Benson John Lossing.

Harper's encyclopdia of United States history from 458 A.D. to 1905 (Volume 3) online

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boats were taken to the mouth of Buffalo Satisfied that Drummond intended to
Creek, and in these the expedition em- storm the works, Gaines made disposition
barked at midnight. At one o clock in accordingly. At midnight an ominous
the morning (Oct. 9) they left the creek, silence prevailed in both camps. It was
while scores of people watched anxiously soon broken by a tremendous uproar. At
on the shore for the result. The sharp two o clock in the morning (Aug. 15) the
crack of a pistol, the roll of musketry. British, 1,500 strong, under Lieutenant-
followed by silence, and the moving of Colonel Fischer, made a furious attack-
two dark objects down the river pro- upon Towson s battery and the abatis, on
claimed that the enterprise had been sue- the extreme left, between that work and
cessful. Joy was manifested on the the shore. They expected to find the
shores by shouts and the waving of Ian- Americans slumbering, but wore mistaken,
terns. The vessels and their men had been At a signal, Towson s artillerists sent
made captives in less than ten minutes, forth such a continuous stream of flame
The guns at Fort Erie were brought to from his tall battery that the British
hear upon the vessels. A struggle for called it the "Yankee Light - house."



EXPLANATION OF THE ABOVK MAP. A, old Fort Erie; a, a, demi-bastions; ft, a ravelin, and c, e, block-houses.
These were all built by the British previous to its capture at the beginning of July, d, d, bastions built by the
Americans during the siege; e, e, n redoubt built for the security of the demi-bastions, a. a.

B, the American camp, secured on the right by the line 17, the Douglass Battery, t, and Fort Erie; on the left,
and in front, by the lines/,/ / and batteries on the extreme right and left of them. That on the right, immedi
ately under the letter L in the words LEVEL PLAIN, is Towson s; A, ft, etc.. camp traverses; n, main traverse; o.
magazine traverse, covering also the headquarters of General Gaines; p, hospital traverse; q. grand parade and
provost-guard traverse; r. General Brown s headquarters; 5, a drain; t, road from Chippewa up the lake.

C, the encampment of volunteers outside of the intreuchments, who joined the army a few days before the

D, n, the British works. 1. 2. 3, their first, second, and third battery, v. the route of Porter, wiih the left
column, to attack the British right flank on the 17th; x, the ravine, and route of Miller s command.

Mr. Lossing was indebted to the late Chief Engineer Gen. Joseph G. Totten for the manuscript map of which
this Is a copy.



While one assailing column, by the use of
ladders, was endeavoring to capture the
battery, the other, failing to penetrate
the abatis, because Miller and his brave
men were behind it, attempted to gain the
rear of the defenders. Both columns
failed. Five times they made a gallant

more furious attack, the bastion blew up
with tremendous force. A column of
flame, with fragments of timber, earth,
stones, and the bodies of men, rose to the
height of nearly 200 feet in the air, and
fell in a shower of ruins to a great dis
tance around. This appalling explosion


attack, when, after fearful loss, they aban- was followed by a galling cannonade,
doned the enterprise. Meanwhile another when the British fled to their intrench-
British column made a desperate attack ments, leaving on the field 221 killed, 174
on the fort, when the exasperated Drum- wounded, and 186 prisoners. The loss of
mond ordered his men to "give the Yan- the Americans was seventy killed, fifty-
kees no quarter " if the fort should be six wounded, and eleven missing,
taken, and had actually stationed some After the terrible explosion and the re-
Indians near to assist in the execution pulse of the British, both parties pre-
of the savage order. He obtained partial pared for a renewed contest. Each was
possession of the weak fort, and ordered strengthened by reinforcements, but the
his men to attack the garrison with pike struggle was not again begun for a month,
and bayonet. Most of the officers and General Brown had recovered from his
many of the men received deadly wounds, wound, and was again in command of his
No quarter was given; but very soon the army. The fort was closely invested by
officer who gave the order was killed by the British, but Drummond s force, ly-
the side of Lieutenant Macdonough, who ing upon low ground, was greatly weak-
had asked him for quarter, but v/as shot ened by typhoid fever. Hearing of this,
dead by him. The battle raged furiously Brown determined to make a sortie from
a while longer. The British held the the fort. The time appointed for its ex-
main bastion of the fort in spite of all ecution was Sept. 17. He resolved, he
efforts to dislodge them. Finally, just said, " to storm the batteries, destroy the
as the Americans were about to make a cannon, and roughly handle the brigade



