« ForrigeFortsett »
evening before, he despatched an express, informing me of his intention to march the next morning. This express was sent through the woods to general Tupper's camp, fourteen miles advanced of Urbanna, upon Hull's road. A violent snow storm prevented it from reaching general Tupper until the 9th instant, and it was not until the 11th, that it came to me at Upper Sandusky. I immediately gave orders for several droves of hogs, which had been stopped on their route, to proceed towards the Rapids, and I directed the artillery to be prepared to progress as soon as the general's arrival at the Rapids should be announced, which I directed him to do by express, to be sent immediately to Upper Sandusky. Not hearing from the general for some days, I began to conclude that his progress had been stopped by a considerable thaw, which took place about the 1st of the month. On the evening of the 16th instant, I received a letter from general Perkins, enclosing one from general Winchester to him, of the 15th, informing of his arrival at the Rapids on the 10th ;-that it was his intention to advance against the enemy, and directing him (genera. Perkins) to send a reinforcement to the Rapids, of one battalion. Alarmed at this information, I despatched an ex
I press with the enclosed letter, by the direct route to the Rapids, and set out myself to Lower Sandusky, and reached it on the evening of the 17th. On the morning of the 18th, the battalion which general Winchester applied for, marched from Lower Sandusky. About 2 o'clock on the morning of the 19th, a letter from general Winchester was received, of which the enclosed is an extract. I gave immediate orders for the 2d regiment of Perkins's brigade (which consists of two regiments only) to march immediately for the Rapids, and proceeded thither myself. On my way, I received the general's letter of the 19th, informing me of the success of colonel Lewis, a copy of which I had the honour to enclose
from the Rapids. Upon my arrival at the latter place, on the morning of the 20th, I found that general Winchester had marched the preceding day, having left general Payne with about three hundred of the Kentucky troops. It was not until late on the 21st instant, that major Colgrove was enabled to extricate his baggage from the horrid swamp which separates the Miami and Sandusky rivers. He encamped that evening near the Miami bay, and by marching early on the following morning, he had arrived within fifteen miles of the river Raisin, when he was informed of the total defeat of our troops there.
The ad regiment of Perkins's brigade arrived there on the 21st, and I immediately ordered the remaining, part of the Kentucky troops under general Payne, to proceed with all possible expedition to the river Raisin. I was still uneasy for the troops there, but supposing general Winchester had obtained the best information of the strength of the disposable force of the enemy, and as I sent him three hundred men more than he deemed sufficient for maintaining his ground, and as there were a thousand reasons
which made it necessary to maintain it if practicable; I did not think it proper to order him to retreat, although the advance in the first instance was contrary to my wishes, and opposed to a principle by which I have been ever governed in Indian warfare, 1. e. never to make a detachment but under the most urgent circumstances. Amongst the many reasons why the post at the river Raisin should be maintained, the protection of the French inhabitants was not the last. The greater part of these people had received our troops with open arms. Many of them had sallied out of their houses upon the arrival of colonel Lewis, with their arms in their hands, and had even, in the opinion of some of our officers, won the palm of valour from our troops. They attacked and killed the straggling Indians wherever they met them; their houses were all open to our men, and they offered to give up the whole of the provisions which yet remained to them, upon condition that they should not again be abandoned to the fury of the savages, or subjected, for what they had done, to be immured in the prisons of Malden. I had also been informed that the supe plies to be procured there were considerable (see Day's letter enclosed in No. 3), and the assistance to be derived from the caryalls of the inhabitants was an object of the greatest importance. The former of these motives had made so strong an impression upon the minds of the general and his troops, that I am persuaded that nothing but a reiterated order to retreat, would have produced obedience upon the part of the latter. These reasons, together with the respect which it was necessary to shew to the opinion of an officer of high rank and experience, whose opportunities of procuring the most correct information, was much better than mine, produced the determination to support, rather than withdraw the detachment from the river Raisin. Indeed it
appears that there was not time for either, after my arrival at the Rapids
When I left Upper Sandusky, the artillery was ordered to be sent on immediately to the Rapids, escorted by three hundred men. Detachments were also ordered for the pack horses, wagons and sleds, which were constantly progressing thither. Another battalion could also have been drawn from Lower Sandusky, so that the troops at the Rapids would have been almost daily increased. On this day they would have amounted to twenty-five hundred, with two pieces of artillery; and in four or five days more, the Virginia brigade and Pennsylvania regiment would have increased them to thirty-eight hundred, with a further supply of artillery. By the 5th of February the whole force, four thousand five hundred, which I contemplated assembling at the Rapids, would have been there ; and provisions and munitions of war in abundance.
I should have been enabled to advance to the Rapids again this day or to-morrow, but for a ost unfortunate rain, which broken up the roads so as to render them impassable for the artillery, although it is fixed on sleds. The whole train is stopped twenty-five miles from this. I have reason to believe the Miami river has broken up.
I have the honour to enclose you a report made to me by major M'Clanehan, the senior of the two officers who escaped from the action at the river Raisin. It requires no comment from me.
I have the honour to be yours, &c.
WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON. Honourable James Monroe,
aeting Secretary of War.
CAMP AT FRENCH TOWN,
January 20th, 1813, on the River Raisin. SIR,
In obedience to your order, I proceeded on the march with the detachment under my command to Presquile on the 17th instant, where the reinforcement under the command of lieutenant colonel Allen arrived at 7 o'clock P. M. On the 18th, as I informed you it was my determination, we set out for the camp of the enemy at this village. From an early start, together with the advantage of a passage on the ice of the lake, and the rapid march we made, we were enabled to meet them by 3 o'clock in the evening.
