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thus ruined by Campbell and his band of incendiaries,
was a Loyalist who was exiled for fighting on the British
side during the war of the Revolution. It was not
enough for his persecutors that he should be compelled
to abandon his property and begin the world anew in a
strange land ; he must be pursued and his widow and
little family deprived of their means of living by vandals
like Campbell. This outrage provoked so much com-
ment that the American Government had to bring
Colonel Campbell to trial before a Court Martial, which
was presided over by Colonel Scott The Court
declared in its finding that the destruction of the mills
and distilleries was according to the usages of war, but,
that in burning the houses of the inhabitants. Colonel
Campbell had greatly erred. This mild reprimand was

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THE WAR OF l8l2. 337

all the punishment that Campbell received. Mr. James
Monroe, the American Secretary of State, in a letter to
Sir Alexander Cochrane written in September, 1814,
stated that the burning of Long Point was ' 'unauthor-
ized by the government" In the same letter he stated
that the burning of Newark was ' 'disavowed by the
government" To ''disavow" an act is to deny know-
ledge of it, yet General M'Clure was able to produce an
order from War Secretary Armstrong, the proper
mouthpiece of the Government as regarded military
matters, authorizing him to burn Newark. Mr. Monroe
in making this statement to Sir. Alex. Cochrane, was
therefore not telling the truth. In view of the fact that
Colonel Campbell told Mrs. Ryerse that his orders were
to burn, and considering the falsity of Monroe's state-
ment about Newark, may it not safely be assumed that
the burning of the private houses at Long Point was
also authorized by the American government.

On the 1 6th of August, a party of about 100 Ameri-
cans and Indians landed at Port Talbot on Lake Erie,
and robbed 50 families of all their horses, and of every
article of household furniture and wearing apparel
which they possessed. The number of persons who
were thus thrown naked and destitute upon the world,
was 236, of whom 185 were women and children.
Several of the more prominent inhabitants were not
only robbed but carried off as prisoners, among them
being Mr. Barnwell, a member of the Legislature of
Upper Canada, who was at the time in a very weak
state of health,

The last effort of American ruffianism in the penin-
sula of Western Canada, was General M'Arthur's raid
in October and November, 1814. M'Arthnr seems to

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338 THE WAR OF l8l2.

have been stimulated to this e£fort by the successful
foray of a band of ruffians who issued from the garrison
of Detroit on the 20th of September, and spread fire
and devastation through an entire Canadian settlement,
bringing to utter ruin and misery 27 families.
M 'Arthur's raid was on a larger and more ambitious
scale. With 750 mounted men from Ohio and Ken-
tucky, he left Detroit on the 22nd of October and
proceeded up the western side of Lake St. Clair, and
on the 26th crossed the St. Clair River and entered
Canada. The absurd Lossing, by way of excuse for
M'Arthur's conduct says the movement was made in
consequence of ''the critical situation of the American
army under General Brown at Fort Erie,", and that
its object was : — ''to make a diversion in £avor of that
general. " As the siege of Fort Erie had been abandoned
by the British a month before M 'Arthur started, and as
General Brown was not there at all but at Sackett's
Harbor, his command at Fort Erie having been trans-
ferred to General Izard who had about 8,000 men with
him, it will be seen that the alleged reasons for
M'Arthur's raid did not exist. It was undertaken simply
for the sake of the plunder, and the cheap glory it might

M 'Arthur passed up the northern side of the Thames
to Moravian Towns and thence to Oxford. The coun-
try through which he advanced was given up to indis-
criminate plunder, the houses of the settlers were
reduced to ashes, and the miserable inhabitants were
left to perish with cold and hunger. His design was to
advance as &r as Burlington Heights, but at the Grand
River he learned that a detachment of the 103rd Regt.
was after him. This news set the cowardly raider

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THE WAR OF l8l2. 339

scampering back much faster than he had come, and so
precipitate was his flight that the British regulars did
not get within eight miles of him. He got back to
Detroit on the 17th November, after three weeks of
marauding, in which he inflicted great loss and misery
on private individuals, but did nothing for his country
except to make its name detested and despised in West-
ern Canada.

