USS Wasp - Fort Erie - Chippewa

The USS Wasp takes the HMS Reindeer

On June 28th, 1814, USS Wasp forced the Cruizer class brig-sloop HMS Reindeer to surrender after far more than half the brig's crew, including the Captain, were killed or wounded. The ship-rigged sloop of war. The Reindeer was too badly damaged in the action to be salvaged so the Americans set her on fire.  This was one of the hardest-fought naval actions in the Anglo-American War of 1812.

The USS Wasp's Captain, Johnston Blakeley (October 1781 - October 1814),  is considered to be one of the most successful American naval officers of the War of 1812.



U. S. Sloop Wasp, L'Orient,  July 8, 1814.


On Tuesday, the 28th ult. being then in lat. 48° 36' N. and long. 11° 15' W. we fell in with, engaged, and after an action of 19 minutes, captured, his Britannic Majesty's sloop of war the Reindeer, William Manners Esq. commander. Annexed are the minutes of our proceedings prior to, and during the continuance of the action.

Where all did their duty, and each appeared anxious to excel, it is very difficult to discriminate. It is, however, only rendering them their merited due, when it is declared of Lieuts. Reilly and Bury, 1st and 3d of this vessel, and whose names will be among those of the conquerors of the Guerriere and Java ; and of Mr. Tillinghast, 2d lieutenant, who was greatly instrumental in the capture of the Boxer, that their conduct and courage on this occasion fulfilled the highest expectation and gratified every wish. Sailing Master Carr is also entitled to great credit for the zeal and ability with which he discharged his various duties.

The cool and patient conduct of every officer and man, while exposed to the fire of the shifting guns of the enemy, and without an opportunity of returning it, could only be equaled by the animation and ardor exhibited, when actually engaged, or by the promptitude and firmness with which every attempt of the enemy to board was met and successfully repelled. Such conduct may be seen but cannot well be described.

The Reindeer mounted sixteen 241b carronades, two long 6 or 9 pounders, and a shifting 12 pound carronade, with a complement on board of 118 men. Her crew were said to be the pride of Plymouth.
Our loss in men has been severe, owing in part to the proximity of the two vessels and the extreme smoothness of sea, but chiefly in repelling boarders. That of the enemy, however, was infinitely more so, as will be seen by the list of killed and wounded on both sides.
Six round shot struck our hull, and many grape which did not penetrate far. The fore-mast received a 241b. shot Which passed through its centre, and our rigging and sails were a good deal injured.

The Reindeer was literally. cut to pieces in a line with her ports; her upper works, boats, and spare spars were one complete wreck. A breeze springing up next afternoon, her fore-mast went by the board.

Having received all the prisoners on board, which from the number of wounded occupied much time, together with their baggage,the Reindeer was on the evening of the 29th set on fire, and in a few hours blew up.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obe't serv't,


Minutes of the action, between the U. S. Sloop Wasp, and H. B. M. Sloop Reindeer on the 28th of June 1814, in lat. 48° 36' A, and long. 11° 15' W. At 4 A. M. light breezes and cloudy ; at J after 4, discovered two sails, two points before the lee-beam, kept away in chase; shortly after discovered one sail on the weather beam; altered the course and hauled by in chase of the sail to windward; at 8, sailed to windward, bore E, N. E. wind very light; at 10, the stranger sail, bearing E. by N. hoisted an English ensign and pendant, and displayed a signal at the main (blue and yellow diagonally,) Meridian, light airs and cloudy; at  past 12, the enemy showed a blue and white flag diagonally at the fore, and fired a gun; 15 minutes after 1, called all hands to quarters and prepared for action; 22 minutes after 1, believing we could weather the enemy, tacked ship and stood for him; 50 minutes after 1, hoisted our colors and fired a gun to windward, which was answered by the enemy with another to windward; 20 minutes after 2, the enemy still standing from us, set the royals; 25 minutes after 2, set the flying gib; 29 minutes after 2, set the upper stay-sails; 32 minutes after 2, the enemy having tacked for us, took in the stay-sails ; 37 minutes after 2, furled the royals: 51 minutes after 2, seeing that the enemy would be able to weather us, tacked ship ; 3 minutes after 3, the enemy hoisted his flying gib; brailed upourmizen; 15 minutes after 3, the enemy on our weather quarter, distant about sixty yards, fired his shifting gun, a 121b. carronade, at us, loaded with round and grape shot, from his top-gallant fore-castle; 17 minutes after 3, fired the same gun a second time; 19 minutes after 3, fired it a third time; 21 minutes after 3, fired it a fourth time, 24 minutes after 3, a fifth shot, all from the same gun. Finding the enemy did not get sufficiently on the beam to enable us to bring our guns to bear, put the helm a-lee, and at 26 minutes after 3, commenced the action with the after carronade on the starboard side, and fired in succession ; 34 minutes after 3, hauled up the main-sail; 40 minutes after 3, the enemy having his bow in contact with our larboard quarter, endeavored to board us, but was repulsed in every attempt; at 44 minutes after 3, orders were given to board in turn, which were promptly executed, when all resistance immediately ceased; and at 45 minutes after 3, the enemy hauled down his flag.


List of killed and tcounded on board the United  States sloop of war Wasp, in the action with the  Reindeer. 

Killed—Five seamen. 
Wounded—Twenty one. 


Killed - 5 
Wounded - - - 21 

List of the killed and wounded on board his B. M. sloop of war Reindeer.

Killed—William Manners, Esq. commander; John Thos. Barton, and 23 petty officers and seamen.

Wounded—Thos. Chambets, 1st lieutenant: Richard Jones, master, and 40 petty officers and seamen.

Killed - - - 35
Wounded—dangerously - 10
Severely - 17
Slightly - 15
Whole number wounded 42

N. B. More than half the wounded were, in consequence of the severity and extent of their wounds, put on board a Portuguese brig, called the Lisbon Packet, on the third day after action, to wit, 1st July, bound to Plymouth, England.


U. S. Sloop Wasp, L'Orient

July 8th, 1814


I have the honor to announce to you the arrival of this ship to day at this place.—By the pilot who carried us out of Portsmouth N. H. I had the satisfaction to make you acquainted with our having left that place, and again had the pleasure of addressing you by the French national brig Olive, and which was the first vessel we had spoken since our departure from the United States. From the time of our sailing I continued the rout pointed out in your instructions, until our arrival at this place, during which we have been so fortunate as to make several captures; a list of which will accompany this.—These with their cargoes were wholly destroyed, with one exception. This was the Galliott Henrietta, which was permitted to return with prisoners in number, after throwing overboard the greater part of her cargo, leaving only sufficient to ballast her. 

When arrived on our crusing ground, I found it impossible to maintain any thing like a station, and was led, in chase, farther up the English channel then was intended. After arriving on soundings, the number of neutrals, which are now passing, kept us almost constantly in pursuit. It gives me much pleasure to state to you the very healthy condition of the crew of the Wasp during the cruise: sometimes without one on the sick list, and at no time any who remained there more than a few days. Great praise is due to Dr. Clark for his skill and attention at all times; but particularly after the action with the Reindeer, his unweared assiduity to the necessities of the wounded was highly conspicuous.

