« ForrigeFortsett »
ment braved every thing: that lieutenant Bayly merited honour-
Major 23d regt. Infantry. To Major general
Stephen Van Rensselaer, Albany.
ALBANY, January 23d, 1813. DEAR SIR,
I sincerely regret that you and the officers under your immediate command have not been represented to the commander in chief, which, from the statement you have made, their gallantry merits.
It certainly was my desire that ample justice should have been done to every individual under my command, and more especially yourself, for whom I entertain the highest respect as a military man.
The want of correct information, owing to your having been made a prisoner, and lieutenant colonel Fenwick dangerously wounded, induced me, before I left the army, to request brigadier general Smyth to mention to general Dearborn such officers as had been omitted by me in my official despatch, in a manner their conduct deserved. This duty, I presume, has been performed.
With great respect, &c.
S. VAN RENSSELAER. Major Mullany.
* Lieutenant Turner was made a prisoner early, and was afterwards re: taken.
HEAD QUARTERS, PORTAGE RIVER,
15 miles from Miami Rapids, January 24th, 1815. SIR,
It is with the deepest regret that I have to inform you, that the detachment under general Winchester has been entirely destroyed by an Indian and British force, on the morning of the 22d instant, at the river Raisin. About 12 o'clock on that day I was informed at the Rapids, by a messenger from an officer who was marching to reinforce general Winchester, that the general had been attacked that morning, and that the Frenchman who brought this intelligence, supposed that our troops were retreating. I had then with me a regiment of Ohio militia, about three hundred and fifty strong. I'wo detachments were on the way to join general Winchester, but had taken different roads. One or two hundred Ohio troops were marching on the edge of the lake, and the other three hundred strong were pursuing Hull's road. Leaving direction for the regiment in camp to follow me, I proceeded on and overtook the detachment of Kentucky troops in about five miles. Additional information was now received. The French citizens were flying in considerable numbers in carryalls upon the ice, and about 3 o'clock some of the fugitives began to arrive. All agreed that the defeat was total and complete that the troops were nearly all surrounded and cut off, or taken by 7 o'clock--that general Winchester was seen retiring a few miles from the river Raisin along Hull's trace, with a few men and two or three officers, all of whom were entirely exhausted—that they were pursued by Indians on horse back, who were constantly thinning their numbers by firing upon them, and that our men were unable to resist, as almost all of them had thrown away their arms. I could not hesitate as to the propriety of hurrying to their assistance as long as there was a possibility of being able to afford any; but I was much embarrassed in the choice of the roads which it was proper to take; that upon the ice, would afford the most easy and expeditious march, and that route, major Col. grove, with the battalion before mentioned, had taken. On the contrary, all the accounts agreed that general Winchester had taken the land road, but in a short time, from the fugitives who began to drop in, I learnt that general Winchester and the forty or fifty men who
were with him were all cut of, a few excepted, who had taken off to the margin of the lake; and from those who were last from the scene of action, I learnt that all resistance upon the part of the troops that had remained there, had ceased before 3 o'clock. The question then to be determined, was, whether it would be proper to advance to the scene of action or not. The force with me, when joined by colonel Grove's battalion, would amount to nearly nine hundred men. This battalion had made a forced march of twelve miles the morning of the action, and had arrived within about 15 miles of the river Raisin, when the major received such certain information of the total defeat of the troops, that he had thought proper to return, and was then within a few miles of us. General Payne, general Perkins, and all the field officers were consulted, and it was unanimously determined, that as there could be no doubt of the total defeat of general Winchester, there was no motive that could authorize an immediate advance, but that of attacking the enemy, who were reported to be greatly superior in numbers, and were certainly well provided with artillery; that after a forced march of thirty-two miles (the distance from our then position from the river Raisin) the troops would be too much ex. hausted to encounter the enemy; that colonel Grove's battalion, from having already marched twenty-five miles that day, would be unable to accompany us.
It was therefore determined to return to camp with the troops, but large detachments of the most large and vigorous men were sent along the different routes to assist and bring in the fugitives. I had despatched colonel Wells early in the evening in a carryall to procure intelligence. He progressed within twelve miles of the scene of action and reo, turned about 9 o'clock. A council of war was then called, con sisting of the general and field officers, and two questions submitted to them, viz: whether it was probable that the enemy would attack us in our then situation, and if they did, could we resist them with effect?
