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

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away with us. The surplus, and ammunition I '
thought proper to destroy, fearing they would make
bad use of it if put in their possession. I also de-
stroyed all the liquor on hand soon after they began to
collect. The collection was unusully large for that
place, but they conducted with the strictest propriety
till after I left the fort. On the 15lh at 9 in the morn-
ing, we commenced our march ; a part of the Miam-
ies were detached in front and the remainder in our.
rear, as guards, under the directioij of Capl. Wells,


The siluation of the country rendered it necessary fop
us to lake llie beach, with the lake on our left, and a
high sand bank on ourrig^ht, at about 100 yards dis-
tance. We had proceeded about a mile and an half,
when it was discovered that the Indians were prepar-
ed to attack us from behind the bank. 1 immediate-
ly marched U|) with the company to the top of the
bank, when the action commenced ; after tiring one
round, we charged, and the Indians gave way in front
and joined those on our tlanks. In about 15 minutes
they got posession of all our horses, provisions, and
bag-gage of every description,and finding the Miamies
did not assist us, I drew off the few men Iliad left
and took prosession of a small elevation in the open
prairie out of shot of the bank or any other cover.
The Indians did not follow me, but assembled in a body
on the top of the bank, and, after some consnllation
among themselves, made signs for me to approach
tham. I advanced towards them alone and was met by
one of the Potawattamie chiefs called the Black Bird,
with an interpreter. After shaking hands, he request-
ed me to surrender, promising to spare the lives of
all the prisoners. On a few moments consideration,
I concluded it would be most prudent to comply with
his request, although I did not put entire confidence
in his promise. After delivering up our arms, we
wei'e taken back to their encampment near the fort,
and distributed among the different tribes. The next
morning they set fire to the fort and left the place, tak-
ing the prisoners with them. Their number of war-
riors was between four and five hundred, mostly of
the Potawattamie nation, and their loss, from the best
information I could get, was about 15. Our strength
was 54 regulars and 12 militia, out of which 26 regu-
lars and all the militia were killed in the action, with
two women and twelve children. Ensign Georo-e
Ronan, and Dr. Isaac Y. Van Yoorhis of my compa-
ny, with Capt. Wells of Fort Wayne, are to my great
sorrow, numbered among the dead. Lieut. Lina T.
Helm, with 25 non-commissioned officers and \m-


vates and 11 women and children, were prisoucnj
■when we Were separated. Mrs. Heald and myself
were taken to the mouth ot the river St. Joseph, and/
being bv»th badly woundi d, were permitted to reside
with Mr. Burnet, an Indian trader. In a few days
after our arrival there, the Indians all went off to take
Fort Wayne, and in their absence I eng-ao^ed a French-
man to take us to Michilimackinac bv water, where I
gave myselt up as a prisoner of war, with one of my
sergeants. The commanding- officer, Capt. Roberts,
offered me every assistance in his power to render
our situation comfortable while we remained there,
and to enable us to proceed on our journey. To him
I gave my parole of honor and came on to Detroit and
reported myself to Col. Proctor, who gave us a passage
to Buffalo ; from that place 1 came by the way of
Presque Isle and arrived here yesterday.*

€opi/ of a letter from 3Ir. S. T. Anderson, enclosing

one from Commodore CImuncey to the Secretary of

the Navy.

Sacket's Harbor, 18th Nov. 1812. - at night.

SIR — Since the enclosed letter from the Commo-
dore was written, the Growler has returned with a
prize, and in her Captain Brock, brother to the late
General of that name, with the baggage of the latter.
By the prize we learned that the Earl Moira was off
the False Ducks, and the Commodore h;is put off in
a snow storm in the hope of cutting her oft' from

From information received from Capt. Brock, there
is no question but that Kingston is very strongly de-
fended. He expressed surprise to find our vessels
had got out of the harbor after having been in it ; and
says that the regiment to which he belongs is quar-
tered there, 500 strong, besides other regulars, and a
well appointed militia. The resistance made fully
justifies this report. Be assured, sir, that in the ac-


ticyn of which the Commodore has given yon an ac-
count, the national honor has been most ably sup-

In great haste, your most obedient servant,


Hon, Paul HamiltoHf ISecntary of the iSavy.

Sacket's Harbor, imh Nov. 1812.

