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Chapter 8

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Title
Chapter 8
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http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?b=1&ref=oo&id=298040
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236-261
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Scott, although, perhaps, not one of those American officers who, like lieutenant Reab, "made
no objections to doing duty," in compliance
with the shameful order of his government, did
certainly give his parole at Queenstown, and yet
subsequently appeared in arms, both at FortGeorge and at York. It has, by British officers,
been stated, that it was done in the belief that
he had been virtually exchanged. Colonel (now
major-general) Scott has been represented as a
brave officer. To merit that character, he must
be an honorable man ; and would not, surely,
have again unsheathed his sword, had he not felt
himself justified in doing so. We take pleasure
in mentioning, that lieutenant Carr, of the United
States' army, also a prisoner at Queenstown,
" declined obeying the order to perform duty, on
the ground, that it was contrary to his parole."*
—This meritorious act being, as it would appear,
an excepted case, enhances its value ; and it
ought to operate as a lesson to that government,
which could thus stab the reputation of its
officers, to faciltate the means of conquest.
Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. III. p. 93.

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CHAPTER VIII.
Description of Lake Champlain—Gross error in
the boundary line—Garrison at Isle aux Noix-Want of a naval fora--Early naval preparations of the Americans—Capture of two American armed cutters—Expedition to Plattsburg,
Swanton, and Champlain-town— American calumnies refuted—Appearance of the British of
Burlington — Commodore Macdonough's cautious behaviour—Sudden reduct;on of the British
naval force on this lake—Immediate advance of
the American flotilla—Capture of a gun-boat
and batteaux on the St. Lawrence—Rival fleets
on Lake Ontario—Sickness of the British and
American troops on the Niagarairontier—Demonstration upon Fort-George—Contemplated
expedition against Montreal—Preparations for
it—Alarm of the garrison at Fort-GeorgeAmerican settlers—Departure of the expedition
from Fort-George—Its difficulties, and arrival
at the point of r endezvous—Contemporary movement of the British at the head of the lake.

N EW scenes of border-warfare carry us to one

of the North-American lakes, of which we have
hitherto given no description. Lake Champlain

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divides the north-east part of the state of New
York from that of Vermont. It is about 80
miles in length, 18 miles in its broadest, and
little more than one mile in its narrowest part :
its mean width is about six miles. At the northend its waters are discharged by the Richlieu, a
river about 50 miles long, into the St. Lawrence;
but the navigation is completely obstructed by
shoals and rapids. •
Lake Champlain belongs to the United States;
the line of demarcation, owing to the ignorance
or pusilanimity of the British commissioners employed in 1783, intersecting the Richlieu, at the
distance of several miles down its course from
the lake. The Canadians are, therefore, not
only shut out from the lake, but from all watercommunication with their own territory bordering on Missisqui Bay, formed by a tongue of
land to the eastward. This they fully experienced, during the continuance of the several
embargoes that preceded the war ; when the
American gun-boats, stationed at the foot of the
lake, prevented the rafts of timber from being
floated out of the bay, for passage down the
river. And, in March, 1814, the Americans had
in contemplation to establish, on Rouse's-point,
at the entrance of the Richlieu, a heavy battery;
that would have commanded the river, and
blockaded the flotilla which we then thought of .
constructing for service on the lake:

GREAT ,BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

239

The only military post possessed by the British
in the neighbourhood of Lake Champlain is
Isle aux Noix, a small island, containing only 85
acres, situate on the Richlieu ; distant about
10 miles from the boundary line, and about 40,
across the country, from Montreal. On Isle aux
Noix are two or three well-constructed forts ;
besides several block-houses at the different
assailable points. The garrison, in the summer
of 1813, consisted of detachments of the 13th
and 100th regiments, recently arrived from
Quebec, and a small party of royal artillery,
under the temporary command of major Taylor
of the 100th.* The only British armed vessels at
this port were three gun-boats, which had been
built at Quebec, by the orders of the late governor, sir James Craig, and transported over land
to St. John's, a town on the Richlieu, about
eight miles below Isle aux Noix.
The Americans, with their usual foresight,
had, soon after the commencement of the war,
armed and equipped some vessels for the service
of Lake Champlain. On the morning of the
1st of June, two sloops, or cutters, manned from
the American ships on the seaboard, and commanded by lieutenant Sidney Smith, formerly
of the Chesapeake frigate, entered the Richlieu,
and crossed the line, to display themselvel to
the British at Isle aux Noix.• The instant the
* App. No. 46'.

