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Chapter 9

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Title
Chapter 9
Identifier
http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?b=1&ref=oo&id=298041
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262-299
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262

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CHAPTER IX.
Advance of major-general Proctor—Augmentation
of the American north-western army—Description of Fort-Stephenson—Gallant assault upon
it —American masked ' battery—Defeat of the
British— Major-general Proctor's return to
Sandwich—Arrival of the remainder of the 1st
battalion 41st regiment—Accumulated number
of Indians—Scarcity of provisions on the De- troi tfrontier —Wretched state of captain Barclay's
fleet---Effects of its capture upon the right division—Hardships endured by the troops—General
Harrison's newly-raised army—Its entry into
Amherstburg, and pursuit of major-general
• Proctor up the Thames Losses of the British
on the retreat—Their defeat near the Moravian
village—Remarks on sir George Prevost's general
order—Escape of major-general Proctor--Loss
of territory arising from the defeat of the British
. —American rejoicings—Death and character of
Tecumseh—Anecdotes respecting him—Description of the scalping-operation Barbarities committed upon Tecumseh's body—American disTespert to a flag of truce--Imprisonment of
British officers alono.
6 with convicts.
.

`

---

MAJOR-GENERAL Proctor, having been reinforced with nearly the whole of the remaining

effective strength of the 41st regiment, as well
as rejoined by the Indians who had abandoned
him, for a while, after the battle of the Miami,.
advanced from Sandwich, on the 20th of July, for
the purpose of recommencing hostilities against
the American north-western army. In the mean
while, the American goverment, still acting
upon the principle, that " nothing ought, if
possible, to be left to chance," had almost
drained of resources the hitherto prolific western
states ; so that major-general Harrison, assisted
by commodore Perry and his formidable fleet,
might be able to finish the campaign in this
quarter, in time to be one in the scramble
for laurels among his brother,-generals to the
eastward.
The American head-quarters were at Senecatown, near to Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie.
Fort-Meigs, already so strong,..:had its works
placed in a still more vigorous state of defencel:
and a fort had since been constructed on the
west-side of Sandusky river, about 40 miles
from its mouth, and 10 from the general's headquarters. It stood on a rising ground, commanding the river to the east ; having a plane
to the north and south, and a wood to the west.
The body of the fort was about 100 yards in
length; and 50 in breadth ; surrounded, outside
of all, by a row of strong pickets, 12 feet over
-

,

See p. 201.

r
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ground ; each picket armed at the top with a
bayonet.* Next to, and against this formidable
picket was an embankment, forming the side of
a dry ditch, 12 feet:wide, by seven feet deep ;
then a second embankment, or glacis. A strong
bastion and two block-houses completely enfiladed the ditch. Within the fort were the hospital, military and commissary's store-houses,
magazine, &c. As far as we can collect from
the American. accounts, the fort mounted but
one 6-pounder ; and that in a masked battery at
the north-western angle. The number of troops
composing the garrison cannot exactly be ascertained. One American account states, that the
effective force did not amount to 160 men, or
rank and file.
Major-general Proctor, when he landed near
the!: mouth of Sandusky river, on .the 1st of
August, had, :lit is admitted, no other white
troops with him than the 41st regiment. An
American editor says, that the major-general,
previous to his appearance on the Sandusky,
had detached " Tecumseh, with 2000 warriors,
and a few regulars, to make a diversion favorable
to the attack upon Fort-Stephenson ;"1 and yet
the same editor states major-general Proctor's
force before that fort, on the evening of the 1st,
at " 500 regulars, and 700 Indians."t Of the
latter. there were but 200; and they, as was
-

-

* Hid. of the War, p. 131. f Sketches of the War, p. 161.

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generally their custom wheti the object of
assault was a fortified place, withdrew to a
• ravine, out of gun-shot, almost immediately
that the action commenced. Of regulars, there
were two lieutenant-colonels, four captains,
seven subalterns, (one a lieutenant of artillery,)
eight staff, 22 serjeants, seven drummers, and
0 341 rank and file, including 23 artillerymen ;
making a total of 391 officers, non-commissioned
officers, and privates.
On the morning of the 2d the British opened
their artillery, consisting of two light 6-pounders, and two 52 inch howitzers, upon the fort ;
but without producing the slightest impression ;
and the different American accounts, as we are
glad to see, concur in stating, that the fort
" was not at all injured" by the fire directed
against it. 'Under an impression that the garrison did not exceed 50 or 60 men, the fort was
ordered to ; be stormed. Lieutenant-colonel
Short, at the head of 180 rank and file, immediately advanced towards the north-west angle;
while about 160 rank and file, under lieutenantcolonel Warburton, passed round through the
woods skirting the western side of the fort, to
its south side. After sustaining a heavy fire of
musketry from the American troops, lieutenantcolonel Short approached to the stockade ; and,
with come difficulty, succeeded in getting over
the pickets, The instant this gallant vfficer

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reached the ditch, he ordered his men to follow,
and assault the works with the utmost vigor.
The masked, 6-pounder which had been previously pointed to rake the ditch, and loaded
" with a double charge of leaden slugs," was
now fired at the British column, " the front of
which was only 30 feet distant from the piece."
A volley of musketry was fired at the same instant; and repeated in quick succession. This
dreadful and, as to the battery, unexpected discharge killed lieutenant-colonel Short, and
several of his brave followers ; and wounded a
great many more. Still undaunted, the men of
the 41st, headed by another officer, advanced
again to carry the masked 6-pounder ; from
which another discharge of " leaden slugs,"
aided by other vollies of musketry, was di rectedagainst them, and cleared. the "fatal ditch" a
second time. It was in vain to contend further;
and the British retired, with as many of their
wounded as they could carry away.
. Lieutenant-colonel Warburton's party, having
a circuit to make, did not arrive at its position
till the first assault was nearly over. After a
volley or two, in which the British sustained
some slight loss, the, troops at this point, also, were
ordered to retire. The loss sustained by both
divisions amounted to 26 killed, 29 wounded
and missing, and 41 wounded (most of ;bon
slightly) and brought. away ; total 96, The
;

