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Chapter 12


Chapter 12
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Operations in Chesapeak Bay—Arrival of rearadmiral Cockburn—Preparations for attacking
the United States' frigate Constellation in James's
River—Her retreat to a safer position—Wanton
firing from the shore upon the British boats—
Death of two men in consequence—Arrival of
admiral Warren—Gallant affair at the mouth of
the Rappahannock—Rear-admiral Cockburn's
detached command to the head of the bay—Advance upon French-town—Heavy fire upon the
boats from a battery—Landing of the British- Flight of the American militia—Destruction of
cannon, public stores, and vessels—A dmi rut Cock•
burn's system of operations—American misrepresentations corrected—Purchase of stock at Turkey
Point and .SPecucie Island—Display of colours,
andfiring of cannon, at Havre de Grace—Attack
upon this place—Its short but spirited resistance
—Disrespect shown to a flag of truce—Consiquent proceedings by the British—Destruction
of a valuable cannon-foundry—Gross mis-statein ent of the American editors—Ridiculous behaviour of a prisoner named O'Neil, and ludicrous
threat in case of his detention—Advance upon
George-town and Frederick-town — Precious
warning to the inhabitants—Their violent pro-


ceedings, and destructive fire upon the British
Destruction of houses in consequence—Visit
of the British to another town—Civil deportment
of the inhabitants, and its salutary effects—
Remarks on the American militia-system—Im-'
positions of the American farmers—Capture of
the United States' schooner Surveyor—Noble
conduct of lieutenant Cririe of the Narcissus—
Arrival of troops in the Chesapeake—Affair
between H.M.S. Junon and 15 American gunboats—Open preparations for attacking Craney
Island—Correspondent preparations on the part
of the Americans—Landing of a division of
British at Pig-Point—Advance of another division towards Craney Island—Unexpected grounding of the boats close under the American
battery—Impossibility to reach the shore—
Destructive fire upon the boats, as well as upon
the struggling crews in the water—Remarks
upon the attempt to capture Craney Island—
Attack upon, and capture of Hampton—Excesses committed there by a part of the British
force—American strictures on the occasion—
Departure from the coast of the corps that
committed the excesses—Landing of the British
at Ocracoke and Portsmouth, and capture of
two fine letters of marque—American mis-statements corrected.

A THREATENING attitude upon the Atlantic
frontier of the United States, in the nei.g14)0,91._



hood of the capital especially, being considered
likely to weaken the efforts of the American,
government, now so openly and earnestly
directed against our Canadian possessions, rearadmiral Cockburn, in the Marlborough 74,
with some frigates and smaller vessels, entered
the Chesapeake bay on the 4th of March, 1813.
The United States' frigate Constellation, lying
in James's river, near Norfolk, became the first
object of attack ; but the preparatory movements
of the British squadron drove her to a safe
position, higher up the river. The rear-admiral
afterwards advanced up the bay, sounding and
reconnoitring. During the passage. of the boats
along the shore, in the execution of this service,
the Americans frequently fired at them, and, in
one instance, killed two men, besides wounding
several others ; although not a musket had been,
on any occasion, discharged from the boats.
About the end of March, admiral Warren,
from Bermuda, bringing with him the San
Domingo 74, and some other ships, arrived in
the Chesapeake. In his way up the bay, the
admiral detached a force to attack four armed
schooners, lying at the mouth of the Rappahannock river.. The breeze failing, the capture
of the whole four was eflected by five British
boats, under the orders of lieutenant (now captain) James Polkinghorne, of the St. Domingo..


In a week or two after a junction had been
formed between admiral Warren and rearadmiral Cockburn, the latter was directed, with
a squadron of small vessels, including two of
the captured schooners, to penetrate the rivers
at the head of the bay, and endeavour to cut off
the enemy's supplies ; as well as to destroy his
foundries, stores, and public works ; particularly a depot of flour, military and other stores,
ascertained, by the information of some Americans, to be at a place called French-town, situate
at a considerable distance up the river Elk.
Accordingly, the rear-admiral, with H.M. brigs
Fantonie and Mohawk, and the Dolphin, Racer,
and highflyer, tenders, on the evening of the
98th of April, moved towards the river. Having
moored the brigs and schooners as far within
the entrance as could be effected after dark,
the rear-admiral took with him, in the boats
of his little squadron, 150 marines, under
captains Wybourn and Carter, and five artillerv-men, under lieutenant Robertson, of
that corps, and proceeded to execute hie
The boats, owing to ignorance of the way,
having entered the Bohemia instead of keeping
in the Elk river, did not reach the destined
place till late on the following morning. This
delay enabled the inhabitants of French-town to
* App. No. 8.

* For the full particulars of this gallant exploit, see James's
Naval Occurrences, p. 367.





make arrangements for the defence of the stores
and towm ; for the security of which a six-gun
batterr bad lately, been • directed. As soon as
the boats approached within gun-shot of it, a
heavy fire was opened upon them. Disregarding
this, however, the marines quickly landed ; and
the American militia fled from the battery to
the adjoining woods.
The inhabitants of the town, situate at about
a mile distant, having, as far as could be ascertained, taken no part in the contest, were not
in the slightest degree molested ; but a considerable quantity of flour, of army-clothing,
saddles, bridles, and other equipments for
cavalry ; also various articles of merchandize,
and the two stores in which they had been
contained ; together with five vessels, lying
near the place,- were entirely consumed. The
guns of the battery, being too heavy to be
carried away, were disabled ; and the boats
departed, with no other loss than one seaman
wounded in the arm by a grape-shot. The
Americans lost one man killed by a rocket, but
none wounded.
The rear-admiral's system, and which he had
taken care to impart ,to all the Americans
captured or voluntarily coming on board,
the squadron, was—to. land without offering
molestation to the unopposing inhabitants,
either in their persons or properties ; to capture




