« AnteriorContinuar »
Coleman's company, with Cone's detachment, under the command of lieutenant Broadnax, in the rear. A small party marched in front of the main body, and another in the rear. The openness of the ground (except in particular places) rendered it unnecessary to employ men upon the right and left. Our encampinents, at night, (there being three companies) were in the form of a triangle, with the baggage in the centre; the men, with their clothes on, lying with their feet pointing outwards, and their firelocks in their arms. In case of an attack, the officers were instructed to bring up their companies, upon the right and left of the company fronting the enemy, and attend to the Indian mode of fighting, until ordered to charge. In case of meeting the enemy upon our march, Humphrey's company was instructed to file off to the right; Fort's company to advance, and form to the front, in single rank; and Coleman's company to file off to the left: the whole, then, to advance, in the form of a crescent, and endeavour to encircle the enemy. On the morning of the 4th day of our march, when we were within 6 or 7 miles of the Lotchaway towns, our advanced party discovered a body of Indians, marching along the path, meeting us, and, at the same moment, they appeared to have discovered us. As soon as I was informed of it, I lost no time in giving the necessary directions for the companies to advance, and obey the instructions which had been previously given to them, and which appeared exactly suited to the situation in which we found the enemy. As soon as Fort's company (at the head of which I had placed myself) had advanced to its proper ground, I discovered the Indians falling back, and making every preparation for battle, by unslinging their packs, priming their rifles, and each man taking his tree. We continued to advance, taking advantage of the trees in our progress, until we were within 130 yards of the Indians, when many of them fired, and I instantly ordered the charge, which drove them from behind the trees, and caused them to retire with the greatest precipitation, our men, all the while, firing at them, slew several ; and, by repeated charges, drove them half a mile, when they took shelter in the swamp. It unfortunately happened, (I presume through inadvertance) that Humphrey's company in filing to the right, took too great a circuit, got a small swamp between them and the enemy, and thereby rendered the victory less decisive than it would have been, had the whole charged together, and before the Indians had dispersed themselves, and extended their force (which they soon did) near half a mile up and down the swamp. The company however was of service afterwards, in preventing the enemy after their dispersion from entering our camp, retaking their baggage and provision (all of which fell into our hands) or falling upon the wounded that had been sent to the rear. The action, including the skirmishing upon the flanks, lasted two hours and a half-the Indians frequently attempting to outflank us, and get in our rear, but were repulsed by the com
panies extending on our right and left. We had 1 man killed, and 9 wounded'; 2 of which have since died of their wounds. The loss of the enemy must have been considerable ; I saw 7 fall to the ground with my own eye, among whom was their king, Payne: two of them fell near the swamp, the rest our men had the curiosity to scalp. The rifle company on the right, and Broadnax's on the left, speak of killing several near the swamp,
who were borne off by their comrades; it being a principle among the savages, to carry off their dead at the risk of their lives. We remained on the battle ground watching the movements of the Indians, who were near the swamp painting themselves, and appeared to be in consultation; all of which indicated an intention to renew the combat. Accordingly, halt an hour before sun set, having obtained a considerable reinforcement of negroes and Indians, from their towns, they commenced the most horrid yells imaginable, imitating the cries and noise of almost every animal of the forest : their chiefs advancing in front, in a stooping, serpentine manner, and making the most wild and frantic gestures, until they approached within 200 yards of us, when they halted, and commenced firing. Our men were not to be alarmed by their noise and yells; but, as instructed, remained perfectly still and steady behind logs and trees, until the enemy, by this forbearance, had approached somewhat nearer, when a brisk and well directed fire from our line, soon drove them back to their original ground. I would now have ordered the charge ; but, being under the necessity, from the extension of the enemy's line, of detaching nearly one half of my force to protect our camp and wounded, (the assailing of which, is a great object with Indians,) I was left to contend with a force three times as numerous as my own. The action lasted until 8 o'clock, when the enemy were completely repulsed in every attempt, whether made upon our centre or flanks. We had two men killed, and one wounded ; the enemy carried off several of their men before it was dark; after which, all firing (of course at random) was at the spot from whence the flash arose. After fighting and fasting, the whole day, we had to work through the night; and at day-light, had a tolerable breast-work of logs and earth, with port holes, on the ground on which the battle was fought: we were reduced to this necessity; for, in despatching captain Whitaker about dark, to St. John's for a reinforcement, six more men took the liberty to accompany him, taking with them our best horses : our pilot and surgeon, (who was sick,) was among the number. The two days succeeding the battle, we neither saw nor heard any. thing of the enemy; but, on the evening of the third day, they commenced firing on our work, at a long distance, and renewed it every day, for 5 or 6 days, but without killing or wounding any of our men. After killing two or three of them, through our port holes, they seldom came within gun shot. Seven or eight days had now elapsed, since our express had left us; hun.
ger was staring us in the face, and we were reduced to the ne: cessity of eating one of our horses; we had no surgeon to dress the wounded, and apprehensions were entertained, that the enemy would receive reinforcements from Augustine, or the Makasukie Indians. Expecting relief every hour, I was unwilling to leave our breast-work, while we had a horse left to eat; but I understood, from some of my officers, that a certain captain was determined to leave us, with his company; and that many of the men, giving up all hopes of relief, talked of deserting in the night, rather than perish, or fall a sacrifice to the merciless negroes and Indians, whom they were taught to believe would surround us in great numbers in a few days. In this trying situation, when our few remaining horses were shot down by them, and the number of our sick daily increasing, I reluctantly assented to leave our works that night, and directed the litters to be prepared, to carry the wounded. About 9 o'clock we commenced our distressing march, carrying 5 wounded men in litters, and supporting two or three more.
