H. M. (Henry Marie) Brackenridge.

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

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Exploits of American Privateers.

the command of ilie Macedonian, captured by commodore De-

Feats of naval prowess were not confined to national vessels:
the exploits of private armed vessels daily filled the gazettes.
Letters of marque were issued soon after the declaration of
war, and privateers sailed from every port, to annoy and dis-
tress the enemy's commerce. They were generally constructed
for swift sailinjj, an art in which the Americans excel every
other people. In their contests they exhibited the same supe-
riority over tiie vessels of the enemy, as was shown with re-
spect to the ships of war. One of the first to sail, was the
Atlas, commanded by captain Moffat. On the 3d of August
he fell in with two armed ships, and after a severe action,
captured them both, but was not able to bring more than one
of them into port.

The Dolphin, captain Endicot, of Salem, in the course of a
few weeks, caplureti fifteen of the enemy's vessels, and soon
became noted ior his activity and courage. He had the misfor-
tune to be captured by a squadron, under commodore Broke,
and in consequence ol the prejudice entertained against priva-
teers, and the irrigation which his exploits had excited, he was
treated somewhat roughly: this conduct, to the honour of the
British oilicers, was soon changed, when they were informed,
by the prisoners, of the humanity of his conduct. On one occa-
sion, there happened to be on board one of the Dolphin's prizes,
an old woman, who had lier whole fortune on board, consisting of
eight hundred dolhirs; she made a lamentable outcry at her
misfortune : but the fact was no sooner known to the sailors,
than they spontaneously agreed not to touch her pittance; and
on arriving in the United States, she felt so much gratitude,
that she could not refrain from giving publicity to it, in the
newspapers. It soon became understood, that American pri-
vateers were under the same regulations as national vessels, a cir-
cumstance in which they differed from those of other nations ; that,
in fact, private cupidity was not the sole motive in arming them,
but that they constituted a part of our mode of carrying on the
war, by assailing the enemy in his most vulnerable part; and
that the gallantry displayed on board of these vessels, conferred
almost as high honour on the actors, as that which was won in
the national ships: there were, therefore, the same inducements
to correctness of deportment. Tlius much may be said in miti-
gation of this species of warfare, which it is to be hoped will,
at some future day, be suppressed by common consent.

Early in the war, inye of our oldest and most distinguished
naval heroes, but who had, for many years, led a private life,
entered this service. Commodore Barney sailed from Balti-


Results of tlie Naval Warfare.

more in the Kossie, and, in the course of a i'ew months, did
more havock in the British commerce, than was experienced
from the French cruisers for years. The fame of this gallant
officer was already well known to the enemy, particularly as
the captor of one of their vessels of war of superior force, the
General Monk, during the revolution.

Such was the glorious beginning of our naval warfare against
Great Britain. In the course of a few months, two of her
finest frigates surrendered, each after a few minutes fighting;
and a most decided victory was gained over an adversary con-
fessedly superior. Before the meeting of congress, in Novem-
ber, nearly two hundred and fifty vessels were captured from
the enemy, and more than three thousand prisoners taken.
Upwards of fifty of them were armed vessels, and carrying five
hundred and seventy-five guns. To counterbalance this im-
mense loss, the enemy had but a small account. By the cruise
of commodore Rodgers,our merchantmen had been much aided
in getting into port, and the number captured was but trifling
compared to theirs. The Frolic and Wasp, we have seen,
were captured in a way to give no credit to the captors. Two
other smaller vessels were also captured by squadrons: the
first, on the 20th of July, the schooner Nautilus, of twelve
guns, commanded by lieutenant Crane, captured by the frigate
Shannon, the leading ship of the squadron. The Vixen was
captured on the 22d of November, by the Northampton
frigate. Sir James Yoe. Not long after the capture, both ves-
sels ran ashore, and were wrecked. Through the exertions of
captain Reed, of the Vixen, much of the property was saved
from the wreck ; and, in consequence of his services on the
occasion, he was publicly thanked by Sir James, and permis-
sion given to him to return home on his parole. This he gene-
rously declined, as he could not think of receiving any bene-
fits, in which his officers and crew did not partake. He
accordingly accompanied them to Nova Scotia, where he fell
a victim to the climate. He was interred by the British with
the honours of war, accompanied by every demonstration of
respect to the memory of a brave and gallant officer.