or destroy all articles of merchandize and
munitions of war ; to be allowed to take off;
upon paying the full market price, all such
cattle and supplies as the British squadron might
require : but, should resistance be offered, or
menaces held out, to consider the town as a
fortified post, and the male inhabitants as
soldiers ; the one to be destroyed, the other,
with their cattle and stock, to be captured.
Both the editor of the " Sketches of the War"
and of the " History of the War" confine the
conflagration at French-town, to the two storehouses and their contents ; and so does a writer
in a respectable American periodical publication,
of very recent date, subjoining to his account
of the burning of the warehouses,—" but no
private dwellings, as has erroneously been
stated."* Yet is the editor of the " History of
the United States" so totally disregardful of
truth, as to accuse the British of having plundered and destroyed the whole village.- Mr.
Thomson finds it convenient to deScribe the
contents of the store-houses as goods belonging
to merchants of Baltimore and Philadelphia,
and to be totally silent about any military'
stores ; but general Wilkinson expressly says :
—" By the defective arrangements of the
war-department, he (rear-admiral Cockburn)
• North American Review, Vol. V. p. 158.
f Mist. of the United States, Vol.
p. 283.
D 2




succeeded in destroying the military equipments
and munitions found there ; of which, I apprehend, the public never received any correct
As the boats, in their way down the Elk,
were rounding Turkey Point, they came in
sight of a large estate, surrounded by cattle.
The rear-admiral landed ; and directing the
bailiff, or overseer, to pick out as many oxen,
sheep, and other stock, as were deemed sufficient
for the present use of the squadron, paid for
them to the full amount of what the bailiff
alleged was the market price. Not the slightest
injury was done ; or, doubtless, one of our
industrious historians would have recorded the

ensign. This determined the rear-admiral to
make that battery and town the next object of
attack. In the meanwhile, he anchored his
squadron off Specucie Island. Here a part of
the boats landed, and obtained cattle upon the
same terms as before. A complaint having been
made, that some of the subordinate officers had
destroyed a number of turkies, the rear-admiral
paid the value of them out of his own pocket.
The Americans, as they were driving the cattle
to the boats, jeered the men, saying,—" Why
do you come here?! Why don't you go to Havre
de Grace ? There You'll have something to do."
About this time a deserter gave the people at
Havre de Grace, who had already been in
preparation, notice of the intended attack.
After quitting Specucie Island, the rear.
admiral bent his course towards Havre de Grace;
but the shallowness of the water admitting the
passage of boats only, the 150 marines and the
five artillery men embarked at midnight on the
2d of May, and proceeded up the river.* The
Dolphin and Highflyer 'tenders attempted to
follow in support of the boats, but shoal water
compelled them to anchor at the distance of
six miles from the point of attack. By daylight, the boats succeeded in getting opposite
to the battery ; which mounted six guns, 12
and 6-pounders, and opened a smart fire upon

Having learnt that cattle and provisions, in
considerable quantity, were at Specucie Island,
the rear-admiral, with the brigs and tenders,
proceeded to that place. In his way thither it
became necessary to pass in sight of Havre de
Grace, a village of about 60 houses, situate on
the west-side of the Susquehanna, a short
distance above the confluence of that river with
the Chesapeake. Although the British were
a long way out of gun-shot, the Americans pc
Havre de Grace must needs fire at them from a.
six-gun battery, and display to their view, as
a further mark of defiance, a large American
* Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. I. p. 732.

App. No. 9.




the British. The marines instantly landed to
the left ; which was a signal to the Americans to
withdraw from their battery. Lieutenant G. A.
Westphall,,has ing, in the mean time, stationed
his rocket-boat close to the battery, now landed
with his boat's crew, turned the guns upon
the American militia,
- and drove them to
extremity of the town.
, The inhabitants still keeping up . a fire from
behind tile houses, walls, and trees, lieutenant
by the admiral's„orders, held out a
flag of ,tmice,and. called, ,,upon them to desist.
IllsOad of so doing, these "unoffending citizens"
fired at,the British lieutenant, and actually shot
himthroUgh. the. very hand that was bearing the
flag of truce. After this, , who could wonder if
the British seamen and marines turned to the
right and left, and demolished every thing in
their way N- 7-The townspeople themselves had
constructer .4.he battery ; and yet not a house
in which an. inhabitant remained was injured.
Several of the inhabitants, principally women,
who had fled at first, came again into the town,
and got.back such articles as had been taken.
Some, 1gf. the women actually proceeded to the
boats.. and, upotOdentifying their property,
had,. it restored .to: theni.,,,,„ Many of the
inhabitants who had remained peaceably in
their houses, as a proof that they were well
informed of the principle upon which Sir George




Cockburn acted, frequently exclaimed to him
—" Alt, sir, I told them what would be the
consequence of their conduct. It is a great pity
so many should suffer for a head-strong few.
Those who were the most determined to fire
upon you the other day, saying it was impossible
you could take the place, were now the first to
run away." Several of the houses that were not
burnt did, in truth, belong to the chief agents
in those violent measures that caused such
severity on our part ; and the very towns-people
themselves pointed out the houses. Lieutenant
Westphal', with his remaining hand, pursued and
took prisoner. an American captain of militia ;
and others of the party brought in an ensign
and several privates, including an old Irishman,
named O'Neill. After embarking the six guns
from the battery, and taking or destroying
about 130 stands of small-arms, the British
departed from Havre de Grace.
One division of boats, headed by the rearadmiral, then proceeded to the northward, in
search of a cannon-foundry, of which some of
the inhabitants of Havre de Grace had given
information. This was found, and instantly
destroyed ; together with five long 24-pounders,
stationed in a battery for its protection ;
28 long 32-pounders, ready for sending away ;
and eight long guns, and four carronades, in the
boring-house and foundry. Another division

40 ,


of boats was sent up the Susquehanna ; and
returned, after destroying five vessels and a large
store of flour.
..No event of the war has been more grossly
exaggerated than the proceedings of the British
at Havre de Grace. Happily, so much incon•
sistency and contradiction prevail in the
American accounts, that we shall have no great
difficulty in exposing the authors to the merited
indignation of the disinterested reader. One
editor says :—" From Frenclitown they (the
British) proceeded down the Elk, ascended the
river Susquehanna, and attacked, plundered,
and burnt the neat and flourishing, but unprotected village of Havre de Grace ; for which
outrage no provocation had been given, nor
could excuse be assigned."* Anothersays:.—
" In expectation of an attack from the enemy,
the people of Havre de Grace had made
preparations for the defence of the place ; and
a battery had beew*rected, of two 6-pounders,
and one nine."t Six long 12 and 6-pounders,
the reader will recollect, were taken by us from
that: very battery. The same editor admits,
that a fire was kept up from the battery till the
British commenced their debarkation ; " when
says he, " except O'Neill, an old citizen
of Havre de Grace, abandoned their posts ; and,
* Hist. of the U. S. Vol. M. p.
t Sketches of the War, p. 209.




