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Effect of General Dearborn's armistice-General Van Rensselaer, Lieutenant Elliot, and
Captain Towson, capture an English brig, laden with fur—Militia desire to be led across the Niagara— Their zeal flags-- Battle of Queenstown, September 13, 1812_Conquest of Canada more difficult than at first supposed - Public zeal aroused -Volunteers from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky-General Harrison appointed Commander-in-chief-Arrives at Fort Deposite, September 12, 1812–General Winchester, on the 18th of September, in command at Fort Wayne-Object of the campaign-General Hopkins's Expedition to Illinois-Returns/Second Expedition thither-Governor Edwards's and Colonel Russel's Expedition against the Indian tribes on the Illinois-General Winchester --The first Naval action between the Constitution and Guerriere, directs the attention of the United States to a Navy ; and being followed by others, causes our arms to triumph by land, and terminated the Indian war in Illinois-Captain Hull-Action with the Guerriere-Captain Decatur—Captain Jones-General Winchester advances—General Tupper superseded Ohio troops return-Expedition to the Rapids abortive-Campaign of 1812 ended British and Indians in possession of Michigan, etc. -Kentucky Volunteers-January 1813, army advances to Frenchtown-British capitulate-General Proctor arrives with a large force-General Winchester and Colonel Lewis taken prisoners-Amer. icans defeated, and surrender, under promise of protection-Americans massacred after their surrender-Captain Hart-Doctor Ketchum-General Harrison builds Fort Meigs--General Crooks builds a fort at Upper Sandusky-Fort Meigs besieged
- Colonel Dudley defeated and killed— Tecumseh's humanity displayed-Siege of Fort Meigs raised- British attack Fort Stephenson-Are repelled-Major Croghan -Commodore Perry builds a fleet on Lake Erie-Sails in pursuit of the enemy, August 1813—Battle of Lake Erie, September 10th, 1813—British Fleet captured Honors to the dead at Erie-Canada invaded by General Harrison-General Proctor destroys Fort Malden, and retreats—General Harrison takes possession of Malden, September 27th, 1813–Of Detroit, September 29th, 1813-Colonel Johnson reaches Detroit, September 30th, 1813—October 2nd, 1813, the army marches in pursuit of Proctor-Governor Shelby-Battle of the Thames, British army taken pris. oners-General Proctor escapes by the fleetness of his horse— Tecumseh killedAmerican humanity manifest—Border warfare—Tom Higgins-Peace, December 24th, 1814-Ratified February 18th, thereafter-Nothing settled by the war-The same questions still open, to be determined hereafter-Useful lessons taught, and many laurels won.
The effect of the armistice, entered into between General Dearborn and Sir George Prevost, on the 8th of August, 1812, we have in part seen. Its further effects remain yet to be traced. Previous to its execution, General Dearborn had been directed, by the secretary of war, to cooperate with General Hull, and to effect a diversion in his favor on the Niagara frontier. For this, however, he made no preparation ; and as General Armstrong, in his notices of the war observes," appeared to have little relish.” The arrangement thus made without authority, by General Dearborn, was at once disapproved by the president; and the former ordered to put an end to it as speedily as possible. General Dear. born, however, suffered it to remain in force until the 29th of August, thus enabling General Brock, not only to effect the reduction of Detroit, but to lead his army back to Niagara, with a view to further operations.
A considerable force, in the meantime, had been collected on the American side of the river, under General Van Rensselaer, of the New. York militia ; and for a few days some military spirit was excited, by a gallant and successful enterprise of Lieutenant Elliot, of the navy, aided by Captain Towson, of the army, in capturing two armed brigs—one of which was richly laden with furs. The militia, thereupon, demanded to be led across the river; and a portion of the volunteers threatened to return home, unless their wishes were complied with. It was not, however, the ardor of veterans, acquainted with dangers to be encountered, and despising them, but the inconsiderate rashness of inexperienced men, ready to anticipate the proper moment for action, without the firmness to persevere when surrounded with terror. Though many boasted of their patriotism, and expressed a desire to exhibit their prowess “ 'mid scenes of carnage,” they saw, in a few weeks, enough of war “to satisfy them that it was no part of their special calling.” On the 11th of October, 1812, an attempt was made to cross the Niagara, and plant the banners of the Republic, (as General Hull had before done,) in the territory of Canada. The troops accordingly assembled at the place of rendezvous, but the person having charge of the boats had not only withdrawn him. self, but had carried with him all the oars necessary for the service. For this unexpected occurrence, there was no remedy but patience. The patriotism, however, of the militia had time to cool; the ardor of the pretended patriot to evaporate; and the troops thus assembled, an opportunity to discuss constitutional questions in presence of the enemy.
