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Chapter 7

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Title
Chapter 7
Identifier
http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?b=1&ref=oo&id=298038
page
202-235
Type
Text
extracted text
202

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

CHAPTER VII.

Critical situation of major-general Vincent's army
—American army sent against it—Lieutenant.
colonel Harvey's gallant proposal of a nightattack—Its adoption and successful result-.
Capture of the two American generals—Confusion and retreat of the American army-7
Commodore Chauncey's return to Sackett's Hat,
bor—Sir James Yeo's attack upon the Americans at their second encampment Arrival of
the American army at Fort-George, and abandonment of the detached posts—Surrender of
colonel Bcerstler and 541 Americans to a subaltern's detachment of the 49th—Colonel Clark's
successful attack on Fort-Schlosner Allianoe
between the Americans and Indians-_,-The tatter's
declaration of war against the Canadas—Gross
misrepresentations
representations of the Americans corrected-7.
Iti .Vritish plan for saving American prisoners in
the hands of the Indians—Barbarous experiment made with British prisoners by the American major Chapin—Lieutenant-colo.nelBisshopA
successful attack on .lack Rock—His untimely
fall—Capture of unarmed Canadians—Second
capture of York—Its defenceless state—Destruction of private property—American officers on
parole.


WE must now return to major-general Vincent, whom we left encamped at Burlington

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

203

Heights, distant from Fort-George about 50
miles. The capture of York, and the American superiorit On the lake, rendered the situation of this army extremely critical. The officers and men were in absolute want of those
necessaries, which they had been compelled,
either to leave behind at the evacuation of, or
to destroy during the retreat from, Fort-George,
Should the enemy approach in force too superior to justify a battle, the British were without
the means of carrying away their few fieldpieces, or even their wounded. Should, on the
other hand, a battle offer the slightest chance
of success, the quantity of ammunition, 90 rounds
per gun, was too small to admit of perseverance
in their efforts. Determined to drive the British from their
position, or, if resolved to fight, to ensure their
capture, general Dearborn, on the 1st and 2d of
June, despatched from Fort-George generals
Chandler and Winder, with their two brigades
of infantry, accompanied by colonel Burn and
his dragoons, and by a strong detachment of
artillery, having in charge eight or nine fieldpieces, both heavy and light. On arriving, on
the morning of the 5th, at the vicinity of Stoney Creek, and within about seven miles of the
British encampment, the Americans pitched
their tents, in order to make further preparations for attacking a force, of much less than
half their numbers*4...--

T
204

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN
GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

Lieutenant-colonel Harvey, at the head of a
reconnoitring party, consisting of the light companies of the 8th and 49th regiments, advanced
close to the enemy's encampment, and took an
accurate view of his position. With a promptitude, as honourable to his gallantry as his judgment, the lieutenant-colonel suggested to majorgeneral Vincent, in the strongest terms, a nightattack upon the American camp. He had planned the whole in his mind; and offered, in person, to lead the advance. The object was, to
throw the enemy into confusion ; and, if possible, compel him to abandon his intended
attack upon the British army. It was certainly
a desperate measure, but British soldiers were to
make the attempt, and not to make it wouki
bring down the same consequences as a fail ure,—
the capture or destruction of general Vincent's
force.
The night of the 5th of June, as if propitious
to the undertaking, proved one of the darkest
that had been known for many years. Owing
to that very circumstance, as small a number as
could well be employed, would, it was justly
considered, co-operate with the best effect. The
men had been kept under arms, awaiting an
attack from the enemy, since early in the afternoon; and, at half-past eleven, as if merely to
take up some new position accessory to the
defence of the post, five companies of the 8th,
and the whole of the 49th regiment, marched

205

Out of camp. The number was exactly " 704
firelocks," or, which is the same thing, rank

and file.
Let us now pause awhile, till we have fixed, as
accurately as may be, the number and force of
the American army. The only assistance we
procure from the American accounts, are the
names of the regiments and corps. These consisted of the 5th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 22d, and 23d
regiments of infantry, divided into two brigades,
of, according to the lowest returns in an American work, 1450 men each. We find 800 artillery mentioned as part of the Fort-George force
admitting half only of that number, some of
which were acting as light troops, to have been
detached on this occasion, and adding the 250
dragoons under colonel Burn, we have, for the
force encamped at Stoney Creek, 3550 men ;
but a Boston paper of June 24, 1813, states the
number at 4000. It becomes us, however, to
be rather under, than over the mark ; we will
therefore fix the amount, in round numbers, at
3500 Americans ; just,—without estimating
the nine field-pieces,—five times the number
of the British who, in the solemn stillness of
the night, were fearlessly marching to attack

them.
The advance of this determined band was led
by lieutenant-colonel Harvey; and, at 2 o'clock,
* App. No. ;s3.

