John] 1793-1863 [Russell.

The history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. online

. (page 11 of 38)
Online LibraryJohn] 1793-1863 [RussellThe history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. → online text (page 11 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

SIR~I have the honor to inform you, that on the 10th
instant, at 2 p. m. being in latitude 41, 42, longitude
55, 48, with the Constitution, under my command, a
sail was discovered from tlie mast-head bearing E. by
S. or E. S. E. bu^ at such a distance we could not
tell what she was. All sail was instantly made in
chase, and soon found we came up with her. At 3
p. M. could plainly see that she was a ship on the star^
board tack, under easy sail, close on a wind j at half
past 3 p. M. made her out to be a Frigate ; continued
the chase until we were within about tliiee miles, when
I ordered the light sails lakien in, the courses hauled
up, and the ship cleared for action. At this time the
chase had backed his main-topsail, waiting for us to
come down. As soon as the Constitution w as ready
for action, I bore down with an intention to bring hiui


tocloseaction immediately ; but on our coming within
gun-shot she gave us a broadside, and filed -away, and
wore, j^iving" us a broadside on the other tack, but
without effect ; her shot falling short. She contntued.
wearing and manoeuvring for about three quarters of
•cvn hour, to get a raking position, but finding she
could not, she bore up, and run under her top-sails
and gib, with the wind on the quarter. Immediately
made sail to bring the ship up with her, anil 5 min-
utes before six, P. m. bemg along side within half pis-
tol shot, we commenced a heavy fire from all our
guns, double shotted with round and grape, and so
well directed were they, and so warmly kept up, that
in lo minutes his mizen-mast went by the board and
his main-yard in the slings, and the hull, rigging, and
sails, very much torn to pieces. The fire was kept up
with equal warmth for !•'> minutes longer, when his
main-mast and foremast went, taking with them every
spar, excepting the bowsprit : on seeing this we ceas-
ed firing, so tiiat in 30 minutes after we got fairly alongv
side the enemy, she ^surrendered, a:id had not a spar
standing, and her hull, below and above water, so
shattered, that a few more broadsides must have car-
vied her down.

After inforaung you that so fine a ship as the Giir-
rieiv, commanded by an able and experienced ofiScer,
had been totally dismasted, ;md otherwise cut to pie-
ces, so as to make her not worth towing into port, in
the short space of 'SO minutes, you can have no doubt
of the gallantry and good conduct of the officers and
ship's company I have the honor to command ; it only
remains, therefore, for me to assure you, that they all
fought with great bravery ; and it gives me great
pleasure to say, that from the smallest boy in the ship
to the oldest seaman, not a look of fear was seen. Tliey
all went into action, giving three cheers and request-
ing to be laid close along side the enemy.

Enclosed I have the honor to send you a list of kil-
led and wounded on board the Constitution, and a
report of the damages she has su>!tained : also a list


of the killed and wounded on board the enemy, with
his quarter bill, Sec.

I have the honor to be^ with very great res[»ect, sir,
your obedient servant,

To the lion. Paul Hamilton^ 8^c.

Return of Killed and Wounded on board the U. S.
Killed. Seven.
Wounded. Seven.
Tolal killed and wounded Fourteen.
List of' Kdiedf Wotmdedf and nnssin(/f on board the
Killed. Fifteen.
Wounded. Sixty-two.
Missing. Twenty -four.*
Total killed, wounded, and missing", 101.


At the Court at Carlton House, the 2:3(i day oi
June, |>reseiit, his Royal Highness, the Prince Re-
gent in Council.

Whereas his Royal Highness, the Prince Regent
was pleased to declare, in the name and on behalf of
his Majesty, on the 21st of April, 1812, * That if at
any time hrreafter, the Berlin and Milan Decrees
shall by some authentic act of the French government,
publicly promulgated, be absolutely and uncondition-
ally repealed, then, and from theuce, the Order in
Council oi the 7th of January, 1807, and the Order
in Council of the 2Glh of April, 1809, shall without
any further order, be, and the same are hereby declar-
ed from thenceforth to bo wholly and absolutely re-

* Supposed to have gone overboard with tho masts.