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Chauncey's fleet — Its superior strengfth. — Sir James Yeo blockaded
in IGngston. — Lake Champlain.— General Ixard advances to the
frontier.— Forsyth's death.~The Americans retire to Plattsbui^« —
Weakness of the American army. — The Plattsburfc campaign. —
Sir George Prevost heavily reinforced.- Quality of his army.— De-
lay in his advance.— Neglects to attack Plattsburg.— Sir George
forces Downie into a headlong attack.— Superior force and
position of the Americans.«*Downie's defeat and death.^-Sir
George refuses to persevere in his attack on Plattsburg.^-Orders
a retreat. — His disgraceful and cowardly conduct.— Slight losses
of the army in the operations.— Port Erie. — The Americans rein-
forced. — Sickness in Drummond's camp.— He resolves to retire to
a healthier position.— General Brown makes a sortie. — Takes
two of the British batteries. — His force driven back into Fort Erie.
—General Drummond raises the siege.-^General Izard at the head
of 8,000 men. — His advance. — Skirmish at Lyon's Creek. — Arrival
of British reinforcements at Fort George.— Izard blows up Fort
Erie and abandons Canada.— End of the operations in the Cana-
dian provinces.

It has been already seen that the American Com-
modore Chauncey did not venture to leave Sackett's
Harbor with his fleet until the ist of August^ when the
completion of two large ships^ the Superior and
Mohawk^ gave him an overwhelming preponderance of
force. Thus it happened that Sir James Yeo had
control of Lake Ontario for the first three months of the
season of open navigation, and in that time, was able to
give valuable assistance to the army in the defence of
Canada. The operations on the Lake during the time
Chauncey held possession of it were not of great
importance. His fleet was greatly superior, and Sir

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T»B WAJt OF iSia. 341

James Yeo prudently retired with his larger vessels to
Kingstoni where he was blockaded by Chauncey for
about six weeks. The American Commodore professed
a great desire for an encounter, and complained very
bitterly that Sir James would not gratify him by meeting
his four larger vessels with the four largest British ships.
In a letter written to the Secretary of the Navy on
August the loth he says: "To deprive the enemy of
an apology for not meeting me, I have sent ashore four
guns from the ' Superior to reduce her armament in
number to an equality with the Prince Regent's, yield-
ing the advantage of their 68-pounders. The Mohawk
mounts two guns less than the Princess Charlotte, and
the Montreal and Niagara are equal to the Pike and

It is remarkable that this American Commodore was
unable to tell the truth, even in a despatch to his own
government^ in regard to a matter of which he must
have been fully informed. His largest vessel the
Superior was heavier in armament than an ordinary
74-line of battle ship, and far more powerful than the
Prince Regent with which Chauncey compares her.
The following statement of die four largest British and
four largest American vessels on Lake Ontario, is
taken from an American author, Roosevelt, and is
therefore not likely to err in fcivor of the British.

American Vessels.

Name. Tonnag^e. Crew. Metal. Armament.

130 longras's
2 long 24*8
36 abort 42*8.

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Mohawk, . - -

- 1,350


554 ''

26 long 24*8

- 2 long 1 8*8

. 14 short 32*8

Pike, ....

- 875


360 «'

28 long 24*8

Madiaon, . . .

- 593


364 "

\ 12 long 12's
J '21 short 32's



2,328 lbs.

British Vessels.




Metal. Armameot.

Prince Regent, -

- 1,450


872 lbs.

32 long 24*8

• 4 short 68's

. 22 " 32*8

Princess Charlotte,



604 "

26 long 24*8

2 short 68*8

M " 3a*»

Montreal, - .

- 637


258 "

7 long 24's
.18 •* i8's

Niagara, . . -

- 5*0


33a "

\ 2 lon^ 12's
/20 short 32*8


1,220 1 1966 lbs.

From the foregoing statement it will be seen that the
Americans were greatly superior, both in the size of
their ships and their armaments. Sir James was there-
fore wise not to risk an action, the loss of which might
have wrought incalculable injury.

