[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

plications appointed in the liturgy of that Church. It was truly a scene worthy of note, when, about to engage in deadly conflict, the gallant young officer, on bended knees, set the noble example of calling upon God to defend the cause of right and truth;—" 0 most powerful and glorious Lord God, the Lord of hosts, that rulest and commandest all things; Thou sittest in the throne judging right, and therefore we make our address to thy Divine Majesty in this our necessity, that thou wouldest take the cause into thine own hand, and judge between us and our enemies. Stir up thy strength, O Lord, and come and help us; for thou givest not alway the battle to the strong, but canst save by many or by few. O let not our sins now cry against us for vengeance; but hear us thy poor servants begging mercy, and imploring thy help, and that thou wouldest be a defence unto us against the face of the enemy. Make it appear that thou art our Saviour and mighty Deliverer, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen?

We may be sure, that the man who could thus dare to do what he deemed to be right, and to brave the sneers of the godless and the profane, would enter upon the battle doubly and trebly armed for the fight, as M'Donough was, and as his conduct on this eventful day abundantly proved*

* Ingersoll has some very appropriate remarks on this topic, which do his heart and head both credit. The great changes which have taken place in the religious spirit and tone of the navy, since that memorable Sunday, the 11th of September, 1814, are worthy of note and thankfulness. "History of tht Second War" vol ii., pp. 127-33.

Long and hotly contested was the battle of Lake Champlain. Captain Downie, in the Confiance, engaged the Saratoga, which was MDonough's flag ship, and it was confidently expected, that with his superior force he would soon be able to reduce the American commander to submission. For more than two hours the battle raged, both sides suffering greatly. The guns on' the starboard side of the Saratoga were by this time nearly all dismounted or unmanageable, and the situation of the enemy was little better. Whichever could succeed in that difficult naval manoeuvre, viz., winding his vessel round and bringing a new broadside to bear, seemed to have the best chance of victory. The Confiance essayed it in vain; but the efforts of M'Donough in the Saratoga, enabled him to take the position he wished. The battle was now speedily decided. The Confiance and other vessels surrendered. Three of the galleys were sunk; the ten others escaped. By the time this desperate contest was over, there was scarcely a mast in either squadron capable of bearing a sail, and the greater part of the vessels were in a sinking state. There were fifty-five round shot in the hull of the Saratoga, and in the Confiance one hundred and five. The Saratoga was twice set on fire by hot shot. Of the crew of the Confiance, fifty were killed, and sixty wounded; among the former was Captain Downie. On board the Saratoga, there were twenty-eight killed, and twenty-nine wounded. The total loss . in the American squadron amounted to fifty-two killed, and fifty-eight

wounded. The enemy had eightyfour killed, and one hundred and ten wounded. The action lasted two hours and twenty minutes.

On land, meanwhile, the battle was urged by Prevost with vigor and skill. His batteries poured forth shells and rockets during the whole time, and, confidently counting upon Downie's success on the Lake, he deemed it certain that he should be equally successful in carrying the American works. Three fierce attempts were made by the British to cross the Saranac, and crush the Americans by assault; but they were bravely met, and failed in accomplishing their purposes. "When the shouts of our countrymen announced that the British fleet had surrendered, Prevost felt that it was useless to protract the contest. Although the firing was kept up till dark, his plans were completely frustrated. Now that the Americans had the command of Lake Champlain, the possession of their works on the land could not serve him in any further design; and in the mean time, he was exposed to danger which increased with the hourly augmentation of the American force. He determined therefore to raise the siege. Under cover of the night he sent off all the baggage and artillery for which he could obtain means of transportation; and precipitately followed with all his forces, leaving behind him the sick and wounded. Early the next morning, the Americans started in pursuit, but it was not pressed beyond twelve or fourteen miles from Plattsburg. The British loss in killed, wounded, and missing, was estimated

at about fifteen hundred; that of the Americans was thirty-seven killed, sixty-two wounded, and twenty missing.* A large quantity of provisions, ammunition, and implements of war was left by the enemy, on their retreat; subsequently, other valuable stores were found hidden in marshes or buried in the ground.

On the 13th of September, the American and British officers who fell in battle, were interred with the honors of war. M'Donough, equally with Perry and other brave defenders of our country's rights, received the due meed of praise for his humanity and kindness to the vanquished foe.

