« AnteriorContinuar »
tency think proper to follow his example, I need not tell you
how highly gratifying it would be to, dear sir, your friend,
WILLIAM H. HARRISON. To his excellency Gov. Meigs.
ON BOARD THE SHIP GENERAL PIKE,
AT SACKETT S HARBOR, August 18th, 1813.
I arrived here this day with this ship, the Madison, Oneida, Governor Tompkins, Conquest, Ontario, Pert, and Lady of the Lake. The Fair American and Asp, I left at Niagara. Since I had the honour of addressing you last, I have been much distressed and mortified : distressed at a loss of a part of the force entrusted to my command, and mortified at not being able to bring the enemy to action. The following movements and transactions of the squadron, since the 6th instant, will give you the best ideas of the dificulties and mortifications that I have had to encounter.
On the 7th, at day-light, the enemy's fleet, consisting of two ships, two brigs, and two large schooners, were discovered bearing west north-west, distant about five or six miles, wind at west. At 5, weighed with the fleet and manouvred to gain the wind. At 9, having passed to the leeward of the enemy's line, and abreast of his van ship, (the Wolfe) hoisted our colours and fired a few guns
to ascertain whether we could reach him with our shot; finding they fell short, I wore and hauled upon a wind on the starboard tack; the rear of our schooners then about six miles astern. The enemy wore in succession and hauled upon a wind on the same tack, but soon finding that we should be able to weather him upon the next tack, he tacked and made all sail to the northward. As soon as our rear vessels could fetch his wake, tacked and made all sail in chase. In the afternoon the wind became very light, and towards night quite calm. The schooners used their sweeps all the afternoon, in order to close with the enemy, but without success. Late in the afternoon I made the signal of recal, and formed in close order ; wind during the night from the westward, and after midnight squally; kept all hands at quarters, and beat to the windward, in hopes to gain the wind of the enemy. At 2 A. M. missed two of our schooners-at daylight discovered the missing schooners to be the Hamilton and Scourge. Soon after, spoke the Governor Tompkins, who informed me that the Hamilton and Scourge both overset and sunk in a heavy squall about 2 o'clock; and, distressing to relate, every soul perished, except 16. This fatal accident deprived me at once of the services of two valuable officers, lieutenant Winter and sailing master Osgood, and two of my best schooners, mounting together 19 guns. This accident giving decidedly to the enemy the superiority, I thought he would take advantage of it,
particularly as by a change of wind, he was again brought dead to windward of me; formed the line upon the larboard tack and hove to. Saon after 6 A. M. the enemy bore up and set studding sails, apparently with an intention to bring us to action. When he had approached us within about four miles, he brought to on starboard tack, I wore and brought to on same tack. Finding the enemy had no intention of bringing us to action, I edged away to gain the land, in order to have the advantage of the land breeze in the afternoon. It soon after fell calm, and I directed the schooners to sweep up and engage the enemy, About noon we got a light breeze from the eastward, I took the Oneida in tow, as she sails badly, and stood for the enemy. When the van of our schooners was within about one and a half or two miles of his rear, the wind shifted to the westward, which again brought him to windward; as soon as the breeze struck him, he bore up for the schooners, in order to cut them off before they could rejoin me; but with their sweeps, and the breeze soon reaching them also, they were soon in their station. The enemy finding himself foiļed in his attempt upon the schooners, hauled his wind and hove to. It soon after became very squally, and the appearance of its continuing so during the night; and as we had been at quarters for nearly 40 hours, and being apprehensive of separating froin some of the heavy sailing schooners in the squall, induced me to run in towards Niagara, and anchor outside the bar. General Boyd very handsomely offered any assistance in men that I might require. I reçeịved 150 soļdiers and distributed them in different vessels, to assist in boarding, or repelling boarders, as circumstances might require. It blew very heavy in squalls during the night. Soon after day-light