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Chapter 4

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Title
Chapter 4
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http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?b=1&ref=oo&id=298035
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104-129
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Text
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' 104

GREAT ,BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

MILITARY- OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

his country. He engaged them to throw aside
the scalping knife ; endeavoured to implant in
their
. breasts the .virtues of clemency and forbearance ; and taught them to feel pleasure and
pride, in the compassion extended to a vanquished enemy. Circumscribed in his means of
repelling invasion, he studied to fix the attach.
ment of that rude and wavering people ; and,
by reducing their, military operations to the
known rules of war and discipline, to improve
the value of their alliance., ‘,„
His strong attachment toAlie service, and par.
- Ocularly to his regiment, formed a distinguishing feature in his character.. There
was a cor•
respondence of regard between him and his officers, and even the non-commissioned officers and
privates, with an addition of reverence on the
part of the latter, that produced the picture of
st happy family. Those movements of feeling
which the exertions of discipline will sometimes
occasion, rarely reached his men.. He governed
them by a sentiment of esteem which he him.
self had created; and the consolation was given
him, to terminate a useful and brilliantcourse in
the midst of his professional family.
-

a.

105

nof
CHAPTER IV.

Bombardment between the batteries at Fort-Erie
and Black Rock—Capture of some Canadian
voyageurs—General Van Rensselaer's secession
from the Command—Appointment of general
Smyth—The latter's plan ,for invading Canada
—Re-commencement of hostilities after general
Sheaffe's armistice—General Smyth's proclamation—Preparations for the invasion—General
Porter's address to his countrymen—The landing
of the advance of the American army--Its proceedings detailed—Summons to Fort-Erie—At:tempt at invasion given up—State of the Ameri- can army at Bidraloe—Commodore Chauncey's
arrival at Lake Ontario—State of the two hostile
fleets—,1 ttack upon the Royal George—Midnight
incursion into Gananoque from Ogdensburg—
State of the British works at Fort-WellingtonUnsuccessful attack upon Ogdensburg--.Mutual
advance of the American northern army and the
British troops at Montreal—American reonnoissauce—Retreat of the American army, and termination of the campaign.
.

ABOUT the middle of October, the batteries
1)


stir tiisittie

at Fort-h- rie, under the direction of lieutenantcolonel Myers, opened upon the opposite fort of
Black Rock. The latter returned only a few

166 Milli+ARIT OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

shots ; but not, as the Americans allege, on account of there being no heavier cannon mounted
than 6-pounders ; for,- not many months afterwards, we spiked, upon the same battery, two
12, and two 9-poUndeyS, ,kind, brought away one
12, and three 6-pounders, Several shots, it is
stated, struck the Black ROCI hattery, and two
or thiee passed through the upper loft of the
west-hariackS.. T12e easiAoarracks were destroye0 by a bomb, which blew up the magazine,
&lint a. qtiantity
furs, the late cargo of

north-weSt company's ;brig Caledonia, whose
Capture, as a British 'man of war brig, we have
already noticed.
• 014 the 21st 61 'OSetober,' 44 .Canadian
geurs under the command of captain M'llonnel, were . surprised, and, after losing four
killed and four wounded, captured, by a body
of Americans, Under a major Young. The
,
major s force is not stated ; but, as the Americans proceeded to ihe attack in expectation of
meeting " from one to three hundred British,"
we may conjecture that their numbers fully
equalled the latter amount. Forty prisoners,
(one having escaped,) along with their baggage,
and some immaterial despatches, fell into the
hands of the. Americans ; Who, ingeniously
enough, converted a large pocket-handkerchief
Which they found among the spoils, into " a
stand of colours :" and Mr. O'Connor exultingly
.

,

.

an

„,

.