06 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

4.

the British regulars, with fixed bayonets, rushed
into the centre of the American camp. The
49th regiment, headed by major (now lieutenantcolonel) Plenderleath, charged some fieldpieces ; and one of the artillerymen was bayonetted in the very act of discharging a gun.
A body of American infantry, stationed near the
artillery, and. composed, it is said, of the light
troops and 25th regiment, fired a most destructive volley at the 49th ; but, instead of repeating what might have changed the fate of the
day, turned upon their heels and fled. On this
occasion major Plenderleath's horse was shot
under him, and himself severely wounded. Serjeant Fraser of the 49th, having captured brigadier-general Winder, now brought him as a prisoner to major Plenderleath. The latter mounted
the American general's horse, and lost that, also,
by a shot, almost immediately afterwards. Brigadier-general Chandler was taken, much
bruised, under one of the guns.. All this while,
the five companies of the 8th regiment, under
major (now lieutenant-colonel) Ogilvie, •w ho so
distinguished himself at Fort-George, were dealing destruction to the enemy's left flank, composed of the 5th, 23d, and 16th regiments.
The utmost confusion reigned in the American camp, and the troops were flying in every
direction to the surrounding heights. The plan
having fully succeeded, and it not being pru-

GREAT BRITAIN ANL) AMERICA.

11

dent to let th0 Americans discover what a small
force had so put them to the rout, lest they
should rally, and overwhelm their few opponents,
the latter, just as day dawned, retired to their
cantonments ; taking with them two brigadiergenerals, one major, five captains, one lieutenant, and 116 hkitt-commissioned officers and
privates, of the American army ; also two out
of four of the captured pieces of artillery,
along with nine horses to draw them.*
Owing to the extreme darkness of the night,
each side suffered from friends as well as foes.
Our loss amounted to 23 killed, 136 wounded,
and 55 missing ; - being almost a third of the
party. The Americans admit a loss of 17 killed,
and 38 wounded ; but make their missing
amount, in all, to 100, instead of 125. General
Dearborn's letter states that " colonel Clark"
was mortally wounded, and fell into ::their
hands. This was not the case, but brigademajor Clerk was most dangerously wounded,
and found on the ground by two stragglers,
one a British, the other an American soldier.
They carried him to a farm-house, where he bad
scarcely been put to bed, when an American
guard arrived, and the officer inhumanly ordered
major Clerk, bed and all, to be placed in a
waggon, the jolting of which set his wounds
bleeding afresh, and nearly terminated his life.
`App. No. 35.

Ib. No. 31.

208

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEE14

One of the American accounts of the Stoney
Creek business contains the following statement : " Captain Manners, of that regiment,
(the 49th) was taken in his bed by lieutenant
Riddle ; who, from a principle of humanity, put
him on his parole, on condition of his not serving the enemy, until he should be exchanged.
An engagement which that officer violated, by
appearing in arms against the American troops,
i mmediat iy after the recovery of his health."*
This is a serious charge against a brave officer,
now living. Thus it is answered. Close to capmin Manners, on the field, lay a captain Mills,
of the American army, still more severely
wounded. The two officers agreed, and mutually
pledged their honors, that, no matter by which
party captured, they should be considered as
exchanged, and at liberty to serve again. Lieutenant Riddle soon afterwards came up ; and,
although he could not stay to bring away even
his friend, exacted a parole from captain Manners. When the American army subsequently
fled, the two officers were found by the British.
The instant captain M lls recovered from is
wounds, he was sent by a fla to the American
lines ; and captain Manners became, of course,
exonerated from his parole. That an American
editor should give insertion to any story, reflecting
upon a British officer, is not at all strange. Bat
,

°REA BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

it is so, that an American officer should have

allowed three editions of Mr. Thomson's book
to pass, every one containing so scandalous a
paragraph.
The American official account describes the
704 regulars that performed this exploit at
Stoney Creek, as " the whole of the British and
Indian forces ;"* although not an Indian moved
with the troops, and those that had been left
at the encampment did not exceed 20 or 30.
This Indian story was just the thing for Mr.
O'Connor. Accordingly, he says : " The army,
on this occasion, has proved its firmness and
bravery, by keeping its position in a nightattack, in which the yells of the Indians, mingled
with the roaring of the cannon and musketry,
were calculated to intimidate." j' General
Dearborn, next, pronounces " the enemy completely routed, and driven from the field ;"
although he admits that, " by some strange fatality," his two brigadiers were taken prisoners.*
So boasted commodore Chauncey, when sir
James Yeo captured two of his schooners4 It
is to the very circumstance of the absence of
the two commanding brigadiers, perhaps, that
we may attribute the general's want of information on the subject. Who else, for instance,
but some stupid corporal or drummer, could
+ Mist. of the War, p. 98.
James's Nal . Occur. p. 298.

*App. No. 36.
,

Ske tches of the War, p.

209

VOL. I.

QM MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

have told him, that they sent in a flag with a
request " to bury their dead." So far from that
having been the case, the Americans ran away
and left their own dead to be buried by the
British.
Really, the confusion that. prevailed in the
American camp, seems to have extended its influence to the heads of the American historians.
One editor declares, that the British, when they
attacked, had " no musket loaded," and turned
the captured guns upon the encampment ; when,
in truth, the British did fire their muskets, but
did not fire the captured guns; chiefly, in the
latter case, because they had no artillerymen to
manage them. " The dragoons charged upon,
and completely routed them ;"* says one editor.
" The squadron of dragoons remained formed
and steady at their posts, but could not act
on account of the darkness of the night, and
the 'thickness of the adjacent woods ;"* says
another. The last was the fact ; at least, no
dragoons were encountered or seen by any of
our troops.
Although general Dearborn had killed majorgeneral Vincent, Mr. Thomson declared he was
only missing, and " discovered by his own
people, in the course of the same day, almost
famished, at the distance of four miles from'the
scene of action."-f At all events, both of the
* Hist, of the War, p. 98.

t Sketches of the War, p. 136.

