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Chapter 17


Chapter 17
extracted text

even hinted at in the proceedings of the court of
inquiry, (filling as they do the column of a newspaper,*) that tried the officers and clew of the
Tigress; and which court would, most gladly,
have published the fact. And would doctor Smith
and Mr. Thomson, so ready at catching tales of
the sort, have let pass such an opportunity of
stigmatizing the British ? The most surprising
thing is, that it should be a " fourth edition,
revised and corrected," wherein we find so disgusting, and so flagitious a paragraph.
* National Intelligencer, July 29, 1815.


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Assemblage of troops in Lower Canada—Contemplated attack upon Sackett's Harbor—Arrival
there of general Izard—British camp at Chambly
—March of the left division towards Plattsburg
—Origin of the expedition—Arrival of the left
division near the lines, and correspondent retreat
of major-general Macomb—Slow advance of the
left division—Behaviour of the American militia
—Description of Plattsburg—Required co-operation of the Champlain fleet— Comparative
,force of the two squadrons—Important particulars from the letters of " VERITAS "—Remarks on the American official account—Prisoners and deserters—Loss on both sides—American accounts—Painted representation of the
action—Subsequent death of sir George Prevost—
Remarks upon plans of conquest matured at a distance—Re-encampment of the left division of the
British army in Lower Canada—Proceedings of
the right division—Improved state of the de..
fences, and augmented force of the garrison, at
Fort-Erie—Effect of sickness and loss on the
British—Preparations for a sortie—State of the
British. Works—Distance between them and the




British encampment—Advance of the American'
sallying party—State of the weather —Surprise
of the British piquets—Skirmish with the guard,
and capture (f part of the batteries—Advance
of the American reserve—Arrival of the supportbrigade from the British camp—Repulse of the
American troops, and recovery of the captured
batteries—Mutual loss—American accounts—
Continued exposure and sickness of the .right
division—Its removal to a healthier contiguous
spot, and subsequent retreat 4o ChippewayVeneral Izard's departure from Sackett's Harbor His cautious proceeding,. and junction
with general Brown —Amount of the united
American forces—Further retreat of general
., Drummond—Skirmish at Lyon's creep—British command of Lake Ontario—A small reinforcement to the right division—Retreat of the
A merican-, army to Fort-Erie—A second reinforcement to • the British—Abandonment and
..destruction of Fort-Lrie, and departure of
generals Izard and Brown from Upper Canada
—Distribution of both armies, on the Niagara,
into winter quarters—State of alarm at Sackett's
Harbor — Two successive predatory incursions
. into the western parts of Upper Canada.


LEAVING • A Mr. Madison. to profit by the

British regulars was now assembled, sufficient,
for the first time during the war, to give serious
alarm to the American government. During
the months of dune and July, the Quebec papers
were continually announcing • the arrival •• of
transports with troops, • and those troops, too,
such as, under Wellington, had hitherto carried
all before them. . When the people of the Canadas began to reflect, how sparingly they had
been supplied with troops, in the first two years
of the war, a very familiar proverb could not
fail to press upon their thoughts. When, again,
they saw nothing but petty reinforcements sent
to general Drummond on the Niagara, and that
the important post of Sackett's Harbor was still a
flourishing depot in the hands of the enemy, what
rational man among them could come to any other
conclusion, than that the commander-in-chief
was determined to wipe away the disgrace he had
incurred in the May of the preceding year ?*
Sir George, did certainly say something, in his
intercepted letters to lieutenant-general Drummond, about ordering a brigade of i troops,
under major-general Kempf, to Kingston, for
the purpose • of attacking '-Sackett's Harbor ;
although, at the same time, he must have
known, that our fleet was not in to situation to
appear on the lake ; nor likely to be so, till the
new 100-gun-ship! )was launched-. So satisfied


advantage" he has gained upon Lake Huron,
we hasten to Lower Canada ; where a force of


Ai *

See Vol. I. p. I n.



were the Americans, that Sackett's Harbor
would be the first point of attack, even if sir
George had to cross the St. Lawrence, a id march
overland, that general Izard, on the 1st of September, broke up his encampment at Plattsburg, and marched there with between 3 and
4000 regulars.

If any any thing could raise British courage
beyond its accustomed height, it was, surely, the
emulation which existed between the troops that
had recently arrived from the Peninsula, and
those that had been originally allotted for the
defence of the Canadas : the one, highly jealous
of the reputation they had already gained ; the
other, equally so, of their local experience,
and of the dressing they had several times given
to superior numbers of the very same enemy,
against whom the two united bodies were now
about to act. Under these circumstances, will
any one, except an American, say, that 11000
of such troops would not have beaten, upon any
ground where evolutions could be practised,
17000 of the best troops which the United States
could have brought into the field ? A British
army, then, of 11000 men, with a proportionate
and most excellent train of artillery, commanded
in chief by sir George Prevost, and, under him,
by officers of the first distinction in the service,
left their .camp at Chambly, " with a view,"
says the American official account, " of con-



quering the country, as far as Crown Point and
Ticonderoga." We are here bound to acquit
sir George Prevost of being the framer of this
expedition. It originated in England. j'
The approach of sir George's army, by
Odell-town, to the line of demarcation, was the
signal for major-general Macomb, with the few
regulars of general Izard's army left under his
command, to retire from the neighbourhood of
the lines, to Plattsburg. His abandoned camp
was entered by sir George Prevost on the 3d of
September. From this position the left division,
of about 7000 men, composed of all but the
reserve and heavy artillery, moved forward on the
4th, and halted on the 5th, within eight miles of
Plattsburg; having advanced 25 miles within the
enemy's territory in the course of four days. On
the morning of the 6th, the left division proceeded on its march, major-general Power's, or
the right column advancing by the Beckmantown road ; and major-general Brisbane's column,—except one wing of De Meuron's regiment, left to keep up the communication with
the main body,—taking the road that runs parallel to Lake Champlain. At a bridge crossing
a creek that intersects this road, the American
general had stationed a small fore?, with two
field-pieces, to abattis and obstruct the way. In
the meanwhile the right column, meeting with
* App. No. 45.
t App. No. 42.



