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´╗┐Title: The Campaigns of the British Army at Washington and New Orleans 1814-1815
Author: Gleig, G. R. (George Robert), 1796-1888
Language: English
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The Campaigns of the British Army at Washington and New Orleans


Rev. G. R. Gleig, M.A.,

Chaplain-General to the forces;

Author of 'The Subaltern'; 'Story of the Battle of Waterloo';
'Life of Lord Clive'; 'Life of Sir Thomas Munro', etc.

New Edition 1879


The following Narrative contains, it is believed, the only connected
and authentic account, which has yet been given, of the expedition
directed against Washington and New Orleans, towards the close of the
late American war.  It has been compiled, not from memory alone, but
from a journal kept by the author whilst engaged in the enterprise;
and as the adventures of each were faithfully noted down as they
occurred, and such remarks made upon passing events as suggested
themselves to his mind at the moment, the public may rely with
confidence upon general correctness of the details.  The issues of the
expedition were not, indeed, of the most gratifying nature, but it is
hoped that a plain relation of the proceedings of those to whom it was
intrusted, will not, on that account, prove uninteresting; whilst
nothing can be more evident than that the portion of our history which
it embraces ought not to be overlooked because it is little conducive
to the encouragement of national vanity.  It was chiefly, indeed, upon
this account, as well as with a view to redeem from an oblivion which
they hardly merit, the actions and sufferings of a few brave men, that
the Narrative now submitted to the public was written.

Cessation of Hostilities--Expected Embarkation for America--Encampment
near Passages--March towards Bordeaux-Anglet. . .

Bayonne--St. Etienne--March through Bayonne, to Ondres

Les Landes--March to Bordeaux--Bordeaux--Macan--La  Moe--At Sea


At Sea--St. Michael's--Villa Franca . . .


St  Michael's--Ponto del Gada--At Sea .


Bermuda . . . . . . . . . .

America--The Chesapeake--The Partuxent--St. Benedicts . . .

Nottingham--Marlborough . . . .

March to Washington--Bladensburg . .

Washington . . . . . . . . .

Washington--Bladensburg--Marlborough-St  Benedicts
. . . . . .

Alexandria--The Patuxent--The Patapsco . . . . . . . . . .

March--Attack--Halt . . . . .

March--Halt--Search--March--Rally--Halt . . . . . . . .

CHAPTER XV.  The Patuxent--The Potomac--The Chesapeake--At Sea--The
West Indies . . . . . . . . . .

The West Indies--Port Royal--Kingston--Jamaica--The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains--Port Royal--Negril Bay . . . . . . . . .

At Sea--New Orleans--Lake Borgne--Pine Island . . . . . . .

Pine Island--The Lake--Landing--March--Halt . . . . . . .

Halt--Attack--Field of Battle-Hospital . . . . . . . . . .

CHAPTER XXI.  Advance--Attack--March--Attack--Retreat--Preparations
. . . . .

Attack--Retreat--Pause--Attack--Re-embarkation . . . . . . .

The Camp--Preparations for Retreat--Retreat--Halt . . . . . . .

The Lake--Mobile--Siege--Peace--Havannah . . . . . . . .

Havannah--Remarks . . . . .





A REVOLUTION must occur in the condition and sentiments of
mankind more decided than we have any reason to expect that the
lapse of ages will produce, before the mighty events which
distinguished the spring of 1814 shall be spoken of in other
terms than those of unqualified admiration.  It was then that
Europe, which during so many years had groaned beneath the
miseries of war, found herself at once, and to her remotest
recesses, blessed with the prospect of a sure and permanent
peace.  Princes, who had dwelt in exile till the very hope of
restoration to power began to depart from them, beheld themselves
unexpectedly replaced on the thrones of their ancestors;
dynasties, which the will of one man had erected, disappeared
with the same abruptness with which they had arisen; and the
influence of changes which a quarter of a century of rapine and
conquest had produced in the arrangements of general society,
ceased, as if by magic, to be felt, or at least to be acknowledged.
It seemed, indeed, as if all which had been passing during the
last twenty or thirty years, had passed not in reality,
but in a dream; so perfectly unlooked for were the issues of
a struggle, to which, whatever light we may regard it,
the history of the whole world presents no parallel.

At the period above alluded to, it was the writer's fortune to
form one of a body of persons in whom the unexpected cessation of
hostilities may be supposed to have excited sensations more
powerful and more mixed than those to which the common
occurrences of life are accustomed to give birth.  He was then
attached to that portion of the Peninsular army to which the
siege of Bayonne had been intrusted; and on the 28th of  April
beheld, in common with his comrades, the tri-coloured flag,
which, for upwards of two months, had waved defiance from the
battlements, give place to the ancient drapeau blanc of the
Bourbons.  That such a spectacle could be regarded by any
British soldier without stirring up in him strong feelings of
national pride and exultation, is not to be imagined.  I believe,
indeed, that there was not a man in our ranks, however humble his
station, to whose bosom these feelings were a stranger.  But the
excitation of the moment having passed away, other and no less
powerful feelings succeeded; and they were painful, or the
reverse, according as they ran in one or other of the channels
into which the situations and prospects of individuals not
unnaturally guided them.  By such as had been long absent from
their homes, the idea of enjoying once more the society of
friends and relatives, was hailed with a degree of delight too
engrossing to afford room for the occurrence of any other
anticipations; to those who had either no homes to look to, or
had quitted them only a short time ago, the thoughts of
revisiting England came mixed with other thoughts, little
gratifying, because at variance with all their dreams of
advancement and renown.  For my own part I candidly confess, that
though I had just cause to look forward to a return to the bosom
of my family with as much satisfaction as most men, the
restoration of peace excited in me sensations of a very equivocal
nature.  At the age of eighteen, and still enthusiastically
attached to my profession, neither the prospect of a reduction to
half-pay, nor the expectation of a long continuance in a
subaltern situation, were to me productive of any pleasurable
emotions; and hence, though I entered heartily into all the
arrangements by which those about me strove to evince their
gratification at the glorious termination of the war, it must be
acknowledged that I did so, without experiencing much of the
satisfaction with the semblance of which my outward behaviour
might be marked.


Such being my own feelings, and the feelings of the great
majority of those immediately around me, it was but natural that
we should turn our views to the only remaining quarter of the
globe in which the flame of war still continued to burn.  Though
at peace with France, England, we remembered; was not yet at
peace with the United States; and reasoning, not as statesmen but
as soldiers, we concluded that she was not now likely to make
peace with that nation till she should be able to do so upon her
own terms.  Having such an army on foot, what line of policy
could appear so natural or so judicious as that she should
employ, if not the whole, at all events a large proportion of it,
in chastising an enemy, than whom none had ever proved more
vindictive or more ungenerous?  Our view of the matter accordingly
was, that some fifteen or twenty thousand men would be forthwith
embarked on board of ship and transported to the other side of
the Atlantic; that the war would there be carried on with a
vigour conformable to the dignity and resources of the country
which waged it; and that no mention of peace would be made till
our general should be in a situation to dictate its conditions in
the enemy's capital.

Whether any design of the kind was ever seriously entertained, or
whether men merely asserted as a truth what they earnestly
desired to be such, I know not; but the white flag had hardly
been hoisted on the citadel of Bayonne, when a rumour became
prevalent that an extensive encampment of troops, destined for
the American war, was actually forming in the vicinity of
Bordeaux.  A variety of causes led me to anticipate that the
corps to which I was attached would certainly be employed upon
that service.  In the progress of the war which had been just
brought to a conclusion, we had not suffered so severely as many
other corps; and though not excelling in numbers, it is but
justice to affirm that a more effective or better organized
battalion could not be found in the whole army.  We were all,
moreover, from our commanding officer down to the youngest
ensign, anxious to gather a few more laurels, even in America;
and we had good reason to believe that those in power were not
indisposed to gratify our inclinations.  Under these
circumstances we clung with fondness to the hope that our martial
career had not yet come to a close; and employed the space which
intervened between the eventful 28th of April and the 8th of the
following month, chiefly in forming guesses as to the point of
attack towards which it was likely that we should be turned.


Though there was peace between the French and British nations,
the form of hostilities was so far kept up between the garrison
of Bayonne and the army encamped around it, that it was only by
an especial treaty that the former were allowed to send out
parties for the purpose of collecting forage and provisions from
the adjacent country.  The foraging parties, however, being
permitted to proceed in any direction most convenient to
themselves, the supplies of corn and grass, which had heretofore
proved barely sufficient for our own horses and cattle, soon
began to fail, and it was found necessary to move more than one
brigade to a distance from the city.  Among others, the brigade of
which my regiment formed a part, received orders on the 7th of
May to fall back on the road towards Passages.  These orders we
obeyed on the following morning; and after an agreeable march of
fifteen or sixteen miles, pitched our tents in a thick wood,
about half-way between the village of Bedart and the town of
St. Jean de Luz.  In this position we remained for nearly a week,
our expectations of employment on the other side of the Atlantic
becoming daily less and less sanguine, till at length all doubts
on the subject were put an end to by the sudden arrival of a
dispatch, which commanded us to set out with as little delay as
possible towards Bordeaux.

It was on the evening of the 14th that the route was received,
and on the following morning, at daybreak, we commenced our
march.  The country through which we moved had nothing in it,
unconnected with past events, calculated in any extraordinary
degree to attract attention.  Behind us, indeed, rose the
Pyrenees in all their grandeur, forming, on that side, a noble
boundary to the prospect; and on our left was the sea, a boundary
different it is true in kind, though certainly not less
magnificent.  But, excepting at these two extremities, there was
nothing in the landscape on which the eye loved particularly to
rest, because the country, though pretty enough, has none of
that exquisite richness and luxuriance which we had been led to
expect as characteristic of the South of France.  The houses,
too, being all in a ruinous and dilapidated condition, reminded
us more forcibly of the scenes of violence and outrage which
had been lately acted among them, than of those ideas of rural
contentment and innocence which various tales and melodramas had
taught us to associate in our own minds with thoughts of the
land of the vine.


Regarded, however, in connexion with past events, the scene was
indeed most interesting; though to a stranger fresh from
England--a man, we will suppose, of retired and peaceful habits,
I can readily imagine that it would have been productive of much
pain; for on each side of the road, in whatever direction we cast
our eyes, and as far as the powers of vision extended, we beheld
cottages unroofed and in ruins, chateaux stripped of their doors
and windows, gardens laid waste, the walls demolished, and the
fruit-trees cut down; whole plantations levelled, and vineyards
trodden under foot.  Here and there, likewise, a redoubt or
breastwork presented itself; whilst caps, broken firelocks,
pieces of clothing, and accoutrements scattered about in
profusion, marked the spots where the strife had been most
determined, and where many a fine fellow had met his fate.  Our
journey lay over a field of battle, through the entire extent of
which the houses were not only thoroughly gutted (to use a
vulgar but most expressive phrase), but for the most part were
riddled with cannon-shot.  Round some of the largest, indeed,
there was not a wall nor a tree which did not present evident
proofs of its having been converted into a temporary place of
defence, whilst the deep ruts in what had once been lawns and
flower-gardens, showed that all their beauty had not protected
them from being destroyed by the rude passage of heavy artillery.

Immediately beyond the village of Bedart such spectacles were
particularly frequent.  It was here, it may be remembered, that
in the preceding month of December there had been fighting for
four successive days; and the number of little hillocks now
within our view; from under most of which legs and arms were
beginning to show themselves, as well as the other objects which
I have attempted to describe, sufficiently attested the obstinacy
with which that fighting had been maintained.

In the bosom of a man of peace it is very conceivable that all
this would have excited feelings exceedingly painful; in ours,
such feelings were overborne by others of a very different
nature.  If we gazed with peculiar interest upon one hovel more
than upon another, it was because some of us had there maintained
ourselves; if we endeavoured to count the number of shot-holes in
any wall, or the breaks in any hedge, it was because we had stood
behind it when "the iron hail" fell thick and fast around us.
Our thoughts, in short, had more of exultation in them than of
sorrow; for though now and then, when the name of a fallen
comrade was mentioned, it was accompanied with a "poor fellow"
the conversation soon returned again to the exploits and
hair-breadth escapes of the survivors.  On the whole, therefore,
our march was one of deep interest and high excitement, feelings
which did not entirely evaporate when we halted, about two hours
after noon, at the village of Anglet.


We found this village in the condition in which it was to be
expected that a place of so much importance during the progress
of the late siege would be found, in other words, completely
metamorphosed into a chain of petty posts.  Being distant from
the outworks of Bayonne not more than a mile and a half, and
standing upon the great road by which all the supplies for the
left of the British army were brought up, no means, as may be
supposed, had been neglected, which art or nature could supply,
towards rendering it as secure against a sudden excursion of the
garrison as might be.  About one hundred yards in front of it
felled trees were laid across the road, with their branches
turned towards the town, forming what soldiers, in the language
of their profession, term an abattis.  Forty or fifty yards in
rear of this a ditch was dug, and a breastwork thrown up, from
behind which a party might do great execution upon any body of
men struggling to force their way over that impediment.  On each
side of the highway again, where the ground rises into little
eminences, redoubts and batteries were erected, so as to command
the whole with a heavy flanking fire; while every house and hovel
lying at all within the line of expected operations was
loop-holed, and otherwise put in a posture of defence.  But upon
the fortification of the church a more than ordinary degree of
care seemed to have been bestowed.  As it stood upon a little
eminence in the middle of the hamlet, it was no hard matter to
convert it into a tolerably regular fortress, which might serve
the double purpose of a magazine for warlike stores and a post of
defence against the enemy.  With this view the churchyard was
surrounded by a row of stout palings, called in military
phraseology stockades, from certain openings in which the muzzles
of half a dozen pieces of light artillery protruded.  The walls
of the edifice itself were, moreover, strengthened by an
embankment of earth to the height of perhaps four or five feet
from the ground, above which narrow openings were made, in order
to give to its garrison an opportunity of levelling their
muskets; while on the top of the tower a small howitzer was
mounted, from which either shot or shell could be thrown with
effect into any of the lanes or passes near.  It is probably
needless to add that the interior arrangements of this house of
God had undergone a change as striking as that which affected its
exterior.  Barrels of gunpowder, with piles of balls of all sizes
and dimensions, now occupied the spaces where worshippers had
often crowded; and the very altar was heaped up with spunges,
wadding, and other implements necessary in case of an attack.

I have been thus minute in my description of Anglet, because what
has been said of it will apply more or less exactly to every
village, hamlet, or cluster of cottages, within the compass of
what were called the lines.  It is true that neither here nor
elsewhere, excepting at one particular point, and that on the
opposite side of the river, were any serious intentions
entertained of broaching or storming the place; and that the sole
object of these preparations was to keep the enemy within his
works, and to cut him off from all communication with the
surrounding country.  But to effect even this end, the utmost
vigilance and precaution were necessary, not only because the
number of troops employed on the service was hardly adequate to
discharge it, but because the garrison hemmed in was well known to
be at once numerous and enterprising.  The reader may
accordingly judge what appearance a country presented which, to
the extent of fifteen or twenty miles round, was thus treated;
where every house was fortified, every road blocked up, every
eminence mined with fieldworks, and every place swarming with
armed men.  Nor was its aspect less striking by night than by
day.  Gaze where he might, the eye of the spectator then rested
upon some portion of one huge circle of fires, by the glare of
which the white tents or rudely constructed huts of the besiegers
were from time to time made visible.

 While things continued thus, the condition of the peaceful
inhabitant of this district could hardly fail to be one of
extreme discomfort.  Of these the greater number had indeed fled
on the advance of the British army, leaving their houses and
effects a prey to the conquerors; but there were some who, having
probably no place of refuge to retire to, remained in their
homes, and threw themselves upon our mercy for protection.  It is
not requisite that I should now inform the reader of the strict
discipline which Lord Wellington preserved in every division of
his army; his first step, on entering France, had been to inform
the people that against them no violence was intended; and the
assurance thus given, was in no instance, at least wantonly,
violated.  But, however orderly the conduct of an invading force
may be, their very presence must occasion a thousand
inconveniences to those upon whom they are quartered; not the
least distressing of which is, perhaps, the feeling of
degradation which the consciousness of being in the power of
armed foreigners can hardly fail to produce.  Then there is the
total destruction of all domestic comfort, which the occupation
of a man's house by large bodies of soldiers produces; the
liability to which the females, in particular, are exposed to
insult from the common troopers; and the dread of vengeance from
any delinquent on whom their complaints may have brought down
chastisement, all these things must and do create a degree of
misery, of which the inhabitants of Great Britain may thank God
that they know nothing except by name.  In the vicinity of
Bayonne, moreover, the country people lived in daily and nightly
expectation of finding themselves involved in all the horrors and
dangers of a battle.  Sorties were continually looked for, and
however these might terminate, the non-combatants felt that they
must be equally the sufferers.  Nay, it was no uncommon ground of
complaint among them, that even the total defeat of our forces
would bring with it no relief, because, by remaining to receive
us, they had disobeyed the proclamations of Marshal Soult, and
were consequently liable to punishment as traitors.


A soon as the bustle of encamping was over, and my time
absolutely at my own disposal, I took advantage of an offered
passport, and proceeded into Bayonne.  It will be readily believed
that I entered this city with feelings very different from those
of a common traveller.  Having lain before it as a besieger for
upwards of two months, its shops, its trade, its public buildings
and places of amusement were to me objects of, comparatively
speaking, little interest or curiosity.  Its fortifications and
means of defence were, in truth, what I was principally anxious
to examine.  Hitherto I could judge of them only from outward
appearances and vague reports; and now that an opportunity offered
of so doing with greater accuracy, I confess that my inclination
prompted me to embrace that opportunity, rather than to hunt for
pictures which I could not value, or fatigue my imagination by
endeavouring to discover fine specimens  of architecture amidst
heavy and ill-built churches.

It is not my intention to attempt any scientific or technical
review of the works which a very natural curiosity tempted me to
examine; partly because I confess myself little competent to the
task and partly because, were the contrary the case, I am
inclined to believe that such a review would not prove very
interesting to the public in general.  Enough is done if I
endeavour to impress my reader with as many of the feelings which
I then experienced, as may be done by detailing them; and, at
the same time, enable him to form some general idea of a place
before whose walls no trifling quantity of British blood has been

The city of Bayonne stands, as everybody knows, upon the Adour,
about six or eight miles from the point where that river falls
into the sea.  On the southern or Spanish bank, where the whole
of the city, properly so called, is built, the country, to the
distance of two or three miles from the walls, is perfectly flat
and the soil sandy, and apparently not very productive.  On the
bank the ground rises rather abruptly from the brink of the
stream, sloping upwards likewise from the sea, till you arrive at
the pinnacle upon which the citadel is erected, and which hangs
immediately over the town.  Thus, though the Adour in fact
separates the city from the suburbs and citadel, yet as the
ramparts of the former extend to the water's edge on both sides,
and as those of the latter continue the sweep from points
immediately opposite, the general appearance presented is that of
one considerable town, with a broad river flowing through the
middle of it.

It will be seen, even from this short and imperfect sketch, that
its situation gives to Bayonne, considered as a military post, a
superiority over most cities; inasmuch as it affords peculiar
facilities towards rendering it a place of great strength.  On one
side there is a plain, always accounted by engineers the most
convenient for the construction of fortifications; on the other
an eminence, lofty enough to command the surrounding country, and
at the same time sufficiently level at the summit to receive the
walls of a fortress, powerful at once from its position and
regularity.  But the great strength of Bayonne arose at this
juncture not so much from its original defences as from the
numerous outworks which had been lately added to it.  It was along
the course of the Adour, as the reader will probably recollect,
or rather between the Adour and the Nieve, that Soult formed his
famous intrenched camp.  The right of this chain of stupendous
works rested upon the city, the importance of which was
consequently much increased; and as the capture of it would have
occasioned not only the loss of a town, but the turning of the
whole position, no pains were spared in rendering it as nearly
impregnable as possible.  That I may convey some notion to the
minds of others of the nature of these works, I will describe the
aspect which they presented to myself, as I rode from Anglet
towards the city.

When I had proceeded about a mile and a half beyond our advanced
posts, I found myself in front of the first line of defence.
This consisted of a battery mounting three eighteen-pounders,
upon the road, flanked by other batteries, one on each side; all
so placed as that whichsoever of them should be attacked, it
might be defended by a cross-fire from the rest.  These were of
course additionally strengthened by ditches and felled trees; but
they were open in the rear; and though very formidable to an
assailing party, yet, when taken, could have been of small
service to the conquerors, being themselves exposed to the fire
of the second line.  The situation of the second line, again, was
similar in every respect to that of the first, being, like it,
open in the rear, and placed under the guns of the town.  Thus,
after having forced two powerful lines of defence, the besiegers
would find themselves almost as far as ever from the attainment
of their object, being then only arrived at the point where the
labours of a siege could commence.