following the militia, who had fled with shameful precipitation, left the women and children
of the place to the mercy of the invaders."*
A third editor says :—" A small party of militia
were stationed at Havre de Grace ; who, on the
approach of the enemy, made a slight resistance,
and then retreated. An Irishman," (this is more
intelligible than Mr. Thompson's designation4
named O'Neill, with a courage amounting to
rashness, and an enthusiasm not confined by
cold loyalty, opposed his single arm to the
British host, and was taken prisoner and carried
on board the fleet, but afterwards releaSed."1Another American account says " The
inhabitants of Havre de Grace had, for three
weeks previous to this period, been making
preparations for defence ; and several companies
of militia were called in to their aid."—" The
militia, amounting to about 250, were kept to
their arms all night ; patroles were stationed in
every place where they could possibly be of any
service ; the volunteers at the battery were at
their guns, and a general determination seemed
to prevail of giving the enemy a warm reception."1: What, then;' becomes of doctor
Smith's assertion, that Havre de Grace was
" unprotected ;" or that " no excuse could be
* Sketches of the War, p. 209.
+ Mist. of the War, p. 170.
North American Review, Vol. V. p. 160.



assigned" for attacking it ?- 7- Perhaps this
gentleman grounded his statement upon
Mr. Munro's official communication to sir
Alexander Cochrane ; wherein, as a matter of
state-convenience, and in the very teeth of the
British official account, announcing the capture
of six pieces of cannon, and 130 stands of arms,
the American secretary chose to describe the
inhabitants of Havre de Grace as " unarmed."
In the same spirit of rancor, doctor Smith
declares, that " the whole of this little town,
house after house, was consigned to the flames."*
Mr. Thomson is not explicit upon this point ;
but Mr. O'Connor expressly says :—" Twentyfour of the best houses in the town were
burned ;"1 and the Boston reviewer says It
has been said, in a respectable history of the
times," (can this mean doctor Smith's work ?)
" that one house only escaped the flames ; but
this is a mistake. Havre de Grace consisted of
about 60 houses, and of these not more than 40
were burnt."t As, according to the same
account, several of the houses were, when the
British landed, " already in flames," from the
" tremendous discharge ,of balls, rockets, and
shells," we may consider Mr. O'Connor's estimate
as alluding exclusively to those destroyed by the
British while on shore. It is not a little extra-

* IIist. of the United States, Vol. III. p. 283.
N. Amer. Rev. Vol. V. p. 160.
+ Hist, of the War, p. 170.



ordinary, that the same writer who dwells so
upon the state of " preparation" in which the
inhabitants were, should say : " It is not easy
to assign any cause, other than the caprice of
its projector, for this violent attack on a defenceless and unoffending village. No reasons of a
public nature could have induced it. No public
property was deposited there, nor were any of
its inhabitants engaged in aiding the prosecution
of the war."*
Although it would be idle to question the
zeal and industry of any one of our three historians, Mr. Thomson alone has declared that the
British " cut open the bedding of the citizens
to augment the flames ;: destroyed the public
stages ; maimed the horses ; cut to pieces the
private baggage of the passengers ; tore the
cloathing of some of the inhabitants from their
backs; and left to others those only which they
wore; in short, robbing private travellers on the
highway of :,their money and apparel." Mr.
Thomson next: s affirms that, " when several
ladies of the first distinction" had taken refuge
" in a spacious and elegant private mansion,"
a British officer " was entreated to suffer this
house, at least, to escape the general conflagration ; but, as he .was obeying the orders of
admiral Cockburn, the mostite could do was to
suspend his purpose, until those unprotected
North American Review, Vol. V. p. 162.






women could prevail upon the admiral to countermand them."* That the latter part of this
statement is utterly false, appears by the testimony of one of the sufferers ; one who dates his
letter from the spot ; who complains that the
destruction of Havre de Grace has " ruined"
Mini: and who, therefore, must write with
highly irritated feelings against the British. He
says : The inhabitants fled at the approach
of the sailors, and the women took shelter in
the house of Mr. Mark Pringle ; which a party
was proceeding to destroy, when Mr. Pringle,
with a flag, met them, and they very readily
desisted." t •
One would suppose that the destruction, by
an enemy, of 45 pieces of cannon, chiefly long
32 and 24-pounders, would have appeared
of sufficient national importance, to engage the
attention of such as profess to detail the events
of a war. But it was necessary to cast every
possible odium upon the British, and therefore
highly impolitic to admit that they performed a
single act of legitimate warfare. Mr. Thomson
is the only editor who deplores the loss " of 50
pieces of elegant cannon ;" but he makes
amends for his unguarded acknowledgment, by
declaring, that the furnace which was battered
down, was " private property," and that the

British, " as the last act of atrocity with'which
this expedition was destined to be marked, tore
up a small bridge, constructed over a deep,
though narrow creek, and over which travellers
of every description were obliged to pass, or
venture through a wider channel, at the imminent hazard of their lives." So that a small
party, on shore in an enemy's country, and expeefing to be attacked by an enraged population, collecting from all points, are to leave
standing a bridge, by which alone, probably,
their position can be assailed ; because, forsooth,
the destruction of that bridge would compel the
inhabitants to " venture through a wider channel, at the imminent hazard of their lives."
This is such a refinement in warfare, as we did
not expect to hear broached by an American.
Doctor Smith and Mr. O'Connor, although they
have added to the list of enormities committed
by the British, that of burning " Mr. Hughes's
foundery," have rejected the story of the bridge,
as too ridiculous even for them to publish.
Mr. O'Connor, with a fellow-feeling, perhaps,
extols highly the courage and enthusiasm of his
friend O'Neill. This contemptible old wretch,
when taken on board the rear-admiral's ship,
cried bitterly ; exclaiming every now and then,
"God bless king George—I detest the Americans,
—will do all I can to save the British," &c. &es.