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e67

Americans state their loss at one killed, and
seven wounded. Considering the way in which
they were sheltered, and the circumstances of
the attack altogether, no greater loss could have
been expected.
The American editors seem determined to drag
the Indians, in spite of their confirmed, and,
to an American, well-known habits, within the limits of the " fatal ditch." The Indians,"
says Mr. Thomson, " were enraged and mortified at this unparalleled defeat ; and, carrying
their dead and wounded from the field, they indignantly followed the British regulars to the
shipping."* " It is a fact worthy of observation," says Mr. O'Connor, " that not one Indian
was found among the dead, although it is known
that from 3 to 400 were present."t A brave
enemy would have found something to praise
in the efforts of colonel Short and his men,
in this their " unparalleled defeat ;" but all is
forgotten in the lavish encomiums bestowed
upon major Croghan and the band of " heroes,':
who " compelled an army," says an American
editor, " much more than 10 times superior,"*
to relinquish the attack.
Major-general Proctor returned to Sandwich,
accompanied by an hourly accumulating number of Indians; who, having deserted their hunting-grounds to follow the British, naturally
t Kist. of the War, p. 131.

* Sketches of the War, p. 163.

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looked to the latter for supplies. Unfortunately,
the store-houses along the Detroit had been
nearly emptied of their contents already, to feed
our importunate allies ; neither would it have
been prudent to order them back to their woods,
nor even to impose upon them any restraints ;
when general Harrison had,- for the last two
months, been endeavouring,,. by means of a
numerous body of spies, to sow distrust among
the chiefs, and gain over them and their tribes
as allies to the Americans.
1' 1
The remainder of the 41st regiment had long
been expected at Amherstburg from Fort-George,
$41istance of about 270 miles. -A few companies did move forward in May ; but, by the time
the men had marched 90 miles, which, owing to
the bad state of the roads, could not be performed
in fewer than eight days, they were ordered back,
to assist in defending Fort-George, then threatened with an attack. As soon as the centredivision of the army, under major-general De
Rottenburg, had been reinforced by the 1st battalion of the royal Scots, the detachment of the
41st marched to Long-point, on Lake Erie ; there
to embark, alpng with the force already under
major-general Proctor's command, on board captain Barclay's fleet, for the purpose of attacking
Presq' Isle ; where two large American brigs of
war were building, and several schooners lying at
anchor. The British were. to have been joined

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

269

by a numerous body of Indians ; but who declined
co-operating, until Fort-Stephenson should be
reduced, as they could then move, with less apprehension of danger, along the south-shore of the
lake. The assault had, as we have seen,.been
attempted without the reinforcement, and failed.
On the very 'next day, commodore Perry appeared on Lake Erie, with eight vessels of war,
including the two newly launched brigs ; and
captain Barclay, with his small command, was
compelled to retire to Amherstburg, till the new
ship that was building should be ready for the
.
lake.
The reinforcement ,from 'Niagara had augmented major-general Proctor's force to 868
officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates
of the 41st regiment, 30 of-the royal artillery,
the same number of the royal veteran battalion
and Newfoundland regiment, eight artillerydrivers, and about 50 provincial cavalry ; making
a total of 986 men ; of whom between 1 and 200
were upon the sick-list.
So many men made a sensible reduction in the
small quantity of provisions that remained in the
store-houses on the Detroit frontier ; and, to encrease the evil, the Indians kept flocking to Am-,,
herstburg, in such multitudes, that, by the 8th
or 9th of September, upwards of ,3500 warriors
had attached themselves to general yroctor,'s
diyision. One hope remained. Every exertion
.

;

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was making at Arnherstburg to complete the new
ship ; which, when added to the others, and
the whole equipped with stores, and manned
with seamen, daily expected from Lake Ontario,
might re-open the lake-communication.
Neither guns, stores, nor seamen came ; beyond
as many of the latter as augmented captain Barclay's number to 50. The new ship was launched,
and the exigence became hourly more pressing.
.There remained no alternative but to strip the
forts of their guns, and get them fitted, as far as
was possible, to the ports of the Detroit.* This
botching business ended, the four other vessels
were deprived of a part of their already scanty
stores, to enable the Detroit to move from her
anchorage ; or, when she met the enemy, to
make use of her lumbering guns. By way of
helping to man this " superior British fleet,"
major-general Proctor spared, in addition to thedetachment of his army already on board, one
lieutenant, :three serjeants, and 148 rank and
file from the 41st regiment. •
Driven, as it were, out of port, captain
Barclay, on the evening of the 9th of September,
sailed forth upon the lake, to endeavour at clearing it from his vigilant, well-provided, and
almost doubly superior foe. 'The meeting of
* The guns (24-pounder carronades) intended for this ship
did not arrive at Burlington Heights from Iiingston, till after
She was captured.

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271

the two fleets on the following morning ; the
Sudden fatal change of windi. the gallant behaviour of the Detroit ; the surrender to her of
the American flag-ship, the' St. Lawrence ; the
re-hoisting of the latter's colours ; the renewal
of the combat, ind surrender of the British ;
the damages and loss' of the two squadrons ;
-

.

their comparative strength in guns, men,:. and
size ; the extravagant boastings of the Americans,
'and their gross distortion of every feature in
the actio n are all fully, and, as we trust, correctly detailed in our naval volume.*•
This was a sad blow upon the right division.
As hope fled, despair found its way into the
British camp. The situation of the men, it
must be owned, was deplorable in the extreme.
They had long been suffering, not only from a
scarcity of provisions, but a scarcity of money.
Few of them had received any pay for the last
six months : to some, indeed, nine month's
arrears were due. Winter, a Canadian winter,
was fast approaching ; and scarcely any of the
soldiers had blankets, and all were without
great coats. The severe privations which they
had endured in the last, were therefore likely to
be augmented rather than diminished, in the
succeeding winter. In addition to all this,
the commander of the forces appeared unmindful of their arduous exertions; and that, parti.
* James's. Nay. Occur. p. 283.