But the maintenance of Bayonne must at all times depend upon
keeping possession of the citadel.  The city lying upon a plain,
and the castle standing upon an eminence immediately above it, it
is clear that, were the latter taken, the former must either
surrender or be speedily reduced to ruins.  It is true that, by
destroying the bridge which connects them, all communication
between the two places would be cut off; but the distance from
the one to the other being not more than half-musket shot, and
the guns of the fort pointing directly down upon the streets and
of the city, any attempt to hold out could cause only the
destruction of the town, and the unavenged slaughter of its
garrison.  Of the truth of this the French were as much aware as
their enemies, nor did they neglect any means which an accurate
knowledge of engineering could point out, for the defence of what
they justly considered as the key of the entire position.  In
addition to its own very regular and well-constructed
fortifications, two strong redoubts were thrown up, on two sides
of the fort, upon the only spots of ground calculated for the
purpose; both of which, I was informed by my guide, were
undermined and loaded with gunpowder, ready to be sprung as soon
as they should fill into our hands.  They had judged, and judged
correctly, that if ever the place should be invested, it would be
that the trenches would be opened and the breaching batteries
erected; and they made every preparation to meet the danger which
great prudence and military skill could suggest.

Bayonne, though a populous place, does not cover so much ground
as a stranger would be led to suppose.  Like most walled towns,
its streets, with the exception of one or two, are in general
narrow, and the houses lofty: but it is compact, and, on the
whole, clean, and neatly built.  The number of inhabitants I
should be inclined to estimate at somewhere about thirty
thousand, exclusive of the garrison, which at this time amounted
to fourteen or fifteen thousand men; but as most of the families
appear to live in the style of those in the old town of
Edinburgh, that is to say, several under the same roof, though
each in a separate story or flat, it is not difficult to conceive
how they contrive to find sufficient room, within a compass
apparently so narrow.  Of its commerce and manufactures I can say
little, except that I should not imagine either to be extensive.
I am led to form this opinion, partly from having seen no
shipping at the wharfs, and partly because the Adour, though
here both wide and deep, is rendered unnavigable to vessels of
any size, by a shallow or bar at its mouth.  There was, indeed,
a sloop of war close to the town, but how it got there I am at a
loss to conceive, unless it were built upon the river, and kept
as an additional protection against a surprise from the water.
The shops are, however, good, particularly those where jewellery
is sold; an article in the setting and adorning of which the
French, if they do not excel us in really substantial value,
undoubtedly surpass us in elegance.

When I had taken as complete a survey of the town as I felt
disposed to take, I crossed the bridge with the intention of
inspecting the interior of the citadel.  Here, however, I was
disappointed, no strangers being admitted within its gates; but
as there was no objection made to my reconnoitring it from
without, I proceeded towards the point where our trenches had
been dug, and where it had been designed to breach and storm the
place.  To this I was urged by two motives, partly from the desire
of obtaining the best view possible of the fort, and partly that
I might examine the ground upon which the desperate affair
of the 14th of April took place.  The reader cannot have
forgotten, that some hours before daylight on the morning of
that day, a vigorous and well-arranged sortie was made by the
garrison, and that it was not without hard fighting and a severe
loss on both sides that the attack was finally repulsed.

Mounting the heights, I soon arrived at St. Etienne, a little
village nearly on a level with the citadel, and not more than a
quarter of a mile from its walls.  From this point I could
satisfy my curiosity to the full, and as the account may not,
perhaps, be uninteresting, I shall describe, as well as I am
able, the scene which here met my eyes.

St. Etienne

The ridge of little hills upon which the fort and village are
built, though it rises by gentle gradation from the sea, towards
the spot where I now stood, is nevertheless intersected and
broken here and there by deep glens or ravines.  Two of these
glens, one to the right, the other to the left, chance to occur
immediately under the ramparts of the fortress, supplying, in
some measure, the purposes of a ditch, and leaving a sort of
table or elevated neck of land between them, the extremity of
which is occupied by the village.  On this neck of land the
besieged had constructed one of the redoubts to which I alluded
as having been lately thrown up; whilst on another table, at the
opposite side of the left ravine, which winds round in the
direction of the wall, as nearly as if it were the work of art,
stands the other redoubt.  Beyond this, again, there is a
perpendicular precipice, the hills there abruptly ending; so that
on two sides the walls of the fort skirt the extremity of a bare
rock.  It was along the outer ridges of these ravines, and
through the churchyard of St. Etienne, that our trenches were
drawn, the village itself being the most advanced British post;
and it was along these ridges, and in the street of this village,
that the action of the 14th of April was fought.

It is not my business, neither indeed is it my intention, to
relate here the particulars of that affair.  The French, having
contrived, in a dark night, to elude the vigilance of our
sentinels, came upon the piquets unperceived, and took them
completely by surprise.  The battle was maintained on both sides
with great determination, and had it not been for the unfortunate
capture of Sir John Hope and the fall of General Hay, the
assailants would have had little cause to rejoice at the result:
for though the loss of the English was certainly great, that of
the French was at least not inferior.  Yet the business was an
unfortunate one to both parties, since, before it took place,
Buonaparte had already abdicated, and the preliminaries of peace
were already signed between the two nations.

I found the village, in which the fighting had been most
obstinately maintained, in the condition of most villages where
such dramas have been acted.  The street had been barricaded, but
the barricade was almost entirely torn down; the houses, trees,
and church, like those we had passed upon the march, were covered
with the marks of cannon and musket balls, whilst quantities of
round and grape shot, of musket and pistol bullets, broken
bayonets, swords, &c. &c., lay scattered about in every
direction.  Nor were these the only evidences of strife
discernible.  In many places--on the pavement of the street, in
the churchyard, but above all, on the floor of the church itself,
--the traces of blood were still distinctly visible.  Beside the
remains of the barricade there stood a solitary six-pounder,
which had been taken and re-taken nine times during the struggle;
and a sprinkling of what looked like a mixture of blood and
brains still adhering to its carriage and breech, showed that it
had never been given up without the most desperate resistance.
The mounds, too, under which the dead were buried, presented a
peculiarly striking appearance; for the field of action having
been narrow, those that fell, fell in heaps together, and being
buried in the same way, one was led to form an idea of greater
slaughter than if double the number of graves had been
distinguishable in a more extended space.

Having now accomplished my wishes as far as I could, and
beginning to feel somewhat fatigued with strolling about, I
adjourned to an hotel in the city, from whence, in the evening,
I went to the play.  The house was poor and the performance
miserable, consequently there was no great inducement to sit out
the whole of the piece.  After witnessing an act or two,
therefore, I returned to the inn, where I slept, and at an early
hour next morning rejoined my regiment, already under arms and
making preparations for the continuance of the march.


As it would have been considerably out of our way to go round by
the floating bridge*, permission was applied for and granted, to
pass directly through Bayonne.  With bayonets fixed, band
playing, and colours flying, we accordingly marched along the
streets of that city; a large proportion of the garrison being
drawn up to receive us, and the windows crowded with spectators,
male and female, eager to behold the troops from whom not long
ago they had probably expected a visit of a very different
nature.  The scene was certainly remarkable enough, and the
transition from animosity to good-will as singular as it was
sudden; nor do I imagine that it would be easy to define the
sensations of either party, on being thus strangely brought n
contact with the other.  The females, indeed, waved their
handkerchiefs, whilst we bowed and kissed our hands; but I
thought I could discover something like a suppressed scowl upon
the countenances of the military.  Certain it is, that in
whatever light the new state of affairs might be regarded by the
great bulk of the nation, with the army it was by no means
popular; and at this period they appeared to consider the passage
of British troops through their lines as the triumphal
entrance of a victorious enemy.

* The bridge here alluded to was thrown across the Adour by the
  Duke of Wellington at the commencement of the siege.  It was
  composed of a number of small fishing vessels fastened together
  with cords, and planked from one to another, the whole firmly
  moored about three miles below Bayonne.  Whether the
  daringness of the attempt, or the difficulties surmounted in
  its completion, be considered, the construction of this bridge
  may be looked upon as one of the most extraordinary actions of
  that extraordinary man.

As soon as we had cleared the entrenchments of Bayonne, and got
beyond the limits of the allied camps, we found ours in a country
more peaceful and more picturesque than any we had yet traversed.
There were here no signs of war or marks of violence.  The
cottages were covered with honeysuckle and roses, the gardens
were blooming in the most perfect order; the corn was growing in
great plenty and richness, and the vines were clustering round
their poles like the hops in the gardens of Kent.  It is
impossible to describe the feeling of absolute refreshment which
such a sight stirred up in men who, for so long a time, had
looked upon nothing but ruin and devastation.  It is true that
with respect to grandeur, or even beauty, the scenery through
which we now travelled was not to be compared with the sublime
passes of the Pyrenees, or with many spots which we had beheld;
but in truth, a hamlet uninjured and tenanted by its own rude
peasantry, a field of Indian corn exhibiting no wasteful track of
foragers, nay, a single cottage with its flowers and evergreens
budding around it, was at this a more welcome object to our eyes
than the wildest mountains or most romantic valleys displaying no
habitations except white tents and no inhabitants except
soldiers.  For my own part I felt as if I had once more returned
into the bosom of civilized and domestic life, after having been
for many months a wanderer and a savage.

The road along which we proceeded had been made by Napoleon, and
was remarkably good.  It was sheltered, on each side, from the
rays of the sun, by groves of cork-trees mingled with fir; by
which means, though the day was overpoweringly hot, we did not
suffer so much as we should otherwise have done.  Our march was,
therefore, exceedingly agreeable, and we came in, about noon,
very little fatigued, to the village of Ondres, where the tents
were pitched, and we remained till the morrow.



THE dawn was just beginning to appear, when the bugles sounded,
and the tents were struck.  For the first few leagues, our route
to-day resembled that of yesterday, in almost every particular.
There was the same appearance of peaceful quiet, the same
delightful intermingling of woods, corn-fields, vineyards, and
pasture; but we had not proceeded far, when a marked difference
was perceptible; every step we trod, the soil became more and
more sandy, the cultivation less frequent, and the wood more
abundant, till at last we found ourselves marching through the
heart of an immense forest of pines.  We had diverged, it
appeared, from the main road, which carries the traveller through
a rich and open country, and were pursuing another through the
middle of those deserts and savannahs which lie towards the
coast; a district known by the name of les Landes.  There was
something, if not beautiful, at least new and striking in the
scenery now around us.  Wherever the eye turned, it was met by
one wide waste of gloomy pine-trees; diversified, here and there,
by the unexpected appearance of a modest hamlet, which looked as
if it were the abode of some newly arrived settlers in a country
hitherto devoid of human habitations.

Were I to continue the detail of a long march through these
barren regions, I should soon fatigue, without amusing my reader:
I shall, therefore, content myself with observing, that day after
day the same dreary prospect presented itself, varied by the
occasional occurrence of huge uncultivated plains, which
apparently chequer the forest, at certain intervals, with spots
of stunted and unprofitable pasturage; upon these there were
usually flocks of sheep grazing, in the mode of watching which,
the peasants fully evinced the truth of the old proverb, that
necessity is the mother of invention.  I do not know whether the
practice to which I allude be generally known, but as it struck
me as very remarkable, I shall offer no apology for relating it.

The whole of this district, as well where it is wooded, as where
it is bare, is perfectly flat, containing scarcely a knoll or
eminence any sort, as far as the eye can reach.  In addition to
this, the vast plains where the sheep are fed, many of which
extend two or three leagues in every direction, produce not so
much as a fir-tree, by climbing which, a man might see to any of
its extremities: and the consequence is, that the shepherds are
constantly in danger of losing their sheep, as one loses sight of
a vessel at sea, in the distance.  To remedy this evil, they have
fallen upon a plan not more simple than ingenious; they all walk
on stilts, exactly similar to those with which our school-boys
amuse themselves; the only difference lying here, that whereas
the school-boys' stilts are with us seldom raised above ten or
twelve inches from the ground, those of the French peasants are
elevated to the height of six or eight feet.

When we first caught a glimpse of these figures, it was in the
dusk of the morning, and for awhile we were willing to persuade
ourselves that the haze had deceived us, by seeming to enlarge
bodies beyond their real dimensions.  But when we looked at the
trees, we saw them in their own proper size, nor could we suppose
that the atmosphere would have an effect upon one object, which
it had not upon another; yet there appeared to be no other way of
accounting for the phenomenon, unless indeed this wild country
were the parent of a race of giants, for the men whom we saw
resembled moving towers rather than mortals.  I need not observe
that our astonishment was very great; nor, in was it much
diminished when, on a nearer approach, we discovered the truth,
and witnessed the agility with which they moved, and the ease
with which, aided by the poles which each carried in his hand,
they would stoop to the ground, pick up the article, and stand
upright again.  But if we admired the skill of one or two
individuals, our admiration rose to a still higher pitch when we
saw crowds of them together, all equally skilful; till they
informed us that the thing was not an amusement, but universally
practised for the purpose I have stated.

Besides this, I know of nothing in the customs of this isolated
people at all worthy of notice, unless, indeed, it be their
method of supplying themselves with lights.  Being completely cut
off from the rest of the world, it is not in their power, except
when once or twice a-year they travel to the nearest towns with
their wool, to purchase candles; and as they have no notion how
these can be made, they substitute in their room a lamp, fed with
the turpentine extracted from the fir-trees.  The whole process
is simple and primitive: to obtain the turpentine they out a hole
in the tree, and fasten a dish in it to catch the sap as it oozes
through; and as soon as the dish is filled, they put a wick of
cotton into the midst of the liquor, and burn it as we do a lamp.
The light is not indeed of the most brilliant nature, but it is
at least better than none; and as they have fir-trees in
abundance within their reach, there is no danger of their oil
being quickly exhausted.


In this manner was an entire week expended, each succeeding day
introducing us to a repetition of the same adventures, and a
renewal of the same scenery, which had amused us during the day
before; nor was it till the morning of the twenty-third that we
at last began to emerge from the forests, and to find ourselves
once again in a more open country.  At first, however, it cannot
be said that, with respect to beauty, the change was greatly for
the better.  Upon the borders of the deserts there is a little
village called Le Barp, where we spent the night of the
twenty-second; from whence, till you arrive at a place called
Belle-Vue, the country is exactly in that state which land
assumes when nature has begun to lose ground, and art to gain
it--when the wild simplicity of the one is destroyed, and the
rich luxuriance of the other has not yet been superinduced.  So
far, therefore, we proceeded, regretting, rather than rejoicing,
that we had quitted the woods; but no sooner had we attained that
point, than there burst upon us, all on a sudden, a prospect as
gloriously fertile as ever delighted the eyes of a weary


Instead of boundless forests of pine, the whole face of the
country was now covered with vineyards, interspersed, in the most
exquisite and tasteful manner, with corn-fields and meadows of
the the richest pasturage.  Nor was there any deficiency of
timber; a well-wooded chateau, with its lawn and plantations,
here and there presenting itself, while quiet hamlets and
solitary cottages, scattered in great abundance over the scene,
gave to it an appearance of life and prosperity exceedingly
bewitching.  Had there been but the addition of a fine river
flowing through the midst of it, and had the ground been somewhat
more broken into hill and dale, I should have pronounced it the
most enchanting prospect of the kind I had ever beheld; but,
unfortunately, both these were wanting.  Though the effect of a
first view, therefore, was striking and delightful, and though to
the last we could not help acknowledging the richness of the land
and its high state of cultivation, its beauty soon began to pall.
The fact is, that an immense plain, however adorned by the
labour of man, is not an object upon which it is pleasing to gaze
for any length of time; the eye becomes wearied with the extent
of its own stretch, and as there is no boundary but the horizon,
the imagination is left to picture a continuance of the same
plain, till it becomes as tired of fancying as the eye is of
looking.  Besides, we were not long in discovering that the
vineyards were unworthy to be compared, in point of luxuriant
appearance, with those of Spain and the more southern regions of
France.  In this neighbourhood the vine is not permitted to grow
to a greater height than or four feet from the ground; whereas in
Spain, and on the borders, it climbs, like the hop-plant in
England, to the top of high poles, and hangs over from one row to
another, in the most graceful festoons.  In spite of these
objections, however, no one could do otherwise than admit that
the change we had experienced was agreeable, and we continued to
move on with greater alacrity, till it was evident, from the increasing
number of seats and villas, that we were rapidly approaching the vicinity
of Bordeaux.

Nor was it long before the towers and buildings of that
magnificent city began to be discernible in the distance.
Prompted by I know not what impulse, we almost involuntarily
quickened our pace at the sight, and in a short time reached the
suburbs, which like those of most French towns, are composed of
low houses, inhabited by the poorest and meanest of the people.
Here we halted for a few minutes to refresh the men, when having
again resumed the line of march, we advanced under a triumphal
arch, originally erected in honour of Napoleon, but now inscribed
with the name of the Duke d'Angouleme, and ornamented with
garlands of flowers.  Passing under this, we proceeded along one
or two handsome streets, till we reached the Military Hospital, a
large and commodious structure fitted up for the reception of
several thousands of sick, where it was arranged that we should
spend the night.

The city of Bordeaux has been too often described, and is too
well known to my countrymen, in general, to render any particular
account of it at all necessary from me; and were the case
otherwise, I confess that my opportunities of examining it were
not sufficient to authorize my entering upon such an attempt.  The
whole extent of our sojourn was only during the remainder of that
day (and it was past noon before we got in) and the ensuing
night; a space of time which admitted of no more than a hurried
stroll through some of the principal streets, and a hasty visit
to such public buildings as are considered most worthy of
attention.  The palace of the Duke d'Angouleme, the Military
Hospital, the Theatre, and the Cathedral, are all remarkably fine
of their kind; whilst the public gardens, the Exchange, and
fashionable promenades, are inferior only to those of Paris


I have said that our sojourn in Bordeaux was limited to the short
space of a few hours.  We could have wished indeed to prolong it,
but to wish was needless, for at an early hour next morning we
were again in motion, and proceeded to an extensive common, near
the village of Macau, about three leagues from Bordeaux, where we
found a considerable force already assembled.  Judging from the
number of tents upon the heath, I conceive that there could not
be fewer than eight or ten thousand men in that camp, the whole
of whom, we naturally concluded, were destined for the same
service with ourselves.  The sight was at once pleasing and
encouraging, because there could be no doubt that such a force,
ably commanded, would carry everything before it.

In this situation we continued, without the occurrence of any
incident deserving of record, till the 27th, when an order
arrived for the officers to dispose of their horses without
delay.  This was necessarily done at an enormous loss; and on the
morning of the 28th, we set forward towards the point of
embarkation.  But, alas! in the numbers allotted for the
trans-Atlantic war, we found ourselves grievously disappointed,
since, instead of the whole division, only two regiments, neither
of them surpassingly numerous, were directed to move; it was not
our business, however, to question the wisdom of any measure
adopted by our superiors; and we accordingly marched on in as
high spirits as if we had been followed by the entire Peninsular

The remainder of our journey occupied two days, nor do I often
remember to have spent a similar space of time with greater
satisfaction; our route lay through some of the most fertile
districts in France, passing Chateau Margaux, famous for its
wine, with other places not inferior to it either in richness of
soil or in beauty of prospect.  The weather was delightful, and
the grapes, though not yet ripe, were hanging in heavy bunches
from the vines, giving promise of much wealth to come; the hay
season had commenced, and numerous groups of happy-looking peasants
were busy in every field; in short, it was a march upon which I shall
never look back without pleasure.


The close of the first day's progress brought us to a village
called La Moe, beautifully situated within view of the majestic
waters of the Garonne.  Here, for the first time since we quitted
Bayonne, were we quartered upon the inhabitants--a measure which
the loss of our tents rendered necessary.  They received us with
so much frankness, and treated us with so much civility, I had
almost said kindness, that it was not without a feeling of
something like regret that we parted from them.  The second day
carried us to Pauliac, an inconsiderable town upon the banks of
the same river, where we found boats ready to convey us to the
shipping, which lay at anchor to receive us.

To embark the troops in these boats, and to huddle them on board
two dirty little transports, occupied some time, and the
provoking part of the business was, that all this trouble was to
be gone through again.  The men-of-war in which we were to cross
the Atlantic, could not come up so high for want of water; and on
this account it was that transports were sent as passage-boats to
carry us to them.  But the wind was foul, and blew so strong that
the masters would not venture to hoist a sail; so we were obliged
to endure the misery of a crowd in a small vessel for two nights
and a day; nor was it till past noon on the 31st, that the
regiment to which I was attached found itself finally settled in
His Majesty's ship -------- of 64 guns.



THE land army, destined for the invasion of the United States,
which took shipping at this period in the Garonne, consisted but
of three battalions of infantry, the 4th, 44th, and 85th
regiments; the two former mustering each about eight hundred
bayonets, the last not more than six hundred.  In addition to
these, there were two officers of engineers, a brigade of
artillery, a detachment of sappers and miners, a party of
artillery drivers, with a due proportion of officers belonging to
the Medical and Commissariat departments.  The whole together
could not be computed at more than two thousand five hundred men,
if indeed it amounted to so great a number; and was placed under
the command of Major-General Ross, a very gallant and experienced

The fleet, again, consisted of the Royal Oak, of 74 guns, bearing
the flag of Rear-Admiral Malcolm; the Diadem and Dictator, two
sixty-fours, armed en flute; the Pomone, Menelaus, Trave, Weser,
and Thames, frigates, the three last armed in the same manner as
the Diadem and Dictator; the Meteor and Devastation,
bomb-vessels; together with one or two gun-brigs, making in all a
squadron of eleven or twelve ships of war, with several
storeships and transports.

On board the Royal Oak were embarked the General, with his staff,
and the artillery; the Trave and Weser were filled with the 4th;
the 44th were divided between the Dictator and the Thames, in the
first of which ships were also the engineers; the 85th occupied
the Diadem; and the rest were scattered through the fleet, partly
in the men-of-war and partly in the transports.

