USS Chesapeake - Fort Stephenson

Capture of USS Chesapeake
By John George Brighton

The  Battle of Boston Harbor and capture of USS Chesapeake was fought on June 1st, 1813, between the frigates HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake, as part of the War of 1812.  The Chesapeake was captured in a brief but intense action in which over 80 men were killed. 

The morning of that most eventful day, Tuesday, June 1st, 1813, broke over the shores and islands of the Bay of Boston in unclouded summer loveliness. A faint breeze rippled the waters, and the rising sun cast long rays of light and broken brilliancy over the wide and gently heaving bosom of the Bay. The Shannon, under easy sail, slowly floated down the eastern coast, in order to take an early look into the harbour and upon the vessels of the enemy. Viewed from seaward, a more peaceful scene could scarcely be conceived. The lighthouse, friendly alike to friend and foe, the distant shore, the light hazy clouds over the port and town of Boston, and the lofty masts and widespread spars of the man-of-war lying ready for sea—these, as usual, were the prominent objects on which the eager and anxious gaze of Broke had often before rested. But to-day, or at furthest to-morrow, he had strong hopes the issue would be decided. His challenge, that model of the utterance of a bravery which had well calculated and was now resolute to stand the hazard of the die, had gone forth.

Meanwhile all went on as usual on board the well ordered, well-trained, unassuming, and well-disciplined Shannon. At eight bells a.m. the gallant young Wallis took the watch; and from that hour onward to the close, the events of this momentous day are all within the accurate reach and record of the historian's pen, employed only on facts furnished by eye-witnesses of the engagement. The previous day had been rainy, and there were consequently many small matters of watchful routine and everready preparedness requiring attention. At 10 a.m., these duties being discharged, the beat to quarters rattled along the decks, and sent its short, sharp, and alert summons down the hatchways of the Shannon. Quickly, silently, and resolutely the men repaired to their appointed stations, and the great gun exercise, without firing, was assiduously practised as the British frigate, with light airs of wind, made quiet reaches to and fro across the bay, full in the enemy's sight.

It was at this time that the vigilant captain, in the prime of his manhood and the calm of his settled purpose to conquer or die for his country's honour, ascended to the Shannon's maintop. Until half-past eleven he remained there, watching eagerly the tapering masts and widespread yards of the beleagured ship, which, beyond a loose foretopsail, gave no sign of her departure. Slowly, and deeply disappointed, Broke descended to the deck and ordered the retreat from quarters, observing to his young officer: "Wallis, I don't mean this for general quarters, but because she (with a gesture towards the harbour) will surely be out to-day or to-morrow." The watch was relieved, and the young lieutenant said cheerily to his successor, as he went below, " Be sure you call me if she stir." The men went to dinner. Broke lingered still on deck, for the tide was flowing and the day already beginning to wane.

It was the gallant Falkiner's watch, and he is now not here to give us the precise details; but in that quiet hour of rest, from the meridian eight bells, the word passed on lightning wings along the decks— "She is coming out," and soon every Shannons eye was on her movements. At length the watch and ward of weary, toilsome weeks was ended. Sail after sail spread forth, flag after flag unfurled, and with all the speed the light air and an ebbing tide could yield her, and attended by a large number of lesser craft to witness and applaud her expected triumph, the haughty Chesapeake bore down upon her waiting adversary. Her commander, Lawrence, glowing with recent triumph, anticipated an easy victory. Colossal in figure, and with muscular power superior to most men, he was on this day fatally conspicuous by the white vest and other habiliments he had assumed. Having stimulated his men to the utmost by prize cheques and an exciting harangue, closing with the sanguinary and remorseless words— "Peacock her, my lads! Peacock her !"  he then ascended to his quarterdeck, with the full determination of forthwith wreaking the like speedy destruction on the Shannon. His words, however, had fallen on irresponsive and misgiving hearts. There was murmuring forward and depressing caution aft. The men were discontented, and American officers, not of the Chesapeake (but who accompanied Lawrence, and his two youthful sons to the wharf, from which he was to pull on board his ship), had whispered:

"Becautious; take heed. We know every British ship on the station but this Shannon."

Far different was it on board "this Shannon," rusty with long cruising, her ensign faded and worn (she wore but one), and short of provisions and water.