And whereas the charade d affairs of the United
States of America, resident at this Court, did, on the
21st day of May last, transmit to lord viscount Ciistie-
reagh, one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries, a
copy of a certain instrnmeiit, then for the first time
communicated to this Cotu-t, purporting to be a De-
cree passed by the government ot Fiance, on the 28th
day of April, 1811, by which the Decrees of Berlin
and Milan are declared to be definitely no long^er in
force m regard to American vessels :

And whereas his Royal Highness, the Prince Re-
cent, althoug'h he cannot consider the tenor of said
instrument as satisfy in"' the coiulitions set forth in the
said Order of tlie 21st of April last, upon which the
said Orders were to cease and determine, is neverthe-
less disposed, on his part, to take such measures as
may tend to re-establish the intercourse between neu-
tral and belligerent nations, upon its accustomed prin-
ciples, his Royal Hij^hness, the Prince Recent, in the
name and on the behalf of his Majesty, is therefore
pleased, by and with the advice ot his INlajesty's privy
council, to order and declare, and it is hereby order-
ed and declared, that the Oriler in Ciumcil bearing
date the 7lh day ot January, 1807, and the Order in
Council bearing date the 2titi) day of April, 1809, be
revoked, so far as may rej^ard American vessels and
their cargoes, being American pro[)erty, from the 1st
day of August next.

But whereas by certain acts of the government of
the United States of America, all British armed ves-
sels are excluded from the harbors and waters of the
said United Stales, the armed vessels ot" France being
permitted to enter therein, and the commercial inter-
course between Great-Britain and the said United
States IS interdicted, the commercial intercourse be-
tween France and the said Uiiited States havina: been
restored : his Royal Highness, the Prince Regent is
pleased hereby further to declare, in the name and on
the behalf of his Majesty, that if the governnent of
the said United States shall not as soon as niav be,


dier ibis order shall-Jvave been duly notified by his
Majesty's ministerin America to the said troverniuent,
revoke or caii>e to be revoked the said acts, this pre-
sent Order shall, in that case, after clear notice si«^ni-
fied by his Majesty's minister in America, to the said
government, be tlienceforth null and of iio effect.

It is further ordered and declared, that all Amer-
ican vessels and their cargoes, being American prop-
erty, that shall have been captured subsequently to
the 28th of May last, for a breach of the aforesaid
Orders in Council alone, and which shall not hate
been actu.dly condemned before the date of this Or-
der, and that all ships and cargoes as aforesaid, that
shall henceforth be captured under the said Orders,
prior to the 1st day of August next, shall not be pro-
ceeded agauist to condemnation, until further orders,
but shall, m the evet»t of this Order not becoming null
and of no eliect, in the case aforesaid, be forthwith,
liberated and restored, subject to such reasonable ex-,
pencts on the part of the captors, as shall have been
justly incurred.

Provided that nothing in the Order contained re-
specting the levocation of the Orders herein meution-.
ed, shall be taken to revive wholly, or in part, the
Orders in Council of the 11th of November, 1807, oif
any other Order not herein mentioned, or to deprive
parties of any legal remedy to which they may be en-
titled, under the Order m Council, of the 21st of
April, 1812.

His Royal Highness, the Prince Regent is hereby
pleased further to declare, in thenameatul on the be-
half of his Majesty, that nothing in the present Order
contained shall be understood to preclude his Royal
Highness, the Prince Regent, if circumstances shall
so require, from restoring after reasonable notice, the
Orders of the 7lh of Jaiuiary, 1807, and the 2(ith of
April, 1800, or any part thereof, to their lull effect, or
from taking such other measures of retaliation against
the enenty, as nsay appear to his Royal Highnes-s t»
be just and necessary.


And the right honorable the lords commissioners
of his Majesty's treasury, liis Majesty's principal Se-
cretaries of state, the lords commissioners of the Ad-
miralty, and the Jndoe of ihe hisi^h Court of Admralty,
and the Judge of the Court oi Vice- Admiralty, are to
take the necessary measures herein, as to them may
respectively appertani.


Montreal, 8th Sept. 1812.

SIR — The inclosed dispatch was prepared on my
arrival at Fort George, and it was niv nitentio!i to
have forwarded it from that place by Major Witherell,
of the Michigan volunteers. I n»ade application to
the comnianamg officer at that |»ost, and was refused;
he stating that he was not authorised, ai;d Gen. Brock
wa« then at York. We were immediately embarked
for this place, and Major VVitiierell obtained liberty
at Kingston to go home on parole.

Tins IS the first opportunity 1 have had to forward
the dispatches.

