« AnteriorContinuar »
them to the praises that have been merited by the rest of the army. Captain Ogden's troop of horse was peculiarly useful by their local knowledge of the ground on which they acted ; and the small detachment of the Attacapas dragoons, stationed near head quarters, were indefatigable in performing all the duties which devolved on them.
The general would not do justice to his staff, if he did not bestow deserved praise on the adjutant general, colonel Butler, and his assistant, major Chotard, for the zeal and activity in the important department of service confided to them, and for the bravery which led them wherever danger or duty required their presence. The vigilance, courage and attention to duty exhibited during the campaign, by colonel Haynes, and his two assistants. majors Davis and Hampton, have been appreciated as they deserved to be by their general.
The general's aids-de-camp, Thomas L. Butler and captain John Reid, as well as his volunteer aids, Messrs. Livingston, Duncan, Grymes, Dupessis, and major Daverac de Castera, the judge advocate, have merited the thanks of the general by the calm and deliberate courage they have displayed on every occasion, and in every situation that called it forth. The topographical engineer, major Tatum, exhibited all the ardor of youth in the hour of peril, united to the experience acquired by his long services. The chief engineer, major Lacarriere de la Tour, has been useful to the army by his talents and bravery. The same praises are due to his assistants, captain Lewis Livingston and Mr. Latrobe. The medical staffhas merited well of the country, and the general would not do justice to his own feelings, were he to withhold from doctor Ker, hospital surgeon, who volunteered his services, and doctor Flood, the just tribute of applause deserved by them for their medical skill and personal bravery. The quarter master's department, though deprived of the personal exer: tions of colonel Piatt, who was wounded in the night action of the 23d, performed well all their duties. Major general Villere and brigadier general Morgan, have merited the approbation of the general by their unwearied attention since they took the field.
The large mortar was ably directed by captain Lefebre and by Mr. Gilbert. Captain Blanchard was very useful as an engineer, and merits the general's praise for the celerity and skill with which he erected the battery which now commands the river, on the right of the camp. Mr. Busquet and Mr. Ducoin, of major St. Gene's company, displayed great knowledge and dexterity as artillerists. To the whole army, the general presents the assurance of his official approbation and of his individual regard. This splendid campaign will be considered as entitling every man who has served in it to the salutation of his brother in arms. By command,
ROBERT BUTLER, Adj. Gen.
CAPTURE OF THE FRIGATE PRESIDENT.
H. B. M. SHIP ENDYMION, AT SEA, January 18th, 1818. SIR,
The painful duty of detailing to you the particular cause which preceded and led to the capture of the late United States' frigate President, by a squadron of his Britannic majesty's ships (as per margin) has devolved upon me. In my communication of the 14th, I made known to you my intention of proceeding to sea on that evening. Owing to some mistake of the pilots, the ship in going out grounded on the bar, where she continued to strike heavily for an hour and a balf. Although she had broken several of her rudder-braces, and had received such other material injury as to render her return into port desirable, I was unable to do so from the strong westerly wind which was then blowing. It being now high water, it became necessary to force her over the bar before the tide fell; in this we succeeded by 10 o'clock, wheri we shaped our courses along the shore of Long Island for 50 miles, and then steered south-east by east. At 5 o'clock, three ships were discovered ahead; we immediately hauled up the ship and passed two miles to the northward of them. At day light, we discovered four ships in chase, one on each quarter and two astern, the leading ship of the enemy a razee; she commenced a fire upon us, but
without effect. At meridian, the wind became light and bafiling, we had increased our distance from the razee, but the next ship astern, which was also a large ship, had gained and continued to gain upon us considerably; we immediately occupied all hands to lighten ship, by starting water, cutting the anchors, throwing overboard provisions, cables, spare spars, boats, and every article that could be got at, keeping the sails wet from the royals down. At three, we had the wind quite light; the enemy, who had now been joined by a brig, had a strong breeze and were coming up with us rapidly. The Endymion mounting 50 guns, 24 pounders on the main deck, had now approached as within
gun shot, and had commenced a fire with her bow guns, which we returned from our stern. At 5 o'clock, she had obtained a position on our starboard quarter, within half point blank shot, on which neither our stern nor quarter guns would bear; we were now steering east by north, the wind north-west. I remained with her in this position for half an hour, in the hope that she would close with us on our broadside, in which case I had prepared my crew to board, but from his continuing to yaw his ship to maintain his position, it became evident that to close was his intention. Every fire now cut some of our sails or rigging: To have continued our
course under these circumstances, would have been placing it in his power to cripple us, without being sub ject to injury himself, and to have hauled up more to the northward to bring our stern guns to bear, would have exposed us to his raking fire. It was now dusk, when I determined to alter my
course south, for the purpose of bringing the enemy abcam, and although their ships astern, were drawing up fast, l'felt satisfied I should be enabled to throw him out of the combat before they could come up, and was not without hopes, if the night proved dark, (of which there was every appearance) that I might still be enabled to make my escape. Our opponent kept off at the same instant we did, and commenced at the same time. We continued engaged steering south with steering sails set two hours and a half, when we completely succeeded in dismantling her. Previously to her dropping entirely out of the action, there were intervals of minutes, when the ships were broadside and broadside, in which she did not fire a gun. At this period (half past 8 o'clock) although dark, the other ships of the squadron were in sight and almost within gun shot. We were of course compelled to abandon her. In resuming our former course for the purpose of avoiding the squadron, we were compelled to present our stern to our antagonist; but such was his state, though we were thus exposed and within range of his guns for half an hour, that he did not avail himself of this favourable opportunity of raking us. We continued this course until 11 o'clock, when two fresh ships of the enemy (the Pomona and Tenedos) had come up. The Pomona had opened her fire on the larboard bow, within musket shot; the other about two cables' length ástern, taking a raking position on our quarter; and the rest, with the exception of the En. dymion, within gun shot. Thus situated, with about one-fifth of my crew killed and wounded, my ship crippled, and a more than four fold force opposed to me, without a chance of escape left, I deemed it my duty to surrender.
