Historic Niagara Digital Collections

Chapter 20

Item

Title
Chapter 20
Identifier
http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?b=1&ref=oo&id=298088
page
306-337
Type
Text
extracted text
306

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

Statements so palpably untrue. If he were alive
we could show him an American publication, that
has devoted 13 of its pages to an account of our
proceedings at Washington, and yet contain;
not one word of comment upon our destruction
of the public buildings. When we mention the
work as the " History of the United States,'
and the author as the reverend doctor Smith ;
the same who said, " No one need question the
conduct of the British troops at Hampton ;" the
same who, in every page of his book, evinces the
strongest antipathy against the British ; and who,
as the reader knows, is not over scrupulous as to
the truth of the charges he prefers against them,
" no one need question" that doctor Smith was
thus lenient, because, in the extraordinary fact,
that the British, with only 200 troops, entered
and fully possessed, the " seat of empire" of
the United States of America, lie could find,
on their part, at least, nothing but " temerity"
to find fault with.

f!

u

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

307

CHAPTER' XX.
Skirmish. at Moor's fields—Death of sir Peter
Parker—Brief description of Baltimore—Alarm
of the inhabitants--Exertions of the military•
Defensive preparations—Strong inducement for
an attack by the British—Accidental cause of
its being made—Advance of the feet to the Patapsco—Landing of the troops—Amount of the
British force-LAdvance cf major-general Ross
and rear-admiral Cockburn, with a small guard—
Skirmish and retreat of the Americans—Death of
general Ross—American accounts—Advance of
the British main body—Amount of the American
force—Details of the battle—Retreat of the
Americans— American accounts,British and
American loss—Further advance of the Bi itisli
—Reinforcement to the Americans at their en• trenched camp—Arrival of British ships near
the forts in the Patapsco—Mutual cannonade
between the latter and the bomb-vessels and rocketship—Boat-expedition up the Ferry branch—
American accounts—Reasons given for retiring
from Baltimore—Unmolested retreat of • the
British —American accounts— Remarks upon
the Baltimore expedition—Character of general
• Ross- -Departure, on separate destinations, of
admirals Cochrane and Cockburn—Boat-eapex2


,

7

308

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN'

dition up Coan river—Departure of rear-admiral
Malcolm — Boat-expedition up the Rappahannock—Rcturn of rear-admiral Cockburn—
His departure for the Georgia coast—Capture
of St. Mary's—Boat-expedition up the ricer—
Intended attack upon Savannah—Impolitic measures that lead to its frustration.

PREVIOUSLY to our entering upon the
proceedings of the combined British forces,
after their departure from Washington, we
have to notice the untimely fate of sir Peter
Parker, baronet, commanding the Menelaus
frigate ; which, as the reader knows, had been
detached on service up the bay.* Having but
recently arrived upon the North American station, sir Peter was not aware of the ambushing tricks to which a small invading force
would be exposed, in a country so filled with
woods, ravines, and defiles ; and where local
knowledge, and skill with the rifle, were an overmatch for all the valor, much as it was, that he
could bring against them. Information having
reached the ship, then at anchor off Moor's
fields, that 200 American militia were encamped
behind a wood, distant about a mile from the
beach, captain Parker, at 11 o'clock on the night
of the 30th of August, was iiiduced to land
with,—noti as the American editors say, " 230
* Sec p. 276.

, GREAT BRITAINAND AMERICA.

309

men,"* but,-104 marines and 20 seamen. It
appears that colonel Read, the commander of
the American force, stated at 170 Maryland
volunteers, * having been apprized of the intended attack, had retired to a small open space,
surrounded by woods, distant four or five miles
from his first encampment. Thither, having
captured a small cavalry piquet, the heedless
seamen and marines, headed by their undaunted
chief, proceeded. .The enemy, with some pieces
of artillery, was found drawn up in line in front
of his camp. The British commenced the fire ;
and, charging, ..,drove the Americans, through
their camp, into the woods. It was about
this time that sir Peter .. received a mortal
wound. Secure behind the trees, the Americans
levelled their pieces with unerring aim ; while
he British, deceived by the apparent flight of
their wary foe, rushed on through the woods,
till, bewildered and embarrassed, the survivors
of this adventurous band were compelled to
retreat to their ship ; bringing away the body
of their lamented commander, and all their
wounded but three. The British sustained a
loss of 14 killed and 27 wounded: the Americans, as a proof how little they exposed themselves, of not more than three men slightly
wounded.*
At the head of a narrow bay- .ar inlet of the
* Sketches of the War, p. 339,