The ship is at present under quarantine, but we expect to be released from it tomorrow, when the wounded will be sent to the hospital, and every exertion made to prepare the Wasp for sea.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


Johnston Blakeley was born at Seaford, County Down, Ireland, October, 1781. He was brought, when very young, to North Carolina, where his parents settled, and where they died while he was still a child. He entered the navy as a midshipman, February 5, 1800, and served under Commodore Preble in the Tripolitan campaign. In 1813, when a lieutenant, he commanded the Enterprize, and in the same year became master-commandant of the sloop-of-war Wasp, with which, on June 28, 1814, he took the British sloop-of-war Reindeer, Commander William Manners. For this memorable action Congress gave him a vote of thanks and a gold medal. He afterward cruised off the coast of France, and was lost at sea in the Wasp, of which no news has ever been received. 


U. S. Sloop Wasp, L'Orient, 
July 10, 1814.


After the capture of his B. M. sloop of war, the Meindeer,it was my wish to have continued the cruise, as directed by you. I was however necessitated to relinquish this desire after a few days, from a consideration of the wounded of our crew, whose wounds had at this season become offensive, and aggravated by the number of prisoners on board at the time, being seventy-seven in number. Fearing, from the crowded state of the Wasp, that some valuable lives might be lost, if retained on board, was compelled, though with reluctance, to make the first neutral port. Those belonging to the Reindeer, who were dangerously wounded, were put on board a Portuguese brig bound to England three days after the action, and from the winds which prevailed, arrived probably in two or three days after their departure. Their surgeon, the captain's clerk, and officers' servants, and the crew of the Orange Boven, were put on board of the same vessel to attend upon them. Since our arrival at this place we have experienced every civility from the public authorities. Our quarantine was only for a few hours, and our wounded, fourteen in number, were carried yesterday to the hospital, where they were comfortably situated. Our fore-mast, although badly wounded, can be repaired, and will be taken on shore as soon as possible. All. other damages sustained can be repaired by ourselves. 

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant, 


Gold Medal Bust of Captain Blakeley, in uniform, facing the right. FÜRST. Fecit. EHEU! BIS VICTOR PATRIA TUA TE LUGET PLAUDITQ (Alas! twice conqueror, thy country laments and applauds thee.) Naval action between the United States sloop-of-war Wasp, of eighteen guns, Captain Blakeley, and the British sloop-of-war Reindeer, of eighteen guns, Captain Manners; the Wasp, to windward, is firing her port broadside. The British vessel is striking her colors. Exergue: INTER WASP NAV. AMERI. ET REINDEER NAV. ANG. DIE XXVIII JUNIUS (sic) MDCCCXIV. (Inter Wasp navem Americanam et Reindeer navem Anglicanam, die 28 Junius, 1814: Between the American vessel Wasp and the English vessel Reindeer, June 28, 1814.) On the platform, FÜRST. Fecit.


U. S. Sloop of war Wasp, at sea, off Belle Isle

August 27th, 1814. 


It is with sincere sorrow that I have to announce to you the decease of Midshipmen Henry S. Langdon and Frank Toscan. They were wounded in the rencontre with the Reindeer, and all our efforts to save them, after our arrival, proved unavailing. It was their first essay, and although wounded, remained at their posts until the contest terminated. The constancy and courage with which they bore their sufferings leads to the melancholy, though proud reflection, of what they might have been, had providence ordained otherwise. Every respect due to worth was shown to their memory.
It is with regret that I have to inform you of the delays we have experienced at this place, but had they been of shorter duration, we could not possibly have sailed, as one continued westerly wind has prevailed from the hour of our arrival up to the present day.

The course pointed out in your instructions having been interrupted, I shall endeavor to fulfill your further intentions as far as possibly be in my power.

With great satisfaction, I add, that every aid in the power of Mr. Crawford has been promptly afforded, and that I feel under many obligations to him for his attention and assistance.

We are now off this place with a fair wind and favorable prospects.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant, 



U. S. Sloop Wasp, at sea, lat. 41 ° A*, long. 11° W 

September 11th, 1814.


After a protracted and tedious stay at L'Orient, had at last the pleasure of leaving that place on Saturday, 27th of August. On the 30th, captured the British brig Lettice, Henry Cockbain master; and on and with the expectation of drawing the second brig from his companions; but in this last we were disappointed. The second brig continued to approach us until she came close to our stern, when she haulted by the wind, fired her broadside, which cut our rigging and sails considerably, and shot away a lower main cross tree, and retraced her steps to join her consorts; when we were necessitated to abandon the prize. He appeared in every respect a total wreck. He continued for some time firing guns of distress, until probably delivered by the two last vessels who made their appearance.

The second brig could have engaged us if he thought proper, as he neared us fast: but contented himself with firing a broadside, and immediately returned to his companions.

It is with real satisfaction I have again the pleasure of bearing testimony to the merits of Lieut. Reilly, Tillinghast, Baury and Sailing Master Carr: and to the good conduct of every officer and man on board the Wasp. Their divisions and departments were attended and supplied with the utmost regularity and abundance, which, with the good order maintained, together with the vivacity and precision of their fire, reflects on them the greatest credit. Our loss is two killed, and one slighily wounded with a wad. The hull received four round shot, and the fore-mast many grape shot. Our rigging and sails suffered a great deal. Every damage has been repaired the day after, with the exception of our sails.

Of the vessels with whom we were engaged, nothing positive can be said with regard to her name or force. While hailing him previous to his being fired into, it was blowing fresh (then going ten knots) and the name was not distinctly understood. Of her force, the four shot which struck us are all 32 pounds in weight, being a pound and three quarters heavier than any belonging to this vessel. From this circumstance, the number of men in her tops, her general appearance and great length, she is believed to be one of the largest brigs in the British navy.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant, 


P. S. I am told the enemy, after his surrender, asked for assistance, and said he was sinking—the probability of this is confirmed by his firing single guns for some time after his capture.

List of Killed and wounded on board the U. S. Sloop of war the Wasp Johnston Blakeley, Esq. commander,in the action with his Britannic Majesty,s Sloop of war ,on the 1st of September 1814.'

Killed—Joseph Martin, boatswain; Henry Staples, quarter gunner.
Wounded—One. seaman.

Killed - - 2
Wounded - - 1
Total 3

Extract of a private letter from an officer of the United States Sloop Wasp.

 September 23, 1814.

Capt. Blakely, I believe, sends official accounts up to this date, doubtless for publication. To his letters therefore I refer you for correct particulars regarding our cruise.

"The Wasp has been one of the most successful cruisers out of the United States. She has been the favorite of Fortune, and we offer thanks to divine Providence for its support and protection.