.

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cularly, in a description of service, to which
neither their arms, clothing, nor discipline had
adapted them. Not to gain credit for what they
did, was, indeed, the lot of all the British troops
employed against the Americans ; chiefly, because the latter, ranking beneath them as
soldiers,- invariably got applause when they
gained a victory over, or stood their ground
against, two-thirds of their own number:
What movements commodore Perry's victory
caused, on the part of major-general Harrison,
we shall now proceed to detail. Satisfied that
he should soon be able, not only to recover the
surrendered territory, but to dissipate or destroy
the British force in this quarter, the American
general hastened to claim from governor Meigs
a portion of 15,000 volunteers, just arrived from
the state of Ohio.* Reinforced here, he received
a fresh accession of strength in the arrival, on
the 17th of September, of the governor of Ken,
tucky, Isaac Sheby, " with 4000 well mounted vounteers."* The works on the Miami and Sandusky were abandoned, and their garrisons added to
the already overwhelming army. On the 21st
of September general Harrison, with the bulk of
his troops, proceeded in boats to an island
about 20 miles from Amherstburg, called the
Eastern Sister ; having despatched the remainder, consisting of colonel Johnson's mounted
* Sketches of the War, p. 169.. -

273

regiment, by land, to Detroit. On the 27th the
American fleet, " composed of 16 vessels of war,
and upwards of 100 boats," received on board
general Harrison's divison, and landed it, on the
afternoon of the same day, 'atilt point three
miles below Amherstburg; whence the troops
marched forward to that village.
The full amount of the British white force on
the Detroit having already been given, it now
remains for us to shew, if we can, what was the
number of American troops, with which general
Harrison so sanguinely expected to " overthrow
general Proctor's army." This does not appear,
either in general Harrison's letter,* or in any of
the American accounts, minute as they are in
other less important particulars. Perhaps, by
putting together such items of numbers as, in the
general plan of concealment, may have escaped
the notice of the different editors, we shall get
within one or two thousands of the number of
troops that landed below Amherstburg, as doctor Smith tells us, " without opposition." We
find the 17th, 19th, 24th, 26th, 27th, and 28th
regiments of infantry, named. Admitting every
one of these to have been reduced to 250 men,
the whole would give 1500. " Part of colonel
Ball's regiment of dragoons" has been stated_, at
240; then there was a full rifle-regiment, say
450 strong ; also major Wood's detachment
*App. No. 52.
VOL. I.

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of artillery, certainly not less than 150.
Next come " major Suggett's three spy companies," 160 more; also " five brigades of
Kentucky volunteers, averaging," according
to general Harrison, " 500 men ;"* but Mr.
Thomson had before told us, that the volunteers from Kentucky, under ;governor Shelby,
amounted to " 4000," and those well-mounted."t
We shall be contented, however, with the
smaller number ; which, without proceeding
further in our inquiry, gives a force of 5000
men. As these had but 17 miles to proceed by
water, and that in the finest of weather, 2395
torts of shipping, (without reckoning. the 16th
vessel,) along with " boats," afforded them
ample room.
On arriving at Amherstburg the Americans
found it abandoned by its garrison, and the fort
and public buildings in ruins. To put the worst
possible construction upon the retreat of the
800 British from this place, Mr. Thomson has
not scrupled to state, that " the guns of the
batteries had been previously sunk ;" although
he knew the latter were then on board commodore Perry's prize, the Detroit. After leaving,
in possession of Amherstburg, colonel Smith's
rifle regiment, general Harrison moved forward
to Sandwich,§ attended in his course along the
-

* A pp. No. 52. + Sketches of the War, p. 168.
James's Nay. Occurr. p. 293.
§ See p. 48.

GREAT BRITAIN 'ANA AMERICA.

275

side of the river, by the American brigs Niagara
and Caledonia, and three of the schooners ;
armed between them with 30 heavy guns. At
Sandwich general Harrison received authentic
information of the small regular force which
major-general Proctor had with him ; also, that
the Indians had been, and still were, abandoning
him by hundreds at a time. This welcome news
enabled the major-general, on the 29th, to leave
a portion of his force, under lieutenant-colonel
Ball, at Sandwich, and to send another portion
under brigadier-general McArthur, across to the
opposite town of Detroit ; especially as the
general expected, and was the next day joined
by, " colonel R. M. Johnson's regiment," consisting of " upwards of 1000 horsemen."*
Major-general Proctor had retreated towards
the mouth of the river Thames, and made a
temporary stand at a place called Dalson's,
distant about 56 miles from Detroit. On the 2d
of October the American army left Sandwich in
close pursuit. Of what number that army, since
a part had been detached, consisted, puzzles all
calculation. Major-general Harrison speaks, in
rather an obscure way, of general McArthur's
force consisting of only " about 700 effectives ;"
but we have seen an account, bearing every mark
of authenticity, which fixes brigadier-general
McArthur's force at 100 artillery, and 1600
;