310

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

Patapsco river, and distant from its confluence
with the Chesapeake about 16 miles, stands the
city of Baltimore, containing about 20000 inhabitants.. It is nearly surrounded by detached
hills ; one of which, Clinkapin hill, situated on
its eastern side, commands the city itself, as well
as the approach to it by land, from the Chesapeake. Its water-approach is defended by a
strong fortification . named Fort-Henry, situated at the distance of about .two miles from
the city, upon the point of the peninsula that
forms the .south-side of the bay or harbor;
which, at its entrance, is scarcely half a mile in
Width. As an additional security, the Patapsco
is not navigable fiar _vessels drawing more than
18 feet water ; and, just within the harbor, is
a 14 or 15 feet bar.
The arrival of troops in the Chesapeake, and
the subsequent operations of the British in the
Patuxent and . Potomac rivers, could not do
otherwise than cause serious alarm at Baltimore,
distant from Washington but 35 miles. The
panic-struck inhabitants believed, that the
British troops would march across the country,
and attack them in the rear, while the squadron
was bombarding them in front. Our number@
on shore were too small to warrant such an
enterprise ; but, had it been risked, and had
the fleet made a simultaneous movement up the
bay, there is little doubt that Baltimore would
have capitulated. Fortunately for the city, the
.

;

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

31)

military and naval forces within it were becoming
hourly more powerful ; and, far from desponding,
the generals and commodores used their utmost
exertions in strengthening the defences, and
improving the natural advantages, of the posi
tion. Upon the hills to the eastward and northward of the city, a chain of pallisadoed redoubts, connected by breast-works, with ditches
in front, and well supplied with artillery, was
constructed ; and works were thrown up, and
guns mounted at every spot from which an invading force, either by land or water, could
meet with annoyance. The Java frigate, of 60
guns, and two new sloops of war, of 22 guns
each, were equipping at Baltimore. There were
also, in the harbor, several gun-boats, each
armed with a long French 36-pounder, besides
a carronade ; as well as several private-armed
vessels: so that the Americans had, including
their field and regular battery-guns, an immense
train of artillery to put in operation against an
enemy. As to troops, exclusive of the 16,300
militia, regulars, and flotilla-men, which general
Winder had been authorized to call out, for the
defence of the 10th military district, volunteers
were flocking in from Pennsylvania ; and the
seamen and marines of commodores Rodgers,
Perry, and Porter, had just arrived from the
banks of the Potomac, where they had been
distinguishing" themselves so greatly.

312

MILITARY OCCURRENCES:RETWEEN
-

.", 4f any southern town .or city of the United
States was an object of immediate attack, it
certainly was Baltimore. The destruction. of
the new frigate and sloops, and of the immense
quantities of .naval stores, at that depot, would
have beenseriously felt by the American government. Yet . were the British. ships, having.: on
board the troops, waiting in the Patuxent, till
the passing of the " approaching equinoctial
new moon" should enable them to proceed, with
safety, upon the unfortunate "'plans which had
been concertect previous to the departure of the
Iphigenia."
:On• the 6th of .September came a
flag of truce from Baltimore ; and instantly all
was bustle and alacrity on board the British squadron. The Royal Oak and troop-ships
stood out of the Patuxent ; and ; .vice-admiral
Cochrane quitting his anchorage off Tangier
island, proceeded with the remainder of the fleet,
up the bay to -North-point, near the entrance of
the , Patapsco river. On the 1.0th and 11th, the
fleet anchored ; and, by 12 o'clock at noon on
the 12th, the whole of the troops and seamen
had disembarked at North-point, in order to
proceed to the immediate attack upon Baltimore,
by land ; while some frigates and sloops, the
Erebus, rocket-ship, and five bombs, ascended
the Patapsco, to threaten and bombard Fort,
M'Henry, and the other contiguous batteries,
,

-

App. No. 73.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

313

' The amount of the British 'force that landed
has been variously, and, in - every instance,
erroneously, stated by the American historians.
None of these gentlemen estimated the British
loss at Bladensburg and Washington, below
400 men ; Mr. Thomson, indeed, declared it
amounted to "1000 :"* nor is it pretended, that
any reinforcement of British troops subsequently
arrived in the Chesapeake. Yet every one of
'our three historians, instead of ded noting his own
estimate of our loss, adds 2 or 3000 men to his
own estimate of our force„ at Bladensburg and
Washington: For instance, doctor :Smith, who
stated our force at Bladensburg at " 4000," it
states, without assigning any reason for the
augmentation, that we brought to Baltimore
Mr. Thomson, in like"5000 land troops."
manner, makes his `.` 6000 regulars, sailors,
and marines,"
8000 soldiers, sailors and
marines;"-- and Mr. O'Connor, his " 5000,"
The British
between 8. and 9000 men.'' ¶
troops that landed, under the command of
major-general Ross, at North-point, consisted
of detachments of royal and marine-artillery,
the remnants of the 1st battalions of the
4th, 21st, and 44th regiments, and the
-

.

+ Ibid. p. 339.
* Sketches of the War, p. 388.
See p. 282.
§ Ilist. of the United States, Vol. III. p. 302.
See p. 278.
'I Mist. of the War, p. 232.