'

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

107

tells us, that major Young had the honor of taking
the first standard from the enemy in the prisent
war ;" following it up with,—" The movements
of the enemy, during these times, were not to
them equally honorable or important."
Since the day succeeding the "brilliant" affair
at Queenstown, major-general Van Rensselaer
had resigned the command of the Niagara-frontier to brigadier-general Smyth. . This officer,
confident in the success of his plan of invasion,
already felt upon his brow the gentle pressure
of those laurels, so vainly sought after by his
two predecessors. The information which the
general had gained respecting the distribution
of the British forces, and the superior facility,
as he conceived, of disembarking troops abovethe falls, induced him to fix, for the invading point, some part of the shore between
Fort-Erie and Chippeway. As the first step in
the business, general Smyth was bound to give
30 hours' notice of his intention to break off the
armistice,which had been so good-naturedly concluded by major-general Sheaffe with general
Van Rensselaer. This the American general did,
at three o'clock on the afternoon of the 19th of
November ; not, however, as he ought to have
done, at general Sheaffe's head-quarters at FortGeorge, but, with all the craftiness of his nation,.
to the commanding-officer at Fort-Erie, the extreme right of the British line in full hopes, no'
doubt, that be should be able to make the attack,

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA:

108 MILITARY' OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

before succours could arrive from Fort-George,
distant 36 miles.
Early on the morning of the 21st, by way perhaps of announcing the renewal of hostilities,
the batteries at Fort-George, and those at FortNiagara, commenced a mutual bombardment,
the latter with : hot shot, and continued it
throughout the day.: The town of Newark was
slightly injured ; and several buildings in and
near to Fort-Niagara were set on tire. Air. Thomson celebrates, on this occasion, " the 'courageous fortitude" of the wife of one Doyle, a private
in. the .United States' 'artillery, who had been
taken at Queenstown. After stating that she
assisted in supplying one of the guns at FortNiagara, he, in the true hyperbolic style, declares she " was surpassed, neither by Joan, maid
of Orleans, nor the heroine of Saragossa."* We
suspect that " the refusal of the British to parole
her husband" arose from his being an Irishman
and that, had the lady herself not been his.
countrywoman. her birth-place would have been.
vauntingly set forth in the history*. The British
lost, by the cannonade, one man killed, and one
wounded ; the Americans, four men killed, (two
by the bursting of a gun,) and four wounded.
General Smyth, in order that lie might visit
the. Canadian shore, with a force competent
to retain the posts he should capture, was
desirous to encrease his numbers, by such
;

* Sketches of the War, p. 80.

109

volunteers, as would be willing to perform one
month's service ; to submit to the rigid discipline
of a camp ; and to encounter the British on their
own soil.: This zealous officer had-already made
known his wishes, by a pompous proclamation,
dated on the 10th of November.* It fully
answered his purpose ; and, by the 27th of that
month, the force collected at his station. amounted
to 4500 men.'
. The whole of this army, properly drilled, equipped, and organized, was to embark, on the morning of the 28th, from the navy-yard at Black Rock.
No possible preparation had been omitted. At
the navy-yard there were lying, for the purpose of
transporting the troops across the river, 70 public
boats, calculated to carry 40 men each ; 5 large
private boats, to carry 100 men each ; and 10
scows, for the artillery, to carry 25 men each
which, together with a number of small boats,
were to convey time whole across, to effect the
Third invasion, and, it was more than hopek the
complete subjugation of Upper Canada:t
So easy was the task considered, that general
Porter, of the New York militia, published an
address to the people of Ontario and Gennessee ;
in which he assured, them, that the American
army would, in It few; days, occupy all the
British fortresses on the Niagara; restore peace to
the whole of that section of the country ; and
ri deem the tarnished reputation of the nation.
, .* Appendix, No. 14. . ► jc+ Sketches of the War,

110 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

Between one and two o'clock on the morn.