On Lake Champlain the Americans had been active
in constructing vessels during the winter, and in April,
Commodore Macdonough, who was in command there,
succeeded in launching his new ships which had been
built at Vergennes, Vermont. On the 14th of May,
Captain Pring, R, N., with the British flotilla appeared
off the mouth of Otter Creek, in which Macdonough's

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THE WAR OP l8l2. 343

vessels were lyings and commenced a cannonade upon
the seven gun battery by which its entrance was
defended. The Americans, however^ were prepared
for this attack ; they had been strongly re-inforced
and, as Captain Pring had no land force with him, he
was unable to accomplish anything and so returned
to Isle Aux Noix. It was a serious error, for which Sir
George Prevost must be held responsible, that he did
not send a sufficient land force to Vergennes, at the
opening of lake navigation, to destroy Macdonough's
ships there, and make it impossible for him to appear
on Lake Champlain.

About the middle of June, General Izard, who com-
manded che land forces at Plattsburg, made a movement
towards the Canadian frontier his advance being en-
camped at Champlain, within five miles of the Interna-
tional boundary. This movement led to no other
result than a few unimportant skirmishes between
parties of Americans and the British outposts* In one
of these, Lieut. -Colonel Forsyth, some of whose exploits
as a maurauder have already been related, was killed by
an Indian. Lossing says that Forsyth's followers: —
''Hotly incensed because of the employment of the sav-
ages by the British, they resolved to avenge the death
of their own leader, by taking the life of the leader of
the Indians. A few days afterwards some of them
crossed the line and shot Mahew that leader.'' The
leader who was shot was Captain Mailloux, a remark-
ably brave and vigilant Canadian officer. It is singu-
lar Lossing does not perceive that in this narrative he
is showing that Forsyth's men had ceased to be soldiers
and had become mere assassins, lying in ambush to
take the life of a single man. Their indignation at the

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344 I^HB WAR OP lSl2.

employment of Indians by the British might have been
somewhat lessened had they known that about the time
they were lying concealed to accomplish the murder of
the unfortunate Mailloux, General Brown was crossing-
the Niagara River, with 600 Indian warriors in his army^
to invade Canada.

The abdication of Bonaparte in April, 18 14, which
brought the long war with France to an end, enabled a
considerable proportion of Wellington's victorious army
to be sent to America. These troops were embarked at
Bordeaux and reached Quebec to the number of about
16,000 in July and August. The hardy veterans who-
composed this reinforcement were ignorant of defeat.
They represented the brave army, which to quote the
words of Napier, ''fought and won 19 pitched battles
and innumerable combats, made or sustained 10 sieges,
took four great fortresses, twice expelled the French
from Portugal, killed, wounded and took 200,00a
enemies, and the bones of 40,000 British soldiers lie
scattered on the mountains and plains of the Penin*
sula." It was with the army of which this reinforce-
ment formed a part, that their trusted leader conducted
to its glorious close the campaign of Vittoria, of which
the same brilliant historian writes: "In this campaign
of six weeks Lord Wellington with 100,000 men
marched 600 miles, passed six great rivers, gained one
decisive battle, invested two fortresses and drove 120,000
veteran troops from Spain. " The result of six campaigns-
had proved and every military man in Europe knew that
this army was the best in the world, its record having
been an unbroken series of victories, and yet the
incompetent or traitorous Sir George Prevost was able
to do what its enemies could not accomplish,^ and briotg^

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THE WAR OF l8l2. 345

this noble body of brave men to shame and humiliation.
The ministry in England had determined on an offen-
sive campaign in Northern New York with a view, it
would appear, of conquering part of that state. Their
motive seems to have been to obtain such a footing in
the territory in question as would lead to a rectification
of the boundary between the United States and the Brit-
ish North American Provinces, which had been so
grossly mismanaged by the British Commissioner, Mr.
Oswald, at the close of the Revolutionary wan Such
an attempt was unwise, as the Duke of Wellington had
pointed out, more than a year before, in a letter to
Lord Bathursty and it was especially unwise because the
plan of invasion was arranged by a ministry more than
3,000 miles away, who knew nothing of the local cir-
cumstances which might make their scheme advisable
or otherwise. But the attempt having been ordered, it
remained for Sir George Prevost to use the best means
at his disposal to carry it out. Yet if this man had
been in the pay of the enemy, he could not have,
arranged matters better to defeat the object of the expedi-
tion than he did. The co-operation of a fleet to com-
mand the Lake was considered necessary, yet only one.
vessel was constructed, and the work upon her was so-
much delayed that she was not nearly completed when
the army was ready to move. When the army did
start its advance was so tardy that the enemy had full
warning of the point of attack, and ample time to pre-
pare against it.