314

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

85th regiment, the 1st and td (or Colonial)
battalions of marines, detachments of marines
from the ships, and a body of 600 seamen, under
captain Edward Crofton ; the whole numbering
about 3270 rank and file.
I mmediately after landing, the British moved
forward to the city. On arriving at a line of
intrenchments and abattis, thrown up between
Black river and Humphries's creek on the
Patapsco, and distant about three miles from the
point oflanding, some opposition was expected;
but the American dragoons and riflemen, stationed there, fled without firing a shot. At this
time major-general Ross and rear-admiral Cockburn, along with a guard of 50 or 60 men, were
walking together, considerably a-head of the
advanced or light companies ; in order to reconnoitre the enemy. At about 10 o'clock, after
having proceeded about two miles from the
intrenclnent, and some distance along a road
flanked by thick woods, they encountered a
division of the enemy, consisting, as we may
gather from Mr. Thomson, of " two companies
from the 5th infantry, 150 in number, under
captains Levering and Howard, about 70 riflemen, under captain Aisquith, the cavalry,"
under colonel Biays, the amount of which not
being stated, we shall fix at 140, " and 10
artillerists„ -with a 4-pounder commanded by
-

M5

lieutenant Stiles ;"* in all 370 men. A short
skirmish ensued, and the -Aawricans fell back ;
most of them taking to the. woods. Majorgeneral ttoss,• after saying to rear. admiral Cockburn, —" I'll return and order up the lightcompanies,"—proceeded to execute his purpose.
In his way hack, alone, by the same road along
which he and his party had just passed, the
major general received a musket-bullet through
his right arin into his breast, and fell, mortally
wounded. The firing had, at this time, wholly
ceased ; and the expiring general lay on the road,
unheeded, because, unseen, either by friend or
foe, till the arrival at the spot of the light-com=
panies, who had hastened fOrward upon hearing
the musketry. Leaving some attendants in
charge of the lamented chief, the officer commanding rushed on ; and it was then that admiral Cockburn learned the lOss which the army
and the country had sustained. In a few minutes
he was by the side of his friend : what passed
on •th;.:t frying occasion, is best given in the
words of the rear-admiral himself.i.
The death of major-general Ross was a fatal
blow to the .expedition against Baltimore.
Previously to our relating the succeeding events
of that day, we are caned aside to correct American misrepresentation. Doctor Smith says :---311.
*Sheichvg, of the War,
+ App. No. 74.
-

Mt,

316

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

`..`, General Ross put himself at the head of his
troops to force general Stricker out of the road
to the city." In attempting which he states him
to have been shot. * Mr. Thomson, after having
given the details of the American advanced force,
as already extracted, says :—" This detachment,
having proceeded half a mile, was met by, and
instantly engaged, the enemy's"—not "advanced
guard," but—" main body. The situation of
the ground would not admit of the co-operation
of the artillery and cavalry ; and the infantry
and riflemen sustained the whole action, with
great gallantry ; pouring in a rapid and effec.
tive fire upon the British column, killing major.
general Ross, and several other officers, and
i mpeding the advance of the British army.
Having performed the duty required of them by
general Stricker, the whole detachment with a
trifling loss, fell back, in excellent order, upon
the American line."1— This false and highly
bo►bastical account is best answered by a short
extract from the American official account, as
quoted in another American .work ; and that
work the scrupulous Mr. O'Connor's. After
stating that general Stricker had sent forward
" an advanced . corps, under the command of
major Heath, of the 5th regiment ; ".t Mr.
,

* Mist. of the United States, Vol. III. p. 302.
Hist. of the War, p. 233.
f Sketches of the War, p. 341.

MEAT: BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

317

O'Connor, taking the words of general Smyth's
official letter, says This advance met the
enemy, -and, after some skirmishing, returned to
the line the main body of the enemy being at
a short distance in the rear of their advance.'"*
This, as we have seen, was the fact ; except that
the nearest British force was not the " main
body," but the advance or light-companies:
Mr. O'Connor does not state, when or how general Ross met his death, merely, when he comes
to the- enumeration of our loss, saying :—" General Ross, the destroyer of Washington, was
killed." The truth is, the citizens of Baltimore
were not aware, -till our accounts reached them,
what a benefit they had derived from the
chance-shot of one of their skirmishers.
As soon as the British main body, now under
the command of colonel Brooke, of the 44th
regiment, closed upon the advance, the whole
moved forward ; and, at about two miles further,
and about five from the city, came in sight of
the American army, drawn up, with-six pieces
of artillery, and a body of cavalry. -. The exact
amount of this force we have *no- means of ascertaining. Mr. Thomson, referring to the " detachment" sent forwark on the night of `the 11th,
under general Stricker, designates it as composed.--of " part of his brigade, light corps of riflemen, and artillery, froiw general Stansbury's
:

* App. No. 77.

