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Our position on the margin of the lake, at the entrance of the Niagara river, being nearly a horizontal plain, twelve or fifteen feet above the surface of the water, possessing few natural advantages, had been strengthened in front by temporary parapet breast works, entrenchments and abattis, with two batteries and six field pieces. The small unfinished fort, Erie, with a 24, 18, and 12 pounder, forms the north-east, and the Douglass battery, with an 18 and 6 pounder near the edge of the lake, the south-east angle of our right. The left is defended by a redoubt battery, with six field pieces just thrown up on a small ridge. was left open to the lake, bordered by a rocky shore of easy ascent. The battery on the left was defended by captain Towson; fort Erie, by captain Williams, with major Trimble's command of the 19th infantry; the batteries on the front, by cap. tains Biddle and Fanning; the whole of the artillery commanded by major Hindman. Parts of the 11th, 9th, and 22d infantry of the late veteran brigade of major general Scott) were posted on the right, under the command of lieutenant colonel Aspin wall. General Ripley's brigade, consisting of the 21st and 23d, defended the left. General Porter's brigade of New York and Pennsyl. vania volunteers, with our distinguished riflemen, occupied the centre.
I have sheretofore omitted stating to you, that during the 13th and 14th, the enemy had kept up a brisk cannonade, which was sharply returned from our batteries, without any considerable loss on our part. At 6 P. M. one of their shells lodged in a small magazine in fort Erie, which was fortunately almost empty. It blew up with an explosion more awful in appearance, than injurious in its effects, as it did not disable a man, or derange a gun. It occasioned but a momentary cessation of the thunders of the artillery on both sides; it was followed by a loud and joyous shout by the British army, which was instantly returned on our part, and captain Williams, amidst the smoke of the explosion, renewed the contest by an animated roar of his heavy cannon.
From the supposed loss of our ammunition, and the consequent depression such an event was likely to produce upon the minds of our men, I felt persuaded that this explosion would lead the enemy to assault, and made my arrangements accordingly. The annexed paper No. 1, is a copy of lieutenant general Drummond's order, and plan of attack. [Not published.]
The night was dark, and the early part of it raining, but the faithful sentinel slept not; one third of the troops were up their posts. At half past two o'clock, the right column of the enemy approached, and though enveloped in darkness black as his designs and principles, was distinctly heard on our left, and promptly marked by our musketry under major Wood, and cannon under captain Towson. Being mounted at the moment, I repaired to the point of attack, where the sheet of fire rolling from Towson's battery, and the musketry of the left wing of the 21st
infantry under major Wood, enabled me to see the enemy's column of about 1500 men approaching on that point; his advance was not checked, until it had approached within ten feet of our infantry. A line of loose brush representing an abattis only intervened; a column of the enemy attempted to pass round the abattis through the water, where it was nearly breast deep. Apprehending that this point would be carried, I ordered a detachment of riflemen and infantry to its support, but having met with the gallant commander, major Wood, was assured by him that he could defend his position without reinforcements. At this moment the enemy were repulsed, but instantly renewed the charge and were again repulsed. My attention was now called to the right, where our batteries and lines were soon lighted by a most brilliant fire of cannon and musketry; it announced the approach of the centre and left columns of the enemy, under colonels Drummond and Scott; the latter' was received by the veteran 9th, under the command of captain Foster, and captains Broughton and Harding's companies of New York and Pennsylvania volunteers, aided by a six pounder judiciously posted by major M.Ree, chief engineer, who was most active and useful at this point; they were repulsed. That of the centre, led by colonel Drummond, was not long kept in check; it approached at once every assailable point of the fort, and with scaling ladders ascended the parapet, but was repulsed with dreadful carnage.