* Sketches of the War, p. 210.
Philadelphia Gazette, May 4, 1813.

* Sketches of the War, .p. 211.



Nekt day his daughter, an interesting young
woman, came on board, and begged hard for his
discharge ; urging that he had a large family
dependant on him for support. Her tears prevailed, and she carried her father on shore. In
a week or ten days afterwards, rear-admiral
Cockburn had occasion to go on board the San
Domingo; when, to his great surprise, admiral
Warren showed him a letter he had just received
from the American secretary of state, declaring,
if a hair of O'Neil's head was hurt, what his
government would do, Sr.c. This ludicrous
application was replied to in a proper manner,
and the affair ended.
.On the night of the 5th of May, the same
party of British marines and artillery-men again
embarked in the boats, and proceeded up the
river Sassafras, separating the counties of Kent
and Cecil, towards the villages of George-town
and Frederick-town, situate on opposite sides
of the river, nearly facing each other. Having
intercepted a small boat with two of the inha•
bitants, rear-admiral Cockburn halted the detachment, about two miles from the town ; and
then sent forward the two Americans in their
boat, to warn their countrymen against acting
in the same rash manner as the people of Havre
de Grace had done ; assuring them that, if they
did, their towns would inevitably meet with a
similar fate ; but that, on the contrary, if they



did not attempt resistance, no injury should be
done to them or their towns ; that vessels and
public property only, would be seized ; that
the strictest discipline would be maintained ;
and that whatever provision or other property
of individuals the rear-admiral might require
for the use of the squadron, would be instantly
paid for in its fullest value.* The two Americans agreed in the propriety of this ; said there
was no battery at either of the towns ; that they
would willingly deliver the message, and, had
no doubt the inhabitants would be peaceably
After waiting a considerable time, the rearadmiral advanced higher up ; and, when within
about a mile from the towns, and between two
projecting points of land which compelled the
boats to proceed in close order, a heavy fire
was opened upon them from one field-piece,
and, as conjectured, 3 or 400 militia, divided and
entrenched on the opposite sides of the river.
The fire was promptly returned, and the rearadmiral pushed on shore with the marines;
but, the instant the American militia observed
them fix their bayonets, they fled to the woods,
and s ere neither seen nor heard of afterwards:
All the houses, excepting those whose owners had
continued peaceably in them, and taken no part
in the attack, were forthwith destroyed; as were
* App. No. 10.




four vessels lying in the river, together with
some stores of sugar, of lumber, of leather, and
other merchandize. On this occasion, five of
the British were wounded. One of the Americans who entreated to have his property saved,
wore military gaiters ; and had, no doubt, assisted at the firing upon the British. Agreeably
to his request, however, his property was left
Mr. Thomson says : " The invaders were gallantly ressisted more than half an hour, when
they effected a landing ; and, marching towards
the town, compelled the militia to retire. Colonel Veazy effected his retreat in excellent
order."* To prove that this was a gallant
affair, Mr. Thomson has made the American
force " about 80 militia, and one small cannon,"
and the British force " 18 barges, each carrying
one great gun, and manned altogether by 600
men." Mr. O'Connor contents himself with
accusing us of burning the unprotected villages
of Frederick and George-town.
On his way down the river, the rear-admiral
visited a town situated on a branch of it. Here
a part of the inhabitants actually pulled off to
him ; and, requesting to shake hands, declared
he should experience no opposition whatever.
The rear-admiral accordingly landed, with the
officers, and, chiefly out of respect to his rank, a
IP Sketches of the War, p.

small personal guard. , Among those that came
to greet him, on his landing, were observed two
inhabitants of George-town. 'These men, as
well as an inhabitant of the place who had been
to George-town to see what was going on,
had succeeded in persuading the people to adopt,.
as their best security, a peaceable demeanor.
Having ascertained that there were no public
property nor warlike stores, and obtained, upon
payment of the full value, such articles as were
wanted, the rear-admiral and his party re-embarked. Soon afterwards, a deputation was sent
from Charlestown, on the north-east river, to
assure the rear-admiral, that the place was considered as at his mercy ; and, similar assurances
coming from other places in the upper part of
the Chesapeake, the rear-admiral and his light
squadron retired from that quarter.
None of the American historians notice the
lenient conduct observed towards the inhabitants of the two last-mentioned towns ; unless
we are to consider Mr. Thomson as glancing at
the subject, when he complains of " the
treachery of some citizens of the republic."
These editors find relief for their rancorous spirit
either way. If the inhabitants preserve their
towns by not opposing us, they are " traitors,
tories, or British agents :" if they make resistance; and their towns, sharing the fate of other




stormed places, are burnt, we are " vile incendiaries, unprincipled marauders."
Much is said by American editors, about
robbing the inhabitants of their cattle and live
stock ; but the truth is, the farmers themselves
considered the British squadron in the Chesapeake as their best market. Not contented,
however, with getting the highest prices for
their stock, small as well as large ; their eggs,
butter, milk, cheese, garden-stuff, &c. they frequently practised Upon their liberal purchasers

to the war," for the double purpose of prejudicing the British character in the eyes of
the other nations of Europe, and of filling
the ranks of the American army from among;
the western, or Kentucky patriots. American citizens of the first consequence, in Balti more, Annapolis, and Washington, when they
have gone on board the British Chesapeake
squadron, as they frequently did, with flags, to
obtain passports, or ask other favors, and these
inflammatory paragraphs- were shown to them,
never failed to declare, with apparent shame,
that they had been penned without the slightest
regard to truth, but merely to instigate their'
ferocious countrymen in the western states
to rally round the American standard. Yet
does the sober historian of the United States not
blush" to record as truth these party-serving
lies. Such statements soil the historic page ;:
and, by their influence on the passions, may
tend, at some future day, to rekindle the flames
of %sar between the two nations.
Fortunately, we have American testimony to
aid us in repelling the principal charge advanced
against the British by this nest of calumniators,
" They (the British) were always," says the
writer in the Review, '' desirous of making a
fair purchase, and of paying the full value of
what they received; and, it is no more than


the grossest impositions.
One writer, doctor Smith, alluding to the
proceedings in the Ch esapeake, expresses himself thus : " History blushes to recapitulate the
depredations arid -Conflagrations which were
here perpetrated. The' pen of the historian
cannot record one solitary exploit of honorable
warfare, worthy the arms of an heroic nation.
The outrages of their sailors and marines
were to the last degree shocking and indefensible. They committed indiscriminate havoc upon
every species of private property along the shores
of the bay, and on the margin of its inlets."
This is the very language that was used
by the National lntelligencer," " National
`Advocate," " Democratic Press," and other
American newspapers, " known to be friendly
* History of the United States, Vol. III. p. 282.