The force selected for the invasion of New York
numbered ii,ooo men, and was divided into three
brigades under Generals Robinson, Power and Brisbane,
the whole forming a division under the command of

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346 THE WAR OF l8l2.

Major General De Rottenburg. The army was put in
motion and crossed the international boundary line at
Odelltown on the ist of September. This place is not
more than 25 miles from Plattsburg, which they could
easily have reached in two days and, no doubt, could
have immediately carried, as the American force was
very weak, having been reduced by the sending of a
large detachment under General Izard to the Niagara
frontier. The moment the British began to advance,
Major General Macomb and the American troops under
his command retired to Plattsburg. Sir George occupied
his abandoned camp at Cham plain on the 3rd, having
been two days advancing somewhat less than five miles.
The same snail-like rate of progression characterized
the subsequent movements of Sir George. The left di-
vision, numbering about seven thousand men, advanced
on the following day to the village of Chazy, about
five miles from Champlain, without experiencing the
slightest opposition. On the sth the troops halted
within eight miles of Plattsburg having advanced about
seventeen miles within the enemy's territory in the
course of four days. On the sixth, the army moved
upon Plattsburg in two columns on parallel roads, the
right column led by Major General Power's brigade,
supported by four companies of light infantry and a
demi-brigade under Major General Robinson going by
the Beckmantown road. The left column, which consist-
ed of Major General Brisbane's brigade, advanced by
the road which runs close to Lake Champlain. General
Macomb had stationed a detachment of regulars with
two field pieces near Dead Creek bridge, to obstruct the
left column, while General Moers with 700 Militia,
supported by Major Wool with 250 Regulars and some

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THE WAR OF l8l2. 347

artillery, were sent to check the right column on the
Beckmantown road. The Militia promptly ran away
the moment the British appeared^ or, to quote the
language of their own general, Macomb, ''fell back
most precipitately in the greatest disorder, notwithstand-
ing the British troops did not deign to fire on them
except by their flankers and advanced patrols/'

As the flight of the panic-stricken Militia who, to
quote their own general once more, ''could not be pre-
vailed upon to stand," exposed the force at Dead Creek
to capture, it had to make an immediate retreat. All
the American histories are filled with accounts of the
brave conduct of this party of Regulars and of Major
WooFs men, as they retreated, and of the great losses
they inflicted on the British and, no doubt, the terrified
citizen soldiers of New York, some of whom proba-
bly afterwards became historians of the war, thought
this petty skirmish to be a dreadful battle. On this
point we require no better authority than General
Macomb himself, who says: "The field pieces did con-
siderable execution among the enemy's columns. So
undaunted, however, was the enemy, that he never de-
ployed in his whole march, always pressing on in
column. Finding that every road was full of troops,
crowding us on all sides, I ordered the field pieces to
retire across the bridge, and form a battery for its pro-
tection, and to cover the retreat of the infantry, which
was accordingly done." The Americans retreated to
the south side of the Saranac, after destroying the
bridge, while the British army encamped a short dis-
tance north of the River and within a mile of Platts-

The position olccupied by the American army at

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348 THE WAR OF l8l2.

Plattsburg was on an elevated ridge of land crowned
with three redoubts and two block-houses. The re-
doubts were on a curved line across the neck of the
peninsula^ between the Saranac and Lake Champlain,
on which the village stood^ and were named respective-
ly Forts Brown^ Moreau and Scott. This neck is
about one-third of a mile across. Fort Brown was on
the bank of the river, half a mile above the lower
bridge at its mouthy and the same distance below the
upper bridge. Fort Moreau^ which was the principal
work, was 300 yards east of Fort Brown, and halfway
between the river and the Lake, and Fort Scott stood
near the shores of the latter. From the lower bridge to
a point some distance above Fort Brown, the right
bank of the Saranac is steep and from 50 to 60 feet in
height, and about 300 yards above the lower bridge, it is
cleft by a deep ravine which extends from the river
almost to the Lake. Near this ravine a block-house
was built, and on a point to the eastward overlooking
Plattsburg Bay was another block-house. At the
mouth of the river a short distance from the lower
bridge, stood a stone mill which was also used for
defensive purposes. These works mounted altogether
about 20 guns, and were defended by 1500 American
Regulars and 3,200 Militia.

