« ForrigeFortsett »
left. General King's brigade formed a second line, 150 yards in the rear of Trotter's; and Chiles' brigade a corps of reserve in the rear. Trotter's, King's, and Chiles' brigades formed the com-' mand of major-general Henry. Each brigade averaged nearly 500 men. The crotchet formed by Desha's division was occupied by Shelby, the governor of Kentucky, a veteran of sixtysix years of age, who had distinguished himself in the revolutionary war at King's Mountain. The regular troops, who now amounted only to 120 men, occupied in columns of sections of four the small space between the road and the river, for the purpose of seizing the enemy's artillery, and ten or twelve friendly Indians were directed to move under the bank. Harrison had directed Johnson's mounted infantry to form in two lines opposite to the enemy, and, when the infantry advanced, to take ground to the left, and, forming upon that flank, to endeavour to turn the right of the Indians. It was perceived, however, that it would be impracticable for them to do any thing on horseback in that quarter, owing to the thickness of the woods and swampiness of the ground. A measure altogether novel was therefore determined on, which was crowned with the most signal success.--The American backwoodsmen ride better in the woods than any other people. A musket or rifle is no impediment to them, being accustomed to carry them on horseback from their earliest youth. A charge was determined on, and accordingly the regiment was drawn up in close column, with its right at the distance of fifty yards from the road, that it might in some measure be protected by the trees from the artillery, and the left upon the swamp.
The army moved on in this order but a short distance, when the mounted men received the fire of the British line, and were instantly ordered to charge. The horses in the front of the column recoiled from the fire; but, on receiving a second fire, the column got into motion, and immediately, at full speed, broke through the enemy with irresistible force. In one minute the contest was over in front. The British officers, seeing no hope of reducing their disordered ranks to order, the mounted infantry wheeling upon them, and pouring in a destructive fire, immediately surrendered. Only three of the Americans were wounded in this charge.
Upon the American left, however, the contest with the Indians was more severe. Colonel Johnson, who commanded on that flank of his regiment, received a most galling fire from them, which was returned with great effect. The Indians still further to the left advanced, and fell in with the front line of infantry, near its junction with the division en potence, and for a moment made an impression upon it. Governor Shelby, however, who,
as already stated, was stationed near this point, brought up a regiment to its support. The enemy now received a severe fire in front, and a part of the mounted men having gained their rear, they immediately retreated with precipitation.
0 5. The moment had now arrived which was to prove whether the stigma which had been thrown on our Kentucky brethren was founded on truth or falsehood; when it was to be seen whether they were a ferocious and mortal foe, using the same mode of warfare*" with the allies of Britain. The troops who had now completely in their power the army under whose eyes had been acted the tragedy of the river Raisin, and that which was acted on the Miami after the defeat of colonel Dudley, were almost exclusively composed of Kentuckians, of men who had lost their brothers or friends in those shocking scenes. Nor were even the instruments of vengeance wanting. They were accompanied by the savages, that had perpetrated those deeds, who had just been suing for mercy, and would gladly have shown their claims to it, by re-acting upon the Thames the bloody scenes of the river Raisin. But how did they avail themselves of the opportunity which now presented? Did they turn the tide of horrible warfare which had deluged their borders in the blood of wounded prisoners, and of helpless age and infancy, upon the heads of its abettors ? No: to their honour and to the honour of their country be it spoken, they did not. The moment they were in their power all injuries were magnanimously forgotten, and the prisoners received the most honourable and delicate treatinent from the hands of those whom they had stigmatised as savages, the employment of whom justified the use of the Indians.
Of the British troops, 12 were killed and 22 wounded in this action, and six hundred and one regulars were taken prisoners. General Proctor escaped by the fleetness of his horses, escorted by 40 dragoons and a number of mounted Indians. The Indians suffered the greatest loss. Thirty-three were found dead on the ground, besides numbers who were killed in the retreat. On the day of the action six pieces of brass artillery were taken, and two twenty-four pounders the day before. Several others were discovered in the river, which were expected to be saved. Of the brass pieces, three were trophies of the revolutionary war, that were taken at Saratoga and York, and surrendered by general Hull. The number of small arms captured by the Americans, or destroyed by the enemy, must have exceeded
* General Brock’s proclamation, for which see page 33 of Official Docu
5000; most of them had been taken by the British at Detroit, the river Raisin, and the Miami. The loss of the Americans was seven killed and twenty-two wounded, five of whom have since died.
The American troops certainly deserved great praise for their conduct in this action; for, although they considerably outnumbered the British, it must be recollected that they were only militia, and that the British had chosen a position that effectually secured their flanks, and which it was impossible for the Americans to turn, or to present a line more extended than that of the enemy.
As soon as Harrison took possession of Amherstburg and Sandwich, and re-occupied the territory of Michigan, several of the Indian tribes submitted and brought in hostages for their good behaviour, and while he was in pursuit of the British, five more tribes followed their example, and brought hostages to Detroit. They were received by general M'Arthur, whom Harrison had left in the command of that place, and it was agreed that hostilities should cease for the present, on condition that they should“ take hold of the same tomahawk with the Americans, and strike all who are, or may be, enemies to the United States, whether British or Indians."
The army returned to Detroit shortly after the battle, where they embarked on board the fleet for Buffaloe, in order to join the
army under general Wilkinson.