318

GREAT BRITAIN AND

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

brigade, under major Randal, and several companies of the Pennsylvania volunteers ; amounting to 3185 effective men." This is exclusive
of " 1000 men stationed at the forts and batteries ;" and " along the breast-works, about four
times that number ;" * or, upwards of 8000 men,
in the whole. The prisoners estimated their
own force drawn up, under general Stricker, at
6000 men ; t and Ni►•. Thomson, by his extracts
from the British official accounts, has evidently
seen, although he has not contradicted, these
statements. We may, therefore, safely estimate
the American force, now close in front of a
British force of 35270 infantry, with two light
field-pieces and a howitzer, at 4500 infantry and
cavalry, with six pieces of artillery ; backed as
they were, in case of a retreat, by at least 8000
troops, and those hourly augmenting ; and by
heavy batteries in all directions.'
The details of the short battle that ensued
are fully given in colonel Brooke's and rear.
admiral Cockburn's letters. A few extracts from
Mr. Thomson's, will tend to corroborate- the
British account. •‘ The 51st," says he, " which
was ordered to open upon the enemy in his
attempt to turn the rest of the line, delivered
a loose fire, immediately broke, fled precipitately
from its ground, and in such confusion, that
* Sketches of the War, p. 340.
+ A pp. Nos. 71 7 .73. 74. and 75. -

AmEnic.A.

319

every effort to rally it proved ineffectual. The
2d battalion of the 39th, was thrown into disorder, by the flight of the 51st, and some of its
companies also gave way. The remainder and
the 1st battalion stood firm. Thus abandoned
by the retreat of the 51st, general Stricker made
new arrangements for the .reception of the
enemy, and opened a general fire upon him,
from the right, left, and centre. The artillery
vent forth a destructive torrent of canister against
the British left column, then attempting to gain
the cover of a small log-house, in front of the 5th
regiment. Captain' Sadtler, with his yagers
from that regiment, who were posted in the
house when the British 4th regiment was
advancing, had, however, taken the precaution
to set fire to it, and the intention of the enemy
was, therefore, defeated. The 6th regiment
then opened its fire, and the whole line entered
into an animated contest, which continued, with
a severe loss to the enemy, until 15 minutes
before 4 o'clock. At that hour, general Stricker,
having inflicted as much injury upon the invaders as could possibly be expected, from a line
now about 1400 strong, against a force amounting, notwithstanding its losses, to at least 7000
men, ordered his brigade to retire upon the
reserve regiment ; an order which was well
executed by the whole line, which in a few
minutes rallied upon lieutenant-colonel M‘Do-

(I

320

MILITARY- OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

mid. From the point occupied by this regiment, general Stricker, in order to refresh his
troops, and prepare them for a second movement of the enemy, retired to a position half a
mile in advance of the left of major-general
Smith's entrenchments. Here he was joined by
general Winder, who, with general Douglass's
'Virginia brigade, and the United States' dragoons,
under captain Bird, took post upon his left."*
This editor is famous for spinning out a
battle ; nor, is he ever staggered by improbabilities, how gross soever they may be. After
stating that his gallant countrymen ran away
to
by whole regiments, he has the
contrast the remaining number, or the-" line,
now but 1400 strong," with " at least 7000'?
British.' By his own account, the American
troops retired four miles and a half, or, "to it
position half a mile in advance,"—and, conseof the left of majorquently, within full range,
general Smith's intrenchments," before they
could be brought to a stand, or had any stomach
to " refresh" themselves, against " a second
movement of the enemy." Not a word is there
of any charge by the bayonet, which settled the
business so quickly ; nor of the loss of any piece's
of artillery or prisoners. *
The British occupied the ground of which the
Americans had been dispossessed ; but were too
Sketches of the War, p. 342.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

3'21

much fatigued to follow up their victory On that
evening. The British loss amounted to one
general-staff, one subaltern, two serjeants, and
35 rank and file, killed ; seven captains, four
subalterns, 11 serjeants, and 229 rank and file,
wounded ; of the army.* The navy lost one
petty-officer, three seamen, and three marines,
killed ; one officer, six petty-officers, 22 seamen,.
and 15 marines, wounded.1 Thus, the total
British loss.. on shore, was 46 killed, and '273 .
wounded. The great disproportion of wounded
arose from the employment, by the enemy, of
buck-shot ; and the magnitude of the loss,
altogether, to the enemy's sheltered position.
The loss of the Americans upon the field, Mr.
Thomson estimates at 150 ; which is particularized, by;Mr. O'Connor, as 20 killed, 90
wounded, and 47 missing." § The last item is
evidently erroneous ; as colonel Brooke carried
away with him ," about 200 prisoners, being
persons of the best families in the city ;"11 and
which number might have been considerably
augmented, did not the immense inferiority of
numbers render the effectiveness of the men for
action a paramount consideration.
Early on the morning of the 13th, colonel
Brooke, leaving a tnall guard at a meetinghouse, from which the enemy had been driven,
-

44

* App. No. 72.
I See p. 147.
+ Ibid. p. 76.
§ History of the War, p. 237.
App. No. 71.
VOL. II.