Had Sir George Prevost made an attack on Platts.
burg the same day his army arrived in front of it, the
place would have been taken in an hour and the entire
American force there captured. But this system of
making war might have hurt the feelings of the enemy,,
whom Sir George was always so desirous of conciliat-
ing. Instead of making a prompt movement he halted
his army for five days on the banks of the Saranac, and

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THE WAR OP l8l2« 349

began throwing up batteries^ while the Americans in
full view of him were laboriously strengthening them-
selves in their positions. The sight of this army,
which a few months before, had scaled the Pyrenees
and driven the veteran troops of France from a position
which Soult had been fortifying for three months, being
now halted in front of the paltry defences of Plattsburg,
wascertainly one which probably no other officer of the
British army but Sir George Prevost would have cared
to exhibit. But the natural timidity of this man steeled
him effectually against all feelings of shame, and the
soldiers whom he commanded could only wonder how
they had fsillen under such control as his.

The ostensible cause of Sir George Prevost's delay
before Plattsburg, was his desire for the co-operation of
the fleet on the Lake. This fleet was miserably weak,
and its largest vessel, the Confiance, had only been
launched on the 25th of August, and was not nearly
ready for service at the time of the advance on Platts-
burg commenced. Yet it was on the fitness of this
ship to meet and defeat the enemy that the whole
success of the campaign was made to rest Captain
Downie, who had been one of Sir James Yeo's captains
on Lake Ontario, commanded the British flotilla, and
Sir George states in his official dispatch that imme-
diately after his arrival at Plattsburg he requested Capt
Downie's co-operation. He does not, however, state that
this request for Downie's assistance was made in such
terms as must have been extremely galling to that brave
ofiicer, and led him to go into action before his vessels
were ready, and to make his attack rashly and even
recklessly, so as to give the enemy every advantage.
Sir George sent one letter to the Commander of the

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350 THE WAR OF l8l2.

fleet, stating that the army had long been waiting for
him ; that it had been under arms the day before from
daylight, in expectation of the fleet, and closing with
the hope that nothing but the state of the wind prevent-
ed the fleet from coming up. The brave Downie
replied that he required no urging to do his duty ; that
he should be up the first shift of wind, and make the
signal of his approach by scaling his guns. Capt*
Downie's flotilla was then lying at Isle La Motte, and
a breeze that would be fair for it to come down the
Lake, would be adverse when it sought to enter Platts-
burg Bay and approach the American fleet*

The east side of the mouth of Plattsburg Bay is
formed by Cumberland Head ; the entrance is about a
mile and a half across, and the other boundary south-
Yftst from the Head is an extensive shoal and a small
low island called Crab Island on which the Americans
had a two gun battery. Macdonough had arranged his
vessels in a line extending from a point three-quarters
of a mile inside of Cumberland Head to the shoal off
Crab Island. The head of his line was so close to the
eastern shore of Plattsburg Bay that an attempt to turn
it would place the British under a very heavy fire from
the battery on Cumberland Head, while the other end
of the line was equally well protected by the shoal and
the battery on Crab Island. The line was about a mile
and a half distant from the American batteries, and
therefore within range of their heavy long guns.
Macdonough's force consisted of the ship Saratoga, the
brig Eagle, the schooner Ticonderoga, the sloop Preble
and ten gunboats. These vessels carried between them
86 guns, viz. 14 long 24's, 12 long iS's, 12 long 12'Sy
seven long 9's, six short 42's, 29 short 32's and six

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THE WAR OF l8l2. 35 1

short i8's, and they threw a broadside weighing 1,194
lbs. Captain Downie's fleet consisted of the ship
G^nfiancey just launched, the brig Linnet, the sloops
Chubb and Finch, and 12 gunboats carrying 87 guns,
viz., 30 long 24's, five long i8's, 16 long 12's,
five long 6's, 14 short 32's and 17 short i8's. These
vessels threw a broadside of I9I13 lbs. Had Captain
Downie's flagship, the Confiance, been fully completed
and properly equipped, her superiority in long guns
would have made her in a seaway far more than a
match for the Saratoga, Macdonough's largest vessel,
but this superiority was wholly lost by the manner in
which Downie attacked the enemy, and, as the battle
was fought, the advantage was wholly with the

On the morning of the nth September, Captain
Downie got his fleet under weigh, and gave the signal

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