"She has now been three months and five days at sea, with a complement of 173 men, whose ages average only 23 years. The greatest part so green, that is, unaccustomed to the sea, that they were sick for a week. In that time however she has destroyed twelve British merchant vessels and their cargoes, the whole value of which, I presume, was not less than 200,000 pounds sterling. The thirteenth merchantman we are now dispatching to the United States. She is the first we have attempted to send in but being an uncommon fast sailer, we have great hopes of her safe arrival; and for my part, with judicious management, I have no doubt of it. She is a very beautiful brig of 253 tons, coppered to the bends and copper fastened, and has a very valuable cargo on board,, consisting of brandy, wines, cambrics, &c. She was from Liverpool bound to Bordeaux, thence to Pensacola.
"The Wasp is a beautiful ship, and the finest sea boat, I believe in the world; our officers and crew, young and ambitious—they fight with more cheerfulness than they do any other duty. Capt. Blakeley is a brave and discreet officer; as cool and collected in action as at table."

The USS Wasp was last heard of October 9th, 1814 and is believed to have foundered in a gale.  Blakeley received the Thanks of Congress, a gold medal, and posthumous advancement to the rank of Captain for his last cruise.

Capture of Fort Erie
By Henry Marie Brackenridge

On July 3rd, 1812, United States forces led by General Jacob Brown captured Fort Erie. The British garrison although outnumbered fired only a few shots in the fort's defense and promptly surrendered. The fort's garrison had bought the British little time in preparing for its defense of the Canadian invasion and and British Commander Thomas Buck was court martial for his premature surrender.

The first step to be taken, with a view to any future operations against Canada, and to recover the possession of Fort Niagara, was the capture of Fort Erie.  If the Americans were possessed of this post, it was supposed that the enemy would evacuate the American side of the frontier, and besides, that this garrison could be carried with more ease than the other, from the circumstance of an attack being less expected. Fort Erie was at that time commanded by Major Thomas Buck, of the 8th (King's) Regiment, with about one hundred and seventy men. 

The two brigades of regulars, in obedience to General Jacob Brown's orders, embarked on the morning of the 3rd of July. General Scott, with the first, and a detachment of artillery under Major Hindman, crossed to the Canada shore, about a mile below Fort Erie, and general Ripley, with the second brigade, at about the same distance above; while a party of Indians, who had also crossed over, got into the woods in the rear of the fort. The British garrison of 137, was taken by surprise, being surrounded before the movements of the assailants were discovered. The Garrison surrendered after firing only a few shots from their cannon. Immediate possession was taken of the fort by General Brown and his 4500 troops, and the prisoners were marched into the interior of New York.

Lieutenant General Sir Gordon Drummond, who had hoped that Fort Erie would delay the Americans long enough for him to concentrate his forces was livid over the quick surrender. After the war was concluded, Major Buck was court-martialed for his actions.

Battle of Chippewa

By Henry Marie Brackenridge

General Brown next resolved to proceed immediately and attack Major-general Phineas Riall, who, with a division of British regulars, occupied an entrenched camp at Chippewa; arrangements having first been made for the defense of the fort, and for protecting the rear of the army.

On the morning of the 4th, general Scott advanced with his brigade and captain Towson's artillery ; and was followed in the course of the day by general Ripley, and the field and park artillery under major Hindman, together with general Porter's volunteers. The army was then drawn up in regular order on the right bank of Street's creek, within two miles of the British camp. In approaching to this post, the first brigade had encountered the advance corps of the enemy, which retreated, after destroying the bridge over the creek. Captain Crooker, who had been directed to flank them on the left, had in the meantime crossed the stream at a point some distance above the bridge, and had come up with the enemy while the American brigade was still on the right bank of the creek. The British now turned upon and surrounded him; but he defended himself in so gallant a manner, that he was enabled to keep them off, until captains Hull and Harrison, and lieutenant Randolph, with a small party of men who had been hastily thrown across the stream, came to his relief.

The army remained in this position until the next day, when, early in the morning, the British commenced attacks upon the picket guards surrounding it. One of these, commanded by captain Treat, was suddenly fired upon by a party concealed in some high grass; one man fell, and the rear broke and retreated. The exertions of the captain to rally them were mistaken for cowardice, and he was stripped of his command. Being resolved to do away the imputation, he requested to engage in the approaching battle as a volunteer, and was accordingly directed to lead a platoon of the same company which he had just commanded in action. He was afterwards tried and honorably acquitted. These assaults continued throughout the greater part of the day. General Riall, perceiving that an engagement was unavoidable, now resolved to strike the first blow; he therefore issued from his encampment with his whole force, and, crossing the Chippewa creek, soon appeared with the main body on the left bank of Street's creek. He had previously sent a considerable body of troops into a wood on the left of the American camp, for the purpose of turning their flank. 

General Sir Phineas Riall, KCH (15 December 1775 – 10 November 1850) was the British General who succeeded John Vincent as commanding officer of the Niagara Peninsula in Upper Canada during the War of 1812
The movement in the wood was discovered early enough to frustrate it; and general Porter, with the volunteers and Indians, after a sharp conflict, compelled the enemy's right to retire. While in pursuit of it on the Chippewa road, he came suddenly in contact with the main body of the British. The volunteers were now severely pressed by troops greatly superior in numbers and discipline. General Brown, perceiving this, ordered Scott's brigade and Towson's artillery to advance, and draw the enemy into action on the plains of Chippewa. This was effected immediately on crossing the bridge.

Battle of Chippewa Gallantry of Major Jesup

The first battalion, under major Leavenworth, took a position on the right; and the second was led to its station by colonel Campbell, who, on being wounded shortly afterwards, was succeeded by major M'Neill. Major Jesup, a gallant young officer, who commanded the third battalion, which was formed on the left, resting in a wood, was ordered to turn the right flank of the British, then steadily advancing upon the American line. Whilst warmly engaged in this service, he was compelled to detach captain Ketchum, to attack some troops coming up to the assistance of the body with which the third battalion was engaged. The major, having cleared his front, moved to the relief of his captain, who had maintained an unequal contest against superior numbers. He had not accomplished this until after a severe struggle: being closely pressed in front and flank, and his men falling in numbers around him, he had deliberately given orders to advance, under a dreadful fire; until, gaining a position of more security, he compelled the enemy to retire, and came up in time to co-operate with captain Ketchum's detachment. 

The admirable coolness and intrepidity of his corps were worthy of veterans, and proved the great progress the Americans had made in discipline. The battalion on the American right, under major Leavenworth, was not only engaged with the British infantry, but often exposed to the fire of their batteries. One of its officers, captain Harrison, had his leg shot off by a cannon ball; but so doubtful did he consider the contest, that he would not suffer a man to be taken from his duty to bear him from the field, and supported the torture of his wound until the action ceased. After the lapse of an hour from the time the action became general, captain Towson having completely silenced the enemy's most powerful battery, now turned upon their infantry at that moment advancing to a charge. The fire from Towson's artillery, which poured upon them ; the oblique discharges of a part of M'Neill's battalion, which was so posted as to assail both in front and flank ; the steadiness of the two battalions; and the apparent issue of the contest on his right flank with major Jesup, compelled general Riall to retire, until he reached the sloping ground which led to Chippewa. From this point the British fled in confusion to their entrenchments, which were too strong to be assailed.

