Imágenes de páginas

pington. To these I must add another very five company of volunteer artillerists, under judge Nicholson, who had proffered their services to aid in the defence of this post whenever an attack might be apprehended; and also a detachment from commodore Barney's flotilla, under lieutenant Redman. Brigadier general Winder had also furnished me with about 600 infantry, under the command of lieutenant colonel Stewart and major Lane, consisting of detachments from the 12th, 14th, 36th, and 38th regiments of United States' troops--the otal amounting to about 1000 effective men.

On Monday morning, very early, it was perceived that the enemy was landing troops on the east side of the Patapsco, distance about ten miles. During that day and the ensuing night, he had brought sixteen ships (including five bomb ships) within about two miles and a half of this fort. I had arranged my force as follows: the regular artillerists under captain Evans, and the volunteers under captain Nicholson, manned the bastions in the Star Fort. Captains Bunbury's, Addison's, Rodman's, Berry's, and lieutenant commandant Pennington's commands were stationed on the lower works, and the infantry, under lieutenant colonel Stewart and major Lane, were in the outer ditch, to meet the enemy at his landing, should he attempt one.

On Tuesday morning, about sun-rise, the enemy commenced the attack from his five bomb vessels, at the distance of about two miles, and kept up an incessant and well directed bombard ment. We immediately opened our batteries, and kept up a brisk fire from our guns and mortars, but unfortunately our shot and shells all fell considerably short of him. This was to me a most distressing circumstance; as it left us exposed to a constant and tremendous shower of shells, without the inost remote possibility of our doing him the slightest injury. It affords me the highest gratification to state, that though we were left thus exposed, and thus inactive, not a man shrunk from the conflict.

About two o'clock P. M. one of the 24 pounders of the southwest bastion, under the immediate command of captain Nicholson, was dismounted by a shell, the explosion from which killed his second lieutenant, and wounded several of his men; the bustle necessarily produced in removing the wounded and replacing the gun, probably induced the enemy to suspect we were in a state of confusion, as he brought in three of his bomb ships, to what I believed to be good striking distance. I immediately ordered a fire to be opened, which was obeyed with alacrity through the whole garrison, and in half an hour those intruders again sheltered themselves by withdrawing beyond our reach. three cheers, and again ceased firing-The enemy continued throwing shells, with one or two slight intermissions, till one o'clock in the morning of Wednesday, when it was discovered that he had availed himself of the darkness of the night, and had thrown a considerable force above to our right; they had approach

ed very near to Fort Covington, when they began to throw rockets; intended, I presume, to give them an opportunity of examining the shores—as I have since understood, they had detached 1250 picked men, with scaling ladders, for the purpose of storming this fort. We once more had an opportunity of opening our batteries, and kept up a continued blaze for nearly two hours, which had the effect again to drive them off.

In justice to lieutenant Newcomb, of the United States' navy, who commanded at fort Covington, with a detachment of sailors, and lieutenant Webster, of the flotilla, who commanded the six gun battery near that fort, I ought to state, that during this time they kept up an animated, and I believe, a very destructive fire, to which I am persuaded, we are much indebted in repulsing the enemy. One of his sunken barges has since been found with two dead men in it; others have been seen floating in the river. The only nieans we had of directing our guns, was by the blaze of their rockets, and the flashes of their guns. Had they ventured to the same situation in the day time, not a man would have escaped.

The bombardment continued on the part of the enemy until 7 o'clock on Wednesday morning, when it ceased; and about 9, their ships got under weigh, and stood down the river. During the bombardment, which lasted 25 hours (with two slight intermissions) from the best calculation I can inake, from 15 to 1800 shells were thrown by the enemy. A few of these fell short. A large proportion burst over us, throwing their fragments among us, and threatening destruction. Many passed over, and about 400 fell within the works. Two of the public buildings are materially injured, the others but slightly. I am happy to inform you (wonderful as it may appear) that our loss amounts only to four men killed, and 24 wounded. The latter will all recover. Among the killed, I have to lament the loss of lieutenant Clagget, and sergeant Clemm, both of captain Nicholson's volunteers; two men whose fate is to be deplored, not only for their personal bravery, but for their high standing, amiable demeanor, and spotless integrity in private life. Lieutenant Russel, of the company un

der lieutenant Pennington, received, early in the attack, a severe contusion in the heal; notwithstanding which he remained at his post during the whole bombardment.

