I have taken the opinions of my general officers, which have been in accord with my own.

I remained on the Canada shore until the next day, without seeing or hearing from the powerful force” of the enemy in our neighbourhood, and the same day reached this position with the artillery and infantry. The dragoons have been ordered to Utica and its vicinity, and I expect are 50 or 60 miles on the march.

You have under cover a summary abstract of the killed and wounded in the affair of the 11th instant, which shall soon be followed by a particular return, in which a just regard will be paid to individual merits. The dead rest in honour, and the wounded bled for their country and deserve its gratitude.

With perfect respect, I have the honour to be, sir, your obedient humble servant, (Signed)


Extract of a Letter of the 15th November, from General

Wilkinson. It is a fact, for which I am authorised to pledge myself on the most confidential authority, that on the 4th of the present month, the British garrison of Montreal consisted solely of 400 marines and 200 sailors, which had been sent up from Quebec. We have, with the provision here and that left at Chateaugay, about 40 days’ subsistence, to which I shall add 30 more.

Hon. General John Armstrong, Secretary of War. Return of the American loss in Killed and Wounded in the Bat

tle of Williamsburgh. Killed, 102; wounded, 237.

From General Wilkinson to General Hampton. Head-Quarters of the Army, seven miles above Ogdensburg, Sir,

November 6th, 1813, in the evening. I address you at the special instance of the secretary of war, who by bad roads, worse weather, and ill health was diverted from meeting me near this place, and determined to tread back his steps to Washington from Antwerp on the 29th ult.

I am destined to and determined on the attack of Montreal, if not prevented by some act of God; and to give security to the enterprise, the division under your command must co-operate with the corps under my immediate orders. The point of rendezvous is the circumstance of greatest interest to the issue of this operation, and the distance which separates us, and my ignorance of the practicability of the direct or devious roads or routes by which you must march, makes it necessary that your own judgment should determine the point. To assist you in making the soundest determination, and to take the most prompt and effectual measures, I can only inform you of my intentions and situation, in some respects of first importance. I shall pass Prescott to night, because the stage of the season will not allow me three days to take it, shall cross the cavalry at Hamilton, which will not require a day. I shall thence press forward and break down every obstruction on this river to Grand River, there to cross the Isle Perrot, and with my scows to bridge the narrow inner channel, and thus obtain foot-hold on Montreal Island at about 20 miles from the city, after which our artillery, bayonets, and swords must secure our triumph, or provide us honoura

ble graves.

Enclosed you have a memorandum of field and battering train, pretty well found in fixed ammunition, which may enable you to dismiss your own; but we are deficient in loose powder and musket cartridges, and therefore hope you may be abundantly found.

On the subject of provisions I wish I could give a favourable information ; our whole stock of bread



computed at about 15 days, and our meat at 20. In speaking on this subject to the secretary of war, he informed me ample magazines were laid up on Lake Champlain, and therefore I must request of you to order forward two or three months supply by the safest route, in a direction to the proposed scene of action. I have submitted the state of our provisions to my general officers, who unanimously agree that it should not prevent the progress of the expedition, and they also agree in opinion, that if you are not in force to face the

enemy, you should meet us at St. Regis or its vicinity.

I shall expect to hear from if not see you at that place on the 9th.

And have the honour to be, respectfully, your obedient humble servant, (Signed)

JA. WILKINSON, Major-General Hampton.

From General Hampton to General Wilkinson. Sir, Head-Quarters, Four Corners, November 8, 1813.

I had the honour to receive, at a late hour last evening, by colonel King, your communication of the 6th, and

was deeply impressed with the sense of responsibility it imposed of deciding upon the means of our co-operation. The idea suggested as the opinion of your officers, of effecting the junction at St. Regis, was most pleasing, as being most immediate, until I came to the disclosure of the amount of your supplies of provisions. Colonel Atkinson will explain the reasons that would have rendered it impossible for me to have brought more than each man could have carried on his back; and when I reflected that in throwing myself upon your scanty means, I should be weakening you in your most vulnerable point, I did not hesitate to adopt the opinion, after consulting the general and principal officers, that by throwing myself back on my main depot, when all the means of transportation had gone, and falling upon the enemy's flank, and 'straining every effort to open a communication from Plattsburgh to Coghnawaga, or any other point you may indicate on the St. Lawrence, I should more effectually contribute to your success, than by the junction at St. Regis. . The way is in many places blockaded and abatted, and the road impracticable for wheel carriages during winter

but by the employment of pack horses, if I am not overpowered, I hope to be able to prevent your starving. I have ascertained and witnessed that the plan of the enemy is to burn and consume every thing in our advance. My troops and other means will be described to you by colonel Atkinson. Besides the rawness and sickliness, they have endured fatigues equal to a winter campaign, in the late 'snows and bad weather, and are sadly dispirited and fallen off; but upon the subject I must refer you to colonel Atkinson.

