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In communicating to the president, through you, sir, my opinion of the conduct of the officers who served under my command, I am at a loss how to mention that of governor Shelby, being convinced that no eulogium of mine can reach his merits. The governor of an independant state, greatly my superior in years, in experience, and in military charac ter, he placed himself under my command, and was not more remarkable for his zeal and activity, than for the promptitude and cheerfulness with which he obeyed my orders. The major-generals Henry and Desha, and the brigadiers Allen, Caldwell, King, Chiles, and Trotter, all of the Kentucky volunteers, manifested great zeal and activity. Of governor Shelby's staff, his adjutant-general, colonel M'Dowell, and his quarter-master-general, colonel Walker, rendered great service, as did his aids-de-camp, general Adair, and majors Barry and Crittenden. The military skill of the former was of great service to us, and the activity of the two latter gentlemen could not be surpassed. Illness deprived me of the talents of my adjutant-general col. Gaines, who was left at Sandwich. His duties were, however, ably performed by the acting assistant adjutant-general, captain Butler. My aids-decamp, lieutenant O'Fallon and captain Todd, of the line, and my volunteer aids, John Speed Smith and John Chambers, esquire, have rendered me the most important services from the opening of the campaign. I have already stated that ge neral Cass and commodore Perry assisted me in forming the troops for action. The former is an officer of the highest merit, and the appearance of the brave commodore cheered and animated every breast.
It would be useless, sir, after stating the circumstances of the action, to pass encomiums upon colonel Johnson and his regiment. Veterans could not have manifested more firmness. The colonel's numerous wounds prove that he was in the post of danger. Lieutenant-colonel James Johnson and the majors Payne and Thompson were equally active, though more fortunate. Major Wood, of the engineers, already distinguished by his conduct at Fort Meigs, attended the army with two six-pounders. Having no use for them in the action he joined in the pursuit of the enemy, and with major Payne of the mounted regiment, two of my aids-de-camp, Todd and Chambers, and three privates, continued it for se veral miles after the rest of the troops had halted, and made many prisoners.
I left the army before an official return of the prisoners, or that of the killed and wounded, was made out. It was, how.
ever, ascertained that the former amounts to six hundred and one regulars, including 25 officers. Our loss is seven killed and twenty-two wounded, five of which have since died. Of the British troops twelve were killed and twenty-two wounded. The Indians suffered most, thirty-three of them having been found on the ground, besides those killed on the retreat.
On the day of the action, six pieces of brass artillery were taken, and two 24-pounders the day before. Several others were discovered in the river, and can be easily procured. Of the brass pieces three are the trophies of our revolutionary war, that were taken at Saratoga and York, and surrendered by General Hull. The number of small arms taken by us and destroyed by the enemy must amount to upwards of 5000; most of them had been ours, and taken by the enemy at the surrender of Detroit, at the river Raisin, and colonel Dudley's defeat. I believe that the enemy retains no other military trophy of their victories than the standard of the 4th regiment. They were not magnanimous enough to bring that of the 41st regiment into the field, or it would have been taken.
You have been informed, sir, of the conduct of the troops under my command in action; it gives me great pleasure to inform you, that they merit also the approbation of their conduct, in submitting to the greatest privations with the utmost cheerfulness.
The infantry were entirely without tents, and for several days the whole army subsisted upon fresh beef without bread or salt. I have the honour to be, &c.
WILLIAM H. HARRISON. General John Armstrong, Secretary of War.
P.S. General Proctor escaped by the fleetness of his horses, escorted by 40 dragoons and a number of mounted Indians.
BRITISH ACCOUNT OF THE DEFEAT OF GENERAL PROCTOR AND CAPTAIN BARCLAY.
Montreal, October 18th, 1813.
The commander of the forces has the deepest regret in announcing to the army, that lieutenant Riffenstein, staffadjutant, arrived yesterday, and is the bearer of the following unpleasant intelligence. That major-general Proctor having sustained, by the unfortunate capture of the squadron on
Lake Erie, the loss of a very considerable portion of his military force, which was serving on board that fleet, as well as the principal heavy ordnance necessary for the defence of his military positions-commenced his retreat from the fort of Sandwich on the 24th September, having previously dismantled the posts of Amherstburg and Detroit, and burned and destroyed every public building and stores of every description.
The retreating regular force consisting of a small detachment of royal artillery, a troop of provincial dragoons, and the remains of the 41st regiment, in all about 450 rank and file-which was accompanied by a body of Indian warriors from 1000 to 1500.
The enemy's fleet and army appeared off Amherstburg on the 26th September, and landed on the following day, but soon re-embarked their troops and proceeded by Lake St. Clair to the mouth of the Thames river. The American army was again landed, and, accompanied by gun-boats, followed the route of major-general Proctor's corps, which having been much retarded by the slow progress of loaded batteaux, they were enabled to come up with the rear guard and loaded boats on the 3d instant, and succeeded in capturing the whole. Major-general Proctor being thus deprived of the means of supporting his little army, was under the necessity of awaiting the enemy's attack; which took place at 4 o'clock on the evening of the 5th instant, near the Moravian village.