no impedimentS to its progress, passed rapidly,
on, 700 .American militia,* upon whom " the
British troops did not deign to fire, except by
their flankers and advanced patroles,"1- retreating before it. General Macomb, out of compliment to the regulars, perhaps, states that 250
of them, under major Wool, " disputed the road
with great .obstinacy ;" yet, in almost the next
paragraph, admits that, after the detachment
of 340 regulars, with two field pieces, had retired from Dead creek, and joined major Wool,
and while the riflemen " at rest," were pouring
in a destructive fire," and the field-pieces doing
" considerable execution," " so undaunted was
the enemy, that he never deployed in his whole
march, always pressing on in column." The
rapid advance of major-general Power secured
major-general Brisbane from any further opposition, than what .he might experience from the
American gun-boats and gallies.:Notwithstanding a heavy fire from their long 24 and 12pounders, the bridge across the creek was presently re-constructed, and the left column moved
forward upon Plattsburg.
The village -:a Plattsburg contains about 70
houses and -stores, and is situate on both sides'
of the river Saranac, close to its confluence with
Lake Champlain. The statement in the British
official account, that " the column entered Flats* Sketches of the Wat,q). 318.
1- App. No. 45.



burg," must, therefore; be understood to mean,
either the township of that name; or the small
portion of the village which was situate on the
north-side of the stream. It was to the south-side
that general Macomb, after taking up the planks
of the bridge, had retreated ;. and it was " on the
elevated ridge of land" forming its bank, that
the Americans erected their works. General
Macomb mentions three forts, and two blockhouses strongly fortified." One of the latter,
according to a grand panoramic view of the
action, mounted three guns. 1,We believe there
were from 15 to 20 guns in all ,most .of them
of heavy caliber. There was, also, a large new
stone-mill, four stories high, that formed an
excellent position for the American riflemen.
It was on the evening of the 6th, that the left
division arrived on the north-bank of the: Saranac. " But," 'says Mr. Thompson, " not all
the gallies, aided by the armament of the whole
flotilla, which, then lay. opposite Plattsburg,
under commodore Macdonough, could have prevented the capture of Macomb's army, after its
passage of the Saranac, had sir • George Prevost
pushed his whole force upon the margin of that
stream. Like general Drummond, at Erie, he
made a pause, in full v iew of the unfinished
works of the Americans, and consumed. five days
in erecting batteries, and throwing up breast* App. No. 42.


works, for the protection of his approaches. Of
this interval the American general (lid not fail
to avail himself; and kept his troops constantly
employed in finishing his line of redoubts."* The
reader need scarcely to be reminded, that this is
the same Plattsburg, at which colonel Murray,
with 1000 troops, landed ; the river on which it
stands, the same Saranac, up which the colonel
ascended, three miles, to burn the enemy's barracks; and that those barracks were burnt, while
an American regular army, more than twice as
strong as general Macomb's, lay encamped in
the neighbourhood.t
Unfortunately, a service which one brigade of
the left division, had it been allowed to make the
attempt, would have most promptly and completely executed, was to be deferred, till a ship,
which had been launched only 11 days, was
armed, manned, and equipped ; and, with her
puny companions, ready to fight a much superior fleet of the enemy. There is no doubt that
orders were sent from home, for this ship to be
laid on the stocks, so that she might be ready
to co-operate in the Plattsburg expedition. Six
days only after the Confiance had been launched,.
and nine days before a crew arrived to man her,
was sir George's army already in the enemy's
territory. If sir George's orders were so impe1 Sketches of the War, p. 319.
1- See Vol. I. p.



rative as to a naval co-operation, why did he
not wait quietly at his camp at Chambly, till
the new ship was fitted ; and then commence
his three days' march to Plattsburg
A gentleman, residing near the scene of action,
has, under the signature of " Veritas," so ably
descanted upon the merits of the Plattsburg
failure, that we cannot do better, than make an
extract from his interesting pamphlet ; * first,
however, calling the reader's attention to our
statement of the action fought between the
rival fleets ; wherein will be seen detailed some
of the many difficulties under which poor captain Downie laboured. t So much of that statement as respects the relative force of the British
and American squadrons, cannot well be dispensed with ; and is therefore here transcribed :

Comparative force of the two squadrons.

Broadside-metal Long guns, 507
. Carronades, 258
in pounds



Complements of men and boys,
Size in tons,


" In order," says the writer of VERITAS, " to
convey an accurate idea upon the subject of
the expedition to Plattsburg, by reasoning upon
fir George's official letter, 1 extract from it,
that, on the 3d of September, our army seized


* Published at Montreal, Upper Canada.
James's Nay. Occur. p. 405-35.




the enemy's entrenched camp at Champlain;
town (what a feat !) after it was abandoned by
them; that, on the 5th, the army halted within
8 miles of Plattsburg ; and, on the 6th, entered
Plattsburg, after reversing the position of the
enemy at Dead creek, which they abandoned
and left to be defended by the gun-boats. Sir
George then describes the position of the enemy
as upon an elevated ridge south of the Saranac,
with redoubts, &c. armed with heavy ordnance,
with their flotilla, the Saratoga, Surprise, Thunderer, Preble, and 10 gun-boats, (which gunboats please to remark, reader, were, a moment
before, said to be at Dead creek,) at anchor out
of gun-shot from the shore.' lie adds, that he
i mmediately communicated this circumstance
to captain Downie, who had the Confiance,
Linnet, Broke, and Shannon,' (captain Piing
calls. the latter the Chub and Finch,) and 12
gun-boats,' and • requested his co-operation;
( mark that ;) and, in the mean time, batteries
were constructed. On the morning of the 11th
our flotilla was seen over the isthmus of land;
(it seems he would not trust to his ears, in respect
to the scaling Of the guns for a signal as agreed
upon ;) when, immediately, certain brigades
Were ordered to advance to force the ford of the
Saranac, and escalade the enemy's works upon
the heights ; but; "Sareely had the troops forced
a passage and ascended those heights, when he
heard the shout of victory (here his ears appear