justice to the enemy to state that, in some
instances, money was left behind, in a conspicuous place, to the full amount of what had been
taken away."*
We in England may find it difficult to consider, as soldiers, men neither embodied nor Brest
in regimentals. That circumstance has not escaped the keen discernment of the American
government : hence we are so often charged, in
proclamations and other state-papers, with
attacking the "inoffensive citizens of the republic." The fact is, every man in the United States,
under 45 years of age, is a militia-man ; and,
during the war, attended in his turn, to be
drilled, or " trained." He had always in his possession either a musket or a rifled-barrel piece;
knew its use from his infancy ; and with it,
therefore, could do as much execution in a
smock frock or plain coat, as if he wore the most
splendid uniform. These soldiers in citizens'
dresses were the men whom rear-admiral Cock.
burn so frequently attacked and routed ; and
who, when they had really acted up to the
character of " non-combatants," were invariably
spared, both in their persons and properties.
The rear-admiral wished them, for their own
sakes only, to remain neutral ; but general
.11u11, in his famous proclamation, prepared
• North American Review, Vol. V. p. 158.



with so much care at Washington, invited the
Canadian people to become open traitors to their
country ; and visited upon them that refused,
all " the horrors and calamities of war."*
On the 12th ofJu ne the boats of the Narcissus
42, containing about 40 men, under the command of lieutenant Cririe, first of that ship, and
of lieutenant P. Savage, of the marines, were
despatched up York river, in the Chesapeake,
to cut out the United States' schooner Surveyor,
mounting six 12-pound carronades. Captain S.
Travis, her commander, had furnished each of
his men with two muskets. They held their
fire until the British were within pistol-shot ;
but the latter pushed on, and finally carried the
vessel by boarding, with the loss of three men
killed, and six wounded. .Captain Travis had
five men wounded. His crew amounted to 16 rt
and so gallant was their conduct, as well as
that of their commander, in the opinion of
lieutenant Cririe, that that officer returned
captain Travers his sword, accompanied by a
letter, not less complimentary to him than
creditable to the writer.t. Mr. Thomson has
added, " a tender" to the boats of the frigate ;
and declares that the force of the British was
" nine times superior"§ to that on board the
Surveyor. Lieutenant Cririe's letter would
* Vol. 1. App. No. 4. + American Nay. Mon. p. 219
App. No. 10.

§ Sketches of the 'War, p. 213;


have set this matter right, and conferred an
.honor upon the British commanding officer:
,either of which reasons would suffice to prevent
its appearance in the pages of the " Sketches of
the War." None of the other historians have
..noticed the action.
Admiral Warren, who had left the Chesapeake
for .Bermuda, returned to his command early
in June ; bringing with him, according to
newspaper-account, a detachment of battalion
. marines, 1800 strong ; 300 of the 102d regiment;
250 of the Independent Foreigners, or Canadian
chasseurs ; and 300 of the royal marine-artillery:
;total 2650 men.
On the 18th of June II. M. S. Junon, of 46
guns, anchored in Hampton roads; and captain
iSanders despatched his boats to capture or
destroy any vessels. 4hat Might be found at the
entrance of James's liver. Commodore John
.Cassin, the naval commanding-officer at Norfolk,
observing this, directed the 15 gun-boats at that
.station to be manned with an additional mum
ber of seamen and marines from •the Constella.
-.lion frigate, then moored at the navy-yard, also
with 50 infantry from Craney Island ; and, under
the command of captain Tarbin, to attempt the
capture or destruction of the Junon.
It wok, not till about 4 P.M. on the 20th, that
this formidable flotilla, armed with upwards of
30 guns, half of which were long 32 and 24-



pounders, and manned with, at least, 500, men,
commenced its attack upon stale Junon,„ ithen
lying becalmed. Captairr Sanders warmly
returned their fire with his long eighteens ;
hoping that they would soon.yenture to approach
within reach .pf his.carronades. - This the gm''?^ .1;
boats carefully avoided ; and,,hetween them and
the frigate, a distant cannonade l ,very slightly
injurious to eitherparty, was maintained for about
three quarters of an hour. A breezenowq)rang
up ; which enabled the Barrosa, of 42, and 1.1 .. ;0.
Laurestinus, of 28 guns, lying abo.VfivP
off, to get under weigh, in the hope to have
share in the amusement. The Junon, also, was
at this time under sail, using her best efforts to
give a more serious complexion to the:contest ;
but commodore Cassin, who, as lie assdres us,
was in his boat during the whole of th'e action,
considering that the flotilla had . done enough to
entitle him to display both his fighting, and 1444'
li u:Ary qualifications, in an official letter, -,very
prudently ordered the 15 gun-boats to maker . the
best of their way back to Norfolk.
Commodore Cassin letter* will afford a
richer treat, when it is known, that the Junon,
so " severely handled" as to be placed " upon
a deep careen, with a number of boats and
stages round her," received only one or two shots'
in her hull, and sustained no other loss than ori.•
*, App. No. 12.