ing of the 28th of November, the advance of
general Smyth's army, composed of detachments
of picked men from the 12th, 13th, 14th, and
15th, United States' regiments of infantry, un.
der the command of colonel Winder of the 14th,
accompanied by a party of naval officers and
seamen lately arrived from one of the Atlantic
ports, embarked at Buffaloe in ten boats, to
carry the British batteries on the opposite shore,
and, by that means, facilitate the passage of the
main body of the army.
At Fort-Erie the British force consisted of a
detachment of 80 men of the 49th, under major
Ormsby, and about 50 of the Newfoundland
regiment, under captain Whelan. The ferry,
opposite Black Rock, was occupied by two,com•
panies of militia, under captain Bostwick. At
a house on the Chippeway-road, called the Red
House, distant about two miles and a half from
Fort-Erie, was stationed lieutenant Lamont, of
the 49th, having under his orders two serjeants
and 35 rank and file ; also, lieutenant King, of
the royal artillery, with two field-pieces, a three
and 6-pounder, worked by a few militia-artillerymen. In the vicinity of the Red House were
two batteries, one mounting a 21, the other an
18-pounder ; and which were also under the
charge of lieutenant Lamont. At the distance
of about a mile further along the road, lieutenant
Bartley, of the 49th, with two serjeants and 35

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA. 111

rank and file, occupied a post ; and so did lieu-.
tenant M'Intyre, with the 41st light infantry,
about 70 strong, upon the road-side, not far from
Frenchman's creek ; which is distant, about four
miles and a half from Fort-Erie. The headquarters of lieutenant-colonel Bisshopp, the
commanding officer on that line, were at Chippeway. He had under his immediate command,
a battalion-company of the 41st regiment, a company of militia, and a small detachment of militia-artillery, with a light 6-pounder ; also, at no
great distance, a detachment of militia under
major Hatt.
The ten American boats had scarcely proceeded half the -way across the river, when a
smart fire from captain Bostwick's men compelled them to drop down opposite to the Red
House. Here they met with a similar reception
from lieutenant Lamont's party: Owing, however, to the extreme darkness, it was deemed
useless to fire more than one or two rounds from
the guns ; but, as alarm-guns, they produced
an unexpected effect, that of scaring away five
of the boats, including the boat in which was
colonel Winder.*
The division that effected a landing consisted
of about 190 regular troops, under the command;
of lieuteuant-colonel Boerstler, of the 14th, and
captain King of the 15th, United States' regiment ; and of about 60 seamen, under the orders'
it Sketches of the War, p.

112

MILITARY. OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

of lieutenant-commandant Angus ; assistedby 7
sailing-master Watts, lieutenant Dudley, and
nine other naval officers.* Captain king, taking
with him 60 regulars, also 40 seamen, armed with
boarding-pikes and cutlasses, -and headed by
lieutenant Angus, proceeded to the Red House,'
about 50 yards front the beach, and whither lieu‘ ,
tenant Lamont and his little detachment had just
retired. The Americans charged, and recei eda:
volley from the British, succeeded by a charge,
which drove the Americans towards their boats.
Here they rallied, and re-advanced to the
charge ; but were received and repulsed as
before. A third attempt to subdue this little
band was equally unsuccessful ; and the Americans retired to their boats, apparently to await
a fresh reinforcement. Ashamed, however, to
be thus beaten by a handful of men ; captain
King, at the head of his regulars, again a&
vanced, by a circuitous route, upon the left of
lieutenant Lamont's position. In momentary
expectation of reinfbrcements froth • Chippeway, lieutenant Lamont, in the dark, mistook Captain King's party:- for Canadian mi.
litia ; until a most destructive volley, which
killed seven, and wounded eight of his men,
as well as lieutenant King,• of.. the artillery,
dangerously, and himself in five places, convinced him, too late, of his error...'
n ow
without a commander, the few gallant tellows
* Sketches of the War, p. 83.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA:

