the plea of indisposition, resigned his commission, General Izard being his successor at Plattsburg. As for Wilkinson, he fared little better in public estimation, and his course was sharply criticised and condemned.* He was afterwards brought to trial, but acquitted by the court. Probably, had he been in better health, and not so dilatory and slow in his movements; had General Armstrong not interfered by being personally present at Sackett's Harbor, to oversee the operations of the campaign; and had General Hampton promptly obeyed the orders he received; the result of the expedition would have been quite different; and the opponents of the war would not have been able to triumph in pointing to so great a preparation resulting in so disgraceful a conclusion.

The ill consequences of Wilkinson's leaving a large force in the rear, and withdrawing the troops from the Niagara, soon began to be felt. General Harrison reached Buffalo in October, some days after the departure of Wilkinson; and, although directed to follow immediately, he was compelled to wait until some time in November, in consequence of the deficiency of transports. It was not until General Wilkinson had gone into winter quarters that Harrison embarked; orders having previously been sent for him to remain at Buffalo, which unfortunately did not arrive until after his departure. Colonel Scott remained in command at

* Seo Armstrong's "Notices of the War of 1812," VoL ii, pp. 1-44. See also Ingersoll's "History of the Second War," voL i., pp. 289-310.

Fort George until the 12th of October, when he left with the regular troops for Sackett's Harbor. General M'Clure then took command, his force consisting entirely of militia, whose term of service had nearly expired. Receiving intelligence that the enemy was approaching him, M'Clure, on the 10th of December, removed his stores, destroyed the fort, and, acting upon the views of the council of war, set fire to the village of Newark, "leaving the wretched inhabitants," says Ingersoll, "including more than four hundred women and children, to the accumu lated horrors of famine and a Canadian winter.* Nor was that all. After M'Clure retreated over the river, and took shelter in Fort Niagara, perceiving the enemy in considerable force on the opposite side deprived of a shelter at Fort George, and therefore seeking it at Queenstown, M'Clure had red hot shot fired at that place, to deprive them of shelter there also."

Availing himself of the indignation excited by the destruction of Newark, Colonel Murray, at daylight, on the 19th of December, carried Fort Niagara by surprise; his force consisted of about four hundred regulars, militia, and Indians; and the garrison, nearly three hundred in number, and principally on the sick list, was put to the sword. Not more than twenty effected their escape. The com

* This act was promptly disavowed by the government; but the British not only did not wait a moment, when retaliation was in their reach, but also made the burning of Newark a pretext for subsequent outrage on our towns and cities in every part of the country.

Cb. X.1

manding officer, Captain Leonard, appears to have been shamefully negligent, so much so as to have been charged with having been bought by the enemy. He was absent at the time, and had used no precautions against an assault. Having possessed themselves of this post, the British soon after increased their force, and began to lay waste the Niagara frontier with fire and sword. Major Bennet made a spirited attempt to defend Lewistown, which was attacked by the British under General Riall; but after maintaining his ground for some time, was at last compelled to retreat. Major Mallory, from Schlosser, with forty Canadian volunteers, made a gallant resistance. But the exertions of a few scattered troops were ineffectual against a large body of British regulars and seven hundred Indians. They laid waste Lewistown, Manchester, and the Tuscarora villages.

General Hall advanced from Batavia with all the forces which he could collect, for the defence of the frontier. On the night of the 29th of December, the British, under General Riall, crossed at Black Rock. Owing to the darkness of the night, the militia were unable to repulse their attacks. General Hall arrived from Buffalo early on the morning of the 30th; at the same time a large division of British and Indians were crossing the river. The Americans poured a destructive fire upon them in their boats, but they repulsed them and effected a landing. They commenced a spirited attack upon the Americans under General Hall, who was driven from his bat


teries and pursued to Buffalo, a distance of two miles. Here Hall attempted again to face them; when, of two thousand militia, only six hundred could be prevailed upon to stand their ground. They fled to the woods, and many of them were cut off in the pursuit. The villages of Buffalo and Black Rock were set on fire the same day, and the whole frontier, for many miles, exhibited a scene of ruin and devastation.