It is with emotions of pride I bear testimony to the gallantry and steadiness of every officer and man I had the honour to command on this occasion, and I feel satisfied that the fact of their beating a force equal to themselves, in the presence and almost under the guns of so vastly a superior force, when too, it was almost self-evident, that whatever their exertions might be, they must ultimately be captured, will be taken as evidence of what they would have performed, had the force opposed to thein been in any degree equal.
It is with extreme pain I have to inform you that lieutenants Babbit, Hamilton, and Howell, fell in the action. They have left no officers of superior merit behind them.
If, sir, the issue of this affair had been fortunate, I should have felt it my duty to liave recommended to your attention, lieutenants Shubrick and Gallagher. They maintained through the day the reputation they had acquired in former actions.
Lieutenant Twiggs, of the marines, displayed great zeal ; his men were well supplied and their fire incomparable, so long as the enemy continued within musket range.
Midshipman Randolph, who had charge of the forecastle division, managed it to my entire satisfaction.
From Mr. Robinson, who was serving as a volunteer, I receiv.. ed essential aid, particularly after I was deprived of the services of the master, and severe loss I had sustained in my officers on the quarter deck.
of our logs in killed and wounded, I am unable at present to give you a correct statement; the attention of the surgeon being so entirely occupied with the wounded, that he was unable to make out a correct return when I left the President, nor shall I be able to make it until our arrival into port, we having parted company with the squadron yesterday. The enclosed list, with the exception I fear of its being short of the number, will be found correct. For twenty-four hours after the action it was nearly calm, and the squadron were occupied in repairing the crippled ships. Such of the crew of the President as were not badly wounded, were put on board the different ships ; myself and part of my crew were put on board this ship. On the 17th we had a gale from the eastward, when this ship lost her bowsprit, fore and main-mast, and mizen top-mast, all of which were badly wounded, and was, in consequence of her disabled condition, obliged to throw overboard all her upper deck guns. Her loss in killed and wounded, must have been very great. I have not been able to ascertain the extent. Ten were buried after I came on board, (36 hours after the action ;) the badly wounded, such as are obliged to keep their cots, occupy the starboard side of the gun deck from the cabinbulk head to the main-mast. From the crippled state of the President's spars,
I feel satisfied she could not have saved her masts, and I feel serious apprehensions for the safety of our wounded left on board.
It is due to captain Hope to state, that every attention has been paid by him to myself and officers that have been placed on board his ship, that delicacy and huinanity could dictate.
I have the honour to be, &c.
STEPHEN DECATUR. Hon. B. W. Crowninshield,
Secretary of the Navy, The correct account of the loss on board the President as af. terwards ascertained, was 25 killed, and 60 wounded.
This vessel having been taken to Bermuda, was there repaired and sent to England.
LOSS OF FORT BOWYER.
MOBILE, February 17th, 1815. SIR.
It becomes my duty to communicate to you the very unpleasant news of the loss of fort Bowyer. It was closely invested by and, as well as water, on the 8th instant. On the 10th and 11th, 1
passed a detachment over the bay with a view to divert the enemy from his object; but it arrived about 24 hours too late, though time enough to capture one of the enemy's barges with seventeen seamen, who say the garrison capitulated on the 12th; that the besiegers had advanced their works on the land side to within certain musket shot of the parapets of the fort; that the loss in killed on either side is inconsiderable. I am in possession of no other account but that which comes from the prisoners. About 30 of the enemy's vessels, besides boats and barges, are laying within the bar and above Mobile Point, and several ships of the line on the south and west of Dauphin Island. The wind is fair, and I expect the honour of seeing them here every night; if I do, I have great confidence my next will be on a more pleasant subject
I have the honour to be, &c.
Brigadier General. Hon. Secretary of War.
P. S. The garrison consisted of about 360 men, including officers. Three small schooners in which the detachment was transported over the bay, were captured by the enemy's barges after the troops had landed.
FORT BOWYER, February 12th, 1815. SIR,
Imperious necessity has compelled me to enter into articles of capitulation with major general Lambert, commanding his Britannic majesty's forces in front of fort Bowyer, a copy of which I forward you for the purpose of effecting an immediate exchange of prisoners. Nothing but the want of provisions, and finding myself completely surrounded by thousands; batteries erected on the sand, mounds which completely commanded the fort-and the enemy having advanced, by regular approaches, within thirty yards of the ditches, and the utter impossibility of getting any assistance or supplies, would have induced me to adopt this measure. Feeling confident, and it being the unanimous opinion of the officers, that we could not retain the post, and that the lives of many valuable officers and soldiers would have been uselessly sacrificed, I thought it most desirable to adopt this plan. A full and correct statement will be furnished you as early as possible.
Captain Chamberlain, who bears this to E. Livingston, esquire, will relate to him every particular, which will I hope be satisfactory
I am, with respect, &c.
W. LAWRENCE. Major General Jackson.