Man killed. Three of the gun boats are stated
to have received damage; one man is also
acknowledged to have been killed, and two
men wounded. The Barrosa, a 42-gun frigate,
is under 950, " a razee" from 1640 to 1700 tons ;*
yet the American commodore could discover
no difference between those two classes of ships.
Mr. Thomson is the only editor who has recorded
this gun-boat exploit. He declares the Junon
was "much shattered ;" that "the Americans
had 15 guns, the British, 150 and upwards ;"
that " captain Tarbell's conduct, as well as
that of lieutenants Gardner, Henly, and others,
received the fullest approbation of the surrounding garrisons, and of the citizens of Nor.
folk."1The appearance of the two frigates and sloop
in Hampton roads soon brought to Norfolk and
its vicinity as many as 10000 militia ; and the
works, recently constructed there, were all
manned, ready for defending that important
post. At Hampton, also, a militia force had
assembled ; and batteries were erecting, in case
that town should prove the object of attack.
On the 20th of June, 13 sail of British
ships, consisting of three 74s, a 64 armee es
flute, four frigates, and five sloops, transports,
and tenders, lay at anchor ; the nearest within
the furthest off within thirteen, miles


* James's Na,, Occarr: p. 34. Sketches of the War, p. 214.


of Craney Island. An assemblage of boats
at the ''sterns of several of the ships, on the
afternoon of that day, gave no very unequivocal
notice to the people on shore, that some expedition was on foot. Accordingly, " Craney
Island being rather weakly manned,"* the commanding officer at Norfolk sent 150 of the
Constellation's seamen and marines, to a battery of 18-pounders on the north-west, and
about 480 Virginia militia,1 exclusive of officers,
to reinforce a detachment of artillery, stationed
with two 24 and four 6-pounders on the west,
Side of the island. Captain Tarbell's 15 gunboats were also moored in the best position for
contributing to the defence of the post.
After two days' parade of boats and bustle
among the British ships, a division of 17 or 18
boats, at day-light on the morning of the 22d,
departed with about 800 men, under majorgeneral Beckwith, round the point of Nansemond river, and landed them at a place
called Pig's point, near to the narrow inlet
separating the main from Craney Island. Owing
to some error in the arrangements, unexpected
obstacles presented themselves. An attack from
that quarter being therefore considered hopeless,
and the position itself not tenable, the troops,
in the course of the day, re-embarked, and
returned to the squadron.


' App. No. 12..

Sketches of the War, p. 213.



A second division of boats, 15 in number,
containing a detachment of 500 men, from the
102d regiment, Canadian chasseurs, and battalion-marines, and about 200 seamen, the whole
tinder the command of captain Peelle% of the
St. Domingo, arrived, at about 11 o'clock in the
forenoon ; off the north-west side of the island,
directly in front of the battery manned by the
Constellation's men. Great difference of opinion
prevailed among the officers engaged in the
expedition, about the propriety of making the
attack at that time of tide, it being then the ebb.
Captains Hanchett, Maude, and Romilly of the
engineers, were decidedly against it ; captain
Pechell was for it.; and he, being the senior
pflicer, of course carried his point. Captain
1anchett then volunteered to lead the boats to
the attack ; which he was permitted to do.
Captain. llanchett's boat was the Diadem's
launch, carrying a 2-1-pound carronade, the
only boat so armed in the division. Ile had
taken his station about 60 yards a-head of the
other boats ; and was pulling, under a very
heavy and long-continued fire from the batteries,
directly in front of them, w hen, his boat unfortunately took the ground, at the distance of
about 100 yards from the muzzles of the enemy's
guns.. j Captain Hanchett, who had been previously standing up in his boat, ...ani►ating his
men to hasten forw ard f,. now w rap iretd- round his



bOdy a union jack, and prepared to wade on shore
to storm the American battery. At that instant
one of the seamen, having plunged his boathook over the side, found three or four feet of
slimy mud at the bottom. A check thus effectually given to a daring enterprise, in which all
were so ready to join, captain Hanchett waved
his hat for the boats a-stern to keep a-float. In
the hurry of pulling and -ardor of the men,
this warning was disregarded ; and one or two
Cif the boats grounded. Two others, owing to
their having received some shot that had passed
through the sails of the Diadem's launch, sank
In the meanwhile, the Americans at the battery,
well aware of the shoal, ;bad anticipated what
happened; and, feeling their own security,
poured in their grape and canister with destructive effect.. .A 6 pound shot, which had passed
through a launch on the starboard side of
captain Hanchett's boat, and killed and wounded
several men, struck that officer on the hip, and
he instantly fell ; but was quickly on his legs
again. NI bile he was assisting to save the
men that were struggling in the water, in
consequence of their boat having been sunk, a
langridge shot entered his left thigh. This gallant officer stood as long as he could, and
then fainted. A little water, however, restored
him ; and, after seeing the boats withdrawn
:from the fire, captain Hanchett went to the rear
and reported himself to captain Pechell : that


done, the wounded captain ordered himself to
he shifted into a lighter boat, which conveyed
him to his own ship, • the Diadem, then lying at
anchor twelve miles off.
While ' the men` from the sunken boats, and
who consisted chiefly of the Canadian chasseurs,
or Independent Foreigners,` were struggling for
their lives in the water and mud, the Constellation's ''marines, and the American infantry,
waded a short distance into the water, and
deliberately fired at them. When informed of
the circumstance, the American authorities, very
naturally, declared it untrue : as had been frequently done before, too, " an investigation was
ordered ;" and which, of course, " resulted in
a complete refutation of the allegations.''* But,
the fact having passed in full view, not Only of
the officers and men in the other boats, but of
sir T. Sidney Beckwith and his party, from
their position on the main-land, any attempts at
denial could only add to the enormity of the
Huddled together, as the boats were,w hen they
struck the ground ; and that within canisterrange of a battery, which kept upon them an
incessant fire of more than two hours' duration,
it required no very expert artillerists to sink
three of the boats, and to kill three teen and
wound sixteen ; especially when 'aided. h the
'' muskets of those humane individual,. s ho 'waded

history of the United States, Vol. 11I. p. 285.




into the water to fire at the drowning crews.
Including 10 seamen, 62 are reported as
missing.* Of these, it appears, 40 gained the
shore, and " deserted" to the Americans. As
more than that number of missing appear to
have belonged to the two foreign companies, this
Rreates no surprise ; especially as the only alternative left to the men was to become prisoners
of war. Admitting the American statement to
be correct, 22 must have perished in the water ;
the majority of whom, owing to the proximity
of the sinking boats to the Diadem's launch,
and the strenuous exertions of captain Hanchett
and his men to save the drowning crews, must
have dropped beneath the merciless bullets
of the American troops. The whole loss on
our side, which, as we have seen, amounted to
81, has been magnified by the American editors,
to 200 ; and they add, with a degree of
exultation, rendered ridiculous by the powerless
condition to which accident had reduced the
invading party, that on the side of the
invaded, not a man . was either killed, .or.
One American editor makes the British force
that arrived in front of the island-battery
about 4000 'men," many of whom were
French, and those that landed on the main
upwards of 800 soldiers ;" yet, in
i theNl ry


App, No. 13.