The moment, the long-desired moment of reckoning, was at hand; and but one feeling prevailed on board,—to exact it to the utmost.
Broke (amid the busy hum of interest on the quarterdeck) descended silently and thoughtfully to his cabin, and there made his own final personal arrangements. What passed in that solemn hour no living creature now on earth can tell; but we know enough of the warrior to feel assured that he then committed himself, and .the wife and children then probably sleeping the sleep of the peaceful in distant England, to the great God he had so long confessed and honoured.

The battle-ground, some fifteen or twenty miles from Boston, being very nearly reached, the men were at once called aft, and their commander proceeded to address them. He stood on the break of the quarterdeck, the men of the upper-deck quarters standing in front of him and along the gangways; the men of the maindeck assembled below, and within partial earshot. In substance, Broke addressed them thus: 
"Shannons! You know that, from various causes, the Americans have lately triumphed, on several occasions, over the British flag in our frigates. This will not daunt you since you know the truth, that disparity of force was the chief reason. But they have gone further: they have said, and they have published it in their papers, that the English have forgotten the way to fight. You will let them know to-day there are Englishmen in the Shannon who still know how to fight. Don't try to dismast her. Fire into her quarters; maindeck into maindeck; quarterdeck into quarterdeck. Kill the men. and the ship is yours. Don't hit them about the head, for they have steel caps on, but give it them through the body. Don't cheer. Go quietly to your quarters. I feel sure you will all do your duty; and remember, you have now the blood of hundreds of your countrymen to avenge!"
At this stirring and touching allusion to the fate of the Guerriere, the Macedonian, and the Java, many of the hardy seamen wept. A dead and heavy silence (the voiceless calm of do or die) rested over the Shannons decks; but it was twice broken before a shot was fired. Jacob West, late of the Guerriere, said: "I hope, sir, you will give us revenge for the Guerriere to-day." To which Broke replied, " You shall have it, my man ; go to your quarters." Another seaman, eyeing the rusty blue eusign which fluttered at the Shannon's mizen peak, asked : "Mayn't we have three ensigns, sir, like she has?" "No," said Broke, "we've always been an unassuming ship."

All now went silently and resolutely to their stations.

At this moment, all being ready for action, Boston light bearing west, distant about six leagues, the Shannon finally hauled up, with her head to the southward and eastward, and lay-to under topsails and jib, the latter flowing and the spanker hanging by the throatbrail only, ready for wearing or running free, and the helm amidships.

The Chesapeake was now coming rapidly down, at an angle of impunity, having sent her royal yards on deck and reduced her sail to very much the same dimensions as her adversary. The Shannon's royal yards were kept across, as her captain considered that those lofty sails might be serviceable in the event of the light air dying away, or being altogether lulled by the approaching cannonade.

When nearly within gunshot the Shannon filled under jib, topsails, and spanker, and, having little more than steerage way, awaited her opponent's closer approach. All were now at their posts. On the quarterdeck Broke, assisted by his first lieutenant, Watt, and attended by his aide-de-camp, Mr. Fenn (a light-hearted midshipman and general favourite on board, more familiarly known as Tommy Fenn), and the marine officers. The purser (a volunteer), the clerk, and a trusty sergeant (Molyneux) were stationed in the waist and gangways. The maindeck was most ably officered by "Wallisand Falkiner, the former being in command of the after batteries, which it is perhaps needless to say were fought with bravery and skill. Before a shot was fired, and as the men were going to quarters, Meehan, the gunner, was on his way to the magazine, when Wallis arrested him for a moment, and handed to him his watch, saying, "You will be safe. Should anything happen to me give this to my father with my love." By this chronometer the gunner timed the action.

It was at first doubtful whether the Chesapeake would make a raking evolution astern of the Shannon, or come fairly alongside; but when she arrived within pistol-shot all suspense was ended, for she rounded-to on the starboard quarter of her opponent—precisely the Hornet's mode of attack when, with her, Lawrence captured the Peacock.