Soon after the brilliant sortie from Fort Erie, on the 17th of September, (p. 239) General Izard arrived, and being the senior officer, took the command, while General Brown was ordered to Sackett's Harbor. The Americans being now strong enough to com- MM mence offensive operations, Colonel Hindman was left at Fort Erie with a sufficient garrison, and the army again advanced towards Chippewa; but the British were rather shy in venturing to meet their opponents. Nothing of moment occurred until the 18th of October, when General Bissell was ordered, with a detachment of his brigade, nine hundred in number, to the

* Alison, in giving an account of this battle, says that the loss of the British was not more than five or six hundred. The same writer states, respecting Preyost's order to retreat, that "such was the indignation which this order excited among the British officers, inured in Spain to a long course of victory, that several of them broke their swords, declaring they would never servo again; and the army, in mournful submission, leisurely wound its way back to the Canadian frontier."

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

neighborhood of Cook's Mills, at Lyon's Creek, a branch of the Chippewa, for the purpose of destroying the enemy's stores in that quarter. Having driven in the picket guard, and captured its officers, Bissell encamped for the night. The next morning, he was attacked by the Marquis of Tweedale, with not less than twelve hundred men; but the enemy was repulsed and driven back again to their entrenchments, leaving their killed and wounded behind. Bissell having accomplished his design, returned to Black Rock with a loss of twelve killed and fifty-five wounded. The weather growing cold, and the season for military operations drawing to a close, it was determined to destroy Fort Erie, and evacuate Upper Canada. This was accordingly effected; and early in November, the troops were transported to the American side, and distributed in winter quarters at Buffalo, Black Rock, and Batavia.*

During the summer of this year, an expedition was undertaken for the purpose of recovering Mackinaw. A part of the squadron on Lake Erie, had for this object been extended into Lake Huron, under the command of Commodore Sinclair. Colonel Croghan, accompanied by Major Holmes, left Detroit on the 5th of July. Co-operating with Commodore Sinclair, they succeeded in destroying the British establishments at St. Joseph's

and the Sault de St. Marie, and then proceeded to Mackinaw. Croghan landed his troops on the 4th of August, but his force was not sufficient to reduce the fortress. The attempt was attended with the loss of many brave officers, among whom was Major Holmes. Two vessels, which were left by the Americans to prevent supplies arriving at the fort, were blown up by the British. Commodore Sinclair, however, succeeded in capturing the last of their vessels on the upper lakes*

General Harrison, vexed at the conduct of the secretary of war, who was no friend of his, and who violated the usual military etiquette on various occasions, sent in his resignation of the post of major-general in the army. His letter was written from Cincinnati, under date of May 11th, and he retired to private life.

On the 22d of October, General M'Arthur, who took the command after General Harrison's resignation, left Detroit, with about seven hundred men, and marched in the direction of the River Thames. Having dispersed the British detachments in the vicinity of the Thames, destroyed all their stores, and taken one hundred and fifty prisoners, M'Arthur's detachment, on the 7 th of November, returned to Detroit in good order, and with the loss of only one man. The troops were then discharged and returned home.

* Ingersoll (voL ii., pp. 109-14) has some reflections on the "moral effect" of the war as carried on in the north. The reader will find them worthy his attention.

♦ IFAfee, in his History, (p. 410-63) gives a full account of the operations in the northwest at this date, with copious quotations from letters, documents, etc.




The British in the Chesapeake—Barney's flotilla — A heavy blow contemplated by the enemy — Views and plans of the administration for the defence of Washington — General Winder appointed commander — His trials and perplexities — Cochrane's fleet enters the Chesapeake — The force under General Ross landed at Benedict — Advance into the interior — Winder's force and conduct — Stansbury's brigade — Post taken at Bladensburg— The president and secretaries in the camp — Their presence and plans—The battle of Bladensburg — Retreat to the capital — Thence to Georgetown Heights, and fifteen miles further—Destruction at the navy yard — Genera) Ross enters Washington — The city devoted to destruction — The next morning's work—The British anxious to get away—Their retreat at night — Effect of this invasion — Gordon's success at Alexandria — Parker's misfortune—Attempt on Baltimore—Death of General Ross — Battle at North Point—The British advance but do not attack — Bombardment of Fort M'Henry — Cochrane and the troops retreat — The return of the president to Washington — Congress meet — The message of the president— Measures entered upon — Mr. Jefferson olfere his library to Congress—Changes in the cabinet — The measures of this session — Finances, taxation, bank sch, me, etc—Monroe's plan for augmenting the army — Death of the vice-president — Appendix To Chapter XIL The British account of the invasion of Washington.