211

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

captured American generals dined with the British general on the clay of the attack, and were
sent forward to Montreal that same afternoon.
Amidst all their confusion, the three American
historians agree in this, that the American troops
behaved in the bravest manner and that the
British, although " superior" in numbers, " fled
in every direction."
After the British had retired, and when broad
daylight enabled the Americans to see well
around them, the latter returned to their camp ;
but only to destroy their blankets, carriages,
provisions, spare arms, ammunition, &c. They
then, " having given up .:the pursuit of the
enemy,"* precipitately retreated, ., or " fell
back," gently, no doubt,--because the roads
were scarcely passable, Forty-mile Creek,
about 11 miles in the rear of the field of battle.
Mr. O'Connor says, a council of war decided
that the army " ought to , retire." Admitting
the council was not long ,sitting, this was
probably the case;_, At all events, when a reconnoitring party of the British arrived in sight
of the field of battle, about eleven o'clock on the
same morning, not an American soldier was
to be seen, except the dead and the badly
wounded. Several of the British wounded, and
among them major Clerk and captain Manners,
,,,i hmt
again found themselves in the midst
•*
.

i

i

Sketches of the War, p. 137.
P 2

t

4

212

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

friends. The state of want to which our troops
had been reduced, was in a great measure relieved by the spoils of the deserted camp.
The American army re-encamped on a plane
of a mile in width ; its right flank on the lake,
its left on the Forty-mile Creek, skirting the
base of a perpendicular mountain. On the
afternoon of the day of battle, a detachment,
consisting of the 6th and 15th United States' regiments, and a park of artillery, under colonel
James Miller, joined the army ; as did, the next
afternoon, generals Lewis and Boyd, the former
of whom assumed the command. The army,
at this time, must have amounted to upwards of
4000 men.
As soon as commodore Chauncey had ascertained that the British fleet was again in Kingston, he left the protection of his batteries at the
head of the lake, and hastened to SacKett's Harbor ; there to await the launching and final
equipment of the ship General Pike. On the
3d of June sir James Yeo, with his squadron, oa
board of which he had some clothing and provisions, and about 2S0 of the 8th regiment, for
major-general Vincent, sailed from Kingston, to
co-operate with that officer; as well as, by intercepting the enemy's supplies, and otherwise
annoying him, to provoke commodore Chauncey
to re-appear on the lake.
At daylight on the 'morning of the 8th, sir

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

213

James found himself close to general Lewis's
camp at the Forty-mile Creek. It being calm,
the larger vessels could not get in, but the Be-.
resford and Sidney Smith schooners, and one or
two gun-boats, succeeded in approaching within
range of the American batteries. Four pieces
of artillery were brought down to the beach ;
and, in less than half an hour, a temporary furnace for heating shot was in operation.* The
fire of the British vessels was then returned,
the Americans say, " with full effect." They
admit, however, that at noon on the day of sir
James's appearance, the troops broke up their
cantonments, and scampered off as fast as they
could, having previously sent away a part of
their camp-equipage and baggage in batteaux
to Fort-George ; but this hasty removal, say the
historians, was owing to orders just received
from general Dearborn. The batteaux put off.
Twelve of them, with their contents, were captured by the Beresford, and the remaining seven
were driven on shore and abandoned by their
crews.
In compliance with the directions of majorgeneral Vincent, sir James Yeo landed the detachment of the 8th, under major Evans, at the
Forty-mile Creek, that it might join lieutenantcolonel Bisshopp, with the flank company of the
49th, and one battalion company of the 41st,,
* Sketches of the War, p. 138.


214 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

which had arrived there from the heights. At.
about seven o'clock on the evening of the 8th,
this advanced corps, numbering about 450 rank
and file, entered the second deserted American
camp, where the men found, generously spared to
them out of the conflagration of stores, 500 standing tents, 140 barrels of flour, 100 stands of arms,
besides a variety of other useful and necessary
articles ; also about 70 prisoners. Nothing of
this appears in the American accounts. The
British advance, being now so w ell provided,
encamped upon the spot, to await the arrival of
the Main body.
Whether it was through the imbecility of the
officers, or the fears of the men, the American
troops, under general Lewis, fled in the utmost
haste ; having sustained a loss in killed, wounded,
and missing, including desertions, (if we may
trust the American newspapers,) of nearly 1000
men. So apprehensive, indeed, were they of being
cut off, that, instead of proceeding to FortGeorge by the direct route, they marched round
by Queenstown. .The accounts they brought
to general Dearborn, of the number and prowess
of the British, led to preparations for defending
that post, and to an immediate concentration of
the detachments from Chippeway and Fort-Erie;
nor was Fort-George, with the strongly entrenched camp in its neighbourhood, although
garrisoned by upwards of 5000 Americans,

