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French, with four field pieces, and collecting the militia on his route, evidently destined for Amherstburg; and in addition to this combination, and increase of force, contrary to all my expectations, the Wyandots, Chippewas, Ottawas, Pottawatamies, Munsees, Delawares, &c. with whom I had the most friendly intercourse, at once passed over to Amherstburg, and accepted the tomahawk and scalping knife. There being now ą vast number of Indians at the British post, they were sent to the river Huron, Brownstown, and Maguago to intercept my communication. To open this communication, I detached major Van Horn of the Ohio volunteers, with two hundred men, to proceed as far as the river Raisin, under an expectation he would meet captain Brush with one hundred and fifty men, yolunteers from the state of Ohio, and a quantity of provision for the army. An ambuscade was formed at Brownstown, and major Van Horn's detachment defeated and returned to camp without effecting the object of the expedition.
In my letter of the 7th instant you have the particulars of that transaction, with a return of the killed and wounded. Under this sudden and unexpected change of things, and having received an express from general Hall, commanding opposite the British shore on the Niagara river, by which it appeared that there was no prospect of a co-operation from that quarter, and the two senior officers of the artillery having stated to me an opinion that it would be extremely difficult, if not 'impossible, to pass the Turkey river and river Aux Cannard, with the 24 pounders, and that they could not be transported by water, as the Queen Charlotte, which carried eighteen 24 pounders, lay in the river Detroit above the mouth of the river Aux Cannard; and as it appeared indispensibly necessary to open the communication to the river Raisin and the Miami, I found myself compelled to suspend the operation against Amherstburg, and concentrate the main force of the army at Detroit. Fully intending at that time, after the communication was opened, to re-cross the river, and pursue the object at Amherstburg, and strongly desirous of continuing protection to a very large number of the inhabitants of Upper Canada, who had voluntarily accepted it under my proclamation, I established a fortress on the banks of the river, a little below Detroit, calculated for a garrison of 300 men. On the evening of the 7th, and morning of the 8th instant, the army, excepting the 'garrison of 250 infantry, and a corps of artillerists, all under the command of major Denny of the Ohio volunteers, re-crossed the river, and encamped at Detroit. In pursuance of the object of opening the communication, on which I considered the existence of the army depending, a detachment of 600 men, under the command of lieutenant colonel Miller, was immediately ordered. For a particular account of the proceedings of this detachment, and the memorable battle which was fought at Maguago, whịch reflects the highest bonour on the American arins, I refer you to
my letter of the 13th of August instant, a duplicate of which is enclosed, marked G. Nothing however but honour was acquired by this victory; and it is a painful consideration, that the blood of seventy-five gallant men could only open the communication, as far as the points of their bayonets extended. The necessary care of the sick and wounded, and a very severe storm of rain, rendered their return to camp indispensibly necessary for their own comfort. Captain Brush, with his small detachment, and the provisions being still at the river Raisin, and in a situation to be destroyed by the savages, on the 13th instant in the evening, I permitted colonels M'Arthur and Cass to select from their regiment four hundred of their most effective men, and proceed an upper route through the woods, which I had sent an express to captain Brush to take, and had directed the militia of the river Raisin to accompany him as a reinforcement. The force of the enemy continually increasing, and the necessity of opening the communication, and acting on the defensive, becoming more apo parent, I had, previous to detaching colonels M'Arthur and Cass on the 11th instant, evacuated and destroyed the fort on the opposité bank. On the 13th, in the evening, general Brock arrived at Amherstburg about the hour that colonels M'Arthur and Cass marched, of which at that time I had received no information. On the 15th I received a summons from him to surrender fort Detroit, of which the paper marked A is a copy My answer is marked B. At this time I had received no information from colonels M Arthur and Cass. An express was immediately šent, strongly escorted, with orders for them to return. On the 15th, as soon as general Brock received my letter, his batteries opened on the town and fort, and continued until evening. In the evening all the British ships of war came nearly as far
the river as Sandwich, three miles below Detroit. At day light on the 16th (at which time I had received no information from colonels M'Arthur and Cass, my expresses, sent the evening before, and in the night having been prevented from passing by numerous bodies of Indians) the cannonade re-commenced, and in a short time I received information, that the British army and Indians, were landing below the Spring Wells, under the cover of their ships of war. At this time the whole effective force at my disposal at Detroit did not exceed eight hundred men. Being new troops, and unaccustomed to a camp life ; having performed a laborious march; having been engaged in a number of battles and gkirmishes, in which
had fallen, and more had received wounds, in addition to which a large number being sick, and unprovided with medicine, and the comforts necessary for their situation ; are the general causes by which the strength of the army was thus reduced. The fort at this time was filled with women, children, and the old and decrepid people of the town and country; they were unsafe in the town, as it was entirely open and exposed to the enemy's batteries. Back of the fort,
above or below it, there was no safety for them on account of the Indians. In the first instance the enemy's fire was principally directed against our batteries ; towards the close, it was directed against the fort alone, and almost every shot and shell had their effect.