113

who had not been wounded, except three who
were taken prisoners, dispersed, and effected
their escape, On getting possession of the Red
House, the Americans set fire to it ; and spiked
the two field-pieces. They then proceeded to
the batteries, and dismounted the 24 and 18pounder, the former of which had been previously spiked by one of the British officers. Having
performed this " brilliant service,"* the Americans carried to their boats the three unwounded,'
along with several of the wounded prisoners,
including lieutenant King of the artillery; whose
death, a week or two afterwards, was no doubt
occasioned by this inhuman act. Lieutenant
Lamont was dragged a short distance ; but, fortunately for him, the enemy considered that a dead
prisoner would be a poor trophy, and therefore
left him on the ground ; where i .,.already lay, 12 of
their own killed, and the same number of their
wounded. The sailors had, in the mean. time,
been amusing themselves with pillaging, and.
setting fire to the few private dwellings scattered
aloe...the beach.
It is now time to attend to the exploits of the
remaining sub-division of the American force,
and which had landed a mile or two below the
Red House. This party consisted of about_ 130
regulars, under lieutenant-colonel Bwrstler, and
20 seamen, led by sailing-master Watts._ These
* History of the United States, Vol. III. p. 205.
VOL. I.

114

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN
GREAT BRITAIN 'AND AMERICA.

were attacked, at the moment of landing, by .he
subaltern's detachment of the 49th under lieutenant Bartley ; and kept greatly in check, till a
very severe loss in killed, wounded, or missing,
and the near approach of another part of the
enemy's force, which, owing to the darkness, had
been mistaken for militia, compelled lieutenant
Bartley to retreat. Soon afterwards, the Americans again encountered captain Bostwick with
his detachment of militia; and, after a few rounds,
in which the latter lost three killed, 15 wounded,
and six prisoners, compelled him also to retreat.
The whole of this warfare was conducted
amidst darkness ; and the fears of the American
commanding-officer induced him to adopt a
stratagem, that caused additional perplexity to
the trebly inferior force opposed to him. " Lieutenant-colonel Bwrstler," says the American editor, " exerting a Stentorian voice, roared in
various directions, as though lie commanded
thousands, and created such a panic in the
enemy, that they fled before him wherever he
moved."
It was still dark when major Ormsby, with his
80' men, arrived at the mill on Frenchman's
creek. A few shots were there exchanged ; and
the major, after proceeding a short distance further, very properly halted ; intending to remain
till day-light, which was then fast approaching,

should discover to'. 'him the number and movements of the enemy. ' While here he was joined'
by the 41st light infantry, which had also been
partially engaged; and, at day-light, lieutenantcolonel Bisshopp arrived on the ground with the
expected reinforcement. His whole force, when
first drawn up, did not exceed 250 regulars and:
300 militia, aided by a light 6-pounder ; but,
by 11 o'clock in the forenoon, the number of
3
regular troops became nearly doubled.
;
The expected day-light had not only stilled
colonel Boerstler's " Stentorian voice," but driven
him and his party to the safe side of the river ;
in such haste too, that captain King and about
30 of his men were left " in possession of the
conquered ground," and became, in . consequence, prisoners to the British. Just as day
dawned, colonel Winder, with his five boats,
containing 250 men,* was again on the river ; •
but two or three well-directed shots from the
6-pounder, and a few rounds of musketry, made
this division, as it approached the Canada-side,
again wheel about, and retire, for the last time,•
under the shelter of Squaw Island, to the

American shore.
.

.

11 •

The circumstances attending this predatory
excursion having been as much exaggerated as
the affair at Queenstown, it may be worth our
►hile to beStow a glance at some of the more
.

Hist. of the United States, Vol. III. p. 204.

115

Sketches of the War, p. 84.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICK.

116 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

prominent mistatements. Mr. O'Connor has,
strange enough, not thought this " brilliant service" deserving a place in his book ; but Mr.
Thomson has devoted four or five pages to it,
and doctor Smith, in his usual way, has borrowed his account from the latter ; first taking
care, by transposing the words, and embellishing the style, not to be guilty of plagiarism.
Both of our zealous historians describe lieu.
tenant Lamont's force as " 250 men ;" and aver
that captain King made from this party alone
" about 50 prisoners." The dismounting of the
two heavy guns, spiking of the two field-pieces,
and the burning and destroying of private pro. perty for a few miles along the beach, are represented thus:—" Every battery, between Chippeway and Fort-Erie, was now carried ; the cannon spiked or destroyed, and 16 miles of the
Canadian frontier laid waste and deserted." Doc-,
for Smith, having been informed that the guns;
were not " destroyed," and justly considering)
that " laid waste" might imply what, along an;
extent of a few miles, actually happened, to th'e
disgrace of the invading force, states thus:
"Every battery, between Chippeway and Fort
Erie, was carried, the cannon spiked, and a frontier of 16 miles entirely cleared." Captain,
King's stay on the Canadian shore, or, as Mr.,
Thomson happily expresses it, his " remaining
in possession of the conquered ground, until the