Captain Broke walked forward, and through his own skylight gave orders to the maindeck captains of guns to "fire on the enemy as soon as the guns bore on his second bow-port." (A man named Rowlands, who was captain of the maintop on board the Guerriere when captured by the Constitution, was so delighted by this order that he very audibly and admiringly ejaculated: "Ah! that's the man for me; she's ours ! ") Broke now walked forward to the starboard gangway to observe the effect of his directions. The ships were closing fast. The sails of the Chesapeake camegliding between the slanting rays of the evening sun and the Shannon, darkening the maindeck port& of the latter, whilst the increasing ripple of the water against her bows as she approached could be distinctly heard at all the guns of the after-battery on the Shannons silent maindeck. In another moment, th& desired position being attained, the Shannon commenced the action by firing her after or fourteenth maindeck gun; the steady old captain of the gun, Billy Mindham (Captain Broke's faithful coxswain),, having first reported to Wallis, the officer of his quarters, that his gun bore, and received permission to fire; a second afterwards, her after-carronade on the quarterdeck; then her thirteenth maindeck gun; and, as the Chesapeake ranged alongside, she received,, in close and steady succession, the whole of the broadside. The effect of this (as witnessed from the Shannon's tops) was truly withering. 

A hurricane of shot, splinters, torn hammocks, cut rigging, and wreck of every kind was hurled like a cloud across the deck. Of 150 men quartered thereon more than 100 were instantly laid low. Nor was this all. In this moment of deadly strife, Lawrence, who was fatally conspicuous, standing on a carronade-slide, received a ball through his abdomen from the hand of Lieut. Law, of the marines. He fell, severely wounded, and, after four days of suffering, doomed to die. But to relate this at present is premature. The conflict continued. In and Falkiner, Collier, Stack, Van Loo, Fish (first and second gunners), and others, stationed chiefly on the quarterdeck, with a large body of marines, pressed on in the way so nobly led by their captain. On gaining the Chesapeake s deck, a desperate and disorderly resistance was made. Her so-called chaplain, a Mr. Livermore, of Boston (an amateur and volunteer, no more), presented and snapped a pistol at Captain Broke. 

A backward stroke of the good and weighty Toledo blade which the hero carried (mounted, however, in the regulation ivory and gold wire) left his reverence to his better meditations against the mizenmast; and a vigorous charge along the gangways followed. This was the most confused moment of the conflict. A severe encounter had been raging in the tops. The midshipmen — Smith in the fore and Cosnahan in the main—had vastly distinguished themselves. Smith boarded the enemy off the foreyard of the Shannon, and, after hard fighting, chased his last remaining adversary down the foretopmast backstay on to the deck. Cosnahan, in the maintop, finding the foot of the topsail intervene between the enemy and himself, laid out on the manyardarm, and, receiving loaded muskets handed down to him through the "lubber's hole," shot three men from thence. These were midshipmen indeed!
To add to the confusion, the Chesapeake's head gradually falling off, her sails again filled; she broke away from the lashings, and forged across the bow of the Shannon. At this moment, it would appear, the English party had divided — the upper deck was entirely theirs; Watt was aft, hauling down the enemy's flag. Broke was on the forecastle, interposing between his men and some three or four Americans, who must otherwise have instantly been cut to pieces. The first lieutenant, in his haste— unwisely, alas! we can now see—hurrying the sailors so employed, caused them to bend on a white ensign under the American ensign. 

The moment this was seen from the Shannon her fire recommenced, and a grape-shot from his own ship carried away the top of his head, the same discharge killing and wounding others around him. The consternation diffused by this accident on the Chesapeake s quarterdeck reanimated the conquered Americans on the forecastle. Broke had already spared their lives—that was nothing. With pike, sabre, and musket they formed behind their gallant preserver; and when, roused by a fervent adjuration from a sentinel, he unsuspectingly turned about, he found not one, nor two, but three men—but, no! let me rather say, treacherous, indomitable enemies — prepared and anxious to take his life. These were great odds; but Broke parried the pike of his first assailant and wounded him in the face. Before he could recover his guard, the second foe struck him with a cutlass on the side of the head; and, instantly on this, the third having clubbed his musket drove home his comrade's weapon, until a large surface of the skull was cloven entirely away—the brain was left bare. Broke sank, of necessity, stunned and bleeding, on the deck; his sword fell from his relaxing grasp, and his first assailant, who had already fallen, strove to muster sufficient strength to consummate the attack. At this moment a marine bayoneted the immediate opponent of his captain, whilst the enraged Shannons almost literally cut his companions to pieces. It was truly a sanguinary scene. Broke was scarcely to be recognised, even by his own comrades. He was plastered with lime and blood.* Mr. Smith and Mindham, however, tenderly raised him; and, whilst the latter bound an old handkerchief round his captain's streaming head, he applied a strong mental cordial by directing his look aft, with the cheering words: "Look there, sir; there goes the old ensign up over the Yankee colours!"