It now became necessary either to fight the enemy in the field ; collect the whole force in the fort ; or propose terms of capitulation. I could not have carried into the field more than six hundred men, and left any adequate force in the fort. There were landed at that time of the enemy a regular force of much more than that number, and twice the number of Indians. Considering this great inequality of force I did not think it expedient to adopt the first measure. The second must have been attended with a great sacrifice of blood, and no possible advantage, because the contest could not have been sustained more than a day for the want of powder, and but a very few days for the want of provisions. In addition to this, colonels M'Arthur and Cass would have been in a most hazardous situation. I feared nothing but the last alternative. I have dared to adopt it. I well know the high responsibility of the measure, and take the whole of it on myselt. It was dictated by a sense of duty, and a full conviction of its expediency. The bands of savages which had then joined the British force were numerous beyond any former example. Their numbers have since increased, and the history of the barbarians of the north of Europe does not furnish examples of more greedy violence than these savages have exhibited. A large portion of the brave and gallant officers and men I commanded would cheerfully have contested until the last cartridge had been expended, and the bayonets worn to the sockets. I could not consent to the useless sacrifice of such brave men, when I knew it was impossible for me to sustain my situation. It was impossible in the nature of things that an army could have been furnished with the necessary supplies of provision, military stores, clothing and comforts for the sick, or pack horses, through a wilderness of two hundred miles, filled with hostile savages. It was impossible, sir, that this little army, worn down by fatigue, by sickness, by wounds, and deaths, could have supported itself not only against the collected force of all the northern nations of Indians ; but against the united strength of Upper Canada, whose population consists of more than twenty times the number contained in the territory of Michigan, aided by the principal part of the regular forces of the province, and the wealth and influence of the north-west and other trading establishments among the Indians, which have in their employment, and under their entire controul, more than two thousand white men. Before I close this despatch, it is a duty I owe to my respectable associates in command, colonels M'Arthur, Findlay, Cass, and lieutenant colonel Miller, to express my obligations to them for the prompt and judicious manner they have performed their respective duties. If aught has taken place during the campaign, which is honourable to the army, these officers are entitled to a large share of it. If the last act should be disapproved, no part of the censure belongs to them. I have likewise to express my obligation to general Taylor, who has performed the duty of quarter master general, for his great exertions in procuring every thing in his department which it was possible to furnish for the convenience of the army; likewise to brigade major Jessup for the correct and punctual manner in which he has discharged his duty; and to the army generally for their exertions, and the zeal they have manifested for the public interest. The death of Dr. Foster soon after he arrived at Detroit, was a severe misfortune to the army; it was increased by the capture of the Chachago packet, by which the medicine and hospital stores were lost. He was commencing the best arrangements in the department of which he was the principal, with the very small means he possessed. I was likewise deprived of the necessary services of captain Partridge by sickness, the only officer of the corps of engineers attached to the army. All the officers and men have gone to their respective homes, excepting the 4th United States regiment, and a small part of the 1st, and captain Dyson's company of artillery. Captain Dyson's company was left at Amherstburg, and the others are with me prisoners—they amount to about three hundred and forty. I have only to solicit an investigation of my conduct, as early as my situation and the state of things will admit; and to add the further request, that the government will not be unmindful of my associates in captivity, and of the families of those brave men who have fallen in the contest. I have the honour to be, very respectfully,
Your most obedient servant,
the Department of War.
UNITED STATES' FRIGATE CONSTITUTION,
off Boston Light, August 30, 1812. SIR,
I have the honour to inform you, that on the 19th instant, at 2 P. M. being in latitude 41, 42, longitude 55, 48, with the the Constitution under my command, a sail was discovered from the mast-head bearing E. by S. or E. S. E. but at such a distance we could not tell what she was. All sail was instantly made in chase, and soon found we came up with ner. At 3 P. M. could
plainly see that she was a ship on the starboard tack, under easy sail, close on a wind; at half past 3 P. M. made her out to be a frigate; continued the chase until we were within about three miles, when I ordered the light sails taken in, the courses hauled up, and the ship cleared for action. At this time the chase had backed his main top-sail, waiting for us to come down. As soon as the Constitution was ready for action, I bore down with an intention to bring him to close action immediately; but on our coming within gun-shot she gave us a broadside and filled away, and wore, giving us a broadside on the other tack, but without effect; her shot falling short. She continued wearing and mancuvreing for about three quarters of an hour, to get a raking position, but finding she could not, she bore up, and run under top-sails and gib, with the wind on the quarter. Immediately made sail to bring the ship up with her, and 5 minutes before 6 P. M. being along side within half pistol shot, we commenced a heavy fire from all our guns, double shotted with round and grape, and so well directed were they, and so warmly kept up, that in 15 minutes his mizen-mast went by the board, and his main-yard in the slings, and the hull, rigging and sails very much torn to pieces. The fire was kept up with equal warmth for 15 minutes longer, when his main-mast and fore-mast went, taking with them every spar, excepting the bowsprit; on seeing this we ceased firing, so that in 30 minutes after we got fairly along side the enemy she surrendered, and had not a spar standing, and her hull below and above water so shattered, that a few more broadsides must ve carried her down.
After informing you that so fine a ship as the Guerriere, commanded by an able and experienced officer, had been totally dismasted, and otherwise cut to pieces, so as to make her not worth towing into port, in the short space of 30 minutes, you can have no doubt of the gallantry and good conduct of the officers and ship’s company I have the honour to command. It only remains, therefore, for me to assure you, that they all fought with great bravery; and it gives me great pleasure to say, that from the smallest boy in the ship to the oldest seaman, not a look of fear was seen. They all went into action, giving three cheers, and requesting to be laid close along side the enemy.
Enclosed I have the honour to send you a list of killed and wounded on board the Constitution, and a report of the damages she has sustained ; also, a list of the killed and wounded on board the enemy, with his quarter bill, &c.
I have the honour, to be,