As soon as the troops, with all their baggage, were finally
settled in the vessels allotted for their accommodation, the
signal was made to weigh; but the wind being adverse, and the
navigation of the Garonne far from simple, it could not be
obeyed with safety.  Every thing, therefore, remained quiet till
the evening of the 2nd of June, when the gale moderating a
little, the anchors were raised and the sails hoisted.  The tide
was beginning to ebb when this was done, favoured by which the
ships drifted gradually on their course; but before long, the
breeze shifting, blew directly in their sterns, when they stood
gallantly to sea, clearing the river before dark; and, as there
was no lull during the whole of the night, by daybreak the coast
of France was not to be discerned.  All was now one wide waste
of waters, as far as the eye could reach, bounded on every side by
the distant horizon; a scene which, though at first it must
strike with awe and wonder a person unaccustomed to it, soon
becomes insipid, and even wearisome, from its constant sameness.


The fair wind which carried us out of the Garonne continuing to
blow without any interruption till the 19th of June, it was that
day calculated, by consulting the log and taking observations,
that the Azores, or Western Islands, could not be very distant.
Nor, as it turned out, were these calculations incorrect; for, on
ascending the deck next morning, the first object that met our
eyes was the high land of St Michael's rising, like a collection
of blue clouds, out of the water.  With such a prospect before
us our consternation may be guessed at, when we found ourselves
deserted by the breeze which had hitherto so uniformly favoured
us, and lying as motionless as logs, under the influence of a
dead calm.

But the complaints to which we had begun to give utterance, were
speedily changed again into rejoicings, for before mid-day the
breeze once more freshened, and we approached every moment nearer
and nearer to the object of our wishes.  As soon, too, as we
contrived to double the projecting headland which had attracted
our attention in the morning, our course became productive of
much interest and pleasure.  We had neared the shore
considerably, and were moving at a rate sufficiently rapid to
prevent further repining, and at the same time slow enough to
permit a distinct and calm survey of the beach, with the numerous
villages, seats, and convents that adorned it.

The island of St. Michael is mountainous, even to the very edge
of the water, but the heights, though lofty, do not present a
rugged or barren appearance.  Here and there, indeed, bare rocks
push themselves into notice, but in general the ascent is easy,
and the hills are covered to the tops with groves of orange-trees
and beautiful green pasturage.  Like other Portuguese
settlements, this island abounds in religious houses, the
founders of many of which do not appear to have been deficient in
taste when they pitched upon situations for building.  There was
one of these in particular that struck me: it stood upon a sort
of platform or terrace, about half-way between the sea and the
summit of the mountain; above it were hanging woods, whether
natural or artificial I cannot say, broken in upon here and there
by projecting rocks; and round it were plantations of orange-trees
loaded with fruit, and interspersed with myrtles and other
odoriferous shrubs.  Being greatly pleased with the mansion and
the surrounding scenery, I naturally inquired from the pilot (for
one had already come off to us) as to its use, and the quality of
Its owner; and from him I learnt that it was a convent, I forget
of what order,--a piece of intelligence which was soon confirmed
by the sound of bells distinctly audible as we passed.


In this manner we continued to coast along, being seldom at a
greater distance than four or five miles from the land, till we
came opposite to a small town called Villa Franca.  Here, as the
wind threatened to die away, several others and myself agreed to
go onshore: a boat was accordingly lowered, and we pushed off
from the ship; but the operation of landing did not prove to be
altogether so simple as we had expected.  An immense reef of
rocks, some under water, others barely above it, but none
distinguishable till we had almost run against them, opposed our
progress; and it was not without considerable difficulty, and
the assistance of the country people, who made signals to us from
the beach, that we contrived to discover a narrow channel leading
up to the strand.

Having at length so far attained our wishes as to tread once more
upon firm ground, the next thing to be done was to find out some
inn, or house of public entertainment, where we might pass the
night, a measure which the increasing darkness rendered
necessary.  In this, however, we were disappointed, the town of
Villa Franca boasting of no such convenience on any scale.  But
we were not on that account obliged to bivouac; for the Alcalde,
or mayor of the place, politely insisted upon our accompanying
him home, and entertained us with great hospitality; nor, in
truth, had we any cause to regret the unsuccessful issue of our
inquiries, since, in addition to the good cheer with which we
were presented, our host, being an intelligent person, did not
fail to render himself an agreeable companion; and what
contributed in no slight degree to the facility of our
intercourse was, that though he assured us he had never quitted
St. Michael's in his life, he spoke English with the fluency of a
native.  Among other pieces of information we learnt from him
that the reef which impeded our progress towards the land, had
formerly been an island.  It appeared, he affirmed, one morning,
in the most sudden and extraordinary manner, as if it had been
thrown up by an earthquake during the night, and having continued
so long above water as to embolden a single family of fishers to
settle upon it, it disappeared again as suddenly as it had come,
leaving no trace of its existence except the rocks which we had
found so troublesome.  Whether there be truth in this story, I
cannot pretend to determine; and yet I see no reason to doubt the
word of a man of respectability, who could have no motive
whatever for deceiving us.  But this was not all that we learnt
from him respecting the reef.  He declared that previous to the
appearance of the island, the water in that very spot was
unfathomable; and it was not till after it had sunk, that a
single rock stood in the way to prevent the largest ship of war
from anchoring within a stone's throw of the beach.

Finding our new acquaintance so civil and obliging, we naturally
informed him of our intention to proceed next morning to Ponto
del Gada, the principal town in St. Michael's, and requested his
assistance in procuring some mode of conveyance; but we were
startled by the intelligence that nothing of the kind could be
had, and that there were not even horses or mules to be hired at
any place nearer than the very town whither we were going.  This
was rather an alarming piece of news, for our boat had left us,
the weather was too hot for walking, and the distance to be
travelled full fifteen miles.  Had we been prudent enough to
detain our boat, the matter would have been easily managed,
because we might have sailed round to the point where the fleet
was to anchor; but this was no longer in our power, and being
rather unwilling to pursue our journey on foot, we were
altogether at a loss upon what course to determine.  Whilst we
thus hesitated, the Alcalde suggested that if we would condescend
to ride upon asses, he thought he could obtain a sufficient
number for our party; a proposal with which we gladly closed,
prudently determining that any mode of being carried was better
than walking.  Leaving the arrangement of this affair, therefore,
to our obliging friend, we retired to rest upon clean comfortable
mattresses spread for us on the floor; and on waking in the
morning, we found that he had not been negligent in the charge
assigned to him.  Our party consisted of five officers, with five
servants, for whose accommodation we found ten asses at the door,
each attended by its driver, who wielded a long pole tipped with
an iron spike, for the purpose of goading the animal whenever it
should become lazy.

It was not without a good deal of laughing that the cavalcade,
after bidding adieu to the hospitable Mayor, began to move
forward.  Our asses, of no larger size than ordinary English
donkeys, were uncaparisoned, at least with bridles; and the
saddles were neither more nor less than the pack-saddles upon
which goods are transported to market.  For our own comfort,
therefore, we were obliged to sit a la femelle, and having no
command over the heads of our steeds, we were content to be
guided by the hallooing and punching of the drivers.  In spite,
however, of these inconveniences, if so they may be called, I
shall never cease to congratulate myself on having been of the
party, because the ride proved to be one of the most agreeable I
remember at any time to have taken.

The road from Villa Franca to Ponto del Gada quits the water's
edge, and turns, for a little way, inland, carrying you through a
region as romantic and beautiful as can well be imagined.  There
are here no level plains, no smooth paths over which a landau or
tilbury might glide, but, on the contrary, a rugged and stony
track, sometimes leading down the face of steep hills, sometimes
scaling heights which at the distance of a mile appear to be
almost perpendicular, and sometimes winding along the side of a
cliff, and by the edge of a fearful precipice.  Except when you
reach the summit of a mountain, the road is in general shaded by
the richest underwood, hanging over it from above; but the whole
aspect of the country is decidedly that of a volcanic production:
the rocks seem to have been cast up and torn asunder by some
prodigious violence, and hurled, by a force which nothing but a
volcano could possess, into the most grotesque and irregular
shapes.  It is no uncommon thing to pass under a huge crag,
leaning almost horizontally over the road, and bedded in the
earth by a foundation apparently so slight, as to appear liable
to fall every moment, precipitating the enormous mass upon the
luckless wretch beneath.  Nay, the very colour of the stones, and
the quantity of what bears every resemblance to vitrification,
scattered about, all tend to induce the, belief that the main
island owes its formation to the same cause which doubtless
produced the smaller one that has now disappeared.


It is not, however, to be inferred from the above description
that St. Michael's is nothing but a barren rock; far from it.
There is, indeed, in this direction at least, a fair proportion
of that commodity; but tracts of cultivated ground are not
therefore wanting.  I should not certainly suppose that the soil
was remarkably rich in any part of the island; but it produces
the fig, the orange-tree, and a grape from which the inhabitants
make very tolerable wine; and there is excellent pasture for
sheep, and a competent supply of grain.  But that in which the
Azores, and St. Michael's among the number, particularly excel,
is the extreme salubrity of the climate.  Lying in nearly the
same degree of latitude with Lisbon, the intense heat which
oppresses in that city is here alleviated by refreshing
sea-breezes; by which means, though I believe there is no
occasion at any season to complain of cold, it is only in the
very height of the dog-days, if then, that a person, not actually
engaged in violent exercise, is justified in complaining of

The trade of St. Michael's, as far as I could learn, is confined
exclusively to fruit: the fig and the orange are the staple
commodities; and being both very abundant, they are, of course,
proportionably cheap.  Into the praise of a St. Michael's orange
it is unnecessary for me to enter, because it is generally
allowed to be the best with which the English market is supplied;
but of the excellence of the St. Michael's fig, I am not sure
that my countrymen in general are so much aware.  It might be,
that not having seen a fig for a considerable lapse of time, my
appetite was peculiarly sharpened towards its good qualities, but
it struck me that I never before tasted any so highly flavoured
or so delicate.  Besides these, they sell to vessels putting in,
as we did, for water, some of the wine made in this and the
neighbouring islands; but the quantity thus disposed of must be
too inconsiderable to entitle it to be classed among the articles
of merchandise.

I find, however, that I am entering upon subjects in which I am
but little versed, and digressing from my narrative.  Let me
return, then, to self, that beloved idol of all travellers, and
state that, after we had ridden about six miles, the road, which
had hitherto conducted us along a narrow glen, where the vision
was intercepted on both sides, now carried us to the summit of a
lofty mountain, from whence we enjoyed the satisfaction of an
extensive prospect, both of the sea and of the interior.  Looking
towards the former, we beheld our own fleet bearing down
majestically upon Ponto del Gada, and fast approaching the
anchorage.  Turning our eyes inland again, we were delighted with
a view of mountain and valley, rock and culture, wood and
pasturage, intermingled in the most exquisite degree of
irregularity; but what principally attracted our attention was a
thick dark smoke rising slowly from the summit of a high hill
that bounded the prospect.  Our curiosity being excited by this
phenomenon, we inquired from our guides into its cause, and were
informed that the mountain in question was a volcano, and that at
its base and along its sides were hot springs of water, of a
temperature sufficient to boil an egg in three minutes.  This
piece of intelligence confirmed me in my former opinion relative
to the operative cause in the production of these islands;
though, indeed, had such evidence been wanting, I should have
equally concluded, either that they were thrown up, in their
present form, from the bottom of the sea, or at least that they
were torn asunder from one another by the force of fire.  It must
be confessed, however, that mine is the opinion of one who has
devoted little of his attention to geology; but I would by all
means advise the disciples of Werner to come hither, if they
desire further helps in the prosecution of that very interesting
and practically useful study.

Chapter V.

DESCENDING the mountain, on which we had paused for a few minutes
to feast our eyes and satisfy our curiosity, we arrived at a
small hamlet, or rather a group of two or three hovels, as
romantically situated as it is possible for the imagination of
man to conceive.  They stood at the further end of a sort of
recess, formed by the hills, which are here broken into a
circular valley, cut off, to all appearance, from the rest of the
habitable world; behind them rose a towering crag, as
perpendicular as the drop of a plummet, from the top of which a
little rivulet came tumbling down, giving to the scene an
appearance of the most delightful coolness, and amusing the ear
with the unceasing roar of a waterfall.  From the very face of
the cliff, where there seemed to be scarcely soil enough to
nourish a thistle, numerous shrubs and dwarf trees protruded
themselves; whilst above it, and on every side of the area, the
hills were covered with wood, interrupted now and then by the
bald forehead of a blackened rock.  In front of the hamlet again,
there was an opening sufficient to admit the most delicious
glimpse of the ocean; and through this the stream, after boiling
for awhile in a little basin, which it has excavated for itself
out of what resembles the foundation of the cliff, makes its way,
brawling over a clear pebbly bottom, till it joins the sea.

This paragon of valleys burst upon us as such scenes, to be
witnessed with advantage, ought to do, without the slightest
warning or expectation.  The road by which we approached it,
being completely shut in with wood, and winding considerably to
aid the descent, brought us out nearly at the gorge of the vale,
so as to throw the hamlet, the cliff, and the waterfall into the
background; and as the whole was of such extent as to be taken in
at one glance, the effect was striking beyond anything of the
kind I ever witnessed.  It is but natural to suppose that we had
no desire to hurry through such a glen as this; and seeded not
the additional motive which the weariness of our donkeys
afforded, to persuade us to a temporary halt.  Giving the
animals, therefore, to the care of their owners, we dismounted,
and went into some of the cabins, the inhabitants of which
appeared to be as simple as the situation of their abodes had
prepared us to expect.  The men were all goatherds, and the women
seemed to be as idle as their countrywomen in Portugal, sitting
at the doors of their houses, surrounded by groups of half-naked
and filthy-looking children.  If it be fair to judge from their
dress and the furniture of their hovels, they were miserably
poor, though perfectly contented; they did not ask us for money,
but astonished, I suppose, at the glaring colour of our coats,
they were very inquisitive to know who we were and whence we had
come.  The English, the French, and the Portuguese seemed to be
the only three nations of whose existence they had any knowledge;
and having been assured, in answer to their first question, that
we were not French, they immediately added, "Then you must be
English."  They did not appear, however, to be without some
degree of cunning, for as long as we paused in replying to their
query, they were silent; but no sooner had we answered in the
negative than they launched forth into the most violent
invectives against the French; convincing us that the animosity
of the mother-country towards its barbarous invaders was not more
implacable than that of the colonies.

Having loitered away half an hour in this romantic spot, and
distributed a few dollars among its inhabitants, we remounted our
steeds and continued our journey.  The remainder of the ride
carried us through scenery very similar to what we had already
passed; the only difference was, that the nearer we approached to
Ponto del Gada the more frequent became the spots of cultivation,
the width and smoothness of the road improving in proportion;
till at last, when we had attained the brow of an eminence, from
whence the town with its port and bay were distinguishable, we
looked down upon an extensive valley, richly covered with fields
of standing corn.  Quickening our pace, we soon entered the
capital of St. Michael's, and were conducted by the drivers to a
good hotel, kept by an Englishwoman of the name of Currie, where
we found every accommodation which we could desire, at a very
moderate expense.


As we had started at an early hour from Villa Franca, the clocks
were just striking ten when we alighted at Mrs. Currie's hotel;
consequently, there was a long day yet before us, in which we
might see everything that was to be seen in the place.  Having
discharged our muleteers, therefore, who seemed overjoyed at the
receipt of one dollar a-piece, swallowed a hasty breakfast, and
made ourselves somewhat comfortable, we lost no time in setting
out upon a stroll of examination and discovery.

Ponto del Gada is, on the whole, rather a neat town, containing
from twelve to fourteen thousand inhabitants; but being built,
especially in the outskirts, without much regard to compactness,
it covers more ground than many places of double the amount in
population.  It stands upon a little bay, formed by two
projecting headlands, and can boast of a tolerable harbour
excellent roadstead.  In its immediate vicinity the country a
more uniformly level than any I had yet observed; the vale
extending to the distance of four or five miles on every side,
had ending in an amphitheatre of low green hills, which resemble
appearance, the downs as they are seen from Eastbourne in Sussex.
The whole of this flat is in a state of high cultivation, being
cleared, perhaps too completely, of wood, and portioned off into
different fields and parks by hedges and stone walls.  Judging
from the appearance of the crops, I should conceive that the
soil was here of some depth, as well as fertility, the whole
valley being covered with wheat, barley, and Indian corn.  And in
truth, if the aspect of the country beyond the downs, where rocks
tower one above another in rude and barren grandeur, furnish a
legitimate criterion by which to determine respecting the general
fertility of the island, I should be almost tempted to believe
that the whole industry of its people has been expended upon this
spot, simply because it was the only one capable of rewarding it.
I was assured, however, by the natives, that such is not the case;
and that, in the interior, and towards the opposite coast, the
rugged magnificence of mountain scenery gives place to a more
profitable though less picturesque champaign.

The principal streets of Ponto del Gada are paved, and kept once
cool and clean by a. constant sprinkling of water, which is the
business of two or three men stationed at pumps within obtain
distance of one another, to scatter over them.  Of the by-streets
little can be said in praise, they being, like those of other
Portuguese towns, composed of mean cottages, unpaved,  and
extremely dirty.  There is, however, an air of elegance given to
the town, particularly when looked at from a distance, by the
intermixture of orange-groves among the houses; the largest of
these, wherever they happen to stand, being, in general,
surrounded by extensive gardens, all of which are abundantly
stocked with that graceful and odoriferous plant.  Add to this
the number of towers and spires with which its numerous churches
and convents are supplied, and the first aspect of the whole may
be conceived to be extremely striking and imposing.

As soon as we had taken a hurried survey of the streets, the next
object of attention was the religious houses.  In these there was
but little to admire, the architecture being of the plainest
kind, and even the chapels as much wanting in ornament as can be
imagined.  There were, indeed, in most of them some trifling
attempts at carved work and gilding upon the roof, a little
stained glass, neither rich nor ancient, in the windows, and a
few tawdry pictures suspended above the altars; but the general
appearance was decidedly that of buildings which did not even aim
at beauty or grandeur.  The monks we found a good-natured,
obliging set of men, very willing to give us any information in
their power; by one of whom we were fortunate enough to be
conducted through a convent of Augustine friars.  Into their mode
of living it is not to be supposed that we could obtain much
insight.  It seemed, however, to be less indolent than that of
some convents which we had visited in the old country, and
approached proportionably nearer to a college life among
ourselves; though it must be admitted that the fellows and
undergraduates of Oxford and Cambridge have a better notion of
both comfort and elegance than the Augustine friars of
St. Michael's.  Of the nuns we of course saw nothing, excepting
through the grates.  We found them full of curiosity, and eager
to know as much as they could learn of the world from which they
were excluded; but quite as fond of flirting as any set of young
ladies at a boarding-school.  It was amusing to observe their
mode of begging, for all the nuns in this part of the world are
licensed beggars.  The younger and fairer members of the
sisterhood came to the grate first; chatted, sung, and presented
us with artificial flowers, and then retiring, made way for the
old and the ugly, who requested a little money for the good of
our souls and their bodies.  To solicitations thus expressed it
was impossible to turn a deaf ear, and the consequence was, that
we soon discovered it to be quite as expensive an amusement to
flirt with a nun, as with any other belle in London or elsewhere.

Besides the churches and convents, amounting in all to not fewer
than nine, there is a fort erected for the protection of the
harbour, which we likewise endeavoured to see, but were prevented
by the sentinel at the gate, who refused us admittance.  The
disappointment, however, was not great, as it was easy to
perceive, from its outward appearance, that the fort could
possess few points worthy of observation; and, indeed, we
attributed the reluctance evinced in admitting strangers to its
utter uselessness as a place of defence.

To describe all this occupies but a small portion of time; but to
see it was the laborious employment of an entire day.  Wearied
out at length with my exertions, and not feeling much rewarded,
at least for the latter part of my trouble, I returned in
the evening to the hotel, where, as the ships were still at
anchor, taking on board water and fresh provisions, I ventured to
spend the night.