On the 13th the attempt was renewed. The army, or rather a part of it, crossed over to Queenstown; a battle was there fought, in which General Brock was slain. Although much individual bravery was man. ifest, and Colonel Van Rensselaer of the militia, Colonel Scott, Colonel Christie, Captain Wool, and many others, covered themselves with laurels, the result upon the whole was disastrous; and the folly of invading an enemy's country with raw recruits and undisciplined militia, to contend upon equal terms with regular armies, became more apparent, if possible, than ever.
War is a trade; and ere the sword be unsheathed, every nation is confident of victory. Such, unfortunately, was our case. Reverses, how. ever, are frequent; and war has other means of destruction than the cannon or the sword. Though war, judging from the indifference with which the greater part of mankind see it begun,“ seems nothing but a splendid game-a proclamation-an army-a battle, and a triumph," the campaign of 1812 presented to the American people but few of such
spectacles; and the conquest of Canada began to be regarded, as in fact it was, a subject of difficulty and danger.
Of the enthusiasm which pervaded the west, on being informed of General Hull's surrender, we have spoken already. Civil pursuits were forgotten. The ladies at once set about the preparing of clothes and knapsacks, for their friends and relations; and whole companies, and even regiments we are told, were equipped in a day. A love of country, and the indomitable spirit of the Americans, were aroused im. mediately to action. They could not endure the idea of being worsted, or that any part of the United States should, for a moment, be Eng. land's by conquest.
So numerous even were the volunteers from Kentucky, that orders were issued to receive no more ; and several companies were thus compelled to turn back with their laurels unreaped. A clergyman of our acquaintance, being once informed by an unworthy person of his intention to join the church, told his parishioner that “ the church was pretty much full, and they had concluded, therefore, not to take any more." It was just so in the present instance. Pennsylvania and Ohio were equally excited ; and an army of four thousand men, in a few weeks, was armed, equipped, and ready for the field. General Payne commanded the Kentucky, General Couts the Pennsylvania, and General Tupper the Ohio volunteers; and General Harrison, commissioned by Governor Scott of Kentucky, as a major-general, commanded the whole. The latter arrived at Fort Deposite on the 12th of September, 1812, with two thousand five hundred militia. Its garrison, which consisted of but seventy men, had sustained repeated attacks from the Indians, and was now, to their great joy, effectually relieved. In the absence of more important business, and while he was waiting for the concentration of his forces, the Indian country in the neighborhood was laid waste, and on the 18th of September he returned to Fort Wayne. Here he found General Winchester, unexpectedly in command. The latter had been an officer in the revolutionary army, and he was now a brigadier-general in the army of the Republic. General Harrison resolved, therefore, to retire to Indiana, of which territory he was governor. (See note 1.) He had not, how. ever, proceeded far, when a messenger overiook him with information, that, by subsequent arrangements, he had been appointed a brigadiergeneral in the United States service, and commander-in-chief of the northwestern army. He returned immediately to Fort Wayne; arrived there on the 23rd of September, and resumed its command.
The object of the campaign was to retake Detroit-expel the British from the territory of the United States-protect the west and northwestern frontier, and reduce Malden in Upper Canada. The roads, however, were bad; the season far advanced; provisions difficult to be obtained, and the munitions of war tardily transported to their place of destination. The campaign was, of course, wasted away without object or end. The whole of Michigan, the northern part of Illinois and Mackinaw, were
still occupied by British troops, and a provisional government was established at Detroit by General Proctor.