have been pretty sharp) from the enemy's
works, in consequence of the flags of the Confiance and Linnet being struck, (they did not
strike within 15 minutes of each other,) and the
gun-boats flying. Finally, he adds, A this unlooked for event, depriving me of the co-operation of the fleet,' (but, in the name of honor and
good faith, why did you not co-operate before ?)
without which, the further prosecution of the
service was become impracticable, I did not
hesitate to arrest the course of the troops advancing to the attack, because the most complete
success would have been unavailing, and the
possession of the enemy's works: offered no advantage to compensate for the loss we must have
sustained in acquiring possession of them.'
" Now, would it not be supposed, that all this
was done in the time that sir George was turning
himself round from looking at the fleet, to look
at his troops,: and vice versa ! but, what must
the astonishment be, when it is found, that the
Confiance resisted two hours and a half, and
the Linnet 15 minutes longer !. Surely the
troops, whose commander was so impatient to
see the fleet come up, ought to have been ready
to enter the enemy's works the moment they
did appear. Had they so entered, it is unquestionable that our fleet would have been victorious ; or, had they been permitted to enter, even
when recalled, it is almost demonstrable that
the enemy's fleet must have surrendered, or ours




at least, have been retaken. There may be some
truth in sir George's official narrative but much
is concealed. A letter was sent to captain
Downie, strongly urging him to come on, as the
army had been long waiting for his co-operation,
(stating, as a proof of it, that it had been under
arms from day-light the day before, in expectation of the fleet,) and closing with a hope, that
nothing but the state of the wind, prevented the
fleet from coming up. This last insinuation conveyed more meaning than meets the ear, as if hinting that artificial delays were made. The brave
Downie replied, that he required no urging to
do his duty ; that he should be up the first shift
of wind, and make the signal of his approach by
scaling his guns. He was as good as his word ;
the guns were sealed when he got under weigh ;
upon hearing which, sir George issued an order
for the troops to cook, instead of that of instant
co-operation. At length, when he saw the flea,
a movement was ordered, but of course too late,
as so little previous arrangement had been made
for being ready to come into immediate contact
with the enemy, that the troops put in motion,
had a circuit of miles to make ; and then, when
at length close in with their object, were re.
-called the moment that the fleet fell. As to
captain Downie's being urged by sir George to
go into action, the whole chain of circumstances
corroborate the fact, and the indiscretion of
major Coore in furnishing living evidence of




what the hero, now no more, said, is not more
fortunate for the cause of truth than conclusive
thereon. Besides this, every professional man
knows, that no naval officer, in his senses, would,
from choice, (if left to the guidance of his own
judgment,) have gone into action with a new
ship and raw crew, immediately after her equipment, without a week or ten days to discipline
that crew, and accustom them to their stations
and quarters. Much stress is laid by sir George
and his friends upon the allegation that the
enemy's fleet was out of gun-shot from the shore ;
which is not true. But why not have entered
the enemy's works, and given practical proof of
the range of shot against their fleet, instead of
making conjectural assertions ? Had that been
done, widely different would have been the issue.
So thoroughly did captain Downie depend upon
co-operation by land, that he harangued his
men when going into action, to this effect :My lads, we shall be immediately assisted by
the army a-shore---Let us show them, that our
part of the duty is well done.' Poor fellow, how
he was mistaken ! In 10 minutes afterwards he
fell; and left sir George to tell his own story.
This speech proved to have a pernicious effect
upon the crew, when the promises it conveyed,
were seen not to be fulfilled on shore.
" It is a fact, that the American commodore
was so impressed with the idea that their works
on shore would still be carried, that he did not




no impediments to its progress, passed rapidly,
on, 700 . American militia,* upon whom " the
British troops did not deign to fire, except by
their flankers and advanced patroles,"t re trotting before it. „,General Macomb, out of compliment to the regulars, perhaps, states that 2 500
of them, under major Wool, " disputed the road
with great obstinacy ;" yet, in almost the next
paragraph, admits that, after the detachment
of 340 regulars, with two field pieces, had retired from Dead creek, and joined major Wool,
and while the riflemen '' at rest," were pouring
in a destructive fire," and the field-pieces doing
", considerable execution," " so undaunted was
the enemy, that he never deployed in his whole
march, always pressing on in column." The
rapid advance of major-general Power secured
major-general Brisbane from any further opposition, than .what he might experience from the
American gun-boats and gallies. Notwithstanding a heavy fire from their long 24 and. 12pounders, the bridge -across the creek was presently re-constructed, and the left column moved
forward upon Plattsburg.
The village of Plattsburg contains about 70
houses and stores, and is situate on both sides
of the river Saranac, close to its confluence with
Lake Champlain. The statement in the British
official account, that "the column entered Flats-

* Sketches of the Watitp. 318.


burg,"* must, therefore, be understood to mean,
either the township of that name, or the small
portion of the village which was situate on the
north-side of the stream. It was to the south-side
that general Macomb, after taking up the planks
of the bridge, had retreated ;. and it was " on the
elevated ridge of land" forming its bank, that
the Americans erected their works. General
Macomb mentions three forts, and " two blockhouses strongly fortified."-- One of the latter,
according to a grand panoramic view of the
action, mounted three guns. i,We believe there
were from 15 to eo guns in all ; most .of them
of heavy caliber. There was., also, a large new
stone-mill, four stories high, that formed an
excellent position for the American riflemen.
It was on. •the evening of the 6th, that the left
division arrived on the north-bank of the Saranac. " But,'.' says Mr, Thompson, " not all
the gallies, aided by the armament of the whole
flotilla; which then lay. opposite • Plattsburg,
under commodore Macdonough, could have prevented the capture of Macomb's army, after its
passage of the Saranac, had sir -George Prevost
pushed his whole force upon the margin of that
stream. Like general Drummond, at Erie; he
made a pause, in full view of the unfinished
works of the Americans, and consumed.five days
in erecting batteries, and throwing -tip breast,

t App. No. 45.

