Copyright
H. M. (Henry Marie) Brackenridge.

History of the late war between the United States and Great Britain: online

. (page 21 of 32)
Online LibraryH. M. (Henry Marie) BrackenridgeHistory of the late war between the United States and Great Britain: → online text (page 21 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


enemy, were the few who remained of the rear guard, the artil-
lery company, and captain Russel's company of spies. Their
conduct however was admirable. Lieutenant Armstrong, with
the utmost coolness and intrepidity, and aided by a few more,
dragged a six-pounder to the top of a hill, althoui^h exposed to
a heavy fire ; and having gained his position, loaded tlie piece
with grape, and fired it with such effect, that after a few dis-
charges, the enemy were repulsed. Tliey were pursued for
several miles by colonel Carrol, colonel Higgins, and cap-
tains Elliott and Pipkins. Captain Goidou, of the spies, had
partly succeeded in turning tiieir flank, and tlius contributed
greatly to restore the day. The Americans now continued
their retreat without further molestation. In these difl'erent
engagements, about twenty Americans were killed and seventy-
five wounded ; the loss of the enemy in the last engagement
was about one hundred and eighty slain.

Meanwhile general Floyd was again advancing towards the
Indian territory, from the Chaltahouchee river. On the 27lh,
of January, at Camp Defiance, he was attacked by a large body
of Indians, about an hour before day. They stole upon the
sentinels, and after firing on them, rushed with great impetu-
osity towards the main body. The action soon became gene-
ral. The front of both flanks was closely pressed, but the
firmness of the officers and men repelled the assaults at every
point. As soon as it became sufHciently light, general Floyd
strengthened his right vising and formed his cavalry in the
rear, and then directed a charge. The enemy gave way
before the bayonet, and being pursued by the cavalry, were
many of them killed. The loss of general Floyd was seven-



186 BRACKENRIDGE'S



General Jackson gains the sanguinary Victory of Horse-Shoe-Bend.



teen killed and one hundred and tliirty-tvvo wounded. That
of the Indians could not be ascertained ; although it must have
been very considerable: thirty-seven of their warriors were left
dead on the field.

By this time, it might be supposed that the Creeks had been
satisfied with the experiment of war; but they appear to have
been infatuated to a most extraordinary degree. Under the
influence of their prophets, they were led on from one ruinous
effort to another, in hopes that the time would at last arrive
when their enemies would be delivered into their hands.

GeneralJackson having received considerable reinforcements
from Tennessee, and being joined by a number of friendly
Indians, set out on an expedition to the Tallapoosa river. He
proceeded from the Coosa on the 24th of March, and reached
the southern extremity of the New Youca on the 27th, at a
place called the Horse-Shoe-Bend of the Tallapoosa. Nature
furnishes few situations so eligible for defence, and here the
Creeks, by the direction of their prophets, had made their last
stand. Across the neck of the peninsula formed by the curva-
ture of the river they had erected a breast-work of the greatest
compactness and strength, from five to eight feet high, and
provided with a double row of portholes, artfully arranged. In
this place they considered themselves perfectly secure ; as the
assailants could not approach without being exposed to a dou-
ble and cross fire from those who lay behind the breast-works.
The area thus enclosed was little short of one hundred acres.
The warriors from the Oakfuskee, Oakshaya, and Hillabee
towns, the Fish Ponds, and the Eupauta towns, were here col-
lected, in number exceeding a thousand.

Early in the morning of the 27th, general Jackson, having
encamped the preceding night within six miles of the Bend,
detached general Coflee, with the mounted men and nearly the
whole of the friendly Indian force, to pass the river at a ford
about three miles below the Creek encampment, and instructed
him to surround the Bend in such a manner, that none of the
savages should efi'ect their escape by crossing the river. With
the remainder of his force, he advanced to the point of land which
led to the front of the breast-work; and at half past ten, planted
his artillery on a small eminence within eighty yards of the
nearest, and two hundred and fifty of the farthest point of the
works. A brisk cannonade was opened upon the centre ; and a
severe fire directed with musketry and rifles, whenever the
Indians ventured to show themselves above or outside of their
defences. In the meantime, general Cofl'ee, having crossed
below, had advanced towards the village. When within half a




©ii]if]ii?L£i:L ^j^<S2:g®Hc



167



HISTORY OF THE WAR. 187



Victory of Horse-Shoe-Bend.



