H. M. (Henry Marie) Brackenridge.

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

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he approached sufficiently near to engage. Several guns were
fired from the Wasp before her antagonist could bring her guns
to bear; and the helm of the latter was therefore put a-lee. At
half past three, captain Blakely commenced the action with his
after carronades on the starboard side. Shortly afterwards, the
larboard bow of the Reindeer being in contact wnth the Wasp,
captain Manners gave orders to board. The attempt was gal-
lantly repulsed by the crew of the Wasp, and the enemy several
times beaten off. At forty-four minutes past three, orders were
given to board in turn. Throwing themselves with prompti-
tude upon the deck of the enemy's ship, the boarders succeeded
in the execution of their orders ; and at forty-five minutes past
three, her flag came down. She was almost cut to pieces,
and half her crew were killed or wounded. The loss of the
Wasp was five killed and twenty-one wounded : among the
latter, midshipmen Langdon and Toscan ; both of whom expired
some days after. The Reindeer having been found altogether
unmanageable, was blown up ; and captain Blakely steered for
L'Orient, to provide for the wounded of both crews.

After leaving L'Orient, and capturing two valuable British
merchantmen, captain Blakely fell in with a fieet of ten sail,
under convoy of the Armada seventy-four, and a bomb ship.
He stood for them, and succeeded in cutting out of the squad-
ron a brig laden with brass and iron cannon, and military stores,
from Gibraltar. After taking out the prisoners and setting her
on fire, he endeavoured to cut out another, but was chased off by


Mysterious Loss of the Wasp Cruise of the President, Peacock and Hornet.

the seventy-four. In the evening, at half past six, he descried
two vessels, one on his starboard and one on his larboard bow,
and hauled for that which was farthest to windward. At seven,
she was discovered to be a brig of war, making signals with
flags which could not be distinguished owing to the darkness,
and at twenty-nine minutes past nine she was under the lee
bow of the Wasp. An action soon after commenced, which
lasted until ten o'clock, when captain Blakely, finding his anta-
gonist to have ceased firing, paused and asked if he had sur-
rendered. No answer being returned, he commenced firing
again ; and the enemy returned broadside for broadside for twelve
minutes. Perceiving that his two last broadsides were not
returned, he hailed again, and was informed that she was sink-
ing, and that her colours were struck. Before the boats of the
Wasp could be lowered, a second brigof war was discovered: the
crew were inslandy sent to their quarters, and preparations made
for another engagement, when two other brigs appeared. He
now made sail, and endeavoured to draw the brig first discov-
ered after him, but without effect. The name of the prize was
subsequently ascertained to have been the Avon, captain Arbuth-
not; of the same force as the Reindeer. She sunk immediately
after the last man had been taken out of her into one of the
vessels which had come in sight. She had eight killed; and
thirty-one wounded, including her captain and several other

The Wasp soon repaired the damages received in this en-
gagement, and continued her cruise. On the 21st of Septem-
ber, she captured, off the Madeiras, her thirteenth prize, the
British brig Atalanta, of eight guns, and tlie only one which
she sent into port. The return of this vessel, after her brilliant
cruise, was for a long lime fondly, but unavailingly, looked for
by our country. There is little doubt that the brave commander
and his gallant crew found a common grave in the waves of the
ocean: they will always live in the gratitude and recollection
of their country.

The blockade of commodore Decatur's squadron at New
London having been maintained until after the season had
passed in which there existed any prospect of escape, the ships
of which it was composed were ordered up the river and dis-
mantled, while the commodore, with his crew, was transferred
to the frigate President, then at New York. A cruise was
projected for a squadron to consist of the President, the sloops
of war Peacock and Hornet, and the Tom Bowline store ship,
under the command of commodore Decatur. As the enemy
still blockaded New York, the commodore thought it safer for


The President captured by a British Squadron.