322

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

to protect the wounded, moved forward with the
army ; and, at 10 o'clock, occupied a favorable
position, to the eastward of, and distant about
two miles from, Baltimore. From this point,
the strong defences in and around the city were
plainly to be seen ; and arrangements were made
for storming, during the ensuing night, with the
co-operation of the fleet, the American entrenched
camp ; at which lay general S tricker and his army,
now reinforced by Douglas's brigade of Virginia
militia, under general Winder, and the United
States' dragoons, under captain Bird.* `441la
In their way up the Patapsco, several of the
frigates and other vessels grounded ; and one
or two of the former did not get off till the next
day,. At about nine o'clock on the morning of
the 13th, the Meteor, /Etna, Terror, Volcano,
and Devastation, bombs, and the Erebus, rocket.
ship, came to anchor in a position, from which
they could act upon the enemy's fort and batteries ; the frigates . having already taken their
stations, outside of all. At day-light on the
morning of the 13th, the bombardment cornmenced upon, and was returned by, Fort.
M'I-lenry, the Star-Fort, and the water-batteries
on both sides of the entrance. At about three
o'clock in the afternoon, the four bomb-vessels
and rocket-ship weighed, and stood further in ;
the latter, to give effect to her rockets, much
* App. No. Tr,

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.. •

323

nearer than the others. The, forts, which had
discontinued their fire on account of the vessels
being out of range now re-commenced a brisk
cannonade ; but which, although persevered in
for some hours, did not injure a man on board
any of the vessels: two of the bombs only were
slightly struck. The close position of : the
Erebus led the commander-in-chief, whose ship,
the Surprise, was, with the other frigates, at
anchor in the river, to imagine that captain
Bartholomew could not maintain his position.
He therefore sent a division of boats to tow out
the Erebus. On seeing the rocket.ship and
bombs withdraw to a ,greater distance, the
'Americans in the batteries were perfectly justified in supposing, that they had " compelled"
the British to retire. " This noisy play," as
Mr. O'Connor calls it, continued, with short
intervals, till day-light. the next morning.
The American official account states, that
two or three rocket-vessels, and barges, sue-teeded in getting up the Ferry branch, but that
they were soon compelled to retire, by the forts
in that quarter ; commanded by lieutenant
Newcomb, of the navy, and lieutenant Webster,
of the flotilla. " These forts also destroyed," says
the general, " one of the barges, with all on
board." * Mr. Thomson says : 77-" Under cover of
the night, lifp British commanders .despatched a
,

App.. No.
3( 2
-

V.
324

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

a fleet of barges to attack and storm FortCovington. The attempt was repulsed, however, and the assailants retired, with an immense
loss to their bomb-vessels."* Mr. O'Connor
tells the story thus:— " Favored by a dark
night, one or two of the enemy's bomb-vessels,
and several barges, with 1200 chosen men,
passed the fort at about one o'clock in the
morning of the 14th, and proceeded up the
Patapsco, to attack the town in the rear, and,
probably, with a view to effect a landing.
From their new station they commenced a very
warm throwing of bombs and rockets, but were
repaid with such vigor and effect, that the
screams of their wounded could be heard in the
midst of a roar of arms, that made the houses
in the city shake for nearly an hour and a
half. " t
Let us now see how this story will read in our
way of relating it. In the middle of the night
of the 13th, a division of 20 boats was detached
up the Ferry branch, to cause a diversion
favorable to the intended assault upon the
enemy's entrenched camp, at the opposite side
of the city. The rain poured in torrents, and
the night was so extremely dark, that 11 of the
boats pulled, by mistake,- directly for the harbor. Fortunately, the lights of the city disco* Sketches of the War, p. 344.
+ Hist. of the War, p. 236.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

325

vered to the 'crews their perilous situation, time
enough for them to get back in safety to their
ships. The remaining nine boats, consisting
of one rocket-boat, five launches, two pinnaces,
and one gig, containing, not " 1200," but-128
officers, seamen, and marines, under the command of captain Napier, passed up the Ferry
branch, to a considerable distance above Fort*Henry, and opened a heavy fire of rockets and
shot upon the shore ; at several parts of which they
could have landed, with ease, had the whole of
their force been together. After' having, by
drawing down a considerable: number of troops
to the beach, effected their' object,- the British
stood back with their boats. When just opposite to Fort-Mllenry, one of the officers caused
a rocket to be fired:, the consequence was, an
immediate discharge of round, grape, and
canister, from the fort and water-batteries
below ; by which one of the boatS was slightly
struck, and a man mortally wounded. Not
another casualty occurred.
It appears that, on the evening of the 13th,
after the boats had been ordered upon this
service, vice-admiral Cochrane sent a messenger
to acquaint Colonel Brooke, that, as the entrance
to haltimore by sea was entirely obstructed
by a barrier of vessels, sunk at the mouth of
the harbor, defended inside by gun-boats, * a
* App. No. 73.