SIR— I arrived here last evening- in a gale of vvindj
the pilots having refused to keep Ihe Lake. On the
€th I fell in with the Royal Georg-e, and chased her
into the bay of Q,uanti, where I lost sight of her in the
night. On the morninp;' of the 9lh, we again got
.si;»lrt of her lying in Kingstoii channel. We gav<^
chase, and followed her into the harbor of Kingston,
where we engaged her aiul the batteries for one hour
and 45 minules. I had made up my nnnd to board
her, but she was so well protected by the batteries,
and the wind blowing directly in, it w as deemed im^
prudent to make the attempt at that tmie ; the pilots
also refused to take charge of the vessel. Under
these circumstances, and it being after sun-down, I
determined to haul off and renew the attack next
morning. We beat up in good order under a heavy
fire from the Royal George and batteries, to 4 mile
point, where we anchored. It blew heavy in squalls
from the westward during the night, and there was
every appearance of a gale of wind. The pilots be-*
came alarmed and I thought it most prudent to get
into a place of more safety. I therefore (very reluct-*
antly) deferi-ed renewing the attack upon the ships
and forts until a more favorable opportunity.

In our passage through the bay of Q,uanti, I dis-
covered a shooner at the village of Armingstown,
which we took possession of, but finding she would
detain us (being then in chase of the Royal George)
I ordered Lieut. Macpherson to take out her sails and
rigging and burn her, which he did. We also loofc
the schooner Mary, Hall, from Niagara, at the mouth
of Kingston harbor, and took her with us to our an-


•chorage. The next nioniing-, finding that she could
not heat through the channel with uk, I ordered the
sailing master of the Growler to take her under conr
voy and run down past Kingston, anchor on the east
end of Long Island, and wait for a wind to come
up on the east side. I was also in Jiopes that the
Royal George might be induced to follow for the
purpose of retaking our prize, but her commander was
too well aware of the consequences to leave his moor-
ings. '
; We lost in this affair one man killed, and three
slightly wounded, with a few shot in our sails. The
other vessels lost no men and received but little injury
in Iheir hulls and sails, with theexception of thePeit,
whose gun bursled in the early part of the action, and
^vounded her commander (sailing master Arundel)
badly, and a midshipman and three men slightly.
Mr. Arundel, Avho refused to quit the deck although
wounded, was knocked overboard in beating up to
our anchorage, and I am sorry say, was drowned. ;

The Royal George must have received very con-
siderable injury in her hull and in men, as the gun
vessels with a long 32 pounder were seen to strike her
almost every shot, and it was observed that she was
reinforced with troops four different times during ihe
action. . . .\vVi,i»

It was thought by all the officers in the squadron
that the enemy had more than thirty guns mounted at
Kingston, and from 1000 to 1,300 men. The Royal
George protected by this force was driven into the in-i
ner harbor, under the protection of the musketry, by
the Oneida, and four small schooners fitted out aS^
gun boats ; the Governor Tompkins not having been
uble to join in the action until about sun-down, owin^
to the lightness of the winds, and the Pert's gun hav^'
iug burst the second or third shot. |

1 have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your
obedient servant,


Hon. Paid HaniHton, {Secretary oj iht Navy.


Copy of a letter from Maj. Gen. Van Rens^'ielaeri of the

» New-York militia, to Maj. Gen. Henry Dearborn y
transmitted by the latter to ihe department of war.

Head- Quarter Sy Lewifilon,
October 14, 1812. ;
^ SIR — As the movements of the army under my
coinmiind, since I had the honor to address you on the
8th inst. have been of a very important character pro-
ducing consequences serious to many individuals ;
estiiblishing facts actually connected w ith the interest
of the service and safety of the army ; and as I stand
promijiently responsible for some of these consequen-
ces, I beg leave to explain to you, sir, and through
you to my country, the situation and circumstances
in which I have had to {>ct, and the reasons and mo-
tives which governed me ; and if the result is uvt all
iJiat might have been wished, it is such, that when the
whole ground shall be viewed, I shall cheerfully sub-
mit to the judgment of my country.

. In my letter of the 8lh inst. I apprized you that a
orisisin this campaign was rapidly advancing ; and
that (to repeat the same Mords) ' the blow muat be soon
Hrucky or all the toU and e^rpence of the campaign yo
for nothing ; and worse than nothiny, for the whole-
will be tinyed with dishonor.'