on duty, before those in reserve at the
camp could be brought into action."
Fortunately for the sallying troops, a
thick fog obscured their movements as
they went out, towards noon, in three di
visions one under General Proctor, an
other under James Miller (who had been
brevetted a brigadier-general), and a
third under General Ripley. Porter
reached a point within a few rods of the
British right wing, at near three o clock,
before the movement was suspected by
his antagonist. An assault was immedi
ately begun. The startled British on
that flank fell back, and left the Ameri
cans masters of the ground. Two bat
teries were then stormed, and were car
ried after a close struggle for thirty
minutes. This triumph was followed by
the capture of the block-house in the rear
of the batteries. The garrison were made
prisoners, cannon and carriages were de
stroyed, and the magazine blown up.
Meanwhile, General Miller had carried
two other batteries and block-houses in
the rear. Within forty minutes after
Porter and Miller began the attack, four

saved, witli Buffalo, and stores on the
Niagara frontier, by this successful sortie.
In the space of an hour the hopes of
Drummond were blasted, the fruits of the
labor of fifty days were destroyed, and
his force reduced by at least 1,000 men.
Public honors were awarded to Brown,
Porter, and llipley. Congress presented
each with a gold medal. To the chief
commander (Brown), of whom it was
said, " no enterprise which he undertook
ever failed," the corporation of New York
gave the freedom of the city in a gold box.
The governor of New York (D. D. Tomp-
kins) presented to him an elegant sword.
The States of New York, Massachusetts,
South Carolina, and Georgia each gave
Ripley tokens of their appreciation of his

Erie, LAKE, BATTLE ON. Who should
be masters of Lake Erie was an important
question to be solved in 1813. The United
States government did not fulfil its prom
ise to Hull to provide means for securing
the naval supremacy on Lake Erie. The
necessity for such an attainment was so
obvious before the close of 1812 that the


batteries, two block-houses, and the whole government took vigorous action in the
line of British intrenchments were in the matter. Isaac Chauncey was in command
hands of the Americans. Fort Erie was of a little squadron on Lake Ontario late
in. R 257



in 1812, and Capt. Oliver Hazard Perry,
a zealous young naval officer, of Rhode Isl
and, who was in command of a flotilla of
gunboats on the Newport station, offered
his services on the Lakes. Chauncey de
sired his services, and on Feb. 17 Perry re
ceived orders from the Secretary of the
Navy to report to Chauncey with all pos
sible despatch, and to take with him to
Sackett s Harbor all of the best men of
the flotilla at Newport. He sent them for
ward, in companies of fifty, under Sailing-
Masters Almy, Champlin, and Taylor. He
met Chauncey at Albany, and they jour
neyed together in a sleigh through the
then wilderness to Sackett s Harbor. In
March Perry went to Presque Isle (now
Erie, Pa.) to hasten the construction and
equipment of a little navy there designed
to co-operate with General Harrison in at
tempts to recover Michigan. Four vessels
were speedily built at Erie, and five others
were taken to that well-sheltered harbor
from Black Rock, near Buffalo, where
HENRY ECKFORD (q. v.) had converted
merchant-vessels into war-ships. The ves
sels at Erie were constructed under the
immediate supervision of Sailing-Master
Daniel Dobbins, at the mouth of Cascade
Creek. Early in May (1813) the three
smaller vessels were launched, and on the

a^ 24th of the same month
l\vo brigs were put afloat.
The whole fleet was finished
m on July 10, and consisted
of the brig Lawrence, twenty
guns ; brig Niagara, twenty
guns; brig Caledonia, three
guns ; schooner Ariel, four
guns; schooner Scorpion,
two guns and two swivels;
sloop Trippe, one gun;
schooner Tigress, one gun;
and schooner Porcupine, one
gun. The command of the
fleet was given to Perry,
and the Lawrence, so named
in honor of the slain com
mander of the Chesapeake,
was his flag-ship. But men
and supplies were wanting.
A British squadron on the
lake seriously menaced the
fleet at Erie, and Perry
pleaded for materials to put
his vessels in proper order
to meet danger. " Think of my situa
tion," he wrote to Chauncey " the enemy
in sight, the vessels under my command
more than sufficient and ready to make
sail, and yet obliged to bite my fingers
with vexation for want of men."

