William M'Carty.

History of the American war of 1812, from the commencement, until the final termination thereof on the memorable eight of January, 1815, at New Orleans online

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Online LibraryWilliam M'CartyHistory of the American war of 1812, from the commencement, until the final termination thereof on the memorable eight of January, 1815, at New Orleans → online text (page 1 of 27)
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****** ^^ ^"^ Rememberrh^ that on the sixth day of

* ^ * May, in the fortieth year of the Indefiendence of

* ' '% the United States of America.^ A, D. 1816, WiL-
****** £^^3j M'^CARfr^of the said district, hath deposited

VI this office, the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as
/irojirietor, in the words fo II oiuing, to wit :

« History of the American War, of eighteen hundred mid.
" twelve, from the commencement until the final termination
" thereof, on the memorable eighth of January, 1815, at J^^^.
" Orleans: embellished with a striking likeness of generat Pi,y^^
*' and six other engravings^*

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States
entituled " An act for the encouragement of learning, by secur-
ing the co/iies of mafis, charts, and books to the authors and pr^-
jirietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned^*
And also to the act entitled,''' An act supplementary to a?iact,
entitled, « An act for the encouragement of learning, by secur-
ing the copies of maps, charts, and books to the authors and pro-
prietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned,'*
and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, en-
i(ravin((, and etching historical and other prints."

Clerk of the District of Pennsylvania.


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■'t: PAGE.

Introduction, ^J

Expedition of general Hull, a-nd inarch through the In-
dian Country, 10

Invasion of Canada, and reconnoitering on the Thames, 11
Attack on the British advanced posts and Fall of Michil-

limackinack, 12

Policy of Britain and America towards the Indians, 13

Skirmishing, and American supplies intercepted, - ±4*

Battle of Maguago, - - - ij

Canada evacuated, Detroit summoned, and surrender of

the army, 16

Massacre at Chicago, 18

Character of the American navy, - - - - 19
Cruize of the squadron under commodore Rodgers, and

pursuit of the Belvidera, - - - - - 21

Escape of the Constitution, 23

Capture of the Guerriere, 21

Cruize of the Essex, - - - 25

Rodgers' second cruize, and tlie Argus, - - - 27

Capture of the Macedonian, 27

Capture of the Frolic and Wasp, - - - - 2S

Affairs on the lakes, capture ol the Caledonia and Detroit, 32

Battle of Queenstown, - - - - - - 33

Smyth's abortive expedition, - - - - - 31

Military ardour of the Western States, and fort Wayne

relieved, - - - 36

Indian expeditions, 36

March through the wilderness to Foit Defiance, - 57

Failure of Tupper's projected expedition, - - 40

Expedition to the rapids of Miami, - - - 40

Second expedition thither, and seige of Fort Harrison, 42
Relief of that post, and expedition against the Peoria
towns, - - - - 44

Destruction of the Indian towns on the Wabash, - 46

Destruction of the Indian towns on the Mississin^wa, 47

Expedition against the Florida Indians, - - - 47


The Bonne Citoyenne challenged, ^ . - 5 i
Capture and destruction of the Java, - - - 51
Capture and destruction of the Peacock, - - 53
Cruize of the Chesapeake, and her capture by the Shannon, 56
Capture of the Argus, - - . - 62
Capture of the Boxer, - - . . 63
Cruize of the President and Congress, - - d-i
Cruize of the Essex, - - - > G7
American Privateers— The Rolla and the Comet, - 69
The General Armstrong and the Decatur, - - 71
Battle near the river Raisin, - - -72
Battle of Frenchtown, - . - - 74
Massacre of the prisoners, - - , - 75
Construction of and siege of Fort Meigs, - - 76
Skirmishing on the St. Lawrence, - - _ 77
Capture of Ogdensburg and of York, . - 78
(Capture of Fort George, - - . - 80
Generals Chandler and Winder made prisoners, - 81
Capture of Bcerstler's detachment, - - - S3
Attack on Sackett*s Harbour, - - - 83
Sodus burnt, and second attempt on Sackett's Harbour, 83
Attack on Black Rock, - - - - 85
Seige of Lower Sandusky, - - - - 86
Norfolk threatened by the British squadron and bombard-
ment of Lewistown, - - - - 88
Capture of the Dolphin, &c. and action between the Fox