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headmost vessel was seen from the garrison,
major Taylor ordered under weigh the three
gun-boats, each having on board, besides her
Canadian crew, three artillery-gunners. Soon
afterwards the second American vessel came in
sight ; and the gun-boats commenced firing.
To aid them in an attack against so very superior a force, major Taylor left the island in two
batteaux and two row-boats; and ordered their
crews, consisting of a small detachment of
troops, to land on each side of the river, and
fire on the enemy, then within the range of musketry. After a spirited action of three hours
and a half, in which we had three men wounded;
one severely by a grape-shot,. and the Americans one man killed, and eight men wounded,
the two United States' sloops, Growler and
Eagle, manned with 50 men each, all of whom,
except the killed man, were taken prisoners ;
and armed, between them, with two Colunabiadt
18-pounders, 10 long 6-pounders, and 10
18-pound carronades, total 22 guns, fell into
the hands of the three Canadian gun-boats, and
their assistants on shore.
These sloops were a most valuable acquisition
to us, and their loss occasioned a proportionate
mortification to the Americans. We can, therefore, spare the latter the consolation they
* ApP, No. 46. 4 James's Naval Occurrences, p. 5.
App. No. 47.

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241

derived from the bombastic accounts given of
their capture. One editor says, it was effected
by a detachment of the enemy, and " a number
of gun-boats ;" leaving the reader to fix, either
10, or 50, according to the temperature of his
patriotism. Another editor declares, that cc four
other gun-boats" came to the assistance of the
first ; but, like a zealous naval writer, denies
that the military contributed any thing to the
capture ; thus :—" They, (the two sloops,) however, continued an incessant and heavy fire ;
and kept the enemy on shore at such a respectable
distance, that their fire had no effect."#—What
defence these vessels were capable of making
may be gathered, not only from their weight of
metal and number of men, as already described,
but from their formidable state of equipment,
as exhibited in the " Return of ordnance,
ammunition, and ordnance stores," subjoined
to major Taylor's letter.t Neither of these
11-gun sloops carried more than 50 men, nor
exceeded 110 tons ; yet each of them had on
board more cutlasses, and more axes and
boarding-pikes, than a British 18-gun brig, of
121 men, and 385 tons.
They fortunate possession of these sloops,
named, at first, the Broke mid Shannon, but
subsequently altered to the Chubb and Finch,
1- App. No. 47.
James's Naval Occurr. p. 276.

* Naval Monument, p. 256.
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suggested the idea of sending against the American ports on the borders of Lake Champlain a
combined naval and military expedition. No
seamen being at this time at Isle aux Noix,
and none to be spared from Lake Ontario, the
commander of 11. M. brig Wasp, then lying at
Quebec, gallantly volunteered, with himself and
crew, to man the two sloops and gun-boats, and
try to provoke commodore IVIacdonough, at the
head of his very superior naval force, to a
struggle for the ascendancy on the lake.
For the purpose of carrying into effect the
intended operations along the shores, about 1000
officers and men, of the 13th and 100th regiments, under the command of lieutenant-colonel Murray, inspecting field-officer of militia,
embarked at Isle aux Noix on the 29th of July,
in the Broke, Shannon, three gun-boats, and
about 40 batteaux provided for the purpose.
The flotilla arrived, on the next day, at the
American town of Plattsburg ; where the troops
landed, and, after frightening away, by their
looks, about 400 militia, proceeded to fulfil the
object of their mission. They burnt the statearsenal, Pike's encampment, several blockhouses, the extensive barracks at Saranac,
(three miles off, ) capable of containing 4000
troops, and every building belonging to the
United States between the latter place and
Plattsburg: After' performing ,. this laborious
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GREAT BRITAIN ANOr AMERICA.