Perry, anxiously waiting for men to
man his little fleet at Erie, was partial
ly gratified by the arrival there of 100
men from Black Rock, under Captain El
liott, and early in August, 1813, he went
out on the lake before he was fairly pre
pared for vigorous combat. On Aug. 17,
when off Sandusky Bay, he fired a signal-
gun for General Harrison, according to
agreement. Harrison was encamped at
Seneca, and late in the evening of the
19th he and his suite arrived in boats
and went on board the flag-ship Laiorence,
where arrangements were made for the fall
campaign in that quarter. Harrison had
about 8,000 militia, regulars and Indians,
at Camp Seneca, a little more than 20
miles from the lake. While he was wait
ing for Harrison to get his army ready
to be transported to Fort Maiden, Perry
cruised about the lake. On a bright
morning, Sept. 10, the sentinel watching
in the main-top of the Lawrence cried,
"Sail, ho!" It announced the appear
ance of the British fleet, clearly seen in


the northwestern horizon. Very soon into shreds, her spars battered into splin-

Perry s nine vessels were ready for the ters, and her guns dismounted. One rnast

enemy. At the mast-head of the Lawrence remained, and from it streamed the na-

was displayed a blue banner, with the tional flag. The deck was a scene of

words of Lawrence, the dying captain, in dreadful carnage, and most men would

lurge white letters " DON T GIVE UP THE have struck their flag. But Perry was


SHIP." The two squadrons slowly ap- hopeful in gloom. His other vessels
proached each other. The British squad- had fought gallantly, excepting the
ion was commanded by Com. Robert Niagara, Captain Elliott, the stanchest
II. Barclay, who fought with Nelson at ship in the fleet, which had kept out-
Trafalgar. His vessels were the ship De- side, and was unhurt. As she drew near
troit, nineteen guns, and one pivot and the Lawrence, Perry resolved to fly to her,
two howitzers; ship Queen Charlotte, and, renewing the fight, win the victory,
seventeen, and one howitzer; brig Lady Putting on the uniform of his rank, that
Prevost, thirteen, and one howitzer; brig he might properly receive Barclay as his
Hunter, ten; sloop Little Belt, three: prisoner, he took down his broad pen-
and schooner Chippewa,
one, and two swivels.
The battle began at noon,
at long range, the Scor
pion, commanded by
young Sailing - Master
Stephen Champlin, then
less than twenty-four
years of age, firing the
first shot on the Ameri
can side. As the fleets
drew nearer and nearer,
hotter and hotter waxed

the fight. For two hours the Laivrence riant and the banner with the stirring
bore the brunt of battle, until she lay words, entered his boat, and, with four
upon the waters almost a total wreck stout seamen at the oars, he started on
her rigging all shot away, her sails cut his perilous voyage, anxiously watched by




C /^>d^c7(?Wv


those he had left on the Lawrence. Perry
stood upright in his boat, with the pen-
nant and banner partly wrapped about
him. Barclay, who had been badly
wounded, informed of Perry s daring, and
knowing the peril of the British fleet if
the young commodore should reach the
decks of the Niagara, ordered big and

the Niagara in safety. Hoisting his pen-
nant over her, he dashed through the
British line, and eight minutes afterwards
the colors of the enemy s flag-ship were
struck, all but two of the fleet surrender-
ing." These attempted to escape, but were
pursued and brought back, late in the
evening, by the Scorpion, whose gallant



little guns to be brought to bear on the commander (Champlin) had fired the

little boat that held the hero. The voy- first and last gun in the battle of Lake

age lasted fifteen minutes. Bullets tra- Erie. Assured of victory, Perry sat down,

versed the boat, grape-shot falling in the and, resting his naval cap on his knee,

water near covered the seamen with spray, wrote to Harrison, with a pencil, on the

and oars were shivered by cannon-balls, back of a letter, the famous despatch:

but not a man was hurt. Perry reached " We have met the enemy, and they are



ours two ships, two brigs, one schooner, also offered reparation for the insult and
and one sloop." The name of Perry was injury in the case of the CHESAPEAKE
made immortal. His government thanked (q. v.) , and also assured the government
him, and gave him and Elliott each a of the United States that Great Britain
gold medal. The legislature of Pennsyl- would immediately send over an envoy
vania voted him thanks and a gold medal; extraordinary, vested with power to con-
and it gave thanks and a silver medal to elude a treaty that should settle all
each man who was engaged in the battle, points of dispute between the two gov-
The Americans lost twenty-seven killed ernments. This arrangement was com-
and ninety-six wounded. The British loss pleted April 18, 1809. The next day the
was about 200 killed and 600 made prison- Secretary of State received a note from
ers. At about nine o clock in the evening Erskine, saying he was authorized to de-
of the day of the battle, the moon shin- clare that his Majesty s Orders in Council
ing brightly, the two squadrons weighed of January and November, 1807, would
anchor and sailed into Put-in-Bay, not be withdrawn on June 10 next ensuing,
far from Sandusky, out of which the On the same day (April 19) the Presi-
American fleet had sailed that morning, dent issued a proclamation declaring that
The last survivor of the battle of Lake trade with Great Britain might be re-
Erie was John Norris, who died at Peters- sumed after June 10. This proclamation
burg, Va., in January, 1879. gave great joy in the United States.

Ernst, OSWALD HERBERT, military offi- Partisan strife was hushed, and the Presi-

cer; born in Cincinnati, 0., June 27, dent was toasted and feasted by leading

1842; graduated at West Point in Federalists, as a Washingtonian worthy

1864, and entered the Engineer Corps; of all confidence. In the House of Repre-

superintendent of West Point in 1893- sentatives, John Randolph, who lauded

98 ; appointed a brigadier-general of vol- England for her magnanimity, offered

unteers in May, 1898, and served in (May 3, 1809) a resolution which declared

the war against Spain. He was sent to " that the promptitude and frankness with

Porto Rico, and had command of the which the President of the United States

troops in the action of Coamo. He is has met the overtures of the government

the author of Practical Military Engi- of Great Britain towards a restoration of

neering. harmony and freer commercial intercourse

Erskine, DAVID MONTAGUE, BARON, between the two nations meet the ap-

diplomatist; born in England in 1776; proval of this House." The joy was of

soon after 1806 was sent to the United brief duration. Mr. Erskine was soon

States as British envoy. He was on duty afterwards compelled to communicate to

in Washington at the time of Madison s the President (July 31) that his govern-

accession to the Presidency. He found ment had refused to sanction his arrange-

the new President so exceedingly anxious ment, ostensibly because the minister had

for peace and good feeling between the exceeded his instructions, and was not

two countries that he had written to Can- authorized to make any such arrangement,

ning, the British minister, such letters Mr. Erskine was recalled. The true rea-

on the subject that he was instructed to son for the rejection by the British au-

propose to the Americans a reciprocal thorities of the arrangement made by

repeal of all the prohibitory laws upon Erskine probably was, that, counting upon

certain conditions. Those conditions were the fatal effects of sectional strife in

so partial towards Great Britain, requir- the Union, already so rampant in some

ing the Americans to submit to the rule places, the British government was en-

of 1756, that they were rejected. Very couraged to believe that the bond of union

soon, however, arrangements were made would be so weakened that a scheme then

by which, upon the Orders in Council be- perfecting by the British ministry for

ing repealed, the President should issue destroying that Union would be successful,

a proclamation declaring a restoration of England having spurned the olive-branch

commercial intercourse with Great Brit- so confidingly offered, the President of

ain, but leaving all restrictive laws as the United States issued another procla-

agamst France in full force. Mr. Erskine mation (Aug. 9, 1809), declaring the non-


intercourse act to be again in full force
in regard to Great Britain.

Erskine, SIR WILLIAM, British soldier;
born in 1728; entered the English army
in 1743; commanded one of the brigades
at the battle of Long Island in 1776; and
was second in command of Tryon s expe
dition to Danbury in April, 1777. In the
next year he took command of the east
ern district of Long Island. He died
March 9, 1795.

Esopus War, THE. There had been a
massacre by the Indians of Dutch set
tlers at Esopus (now Kingston, N. Y.)
in 1655. The settlers had fled to Man
hattan for security, but had been per
suaded by Stuyvesant to return to their
farms, where they built a compact village
for mutual protection. Unfortunately,
some Indians, who had been helping the
Dutch in their harvests in the summer
of 1658, became noisy in a drunken rout,
and were fired upon by the villagers. This
outrage caused fearful retaliation. The
Indians desolated the farms, and mur
dered the people in isolated houses. The
Dutch put forth their strength to oppose
the barbarians, and the " Esopus War "
continued until 1664 intermittingly.
Some Indians, taken prisoners, were sent
to Curagoa and sold as slaves. The anger
of the Esopus Indians was aroused, and,
in 1663, the village of Wiltwyck, as the
Esopus village was called, was almost
totally destroyed. Stuyvesant was there
at the time, holding a conference with the
Indians in the open fields, when the de
structive blow fell. The houses were
plundered and burned, and men, hurrying
from the fields to protect their families
and property, were either shot down or
carried away captive. The struggle was
desperate, but the white people were vic
torious. When the assailants were driven
away, they carried off forty women and
children; and in the heap of ruins which
they left behind them were found the
charred remains of twenty-one murdered
villagers. It was the final event of vio
lence of that war.