Ttie British squadron on the coast continued their system of petty plundering and devastating, wherever they found opportunity. Especially was this plan pursued on the waters of the Chesapeake, where Cockburn was in command; and numerous and disgraceful inroads were made under his direction, or with his entire sanction. A flotilla for the defence of the inlets and smaller rivers of the bay, consisting of a cutter, two gunboats, and nine barges, was placed under command of Commodore Barney, who, during the month of June, performed a number of gallant exploits in the discharge of his responsible duties. Every attempt of the enemy to capture the flotilla failed, Barney at times running up small creeks out of reach of the British guns; at other

times, silencing them by his superior skill and accuracy in firing.

Cockburn had menaced Washington during the preceding year; but the secretary of war and others never believed that any attack was seriously contemplated. The defences appeared to be all that was necessary, and it was thought that the British would not dare, with any force at their command, to attempt so hazardous an expedition as that of assaulting the capital of the United States. But England, now that Napoleon was subdued, having abundance of ships and men unoccupied, (see p. 228) determined to strike a blow or two which should tell with tremendous effect, and compel the Americans to sue for peace on any terms.

The president of the United States, PLANS FOR DEFENDING THE CAPITAL.

Ch. XII.]

not unaware of the threatened invasion, by news which reached him at the end of June, called a council of the heads of the departments, and suggested the propriety of collecting all the regulars within reach, of forming a camp of at least three thousand men at some point between the Patuxent and the Eastern Branch of the Potomac, and of embodying ten thousand militia at Washington. These views appeared to meet the approbation of all; and there seems no reason to doubt, that could they have been carried into execution, both the cities of Baltimore and Washington might safely have bid defiance to the British arms. Steps were immediately taken in furtherance of the plan suggested. Requisitions were made on the District of Columbia, for her whole quota of militia, amounting to two thousand men; on Maryland for the same, six thousand men; on Pennsylvania, for five thousand men; and on Virginia, for two thousand men; making in the whole, fifteen thousand men; of which, ten thousand, it was confidently thought, would not fail to take the field. It was ascertained, that about a thousand regulars could be depended on; besides a squadron of horse then in Pennsylvania, some additional regulars which were ordered from North Carolina, and Commodore Barney's men, in case it should be found necessary to abandon the flotilla. On paper, this was certainly a highly respectable force; but, it is to be remembered, that the ten or fifteen thousand militia were yet to be called together, and when assembled, they were to be disciplined, and put in some sort of preparation to meet


a veteran force like that which was about to invade the country.

The District of Columbia, Maryland, and part of Virginia, was formed into a new military district, and on the 5th of July, the command was bestowed upon General Winder. He entered upon his difficult command with alacrity, but every thing nearly was to be done, fortifications to be erected, troops collected, plans matured, etc.

. . 1814.

Difficulties of various kinds sprang up in his path. The governor of Maryland called for three thousand militia, but his call brought out about as many hundred. The governor of Pennsylvania had no authority at all to draft men, and could only appeal to the patriotism of the people, with very indifferent success, as may be supposed. Thus Maryland and Pennsylvania failing, nearly half of the fifteen thousand were cut off at once, and of the balance, not more than one third could be relied on. At the beginning of August, Winder had only a thousand regulars collected, and less than two thousand militia. Some troops embodied at Annapolis, and a brigade of Maryland militia from Baltimore, under General Stansbury, were placed at the disposal of the American commander; and it was hoped, that volunteers would flock in and repel the insulting and haughty enemy. But, as is at once evident, with such miserably insufficient preparation, the British general would meet with very little to hinder him from accomplishing his purpose*

* Ingersoll (voL ii., p. 104) gives a graphic account of the position of things at Washington, in view of

« 上一頁繼續 »