6. About the middle of September an expedition was sent from St. Louis, on the Mississippi, against the Indian settlements on the Peoria lake on the river Illinois. It consisted of about 200 regulars of the 1st regiment of United States infan. try, with a considerable body of rangers and mounted militia, under the command of brigadier-general Howard. The regulars ascended the Illinois in boats; the mounted troops proceeded up the Mississippi in two divisions, one on each side of the river, for a considerable distance, and then crossed the country to the Peoria lake. The different detachments had not proceeded far before it was discovered that the enemy were descending the Illinois to ravage the frontier; and a skirmish took place between a party of Indians and the detachment on the east side of the Mississippi, who, however, soon drove them before them. On the evening of the 28th of September, the two detachments that had marched up the Mississippi, and thence across to the Illinois, arrived within a few miles of the old village, and three men were sent forward to discover whether the regulars had arrived. During the night lieutenant-colonel Nicholson, who commanded the regulars, descended the Illinois to the encamp
ment, and reported their arrival at Peoria, where they had commenced building a fort. He had been attacked by the Indians the day previous; but the enemy were soon dispersed by a welldirected discharge of musketry, with the aid of a six-pounder from two unfinished block-houses. In this attack none of the men were killed, and only one wounded. It was evident that the assailants suffered considerably, but to what extent could not be ascertained.
On the 29th the mounted troops arrived at Peoria, and as soon as provisions could be drawn, were marched up the Illinois to the villages at the head of the lake, which was the direction in which the enemy appeared to have retired from Peoria. The villages, being found deserted, were destroyed, and the troops returned to Peoria, where they remained till the garrison was put in a state of defence. Two detachments were then sent in pursuit of the enemy, one of which ascended the Illinois above the mouth of the Vermillion river to the Rapids, and within 17 miles of Chicago, on lake Michigan. The other penetrated the country northwardly to within about 45 miles of Rock river. The latter discovered several encampments, which appeared to have been deserted about the time of the army's arrival at Peoria, but neither of them were able to come up with the enemy.
The mounted troops remained at Peoria from the 2d to the 15th of October, during which time they were actively engaged, together with the United States infantry, in erecting Fort Clarke, which stands at the lower end of the Peoria lake, completely commanding the Illinois river. This fort is one of the strongest in the western country, and highly important to the safety of the Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri territories.
The mounted troops moved from Peoria for the settlements on the 15th, leaving the regulars to garrison the fort. They pursued generally a south course till the 21st, when they arrived at Camp Russell, where the mounted militia were discharged, and the
rangers sent across the country to Vincennes on the Wabash, where they safely arrived shortly after.
07. After the capture of Bærstler's detachment, the army at Fort George remained inactive, with the exception of a few trifling skirmishes and attacks on out-posts, for the remainder of the summer. Two circumstances are supposed to have caused this inactivity. The first was the constant indisposition of general Dearborn, which prevented him from taking any active part, and which continued till the 15th of July, when he received orders to retire from the command of the army, until his health should be re-established, and until further orders, the command devolving on brigadier-general Boyd.
principal cause of the inactivity of this army is presumed to have been, the danger and indeed impracticability of undertaking great military movements before Chauncey had obtained the complete command of Lake Ontario. Before this was achieved the army would always be liable to be surrounded, and to have its supplies cut off, and could not expect to be successful even with a force considerably superior to that of the enemy. The disaster at Detroit had taught a salutary lesson on this subject.
$ 8. Every exertion was accordingly made by commodore Chauncey for the attainment of this important object. After the capture of Fort George, however, commodore sir James Yeo, who commanded the British squadron, having added considerably to his force both of vessels and sailors, obliged Chauncey to remain in port until the new vessel the General Pike could be got ready, which was not completed until the middle of July. Before we enter upon the trial of skill which now ensued between Chauncey and Yeo, it may not be improper to take a view of his previous operations.
Commodore Chauncey arrived at Sackett's Harbour on the 6th of October, 1812, as commander of the United States forces on the lakes, at which time the only American vessel on these waters was the brig Oneida, of 18 guns. He immediately purchased six merchant vessels, schooners, which were fitted out as gun-boats. His whole squadron mounted 40 guns of different calibres, with 450 men, including mariners. The British force on Lake Ontario consisted at this time of the ship Royal George, of 26 guns and 260 men, ship Earl Moira, 18 guns and 200 men, and the schooners Prince Regent, 18 guns and 250 men, Duke of Gloucester, 14 guns and 80 men, Torento, 14 guns, and so men, Governor Simcoe, 12 guns and 70 men, and Seneca, 4 guns and 40 men, making a grand total of 108 guns and 890 men. Chauncey's squadron, especially the schooners, were poor vessels and dull sailers, but his men were much superior, a great part of the enemy's sailors at this time being Canadians.
9. On the 8th of November Chauncey sailed in the Oneida with his six schooners, in pursuit of the enemy, and on the same day fell in with the Royal George, which he chased into the bay of Quanti, where he lost sight of her in the night. Next morning he again discovered her in Kingston channel, and immediately gave chase, and followed her into the harbour of Kingston, where he engaged her and the batteries for an hour and three quarters. Chauncey had made up his mind to board her notwithstanding she was protected by the batteries; but the wind blowing directly in, the pilots refused to take