« ForrigeFortsett »
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.
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.
06. 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 reached the shore they were fired at by the centinels, but, instead of returning it, they rushed through the main street to. the jail, which was instantly carried, the prisoners liberated, and then the magazine was secured. The troops in the town were completely surprised. One major, three captains, three lieutenants, one surgeon's mate, and forty-two privates, together with their arms, besides 130 rifles and musquets captured by the British at Detroit, and several casks of powder and fixed am. munition, were secured and brought off. Perfect order was observed by the officers and men, scrupulous respect paid to private property, and no injury was done to any individual. Although a severe fire was kept up from the houses as the Americans advanced to the jail, there were none killed, and but one wounded.
The following evening a party of 46 Indians, headed by a British officer, crossed over from Prescott, a village in Canada, a mile and a half above Ogdensburg, for the purpose of capturing a picket guard of nine men, belonging to Forsythe's company: They succeeded in taking the centinel on post, and then attacked the guard, but were repulsed by their steady bravery, aided by their advantageous position. The succeeding evening 15 or 20 American volunteers again crossed, and took a lieutenant and two men, together with 15 or 20 stand of arms.
$ 7. On the morning of the 22d of February, the British crossed over in considerable force, and succedeed in capturing Ogdensburg. Forsythe, with a force of less than half that of the British, effected his retreat to Black Lake in a masterly man
Considerable alarm for the safety of Sackett's Harbour was excited by this event, and immediate measures were taken for reinforcing it. No attempts were made, however, at further conquest; the British shortly after retired across the St. Lawrence.
The ice having disappeared on Lake Ontario about the middle of April, the look-out boat Growler sailed from Sackett's Harbour on the 19th to reconnoitre the lake, and immediate preparations were made for an embarkation of troops for the invasion of Canada. The troops, to the number of 1700, under the command of general Dearborn, were embarked by the 23d, but the weather proving stormy, the fleet did not sail till the 25th.
8. On the morning of the 27th they arrived off York, the capital of Upper Canada, and the fleet having taken a position to the south and westward of the principal fort, and as near the shore as possible, the debarkation of the troops commenced about 8, and was completed about 10 in the forenoon. The
place fixed on for landing was a clear field, the scite of the old French fort Tarento, but the wind blowing heavy from the eastward, the boats fell to leeward, by which they were exposed to a galling fire from the enemy, who had taken a position in a thick wood, near where the troops were obliged to land. This circumstance likewise prevented the fleet from covering the landing. The cool intrepidity of the officers and men, however, overcame every obstacle.
The riflemen under Forsythe first landed, under a heavy fire from the enemy, who had collected all their force at this point, consisting of 700 regulars and militia, and 100 Indians, commanded by general Sheaffe in person. The contest was sharp and severe for about half an hour, when about 700 or 800 of the Americans having landed, commanded by general Pike, and the remainder of the troops pushing for the shore, the enemy retreated to their works, leaving a number of killed and wounded on the field. As soon as the troops were landed, the schooners were directed to take a position near the forts, in order that the attack upon them by the army and navy might be simultaneous.
Pike, having formed the troops on the ground originally intended for their landing, advanced to the batteries, which now opened their fire, which was returned from the schooners, that had beat up to a position within 600 yards of the principal fort. The troops were led in the most gallant manner by general Pike, who carried two redoubts, and was approaching the principal work, when the enemy, having previously laid a train, blew up his magazine, by which a great number of the troops were killed and wounded, and, among the former, the ever-to-be-lamented general Pike. When the fall of Pike was made known to general Dearborn, he landed and took the command of the troops.
As soon as the magazine was blown up, the British set fire to their naval stores and a ship on the stocks; and then the regulars, with Sheaffe at their head, made a precipitate retreat from the town. By two in the afternoon the American flag was substituted for the British, and by four the troops were in peaceable possession of York, a capitulation having been agreed on with the militia commanding officer, by which the town, stores, and nearly 300 militia were surrendered. The total American loss in killed on this occasion was In battle
14 By the explosion 38
264 The loss acknowledged by the British in their official account is Killed
34 Wounded and prisoners 43 Prisoners
7 This loss of killed, wounded, and prisoners, however, must only include the regulars, as 300 militia were surrendered in the town.