1- Sketches Of the War, p. 215,


next page, he declares that " 3000 British
soldiers, sailors, and marines, were opposed to
480 Virginia militia, and 150 sailors and
marines."* The batteries were nothing in the
account, although Mr. Thomson had just done
telling us what destruction they had caused.
Another editor, Mr. O'Connor, declares that
" 1500 men attempted to land in front of the
island ;1- and that the force that landed on the
main was " reported, by deserters and others,
to exceed 3000 tnen."t. The postcript to commodore Cassin's letter states, that " the number
of the enemy engaged in the attack was nearly
3000 ;"1. i mplying, of course, that those not
engaged were excluded from the estimate.
Another writer, whose zeal it would be criminal
to question, says :— " An attempt was made
against Craney Island, by a force exceeding
1200 men ; who were repulsed with disgrace by
700 raw troops, sailors and marines, without
the loss of a man." II We have, in addition to
Mr. Thomson's, general Wilkinson's high authority for stating, that a part of the invading force
consisted of " a corps designated chasseurs Britanniques; composed of foreign renegadoes under
British officers."
It is surprising with what facility the American

* Sketches of the War, p. 216.
Inst, of the War, p. 171.
Wilkinson's Mem. Vol.

Apii? No. 11



historian can, by his powers of distortion,. con '
vert every event he records to the national
advantage. The check which the expedition
experienced, when the Diadem's launch and
two or three of the foremost boats struck the
ground, is represented as " a momentary pause"
caused by the " galling tire from the battery ;"*
and to prove, decidedly, the existence of no
other obstacle to the landing of the British, than'
" this gallant resistance by the naval division
on the island," Mr. Thomson follows up his
" momentary pause" with,—" Every attempt to
approach the shore having heretofore failed, the
enemy determined on returning to his shipping
with as little delay as possible." Not one of
the other historians mentions a word about the`
British boats having grounded : all was effected
by the " invincible American seamen and
marines." We have seen already, and shall sees
again, as we proceed, that the American editors,
in their histories, and the American commanders;
in their official letters, can, when the occasion
serves, magnify a difficulty, be it ever so slight,
into one which no bravery can siiimount.
The policy of attacking Crane Wand, as a
means of getting at Norfolk, has been much
questioned ; but there can be only one opinion,'
surely, about the wisdom of sending boats, in`
broad day-light, to feel their way to the shore;


* Sketches of the NVar, p. 215.



over shoal§ and mud-banks; and that in the
very. teeth of a formidable battery. Unlike
most other nations, the Americans in particular,
the British when engaged in expeditions of this
nature, always rest their hopes of success upon
valor rather than numbers. But still had the
veil of darkness been allowed to screen the
boats from view, and an hour of the night.
chosen, when the tide had covered the shoals.
with deep water, the same little party might.
have carried the batteries ; and a defeat, as
• disgraceful to those that catis?cl, as honorable
C 4 •verted into
to those that suffered in it been,on
a victory. As it was, the affair of Craney island,
dressed.Jfp to advantage in the Alperican official
account, and properly commented upon by the
government-editors, was hailed throughout the
union as a glorious triumph, fit for Americans to achieve.
On the night of the 25th of June, the effective
men of the 102d regiment, Canadian chasseurs,
and battalion r marines ; also,. three companies
of ship's marines, the whole- amounting to about
2000 men, commanded by major-general Beek,
with, embarked in a diyiou of boats, placed
under the orders. of rear-admiral Cockburn,
and covered by the Mohawk sloop, and the
launches of the squadron.,, „ About half an
hour before, day-light „on, the 26th, the advance, consisting of about 650 men, along




with two 6-pounders, under lieutenant-colonel
Napier, landed two miles to the westward
of Hampton, a town about 18 miles from
Norfolk, and separated from it by Hamptonroads. Shortly afterwards, the main body,
consisting of the royal marine-battalions under
lieutenant-colonel , Williams, landed ; and the
whole moved forward.
A full detail of the little skirmishes that
ensued with, certainly, a very inferior body of
militia, will be found in Admiral Warren's and
sir Sydney Beckwith's despatches.* As might
be expected, the town, and its seven pieces of
cannon, fell into our hands, after a trifling loss
of five killed, 33 wounded, and 10 missing ;*
or, according to Mr. Thomson, of " 90 killed
and 120 wounded."1. The Americans admit a
loss of seven killed, 12 wounded, 11 missing,
and one prisoner ; total 31.t
Our force, on this occasion, has been, by the
American editors, more fairly stated than
usual ; but they have contrived to make it
up, by proportionably diminishing their own.
Mr. Thomson tells us that, early in June, from
" the suspicious movements and menacing attitudes" of the British squadron lying in Hampton-roads, " the citizens of all the surrounding
towns became apprehensive of an:attack ;" that
* App. Nos. 14 and 15.
+ Sketches of the War, p. 240.