mile of that part which stood at the extremity of the peninsula,
the Indians uttered their yell. Coffee, expecting an immediate
attack, drew up his men in order of batde, and in this manner
continued to move forward. The friendly Indians had previ-
ously taken possession of the bank of the river, for the purpose
of preventing the retreat of the enemy: but they no sooner
heard the artillery of Jackson, and saw the approach of Coffee,
than they rushed to the bank, while Coffee's militia, in conse-
quence, were obliged to remain in order of batde. The former
were unable to remain silent spectators : some began to fire
across tiie stream, about one hundred yards wide, while others
plunged into the river, and swimming across, brought back a
number of canoes. In these the greater part embarked, and
landing on the peninsula, advanced into the village, drove the
enemy from their huts up to the fortifications, and continued
to annoy them during the whole action. This movement of
the Indians rendered it necessary that a part of Coffee's line
should lake their place.

General Jackson finding that his arrangements were com-
plete, yielded at length to the earnest solicitations of his men
to be led to the charge. The regular troops, led by colonel
Williams and major Montgomery, were in a moment in pos-
session of the nearest part of the breast-works: the militia
accompanied them with equal firmness and intrepidity. Hav-
ing maintained for a few minutes a very obstinate contest,
muzzle to muzzle, through the portholes, *' in which many
of the enemy's balls were welded to the American bayonets,"*
they succeeded in gaining the opposite side of the works.
The event could no longer be douluful; the enemy, although
many of them fought with that kind of bravery which despera-
tion inspires, were routed and cut to pieces. The whole
margin of the river whicli surrounded the peninsula was
strewed with the slain. Five hundred and fifty-seven were
found dead, besides those thrown into the river by their friends
or drowned in attempting to fly. Not more than fifty, it was
supposed, escaped. Among the slain were their great prophet
Manahoe, and two other prophets of less note. About three
hundred women and children were taken prisoners. Jackson's
loss was, twenty-six Americans killed, and one hundred
and seven wounded; eighteen Cherokees killed, and thirty-
six wounded ; and five friendly Creeks killed, and eleven
wounded.

This most decisive victory put an end to the war with the

* General Jackson's own words.



188 BRACKENRIDGE'S



Creek War terminated, and Peare dic tated on Severe Terms.

Creeks ; and liroke llie spirit aud power of these misguided men
completely, 'i'he victory of Tallushatches, won by Coffee; of
the Tallapoosa, by Cocke ; the two victories of general Floyd,
on the Georfria side of the Indian territory ; those of 'J'alladega
and Enotachopco won by Jackson ; and the fatal battle of the
Horse-Shoe-Bend, fought by Jackson and Cofiee, may be said
to have " cut up the war by the roots."

Jackson soon after scoured the country on the Coosa and
Tallapoosa rivers. A party of the enemy on the latter river,
on his approach, fled to Pensacola. The larger portion of the
Creeks, and among them their most able and sanguinary chief
Weatherford, now came forward and threw themselves on the
mercy of the victors. A detachment of militia from North
and South Carolina, under the command of colonel Pearson
traversed the country on the Alabama, and received the submis-
sion of a great number of Creek warriors and prophets.

In the course of the summer a treaty of peace was dictated
to the Creeks by general Jackson, on severe terms. They
agreed to yield a large portion of their country as an indemnity
for the expenses of the war ; they conceded the privilege of
opening roads through their country, together with the liberty
of navigating their rivers ; they engaged to establish trading
houses, and to endeavour to bring back the nation to its former
state; they also stipulated to hold no intercourse with any
British or Spanish post or garrison, and to deliver up the pro-
perty they had taken from the whites and the friendly Indians.
The general, on the part of the United States, undertook to
guaranty their remaining territory to them, to restore all their
prisoners, and, in consideration of their destitute situation, to
furnish them gratuitously with the necessaries of life until they
could provide for themselves.

It was truly lamentable to contemplate the ruin of tribes which
were making such rapid advances to civilization. Their villages
were entirely destroyed ; and their herds, which had become
numerous, were killed by themselves at an early part of the
contestp



HISTORY OF THE WAR. 189



Plans of Operations against Canada March of General Brown.



CHAPTER XV.