l

117

main body of the army should cross over the
strait, and march to the assault of the British
forts," was because he and his " 12," not 30,
men " were anxious to complete the destruction of every breast-work and barrack of the
enemy."* The flight of colonel Brstler and
the remainder of the American regulars and sailors is denominated, returning " from their successful enterprise," " as soon as the ends of this
daring and well executed adventure had been
completely accomplished."-J
The loss of the British, on this occasion, was
in proportion to the strenuous exertions they
had made to repulse an enemy, whose numbers
were so superior. By the returns there were 17
killed, 47 wounded, and 35 missing.t And
yet, according to the American accounts, 'besides the " 50 prisoners" taken at the Red
House, colonel Bwrstler made " several" in his
excursion. The loss of the Americans, except
as to officers, no where appears. Mr. 'Thomson
names, among the killed, sailing-master Watts,
and, among the wounded, a midshipman, and
three captains and a lieutenant of infantry ;
adding, that seven out of 12 of the navy-officers
1
were wounded.'
In expectation, no doubt, that " this gallant
and successful enterprize," seconded by four or
* Sketches of the War, p. 84.
+ Mist. of the United States, Vol. 111. p.
t App. No. 13.

118 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

five hours' bombardment by , the batteries at
Black lock, had inspired the British Withdread
of the American arms, general . Smyth, about
one o'clock in the clay, sent across a flag of truce,
to demand the surrender of Fort-Erie to the
American army. To this ridiculous demand,*
.colonel Bisshopp sent a very- proper reply,
which may be summed ttp in these words:
—" Come and take it." Captain Fitzgerald
carried the return-message ; and general Smyth,
displaying before him his numerous force, tried
every means in his power to frighten the British
commander into a bloodless surrender of his post.
The morning's success was to have been followed up by the embarkation of the whole 4000
men. One half of this ,force, it appears, had
actually embarked ; " and," says Mr. Thomson,
"about 500 British troops had been drawn up
in line, about half a mile from the river, sounding their trumpets and bugles, and indicating
their readiness to receive the Americans."t The
American troops, however, after being allowed
to enjoy this scene till late in the afternoon,
were ordered to disembark, with ' an assurance, that the expedition was only postponed
until the boats should be put in a state of better
preparation." j- ., :
On Sunday the 29th, the troops received orders
to prepare for embarkation on the following
;

f

* App. No. 15

± Sketches of the War, p. 85.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA. 119

morning, at nine o'clock. After a squabble
among the general officers about the proper time
for embarking, and the proper point for disembarking, the troops, the expedition was ordered
to be ready by three o'clock on Tuesday morning. The men were ready, and partly in the
boats ; when general Porter received orders from
general Smyth, to disembark immediately.
" He was at the same time informed," says the
American account, " that the invasion of Canada
was abandoned, for the season ; that the regulars were ordered into winter quarters ; and that,
as the services of the volunteers could now be
dispensed with, they might stack their arms, and
return to their homes. The scene of discontent
which followed was without a parallel ; 4000
men, without order or restraint, indignantly
discharged their muskets in every direction ;
and the person of the commanding-officer was
threatened." Two or three pages more of Mr.
Thomson's book are filled with complaints
against general Smyth, for his behaviour on this
occasion. To all of which he answers, that he
" had called together a council of his officers,
and they decided against the contemplated operations, upon the ground of the insufficiency of
force ; and that, circumstanced as he was, he
thought it his duty to follow the cautious counsels of experience, and not, by precipitation, to
add to the list of defeats."