Having thus discovered that there was little in the works of art,
and a great deal in those of nature, throughout St. Michael's, to
interest the traveller, a friend and myself determined to set off
next morning on a visit to the volcano.  With this design we
ordered asses, for asses are the only animals for hire, to be in
readiness by daybreak; and finding them in waiting at the time
appointed, we took a guide with us and pushed forward in the
direction of the dark smoke.  The mountain with its crater being
distinctly visible from Ponto del Gada, we took it for granted
the distance between the two places could not exceed twelve or
fourteen miles; but, on inquiring of our guide, we learned that
the nearest road would carry us at least twenty-seven miles from
the town.  This was at once a startling and unpleasant piece of
intelligence, affecting our arrangements in no trifling degree.
To proceed was dangerous, because, mounted as we were, to go and
return in one day was impossible; and, if we remained so far from
the shipping during the night, the fleet might sail v before we
should be able to get back.  On the the other hand, to give up
our design, and quit a country where a volcano was to be seen,
without seeing it, appeared rather a mortifying prospect.  After
weighing for a few minutes the chances on both sides, I shall not
say with the utmost impartiality, curiosity finally prevailed
over apprehension; and, in order to prevent any further
repentance and consequent change of mind, we put our donkeys into
a gallop, and hurried on as fast as they could carry us.  But the
speed of the asses and our own venturous determination proved,
after all, equally unavailing; for, on gaining the summit of the
downs, and looking back upon the fleet, we beheld, to our great
sorrow, the signal for sailing displayed at the topmasts of all
the ships.  Mortified at our disappointment, and at the same time
rejoicing that we had got no farther on our journey, we were
compelled to turn our asses' heads, and to retrace our steps
towards Ponto del Gada, where we found everything in the bustle
and confusion of a re-embarkation.  The beach was covered with
sailors, soldiers, bullocks, and casks of fresh water, hurrying,
and being hurried, indiscriminately into the boats which had
arrived to take them off.  The townspeople were running about
upon the strand, some offering their skiffs to convey the
officers on board the ships, some helping to swing the bullocks
into the barges, and others shouting and hallooing apparently
from the disinterested love of noise.  In short, it was a scene
of great liveliness and bustle, perhaps rather too much so to be

Seeing this universal eagerness to reach the fleet, we, like the
rest, threw ourselves into the first boat we could approach, and
in a short time found ourselves on board our own ship.  But here
a very tantalizing piece of intelligence awaited us, for we
learnt that, in spite of all this show of preparation, the
Admiral had not begun to weigh anchor; and that no intention of
moving was entertained, at soonest, before the morrow.  The
opportunity, however, was lost; it could not be recovered, and we
were obliged to submit as cheerfully as we could, though it was
impossible to help regretting, what had at first been a source of
consolation, the circumstance of our having caught a view of the
signal at the time we did.  But, as the event proved, all had
turned out for the best; for on the day following the signal was
again repeated; and by way of giving additional weight to it, the
Admiral began to shake loose his topsails.  Nor did it prove,
like that of yesterday, a false alarm.  By mid-day, the
victualling and watering being complete, the fleet immediately
began to get under weigh; and, as the wind blew fair and fresh,
before dark the mountains of St. Michael's could be seen only
like a thin vapour in the sky.  Next morning nothing but the old
prospect of air and water met the gaze, as we stood our course,
at a rapid rate, towards Bermuda.


The voyage from St. Michael's to Bermuda occupied the space of
almost an entire month, the first having been lost sight of on
the 27th of June, and it being the 24th of July before the low
shores of the last could be discerned.  It was, however, a
passage of more interest and productive of more variety than that
from Bordeaux to the Azores.  We had now arrived within the
influence of the tropical climate, and were not unfrequently
amused with water-spouts, and other phenomena peculiar to warm
regions.  The flying-fish, likewise, and its pursuer, the
dolphin, afforded at least something to look at; whilst many idle
hours were whiled away in attempts to catch or strike the latter
with harpoons.  In these we were not always unsuccessful,
consequently we enjoyed several opportunities of watching the
change of colour which that fish undergoes whilst it is dying;
and though the description generally given of it is certainly
indebted in some degree to the imagination of voyagers, I must
confess that the transitions from blue to purple, and from
purple to green, with all their intermediate shades, are
extremely beautiful.  When the fish is in the water, it is by no
means remarkable for brilliancy of hue, and as as soon as it is
dead it returns to its original colour--a dingy sea-green; but
whilst it is floundering and flapping upon the deck, it is
impossible to say what is its real appearance, so many and so
different are the hues which it assumes.  Nor did we escape
without the occasional occurrence of a less agreeable species of
variety; I mean squalls, thunder-storms, and whirlwinds.  As we
approached Bermuda, indeed, these became too frequent to excite
any interest beyond an earnest desire that they would cease: but
while we were yet a good way off, and the incident rare, they
were witnessed with more of admiration than terror.

Besides these amusements with which nature supplied us, we were
not backward in endeavouring to amuse ourselves.  Being now
pretty well accustomed to the atmosphere of a ship, we began to
consider ourselves at home, and to give balls and other public
entertainments through the fleet.  One of these I shall take leave
to describe, because I am sure it must interest from its novelty.
On the 19th of July, at an early hour in the morning, a signal
was made from the Royal Oak, that the Admiral would be happy to
see the officers of the fleet on board his ship that evening.
Boats were accordingly sent off from the different vessels,
loaded with visitors; and on mounting the gangway, a stage, with
a green curtain before it, was discovered upon the quarter-deck.
The whole of the deck, from the poop to the mainmast, was hung
round with flags, so as to form a moderate-sized theatre; and the
carronades were removed from their port-holes, in order to make
room for the company.  Lamps were suspended from all parts of the
rigging and shrouds, casting a brilliant light upon this singular
playhouse; and the crew, arrayed in their best attire, crowded
the booms, yards, and fore part of the deck; whilst the space
from the mainmast to the foot of the stage was set with benches
for the more genteel part of the audience.

At seven o'clock the curtain drew up, and discovered a scene
painted with such taste as would not have disgraced any theatre
in London.  The play was the 'Apprentice,' with the 'Mayor of
Garret' as an afterpiece, performed by the officers of the ship
and of the artillery, and went off in high style, applauded, as
it deserved to be applauded, with the loudest acclamations.  The
quarter-deck of a British line-of-battle ship has often enough
been a stage for the exhibition of bloody tragedies; but to
witness a comedy and a farce upon that stage, and in the middle
of the Atlantic Ocean, was delightful from its very singularity.
When the performance came to an end, the stage was knocked down,
the seats removed, and everything cleared for dancing.  The music
was excellent, being composed of the band of the Royal Oak; and
the ball was opened by Admiral Malcolm and the Honourable Mrs.
Mullens, in a country dance, followed by as many couples as the
space would permit; the greater number of officers dancing, as
necessity required, with one another.  In this amusement every
person, from the Admiral and General, down to the youngest ensign
and midshipman, joined, laying aside for the time all restraint
or form of discipline; and having kept it up with great spirit
till considerably beyond midnight, a blue light was hoisted as a
signal for the different boats to come off for the strangers, and
each returned to his own ship highly gratified with the evening's



By employing ourselves in this manner, and by keeping up what is
emphatically called a good heart, we contrived to pass out time
agreeably enough.  As often as the weather would permit, and the
fleet lay well together, we made parties of pleasure to the
different ships; when the wind was too high, and the fleet too
much scattered for such proceedings, we remained at home, and
amused ourselves in the best way we could.  Some of the captains,
and ours among the number, were possessed of very tolerable
libraries, the doors of which they politely threw open for the
benefit of their military guests; and thus, by reading, fishing,
and boating, we were enabled to make head, with some success,
against the encroachments of ennui.  It must be confessed,
however, that in spite of strenuous efforts to the contrary, that
determined enemy of all idle persons was beginning to gain ground
upon us, when, about mid-day on the 24th of July, a cry of land
was heard from the mast-head.  All eyes were immediately turned
in the direction to which the sailor pointed, and as wind blew
fair and moderately fresh, no great length of time before the
same object was distinguishable from the deck.  A signal was
immediately hoisted for a pilot, who lost no time in coming off
to us; and before dark we were at anchor opposite to the tanks in

The appearance of Bermuda is altogether as different from that of
St. Michael's as one thing can be from another.  Whilst the last,
with its lofty mountains and bold shores, can be seen at the
distance of many leagues, a ship must be within a few miles of
the first before the slightest symptom of land is discernible.
On this account it is that mariners find greater difficulty in
making Bermuda than perhaps any other island or continent in the
known world; the most experienced seaman frequently sailing past
it, and not a few suffering shipwreck every year upon its
numerous shoals and rocks.  For not only is the land itself low,
and thus apt to be run against by vessels which may have
approached in stormy weather too near to put about, but for many
miles round, reefs of sunken rocks stretch out into the sea in
every direction; insomuch, that even the approach to the
principal anchorage is no more than a narrow channel between two
reefs, in many places scarcely exceeding a mile or a mile and a
half in width.  The navigation, even in calm weather, is
therefore attended with considerable danger; the idea of which is
greatly heightened by the remarkable clearness of the water and
the peculiar brightness of the rocks.  In some places this is so
much the case, that the bottom may be seen at the depth of six or
seven fathoms; whilst the aspect of the reefs which lie on each
side, as you steer towards the anchorage, is such, as almost to
persuade you, contrary to the evidence of reason, that a man
might leap upon them from a boat without incurring the danger of
being wet above the knees.  Yet these very reefs are seldom
covered with less than six, and sometimes with fourteen and
fifteen feet of water.

Low as they are, the shores of Bermuda are nevertheless extremely
beautiful.  They are covered with cedar, a tree which here, at
least, seldom exceeds the height of twenty feet, and from which,
before the sun has risen and after he has set, the land breeze
comes loaded with the most delicious perfume.  Under the wood
there grows a rich short turf, apparently struggling to spread
itself over the chalky rocks, of which the entire island, or
rather islands, seem to be composed; and, as the houses of the
better orders are chiefly built within reach of the cool air from
the water, they, with their little lawns and gardens, produce a
lively and pleasing effect.

As darkness had come on before the ship could be properly moored,
no boats were permitted to leave her that night; but at an early
hour next morning I embraced the first opportunity of going on
shore.  To reach St. George's, the capital of the colony, you are
obliged to row for several miles up a narrow frith called the
ferry, immediately on entering which the scenery becomes in the
highest degree picturesque.  Though still retaining its character
of low, the ground on each side looks as if it were broken into
little swells, the whole of them beautifully shaded with groves
of cedar, and many of them crowned with country-houses as white
as the drifted snow.  But the fact is, that this appearance of
hill and dale is owing to the prodigious number of islands which
compose the cluster; there being in all, according to vulgar
report, not fewer than three hundred and sixty-five, of which the
largest exceeds not seven or eight miles in diameter.  Yet it is
only when you follow what at first you are inclined to mistake for
a creek or the mouth of a river, that you discover the absence of
valleys from between these hills; and even then you are more apt
to fancy yourself upon the bosom of a lake studded with islets,
than steering amid spots of earth which stand, each of them
distinct, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

In the town of St. George's there is nothing to be seen at all
worthy of record.  It consists of about fifty or sixty houses,
the glare from which, as they are all built of the chalk stone, is
extremely dazzling to the eyes.  It is called the capital,
because here the court-house stands and the magisterial sittings
are held; but in point of size, and, as far as I could learn, in
every other respect, it is greatly inferior to Hamilton, another
town at the opposite extremity of the cluster, which I did not
visit.  A little way from St. George's, and on the summit of a
bare rock, stand the barracks, fitted up for the accommodation of
a thousand men; and about a mile and a half beyond them are the
tanks, well worth the notice of travellers.  The object of this
work is to catch and preserve the rain--a measure which the total
deficiency of fresh springs throughout the colony renders
absolutely necessary.  There are, indeed, wells dug upon the
beach, but the water in these is nothing more than sea-water,
filtered and rendered brackish in making its way through the
sand, and by no means fit to be used, at least in any quantity.
To supply this deficiency, the bad effects of which were
experienced in the unhealthiness of many of the crews upon the
American station, Government was induced to build these tanks;
consequently the water contained in them is the property of the
king, and none but king's ships, with the troops in garrison, are
permitted, except in extreme cases, to be supplied from thence.

The climate of Bermuda has been extolled by many, and among the
rest by Mr. Moore in his odes and epistles, as salubrious and
delightful.  It is possible that he, and the rest of its
eulogists, may have visited these islands at a season of the year
different from that in which I visited them, but to me the heat
was beyond measure oppressive.  Lying, as they do, under the
influence of a vertical sun, and abounding in all directions with
cliffs of white chalk, it is obvious that the constant reflection
of the sun's rays thereby occasioned must be quite overpowering.
If these panegyrists mean to say, that as long as you contrive to
keep in the shade, and take care not to stir abroad till after
sunset, you will find the Bermudas deserving of their title of
summer-islands, then I will agree with them; but I believe there
is no man who ever walked the street of St. George's at noon, or
any other spot where the sun-beams could reach him, that did not
consider the heat as anything rather than temperate.

But whatever may be thought of the climate, there can, I think,
be but one opinion as to the soil.  It is generally admitted that
there is no more unproductive spot of earth upon the face of the
deep than Bermuda.  The only animals which appear to thrive are
the goat and the duck; the cedar and a few calabash-trees are the
only wood, and, except the most common kinds of vegetables, such
as cabbages, onions, and sweet potatoes; I know of hardly another
thing brought to perfection, even in the gardens.  The fruits
which a stranger may meet with are no doubt delicious, since
among them he will find the shaddock and the pine-apple; but for
these, as well as for almost all their other comforts and
luxuries, the Bermudians are indebted to the continent of America
or to the West Indies.  Whether this be owing to the natural
sterility of the soil, or to the extreme indolence of the
inhabitants, I cannot pretend to decide; though I should be
inclined to suspect that both were, in some degree, to blame; but
its consequences are felt by all visitors, in a very sensible
manner, every article of living being here sold for thrice its
intrinsic value.  That provisions should be dear in this country
cannot surprise, when it is considered that this small colony is
the general depot and place of resort for repairs and stores to a
large proportion of the British navy, scattered along the coast
of America; but, surely, if the natives were a little more
industrious, they might afford to sell their goods at a cheaper
rate, and at the same time secure an equal, if not a greater
profit.  But their indolence is beyond all conception, and can be
attributed only to, what I believe is its real cause, the
facility with which they acquire fortunes, from men who are
necessitated to give whatever they demand for the most trifling
article.  The poorest and meanest freeman upon the island never
dreams of applying his own hand, or even his own head, to the
cultivation of the ground; and being abundantly supplied with
negro slaves, they leave everything, even the care of providing
necessaries for themselves, to the industry of that ill-used
race.  I may perhaps be considered as expressing myself with
too much severity towards the Bermudians, but, in truth, I repeat
only what I was told by some of themselves; nor did I, from my
own personal observation, discover any cause to question the
veracity of my informers.

In the praise bestowed by Mr. Moore upon the beauty of these
regions, I do, however, most cordially join.  There is something
bewitchingly pretty, for pretty is perhaps the most appropriate
epithet to be used, in every one of the many views which you may
obtain from different points.  The low and elegant cedar, the
green short turf, the frequent recurrence of the white and
dazzling rock, the continual rise and fall of the numerous small
islands, but above all, the constant intermingling of land and
water, seem more like a drawing of fairy land than a reality.
There is nothing grand, nothing imposing, or calculated to excite
any feeling bordering upon the awful, throughout the whole; but
it is soft, gentle, and exquisitely pleasing.

Having spent the day at St. George's, I returned on board to
sleep; and on the morrow removed, with my baggage, to a transport
then lying at anchor within the ferry, which was thenceforth to
be my head-quarters.  Thither my friend Grey also removed, and as
our ship was well stored, and its commander civil and
accommodating, we had no reason to complain of any suffering
consequent upon our change of residence.

It will be readily believed that a very small portion of our time
was now wasted on board ship; for economy's sake we usually slept
there, because at the inn the charge for beds, as well as for
everything else, was enormous; but all the hours of daylight were
devoted to rowing round the different islands, and climbing the
different eminences, from whence the most extensive prospects
were to be obtained.  Among other curiosities, we were informed
of two caves in one of the little isles, distant about four or
five miles from the place where we lay.  Being assured that they
were highly deserving of notice, we determined to visit them; and
setting off one evening for that purpose, we reached the spot
which had been pointed out to us a little before dark.  We
fastened the boat to the stump of a tree, and were proceeding
towards the caves, when a fine manly voice, singing one of the
Irish melodies, attracted our attention.  Being rather curious to
discover who, in this extramundane place, had learnt to sing with
so much taste, we followed the direction of the sound, till we
came upon a party sitting under the shade of a tent, and, like
ourselves, enjoying the cool of the evening; on perceiving us,
some of them came forward, and the satisfaction was mutual when
we recognised one another as old acquaintances.  They urged us to
relinquish our design, and to partake of their good cheer, with
which, as the hour was late, we had small reluctance in
complying; and it was agreed, that instead of going on without
proper guides, and at so unseasonable a time, we should breakfast
together at the same spot in the morning, and proceed in a body
to examine the caverns.  Here, therefore, we remained till the
moon had risen, when we returned to our boat, and sailed back to
the ship.

Next morning everything was prepared for the expedition, but a
heavy squall coming on, prevented us from setting out as early as
we had intended; as soon, however, as this blew over, we took to
our boat, and reached the place of rendezvous in time to share
the remains of a good breakfast which our friends had prepared
for themselves and us.  When our meal was finished, we supplied
ourselves with torches from some dry branches of the
calabash-tree, and, headed by a guide, moved towards the mouth of
the nearest and largest of the two caves.  We descended into this
by a ladder of sixteen steps, and arrived upon a broad ledge of
rock, where we halted for a few minutes to light the torches, and
accustom our vision to the gloom; when, both of these ends being
attained, we advanced a few paces into the cave, and a sight of
the most indescribable sublimity burst upon us.  The appearance
was that of a huge Gothic cathedral, having its roof supported
upon pillars of spar, moulded into the most regular shapes, and
fluted and carved after the most exact models of architecture.
The roof itself was indeed too lofty to be discerned, nor could
the eye penetrate to anything like an extremity, all beyond a
certain extent being wrapped in the most profound darkness; but
the flashes of light which at intervals streamed out, as the
glare of the torches fell upon pieces of spar as clear as
crystal, and the deep echo of our own voices as we spoke,
inspired us with a feeling of awe bordering upon superstition.
It is in such a situation as this, that the poverty of the
mightiest monument of human art becomes conspicuous.  The most
magnificent churches and abbeys, with their sculptured pillars
and vaulted ceilings, were thought of as mean in comparison of
what was now before us; indeed, I for one could not help
imagining that these very churches and abbeys had been built in
humble imitation of this, which looked like a temple reared by
some beings more powerful than men.  It seemed a shrine worthy of
the genii of old, while yet they were in the zenith of their
glory, ere they had been driven from their thrones and oracles of
darkness by the light of Christianity.

As we moved onward we found the sides of the cave gradually
narrow upon us, and the roof become lower and lower.  There was,
however, a continuance of the same fane-like appearance to the
last, though growing more and more contracted; till, finally, we
were compelled to advance one by one, and to stoop in order to
prevent our heads from coming into contact with the rock.  We had
proceeded as far as it was possible to proceed with any degree of
comfort, and were informed by the guide that we were upwards of
three hundred yards from the entrance, when we found it expedient
to wheel about, and to return to the open air.  But the effect of
so sudden a change from darkness to light was exceedingly
disagreeable; insomuch that we hastened into the smaller cave, as
well for the purpose of deferring the moment of suffering as to
continue our search after the sublime.

The entrance to this cavern is extremely dangerous, and not to be
ventured upon without either a trusty guide or a thorough
knowledge of the ground.  After descending a ladder, not quite so
deep as that which leads into the larger cave, we arrived at the
brink of a fearful chasm, across which a flat stone, about two
feet in width, was laid, connecting the edges by a bridge four or
five feet in length.  To what depth the chasm may reach, the
guide could not inform us; but that it is considerable we
discovered by dropping a large stone, which we could hear for
some time as it dashed against the projecting edges of the rock,
and at length splashed with a tremendous echo into water.  The
man maintained that the sea beat under the foundation of the
island as far as the spot where we now stood, and his story was
rendered at least probable by the number of pools of salt water
which we met with in the interior of the cave.

After having visited the larger cavern, this certainly appeared
to disadvantage; though in truth it is in its dimensions only
that the one can be pronounced inferior to the other.  The spar
is equally clear and proportionably as abundant in both: the
pillars are quite as regularly formed, and the lesser has an
advantage over its rival in two or three broken columns, which
give to it the semblance of a temple in ruins.  There is also in
this cave a strange propinquity of salt and fresh water pools,
the situation of two of which struck me as peculiarly curious.
They were divided from each other by a piece of rock not much
thicker than a man's hand; and yet the water from the one tasted
as if it had been taken from the German Ocean, whilst that from
the other was as fresh and pleasant as possible.

We had by this time fully gratified our curiosity, and once more
ascended to the world of sunshine, the splendour of which was at
first almost insupportable.  By degrees, however, our eyes became
accustomed to the change and recovered their original tone, when
we separated, each party returning to its respective ship in high
good humour with the day's employment.

But to dine quietly on board was no longer endurable.  A tent was
accordingly carried on shore, and having sought out the most
shady and agreeable nook within a moderate distance of the
vessel, our dinner was brought thither, and we spent the evening,
as we had done the morning, among the works of nature.  Here we
remained till a late hour, talking over the adventures of the
day, and occasionally attempting a blind peep into futurity, till
our friend the moon having risen, we again pulled on board by her
light, and lay down to dream of sparry domes and enchanted



SOME apology is due to the reader, whose attention has been thus
long withdrawn from other and more important matters, to follow
the adventures of an humble individual like myself.  The fault,
however, of which I have been guilty may be at once repaired,
when I inform him that on our arrival at Bermuda we found Sir
Alexander Cochrane, in the Tonnant, of eighty guns, waiting to
receive us, and to take the command of the whole fleet.  The
secret of our destination likewise, which up to that moment had
been kept, transpired almost as soon as we cast anchor off the
island; and it was publicly rumoured that our next point of
debarkation would be somewhere on the shores of the Bay of
Chesapeake.  Nor are these the only interesting public
occurrences of which no notice has as yet been taken.  On the 4th
of June our little army was reinforced by the arrival of the 21st
Fusiliers, a fine battalion, mustering nine hundred bayonets,
under the command of Colonel Patterson.  On the evening of the
29th a squadron of four frigates and several transports appeared
in the offing, which by mid-day on the day following were all at
anchor in the roads.  They proved to be from the Mediterranean,
having the 21st, 29th, and 62nd Regiments on board, of which the
two latter were proceeding to join Sir George Prevost's army in
Canada, whilst the former attached itself to that under the
command of General Ross.  By this very acceptable reinforcement,
our numbers were increased to upwards of three thousand effective
men, and a greater confidence in themselves, as well as a better
grounded hope of success in whatever they might undertake, was at
the same time given to the troops.

