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In the beginning of 1813 the American Army was organized in three divisions: First, the Army of the North, under General Wade Hampton, which was to act in the country around Lake Champlain; second, the Army of the Center, under General Henry Dearborn, which was to conduct operations on Lake Ontario and the Niagara frontier; third, the Army of the West, commanded by General Winchester for a short time and subsequently by General Harrison. After the defeat at the River Raisin General Harrison located himself at the Maumee Rapids, fifteen miles from Lake Erie, in what is now known as Perrysburg, in Wood County, Ohio. General Proctor had besieged these forces, and on the 5th day of May occurred the disaster in which Colonel Dudley and the troops led by him were captured and so many Kentuckians massacred, but the Americans now returned to their old way of fighting, and Proctor was driven off. In July the siege was again renewed, with no better results. The Americans maintained themselves with gallantry and courage, and George Crogham, a mere youth, on August 2d, with one hundred and sixty men, inflicted a tremendous loss upon the British troops and held Fort Stephenson in such a way as not only to make him a hero, but to encourage the American soldiers in subsequent conflicts.
The capture of York, now Toronto, in April, the activity under Generals Dearborn and Pike, and the defense of Sackett's Harbor, again gave encouragement; but these were offset in turn by disasters on Lake Ontario and the defeats at Stony Creek and Beaver Dams. Thus a year of war left the Americans without a signal victory on land, and practically nothing to compensate for the loss of life and property which twelve months of conflict had brought to the nation. The dreadful massacre at Fort Dearborn on August 15th, the cowardly surrender of Detroit on the 16th, the savage atrocities at the Raisin, and the fearful loss at Fort Meigs, coupled with the reverses at different points in the North and East, had impressed upon the minds of all the American people that the war was a real one, in which reverses and failures would demand patriotic sacrifice and a united and earnest effort to place the United States upon a real war footing.
When the war began there was not a single war-vessel on Lake Erie. The small sloop '' Adams" was surrendered by Hull, but this was recaptured and burned by Captain Evans off Fort Erie. This was followed by the battle of Queenstown, November 13, 1812, brilliant and glorious because of the courage and gallantry of the American volunteers; all of this, however, was offset by the surrender of Scott to the American troops, who had made so brilliant a record, which was quickly dimmed by the failure of General Van Rensalaer to support his fellowcountrymen.
Disasters on land were offset by superb successes on the sea. England then had a thousand war-vessels, manned by one hundred and forty thousand seamen, while the American vessels numbered seventeen men of war, and could carry only four hundred and forty-two guns, with five thousand seamen.
First came the conflict of the "President" with the "Little Belt," and then the subsequent conflict of the "President" with the "Belvedere;" then the capture of the British vessel "Minerva" and its soldiers by the '' Essex" and the capture of the '' Guerriere" by the "Constitution;" then the brilliant pursuit of the "Frolic" by the "Wasp," the capture of the "Swallow" by the "United States," and then the capture of the '' Macedonia" by the "United States," and lastly that of the "Java" by the "Constitution."
The American navy in a year had six encounters, and in each one scored a victory. Three hundred British merchantmen had been captured in six months, either by the navy or by American privateers, and everywhere on the water the courage and gallantry of the American sailors were more than a match for their English enemy.
The year 1813 had dawned in disaster and massacre. The temporary success at French town, on the 19th of January, was sadly counterbalanced by the horrors of the Raisin on the 22d. As the battle of the Raisin had much to do in affecting the spirit and temper of the men engaged in the battle of the Thames, a brief account of it will be necessary to a complete understanding of the conditions which surrounded those engaged in it.
When the express, which was then sent through the wilderness from Detroit to Cincinnati, brought an account of the surrender of Detroit by General Hull, August 15, 1812, there seemed to be a universal outburst of patriotic sentiment among the people of Kentucky. Their continued conflict with Indians from the cessation of hostilities through the peace which followed the Revolutionary War had kept alive a military spirit as well as military organizations. Their sufferings and their services in behalf of their country had given them the highest order of patriotism.
In the hearts of all the people of Kentucky burned an intense desire to wipe out in some great victory the stain which had been placed upon national courage by the base surrender of General Hull.
General Harrison, then Governor of the territory of Indiana, had been authorized to take command of the troops in the Indiana and Illinois territories to carry on the war in that section against the Indians, and also to call on the Governor of Kentucky for any portion of its contingent of volunteers which was not in service.
In May, 1812, the Governor of Kentucky had organized ten regiments, amounting to five thousand five hundred, as the quota of Kentucky under the one hundred thousand militia call made by the United States. More than enough volunteers had promptly come forward to meet the demands of the Governor, and, under requisitions made by the War Department, the regiments of John M. Scott, William Lewis, and John Allen were ordered into the service. They were required to rendezvous at Georgetown, in Scott County, on the 15th of August, 1812, and were placed under command of Brigadier-General John Payne, of Scott County.
The best men in the State promptly offered their services to their country. Members of Congress, county officers, majors, colonels, and captains of militia, all hastened, if required, to take the place of privates in the ranks. Men who had fought in the War of the Revolution, or later under Wayne, Harrison, St. Clair, and Clark, esteemed it a privilege to again assert their country's honor, and rushed to its defense. Rank was unhesitatingly waived, and the impulse to volunteer was almost universal.