120

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

Comparing the bombastic language of general
Smyth's proclamation ,wherein he had invited his
countrymen to partake with him in the plunder
of the "-Canadas, with the desponding tone he
assumed when he ordered his troops, just at the
crisis of their hopes, to retire to their huts for the
winter, we cannot be surprised at their contemptuous indignation, so fully expressed in
the nick-name they gave him of, general Van
Bladder ;' nor at the grief and perplexity of the
Washington patriots, whose ardor for invasion a
third discomfiture contributed nothing to allay.
We know not which to applaud most, the
gallantry displayed by the few regulars and
militia that defeated the enemy's plan of invasion, on the morning of the 28th of November ;
or the firmness of the field-officers of the line
and of the militia, who, sitting in council, as
they had been ordered, on the 1st of December,
unanimously declared, that they did not consider a retreat to be at all necessary, nor a measure to be looked forward to ; and that a small
reinforcement would enable them to gain a most
decisive advantage over any force which the
bragging Mr. Smyth might have it in his power
to send against them.
Disappointed in the expectation of gaining
the command of the lakes by the invasion of
Upper Canada, the American goverment adopted
immediate measures to provide on those in,

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA. -

121

land seas, a naval force superior to that of the
British. As the first step, commodore Isaac
Chauncey, one of the oldest captains in the Antirican service, was appointed to the command.
This officer arrived at Sackett's Harbor, in October, 1812 ; invested with full powers to buy,
build, and equip, • till his force should attain the
requisite superiority. Some schooners were purchased ; and a ship of 590 tons laid on the stocks.
Previous to the end of the month, two detach
tnents of seamen, one of 400, from the United
States' frigate John Adams, (then about to Be
reduced to a corvette,) the other of 100, selected
from the different ships on the seaboard, along
with a number of active officers, arrived at
Sackett's Harbor.
At this time, the British fleet consisted of the
Royal George, a ship of 340 tons, and of three
smaller vessels, that averaged about 150 tons ;
mounting, altogether, 50 guns; chiefly carronades and long sixes. These vessels were wholly
manned by Canadians; and even commodore
Earle, their commander, was not an officer of
the royal navy. Ile had proved his incompetency, by not capturing the Oneida brig, lieutenant Woolsey, at the commencement of the war.
With so ample means in his power, commodore Chauncey had, by the 6th of November;
equipped a fleet, composed of the brig Oneida,
and six fine schooners,' of the united burthen of

122 MILITARY opcua.RANcps B ET WEEN

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

123

;

830 tons. The total number of guns in his
fleet did not exceed 48; but several of these
were long 32 and 24-pounders, and the greater
part mounted upon traversing carriages, by
which their effect was doubled.* When we
consider that these seven vessels were manned
with upwards of 500 experienced seamen, it
will not be too much to say, that commodore
Chauncey could appear on the lake with a force
doubly superior to that of his adversary.
Accordingly, having ascertained that the
Royal George and two of the schooners were
hourly expected back from Fort-George, whither they had been carrying a small detachment
of troops, the commodore sailed out upon the
lake ; and, on the afternoon of the 8th, to his
great joy, fell in with the Royal George alone.
Chase was given, but she was lost sight of in the
night. On the next morning, however, she was
discovered in Kingston channel, and again
chased by the whole American squadron. " By
the alternate prevalence of squalls and calms,"
says an American naval editor, " the squadron
was led in close pursuit into the harbor of the
enemy at Kingston." A mutual cannonading
took place, and the Royal George was compelled
to run further up the bay. 'The "American editors all concur- in celebrating the event, as a
presage of the commodore's future fame. One
,

-

* See James's Naval Occurrences, p. 298.