and Adeline, - - _ . . 90
Annapolis and Baltiniore threatened, - - 9t
Burning of the villages of Havre de Grace, &c. - 91
Attack on Craney Island, - - - - 91
Outrages at Hampton, - - . - 92
Decatur's squadron driven into New London, , - 9^
Attempt to blow up the Ramilies, - - - 94
Explosion of a torpedo, - - - - .. 94"
Capture of the British squadron on lake Erie, - 95
Evacuation of Maiden aud Detroit, - - - loo
Capture of the British army, - - - lOi
Moderation of the conquerers, - - - 103
Expedition to- the Peoria lake, - - - 105
Inactivity of the army at Fort George, - - 106
Chauncey's cruises on lake Ontario, - - - 106
Engagement with the Royal George under Kingston bat-
teries, - - - . - . 107
Engagement with Yeo's squadron, - - - io9
Veo chasid round the lake, - - ~ 110


I'hauncey's second engagement with Yeo, - - 111

Capture of the British transports, . - - 113

Movements on lake Champlain, - - - 114

General Hampton invades Canada, - - 115

Wilkinson moves down the St. Lawrenee, - - 116

Battle of Williamsburgh, - - - - 117

Hampton declines a junction, . - - 120

The army moves into winter quarters, - - 120

Evacuation of Fort George, - - - 121

Fort Niagara taken, and the Niagara frontier laid waste, ±22

Events on the vSouthern frontier, and seizure of Mobile, 123

War with the Creek Indians, - - - 121?

Capture of Fort Minis, - - - - 125

Battle of Tallushatches, - - - - 126

Battle of Talledega, . . - - 127

Destruction of the Hillibee towns, - - 128

Battle of Autossee, - - - - 129

Expedition to the Tallapoosie river, - - 131

Retaliation, - - - 131

Correspondence on the emplovmeut of the Indians, - 133

Remarks on the armj and navy, - - - 137

Breaking up of the cantonments at French mills, and

affair at La Cole mill, - - - - 139

General Wilkinson suspended, , - - 140

March of Brown's army to the Niagara, - - 140

Holmes' expedition on the Thames, - - 140

Situation of affairs on lake Ontario, - - 143

Attack on the towns on the American margin of the lake, 143

Capture of a British detachment at Sandy bay, - 145

Burning of Long Point, _ - - - 147

Capture of Fort Erie, and Battle of Chippewa plains, 148

Battle of Bridgevvater, - - - - 151

Attack upon Buffalo, - - - - 156

Siege of Fort Erie, - - - - 157

General assault of the works, , - - 158

Capture of two schooners on lake Erie, - - 160

Critical situation of the garrison in Fort Erie, - 160

Brilliant sortie, - - - - - 161

The British raise the siege, - - - 162

Expedition under general Bissell, - - - 162

M'Arthur's expedition towards Burlington Heights, 163

Evacuation of Canada, - - - - 163

British depredations in the Chesapeake, - - 165

Movements of Barney's flotilla, - - - 165

Measures for the defence of Baltimore and Washington, 167


Arrival of the expedition under general Ross, - - 168

Lauding and movements of the British army, - - 168

Battle of Bladensburg, 17q

Capture of Washington, and destruction of i\ie public

buildings, I74

Retreat of the British, 176

Fort Warburton blown up, 177

Alexandria plundered, 177

Preparations for cutting off the retreat of the plunderers, 178
Bombardment of the batteries under commodores Porter

and Perry, 179

Commodore Rodgers* fire ships, - . - . 179
Defeat and death of sir Peter Parker, - - - 1S2
Dismissal of the secretary of war, - - - - 183
Conduct of the British at Washington and Alexandria, 183
Burning of Newark and the Moravian towns, - - 184<
Effects resulting from the burning of Washington, in Eu-
rope, and in the United States, - - - - 189

Attack upon Baltiniore, 192

Bombardment of Fort M'llenry, - - - - 194

Retreat of the British, - 193

Proclamation of sir George Prevost, - - - 196

Repulse of the British at Otter Creek, - - - 197

Expedition against Plattsburg, - - - - 197

Capture of the British squadron on lake Champlain, - 200

Attack on the American works near Plattsburg, - 201

Retreat of Prevost, - 202

Operations in New England, 203

Bombardment of Stonington, 203

Proclamation of neutrality towards Eastport, - - 204-

Capture of that place, 205

Capture of Castine, and destruction of the Adams frigate, 206
Surrender of the country between the Penobscot and Pas-

samaquoddy bay, 208

Expedition against Michillimackinac, . - - 208

Destruction of the establishment at St. Mary's, - 209

Attack on Michillimackinac, - - - - - 210

Destruction of the establishment at Nautauwasaga, - 211
Capture of the American blockading force on lake Huron, 212

