Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

the conduct of that government had obtained almost a bloodless victory, not obtained the unanimous sancticn only eighteen of the British having of its subjects ; and that scarcely had been killed and wounded. The cir. a week elapsed after the declaration of cumstances of this affair were extremewar, before it was besieged by remon- ly singular. On the 12th of July, strances couched in the most bitter General Hull, after crossing the river terms of censure and reproach. The Detroit, arrived at Sandwich, a small sentiments thus expressed had the efo open place, the capture of which was fect of lowering the tone of the Ame- the first and last of his successes. He rican official paper, which assured the then approached Amherstberg, con. citizens that their government was dis- fident of victory ; but by the rapid posed to accommodate all differences movement of the small British army on the most reasonable terms. From' opposed to him, a fort was taken which this it was inferred, that so soon as the at once exposed his flank and rear to repeal of the orders in council should the attack of his enemy. He was still be known, a change in the policy of protected, however, by Fort Detroit ; the American rulers would be the in- he had a force of 2,500 men, while evitable consequence, and a test at all that of the British amounted not to events would be afforded of the since. half the number ; yet did they deter. rity of their declarations.-. Intelligence mine to storm the American camp. however was soon received, that the But General Hull was not prepared conduct of the republican or war face to resist this vigorous measure, and he tion had been ferocious to the high- at once surrendered at discretion to est degree. The federalists, or mode. the conquerors. rate party, had in several instances Such was the brilliant result of the been treated with gross outrage for first of the British military operations declaring their aversion to the war; during the present American war. and at Baltimore an affray of the Yet was this success in some meamost disgraceful kind had occurred, sure counterbalanced by an in which an old general, the friend of which the people of England were litWashington, was murdered, and ano- tle prepared to expect. A great anther severely wounded. These tran- siety had been expressed that the Brisactions displayed the character of the tish and Americans might meet at sea ; American mob, and extinguished in of the result of such an encounter no reflecting men every hope that the doubt was entertained. The Guerriere voice of reason and moderation might British frigate of 38 guns, fell in with ultimately prevail.

the American frigate the Constitution, While the public mind was still in carrying 46 guns, much heavier than suspense as to the future policy of the those of the Guerriere ; the American American government, an appeal to seamen also were nearly double the arms had already been made ; and the number of the British. An obstinate first military operations of the Ameri- action ensued. The mizen-mast of cans were attended with the most sig- the Guerriere fell at the first broadside; nal disasters. Their general (Huli) the rest of her masts soon went overwho had undertaken to invade Upper board ; yet with all these disadvanCanada, had ended his short career by tages--against the prodigious superisurrendering himself and the whole of ority in weight of metal, as well as in his army, with the fort of Detroit, and the numbers of men which the Ameriforty-three pieces of cannon, to the cans possessed, she fought till she was British Major-General Brock, who ready to founder. Such was her state

event

at the close of the action, that the uninhabited; a country whose governAmericans were obliged to set her on ment, and almost every man living fire ; they were thus deprived of the under it, had land to sell; a country satisfaction of carrying her in triumph in which husbandry and the arts lanjoto port. Yet although this affair, so guish for want of men, endeavour to far from reflecting discredit on the purchase lands with the lives of its officers and crew of the Guerriere, was citizens ? America wants men and such as to sustain the reputation of the money, not land ; and yet the goBritish navy, a deep feeling of disap- vernment was about to surrender men pointment and regret was experienced and money in the uncertain hope of in consequence of the disaster. adding millions of acres, covered with

The revocation of the orders in eternal snow, to those millions of fertile council produced no effect on the soil which America already possessed, American government, which still in- and which remained useless for want of sisted on the principles—that free bot. hands to cultivate them.” toms should make free goods ; that The British arms were destined to at. British seamen should in no instance tain yet higher honours in the defence be taken out of American ships; and of Canada. A second attempt to inthat the British principle of blockade vade this settlement was made under should be abandoned. The first prin. the American General Wadsworth, ciple no British minister would have who, on the 13th of October, attack. dared to concede; on the second, Eng. ed Queenstown with a considerable land was always willing to have come force. He was, in the first instance, to an amicable arrangement with Ame- successful in carrying the position, but rica. She had officially intimated was not allowed to retain it long. her readiness to prohibit impressments Major-General Brock having come from American vessels, if the Ameri. up with a small body of men, comcans would enact laws prohibiting posed of regular troops, militia, and their officers from granting protec- Indians, a successful attempt was made tions, or certificates of citizenship, to to turn the flank of the Americans, British subjects. The third and last while their attention was engaged by principle, that of blockade, was one an attack of artillery in front. The on which there could be no compro- enemy was thus assailed at all points, mise, without sacrificing the superiori. and, after a short but spirited conflict, ty of Great Britain at sea.