of the American officers concludes a flaming
account of the " bombardment of the town"
thus : " Our sailors had no grog ; they want no
stimulus of that kind: they seem to have no fear
of death." The reader's surprise will cease,
when he learns that, during the whole of this two
hours' appalling " cross-fire of five batteries of
flying artillery, in all about 40 guns," so well.
managed was the distance, that no one was hurt
on shore, and only one man killed, and three
wounded, on board the American squadron. It
was not the " heavy showers of round and
grape," but of snow, that compelled the commodore to haul off, and return to Sackett's liar.
bor. According to sir George Prevost's letter, the
American squadron had sailed out " for the purpose of carrying the port of Kingston by surprise;" but no such intention was evinced on
the part of the American commander. It. is not
improbable, however, that the latter's exaggerated account of his reception, tended, in no
small degree, to the security of Kingston during
the remainder of the war. !Our vicinity to the St. Lawrence reminds us,
that we have to correct the mistatements of the
Americans, respecting two otherwise unimportant operations in this quarter. In the autumn of
1812, about 600 American troops, under general
Brown, of the New York militia, were garrisoned
* Sketches of the War, p. 93.

12,4

MILITARY OCCURRENCES- DE' EEN

at Ogdensburg, a village of about 70 houses and
some very strong works, situate on the river-side,
and distant about 60 miles from Sackett's Harbor.* The first of these operations was a " daring exploit" performed by the Americans, on the
morning of the 21st of September. To understand the thing properly, the American account
must precede ours. " Captain Forsythe," says
Mr. Thomson, " of the rifle-regiment, being at
the garrison of Ogdensburg, projected an, expedition against a small village in the town of
Leeds, in Canada, called Gananoque. In this
village was the king's store-house, containing
i mmense quantities of arms and ammunition ;
and captain Forsythe was resolved on its destruction. In the night of the 20th instant,
therefore, a number of boats being provided, he
embarked with 70 of his own men, and 34
militia-men. Before day-light of the 21st, they
reached the Canadian shore, and
unobserved, at a little distance from the village.
The enemy soon after discovered them ; and
they were fired on by a party of 125 regulate
and militia. Forsythe drew up his men, and
returned their fire with such effect, that the
British retreated in disorder ; and were pursued
to the village, where they rallied and resolved
on making a stand, and disputing- the passage
of a bridge. An action took place here, which
* Sec Plate 11.

'MEAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

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125

resulted in the same manner as the former. The
enemy again fled, making his escape-over the
bridge, and leaving 10 of his number killed,
eight regulars and several militia-men prisoners,
and the village and storehouse in possession of
the American party. Captain Forsythe lost one
in killed, and one wounded, After releasing the
militia-prisoners on their parole, and taking out
a quantity of arms, fixed ammunition, powder,
flints, and other articles of public property, and
setting tire to the store-house, he returned to
Cape Vincent with these, and the eight regulars
prisoners."*
/fhe" village" of Gananoque consisted, at this
tiine,of a public-house and a saw-mill, also a small
hut, inhabited by colonel Stone of the militia ;
in whose possession were two kegs of fixed ammunition, and a chest containing about 30 muskets. The Americans landed, in the dead of
the night, by the aid of a traitor ; and entered
the " village " while the inhabitants were asleep.
On arriving opposite to colonel Stone's house,
some villain of the American party fired into the
window, and wounded Mrs. Stone, most dangerously, as she lay in her bed. When the commander of these midnight prowlers afterwards came
into the house, the poor woman, sitting up in her
bed, expostulated freely with him upon the dastardly attack which he and his followers had
*Sketches of the War, p. 67.

126 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

made;: and she actually possessed magnanimity
enough to conceal from his knowledge, the
dreadful wound she had received in the body.
The noise of the firing had brought up between 30 and 40 militia-men ; but, as fir " regulars," there was not one within 20 miles of the
spot. Of the militia-men not more than six or
eight came with arms in their hands ; and it was
they, and not " 125 regulars and militia," that
inflicted the small loss sustained by the Americans. Instead of "10," we had only one killed.
The other incidents mentioned in Mr. Thomson's
account are, we presume, embellishments of his
own ; not omitting the dignified appellation of
" king's store-house" conferred upon Mr. Stone's
hut, and of " village" upon that hut, a publichouse, and a saw-mill.
Opposite to Ogdensburg, where the St. Lawrence is just 1800 yards across, is situate the
British village of Prescott, or, as since called,
Fort-Wellington ; distant 68 miles from Kingston, and 130, in an opposite direction, from
Montreal. In 1809 or 10, sir James Craig, then
governor of Lower Canada, sent parties of men
upon several of the little islands in the St. Lawrence, to blow up or otherwise destroy a quantity
of old French guns, that had been lying there,
probably since the days of Wolfe. No sooner did
n ew s of the late war reach Prescott, than
13 of
these guns, honey-combed, and without trunnions,