" at Norfolk the militia force very soon consisted of 10000 men ;" but that " at Hampton,
a force of not more than 450 had yet been
organized." After the British squadron had
practised, during three weeks, " suspicious
movements and menacing attitudes," in the
very front of Hampton, within 18 miles of which,
10000 men" had already been collected,
Mr. Thomson gravely enumerates the force that
resisted the British, when they attacked and
carried the town of Hampton, at " 438 men;".
a smaller number even, than, at the very commencement of these " suspicious movements and
menacing attitudes," he admits, had then been
organized. Upon the whole, therefore, we shall
incur no risk of over-rating the American force
at Hampton, by fixing it at 1000 men.
A subject next presents itself for investigation,
upon which it is painful to proceed. As soon
as the Americans were defeated, and driven
from Hampton, the British troops, or rather,
" the foreign renegadoes," (for they were the
principals), forming part of the advanced force,
commenced perpetrating upon the defenceless
inhabitants acts of rapine and violence, which
unpitying custom has, in some degree, rendered
inseparable from places that have been carried
by .storm ; but which are as revolting to human
nature, as they are disgraceful to the flag

Sketches of the War, p. 218.


that would sanction them. The instant these
circumstances of atrocity reached the ears of the
British commanding officer, orders were given
to search for, and bring in, all the Canadian
chasseurs distributed through the town ; and,
when so brought in, a guard was set over them.
The officers could do no more : they could not
be at every man's elbow, as he roamed through
the conntry in search of plunder ;—and plunder
the soldier claims as a right, and will have, when
the enemy has compelled him to force his way
at the point of the bayonet.
No event of the war was so greeted by the
government-editors, as the affair at Hampton..
All the hireling pens in the United States were
put in requisition, till tale followed tale, each
out-doing the last in horror. The language of
the brothel was exhausted, and that of Billingsgate surpassed, to invent sufferings for the
American women, and terms of reproach for
their British ravishers. Instances were not only
magnified, but multiplied, tenfold ; till the
whole republic rang with peals of execration
against the British character and nation. A few
of the boldest of the anti-government party
stood up to undeceive the public, but the voice
of reason was drowned in the general clamour ;
and it became as dangerous, as it was useless, to
attempt to gain a hearing. The " George-town
Federal Republican," of July 7, a newspaper
1, 2




published just at the verge of Washington-city,
and whose editor has the' happy priviledge of
remaining untainted amidst a corrupted atmosphere, contains the following account :—" The
statement of the women of Hampton being
violated by the British, turns out to be false,
A correspondence upon that subject and the
pillage said to have been committed there, has
taken place between general Taylor and admirai
Warren. Some plunder appears to have been
committed, but it was confined to the French
troops employed. Admiral Warren complains,
on his part, of the Americans, having continued
to fire upon the struggling crews of the barges,
after they were sunk."*
It will be scarcely necessary to mention, that,
so far from the above statement, or any thing
at all resembling it, appearing in the American
histories from which we occasionally extract,—
the most violent paragraphs out of the most
violent journals, have alone that high honor
assigned to them. One author, the reverend
doctor Smith, has, unfortunately,—heedless how
he prostituted his superior talents,—dressed up
these calumnies in far more elegant language
than either of his contemporaries.
Almost immediately after the affair at Hampton, captain Smith, who commanded the two
companies of Canadian chasseurs, waited upon
* Sec p. 60.



the commander-in-chief, and informed him that,
having remonstrated with his men for their
behaviour at Hampton, they, - one and all,
declared, that they would show no quarter to
any American whatever, in consequence of their
comrades having been so basely fired at, when
without arms, in the water, before the batteries
at Craney Island. Upon captain Smith's expressing himself convinced that these foreigners
would act up to their determination, sir John
Warren ordered the two companies away from
the American coast ; and, although troops were
subsequently much wanted in that quarter, the
Canadian chasseurs, or Independent foreigners,
were never again employed in the British
On the 11th of July, sir John Warren detached
rear-admiral Cockburn, with the Sceptre 74,
(into which ship he had now shifted his flag,)
the Romulus, Fox, and Nemesis, all armêe en
flute, the Conflict gun-brig, and Highflyer and
Cockchafer tenders ; having on board the 103d
regiment, of about .500 rank and file,* and a
small detachment of artillery, to Ocracoke
harbor, situate on the North-Carolina coast; for
the purpose of putting an end to the commerce
carried on from that port, by means of inland
navigation, and of destroying any vessels that
might be found there. During the night of the
* Afterwards sent to the Canadas.



12th, the squadron arrived off Ocracoke bar;
and, at two o'clock on the following morning,
the troops were embarked in their boats ; which,
accompanied by the Conflict and tenders, pulled
in three divisions, towards the shore. Owing
to the great distance and heavy swell, the
advanced division, commanded by lieutenant
Westphal', first of the Sceptre, did not reach
the shoal-point of the harbor, behind which two
large armed vessels were seen at anchor, till
considerably after day-light : consequently, the
enemy was fully prepared for resistance. The
instant the boats doubled the point, they were
fired • upon by the two vessels ; but lieutenant
Wcstphall, under cover of some rockets, pulled
direcity for them ; and, had just got to the brig's
bows, when her crew cut the cables and abandoned her. The schooner's colours were hauled
down by the enemy about the same time. The
latter vessel proved to be the Atlas, letter of
marque; of Philadelphia, mounting 10 guns, and
measuring 240 tons : the former, the Anaconda,
letter of marque, of New York, mounting 18 long
9-pounders, and measuring 387 tons.
- in the course of the morning the troops were
landed,. and took possession of Ocracoke and
the town. of Portsmouth, without the slightest
opposition. The inhabitants behaved with
civiiity,..and their property was, in consequence,
not molested ; although both Mr. Thompson



and Mr. O'Connor have stated differently. One
says : — " About 3000 men were landed at
Portsmouth ; where they destroyed the private
property of the inhabitants, and treated the
place with no more forbearance than they had
'shown at Georgetown and Fredericktown.".
Mr.O'Connor makes the attacking party amount
to no more than " between 7 and 800 ;" declares that " the country was pillaged and laid
waste by the enemy for several miles ;"-t and,
having found out that some women died, and
others were taken ill, in the neighbourhood,
about the time of the attack, supposes that it
all arose from " apprehensions of being treated
like the unfortunate females at Ilampton.''t —
After remaining on shore for two days, rearadmiral Cockburn, with his troops and seamen,
re-embarked ; not, it would appear, because he

had performed the service entrusted to him,
but—on account of his " not feeling himself
competent to the attack on Newburn, now that
its citizens were preparing to receive him."'
No sooner had the British departed, than the
American militia flocked to the post ; thus
presenting us with a new system of military
* Sketches of the War, p. 224. -1 History of the War, p. 178.

Item sets