task, the troops re-embarked ; carrying away
with them a quantity of naval stores, shot, and
equipments for a large number of batteaux. An
Albany (United States) writer states the value of
the public buildings destroyed at Plattsburg at
33,300 dollars. A party of the British .next
proceeded to Swanton, Vermont, near the head
of Missisqui Bay : there they also destroyed the
barracks and public stores, as well as several
batteaux lying at the wharf ; and then re-ena-,
barked.
Ere we accompany the expedition to its next_
point of landing, it behoves us to get rid of
those calumnies which the American editors
have heaped upon the British troops for their.
alleged ill-conduct at Plattsburg. Mr. Thomson contents himself with the general charge,
as applicable to all the visited towns, of our
" committing every species of , depredation
upon the property of the inhabitants." Mr.
O'Connor, aware of his forte, is far more
explicit. lie says : " The destruction of private
property was not limited to such as they could
eat, drink, and carry away, but furniture,„
which could not be of any use to the plunderers,
was wantonly . destroyed ; — tables, bureaus,
clocks, desks, cupboards, and crockery, were
cut and broken to pieces, and thrown about thei
ouses : books.an
h
d writings were torn to pieces,
.

* History of the War, p. 156.
It

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GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

and scattered about the streets."* This industri►us gentleman next charges us with excesses,
enormous, cruel, and wanton, in a high degree :"* rape and ravishment follow ; and then
we are dismissed with the honorable epithets of
" faithless ruffians, unprincipled invaders."*
Of all the editors of " prints known to be
friendly to the war,''t Mr. O'Connor, assuredly,
deserves to be the best rewarded by the American government. If he is not already provided
for, we do most strongly recommend him to the
president's notice_ But for an accidental glance
at an American newspaper, as we suppose, not
" friendly to the war," we should have been
puzzled to produce any answer to so serious
a charge, beyond, founded on the positive
assertions of the officers employed, the most
unqualified negation. Of two writers from
Burlington, distant 24 miles only from Plattsburg, one says : " We have not heard of any
private property being destroyed, and our accounts are to a late hour last night ;":1 . the other
says " They have done no injury to private
property."1:
On the 3d of August a detachment of the
100th regiment, under the command of captain
Elliot, landed at Champlain-town, where the
British destroyed two block-houses, and the

,

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* History of the War. p. 134. + See p. 162.
Boston Paper, Aug. 6, 1813.

e45

commissary's stores. This was done without
opposition, as no troops were in the village, and
the inhabitants remained quiet. On the day
previous captain Everard, with his own sloop, the
Broke, the Shannon, captain Pring, and one
gun-boat,* had proceeded off Burlington, an
American post-town to the southward of the
lake, distant 24 miles from Plattsburg. Mr.
O'Connor says, the British fired into the town
for some time, but that no considerable damage
was done ; also, that they, on the same evening, proceeded to Shelburne, four or five miles
south of Burlington, where they burnt a sloop,
having on board about 400 barrels of flour.
After admitting that " the United States' troops
at Burlington, under command of majorgeneral Hampton, consisted of about 4000
men," t Mr. O'Connor gravely tells us, that the
general's " limited force did not justify his detaching any part of his troops ;" and, as if to
hit the poor general still harder, adds, " the
marauding enemy wisely retired, before rein,
forcements could have arrived." t
By way of apologizing for British vessels being
allowed thus to traverse, in active hostility, a
lake belonging wholly to the United States, Mr.
O'Connor says: "Commodore Macdonough had
not a sufficient number of seamen to man hiA
* App. No. 49.