- Under such impressions, I had on the 5th inst.
written to brigadier-General Smyth, of the United
States' forces requesting an interview with him, Ma-
jor-General Hall, and the commandants of the United
States' regiments, for the purpose of conferring upon
the subject of future operations. I wrote Major-Gen-,
eral Hall to the same purport. On the lllh, I had
received no answer from General Smyth; but in a.
note to me on the 10th, General Hall mentioned that'
General Smyth had not yet then agreed upon any day-
for consultation.

In the mean time, the partial success of lieut. Elliot,
at Black Rock, (of which, however, I have received
no official informatioii) began to excite a strong dispo-
sition in the troops to act. This was expressed to me


tbroug'h various channels in the slmpeofanalternaiive :
that they must have orc/ers to act; or at all hazacds^
they would ffo home. I forbear here commenting up-
on the obvious consequences to me, personally, otlon-
gerwithholdmgmy orders under such circumstances.

I had a conference with as to the posi»ibillity of

getting some person to pass over to Canada and ob-
tain correct intbrmation. On the morning: of the 4th, he
wrote to niethat he had procured the man who bore his-
letterto go over. Instructions were given him ; he pas-
sed oyer — oblained such mformalion as warranted an-
immediate attack. This was contidently communi-
cated to several of my first officers, and produced
great zeal to act ; more especially as it might have a
controling effect upon the movements; at Detroit,
where it was supposed General Brock had gone with
all the force he dared spare from the Niagara frowtier.
The best preparations in my power were, therefore,
made to dislodge the enemy from the Heights of:
Queenston, and possess ourselves of the village, where
tile Iroops might be sheltered from the distressing in«
cleiuency of the weather.

I^eut, Col. Fenwick's flying artillery, and a detach^
naei!t of legular troopa under his command, were or-
dered to be up in season from Port Niagara. Ordersr
"Were also sent to Geji. Smylh to send down from Buf^
fnloe, such detachments of hisbri^iade as existing cir^'
cumslances in that vicinity might warrant. The at-
tack was to have been made at 4 o'clock-in the morn-
ing of the 11th, by crossir»gover in boat» from the oli
ferry opposite the Heights. To avoid any embarrass**
ment in crossing the river, (which is here a sheet of vio*'
lent eddies) experienced boatmen were jirocured to
take the boats from the landing below to the place o&
embarkation. JLueuL Sim w-as considered the man
of greatest skill for this service. He went ahead, ami
in the extreme darkness, passed the intended place t\ir
up the river ; and there, m a most extraordinary ma»*>
ner fastened the boat to the shore and abandoned the;
i^fiiuchmeut. In the lEQut boat he had carried mtajdf

every oair which was prepared for all th6 bdats. lit
this agonizing' dilemma, stood officers atkl men whose
ardor had not been cooled by exposure through the
nig-ht to one of the most tret^iendous north-et^st storms,
which continued, unabated, for twenty-eig-ht hours,
and deluged the whole camp. The approach of day
light extinguished every prospect of success, and the
detachment returned to camp; Col. Van Renssela^f
was to have commanded the d>etachment.

After this result, I had hoped tlie patience of the
troops wouid have continued until I could submit the
plaa suggested i« ray letter of the 8th, that I mig^f
act under, and in conformity to the opinion that
might be then expressed. But my hope was idle:
the previously excited ardor seemed to gain new
heart from the late miscairriage— the brave Weremor -
tified to stop short of their object, and the timed
thought laurels half won by an attempt.

€hi the morning of the 12th, such was the pi-esstire
upon nre from all quarters, that I became siitisfiedf
that my refusal to act might involve nie in Mspicioit
:uid the service in disgnice.

Viewing affairs at Buffalo as yet unsettled, I had
immediately countenuanded the march of Genera:?
Smytlj's brigade, upon the failure of the first expedV
tion ; but having now determined to attack Q,ueeny-
ton, I sent new orders to Gen. Smyth to march; not
with the view of his aid in the attack, for I considered
the force detached sufficient, but to support the de*
lachment should the conflict be obstinate and lOng*

Lieut. Col. Chrj^tie, who had just arrived at the
four mil eCieek, had late in the night of the first con-
templated attack, gallantly offered me his own and
his men's service ; but he got my permissiou too liite.
He now again came forward ; had a conference with
Col. Van Kensselaer, and begged tliat he might have
the honor of a command in the expedition. The' ai^
rangenrervt was made. Gol. Van Rensselaer was td


command one column of 300 militia ; and Lieut.
Col. Chrystie a column of the same number of regular