In this engagement general Ripley's brigade was not concerned. He had proposed to the commander-in-chief, at the commencement of the action, to take a position to the left of the first brigade, and passing it', to turn the enemy's right, and prevent his retreat to Chippewa. At that time general Brown declined his proposal; but afterwards, when the British began to retire, he directed him to put his plan in execution. The precipitation of their movements however frustrated it.

The result of this first regular pitched battle furnished convincans proof, that nothing but discipline was wanting to give to our soldiers on land the same excellence which our seamen had discovered on the ocean. The battle was fought with great judgment and coolness on both sides, and its result, considering the numbers engaged, was exceedingly sanguinary. The loss of the Americans in killed, wounded and missing, amounted to three hundred and thirty-eight. Among the wounded were, colonel Campbell; captains King, of the Twenty-third, Read, of the Twenty-fifth, Harrison, of the Forty-second; lieutenants Palmer and Brimhall, of the Ninth, Barron, of the Eleventh, and DeWit and Patchim, of the Twenty-fifth. The total loss of the British, according to the report of general Drummond, .was five hundred and five, of whom forty-six were missing, and the remainder either killed or wounded. Among the wounded were, seven captains, seventeen lieutenants, captain Holland aid to general Riall, lieutenant-colonel the marquis of Tweeddale and lieutenants-colonel Gordon and Dickson. Few occurrences during the war afforded a more lively gratification to the people. The most honourable testimonials of approbation were bestowed upon the principal officers concerned: the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel was conferred upon majors Jesup, Leavenworth and M'Neill; and of major on captains Towson, Crooker and Harrison. Several other officers were named as having distinguished themselves: among these, major Wood of the engineers, captain Harris of the dragoons, and lieutenant M'Donald, acquitted themselves with much credit.

Sir Gordon Drummond, GCB (27 September 1772 – 10 October 1854) was the first Canadian-born officer to command the military and the civil government of Canada. As Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, Drummond distinguished himself on the Niagara front in the War of 1812 and later became Governor-General and Administrator of Canada
The defeat of Riall having been communicated to lieutenant general Drummond, he sent a regiment to reinforce him, and enable him to repel any attack upon his works. General Brown meanwhile remained at his encampment, determined to dislodge the British. As the most effectual mode, he detached general Ripley, on the 8th of the month, to a point three miles above the enemy's camp, to open a road to the Chippewa river, and to construct a bridge over it for the passage of the troops. This order was executed with so much secrecy, that the bridge was nearly completed before it was discovered by the enemy. General Riall now ordered his artillery to advance and prevent the Americans from completing their works ; but the cannon of general Ripley compelled the British to retireFearing an attack on his right flank and in front, general Riall soon after abandoned his works, which were occupied by general Brown that evening; and fell back on Queenstown. On the following day he retired to Ten Mile creek.

The American army, moving forward, encamped at Queenstown. General Swift, at his own request, was now detached with one hundred and twenty men, to reconnoiter the enemy's works at Fort George. On his arrival in the neighborhood, he surprised an outpost, and took prisoners a corporal and his guard. One of these, after having asked and received quarter, suddenly raised his piece, and wounded Swift mortally. The general instantly killed the assassin; and on the approach of a party of the enemy brought up by the firing of the soldier, he continued, regardless of his wound, to fight at the head of his detachment until the enemy was repulsed. This gallant officer died soon after he was brought to camp, and was interred with all the honors the army could bestow. He had been a distinguished soldier of the revolution; and his loss was sincerely regretted.


Peter Buell Porter (1773-1844), US politician, general of the War of 1812 and Secretary of War. Painting by Daniel Huntington after Matthew Harris Jouett, Oil on canvas, 1873

Written to the late William L. Stone, then Editor of the New York Commercial Advertiser.

It is to be regretted that we have no fair, Intelligent and connected history of the Interesting campaign of 1814 on the Niagara prepared by some one whose knowledge of the views of those who conducted it, as well as of its incidents, give him a right to speak, and whose character entitle him to credit, and that aside from the scanty information to be gleaned from the official reports of the day, and some personal altercations which have been thrown on the public with any other view than a faithful record of historical events, we have nothing to which we can resort but a few catch-penny compilations as much entitled, so far as facts are concerned, to the name of romance as history; and I regret to find that you, for want doubtless of other authorities, have been obliged to have recourse to these books for some of your statements, and have, of course, fallen into errors. The only apology for the loss of style and spirit in the narration would be that the facts narrated were within the personal knowledge and observation of the writer, who vouches for their general accuracy. Although the story of the battle of Chippawa is a long one, I cannot but hope that most of the facts introduced, especially in everything that relates to the Indians, will be interesting to the readers of the present day, who, I think, will consider the number and minuteness of its details as necessary to a full understanding and appreciation of the merits of the several parties engaged, rather than of the effusion of the proverbial garrulity of an old soldier.

On the 1st of July, 1814, General Brown found himself in Buffalo at the head of a force which, in his judgment, would authorize the invasion of Canada, for which the public sentiment appeared to be Impatient. The army consisted of two brigades of infantry, under Generals Scott and Ripley, to each of which was attached a most respectable and efficient train of field artillery, the whole in the highest state of discipline and equipment. To these were added, under my immediate command, a regiment of Pennsylvania volunteers, between 400 and 500 strong, a corps of 600 New York Volunteers (100 of them mounted), then at Batavia, but who joined in Canada immediately after the battle of Chippawa, and between 550 and 600 Indian warriors, including nearly the whole military force of the Six Nations.

General Brown proposed to open the campaign by the capture of Fort Erie, and thence proceeding rapidly down the west side of the Niagara River, reduce in succession the British posts of Chippawa, Quecnston Heights, and Forts Missassauga and Niagara, having made arrangements with Commodore Chauncey for the co-operation of his squadron on Lake Ontario in the achievement of the two last objects.

Fort Erie, situated at the foot of Lake Erie, was garrisoned by 170 men and commanded by Major Burke of the British army. Chippawa, 18 miles below, and then the headquarters of the British forces, was commanded by General Riall, who had there and at available distances in his rear an army of about the same numerical forces as that of General Brown and of nearly the same composition, save that his Indian allies numbered about two hundred less.

In order to form any correct judgment of the battle of Chippawa (of which it is my principal object to speak), and of the merits and character of its various incidents, a correct knowledge of the localities and position is indispensably necessary. The Chipcans, who had been thrown into repeated fits of despondency by the failure of the military operations of the preceding year. Inpawa or Welland, the north or left bank of which near its mouth was occupied by the British troops and their defences, is a respectable stream some 150 yards wide and 12 to 20 feet deep, coming from the west and entering the Niagara on a right angle with its course. Street's Creek, where the American army took its position, is a small stream running parallel with the Chippawa and discharging into the Niagara two miles away or south of it. The Chippawa is bordered on the south by a flat, open plain about three-fourths of a mile in breadth and extending for an indefinite distance up stream. In the rear of this plain is, or there was, a dense forest of heavy timber of primitive growth, and the ground so wet and so much obstructed by fallen timber as to render the passage of it by carriages or horses impracticable. 

