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purpose he took up a position at the Moravian village on the Thames*
General Harrison's force was about three thousand men, including the redoubtable marksmen of Kentucky and Ohio. Proctor numbered something over two thousand, of whom twelve to fourteen hundred were Indians. His force too, it is fair to remember, was discouraged and disarranged by a forced retreat; Harrison's flushed with anticipations of victory, and with the excitement of pursuit.f
The British general drew up his forces across a narrow strip of land covered with beech trees, flanked on one side by a swamp, and on the other by the river; their left resting on the river, supported by the larger portion of their artillery, and their right on the swamp. Still further to the right and near another morass, the Indians were placed under Tecumseh. The position was well chosen; but Proctor was guilty of an error in drawing up his troops "in open order," a mode of array badly calculated to resist a charge of cavalry. Harrison drew up his troops in battle order, and, on the 5th of October, the fight commenced, with the enemy delivering their fire upon the advanced corps, about two hundred yards distant. This was the signal for Johnson's mounted rifles to charge, which they
* For a more full and detailed account of the battle of the Thames, see M'Afee's "History of the Late War in the Western Country? pp. 380-98.
t Armstrong, who manifests strong dislike towards Harrison, makes some severe remarks on his third campaign, which the reader may find worth looking into. See his "Notices of the War of 1812," voL i., pp. 176-184
did with an impetuosity and fury that were irresistible. They charged completely through the British line, which was broken and routed beyond all possibility of recovery. Proctor ingloriously fled at this point, and though hotly pursued, managed to escape with a few followers.
On the left, the battle was more serious and more warmly contested. The galling fire of Tecumseh and the Indians did not check the advance of the American columns; but the charge was not successful, from the miry character of the soil and the number and closeness of the thickets which covered it. In these circumstances, Colonel Johnson ordered his men to dismount, and leading them up a second time, succeeded, after a desperate contest, in breaking through the line of the Indians and gaining their rear. Notwithstanding this, and the desperate nature of their position, the Indians were unwilling to yield the day; and quickly collecting their principal strength on the right, attempted to penetrate the line of infantry commanded by General Desha. At first they made an impression on it; but they were soon repulsed by the aid of a regiment of Kentucky volunteers led on by the aged Governor Shelby, who had been posted at the angle formed by the front line and Desha's division. The combat now raged with increasing fury, and the Indians, to the number of twelve or fifteen hundred, seemed determined to maintain their ground to the last. The terrible tones of Tecumseh could be distinctly heard, encouraging his warriors; and although beset on every side except" that of the morass, they fought with a courage and determination worthy of a better cause. Johnson, dashing into the thickest of the fight, was a conspicuous object on his white horse; some authorities state, it was he who killed Tecumseh; but, however this may be, it was not long ere he fell to the ground severely wounded. Though Tecumseh was slain in the melee, his devoted followers kept up the struggle for an hour later, but at last gave way on all sides.*
THE BATTLE OF THE THAMES.
Seventeen of the Americans were killed and thirty wounded; the British lost nineteen killed, fifty wounded, and about six hundred prisoners; and a hundred and twenty Indians were left dead on the field. Among the trophies of the victory, were several cannons originally captured at Saratoga and York from the British, which had been surrendered by Hull, at Detroit, and were, by this good fortune, regained. With a noble spirit of returning good for evil, the prisoners were, without exception, treated humanely and justly, although the memories of the massacre at the River Raisin were vivid, and might have seemed to furnish justification for acts of severity and retaliation.
Colonel Lewis Cass was left at Detroit,
* Tecumseh's fall broke completely the spirit of resistance on the part of the Indians. He had been in nearly every battle with the whites, since Banner's defeat in 1791, and was the soul of the opposition to the United States. As he lay stretched in death on the field of battlo, the officers and soldiers surveyed his stern and haughty features with great interest, for he was majestic in stature, and terrible even then to look upon. We arc sorry to say, that some of the Kcntuckians disgraced themselves by committing indignities on his dead body. Be was scalped, and otherwise disfigured.
shortly afterwards to be governor of the recovered Territory of Michigan; the Kentucky volunteers were dismissed, and Harrison, towards the close of October, finding that he could not make any attempt to recover Mackinaw, hastened his preparations to join in the invasion of Canada from Buffalo; to which place he transported above twelve hundred of his men, to reinforce the army of the centre there.