* App. No. 42.



upon sirGeorge, as an imperious duty, to furnish'
that set-off, by capturing the enemy's army, to
prevent the effect which a retreat, under such
circumstances, must produce, ornamented, as he
well knew it would be, by American gasconade?
The mischievous moral effect of the Plattsburg
business, has been, and will be, incalculable, both
in America and in Europe ; for that will be
heard of in many countries and places, where it
will not be known, that the commander alone
was to blame, and the army under him indignant on the occasion. Were the events of sir
George's command, and especially the expeditions to Sackett's Harbor and Plattsburg to
become examples for the British army to follow;
from possessing the hearts of lions, they would
soon be reduced to the timidity of lambs ; and
the future inquiries of military men would be,
not who had nobly done his duty, but who had
-avoided a battle, or who had contrived to escape
" It has been said, that his General Orders
and official letters were often composed with a
view to deceive at a distance ; and his Haftsburg letter furnishes direct proof of this accusa 7
tion's being correct. It is dated there, the 11th
of September, 1814, as if written on the spot, immediately after the naval battle, and before the
degrading retreat commenced ; whereas, it is well
known, that the letter did not go from Canada



until it was carried by Mr. Secretary Brenton,
who sailed from. Brandy Pots on the 9th of Octo. ber ; consequently, it was written in Montreal
long after the date it bears. In proof of this,
read the following paragraph of that letter, As
the troops concentrated and approached the line
of separation between this province,' (is Plattsburgh then in Canada ?) and the United
States, the American army, &c.' What a sad
slip of the pen, or memory, is here ! But if for
Plattsburg, 11th September,' be substituted
Montreal, 21st September,' or any subsequent
day, then the blunder will be explained. It is
true, such was the celerity of his personal retreat, that on the 13th, he issued an order, dated
at Odell-town ; but I strongly suspect that, on
the 11th, after the action, he was not in a state
to write letters any where. Another proof of
the official letter's having been written at Montreal, and not at Plattsburg, is, that in the first
General Order issued afterwards, the gun-boats
were, in a manner, commended for effecting
their retreat in safety ; (probably from a sympathetic feeling of the moment ;) whereas, in the
revision of that order, they are left out, although
they had been mentioned in this false dated letter
as flying; because, upon reflection, their not
having done their duty, might lead people
aside from the consideration, that he had not
done his own. But why was the letter dated at




Plattsbtirg? Truly, just to deceive JOHN Butt;
and prevent the necessity of then letting him
know, how many men were lost by desertion in
that memorable retreat, and what Tiantity of
provisions and stores were destroyed in it, or
. during the expedition."
In addition to sir -George's, we have copied
into the Appendix sir James Yeo's letter.*
Captain Pring's, which details the naval battle,
will be found in its proper place.t Some parts
of the American official account require an ex planation. It is by that intended to be understood, that the whole British army was, on the
morning of the 11th, drawn up on the banks of
the 'Saranac : whereas, but four battalions were
theree' stationed ; the remainder of the troops
being at some distance in the rear. NI here did
general Macomb learn, that our troops were
three times ," repulsed," in their efforts to cross
the river ? The fact is, major-general Brisbane,
with a portion of his brigade, not only crossed
the Saranac, but brought away some prisoners.
This was accomplished to shew the practicability of the thing, and not as any part of the
general attack about to be commenced. Had ,
general Brisbane been permitted to advance,
he would soon have made the brave volunteers
and militia" skip along as nimbly as, according


App No. 43.

+ jimeei'Naval Occnrreneeg, his Appendix, No. 00.


to general Macomb himself, they had already
done upon the Beckman-town road. " The
gallant conduct of captain M`Glassin," who, on
the night of the 9th, " with 50 men, drove off a
working-party, consisting of .150, and defeated
a covering-party of the same number, killing
one officer and six men in the charge, and
wounding many,"* was a feat worthy to be performed by Americans. Let us take a view of
it, in its unadorned state.. The battery mounted
two guns, and had suffered so much from the
enemy's fire, as to need considerable repairs.
These were best performed at night ; and the
men had actually their coats and accoutrements
off; when this " gallant" party surprised them.
Such as were not instantly disabled or made
prisoners soon picked' up their muskets, and
drove the Americans back to their works, with
the utmost precipitancy. General Wromb,
well knowing that captain•M`Glassin had not
ti me even to spike the two guns, leaves that to
be inferred. Mr: Thomson, while, in stating
the routed foe as only one " guard. of 150 men,"
he appears to consider general Macomb's " covering party" as the same men covered with their
cloaths, understands what is:expected from him,
as to the other part of the account ;_ and therefore unblushingly says : " Being now in possession of a work, which would have , incalculably

* App. No. 44. :"




annoyed the batteries at Fort-Brown, captain
M`Glassin destroyed it with all possible haste,
and returned to the American works with the
loss of three men missing."
The only prisoners taken by the Americans,
near the river, were some of the light infantry
company of the 76th regiment, and a few
stragglers from other corps, who, having, when
the order came for a general retreat, lost their way
in the woods, got cut off from general Brisbane's
brigade. General Macomb assigns a better reason for the discontinuance of the bombardment
by the British, thus : " Every battery of the
enemy being silenced by the superiority of our
fire." t So wide is this from the truth, that
general Brisbane silenced, and drove away the
men from, every one of the American guns on the
banks of the river, preparatory to the lodgment
which he had intended to have made with his brigade, had not the attack been countermanded.
The rear-guard was commanded by this officer, who waited till the bridge at Dead creek
was completely destroyed, and left nothing
behind, except what the badness of the roads
prevented being removed. One of these articles
was the broken carriage of a 24-pounder, which
a Burlington journalist immediately magnified
into " 90 pieces of cannon." General Macomb,
in his first letter, says: " The light troops and


* Sketches of the War, p. 3e1.

t App. No. 44.


militia are in full pursuit of the enemy, and
making prisoners in all directions." In his
second letter, he baulks the expectations he had
raised in the minds of his countrymen', by enumerating only " five dragoons of the 19th regiment, and several others of the rear-guard."
This " pursuing" enemy, however, knew better
than even to shew himself to " the rear-guard."
The "prisoners" consisted chiefly of deserters ; of
whom there were, from first to last,—such an
effect had the retreat upon the minds of the
men,—more than 800.
In killed and wounded our loss was comparatively small ; amounting to two captains, one
ensign, four serjeants, 30 rank and file, of the
former ; and of the latter, one general staff, one
captain, six lieutenants, seven seijeants, and
135 rank and file. The missing amounted to
four lieutenants, two serjeants, one drummer,
and 48 rank and file ; making a total of 37
killed ; 150 wounded ; and 55 missing : grand
total, 235.* As this trifling loss would show,
at once,what a small portion of the British troops
Caine into action ; and that it could not have
been the prowess of their opponents that coin=
pelted them to retire, general Macomb, to whose
numerical accuracy we are no stratigers,t says :
" The loss of the enemy, in killed, wounded,
prisoners, and deserters, since his first appearance, cannot fall short of 2500.'1: This number
App. No. 42.

t See Vol. T. p. 318.