* Sketches of the War, p. 173.
T

2

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infantry. The force with which the American
general left Sandwich, is stated in the American
official account at " about 3500 men." In
another part of his letter, the major-general
states his number of men at " something above
3000." On the other hand, the same account
from which we extracted brigadier-general
M'Arthur's force, gives what purports to be a
list of the different corps and detachments of
American troops that moved up the Thames,
in pursuit of major-general Proctor ; numbering
altogether 6200 men. As, however, in a case
of:this kind, we have pledged ourselves to consider each party to be the best authority for its
own numbers, major-general Harrison's force
shall be fixed at no more than he himself admits; 3500 men. With this army, and two
6-pounders, the major-general, on the evening of
the . 2d; encamped at Riscutn, about 26 miles
from Sandwich.
Early on the morning of the 3d he resumed
his march, accompanied by general Cass and
commodore Perry, as his additional aides de
camp.- ---On arriving at the second bridge across
a. branch of the Thames, the American general
succeeded in capturing a lieutenant and 11 rank
and file of major-general Proctor's provincial
dragoons. After proceeding a short way further
up . the Thames,..the American general left his
three gun-boats in charge of 150 infantry ; and

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" determined to trust to fortune and the bravery
of his troops," for effecting the further passage
of the rivers. On the morning of the 4th, the
American army again proceeded on its route ;
and, on reaching Chatham, distant about 17
miles from Lake St. Clair, found its progress
obstructed by a deep and unfordable creek, the
bridge of which had been partially destroyed
by some Indians, w ho now made their appearance, and fired on the advanced guard. The
major-general, " believing that the whole force
of the enemy was there," halted -his army, formed
it in order of battle, and brought up his pieces of
artillery. A few shot from the 6-pounders
drove away the Indians ; and the army repaired,
and crossed the bridge. The American loss on
this occasion amounted to two killed, and three
or four wounded. Mr. Thomson states 13 as
the loss, in killed only, of the Indians ; or, as
his term is, of " the enemy." On the same evening three of general Proctor's boats, loaded with
ordnance-stores, were taken ; as also " two
24-pounders, with their carriages," or, as Mr.
Thomson has it, " several pieces of cannon."
On the morning of the 5th, the pursuit of the
British was eagerly renewed ;- and, before -nine
o'clock, two gun-boats and several batteaux
were captured. With these boats and batteaux,
and some Indian canoes, the American army was
* Sketches of the War, p. 171.

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enabled, at 12 o'clock at noon, to cross over to
the left bank of the Thames. About 12 miles
above this ford, and two and a half from the
Moravian town, major-general Proctor had
drawn up his troops,, to resist, if possible, the
further advance of the American army. The
amount of the British force we are fortunately
enabled to state with accuracy. There were
present, under arms, of the 41st regiment, (including 30 additional gunners,) one lieutenantcolonel, six captains, 10 lieutenants, three
ensigns, two staff, 26 serjeants, four drummers,
and 356 rank and file, total 408 ; among whom
were one serjeant, and 26 rank and file, taken
from the hospital on that very morning. There
were also, 38 provincial dragoons * The artillery
numbered six pieces, 3 and 6-pounders, and
were worked by 30 of the royal artillery, assisted
by the additional gunners from the 41st. So that
the whole effective strength of the right division,
on the morning of the 5th of October, amounted
to 476 men. The remaining part of the right
division was thus disposed of. The gun-boats
and batteaux had on board, just previous to their
capture, one captain, nine serjeants, 10 drummers, and 124 rank and file of the 41st ; along
with the 30 men of the royal veteran battalion
and Newfoundland regiment. The hospital at
the Moravian village contained 101 officers and
privates ; and those that .attended them, and
j

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279

were on duty with the baggage, amounted to
63 officers and privates, all of the 41st regiment.
Adding to this amount such of the eight artillery-drivers as had not been captured, and
allowing for a few desertions, we account at
once for the 834 officers and privates, composing
major-general Proctor's force, when he commenced his retreat. Of his 3500 Indians, 500
only remained ; and they were led by the brave
and faithful Tecumseh.
The 356 rank and file of the 41st regiment
were formed at open files, in a beach forest, without any clearing. The line crossed the York
road, its left resting on the river, its right on the
thicker part of the wood. On this point the
troops joined the Indian warriors ; who, forming
an obtuse angle to the front, were the better
able to get into the enemy's rear, the Indian's
favorite system of action. At the back of the
Indians, and about 300 yards from the river,
was a miry swamp. A 6-pounder enfiladed the
only road by which the Americans could
advance in any order. The provincial dragoons
were stationed a little in the rear of the infantry.
This position was 'considered an excellent one ;
as the enemy, however numerous his force,
could not turn the flanks of the British, or
present a more extended front than theirs. The
remaining five pieces of artillery were stationed
upon some heights ; a little to the north-eastward

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GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

Of

the Moravian town, and consequently
upwards of two miles from the field of battle;
in order to guard a ford of the river, and, if
necessary, cover the British retreat.
General Harrison has given us a very full
description of the manner in which he arranged
his force upon this occasion. Three brigades
- of volunteer-infantry, under the command of
major-general Henry, were drawn up in three
lines, having their right upon the road, and their
left upon the swamp. The whole of general
Desha's division, consisting of two brigades,
was formed, en potence, upon the left of the first,
or Trotter's brigade. " The American backwoodsmen," says the general, in his despatch,
" ride better in the woods than any other
people. A musket or rifle is no impediment,
they being accustomed to carry them on horseback from their earliest youth." Consequently,
colonel Johnson drew up his mounted regiment
in close column, having its right at the distance
of 50 yards from the road, and its left upon the
swamp. His directions were, to charge at full
speed, as soon as the enemy delivered his fire ;
and the general rightly conjectured that " the
enemy would be quite unprepared for the shock
and could not resist it." Colonel Paul's regulars
occupied the space between the road and the
river, ready to seize " the enemy's artillery ;"
the quantity of which brought into action, is
'