The fourth United Sates* regiment is destined for
Quebec, with a part ol the first. The whole consist
of a little over three hundred.

Sir George Prevost, without any request on -my
part, has offered to take my parole, and permit me to
proceed to the States.

Lieut. Anderson, of the eighth regiment, is the
bearer of my disj)atches. He was formerly a Lieut,
in the Artillery, and resigned his commission on ac-
count of being appointed Marshal of the Territory of
Michigan. During the campaign he has had a com-
mand m the Artillery ; and I recommend him to you
as a valuable officer.

He is particularly acquainted with the state of
things previous, and at the time when the capitulation
took place. He will be able to give you correct in-


formation on any points, about which you may think
proper to enquire.

I am, very respectfully,

Your most obedient servant,
Hon. W. Eustis, Secretary of the Department of War,


Fort George, August 20, 1812.
SIR — Inclosed are the articles of capitulation, by
which the Fort of Detroit has been surrendered to
Mi\jor-General Brock, commanding his Britannic
Majesty's forces in Upper Canada, and by which
the troops have become prisoners of war. My situa-
tion at present forbids me from detailing" the particu-
lar causes which have led to this unfortunate event.
I will, however, generally observe, that after the sur-
render of Michilimackinac, almost every tribe and
nation ot Indians, excepting a part of the Miamies and
Datawares, north from beyond Lake Superior, west
from beyond the Mississippi, south from the Ohio and
Wabash, and east from every part of Upper Canada,
and from all the intermediate country, joined in open
hostility under the British standard, against ihe army
I commanded, contrary to the most solemn assuran-
ces of a large portion of them to remain neutral ;
even the Ottawa Chiefs from Arbecrotch, who form-
ed tliC delegation to Washington the last summer, in
whose friendship I know you had great coiitidence,
are amoi g the hostile tribes, and several of them dis-
tinguished leaders. Among the vast number of cliiefs
who led the hostile bands, Tecumseh, Marplot, Lo-
gan, Walk-in-the-water, Split-Log, (!^c. are consider-
ed the prmcipals. This numerous assemblage of
savages, under the entire influence and direction of
the British commander, enabled him totally to ob-
struct the only communication whi< h I had with my
country. This communication had been opened
from the settlements in the state of Ohio, two hun-
dred miles through a wilderness, by the fatigues of


the army, which I inarched to the frontier on the ri-
ver Detroit. The body of the Lake being command-
ed b\ the British armed ships, and the shores and ri-
vers by gun-boats, the army was totalis deprived of all
communication by water. On this extensive road it
depended for transportation of provisions, military
stores, medicine, clothing, and every other supply, on
pack-horses — all its operations were successful until
its arrival at Detroit, — in a few days it passed into
the enemy's country, and all opposition seemed to fall
before it. One month it remained in possession of this
country, and was fed from its resources. lu difterent
directions detachments penetrated sixty miles in the
seltled part of the province, and the inhabitants seem-
ed satisfied with the change of situation, which ap-
peared to be taking place the militia from Amherst-
burg- were daily deserting, and the whole country,
tlieii under the control of the army, was asking for
protection. Tiie Indians generally, in the first in-
stance, appeared to be neutralized, and determined
to take no part in the contest. The fort of Amherst-
burg was eighteen miles below my encampment.
JNol a single cannon or mortar was on wheels suita-
ble to carry before that place. I consulted my offi-
cers, whether it was expedient to make an attempt
on it with the bayonet alone, without cannon to make
a breach in the first instance. The council I called
was of the opinion it was not — The greatest industry
was exerted in making preparation, and it was not
until the 7th of August, that two 24-pounders and
three howitzers were prepared. It was then my in-
tention to have proceeded on the enterprise. While
the operations of the army w ere delayed by these
preparations, the clouds of adversity had been for some
time and seemed still thickly to be gathering around
me. The surrender of Mictiiiimackinac opened the
northern hive of Indians, and they were swarming
down in exevy direction. Reinforcements from Nia-
gara had arrived at Amherslburg under the command
of Colonel Proctor. The desertion of the militia ceas-