Were I to name any individuals who signalized themselves, it would be doing injustice to others. Suffice it to say, that every officer and soldier under my command did their duty to my entire satisfaction.

I have the honour to be, &c.

G. ARMISTEAD, Lt. Col. U, S. A. The Secretary of War.

HEAD QUARTERS, CAMP FORT ERIE, September 29th, 1814. SIR,

In my letter of the 18th instant I briefly informed you of the fortunate issue of the sortie which took place the day preceding.

But it is due to the gallant officers and men, to whose bravery wo are indebted for our success on this occasion, that I should give you a more circumstantial and detailed account of this affair.

The enemy's camp I had ascertained to be situated in a field, surrounded by woods, nearly two miles distant from their batteries and entrenchments, the object of which was to keep the parts of their force which was not upon duty, out of the range of our fre from Fort Erie and Black Rock. Their infantry was formed into three brigades, estimated at 12 or 1500 men each. One of these brigades, with a detail from their artillery, was stationed at their works, (these being but 500 yards distant from old Fort Erie, and the right of our line.) We had already suffered much from the fire of two of their batteries, and were aware that a third was about to open upon us.

Under these circumstances, I resolved to storm the batteries, destroy the cannon, and roughly handle the brigade upon duty, before those in reserve could be brought into action.

On the morning of the 17th, the infantry and riflemen, regulars and militia, were ordered to be paraded and put in readiness to march precisely at 12 o'clock. General Porter with the volunteers, colonel Gibson with the riflemen, and major Brooks with the 230 and 21st infantry, and a few dragoons acting as infantry, were ordered to move from the extreme left of our position, upon the enemy's right, by a passage opened through the woods for the occasion. General Miller was directed to station his command in the ravine, which lies between fort Erie and the enemy's batteries, by passing them by detachments through the skirts of the wood, and the 21st infantry, under general Ripley, was posted as a corps of reserve between the new bastions of fort Erie : all under cover and out of the view of the enemy.

About 20 minutes before 3 P. M. I found the left columns, under the command of general Porter, which were destined to turn the enemy's right, within a few rods of the British entrenchments. They were ordered to advance and commence the action. Passing down the ravine, I judged from the report of musketry, that the action had commenced on our left; I now hastened to general Miller and directed him to seize the moment and pierce the enemy's entrenchments between batteries No. 2 and 3. My orders were promptly and ably executed. Within 30 minutes after the first gun was fired, batteries No. 3 and 2, the enemy's live of entrenchments, and his two block houses, were in our possession. Soon after, battery No. I was abandoned by the British. The guns in each were spiked by us, or otherwise destroyed, and the magazine of No.3 was blown up.

A few minutes before the explosion, I had ordered up the reserve under general Ripley. As he passed me at the head of his column, I desired him, as he would be the senior in advance, to ascertain, as near as possible, the situation of the troops in ge

neral, and to have a care that not more was hazarded than the occasion required; that, the object of the sortie effected, the troops would retire in good order, &c. General Ripley passed rapidly on; soon after, I became alarmed for general Miller, and sent an order for the 21st to hasten to his support towards battery No 1. Colonel Upham received the order, and advanced to the aid of general Miller. General Ripley had inclined to the left, where major Brooks' command was engaged, with a view of making some necessary enquiries of that officer, and in the act of doing so, was unfortunately wounded. By this time, the object of the sortie was accomplished beyond my most sanguine expectations. General Miller had consequently ordered the troops on the right to fall back; observing this movement, I sent my staff along the line to call in the other corps. Within a few minutes they retired from the ravine, and from thence to camp.