q81

very cunningly left by the general to inference.
Along the bank of the river were stationed
" some 10 or 12 friendly Indians." An American account states, that " nearly 300 Indians"
were, at this time, attached to general Harrison's
army. Before we commence upon the attack,
let us place before the reader, in one view, the
force of the contending parties. The Americans
had, by their own admission, and meaning
" privates," or rank and file, 1200 cavalry,
1950 infantry, " some 10 or 12," or, let us say,
150 Indians, and two 6-pounders. The British
had 38 cavalry, 356 infantry, 500 Indians, and
one 6-pounder. We have no more to do with
the remnant of the British force stationed beyond
the Moravian town, than we have with the 400
men of the 27th United States' regiment, that
were hastening to share the honors of the day.
The British gave the first fire ; from which
the horses of the front column recoiled. After
the delivery of the second fire, the " brilliant
charge" took effect. " In a few moments," says
Mr. Thomson, " the enemy's line was pierced
by upward of 1000 horsemen, who, clashing
through the British regulars with irresistible
speed, either trampled under foot, or cut down,
every soldier who opposed them ; and, having
killed and wounded upwards of 50 at one charge,
instantly formed in their rear, and repeated the
attack. Such was the panic," proceeds the

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American editor, " which pervaded the whole
line of the enemy, that an ordei.which had been
issued to fix bayonets, was not attempted to be
executed."*
The Indian varrors, led by the undaunted
Tecumseh, rushed upon the enemy's front line
of infantry, and " for a moment," says the
general, " made some impression upon it." It
was not, in short, till the infantry was reinforced
by the whole of governor Shelby's, and a part of
colonel Johnson's regiment ; nor, till the fall of
their lamented chief, and upwards of 30 of their
warriors, that the brave foresters retired from
the field of battle. Had the men of the
41st
regiment
at all emulated the Indians, the fate of
the day might have been changed ; or did the
enemy's great numerical superiority render that
an improbable event, the American general would
not, in the very paragraph in which he admits
that he contended with an inferiority of force,
have dared to claim for his troops " the palm of
superior bravery." o His troops possessed the
peculiar privilege of not having their character
affected by any similar conduct on their part ;
nay, not even, had they submitted to an equal,
instead of a seven-fold force.
The British lost, in killed 12, in wounded
22,
and in prisoners, including the wounded,
601. t
Of these, 477 were taken on the day of the
* Sketches of the War, p. 173.

-I. App. No. 52.

GREAT BRITAIN, AND AMERICA.

283

surrender ; the remainder, previously and subsequently. Mr. Thomson, still regardless about
contradicting the, official accounts of his own
generals, says :—" The enemy lost, in regulars
alone, upwards of 90 killed, and about the same
number wounded."* The Indians lost 33 killed,
exclusive of such as fell during the retreat : their
loss in wounded does not appear. The Americans admit a loss of 12 killed, and 17 wounded:
The censure passed upon the right division of
the Canadian army, by the co mmander-in-chief,
was certainly of unparalleled severity. Yet,
who but must admire the valorous spirit that
breathes through the general order of the 24th
of November, promulgating sir George's indignation ? Who could believe that this document
was penned by the same hand that, six months
previous,dragged away the British troops from the
possession of Sackett's Harbor ? lo—The ardor
which, as sir George himself admits, and every
one else knows, had, till the fatal 5th of October, distinguished the 41st regiment, affords a
strong belief it was not cowardice that made
that corps surrender so tamely,—no matter to
what superiority of force. The privations the
troops had undergone, and the marked neglect
which had been shewn at head-quarters to the
representations of their commander, had probably possessed them with an idea, that any
* Sketches of the Wary p. 175.

+ See p. 163.

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MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

change would be an improvement in their condition.
Major-general Proctor, with some officers of
his staff, and a part of his provincial cavalry,
retreated towards the river Grande,'
after having
his baggage and private papers captured by
a squadron of dragoons, which major-general
Harrison had sent in pursuit of him. Sir
George's letter,* (the only one published,) as
well as his general order, mentions that the
Indians harrassed the American army on its
retreat to Detroit. So far was this from being
the case, that not a tomahawk was lifted after
the day on which the British surrendered
; and
many of the Indians actually accompanied
major-general Proctor on his route to Ancaster.
In preference to pushing after the latter, majorgeneral Harrison, on the day succeeding his easy
victory, destroyed the Moravian town. This
fact, owing, probably, to some political reason, does not appear in the official letter ;
although the latter bears date three days after
the conflagration. But Mr. Thomson, in the
fulness of his patriotism, cannot refrain from
announcing the event to the public. t The
Moravian town, or rather its site, is distant
about 35
miles from the mouth of the Thames ;
and was under the superintendenc
e of missionaries from the society of Moravian United
* App. No. 51.

-I- Sketches of the War, p. 176.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

285

Brethren, who maintained a chapel there. On
the 9th of October major-general Harrison retired
upon Detroit ; and, on the 17th, major-general
Proctor had •eoncentrated at Ancaster, on the
river Grande, not far from Burlington Heights,
204 rank and file of the right division ; of
whom more than half had escaped after having
been captured.
The defeat of the British at the battle of the
Thames was highly advantageous to the Ameri-,
can cause. Not only was the whole territory of
Michigan, except the fort of Michilimacinac;
restored to the United States, but the west
ern district of the upper province became a
conquered country. Nor was it the least misfortune, that we lost the services of the whole
of the north-western Indians, except 2 or 300
that subsequently joined the centre-division of
the army. The American editors boast that
general Harrison, before he left Detroit for
Buffaloe, made peace with upwards of 3000
warriors. The reader now sees the fatal consequences ; first, of not having, in the winter of
1812, destroyed the two or three schooners
which were equipping at Buffaloe by lieutenant
Elliott ;* secondly, of not having, in the spring
of 1813, secured the possession of Sackett's
Harbor ; t thirdly, of not having, in the summer of the same year, captured or destroyed
See p. 174.
See p. 83.