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA. • 215

deemed a situation of perfect security : therefore, the bulk of the remaining baggage was sent
across the river to Fort-Niagara. Thus, was the
whole interior of the Lipper Canada peninsula
rescued from the ravages of an invading army,
by a mere handful of British troops, ordered
from their own camp at the bold suggestion, and
led into the midst of the enemy's, by the judgment and intrepidity, of lieutenant-colonel
Harvey.
Major-general Vincent, having been reinforced
by the 104th regiment, had placed the advanced
corps of his little army under the command of
lieutenant-colonel Bisshopp ; who, about the
2(1 of June, pushed forward detachments, to
occupy the cross-roads at the Ten-mile Creek,
and at the Beaver Dam. One of these detach
ments, consisting of a subaltern and 30 rank
and file, of the 104th, occupied a stone-house
near to the dam. To reconnoitre, and, if possible, to capture this force, lieutenant-colonel
Bcerstler, with a detachment of infantry, cavalry,
artillery, militia and volunteers, numbering 673
officers and men, was sent from Fort-George.
At eight o'cicock on the morning of the 24th,
colonel Bcerstler and his party unexpectedly encountered, in the woods, a body of about 200
Indians led by captain Kerr. A skirmish ensued, which lasted upwards of two hours, when
the American troops, dreading being led into an
.

216

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

ambush, endeavoured to gain the wood leading
towards Lundy's Lane ; but were unexpectedly
encountered by lieutenant-colonel Thomas
Clark, at the head of 15 militia-men, accidentally passing in that direction. These immediately opened a fire, from the wood, upon colonel
Bcerstler's army; and compelled it to halt upon
the open space of ground, across which it had
been retreating. Mr. Thomson, out of kindness
to colonel Bcerstler, has denominated these 16
militia, "one company of the 104th regiment,
and about 200 militia, in all 340 men ;" and
declares, that even this force was continually
augmenting, and became, at last, greatly superior. The colonel must have thought so too ;
for he sent to Fort-George, a distance of 16
miles, for an immediate reinforcement.
During the retreat from the Indians, lieuten.
ant Fitzgibbon of the 49th, having with him a
small detachment, consisting of a subaltern and
46 rank and file, closed upon, and reconnoitred
the American troops. He stationed his men on
an eminence to the right of their position ; and,
receiving information of the expected reinforcement from Fort-George, resolved upon the bold
measure of immediately summoning colonel
Bcerstler to surrender. This, lieutenant Fitzgibbon immediately did, in the name of lieutenant-colonel De Haren. Mr. Thomson has exerted
himself to save colonel Bcerstler's character on

217

this occasion, by stating, that " lieutenant Fitzgibbon informed him, on the honor of a British
soldier, that the regular force, commanded by
lieutenant-colonel Bisshopp, was double that of
the American, and that the Indians were at least
700 in number. Colonel Bcerstler," proceeds
this editor, " trusting to the veracity of the
officer, fearing the impracticability of escaping,
and being unwilling to abandon his wounded,
agreed to terms of capitulation."*
Just as these were drawing up, arrived major
De Ilaren, who had been sent for by lieutenant
Fitzgibbon ; and who brought with him about
220 men, consisting of the light troops attached
to the advanced detachment. The major put the
finishing stroke to this admirable ruse de guerre,
by affixing his name to the document surrendering lieutenant-colonel Bcerstler, along with one
major, six captains, 13 lieutenants, one cornet,
one surgeon, 25 serjeants, two drummers, and
462 rank and file, as prisoners of war ; besides
30 militia, intended to have been released on
parole : making a total of .542 men. At the same
time were also surrendered, one 12 and one
6 pounder, two cars, and the colours of the 14th
United States' regiment.1 The amount of the
American wounded in the affair with the Indians
no where appears ; but, referring to the number
of men sent on the expedition, either the loss
-I- App. No. 38.
* Sketches of the War, p. 1M.
-

218

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

must have been great, or several of the party
had escaped previously to the surrender.
The complete success attending this exploit,
seems to have greatly mortified our three historians ; one of whom had already boasted of " the
terrifying effects of lieutenant-colonel Bcerstler's
lungs upon the British ;" alluding to the affair
near Frenchman's creek.* We cannot learn
whether the American colonel did, or did not,
open his throat upon lieutenant Fitzgibbon ; but
we require no stronger evidence than the former's
" unaccountable" t surrender, to be assured of
this fact,—that a Stentor's lungs and a Caesar's
heart do not always inhabit the same breast.
As the American editors are very loud in their
railings against us, because major-general Vincent refused to ratify the last article of the
capitulation ; stipulating, that the militia and
volunteers should be permitted to return to the
United States on parole, this may require an
explanation. In the first place, the stand of
colours of a militia-regiment was found concealed about the person of one of major Chapin's
volunteers. In the next, these were recognized
as the identical men who, led by their " gallant
commander," had recently been pillaging the
houses and carrying off the horses, of the Canadian inhabitants in the neighbourhood. In
several instances, the marauders had actually
See p. 114.
± App. No. 40.

' GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

213

forced from the frames, and carried away, the
poor people's window-sashes.
Early in July, major-general De Rottenburg,
the late president of Lower Canada, succeeded
major-general Sheaffe as president of the upper
province ; and, as such, took the command of
the troops from the hands of major-general \Tin
cent. Major-general De Rottenburg, with the
main body of the centre-divison of the army of
Upper Canada, took his station in the neighbourhood of the Twelve-mile Creek, which is distant
about 11 miles from Fort-George. About this
time general Dearborn, harrassed in mind and
body, very properly resigned the command of
the American northern army. General Lewis
was next in succession ; but, he having been
ordered to Sackett's Harbor to assist commodore
Chauncey in repairing the defences of that fortress, the command of Fort-George and its depen
dencies, as also of Fort-Niagara, devolved upon
,-

major-general Boyd.
As a proof to what a helpless state this numerous army of invasion had, by its fears, been
reduced, lieutenant-colonel Thomas Clark, of the
Canadian militia, during the night of the 4th of
July, with 40 of his men, passed over in boats
from Chippeway to Fort-Schlosser ; surprised
the American guard stationed there; made 15
prisoners ; and brought away a considerable,
quantity of flour, salt pork, and other provisions;

220

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

also a brass 6-pounder, several stands of arms,
some ball-cartridges, &c.
Early in the same month, the American government threw off the mask, and openly called
to its aid, upon the Niagara, as it had before
done upon the north-western frontier, " the
ruthless ferocity of the merciless savages."*
" The characteristic mildness of American manners" f here underwent a surprising change ;
for which every one of our three editors has invented, what he no doubt conceives, an adequate
apology. Mr. O'Connor declares it was " the
invasion of New York by the British" that gave
rise to the measure ; thus tacitly admitting, that
general Hull's invasion of Upper Canada, for
which he had been preparing long previous to
the declaration of war, justified our employment
of the Indians. Mr. Thomson says, it was done
" by way of intimidating the British and Indians, and of preventing a recurrence of their
barbarities :" § and he has taken care to be provided with a flagrant case in support of his position. The clergyman is of opinion, that the
Indian modes of warfare are not so much the
objects of terror, as of horror ; and declares
that our employment of the Indians " rendered
it expedient for the Americans to incorporate in
their armies, the same kind of force, in order to
* See p. 180. + Mist. of the United States, Vol. III. p. 238.
Viet. of the War, 106.
Sketches of the War, p. 153.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA:.

221

counteract the habitual stratagems of the savages,
and defeat their insidious hostilities."* But this
"fair and candid apology for the procrastinated
alliance" * equally existed previous to the 4th of
November, 1812 ; at which time " the use made
by the enemy of the merciless savages under their
influence rendered it expedient" for Mr. Madison to declare, that he " was making exertions
to dissuade them from taking either side in the
war." t The fact is, the American government
would have employed the Indians at the commencement of hostilities, could it hate held out
to them any reasonable hopes of conquest or
plunder, sufficient to overbalance that " deadly
animosity which they felt towards I he Americans," for reasons best known to the latter. The
capture of York, and the possession of the forts,
George and Erie, gave an air of reality to the
boastings of the American generals ; and the
" Six Nations of Indians," described as " the
Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagoes, Senecas,
Cayugas, and Tuscororas," or rather, a few
stragglers from some of these nations, were
persuaded to declare war against the provinces
of Upper and Lower Canada.
In justice to the Indian character, we are
bound to mention that, when our wire statesmen,
at the peace of 1783, stipulated, by treaty, to
surrender to the Americans the w hole of the
* Mist. of the United States, Vol. III. p. 238. t See p. 180.

11 Yr
222 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

Indian c■)auntry, all the Mohawks, and a part of
the °the r five nations, abandoned their
possessions
; a; ad, faithful to that alliance with us
which they have never violated, settled in Upper
Canada..
.

Mr. 0' Connor has kindly favored us with the
&flowing •
4.‘ DECLARATION OF WAR,
BY THE. SIX NATIONS OF INDIANS.
"

We, .'' the chiefs and councillors of the Six
Nations Of •
, Indians, residing in the State of New
York, dci
I -iéreby proclaim to all the war-chiefs
and wartio i.s of the Six Nations, that war is dedared on ', our part, against the provinces of
Upper and Lower Canada: Therefore, we do
hereby coin,
i., 'nand and advie all the war chiefs
to
call fort h immediately the warriors under
them, and p'
il at them in motion, to protect their
rights and :liberties, which
our brethren, the
,
Americans, a re now 'defending.
Ii` iY THE GRAND COUNCILLORS.'
\r,' ‘ ,*1
-

-

-

Those who j are acquainted with the language
used in an 111, idian talk,
can have no difficulty
in guesing at )
the authors of this important state-,
paper, signeeil " by the great councillors." We
could wish tli fat equal publicity had been given
to ." the spj
ecial covenant," by which, says
doctor Stine h, "
the warriors of the Six Nations
bound
... thew selves to abstain
from that barbarity