the President to venture out singly ; and after ordering the other
vessels to follow, and appointing a place of rendezvous, he sailed.
In consequence of the negligence of the pilot, the President
struck upon the bar, and remained there thumping for two hours,
by which her ballast was deranged and her trim for sailing
entirely lost. Tiie course of the wind preventing his return
into port, he put to sea, trusting to the excellence of the ves-
sel. At daylight he fell in with a British squadron, con-
sisting of the Endymion, Tenedos and Pomona frigates, and
the Majestic razee. In spite of his exertions they gained upon
him ; and the foremost, the Endymion, getting close under his
quarters, commenced firing. The commodore determined to
bear up and engage her, with the intention of carrying her
by boarding, and afterwards escaping in her and abandoning
his own ship. In this he was prevented by the manoeuvring
of the enemy. The engagement was protracted for two hours,
and ended in reducing the Endymion almost to a wreck, and
killing or wounding a large proportion of her crew. The Presi-
dent was also considerably damaged, and lost twenty-five men in
killed and wounded : among the former, lieutenants Babbit and
Hamilton, and acting lieutenant Howell; among the latter, mid-
shipman Dale, who afterwards died, and the commodore himself.
The squadron was now fast approaching, and the gallant com-
modore, unwilling to sacrifice the lives of his men in a useless
contest, on receiving the fire of the nearest frigate, surrendered.
He was taken on board the Endymion, for the purpose of acting
the miserable farce of surrendering his sword to the officer of a
frigate which would have fallen into his hands, but for the ap-
proach of an overwhelming force. The President was sent to
England ; and in order to satisfy the good people there that
she was a seventy-four in disguise, she was lightened, and laid
in dock alongside of an old seventy-four, which had been dimin-
ished to appearance by being deeply laden.

Not the least among the exploits of our naval heroes, was
the capture of two of the enemy's ships of war by the Consti-
tution, captain Stewart. Having sailed from Boston, on the
17th of December 1814, on a cruise, he discovered, on the 20th
of February 1815, two ships; one of which bore up for the
Constitution, but soon after changed her course to join her
consort. The Constitution gave chase to both, and at six P. M.
ranged ahead of the sternmost, brought her on the quarter and
her consort on the bow, and opened a broadside. The fire was
immediately returned; and exchanges of broadsides continued
until both ships were enveloped in smoke. When it cleared
away, the Constitution finding herself abreast of the head-


The Constitution engages and captures the Cyane and Levant;

most ship, captain Stewart ordered both sides to be manned,
backed topsails, and dropped into his first position. The ship
on the bow backed sails also. The Constitution's broadsides
were then fired from the larboard battery ; and in a few mo-
ments the ship on the bow, perceiving her error in getting
sternboard, filled away with the intention of tacking athwart the
bows of the Constitution. Meanwhile the ship on the stern fell
off entirely unmanageable. The Constitution now pursued the
former, and coming within a hundred yards, gave her several rak-
ing broadsides, and so crippled her that no further apprehen-
sions were entertained of her being able to escape. The cap-
tain then returned to the latter, from which a gun was fired to
leeward, to signify that she had surrendered ; and took pos-
session, by lieutenant Holiman, of the frigate Cyane, captain
Gordon Falkon, of thirty-four carronade guns. Captain Stew-
art now steered in pursuit of the other vessel ; and after a short
resistance, in which she suffered considerably, slie struck, with
five feet water in her hold. She proved to be the sloop of war
Levant, captain Douglass, of eighteen thirty-two-pound carron-
ades. The loss on board the two ships amounted to about eighty
in killed and wounded : of the crew of the Constitution there
were only four killed and eleven wounded ; and the ship re-
ceived but a very trifling injury. On the 10th of March, captain
Stewart entered the harbour of Praya, in the island of St Jago,
with his prizes; and on the 11th, a British squadron of two
ships, of sixty guns each, and a frigate, appeared off the entrance
of the harbour. Captain Stewart, having no faith in his secu-
rity, although in a neutral port, made sail with one of his prizes,
the Cyane, and though closely pursued, had the good fortune
to escape with it into the United States. The Levant was re-
captured in the Portuguese harbour, in contempt of the neutral-
ity of the port and of the laws of nations.