On the same day that Proctor was defeated on the Thames, six British schooners, having on board two hundred and fifty soldiers, proceeding from York to Kingston, without convoy, were captured by Chauncey, on Lake Ontario. These repeated losses, coupled with the alarming intelligence received at the same time of great preparations for a general invasion of Lower Canada, made Sir George Prevost wisely determine it to be impossible to continue any longer the investment of Fort George; and the siege was accordingly raised a few days later. The retreat was conducted in an orderly manner, and the British took post at Burlington Heights, where Proctor, with those who had fled with him, soon after joined them, making the entire force about fifteen hundred. Having been driven from the territory westward of the River Thames, the British were, necessarily, in a great degree, cut off from their Indian allies, with whom they now could maintain no communication, but by the distant and isolated fort of Michilimackinac, or Mackinaw, on Lake Huron; an advantage of no small moment to our countrymen for the future progress of the war.
General Armstrong, the new secretary of war, (p. 179,) had effected some changes in the military arrangements for carrying forward hostilities against the enemy. General Dearborn, as we have noted, (p. 190,) retired from the service, and General Wilkinson was placed at the head of the army of the centre. This officer, respecting whose character considerable difference of opinion existed, was entrusted by the secretary of war with the important duty of following np the brilliant successes of Perry and Harrison, and though the season was far advanced, it was confidently expected that he would be able to march at once to Montreal, and establish his winter quarters there. The force under his command on the Niagara, amounted to eight thousand regulars, beside the troops under Harrison, which joined him at the close of October. General Hampton was in command of the army of the north, then encamped at Plattsburg, on Lake Champlain, and amounting to about four thousand men. As the season for military operations was rapidly drawing to a close, it was important that no time should be lost, and measures were immediately taken for carrying into effect the projected invasion of Lower Canada. The outline of the plan which had been adopted, was; to descend the St. Lawrence, passing the British posts without attempting their capture; to form a junction with General Hampton, at some designated point on the river; and then, with the united forces to proceed to the Island of Montreal. After which, to use Wilkinson's flowery language, "their artil
lery, bayonets, and swords, must secure them a triumph, or provide for them honorable graves."
Such, however, were the difficulties attending the concentration of the troops, such the want of preparation, notwithstanding all that had been said on the subject, that, not till the beginning of November, could Wilkinson get the flotilla, in which his troops were embarked, under way. French Creek was made the general rendezvous for the troops after their entrance into the St. Lawrence, and General Brown was sent forward to take the chief command. On the 2d of November, Commodore Chauncey took position in the St. Lawrence, near French Cre^k, so as to command the north and south channels. The enemy, who were vigilant and active, attacked the detachment under General Brown; but to no great effect. On the 6th, the army was embarked on the river, and in the evening landed a few miles above the British Fort Prescott. An attempt was made the same night, under cover of the fog and the darkness, to pass the fort with the flotilla unobserved; but a change in the weather exposed General Brown's movement to the enemy. A severe cannonade of three hours was kept up; nevertheless, out of three hundred boats, not one suffered the slightest injury; and before ten o'clock of the next day, they had all safely arrived at the place of destination. A messenger was now dispatched to General Hampton, informing him of the movements of the army, and requiring his co-operation.
The British commander, anticipating the designs of the Americans, had ordered a corps of observation, from Kingston, to follow the movements of Wilkinson's army. At every
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convement point, parties of the enemy were stationed along the Canadian shore to annoy and hinder the progress of the invading force. On the 7th of November, Colonel Macomb was dispatched with twelve hundred men to remove obstructions to the descent of the army, and disperse the militia of the enemy; and on the 8th, General Brown, with his brigade, reinforced Macomb, and took command of the advance corps. On the 10th, having arrived at a dangerous rapid, called the Longue Satdt, General Brown continued the advance with caution and vigilance, while General Boyd was sent against the British and Indians, who were harassing the rear of the expedition. General Wilkinson was confined to his boat by severe indisposition.*
The next morning, when the flotilla was about to proceed down the rapid from Williamsburg, alarm was given that the British were advancing in column. The enemy's galleys were at the same time coming down for the purpose of assailing the rear of the flotilla. General Boyd having received orders to attack the foe, now led on his detachment formed in three columns, and directed a part of General Swartwout's brigade to move forward and bring the enemy into action. Colonel Ripley, accordingly, at the head of the twenty
* Armstrong, (voL ii., p. 211,) gives the evidence to prove that Wilkinson was frequently intoxicated.