The navy now became the favourite of the nation ; for thus
far, contrasted with our armies, it was entitled to the most de-
cided preference. There were not wanting occasions in which
our arms by land had acquired reputation, but they had also
brought upon us dishonour: on the contrary, the navy, in every
instance, had added to our national renown. Tlie modesty of
our naval commanders, in the narratives of the most brilliant
achievements, and which were read with delight in every cot'


Sensatiwis excited iu England-

tage, and spread over the country by tlie means of our thousand
newspapers, was peculiarly pleasing: whereas the proclanna-
tions of our generals were too often filled with idle fustian.
The British had threatened to drive our "bits of striped
bunting" from the ocean, and we had been s£riously appre-
hensive that our litde navy would be at once annihilated ! We,
however, sought consolation for this, in the prospect of pos-
sessing Canada, and freeing ourselves from troublesome neigh-
bours. In both instancies how greatly disappointed ! The
mortification of Gr^at BriXain was attended with no alleviation.
She was wounded in the most vital part. In vain did she seek
consolation in endeavouring to hide her misfortune from herself,
by representing our vessels, in every instance, as greatly supe-
rior in size, and having every advantage in the various con-
flicts. This might do with respect to one engagement, but the
same cause was insufficient to account for her defeats in every
encounter. The American frigates were seventy-fours in dis-
guise, and she turned her seventy-fours into frigates, that she
might contend on equal terms ! But she could not so easily
account for the superiority in the management of the ships,
and in gunnery. From the idle boast of being the sovereign
of the seas (a claim as vain as that to the dominion of the
air or the light), without whose permission not a sail could
be spread, she was humbled by one o( the youngest maritime
states, actuated by no ambition of conquest, and merely con-
tending for the privilege of navigating an element designed
by th£ Almighty for the common possession of the human race.


Military Enthusiasm in the West— General Harrison takes command of the North-
western Army— The Army advances under General Winchester— Expedition to the
Rapids under General Tupper— Failure of the Expedition to the Rapids— Second Ex-
pedition to the Rapids under General Tupper— Foray under General Hopkins — Second
Expedition under General Hopkins— Defeace of Fort Harrison— Expedition under Colo-
nel Russell— Expediticm under Coloael Campbell— Security of the Frontier established.

The public mind having recovered from the distress and cha-
grin occasioned by the surrender of Hull, was now carried to



Military Enthusiasm in the West.

the contrary extreme. A spirit was roused, which produced
effects not surpassed in the most enthusiastic periods of our
revolution. To the westward and to the southward, volunteer
corps were forming in every quarter, and tendering their ser-
vices for any enterprise which might be undertaken. The
western parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia exhibited great
alacrity : but it was in the states of Kentucky, Ohio and Ten-
nessee, that this generous zeal prevailed in the highest degree.
Civil pursuits were almost forsaken, while this enthusiasm was
shared by persons of both sexes and every age. The ladies
set themselves to work in preparing military clothing and knap-
sacks for their relatives and friends, and cheerfully contributed
from their household stock, such articles as their soldiers might
require. Companies were equipped in a single day, and ready
to march the next. There prevailed every where, the most
animated scenes of preparation. The admiration which this
excites, is not lessened by the reflection that they were but
acting in self-defence ; for excepting in the remote settlements,
and merely on the frontier, there was but little to apprehend
from the Indians : the settlements having become so consider-
able in the western states, that it would be impossible for the
enemy to penetrate far. They were actuated by an enthusias-
tic love of country, a generous spirit, which could not brook
the thought of being worsted, or that a part of the territory of
the United States, should fall by conquest into the hands of our