App.No. 41.





satisfies Mr. O'Connor, but not doctor Smith ;'
the latter, therefore, with his ready pen, makes
it " 3050."t Mr.. Thomson pretends to more
accuracy. • ,,ale states the number of deserters
that surrendered on, „the first day, at 400 ; adding : —" Besides these, sir George lost 75 prisoners; and, as nearly as could be ascertained,
about 1500 killed and wounded ; among them
several officers of rank." t , The Americans state
their own loss, in regulars, at one subaltern, one
serjeaut, one musician,„and,p4 privates, killed;
two subalterns,one serjeant-major,four serjeants,
two corporals,. four. ,rnusicians, and 40 privates
wounded; total, 4 , killed, and 62 wounded:
grand. total 110.1-L ; The number of missing
among the regulars, or the general return of
loss among the 1141unte@rs and militia, no where
None of the American editors have magnified
the British force.. beyond 14000 men ; and Mr.
O'Connor states general Macomb's force at
1500 regulars, and 2.500 militia and Volunteers;
total 4000 ►en.* . This is exclusive of 3000
militia that joined during the night of the 1 1 th;
and there were, besides, according to an American,
editor, " many thousands more on the road in
full and willing. march4", : The reader is, no
doubt, prepared for a budget of boasting, on the

History of the United Statei, Vol; III. p. 319.
, + Sketches of the War, p. 324. i;
History of the War p. 273.

part of the Americans ; and, without characterizing it as a " splendid engagement," had
they not reason ? We shall only notice a large
" Painting ;" of which we have the " Key," now
before us. Among the British officers represented as close to the bank, are major-generals
De Rottenburg, Robinson, Brisbane, and Baynes ;
and a horseman, in full speed from one of the
contiguous houses, is styled,—" Aide de camp
from general Prevost." The British encampment is, by the painter's magic, brought full
into view. We are not a little surprised to see" Colonel Wellington, (Willington,) of the
Buffs, encouraging and giving an example to
his men ;" when Mr. Thomson had, with more
accuracy than usual, " killed" that officer, at
the head of these same " Buffs," while marching
to Plattsburg, on the 6th.t By way of sheaving
that the " State-dragoons of New York," with
their " red coats," bad ceased to " give alarm to
the militia,"I some of the former appear among
the fierce groupe on the south-side of the Saranac. As the picture, by all accounts, gave, at
" 25 cents § each," every satisfaction to the
citizens, two important objects were attained :
the proprietor filled his pockets, and the national
vanity became raised to the highest pitch.
In all cases where the troops of the United
* Sketches of the War, p. 324.
+ Ibid, p. 318.
s About ls. 11d.
App. No. 44.





States have traversed the Canadian territory,
their progress has, to borrow an American phrase,
been '' marked with the all-desolating ruin of
the locust." Quite opposite, in its effects, was the
retreat of the British along the shores if Champlain ; they may be said to have shed manna'
as they went. Not au inhabitant of the place
but was fed and enriched by the Plattsburg
expedition ; which is all that remains to console
us for its unsuccessful result. In the remarks
which it has been our duty to make, in order
to illustrate this memorable historical event,
we hope the reader will understand, that the
two services were as willing to co-operate, as,
for the glory of their country, they ought
always to be. That the fleet did all that could
rationally be expected from its means, our naval
volume will shew : that the army, had it been
allowed to act, would have clone the same, with
less trouble, and not many more casualties, than
usually attend one of its field-days, has, we
trust, already appeared in these pages. The
individual, who, undoubtedly, caused all this,
has since paid the debt of nature.* While,
against him and his memory, we disclaim all
feelings of a personal nature, we as firmly .
deny, that the principle—' De mortuis nil nisi
honurn-' can be extended to a public character.
The indiscreet impatience of the Quebec

* James's Nay. Occur. p.


journalists led them to announce, in a pompous
and boastful manner, every movement of the
left division, after its departure from Odell-town.
Unfortunately, just as they had done favoring
the public with " the highly gratifying intelligence, that our brave troops entered Plattsburg,
with little opposition," the mail closed for
England. So that, in one month after our
discomfiture, the whole United Kingdom rang
OF PLATTSBURG." The same wind that conveyed home, so quickly, this cheering piece of
news, brought accounts, also, of the capture of
Penobscot. The editor of a London evening
journal, ofter announcing, first, that the " district of Maine" had been captured, and then,
that " Plattsburg had been victoriously entered
by our troops," says :—" By a glance at the
map, it will be seen that, by this invasion, our
army had already advanced in the interior to
about 50 miles further south than the Penobscot,
where the coast-operations were carrying on ;
leaving, of course, the whole intermediate country between Lake Champlain and the sea, as it
were cut off from the United States." Much
of the ridicule incurred from hundreds of paragraphs like these, would have been saved, had
the troops from Europe been accompanied by a
commander-in-chief, competent to lead them;
and he directed to govern his movements by




circumstances as they might exist at the time of .
his arrival, and not peremptorily to obey orders,
issued at 4000 miles distance ; orders, which
could not be put in execution, till a six month's
fluctuation of events had, in all proaability„
destroyed their expediency.
After the British army, on its return from
Plattsburg, had re-encamped at Champlain,
the road to Sackett's Harbor lay open to sir
• George. Instead of directing his views that
way, he marched, with the army, across the lines,
to Odell-town ; and then set off for Montreal.
'After his departure, the principal part of the
troops were distributed between Isle aux Noix,
St. John's, Chambly, and La Prarie ; where we
will leave them, and attend to the operations of
the right division.
No sooner had the British retired to their en.
camprnent, after their unsuccessful assault upon
Fort- Erie, * than the Americans set . about to
repair the bastion which had been injured by
the explosion ; as well as to complete the new
works that were constructing, when the attack
commenced. In a little while, the defences
were all entire, and " garnished with heavy
cannon ;" numbering, according to Mr. Thom•'
son's plan of the fort, 27 pieces.
On the 2d of September, general Brown,
having recovered from his wounds, resumed the
* Sec p. 178.