was completely defeated. Brigadier. The surrender of General Hull General Wadsworth, with the whole produced a deep sensation of gloom of his officers, and upwards of 900 throughout America, and violent al. men, were made prisoners ; the loss of tercations arose with respect to his the Americans in killed and wounded conduct. The government contended was very considerable. That of the that he had been guilty of the basest British was trifling ; yet the co

country cowardice ; while he and his friends had to regret the fall of Major. Gene. maintained, that the means with which ral Brock, who perished in this galhe had been supplied were inadequate lant and successful enterprize. Thus to the expedition entrusted to him. were the British arms once more vicThe project of conquering Canada was torious against a prodigious superiby many represented as ridiculous and ority of numbers ; and the attempt of whimsical in extreme. “ On what the Americans to accomplish the conprinciple," it was asked, “could the quest of Canada was again defeated. "rulers of a country, part of which was The American people, disheartened with these repeated disasters, seem to They were led yesterday by Colonel have been anxious for an adjustment of Elliot, and nothing could exceed their their differences with Great Britain; ardour and steadiness. A few prisoners but their government was determined were taken by them, whom they treat. to prevent any pacific arrangemented with every humanity, and it affords by the terms which it demanded. An me much pleasure to state, that such armistice was proposed by the pre

was their forbearance and attention to sident, on condition that the orders what was required of them, that the in council should be repealed without enemy sustained no other loss in men a revival of the blockade ; that Ame. than what was occasioned by the fire rican seamen in British ships should of our batteries.”—Such therefore be discharged; and that a stop should were the proposals of the American be put to their impressment in fu- government for an armistice, and such ture. The advantages were thus to its misrepresentations as to the mode be all on the side of America ; she was in which the war had been conducted. to have the benefit of the repeal of the Yet, confident as the rulers of Ameorders in council, and to obtain the un- rica were, they were forced to acknow. conditional discharge of all seamen ledge that the war was unpopular; who had obtained certificates of Ame. that the states of Massachusets and rican citizenship. And all this she Connecticut had refused to furnish demanded as the condition of her sus- their proportions of militia towards pending, for a time, the operation of the defence of the maritime frontier ; her mighty means of warfare against and that the finances were in a state England !-Such propositions could of decay. not be acceded to. The president, The Americans were destined most in another speech to congress, com- unexpectedly for a while to enjoy an plained much of the conduct of Great apparent triumph at sea, which the Britairt, and indulged in numerous

confidence of the British in the virtue misrepresentations. He repeated his of their navy rendered at once surassertion, that the Indians in our ser- prising and áflicting. The Macedovice had committed the most shocka nian frigate was, on the 25th Deceming cruelties ; and contrasted our con- ber, captured after a severe and desduct with the pacific demeanour of perate action by the American frigate the people of the United States, who United States. The inequality in the were anxious only to promote civili. size of the vessels, in the number and zation among these tribes. Yet the weight of the guns, and the disprobest evidence to prove the humanity portion in the number of men, were not of the British in this respect, is to be less striking in this instance than in found in the dispatches of Major- that of the Guerriere. Yet the acGeneral Brock, an officer whose me. tion was obstinately contested, and mory will be dear to every English- the British frigate surrendered only man. When this contest

in consequence

of a number of unto menced,” he said, “ many of the In. ward accidents which could not have dian nations were engaged in actual been foreseen, but not till she had war with the United States, notwith- been reduced to a state which suffistanding the greatest endeavours of ciently evinced the bravery and persethis government to dissuade them from verance of the officers and crew. -A it. From the moment the war com- violent and unjust clamour was now menced, they took a most active part, raised against the admiralty and the and appeared firm on every occasion. government, which, however, was very

com

manner.

easily put down, by an impartial en- plement of 450 to 500 men. It is also quiry into the circumstances in which worthy of remark, that this portion these distressing events had occurred. of their navy is the elite of the corps, It was asked, why had not the Mace. has been long in commission, and comdonian been manned in the same man- manded by their best officers ; add to ner with the American frigate? The which, that they are our own degene. obvious answer was, that she had rate sons that man them, many of not been intended to meet an Ame- whom are absolutely fighting against rican vessel called a frigate ; that on us (as it were) with halters about the extended scale of the British navy, their necks. it had not been considered possible,

“ The rest of their frigate navy are and never had been thought necessary, like our own, and of a similar size and to arm or man British frigates in that equipment.