At this council, major M Clanehan, of the Kentucky volun- . teers, who escaped from the action, assisted. He was of opinion that there were from sixteen hundred to two thousand British and Indians opposed to our troops, and that they had six pieces of artillery, principally howitzers. It was the unanimous opinion of the council, that under all circumstances it would be proper to return a short distance upon this road which the artillery and reinforcements were approaching; for should we be able to maintain our camp, by getting in our rear the enemy would defeat our troops in detail, in spite of all the efforts we could make, and would take the all important convoy of artillery and stores coming from Upper Sandusky. The march to this place was accordingly made yesterday; where I shall wait for the artillery and a detachment under general Leftwich. I hope in a few days again to be at the Rapids. With respect to the disaster that has happened, and the cause which has produced it, it is proper that I should
say, that the movement which led to it, was not only without my knowledge or consent, but entirely at variance with the instructions that I had given to general Winchester. As soon as I was informed that it had been made, every effort in my power was used to increase their strength. Three hundred men more than the general had asked for, were on their march to join him. As his situation enabled him to obtain the most correct information of the strength and position of the enemy, I could not doubt of his having obtained it. ' In justice to general Winchester, however, it is my duty to observe that I have
understood that the detachment under colonel Lewis was made at the earnest solici. tations of his officers, and perhaps contrary to his judgment. However deeply to be lamented, sir, the destruction of the detachment under general Winchester may be as a national calamity, and as it regards the families of the valuable individuals who have fallen, it has by no means destroyed my hopes of success with regard to the accomplishment of the principal objects of the campaign, unless the weather should be uncommonly unfavourable. I shall return to the Rapids in a few days with a force considerably superior to any that the enemy can collect in the upper district of Canada. I can discover no despondence amongst the troops that are with me, and I trust that something may yet be done to compensate us for the hardships and difficulties which we every moment sustain.
The account given by major M'Clanehan and captain Groves, of the action of the 22d, is that the enemy commenced just after revellie to throw shells amongst our troops before the officers and men had risen from their beds. They were however formed, but very inconveniently posted, and being entirely surrounded, they were taken in twenty minutes. The general endeavoured to rally them after they had passed the river, but without effects Forty or fifty with the general broke through in that direction, but from the depth of the snow those on foot were soon exhausted, and were in a short distance overtaken by the Indians. The general frequently attempted to form them to oppose the Indians, but his efforts were ineffectual. I am unable to say what are the proportion of the killed and prisoners. Some of the Frenchmen whom I have seen, assert that five hundred were killed; others, eight. I am still, however, in hopes that the greater part are prisoners. I have seen one man who asserts that he saw general Winchester killed, scalped, and his bowels taken out. Such are the allies of a power which boasts its attainments in every art 'and science, and such the war associates of British officers who claim distinction for their nice feelings and delicate sense of honour.
I have the honour to be, &c.
WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON. But 2 officers and 25 or 30 privates have reached my camp from the battle of the river Raisin. Honourable James Monroe,
acting Secretary of War.
OTTER CREEK, January 12th, 1813. SIR,
I have taken the liberty to send per express to inform you that the enemy are apprized of your being at the Rapids, and have removed all the friends of our government to Malden prison, and at present, we are beset with spies. I expect the guard to search for me every moment. I have, agreeably to my orders from Mr. Shields, your acting contractor, engaged fifty barrels of flour, and two hundred bushels of wheat. If you, sir, see proper to send a detachment of cavalry and riflemen, with arms and ammunition for thirty men for this place, we can secure, it is supposed, three thousand barrels of flour and a great quantity of corn and wheat. There are but forty or fifty soldiers garrisoned at the river Raisin, and not one hundred savages; there is not one thousand English, French, and savages at Malden. If
you do not come to-morrow or the next day, you will not find a man at this place. The English are collecting all the savages to rally at the river Raisin for the purpose of giving battle. They are engaging sleighs to transport the flour and grain to their Pandora's box, Malden. Five hundred true and brave Americans can secure the district of Erie. A timely approach of our armies will secure us trom being forced to prison, and the whole place from being burned by savage fury.
Your humble servant, &c.
ISAAC DAY. P. S. Please to excuse this scroll, as I write in the woods without a fire.
His excellency Gov. Harrison.
HEAD QUARTERS N. W. ARMY, PORTAGE RIVER,
15 miles from the Miami Rapids, January 26th, 1813.
I have the honour to enclose herewith, a duplicate of my letter of the 25th instant, together with the official report of colonel Lewis to general Winchester of the action of the 18th instant.
That you may be enabled to judge of the propriety of the steps which were taken by me previously to the unfortunate event at the river Raisin, I proceed to give you an account of the situation of the troops and the arrangements I had made for their advance:—the left wing of the army under the immediate orders of general Winchester, consisting of the 6th regiment Kentucky troops, a battalion of Ohio infantry, and a detachment of regulars under colonel Wells.
The importance of keeping a considerable force on this line after the advance of the army, from its vicinity to the Indian tribes of the Wabash and lake Michigan, induced me to direct general Winchester to take with him three Kentucky regiments and the regular troops only. With these, amounting to abg thirteen hundred men, he marched from his camp, five miles below the mouth of the Auglaise river, on the 31st ultimo. On the