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westward, the wind having changed to N. N W. Soon after discovered the enemy's fleet, bearing S. W. I took the Asp, and the Madison the Fair American in tow, and made all sail in chase.
It was at this time, we thought of realising what we had been so long toiling for ; but before twelve o'clock the wind changed tỏ W. S. W., which brought the enemy to windward : tacked to the northward ; at three, the wind inclining to the northward, wore to the southward and westward, and made the signal for the fleet to make all sail. At four, the enemy bore S. S. W., bore up and steered for him. At five, observed the enemy becalmed under the land, nearing him very fast with a fine breeze from N. N. W. At six, formed the order of battle, within about four miles of the enemy, the wind at this time very light. At seven, the wind changed to the S. W. and a fresh breeze, which again placed the enemy to windward of me. Tacked, and hauled upon a wind on the larboard tack, under easy sail ; the enemy standing
At nine, when within about two gun shot of our rear, he wore to the southward: I stood on to the northward under sail—the feet formed in two lines, a part of the schooners forming the weather line, with orders to commence the fire upon the enemy as soon as their shot would take effect
, and as the enemy reached them to edge down upon the line to leeward and pass through the intervals and form to leeward. At about half past ten, the enemy tacked and stood after us.
At eleven, the rear of our line opened his fire up, on the enemy: in about 15 minutes the fire became general from the weather line, which was returned from the enemy. At half past eleven, the weather line bore up and passed the leeward, except the Growler and Julia, which soon after tacked to the southward, which brought the enemy between them and me. Filled the main-top-sail and edged away two points to lead the enemy down, not only to engage
him to more advantage, but to lead him from the Growler and Julia. He, however, kept his wind until he completely separated those two vessels from the rest of the squadron, exchanged a few shot with this ship as he passed, without injury to us, and made sail after our two schooners. Tacked and stood after him. At twelve, midnight, finding that I must either separate from the rest of the squadron, or relinquish the hope of saving the two which had separated, I reluctantly gave up the pursuit, rejoined the squadron then to leeward, and formed the line on the starboard tack. The firing was continued between our two schooners and the ene
my's feet until about one, A. M., when, I presume, they were obliged to surrender to a force so much their superior. Saw nothing more of the enemy that night: soon after daylight discovered them close in with the north shore, with one of our schooners in tow, the other not to be seen. I presume she may
have been sunk. The enemy showed no disposition to come down upon us, although to windward, and blowing heavy from W. The schooners labouring very much, I ordered two of the dullest to run into Niagara and anchor. The gale increasing very much, and as I could not go into Niagara with this ship, I determined to run into Gennessee Bay, as a shelter for the small vessels, and with the expectation of being able to obtain provisions for the squadron, as we were all nearly out, the Madison and Oneida having not a single day's on board when we arrived opposite Gennessee Bay. I found there was every prospect of the gale's continuing, and if it did, I could run to this place, and provision the whole squadron with more certainty, and nearly in the same time that I could at Gennessee, admitting that I could obtain provisions at that place. After bringing the breeze as far as Oswego, the wind became light, inclining to a calm, which had prolonged our passage to this day. I shall provision the squadron for five weeks, and proceed up the lake this evening; and when I return again, I hope to be able to communicate more agreeable news than this communication contains.
The loss of the Growler and Julia, in the manner in which they have been lost, is mortifying in the extreme ; and although their commanders disobeyed my positive orders, I am willing to believe that it arose from an error of judgment, and excess of zeal to do more than was required of them; thinking, probably, that the enemy intended to bring us to a general action, they thought, by gaining the wind of him, they would have it in their power to annoy and injure him more than they could by forming to leeward of our line. From what I have been able to discover of the movements of the enemy, he has no intention of engaging us, except he can get decidedly the advantage of wind and weather, and, as his vessels in squadron sail better than our squadron, he can always avoid the action, unless I can gain the wind, and have sufficient day-light to bring him to action before dark. His object is evidently to harrass us by night attacks, by which means he thinks to cut off our small dull-sailing schooners in detail. Fortune has evidently favoured him thus far. I hope that it will be my turn next; and although inferior in point of force, I feel very confident of success. VOL. II.
I have the honour to be, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Extract of another Letter, of the same date, to the Secretary,
from Commodore Chauncey. On my way down the lake I fell in with the Lady of the Lake, on her return from Sackett's Harbour, where I had sent her on the 6th instant, for the purpose of taking up fifty marines. I have brought her back with me to this place, to man the new schooner, which will be launched on the 18th.
Head- Quarters, Kingston, 14th August, 1813. By accounts received by his excellency the governor in chief and commander of the forces, from commodore sir James Yeo, dated off York, at half past 1, P. M., on the 11th instant, the following particulars have just beeen transmitted, of the capture and destruction of four of the enemy's armed schooners.