Having already dwelt sufficiently upon my own personal Adventures
at Bermuda, I shall not waste time by a particular detail of the
various preparations which during this interval were making
throughout the fleet.  Stores of provisions, fresh water,
ammunition, clothing, &c., were provided, and magazines for the
future supply of the expedition established; when, on the 3rd
of August, all things being complete, the ships once more got
under weigh, and stood towards America.


During the whole of this day the wind was light and unsteady,
consequently little progress was made, nor did the white rocks of
Bermuda disappear till darkness concealed them; but towards
morning a fresher and more favourable breeze springing up, the
rest of the voyage was performed in reasonable time, and without
the occurrence of any incident worthy of notice.  The heat,
indeed, became more and more oppressive every day, and the
irksomeness of renewed confinement was more sensibly experienced
from the long holiday which we had enjoyed on shore; but, in
other respects, everything returned to its former state, till
towards evening on the 14th, when a signal was made by the
Admiral that land was in sight.  As yet, however, there was no
appearance of it from the deck of our transport, nor for a full
half-hour could our anxious gaze be rewarded by the slightest
trace of what it sought; but at the end of that time the low
sandy point of Cape Charles began to show itself, and we rejoiced
in the prospect of a speedy release from the ennui of a seafaring

The coast of America, at least in this quarter, is universally
low and uninteresting; insomuch, that for some time before the
land itself can be discerned, forests of pines appear to rise, as
it were, out of the water.  It is also dangerous from the
numerous shoals and sandbanks which run out in many places to a
considerable extent into the sea, and which are so formidable
that no master of a vessel, unless he chance to be particularly
well acquainted with the navigation, will venture to approach
after dark.  The fleet was accordingly anchored within a few
miles of the shore, but no sooner had the day begun to break than
the sails were again hoisted, and the ships, steering under the
influence of a leading wind, between the Capes Charles and Henry,
stood in gallant style up the Chesapeake.

This noble bay is far too wide, and the land on each side too
flat, to permit any but an indistinct glimpse of the shore from
the deck of a vessel which keeps well towards the middle.  On the
present occasion we could distinguish nothing, on either hand,
except the tops of trees, with occasionally a windmill or a
lighthouse; but the view of our own fleet was in truth so
magnificent as to prevent any murmuring on that account.
Immediately on entering, we were joined by Admiral Cockburn with
three line-of-battle ships, several frigates, and a few sloops of
war and gun-brigs, by which means the squadron could now muster
above twenty vessels entitled to display the pendant, besides an
equal if not a greater number of victuallers and transports.  Nor
were we strengthened by this addition in the naval part of the
expedition alone.  On board these ships was embarked a powerful
reinforcement for the army, consisting of a battalion of seven
hundred marines, a hundred negroes lately armed and disciplined,
and a division of marine artillery, so that we could now
calculate on landing a corps of at least four thousand men.  The
spectacle was therefore as agreeable and imposing as might be;
because we could not help remembering that this magnificent fleet
was sailing in an enemy's bay, and that it was filled with troops
for the invasion of that enemy's country.  Thus, like a snowball,
we had gathered as we went on, and from having set out a mere
handful of soldiers, were now become an army, formidable as well
from its numbers as its discipline.

The shoals and sandbanks which abound on the outside of the bay,
continue to encumber the navigation after it is entered, and the
fleet was in consequence compelled to anchor every night.  This
proceeding unavoidably occasioned much delay.  The first day's
sail carried us only to the mouth of the James river, and the
second to the mouth of the Potomac; but, on both occasions, we
brought up at too great a distance from the beach to permit
perfect or distinct view of either of these rivers.  Opposite to
the latter, indeed, we remained for a night and a considerable
part of the following day, and the sky being remarkably clear, we
saw something more of it than we had been able to see of the
other river.  It appeared to be a fine piece of water making its
way through the centre of huge forests, and, though the current
is in reality strong, flowing on without any apparent motion.
But it would have been impossible to trace its course, even had
we been nearer to the shore, above a few miles, on account of its
numerous windings, the first of which, overshadowed as it is with
wood, shuts it out from further observation.  By continuing here
so long, we had begun to conjecture that a landing somewhere on
the banks of this river was in contemplation.  In this, however,
we were deceived, for about one o'clock the fleet was again
under sail, and moving towards the Patuxent, a river which
empties itself into the bay, several miles above the Potomac.


It was singular enough, that the ships had scarcely begun to lift
their anchors, when the sky, which had hitherto continued clear
and serene, became suddenly darkened and overcast with heavy
clouds: and the water, which before had been as smooth and bright
as a mirror, began to rise in black waves tipped with foam,
though there was not a breath of air to fill the
sails.  Hurricanes are, I believe, not unfrequent in this part of
the world, and it was expected that these changes in the sea and
sky foreboded the arrival of one; but they passed by without
producing any violent results, and when we brought up, which was
done in the evening, the clouds had dispersed, and the water was
again like a glassy lake.

The 18th of August had now arrived, and as yet we had advanced no
farther than to the mouth of the Patuxent.  There we lay, as we
had done the day before, anxiously expecting a breeze; till about
noon, the wind beginning to blow fair, the fleet entered the
river and made its way slowly and majestically against the
stream.  The voyage soon became picturesque and interesting in
the highest degree.  Fields of Indian corn, with meadows of the
most luxuriant pasture, stretched along the margin of the stream
on either hand; whilst the neat wooden houses of the settlers,
all of them painted white, and surrounded with orchards and
gardens, presented a striking contrast to the boundless forests
which formed a background to the scene.  Of the prodigious extent
and gloomy appearance of these forests, it is impossible for any
language to convey an adequate conception.  There is nothing, at
least nothing which I have seen, in the Old World, at all
resembling or to be compared with them; and hemming in, as they
do, on every side, the tiny spots of cultivation, they certainly
convey no very enlarged idea of the power of human industry.  The
cleared fields on the banks of the Patuxent, for example, could
in no direction measure above half a mile across,--in many places
their breadth fell short of that, from the river to the woods;
and then all was one vast forest, through which no eye could
penetrate, nor any traveller venture to seek his way.  We were,
as may be imagined, greatly taken by scenery so novel; and we
continued to gaze upon it with the liveliest interest, till our
attention was drawn away to other and more important matters.


We had not proceeded many miles from the river's mouth when a
telegraph from the Admiral gave orders for the troops to be in
readiness to land at a moment's notice.  Everything was forthwith
put in a state of forwardness; provisions for three days, that is
to say, three pounds of pork, with two pounds and a half of
biscuit, were cooked and given to the men; the cartouch-boxes
were supplied with fresh ammunition, and the arms and
accoutrements handed out.  The fleet, however, continued to move
on, without showing any inclination to bring to; till at length,
having ascended to the distance of ten leagues from the bay, the
ships of the line began to take the ground; and in a little while
after, even the frigates could proceed no farther.  But by this
time the sun had set, and darkness was coming on; consequently,
there was no possibility, for that day, of getting the troops on
shore without much confusion, if not danger.  All therefore
remained quiet for the night, with this exception, that the
soldiers were removed from the large ships into such as drew
least water; which running up as high as prudence would permit,
under convoy of the gun-brigs and sloops of war, there cast

As soon as the dawn began to appear, on the morning of the 19th,
there was a general stir throughout the fleet.  A gun-brig had
already taken her station within a hundred and fifty yards of a
village called St. Benedict's, on the left bank of the river,
where it was determined that the disembarkation should be
effected.  Her broadside was turned towards the shore, and her
loaded with grape and round shot, were pointed at the beach, to
cover the landing of the boats; and being moored and aft with
spring-cables, she was altogether as manageable as if she had
been under sail.  The rest of the ships were several miles lower
down the stream, some of them being aground the distance of four
leagues from this point; but the boats were quickly hoisted out
from every one of them, and the river as covered in a trice with
a well-manned and warlike flotilla.  The disembarkation was
conducted with the greatest regularity and dispatch.  Though the
stream ran strong against them, and some of them were obliged to
row fourteen or fifteen miles backwards and forwards, so
strenuously did the sailors exert themselves, that by three
o'clock in the afternoon the whole army was landed, and occupied
a strong position about two miles above the village.

From what I have stated respecting the gun-brig, it will be seen
that all things were in readiness to meet and repel opposition,
should such be offered.  Her broadside being pointed directly
towards the village, whilst it hindered the enemy from bringing
down troops in that direction, gave to our people an opportunity
of forming, and being able to meet, in good order, whatever force
might be posted to check their advance up the country.  Had a few
pieces of artillery been mounted, indeed, upon the high ground,
afterwards taken possession of by us, some execution might have
been done upon the boats as they drew towards the beach; but even
that would have been trifling, because, unless they had had
leisure to heat their shot, no artillery, in the open country
could have long stood before the fire of even a gun-brig, armed
as this was for the occasion with long thirty-two pounders.  Each
boat-load of soldiers, likewise, drew up the moment they stepped
on shore, forming line without any regard to companies or
battalions; whilst parties were instantly dispatched to
reconnoitre, and to take possession of every house, as well as to
line every hedge, in front of the shore where their comrades were
arriving.  But these preparations, though no more than common
prudence required, were unnecessary; since there was not only no
opposition to the landing, but, apparently, no enemy within many
miles of the place.

So much time was unavoidably expended in establishing the
different regiments on the ground allotted to them, in bringing
up the hospital and commissariat stores, and arranging the
materiel, that when all things were ready, the day appeared too
far spent to permit an advance into a country, of the nature and
military situation of which we were of course ignorant.  The
afternoon was accordingly devoted to a proper distribution of the
force; which was divided into three brigades, in the following

The first, or light brigade, consisted of the 85th, the light
infantry companies of the 4th, 21st, and 44th regiments, with the
party of disciplined negroes, and a company of marines, amounting
in all to about eleven hundred men; to the command of which
Colonel Thornton, of the 85th regiment, was appointed.

The second brigade, composed of the 4th and 44th regiments, which
mustered together fourteen hundred and sixty bayonets, was
intrusted to the care of Colonel Brooke, of the 44th; and the
third, made up of the 21st, and the battalion of marines, and
equalling in number the second brigade, was commanded by Colonel
Patterson, of the 21st.  The whole of the infantry may,
therefore, be estimated at four thousand and twenty men.  Besides
these, there were landed about a hundred artillery-men, and an
equal number of drivers; but for want of horses to drag them, no
more than one six-pounder and two small three-pounder guns were
brought on shore.  Except those belonging to the General and
staff-officers, there was not a single horse in the whole army.
To have taken on shore a large park of artillery would have been,
under such circumstances, absolute folly, indeed, the pieces
which were actually landed, proved in the end of very little
service, and were drawn by seamen sent from the different ships
for the purpose.  The sailors, thus employed, may be rated at a
hundred, and those occupied in carrying stores, ammunition, and
other necessaries, at a hundred more; and thus, by adding these,
together with fifty sappers and miners, to the above amount, the
whole number of men landed at St. Benedict's may be computed at
four thousand five hundred.

This little army was posted upon a height which rises at the
distance of two miles from the river.  In front was a valley,
cultivated for some way, and intersected with orchards; at the
further extremity of which the advanced piquets took their
ground; pushing forward a chain of sentinels to the very skirts
of the forest.  The right of the position was protected by a
farm-house with its enclosure and outbuildings, and the left
rested upon the edge of the hill, or rather mound, which there
abruptly ended.  On the brow of the hill, and about the centre of
the line were placed the cannon, ready loaded, and having lighted
fusees beside them; whilst the infantry bivouacked immediately
under the ridge, or rather upon the slope of the hill which
looked towards the shipping, in order to prevent their
disposition from being seen by the enemy; should they come down
to attack.  But as we were now in a country where we could not
calculate upon being safe in rear, any more than in front, the
chain of piquets was carried round both flanks, and so arranged,
that no attempt could be made to get between the army and the
fleet, without due notice, and time given to oppose and prevent
it.  Everything, in short, was arranged with the utmost skill,
and every chance of surprise provided against; but the night
passed in quiet, nor was an opportunity afforded of evincing the
utility of the very soldier-like dispositions which had been



NEXT morning the troops, as is customary during a state of active
warfare, were under arms an hour before daylight, and remained in
position till after the sun had risen.  It was then confidently
expected that the column would be put in motion, though in what
direction it was to proceed, or what was the object of the
descent, none but the General himself appeared to know.  A
rumour, indeed, prevailed, that a flotilla of gun-boats upon the
Patuxent, commanded by the American Commodore Barney, was the
point of attack; and that while the land force advanced up the
river to prevent their retreat, armed boats from the fleet were
to engage them in front.  That such was in reality the primary
object of the landing, I have every reason to believe, though
circumstances afterwards occurred to bring about a change in the
plan of operations.  Into these, however, I shall not now enter,
because they are in no way, connected with the present stage of
my narrative, but shall merely observe, that in their
expectations of an immediate advance the troops were
disappointed.  Whether it was that the arrangements had not been
completed, or that intelligence respecting the state of the
country and the enemy's preparations was wanting, I do not know;
but the regiments returned to the ground which they had occupied
during the night, and everything resumed the same face which it
had worn on the evening before.

In this state affairs continued till four o'clock in the
afternoon, when the General suddenly made his appearance in the
camp, the bugles sounded, and the regiments formed in order for
marching.  Nor did many minutes elapse before the word was given,
and the army began to move, taking the direction of Nottingham, a
town situated on the river, where it was understood that the
flotilla lay at anchor.  The march was conducted with the same
caution and good order that had marked the choice of ground for
encamping and the disposition of the troops in position.  The
advanced-guard, consisting of three companies of infantry, led
the way.  These, however, were preceded by a section of twenty
men, moving before them at the distance of a hundred yards; and
even these twenty were but the followers of two files, sent
forward to prevent surprise, and to give warning of the approach
of the enemy.  Parallel with the head of the three companies
marched the flank patrols; parties of forty or fifty men, which,
extending in files from each side of the road, swept the woods
and fields to the distance of nearly half a mile.  After the
advanced guard, leaving an interval of a hundred or a hundred and
fifty yards, came the light brigade; which, as well as the
advance, sent out flankers to secure itself against ambuscades.
Next to it, again, marched the second brigade, moving steadily
on, and leaving the skirmishing and reconnoitring to those
in front; then came the artillery, consisting, as I have already
stated, of one six and two three-pounder guns, drawn by seamen;
and last of all came the third brigade, leaving a detachment at
the same distance from the rear of the column, as the advanced
guard was from its front.

In moving through an enemy's country, the journeys of an army
will, except under particular circumstances, be regulated by the
nature of the ground over which it passes: thus, though eight,
ten, or even twelve miles may be considered as a short day's
march, yet if at the end of that space an advantageous position
occur (that is, a piece of ground well defended by natural or
accidental barriers, and at the same time calculated for the
operations of that species of force of which the army may be
composed), it would be the height of imprudence to push forward,
merely because a greater extent of country might be traversed
without fatiguing the troops.  On the other hand, should an army
have proceeded eighteen, twenty, or even twenty-five miles,
without the occurrence of any such position, nothing except the
prospect of losing a large proportion of his men from weariness
ought to induce a general to stop, until he has reached some spot
at least more tenable than the rest.  Our march to-day was, upon
this principle, extremely short, the troops halting when they had
arrived at a rising ground distant not more than six miles from
the point whence they set out; and having stationed the piquets,
planted the sentinels, and made such other arrangements as the
case required, fires were lighted, and the men were suffered to
lie down.

It may seem strange, but it is nevertheless true, that during
this short march of six miles a greater number of soldiers
dropped out of the ranks, and fell behind from fatigue, than I
recollect to have seen in any march in the Peninsula of thrice
its duration.  The fact is that the men, from having been so long
cooped up in ships, and unused to carry their baggage and arms,
were become relaxed and enervated to a degree altogether
unnatural; and this, added to the extreme sultriness of the day,
which exceeded anything we had yet experienced, quite
overpowered them.  The load which they carried, likewise, was far
from trifling, since, independent of their arms and sixty rounds
of ball-cartridge, each man bore upon his back a knapsack,
containing shirts, shoes, stockings, &c., a blanket, a haversack,
with provisions for three days, and a canteen or wooden keg
filled with water.  Under these circumstances, the occurrence of
the position was extremely fortunate, since not only would the
speedy failure of light have compelled a halt, whether the ground
chanced to be favourable or the reverse, but even before darkness
had come on scarcely two-thirds of the soldiers would have been
found in their places.

The ground upon which we bivouacked, though not remarkable for
its strength, was precisely such as might tempt a General to
halt, who found his men weary and in danger of being
benighted.  It was a gentle eminence, fronted by an open and
cultivated country, and crowned with two or three houses, having
barns and walled gardens attached to them.  Neither flank could be
said to rest upon any point peculiarly well defended, but they
were not exposed; because, by extending or condensing the line,
almost any one of these houses might be converted into a
protecting redoubt.  The outposts, again, were so far arranged
differently from those of yesterday, that, instead of covering
only the front and the two extremities, they extended completely
round the encampment, enclosing the entire army within a
connected chain of sentinels; and precluding the possibility of
even a single individual making his way within the lines

These precautions were, however, like those of the preceding day,
unnecessary; no enemy making his appearance, even to reconnoitre:
and yet it cannot be said that the night was passed in
uninterrupted quiet, for the troops had scarcely lain down when
they were disturbed by a tremendous storm of thunder and
lightning, accompanied by a heavy fall of rain.  The effect of
the lightning, as it glanced for a moment upon the bivouac, and
displayed the firelocks piled in regular order, and the men
stretched like so many corpses beside them, was extremely fine.
The effect of the rain, however, was not so agreeable, for, being
perfectly destitute of shelter, we were speedily wet to the skin;
and the remainder of our resting-time was rendered thereby the
reverse of comfortable.  But the feeling of fretfulness, natural on
such an occasion, lasted no longer than till the day dawned, and
the line of march was again formed; when their former good-humour
returning, and seasoned in some degree by the fatigues of
yesterday, the troops moved on in excellent order and in the
highest spirits.

The route to-day was different, in many respects, from that of
yesterday.  In the first place, we had now got beyond the stretch
of cultivation, and were proceeding through forests of
immeasurable extent; this, of itself, gave a very different
aspect to all around, because hitherto we had seen houses and
fields of corn on each side of the road, and now we could
discover nothing but wild savannahs, apparently untenanted by a
single human being.  In the next place, we learnt from some of
the country people, who had been impressed as guides into our
service, that numerous detached bodies of riflemen lay in ambush
among the thickets; and the very expectation of having something
to do, created a degree of excitement which, till now, we had not
experienced.  In consequence of that information, the flank
patrols were strengthened and commanded to extend to a greater
distance; the advanced guard marched at a greater interval from
the head of the column, and the whole army moved forward with
more caution and circumspection than had hitherto been used.

In the course of this day's march a little adventure occurred to
myself, which, in the illiberality of my heart, I could not but
regard as strikingly characteristic of the character of the
people to whom we were now opposed, and which, as at the time it
had something in it truly comical, I cannot resist the
inclination of repeating, though aware that its title to drollery
must in a great measure be lost in the relation.  Having been
informed that in a certain part of the forest a company of
riflemen had passed the night, I took with me a party of
soldiers, and proceeded in the direction pointed out, with the
hope of surprising them.  On reaching the place, I found that
they had retired, but I thought I could perceive something like
the glitter of arms a little farther towards the middle of the
wood.  Sending several files of soldiers in different directions,
I contrived to surround the spot, and then moving forward, I
beheld two men dressed in black coats, and armed with bright
firelocks and bayonets, sitting under a tree; as soon as they
observed me, they started up and took to their heels, but being
hemmed in on all sides, they quickly perceived that to escape was
impossible, and accordingly stood still.  I hastened towards
them, and having arrived within a few paces of where they stood,
I heard the one say to the other, with a look of the most perfect
simplicity, "Stop, John, till the gentlemen pass."  There was
something so ludicrous in this speech, and in the cast of
countenance which accompanied it, that I could not help laughing
aloud; nor was my mirth diminished by their attempts to persuade
me that they were quiet country people, come out for no other
purpose than to shoot squirrels.  When I desired to know whether
they carried bayonets to charge the squirrels, as well as muskets
to shoot them, they were rather at a loss for a reply; but they
grumbled exceedingly when they found themselves prisoners, and
conducted as such to the column.