The west bank of the Niagara for several miles above is nearly the same with the south bank of the Chippawa just described, with this single difference, that about midway between the Chippawa and Street's Creek, there is, or there was, a strip of woodland which had never been cleared, some quarter of a mile in breadth, extending from the forest to within some 10 or 15 rods of the Niagara, and leaving between it and the bank of the river an open avenue, through which passed the great public highway, thus forming a masque between Chippawa and Street's Creek, by which the occupants of one plain were excluded from all knowledge or observation of what was passing on the other.

On the 2nd July, General Brown, General Scott and myself, who was doubtless invited in preference to General Ripley on account of my intimate knowledge of the country, made a reconnaissance of Fort Erie and the upper parts of the Niagara and concerted a plan for the attack of Fort Erie on the same night, or rather the next morning. By this plan General Ripley, with most of his brigade, were to embark in boats in the course of the night and proceed up the lake, so as to make a landing on the British shore some mile and a half above Fort Erie at daylight on the third. General Scott with his brigade was to cross the Niagara through a difficult pass in the Black Rock rapids and make a simultaneous landing at the same distance below the fort, when the two brigades would advance on the fort in such a manner as to prevent the escape of the garrison until the artillery, if it should be necessary, could be brought over from Buffalo to reduce it.

General Ripley departed according to order, but in consequence of a dense fog the pilots lost their course and delayed his landing for some hours after the appointed time. General Scott, however, with his accustomed energy and promptitude, and aided rather than impeded by the fog, made good his landing at the hour and place indicated, and was enabled, by the assistance of Indians and other volunteers who immediately followed him, so to arrange his force as to prevent the escape of the garrison.

The rising sun discovered the British commandant with his officers viewing with their glasses the surrounding scene, a part of which was the continued and rapid transit of boats across the Black Rock ferry, freighted with artillery, horses, and Indian warriors, destined for their destruction. Whether influenced by the appearance of the artillery or of the Indians, who are held in greater terror by European than American soldiers, the commanding officer soon after midday, and rather too soon perhaps to satisfy the claims of military etiquette, surrendered the post and garrison to the demand of Geneial Scott at the end of a short parley.

On the same evening General Scott with his brigade and Towson's artillery proceeded down the Niagara, and on the morning of the 4th, having on his march driven in some advanced pickets of the enemy, established his camp in the open field on the south side of Street's Creek, two miles above Chippawa. On the evening of the same day (the 4th) he was joined by General Brown and Ripley's brigade, who encamped a short distance to the south of him. In the course of the night of the 4th, I crossed the ferry at Black Rock with the Pennsylvania Volunteers and Indians, and at sunrise marched for the Battle of Lundy's Lane, or Bridgewater, as it is sometimes called, the Americans lost 858 men killed and wounded, out of camp, where I arrived at 12 o'clock. 

On our way down wo were met by General Brown about three miles above tho camp, who, on his return with us, gave me to understand that the position of the army (although doubtless the best that could have been selected in that neighborhood), proved to be a very troublesome and inconvenient one from its restricted limits, there being but about three-fourths of a mile between the river and an almost impenetrable forest, which was swarming with Indians and militia, accustomed to its haunts, from the British camp, and who were constantly firing upon and driving in his pickets; that he had that morning been under the necessity of making an example of one of his officers for suffering his guard to be driven in, and thereby exposing the whole camp to the direct fire of these troublesome visitants; that it was absolutely necessary for the quiet and safety of his ramp that these intruders shold be dispossessed, and as his troops of the line were ill qualified for this kind of service, he proposed that I should scour the woods with my Indian force, sustained by the volunteers, and drive the enemy across the Chippawa, handling them in such a way as to prevent their reappearance. He assured me, too, most emphatically, that there was not then and had not been since their arrival a single regular British soldier on the south side of the Chippawa (an account which was probably at that moment substantially true), but that, to guard against contingencies, he would direct General Scott to cross Street's Creek with his brigade and be ready in the large plain (which soon after became the battlefield), to sustain me.

The proposition was of course acceded to by me, and when afterwards communicated to the Indians and volunteers received by them with enthusiasm.

By 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the troops having been refreshed from the fatigues of the preceding night and morning, the warriors, many for the first time arrayed in the habiliments of battle costume, and the plan of march and attack settled, I formed the whole corps (with the exception of 200, or one-half of the volunteers, who were left In the camp to be employed as occasion might require), into single line or Indian file half a mile in the rear of our camp, with the Indians towards the woods, and then marching into the woods in a line at right angles with the river, until the whole Indian force was immersed in the forest and leaving the volunteers in the field, I had only to halt by simply facing to the right, form my line of battle looking towards Chippawa, and presenting a front of three-fourths of a mile in length and one man deep. Having placed Red Jacket, in whose intelligence I had great confidence, on the extreme left, I took my station on the margin of the wood, accompanied by Captain Pollard, a Seneca chief, whom I considered as probably better entitled than any other to the command. Colonel Fleming, the Quartermaster of the Indian troops, Lieutenant (now Major) Donald Frascr, my aide, and Henry Johnson, my interpreter. 

I was also accompanied by Major (now Adjutant-General) Roger Jones and Major Wood of the Engineers, afterwards killed at the sortie from Fort Erie, as volunteers, and supported by a company of regular infantry marching in column in our rear as a reserve. The Indians were commanded by their war chiefs, to whom I had in a great measure committed the conduct of the battle and the march, and were placed in front of their respective nations or tribes and some 20 yards in advance of the line of warriors. Having previously sent out several scouts, we commenced our march by signal, and at first proceeded with extreme stillness and caution. The tribes have signals by which, on the discovery of any circumstance requiring consultation or change of route or action, they convey notice through the whole line with incredible rapidity, and the warriors instantly drop on their faces and remain quiet until new orders are given. Two instances of this maneuvre occurred on our march, the first unimportant, but the last disclosing to us through the scouts the exact position of the enemy, which was found to be in a range of thick bushes along the margin of Street's Creek. 

After new orders—changing a little the HMO; and the British 880 men out of 4,600. The seige of Fort Erie, the repulse of Colonel Drummond, who attempted to carry direction of our route so as to meet the enemy at better advantage—to increase our speed as much as was consistent with the preservation of order in the line, to receive the Are of the enemy, but not return it until it could be done with certain effect, rcgard1pm of the fire of others; then to rush upon them with war whoop and to pursue, capture, and slaughter as many of them as practicable until our arrival in the open field in front of Chippawa, when we should retire to camp.