We had not proceeded more than eight miles, when the men became perfectly exhausted from hunger and fatigue, and were unable to carry the wounded any farther. About two hours after we left our breast-works, 25 horsemen, with provisions, arrived to our relief, on a different road from the one we had taken ; but, from motives best known to themselves, instead of following us, returned to St. John's, and we were left to encounter new difficulties ; two men that I had despatched on the path the horsemen camė, by some means or other missing them. We again constructed a plan of defence, and I despatched sergeant-major Reese, with one private, to Picolata, to learn what had occasioned the delay of our expected supplies; and told him I should remain where I was, until I could hear from him, and endeavoured to procure cattle, as I discovered signs of their being near us. The evil genius of captain
-, again prevailed; and I have since learned from captain Cone, that this person instigated not only him, but many of the privates, to urge a departure from our works, even in the day time, when I was convinced that the Indians, knowing our weak situation, would endeavour to ambuscade. This gentleman, if innocent, will have an opportunity of proving himself so before a court martial.
With a burning fever on me, and scarcely able to walk, the march was ordered about 3 o'clock, P. M. I had directed the adjutant, captain Harden, to march in front, to avoid all places where there could be an ambuscade, and the litters should be distributed among the different companies. Being extremely weak, I marched in the rear, with captain
(who carried my firelock,) lieutenant Fannin, and about 15 or 20 privates. We had scarcely marched five miles, before the front of the detachment discovered the heads of several Indians, on both sides of the path, from among several pine trees that were laid prostrate by the hurricane; the same instant, the enemy fired upon our
advanced party, and shot down four of them; one, a Spaniard, died on the spot, and two survived a few days; my negro boy was one of them. The moment I heard the firing, I ordered the detachment to charge, and the Indians were completely defeated, in 15 minutes; many of them dropping their guns, and the whole running off, without ever attempting to rally; four were left dead on the field; and I am convinced, from the constant fire we kept up, that many more must have been slain, but were hid from our view, by the thick palmetto bushes. We lay on the battle ground all night, and started next day at 10 o'clock-marched five miles, and again threw up breast-works, between two ponds, living upon gophers, alligators, and palmetto stocks, until sergeant-major Reese arrived with provisions, and 14 horses, when we were enabled to proceed to St. John's with all our sick and wounded, where a gun-boat, by the direction of colonel Smith, was in waiting for us, which conveyed us to his camp, where we met with every attention that humanity or benevolence could bestow.
I cannot refrain from here expressing the high sense I have of the care and anxiety which colonel Smith has inanifested for the detachment under my command, and his promptitude in affording every aid in his power, when apprized of our situation. My pen can scarcely do justice to the merits of the brave officers and men under my command, their fortitude under all their privations and distresses never forsaking them. Captain Hamilton (who volunteered as a private, his company having left him at the expiration of their time) lieutenant Fannin, ensign Hamilton and adjutant Harden distinguished themselves in a particular manner, being always among the first to charge, and first in pursuit; sergeants Holt and Attaway likewise acted very bravely, and Fort's company in general (being always near me and under
my immediate view) advanced to the charge with the steadiness of veterans. Lieutenant Broadnax showed a great deal of courage and presence of mind, and ensign Mann, who was wounded in the first action, fought well. Captain Cone, who was wounded in the head early in the action, behaved well, and lieutenant Williams did himself great honour in every action, but particularly in the bold and manly stand he made in the night engagement. Sergeant Hawkins and corporal Neil, of Coleman's company, acted like soldiers, and sergeant-major Reese's activity was only surpassed by his courage; '
he was every where and always brave. Captain Humphrey's company acted bravely, particularly lieutenant Reed, sergeant Fields, sergeant Cowan, sergeant Denmark, and many of the privates. I can only speak of captain Humphreys from the report of some of his men, who say he acted well; it so happening he never met my eye during either of the engagements, while the conduct of every other person that I have named (except one or two) came under my personal observation.
The number of Indians, in the first engagement, from every circumstance that appeared, must have been from 75 to 100. In the second engagement, their number, including negroes (who are their best soldiers) was double our's; and, in the third engagement, there appeared to be 50, which was nearly equal to our force, after deducting the sick and wounded. From every circumstance I am induced to believe that the number of killed and wounded among the Indians, must be at least fifty.
I have the honour to be yours, &c.
DANIEL NEWMAN. His Excellency David B. Mitchell.
PITTSBURG, October 23d, 1812.
I embrace this opportunity to render you an account of the garrison of Chicago.
On the 9th of August last, I received orders from general Hull to evacuate the post and proceed with my command to Detroit, by land, leaving it at my discretion to dispose of the public property as I thought proper. The neigbouring Indians got information as early as did, and came in from all quarters in order to receive the goods in the factory store, which they understood were to be given them. On the 13th, Captain Wells, of fort Wayne, arrived with about 30 Miamies, for the purpose of es. corting us in, by the request of general Hull. On the 14th, I delivered the Indians all the goods in the factory store, and a considerable quantity of provisions which we could not take away with us. The surplus arms and ammunition I thought proper to destroy, fearing they would make bad use of it if put in their possession. I also destroyed all the liquor on hand soon after they began to collect. The collection was unusually large for that place; but they conducted themselves with the strictest propriety till after I left the fort. On the 15th, at 9 o'clock in the morning, we commenced our march: a part of the Miamies were detached in front and the remainder in our rear, as guards, under the direction of captain Wells. The situation of the country rendered it necessary for us to take the beach, with the lake on our left, and a high sand bank on our right, at about 100 yards distance.
We had proceeded about a mile and a half, when it was discovered that the Indians were prepared to attack us from behind the bank. I immediately marched up with the company to the top of the bank, when the action commenced; after firing one round, we charged, and the Indians gave way in front and joined