But to return to the principal narrative.  The army had now
advanced within a few miles of Nottingham, and the men were
beginning to look forward with some anxiety to a halt; whilst as
yet nothing beyond the capture of a few stragglers had occurred
to confirm the rumours which, in the morning, and during the
whole of the march, had occasioned so much more circumspection
than appeared to be requisite.  The day was likewise far spent,
and, as was to be expected, the ranks were beginning to be less
carefully preserved, when a smart firing in the wood upon the
right of the road gave new life and energy to the soldiers.  It
was now confidently expected that the enemy would make a stand.
The column closed its order, ready to wheel into line in a
moment, and everything was on the qui vive: but it proved to be
no more than a rencounter between a party of American riflemen
and the flank patrol.  After firing a few shots, the enemy gave
way, and our main body, which had continued to move on during the
skirmish, came in without the slightest opposition to the town of

We found this place (a town or large village, capable of
containing from a thousand to fifteen hundred inhabitants)
completely deserted.  Not an individual was to be seen in the
streets, or remained in the houses; whilst the appearance of the
furniture, &c., in some places the very bread left in the ovens,
showed that it had been evacuated in great haste, and immediately
before our arrival.  The town itself stands upon the banks of the
Patuxent, and consists of four short streets, two running
parallel with the river, and two others crossing them at right
angles, The houses are not such as indicate the existence of much
wealth or grandeur among the owners, being in general built of
wood, and little superior to cottages; but around the village are
others of a far better description, which convey the idea of good
substantial farm-houses, a species of mansion very common in the
United States.  For several miles in every direction the country
was in a high state of cultivation; though, instead of the maize
and wheat which we had hitherto seen, the fields were covered
with an abundant and luxuriant crop of tobacco.  This plant
seems, indeed, to be at all times the staple commodity of that
district; for, besides what was growing and unripe, we found
numerous barns filled with the remains of last year's crop; the
whole of which was, of course, seized in the name of His Majesty
King George the Third.  But in the main object of our pursuit we
were disappointed.  The flotilla, which had been stationed
opposite to Nottingham, retired, on our approach, higher up the
stream; and we were consequently in the situation of a huntsman
who sees his hounds at fault, and has every reason to apprehend
that his game will escape.


In this posture the army continued during the night, having its
right defended by the river, and its left extending considerably
beyond the town, and secured, as usual, by a connected chain of
outposts; nor was it put in motion, as had been done the day
before, as soon as there was sufficient light to distinguish
objects.  There seemed, indeed, to be something like hesitation
as to the course to be pursued,--whether to follow the gun-boats,
or to return to the shipping; but, at last, the former proceeding
was resolved upon, and the column set forward about eight
o'clock, in the direction of Marlborough, another village, about
ten miles beyond Nottingham.  The road by which we travelled, as
well to-day as during the whole of the excursion, was
remarkably good; in some places rather heavy, from being cut
through a sandy soil, but in general hard, dusty, and, to use an
expressive phrase, having a sound bottom.  Running, as it did for
the most part, through the heart of thick forests, it was also
well sheltered from the rays of the sun; a circumstance which, in
a climate like this, is of no slight importance.  To-day, our
whole journey was of this description, nor did we reach a single
cultivated spot till we approached the vicinity of Marlborough;
when we found ourselves in a country not more fertile than
beautiful.  The ground, which had been hitherto perfectly flat,
was now broken into the most graceful swells, generally cleared
of wood to within a short space of the summits, and then crowned
with hoar and venerable forests.  The village itself lies in a
valley formed by two green hills; the distance from the base of
one hill to the base of the other may be about two miles, the
whole of which was laid out in fields of corn, hay, and tobacco;
whilst the slopes themselves were covered with sheep, for whose
support they furnished ample means.  But Marlborough is not, like
an English village, compact, and consisting of one or two lanes
the houses are scattered over the plain, and along the sides of
the hills, at considerable intervals from one another, and are
all surrounded by orchards and gardens, abounding in peaches and
other fruits of the most delicious flavour.  To add to the beauty
of the place, a small rivulet makes its way through the bottom,
and winding round the foot of one of these ridges, falls into the
Patuxent, which flows at its back.

During our progress to-day the same caution was observed which
had been practised yesterday.  Nor was it altogether unnecessary,
several bodies of the enemy's horse occasionally showing
themselves, and what appeared to be the rear-guard of a column
of infantry evacuating Marlborough, as our advance entered.


There was, however, little or no skirmishing, and we were allowed
to remain in the village all night without molestation.  But if we
were not harassed, we were at least startled on the march by
several heavy explosions.  The cause of these we were at first
unable to discover; but we soon learnt that they were occasioned
by the blowing up of the very squadron of which we were in
pursuit, and which Commodore Barney, perceiving the impossibility
of preserving, prudently destroyed, in order to prevent its
falling into our hands.

In Marlborough we remained not only during the night, but till
past noon on the following day.  The hesitation which had caused
the loss of a few hours at Nottingham again interfered, and
produced a delay which might have been attended with serious
consequences.  At length, however, orders were given to form, and
we quitted Marlborough about two in the afternoon, taking the
road to Washington.  During this day's march there was more
skirmishing than had yet occurred.  We had scarcely got above
three miles from the village, when the advanced guard fell in
with a party of riflemen, who maintained a sharp contest before
they gave way.  The column, however, continued to move on without
molestation, till arriving at a point where two roads meet, the
one leading to Washington, the other to Alexandria, a strong body
of troops, with some artillery, were observed upon the slope of a
height opposite.  The capture of Washington was now the avowed
object of our invasion; but the General, like an experienced
officer, was desirous of keeping his enemy in the dark as to his
plan of operations.  Whilst the advanced guard, therefore,
reinforced by two additional companies, marched directly forward
to dislodge the party from the heights, the rest of the army
wheeled to the left, taking the road which leads, not to
Washington, but to Alexandria.  These movements were not lost
upon the enemy, who, observing by the dust in what direction the
main body had filed off, immediately began to retreat, without
waiting for the approach of the detachment sent against ahem.  As
they ascended the hill, however, they made a show of halting and
forming a line.  Our men moved steadily on in column, covered by
one company in extended order along the front; but the enemy,
having merely thrown a few round shot with great precision among
the skirmishers, broke once again into marching order, and were
quickly hid by the rising ground.  As soon as they had
disappeared, the advance halted; and having remained for about an
hour on a little hill to watch their motions, turned to the left,
and followed the rest of the army, which they found
advantageously posted at a place called Woodyard.


I HAD almost forgotten to state that, from the first moment of
our landing, the want of cavalry, so useful in obtaining
information and reconnoitring the open country, was very sensibly
felt.  To remedy this evil, as far as it could by such means be
remedied, orders had been issued to catch and bring in all the
horses that were found in the fields or stables of any houses
along the road; and these orders being punctually obeyed, there
were now fifty or sixty in the camp.  Upon these some of the
artillery-drivers were mounted, and the command of the troop
being given to an officer of experience, it was found of great
service during the remainder of the march.

The advanced guard having joined the main body, the whole army,
with the exception of a party which had been sent to the rear to
bring up a convoy of provisions, was now bivouacked upon a rising
ground, well defended by hedge-rows and thickets.  The night,
however, was not spent in as much quietness as usual.  It was
late before the troops got to their ground, consequently the
piquets, for want of light, could not be posted in their
customary good order, neither had there been time to examine the
country in the neighbourhood of the position.  The outposts were,
therefore, kept in a state of constant anxiety by the frequent
appearance of small parties of the enemy, who hovered about,
probably with the design of cutting off stragglers, or perhaps of
surprising, if they could, some of the piquets themselves.  But
whatever their intentions might be, the vigilance of the sentries
contrived to render them abortive; nor did anything occur during
the night productive of serious alarm; and the following day,
being joined by the convoy which came up in safety, the column
was again in motion, hastening across the country into the
highroad, which had been deserted for no other purpose than to
mislead the Americans.

Having started on the 24th at an early hour, our march was for
some time both cool and agreeable.  The road--if road it could be
called--wound for the first five miles through the heart of an
immense forest, and being, in every sense of the word, a by-path,
was completely overshadowed by projecting branches of trees, so
closely interwoven, as to prevent a single sunbeam from making
its way, even at noon, within the arch.  We continued to move on,
therefore, long after the sun had risen, without being sensible
that there was not a cloud in the sky to screen us from his
influence; whilst a heavy moisture continually emitted from the
grass and weeds on both sides of us, produced a coolness which,
had it been less confined, would have proved extremely
pleasant.  So far, then, we proceeded without experiencing any
other inconvenience than what was produced by the damp and fetid
atmosphere which we breathed; but no sooner had we begun to
emerge from the woods and to enter the open country, than an
overpowering change was perceived.  The sun, from which we had
been hitherto defended, now beat upon us in full force; and the
dust rising in thick masses from under our feet, without a breath
of air to disperse it, flew directly into our faces, occasioning
the greatest inconvenience both to the eyes and respiration.  I
have stated this at length, because I do not recollect a period
of my military life during which I suffered more severely from
heat and fatigue; and as a journey of a few miles, under such
circumstances, tells more than one of thrice the distance in a
cool day and along a firm wintry road, it is not surprising that
before many hours had elapsed numbers of men began to fall behind
from absolute inability to keep up.

Yet, in spite of all this, there was that in to-day's march which
rendered it infinitely more interesting than any we bad performed
since the landing.  We had learnt, from various quarters, that
the enemy was concentrating his forces for the purpose of
hazarding a battle in defence of his capital.  The truth of these
rumours we had no cause to doubt, confirmed as they were by what
we had ourselves witnessed only the evening before; indeed the
aspect of various fields on each side of the high road (which we
had now regained), where smoking ashes, bundles of straw, and
remnants of broken victuals were scattered about, indicated that
considerable bodies of troops had passed the night in this
neighbourhood.  The appearance of the road itself, likewise,
imprinted as it was with fresh marks of many feet and hoofs,
proved that these troops could be no great way before us; whilst
our very proximity to Washington, being now distant from it not
more than ten or twelve miles, all tended to assure us that we
should at least see an American army before dark.

It was now that we experienced the great usefulness of our badly
mounted troopers, or as they were called by the private soldiers,
our Cossacks.  The country, from being extremely close, had
become open on every side to a considerable extent, although
thick groves, instead of hedges, frequently separated one field
from another.  This was exactly the ground on which cavalry could
act with advantage; because they might lie in ambush behind these
groves, totally unperceived, and when an opportunity offered,
charge the column, before it had time to prepare for their
reception.  There were one or two places, indeed, where such
events were confidently anticipated; whole rows of paling having
been pulled up from the side of the road, and open spaces left,
through which several squadrons of horse might gallop; and the
consequence was that every man held his breath in expectation,
and prepared himself to form square in a moment.  It was here
that the mounted drivers became peculiarly useful.  They were
divided into small parties of six or eight, and sent out in
different directions to reconnoitre, two of them generally taking
post at every suspicious corner, that one might give notice to
the column, whilst the other watched the motions of an enemy.

It so happened that these precautions were unnecessary, for
whatever might be the strength of the Americans in cavalry, their
General did not think fit to employ it in harassing our
march.  But the very knowledge that every danger was provided
against, and that they could not be attacked without having time
to make ready, gave to the soldiers a degree of steady confidence
which they would otherwise have wanted; and the want of which,
had the case been different, might have been productive of
disorder at a moment when good order was of vital importance.


We had now proceeded about nine miles, during the last four of
which the sun's rays had beat continually upon us, and we had
inhaled almost as great a quantity of dust as of air.  Numbers of
men had already fallen to the rear, and many more could with
difficulty keep up; consequently, if we pushed on much farther
without resting, the chances were that at least one half of the
army would be left behind.  To prevent this from happening, and
to give time for the stragglers to overtake the column, a halt
was determined upon, and being led forward to a spot of ground
well wooded, and watered by a stream which crossed the road, the
troops were ordered to refresh themselves.  Perhaps no halt ever
arrived more seasonably than this, or bid fair to be productive
of more beneficial effects; yet so oppressive was the heat, that
we had not resumed our march above an hour, when the banks by the
way side were again covered with stragglers; some of the finest
and stoutest men in the army being literally unable to go on.

The hour of noon was approaching, when a heavy cloud of dust,
apparently not more than two or three miles distant, attracted
our attention.  From whence it originated there was little
difficulty in guessing, nor did many minutes expire before
surmise was changed into certainty: for on turning a sudden angle
in the road, and passing a small plantation, which obstructed the
vision towards the left, the British and American armies became
visible to one another.  The position occupied by the latter was
one of great strength and commanding attitude.  They were drawn
up in three lines upon the brow of a hill, having their front and
left flank covered by a branch of the Potomac, and their right
resting upon a thick wood and a deep ravine.  This river, which
may be about the breadth of the Isis at Oxford, flowed between
the heights occupied by the American forces and the little town
of Bladensburg.  Across it was thrown a narrow bridge, extending
from the chief street in that town to the continuation of the
road, which passed through the very centre of their position; and
its right bank (the bank above which they were drawn up) was
covered with a narrow stripe of willows and larch trees, whilst
the left was altogether bare, low, and exposed.  Such was the
general aspect of their position as at the first glance it
presented itself; of which I must endeavour to give a more
detailed account, that my description of the battle may be in
some degree intelligible.

I have said that the right bank of the Potomac was covered with a
narrow stripe of willow and larch trees.  Here the Americans had
stationed strong bodies of riflemen, who, in skirmishing order,
covered the whole front of their army.  Behind this plantation,
again, the fields were open and clear, intersected, at certain
distances, by rows of high and strong palings.  About the middle
of the ascent, and in the rear of one of these rows, stood the
first line, composed entirely of infantry; at a proper interval
from this, and in a similar situation, stood the second line;
while the third, or reserve, was posted within the skirts of a
wood, which crowned the heights.  The artillery, again, of which
they had twenty pieces in the field, was thus arranged on the
high road, and commanding the bridge, stood two heavy guns; and
four more, two on each side of the road, swept partly in the same
direction, and partly down the whole of the slope into the
streets of Bladensburg.  The rest were scattered, with no great
judgment, along the second line of infantry, occupying different
spaces between the right of one regiment and the left of another;
whilst the cavalry showed itself in one mass, within a stubble
field, near the extreme left of the position.  Such was the
nature of the ground which they occupied, and the formidable
posture in which they waited our approach; amounting, by their
own account, to nine thousand men, a number exactly doubling that
of the force which was to attack them.

In the mean time, our column continued to advance in the same
order which it had hitherto preserved.  The road, having
conducted us for about two miles in a direction parallel with the
river, and of consequence with the enemy's line, suddenly turned,
and led directly towards the town of Bladensburg.  Being of
course ignorant whether this town might not be filled with
American troops, the main body paused here till the advanced
guard should reconnoitre.  The result proved that no opposition
was intended in that quarter, and that the whole of the enemy's
army had been withdrawn to the opposite side of the stream,
whereupon the column was again put in motion, and in a short time
arrived in the streets of Bladensburg, and within range of the
American artillery.  Immediately on our reaching this point,
several of their guns opened upon us, and kept up a quick and
well-directed cannonade, from which, as we were again commanded
to halt, the men were directed to shelter themselves as much as
possible behind the houses.  The object of this halt, it was
conjectured, was to give the General an opportunity of examining
the American line, and of trying the depth of the river; because
at present there appeared to be but one practicable mode of
attack, by crossing the bridge, and taking the enemy directly in
front.  To do so, however, exposed as the bridge was, must be
attended with bloody consequences, nor could the delay of a few
minutes produce any mischief which the discovery of a ford would
not amply compensate.

But in this conjecture we were altogether mistaken; for without
allowing time to the column to close its ranks, or to be joined
by such of the many stragglers as were now hurrying, as fast as
weariness would permit, to regain their places, the order to halt
was countermanded, and the word given to attack; and we
immediately pushed on at double quick time, towards the head of
the bridge.  While we were moving along the street, a continued
fire was kept up, with some execution, from those guns which
stood to the left of the road; but it was not till the bridge was
covered with our people that the two-gun battery upon the road
itself began to play.--Then, indeed, it also opened, and with
tremendous effect; for at the first discharge almost an entire
company was swept down; but whether it was that the guns had been
previously laid with measured exactness, or that the nerves of
the gunners became afterwards unsteady, the succeeding discharges
were much less fatal.  The riflemen likewise began to gall us
from the wooded bank with a running fire of musketry; and it was
not without trampling upon many of their dead and dying comrades
that the light brigade established itself on the opposite side of
the stream.

When once there, however, everything else appeared easy.
Wheeling off to the right and left of the road, they dashed into
the thicket, and quickly cleared it of the American skirmishers;
who, falling back with precipitation upon the first line, threw
it into disorder before it had fired a shot.  The consequence
was, that our troops had scarcely shown themselves when the whole
of that line gave way, and fled in the greatest confusion,
leaving the two guns upon the road in possession of the victors.

But here it must be confessed that the light brigade was guilty
of imprudence.  Instead of pausing till the rest of the army came
up, the soldiers lightened themselves by throwing away their
knapsacks and haversacks; and extending their ranks so as to show
an equal front with the enemy, pushed on to the attack of the
second line.  The Americans, however, saw their weakness, and
stood firm, and having the whole of their artillery, with the
exception of the pieces captured on the road, and the greater
part of their infantry in this line, they first checked the
ardour of the assailants by a heavy fire, and then, in their
turn, advanced to recover the ground which was lost.  Against this
charge the extended order of the British troops would not permit
them to offer an effectual resistance, and they were accordingly
borne back to the very thicket upon the river's brink; where they
maintained themselves with determined obstinacy, repelling all
attempts to drive them through it; and frequently following, to
within a short distance of the cannon's mouth, such parts of the
enemy's line as gave way.

In this state the action continued till the second brigade had
likewise crossed, and formed upon the right bank of the river;
when the 44th regiment moving to the right, and driving in the
skirmishers, debouched upon the left flank of the Americans, and
completely turned it.  In that quarter, therefore, the battle was
won; because the raw militia-men, who were stationed there as
being the least assailable point, when once broken could not be
rallied.  But on their right the enemy still kept their ground
with much resolution; nor was it till the arrival of the 4th
regiment, and the advance of the British forces in firm array to
the charge, that they began to waver.  Then, indeed, seeing their
left in full flight, and the 44th getting in their rear, they
lost all order, and dispersed, leaving clouds of riflemen to
cover their retreat; and hastened to conceal themselves in the
woods, where it would have been madness to follow them.  The rout
was now general throughout the line.  The reserve, which ought to
have supported the main body, fled as soon as those in its front
began to give way; and the cavalry, instead of charging the
British troops, now scattered in pursuit, turned their horses'
heads and galloped off, leaving them in undisputed possession of
the field, and of ten out of the twenty pieces of artillery.

This battle, by which the fate of the American capital was
decided, began about one o'clock in the afternoon, and lasted
till four.  The loss on the part of the English was severe,
since, out of two-thirds of the army, which were engaged, upwards
of five hundred men were killed and wounded; and what rendered it
doubly severe was, that among these were numbered several
officers of rank and distinction.  Colonel Thornton, who
commanded the light brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Wood, commanding
the 85th regiment, and Major Brown, who led the advanced guard,
were all severely wounded; and General Ross himself had a horse
shot under him.  On the side of the Americans the slaughter was
not so great.  Being in possession of a strong position, they
were of course less exposed in defending, than the others in
storming it; and had they conducted themselves with coolness and
resolution, it is not conceivable how the battle could have been
won.  But the fact is, that, with the exception of a party of
sailors from the gun-boats, under the command of Commodore
Barney, no troops could behave worse than they did.  The
skirmishers were driven in as soon as attacked, the first line
gave way without offering the slightest resistance, and the left
of the main body was broken within half an hour after it was
seriously engaged.  Of the sailors, however, it would be
injustice not to speak in the terms which their conduct merits.
They were employed as gunners, and not only did they serve their
guns with a quickness and precision which astonished their
assailants, but they stood till some of them were actually
bayoneted, with fuzes in their hands; nor was it till their
leader was wounded and taken, and they saw themselves deserted on
all sides by the soldiers, that they quitted the field.  With
respect to the British army, again, no line of distinction can be
drawn.  All did their duty, and none more gallantly than the
rest; and though the brunt of the affair fell upon the light
brigade, this was owing chiefly to the circumstance of its being
at the head of the column, and perhaps also, in some degree, to
its own rash impetuosity.  The artillery, indeed, could do
little; being unable to show itself in presence of a force so
superior; but the six-pounder was nevertheless brought into
action, and a corps of rockets proved of striking utility.

Our troops being worn down from fatigue, and of course as
ignorant of the country as the Americans were the reverse, the
pursuit could not be continued to any distance.  Neither was it
attended with much slaughter.  Diving into the recesses of the
forests, and covering themselves with riflemen, the enemy were
quickly beyond our reach; and having no cavalry to scour even the
high road, ten of the lightest of their guns were carried off in
the flight.  The defeat, however, was absolute, and the army which
had been collected for the defence of Washington was scattered
beyond the possibility of, at least, an immediate reunion; and as
the distance from Bladensburg to that city does not exceed four
miles, there appeared to be no further obstacle in the way to
prevent its immediate capture.



AN opportunity so favourable was not endangered by any needless
delay.  While the two brigades which had been engaged remained
upon the field to recover their order, the third, which had
formed the reserve, and was consequently unbroken, took the lead,
and pushed forward at a rapid rate towards Washington.