ed. Besides the reinlorcements that came by Water,
I received mformalion of a very coiisitlerable force un-
der the coniraand ot Major Chambers, on the nver
Le French, with four field-pieces, and collecting the
militia on his route, evidently destined i<w Amherst-
burg ; and in addition to this combination, and in-
crease of force, contrary to all my expectations, the
.Wyandots, Chippevvas, Ottavvas, Pottauatnmies,
Munsees, Delawares, Stc. with whom I had the most
friendly intercourse, at once passed over to Amherst-
bnrg, and accepted the tomahawk and scalping* knife.
There being now a vast number of Indians at the British
post, ihey were sent to the river Huron, Brownstown,
and Maguago to intercept my communication. To
open this communication, I detached Maj. Vanhorne
of the Ohio volunteers with two hundred men to pro-
ceed as far as the river Raisin, under an expectation
he would meet Capt. Brush with one hundred and
fifty men, volunteers from the state of Ohio, and a
quantity of provision for the army. An ambuscade
was formed at Brownst^^wn, and Maj. Vanhoi'n's de-
tachment defeated and returnedto camp without effect-
ing ihe object of the expedition.

In my letter oi the 7th inst. you have tlie particu-
lars of that transaction, with a return of the killed and
wounili'd. Under this sudden srnd unexpected
change of things, and having received an express from
General Hall, commanding opposite the British shore
on the Niagara river, by which it appeared that there
was no prospect of any co-operation from that quar-
ter, and the two senior officers of the artillery having
stated to me an opinion that it would be extremely
difficult, if not impossible, to pass the Turkey river
and river Aux-Cannard, with the 24-pounders, and
that they could not be transported by water, as the
Q,ueen-Chariotte w hich carried eighteen 24-pounders,
lay in the river Detroit above the moulh of the river
Aux-Cannard ; and as it apj)eared indispensibly ne-
cessary to open tlie communication to the river Raisin
and the Miami, I found myself compelled to suspend


the operation against Anaherslburg', and concentrate
tlie main force of the army at Detroit. Fully intend-
ing, at that time, after the communication was opened,
to re-cross the river, and pursue the object at Am-
herslburg, and strongly desirous of continuing pro-
tection to a very large number of the inhabitants of
Upper Canada, who had volunlarily accepted it un-
der my proclamation, I established a fortress on the
banks of the river, a little below Detroit, calculated
for a garrison of three hundred men. On the evenino*
of the 7th, and morning of the 8th inst. the army, ex-
cepting the garrison of 250 infantry, and a corps of
artillerists, all under the command of Major Den-
ny of the Ohio volunteers, re-crossed the river, and
encamped at Detroit. In pursuance of the object of
opening the communication, on which I considered
the existence of the army depending, a detachment of
six hundred men, under the command of lieut. Colonel
Miller was immediately ordered. For a particular
account of the proceedings of this detachment, and
the memorable battle which was fought at Maguago,
which reflects the highest honor on the American
arms, I refer you to my letter of the 13th of August,
a duplicate of which is enclosed, in this. Noth-
ing however but honor was acquired by this victory;
and it is a painful consideration, that the blood of
seventy-tive gallant men could only open the commu-
nication as far as the points of their bayonets extend-
ed. The necessary care of the sick and wounded,
and a very severe stoi-m of rain, rendered their return
to camp indispensably necessary for their own com-
fort^ Captain Brush, with his small detachment, and
the provisions, being still at the river Raisin, and in a
situation to be destroyed by the savages, on the 13th
inst. in the evening, I permitted Colonels M'Arthur
and Cass to select from their regiment four hundred
of their most effective men, and proceed an upper
route through the woods, which I iiad sent an express
to Capt. Brush to take, and had directed the militia
of the river Raisin to accompany him as a reinforce-


mcnt. The iorce of the enemy continually increase
ing, and the necessity of openiiig- the conjniunication,
anci acting on the delensive, becoming more appar-
ent, I had, previous to detachmg Colonels M'Arlhur
and Cass, on the 11th inst. evacuated and destroyed
the fort on the opposite bank. On the 13th, in the
evening, Ge:;. Brock arrived at AmI.erstburg about
the hour Coioncis M' Arthur and Cass marched, of
which at that time I had received no information.
On the 15ih, I lectived a summons from him to sur-
render fort Detrojl, ot which I herewitii enclose you
a copy, togeiher with my ansvvtr. At this time I
had received no n^torniation fron; Cols. M' Arthur and
Cass. An express was immediately sent, strongly
escorted, with orders for them to return.