Thus, one thousand regulars and an equal portion of militia, in one hour of close action, blasted the hopes of the enemy, destroyed the fruits of fifty days labour, and diminised his effective force 1000 men at least. I am at a loss how to express my satisfaction at the gallant conduct of the officers and men of this division, whose valor has shone superior to every trial. General Porter, in his official report herein inclosed, has very properly noticed those patriotic citizens who have done so much honour to themselves, by freely and voluntarily tendering their services at a dangerous and critical period.

As the scene of action was in a wood, in advance of the position I had chosen for directing the movements of the whole, the several reports of commandants of corps, must guide me in noticing individuals.

General Miller mentions lieutenant colonel Aspinwall, lieutenant colonel Beedle, major Trimble, captain Hull, captain Ingersoll, lieutenant Crawford, lieutenant Lee, and particularly ensign O'Fling, as entitled to distinction.

Lieutenant colonel M.Donald, upon whom the command of the rifle corps devolved, upon the fall of the brave and generous Gibson, names adjutants Shortridge of the 1st, and Ballard of the 4th regiments, as deserving the highest applause for their promptness and gallantry in communicating orders. Of the other officers of the corps, he reports generally, that the bravery and good conduct of all was so conspicuous, as to render it impossible to discriminate.

Major Brooks, to whom much credit is due for the distinguished manner in which he executed the orders he received, speaks in high terms of lieutenants Goodell, Ingersoll, Livingston, and ensigns Brant and O'Fling, of the 23d, particularly of the latter. Also of captain Simms, lieutenants Bissel, Shore, and Brinot, of the 1st infantry, and lieutenant Watts, of the dragoons.

Lieutenant colonel Upham, who took command of the reserve after general Ripley was disabled, bestows great praise upon major Chambers, of the 4th regiment of rifleinen, attached to the 21st infantry, as also upon captain Bradford and lieutenant Holding of that regiment.

My staff, colonel Snelling, colonel Gardner, major Jones, and my aids-de-camp, major Austin and lieutenant Armstrong, were, as usual, zealous, intelligent and active; they performed every duty required of them to my entire satisfaction.

Major Hall, assistant inspector general, led a battalion of militia, and conducted with skill and gallantry. Lieutenant Kirby, aid-de-camp to general Ripley, was extremely active and useful during the time he was in action.

Lieutenants Frazer and Riddle were in general Porter's Staff; their bravery was conspicuous, and no officers of their grade were more useful.

The corps of artillery, commanded by major Hindman, which has been so eminently distinguished throughout this campaign, had no opportunity of taking a part in the sortie. The 25th infantry, under colonel Jessup, was stationed in fort Erie to hold the key of our position.

Colonel Brady, on whose firmness and good conduct every reliance could be placed, was on command at Buffalo with the remains of the 22d infantry. Lieutenant colonel M‘Ree and lieutenant colonel Wood, of the corps of engineers, having rendered to this army services the most important, I must seize the opportunity of again mentioning them particularly. On every trying occasion, I have reaped much benefit from their sound and excellent advice. No two officers of their grade could have contributed more to the safety and honour of this army. Wood, brave, generous and enterprising, died as he had lived, without a feeling but for the honour of his country and glory of her arms. His name and example will live to guide the soldier in the path of duty so long as true heroism is held in estimation. M‘Ree lives to enjoy the approbation of every virtuous and generous mind, and to receive the reward due to his services and high military talents.

It is proper here to notice, that although but one-third of the enemy's force was on duty when his works were carried, the whole were brought into action while we were employed in destroying his cannon. We secured prisoners from seven of his regiments, and know that the 6th and 82d suffered severely in killed and wounded, yet these regiments were not upon duty.

Lieutenant general Drummond broke up his camp during the night of the 21st, and retired to his entrenchments behind the Chippewa. A part of our men came up with the rear of his army at Frenchman's creek; the enemy destroyed part of their stores, by setting fire to the buildings from which they were employed in conveying them. We found in and about the camp, a

« AnteriorContinuar »