We accordingly resumed our march, received the fire of the enemy, and then rushed forward with savage yells, pursued them for more than a mile through scenes of indescribable horror, few only of the fugitives surrendering themselves as prisoners, while others, believing that no quarter was to be given, suffered themselves to be overtaken and cut down with the tomahawk, or turned upon their pursuers and fought to the last. On the arrival of our advance in the field before Chippawa we were surprised by a tremendous discharge of musketry, and the Indian portion of our line, which was most in advance, was thrown back upon the volunteers and reserve, who for want of equal speed were some distance in the rear. Thinking that this fire might have come from the enemy we had been pursuing, who on reaching the plain had rallied and turned back, I made an effort, and not without success, to re-form my line with the volunteers, reserve, and a portion of the Indians, and, again advancing with caution to the margin of the wood, we found ourselves within a few yards of the British army formed in line of battle and presenting within the same space at least three men fresh from their barracks to one in our attenuated and exhausted line. After receiving and returning two or three fires, the enemy advanced impetuously upon us, when, hearing calling from General Scott, I have the order to retreat, "Sauve qui peut," and to rally in rear and to the left of General Scott's brigade wherever it could be found.

Winfield Scott (June 13, 1786 – May 29, 1866) was known as as "Old Fuss and Feathers" and the "Grand Old Man of the Army. " Scott served on active duty as a general longer than any other man in American history, over the course of a 53-year career. Considered by many historians the best American general of his time, he commanded forces in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, the Mexican-American War, the Second Seminole War, and, briefly, the American Civil War, conceiving the Union strategy known as the Anaconda Plan.

It seems that General Riall had resolved to make on that day a general attack upon the Americans, and in execution of his purpose had marched his whole force across the Chippawa shortly before I entered the woods, and having sent forward his Indian, militia, and other light troops (which was the force first met by my corps), to commence the attack from the woods on our left flank, he formed his Battalions on the south side of the Chippawa under cover of the strip of woods which separated the armies, with his artillery on the left near the gorge or public road on the bank of the Niagara ready to act the moment the effect of the flank attack should be developed.

The repulse from my command was thus from the main body of the British army while General Scott was yet on the south side of Street's Creek, with an interval of nearly a mile between us. My error (if it should not be rather called a misfortune), was remaining too long under an unequal fire, or possibly in attempting to rally at all, for I lost by it besides other valuable men the three principal officers of the Pennsylvania Volunteers. If the Indians are more obnoxious to the charge of cowardice than the volunteers, by reason of leading them in the flight, they owed it only to their greater speed and bottom in the race, for the volunteers retreated with all the speed they could muster unrestrained by any other consideration than a passing regard to the safety of his immediate companions in the flight. As to myself, I found I could not gain but little on the British battalions, who were in pursuit, and arrived at Street's Creek the moment that Major (now Colonel) Jesup, whose battalion constituted the left and last formed portion of General Scott's line, had reached his position, having thrown down the fence to enable his troops to pass from the road on the creek into the field, and he had scarcely assumed his post, which he did with great activity and address, before the general conflict between the two parties commenced.

General Scott's brigade received the enemy with the most perfect coolness, and with a simultaneous discharge of musketry, which threw them into confusion and soon caused a retreat towards the rear of the field, where they rallied and again advanced, the works by assault, and the dashing sortie which the Americans made September 17th, under Generals Porter and Miller, brought
but were again met by General Scott in the same bold and decisive manner, whereupon they retreated with as much expedition as had characterized their pursuit of the volunteers, until they had crossed the Chippawa and destroyed the bridge.

General Scott, followed them around the point of woods, beyond which a further pursuit would have been in the face of their batteries on the north side of the creek, without the possibility of reaching them, by reason of the intervention of the river, where he deployed to the left on the ground first occupied by the British, and placed his men on the ground with their heads to the batteries to escape the effects of their shot.

After the first fire of General Scott's brigade, I discovered a splendid horse, handsomely caparisoned but without a rider, snorting and prancing between the lines, and endeavoring to escape to the rear of the Americans. He was immediately secured by my servant, and in a few moments I found myself for the first time in the day most comfortably mounted, when, riding to General Brown, I received an order to proceed Immediately with the 200 volunteers I had left in camp to the support of General Scott, which I promptly obeyed, and, passing in column round the point of woods soon after him and receiving the fire of the British batteries, took post on his left in the same recumbent position. There we remained half-an-hour waiting the arrival of General Ripley, whose brigade had taken a circuitous route to meet the enemy's right and who enjoyed the luxury of a march through the swamp, when we all retired to camp, and thus ended the battle of Chippawa.

General Winfield Scott Bust, in uniform, facing the right. FÜRST Fecit Gold Medal.  Winfield Scott was born near Petersburg, Virginia, June 13, 1786. He was graduated at William and Mary College, Virginia, studied law, and for some tie engaged in practice. He was appointed captain of light artillery, May 3, 1808, and served in Louisiana under General Wilkinson, but resigned on account of differences with him. He was made lieutenant-colonel of the 2d artillery, July 6, 1812, and was taken prisoner at Queenstown Heights, Upper Canada, in the following October. He became colonel of the 2d artillery and adjutant-general under General Dearborn, March 18, 1813, and brigadier-general March 9, 1814. He distinguished himself at Chippewa, July 5, and on July 25, at Niagara (Lundy's Lane) where he was severely wounded. Congress gave him a vote of thanks and a gold medal for Chippewa and Niagara, and he was breveted a major-general, September 14, 1814. He went on a mission to Europe in 1815; was sent to Maine to settle the boundary question in 1839, and was promoted major-general and commander-in-chief of the army, June 25, 1841. As commander-in-chief in Mexico he took Vera Cruz, March 26, 1847, and gained the battles of Cerro Gordo, April 18; Contreras, August 19; San Antonio and Churubusco, August 20; Molinos del Rey, September 8; Chapultepec, September 13; and occupied the City of Mexico, September 14. For this brilliant campaign Congress gave him a vote of thanks and a gold medal. He received the honorary degree of LL. D. from Columbia College, New York, in 1850, and also from Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1861. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Presidency in 1852; was made lieutenant-general, by brevet, February 28, 1855; was sent on a mission to Oregon to settle the boundary question, 1859; remained true to the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War, and resigned, November 1, 1861. He died at West Point, New York, May 29, 1866.

This battle, had General Scott been at hand to support the volunteers when they first met the British line, would doubtless have presented quite a different aspect, although I am inclined to believe the result would have been equally auspicious to the American arms. Why he was not there has never been satisfactorily explained to me, although I have never doubted that the omission proceeded from the same conviction in his mind which General Brown had before expressed, "That there was not a regular soldier on the south side of the Chippawa," and that my force was amply sufficient to dispose of the British Indians and militia. The mutual ignorance of the two armies of each other's plans and movements led to mistakes as disadvantageous probably to the enemy as to ourselves. The rapid and fatiguing pursuit by the enemy of our volunteers and Indians with frequent firings, and elated with the idea that victory was already achieved, necessarily created some confusion in their ranks, which was so much increased by the sudden and unexpected reception they met with from General Scott that they could never recover, hastened the termination of the battle, and probably rendered it less sanguinary than if the parties had met more deliberately and with a better understanding of each other's views.

