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§ 1. Battle near the River Raisin. 2. Battle of Frenchtown. 53. Mas.
sacre of the prisoners. $ 4. Fort Meigs constructed. 5 5. Siege of Fort Meigs. $ 6. Skirmishing on the St. Lawrence. 57. Capture of Ogdensburg. $ 8. Capture of York. $ 9. Capture of Fort George. § 10. Generals Chandler and Winder made prisoners. $ 11. Capture of Bærstler's detachment. 5 12. Attack on Sackett's Harbour. S 13. Sodus burnt. $14. Second attempt on Sackett's Harbour, $ 15. At. tack on Black Rock. $16. Siege of Lower Sandusky.
1. TOWARDS the beginning of January, general Tupper having in a manner paved the way by his expeditions*, general Winchester proceeded down the Miami from Fort Defiance to the Rapids, with the force under his command. On his arrival there, he was strongly urged by the inhabitants of Frenchtown, on the river Raisin, to protect them from the violence and outrage of the horde of savages by whom they were surrounded, and to whose brutalities they were daily exposed. Yielding to to the call of humanity, Winchester, on the 17th of January, by the unanimous advice of his officers, but, it appears, without consulting general Harrison, detached a body of about 750 men, under general Lewis, to their relief.
On the following day, when within three miles of Frenchtown, information was received that a body of British and Indians were encamped at that place, and that they had received notice of their approach. The troops were accordingly arranged and directed to prepare for action, and then proceeded within a quarter of a mile of the enemy, who immediately commenced a fire with a howitzer, from which, however, no injury was received. The line of battle being instantly formed, the whole detachment was ordered to advance across the river on the ice; in which they succeeded, though it was in many places extremely slippery. The left wing and centre were then ordered to possess themselves of the houses and picketing about which the enemy had collected, and where they had placed their cannon. This order was executed in a few minutes. Both battalions advanced amidst an incessant shower of bullets, and succeeded in dislodging the enemy, neither the picketing nor the fencing over which they had to pass checking their progress.
* See Chapter III.
The right wing fell in with the enemy at a considerable distance to the right, and pursued them a mile to the woods, where they made a stand with their howitzer and small arms, covered by a chain of enclosed lots and a group of houses, with a thick brushy wood full of fallen timber in their rear. Lewis now ordered the left and centre to possess themselves of the wood on the left, and to move up towards the main body of the enemy as fast as practicable, in order to divert their attention from the right. At the moment that the left and centre commenced their fire, the right advanced, and the enemy being soon driven from the fences and houses, both parties entered the wood together. The fight now became close, and extremely hot on the right wing, the enemy concentrating their forces on that side, in order to force the line. They were, however, stiil obliged to retreat, , although slowly, the Americans being much fatigued, and were driven, on the whole, not less than two miles, every foot of the way under a continual charge.
The battle lasted from three in the afternoon till dark, when the detachment was drawn off in good order, and encamped at the place which the enemy had first occupied.
The force of the enemy in this affair has never been exactly ascertained; but from the best information, there were 80 to 100 British and 400 Indians. The number of their killed and wounded is likewise unknown, as they were enabled to carry off all but those left on the field where the battle commenced, which was about fifteen; but from the blood, the trails of bodies dragged off, and the reports of the people who lived near the place, the slaughter must have been great, One Indian and two of the Canadian militia were taken prisoners. A quantity of public stores was also taken. The loss of the Americans was twelve killed and fifty-five wounded.
On the 20th, general Winchester joined the detachment, with a reinforcement of 250 men.
$ 2. Meanwhile colonel Proctor, who commanded at Detroit, hearing of the approach of the Americans, advanced to meet them with a body of 1500 Indians and British, 300 of whom were regulars. On the night of the 21st he discovered the American detachment, and early next morning commenced an attack on their lines. The attack commenced at 6 in the morning, by a heavy fire of musquetry, assisted by six field pieces. The main body of the Americans were stationed within pickets on the left; a smaller force, unprotected, occupied the right, who gallantly sustained the shock for a quarter of an hour, when they began to give ground for the purpose of forming in a situation more favourable for their fire, and less exposed to that of
the enemy. At this moment Winchester arrived at the place of conflict, his quarters having been at the distance of three or four hundred yards from the camp, and his attention was immediately directed to rally the retreating party; This retreat, however, being discovered by the enemy, the whole Indian force, together with a portion of the militia, bore down upon them with redoubled violence, and by the superiority of their numbers, and the severity of their fire, prevented their forming. After a short conflict, in which they suffered severely, all that survived were made prisoners.
The left, who were stationed within the pickets, maintained their ground for several hours, and repulsed the British regulars, in three successive charges, with great slaughter. About 11 o'clock, however, Winchester was brought in as a prisoner to this part of the field, and perceiving that resistance was in vain, and influenced by the threat of their being abandoned to savage fury unless they instantly surrendered, he acceded to a capitulation, and sent a flag to the pickets to inform them they were prisoners.