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

127

were fished up froth the bottom of the river,' The
loss of trunnions was attempted to be supplied
by substitutes of wood, with iron hoops ; and
carriages for the guns were constructed by the
Canadian carpenters.—These fine pieces of artillery'were then mounted upon an open sea-battery, formed chiefly of mud ; but yet dertotninated by Mr. Thomson, " a strong line of breast- works." With an old farmer for an engineer,
the people of Prescott, on• the 2d of October,
opened a fire upon Ogdensburg ; and, by the
bursting of one of the guns, inflicted upon
themselves the only loss that was sustained. A
few months afterwards, an officer of the engineers, who had been sent from head-quarters
to inspect the guns at this " strong breastwork," condemned the whole of them.
On the second day from that on which the
"heavy cannonading" too' -'place, colonel Lethbridge, who commanded at Fort-Wellington, determined to assault the fort of Ogdensburg. He
took with him eight artillerymen, two companies
of the Canadian fencibles, about 40 of the Newfoundland regiment, under captain Skinner, and
150 Highland militia, who, after travelling the
whole night, had just arrived in carts, from
Cornwall, distant 48 miles. There were several
other militia-men at the post but the Highlanders, fatigued as they necessarily must have been,
were all that would consent to accompany the

128

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

regulars across to the attack. Colonel Lethbridge, with his lew men, advanced towards
Ogdensburg ; and captain Skinner, having his
small detachment on board two gun-boats, attacked and silenced the American battery upon
the point below the town. The small force that
had embarked could make little or no impression upon so strong a position : the boats therefore returned, with a trifling loss. It was
afterwards ascertained, that general Brown was
preparing to abandon the fort; a clear proof
that, had all the men embarked, the enterprise
would have been successful: Mr. Thomson,
after exaggerating the British force to the usual
extent, Confers ridicule upon the whole affair,
by saying There has been no engagement,
perhaps, in which more gallantry was exhibited
on both sides."*—Mr. O'Connor equally contributes to raise a smile. By this action," says
he, " the British are taught, that 400 Yankees
will not decline a combat, when attacked by
1000 of their troops."t
The hopes of the war-party now rested upon
the northern army, or " army of Canada," stationed at Plattshurg, in the state of 'New York.
This army, which, according to Mr. Thomson' s
computation, consisted of 5737 men, or, according to other American accounts, of that number
of regulars only, besides 2 or 3000 militia, was
* Sketches of the War, p. 68.

+ History of the War, p. 61.

129

OREAT RRITAIN AND AMERICA.

under the command of major-general Dearborn;
who is stated to have received positive orders to
winter in Montreal. As if determined to make
the attempt, the whole army, divided into two
brigades, under major-generals Bloomfield and
Chandler, marched, on the 15th of November,
to the American village of Champlain, situate
about six miles from the boundary-line between
Lower Canada and the United States.
The instant this was known at Montreal,
the brigade of British regulars and militia stationed there, consisting of about 600 of the
latter, and the 8th and Glengary regiments, in
all about 1900 men, crossed the St. Lawrence,,
and marched for La Prairie, distant about nine
miles. Here the men arrived at midnight, and
were distributed into quarters.
The two armies, one of invasion, the other of
defence, being now within a few miles of each
other, about 300 of the 15th United States' regiment, under the command of lieutenant colonel
Pike, accompanied by a detachment of cavalry
and some militia, were, at two o'clock on the
morning of the 19th, despatched across the lines,
upon a reconnoissance. Being unexpectedly fired
upon by a party of 40 Indians and voyageurs, or
north-west company's armed men, stationed as
an advanced picket near the river La Cole, the
American regulars were thrown Into confusion,
and fired upon each other ; by which they
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