« AnteriorContinuar »
and directed that the harness should not be taken from the artillery horses. I directed where and how the line should be formed, in case of attack. About an hour before day-light on the morning of the 6th, the alarm was given. I was instantly up, and the 25th, which lay near me, was almost as instantly formed, as well as the 5th and 23d, which was on the left, under the immediate eye of general Winder. Owing to the neglect of the front picket, or some other cause, the British forces say that they were not hailed, or an alarm given, until they were within 300 yards of our line. The extreme darkness prevented us from seeing or knowing at what point they intended to attack us, until an attack was made upon our right. A well directed fire was opened upon them from the 25th, and from nearly the whole line. After a few minutes I heard several muskets in our rear, in the direction of the rear guard, and then expected that the enemy had gained our rear by some path unkown to us, and was about to attack us in the rear. I instantly ordered colonel Milton, with the 5th, to form in our rear near the woods, to meet such circumstances as might take place, knowing that I could call him to any other point if necessary, at any moment. I had observed that the artillery was not covered, and directed general Winder to cause the 23d to be formed so far to the right, that their right should cover the artillery. At this moment I heard a new burst of fire from the enemy's left, on our right, and not able to see any thing which took place, I set out full speed towards the right, to take measures to prevent my right Rank from being turned, which I expected was the object of the enemy. I had proceeded but a few yards before my horse fell under 'me, by which fall I received a serious injury. Here was a time when I have no recollection of what passed, but I presume it was not long. As soon as I recovered, I recollected what my object was, and made my way to the right, and gave major Smith such directions as I thought proper, to prevent his right from being turned by surprise. I was then returning toward the centre, and when near the artillery, heard men, who, by the noise, appeared to be in confusion, it being the point at which I expected the 23d to be formed; I expected it was that regiment.
I approached them, and as soon as I was near enough, I saw a body of men, who I thought to be the 23d, in the rear of the artillery, broken. I hobbled in amongst them, and began to rally them, and directed them to form ; but I soon found my mistake; it was the British 49th who had pushed forward to the head of their column, and gained the rear of the artillery. I was immediately disarmed, and conveyed down the column to its rear. It was not yet day, and the extreme darkness of the night, to which was added the smoke of the fire, put it totally out of our power to see the situation of the enemy. This was all that saved their columns from sure and total destruction, of which some of their officers are aware. After seeing the situation of the column as I
passed, I did hope and expect that general Winder, on the
I have the honour to be, &c.
Brigadier General Major General Dearborn.
NAVY YARD, GOSPORT, June 21st, 1813. SIR,
On Saturday, at 11 P. M. captain Tarbell moved with the flotilla under his command, consisting of 15 gun-boats in two divisions; lieutenant John M. Gardner, 1st division, and lieutenant Robert Henley, the 2d, manned from the frigate ; and 50 musketteers general Taylor ordered from Craney Island, and proceeded down the river; but adverse winds and squalls prevented his approaching the enemy until Sunday morning at 4 P. M. when the flotilla commenced a heavy galling fire on a frigate, at about three quarters of a mile distance, lying well up the roads, two other frigates lying in sight. At half past 4 a breeze sprung up from east north east, which enabled the two frigates to get under way, one a razee or very heavy ship, and the other a frigate, to come near into the action. The boats in consequence of their approach hauled off, though keeping up a well directed tire on the razee and other ship, which gave us several broadsides. The frigate first engaged, supposed to be the Junon, was certainly very severely handled. Had the calm continued one half hour, that frigate must have fallen into our hands or been destroyed. She
must have slipt her mooring so as to drop nearer the razee, who had all sails set coming up to her with the other frigate. The action continued one hour and a half with the three ships. Shortly after the action the razee got along side of the ship, and had her upon a deep careen in a little time with a number of boats and stages round her. I am satisfied considerable damage was done to her, for she was silenced some time, until the razee opened her fire, when she commenced again. Our loss is very trifling. Mr. Allison, master's mate on board number 139, was killed early in the action by an eighteen pound ball, which passed through him and lodged in the mast. Number 154 had a shot between wind and water. Number 67 had her franklin shot away, and several of them had some of their sweeps as well as their stauntions shot away ; but two men slightly injured by the splinters from the sweeps. On the flood tide several ships of the line and frigates came into the roads, and we did expect an attack last night. There are now in the roads thirteen ships of the line and frigates, one
and tenders. I cannot say too much of the officers and men on this occasion, for every man appeared to go into action with so much cheerfulness, apparently to do their duty, resolved to conquer. I had a better opportunity of discovering their actions than any one else, being in my boat the whole of the action.
I have the honour to be, &c.
JOHN CASSIN. The Secretary of the Navy.
ATTACK UPON CRANEY ISLAND.