286

MILITARV OCCURRENCES BETIV:gtN.

the whole American fleet, as it lay, unmanned,
in Presq' Isle harbor ;* and lastly, of not having
sent a supply of guns, stores, and men, to captain
Barclay at Amherstburg, so as to have enabled
Min to meet and conquer that same American
fleet, whose growth and maturity had thus been
so shamefully promoted.
The American public made no distinction,
apparently, between the important consequences
that ensued from general Harrison's capture of
" a British regular army,"
and the merits of the
victory itself. By adding some circumstances,
and concealing others, the historian was able to
convert the thing into what he pleased ; but
who could have imagined, that every town in
the republic would illuminate, and every church
ring a merry peal, on the occasion ? Such was
actually the case. All this to be sure, might
have been a political measure, or, as general
Wilkinson calls it, " a military deception,"t
to render the war popular ; but no sober-minded
American could, one may suppose, see any reason to exult, because 3500 of his countrymen
had conquered 4 or 500 British, and the same
number of Indians. A Mr. Cheeves, however,
member for South-Carolina, and one of the 98
" yeas" that declared the war, uttered, in the
middle of a very long speech to congress " on
the conduct of the war," the following sentence:
* See p. 1G8.

.

+: See p. 162.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.-

287

—" The victory of Harrison was such as would
have secured to a Roman general, in the best
days of the republic, the honors of a triumph."*
—The American editor has not followed up the
period with " (hear, hear,)" or introduced
any remarks of his own, either in ridicule or
surprise of the orator's modesty.
Let us now ascend in the scale of human
beings, from a " member of congress" to a
" savage,"—from Mr. Cheeves to the late Indian
warrior Tecumseh. It seems extraordinary that
general Harrison should have omitted to mention, in his letter, the death of a chief, whose
fall contributed so largely to break down the
Indian spirit, and to give peace and security to
the whole north-western frontier of the United
States. Tecumseh, although he had received a
musket-ball in the left arm, was still seeking the
hottest of the fire, when he encountered colonel
R. M. Johnson, member of congress for Kentucky. Just as the chief, having discharged his
rifle, was rushing forward with his tomahawk,
he received a ball in the head from the colonel's
pistol. Thus fell the Indian warrior Tecumseh,
in the 44th year of his age. He was of the
Shawanw tribe ; five feet ten inches high ; and,
with more than the usual stoutness, possessed
all the agility and perseverance, of the Indian
character. His carriage was dignified ; his eye
Burdick's Pol. and Hist. Regr. p. 147.

F
288

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

penetrating ; his countenance, which, even in
death, betrayed the indications of a lofty
spirit, rather of the sterner cast. Had he not
possessed a certain austerity of manners, he
ceuld never have controlled the wayward passions
of those who followed him to battle. He was of
a silent habit ; but, when his eloquence became
roused into action by the re-iterated encroachments of the Americans, his strong intellect
could supply him with a flow of oratory, that
enabled him, as he governed in the field, so to
prescribe in the council. Those who consider
that, in all territorial questions, the ablest
diplomatists of the United States are sent to
negotiate with the Indians, will readily appreciate the loss sustained by the latter in the death
of their champion.
The Indians, in general, are full as fond as
other savages, of the gaudy decoration of their
persons; but Tecumseh was an exception.
Cloaths and other valuable articles of spoil
had often been his; yet he invariably wore a
deer-skin coat and pantaloons. He had frequently levied subsidies to, comparatively, a
large amount ; yet he preserved little or nothing
for himself. It was not wealth, but glory, that
was Tecumseh's ruling passion. Fatal day !
when the " Christian people" first penetrated
the forests, to teach the arts of " civilization" to
the poor Indian. Till then, water had been his

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

980

bnly beverage ; and himself and his race posh
sessed all the vigor of hardy savages, Now, no
Indian opens his lips to the strean that ripples
by his wig-wam, while he has a rag of cloaths on
his back wherewith to purchase rum ; and he
and his squaw and his children wallow through
the day, in beastly drunkenness. Instead of the
sturdy warrior with a head to plan, and an arm
to execute, vengeance upon the oppressors of
his country, we behold the puny besotted
wretch, squatting on his hams, ready to barter
his country, his children, or himself, for a few
gulps of that deleterious compound, which, far
more than the arms of the United States, is '
hastening to extinguish all traces of his name
and character. Tecumseh, himself, in early
life, had been addicted to intemperance ; but
no sooner did his judgment decide against,
than his resolution enabled him to quit, so
vile a habit. Beyond one or two glasses of
wine, lie never afterwards indulged,
" By whom are the savages led ?" was the
question for many years, during the wars
between the Americans and Indians, The name
—" Tecumseh !" was itself a host on the side
of the latter ; and the warrior chief while he
signalized himself in all, came off victorious in
most, of the many actions in which he had
fought and bled. The American editors,
.superadded to a national dislike to the Indians.,
VOL.
;

;

.

;

;

290

4

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

have some `special reasons, which we shall
develope presently, for blackening the character
of Tecumseh. They say, that he neither gave
119r accepted quarter. His inveterate hatred to
the Americans, considering them, as he did, to
have robbed his forefathers of their territory,
renders such a proceeding, in a savage, not
i mprobable. European history, even of modern
date, informs us, that the civilized soldier can
go into battle with a similar determination.
Mr. Thomson says of Tecumseh, that, " when
he undertook an expedition, accompanied by
his tribe, he would relinquish: 'h to them the
spoil,; though he would h• never yield the priviledge of destroying the victim." And yet, it
was from an American publication, that we
extracted the account of Tecumseh's killing a
brother-chief, because the latter wanted to
massacre an American prisoner.- This trait in
Tecumseh's character is corroborated by all the
British officers who have served with him. That
it did not, however, proceed from any good-will
towards the Americans, was made known, in an
extraordinary manner,...at the taking of Detroit.
After the surrender of the American troops,
general Brock desired, Tecumseh, not to allow
the Indians under him to ill-treat the prisoners.
Tecumseh promptly replied : " I despise them
too much to meddle with them."; ' Nor is there a
!10. Sketches of the War, p. 176.