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

223

towards the wounded and the dead, so congenial
with their national habits, and so revolting to
our civilized ideas:!The above declaration, although without a
date, " issued immediately after the invasion of
the state by the British ;" and the first invasion
of New York, the state in questiOn, occured, as
the reader knows, on the 22d of February.*
Supposing, however, that the fourth act of invasion, colonel Clark's affair at Schlosser, gave
i mmediate rise to the declaration ; it must have
issued on the 5th of July ; and, therefore, could
not have been occasioned by a case of barbarity,
that, according_ to the relater, took place three
days afterwards. Having rectified this mistake
of Mr _ Thomson, we shall now proceed to
investigate his details of the affair itself. He
states that on- the 8th of July, lieutenant
Eldridge, of the 13th regiment, was ordered to
the support of the American outposts, with a
small detachment of 39 men ; and that his
impetuosity "led him into a thick wood, where
a superior force of the British and Indians lay
in ambush, and that, after an obstinate but
fruitless struggle, his party were entirely defeated, five only out of the whole number escaping. All the prisoners, including the wounded,
were then inhumanly murdered, and their persons treated in so barbarous a manner that the
* See p.136.
:

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MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

most

temperate recital of the enemy's conduct
may, perhaps, scarcely obtain belief. The
tame enemy," proceeds Mr. Thomson, " who
had long ago implored the mercy of the American officer to be extended to his British prisoners, now fell upon the defenceless captives of
his party, and scalped their heads whilst they
were yet alive, split open their sculls with their
tomahawks, tore their hearts out of their bodies,
and stabbed and otherwise mutilated them.
Lieutenant Eldridge was supposed to have experienced the same treatment. The inhabitants
of the neighbourhood having informed the garrison that he had been led, wounded, into the
woods, between two Indians, a flag was sent out
on the next day, to ascertain his fate ; which
soon after returned with an answer, that lieutenant Eldridge, having killed one of the Indian
chieftains, the warriors of his tribe had retaliated
this supposed act of treachery, by putting him
to instant death. But this reply was ascertained
to have been a subterfuge of the enemy, to evade
the necessity of accounting for a prisoner who
was known to have been taken alive." *
We have given this statement at length, for
the purpose of sheaving to what a pitch of horrid
falsehood the malignant feelings of an American
historian can lead him. The reader will be gratified to know, that not a British individual was

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

225

present when this American invading party was
surprised. Even Mr. O'Connor, the zealous
Mr. O'Connor, confirms the fact. He explicitly
states, that the lieutenant " unexpectedly found
himself surrounded in the wood by Indians, who
opened a deadly fire upon his little corps."* The
word " Britith" no where appears in the account ;
nor even the expression " the enemy," so artfully inserted in Mr. Thomson's statement: We
can gather from the " answer" returned, that
the American lieutenant, after he had surrendered, took an opportnnity to kill " one of the
Indian chieftains ;" and, for that " act of treachery," was, very properly, put to " instant
death." This is designated in Mr. Thomson's
Index to a work purporting to give " Sketches of
the late War between the United States and
Great Britain,"—" Massacre of lieutenant Eldridge." Doctor Smith's entire silence upon the
subject, satisfies us of his having received from
some of his friends, the most 'satisfactory assurances, that the British did not in any shape participate in Mr. Thomson's " too well authenticated" charge against them.
The real case, indeed, was this. Some medicine-stores, of which the British were in immediate want, having been, upon their retreat from
Fort-George, concealed in a spot, now close to
an American outpost, the Indian chief, Black

* Sketches of the War, p. 153.

* Hist. of the War, p. me.
VOL. I.

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ILLLITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

Bird, volunteerd, with 150 warriors, to bring
them to the British camp. While performing
this important service, he encountered, and cap•
lured, lieutenant Eldridge and his party. No
sooner had-the American lieutenant surrendered,
than he drew forth a concealed pistol, and shot
one of the chiefs through the head. The officer's
life fell a sacrifice to his treachery ; nor,-can we
wonder, if few of his men escaped to tell the
tale.
This is the proper place to put the reader in
possession of a fact, that will show how the British officers felt and acted, in reference to the
cruel manner in which the Indians were wont to
treat their prisoners. A committee, at the head
of which was major-general Vincent, sat early in
1813, to devise the best means of putting an end
to such barbarities ; and finally resolved to pay
to the Indians 10 dollars for every American
prisoner they brought in alive. This proceeding was afterwards sanctioned by the prince
regent. In the meanwhile, the British officers
generally carried about them a supply of dollars,
to enable them to put in practice so laudable a
plan. Some account of the resolution appeared
in a Boston paper ; but none of the numerous
Americans, officers as well as privates, whose,
lives and persons were saved in consequence,
seem to have communicated any particulars to
the furbishers of their exploits.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