Every precaution was now adopted as to boats,
and the most confidential and experienced men i<>
manag^e them. At an early hour in the night, Lieut.
Col. Chrystie marched his detachment, by the rear
road, from Niagara to camp. At 7 o'clock in the
eveninjo^, L'cut. Col. Stranahan's regiment moved
from Niagara Falls-— at 8 o'clock, Mead's — and at y
Lieut. Col Blan's regiment marched from the same,
place. All were in camp in go<\d season. Agreea-
bly to my orders issued upon this occasion, the two
columns were to pass over together ; and soon as the
heights should be carried, Lieut. Col. Fenwick's flying"
artillery was to pass over ; then Maj. IVIullaiiy's de-
tachment of regulars ; and other troops to follow in
order. -

c At dawn of day the boats were in readiness, and
t^e troops commenced embarking, under the cover.'
of a commanding battery, mountmg two eighteeav
pounders, and two sixes. . The movements were soon
discovered, and a brisk fire of musketry was poured
from the whole line of the Canada shore. Our bat-
tery then opened to sweep tlie shore ; but it was, for.'
some minutesj too dark to direct much fire with safe-
ty. A brisk cannonade was now opened upon ibe
boats from three different batteries. Our battery re-
turned their fire, and occasionally thiew grape upon
the shore, and was itself served with shells from a
small mortar of the enemy's. Col. Scott, of the ar-
tillery, by hastening his march from Niagara Falls
in the night, arrived in season to return the enemy's
tire with two six pounders.

The boats were somewhat embarrassed with the.
eddies, as well as with a shower of shot : but Col.i
Van Rensselaer, with about 100 men, soon efi'ected.
bis landing amidst a tremendous fire directed upon
him from every point; but to tlie astonishment of all
who witnessed the scene, this van of the column ad-


vjinced slowly against the fire. It was aserioiis mis*
fortune to the van, and indeed to I he whole expedition',
tliat in a few minutes after landing-, Col. Van Rens-
selaer received four wounds — a ball passed throug-h
the right thigh, entering just below the hip bone —
another shot passed through the same thigh, a little
below — the third through the calf of his leg — and a
fourth cartused his heel. This was quite a cri.'sis in
the expedition. Under so severe a fire it was difTi-
cult to form raw troops. By some mismCinagemtnt
of the boatmen, Lieut. Col. Chryslie did not arrive
\m\\[ some time after this, and was wounded in the
hand in passing the river. Col. Van Rensselaer was
still able to stand ; and with great presence of mind
ordered his officers to proceed with rapidity and
storm the Fort, This service was gallantly perform-
ed, and the enemy driven down the hill in every di*
reclion. Soon after this both parties were considera-
bly reinforced, and the conflict was renew ed in seve-
ral places — many of the enemy took shelter behind a
stone guard-house, where a piece of ordnance was
now briskly served. I ordered the tire of our balterv
directed upon the guard-house; and it was so effect-
ually done, that with 8 or 10 shot the fire was silenci
ed. The enemy then retreated behind a large store-
house ; but in a short time the route became general^
and the enemy's fire was silenced except from a one
gun battery, so far down the river as to be out of the
reach of heavy ordnance, and our light pieces could
not silence it. A number of boats now passed over
nnannoyed, except from one unsilenced gun, Foi*
some time after 1 had passed over, the victory appear-
e<l complete ; but in the expectation of further attacks;
1 was taking measures for fortifying my camp imme-
diately — the direction of this service 1 committed tt»
Lffeut. Totten, of the engineers. But very soon the
enemy were reinforced by a detachment of several-
liutidied Indians from Chippewa — they commenced
a furious attack, bat were promptly met and routed
by the rifle and bayonet. By this time 1 perceived-

i$4 HISTOlir or THE WAB-

luy troops were emliarkin^ very slowly. I passed irtiw
naediiitely over lo accelerate their movements ; but to
my utter astonishmeiit, C tbund at the very moment
when complete victory was in our hands, the ardor of
the unengaged troops had entirely subsided. I rode
in all directions — urged men by every consideration to
pass over — but in vain. Lieut. Col. Bloom, who had
been wounded in action, returned, mounted his horse,
and rode through the camp ; as did also Judge Peck,
who happened to be here, exhorting the companies to
proceed — -but all in vain.