+ Seep. 201.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

291

single act of violence charged to the Indians on
that occasion. As a proper contrast to this, an
American editor, describing a battle between
general Jackson and the Creek Indians, in
March, 1814, says : " Of about 1000 Creeks
only 10 of the men are supposed to have escaped
with life : 16 of the Creeks, who had hid themselves, were killed the morning after the battle.
The American commander said, in his despatch,
that he was :‘ determined to exterminate' the
tribe ; of course," proceeds the editor, " no
quarter was given, except to a few women and
children."
Few officers in the United States' service
were so able to command in the field, as this
famed Indian chief. He was an excellent judge
of position; and not only knew, but could
point out, the localities of the whole country
through which he had passed. To what extent
he had travelled over the western part of the
American continent, may be conceived from the
well-known fact, that he visited the Creek
Indians, in the hopes of prevailing on them to
unite with their northern brethren, in efforts to
regain their country as far as the banks of the
Ohio. His facility of communicating the information he had acquired, was thus displayed
before a concourse of spectators. Previously to
general Brock's crossing over to, Detroit, he
;;

*. Burdick's Pol. and Hist. leg. p. 186.
u2

!Pr
291

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

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MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

a

asked Tecumseh what sort of
country he
should --have to pass through, in case of his
proceeding further. Tecumseh, taking a roll
of elm-bark, and extending it on the ground
by means of four stones, drew forth his scalpingknife, and, with the point, presently etched
upon the bark a plan of the country, its hills,
Woods, rivers, morasses, and roads ; a plan
which, 'if not as neat, was, for the purpose
required, fully as intelligible, as if Arrowsmith
himself had prepared it. Pleased with this
unexpected talent in Tecumseh, also with his
having, by his characteristic boldness, induced
the Indians, not of his immediate party, to cross
the Detroit, prior to the embarkation of the
regulars and militia, general Brock, as soon
as the business was over, publicly took off
his sash, and placed it round the body of the
chief. Tecumseh received the honor with
evident gratification ; but was, the next day,
seen without his sash. General Brock, fearing
something had displeased the Indian, sent his
interpreter for an explanation. The latter
soon returned with an account, that Tecumseh,
not wishing to wear such a mark of distinction,
when an older, and, as he said, abler, warrior
than himself was present, had transferred the
sash to the Wyandot chief Round-head.* Such
a man was the unlettered " savage" Tecumseh;
* Sue p. 188.. •

and such a man have the Indians for ever lOst.
Ile has left a son ; who, when his father fell,
was about 17 years old, and fought by his side.
The prince regent, in 1814, out of respect to
-the memory of the old, sent out as a present
to the young Tecumseh, a handsome sword.
Unfortunately, however, for the Indian cause
and country, faint are the prospects, that
Tecumseh, the son, will ever equal, in wisdom
or prowess, Tecumseh, the father.
According to Mr. Thomson, 120 Indians were
killed at the battle of the Thames. General ..,
Harrison numbers 33 only. No 4ounded are
mentioned by either. While the affair with the
Creeks is fresh in our minds, what are we to
infer from this 9.—However, let us proceed. Full
two-thirds of general Harrison's army, at the
battle of the Thames, were Kentuckians. As
every soldier wore a scalping-knife as part of his
accoutrements, and was extremely " dextermis
in the use of it ;"* as the live Kentuckians bore
to the dead Indians (taking Mr. Thomson's
estimate) fully as 20 to one ; and as one head
could conveniently afford but one scalp, we
can picture to ourselves what a scramble ithere
Must have been for the trophies.' For the
European reader's edification, we will endeavour
at describing the manner in which the-operation
of scalping is performed. A circular incision,
See

p. 183.

294

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

of about three inches or more, in diameter,
according to the length of the hair, is made
upon the crown of the heads The foot of the
operator is then placed on the neck or body of
the victim, and the scalp, or tuft of skin and
hair, torn from_ the scull by strength of arm.
In case the hair is so short as not to admit of
being grasped by the band, the operator, first
with his knife turning up one edge of the circle,
applies his teeth to the part ; and, by that means,
quite as effectually disengages the
scalp. In
order to preserve the precious relict, it is then
stretched and dried upon a small osier hoop.
The western Indians invariably crop their hair,
,almost as close as if it were shorn ; to retaliate
upon their enemies, probably, by drawing some
of their teeth. As captain M'Culloch's prisoner*
was a western Indian, we were, therefore, wrong
in supposing, that the American officer practised
any refinement in the art of scalping.
The body of Tecumseh was recognised, not
only by the British officers who were prisoners,
but by commodor Perry, and several American
officers. An American writer (from the spot, it
would appear) says :—" There was a kind of
ferocious pleasure, if I may be allowed the
expression, in contemplating the contour of
his features, which was majestic, even in
death." t—Poor chief ! the majesty of his features
* See p. 62.