227

" Of the influence of a cultivated people,"
says doctor Smith, " whose manners and religion
the savages respect, to induce them to resign
their inhuman treatment of their prisoners, major Chapin gave an instructive example, immediately after uniting his force with the warriors
of the Six Nations. A corps, composed of volunteer militia, and of these Indians, had completely
put to the rout a party of the enemy in the vicinity of Fort-George. In a council held before
the conflict, (for all things among them must be
done by common consent,) the Indians, by his
advice, agreed among themselves, besides the
obligation of their general treaty, which they
recognized, that no one should scalp or tomahawk prisoners, or employ towards them any
species of savage inhumanity. Accordingly,
after the battle, sixteen wounded captives were
committed solely to their management ; when,
governed by a sacred regard to their covenant,
and the benevolent advice of their commander,
they exhibited as great magnanimity towards
their fallen enemy, as they had shown bravery
against their warring foe in battle."*
What could have possessed this American editor, when he,—and he alone has,—promulgated
this fact ? So, 16 British captives, writhing
under the anguish of their yet bleeding wounds,
were, by the orders of an American officer,
It History of the United States, Vol. HI, p. 239,

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" committed solely to the management" of a
party of hostile Indians ; to determine, by way of
experiment, whether those " ruthless savages,"
that " faithless and perfidious race," would listen
to the " advice" of their civilized " brethren,"
and " impose any restraints upon their known
habits of warfare ;" or, whether they would
scalp and otherwise torture. their 16 captives as might best serve to glut " their demoniac thirst of blood." Even could the forbearance of the Indians have been religiously relied
on by the American officer, what right had he
thus to sport with the feelings of his prisoners?
--Happily, amidst all that has been invented by
the hirelings of the American government, to
rouse the passions of the people, and gain over
on their side the good wishes of other nations, no
British officer stands charged with a crime half
so heinous as that recorded to have been committed by the American major Chapin.
Following up colonel Clarke's exploit, lieutenant-colonel Bisshopp, taking with him, early on
the morning of the 11th July, 20 of the royal
artillery, 40 of the 8th, or king's, 100 of the
41st, and 40 of the 49th regiments ; alsO about
40 of the 2c1 and.3d Lincoln militia,* amount•
ing, in the whole, to 240 men, Crossed the
N iagara, below Blaek Rock ; and moved up with
great rapidity to the attack of that post. Two
* App. No. 44.,

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

229

hundred American militia who had been stationed there, immediately fled; and the British
took possession of the batteries, upon which
eight guns were mounted. Four of these,
two 12, and two 6-pounders, the British spiked;
and they brought away one 12, and two
9-pounders, 177 muskets, some ammunitionkegs, round and case shot,* a considerable
quantity of artny-clothing, and other stores ;
also about 180 barrels of provisions, and seven
large batteaux and one scow, in which the stores
and provisions were contained.t The British
likewise burnt a large schooner, and the blockhouse and barracks in the navy-yard, as well as
those in the great battery-4: " While the main
body," says the Buffalue Gazette of July 13,
" was employed in thus disposing of the public
property, a party entered many houses in the
village ; but we have not ascertained that they
committed any outrages on private property."
None of the American historians have thought
it worth their while to record this fact.
Unfortunately, our troops were allowed to
remain on shore longer than was prudent. A
strong reinforcement of American regulars,
militia, and Indians, under general Porter,
arrived ; and poured a destructive fire upon the
British, as they were retiring to their boats. In
consequence of this, we lost 15 men killed ; lieu* App. No. 43.

t Ibid. No. 44.

t Ibid. No. 91.

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tenant-colonel Bisshopp, captain Saunders, and
a lieutenant of the 41st, also 15 other officers and
men, wounded. The gallant lieutenant-colonel
Bisshopp had received three wounds ; and died
shortly after he returned to the Canada side.
He was a promising young officer ; not more
than 27 years of age ; and of a most amiable
private'character. The American loss was three
killed, and five wounded. All the boats got
clear off; but the British were compelled to
leave behind, eight of their killed, and about
six of their wounded, including captain Saunders. " Our savage friends," says the Buffaloe
editor, " expressed a desire to scalp the dead,
but were prevented." Here, then, it required
some stronger arguments than " the influence
of a cultivated people," " the advice of an
American officer," or " the obligation of their
general treaty," to restrain the Indians from
committing their usual barbarities. Doctor
Smith, having, in imitation of his brother historians, omitted to notice this fact, has had no
occasion to rack his brains for an explanation.
The new American ship General Pike being
completely equipped, and manned with a numerous crew, about 120 of whom had recently
arrived from the Constitution, and the remainder
from other ships lying in the Atlantic ports,
commodore Chauncey, on the 26th of July,
again appeared on the lake. His fleet now
,

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

231

consisted of 14 vessels, of the united burthen of
2721 tons ; mounting altogether 114 guns, and
manned with 1193 seamen.* At this time, sir
James Yeo, with his fleet, which was just onethird inferior to Chauncey's,t was lying in
Kingston, and had its movements watched by
two of the American schooners, stationed off
Sackett's Harbor. Commodore Chauncey's first
object was the destruction of a depot of stores
and provisions at Burlington Heights. For that
purpose, he took on board at Niagara " about 300
regulars," 1: under lieutenant-colonel Scott, according to sir George Prevost, "an unexchanged
prisoner of war on his parole ;"§ and, on the
morning of the 30th, landed the troops, along
with a party of sailors and marines. But major
Maule's detachment, which amounted to no more
than 150 rank and file, was voted to consist of
" from 6 to 800 regulars, strongly intrenched,
and defended by about eight pieces of cannon ; 4- 1.
and commodore Chauncey re-embarked his men
and the troops, as soon as they had made prisoners of some of the unarmed inhabitants of the
neighbourhood.
Commodore Chauncey was informed by the
prisoners, that the whole of the regulars stationed at York had, since the preceding even* James's Naval Occurrences, p. 9. 9 8 . 1- Ibid. p 997.
I Sketches of the War, p. 155.
§ App. No.45.
Hist. of the War, p. 110.