command of the garrison ; which had, in the
mean time, been reinforced by new levies of
militia.* On the 3d, came about 320 regulars,
in the St. Lawrence brig, from Lake Huron,
and a company of riflemen, 80 strong, from
Sandusky. Small detachments of regulars,
whose numbers cannot be ascertained, also
crossed the strait, from Batavia and Sackett's
Ilarb m Notwithstanding, therefore, the loss
sustained on the I.5th of August, and by repeated desertions since, the American army still
mustered about 3400 men, who, instead of the
two captured schooners to protect .their flanks,
had now, the St. Lawrence, Niagara, Lady,
Prevost, and Caledonia brigs, and Porcupine,
schooner ; mounting, between them,-.58 guns.
Well might Mr. Thomson boast. that Fort-Erie
was rendered " impregnable to the attacks of
any other than a vastly superior force."t
The British right division, although „it had
been reinforced by the 6th and 8211 regiments,
of, united, about 1040 rank and file, was, on
account of its recent loss, and the departure of
six companies of the 4Ist for Fort-George, and
of the small remnant of the 103d for Burlington,
no stronger in numbers than previously to the
assault : but, in effective strength, it was much
weaker ; for the heavy and constant rains,
operating upon the swampy nature of the ground

* Sketches of the War, p. 328.

f Ibid, p. 323





upon which the troops were obliged to be en•
camped, and the severe privations, for want of
provisions and other necessaries, under which
They labo-ared, -spread sickness among them. A
supply, either of provisions or of men, could not
well be forwarded, while the American squadron
retained the command of the lake.
Several immaterial affairs of piquets occurred,
till general Brown, enspirited by the business
at Plattsburg, and encouraged by information
of general Drummond's intention to retreat to a
healthier position, resolved, by a sortie, to gain
the credit of having compelled this movement.
To render the enterprise less hazardous, he
invited across a reinforcement of seven-day
men,' or men hired to act for that term only.
Of this fact there is no doubt ; but we are willing
to concede every advantage, in point of numbers, that was derived from it, and to estimate
general Brown's force at no more than 3400
men, of whom upwards of two-thirds were regulars. The British had commenced upon a new
battery, intended to enfilade the western ramparts of the American works ; but, being on the
eve of retreating, and having as yet got up Da
additional guns,* the work had not been persevered in. Two small wooden buildings, denominated, though not worthy the name of,
block-houses, one upon the right flank, the
* See p. 168.

other near the centre, of the British lines, had
recently been constructed. The British encampment was distant a mile and a half from
the works, which were situate in the ,midst of
a thick wood.
Until it is admitted that the mere throwing
of a red coat upon a man's back can endow him
with all the well-known qualities of the British
soldier, no one can be surprised that general
Brown should have deferred his sortie till he
had ascertained, that De Watteville's regiment, (which, without disparagement to the
brave officers in it, was composed of foreigners
of all nations and principles,) joined by the few
numbers of the 8th, was doing duty at the batteries. It was at about two o'clock on the
afternoon of the 17th of September, when the
rain was pouring in torrents, that the Americans
sallied from the fort. ," Lieutenants Riddle and
frazer, of the 15th infantry," says Mr, Thomson, " had already opened a road from the
southern angle of the garrison, to a point within
pistol-shot of the enemy's right wing, and with
such secrecy, that it was not discovered till the
actual assault commenced." We here gain
a piece of important information ; and, it is
our duty to add, that part of De Watteville
regiment composed that " right wing." • The
Americans, at about three o'clock in the after* Sketches of the War, p. 325.


noon, advanced, in two columns, under a heavy
fire from their batteries ; one column passing
through the woods, so as to flank the outer British
battery, or No. 3 ; the piquets belon,:ing to
which were completely surprised. The other,
emerging from a deep 'ravine, in which it had
been concealed, penetrated the British lines, in
front, a little to the right of No. 2, or the centre
battery ; then, turning short to the left, surrounded the British right, and got almost immediate possession of No. 3 battery, its magazine,
and, but not without a struggle, the blockhouse upon its right, garrisoned by a few men
of the 8th regiment.
While a party was securing the prisoners, destroying the three 24-pounders at No. 3 battery,
and blowing up the magazine, a strong column
turned to the right ; and, after meeting with a
gallant resistance from the piquets, composed
of a part.of the 8th, and De Watteville's regi•
ments, succeeded in gaining possession of the
remaining block-house and of No. 2 battery.
General Miller, at the head of the 9th, 11th, and
19th infantry regiments, joined by the 21st
regiment, forming the reserve under general
Ripley, inclined towards the river, in order to
assail the British battery, No. 1. By this time,
the remnants of the first battalion of the royal
'Scots, of the second battalion of the 89th, and



the Glengarry light infantry ; also three companies of the 6th, and seven companies of the 82d
regiment, had arrived from the British camp. The
royal Scuts, and 89th, under lieutenant-colonel
Gordon, of the former regiment, advanced by the
road leading to the block-house, upon the right
and soon drove general Porter and his volunteers, in number 1000,' along with the regulars supporting them, from the block-house
and the battery, No. 3. T he recovery of No. 2;
and the defence of No. 1 batteries, were entrusted
to the three companies of the 6th, under major
Taylor, and the seven companies of the 82d, under
major Proctor ; amounting, together, to about
560 rank and file. These detachments, after a
free use of the bayonet, drove the 9th, 11th,
21st, and part of the 19th, United States' regiments, numbering, at the very lowest estimate,
1000 rank and file; from the battery No. 2,
before they had effected its entire destruction,
or that of the two guns in it, and then across
the British entrenchments, nearly to the glacis
of Fort-Erie ; making several prisoners in the
pursuit. In the mean while, the Glengarry
light infantry, under the immediate command
of lieutenant-colonel Battersby, and accompanied
by lieutenant-colonel Pearson, had recovered
the possession of the new intrenchment, or

* TIM, of the War, p. 263.