As it was not the intention of the British Government to attempt
permanent conquests in this part of America, and as the General
was well aware that, with a handful of men, he could not pretend
to establish himself, for any length of time, in an enemy's
capital, he determined to lay it under contribution, and to
return quietly to the shipping.  Nor was there anything unworthy
of the character of a British officer in this determination.  By
all the customs of war, whatever public property may chance to be
in a captured town, becomes, confessedly, the just spoil of the
conqueror; and in thus proposing to accept a certain sum of money
in lieu of that property, he was showing mercy rather than
severity to the vanquished.  It is true that if they chose to
reject his terms he and his army would be deprived of their
booty, because without some more convenient mode of transporting
it than we possessed, even the portable part of the property
itself could not be removed.  But, on the other hand, there was
no difficulty in destroying it; and thus, though we should gain
nothing, the American Government would lose probably to a much
greater amount than if they had agreed to purchase its
preservation by the money demanded.

Such being the intention of General Ross, he did not march the
troops immediately into the city, but halted them upon a plain
in its immediate vicinity, whilst a flag of truce was sent
forward with terms.  But whatever his proposal might have been,
it was not so much as heard; for scarcely had the party bearing
the flag entered the street, when it was fired upon from the
windows of one of the houses, and the horse of the General
himself, who accompanied it, killed.  The indignation excited by
this act throughout all ranks and classes of men in the army, was
such as the nature of the case could not fail to occasion.  Every
thought of accommodation was instantly laid aside; the troops
advanced forthwith into the town, and having first put to the
sword all who were found in the house from which the shots were
fired, and reduced it to ashes, they proceeded without a moment's
delay to burn and destroy everything in the most distant degree
connected with Government.  In this general devastation were
included the Senate-house, the President's palace, an extensive
dock-yard and arsenal, barracks for two or three thousand men,
several large storehouses filled with naval and military stores,
some hundreds of cannon of different descriptions, and nearly
twenty thousand stand of small-arms.  There were also two or
three public ropewalks which shared the same fate, a fine frigate
pierced for sixty guns, and just ready to be launched, several
gun brigs and armed schooners, with a variety of gun-boats and
small craft.  The powder-magazines were set on fire, and exploded
with a tremendous crash, throwing down many houses in their
vicinity, partly by pieces of the walls striking them, and partly
by the concussion of the air; whilst quantities of shot, shell,
and hand-grenades, which could not otherwise be rendered useless,
were cast into the river.  In destroying the cannon a method was
adopted which I had never before witnessed, and which, as it was
both effectual and expeditious, I cannot avoid relating.  One gun
of rather a small calibre was pitched upon as the executioner of
the rest, and being loaded with ball and turned to the muzzles of
the others, it was fired, and thus beat out their breechings.
Many, however, not being mounted, could not be thus dealt with;
these were spiked, and having their trunnions knocked off, were
afterwards cast into the bed of the river.

All this was as it should be, and had the arm of vengeance been
extended no further, there would not have been room given for so
much as a whisper of disapprobation.  But unfortunately it did not
stop here; a noble library, several printing-offices, and all
the national archives were likewise committed to the flames,
which, though no doubt the property of Government, might better
have been spared.  It is not, however, my intention to join the
outcry which was raised at the time against what the Americans
and their admirers were pleased to term a line of conduct at once
barbarous and unprofitable.  On the contrary, I conceive that too
much praise cannot be given to the forbearance and humanity of
the British troops, who, irritated as they had every right to be,
spared, as far as possible, all private property, neither
plundering nor destroying a single house in the place, except
that from which the General's horse had been killed.

Whilst the third brigade was thus employed, the rest of the army,
having recalled its stragglers, and removed the wounded into
Bladensburg, began its march towards Washington.  Though the
battle came to a close by four o'clock, the sun had set before
the different regiments were in a condition to move, consequently
this short journey was performed in the dark.  The work of
destruction had also begun in the city before they quitted their
ground; and the blazing of houses, ships, and stores, the report
of exploding magazines, and the crash of falling roofs, informed
them, as they proceeded, of what was going forward.  It would be
difficult to conceive a finer spectacle than that which presented
itself as they approached the town.  The sky was brilliantly
illumined by the different conflagrations; and a dark red light
was thrown upon the road, sufficient to permit each man to view
distinctly his comrade's face.  Except the burning of
St. Sebastian's, I do not recollect to have witnessed at any
period of my life a scene more striking or more sublime.

Having advanced as far as the plain, where the reserve had
previously paused, the first and second brigades halted; and
forming into close column, passed the night in bivouac.  At first
this was agreeable enough, because the air was mild, and
weariness made up for what was wanting in comfort.  But towards
morning a violent storm of rain, accompanied with thunder and
lightning, came on, which disturbed the rest of all who were
exposed to it.  Yet in spite of the inconvenience arising from
the shower, I cannot say that I felt disposed to grumble at the
interruption, for it appeared that what I had before considered
as superlatively sublime, still wanted this to render it
complete.  The flashes of lightning vied in brilliancy with the
flames which burst from the roofs of burning houses, whilst the
thunder drowned for a time the noise of crumbling walls, and was
only interrupted by the occasional roar of cannon, and of large
depots of gunpowder, as they one by one exploded.

I need scarcely observe, that the consternation of the
inhabitants was complete, and that to them this was a night of
terror.  So confident had they been of the success of their
troops, that few of them had dreamt of quitting their houses or
abandoning the city; nor was it till the fugitives from the
battle began to rush in, filling every place as they came with
dismay, that the President himself thought of providing for his
safety.  That gentleman, as I was credibly informed, had gone
forth in the morning with the army, and had continued among his
troops till the British forces began to make their appearance.
Whether the sight of his enemies cooled his courage or not I
cannot say, but according to my informant, no sooner was the
glittering of our arms discernible, than he began to discover
that his presence was more wanted in the senate than in the
field; and having ridden through the ranks, and exhorted every
man to do his duty, he hurried back to his own house, that he
might prepare a feast for the entertainment of his officers, when
they should return victorious.  For the truth of these details I
will not be answerable; but this much I know, that the feast was
actually prepared, though, instead of being devoured by American
officers, it went to satisfy the less delicate appetites of a
party of English soldiers.  When the detachment sent out to
destroy Mr. Maddison's house, entered his dining parlour, they
found a dinner-table spread, and covers laid for forty guests.
Several kinds of wine in handsome cut-glass decanters were
cooling on the sideboard; plate-holders stood by the fire-place,
filled with dishes and plates; knives, forks, and spoons, were
arranged for immediate use; everything in short was ready for the
entertainment of a ceremonious party.  Such were the arrangements
in the dining-room, whilst in the kitchen were others answerable
to them in every respect.  Spits loaded with joints of various
sorts turned before the fire; pots, saucepans, and other culinary
utensils stood upon the grate; and all the other requisites for
an elegant and substantial repast were in the exact state which
indicated that they had been lately and precipitately abandoned.

The reader will easily believe that these preparations were
beheld, by a party of hungry soldiers, with no indifferent
eye.  An elegant dinner, even though considerably over-dressed,
was a luxury to which few of them, at least for some time back,
had been accustomed; and which, after the dangers and fatigues
of the day, appeared peculiarly inviting.  They sat down to it,
therefore, not indeed in the most orderly manner, but with
countenances which would not have disgraced a party of aldermen
at a civic feast; and having satisfied their appetites with fewer
complaints than would have probably escaped their rival
gourmands, and partaken pretty freely of the wines, they finished
by setting fire to the house which had so liberally entertained

I have said that to the inhabitants of Washington this was a
night of terror and dismay.  From whatever cause the confidence
arose, certain it is that they expected anything rather than the
arrival among them of a British army; and their consternation was
proportionate to their previous feeling of security, when an
event, so little anticipated, actually came to pass.  The first
impulse naturally prompted them to fly, and the streets were
speedily crowded with soldiers and senators, men, women, and
children, horses, carriages, and carts loaded with household
furniture, all hastening towards a wooden bridge which crosses
the Potomac.  The confusion thus occasioned was terrible, and the
crowd upon the bridge was such as to endanger its giving way.
But Mr. Maddison, as is affirmed, having escaped among the first,
was no sooner safe on the opposite bank of the river, than he
gave orders that the bridge should be broken down; which being
obeyed, the rest were obliged to return, and to trust to the
clemency of the victors.

In this manner was the night passed by both parties; and at
daybreak next morning the light brigade moved into the city,
whilst the reserve fell back to a height about half a mile in the
rear.  Little, however, now remained to be done, because
everything marked out for destruction was already consumed.  Of
the Senate-house, the President's palace, the barracks, the
dockyard, &c., nothing could be seen, except heaps of smoking
ruins; and even the bridge, a noble structure upwards of a mile
in length, was almost entirely demolished.  There was, therefore,
no further occasion to scatter the troops, and they were
accordingly kept together as much as possible on the Capitol

Of the city of Washington I have purposely declined attempting
any minute description, because it possesses no leading features,
by catching which I might hope to convey to a person who has not
seen it, something like an accurate notion of the whole.  It was
then, and is, I believe, still in its infancy, few of the streets
being finished, and many containing not more than three or four
houses, at wide intervals from each other.  But its situation
gives to it advantages such as few capitals either in the new or
old world can boast of, and if it continue to be the head of the
American States for another century, it will become, I doubt not,
one of the most flourishing cities in existence.  America is, and
always will be, a commercial nation, nor can a single town
throughout the whole of that vast continent boast of a better
harbour than Washington.  Standing upon the Potomac, one of the
most navigable of all the rivers that empty themselves into the
Chesapeake, the depth of which is sufficient to float a frigate
for some way above the town, it possesses unrivalled facilities
for the carrying on of an extensive trade; whilst its distance
from the coast is such as to place it, in a great measure, beyond
reach of insult from an enemy.  Such an assertion, coming from
one who has just detailed the particulars of its capture, may,
indeed, appear to partake not slightly of the nature of a
paradox; but there is no denying that the fall of Washington
ought to be attributed much more to the misconduct of the
Americans themselves, than to the skill or enterprise of those
who effected it.  Had the emergency been contemplated, and in a
proper manner provided against, or had the most moderate
ingenuity and courage been displayed in retarding the progress of
our troops, the design, if formed at all, would have been either
abandoned immediately, or must have ended in the total
destruction of the invaders.

Like other infant towns, Washington is but little ornamented with
fine buildings; except the Senate-house, I really know of none
worthy to be noticed.  This however is, or rather was, an edifice
of some beauty.  It stood, where its ruins now stand, upon a mound
called the Capitol Hill, and near a trifling stream named the
Tiber; from which circumstances these modern republicans are led
to flatter themselves that the days are coming when it will rival
in power and grandeur the Senate-house of ancient Rome
herself.  It was built entirely of freestone, tastefully worked
and highly polished; and, besides its numerous windows, was
lighted from the top by a large and handsome cupola.  Perhaps it
could not be said to belong to any decided style of architecture;
but its central appearance was light, airy, and elegant.  After
traversing a wide and spacious entrance-hall, you arrived at the
foot of a handsome spiral hanging staircase; on the right of
which were two spacious apartments, one above the other, which
were occupied as sitting chambers by the two houses of
representatives.  From these branched off several smaller rooms,
fitted up as offices, and probably used as such by the various
officers of state.  On the right of the staircase, again, were two
other apartments equal in size to those on the left, with a like
number of smaller rooms branching off from them.  These were
furnished as a public library, the two larger being well stocked
with valuable books, principally in modern languages, whilst the
others, filled with archives, national statutes, acts of
legislature, &c., were used as the private rooms of the

The President's house, on the other hand, though likewise a
public building, was remarkable for nothing except the absence of
taste exhibited in its structure.  It was small, incommodious,
and plain; in no respect likely to excite the jealousy of a
people peculiarly averse to all pomp or parade, even in their
chief magistrate.  Besides these, there were also a custom-house,
several banking-houses, and a school or college, all claiming to
themselves the destruction of public works; but in them there was
a plainness amounting almost to coarseness, and a general air of
republicanism, by no means imposing.  With respect to the number
of inhabitants which Washington contained, I confess that I
cannot pretend to give an opinion: but if any judgment may be
formed from the extent of ground covered by what is considered as
the town, I should say that they amounted to somewhere about
sixty thousand.  George Town, the quarter where the President's
house stood, is compact and regular, containing, I should
conceive, at least twenty thousand souls within itself; nor can
the population of the other quarters be estimated at less than
double that number.

Such was then the city of Washington, of which our hasty and
unfriendly visit did not allow us to take a very minute survey.
I return now to the movements of the British army.

I have stated above that our troops were this day kept as much
together as possible upon the Capitol Hill.  But it was not alone
on account of the completion of their destructive labours that
this was done.  A powerful army of Americans already began to show
themselves upon some heights, at the distance of two or three
miles from the city; and as they sent out detachments of horse
even to the very suburbs, for the purpose of watching our
motions, it would have been unsafe to permit more straggling than
was absolutely necessary.  The army which we had overthrown the
day before, though defeated, was far from annihilated; it had by
this time recovered its panic, began to concentrate itself in our
front, and presented quite as formidable an appearance as
ever.  We learnt, also, that it was joined by a considerable force
from the back settlements, which had arrived too late to take
part in the action, and the report was, that both combined
amounted to nearly twelve thousand men.

Whether or not it was their intention to attack, I cannot pretend
to say, because it was noon before they showed themselves; and
soon after, when something like a movement could be discerned in
their ranks, the sky grew suddenly dark, and the most tremendous
hurricane ever remembered by the oldest inhabitant in the place
came on.  Of the prodigious force of the wind it is impossible
for one who was not an eye-witness to its effects to form a
conception.  Roofs of houses were torn off by it, and whirled
into the air like sheets of paper; whilst the rain which
accompanied it resembled the rushing of a mighty cataract rather
than the dropping of a shower.  The darkness was as great as if
the sun had long set, and the last remains of twilight had come
on, occasionally relieved by flashes of vivid lightning streaming
through it; which, together with the noise of the wind and the
thunder, the crash of falling buildings, and the tearing of roofs
as they were stript from the walls, produced the most appalling
effect I ever have, and probably ever shall, witness.  The storm
lasted for nearly two hours without intermission, during which
time many of the houses spared by us were blown down, and thirty
of our men, besides several of the inhabitants, buried beneath
their ruins.  Our column was as completely dispersed as if it had
received a total defeat; some of the men flying for shelter
behind walls and buildings, and others falling flat upon the
ground, to prevent themselves from being carried away by the
tempest; nay, such was the violence of the wind, that two pieces
of light cannon, which stood upon the eminence, were fairly
lifted from the ground, and borne several yards to the rear.


WHEN the hurricane had blown over, the camp of the Americans
appeared to be in as great a state of confusion as our own; nor
could either party recover themselves sufficiently during the
rest of the day to try the fortune of a battle.  Of this General
Ross did not fail to take advantage.  He had already attained all
that he could hope, and perhaps more than he originally expected
to attain; consequently, to risk another action would only be to
spill blood for no purpose.  Whatever might be the issue of the
contest, he could derive from it no advantage.  If he were
victorious, it would not do away with the necessity which existed
of evacuating Washington; if defeated, his ruin was certain.  To
avoid fighting was therefore his object, and perhaps he owed its
accomplishment to the fortunate occurrence of the storm.  Be
that, however, as it may, a retreat was resolved upon; and we now
only waited for night, to put the resolution into practice.

There was, however, one difficulty to be surmounted in this
proceeding.  Of the wounded, many were so ill as to preclude all
possibility of their removal, and to leave them in the hands of
an enemy whom we had beaten was rather a mortifying
anticipation.  But for this there was no help; and it now only
remained to make the best arrangements for their comfort, and to
secure for them, as far as could be done, civil treatment from
the Americans.

It chanced that, among other prisoners taken at Bladensburg, was
Commodore Barney, an American officer of much gallantry and high
sense of honour.  Being himself wounded, he was the more likely
to feel for those who were in a similar condition, and having
received the kindest treatment from our medical attendants, as
long as he continued under their hands, he became, without
solicitation, the friend of his fellow-sufferers.  To him, as
well as to the other prisoners, was given his parole, and to his
care were our wounded, in a peculiar manner, intrusted,--a trust
which he received with the utmost willingness, and discharged
with the most praiseworthy exactness.  Among other stipulations,
it was agreed that such of our people as were left behind should
be considered as prisoners of war, and should be restored to us
as soon as they were able to travel; and that, as soon as they
reached the ships, the Commodore and his countrymen would, in
exchange, be released from their engagements.

As soon as these arrangements were completed, and darkness had
come on, the third brigade, which was posted in the rear of our
army, began to withdraw.  Then followed the guns, afterwards the
second, and last of all the light brigade, exactly reversing the
order which had been maintained during the advance.  Instead of an
advanced guard, this last now furnished a party to cover the
retreat, and the whole procession was closed by the mounted

It being a matter of great importance to deceive the enemy and to
prevent pursuit, the rear of the column did not quit its ground
upon the Capitol till a late hour.  During the day an order had
been issued that none of the inhabitants should be seen in the
streets after eight o'clock; and as fear renders most men
obedient, the order was punctually attended to.  All the horses
belonging to different officers were removed to drag the guns, no
one being allowed to ride, lest a neigh, or even the trampling of
hoofs, should excite suspicion.  The fires were trimmed, and made
to blaze brightly; fuel enough was left to keep them so for some
hours; and finally, about half-past nine o'clock the troops
formed in marching order, and moved off in the most profound
silence.  Not a word was spoken, nor a single individual
permitted to step one inch out of his place, by which means they
passed along the streets perfectly unnoticed, and cleared the
town without any alarm being given.  Our pace, it will be
imagined, was none of the most tardy, consequently it was not
long before we reached the ground which had been occupied by the
other brigades.  Here we found a second line of fires blazing in
the same manner as those deserted by ourselves; and the same
precautions in every respect adopted, to induce a belief that our
army was still quiet.--Beyond these, again, we found two or three
solitary fires, placed in such order as to resemble those of a
chain of piquets.  In a word, the deception was so well managed,
that even we ourselves were at first doubtful whether the rest of
the troops had fallen back.

When we reached the ground where yesterday's battle had been
fought, the moon rose, and exhibited a spectacle by no means
enlivening.--The dead were still unburied, and lay about in every
direction completely naked.  They had been stripped even of their
shirts, and having been exposed in this state to the violent rain
in the morning, they appeared to be bleached to a most unnatural
degree of whiteness.  The heat and rain together had likewise
affected them in a different manner; and the smell which rose
upon the night air was horrible.

There is something in such a scene as this extremely humbling,
and repugnant to the feelings of human nature.  During the
agitation of a battle, it is nothing to see men fall in hundreds
by your side.  You may look at them, perhaps, for an instant, but
you do so almost without being yourself aware of it, so
completely are your thoughts carried away by the excitation of
the moment and the shouts of your companions.--But when you come
to view the dead in an hour of calmness, stripped as they
generally are, you cannot help remembering how frail may have
been the covering which saved yourself from being the loathsome
thing on which you are now gazing.--For myself, I confess that
these reflections rose within my mind on the present occasion;
and if any one should say that, similarly situated, they would not
rise in his, I should give him no credit for a superior degree of
courage, though I might be inclined to despise him for his want
of the common feelings of a reasonable being.


In Bladensburg the brigade halted for an hour, while those men
who had thrown away their knapsacks endeavoured to recover them.
During this interval I strolled up to a house which had been
converted into an hospital, and paid a hasty visit to the
wounded.  I found them in great pain, and some of them deeply
affected at the thought of being abandoned by their comrades, and
left to the mercy of their enemies.  Yet, in their apprehension
of evil treatment from the Americans, the event proved that they
had done injustice to that people; who were found to possess at
least one generous trait in their character, namely, that of
behaving kindly and attentively to their prisoners.

As soon as the stragglers had returned to their ranks, we again
moved on, continuing to march without once stopping to rest
during the whole of the night.  Of the fatigue of a night march
none but those who have experienced it can form the smallest
conception.  Oppressed with the most intolerable drowsiness, we
were absolutely dozing upon our legs; and if any check at the
head of the column caused a momentary delay, the road was
instantly covered with men fast asleep.  It is generally
acknowledged that no inclination is so difficult to resist as the
inclination to sleep; but when you are compelled not only to bear
up against that, but to struggle also with weariness, and to walk
at the same time, it is scarcely possible to hold out long.  By
seven o'clock in the morning, it was found absolutely necessary
to pause, because numbers had already fallen behind, and numbers
more were ready to follow their example; when throwing ourselves
upon the ground, almost in the same order in which we had
marched, in less than five minutes there was not a single
unclosed eye throughout the whole brigade.  Piquets were of
course stationed, and sentinels placed, to whom no rest was
granted, but, except these, the entire army resembled a heap of
dead bodies on a field of battle, rather than living men.


In this situation we remained till noon, when we were again
roused to continue the retreat.  Though the sun was oppressively
powerful, we moved on without resting till dark, when having
arrived at our old position near Marlborough, we halted for the
night.  During this day's march we were joined by numbers of
negro slaves, who implored us to take them along with us,
offering to serve either as soldiers or sailors, if we would but
give them their liberty; but as General Ross persisted in
protecting private property of every description, few of them
were fortunate enough to obtain their wishes.