The day after the capture of York was employed in burying the dead. The public buildings, barracks, &c. were then destroyed, together with the military stores that could not be brought away, and by the first of May the town was entirely evacuated, the militia prisoners parolled, and the troops embarked; but, owing to contrary winds, the fleet did not sail till the 8th. On the afternoon of the same day they arrived at Four Mile Creek, below Fort Niagara, where the troops and public property were landed, and on the 10th Chauncey again sailed for Sackett's Harbour for reinforcements. The day previous to his departure, two schooners, with 100 picked men, sailed for the head of the lake to seize a quantity of public stores. The stores were found to be guarded by about 80 regulars, who were repulsed, the stores brought away, the public buildings burnt, and the expedition returned to Fort Niagara without loss.
9. Chauncey arrived at Sackett's Harbour on the 13th of May, and having received 350 troops on board, again sailed on the 22d, and arrived near Fort Niagara on the 25th, where the troops were landed. A council was immediately held by general Dearborn, for the purpose of making arrangements for immediately passing to the opposite shore. Next day Chauncey reconnoitered the position for landing the troops, and at night sounded the shore, and placed buoys to point out the stations for the small vessels. He then took on board of the Madison, Oneida, and Lady of the Lake all the heavy artillery, and as many troops as could be stowed.
On the 27th, at three in the morning, the signal was made for the fleet to weigh, and before four the remainder of the troops were embarked on board of boats, which were directed to follow the fleet. The schooners were judiciously placed in positions to silence the enemy's batteries, and cover the landing of the troops, within musket shot of the shore. In ten minutes after they opened on the batteries, they were completely silenced and abandoned.
The troops then advanced in three brigades, and landed near a fort which had been silenced, at Two Mile Creek. Immediately on their landing, the enemy, who had been concealed in a ravine, advanced in great force to the edge of the bank, in order to charge them ; but the schooners opened so well-directed and tremendous a fire of grape and canister, that they were soon obliged to retreat. The troops formed as soon as they landed, and immediately ascended the bank, and charged and routed the enemy in every direction, the schooners still keeping up a constant and well-directed fire. The British now re-entered Fort George, and set fire to their magazines, after which they moved of rapidly towards Queenstown, and were pursued by the light troops for several miles. The main body, however, having been under arms from one in the morning, were too much exhausted for further pursuit. They returned to Fort George, of which they had quiet possession by twelve o'clock.
On this occasion we find the first mention made of captain PERRY, the hero of lake Erie. He volunteered his services to commodore Chauncey, and rendered great assistance in arranging and superintending the debarkation of che troops. He was present at every point where he could be useful, under showers of musketry, but fortunately escaped unhurt. The next day he was despatched to Black Rock, with fifty-five seamen, to prepare and take the command of the squadron fitting out there.
The loss of the Americans in capturing Fort George, was thirty-nine killed and 111 wounded. The British lost 108 killed, and 278 prisoners, of whom 163 were wounded. The number of militia parolled by general Dearborn was 507.
The day after the capture of the fort, general Lewis marched with Chandler's and Winder's brigades, and the light artillery, dragoons, and riflemen, in pursuit of the British, by the way of Queenstown. Information had been received that they had made a stand on the mountain, at a place called the Beaver Dam, where they had a depot of provisions and stores, and that they had been joined by 300 regulars from Kingston, and were call-ing in the militia. : Dearborn, therefore, was in hopes, that, conhding in the strength of his position, the enemy would await an action, by which an opportunity would be afforded to cut off his retreat. In this expectation, however, he was disappointed.-The troops at Fort Erie blew up their magazine, and joined the