On the 15th, as soon as General Brock received
my letter, his batteries o[)ened on the town and fort,
and coi.ttnued until evenmg. In the evening all the
British Ships of war came nearly as far up the river
as Sandwich, three miles below Detroit. At day-
light on the 16th, (at which time 1 had received no
information from Cols. M'Arlhur and Cass, my ex-
presses sent the evening before, and m the night, hav-
ing been prevented from passing by numerous hodies
of Indians) the cannonade recommenced, and m a
short time I received intormation, that the British ar- '
my and Indians, were landing below the Spring wells,
under the cover of their Ships of war. At this time
the whole effective force at my disposal at Detroit did
not exceed eight hundred men. Being new troops
and unaccustomed to a camp life; having perform-
ed a laborious march ; having been in a number of
battles and skirmishes, m which many had fallen, and
more had received wounds, in addition to which a
large number being sick, and unprovided with medi-
cine, and the comforts necessary for their situation ;
are the general causes by which the strength of the
army was thus reduced. The fort at this time was
filled with women, children, and the old and decrepit
people of the town and country ; they were unsafe in


4he town, as it was entirely open niul exposed to the
enemy's batteries. Back ot" the tort, above or below
it, there was no safety for them on account of the In-
dians. In the tirst instance, the enemy's fire was prin-
cipally directed against our bnUeries ; towards the
close, it was directed ng-ainst tlie fort alone, and al-
most every shot and shell had their effeot.

It now became necessary either to tijiht the enemy in
the lield ; collect the whoie force in the fort ; or pro-
pose terms of capitulation. I could not have r;nried
into the tield more than six hundred men, asid left any
aidequate force in the fort. There were landed at
that time of the enemy a regular force of much more
than that number, and t.vice that number of Indians.
Considering this great inequality of force, 1 did not
think it expedient to adopt tli^ tirst measure. Thf.'
second must have been attended with a great sacri-
fice of blood, and no possible advantage, because the
contest could not have been sustained more than a day
for the want of powder, and but a very few days for
the viant of provisions. In addition to this, Cols.
M' Arthur and Cass would have been in a most haz-*
ardous situation. I feared nothing but the last altern-
ative. I have dared to adopt it — I well know the
high responsibility of the measure, and I take the
whole of it on myself. It was dictated by a sense of
duty, and a fud conviction of its expediency. The
bands of savages which had then joined the British
force, were numerous beyond any former example.
Their numbers have since increased, and the history
of the barbarians of the north of Europe does not
furnish examples of more greedy violence than these
savages have exhibited. A large portion of the brave
and gallant* officers and men I commanded would
cheerfully have contested until the last cartridge had
been expended, and the bayonets worn to the sockets.
1 could not consent to the useless sacrifice of such
brave men, when I knew it was impossible for me to
sustain my situation. It was impossible in the nature
ofrthings that an army could have been furnished with


the necessary supplies of provision, militnry stores,
clothing, and comforts for the sick, on pack horseSj
through a wilderaessof two hundred miles, filled with
hostile savages. It was impossible, sir, that Ihis lit*
tie army, worn down by fatigue, by sickness, by
wounds, and deaths, could have supported itself not
only against the collected force of all the northern
nations of Indians, but against the united strength of
Upper Canada, whose population consists of more
than twenty times the number contained in the terri-
tory of Michigan, aided by the principal part of the
regular forces of the province, and the wealth and in-
fluence of the North-West, and other trading estab-
lishments among the Indians, which have in their
employment, and under their entire control, more
than two thousand white men.

Before 1 close this dispatch it is a duty I owe my
respectable associates in command, Cols. M'Arlhur,
Findley, Cass, and Lieut. Col. Miller, to express my
obligations to them for the prompt and judicious
manner in which they have performed their respec-
tive duties. If aught has taken place during the cam-
paign which is honorable to the army, these officers
are entitled to a large share of it. If the last act
should be disapproved, no part of the censure l>elongs
to them. I have likewise to express my obligation
to General Taylor, who has performed the dqty of
quarter-master-General, for his great exertions in pro-
curing every thing in his department which it was
possible to furnish for the covenience of the army ;
likewise to brigade-major Jessup for the correct and
punctual manner in which he has discharged his du.
ty ; and to the army generally for their exertion, and
the zeal they have manifested for the public interest.
The death of Dr. Foster, soon after he arrived at
Detroit, was a seveie misfortune to the army ; it was

Online LibraryJohn] 1793-1863 [RussellThe history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. → online text (page 11 of 38)