-admiral Cockburn, to enSir Sydney Beckwith commanding the gage the enemy's attention, ordered the armed troops, having most ably attacked and defeat- launches and rocket-boats to commence a fire ed the enemy's force, and took their guns, upon their batteries; this succeeded so com. colours, and camp, I refer their lordships to pletely, that the head of our advanced guard the quarter-master-general's report, (which is had cleared a wood, and were already on the enclosed,) and that will explain the gallantry enemy's flank before our approach was perand behaviour of the several officers and men ceived. They then moved from their camp to employed upon this occasion, and I trust will their position in rear of the town, and here entitle them to the favour of his royal high- they were vigorously attacked by lieutenant ness the prince regent, and the lord's com- colonel Napier, and the advance; unable to missioners of the Admiralty.
stand which, they continued their march to Sir Sydney Beckwith having reported to the rear of the town, when a detachment, me that the defences of the town were entirely under lieutenant-colonel Willams, conducted destroyed, and the enemy completely dis. by captain Powell, assistant-quarter-masterpersed in the neighbourhood, I ordered the general, pushed through the town, and forced troops to be re-embarked, which was perform their way across a bridge of planks into the ed with the utmost good order by several enemy's encampment, of which, and the batofficers of the squadron under the orders of teries immediate possession was gained. In rear-admiral Cockburn.
the mean time some artillerymen storined and I have the honour to be, took the enemy's remaining field-pieces.
JOHN BORLASE WARREN. Enclosed I have the honour to transmit a John Wilson Croker, Esq.
return of ordnance taken. Lieutenant-colonel
Williams will have the honour of delivering to No. 15.
you a stanå of colours of the 68th regiment, From quarter - Master - general Sir Sydney battalion 85th regiment. The exact numbers of
James city light infantry, and one of the first Beckwith to Admiral Warren.
the enemy it is difficult to ascertain. His majesty's ship San Domingo, Hampton
From the woody country, and the strength roads, June 28, 1813.
of their positions, our troops have sustained SIR, I have the honour to report to you, some loss; that of the enemy was very conthat in compliance with your orders to attack siderable—every exertion was made to collect the enemy in town and camp at Hampton, the wounded Americans, who were attended the troops under my command were put into to by a surgeon of their own, and by the light sailing vessels and boats, during the British surgeons, who performed amputations
on such as required it, and afforded every as- cesses committed, and deplore as heartily as sistance in their power. The dead bodies of any American that such should have occur. such as could be collected, were also carefully red, still we must point out that these grave buried.
errors were but the fruit of the seed which I beg leave on this occssion to express the Americans themselves had sown; besides, we obligations I owe to lieutenant-colonel Napier, can adduce from their own journals clear proof and lieutenant-colonel Williams, for their kind that, although many excesses occurred, still and able assistance; to major Malcolm and these actions have been grossly exaggerated captain Smith, and all the officers and men, by their historians. The Georgetown Federal whose zeal and spirited conduct entitle them Republican, of July 7th, a journal published to my best acknowledgements.
under the very eye of the Government at SYDNEY BECKWITH, Q. M. G. Washington, testifies “that the statement of Return of ordnance stores taken.
the women of Hampton being violated by the Four twelve-pounders in camp.
British, turns out to be false. A correspon. Three six-pounders do.
dence upon that subject and the pillage said Three artillery waggons and horses. to have been committed there, has taken place
Return o: the killed and wounded. Five between General Taylor and Admiral Warren. killed, twenty-three wounded and ten missing. Some plunder appears to have been commit
James' observations on this affair are worth ted, but it was confined to the Chasseurs. attention as he does not attempt to conceal Admiral Warren complains, on his part, of the fact, that acts of rapine and violence were the Americans having continued to fire upon committed, unauthorized by the laws of legit- the struggling crews of the barges, after they imate warfare. James writes, “The Foreign were sunk." renegadoes (les Chasseurs Britaniques) form It might have been expected that, when ing part of the advanced force, commenced penning their violent philippics against Bri. perpetrating upon the defenceless inhabitants tish cruelty and atrocity, this testimony would acts of rapine and violence which unpitying have had some weight with the denouncers custom has, in some degree, rendered inse- of Admiral Cockburn and his men, but we parable from places that have been carried by regret to be compelled to state that in no storm, but which are as revolting to human American history from which we quote, nor nature, as they are disgraceful to the flag in any other, that we have seen or heard of, which would sanction them. The instant does this exculpation of the British appear. these circumstances of atrocity reached the Admiral Warren, having effectually sucears of the British commanding officer, orders ceeded in annihilatirg the trade along the were given to search for, and bring in all whole coast of the Chesapeake Bay, dispatchthe Chasseurs," which was done.
ed Admiral Cockburn, in the Sceptre 74, with It will be as well to remark in palliation of the Romulus, Fox and Nemesis all armèis en this, that, immediately after the storming of fute to Ocracock, in North Carolina, for the Hampton, the Commander of the Chasseurs, purpose of striking a blow on the commerce Captain Smith, waited on the Commander- carried on in the adjacent ports. On the 12th in-Chief, and informed him that his men, on of July the expedition arrived off Ocracock, being remonstrated with respeeting their out- and preparations for landing were promptly rageous conduct, declared it to be their inten- arranged. On the morning of the 13th the tion to giye no quarter to Americans, in con- troops were embarked under the command of sequence of their comrades having been so Licutenant Westphall, first of the Sceptre, cruelly shot at whilst struggling in the water, and making for shore, after some opposition and unarmed, before the batteries at Craney succeeded in capturing two privateers, the Island. The Admiral on learning from Cap Atlas of Philadelphia, of ten guns, and the tain Smith his conviction, that his men would Anaconda of New York, of 18 long nines. act as they had declared they would, was These vessels took possession of, the troops compelled, although short of troops, to em- landed, and without opposition entered Portsbark and send them from the American coast. mouth. The destruction of the two letters of
We do not pretend to extenuate the ex-I marque having been accomplished, Admiral