Plans of Operations against Canada proposed — General Brown marches to Sackett's
Harbour — General Wilkinson retires to Plattsburg — Attacks the British at La Colle and
is repulsed — Suspended from the command — Discouraging Difficulties in the Economy
of the Army — Smuggling — Unsuccessful Attack by the British at Otter Creek — British
Fleet enters Lake Champlain — Lake Ontario — Contest for Superiority there — Gallant
Defence of Oswego — British land at Pulteneyvillu — Blockade of Sackelt's Harbour —
Engagement at Sandy Creek and Capture of tJie British there — Death of Colonel For-
sythe — of Captain Malloux, in a Skirmish — Colonel Campbell's Expedition against
Dover, Canada — Affairs to the Westward— Colonel Baubee taken Prisoner — Gallant
Defence by Captain Holmes — Serious Crisis in our Affairs — Napoleon overthrown —
Great Britain directs her undivided Energies against the United States — Northern Sea
Coast invaded by Commodore Hardy — Attack on Saybrook and Brockway's Ferry —
Engagement in Long Island Sound — Ravages at Wareham and Scituate — Attack on
Booth Bay repelled — Occupation of all the Islands in Passamaquoddy Bay by the Brit-
ish — Gallant Defence of Stonington — Territory east of the Penobscot River claimed
and occupied by the British — Destruction of the Frigate John Adams.



After the failure of tlie campaign against the British pro-
vinces, the army remained in winter quarters, without the
occurrence of any incident of much importance, until towards
the latter end of February of the year 1814. General Wil-
kinson had submitted several plans of attack on tlie different
British posts in his vicinity, with the view of cutting ofl' the
communication between Upper and Lower Canada, to the
department of war. These, iiowever, did not meet the appro-
bation of the secretary, who gave orders that the American
force should be withdrawn from its present position : that
two thousand men should march under general Brown to
Sackett's Harbour, with a suitable proportion of field artillery
and battering cannon ; and that tlie residue should fall back on
Plattsburg. The general-in-chief, in obedience to these orders,
destroyed his barracks and the flotilla, and retired to the place
designated. The British, apprized of his retreat, detached
a large force under colonel Scott, of the One hundred and third
British regiment, against French Mills, who destroyed the
public stores and pillaged the property of private citizens, but,
on hearing of the approach of an American force, retreated in



190 BRACKENRIDGE'S



General Wilkinson retires to Plattsburg Attacks the British at La CoUe.



the most precipitate manner. His whole parly sufTered much
from a severe snow storm, besides losing upwards of two hun-
dred men by desertion, who surrendered themselves to tlie Ame-
ricans. It was about this time, that loss by desertions became
one of the serious difficulties which the enemy had to encounter.
The practice of permitting their soldiery to plunder in almost
every instance, may perhaps have arisen from the necessity of
some such indulgence as this, in order to retain them in their
service.

Towards the latter end of March, general Wilkinson deter-
mined to erect a battery at a place called Rouse's Point, where
his engineer had discovered a position from which tlie enemy's
fleet, then laid up at St John's, mi^ht be kept in check and
their contemplated movement on Lake Champlain impeded or
prevented. The breaking up of the ice on the lake at an ear-
lier period of the season than usual, defeated his plan. A body
of the enemy, upwards of two thousand strong, on discovering
his design, had been collected at La Colle mill, three miles
below Rouse's Point, for the purpose of opposing him. With a
view of dislodging this party, the commander-in-chief, at the head
of about four thousand men, crossed the Canada line on the 30th
of March. After dispersing several of the enemy's skirmishing
parties, he reached La Colle Mill, a large fortified stone house
situated in the centre of an open piece of ground, and de-
fended by a strong corps of British regulars under the command
of major Hancock. For the purpose of effecting a breach, an
eighteen-pounder was ordered up by general Wilkinson ; but
owing to the nature of the ground over which it had to pass,
the transportation was found impracticable, and a twelve and a
five-and-a-half inch howitzer were therefore substituted. These
pieces, under the direction of captain M'Pherson, and lieute-
nants liarrabee and Sheldon, were posted at the distance of
two hundred paces from the house, and covered by the second
brigade: with part of colonel Clarke's command, under general
Smith, on the right ; and the third brigade, under general Bissel,
on the left. Colonel Miller was ordered to take a position
with the Twelfth and Thirteenth regiments which would enable
him to cut off the enemy's retreat; while the reserve, composed
of a select corps of the first brigade, was placed under the
command of general Macomb. These arrangements being made,
the battery opened upon the house. The fire was promptly re-
turned ; and, owing to the unavoidable exposure of the Ameri-
can troops, was extrem.ely destructive. Captain M'Pherson
was wounded at the commencement of the attack, but continued
at his post until a second shot had broken his thigh ; his next



HISTORY OF THE WAR. 191

Wilkinson suspended from the Command Discouraging Difficulties.

officsr, Larabee, was shot tliroiigli the lung's ; aiitl, lieutenant
Sheldon, who kept up the fire until the end of the affair, dl)ehave
in a manner whicii drew forth the warm praise of his general.