Slowly they then led him to the quarterdeck, and seated him, half fainting, on a carronadeslide.

Whilst these events were passing on the Chesapeake's forecastle and quarterdeck, an animated conflict had been going forward (for not more than two minutes, however) on her maindeck. This also ended in the dispersion of her crew. They were driven below, a grating placed over the main hatchway, and a marine (William Young) posted sentry over it. It chanced that this man, seeing a comrade pass, stretched out his hand by way of congratulation on their victory and joint escape. Whilst doing this he was most treacherously shot from below. The surrounding Shannons, terribly enraged, instantly poured down among the Americans a warm discharge of musketry. This proceeding excited the anger of the brave Lieutenant Falkiner, who was sitting on the booms, fatigued by his exertions in boarding. He rushed forward, and, presenting his pistol, protested he would blow out the brains of the first man who attempted to fire another shot. He then sang out to the Americans below that, if they did not instantly send up the man who shot the marine, he would call them up and put them to death one by one. This vigorous proceeding put an end to all further resistance.

The firing alluded to aroused Broke, and, on being informed of the cause, he faintly directed the Americans to be driven into the hold, and then lapsed, from his great loss of blood, into total insensibility.
The battle was now over and the victory won, according to the most careful and largest computation of time, in thirteen minutes. In this brief space 252 men were either killed or wounded in the two ships, the loss of the Americans being about 70 killed and 100 wounded, and that of the English 26 killed and 56 wounded. Fresh reinforcements of Shannons were now sent on board the Chesapeake, the boats conveying back to the English ship her gallant Captain Broke, and the first lieutenant of the enemy (Augustus Ludlow), both severely, and the latter, as it turned out, mortally wounded. Captain Broke was laid in his own cot, in his own cabin, his "good old sword" ("Pray," said he, "take care of my good old sword") being laid beside him. Lieutenant Ludlow (who, in the hurry of the moment, was left for a little while lying unnoticed in the steerage) sent a touching message— "Will you tell the commanding officer of the Shannon that Mr. Ludlow, first of the Chesapeake, is lying here badly wounded?" He was immediately placed in the berth of poor Watt. And Captain Lawrence, who, on receiving his wound had been conveyed, in consequence of the shattered state of his cabin, to the Chesapeake's wardroom, remained there—in four days to breathe his last. The Americans, in full confidence of victory, had provided several hundred pairs of handcuffs for the English. "With their own" (as Admiral Wallis quaintly remarks) "they were now ornamented."

Anecdotes Of The Action.

Between three and four o'clock in the afternoon of this 1st of June, the officers of the Shannon bivouacked for their last dinner on the quarterdeck. The cabins were cleared away for action, the ship was standing out to sea, a screen of canvas had been run up and the commissioned officers invited to join their captain at his improvised table. There had been some slight misunderstanding and consequent coolness between two of his lieutenants which had pained Broke much, and he embraced the opportunity of reconciling them. Those were the good old days of taking wine with each other, in token of mutual friendship. When the cloth was cleared away, and before the wine was removed, Broke rose and thus addressed his guests: "Well, gentlemen, no doubt we shall shortly be in action. It will be a satisfaction to me if we all take wine with each other, and shake hands all round, before we go to quarters." As this custom of "taking wine" has quite gone out of use, except among the few survivors of the first quarter of the present century, I may mention that it was considered a mark of especial regard and friendship; and many are the quarrels, both in the army and navy, which have been at once prevented by this simple formula, e.g.—

Admiral W.: "Captain Jones, a glass of wine?" Captain J.: "I shall feel honoured, Admiral." Admiral W.: "Will you join us, Captain Davis?" Captain D.: "With the greatest pleasure, sir." And then the parties simultaneously raised thenglasses, bowed, and smiling graciously to each other, drained them, and J. and D. became friends again. So was it on board the Shannon about four hours only before the death of one of the officers thus reconciled.