State affairs in the Creek Territory, - - - 212

Battle of Ecconachaca, 213

Expedition of general Jackson, . . - . 214

Attack Oil , general Floyd's camp, - - - - 218

Battle of tiie Horse Shoe, 219

Treaty of Peace with the Creeks, .... - 232


Repulse of the British at Maiile, - - . 22s

Procia-inatioii of colonel Nichols, - 1 ^ , 224<

Destructioa of the settlement at Barrataria. - - 225

Capture of Pensacoia, 326

Capture of the An eiican gun-boats on lake Borgne, 227

Military preparations at New Orleans, - . - 22S

Landing of the British below the town, - - - 228

Battle of the 23(1 of December, - - - - 229

Description of the country around New Orleans, - 230
Operations of the British previous to the 8th of January, 230

Battle of New Orleans, - - - - - 231

Bombardment of Fort St. Philip, - - - - 234

Operations on the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, 234?

Cruize of the Essex, 235

Captain Porter's reception at Valparaiso, - - 237

Destruction of the British commerce in the Pacific, - 237

The Happah war, ...... 233

Typee war, - - -.- 239

Madison's Island, 240

Capture of the Essex, - - - - - - 240

Sequel of the cruize, ^ - . - - . 246

Result of the campaign ob the Ocean, - - - 247

Destruction of the General Araistrong, ... 248

l*eace between America and Great Britain, - - 250

Its reception in the two countries, - - - 250

Lesions taught by the w ar, . . . ^ > 252


Plate I. Likeness of general Pike to face the title page.

II. Constitution and Guerriere, to face page - 24f

III. United States and Macedonian, to face page 27

IV. Wasp and Frolic, to face page - - - 28
V. Perry's victory, to face page - - - 95

VI.' Battle of North Point, to face page - - 192

VII. Battle of New Orleans, to face page . - - 381




DURING the last thirty years the United States has bcei^
increasing' in population and wealth in a ratio unparalleled in
history. Within that period, its numbers have been more than
doubled, while its forests have been rapidly changing into cul-
tivated fields, and flourishing towns and villages rising, as if
by magic, in the midst of the wilderness. These blessings,
however, have not been entirely unalloyed. The rapid increase
of wealth had introduced luxury, with its accompanying evils,
and had, especially in the larger cities, considerably sullied our
republican simplicity of manners. Our extensive commerce,
too, had embroiled us with several of the European powers,
and finally involved us in war; while the thirst for speculation
which it had excited in almost eveiy class, has undoubtedly
had a demoralizing tendency, though not perhaps in the degree
attributed to it by some politicians, who have placed solely to
that account the want of public spirit and nationality, which
has been charged to this country. The late war, whatever
other evils it may have introduced, has certainly checked this
evil. It has raised the character of the nation in the eyes of
foreign powers, and erected an altar of national glory on which
all local prejudices have been sacrificed, and politicians of
every party have joined liand in hand to celebrate the triumphs
of our country.

A formal declaration of war against Great Britain, was pass-
ed by congress on the 18th of June, 1812, which was proclaim-
ed by the president on the following day. At this time the
whole naval force of the United States amounted only to seven
frigates, and a few sloops of war and other smaller vessels.
The land forces were next to nothing. An army of 35,000
men, it is true, were authorized by congress, and the president
was empowered to call out 100,000 militia; but the latter spe-
cies of force, though strong in defensive operation, in offensive
is perhaps Avorse than nothing, and in a free country like this,
wh'^re a comfortable subsistence is so readily procured, the



embodyii)g of a large regular force is far from being the work
of a clay. Besides, some time is necessary to change the hab-
tts of men from civil to military; men brought up to ease and
indolence cannot at once execute the duties and meet the pe-
rils of war. Considerable difficulties were experienced like-
wise in finding officers fitted for command. Many of the re-
volutionary characters were dead, and those who survived were
almost too old for active service. In this state of things, can
it be a subject of wonder that the raw forces of the United
States, headed by officers who had never seen service, and ac-
companied by rash militia, without subordination, should ex-
perience some disasters in the commencement of their career?
These disasters, however, have thrown no disgrace on the
American name. On the contrary, the conduct of the Ame-
rican armies has reflected honour on their country, and all their
reverses have been occasioned either by the rashness of un-
disciplined bravery, qr by the misconduct or inexperience of
their leaders.