" unfinished battery No. 4." By five o'clock'
the works were all re-occupied, and the line of
piquets re-established.t
The British loss was very severe. It amounted
to 115 killed, 17S wounded, and 316 missing;
total, 609: T. a very large proportion, when we
reflect, that the reserve, composed of major
Lisle's troop of the 19th light dragoons, the
seven remaining companies of the 6th, and the
two flank companies of the 41st regiments, along
with a small body of incorporated militia, was
not at all in the action. What a contrast, in
reference to the numbers of the respective
armies, between the returns of casualties at the
foot of major-general De Watteville's, and sir
George Prevost's, official letters ! § The Americans acknowledge a loss of 10 officers and 70
men, killed ; 24 officers and 190 men, wounded;
and 10 officers and 206 men, missing ; total, 510; *
nor does this return appear to include the militia
or Volunteers.

• • We are only favored with the sight of a short
extract from general Brown's official report. It
is, however, quite enough to satisfy us of the
spirit of the whole. "Within 30 minutes after
the first gun was fired," says the general, " batteries, Nos. 3 and 2, the enemy's line of entrench.
* Sketches of the War, p. 326. + App. No. 46.
App. No. 47.
§ Ibid, No. 43.



ments, and his 'two block-houses, were in our
possession. Soon after, battery No. 1, was abandoned by the British. The guns in each were
spiked by us, or otherwise destroyed." With
this falsehood set abroad, one cannot be surprised that general Brown's sortie should have
been proclaimed throughout the republic a.
" splendid achievement," as he himself, in a
private letter to general Gaines, has the modesty
to call it ; nor at all the bombast to be found in
the different American histories. The reader
has had enough of this already ; we will, therefore, endeavour to be brief. General Brown we
dismiss, with a very short extract from a letter
written by the American " general Varnum," and
dated " Buffaloe, September 18." " Our gallant little army," says this general " has again
signalized itself, by gaining a splendid victory
over a part of the enemy's forces, near Fort-Erie.
Two of the enemy's batteries were carried, the
guns spiked, trunnions broken off, and their
magazines blown up." Mr.'Thomson, after he
has done stating, that the Americans had captured the two British block-houses, and all four
of the batteries, and had succeeded in spiking
the guns, (represented, upon his diagram as 12
in number,) and demolishing the captured.
works, very naturally tells us, that " the operations ceased, with the accomplishment of all
* History of the War, p. 262-



the objects of the sortie."* There is one part
of Mr. Thomson's account, however, that we do
not rightly understand. He declares that the
i mpediments,—describing them fully —which
the American regulars, under general Miller, experienced in their approaches to No. 1 battery,
" produced some confusion in the column, and
made constant appeals to the bayonet necessary. "t An enemy's " bayonet," in such a
case, would, one might suppose, produce still
greater " confusion in the column." To what
else, then, can Mr. Thomson allude, as so "necessary," but the " constant appeals to the
bayonet," made by one of general Wilkinson's
" tried serjeants,"3:

Just in the place where honor's lodg'd" ?

And, no- sooner had the troops, thus doubly
beset, faced about, than a still more forcible
appeal" au derriere, acting by sympathy upon
their heels, continued its potent stimulus, till
the Americans reached the very walls of their
impregnable" fortress.
The still unfavorable state of the weather,
the increasing sickness of the troops, the loss
of three out of six of the battering cannon,
and the now very much reduced numbers
of general Drummond's army, caused him, at
might o'clock on the evening of the 21st, to
* Sketches of the War p. 327.
See p. 82.

t Ibid. 326.



remove his remaining guns and stores; and retire
to the neighbourhood of Black creek, about
a mile and a half distant. Here the men bivouacked for the night, under torrents of rain.
On the morning of the 22d, the Americans discovered this movement, but offered no molestation ; although general Drummond waited till
two o'clock on that day, ere he proceeded
further downwards. On the 24th, after destroying the bridge across Frenchman's creek, and
placing there a small ea% alry piquet, the right
division arrived, and encamped, in compara
lively comfortable quarters, at Chippeway.
As the naval ascendancy of the Athericans upon
Lake Ontario dismissed any present fears of an
attack upon Sackett's Harbor, general Izard's
army would, it was considered, be more profitably employed in strengthening the left. division,
at the head of the lake. Instead, however, of
being carried to the British Twelve-mile creek,
where a landing would have effectually cut off
general Drummond's much inferior force, or to
the neighbourhood of Fort-Niagara, so as to
have assaulted and tried to recover that fortress,
general lzard suffered himself and his army to
be disembarked on the south side of the lake ;
and then stole, by a back route, to Lewistown ;
where he arrived about the 8th of October, with,
according to American accounts, 2400 infantry,
artillery, and dragoons, of the regular army.