The British commander, perceiving that the Americans per-
sisted in bombarding the house, made a desperate sortie, and
several times ciiarged u|ion the cannon. He was as often
repulsed by the covering troops, and was at last compelled to
retire into his fortress with loss. It being now found im-
practicable to make an impression on the unusually thick walls
of this strong building, with such light pieces, notwithstanding
that they were manaired with great skill, the commander-in-
chief called in his different parties, and iell back in good order.
The loss of the Americajis was upwards of one hundred and
forty in killed and wounded; that of the British was not ascer-
tained.

The unfortunate issue of this affair, together with llie failure
of the last campaign, brought general Wilkinson into dis-
repute with tlie public. The administration, yielding to the
popular voice, thought proper to suspend him from the com-
mand, and placed the army under the charge of general Izard.
General Wilkinson was afterwards tried, and honourably ac-
quitted of all the charges alleged against him. One great fault
inherent in the nature of our form of government, is a disposition
to hasty and harsh decision respecting the conduct and charac-
ter of public men, which no more ceases to be injustice when
entertained by ten millions than if by ten individuals. Men
are often ruined in public estimation, for slight causes, or for
uncontrollable accidents ; an.d they are as often elevated to the
highest pinnacle of celebrity, for actions which may be better
considered as the effect of chance than the test of merit.

The most discouraging difficulties presented themselves in
the economy, equipment and government of the American
forces, to the very last hour of the war. The severity of the
climate on the borders of the St Lawrence and the lakes to
which our tyros were exposed, and their want of the knowledge
and experier.ce requisite to render themselves comfortable in
camp, were the causes of fatal diseases, which carried off a
number greater than fell in battle ; and the proportion of sick
and unfit for duty was at all times very great. From the want
of that system, regularity and strictness which belong to old
establishments, there existed at one moment a superabun-
dance of all the necessary munitions, and at another, as great
a scarcity. There was no end to the irregular and unforeseen
expenses which the government was constantly called upon to
incur. Abuses the most vexatious, and which baffled every



192 BRACKENRIDGE'S



Smupfrliiis Unsuccessful Attack by the British at Otter Creek.



effort to reform, were practised iii all the subordinate depart-
ment. All iliis must be attributed to the true causes : our
settled habits of peace, and the slowness with which the
organization of military establishments must ever be effected
under a government like ours. We had yet to learn and put
in practice, the ceaseless and ever varying mmutiae of camp
police. We had no regular soldiers until almost the close of
the war ; and what school of experience had we in which to
train and form them ? Our subalterns, at first, were generally
men of little education of any kind, and required themselves
the instruction which they undertook to communicate.

To these unavoidable misfortunes, was to be superadded the
disgraceful conduct of many of our frontier inhabitants, who
supplied the enemy with every thing of which they stood in
want. In spite of vigilant exertion to prevent it, a constant
intercourse was kept up across the Canada line ; and the British
were not only furnished with immense quantities of provisions
without which they could not have subsisted their armies, but
were also regularly advised of each matter of importance which
transpired on the American side.

Shortly after the affair of La CoUe, the greater part of the
enemy's force was collected at St John's and Isle Aux Noix,
for the purpose of securing the entrance of the British squad-
ron into Lake Champlain, on the breaking up of the ice. This
movement was effected early in May. Some time before this,
on the suggestion of general Wilkinson, commodore M'Donough
had fortihed the mouth of Otter river by the erection of a bat-
tery on the cape at its entrance, so as to secure a passage to the
lake for his flotilla, which then lay at Vergennes, some miles
higher up the river, waiting for its armament. - This precau-
tion proved of great service. The commodore had laboured
with indefatigable industry to provide a naval force for this
lake which might cope with that of the enemy; and the
first object of the British, when they found the navigation open,
was to attempt its destruction, before it could be prepared to
meet them. On the 12th of May, a bomb vessel and eight
large galleys were stationed by the enemy across the river, for
the purpose of blockading the squadron, and at the same time
to intercept the naval supplies, required for completing its
armament, and which it was supposed would be sent thither by
water. Captain Thornton of the light artillery, and lieutenant
Cassin with a number of sailors, were ordered to the defence
of the battery ; and indications being at the same time dis-
covered of an attempt by the enemy to assail the battery in the
rear, general Davis, of the Vermont militia, called up part of



