« AnteriorContinuar »
made its appearance before this place, early on Sunday evening last, and so soon as the general had made such disposition of his troops, as would cut off my retreat, should I be disposed to make one, he sent colonel Elliott, accompanied by major Chambers, with a flag to demand the surrender of the fort, as he was anxious to spare the effusion of blood, which he should probably not have in his power to do, should he be reduced to the necessity of taking the place by storm. My answer to the summuns was, that I was determined to defend the place to the last extremity, and that no force, however large, should induce me to surrender it. So soon as the flag had returned, a brisk fire was opened upon us from the gun boats in the river, and from a 5] inch howitzer on shore, which was kept up with little intermission through the night. At an early hour the next morning, three sires (which had been placed during the night within 250 yards of the pickets) began to play upon us, but with little effect. About 4 o'cluck p. M. discovering that the fire from all his guns was concentrated against the north-western angle of the fort, I became confident that his object was to make a breach, and attempt to storm the works at that point. I therefore ordered out as many men as could be employed for the purpose of strengthening that front, which was so effectually secured by means of bags of flour, sand, &c. that the picketing suffered little or no injury. Notwithstanding which, the enemy, about 5 o'clock, having formed in close column, advancing to assail our works at the expected point, at the same time making two feints at the front of captain Hunter's lines, the column which advanced against the north-western angle, consisting of about 350 men, was so completely enveloped in smoke, as not to be discovered until it had approached within fifteen or twenty paces of the lines; but the men being all at their posts and ready to receive it, commenced so heavy and galling a fire, as to throw the column a little into confusion. Being quickly rallied, it advanced to the outer works and began to leap into the ditch. Just at that moment a tire of grape was opened from our six pounder, (which had been previously arranged so as to rake in that direction) which, together with the musketry, threw them into such confusion, that they were compelled to retire precipitately to the woods. During the assault, which lasted about half an hour, an incessant fire was kept up by the enemy's artillery (which consisted of five sixes and a howitzer) but without effect. My whole loss during the siege, was one killed and seven wounded slightly. The loss of the enemy in killed, wounded, and prisoners, must exceed one hundred and fifty; one lieutenant colonel, a lieutenant and fifty rank and file, were found in and about the ditch; those of the remainder, who were not able to escape, were taken off during the night by the Indians. Seventy stand of arms and several brace of pistols have been collected near the works. About three in the morning the enemy sailed down the river, leaving behind them a boat, containing clothing and considerable military stores. Too
much praise cannot be bestowed on the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates under my command for their gallantry and good conduct during the siege.
Yours, with respect,
Major 17th U, S. Infantry comdg. L. S. Major Gen. Harrison, commanding N. W. army.
Correspondence between the Secretary of War and major general Wilkinson.
Submitted to the President by the Secretary of War, on the 23d July, and communicated to general Wilkinson on the 5th of August, 1813,
The tine at which we have reason to expect an ascendency on lake Ontario has arrived. If our hopes on that head be fulfilled, though but for a short period, we must avail ourselves of the circumstance, to give to the campaign a new and increased activity.
For this purpose our forces on the Ontario should be concentrated, because neither section of them, as they are now divided, is competent to any great object.
The point of concentration is more doubtful: 1st. If at Fort George, our utmost success can but give us the
command of the peninsula, which, if general Harrison succeeds against Malden, will be of diminished interest, both to us and to the enemy: to us, because Malden will more completely cover our western frontier and control the savages than Forts George and Erie: to the enemy, because Malden lost, our inroad upon the peninsula, will but have the effect of shortening, not of dividing, the enemy's line of operations; in a word, success at this point will not give to the campaign a character
of decisive advantage. 2d. If, on the other hand, we make Sackett's Harbor the point of
concentration, Kingston may become the object of our attack, which, by the way, will but be returning to the original plan of campaign, prescribed to general Dearborn. This place is of much importance to the enemy, and will no doubt be defended by him with great obstinacy, and with all the resources which can be safely drawn from other points. That it may be taken by a joint application of our naval and military means, is not however to be questioned. The enclosed diagram will show the number and character of the enemy's defences. His batteries on No. 1 cannot be sustained but by his fleet. These carried, he is open to a descent at Nos. 2 and 3. If he divides his force between both, we oppose one half of his strength with the whole of ours. If he concentrates at No. 2, we seize No. 3, and command both the town and the shipping. If
he concentrates at No. 3, we occupy No. 2, and with nearly
the same results. Contemporary with this movement, another may be made on the
side of lake Champlain, indicating an intention of attacking Montreal and its dependencies, and really attacking them, if to save Kingston, these posts have been materially weakened. 3d. Another and different operation, to which our means are
competent, would be a movement from Sackett's Harbor to Ma. drid on the St. Lawrence. At this place the river may be most easily crossed. The ground opposite to it is a narrow bluff
, skirted by the river on one side, and a swamp of great extent and of difficult, passage on the other. This gained and fortified, our fleet continuing to command the water line from the head of the river to Ogdensburg, and lake St. Francis occupied with a few
gun boats and barges, the army may march against Montreal, in concert with general Hampton. The only natural difficulty to the execution of this plan, would be presented by a branch of the Grand river which must be crossed; but at this season, though deep, it is believed to be fordable.