When we were within three miles of the enemy, correct information was obtained that they were prepared to receive us. Having arranged the troops in the following order-they were directed to prepare for action: the right wing composed of the companies commanded by captain M Cracken, subalterns-lieutenant Williamson and ensign M-Clary; captain Bledsoe, subalterns ensign Morrison (acting as lieutenant,) and ensign Chiner; captain Matson, subalterns ensign Nash (acting as lieutenant) and ensign Caldwell. The left wing composed of the companies commanded by captain Hamilton, subalterns lieutenant Moore and ensign Heron; captain Williams, subalterns lieutenant Higgins and ensign Havraw; captain Kelly, subalterns lieutenant M Guine and ensign Wash. The centre composed of the companies commanded by captain Hightowen (17th United States' regiment, subalterns lieutenant Holden and ensign Butler; captain Collier, subalterns lieutenant Story and ensign Fleet; captain Sebree, subalterns lieutenant Rule and ensign Bowles. Lieutenant colonel Allen commanding the right wing, major Groves the left, and major Madison the centre. Captain Ballard (acting as major) was placed in the advance of the whole with two companies, one commanded by captain Hickman, subalterns lieutenant Chinn, the other by captain Claver, subalterns lieutenant Comstock, and also Captain James with his spies. In this order we proceeded within
a quarter of a mile of the enemy, when they commenced a fire on us with a howitzer, from which no injury was received. The line of battle was instantly formed and the whole detachment ordered to move on in the direction of the enemy without delay. The river at this time being between us and the enemy's lines, we succeeded well in crossing it, though the ice in many places was extremely slippery. Having crossed at this instant the long roll was beat, the signal for a general charge, when I ordered major Groves and major Madison to possess themselves of the houses and picketing about which the enemy had chiefly collected, and where they had placed their cannon. This order was executed in a few minutes; and both their battalions advanced amidst an incessant shower of bullets : neither the picketing nor the fencing over which they had to pass, retarded their progress to successthe enemy were dislodged in that quarter. Meantime colonel Allen had fallen in with them at considerable distance to the right, when after pursuing them to the woods (a distance of more than half a mile) they then made a stand with their howitzer and small arms covered by a chain of inclosed lots and a group of houses, having in their rear a thick brushy wood full of fallen timber. I directed brigade major Garrard" (one of my aids) to instruct majors Groves and Madison to possess themselves of the wood on the left, and to move up towards the main body of the enemy as fast as practicable, to divert their attention from colonel Allen, At the moment the fire commenced, those battalions of the right wing advanced. The enemy were soon driven from the fences and houses, and our troops began to enter the wood after them. The fight now became close and extremely hot on the right wing, the enemy concentrating the chief of both kinds to force the line.
They were still however kept moving in retreat, although slowly, our men being much exhausted. My orders to majors Groves and Madison were executed with despatch and success, which, joined with the exertions of colonel Allen's line, completely routed the enemy. The distance they retreated before us was not less than two miles, and every foot of the way under a continual charge. The battle lasted from 3 o'clock till dark. The detachment was then drawn off in good order, and encamped at the place which the enemy had first occupied, being the best for a camp then near us. The gallant conduct of lieutenant colonel Allen, during every charge of this warmly contested action, has raised for him no ordinary military merit. Majors Groves and Madison deserve high praise for their undeviating attention to orders and the energy and despatch with which they executed them. Captain Ballard led the van with great skill and bravery. I take this opportunity of tendering my most hearty thanks to brigade major Garrard, captain Smith and adjutant M'Caller, who acted as my aids-de-camp, for the great support they gave me during the whole of the action. The company officers acted with great bravery. It would be almost an endless task to particularize all who have
distinguished themselves; for as all had an opportunity so to do, there was none but what accepted it. There was not a solitáry instance of a retreat on our part. Both officers and soldiers supported the “ double character of Americans and Kentuckians."
I have not been able to ascertain the exact force of the enemy, but from the best information, there were between 80 and 100 British troops, and about 400 Indians. Major Reynolds was prešent, and it is understood, commanded the whole. The number of their killed and wounded is unknown, we having left the woods after dark, so that not only during the battle, but after night, they had an opportunity of carrying off all, except those who were left on the field where the action first commenced, say about fifteen. But from the blood, the trails of bodies dragged off, and the reports from the people who live near this place, the slaughter must have been great. One Indian and two of the Canadian militia were taken prisoners. So steady and composed were our men in this assault, that while the enemy were killed or drawn from the houses, not a woman or child was hurt. Our loss in killed 12, and 55 wounded. One has since died.
I have the honour to be, &c.
Commdt. of the detachment. Brigadier general Winchester.
CAMP ON CANYING RIVER, January 26th, 1813. SIR,
As the senior officer who escaped from the disaster which befell our troops under general Winchester on the 22d instant, it becomes my duty to report to you so much of that affair as comes within my knowledge.
On the morning of the 19th instant I marched from the camp at the Rapids of the Miami with the detachment under colonel Wells, consisting of about 300 men, including officers, to reinforce colonel Lewis at le river Raisin. Shortly after we left camp, general Winchester passed us in a carryall, and as I understand, reached the advanced troops that night. Our detachment arrived there about 3 o'clock, P. M. on the 20th, except captain Morris's company.. It had been left as a rear guard with the baggage, and did not join us at all.
We found the detachment under lieutenant colonel Lewis encamped in the gardens on the north side of the river Raisin at French Town; not in any regular order, and apparently as they had settled down in the night after the battle of the 18th. The field officers were generally in houses. General Winchester had taken up his quarters in the house of Mr. Navarre, about three quarters of a mile from the troops, and on the opposite side of the river.