« ForrigeFortsett »
I cannot withhold my grateful acknowledgments to commodore Cassin, captain Tarbell, and the officers and crews of the Constellation and gun-boats, who have in every instance aided our operations with a cordiality, zeal, and ability not to be surpassed.
I have the honour to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General commanding, Hon. John Armstrong, Secretary at War.
Copy of Colonel Beatty's Report to General Taylor. Sir,
Craney Island, June 25, 1813. Some movements on the 21st instant, among the British shipping, lying near Newport's Noose, seemed to indicate an early attack on this island, and in the course of the next morning, on the 22d instant, they landed two miles from this, from the best accounts that can be ascertained from deserters, 2500 troops of various descriptions. The object of this movement was, no doubt, with the view to approach this post on the west side of the island, across the water in that direction, which at low water is passable by infantry. Soon after their landing, there approached 45 or 50 boats full of men, which directed their course from the shipping as above stated, to the north side of the island.
The British troops, at the same time (that were previously landed), made their appearance on the main land with a view of attacking the west and north positions of the island at the
moment. Two twenty-four-pounders and four sixpounders were advantageously posted under the direction of major Faulkner of the artillery, which being so well served by captain Emerson, lieutenants Howell and Goodwin, who displayed that cool and deliberate conduct, which will at all times insure success to the cause in which they are engaged. Lieutenant Neale, of the Constellation, during our defence, conducted himself with active zeal and courage, which at all times add a lustre to the name of an American naval officer. Captain Rook, of the ship Manhattan, conducted himself with great activity and judgment in defence of the place, which will no doubt give him a distinguished part in the success of the day. Great praise is also due to the conduct of serjeant Young and corporal Moffit of captain Emerson's company, for the active part they took in the management of two six-pounders.
Much credit is due to captain Tarbell, of the Constellation, for the aid he gave in defence of the island, in forward
ing from his ship 150 sailors and marines, with the officers commanding the same, which no doubt contributed greatly in the successful defence of the island. Indeed, both officers and soldiers of every description showed a degree of zeal for the defence of the place, and when opportunity may offer, we may confidently hope they will not be wanting in du. ty. The loss of the enemy cannot be less than 200 in the course of the day, a number of which were killed on the land side by our artillery. But it is known that four or five of their barges were sunk, one of which, the Centepiede, said to be 52 feet long, working twenty-four oars, belonging to admiral Warren's ship, was taken and brought in with twenty-two prisoners, and a small brass three-pounder, with a number of small arms, pistols, and cutlasses.
Beside the loss in killed, there must have been at least 40 deserters brought in, in the course of the day, and dispersed through the country.
It is with pleasure I have to state to you that not a man was lost on our part; the only weapon made use of by the enemy in the course of the day were the Congreve rockets, a few of which fell in our encampment, though without injury. I am, sir, with the greatest respect, your humble servant,
H. BEATTY, Lieut.-Col.com.
Copy of a Letter from Major Crutchfield to his Excellency
James Barbour, Governor of Virginia. Sir,
York County, Half-way House, June 28, 1813. Although I have given you, by two communications, a partial account of the engagement with the enemy at Hampton, on the 25th instant, I will now, having it more in my power, beg leave to communicate to your excellency a detail of the occurrences of the day.
At an early period of the morning on the 25th instant, our Mill-creek patrole gave information that from 30 to 40 British barges filled with men were approaching the mouth of Hampton creek by the inner channel, from the direction of Newport's Noose. Our troops were immediately formed on their encampment, on Little England plantation, south-west of, and divided from Hampton by a narrow creek, over which a slight foot-bridge had been erected. In a short time after, our Celey's patrole reported the landing and approach of a number of the enemy's troops in our rear.
A little after five o'clock, several barges were seen approaching Black-beard's Point, the headmost of which commenced a firing of round shot, which was immediately returned from our battery of
four long 12-pounders. The enemy, intimidated by the quick and direct fire of our cannon, drew back and sheltered himself behind the point; and from thence, continued to throw. his round 12 and 18-pound shots, accompanied by a great number of rockets, charged with combustible matter, which, with very few exceptions, anci those without injurious effect upon our detachment or encampment, either fell short of, or over-reached their object. For the space of three quarters of an hour or more, during which time an exchange of discharges took place without the enemy's doing any damage, our infantry troops were posted under cover of a high ditch, immediately in front of our camp. During this period, many rockets and large shots fell within our encampment. At this time our rifle company, which, upon the earliest information of the enemy's approach by land, had been despatched to conceal themselves in the woods, near the road by which it was supposed the enemy was approaching, commenced a well-directed and destructive fire on the head of the invading columns. Being now well satisfied as to the point of attack on us from the land side, and discovering, from the timidity of the enemy in his barges, that no landing was intended to be made on water position, and knowing that our rifle corps, from its great inferiority to the enemy, was in a very critical situation, I marched with the infantry under my command to the point of attack, in order to support it, as well as to annoy the enemy in his approach, and prevent his making an attack in our rear, advantageous to his views, and in aid of his intention to surround and cut us off from retreat.