1- History of the War, p.

246 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

sloops, and would be highly reprehensible had
he been defeated in an attempt to recover the
ascendancy."* That commodore Macdonough
had, however, ino scarcity of seamen to complain of, _may be inferred, from the previous
statements on the subject in the American newspapers ; the easy transit from New Vol* to Burlington, where the commodore's vessels lay ; t
and, above all, from the fact of his having sent,
to cruize on the lake, when lie had no enemy to
fear, two of his flotilla so plentifully, if not
lavishly, supplied with seamen." Captain
Everard, on the forenoon of the 2d, appeared
close off commodore Macdonough's position,
and observed two sloops, similar in size and
force to those he had with him, " ready for sea,"
and another, somewhat larger, taking in her
guns ; also two gun-boats lying under the protection of 10 guns, mounted on a bank 100 feet
high; two scows mounting one gun each, as
floating batteries, and several field-pieces on the
shore. Without the sloop that was equipping,
the commodore had one gun-boat and two scows
more than hisime-armed adversary ; who, after
apprOachingaS near to. the batteries as was safe,
* Hist. of the War, p. 133.
Burlington is 150 miles from Albany ; thence, down the
Hudson, it is 160 miles (performed by the steam-boats in 36
hours) to Nee York.
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Captain' terard had' lost an arm, and is since dead.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.7

247

stood out; and, not doubting he should provoke
the American commodore to get under weigh,
captured and destroyed fou'r American vessels
under his very nose. Vain were those gallant
efforts. Too much risk would attend an encounter ; and American caution was not to be
entrapped.
After a diligent search for some better excuse
for commodore Macdonough's forbearance, than
was furnished by Mr. O'Connor, we find one,
consisting of three words only, copied into all
the American histories of the late war that have
passed through our hands. These three magical
words are—" sloops of war ;"* by which we are
to understand, that the two late American sloops,
or cutters, " Eagle and Growler,"t did, in a
few days after they got into our possession,
become metamorphosed into the size, force, and
appearance of " two large sloops of war ;"1: and
commodore Macdonough actually finds it convenient, at a subsequent day, to confess himself
the victim of the same delusion.§
Foiled in his hopes, and not willing to remain
where his services would languish for want of a
competitor, captain Everard returned, with his
crew, to Quebec ; leaving, in charge of the " two
* Sketches of the War, p. 165 ; and Hist. of the War, p.133.
. Hist. of the War, p. 133.
Nay. Hist. of the United States, Vol. I.. p. 232.
§ James's Nay. Occur. p. 420.
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large sloops of war" and three gun-boats at Isle
aux Noix, captain Pring and about 18 seamen.
Judging of what a small British naval force at
this station might have done, from what it did
do, who can refrain from wishing that the Wasp
brig had been broken up at Quebec ; or any
other means devised, so as to have retained
captain Everard and his gallant ship's company
upon Lake Champlain ?
Scarcely had commodore Macdonough been
apprized of the final departure of his troublesome visitor, than, with his vessels all of a
sudden fully manned, he sallied forth from his
strong position, and swaggered across the lake.
Had this important event been communicated to
the public in a blustering newspaper-paragraph,
no one, except an American, would have given
it a second thought. But, above all things, who
could expect it would have been made the
subject of an official letter, For the honor of
the cloth, we will suppose, that commodore
Macdonough was ordered, by the war department, to dresS up a story, that should calm the
fears of the inhabitants around the lake, as well
as enable major-general Hampton to keep his
soldiers within their ranks, preparatory to the
great expedition on foot. We observe the word
advantage," as addressed to captain Pring's
mighty force at Isle aux Noix. When the reader
* Appcadis, No. 50