On Tuesday evening, the 10th instant, the enemy's squadron, under commodore Chauncey, got under weigh from their anchorage off the mouth of the Niagara river, and, with a fine breeze from the eastward, stood towards our fleet, which was becalmed off the port at Twelve Mile Creek. At sun-set, a fine breeze coming off the land, gave us the wind of the enemy, when our squadron stood for them, on which they immediately bore away from us, under as much sail as the schooners could carry to keep up with the larger vessels. The enemy's fleet formed a long line; the Pike, Madison, Oneida, and six schooners, two schooners being placed to windward, for the purpose of raking the masts of our squadron as they should come up. At 11 o'clock got within gunshot of the schooners, when they opened a brisk fire, and, from their going so fast, it was more than an hour before the Wolfe, our headmost ship, could pass them.
At this time the rest of the squadron was between two and three miles astern of the Wolfe, and on her coming up with the Madison and Pike, they put before the wind and made sail, firing their stern-chase guns. Sir James Yeo, finding it impossible to get the squadron up with the enemy, as the Wolfe was the only ship which could keep up with them, made sail between them and the two schooners to windward, which he captured, and which proved to be the Julia and Growler, each mounting one long 32 and one long 12-pounder. Two of the enemy's largest schooners, the Scourge, of 10, and the Hamilton, of 9, upset on the night of the 9th instant, in carrying sail to keep from our squadron, and all on board perished, in number about one hundred.
By the loss and capture of the two schooners, the enemy's squadron has been reduced to ten vessels, and ours increased to eight. It is ascertained that the Pike mounts 28 long 24 pounders, and has a complement of 420 men, and that the Madison mounts 22 thirty-two pound carronades, with 340 men. Nine boat loads of troops were taken on board the squadron on Monday, for the purpose it is supposed, of repelling boarders.
The Wolfe has not received any material damage, and not a man was hurt on board. The prisoners were landed from her on the 11th instant, and the damages of the Growler were repairing. She had lost her bowsprit, and was otherwise much cut up.
Nothing could exceed the eagerness and enthusiasm manifested by the officers and men serving on board our squadron for a close engagement with the enemy, and the only apprehension and regret expressed by all were, that their opponents, though superior in guns and weight of metal, and men, would be too wary to afford them an opportunity of terminating, by a decisive action, the contest for ascendancy on the lake.
Extract of a Letter from Commodore Isaac Chauncey to the
Secretary of the Navy, dated Sept. 13, 1813, on board the United States Ship General Pike, off Duck Island.
Sir, on the 7th at day-light the enemy's fleet was discovered close in with Niagara river, wind from the southward. Made the signal and weighed with the fleet (prepared for action), and stood out of the river after him. He immediately made all sail to the northward. We made sail in chase, with our heavy schooners in tow, and have continued the chase all round the lake, night and day, until yesterday morning, when he succeeded in getting into Amherst Bay, which is so little known to our pilots, and said to be full of shoals, that they are not willing to take me in there. I shall, however, unless driven from my station by a gale of wind, endeavour to watch him so close as to prevent his getting out upon the lake.
During our long chase we frequently got from within one to two miles of the enemy, but our heavy sailing schooners prevented our closing with him, until the 11th, off Gennessee river, we carried a breeze with us while he lay becalmed within about three quarters of a mile of him, when he took the breeze, and we had a running fight for three and a half hours, but by his superior sailing he escaped me, and ran into Am. herst Bay yesterday morning. In the course of our chase on the 11th, I got several broadsides from this ship upon the enemy, which must have done him considerable injury as many of the shot were seen to strike him, and people were observed over the side plugging shot holes. A few shot struck our hull and a little rigging was cut, but nothing of importance-not a man was hurt.
I was much disappointed that sir James refused to fight me; as he was so much superior in point of force both in guns and men—having upwards of 20 guns more than we have, and heaves a greater weight of shot.
This ship, the Madison, and Sylph have each a schooner constantly in tow, yet the others cannot sail as fast as the enemy's squadron, which gives him decidedly the advantage, and puts it in his power to engage me when and how he chooses. I have the honour to be, &c.
ISAAC CHAUNCEY. Hon. William Jones, Secretary of the Navy. Copy of a Letter from Commodore Chauncey to the Secretary of
the Navy, dated United States Ship General Pike, Niagara River, Sir,
25th September, 1813. After I had the honour of addressing you on the 13th, I continued to blockade the enemy until the 17th, when the wind blowing heavy from the westward, the enemy having run into Kingston, and knowing that he could not move from that place before a change of wind, I took the opportunity of running into Sackett's Harbour.
I remained but a few hours at the Harbour, and left it at day-light on the morning of the 18th, but did not arrive here until yesterday, owing to continual head winds, not having laid our course during the passage. On the 19th I saw the enemy's fleet near the False Ducks, but took no notice of him, as I wished him to follow me up the lake.
There is a report here, and generally believed, that captain Perry has captured the whole of the enemy's fleet on Lake Erie. If this should prove true in all its details (and God grant that it may), he has immortalised himself, and not disappointed the high expectations formed of his talents and bravery.
I have learnt from a source that may be depended upon, that we did the enemy much more injury in our rencontre on the 11th than I had expected-I find that we killed captain Molcaster of the Royal George and a number of his men,