General Winfield Scott Bust, in uniform, facing the right. FÜRST Fecit Gold Medal Obverse. With A serpent, entwined in a wreath of laurel and palm, is biting its tail—emblem of immortality through glory and victory. RESOLUTION OF CONGRESS NOVEMBER 3. 1814. BATTLES OF CHIPPEWA JULY 5. 1814. NIAGARA JULY 25. 1814. Furst Fecit on the reverse
The intimation in a part of your manuscript that most or the whole of the Indians, on their repulse at Chippawa, fled immediately to Buffalo and were never again seen in the American camp, is totally destitute of foundation. That some few of them, from sheer cowardice and fright, fled at the commencement of the battle to Buffalo without stopping, I have no doubt. It is also true that a considerable number more were supposed by our soldiers, for want of knowledge of an important fact, to have retreated in the early part of the action. When the Indians take a prisoner the captors, with incredible dexterity and speed, immediately lash his hands behind him with his own belt, bear him off to the rear, leading him like a horse by the halter and compelling him to move at a trot. The frequent appearance of these parties, with at least one and sometimes two or three guards to each prisoner, passing rapidly through the fields to the rear, led doubtless to a belief with many that they were all fugitives. But that any considerable number fled until they had met a force so much superior as to render it a duty to retreat, I do not believe. It is certain that a large portion of them remained renewed encouragement to the American troops, and to the American people.  They remained with the army until the eve of the battle of Lundy's Lane, when most of them withdrew, for reasons which, as will appear in what I have further to say of them, afforded them at least a fair apology. Early in the morning after the battle some 20 chiefs appeared at my tent, each accompanied by a young warrior bearing the scalps, strung on a stick curved in the shape of a hoop, which had been taken on the preceding day, having been informed from some source and believing that a bounty would be paid for every scalp taken from an enemy in battle. 

I apprised them of the error into which they had fallen, refused to examine or count these unseemly trophies, and ordered them to be buried or thrown into the river, which was immediately done. For the prisoners they brought in, (amounting to some 15 or 18, and among them were two principal chiefs, the sons of Dr. Carr and descendants of Sir Wm. Johnson by his squaw wife), they were allowed a small premium. They then expressed a wish to visit the battle ground to carry off the bodies of their friends who had fallen, which in the hurry of their retreat they had not been able to do the preceding day. This was readily granted, with an understanding that Colonel Fleming should accompany th?m. In the course of a few hours they returned and reported that they had found and brought in the bodies of, I think, fifteen of their warriors, which they burled in the course of the evening with the honors of war. 

They reported also that among the numerous bodies of their fallen enemies they had discovered three still living, although mortally wounded, and that they had immediately despatched two of them by cutting their throats, but recognizing in the third, who was burning with fever and suffocating with thirst caused by his wounds, a former resident of one of their own villages, Johnson bad gone to a creek, filled his own canteen with water, and after giving it to his countryman left him to die alone. On my reprobating the act of taking the life of an unresisting man as cowardly and unworthy of a warrior, the only reply made by Johnson, and uttered in a manner that denied the consciousness of having done an Ignoble act, was: "We know, sir, that it seemed very hard to put these men to death, but we hope that you will consider that these are very bad times." 

On the march of the army from Chippawa to Queenston, the Indians, whose roving habits it was impossible to restrain, besides committing some depredations on the neighboring farmers, discovered a depot of some 50 barrels of spirits, brandy, and wine, which belonged to the British army, and was concealed by them in the woods on their rapid retreat. These spoils were all taken from the Indians by the Quartermaster of the army without compensation, and caused some dissatisfaction among them, not perhaps without cause so far as regarded the public stores.

About this time a proposition was made by Red Jacket, and approved by General Brown, to send two young chiefs, who were men of prudence and address, as spies to the British Indians, then near the head of Lake Ontario, where they had retreated after the battle of Chippawa, and endeavor to effect a mutual and total withdrawal of all the Indians from both armies. These chiefs after an absence of three days returned and reported that the proposition was favorably received by the very few of the enemy to whom they dared to make their message or themselves known, and that measures would be taken by the British Indians to effect its object. And this embassy, of which Red Jacket was disposed to make the most, resulted in the retirement a short time before the battle of Bridgewater of nearly the whole of our Indian force, under a promise, however, that in the event of the British Indians appearing again in the field they would immediately return and join the army.

The British Indians did not, however, appear again or give any further annoyance during the campaign, and yet some fifty warriors, among the most distinguished of whom was the brave Johnson, baited by the pleasure of a military life of which they had now tasted, returned soon after to the army and were very useful auxiliaries duringIn the meantime, active operations had taken place along the northern and northeastern border of New York. In the summer of 1813, General Wilkinson relieved General Dearborn in command of the northern army. March, 1814, General Wilkinson concentrated his forces at Champlain, on the New York frontier, to threaten the British outposts. After the failure of the assault on La Cole Mill, on the St. John, Wilkinson was recalled, and General Macomb was placed in command of the army. 

In May the British flotilla was prepared to sail for Plattsburg. General Macomb penetrating the design, ordered Captain Thornton's light battery to man the works on Otter Creek to protect the naval depot, the vessels and stores. The British forces were roughly the remainder of the campaign, having been confined with the army In Port Erie during Its Investment and performed a conspicuous part in the sortie of the 17th September, and were among the first in the enemy's trenches.


On the conduct of the militia on the sortic of Sept. 17th from Fort Erie.

Headquarters, Fort Erie, Sept. 20, 1814.

My dear Sir.—Your Excellency is no doubt aware how much the army under my command has suffered from the fire of the enemy's batteries, of which the first and second were not more than 500 yards distant. Socn after my arrival, I ascertained they were day and night employed in erecting a third, to the right of the others, which would rake obliquely our whole encampment. About the 12th this new work was nearly completed, and in it were mounted some long 24-pounders. Being very impatient under the fire of the old, and knowing that our difficulties would increase from the opening of the new, battery, I determined to hazard a sortie with a view of carrying them and destroying the cannon. On the 17th inst. an order was given to this effect and executed in the most gallant style.

The batteries were carried, the principal work blown up, and the cannon effectually destroyed. It was a desperate conflict. The loss of the enemy cannot be less than 800 men. Our own is severe, in officers particularly. The militia of New York have redeemed their character—they behaved gallantly. Gen. Davis was killed, and General Porter slightly wounded in the hand.

Of the militia that were called out by the last requisition fifteen hundred men have crossed. This reinforcement has been of immense importance to us; it doubled our effective strength, and their good conduct cannot but have the happiest effect upon the nation. The brave men deserve well of their country; and I flatter myself that the legislature about to convene will notice them as becomes the representatives of a generous people."