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

249

knows that, three weeks previous to the date of
this most important official document, commodore Macdonough had under his command four
sloops, such as he would call " sloops of war," two
gun-boats, and six scows, mounting altogether
"48 guns,"* he will have no difficulty in deciding
which party had an " advantage" to boast of.
Quitting, for busier scenes in the west, the
waters of Lake Champlain, our course up the
St. Lawrence is arrested by a little affair, for
which the most cursory notice would have
sufficed, had not the American editors, in compliment to their home-readers, conferred upon
it a few embellishments of their own. On the
15th or 16th of July, two boats from commodore
Chauncey's fleet at Sackett's Harbor, each
armed with a 16-pounder,t and manned with
50 sailors, besides 20 soldiers furnished for the
occasion by general Lewis, were sent to cruize
in the St., Lawrence. On the following day
they succeeded in capturing a British gun-boat
of the second class ; carrying, by one American
account, " a 6-pound carronade," and by another
" a 24-pounder," along with her convoy, fifteen
batteaux, laden with 230 barrels of pork, 300
bags of pilot-bread, and some ammunition ; and
bound from Montreal to Kingston. The prisoners taken, consisting chiefly of Canadian
boatmen, are stated to have amounted to 67.1
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Nay. IIist. of the U.S. Vol. I. p. 233. 1 Nay. Mon; p. 262.
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MILITARY, OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

As soon as intelligence of this event reached
Kingston, three gun-boats,... commanded by
lieutenant Scott, ILN.. with a detachment of
the 100th regimenti, under , captain, Martin,
proceeded to „intercept the American party,
together with the captured gun-boat and
batteaux. Lieutenant Scott, having ascertained
that they had gone into Goose, Creek, on the
American side of the river, pushed for that
place ; but the evening being too far advanced,
it became necessary to defer the intended attack
till the next morning. During the night the
British were reinforced by another gun-boat,
and a detachment of the 41st regiment under
major Frend. This officer now assumed the
command ; and, at three o'clock, proceeded
up the creek, in the hope of gaining the enemy's
position by dawn of day. But it was soon
discovered, that the Americans had removed
higher up the creek, where the channel became
so narrow that the gun-boats could not use their
oars, nor turn so as to bring their guns to bear
upon the banks.. Their further progress up the
creek was obstructed by large trees felled across
the stream. In the attempt to remove these
i mpediments, the British were tired upon from
the two American sloops, and from a gun in a
log-fort which the enemy had erected on the
left bank, as well as from musketry fired out of
a thick wood, on the same side of the creek ;

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

251

the whole rendering the enemy's position a very
strong one.
A detachment of troops had been landed on
the right bank.; whence it was found impracticable to reach the enemy's position. These troops
immediately returned, and embarked in the
sternmost boats, to cross over to the left bank ;
but, from, the swampy nature of the soil, no fit
place for landing could be found. The leading
boat being exposed to a heavy and galling fire,
and having so many of her crew wounded, as to
check the fire of her gun, the only one that could
he brought to bear on the enemy, the troops, led
by lieutenant Fawcett, leaped into the water ;
and, carrying their arms and ammunition over
their heads, succeeded in gaining the land. Here
they drove the Americans, and compelled them,
with precipitation, to seek shelter within a hig
entrenchment ; but their encreasing numbers,
the natural strength of their position, and the
impracticability of any co-operation by the gunboats, induced maim Frend to order the re-embarkation of the troops. The British lost one
gunner, and three soldiers of the 41st, killed ;
a midshipman, 12 soldiers, and four seamen,
wounded ; together with captain Milnes, one of
sir George Prevost's aides de camp; who had just
arrived from head-quarters to procure intelligence of the expedition. The American loss
where mentioned ; not even by Mr.
is no when
.