Esquemeling, JOHN, author of Bucca
neers and Buccaneering in America, which
has been frequently reprinted.

Essex, THE, a frigate of 860 tons,
rated at thirty-two guns, but actually
carried forty-six; built in Salem, Mass., in

1799. On June 26, 1812, under command
of Capt. David Porter, she left Sandy
Hook, N. J., on a cruise, with a flag at her
masthead bearing the significant words,
scon captured several English merchant
vesels, making trophy bonfires of most of
them on the ocean, and their crews his
prisoners. After cruising southward sev
eral weeks in disguise, capturing a prize
now and then, he turned northward, and
chased a fleet of English transports bear
ing 1,000 troops to Halifax, convoyed by
a frigate and a bomb-vessel. He capt
ured one of the transports, and a few
days afterwards (Aug. 13) fell in with
the British armed ship Alert, Capt. T.
L. P. Langhorne, mounting twenty 18-
pounder carronades and six smaller guns.
The Essex was disguised as a merchant
man. The Alert followed her for some
time, and at length opened fire with three
cheers from her people. Porter caused
his ports to be knocked out in an instant,
when his guns responded with terrible
effect. It was a complete surprise. The
Alert was so badly injured and her people
were so panic-stricken that the conflict
was short. In spite of the efforts of the
officers, the men of the Alert ran below
for safety. She was surrendered in a
sinking condition. She was the first
British naval vessel captured in the war.
Nobody was killed on either vessel.

When Commodore Bainbridge was
about to sail from Boston with the Con
stitution and Hornet, orders were sent to
Captain Porter, of the Essex, then lying
in the Delaware, to cruise in the track
of the West Indiamen, and at a specified
time to rendezvous at certain ports,
when, if he should not fall in with the
flag-ship of the squadron, he would be at
liberty to follow the dictates of his own
judgment. Having failed to find the Con
stitution at any appointed rendezvous,
and having provided himself with funds
by taking $55,000 from a British packet,
Porter made sail for the Pacific Ocean
around Cape Horn. While in these
waters, Porter seized twelve armed Brit
ish whale-ships, with an aggregate of
302 men and 107 guns. These were what
he entered the Pacific Ocean for. He
armed some of them., and at one time he
had a fleet of nine vessels. He sent



paroled prisoners to Rio de Janeiro, and
cargoes of whale-oil to the United States.
On Sept. 15, 1813, while among the Gala
pagos Islands, he fell in with a British
whaling-vessel armed with twelve guns
and manned by thirty-nine men. He capt
ured her, and found her laden with beef,
pork, bread, wood, and water, articles
which Porter stood greatly in need of at
that time. The exploits of the Essex in
the Pacific produced great excitement in
the British- navy, and the government
sent out the frigate Phoebe, with one or
two consorts, to attempt her capture.
Porter heard of this from an officer who
was sent into the harbor of Valparaiso,
Chile, with prizes. He also learned that
the Chilean authorities were becoming
more friendly to the English than to the
Americans. In consequence of this infor
mation, Porter resolved to go to the
Marquesas Islands, refit his vessel, and
return to the United States. He had capt
ured almost every English whale-ship
known to be off the coasts of Peru and
Chile, and had deprived the enemy of
property to the amount of $2,500,000
and 360 seamen. He had also released
the American whalers from peril, and in
spired the Peruvians and Chileans with
the most profound respect for the Ameri
can navy. Among the Marquesas Islands
(at Nooaheevah) Porter became involved
in hostilities \vith the warring natives.

He had allowed his men great indulgence
in port, and some of them formed strong
attachments to the native women. They
were so dissatisfied when he left that
they became almost mutinous. He had
ktpt his men from going on shore for
three days before he weighed anchor.
"The girls," says Porter in his Journal,

Online LibraryBenson John LossingHarper's encyclopdia of United States history from 458 A.D. to 1905 (Volume 3) → online text (page 40 of 76)