There had been no insufii, " The out-cry made against the go. ciency of naval force on the American vernment is, that this small comparastation at the commencement of the live force has not already been swal. war ; from Halifax to the West In- lowed up. They, however, like a dies there were stationed ships seven mouse on Salisbury plain," and ha. times more powerful than those of the ving a roving commission, are of course whole American navy collected. But not long in one spot. When met at to the groundless apprehensions gene- sea by the Guerriere and Macedonian, rated in a moment of disappointment, two of our heaviest frigates now in the best answer was given in the fol- commission, the fight was between lowing sensible observations, which single ships, and the result has been may be read with interest, when the known, to the sorrow certainly of all puny navy of America shall cease to lovers of their country. But will it be remembered.

be asserted by any one that our whole “ There are three of the American frigate navy must be remodelled in frigates, viz. the Constitution, the consequence of this check, possibly President, and the United States, a salutary one, for our vanity might which were originally intended for require it ; would it not be better line of battle ships, and are of 1600 at once to declare, that their three tons burthen, and upwards, admea- ships, viz. the Constitution, President, surement. They carry fourteen twen- and United States, are line of battle ty-four pounders, long guns, on a side, ships, having equipments in men and on their main-deck, and are armed on ordnance and capacity equal thereto, their quarter-deck and forecastie, which and exonerate our captains of frigates nearly meet, with thirteen thirty-two from going alongside of them, unless pounder carronades of a side, making assisted by some additional force. It a total of fifty-four heavy guns. By should be remembered by the public their capacity this battery is elevated that a captain of a British 32-gun possibly ten feet above the lead water frigate mounting only 12-pounder line, from the lower sill of the main- carronades, is bound to fight any

single-decked ship (meaning thereby “It is right further to remark, that u gun-deck" as contradistinguished this great capacity enables them to from quarter-deck and fore-castle, possess considerably larger scuttles for though their two platforms nearly ventilating them betwixt decks, and meet) and consequently proceeds into by such combined power of space and battie, a willing sacrifice to the ho. air, they are enabled to carry a com- nour of the fag, whose independence

deck ports.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

be is most certainly bound to maintain that the department of the govern But surely there should be some bounds ment, to which this great responto such honourable chivalry. Former- sibility attaches, may be disposed to ly it was necessary, or at least thought do so ; but it requires considerable so, for a regiment to remain exposed care in the selection of the ships, not to a severe galling fire which possibly only as to their state of repair, but they could not return to advantage, also as to their form of body, for an merely because a British soldier was easy two-decked ship may be a most never to turn his back on an enemy: laborious single-decked ship, and she But such courage is better managed may be dismasted in the first gale she now a-days, thanks to Lord Welling- encounters. Time must also be given ton and other able men who have for such a process. It is easy

for

perlearnt in his lordship's school. And sons who know little of the subject why not permit our frigates (of which to clamour, why have we not this or I repeat again the Guerriere and Ma. this ? the moment it is wanted. Do cedonian are as good specimens of force

our countrymen, at least the sensible as we can bring ; and being both taken part, forget that our navy, with the in single action, shews that they are most rigid economy, costs us twenty not equal to such frigates of the Ame- millions annually, and would, if such rican navy as before described) to re- prodigality were used, cost us thirty tire from such force, as they are accus- millions ? Do they forget of what tomed to do from two-deck ships ? perishable materials ships are com

“ It is said by some who rather de. posed? Do they forget that dreadful light in exhibiting any loss of war disease the dry rot? But suppose (this country must in common share we had three or four or six, say of this with other nations) as the faults of description of frigates, like the Amethe persons whose cause they do not rican ones, either by building or cutespouse, that we do not man our ships ting down larger ships for the purenough. Why, say they, not put the pose, it may happen, and most likely same number of men as the American will happen, that they never meet the frigates ? The answer is easy, our large Americans. The two finest frifrigates cannot stow them; and, if gates of ours, the Endymion and Cam. stow them, or rather crowd them, they brian, have, I will not say not been could not take the necessary supplies engaged at all, but certainly never of provisions, for the usual period of with a frigate of any sort. a common foreign service. Our fri.

“ But even admitting that we had gates of the first class, with the ex. them, and that they did meet, might ception of the Endymion and Cam- not some of our fast-sailing two-deck. brian, the former now repairing, and ed ships now in the American seas the latter either taken to pieces or be equally and successfully employ. about to be, are about 1050 tons, 600 ed-nay better; for the certainty of tons less than either of the frigates victory, with a comparatively less loss, before described.

would be greater.

On the whole, “ It may be then said, and indeed therefore, consider that the nation is already said, build them !_This should at once vote, as it were, these certainly may be done, and possibly three American soi disant frigates, will be to a proper extent, if any fit line of battle ships, and support a two.decked ships whose upper works man, and not run his character down, are in a state of decay, can be found who considered it right to retire from to cut down. It is also possible one--they would ther be of no more

« ForrigeFortsett »