From the disadvantages under which the army laboured, the
Uttle navy of America was entirely free. The previous em-
barrassments of commerce rendered it easy for our naval offi-
cers to supply themselves with a sufficient number of seamen,
and with men too who had all their lives been engaged in si-
milar pursuits, and under the most rigorous discipline; for we
apprehend that but little difference exists as to discipline and
general habits between a merchantman and a ship of war.

At the time of the declaration of war, general Hull, gover-
nor of the territory of Michigan, was on his march through
the Indian country in the state of Ohio, with an army of about
JOOO men, destined for Detroit. In the preceding month of
April the governor of Ohio had been ordered by the president
to call out 1200 militia. This requisition was principally fill-
ed up by volunteers who rendezvoused at Dayton on the 29tii
oi April, and were shortly after placed under the command of
Qjeneral Hull. In the beginning of June the detachment ad-
vanced to Urbanna, where, on the tenth, they were joined by
the 4th regiment of United States infantry. The following
day they commenced their march through the wilderness.

From Urbanna to the rapids of the Miami of the Lakes, the
country belongs to the Indians, and is entirely destitute of
roads. From the rapids to Detroit, along Lake Erie and De-
troit river, are various settlements, principally of French Ca>
.:!adian5. By the treaty of Greenville, concluded by general
V'ayne wiih the Indians in 1795, a number of tracts, generally

': miles square, were ceded to the United States, which fr/rm


chains of posts joining the lakes with the Ohio by the course
of the navigable rivers and the portages connecting them. By
the treaty a free passage both by land and water was to be al-
lowed to the people of the United States, along these chains of
posts. Forts or block-houses have been erected and garri-
soned in most of these ceded tracts since the declaration ot
war, but at the time that the country was traversed by general
Hull's detachment, no civilized being was to be seen between
Urbanna and the Rapids, a distance of at least 120 miles.

Towards the end of June the army arrived at the Rapidsj
where a beautiful and romantic country suddenly opened to
their view, enlivened by the signs of cultivation, and by the
dwellings of their countrymen. Here a beam of joy animated
every countenance, and gave fresh energy and fortitude to
those who had undergone with difficulty the fatigues of a
march at once gloomy and oppressive. On men who had just
emerged from a dreary wilderness, unincumbered by a single
hut reared by the hand of civilization, occupied by nought but
Indians and beasts of prey, the change of scenery had a won-
derful effect.

After stopping here one day for refreshment, the army re-
commenced their march, having previously loaded a suiaU
schooner with the hospital stores and officers' baggage, which
was dispatched to Detroit by water, under a guard of a lieuten-
ant and thirty men. Before they reached Detroit the army '
were informed of the capture of the schooner, and of the de-
claration of war. On the morning of the 5th of July, they ar-
rived at Spring Wells, opposite Sandwich, within a few miles
of Detroit, where they encamped.

As general Hull had received, before his taking command
of the army, discretionary powers to act offensively in case of
war, the invasion of Canada was now determined on, and the
utmost diligence was used in preparation for that event. The
arms of the troops were repaired, a part of the ordnance found
in the fort at Detroit was mounted, and every exertion was
used by the officers to impress on the minds of the soldiery
the necessity of strict discipline and obedience to orders.

On the 12th of July the army crossed into Canada, with the
exception of a small part of one company of militia, that re-
fused to pass the river. They encamped at Sandwich, a little
below Detroit, where a proclamation was issued by general
Hull. The inhabitants fled in the utmost consternation on the
approach of the army, but on receiving the proclamation, ma-
ny of them returned to their homes.

On the 14th a company of militia and a rifle corps, und'


colonel M' Arthur were detached to reconnoitre the country.
They penetrated to M'Gregor's mills, upon the the river La
Tranche, or Thames, a short distance from the field of battle
where the British army was captured fifteen months after-
wards by general Harrison. On the 17th, they returned to
camp, having collected a great quantity of provisions, and a
number of blankets, besides a considerable quantity of ammu-
nition and other military stores.

That part of Upper Canada traversed by the detachment is
described by one of the volunteers that composed it as ex-
tremely fertile and beautiful. The fields of wheat and Indian
corn were remarkably fine; but as every male capable of bear-
ing arms had been drafted for the defence of the province^
vast quantities of the wheat remained ungathered.