With these means, what can be accomplished by human exertions I will attempt, with a mind devoted to the general objects of the campaign.

I have the honour to be, very respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant, (Signed)

W. HAMPTON. His Excellency Major-General James Wilkinson.

General Wilkinson to General Armstrong. Sir, Head- Quarters, French Mills, November 13, 1813.

I beg this may be considered as an appendage to my official communication respecting the action of the 11th instant. I last evening received the enclosed information, the result of the examination of sundry prisoners, taken on the field of battle, which justifies the opinion of the surviving general officers who were in the engagement.

This goes to prove, that although the imperious obligations of duty did not allow me sufficient time to route the enemy, they were beaten, the accidental loss of one field-piece notwithstanding, after it had been discharged fifteen or twenty times. I have also learned, from what is considered good authority, but I will not vouch for the correctness of it, that the enemy's loss exceeded five hundred killed and wounded. The enclosed report willi correct an error in my former communicationas it appears it was the 89th and not the '84th British regiment which was engaged on the 11th. I beg leave tò mention, relative to the action of the 11th, what, from my extreme indisposition, I have omitted. Having received information late in the day, that the contest had became somewhat dubious, I ordered up a reserve of six hundred men, whom I had directed to stand by their arms under lieutenantcolonel Upham, who gallantly led them into the action, which terminated a few minutes after their arrival on the ground.

With much consideration and respect, I have the honour to be, sir, your obedient humble servant,

JA. WILKINSON. The Hon. John Armstrong, Secretary at War. Statement of the Strength of the

Enemy in the Action of the 11th November, 1813, on Kesler's Field, in Williamsburgh, in Upper Canada, founded on the separate examination of a number of British Prisoners taken on the Field of Battle.

of the 8th regiment, 760; 49th do., 450; Voltigeurs, 270; Glengary's, 80, one company; of the 100th, 40, a detachment from Prescott; Canadian fencibles, 220; Indians, 40; Incorporated militia, 300__2170; four pieces of mounted artillery; and seven gun-boats, one mounting a 24-pounder.

Í certify that the above statement is correct, agreeably to the statement of the above-mentioned prisoners. (Signed)


Inspector-General 2d Division. Head- Quarters, French Mills, November 16, 1813.

Copy of a Letter from Brigadier-Generalfohn P. Boyd, who

commanded in the Battle of Williamsburgh, to Major-General

James Wilkinson, Commander in chief. Sir,

Camp near Cornwall, November 12, 1813. I have the honour to report to you, that yesterday, while the rear division of the army, consiting of detachments from the first, third, and fourth brigades, and placed under my command to protect the flotilla from the enemy that hung on our rear, was under arms in order to move, agreeably to your orders, down the bank of the St. Lawrence, a report was

our rear.

brought to me from the rear guard, that a body of about 200 British and Indians had advanced into the woods that skirted

General Swartwout, with the fourth brigade, was immediately ordered to dislodge them ; general Covington, with the third brigade, at the same time directed to be within supporting distance. General Swartwout dashed into the woods, and with the 21st infantry (a part of his brigade), after a short skirmish, drove them back to the position of their main body. Here he was joined by general Covington. The enemy had judiciously chosen his ground among the deep ravines which every where intersected the extensive plain, and discharged a heavy and galling fire upon our advanced columns. No opposition or obstacle, however, checked their ardour. The enemy retired for more than a mile before their resolute and repeated charges. During this time the detachment of the first brigade under colonel Coles, whose greater distance from the scene of action retarded its arrival, rapidly entered the field. Being directed to attack the enemy's left flank, this movement was promptly and bravely executed, amid a shower of musketry and shrapnell shells. The fight now became more stationary, until the brigade first engaged, having expended all their ammunition, were directed to retire to a more defensible position to wait for a re-supply. This movement so disconnected the line as to render it expedient for the first brigade likewise to retire. It should be remarked that the artillery, except two pieces under captain Irviné attached to the rear division, which, from the nature of the ground and the circuitous route they had to take, were likewise much retarded in their arrival, did not reach the ground until the line, for want of ammunition, had already begun to fall back. When they were arranged, in doing which I was assisted by the skill of colonel Swift of the engineers, their fire was sure and destructive. When the artillery was finally directed to retire, having to cross a deep, and excepting in one place (to artillery) impassable ravine, one piece was unfortunately lost. The fall of its gallant commander, lieutenant Smith, and most of his men, may account for this accident. In the death of this young man, the army has lost one of its most promising officers.

The squadron of the 2d regiment of dragoons, under major Woodford, was early on the field, and much exposed to the enemy's fire, but the nature of the ground, and the position of his line, did not admit of those successful charges, which their discipline and ardour, under more favourable circumstances, are calculated to make. The reserve, under

« ForrigeFortsett »