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MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

O'Connor ; who has the effrontery, however, to
declare, that the British loss, in " killed alone,
was from 40 to 60."
Pursuing the thread of our military narrative,
we again arrive at the western end of Lake
Ontario. Since our departure thence, early in
'July, the naval operations on this lake have
assumed a more imposing aspect ; and, although
we can refer to nothing decisive, commodore
Chauncey's losing
victories," and sir James
Yeo's gaining " defeats," (so amply detailed in
our naval voluine, 0 cannot fail to interest the
novice in American history. Major-general
Wilkinson, in a letter to the American secretary
of war, written about this time, bestows upon
the British naval commander an epithet, than
which, even in the opinion of well-informed
Americans, none can be found more appropriate
to himself and his friend the commodore. " If,"
says the general, " sir James Yeo comes out, I
shall have the pleasure to see Chauncey give the
`vapouring dog a sound drubbing. fi
Since the latter end of July major-general De
Rottenburg had removed his army still nearer to
Fort-George; and now held his head-quarters at
the village of St. David, about seven miles distant. His advance posts occupied a position
not four miles from the American entrenchment.
4

"

* James's Nay. Occurr. p. 297.
Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. III. App. No. 29.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

253.

About this time that debilitating malady, the
fever and ague, shewed itself in the British camp,
where the number of troops, altogether, was far
too inconsiderable, to admit of any, the slightest
reduction. In some measure to counterbalance
this, the proximity of the Americans to the river,
their crowded state, and constant fears of attack,
subjected them, also, to the ravages of sickness.
According to an official return of regular troops
at Fort-George and Niagara, towards the end of
July, the aggregate number attached to the station was between 6 and 7000. Of these about
1100 were sick, and about 1600 absent, either
on furlough or detached services ; leaving, fit
for duty, " 3835 men." Admit about 300 of
these to have been stationed at the opposite fort
of Niagara ; and there were, under major-general Boyd's command, at Fort-George, and the
entrenched camp outside, full 3500 effective
regular troops ; while we had, threatening them
on all sides, fewer than 2100 rank and file ;
.

including a numerous list of sick.
During the month of August, a few immaterial
affairs of piquets occurred, in which botlr sides
sustained some slight losses ; and wherein, also,
according to Mr. Thomson, " the character of
the American arms was not in the least diminished." About the 20th sir George Prevost
arrived at the British encampment ; and deter*.Sketches of the War).,p , 158.
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MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

mined to try the effect of a demonstration upon
Fort-George. Accordingly, at day-break, on the
24th, a sudden attack was made by the British
advanced troops upon all the piquets stationed
in front of the American entrenchments. After
a smart fire, the Americans, except about 50 or
60, got safe back to their works ; carrying with
them a captain of the 49th and 10 privates, whose
ardor had led them too far in advance.
Mr. Thomson tells us, that the British forces
gained possession of the town of Newark, and
skirted the woods opposite Fort-George, within
gun-shot of the American camp ; also that brigadier-general Williams, who had a few days
before arrived at that post, advanced from the
works with his brigade ; but, after a trifling
skirmish was ordered back by general Boyd, and
the troops were directed to act only on the defensive. " The British," proceeds' Mr. 'Thomson, " soon after retired to their entrenchments,
then about two miles distant. The capture of
captain Fitzgerald and his men, was the only
loss which the enemy is known to have sustained."* On the contrary, general Boyd found
out, that we left " about 15 dead on the different grounds ;" and, far from admitting a defeat,
or noticing our re-possession of Newark, pompously concludes his despatch : " His force is withdrawn, out of our reach, into his strong holds."
* Sketches of the War, p. 158.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA;

255

About this time major-general Wilkinson arrived at Sackett's Harbor, to take the command
of the troops upon the American northern frontier ; having under his immediate command at
the harbor 2829 rank and file, and upon the
whole line, 14,832 officers and men, of the regular army.' His direction were, to attack Kingston ; if successful there, or if unlooked-for .difficulties should render an attack .unadvisable,
he was to make a similar attempt upon Montreal: towards both of which objects commodore
Chauncey was to lend his powerful co-operation. Soon after the general's arrival at Sackett's
Harbor, he submitted the views of his government to a council of. his officers ; who, after
mature consideration, determined as follows :" To rendezvous the whole of the troops on the
lake in this vicinity, and in co-operation with
our squadron, to make a bold Feint upon Kingston ; slip down the St. Lawrence ; lock up the
enemy in our rear to starve or surrender,-or
oblige him to follow us without artillery, baggage, or provisions, or eventually to lay down
his arms ; to sweep the St. Lawrence of armed
craft ; and, in concert with the division of ma,.
jor-general Hampton, to take Montreal." t
'While general 'Wilkinson was at Sackett's
Harbor, disciplining his troops and maturing his plans, he received information of the
-

Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. III. p. 346.

t Ibid App. No. 1.