± Burdick's Pol. and Hist. Reg. p. 84.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

295

could no longer, now he was dead, awe the
Kentuckians ; and that majesty was, by their
merciless scalping-knives, soon converted into
hideousness. Had the " ferocious pleasure" of
Americans required no further gratification than
Tecumseh's scalp, custom might have been their
excuse. The possessor of this valuable trophy
would not, it may be supposed, part with a hair
of it. Were the other Kentuckians, then, to
march home empty-handed ?—Ingenuity offered
a partial remedy. One, more dexterous than
the rest, proceeded to flay the chief's body ; then,
cutting the skin in narrow slips, of 10 or 12
inches long, produced, at once, a supply of
razor-straps for the more " ferocious" of his
brethren. We know that the editor of the
United States' government-paper, the " National
Intelligencer," not many months ago, * flew
into a violent rage, because some anonimous
writer here had mentioned the circumstance;
How will the American government bear to
hear the fact thus solemnly repeated, accompanied by the declaration, that some of the
British officers witnessed the transaction, and
are ready to testify to the truth of it ?—But,
have we not American testimony in support of
the charge ?—The same writer who was so struck
with the majesty in Tecumseh's countenance,
and who, of course, would, by every means in
* Aug. `21, 1817.

296 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

his power, soften down an account that reflected
so high dishonor upon his countrymen, says
thus : " Some of the Kentuckians disgraced
thenaselves';by committing indignities on his
dead body.' He was scalped, and otherwise
'disfigured."
Considering the importance of Tecumseh's
death to the Amqrican cause, it is difficult to
account for general Harrison's omission to notice
it ; unless we suppose, that the general did
transmit the account, but so blended with the
indignities" eommitted upon the chief's per
min ; that the American secretary at war, finding
.

.

,

a difficulty in garbling, suppressed altogether,
that paragraph of the letter. This is strengthened
by the circumstance of the flaying ceremony
having been the topic of conversation in the
United States, very soon after the receipt. of the
official letter, and of the private ones forwarded
by the same express. t We now discover why
the American editors wished to prejudice the
public mind against the character of Tecumseh,
One of the three editors has been both artful
and graceless enough, to lavish encomiums upon
the humanity of the " volunteers of Kentucky."
These are his words :—" History can record to
their honor that, not merely professing"to be
* Burdick's NI. and Hist. Reg. p. 84.
-1- The Author heard it spoken of in Philadelphia, about the
p4iEltlle of October.

297

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

Christian people, they gave a high example of
Christian virtues: For evil they returned not
evil. For cruelty they returned mercy and pro- 7
tection."*—Had we taken up Dr. Smith's book}
for the first time, we should have pronounced
this an excellent piece of irony.
On the day succeeding the battle of the
Thames, major general Proctor sent captain Le
Breton, of the Newfoundland regiment, with
a flag, to general Harrison, requesting " that
humane treatment might be extended to the
British' prisoners." t Contrary to the laws of
war, however, the American general detained
the British officer, and sent no reply to majorgeneral Proctor's letter. Soon afterwards general Harrison wrote aE very insolent letter to
major-general Vincent, on the subject of majorgeneral Proctor's application ;' enclosing letters
from some of the British officers, in which the
latter mentioned, that they were kindly treated
by the Americans. General Harrison, in his letter
to general Vincent, avows a knowledge of the
contents of these enclosures. The impression.
once made, was •not easily to be effaced. The
British officers soon saw through the trick; soon
began to repent that, urged by premature grati,
tude, they had so grossly deceived themselveF4
,

their friends, and the public.
* History of the United States, Vol. III. p. 258. 7
41V :
1 Sketches of the War, p. 170,

298

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On the 22d of October general Harrison, after
garrisoning Detroit, Sandwich, and Amherst.
burg, and discharging the principal part of his
Kentucky and Ohio volunteers, embarked, with
his disposable regular force, on board conimo 7
dore Perry's fleet, to join, agreeably to the
orders of his government, the troops on the
Niagara frontier. About the same time, the
commissioned and non-commissioned officers,
and privates, of major-general Proctor's late
army, were transported, by water, from Detroit,
to the portage on Lake Erie, distant 45 miles;
and thence marched to Franklin-town, distant
129 miles. Here they embarked in boats, and
proceeded 100 miles down the Scioto to Chillicothe ; at which place some of the non-commissioned officers and privates were detained.
The remainder of the British prisoners again
proceeded by the Scioto, to Cincinnati on the
Ohio. Here and at Newport-town, a military
depot, half a mile across the river, was detained
a second detachment, comprehending nearly all
that were left, of the non-commissioned officers
and pt:ivates. The small remnant, consisting
almost wholly of commissioned officers, proceeded to the ultimate point of destination,
Frankfort, in Kentucky ; just 612 miles from
Detroit, and about the same distance from the
nearest Atlantic port.
Here, at Frankfort, Kentucky, were " colonels

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299

Evans, Warburton, and Baubee, and majors
Muir and Chambers,"* and other British commissioned officers, thrown into prison.---Into
what prison ? The Penitentiary, along with
40 convicts, condemned for murder, rape,
forgery, coining, burglary, horse-stealing,
Lest the reader should doubt this, he will, in
the Appendix, find, furnished by the keeper of
the prison, a list of the convicts, their crimes,
and sentences.t Comments are unnecessary.
Yet, general Shea& did not behave thus to the
American officers who surrendered at the battle
of Queenstown.} Many will be surprised that
this mode of incarcerating British officers of
rank and distinction, taken in honorable war,
should be realized—not at Verdun in France,
but—at Kentucky, in the United States : the
land of liberty, where, among other advantages, a man may compound for " shooting his
wife"t by a four years' imprisonment, but, for
" horse-stealing,"T he runs the chance of remaining in confinement six years longer !—Leaving
our poor countrymen' to ruminate over their
misfortunes, in the midst of company so respectable, we hasten to beguile the reader, with the
busy scenes of hostility still carrying on in the
neighbourhood of Lake Ontario.
• Sketches of the War, p. 173.
.1 App. No. 53.
-

-3a

t See p. 101.

Item sets