The Peacock, Hornet and Tom Bowline left New York a
few days after the President, not knowing of her capture. On
the 23d of January 181.5, the Hornet, captain Biddle, parted
company, and directed her course to Tristan d'Acunha, the
place of rendezvous. On the 23d of March she descried the
British brig Penguin, captain Dickenson, of eiohteen guns and
a twelve-pound carronade, to the southward and eastward of
that island. Captain Biddle hove to, while the Penguin bore
down. At forty minutes past one P. M., the British vessel com-
menced the engagement. The firing was hotly kept up for fifteen
minutes, the Penguin gradually nearing the Hornet, with the
intention of boarding. Her captain w^as killed by a grape shot
before he saw his orders executed; and her lieutenant, on whom


The Hornet, Captain Biddle, captures the Penguin.

the command of the Penguin then devolved, bore her up, and
running her bowsprit between the main and mizzen rigging of
the Hornet, directed his crew to board. His men, however,
perceiving the boarders of the Hornet not only ready to receive
them, but waiting for orders to spring on the Penguin's deck,
refused to follow him. At this moment the heavy swell of the
sea lifted the Hornet ahead, and the enemy's bowsprit carried
away her mizzen shrouds and spanker boom ; while the Penguin
hung upon the Hornet's quarter deck, with the loss of her
foremast and bowsprit. Her commander then cried out that
he surrendered. Captain Biddle had ordered his men to cease
firing, when a man in the enemy's shrouds was discovered
taking aim at him, by an officer of the Hornet, who called to him
to avoid the fire. Scarcely had he changed his position, when
a musket ball struck him in the neck, and wounded him severely.
Two marines immediately levelled their pieces at the wretch,
and killed him before he brought his gun from his shoulder.
The Penguin had by that time got clear of the Hornet, and
the latter wore round to give the enemy a broadside, when
they a second time cried out that they had surrendered.
It was with the greatest difficulty that captain Biddle could
restrain his crew from discharging the broadside, so exasperat-
ed were they at the conduct of the enemy. In twenty-two
minutes after the commencement of the action, the Penguin was
taken possession of by lieutenant Mayo, of the Hornet. She
was so much injured, that captain Biddle determined on tak-
ing out her crew, and scuttling her. He afterwards sent off
his prisoners to St Salvador by the Tom Bowline ; by which
vessel, and the Peacock, he had been joined on the 25th of the
month. The enemy lost fourteen in killed, and had twenty-
eight wounded : the Hornet one killed, and eleven wounded ;
among the latter, her lieutenant, Conner, dangerously.

Captain Biddle was compelled to part from the Peacock by
the appearance of a British ship of the line, and, after being
closely chased for several days, effected his escape into St
Salvador, by throwing all his guns but one, and every heavy
article, overboard. The news of peace soon after arrived there.
The capture of the Cyane, the Levant and the Penguin took
place before the expiration of the time specified by the second
article of the treaty.

The exploits of the privateers continued to rival those of
our national vessels. In one instance the enemy was compelled
to pay dearly for his disregard of the sanctuary of a neutral
port. The privateer Armstrong lay at anchor in the harbour
of Fayal, when a British squadron, consisting of the Carnation,


Exploits of Privateers Capture of the American Privateer Armstrong.

the Plantagenet and the Rota, hove in sight. Captain Reid, of
the privateer, discovering by the light of the moon that the
enemy had put out their boats and were preparing to attack
him, cleared for action, and moved near the shore. Four boats
filled with men were seen approaching. On being hailed and
making no answer, a fire was opened upon them from the ship,
which soon compelled them to haul off. Captain Reid now
prepared for a more formidable attack ; and anchored the
privateer a cable's length from the shore, and within pistol shot
of the castle. The next day the enemy sent a fleet of boats,
supported by the Carnation, which stood before the harbour,
to prevent the escape of the privateer. At midnight the boats
approached a second time, to the number of twelve or fourteen,
and manned by several hundred men. They were suffered to
come alongside of the privateer, when they were assailed with
such tremendous fury, that in forty minutes scarcely a man of
them was left alive. During these attacks the shores were lined
with the inhabitants, who, from the brightness of the moon,
had a full view of the scene. The governor, with the first
people of the place, stood by and saw the whole affair. After
the second attack, the governor sent a note to the commander
of the Plantagenet, captain Lloyd, requesting him to desist:
to wliich the captain replied, that he was determined to liave
the privateer at the risk of knocking down the town. The
American consul having communicated this information to cap-
tain Reid, he ordered his crew to save their elfccts, and carry
the dead and wounded on shore as fast as possible. At day-
light the Carnation stood close to the Armstrong, and com-
menced a heavy tire; but being considerably cut up by the
privateer, she hauled off to repair. On her re-appearance,
captain Reid, thinking it useless to protract the contest, scuttled
his vessel and escaped to land. The British loss amounted
to the astonishing number of one hundred and twenty killed,
and one hundred and thirty wounded : that of the Americans
was only two killed, and seven wounded. Several houses in
the town were destroyed, and some of the inhabitants hurt.


rian of Campaign on the Canada Frontier.


