صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

HE declaration of war with Great Britain was received with different feelings, by different classes of the American community. The minority of Congress, the Legislatures of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey, and several of the commercial cities, protested against it in public addresses. But unquestionably the greater portion of the people approved of the act, and

considered it the only honourable course which could have been

[blocks in formation]

pursued by government. It cannot, however, be denied that the nation was but ill prepared for a struggle with a power among the first in Europe, and the acknowledged mistress of the ocean. Until the year 1808, the whole military establishment had scarcely amounted to three thousand men ; in that year it was augmented to nine thousand; and in January, 1812, Congress had directed twentyfive thousand additional troops to be raised. The President was also authorized to accept the services of any number of volunteers, not exceeding fifty thousand, and to call upon the state governors for one hundred thousand militia. But the act providing for twenty-five thousand regular troops had been passed so short a time previous to the declaration of war, that scarcely one-fourth of that number could be raised, the great mass of whom were necessarily raw and undisciplined. The militia was a species of force on which little dependence could be placed. The navy consisted of only ten frigates, ten sloops and smaller vessels, and one hundred and sixty-five gunboats, only sixty of which were in commission.

OR the better regulation of the army, General

Henry Dearborn, of Massachusetts, was appointed to command the northern department, and General Thomas Pinckney the southern. In April, the President had made a requisition upon the local government of Ohio, for twelve hundred men, to be placed under the command of Brigadier-General Hull, Governor of Michigan. Territory. With this force, and detachments from other regiments, numbering altogether about twenty-five hundred men, Hull arrived at Detroit, whence he crossed into Canada, July 12, and published a pompous proclamation to the inhabitants, in which he assured them of his ability to "look down all opposition," and invited them to join his standard. But instead of advancing directly upon Malden, where the enemy had collected, he remained inactive at Sandwich until the British had taken Mackinaw, and all the neighbouring Indians came pouring down upon his troops. The general still showed no disposition for active operations, but conducted himself with so much delay and irresolution, as to lose entirely the confidence of his officers and troops.

On the 4th of August, Major Vanhorne, with two hundred men, was sent to the assistance of a company of volunteers, who, while

escorting a supply of provisions for the army, were threatened by a body of British and Indians. This officer proceeded in so incautious a manner, that he was soon drawn into an ambuscade of the enemy, and defeated with considerable loss. To compensate for this failure, Hull issued orders on the 7th for an immediate attack upon Malden; but on the following morning, to the astonishment and indignation of both officers and men, the whole army was directed to recross the river to Detroit. On the same day, a second unsuccessful attempt to open communication with the supplies was made by a small party under Colonel Miller.

EANWHILE, General Brock assumed command of the British forces, and after erecting batteries within point-blank shot of the American lines, summoned Hull to surrender. Receiving a refusal, he bombarded the town all that day, [August 15,] and part of the next, when he crossed the river and prepared to assault the American line. While the garrison were awaiting his attack with coolness, after having planted their guns in an advantageous position, they were suddenly ordered to retire into the fort, where their arms were stacked, and the artillery-men forbidden to fire. Being thus crowded into a narrow compass, they were cut down so fast that Hull soon run up a white flag in token of surrender. The terms of capitulation included not only his own troops, but those of Colonels Miller and McArthur, and Captain Brush, all of whom were at that time absent on different expeditions.

The indignation of the Americans at this cowardly and disgraceful transaction was unbounded. From the language of the general, they had been led to expect nothing less than the capture of all Upper Canada; and now the blasting of these prospects by the surrender of an American army, together with a large extent of territory, was almost too much for endurance. After his exchange, Hull was tried by court-martial, found guilty of cowardice and unofficerlike conduct, and sentenced to be shot. In consequence of his age and former services, the sentence of death was remitted, but his name was stricken from the rolls of the army.

The officers of General Hull had suspected his


incapacity to com

mand, long before he gave the final proof of it. This had induced



them to ask privately of the governors of Ohio and Kentucky for reinforcements, and accordingly twelve hundred militia under Brigadier-General Tupper, and two thousand volunteers under BrigadierGeneral Payne, were sent toward Detroit. On the road, they heard of the surrender, and on petitioning that some competent officer, well acquainted with the country, might be appointed to conduct them, that post was given to General Harrison, then Governor of Indiana. Such was the popularity of this able officer, that, although not a citizen of Kentucky, he was immediately invested by the governor of that state with the chief command of its militia, and the rank of major-general. He was also appointed brigadier-general in the regular army. On the 3d of September, with two thousand two hundred men, he arrived at Piqua, on the Great Miami, whence he despatched Colonel Allen, with five hundred men, to the relief of Fort Wayne, then invested by the Indians. At the colonel's approach, the besiegers fired a little village adjacent to the fort, and then retreated. General Tupper was then sent with one thousand men, to disperse the enemy at the Rapids of the Miami; but partly through a misunderstanding with General Winchester, Commander at Fort Wayne, and partly from defection of the Ohio militia, this expedition failed. On the western frontier, however, the small garrison of Fort Harrison, under Captain Zachary Taylor, defended

[graphic][merged small]

themselves against fearful odds, during a night attack by the Indians, and although a block-house containing all their provisions was burnt to the ground, they drove off the assailants with considerable loss. The captain lost two men killed, three wounded. This success was followed by incursions into the Indian territory, during which Colonel Campbell destroyed many villages and captured a number of warriors, with their wives and children.

Meanwhile, a considerable American force under Brigadier-General Bloomfield, was stationed at Plattsburg, and another under BrigadierGeneral Smyth, at Buffalo. About three thousand five hundred militia, with small parties of regulars, were stationed on the Niagara frontier, under General Van Rensselaer. The latter resolved on an attempt upon Queenstown, a small place on the Niagara river, eight miles below the falls. The assaulting party was divided into a force of three hundred regulars, under Lieutenant-Colonel Christie, and the same number of militia under Colonel Van Rensselaer. These were to be followed by the flying artillery, under Colonel Fenwick, the remainder of the regulars under Major Mullany, and the artillery of Colonel Winfield Scott, who had lately arrived from Black Rock. Before daylight on the 13th of October, the army was put in

« السابقةمتابعة »