On the 16th, another reconnoitering party of 280 men, un-
der colonel Cass, was dispatched in an opposite direction,
towards Fort Maiden, where the British and Indians had con-
centrated their forces.

Maiden, or Amherstburgh, is situated near the junction of
Detroit river with lake Erie, about thirteen miles south from
the camp of general Hull at Sandwich. The road lies along
the river, and crosses two creeks, and the river Aux Canards,
the latter about four miles from Maiden. Cass's detachment
found the British advanced posts in possession of abridge over
the Aux Canards. After examining their position, the colonel
posted a company of riflemen near the bridge, and forded the
river about five miles above with the remainder of his force
with the intention of surprising the British post. For that pur-
pose the riflemen were instructed to commence firing, in or-
der to^divcrt the attention of the enemy, as soon as they should
perceive tiieir companions on the opposite side of the river.
Unfortunately, however, being entirely destitute of guides,
the detachment marched too near the bank of the river, and
found their progress checked by a creek, which obliged them
to make a circuit of two or three miles. This gave tlie enemy
time to make their arrangements, and prepare for their de-
fence. On being attacked, however, they retreated to Mai-
den, and left the bridge in possession of the detachment; but
as colonel Cass had received no orders to keep possession of
any post, but had been sent merely to reconnoitre, this bridge,
.which formed the principal obstruction between the American
camp and Maiden, was abandoned, and the detachment return-
ed to camp.

Meanwhile the main body of the Americans remained inac-
ve at Sandwich. Not a single cannon or mortar was on


wheels suitable for the attack of Maiden; nor was it until the
7th of August that two 24 pounders and three howilzcrs were
prepared. Previous to that day, however, a great change had
taken place in the prospects of the Americans. The news of
the surprise and capture of the island and fort of Michilli-
mackinac* by a combined force of British and Indians, which
took place on the 17th of July, and reached the army on the 28th.
The surrender of this post is stated by general Hull to have
" opened the northern hive of Indians,'* and to have induced
those who had hitherto been friendly to pass over to the British.

The policy observed by the British and American govern-
ments towards the Indians was of a diametrically opposite com-
plexion. The American government did every thing in its
power to civilize those unfortunate tribes who live within
their limits, and to introduce among them the practice of agri-
culture and the mechanic arts, with a view to wean them from
the hunter state, a state which is becoming daily more pre-
carious and unprofitable from the increase of the population
of the country, and which renders them extremely dangerous
neighbours. The policy of the British, on the contrary, is to
keep them in their hunter state, by which they not only sup-
ply a lucrative branch of trade, but furnish a powerful weapon
in war. It is not to be wondered at, then, that the Indians,
who delight in warfare, and ail of whose habits are averse
from the pursuits of civilized life, should cling to the British,
and should view the Americans, from their rapid increase of
population and strength, with jealousy and dislike. From
this cause Canada has ever been a thorn in the side of the
United States. While in possession of the French, by whom
it was originally settled, the most powerful efforts were made
by the British and provincial troops to gain possession of the

In the French v/ar of i756, after three wholly disastrous
campaigns, and one of mingled disaster and success, the Ame-
ricans, assisted by powerful British aid, at last succeeded in

* MichUlimackinac^ or Makina^ is a small islatid situated m
the entrance of the strait betivetn lakes Huron and Michigan,
The fort is the most northern milziary fiost in the United States.
Mere a great fair <was annually held^firevious to the war, ivhich
zvas principally frequented by the Indian traders a7id the mer-
chants of Montreal, for the purpose of exchanging the peltries
of the uncivilized regions for the maniifactures cf Great Bri-

B 2


uniting Canada to the British dominions, and thereby restoring
peace to their harrassed frontiers. The same complaints
against the possessors of Canada for exciting the Indians to
hostility were urged in those days, that have been repeated
against their successors the British, and by none was the use
of this weapon more reprobated than by those who lately em-
ployed it. Such is the different lights in which a subject ap-
pears when it operates for or against usi

By the fall of Michillimackinac, the junction of the Indians,
and the reinforcements, both of militia and regulars, which the
inactivity of the Americans enabled the British to collect for
the defence of Maiden, it soon became evident that no effective
measures towards the reduction of Canada could be undertak-
en by this army.

Several skirmishes happened between reconnoitering parties

Online LibraryWilliam M'CartyHistory of the American war of 1812, from the commencement, until the final termination thereof on the memorable eight of January, 1815, at New Orleans → online text (page 1 of 27)