discovered the enemy's fleet bearing north; weighed and stood after him. The winds soon became light and variable, and before 12 o'clock, quite calm. At 5, fresh breezes from north, the enemy's fleet bearing north, distant about 4 or 5 leagues. Wore the fleet in succession, and hauled wind on the larboard tack. At sun-down the enemy bore N. W. by N. on the starboard tack, The wind hauling to the westward, I stood to the northward all night, in order to gain the north shore, At day-light, tacked to the westward, the wind having changed to north north-west. Soon after, discovered the enemy's fleet bearing south-west; I took the Asp, and the Madison, the Fair American in tow, and made all sail in chase. It was at this time we thought of realizing what we had been so long toiling for, but before 12 o'clock, the wind changed to west south-west, which brought the enemy to windward-tacked to the north ward. At 3, the wind inclining to the northward, wore to the southward and westward, and made the signal for the fleet to make all sail. At
enemy bore south south-west, bore up and steered for him. At 5, observed the enemy becalmed under the land, nearing him very fast, with a fine breeze from north north-west. At 6, formed the order of battle, within about four miles of the enemy; the
wind at this time very light. At 7, the wind changed to southwest, and a fresh breeze, which again placed the enemy to windward of me; tacked and hauled upon a wind on the larboard tack, under easy sail, the enemy standing after us. At 9, when within about two gun shot of our rear, he wore to the southward—I stood on to the northward under easy sail-the fleet formed in two lines, a part of the schooners forming the weather line, with orders to commence the fire upon the enemy as soon as their shot would take effect, and as the enemy reached them, to edge down upon the line to windward and pass through the intervals and form to leeward. At about half past 10, the enemy tacked and stood after us.
At 11, the rear of our line opened his fire the enemy: in about 15 minutes, the fire became general from the weather line, which was returned from the enemy. At half past 11, the weather line bore up and passed to the leeward, except the Growler and Julia, which soon after tacked to the southward, which brought the enemy between them and me. Filled the main-top-sail and edged away two points to lead the enemy down, not only to engage him to more advantage, but to lead him from the Growler and Julia. He, however, kept his wind, until he completely separated those two vessels from the rest of the squadron, exchanged a few shot with his ship as he passed, without injury to us, and made sail after our 2 schooners. Tacked and stood after him. At 12 (midnight) finding that I must either separate from the rest of the squadron, or relinquish the hope of saving the two which had separated, I reluctantly gave up the pursuit, rejoined the squadron, then to the leeward, and formed the line on the starboard tack. The firing was continued between our 2 schooners, and the enemy's fleet until about 1 A. M. when, I presume, they were obliged to surrender to a force so much their superior ; saw no more of the enemy that night : soon after daylight discovered them close in with the north shore, with one of our schooners in tow, the other not to be seen. I presume she niay have been sunk. The enemy showed no disposition to come down upon us, although to windward, and blowing heavy from W. The schooners laboring very much, I ordered 2 of the dullest to run into Niagara and anchor. The gale increasing very much, and as I could not go into Niagara with this ship, I determined to run to Genesee bay, as a shelteș for the small vessels, and with the expectation of being able to obtain provisions for the squadron, as we were all nearly out, the Madison and Oneida, having not a single day's on board when we arrived opposite Genesee bay. I ound there was every prospect of the gale's continuing, and if it did, I could run to this place and provision the whole squadron with more certainty, and nearly in the same time that I could at Genesee, admitting that I could obtain provisions at that place. After bringing the breezes as for as Oswego, the wind became light, inclining to a calm, which prolonged our passage to this · day. I shall provision the squadron for 5 weeks, and proceed up
the lake this evening, and when I return again I hope to be able to communicate more agreeable news than this communication contains.