Louisville and Newport had been appointed as the places of
rendezvous, for the troops destined to the aid of Hull. So
numerous were the volunteers from Kentucky, who offered
their services here, that it was soon found necessary to issue
orders that no more would be received, and many companies,
thus disappointed, were compelled to turn back. The com-
mand of the Kentucky militia, was assigned to general Payne.
The same alacrity was manifested in the state of Ohio, which,
in the course of a few days, embodied an equal force under general
Tupper. The Pennsylvania volunteers, under general Crooks,
were marched to Erie, and a brigade of Virginians under general
Leftwich, was to join the troops of Ohio, at Urbanna. The
Kentucky troops, together with the Seventeenth United States
regiment under colonel Wells, the greater part of which
had been enlisted in the Western country since the war, were
destined for Fort Wayne, and thence for the Rapids, which was
appointed as the general rendezvous. Thus in a few weeks,
upwards of four thousand men were drawn out from their
homes, completely equipped, embodied, and ready for the


General Harrison takes command of the Northwestern .\rniy.

field, The command of this army was given to major-general
Harrison, who was well known to the Western people, and
whose recent conduct at Tippecanoe had raised him high in
public estimation. In order to secure him this rank, a distinc-
tion of an unusual character, equally honourable to general
Harrison, and to the person conferring it, who did not resolve
upon it, however, without consultation and mature reflection,
he received a brevet commission of major-general, from the
governor of Kentucky ; and some time after, the command of
the Northwestern army was assigned him, by a special order
from the department of war.

The first step taken by Harrison, was to relieve the frontier
posts : principally Fort Harrison, on the Wabash ; and Fort
Wayne, situated on the Miami of the Lakes, and on the road
to the Rapids. It might be expected that this fort, as well
as Fort Defiance, situated lower down, woukl be attempted by
the British, in order to obstruct the road to Detroit. Harrison
arrived at Fort Deposit on the 12th of September, with about two
thousand five hundred men.

The Indians who had laid siege to it, disappeared on his ap-
proach. It had been invested by a considerable body of them,
who after repeated attacks, from the Gih to the 9th, in which
they resorted to every stratagem, and several times attempted
to take it by assault, were compelled to retire, after destroying
every thing outside the fort. 'I'he garrison consisted of no more
than seventy men.

After remaining here a few days, general Harrison, not think-
ing it advisable to proceed to the Rapids until sufiiciently
strengthened by the arrival of the other troops, resolved to oc-
cupy the intermediate time in laying waste the Indian country.
Colonel Wells was despatched on tlie 14th, with his regiment,
and that under the command of colonel Scott, together with
two hundred mounted riflemen, against the Pottowatomy town
on the river St Joseph, which discharges itself into Lake Mi-
chigan. Another detachment, under the command of general
Payne, consisting of colonels Lewis and Allen's regiments, and
captain Garrard's company, marched against tlie Miami villages.
The detachments were in both instances successful, the bark and
wooden huts of nine villages were destroyed, the inhabitants hav-
ing abandoned them ; their corn was also cut up, according to
the mode of warfare practised on these people by all European
nations. General Harrison returned to Fort Wayne about the
18th, where he found general Winchester, with considerable
reinforcements from Ohio and Kentucky. This officer had been
unexpectedly placed in command by the President; on which


The Armv advances under General Winchester.

general Harrison resolved to retire, anil set out on his return
to Indiana, but was overtaken by a messenger, with inforniation
of the subsequent arrangements by the order of the President.
On the 23d he accordingly resumed the command.

The day before his arrival, general Wincliestcr had marched
for Fort Defiance, on his way to the Rapids, the place of ultimate
destination. His force consisted of a briijade of Kentucky
militia, four hundred regulars, and a troop of horse, in all about
two thousand men. The country which he was compelled to
traverse, opposed great difficulties, particularly in the transpor-
tation of stores. Along the heads of the rivers which discharge
themselves into the Ohio on the south, and those which dis-
charge themselves into the lakes on the north, there is a great
extent of flat land, full of marshes and ponds, in which the
streams take their rise. In rainy seasons particularly, it is
exceedingly difficult to pass, the horses at every step sinking
to the knees in mud. The ground, besides, is covered with
deep forests and close thickets. To facilitate the passage
through this wilderness, each man was obliged to carry provi-
sions for six days. General Harrison now proceeded in person
to Fort St Mary's, for the purpose of organizing the ulterior
movements of the army. A detachment under major Jennings
was ordered to proceed with supplies by the Aux Glaize river.