Why did he not, then, cross instantly to Queens..
town, and place general Drummond between
two fires ?—No ;—he preferred keeping on the
safe side of the river till, arriving at Black Rock,
on the 10th, he .crossed over to Fort-2,6e, and
superseded general Brown ; who, on the 60,
had received a reinforcement of 700 regulars
from Detroit and Erie. As a proof that we have
such authority as an American cannot dispute,
for stating the American force upon this frontier
at a much higher amount than we have hitherto
fixed it, we here subjoin an article taken from
the " Ontario Repository, of October 11," an
American newspaper published on the spot." From Buffaloe, October 11th, we learn, that
general Izard's army crossed at Black Rock only
on that morning, and was to move down the Canada shore on the following day, with 8000
regular troops." May we, then, be allowed to
say, that general Izard's army at Fort-Erie consisted of 6000 regular troops ?
Against such a force the British right division,
reduced as it now was in numbers, had no chance
of success. General Drummond, therefore, broke
up his cantonments at Chippeway, and retired
upon Fort-George and Burlington. On the
morning of the 19th, a skirmish took place near
Cook's mills, at Lyon's creek, between a brigade
of American regulars, under general Bissell and
detachments from the 82d, 100th, and Glen-



Barry regiments, amounting to about 650 rank
and file, under colonel Murray. The thickness
of the woods gave great advantage to the American riflemen ; and, although, with the addition
of the reserve, we find the 5th, 14th, 15th, and
16th regiments named, besides a company of
rifle men, under captain Irvine, making a total
force of at least 1500 rank and file, the American
" corps d'elite," as Mr. Thomson boastfully calls
it, would not risk an encounter, with evidently
inferior numbers, upon the open ground. After
what ►nay be termed, a drawn battle, each party
retired ; the British, with the loss of 19 killed
and wounded ; the Americans, according to
Mr. Thomson, of 67 killed, wounded, and
missing.* This editor has magnified our force
to 1200 men ; and made the " marquis of Tweedale," in spite of the severe wound he was still
labouring under at Kingston, the commander of
the British party.
The British ship St. Lawrence having been
launched on the 2d of October, commodore
Chauncey, on the 11th, when he bad ascertained
that sir James would be on the lake in a few
days, retired to Sackett's Harbor, and began
mooring his ships head and stern, to prepare for
an attack. Sir James sailed on the 17th, and,
on the 19th, landed at the head of the lake, five
companies of the 90th regiment, and a quantity

* Sketches of the War, p. 329.



F 40


of provisions ; of which the right division was
in great need. The fleet returned to Kingston
on the 23d; and, on the 1st of November, sailed
again to the head of the lake, with the 37th, and
recruits for the 6th, and 82d regiments, and a
brigade of artillery ; all of which, on the evening of the 2d, disembarked near Fort-George.
The arrival of the first reinforcement, trilling as
it was, and although it would not have augmented general Drummond's force much beyond
half the amount of general Izard's, was made an
excuse for the retreat of the latter to Fort-Erie.
On the 22d of October the American volunteers
crossed the strait, to be discharged ; and general
Brown, with 2000 regulars, pushed forward to
the relief of Sackett's Harbor. The arrival of
the second Britith reinforcement produced a
correspondent effect upon the remnant of the
American force. Having, by the aid of their
fleet, removed the guns, and completely destroyed the fortifications, the invaders, on the
5th of November, crossed from Fort-Erie to their
own shore ; " after," says Mr. Thomson,—
forgetting in whose possession Fort-Niagara
was,—" a vigorous and brilliant campaign."'
The greater part of the American troops were
distributed into quarters at Black Rock, Buffaloe and Batavia ; the remainder, marched to
Sackett's Harbor, to assist in repelling an attack




which no one could doubt would be made.
The fighting being over upon the Niagara, lieutenant-general D rummond and suite, along with
the 41st regiment, and a number of convalescents, departed from the head of the lake, on
board the St. Lawrence, and arrived at Kingston
on the 10th of November ; having left the right
division, distributed along the Niagara frontier,
in comfortable winter quarters.
The still defenceless state of the western district of Upper Canada, had exposed the inhabitants to all the horrors of a second American
visitation* On the 20th of September a band
of depredators issued from the garrison. of
troit ; and, crossing the stream, spread fire and
pillage through a whole settlement ; •hereby
reducing to misery no fewer than 27 Canadian
The plunder obtained in this excur,
tion, and the impunity with which • the actors in
it had got back to their homes,. stimulated a
more numerous, and better organized body of
•Americans, having, as their chief, " brigadiergeneral M'Arthur, of the United. States' army."
The proceedings of this military officer. and his
detachment having been thought worthy, of a
place in one of the American histories, we cannot
do better than transcribe the account. " On
the 22d of the following month i (October,)
brigadier-general M'Arthur, having collected



See p. 73.

* Sketches of the War, p. 330.



720 effective regulars and militia, proceeded on
a secret expedition, along the western shore of
Lake St. Clair, and passed into the Canadian
territory, at the mouth of that water. He pene•
trated 200 miles in the enemy's con.,try ; destroyed more than that number of muskets
attacked a large body of militia and Indians,
encamped on favorable ground ; made about
150 prisoners ; and dispersed all the detachments
to be found at the Thames, Oxford, or Grand
River. During the march, lie principally sub.
sisted on the enemy, and fired several of the
mills, from which the British troops in Upper
Canada were supplied with food. Having gained
intelligence of the evacuation of Fort-Erie, he
abandoned his intention of proceeding to Burlington Heights, and returned to Detroit on the
17th of November. By this rapid expedition,
the enemy's hostile intentions were diverted from
another quarter, and his means of attacking
Detroit entirely crippled ; the destruction of his
supplies rendering such an attempt altogether
i mpracticable."*
Mr. Thomson has here, by the usual arts of
his trade, attempted to convert into a military exploit, what much more resembled the
inroad of banditti. That general M'Arthur
got possession of some muskets, is very probable;
because, as the reader recollects, a few had



been left in the hands of some of the inhabitants, by the commanding officer Of the
district. * No militia were, at this time,
embodied ; therefore, none could have been
" encamped." The "- 150 prisoners" consisted
of peaceable" inhabitants, both old and young,
and drunken Indians and their squaws. Had
there been any " detachments" within even a
day's march of the scene of general M'Arthur's
exploits, he would not have been so bold. The
instant it was ascertained that a detachment of
the 103d regiment, numbering less than half
"1'20 effective regulars and militia," had moved
from Burlington Heights, the general and his
gang " dispersed ;" and so " rapid" was their
flight, that the British regulars did not get
within eight miles of them. If Mr. Thomson
can acknowledge, that the American troops
"subsisted on the enemy, and fired several of
the mills," we may well conceive, what must
have been the devastation and ruin that marked
the track of general M'Arthur and his mounted

* See p. 5.

► Sketches of the War, p. 331.

Item sets