first regiment, passed the wood which skirts the open ground called Chrystler's Field, and drove in several of the enemy's parties. General Covington had, before this, advanced upon the right, where the enemy's artillery was posted; and at the moment that Colonel Ripley had assailed the left flank, he forced the right by a determined onset. Success appeared scarcely doubtful, when, unfortunately, General Covington, whose activity had rendered him conspicuous, became a mark for the sharpshooters which the enemy had stationed in Chrystler's house, and was shot from his horse. Notwithstanding his fall, the action was sustained with great bravery for more than two hours, when, by a movement of the British, the American infantry, who had been left to cover their retreat, were dislodged, and both parties retired from the field, the enemy to their camp, and the Americans to their boats.
According to Wilkinson's official report, the force engaged amounted to about seventeen hundred; the British probably numbered nearly the same, and had the immense advantage of being regular, disciplined troops. The American loss was over a hundred killed, and more than two hundred wounded. The loss on the part of the enemy was probably not much if any less.
The following day, the army proceeded on its route, and joined the advance under General Brown, at the foot of the rapid, near Barnhart. It was here that Wilkinson received, to his "unspeakabh Ch. X.1
mortification and surprise," as he states, information from General Hampton, that he should not effect the junction which had been ordered to take place at St. Regis. The reason which he gave was, the scantiness of Wilkinson's provisions, and the bad condition of the roads to St. Regis. He intimated, however, that he had determined to open a communication with the St. Lawrence at Caghnawaga, and would join Wilkinson lower down the river.
General Hampton, between whom and General Wilkinson very cordial dislike and perpetual jealousy existed, seems to have thought it best to proceed in his own way, with reference to the contemplated attempt on Montreal. Accordingly, he marched to Chateaugay at the close of September, where he waited for several weeks for further news from Wilkinson, and to the discouragement of the troops under his command. The British general had collected all his force to oppose Hampton's advance. Leaving his encampment on the 20th of October, Hampton crossed the line and proceeded down the Chateaugay River to Ormstown. Here he ascertained that the British, about six hundred strong, occupied a position six miles below him, on his route to Montreal. For the purpose of dispersing the enemy, who had obstructed the road by fallen timbers, and ambuscades of militia and Indians, Colonel Purdy, on the 25th of October, was ordered to cross the river and march down on the opposite side, until he should have passed the enemy, when he was to re-cross and attack him in his rear; whilst the
brigade under General Izard was to assail him in front. Purdy accordingly crossed the river, bit misled by the guides, he had not marched far, when his orders were countermanded. On his return, he was attacked by the enemy's infantry and Indians, and repelled them, after a short contest, in which they threw his column, for .a time, into great confusion. At the same moment they came out of their works in front, and attacked General Izard, but soon after retired behind their defences. General Hampton, now receiving information that the enemy were obtaining accessions continually, resolved, by the advice of his officers, to retreat to the position which he had occupied some days before, at Chateaugay Four Corners, at which place he arrived on the last day of the month.
Some days later, Hampton, in reply to Wilkinson's call for a junction with him at St. Regis, (which was about twenty-five miles distant,) sent the answer which we have stated above. On the receipt of this communication, a council of the principal officers was called by General Wilkinson, at which it was determined, that the objects of the campaign were no longer attainable. It was therefore resolved, that the army should quit the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence, and retire into winter quarters at French Mills, on Salmon River. General Hampton, with his troops, soon after retired to Plattsburg for the same purpose. He was loudly censured by the popular voice for his share in the failure of the attempt on Montreal, and soon after, on
GENERAL HAMPTON'S PROCEEDINGS.