General Winchester was obliged to advance slowly, on
account of the precautions necessary to avoid surprise in a
country highly favourable for Indian warfare. From ihe closer
nessof the thickets, the troops were under the necessity of cut-
ting open a road each day, and were notable to make more than
six or eight miles. They usually encamped at three o'clock,
and threw up a breast- work to guard against a night attack.
They had the precaution, on their march, to be preceded by
a party of spies, under an active officer, captain Ballard, and an
advanced guard of about three hundred men. On the 24th,
they discovered an Indian trail for the first time, and pursued
it some distance ; but from the nature of the country, it was
impossible to overtake the enemy. Ensign Leggett, having
obtained permission to penetrate to Fort Defiance, still at the
distance of twenty-four miles, set out accompanied by four
volunteers. These gallant young men, not being sufiiciently
experienced in such enterprises, were killed the same evening,
and found the next day by the spies, scalped and tomahawked
in the most barbarous manner. On the 27th, captain Ballard,
who hid gone before for the purpose of burying the dead, dis-
covered an Indian trail; but being aware of the stratagems of
this wily people, instead of following it, he divided his com-


Expedition to the Rapids under General Tupper.

pany, and marched his ix.eri on each side. Tiie stratagem of
l!ie enemy being tlius frustrated, they rose from their hiding
places, raised the war-whoop, and took possession of an ele-
vated piece of ground; but were soon compelled, by the ap-
proach of the cavalry and the well directed lire of the spies, to
betake themselves to the swamps and thickets. The next day,
while the army was on its march, four Indians fired upon the
spies ; the general instantly drew up his men, and sent forward
a detachment of horse, which returning with an account that
no enemy coidd be seen, the line of march was again resumed.
They had not proceeded far, when a trail was discovered,
which induced the general to cross the river, and shortly after
another trail was discovered, which was at first supposed to
have marked the march of colonel Jennings, who had been
ordered in advance with provisions, and was therefore hailed
with joy by the troops, who had begun to suffer for want of
them. The mistake was unpleasantly rectified by the arrival
of the scouts, who brought intelligence that about two miles
above Fort Defiance, they had seen the Indians encamped, with
their war poles erected, and bloody flag displayed.

On the evening of the 29th, a messenger arrived from colo'
nel Jennings, with the information, that, on having discovered
the British and Indians in possession of Fort Defiance, he had
thought it prudent to land about forty miles above that place,
where he had erected a block-house, and awaited further orders.
Captain Garrard, with about thirty of his troopers, was despatch-
ed with orders to Jennings to forward the provisions ; this was
promptly obeyed. Captain Garrard returned as the escort to a
brigade of pack-horses, on which they were loaded, after hav-
ing been for thirty-six hours exposed to an incessant rain. This
occurrence gave new life and spirits to the starving army, which
had in the meantime taken possession of Fort Defiance. The
British and Indians had precipitately descended the river. On
the 4th of October, general Harrison left the fort, and returned
to the settlements, w^ith a view of organizing and bringing up
the centre and right wing of the army; the left wing having
been placed under the command of general Winchester. Or-
ders were given to general Tupper, by the commander-in-chief,
to proceed immediately to the Rapids, with about one thousand
men, for the purpose of driving the enemy from that place.

The intended expedition of general Tupper proved abortive.
The general, in consequence of the damaged state of the am-
munition, and the length of time requisite to prepare the neces-
sary provisions, was considerably delayed. In the meanwhile
the Indians had killed a man on the opposite side of the river,


Failure of the Expedition to tiic Rapids.

and almost wiiliiii gunshot of the cainj). He beat to arms, and
ordered major Brush to cross over with about fifty men, and
explore the woods, while a strong detachment would be formed
for the purpose of supporting him, in case of attack. The
party had no sooner moved, than all in camp began to break
away, twenty or thirty together, in order to join in the chase,
and by no exertion of authority could they be kept back; so
totally insensible were they to any thing like regular military
subordination. Luckily these small bodies were not attacked,
or they must have been cut to pieces. Immediately after this,
orders were given by the commanding general, to go in pursuit
of the Indians, and if possible ascertain their number; general
Tupper re[)resep,ted his situation, and requested that the order
might be countermanded ; but this was answered by a peremp-
tory command, which lie now attempted to obey. This un-
fortunately resulted in a misunderstanding between him and the
commanding general, in consequence of which colonel Alleu
received private orders to supersede him in the command; on
this being made known to the corps of Ohio, they positively
refused to inarch, unanimously set off for Urbanna, and the
expedition was entirely broken up.