Plan of Campaign on the Canada Frontier — General Brown collects an Army at
Black Rock and Buffalo— Captures Fort Erie— Battle of Chippewa— Gallantry of Major
Jesup — British retreat — American Army advances— Death of General Swift— Move-
ment on Foil George — General Brown retreats to the Chippewa — Battle of Niagara —
General Riall taken Prisoner— Colonel Jesup— Colonel Miller— British Cannon charged
upon and taken — Desperate Efforts of the British to regain their Cannon — Generals
Scott and Brown wounded — British retire from the Field — British advance again the
following Morning — Americans retreat to Fort Erie — Defences of Fort Erie enlarged
and extended— Siege of Fort Erie— Projected Attack on Buffalo repulsed— General
Gaines assumes the Command at Fort Erie— Assault upon Fort Erie — Tremendous
Explosion — The Besiegers driven back to their Works— Renewal of the Cannonade —
Sortie from Fort Erie— Destruction of the Enemy's Works— British raise the Siege
and retreat to Fort George— Arrival of General Izard at Fort Erie— Americans advance
along the Niagara — Engagement at Lyon's Creek — Destruction of Fort Erie by the
Americans — Evacuation of Upper Canada — The Army retires into Winter Quarters —
Important Results of the Campaign — Affairs of the West— Unsuccessful Expedition
against Michilimackinac— Capture of two United States Schooners— General M'Ar-
thur's Expedition into Canada.

From reviewing the events of the war on the ocean, we re-
turn to the war on the northern frontier. Not to be without a
plan of campaign, although experience had already shown how
small a portion of plans formed in the cabinet, and depending
upon so many contingencies not susceptible of calculation,
could be carried into execution, the following was adopted.
Colonel Croghan, with the assistance of commodore Sinclair,
was to proceed against the British on the upper lakes, with a
view of recovering the American posts of Michilimackinac and
St Joseph. An army, under general Brown, now raised to the
rank of major-general, was to cross the Niagara and take posses-
sion of Burlington Heights; and afterwards, in conjunction with
commodore Chauncey, to attack the British posts on the penin-
sula. General Izard, commanding the Northern Army, was to
push a number of armed boats into the St Lawrence, so as to
command the Rapids, and cut off the communication between
Montreal and Kingston. Batteries were also to be thrown up for
the purpose of protecting the American fleet on Lake Cham-
plain, and to prevent that of the British from entering it. The


General Brown collects an Army Captures Fort Erie.

greater part of these arrangements were controlled by unfore-
seen circumstances.

The spring passed away before general Brown was in a
situation to attempt any thing against the British posts on the
opposite side of the river ; even Fort Niagara, on this side, still
remained in their hands. He had, however, been assiduously
occupied, with his gallant officers general Scott and general
Ripley, in collecting and disciplining a force in the neighbour-
hood of Black Rock and Buffalo. By the beginning of July,
this consisted of two brigades of regulars, the lirst commanded
by brigadier-general Scott, and the second by brigadier-general
Ripley ; and a brigade of volunteers, with a few Indians, under
generals Porter and Swift. In the meantime, the force of the
enemy, under lieutenant-general Drummond, had been greatly
increased, by the addition of a number of veteran regiments,
which, since the pacification of Europe, Great Britain had been
enabled to send to Canada.

The first step to be taken, with a view to any future opera-
tions against Canada, and to recover the possession of Fort
Niagara, was the capture of Fort Erie ; for if the Americans
were possessed of this post, it was supposed that the enemy would
evacuate the American side of the frontier, and besides, that this
garrison could be carried with more ease than the other, from
the circumstance of an attack being less expected. Fort Erie
was at that time commanded by captain Buck, with about one
hundred and seventy men. Tlie two brigades of regulars, in
obedience to general Brown's orders, embarked on the morning
of the 3d of July. General Scott, with the first, and a detach-
ment of artillery under major Hindman, crossed to the Canada
shore, about a mile below Fort Erie, and general Ripley, with the
second brigade, at about the same distance above; while a party
of Indians, who had also crossed over, got into the woods in the
rear of the fort. The garrison, being taken by surprise, and
surrounded before the movements of the assailants were dis-
covered, was compelled to surrender after firing a few shot.
Immediate possession was taken of the fort, and the prisoners
were marched into the interior of New York.