HISTORY OF THE WAR. 193



British Fleet enters Lake Champlain. . . .Contest for Superiority on Lake Ontario.

his brigade, in order to oppose the landing. At daybreak on
the 1.4th, the enemy commenced an attack upon the works, but
were so effectually resisted, that they were compelled to with-
draw from their position, leaving behind them in their retreat
two of their galleys. Commodore ^I'Donough had attempted
to bring down some of the American vessels to the mouth of
the river; but the British squadron had disappeared before he
could attain his object. Soon afterwards their whole squadron
moved down into the lake, but not without some skirmishing with
a small body of militia under general Wright, as they passed
Burlington.

While the naval preparations were making on Lake Cham-
plain, the winter and spring were taken up with similar pre-
parations for the coming contest on Lake Ontario. At Kings-
ton, the British were building a ship of extraordinary size ;
for they no longer trusted, as they had done with other nations,
to superior seamanship and valour. Commodore Chauncey
therefore was under the necessity of building an additional
vessel, for the purpose of maintaining as nearly as possible an
equality of force. While these vessels were in course of construc-
tion, numerous attempts were made to destroy tliem, which it
required all the vigilance of each party to prevent the other from
carrying into effect. On the 25tli of April, tJiree of the enemy's
boats, provided with the means of blowing up the vessels, suc-
ceeded in getting close into Sackett's Harbour; but they were
discovered, and tired upon by lieutenant Dudley, the officer then
on guard, before they could execute their purpose, and compelled
to throw their powder into tlie lake, in order to prevent the explo-
sion of their own boats. Foiled in this attempt, by the vigilance
of the Americans, they next formed the determination to intercept
the rigging, naval stores and guns, for the new ship Superior,
then on their w^ay. These had been deposited at Oswego;
and thither sir James Yeo proceeded with his w^iole fleet, hav-
ing on board a large body of troops under general Drummond,
for the purpose of storming the fort and capturing so valuable
a booty. The British arrived on the 5th of May, and imme-
diately commenced a heavy bombardment of the place. The
force at Fort Oswego consisted of three hundred men under
the command of lieutenant-colonel Mitchell — a number too small
to contend with so superior a force ; and had five guns, three
of which were almost useless, besides a shore battery of one
tw-elve-pounder. The Americans no sooner perceived the
enemy, than they sunk the schooner Growler, then in Oswego
creek receiving the cannon; strengthened the garrison of the
fort by the addition of the sailors of the Growler, under lieutenant



194 BRACKENRIDGE'S



Gallant Defence of Oswego Blockade of Sackett's Harbour.

Pierce ; and planted all the tents that could be procured on the
village side of the creek, in order to give the appearance of a
large force of militia. The shore battery was commanded by
captain Boyle, seconded by lieutenant Legate. At one o'clock,
fifteen barges filled with troops moved towards the shore, pre-
ceded by several gun-boats to cover the landing, while the can-
nonade from the larger vessels was still continued. As soon
as the enemy got within range of shot, they were so warmly
received by the gun on the shore, tliat their boats were twice
repulsed, one of the largest falling into the hands of the Ameri-
cans ; and at last were compelled to retire to their shipping.

The British squadron now stood off, but this was evidently
for the purpose of renewing the attack in such a manner as to
render it effectual. On the 6th, the enemy again approached,
having resolved to land under cover of their ships. They ac-
cordingly kept up a heavy fire for three hours, while their
land forces, two thousand in number, under general Ue Watte-
ville, succeeded in gaining the shore, after a gallant resistance
by lieutenant Pierce and his seamen. Colonel Mitchell now



Online LibraryH. M. (Henry Marie) BrackenridgeHistory of the late war between the United States and Great Britain: → online text (page 21 of 32)