They were only too willing to return to the Isle Aux Noix. England had despatched to this country from 4,000 to 6,000 troops from Wellington's triumphant army, and the British forces in lower Canada aggregated 12,000 veteran troops. The British had planned a repetition of the invasion of New York, that had been inspired by Sir John Burgoyne, thirty-eight years before. General Macomb's force at Plattsburg amounted to only 2,500 men, many of whom were convalescents and new recruits. In the entire command there was but one organized battalion. 

The morning returns show only 1,500 men were lit for duty. Calling in General Mooers, division commander of the New York Militia, a plan was devised by which the regulars and the militia were to co-operate to the fullest extent, and both general officers manifested commendable enterprise, activity, and energy in sending dispatches over the surrounding country to summon re-enforcements to their aid. The splendid spirit of co-operation displayed by the officers diffused itself through the rank and file. The command was divided into detachments and ordered to the different forts. In General Orders, General Macomb announced that each party must defend its works to the last extremity. Sir George Prevost had boasted that he expected to penetrate as far as Crown Point and Ticonderoga before winter set in. But he was solicitious about the British flotilla which he expected to protect his left flank. Without the control of Lake Champlain, he realized that his position would be extremely precarious.

September 3rd, the British army entered Champlain. The following day the advance upon Plattsburg was made. General Macomb had blocked the road with fallen trees, as General Schuyler had done at Saratoga for Burgoyne. As Prevost advanced he found the bridges were destroyed and the passes choked by chevaux de frise. September 5th, Prevost halted at Little Chazy. General Macomb was urged to abandon Plattsburg. His force now numbered between 8,000 and 10,000, militia and volunteers, but previous experience had taught him that the militia were not to be altogether relied upon in a tight place or under a heavy fire. September 6th, the head of the British column, under Generals Power and Robinson, encountered a small force of Americans. The militia, mistaking the red coats of the New York Cavalry that were stationed as lookouts on the hills, for British soldiers, were seized with their customary panic, and, in spite of the efforts of the officers, precipitately left the field. The British column continued to advance, and encountering but feeble opposition, entered the village of Plattsburg. The Americans had retired into their breastworks on the southern bank of the Saranac, and opened fire with their heavy artillery upon the English troops. The fire was too hot for human nature to endure; the British army fell back and encamped about two miles from the Americans' forts, leaving in their front a few troops to protect the fords and bridges.

The British general passed several days in erecting batteries and bringing up heavy artillery. Constant skirmishing was going on between the advanced lines of the two armies, punctuated now and then by a heavy and effective cannonading from the American works. Sir George Prevost was playing a waiting game. He was reluctant to begin active operations in the field until his supporting fleet materialized. September 10th, unusual activity in the British camp indicated to the American general that the following day would bring portentous events. He prepared for the attack which he now regarded as inevitable. He divined that the British fleet had arrived, an intuition that soon was to be verified. At daybreak, the British fleet was seen swinging around Cumberland Head. As soon as the British troops had finished their early breakfast, they opened fire on the American works with their heavy guns. 

Under cover of this cannonade the British troops advanced to force a passage across the stream in three columns to assault the American works. The troops carried scaling ladders. The assault was well met by the Americans. The attacking columns that approached the American works by the bridge in the village and the principal bridge, were hurled back by the regulars in great confusion. The third column, which was to cross at the ford three miles above the fort, was led astray in the woods by a false road which General Macomb's engineering strategy had conceived. The ardor of the British troops was destroyed by the withering fire which came from the American guns. They beat a retreat, their flight accelerated by the discovery that the American Commodore, McDonough, had met and destroyed the British fleet on which so many of Prevost's hopes for success had been stored. Before the dawn of another day Sir George Prevost's army was in full flight for Canada. He left behind his dead, his sick and his wounded, vast quantities of provisions, of ammunition, tents, intrenching tools and ordnance stores. 

The losses incurred in this contest were by no means commensurate with the results obtained. New York and Vermont, through their Legislatures, presented General Macomb and Commodore McDonough with resolutions of thanks and congratulations. New York presented General Macomb with a sword and the city of New York, the freedom of the city in a gold box. Congress gave him a vote of thanks. and a gold medal emblematic of the victory. The President conferred the title of Brevet Major-General in the regular army, to date from September 11, 1814.

While these events were happening in the North, the middle Atlantic States were thrown in a fever of excitement by the arrival of the fleet of Admiral Oockburn, who first appeared at the mouth of the Chesapeake and came to anchor in Hampton Roads February 4, 1813. His fleet consisted of two ships of the line, three frigates and a couple of small vessels. Thence he made incursions northward and burned Frederick, Georgetown, Havre de Grace, Frenchtown. By these manifold outrages he threw the defenseless inhabitants of the surrounding country into paroxysms of terror. The Washington authorities were fully apprised of his operations but, with a lethargy and indifference that were inexplicable, made no effort whatever for the defense of the Capital and the protection of the valuable archives entrusted to their care.

March 1st, Admiral Cockburn, with one 74-gun ship, two frigates, a brig, and a schooner, came to anchor in Lynnhaven Bay. The authorities at Washington were promptly notified. Additional information arrived about that time, in effect, that 4,000 English veterans had landed at Bermuda. The apathy at Washington continued. No one seemed to realize the peril which menaced the Capital. The District of Columbia was included in the Tenth Military District which was commanded by General W. H. Winder. It was utterly defenseless. General Winder called the attention of the Secretary of War, General John Armstrong, who was himself a military man, to the deplorable condition of the Capital, but it was not until July 4th that the War Department opened its eyes and for the first time gave manifestations of life. 

Formal requisitions were then made upon the several neighboring States for artillery and infantry, but by a remarkable oversight, no mention was made of cavalry, which was decidedly essential in stinging the rear and flanks of an invading army. Orders were issued to hold the militia in readiness for immediate service. The President proposed a plan to establish a camp of 2,000 regular troops between the Patuxent and the Potomac; the troops to be formed into an army of observation and mobilized in order to move in any direction at the first opportunity. The plan was not adopted. On the 24th day of August 5,100 green American troops who had been gathered and thrown together, and at the best were nothing but an organized mob, met the trained British troops under General Ross and were promptly, thoroughly and disastrously defeated. The English proceeded to Washington where, in violation of all military law and military usage, they destroyed the capitol, the White House, and other public buildings; the President himself fleeing from the town with hundreds of other fugitives, to escape capture. The day after the battle of Plattsburg the British Army encountered the American troops at Baltimore and were repulsed, their general, Ross, who had assisted in the pillage and destruction of the capitol, being killed.

Three weeks before General Jackson's signal defeat of the British troops at New Orleans, was held the Hartford Convention, which consisted of delegates from New England States, who were known to be opposed to the Federal Administration and to the prosecution of the war. Inasmuch as England had 98 Annual Report Of The State Historian.

directed her colonies to continue commercial transactions with and to bestow special privileges upon the New England States several months before, the friends of President Madison declared that the ulterior purpose of the Hartford Convention was the secession of those States which were known to be friendly to England, a charge which was vehemently denied by the delegates and their adherents. The final defeat of the English by Jackson culminated the war, however, and the treaty of peace put an end to the influences that inspired the Hartford Convention.


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