The spirit of volunteering, notwithstanding our reverses, still prevailed, and Vincennes was designated as a place of rendezvous, for the most formidable expedition (at least in appearance,) which had hitherto entered the Indian country. It consisted of four thousand mounted riflemen, and was commanded by General Hopkins. Its destination was against the Indian towns upon the Illinois and the Wabash. Some of the Indian warriors residing there had participated in the massacre at Chicago—the cries of women and children had now reached Kentucky, and called loudly for vengeance. The army reached Fort Harrison on the 10th of October, 1812 ; on the 14th it crossed the Wabash, entered the State of Illinois, and proceeded on its march. On the fourth day thereafter it got lost
upon the prairie, and resolved to return. The luxuriant grass, which in the autumn becomes dry and combustible, presenting a few slight obstacles to their march, its patriotism evaporated. This unwieldy and ill compacted body, which no authority could control and no discipline keep together; having come in contact with a prairie-fire, which they thought set by the Indians to impede their march, and which advanced with great velocity toward their camp, impelled thither by a strong westerly wind, (which, however, every child twelve years old, who had been a week in the country knew how to counteract,) became alarmed for its safety; and this " press of Kentucky chivalry," as Breckenridge in his History of the War calls it, became wholly insubordinate-a major, in the meantime, whose name is concealed, rode up to the general and ordered him to return.
The next morning a council of officers was held, and the general, seeing the situation of the army, or more properly speaking of the crowd, proposed, in case five hundred of their number would remain, to continue his march. The proposal was accordingly made, and no one responded in its favor. The general then requested the command of the army for another day, and it was granted. Placing himself thereupon at its head, and giving orders to march, instead of following him, they turned round and proceeded in a contrary direction, leaving their general to bring up the rear.* Finding it useless to attempt anything further with such a body, he followed it to Fort Harrison. In the same manner
“ The King of France with forty thousand men,
Marched up the hill, and then marched down again."
In November, General Hopkins led another expedition into the Indian country, of twelve hundred men, with more brilliant success. He set out from Fort Harrison on the 11th of November, 1812, and reached the pro phet's town on the 19th, which he destroyed. He destroyed also a village
* Breckenridge's History of the War.
of the Kickapoos, and another of the Winnebagoes, at the Pariepassu creek. This corps suffered exceedingly, being, as the general says, "shoeless and shirtless." They, however, neither murmured nor repined. The inclement season being at hand, the army returned, having effected its object.
Another expedition, previous to this, was undertaken by Colonel Russel, with three companies of United States rangers, and a party of mounted riflemen, under Governor Edwards, of Illinois. It consisted of three hundred and sixty men, and was destined to act in concert with General Hopkins, in his first expedition against the Indian towns on the Ilinois. Although disappointed in meeting General Hopkins, they persevered in their enterprise—destroyed one of the Indian towns, pursued the Indians into a swamp where they sought refuge, killed about twenty of their number, and returned to camp after an absence of thirteen days.
The campaign of 1812, therefore, with the exception of a few Indian skirmishes, in which much personal bravery was exhibited, and much hardship endured, though big with promise, was fertile in disaster.
When war was first declared, victory, as of course, was anticipated by the Americans on land, but not on the ocean. England, for many years had there been paramount—not only as mistress, but as tyrant. “ Free trade and sailors' rights,” we have already seen led to the war. Our naval combats became afterward a commentary on the British doc. trine of impressment, and the "striped bunting "* floated triumphantly on almost every sea.
The first naval action (between the Constitution and Guerriere,) directed the attention of the American people with deep and abiding interest to the ocean-taught our countrymen the way to greatness-humbled our ene. mies on their own element—and being followed by others, caused a navy to be built on Lake Erie, the arms of General Harrison to triumph, and drove the Indians and their allies from our borders. 'Tis not, then, an illegitimate portion of our history.
The Constitution, Captain Hull,+ sailed from Annapolis on the 5th of July, 1812, and on the morning of the 17th, off Egg Harbor, was chased by a British squadron. The numerical force of the latter would have rendered the former an easy prey, could she have been brought within reach of their guns. The question to be settled, therefore, was one of seamanship merely. At sunrise on the morning of the 18th, they were about five miles distant from each other, and escape on the part of the Constitution was almost hopeless. She therefore cleared for action, having resolved to make a desperate resistance. As the hostile feet, however, approached, Captain Hull made another effort to escape ; and as the sea
A name given at first by the English sailors, and afterward by the English nation, to the American flag.
+ Captain Hull was a nephew of General Hull, whose surrender of Detroit, at this time, had created a strong sensation throughout the country.