This action on the part of Captain Broke is almost parallel with that of Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar, related in Southey's Life, and his description of which it will be convenient to repeat. Admiral Collingwood had gone on board the Victory with some of the captains to receive instructions, when Nelson inquired of him where his captain was. Collingwood, in reply, said: "We are not upon good terms with each other." "Terms!" said Nelson, "good terms with each other!" and immediately sent a boat for Captain Rotherham. A's soon as he arrived Nelson led him to Collingwood, saying, "Look! yonder are the enemy!" and bade them shake hands like Englishmen.

As an instance of presence of mind it is related that, after Captain Broke had been laid low from the effect of the wounds inflicted upon him, one of his antagonists, who had fallen by his side, made a final effort to kill Broke outright, and managed to get uppermost in a faint struggle. He had in his hand a bayonet, and his arm was outstretched ready to strike, when one of the Shannon's marines, John Hill, drew near. He did not, however, recognise friend from foe; and, thinking that the enemy must be the man who was undermost, was about to thrust his bayonet into his own commander, when the latter said, "Pooh, you fool! don't you know your captain?" The next second Hill had made his thrust, but it was through the American.

The brave but unfortunate Lawrence, while being carried to the wardroom of the Chesapeake, mortally wounded, said, "Don't give up the ship," and it would appear that he repeated these words when delirious from his wounds. He was gentle and docile during the few days that were left to him, and fully anticipated his fate, which he met with the quiet resignation of a brave man. He had behaved most humanely to captive foes, and his worth and gallantry have never found a detractor in any British writer. The dying words here quoted are inscribed on his monument in Trinity Churchyard, Broadway, New York.

Lieutenant Ludlow, of the Chesapeake, who was lying severely wounded on the Shannon, and doomed in a few days to die, won the esteem of the British by rebuking one of his brother-officers who wished tothrow an erroneous gloss over the capture. "Let me hear," said he, "no more of it while we are aboard this ship. We were fairly beaten." The stone which has been raised to the memory of Lawrence is also inscribed to the memory of this his favourite lieutenant.

James Bulger, one of the seamen of the Shannon, boarded without arms, or rather unarmed. His excuse was, "I knew I should find plenty lying about her decks." He afterwards picked up a boarding pike, with which he seems, from his own account, to have set to work in great earnest.

When, as previously related, Midshipman Smith of the Shannon boarded the Chesapeake off the foreyard of the Shannon, the last of the Americans who fled down the topmast backstay to the deck was one of the midshipmen of the Chesapeake. He was followed so closely by Smith that the latter alighted upon him and tumbled him over on the deck, at which he was so alarmed that he begged to have his life spared. Captain Broke, who was then being led, very seriously wounded, close by the spot, took the middy with him by the collar, and so saved his life.

The result of the action had been prophesied in the Naval Chronicle, some months previously, in the following lines:—

"And as the war they did provoke, 
    We'll pay them with our cannon: 
 The first to do it will be Broke, 
   In the gallant ship the Shannon." 

Many British subjects were found on board the Chesapeake, who had helped to resist the boarders from the Shannon; indeed, the men who attacked and wounded Captain Broke were British subjects. Some were traitors, and these, no doubt, fought desperately even against their own countrymen, knowing that, if captured, they could not expect a better fate than death. Wallis says: 
"My recollection of the traitors found on board the Chesapeake is simply this—that there were five, one of whom was subsequently executed, and the other four sentenced to be flogged round the fleet; but I do not remember names. There were also many of her crew who had belonged to our navy, receiving their discharge when the war commenced, upon claiming American citizenship. Amongst the wounded were some of these, who surprised Dr. Rowlands, when dressing their wounds, by asking him if he did not remember them as former shipmates."

The Shannon was, it is believed, steered into action by James Coull, who had been present at the battle of Trafalgar, and who was now a petty officer and volunteer. He received in the wrist a ball which traversed his arm, but stuck to his post, and afterwards formed one of the boarding party, receiving a wound in the head while scrambling on board. His arm was subsequently amputated, but for many years he continued to go to sea, and ultimately died on October 1st, 1880, in the ninety-fifth year of his age. He was buried at Montrose, and, as an instance of the pride which is still felt in the famous achievement of the Shannon, it may be mentioned that his remains were interred with full military honours by detachments from both branches of the service, the coffin heing borne by the coastguard and a farewell volley fired. As an additional mark of respect, the shipping in the harbour exhibited colours at half-mast. There are many who will remember the portrait of his weather-beaten countenance which was exhibited last year at the Royal Naval Exhibition.