326

GREAT

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

naval co-operation against the city and en•
trenched camp, was found impracticable. The
heavy rain at this time falling greatly increased
the difficulty of ascending the steep hill, upon
which the camp was situated ; and both commanders concurred in the propriety of immediately withdrawing the troops and ships. At
about half-past one on the morning of the 14th,
the British troops commenced .retiring, and
halted at three miles distance. In the course
of the evening they retired three miles further,
and ..encamped for the night. Late on the
morning of the 15th, they moved down to
North-point ; and, in the course of that day,
re-embarked, without having experienced, during
their slow and deliberate retreat, the slightest
molestation from the enemy. At seven o'clock
on the_morning of the 14th, the rocket-ship and
bomb-vessels were called off from the American
batteries ; which are stated to have lost, by the
long continued bombardment, only four men
killed and 24 wounded. In the course of the
day, the ships stood down the river, and joined
the remainder of the squadron at anchor off
North-point.
The -American official '-account is moderate
enough ; except in the statement respecting the
barges, and which statement general Smith could
only have obtained from the 'commanding officer
of the forts on the Patapsco. Not a word is said

.

nitiTxtx

AND AMERICA.

327

about any pursuit of the British. That would
be encroaching upon the duties, and, seemingly,
pleasing ones, too, of the American historian.
" The excessive fatigue of the troops, all of whom
had been three days and nights under arms, in
the most inclement weather, prevented their
annoying the enemy's rear with much effect,
and they made prisoners of none but stragglers
from his ariny.".*. If, as sir George Cockburn
says, the Americans " did not venture to look
at" the British upon their retreat, t the former
did not certainly annoy their rear " with much
effect." Colonel Brooke declares, that not a
man was left behind. I So much, then, for the
" stragglers" taken. Mr. Thomson's account
has vastly improved, by passing through the
hands of the inventor and sole patentee' of the
screaming story. For instance :—" It was impossible for veterans, or the most experienced
troops, to act with' more firm discipline or cool
courage, than the citizens of Baltimore, and the
troops engaged, did, on this occasion, with the
exception already mentioned. A pursuit of the
enemy was attempted, without, however, doing
him much injury. The troops were so exhausted,
with three days and nights' fatigue, that they
could do little more than pick up a few stragkrs. A line of defences thrown ,up by'the
Slat:hes t;f
f]Afig No. 101:

328

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

Americans from Black river to..Humphries's
creek, on the Patapsco, were used by the enemy
to protect their embarkation."* These are the
stories that carry off so many editions among the
people of the United States.
Having done with the American accounts of the
celebrated Baltimore " demonstration," we have
vet to offer upon it a few remarks of our own. No
Briton but must regret, that any plan of " ulterior operations" should have obtruded itself, to
check the progress of the attack. With respect to
naval co-operation, it is well known, that the
gallant commanders of the Severn, Euryalus,
Havannah, and Hebrus, frigates, volunteered to
lighten their ships, and lay them close alongside Fort-M‘Henry. The possession of this fort
would have enabled us to silence the batteries
on the opposite side of the bay ; and, indeed,
have placed the city completely at our mercy.
The very advance of the British frigates to their
stations would, probably, have led to the destruction of the Java frigate, and the Erie and
Ontario sloops ; and then we might have retired,
holding in view the ulterior operations of the
troops," with something more to boast of than,
not merely an empty, but, considering what we
lost by it, a highly disastrous " demonstration."
The troops on shore might, and, no doubt,
would, have succeeded in carrying the enemy's
* Hhk. of the War, p. 235.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

329

entrenched camp ; but they could not expect to
succeed further, without a simultaneous attack
by the fleet. Even the nine boats, and their 128
men,. caused a considerable diversion of the
enemy's forces : we may well conceive, then,
what might have been effected, had no " ulterior" plan been allowed to interfere.
We cannot dismiss the business at Baltimore,
without bestowing a few words upon an officer,
whose untimely fate has been so universally
deplored. his public services are thus briefly
enumerated, by the mover, in the house of
commons, for a monument to his memory.
!‘. General Ross, when major Ross, served in the
expedition to Holland, in 1799. He was then
in the 28th regiment, and signalized himself in
repulsing the attacks made on the lines of sir
Ralph Abercromby. Here, displaying the
greatest gallantry, he received a severe wound,
which deprived his country of his services for a
time. In the autumn of 1800, having recovered
from the effects of his wound, he accompanied
his. regiment to the Mediterranean, and, shortly
afterwards, served in the expedition to Calabria:
here, in the memorable battle of Maida, which
so greatly raised the fame of the British arms,
and particularly by the use made of the bayonet,
major Ross made himself conspicuous ; and, by
wheeling on the enemy's line, contributed,
perhaps, more than any other circumstance, to


3 30

.