And thus the year 1813 ended, with some consolations, but more disappointments. Harrison, Perry, Jackson, these had done well for their country's interests; but the failure and disgrace of the attempts on Canada were mortifying in the extreme. Great Britain was angered and almost furious, and the war henceforth promised to be one of savage inroads and ruthless destruction. She was rich, powerful, haughty; the United States were harassed and perplexed in respect to finances, carrying on the contest at a ruinous rate of expense, and learning only by bitter experience how to make head against their overbearing enemy. Yet, our countrymen had no thought of yielding on any but honorable terms, and the spirit of the executive and the legislature was displayed to this effect, when Congress met early in December. But we must defer to our next chapter an account of the doings of Congress at this important juncture in our country's history.*

* Among those who were removed by death during the present year, we may note, Dr. Benjamin Rush, aged sixty-eight, and Robert R. Livingston, aged sixtysix.





Congress in session, December, 1813 — Substance of tha president's message—Embargo laid—Proceedings of Congress— Webster and Calhoun — Proposal to establish a Bank of the United States — Unsuccessful — Opening prospects of the campaign of 1814 — Change of policy on the part of England — Operations on the northern frontier under Wilkinson—The affair at La Colle Hill — Wilkinson suspended from command—Movements on Lake Champlain — Attack on Oswego — British caught in an ambuscade at Sandy Creek — Chauncey on Lak« Ontario — British repulsed at the Thames by Captain Holmes — General Brown determines to attack the enemy under General Eiall — The battle of Chippewa—Scott and his officers and men — Results of the battle — Brown advances to attack Eiall and Drummond — Particulars of the famous battle of Bridge water, or Lundy's Lane — Scott, Miller, Jessup, and other heroes — Bravery of our troops—The cannon abandoned by Ripley — Brown's vexation — General Gaines in command at Fort Erie—The British assault the fort — Repulsed — Siege and skir mishes — Brilliant sortie against the enemy's batteries—The British on the northern sea const — Harbors block aded, property destroyed, etc.—Eastport seized — Attack on Stonington—The British enter the Penobscot — Plattsburg and Lake Champlain — The enemy's movements—Macomb's and MDonough's victory — Conclusion of the campaign—Operations in the northwest — Croghan atMackinaw — General Harrison resigns his commission —M'Arthur's victory at the Thames.

The second session of the thirteenth Congress commenced on the 6th day of December, 1813, and the next day the president sent in his annual message. He began with stating his regret at the failure of the efforts to negotiate a peace by the mediation of Russia. He next spoke of the events of the war thus far: of Perry's

1813* •

victory, of Chauncey's activity and zeal, of Harrison's success at the Thames, of Jackson's conduct of the Creek war to a thorough conclusion, and of the necessity of the measures he had taken to retaliate the course pursued by the British in taking our naturalized citizens and arraigning them as traitors * The report upon the state

• This subject gave rise to animated debate in Congress. It appears, that twenty-three American sol

of the treasury showed $7,000,000 in hand out of the receipts for the preceding year, amounting to above $37,500,000, nearly $24,000,000 of which were the produce of loans. "Further sums to a considerable amount," the president proceeded to say, "will be necessary to be obtained

diers, taken at the battle of Queenstown, in 1812, were sent to England to undergo trial for treason. The president ordered a like number of British prisoners to be kept as hostages. Prevost was then ordered by his government to imprison forty-six American commissioned and non-commissioned officers, and sent word to General Wilkinson, in a very haughty tone, that England would take terrible vengeance if any harm befell the British prisoners. The same number of British officers was put in confinement; and soon after, on both sides, all the prisoners were closely confined. The result of the debates in Congress was, a determination to maintain the attitude assumed by the president, and to insist upon the rights which belonged to naturalized equally with American born citizens.

[ocr errors][merged small]

in the same way during the ensuing year; and from the increased capital of the country, from the fidelity with which public engagements have been kept and the public credit maintained, it may be expected, on good grounds, that the necessary supplies will not be wanting."