A great deal of controversy has taken place over a period of many years, between English and American writers, as to the relative strengths of the Shannon and the Chesapeake. By clever manipulation of figures as to displacement, weight, nature and destructive power of projectiles—by giving prominence to those points which seem to be in their favour and rendering obscure those which would tell against them, and in other ways, Americans have tried, not unnaturally perhaps, to minimise the brilliancy of the success which the Shannon obtained. The discussion seems unlikely to end, for quite recently there appeared in an American magazine an article attempting to disparage the Shannon's victory, and soon after, in another number of the same magazine, a criticism from one of her supporters. After the lapse of so many years it is, of course, impossible to suppose that those who renew these discussions are actuated by any feeling of hostility or resentment, which must have died long since. We still glory in the Shannons achievement, and no one perhaps knows better than Sir Provo Wallis how American naval men can themselves talk with admiration of the good old English ship and her officers.


ON the morning following the arrival of the Shannon at Halifax, the senior officer in port, Captain the Hon. Bladen Capel, considering it desirable that the report of the Shannons engagement with the Chesapeake should be forwarded to England as soon as possible, requested Wallis, as being now the senior officer in charge, to furnish an official account of the action. Wallis hesitated, however, to undertake this gratifying duty, because he was anxious Broke should tell his own story. He says: "I could not persuade myself to do this whilst there was a chance of my dear captain's strength enabling him to write with his own hand." He therefore informed Captain Capel that he would be obliged to him if he would wait a few days, and see whether Captain Broke might not be able to dictate a letter. Capel replied, "Very well, sir." Two days later Wallis was informed by Capel that he should send the Nova Scotia brig, commanded by Lieutenant Bartholomew Kent, to England on the 12th, and grant Lieutenant Falkiner permission to take charge of the letter which he expected Captain Broke would be enabled to dictate. No further communication took place between Capel and Wallis, and on the date last mentioned the Nova Scotia sailed without Wallis having seen the official letter which was taken in her, and which bore Captain Broke's name as the writer of it.

The official letter appears to have contained several inaccuracies, and having regard to his chief's state of health and the circumstances in which the letter had been sent, Wallis for a long time was firmly convinced that it was a concoction of Capel and others. He felt that he had been slighted by Capel, and in after years took a great deal of trouble to ascertain what was the true state of things in relation to the letter, and corresponded with Capel himself on the subject, when, as will be seen from the subjoined letter, the latter admitted that Broke was not in a fit state, for several days after his arrival at Halifax, to give an account of the action. Wallis also obtained from Dr. Rowlands, the surgeon who attended Broke, the certificate of which a copy is appended, and which confirmed Wallis's impressions.

 Letter From Captain Capel To Admiral  Wallis. 

June 19th, 1834.
Dear Sir,
I really do not quite understand what it is that you require of me to state (as far as my recollection may serve me) relative to the action between the Shannon and Chesapeake. In your letter of the 13th inst. you say: 'All I can ask of you is a statement that Sir P. Broke was not in a state (for several days) to give me an account of the action.' I can, of course, have no hesitation in stating that such was the fact; but surely you cannot expect that, after a lapse of twenty years, I can recollect what conversations may have passed between you and myself on that occasion. I, therefore, cannot answer any of the queries contained in your letter, which, indeed, becomes unnecessary, as I have stated all you require me to do, viz., that Sir P. Broke was not in a state (for several days) after his arrival at Halifax to give me an account of the action. 
I am, very truly yours,
Bladen Capel."
Certificate By D.B. Kowlands.
"These are to certify that I, the undersigned, David Rowlands, M.D., F.R.S., late Surgeon of H.M. Naval Hospital at Halifax, in Nova Scotia, was there when H.M.S. Shannon arrived with her prize the American frigate Chesapeake, on Sunday, June 6th, 1813; the former was commanded by the present Captain Wallis, owing to the dreadful wound which Captain Broke had received in the action with the enemy a few days previous. On June 7th I was requested by Mr. Alexander Jack, the surgeon of the Shannon, to visit Captain Broke, confined to bed at the Commissioner's house in the dockyard, and found him in a very weak state, with an extensive sabre wound on the side of the head, the brain exposed to view for three inches or more; he was unable to converse save in monosyllables, and I am sure totally unable to dictate or write an account of the action for some time afterwards, owing to his severe wounds, loss of blood, and the shock his whole frame must have experienced by the blow on the head. 