General Harrison was at Lower Sandusky, when he received the intelligence of Lewis having advanced to the river Raisin, and fearing that he might be overpowered, he immediately set out for the Rapids, which he found that Winchester had just left with the reinforcement. When the news of Winchester's disaster reached Harrison, he was about three miles above the Rapids, with 360 men. He immediately ordered them to prepare to march, and set out with his staff to overtake a detachment of 300 men that had set out that morning for the river Raisin. He soon overtook them ; but before the troops that he had left came up, it was ascertained that the defeat was complete, and it was the unanimous opinion of the officers that the detachment should return. A hundred and seventy of the most active men, however, were sent forward, with directions to proceed as far as possible to assist those who were fortunate enough to escape. These, however, were but few: the snow was so deep that the fugitives were entirely exhausted in running a few miles; those that did get off effected it by turning down to the lake, and secreting themselves. There were not more than 40 or 50 that got a mile from the scene of action, and the greater part even of these were overtaken.
93. Though the resistance on the part of the Americans was pui an end to by the capitulation concluded by Winchester, we regret to say, that the most tragical events of this disastrous day are still to be recorded, events which affix an indelible ståin on the arms of the British. After the battle the British returned to Malden with their prisoners, except about 50 or 60 wounded, who were not able to march. A few of the Indians remained behind, who, being joined next morning by about 50 more from Malden, immediately commenced a massacre of the wounded Americans, and afterwards set fire to the houses in which they had been left, and consumed their remains. The same day the Indians massacred a number of their prisoners who had not been wounded, whose remains they would not suffer to be interred, but left them above ground, where they were torn to pieces and devoured by hogs. These horrid outrages are but too well substantiated, not only by the inhabitants of Frenchtown, but by some of the officers who had the good fortune to escape, by being purchased from the savages. Great indignities were likewise inflicted on a surgeon and his two companions, who, a few days after the battle, had been despatched by Harrison with a flag of truce, to attend to the wounded. One of them was killed by the Indians, and the others robbed of the money with which they had been entrusted by the general, for the relief of the most pressing wants of the wounded. After suffering many indignities, not only from the Indians but from the British, under the flimsy pretext of their using the flag only as a cover*, they were at length set at liberty at Montreal, whither they had been carried and imprisoned.
94. On the 23d of January, the day after the surrender of Winchester, Harrison retreated to Carrying river, about midway between Sandusky and the Miami. In the following month he again advanced to the Rapids, where he constructed a fort, which, in honour of the governor of Ohio, was named Fort Meigs. This fort contains about nine acres of ground, nearly in an octagon form. At each corner is a strong block-house, with cannon planted so as to rake each line, and command every elevated point near the fort. Between the block-houses are strong picketings fifteen feet in height, against which a breastwork of clay is thrown up on both sides, and in addition to this, several long batteries were erected, which were well supplied with cannon.
The term of service of a large portion of the militia in Harrison's army having expired, 1200 men were called out by the governor of Kentucky, and despatched under general Green Clay to supply their place. They left Cincinnati, their place of ren
General Harrison, in his official dispatch, states, that the surgeon was furnished with a letter addressed to any British officer he might meet, describing the character in which he went, and the object for which he was sent, an open letter to general Winchester, and written instructions to him. self, all of which he was directed to show to the first officer he met with.
dezvous, in the beginning of April, and arrived near Fort Meigs on the 4th of May, which they learnt was besieged by a large force of British and Indians, under general Proctor.
ŏ 5. Proctor had set out for Fort Meigs with 1000 British and 1200 Indians, about the middle of April, with the expectation of capturing it before the arrival of Harrison's reinforcements and supplies, but, owing to incessant and heavy rains, he was not able to open his batteries before the first of May. A brisk firing was kept up on both sides until the fifth, when a small party of general Clay's detachment arrived, with information of the rest being close at hand. Orders were immediately despatched to Clay, to proceed down the river in his boats, to land 800 men on the left bank of the river, who should immediately attack the enemy's batteries, and spike their cannon, and the remainder on the right bank, who would be aided by a sortie of the garrison. The plan was successfully executed, the cannon were spiked, but unfortunately, instead of returning across the river to the fort, they pursued the flying enemy to the woods, where they were surrounded, and the greatest portion taken prisoners. A great part of the baggage was also taken in the boats by the Indians.
Notwithstanding the unfortunate issue of this affair, however, Fort Meigs was relieved. Proctor, being deserted by the Indians, whom their chiefs could not prevent returning to their villages, as is their custom after any battle of consequence, with their prisoners and plunder, made a precipitate retreat on the 9th of May, having previously secured their ordnance on board a sloop.
9 6. No event of consequence took place on the New York frontier during the winter. The opposing armies being divided by a barrier of ice, not sufficiently strong to allow of the transportation of artillery, peace was only disturbed by a few petty incursions, which each party justified by the plea of retaliation.
On the 6th of February, captain Forsythe, the commanding officer at Ogdensburg, on the St. Lawrence, received information that several men who had deserted from the opposite shore, on the ice, had been taken on the American side by a party of British, and carried off and confined in the jail at Brockville.
In consequence of this intrusion, as it was deemed, Forsythe the same evening crossed over with about 200 militia and riflemen, for the purpose of retaking the prisoners, and capturing the military stores at Brockville. On approaching the Canada shore, a flanking company was detached above, and another below the town, to secure all the passes, to prevent information being communicated to the country. Before the main force