The assault was twice re. peated, and as often checked, but the enemy having moved round the ditch covered by darkness, added to the heavy cloud of smoke which had rolled from our cannon and musketry, enveloping surrounding objects, repeated the charge, re-ascended the ladders; their pikes, bayonets and spears fell upon our gallant artillerists. The gallant spirits of our favourite captain Williams and lieutenants M‘Donough and Watmough, with their brave men, were overcome. The two former, and several of their men, received deadly wounds. Our bastion was lost; lieutenant M Donough, being severely wounded, demanded quarter; it was refused by colonel Drummond. The lieutenant then seized a hand spike and nobly defended himself until he was shot down with a pistol by the monster who had refused him quarter, who often reiterated the order—"give the damned yankees no quarter.” This officer, whose bravery, if it had been seasoned with virtue, would have entitled him to the admiration of every soldier. This hardened murderer soon met his fate. He was shot through the breast by
of the regiment, while repeating the order li to give no quarter.”
The battle now raged with increased fury on the right, but on the left the enemy was repulsed and put to flight. Thence and from the centre, I ordered reinforcements. They were promptly sent by brigadier general Ripley, and brigadier general Porter. Captain Fanning, of the corps of artillery, kept up a spirited and destructive fire with his field pieces, on the enemy attempting to
approach the fort. Major Hindman's gallant efforts, aided by major Trimble, having failed to drive the enemy from the bastion, with the remaining artillerists and infantry in the fort, captain Birdsall, of the 4th rifle regiment, with a detachment of riflemen, gallantry rushed in through the gateway to their assistance, and with some infantry, charged the enemy, but was repulsed, and the captain severely wounded. A detachment from the 11th, 19th, and 22d infantry, under captain Foster, of the 11th, were introduced over the interior bastion, for the purpose of charging the enemy. Major Hall, assistant inspector general, very handsomely tendered his services to lead the charge. The charge was gallantly made by captain Foster and major Hall, but owing to the narrowness of the passage up to the bastion, admitting only two or three men abreast, it failed. It was often repeated, and as often checked; the enemy's force in the bastion was, however, much cut to pieces and diminished by our artillery and small arms. At this moment every operation was arrested by the explosion of some cartridges deposited in the end of the stone building adjoining the contested bastion. The explosion was tremendous it was decisive; the bastion was restored. At this moment, captain Biddle was ordered to cause a field piece to be posted so as to enfilade the exterior plain and salient glacis. The captain, though not recovered from a severe contusion in the shoulder, received from one of the enemy's shells, promptly took his position, and served his field piece with vivacity and effect. Captain Fanning's battery likewise played upon them at this time with great effect. The enemy were in a few moments entirely defeated, taken or put to flight, leaving on the field 222 killed, 174 wounded, and 186 prisoners. A large portion are so severely wounded, that they can. not survive; the slightly wounded, it is presumed, were carried off.
To brigadier general Ripley, much credit is due for the judicious disposition of the left wing, previous to the action, and for the steady disciplined courage manifested by him and his imme, diate command, and for the promptness with which he complied with my orders for reinforcement during the action. Brigadier general Porter, commanding the New York and Pennsylvania volunteers, manifested a degree of vigilance and judgment in his preparatory arrangements, as well as military skill and courage in the action, which proves him to be worthy the confidence of his country, and the brave volunteers who fought under him. Of the volunteers, captains Broughton and Harding with their detachments posted on the right, and attached to the line commanded by captain E. Foster, of the veteran 9th infantry, handsomely contributed to the repulse of the left column of the enemy under colonel Scott:
The judicious preparations and steady conduct of lieutenant colonel Aspinwall, commanding the first brigade, merit approbation.
To major M.Ree, chief engineer, the greatest credit is due for the excellent arrangement and skilful execution of his plans for fortifying and defending the right, and for his correct and seasonable suggestions to regain the bastion. Major Wood, of the engineers, also greatly contributed to the previous measures of defence. He has accepted the command of a regiment of infantry, (the 21st,) for which he has often proved himself well qualified, but never so conspicuously as on this occasion.
Towson's battery emitted a constant sheet of fire. Wood's small arms lighted up the space, and repulsed five terrible charges made between the battery and the lake. Brigadier general Ripley speaks in high terms of the officers and men engaged, particularly captains Marston and Ropes, lieutenants Riddle of the 15th, doing duty with the 21st) and Hall; ensigns Benn, Jones, Cummings and Thomas of the 21st, and Keally and Green of the 19th.