Under the preceding supposition it is respectfully submitted, whether it will not be most advisable to make Sackett's Harbor the point of concentration, and leave to the commanding general an election (to be determined by circumstances) between the two plans suggested under the 2d and 3d heads.
JOHN ARMSTRONG. Jpproved and adopted, July 23d, 1813.
WASHINGTON, August 6th, 1813. SIR,
I have examined the projects of the campaign, intended for the past and ensuing stages of it, on the side of Canada, which you put into my hands yesterday. The novelty of the subject to me, and the pressure of time, will prevent the deliberate consideration of it which its importance merits; and therefore I shall confine myself to a few brief observations touching the project of the 23d ultimo.
ist. If we command lake Ontario (without which the project is impracticable), and our force be competent to carry Kingston, the incorporation of our troops should take place at Sackett's Harbor, and the attack be made as promptly as possible.
2d. On the contrary, should our combined disposable force be deemed incompetent to the certain and speedy reduction of Kingston, then it may be preferable to strengthen our force at Fort St. George, cut up the British force in that quarter, destroy the Indian establishments, and (should general Harrison fail in his objects) march a detachment to capture Malden,
While these operations are pending, a bold feint or provisional attack on Montreal, by major general Hampton, will certainly call sir George Provost to that place, and it is presumable, that seeing our movements directed towards Erie, he may carry his best troops with him from Kingston.
These suggestions spring from my desire to hazard as little as possible in the outset, and to secure infallibly whatever may be attempted, with the intention to increase our own confidence, to diminish that of the enemy, and to popularise the war.
After our operations on the peninsula have been closed, we may raze the works there under your provisions, leave our settlements on the strait in tranquillity, and like lightning must direct our whole force against Kingston; and having reduced that place, and captured the shipping, we may descend the stream, and form a junction with the column of general Hampton in the neighbourhood of Montreal, should the lateness of the season permit, by which all our movements, after the conquest of Upper Canada, must be governed.
To give general Hampton's movements a menacing aspect, and to enable him to profit by events, he should take with him a heavy train of battering cannon and mortar pieces, which will be found indespensable in the attack of Montreal; and to weaken that place, and to favour a protracted season, I would advise that a heavy column of militia or volunteers, if engaged for three months only, should be put in motion from the vicinity of lake Memphramakos, tu descend the river St Francis, and take post on the right bank of lake St. Petre, with a battering train of travelling carriages, organized and equipt, either to keep post or retire, when the season or other circuinstances should render expedient.
Before I close this letter, I will beg leave to call your attention to several specific points, on which I require information and authority, which Ideem essential to the salutary discharge of the high and solemn trust about to devolve upon me.
1st. A copy of the instructions to major general Hampton, for my government in the correspondence to ensue between us.
21. Shall I be allowed a private secretary, which is necessary, and of right belongs to the command on which I am about to enter?
3d. I require permission to take for my aids-de-camp such officers as are best fitted to discharge the important duties of the station.
4th. I ask authority (or is it understood that I possess it?) to sup ply every defect of the munitions of war, and transport by land oi water by means of the authorized agents.
5th. I entreat that ample fonds may be deposited in proper hands, to give effect to the department of intelligence, without which, the chief will find himself hood-winked.
6th. I trust no order, of whatever nature, will be passed to any officer under my command, but through my hands. This is not
only necessary to the regular conduct of the public service, but it is vitally essential to the preservation of sound subordination, and is conformable to the rules of service in all armies, in as much as he who is responsible for all, should have the controul of all.
7th. I hope I may be expressly authorized to detach from my command, all persons who may manifest a temper or disposition to excite discontents, to generate factions, or embitter the service. This is indispensable to put down seditious spirits, and to harmonize the corps.
8th Should we move against Kingston in the first instance, the withdrawal of our force from Fort George will enable the enemy to re-occupy that point, and for a brief period to harrass our frontier on that strait. May not the militia, or a body of volunteers, be called forth to relieve the regular troops at that place, and prevent discontents and complaints?
9th. For the maintenance of the necessary authority of the chief, it is hoped the secretary of war will
ecline and forbid all correspondence with his subordinate officers, except in cases of personal grievance.
10th. I beg to be advised of the means of communication between our military positions, and particularly from Sackett's Harbor to Burlington, which should be rapid and infallible.
11th. I ask authority to equip the whole of our horse artillery, and to mount the whole of our dragoons, be, ause these arms will be found all-important in every cu bat which may ensue.
A serious impression of the dread responsibility which awaits me, and a correct sense of the public expectation which accompanies ine, must be my apology for giving you so much trouble. With great respect, &c. your « bedient servant,
JAMES WILKINSON. Honourable John Armstrong,
Secretary of War.
WAR DEPARTMENT, August 8th, 1813. SIR,
I have given to your observations of the 6th instant all the consideration they so justly merit.
The main objection to any plan, which shall carry our operations wide of Kingston and westward of it, is, that in the event of its success, it leaves the strength of the enemy unbroken; it but wounds the tail of the lion, and of course, is not calculated to hasten the termination of the war, either by encreasing our win vigour; or by diminishing that of the enemy. Kingston is the great depot of his resources, and so long as he retains this and keeps open his communication with the sea, he will not want the means of multiplying his naval and other defences, and of reinforcing or renewing the war in the west. Kingston, therefore, as