256

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

departure of both sir George and sir James from
ingston ; leaving there a force of only " 1500
regulars, and 500 militia." In a letter to the
secretary of war, he declares he would make a
real attack on that post, could he " have mus.
tered 3000 combatants, with transports to bear
them." This is a specimen of that caution,
which contributed, more than our few troops
and weak batteries, to the salvation of the Canadas. Acting upon the same principle in his
contemplated attack upon Montreal, the general hoped, by making feints to the westward,
and by practising other " military deceptions," to reduce the number of his opponents
within Mr. Secretary Armstrong's advised proportion.*
In the hot pursuit of his plans of subjugation.
the general arrived at Fort-George on the 4th of
September. Here he met with an unexpected
check, in the sickness of a part of the troops,
and the deficiency of transports to convey them
to the point of rendezvous. He was still further
delayed, by " the equivocal relation and unset•
tied superiority of the adverse squadrons ;" for
which he had to thank, not less the vapouring
• behaviour of his friend the commodore, than the,
bold measures and masterly manoeuvres of his
friend's opponent.
Early in September sir George returned to
* See p. 133.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA. .'257

Kingston, leaving major-general De Rottenburg
in command of the troops before Fort-George.
By this time, sickness had committed dreadful
ravages among both .officers and men. Intelligence of that event soon reached the American
government ; ancL when the secretary of war
was required to sanction the opinion giveniq
a council held at Fort-George, on the 20th of
September, that the works ought to be razed,
and the place abandoned, he returned for answer, that Fort-George might be maintained ;
adding: " If the enemy 's sick list amounts to
1400 out of 3000, they can undertake nothing
with effect."* He then informs the general, of
a proposition for raising, on the Niagara line,
before the 1st of October, a volunteer-force of
1200 men, " exclusive of Indians," who, " with
a train of artillery," says he, " are to be authorized to invade the enemy's territory." He further
informs him, that a reinforcement of militia.
forces will be sent, to replace the regulars
destined for the expedition..,
Towards the end of September a deserter
from us went into Fort-George, with, as the best
passport lie could carry, the following note,.
addressed to a " Major V. Huych,; 13th regi•
ment."—" Every movement of the army is either
an immediate attack or retreat : about 2270
strong." This piece of intelligence was penned
-

* Wilkinson's Me►. Vol. III. App. No. 32.
VOL. I.

258

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

by an American settler, named Hopkins;
afterwards hung, for this and other traitorous
acts, or, as his countryman goodnaturedly says,
for his attachment to the United States."
This reminds us of the memorial presented to
congress, at the conclusion of the war, by general Porter, on behalf of Abraham Markle,
Gideon Frisbie, and their associates, survivors of
the corps of Canadian volunteers," praying for
-a tract of land, in size proportionate to their
.several losses, &c.—An American writer from
Washington has taken great pains to enforce the
claims of this " generous, brave, and enterprising corps of men, raised," says he, " by the
gallant, and ever-to-be-lamented colonel Willcocks, whose every impulse was in unison with
the noblest feelings of humanity."t This " ever.
to-be-lamented" traitor was a native of Ireland,
and had been a member of the provincial
assembly.
Mr. Secretary Armstrong's account of the
British sick before Fort-George was not at all
over-rated ; although his account of the British
force evidently was. The latter, fit for duty,
amounted, towards the end of September, to
about 2290 rank and file. On the other hand,
we find the American force at Fort-George
and Niagara, on the 19th of the same month,
* Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. III. p. 398.
+ Col. Journal, Vol. I. p. 97.
ff