We advanced in columns of platoons through a lane and an open cornfield which led from our encampment to the enemy, and to the Main and Celey's roads--and when in the field within 200 yards of the gate opening into the Celey road and a thicket of pines, we were fired upon by the enemy's musketry from a thick wood at the upper end of a field immediately bordering on the road. Upon this discharge orders were given to wheel to the left into line and march upon
enemy. In this position we had marched not more than 50 yards, when the enemy opened upon us two sixpound field-pieces loaded with grape and cannister shot, and his machines filled with rockets of a small size. Upon this sudden, and to our whole detachment, totally unexpected attack with ordnance, I deemed it necessary to wheel again into column, and gain, if possible, a passage through the gate defile, with a position in the woods immediately behind
the ground occupied by the rifle corps, which kept the enemy in check in that quarter by its deadly discharges under the direction of captain Servant, who, with his brave officers and soldiers, acted in a manner worthy of veterans. At this time captain Cooper (a most vigilant, brave, and skilful officer), with his brave troops, although much worn down with the fatigue of patroling and other duties, were actively and closely engaged in annoying the enemy's left flank, and would have been cut off but for his superior judgment. The column was formed with all the celerity which the nature of the ground, (a soft and newly ploughed field)--the advantageous situation of the enemy, aided by his sheltered position—and the partly-disciplined experience of our troops, would admit. During the time occupied by the change of position in our detachment, and its march through the defile, a continued fire on us was kept up by the enemy. On our reaching and passing the road into the wood, the grape shot from a third field-piece commenced its fire on us, which together with that from the two former, threw the platoons of our column into confusion and retreat. A few of our leading platoons, headed by major Corbin and myself, wheeled promptly into the wood, and formed on the flanks of our riflemen, under a heavy and continued discharge of the enemy's cannon, musketry, and rockets. The action was now for a short time kept up with warmth and spirit, both on the part of the enemy, and of our riflemen and leading infantry platoons, commanded by captain Shield and captain Herndon, with their subalterns in the first division of the battalion. Captains Ashby, Brown, Miller, and Carey, with captain Goodall of the United States regiment of artillery, who volunteered on this occasion, commanded the remaining divisions of the detachment, and acted with great courage and coolness.
In this sharp and trying contest, major Corbin received in his left arm and leg two severe wounds, with a musket ball in the neck of his horse. My efforts, aided by the brave adjutant Robert Anderson and lieutenant P. Armistead, (both of whom, notwithstanding their exposed situation in exerting themselves to rally the troops, escaped beyond expectation ; and who, for their skill and undaunted 'firmness, deserve much of their country), were directed to rallying the rear and retreating platoons of the detachment, which were dispersing in every direction, while a large body of the enemy made an effort to outflank, and cut off our retreat.
It now became indispensably necessary for all our troops to retire, which they did under a continued but ill-directed fire from
the enemy, who pursued for two miles, with little loss on our part, while our men, occasionally stopping at a fence or ditch, at every fire brought down one of the pursuing foe.
Captain Pryor with his lieutenants Lively and Jones, and his brave, active matrosses, after slaughtering many of the enemy with his field-piecés, remained on the ground till surrounded and when the enemy was within 60 or 70 yards of the fort, they spiked the guns, broke through the enemy's rear, and by swimming a creek made good their retreat with out losing a man, taking with them their carbines, and hiding them in the woods. Too much praise cannot be given to this band of heroes. From accounts which can be most relied
enemy landed and had drawn up in battle array at least 2500 men.. Their loss cannot be le than 200, and is believed to be half as many more. Our little force was 349 infantry and riflemen, 62 artillery, and 25 cavalry. The loss on our part is 7 killed, 12 wounded, 1 prisoner, and 11 missing, who are believed to be in the neighbourhood with their families.
To give you, sir, an idea of the savage-like disposition of the enemy on their getting possession of the neighbourhood, would be a vain attempt. Although sir Sidney Beckwith assured me that no uneasiness need be felt in relation to the unfortunate Americans ; the fact is, that on yesterday there were several dead bodies lyingunburied, and the wounded not even assisted into town, although observed to be crawling through" the fields towards a cold and inhospitable protection.
The unfortunate females of Hampton who could not leave the town were suffered to be abused in the most shameful manner, not only the venal savage foe, but by the unfortunate and infatuated blacks, who were encouraged in their excesses. They pillaged and encouraged every act of rapine and murder, killing a poor man by the name of Kirby, who had been lying on his bed at the point of death for more than six weeks, shooting his wife in the hip at the same time, and killing his faithful dog lying under his feet. The murdered Kirby was lying last night weltering in his bed.
I shall return to Hampton this evening or in the morning with thë troops under my command, and such reinforcements as may reach me,
where we will endeavour to make another stand. The enemy evacuated the town at 3 o'clock yesterday morning. I am, very respectfully, &c.
STA. CRUTCHFIELD. His Excellency Gov. Barbour.