After presenting a summary of the many blessings which the war had not deprived the nation of, and showing that "the calamities of the contest into which they had been compelled to enter" were "mitigated by improvements and advantages of which the contest itself was the source;" that domestic manufactures had received a powerful stimulus; that many objects permanently valuable had been secured by provisions indispensable to present safety; that the maritime power of the United States had been greatly increased; and that the warlike ardor of the people had shown them to be worthy of the respect even of their antagonists; the president concluded as follows: "In fine, the war, with all its vicissitudes, is illustrating the capacity and the destiny of the United States to be a great, a flourishing, and a powerful nation, worthy of the friendship which it is disposed to cultivate in others, and authorized by its own example to require from all an observance of the laws of justice and reciprocity. Beyond these their claims have never extended, and in contending for these we behold a subject for our congratulation in the daily testimony of increasing harmony throughout the nation, and may humbly repose our trust in the smiles of Heaven on so righteous a cause." Vol. III.—29


On the 19th of January, Henry Clay, nominated on the commission appointed the year before to treat with Great Britain, resigned his post, and a new speaker had in consequence to be chosen* Felix Grundy was supported by the friends of the administration, and the majority of the democratic members, as his successor; but Langdon Cheves, for whom all the federalists, and the democrats not in favor of a restrictive policy, voted, was elected in his room, by ninety-four votes against fifty-nine received by Grundy, and twelve scattering votes. Early in February, Richard Rush was appointed attorney-general. A month later, Gideon Granger was removed from the office of postmastergeneral, and Return J. Meigs was appointed as his successor.

Early in the session, on the recommendation of the president, the embargo and non-importation system was revived and extended. An embargo was laid on all ships and vessels within the limits or jurisdiction of the United States, to continue till the 1st of January, 1815, unless hostilities should cease at an earlier date. The provisions of the act were very severe, its principal object being to prevent small vessels and boats from supplying the British squadrons on the coast with provisions. We may mention here, however, that the embargo was repealed by Congress, on the 14th of April, 1814.

* Mr. Russell was also added to the commission, and he and Mr. Clay sailed for Europe directly after thoir appointment

Laws were passed for the augmentation of the army and navy, and provision was made for the payment of bounties and pensions. Upon the first of these, Daniel Webster, who had made his maiden speech during the extra session, spoke with great ability and force, but in vain, as far as the vote was concerned; for he, with that love for the ocean, which is common in New England, desired the augmentation of the navy, and the extension of commerce, and competition with the great sea ruler upon her own element. John C. Calhoun was amongst the opponents of the young orator.

A loan of $25,000,000, in addition to the former loans, was authorized at thia time for the prosecution of the war. There were also ordered to be re-issued $10,000,000 of treasury notes. For the expenditure was estimated at $45,000,000; and the new taxes could not yield more than $3,500,000, while the income derived from the customs and the sale of public lands did not much exceed $6,500,000.

"When the bill for the loan was discussed in committee of the whole House, "every question of politics," according to a shrewd and satirical journalist of the day, "that has agitated the United States for fifteen or twenty years past, and every one that may be expected for twenty years to come, appears to have been embodied in the speeches of the members; some of whom, it is said, spoke for three hours without mentioning the bill at all." The great speech in its favor was made by Calhoun, of which only one brief passage was devoted to the loan, and

all the remainder to the question of the justice and expediency of the war. The opposition had resisted the loan, he said, on the ground " that such was the want of capital, or of public credit, that it could not be had, or if at all, only at an extravagant interest." To this, the distinguished advocate of the war replied: "It ceases to be a question whether the loan can be had at this or that interest. It is necessary; it must be had; and the rate per centum will depend principally on the state of the money market, and not on arguments used here."

As one of the means of infusing additional vigor into the national finances, a scheme was set on foot to establish a Bank of the United States. The proposition on this subject came now from New York, a petition having been presented from the state, on the 4th of January, 1814, to that effect; offering, moreover, to advance on loan half the proposed capital, $30,000,000, to the government, and stating that the means possessed by such a bank of assisting the government would be much greater than those of the state banks.

This petition, which Calhoun moved only to have printed, was, on the motion of its presenter, referred to the committee of ways and means; of which Mr. Jefferson's son-in-law was chairman, and which consisted, "as Mr. Speaker Clay's committees mostly did," says Ingersolh "of a decided majority of members of his own party." The commercial interest had no representative on that committee, except Mr. MKim of Baltimore; and therefore it is not strange that, on the 10th of Jan

« 上一頁繼續 »