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

259

stated at 4587 officers and men, including 1165
sick.* Deducting the latter, also the odd
hundreds to allow for the garrison at FortNiagara, there were at Fort-George 3000 effective American regulars. At the time of the
alarm created by Mr. Hopkins's billet, and which
occurred ten days subsequent to the date of the
above returns, (since which, the health of the
men had been gradually amending,*) two
columns of troops, one commanded by majorgeneral Wilkinson, the other by major-general
Boyd, actually marched out of the camp, and
formed in its front and rear. What an opportunity was here for deciding the fate of Upper
Canada !—Fortunately for the upper, and perhaps for the lower, province too, there existed,
on an island about 200 miles down the St,
Lawrence, a will o' th' wisp, that captivated the
senses of these tyro-warriors ; and, after dragging them, against wind, rain, and snow,t
through the whole length of an angry lake, down
foaming rapids, and amidst showers of " teazing"
bullets, cast them on shore, jaded in body and
broken in spirit, the reproach of their country,
and the laughing-stock of those whose soil they
were hastening to invade.
The commencing particulars of this " illfated" expedition-- we shall now proceed to
detail. It should first be mentioned, that the
Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. III. p. 281. + Ibid, p. 289.
s 2

260

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

original plan had been altered to the actual
capture of Kingston and Prescott, previous to
the main attack upon Montreal. The knapsacks
of the troops filled with " winter-clothing,"
transports at the beach waiting to receive, and a
powerful fleet in sight on the lake ready to protect them ; also, the long-expected 1500 New
York militia arrived in the fort to assist the
23d regiment, about 600 strong, in repelling an
attack, the first embarkation took place on the
28th of September ; but, scarcely had the expedition proceeded ten miles beyond Niagarapoint, when that " vapouring dog" sir James
shewed hitnself, and led the commodore a sad
dance.* .Without waiting till the two fleets
(as presently happened) ". went out of sight,"
the troops hurried back as fast as oars and sails
could drive them. It was upon their return,
that the two generals made the demonstration
which we have already noticed. ,f,"`-!
it , On the 1st of October the commodore returned
to Niagara; and, having promised general
Wilkinson, by letter, that he would do his best
" to keep the enemy in check in this part of the
lake, or effect his destruction," the troops were
allowed to re-embark. Bad weather drove many
of the boats into Twelve-mile Creek. The expeedition again moved forward ; and, after buffeting
with a severe storm, in which several of the boats
* James's Naval Occurrences, p. 301.
-

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.:'

261

were wrecked, arrived, about noon, on the 7th, at
Oswego. Here the gale detained the expedition
t LT
till the 13th ; %Then i t 'again appeared on the
lake, and, after suffering from cold, wind, and
rain, reached Henderson's Bay, in the neighbourhood of Sackett's Harbor. Leaving the American
soldiers to dry their cloaths, and ponder upon
the perils they are doomed to encounter,7we
hasten back to see what effect this sudden
movement of the. enemy produced upon the
British army stationed before Fort-George.
• At no loss to divine that some point on the St.
Lawrence was to be the devoted spot, majorgeneral De Rottenburg, on the 2d of October,
commenced his march for Kingston, with the
104th and 49th regiments ; the latter of which,
as a proof how the whole division was still
suffering from sickness, could muster, fit for
duty, no more than 16, out of about 50, commissioned officers. Unfortunately, the two flank
companies of De Watteville's regiment, proceeding from York on the same destination,..,by
water-carriage, fell into the hands of commodore
Chauncey. Major-general Vincent now resumed
the command of the British troops upon the
Niagara ; where we will leave him, for the present,
to attend to major-general Proctor and his little
army, in their proceedings along the, north.•-:,1 Li... 1
western frontier.
2

-.

R

11 311,e

1)6'.)71"11f:i

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