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

the route of the enemy on that day. Nothing
more occurred to bring him into notice, till he
served in the army led by general sir John
Moore, in 1807 ; and, under that gallant and
lamented commander at the battle of Corunna,
he again shone with no common lustre. in
1812, sailing from Ireland, he joined the army
in the peninsula, and, under the command of
lord Wellington, so distinguished himself in the
battle of Vittoria, that his lordship gave him the
command of a separate brigade. Now that a
more extended field of service lay before him, in
the first great battle of the Pyrennees, where the
firmness of the English was most conspicuously
displayed, where the French fought with the
most determined obstinacy, his valor contributed
so much to the glory of that day, that lord
Wellington, in his despatch, stated his brigade
to have distinguished themselves beyond all
former precedent ; they made four separate
charges with the bayonet, and general Boss had
three horses killed under him.' At the passage
of the Nieve, and the battle of Orthes, he dis.
played the same undaunted bravery." Another
member, who had been intimate with him, said:
He possessed the happy skill of conciliating
by his disposition, and instructing by his
example : he possessed, ,indeed, all those private
and distinguished qualifications, by which alone
a commander could acquire the full confidence

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

331

of his men. His military knowledge was great
and complete : for it had been the result of
practice and constant experience ; while his
foresight and example in the field were such as
to excite the enthusiasm and reverence of those
whom he led to victory." General Ross, it
appears, was but 40 when he fell. Comparing.,
the advantages we derived from the--" victory" at
Baltimore, with the loss of such a general, we
cannot but regret, that the attack was undertaken
at all; if not meant to be persevered in, till either
the ostensible object was gained, or the British
troops had been fairly beaten out of it.
On the 19th of September, sir Alexander
Cochrane, with the Tonnant and Surprise,
sailed for Halifax, to hasten the construction of
the flat-bottomed boats, intended to be employed
in the great expedition on foot ; and on the same
day, the Albion, rear-admiral Cockburn, sailed
for Bermuda, leaving the Royal Oak, rear-admiral Malcolm, with some frigates and smaller
vessels, and the ships containing the troops, at.
anchor in the river Patuxent. On the 27th the
rear-admiral removed to the Potomac ; where,
on the 3d of October, the troops were placed
into boats, and sent up Coan river. In their
way up, two soldiers were wounded, and captain
Kenab, of'the /Etna bomb, killed, by musketry
from the shore. Against so powerful a force,
when once landed, theIew militia could not be

332

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

expected to stand : they fired a volley and fled ;
and the troops advanced, past Northumberland
court-house, five miles into the interior. After
taking and scuttling two or three worthless
schooners ; and, according to the American editors, plundering the inhabitants, the troops reembarked, and stood down the river to their
Ships. The latter, soon afterwards, descended
the Potomac ; and, on the 14th, rear-admiral
Malcolm, taking with him, the Royal Oak,
Asia, and Ramillies 74s, one or two frigates,
and all the troop-ships and bombs, quitted the
Chesapeake, for the rendezvous at Negri' bay,
Jamaica.
The officer now left in command at the Chesapeake, was captain Barrie, of the Dragon 74,
recently from Penobscot. He had with him the
Hebrus and flavannah frigates, two armees en
flak', and the Dauntless and Dotterel sloops.
The land-troops, if worthy the name, at -his disposal; consisted of about 200 colonial marines,
or refugee-slaves, in barracks, upon the small
island of Tangier, lying off the mouth of the
Potomac ; and which had, since early in the
summer, been taken possession of by sir George
Cockburn, .as a depot for receiving and organizing the refugees. The unhealthiness of Tangier, and the badness of its harbor, induced
captain Barrie to seize Tilghman's island, a
much more eligible spot, and distant only 60

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

333

miles from Baltimore. On the 30th of :November, a boat-expedition, with about 500 seamen
and marines, ascended the river Rappahannock,
as high as the town of Tappahannock, which
they entered without much opposition, although
three times their number of militia were in the
neighbourhood. The editor of the American
" National Intelligencer," of December 9, after
having magnified captain Barrie's force to
"2500 troops," says: " The purpose of the enemy
seems to be, as heretofore, to. steal negroes,
stock, tobacco, &c. plunder the houses within
their reach, and burn what they cannot carry
off." Charges of this description we have
already fully answered. We need only repeat
here, that the " negroes" come off voluntarily ;
the "stock" is amply paid for ; and the "tobacco:'
" good prize, by the maritime law of nations."t
As much of the latter, as the British could not
" carry off," it was right for them to " burn :"
the charge of " plunder" we can only hope is
groundless. Had that active and enterprising
officer, captain Barrie, really had "2500 troops,"
he would have compelled Mr. Gales to fill his
columns with matter fifty times more important
than the capture of Tappahannock.
Early in December, rear-admiral Cockburn;
in the Albion, from Bermuda, bringing with
him the Orlando frigate, and some smaller ves r
* See p. 192..