I continued to attend him twice a day for weeks afterwards, in conjunction with Mr. Jack, to whom every credit is justly due for his skilful treatment and care in bringing his brave captain on shore alive. 

I grant this certificate to Captain Wallis, being called upon to do so by the death of Mr. Jack, the surgeon.

"Given under my hand this 8th day of December, 1841. 

"D. Eowlands, M.D."

Siege of Fort Stephenson 
By George Croghan

The scope of country laying along the river, and more particularly that part around the city of Fremont, fills an important place in the history of the Indians. Here was the principal village of the Neutral Nation. The grand councils of this confederacy were held here, and many of the noted chiefs, including Brant, Little Turtle, Red Jacket and King Crane, and others came from far and near and debated and planned the destruction of the white men of northwestern Ohio. Where Fremont now stands, prisoners captured by the Indians were compelled to run the gauntlet and suffer the barbarities that the Indian knows so well how to inflict. Among the most noted prisoners that were brought here were Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton and John Heckewelder, with many others.

Owing to the importance of the place and the necessity of keeping open a line of communication, as well as establishing a base of supply, led to the building of a fort at this place called Fort Stephenson. The fort was oblong in shape, one hundred yards long and fifty yards wide, inclosed by timbers twelve feet long, set in the ground endwise, surrounded by a ditch six feet wide and nine feet deep, with the earth thrown up against the pickets. The fort was further protected by block houses placed at different angles.

The British, having left Fort Meigs, sailed into Sandusky Bay and up the river, while the Indians marched across the country for the purpose of making a combined attack on Fort Stephenson.

GENERAL HARRISON, learning of the enemy's movement on the evening of July 29th, and anticipating that an attack would be made either at this place or Fort Ball, called a council of war. The council was of the opinion that Fort Stephenson was not prepared to stand an assault backed by heavy artillery, and it was best to withdraw the troops and destroy the fort. A messenger was sent with orders to Major Croghan informing him of the decision of the council. The messenger, however, did not reach Croghan until 11 o'clock the next day. Major Croghan, deeming this impracticable and hazardous, replied:"We have determined to maintain the place, and, by heavens, we can." General Harrison treated this reply as disobedience of orders and relieved him of his command. Major Croghan at once explained to the general's satisfaction, who returned him to his post.


The approach of the enemy was discovered on the 31st of July ascending the river The British, to the number of five hundred, under the command of General Proctor, and seven or eight hundred Indians under Tecumseh, were well deployed in all directions for the purpose of cutting off the garrison should a retreat be attempted. The British landed about a mile below the fort, taking ashore with them one howitzer. General Proctor then sent a messenger to the fort with a flag and a summors for an immediate surrender, as he was anxious to avoid the shedding of human blood. Major Croghan's representative, Lieutenant Ship, answered "that they would defend the fort to the Let extremity, and under no conditions would it be surrendered." Mr. Dickson then spoke of the difficulty of restraining the Indians from massacring the garrison in case of British success. "When this fort is taken there will be no one to massacre," was the defiant answer.

Firing was now commenced by the gunboats and the howitzer on shore, but produced little effect. Major Croghan had but one piece of artillery, but by changing its position from place to place induced the belief that he had several pieces. He soon discontinued firing and removed the cannon to the blockhouse at the northwest angle of the fort, at which point the enemy had been concentrating their fire, thus leading Croghan to believe that they would make an assault at that point. The gun was masked, and loaded with powder and a double charge of slugs and grape shot. Late in the evening of August 2nd, the smoke of the firing had completely enveloped the fort, the assault was made and soon the storming column, three hundred and fifty strong, was within twenty yards of the northwest angle when a heavy firing of musketry was opened upon them which threw them into confusion.

Colonel Short, who led the column, soon rallied his troops, leaped into the ditch shouting, "Come on, boys, and give the damn Yankees no quarter." In a few minutes it was full. The masked port hole was opened and Betsy Croghan, the six pound cannon, poured shot and shell into the mass of soldiers, creating such a panic that retreat was the consequence, although desperate efforts were made to rally them. Colonel Short was mortally wounded, and hoisting his handkerchief upon the point of his sword, cried for quarter. The loss of the garrison was one killed and seven wounded, while that of the enemy could not have been less than one hundred and sixty killed and wounded.