A six-pounder on the flank was, by some unpardonable neglect, left destitute of ammunition, and the enemy, availing himself of this unfortunate circumstance, pressed upon that part of the line, which, wanting the support of artillery, was forced by the superior numbers of the enemy. Major-general Proctor exerted himself to rally the troops, who being exhausted with fatigue, not having received any provisions the preceding day, were unable to make adequate exertions to resist the superior numbers by which they were assailed.
The safety of major-general Proctor, the officers of his personal staff, and some few others, together with about 50 men has only as yet been ascertained. The Indian warriors retreated towards Mackedash.
The enemy's forces employed on this service is estimated from 10 to 12,000 strong, including troops of every description.
EDWARD BAYNES, Adj.-Gen.
Head-Quarters, Montreal, Nov. 21.
His excellency the commander of the forces has received an official report from major-general Proctor of the affair which took place on the 5th October, near the Moravian village, and he has in vain sought in it, for grounds to palliate the report made to his excellency by staff-adjutant Reiffenstein, upon which the general order of the 18th October was founded on the contrary, that statement remains confirmed in all the principal events which marked that disgraceful day; the precipitancy with which the staff-adjutant retreated from the field of action prevented his ascertaining the loss sustained by the division on that occasion; it also led him most grossly to exaggerate the enemy's force, and to misrepresent the conduct of the Indian warriors, who, instead of retreating towards Mackedash, as he had stated, gallantly maintained the conflict, under their brave chief, Tecumseh, and in their turn harrassed the American army on its retreat to Detroit.
The subjoined return states the loss the right division has sustained in the action of the fleet on Lake Erie, on the 10th of September, and in the affair of the 5th October, near the Moravian village; in the latter but very few appear to have been rescued by an honourable death from the ignominy of passing under the American yoke, nor are there many whose wounds plead in mitigation of this reproach. The right division appears to have been incumbered with an unmanageable load of unnecessary and forbidden private baggagewhile the requisite arrangements for the expeditious and certain conveyance of the ammunition and provisions, the sole objects worthy of consideration, appear to have been totally neglected, as well as all those ordinary measures, resorted to by officers of intelligence, to retard and impede the advance of a pursuing enemy. The result affords but too fatal a proof of this unjustifiable neglect. The right division had quitted Sandwich on its retreat, on the 26th of September, having had ample time for every previous arrangement; on the 2d October following, the enemy pursued by the same route, and on the 4th succeeded in capturing all the stores of the division, and on the following day attacked and defeated it, almost without a struggle.
With heartfelt pride and satisfaction the commander of the forces had lavished on the right division of this army, that tribute of praise which was so justly due to its former gallantry and steady discipline. It is with poignant grief and
mortification that he now beholds its well earned laurels tarnished, and its conduct calling loudly for reproach and cen
The commander of the forces appeals to the genuine feelings of the British soldier, from whom he neither conceals the extent of the loss the army has suffered, nor the far more to be lamented injury it has sustained in its wounded honour, confident that but one sentiment will animate every breast, and that, zealous to wash out the stain which, by a most extraordinary and unaccountable infatuation, has fallen on a formerly deserving portion of the army; all will vie to emulate the glorious achievements recently performed by a small but highly spirited and well disciplined division, led by officers possessed of enterprise, intelligence, and gallantry, nobly evincing what British soldiers can perform, when susceptible of no fear but that of failing in the discharge of their duty.
His excellency considers it an act of justice to exonerate most honourably from this censure the brave soldiers of the right division who were serving as marines on board the squadron on Lake Erie. The commander of the forces hav. ing received the official report of captain Barclay of the ac tion which took place on Lake Erie, on the 10th of September, when that gallant officer, from circumstances of imperi ous necessity, was compelled to seek the superior force of the enemy, and to maintain an arduous and long contested action, under circumstances of accumulating ill fortune.
Captain Barclay represents that the wind, which was favourable early in the day, suddenly changed, giving the enemy the weather gage, and that this important advantage was shortly after the commencement of the engagement heightened by the fall of captain Finnis, the commander of the Queen Charlotte. In the death of that intrepid and intelligent officer captain Barclay laments the loss of his main support.The fall of captain Finnis was soon followed by that of lieutenant Stokoe, whose country was deprived of his services at this very period, leaving the command of the Queen Charlotte to provincial lieutenant Irvine, who conducted himself with great courage, but was too limited in experience to supply the place of such an officer as captain Finnis, and in consequence this vessel proved of far less assistance than might be expected.
The action commenced about a quarter before 12 o'clock, and continued with great fury until half past 2, when the American commodore quitted his ship, which struck shortly