.

334-

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

sels, arrived in the Chesapeake, but merely to
carry away the colonial marines ; with whom,
on the '14th, be proceeded towards Amelia
Island, in East Florida : having left orders for
captain Barrie to follow, with the Dragon,
Hebrus, and Regulus. Accordingly, captain
Barrie departed soon afterwards, leaving a few
frigates and sloops-in the Chesapeake; and, on
the 10th of January, arrived off Cumberland
Island, the southern-most of the chain along the
coast of Georgia, and separated by Cumberland
Sound from Amelia Island. Rear-admiral
Cockburn not having yet arrived, captain
Somerville of the Rota, as the senior officer,
determined upon employing the two companies
of the 2d West India regiment, and the detachments of royal marines which had recently
arrived on that coast, in a combined attack
upon the frontier-town of the state of Georgia,
St. Mary's, situated a few miles up the river of
that name, dividing•the United States and East
Florida. On the 13th an attack, with about
700 troops, marines, and seamen, tinder the
command of' captain Barrie, was made on the
fort, or key to the entrance of the rive r, at Point
Petre. This fort mounted two 24, two 18, one
9, and two brass 6-pounders ; from which, however, scarcely a single discharge was made, ere
the garrison abandoned the post, and fled to the
woods in the rear. On the 14th, the combined
-

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

335

forces, accompanied by the Terror and Devastation bombs, ascended the river to St. Mary's.
Contrary to expectation, here, also, no resistance was made ; and the town, the shipping in
the harbor, and the merchandize in the stores,
were taken quiet possession of. Soon afterwards
an expedition of boats, went a considerable distance further up the river, and brought doWn
the Countess of:Harcourt East Indiaman, which
had been captured and carried in there by a
Charlestown privateer ; also a beautiful gunboat, named the Scorpion, a present from the
town of St. Mary's to the United States...
On the 15th of January, rear-admiral Cockburn, who had been blown off the coast by strong
north-west gales,arrived and took the command ;
and on the 22d, the British, after removing the
guns, and destroying the fort and barracks, at
Point Petre, descended the river to Cumberland
Island ; of which immediate possession was
taken: The troops and marines were encamped;
and the rear-admiral established his head-quarters at a very large house, built of tabby; * surrounding it with the ordnance brought from
Point Petre. On the 221 of February, eight
launches, two pinnaces, and one gig, containing
186 officers, seamen, and marines, under the
command of captain :Phillott, of the Primrose
brig, ascended the St. Mary's river, without
.

Qyster-shells, and their cement,

336

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

opposition, 120 miles ; when a heavy fire of
musketry, opening upon them from each side,
compelled a retreat. 'While -day-light lasted,
a spirited fire was kept up by the boats ; but,
.unfortunately, after dark, the men could not be
restrained from firing, by which they exposed
themselves to the view of their enemy. The
river was, in some parts, so narrow, that a couple
of stout trees, many of which were on the banks,
felled and thrown across, would have completely
-cut off the retreat of the boats. That not having
been done, The boats got back to the island,
with four killed, and 25 wounded.
One of the objects in assembling troops upon
this part of the coast was, to assist in a combined
attack upon the town of Savannah, in Georgia;
a naval station of no mean importance. The
town stands upon a flat sandy cliff, elevated
about 50 feet above the level of the Savannah
river; is distant from the sea about 17 miles ;
and from St. Mary's, 95 miles. The number
of its inhabitants is about 7000 ; and the quota
of militia which, by the secretary of war's order
of July the 4th, * the state of Georgia was
required to hold in readiness, amounted to 350
artillery, and 3150 infantry ; total, 3500 men.
The British, since their first arrival at Cumberland island, had been waiting for a reinforcement, under general Power; but whose
:

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

337

destination, unknown to them, had been altered.
Without this additional force, it would have
been imprudent to make the attack.' Some other
operations, in which a body of -Indians and
Negroes from the interior of West Florida, was
to co-operate, had atscl. been in agitation. But
the intended junction had been prevented by the
machinations of some of those crafty Americans,
who, as " British subjects," living under our own
governui ent,were so actively employed against us,
during the whole of the late war. Consequently
7 or 800 British troops, and 12 ships of war,
including two 74s and three or four frigates,
were allowed to remain, for several weeks, in a
state of perfect inactivity ; at a time, too, when
an important, well-struck blow would have produced so healing an effect. Had it not been
for a communication, opened, through the Spaniards on Amelia Island, with East. Florida,
both army and navy would have had their idle
hours still further embittered by a want of subsistence.

* See p. 274.
VOL. II.

Item sets