General Brown next resolved to proceed immediately and
attack major-general Riall, who, with a division of British
regulars, occupied an intrenched camp at Chippewa ; arrange-
ments having first been made for the defence of the fort, and
or protecting the rear of the army.

On the morning of the 4th, general Scott advanced with his
brigade and captain Towson's artillery ; and was followed in
the course of the day by general Ripley, and the field and


Battle of Chippewa.

park artillery under major Hindman, together with general
Porter's volunteers. The army was then drawn up in regular
order on the right bank of Street's creek, within two miles of
the British camp. In approaching to this post, the first bri'
gade had encountered the advance corps of the enemy, M'hich
retreated, after destroying the bridge over the creek. Captain
Crooker, who had been directed to flank them on the left, had
in the meantime crossed the stream at a point some distance
above the bridge, and had come up with the enemy while the
American brigade was still on the right bank of the creek. The
British now turned upon and surrounded him ; but he defended
himself in so gallant a manner, that he was enabled to keep
them off, until captains Hull and Harrison, and lieutenant Ran-
dolph, with a small party of men who had been hastily thrown
across the stream, came to his relief.

The army remained in this position until the next day,
when, early in the morning, the British commenced attacks
upon the picket guards surrounding it. One of these, com-
manded by captain Treat, was suddenly fired upon by a party
concealed in some high grass ; one man fell, and the rear broke
and retreated. The exertions of the captain to rally them were
mistaken for cowardice, and he was stripped of his command.
Being resolved to do away the imputation, he requested to en-
gage in the approaching battle as a volunteer, and was accord-
ingly directed to lead a platoon of the same company which
he had just commanded into action. He was afterwards tried
and honourably acquitted. These assaults continued through-
out the greater part of the day. General Riall, perceiving that
an engagement was unavoidable, now resolved to strike the
first blow ; he therefore issued from his encampment with his
whole force, and, crossing the Chippewa creek, soon appeared
with the main body on tlie left bank of Street's creek. He had
previously sent a considerable body of troops into a wood on
the left of the American camp, for the purpose of turning their
flank. The movement in the wood was discovered early
enough to frustrate it; and general Porter, with the volunteers
and Indians, after a sharp conflict, compelled the enemy's right
to retire. While in pursuit of it on the Chippewa road, he came
suddenly in contact with the main body of the British. The
volunteers were now severely pressed by troops greatly supe-
rior in numbers and discipline. General Brown, perceiving
this, ordered Scott's brigade and Towson's artillery to advance,
and draw the enemy into action on the plains of Chippevi^a.
This was eff'ected immediately on crossing the bridge.

The first battalion, under major Leavenworth, took a position


Battle of Chippewa Gallantry of Major Jesup.

on ihe right ; and the second was led to its station by colonel
Campbell, who, on being wounded shortly afterwards, was
succeeded by major M'Neill. Major Jesup, a gallant young
officer, who commanded the third battalion, which was formed
on the left, resting in a wood, was ordered to turn the right
flank of the British, then steadily advancing upon the American
line. Whilst warmly engaged in this service, he was com-
pelled to detach captain Ketchum, to attack some troops
coming up to the assistance of the body with which the third
battalion was engaged. The major, having cleared his front,
moved to the relief of his captain, who had maintained an un-
equal contest against superior numbers. He had not accom-
plished this until after a severe struggle : being closely pressed
in front and flank, and his men falling in numbers around him,
he had deliberately given orders to advance, under a dreadful fire ;
until, gaining a position of more security, he compelled the
enemy to retire, and came up in time to co-operate with captain
Ketchum's detachment. The admirable coolness and intrepi-
dity of his corps were worthy of veterans, and proved the great
progress the Americans had made in discipline. Tlie battalion

Online LibraryH. M. (Henry Marie) BrackenridgeHistory of the late war between the United States and Great Britain: → online text (page 24 of 32)