At this time a laige reinforcement from Fort George
were discovered coming up, the river. As the battery
on the hill was considered an important check, against
tbejr ascending the heights, measures were inmiedi-
ately taken to send them a fresh su})ply of ammuni*
tion, as we had learnt there was left only twenty shot
for the eighteen pounders. The reinforcement, how*
ever, obliqued to the right from the road, and formed
^junction with the Indians in the rear of the heights,
J^inding, to my infinite mortification, that no reinforce-
ment would pass over; seeing that another severe con*
flict must soon commence : and knowing that the
brave men on the heights were quite exhausted, and
nearly out of ammunition, all I could do was to send
them a fresh supply of cartridges. At this critical
moment, I despatched a note to Gen. Wadsworth, ac-
quainting him with our situation — leaving the course
.to be pursued much to his own judgment — with as-
surance, that if he thought best to retreat, I would
endeavor to send as many boats as I could command,
and cover his retreat by every fire I could safely make.
But the boats were dispersed — many of the boatmen
had fied, panic struck — and but few got oft". But
my note could but little more than have reached Gen.
Wadsworth about 4 o'clock, when a most severe and
obstinate conflict commenced and continued about
half an hour, with a tremendous fire of cannon, fivitig
artillery and musketry. The enemy succeeded, in
repossessing their l)nit^ery ; 'uid ernining advantage on


every side, the brave men who had g-ained the victo-
ry, exhausted of strength and animumtiori, and griev-
ed at the itnpardonable neglect of their fellow-sol-
diers, gave up the confl'ct.

J can only add, that the victory was really won^
but lost for the want of a small reinforcement. One
fhnd part of the idle men wiq/tt have saved all.

I have been so pressed with the various duties of
burying the dead, providing for the wounded, collect-
ing the public properly, negocialing a>i exchange of
prisoners, and all ihe concerns consequent of such a
battle, that I have not been able to forward this dispatch
at as early an hour as I could ha\e wished. I shall
sooh forward you another despatch, in which I shall
endeavor to point out to you the conduct of some most
gallant and deserving officers. Bui I cannot in justice
close this .without expressing the very great obliga*
lion I am under to brigadier-general Wads worth. Col.
Van Rensselaer, Col. Scott, Lt. Cols. Ciiristie andFen^
Mick, and Captain Gibson. Many others ha^e also
♦)ehaved most gallantly. As I have reason to believe
that many of our troops fled to the woods, with the
hope of crossing the river, I have not been able to
Team the probable number of killed, wounded and
prisoners.* The slaughter of our troops must have
been very considerable. And the enemy have snfleP-
ed severely.

General Brock is among their slaia, and hi$
aid-dc-cump mortally wounded.

I have the honor to be, sir, with great respect and
consideration, your most obedient servant,


Major' General.

Major-General Dearborn.

» It is sine, ascertained thai 90 regulars and militia mere kitUcf,
tt>irfo86 regulars, and 378 militia, 82 beinf^ tvoif'ulcd. inide pri- -.




Documents accGmpanying the President's 3Iessage
of JSovetuher 4,^SV2.
3Ir. Monroe to M?'. Hiissell.
Department op State, July 27, 1812.

SIR — I wrote you on the 2Gth of June, by Mr.
Foster, a letter which he promised to deliver to you in
person or by a safe hand.

In that letter you were informed, that the Orders in .
Council, and other illegal blockades, and the impress-
ment of onr seamen by Great-Britain, as you well
knew before, were the principal causes of the war,
and that if they were removed, you might stipulate aii
armistice, leaving them and all other grounds of dif-
ference, for final and more precise adjustment by trea-
ty. As an inducement to the British government to
discontinue the practice of impressment from our ves-
sels, by which alone our seamen can be made secure,
you were authorised to stipulate a prohibition by law,
to be reciprocal, of the employment of British seamen
in the public or commercial service of the United
States. As such an arrangement, which might be
jiiade completely effectual and satisfactory by suitable
regulations and pei;alties, would o|)erate almost ex-
.clnsively in favor of Great-Britain, for as lew of our
seamen ever enter voluntarily into the British service,
the reciprocity would be nominal ; its advantage to
Great-Britain would be more than an equivalent for
any she derives from impressment, which alone ought
to induce her to abandon the practice, if she had no
other motive for it, A stipulation to prohibit by law
the employment of British seamen in the service ot
the United States, is to be understood in the sense and
spirit of the constitution. The passage of such law
must depend of course on Congress, who, it might
reasonably be presumed, might give effect to it.

By authorising you to secure these objects as the
grounds of an armistice, it was not intended to restrict

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 14 of 38)