Major Hindman, and the whole of the artillery under the command of that excellent officer, displayed a degree of gallantry and good conduct not to be surpassed. The particular situation of captain Towson, and the much lamented captain Williams and lieutenant M.Donough, and that of lieutenant Watmough, as already described, with their respective commands, rendered them most conspicuous. The courage and good conduct of lieutenant Zantzinger and lieutenant Childs, is spoken of in high terms by major Hindman and captain Towson, as also that of serjeant major Denhon. Captains Biddle and Fanning, on the centre and right of their entrenchments, threw their shot to the right, left and front, and annoyed the Indians and light troops of the enemy approaching from the woods. Lieutenant Fontaine in his zeal to meet the enemy, was unfortunately wounded and made prisoner. Lieutenant Bird was active and useful, and in fact every individual belonging to the corps did their duty.
The detachment of Scott's gallant brigade, consisting of parts of the 9th, 11th and 22d infantry, did its duty in a manner worthy the high reputation the brigade had acquired at Chippewa, and at the falls of Niagara. The 9th, under the command of captain Edmund Foster, was actively engaged against the left of the enemy, and with the aid of lieutenant Douglass's corps of bombardeirs, commanding the water battery, and of that of the volunteers, under captains Broughton and Harding, effected their repulse. The good conduct of lieutenants Childs, Cushman and Foot, and ensign Blake, deserves commendation.
The officers killed, are captain Williams and lieutenant M.Donough of the artillery. Wounded, lieutenant Watmough of the artillery; ensign Cissney 19th ; lieutenant Bushnel 21st; lieutenants Brown and Belknap 23d; and captain Birdsall, 4th rifle regiment, all severely.
Lieutenant Fontaine of the artillery, who was taken prisoner, writes from the British camp, that he fortunately fell into the
bands of the Indians, who, after taking his money, treated him kindly. It would seem, then, that these savages had not joined in the resolution to give no quarter.
To Major Jones, assistant adjutant general, and major Hall, assistant inspector general ; captain Harris of the dragoons, volunteer aid-de-camp; lieutenant Belton, aid-de-camp, much credit is due for their constant vigilance and strict attention to every duty previous to the action, and the steady courage, zeal and activity, which they manifested during the action.
The surgeons, doctors Fuller 23d, Trowbridge 21st, with their mates ; doctors Gale of the 23d, and Everitt and Allen of the 21st, deserve the warmest approbation, for their indefatigable exortions and humane attention to the wounded of our army, as well as to the prisoners who fell into their hands.
I have the honour to be, &c.
E. P. GAINES, Brig. Gen. Comdg. Hon. John Armstrong, Secretary of War. Report of the killed, wounded and prisoners, taken at the battle
of Erie, U. C. August 15th, 1814. Killed, left on the field, 222—wounded, left on the field, 174– prisoners, 186. Grand total, 582.
Two hundred supposed to be killed on the left flank, Snake Hill (in the water) and permitted to float down the Niagara. The number on the right flank, near the woods, could not be ascertained.
Given at the inspector general's office, Fort Erie, Upper Canada.
NATHL. N. HALL,
Assist. Inspt. Gen Brig. Gen. E. P. Gaines, &c.
HEAD QUARTERS, FORT ERIE, UPPER CANADA,
August 26th, 1814. SIR,
In my report of the battle of the 15th instant, I inadvertently omitted the names of captain Chunn of the 19th, lieutenants Bowman and Larned, of the 21st, and Jewitt of the 11th infantry, as also my brigade major, lieutenant Gleason; each of whom bore a conspicuous part in the action, and whom I beg leave to recommend to your notice. Lieutenants Bowman and Larned commanded companies in the 21st, which so gallantly beat the enemy's right column. Captain Chunn with his company was doing duty with the same regiment. I also omitted mentioning that a part of this regiment pursued the enemy's right upwards of a mile, and took 100 prisoners; his left was also pursned, and