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ing, marched to reinforce major Maule. This
intelligence, coupled with his knowledge that
the York militia were still bound by the parole
which had been exacted of them by himself and
general Dearborn, about three months previous,*
determined the commodore to pay a second visit
to York. The public was not supposed to
know these facts ; and, considering the small
number of troops engaged in the enterprise, a
successful attack upon the " capital of Upper
Canada" would read well in the newspapers, and
give additional eckit to the measures of the
government.
Accordingly, about four o'clock on the afternoon of the 31st, the two ships, Pike and Madison, and the brig Oneida, came to anchor off
York ; while the nine schooners, with the troops
under colonel Scott, reinforced by the marines
of the fleet, stood into the harbor, and disembarked the whole at the garrison, as was expected, " without opposition."t The Americans then marched boldly into the town ; of
which, it being utterly defenceless for the reason already given, they took quiet possession.
They opened the goal, liberated the prisoners,
.and, among them, three soldiers confined for
felony. They then proceeded to the hospital,
and parolled the few men that could not be
removed. The store-houses of same inhabit.
* See p. 140.
Ifist, of the War, p. 111.

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233

ants, called " public store-houses," were next
entered; and " several hundred barrels of flour
and provisions" taken therefrom. About 11
o'clock on the same evening, the Americans,
with their booty, returned to their vessels. On
the next morning, Sunday, they again landed ;
and three armed boats went a short way up the
Don in search of public stores. By evening,
having captured or destroyed " five pieces of
cannon, eleven boats, and a quantity of shot,
shells, and other stores,"t the American troops
and marines re-embarked ; and the fleet made
sail for Niagara.
Breaking parole is a serious charge to prefer
against a national officer ; one, especially, so
high in rank as a lieutenant-colonel. All lists
of prisoners, made, paroled, or exchanged, must
necessarily be transmitted to the commanderin-chief; and sir George had, on the 13th of
November, 1812, by one of his aides de camp,
entered into an agreement with major-general
Dearborn, relative to prisoners of war : in which
agreement it was particularly stipulated,—
"That prisoners on parole, of either party,
should perform no military service whatever.%
Even without this agreement, every officer, before he receives his parole, engages his honor,
not to bear arms directly or indirectly, until
* nisi. of the War, p. 111. + Ibid.
It Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. III. p. 197.

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regularly exchanged. The following is a copy
of the parole signed by lieutenant George Reab,
along with some other. American officers, on the
19th of November, 1812.
Quebec.
" We promise, on honor, not to bear arms,
directly or indirectly, against his Britannic
majesty, or his allies, during the present war,
until we are regularly exchanged. We, likewise, engage, that the undermentioned noncommissioners and privates, soldiers in the service of the United States, who are permitted to
accompany us, shall conform to the same conditions."*
To the doughty quarrel between Mr. President Madison and general James Wilkinson of
the American army, we are indebted for some
most important disclosures relative to paroled
prisoners. The general very candidly tells us,
that lieutenant George Reab, a witness examined
on the part of the prosecution at the general's
court-martial, held at Troy in the state of New
York, in February, 1814, deposed on oath, "That
on the 24th of December, 1813, while a prisoner
on parole, he received from colonel Lamed, an
order to repair to Greenbush, in the following
words:
kr .
I am directed by the secretary of war, to
Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. III. p. 1197.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

23.5

call in all the American prisoners of war, on
parole, at or near this vicinity, to their post, and
that the officers join them for drilling, &c. You
will, therefore, repair to the cantonments at
Greenbush, without loss of time."
Lieutenant Reab further deposed, that he repaired to Greenbush in pursuance of the order,
and made no objections to doing duty : that on
general Wilkinson's arrival at Waterford, in the
ensuing January, lieutenant Real) called upon
him, and exhibited the order received from
lieutenant-colonel Lamed: that general Wilkinson thought the order very improper, and afterwards issued the following order, dated Waterford, January 18th, 1814:
" A military officer is bound to obey promptly,
and without hesitation, every order he may receive, which does not affect his honor ; but this
precious inheritance must never be voluntarily
forfeited, nor should any earthly power wrest it
from him. It follows that, when an officer is
made prisoner, and released on his parole of
honor, not to bear arms against the enemy, no
professional duties can be imposed on him, while
he continues in that condition ; and, under such
circumstances, every military man will justify
him for disobedience."*
Such are the principles upon which Mr. Madison
conducted the late war !—Lieutenant-colonel
* Wilkinson's Memoirs, Vol. III. p. 93.

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