The wounded in the ditch were in a deplorable condition, but were relieved as much as possible by the Americans. About 3 o'clock in the morning, the British and Indians commenced a disorderly retreat, and so anxious were they to get away that they abandoned quite an amount of military stores. Croghan's entire number of men was one hundred and sixty, and a large portion of these were raw recruits. His artillery consisted of the six-pound cannon which did such effective work. It is now in possession of the city and will be placed at the base of the monument. 


Headquarters, Kingston,   Upper Canada, 1st August, 1813  

My Lord:  

The arrival of Mr. Dickson from the mission with 2,000 Indian warriors, has enabled me to resume offensive operations with the left division of the Upper Canada army under the command of Brigadier-General Proctor. Major-General Harrison having shown some of his cavalry and riflemen in the Michigan territory, a forward movement has been made by the Indian warriors, supported by a few companies of the Forty-first Regiment, upon Sandusky, from whence they will unite with Tecumseh's band of warriors, employed in investing Fort Meigs.

I have the honor to be, My Lord,

Your Lordship's most obedient, humble servant,

Headquarters, St. Davids, 1 Niagara Frontier, 
25th Aug. 1813
My Lord:
Major-General Proctor having given way to the clamor of our Indian allies to act offensively, moved forward on the 20th ultimo towards the enemy with about three hundred and fifty of the Forty-first Regiment, and between three and four thousand Indian warriors, and on the 2nd instant, attempted to carry by assault the block houses and works at Sandusky, where the enemy had concentrated a considerable force. He, however, soon experienced the timidity of the Indians when exposed to the fire of musketry and cannon in an open country, and how little dependence could be placed on their numbers. Previous to the assault, they could scarcely muster as many hundreds as they had before thousands, and as soon as it had commenced, they withdrew themselves out of the reach of the enemy's fire.
They are never a disposable force. The handful of His Majesty's troops employed on this occasion, displayed the greatest bravery, nearly the whole of them having reached the fort and made every effort to enter it, but a galling and destructive fire being kept up by the enemy within the block houses and from behind the picketing, which completely protected them, and which we had not the means to force, the Major-General thought it most prudent not to continue longer so unavailing a combat, and accordingly drew off the assailants and returned to Sandwich, with the loss of twenty-five killed, as many missing, and about forty wounded. Amongst the former are Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Short, and Lieutenant J. G. Gordon, of the Forty-first Regiment. 
I have the honor to be, My Lord, 
Your Lordship's most obedient and most humble servant,


Hail I thou old friend, of Fort McGee  
Little did I expect again to see, 
And hear thy voice of victory, 
     Thou defender of Ohio I 

I wonder who it was that sought thee, 
To victory's ground again hath brought thee, 
From stranger's hands at length hath caught thee; 
     He is a friend to great Ohio 1 

He is surely worthy of applause, 
To undertake so good a cause, 
Altho' a pleader of her laws, 
     And statutes of Ohio. 

What shame thy block house is not standing, 
Thy pickets, as at first, commanding, 
Protecting Sandusky's noble landing, 
     The frontier of Ohio! 

Thy pickets, alas! are all unreared, 
No faithful sentinel on guard, 
Nor band of soldiers well prepared, 
      Defending great Ohio. 

Where have the upthrown ditches gone, 
By British cannon rudely torn? 
Alas! with grass they are o'ergrown, 
      Neglected by Ohio. 

O tell me where thy chieftains all
Croghan, Dudley, Miller, Ball
Some of whom, I know, did fall 
      In defending of Ohio. 

Canst thou not tell how Proctor swore, 
When up your matted turf he tore, 
Which shielded us from guns a score, 
     He poured upon Ohio? 

And how Tecumseh lay behind you; 
With vain attempts he tried to blind yon, 
And, unprepared, he'd find you, 
     And lead you from Ohio? 

Perhaps, like Hamlet's ghost, you've come, 
This day, to celebrate the fame 
Of Croghan's honored, worthy name, 
     The hero of Ohio? 

I greet thee! Thou art just in time 
To tell of victory most sublime, 
Tho' told in unconnected rhyme; 
     Thou art welcome in Ohio. 

But since thou canst thyself speak well, 
Now let thy thundering voice tell 
What bloody carnage then befell 
     The foes of great Ohio. 

And then she thundered loud

Brice J. Bartlett.


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