The loss of the Growler and Julia, in the manner in which they have been lost, is mortifying in the extreme; and although their commanders disobeyed my positive orders, I am willing to believe that it arose from an error of judgment, and excess of zeal to do more than was required of them, thinking probably that the enemy intended to bring us to a general action, they thought by gaining the wind of him they would have it more in their power to annoy and injure him than they could by forming to leeward of our line. From what I have been able to discover of the movements of the enemy, he has no intention of engaging us, except he can get decidedly the advantage of wind and weather, and as his vessels in squadron sail better than our squadron, he can always avoid an action-unless I can gain the wind, and have sufficient day. light to bring him to action before dark. His object is, evidently, to harrass us by night attacks, by which means he thinks to cut off our small dull sailing schooners in detail. Fortune has evidently favored him thus far. I hope that it will be my turn next, and although inferior in point of force, I feel very confident of success.
I have the honour to be, sir, &c.
ISAAC CHAUNCEY. Hon. Wm. Jones, Secretary of the Navy.
UNITED STATES, FLOTILLA, NEW CASTLE,
August 17th, 1813. SIR,
I have just received a letter from sailing-master Shead, respecting the capture of the gun-boat No. 121 (a copy of which I have the honor of inclosing to you.) I see from this the enemy had 7 killed and 12 wounded, 4 since dead. I am convinced they have deceived him, both as to the number of killed and wounded, as well as the number of men in the boats, which at the smallest calculation could not have been less than 250.
I have the honour to remain, &c.
SAMUEL ANGUS. Hon. Wm. Jones, Secretary of the Navy.
Off Rhode Island, August 6th, 1813.
capture of the United States gun-boat No. 121, under my command, by the boats of the Junon frigate and Martin sloop of war, 8 in
number, 3 of which mounted 12 pound carronades, and carrying in all 150 men. At 10 minutes before meridian on the 27th of July, I received orders from you to form a line a head and to fire on the enemy, but finding myself drove away from the squadron by the wind dying away and a strong ebb tide, I remained sweeping and firing the 32 pounder. At the same time finding my shot did not reach, I placed all hands to the sweeps to endeavour to gain the squadron. At 20 minutes before 1 P. M. I commenced firing on the enemy's boats and sweeping at the same time; but finding I could gain nothing, I anchored to receive them as American tars have been accustomed to. The enemy then getting within grape reach, I commenced it, but unfortunately the pintle of the large gun gave way the 1st round ; I again charged and got her to bear, which discharge did considerable damage, but tearing my gun carriage all to pieces. I loaded with the hope of getting her to bear again, but found it utterly impossible ; the enemy now close on board, discharging vollies of shot frona their carronades and musketry, I called the boarders and small armis men away to repel the enemy, they now surrounding us, poured in a heavy fire which we returned with as much promptness as our feeble numbers would admit; several of my men having now fell, our ensign halyards shot away, and seeing the superiority of the enemy's force in the act of boarding us in every quarter, they began to fire briskly, and I found it necessary for the preservation of those few valuable lives left, to surrender to seven times our number: the enemy boarding, loaded our decks with men ; we were all driven below, and it was with the utmost difficulty that the officers could stay the revenge of the seameny who seemed to thirst for blood and plunder, the last of which they had, by robbing us of every thing: we had none killed, but seven wounded, five slightly. The enemy's loss by us, was seven killed and twelve wounded, four of whom have since died. They have conquered me, but they have paid dearly for it, and I trust, sir, when you come to view the disadvantages that I laboured under, having been but seven days on board my boat, and scarcely time to station my men, and the inisfortune of entirely disabling my gun, and the superiority of numbers to oppose me; you will be convinced that the flag I had the honour to wear, has not lost
any of that national character which has ever been attached to it.
I have the honour to be, &c.
WILLIAM SHEAD, Sailing Master Lieut. Samuel Angus,
commanding Ŭ. S. Flotilla, Delaware.
HEAD QUARTERS, FORT GEORGE, August 17th, 1813. SIR,
In the last letter which I had the honour to address to you, I had to communicate the information that coinmodore Chauncey