These are instances of insubordination much to be regretted;
but they spring from the want of that kind of habitual obedience,
and implicit confidence in their officers, incident to raw troops.
Such are the unavoidable evils attending a militia hastily called
together, and not kept in a body a sufficient length of time, to
learn the utility of perfect subordination.

It was now necessary to wait until the arrival of the other divi-
sions of the army, before any thing further could be attempted
against the Rapids, and much less against Detroit. The army
was at this time accompanied by some friendly Indians, whom
general Harrison had received into his service at Fort Wayne,
the greater part under the command of Logan. No other course
would have prevented their becoming our enemies; it was in
vain to expect them to remain neutral, wliile surrounded by
war. However contrary to our maxims and policy to employ
such auxiliaries, we were compelled to do so in self defence;
and we afterwards sufficiently evinced, by the conduct of those
Indians, that it is not impossible to restrain them from the com-
mission of acts of barbarity.

Geneial Tupper, having returned to Urbanna with his
mounted men, was despatched with the division of the centre,
which consisted of a brigade of Ohio volunteers and militia,
and a regiment of regulars, to Fort M'Arthur, while the right
wing, consisting of a Pennsylvania and a Virginia brigade, was
ordered to Sandusky.


Second Expedition lo the Rapids under General Tupper.

General Tupper, on his arrival at Fort M'Arlhur, organized
another expedition, for the purpose of proceeding to ilie Ra-
pids. Tliis force consisted of ahout six hundred men ; and
being provided with five days' provisions, marclied on the 10th,
and on the 13th approached within thirteen miles of the
Rapids, which they found, by their scouts, to be still in the
possession of the British and Indians. A number of boats and
small vessels were seen lying- below. On receiving this in-
formation, they advanced within a few miles of the Rapids,
and then halted until sunset, with a view of crossing the river,
and making an attack the next morning by daybreak. The
rapidity of the current was such, that their attempts were inef-
fectual ; many of the men, who endeavoured to cross, were swept
down the stream, and it was thought advisable to order those,
who had actually passed, to return. It was now resolved to
resort to stratagem, and if possible, to decoy the enemy over.
For this purpose, early in the morning, they showed the heads
of their columns, by advancing some distance out of the \yoods,
in an open space opposite the enemy's camp. A great confu-
sion appeared to ensue; those in the vessels slipped their ca-
bles, and descended the river, while the Indian women were
seen scampering off on the road to Detroit. A fire was then
opened upon the Americans, with musketry and a four pounder.
Tupper's stratagem did not perfectly succeed ; but few Indians
at first seemed disposed to cross, and then acted with great cau-
tion. A number, however, were observed in a little while
crossing liigher up the river; being now apprehensive that his
camp might be attacked, the general thought proper to return.
He had not proceeded far, when some of tlie men unfortunately,
contrary to orders, fired on a drove of hogs, and pursued them
some distance, and others, equally disobedient, entered a field
lo pull corn. At this moment, a body of mounted Indians
rushed forward, killed four men, and attacked the rear of the
right flank, 'i'he column, being thrown back, commenced a
brisk fire, and caused the Indians to give ground. 'J'he Indians
rallied, and passing along the van-guard, made a charge upon
the rear of the left column : this column was also thrown briskly
back; all attempts to break it were unsuccessful, and in twenty-
minutes, the Indians again retired. Conceiving this only
preliminary to an attack of foot, general Tupper ordered the
right column to move up in marching order, to prevent the
attack from being made on the right flank. Information
was now received, that the Indians were crossing in con-
siderable numbers; on this, the general ordered the left co-

Online LibraryH. M. (Henry Marie) BrackenridgeHistory of the late war between the United States and Great Britain: → online text (page 6 of 32)