NAVY YARD, GOSPORT, June 23d, 1813. SIR,
I have the honour to inform you that on the 20th the enemy got under way, in all thirteen sail, and dropped up to the mouth of James River, one ship bearing a flag at the mizen. At 5 P. M. were discovered making great preparation with troops for landing, having a number of boats for the purpose. Finding Craney Island rather weak manned, captain Tarbell directed lieutenants Neale, Shubrick and Sanders, with 100 seamen on shore, at 11 A. M. to a small battery on the north west point of the island. Tuesday 22d, at the dawn, the enemy were discovered landing round the point of Nansemond River, said to be 4,000 troops ; and at 8 A. M. the barges attempted to land in front of the island, out of reach of the shot from the gun-boats, when lieutenants Neale, Shubrick and Sanders, with the sailors; and lieutenant Brackenbridge, with the marines of the Constellation, 150 in number, opened the fire, which was so well directed, that the enemy were glad to get off, after sinking three of their largest boats. One of them, called the Centipede, admiral Warren's boat, fifty feet in length, carried 75
men, the greater part of whom were lost by her sinking. Twenty soldiers and sailors were saved, and the boats hauled up. I presume there were forty fell back in the rear of the island, and commenced throwing rockets from Mr. Wise's houses; when gun-boat 67 threw a few shots over that way, they dispersed and went back.
We have had all day deserters from the army coming in ; I have myself taken in 25, and 18 prisoners belonging to the Centipede.
The officers of the Constellation fired their 18 pounder more like riflemen than artillerists. I never saw such shooting, and seriously believe they saved the island. In the evening their boats came round the point of Nansemond, and at sun-set were seen returning to their ships full of men. At dusk they strewed the shore along with fires, in order to runaway by the light.
I have the honour to be, &c.
JOHN CASSIN. The honourable William Jones,
Secretary of the Navy.
AFFAIR AT BEAVER DAMS.
FORT GEORGE, June 25th, 1813. SIR,
I have the mortification of informing you of an unfortunate and unaccountable event which occurred yesterday. On the 23d, at evening, colonel Boerstler with 570 men, infantry, artillery, cavalry and riflemen, in due proportion, was ordered to march, by the way of Queenstown, to a place called the Beaver Dams, on the high ground, about eight or nine miles from Queenstown, to attack and disperse a body of the enemy collected there for the purpose of procuring provisions and harassing those inhabitants who are considered friendly to the United States; their force was, from the most direct information, composed of one company of the 104th regiment, above 80 strong; from 150 to 200 militia, and from 50 to 60 Indians. At 8 o'clock yesterday morning, when within about two miles of the Beaver Dams, our detachment was attacked from an ambuscade, but soon drove the enemy some distance into the woods, and then retired to a clear field, and sent an express for a reinforcement, saying he would maintain his position until reinforced. A reinforcement of 300 men, marched immediately, under the command of colonel Chrystie; but on arriving at Queenstowni, colonel Chrystie received authentic information, that lieutenant colonel Boerstler, with his command, had surrendered to the enemy, and the reinforcement returned to camp. A man who belonged to a small corps of volunteer riflemen, came in this morning, whe states that the enemy surrounded our de
tachment in the woods, and towards 12 o'clock, commenced a general attack; that our troops fought more than two hours, until the artillery had expended the whole of its ammunition, and then surrendered, and at the time of the surrender, the informant made his escape. Why it should have been deemed proper to remain several hours in a position surrounded with woods, without either risking a decisive action, or effecting a retreat, remains to be accounted for, as well as the project of waiting for a reinforcement, from a distance of 15 or 16 miles.
No information has been received of the killed or wounded. The enemy's fleet has again arrived in our neighbourhood.
I have the honour to be, &c.
H. DEARBORN. The Secretary of War.
U.S. FLOTILLA, CAPE MAY, June 29th, 1813. SIR,
Laying off Dennis's Creek this morning, I discovered that an enemy's sloop of war had chased a small vessel, and had taken her near the Overfalls. I immediately got under weigh and stood down the bay. The sloop of war stood so near the Overfalls that she grounded slightly on the outer ridge of Crow's Shoals. I thought proper to endeavour to bring him to action. I succeeded and got within three quarters of a mile, and anchored the boats (consisting of eight gun boats and two block sloops) in a line ahead. A heavy frigate had by this time anchored about a half mile further out. After a cannonade of one hour and fortyfive minutes, in which the ships kept up a constant and heavy fire, heaving their shot from a half to three quarters of a mile over us, they doing us little or no damage, their shot seldom striking us, the sloop of war and frigate finding our shot to tell on their hulls, manned their boats, ten in number, ( 2 launches, the rest large barges and cutters) with from 30 to 40 men each, and despatched them after gun boat No. 121, sailing marter Shead, which had unfortunately fell a mile and a half out of the line, although it had been my possitive and express orders to anchor at half cable length apart, and not further. From the strong ebb tide they succeeded in capturing her, after a gallant resistance, (for three times did No. 121 discharge her loug gun, apparently full of cannister, among the whole line of boats, when at a very short dis-. tance, which must have done execution, and not till after he was boarded did the colours come down) before any assistance could be given her: however, we got near enough to destroy three or four of their boats, and must have killed a vast number of men. It being a calm, they succeeded in getting her away, by sending all their boats ahead and towing her, but have paid dearly for their temerity; they must at least have had one-third of their men killed and