We had now proceeded a distance of thirty-five miles, and began
to consider ourselves beyond the danger of pursuit.  The
remainder of the retreat was accordingly conducted with more
leisure; our next march carrying us no farther than to
Nottingham, where we remained during an entire day, for the
purpose of resting the troops.  It cannot, however, be said that
this resting-time was spent in idleness.  A gun-brig, with a
number of ships' launches and long-boats, had made their way up
the stream, and were at anchor opposite to the town.  On board
the former were carried such of the wounded as had been able to
travel, whilst the latter were loaded with flour and tobacco, the
only spoil which we found it practicable to bring off.

Whilst the infantry were thus employed, the cavalry was sent back
as far as Marlborough, to discover whether there were any
American forces in pursuit; and it was well for the few
stragglers who had been left behind that this recognizance was
made.  Though there appeared to be no disposition on the part of
the American General to follow our steps and to harass the
retreat, the inhabitants of that village, at the instigation of a
medical practitioner called Bain, bad risen in arms as soon as we
departed; and falling upon such individuals as strayed from the
column, put some of them to death, and made others prisoners.  A
soldier whom they had taken, and who had escaped, gave
information of these proceedings to the troopers, just as they
were about to return to head-quarters; upon which they
immediately wheeled about, and galloping into the village, pulled
the doctor out of his bed (for it was early in the morning),
compelled him, by a threat of instant death, to liberate his
prisoners; and mounting him before one of the party, brought him
in triumph to the camp.


The wounded, the artillery, and plunder, being all embarked on
the 28th, at daybreak on the 29th we took the direction of
St. Benedict's, where we arrived, without any adventure, at
a late hour in the evening.  Here we again occupied the ground of
which we had taken possession on first landing, passing the night
in perfect quiet; and next day, the boats of the fleet being
ready to receive us, the regiments, one by one, marched down to
the beach.  We found the shore covered with sailors from the
different ships of war, who welcomed our arrival with loud
cheers; and having contrived to bring up a larger flotilla than
had been employed in the disembarkation, they removed us within a
few hours, and without the occurrence of any accident, to our
respective vessels.

Such is a plain impartial account of the inroad upon Washington,
an affair than which the whole war produced none more brilliant
or more daring.  In whatever light we may regard it, whether we
look to the amount of difficulties which it behoved him to
overcome, the inadequacy of the force which he commanded, or the
distance which he was called upon to march, in the midst of a
hostile population, and through deep and trackless forests, we
cannot deny to General Ross the praise which is his due, of
having planned and successfully accomplished an expedition which
none but a sagacious mind could have devised, and none but a
gallant spirit carried into execution.  Among the many important
transactions which then occupied the public attention, the
campaign at Washington was, I believe, but little spoken of; and
even now, it is overwhelmed in the recollections of the
all-engrossing Waterloo; but the time will probably come, when he
who at the head of four thousand men penetrated upwards of sixty
miles into an enemy's country; overthrew an army more than double
his own in point of numbers; took possession of the capital of a
great nation, and having held it as long as it suited his own
purposes to hold it, returned again in triumph to his fleet, will
be ranked, as he deserves to be ranked, among the number of those
who have most successfully contributed to elevate Great Britain
to the height of military glory on which she now stands.

It has been said that the entire merit of this brilliant
expedition is due, not so much to the brave man who conducted it,
as to Sir George Cockburn, at whose suggestion it was undertaken.
To the great gallantry and high talents of Sir George Cockburn no
one who served within the compass of the Bay of Chesapeake will
refuse to bear testimony, nor is it improbable that in
attributing to him the original, design of laying Washington
itself under contribution, common report speaks truly.  But with
whomsoever the idea first originated, to General Boss belongs the
undivided of having, carried it into effect.  From Sir George
Oockburn, and indeed from the whole fleet, the army received
every assistance which it was in the power of the the fleet to
bestow; but had no Ross been at the head of the land forces, the
capital of the United States would have suffered no insult.  I
have ventured to make these remarks, not with any design of
taking away, in the slightest degree, from the well-earned
reputation of the living; but merely as an act of justice towards
the memory of the gallant dead, whose services have hardly
received all the notice, either from the Government or the
country, which they deserved.

Of the degree of military sagacity exhibited on both sides,
during the progress of hostilities, it scarcely becomes me to
speak.  Perhaps our leader delayed something too long in making,
up his mind as to the ultimate end to be pursued, after the troop
had penetrated so far into the interior as Marlborough.  Had he
pushed on at once, it is barely possible that Washington might
have fallen at a less expense of human life than actually
occurred.  Perhaps, too, he commenced she attack at Bladensburg
with a degree of precipitancy which hindered him from, taking
advantage of an open ford, and compelled him to expose his troops
to the fire of the enemy's artillery whilst crossing a narrow
bridge in a single column.  But these errors, if errors they may
be termed, were amply compensated by the perfect success of his
operations; whilst in every other particular his conduct was
beyond the reach of censure.  In his choice of ground for
halting, in the order both of his advance and retreat, and in
the rapidity of his movements as soon as his plans had been
arranged, General Ross exhibited himself in the light of an able
and diligent commander.  No man could possess, more than he a
soldier's eye in examining the face of a country; and in what
little manoeuvring the circumstances permitted, he displayed the
proficiency of one well practised in the arts of campaigning.  It
will be recollected, that on the 23rd, the day previous to the
battle, we fell in with a strong body of the enemy, to deceive
whom we wheeled off from the main road, and took the direction of
Alexandria.  The plan was attended by the most perfect success;
the party deceived, being in fact the advanced guard of the main
army.  Thinking that Alexandria, and not Washington, was
threatened, the American General abandoned a strong position,
which he had seized on the main road, harassed his troops by
a needless march towards that town; and discovered his mistake
only time enough to occupy the heights of Bladensburg a very few
minutes before we came in sight.

With respect to the Americans, again, criticism necessarily
degenerates into unqualified censure.  From the beginning to the
end of the affair, they acted in no one instance like prudent or
sagacious men.  In the first place, they ought on no account to
have risked a general action in an open country, however strong
and steep; and, secondly, they deserved to suffer much more
severely than they did suffer, for permitting an enemy's army to
penetrate beyond Nottingham.  In allowing us to land without
opposition, they were perhaps guilty of no great mistake; but
having done so, instead of concentrating their forces in one
place, they ought to have harassed us with continual skirmishing;
felled trees on each side, and thrown them across the road; dug
deep ditches at certain intervals; in a word, it was their wisdom
to adopt the mode of warfare to which their own habits, as, well
as the nature of their country, invited them.

In America, every man is a marksman from his very boyhood, and
every man serves in the militia; but to bring an army of raw
militia-men, however excellent they might be as marksmen, into a
fair field against regular troops, could end in nothing but
defeat.  When two lines oppose each other, very little depends
upon the accuracy with which individuals take aim.  It is then
that the habit of acting in concert, the confidence which each
man feels in his a companions, and the rapidity and good order in
which different movements can be executed, are alone of real
service.  But put these raw militia-men into thick woods, and
send your regular troops to drive them out, and you will
immediately lose all the advantages of discipline, and reduce
your battle to so many single combats.

Here, therefore, lay their principal error: had they left all
clear, and Permitted us to advance as far as Nottingham, then
broken up the roads, and covered them with trees, it would have
been impossible for us to go a step beyond.  As soon as this was
effected, they might have skirmished with us in front, and kept
our attention alive with part of their troops, till the rest,
acquainted as they doubtless were with every inch of the country,
had got into our rear, and, by a similar mode of proceeding, cut
off our retreat.  Thus we should have been taken in a snare, from
which it would have been no easy task to extricate ourselves, and
might, perhaps, have been obliged in the end to surrender at

But so obvious and so natural a plan of defence they chose to
reject ad determining to trust all to the fate of a battle, they
were guilty of a monstrous error again.  Bladensburg ought not to
have been left unoccupied.  The most open village, if resolutely
defended, will cost many men before it falls; whereas
Bladensburg, being composed of substantial brick houses, might
have been maintained for hours against all our efforts.  In the
next place, they displayed great want of military knowledge in
the disposition of both their infantry and artillery.  There was
not, in the whole space of their position, a single point where
an enemy would be exposed to a cross fire.  The troops were drawn
up in three straight lines, like so many regiments upon a gala
parade; whilst the guns were used as connecting links to a chain,
being posted in the same order, by ones and twos, at every

In maintaining themselves, likewise, when attacked, they exhibited
neither skill nor resolution.  Of the personal courage of the Americans
there can be no doubt; they are, individually taken, as brave a nation
as any in the world.  But they are not soldiers; they have not the
experience nor the habits of soldiers.  It was the height of folly,
therefore, to bring them into a situation where nothing except that
experience and those habits will avail; and it is on this account that
I repeat what I have already said, that the capture of Washington was
more owing to the blindness of the Americans themselves than to any
other cause.



WHILST the army was thus actively employed, the fleet did not remain
idle.  A squadron of frigates, with two bomb-ships, under the command
of Captain Gordon, of the Sea-horse, penetrated up the Potomac, and
appeared before Alexandria.  The whole of the militia of the district
was at this time called away for the defence of the capital,
consequently no place could be less prepared to resist an invader
than that city.  A party accordingly landed from the ships without
opposition, and having destroyed the barracks, public works, and all
the cannon which they found on shore, they seized a number of
schooners and other small craft then lying in the harbour, and loading
them with flour and tobacco to a considerable amount, prepared to
rejoin the fleet in the bay.

But by this time the country was alarmed; a detachment was sent from
the main army, and being joined by the reserve of militia, it was
determined to intercept the squadron on its return.  With this view,
several pieces of heavy cannon were mounted upon a steep part of the
bank, where the river, in making an angle, narrows considerably in its
channel.  Thither also hastened large bodies of infantry; and before
the frigates had begun to weigh anchor nearly 5000 men were assembled
to prevent their passage.

Of these preparations Captain Gordon did not long remain ignorant; nor
was he backward in making the best arrangements possible to meet the
danger.  By shifting the ballast in each of the vessels entirely to
one side, he caused them to lean in such a manner as that their
artillery could be elevated to a surprising degree, and the shot rise
even to the summit of the hill.  The guns were then stuffed, rather
than loaded, with grape and musket-balls; and the ships, taking their
stations according to their draft of water, the lightest keeping
nearest to the enemy's shore, set sail, and, favoured by a leading
breeze, stood leisurely down the river.

As soon as they arrived within tangible distance, a brisk
cannonade was opened upon them from the heights, and the whole of
the infantry appeared in line along, the brow of the eminence.
Regardless of these formidable salutations, the ships continued
to hold their course without changing their order or returning a
shot, till they reached the base of the hill upon which the
infantry stood, and received a volley of musketry into their
decks.  Then, indeed, they answered the fire; and with such
effect, that at the first broadside the enemy's guns were
abandoned, and their infantry took to flight.  The Americans had
persuaded themselves that no ship could point her guns so as to
sweep the top of the hill; and under this idea had drawn up their
troops along the ridge, with the intention of overawing the
squadron by a display of their numbers.  But in the event they
found themselves mistaken, for so well had Captain Gordon
arranged matters, that not a single shot fell under its mark; and
as the ships' artillery had been loaded for the occasion, a
shower of balls of every size and description came amongst them,
such as it was impossible to withstand.  A single broadside was
sufficient to secure the safe passage of his squadron; but with
this Captain Gordon was not contented.  Seeing the enemy driven
from their cannon, he immediately landed his marines, spiked the
guns, and blew up the expense magazines; when, having received
them all safely on board again, he continued his voyage, and
regained the Chesapeake without further molestation.

Nor was this the only operation in which the navy were employed.
Cruising about in every direction, they threatened the whole line
of coast, from the entrance to the very bend of the bay; and thus
kept the Americans in a constant state of alarm.  Whenever a
favourable opportunity presented itself, parties landed,
plundered or destroyed the Government stores, laid towns and
districts under contribution, and brought off all the shipping
which could be reached.  In a word, the hostilities carried on in
the Chesapeake resembled the expeditions of the ancient Danes
against Great Britain, rather than a modern war between civilized
nations.  But these hasty excursions, though generally
successful, were not always performed without loss to the
invaders.  Many men and some officers were killed and wounded,
among whom was Captain Sir Peter Parker, of the Menelaus frigate,
an officer distinguished for his gallantry and knowledge of naval
tactics.  Having learnt that an encampment of 300 men and six
pieces of cannon had been formed, at the distance of a few miles
from the banks of the Potomac, and about nine leagues below
Alexandria, he determined, with part of his ship's crew, to
surprise it, and to capture the guns.  Running his frigate with
this view up the river, he cast anchor opposite to the place
where the American forces lay; and leaving on board only a
sufficient number of sailors to manage the ship, and to guard
against surprise, with the rest, amounting to 200 seamen and
marines, he landed, and marched rapidly towards the enemy's camp.
But intelligence of his proceedings had already reached them;
patrols of horse hovering continually along the coast for the
purpose of watching the motions of our fleet.  When, therefore,
he arrived at the point of destination, he found the bivouac
deserted, and the rear-guard in full retreat.  With these a
little skirmishing ensued, and he received a rifle-ball in the
thigh.  Not suspecting that the wound was dangerous, he continued
to push forward, till he fell exhausted from loss of blood; when,
on examining the hurt, it was found that the femoral artery had
been cut; and before any proper assistance could be afforded, he
literally bled to death.  Seeing their leader killed, and the
enemy retiring, apparently with the design of drawing them away
from the coast, the sailors now halted; and taking up their dead
commander, returned to the river without being able to effect
anything which might, in any degree, console them for their loss.


In the meantime the army continued, for some days, quietly on
board the ships in the Patuxent.  The wounded whose cases
appeared most desperate were removed to vessels fitted up for
their reception, and sailed, some for Halifax, and others for
England.  The dispatches were likewise made out and sent off in
the Iphigenia, whilst a sort of breathing-time was given to those
who had been of late so actively employed.  Whilst this sabbath
continued, I amused myself by landing; and under the pretext of
shooting, strolled sometimes farther up the country than prudence
exactly warranted.  The houses and villas, upon the immediate
banks of the river, I found universally deserted, and thoroughly
plundered.  The corn, however, was uninjured; and even flocks of
sheep were seen grazing within a short distance of the water,
protected only by negro slaves.  Of these none were taken without
an equivalent being as faithfully paid as if they had been sold
in the market-place of New York; a circumstance which favoured
the belief that the houses had been ransacked, not by the British
troops, but by the inhabitants themselves.  Whether it was really
so or not I cannot say, but this I know, that from the time of
our arrival in the Chesapeake, all acts of individual plunder or
violence were strictly prohibited, and severely punished.

But this appearance of ruin and desertion extended not more than
a mile or two from the coast.  Beyond that, I found the cottages
occupied by their owners, and everything remaining as if no enemy
were within a hundred miles.  The young men, indeed, were
generally absent, because every man fit to bear arms was now
serving with the army; but the old men and the women seemed to
live as comfortably as if the most profound peace had reigned
throughout the State.  Nor did I find them altogether so hostile
to our interest as I had expected.  They professed to be
Federalists; and though they regretted the events of the war,
they blamed their own rulers for its commencement.  Tempted by
this show of quietness, I one day continued my walk to a greater
distance from the fleet than I had yet ventured to do.  My
servant was with me, but had no arms, and I was armed only with a
double-barrelled fowling-piece.  Having wearied myself with
looking for game, and penetrated beyond my former landmarks, I
came suddenly upon a small hamlet, occupying a piece of cleared
ground in the very heart of a thick wood.  With this, to confess
the truth, I was by no means delighted, more especially as I
perceived two stout-looking men sitting at the door of one of the
cottages.  To retire unobserved was, however, impossible, because
the rustling which I had made among the trees attracted their
attention, and they saw me; probably, before I had seen them.
Perceiving that their eyes were fixed upon me, I determined to
put a bold face upon the matter; and calling aloud, as if to a
party to halt, I advanced, with my servant, towards them.  They
were dressed in sailors' jackets and trowsers, and rose on my
approach, taking off their hats with much civility.  On joining
them, I demanded to be informed whether they were not Englishmen,
and deserters from the fleet, stating that I was in search of two
persons very much answering their description.  They assured me
that they were Americans, and no deserters, begging that I would
not take them away; a request to which, after some time, I
assented.  They then conducted me into the house, where I found
an old man and three women, who entertained me with bread,
cheese, and new milk.  While I was sitting here, a third youth,
in the dress of a labourer, entered, and whispered to one of the
sailors, who immediately rose to go out, but I commanded him to
sit still, declaring that I was not satisfied, and should
certainly arrest him if he attempted to escape.  The man sat down
sulkily; and the young labourer coming forward, begged permission
to examine my gun.  This was a request which I did not much
relish, and with which I, of course, refused to comply; telling
the fellow that it was loaded, and that I was unwilling to trust
it out of my own band, on account of a weakness in one of the

I had now kept up appearances as long as they could be kept up,
and therefore rose to withdraw; a measure to which I was
additionally induced by the appearance of two other countrymen at
the opposite end of the hamlet.  I therefore told the sailors
that, if they would pledge themselves to remain quietly at home,
without joining the American army, I would not molest them;
warning them, at the same time, not to venture beyond the
village, lest they should fall into the hands of other parties,
who were also in search of deserters.  The promise they gave, but
not with much alacrity, when I rose, and keeping my eye fixed
upon them, and my gun ready cocked in my hand, walked out,
followed by my servant.  They conducted us to the door, and stood
staring after us till we got to the edge of the wood; when I
observed them moving towards their countrymen, who also gazed
upon us, without either advancing or flying.  The reader will
readily believe, that as soon as we found ourselves concealed by
the trees, we lost no time in endeavouring to discover the direct
way towards the shipping; but plunging into the thickets, ran
with all speed, without thinking of aught except an immediate
escape from pursuit.  Whether the Americans did attempt to
follow, or not, I cannot tell.  If they did, they took a wrong
direction, for in something more than an hour I found myself at
the edge of the river, a little way above the shipping, and
returned safely on board, fully resolved not again, to expose
myself to such risks, without necessity.


In this manner the time was spent till daybreak on the 6th of
September, when the whole fleet got under weigh, and stood
towards the Chesapeake.  The wind was fair, and we speedily
cleared the river; but instead of standing up the bay, as we had
expected, we ran down a few miles below the mouth of the
Patuxent, and there anchored.  A signal was then made by
telegraph for all ships to send in a return of the number of
seamen whom, in addition to marines, they could land with
small-arms.  Every ship's crew was accordingly mustered, and it
was found that, besides the numbers necessary for conveying
stores and dragging guns, one thousand sailors could be spared
from the fleet.  Thus, in spite of our loss at Bladensburg, we
were enabled on our next debarkation to bring into the field
about five thousand fighting men.

Next morning we again weighed, and directed our course towards the
Potomac.  We entered this river soon after midday, and continued to
stem the stream during the night, and till dusk on the following
evening, when we again brought up.  Here we were joined by Admiral
Cockburn, who had quitted the anchorage some days before the rest of
the fleet, with a large flotilla of prizes and small craft; and
having on the 9th once more set sail, and steered for a few hours in
the direction of Alexandria, we suddenly put about, and, favoured by a
fresh breeze, ran down to the bay, turning our heads upwards towards
the Patapsco.  Baltimore, it was now understood, was the point of
attack; and towards the river upon which that town is built we
hastened under a heavy press of sail.

The object of this manoeuvring was evidently to deceive the
enemy, and by keeping him in suspense as to the place threatened,
to prevent his concentrating his forces, or throwing up works for
its defence.  But in the attainment of our object, the event
proved that we were but partially successful.  Certain it is,
however, that the utmost consternation prevailed in every town or
village opposite to which we made our appearance.  In passing
Anapolis, a considerable town built upon the bay, and possessing
a tolerable harbour, we stood in so close as to discern the
inhabitants flying from their houses; carts and waggons loaded
with furniture hurrying along the roads, and horsemen galloping
along the shore, as if watching the fearful moment when the boats
should be hoisted out, and the troops quit the vessels.  Wherever
a lighthouse or signal station was erected, alarm-guns were fired
and beacons lighted.  In a word, all the horrors of doubt and
apprehension seemed to oppress the inhabitants of this devoted

The fair wind continuing to blow without interruption, on the
11th we came in sight of the projecting headland, where it was
designed to disembark the troops.  It was a promontory washed by
the Patapsco on one side, and a curvature of the bay itself on
the other.  It was determined to land here, rather than to ascend
the river, because the Patapsco, though broad, is far from deep.
It is, in fact, too shallow to admit a line-of-battle ship; and,
as no one could guess what impediments might be thrown in the way
to obstruct the navigation, prudence forbade that five thousand
men should be intrusted to the convoy of the smaller vessels
alone.  Besides, the distance from the point to Baltimore did not
exceed fourteen or fifteen miles, a space which might easily be
traversed in a day.

But while the land forces moved in this direction upon Baltimore, it
was resolved that the frigates and bomb-ships should endeavour to
force their way through every obstacle, and to obtain possession of
the navigation of the river, so as, if possible, to co-operate with
the army by bombarding the place from the water.  A frigate was
accordingly dispatched to try the depth, and to take soundings of the
channel, whilst the remainder of the fleet came to an anchor off the
point.  In the meantime all was again bustle and preparation on board
the troop-ships and transports.  Three days' provisions were cooked, as
before, and given to the men; and as we were now to carry everything
by a coup-de-main, twenty rounds of ammunition were added to the sixty
with which soldiers are usually loaded; whilst a smaller quantity of
other baggage was directed to be taken on shore.  A blanket, with a
spare shirt and pair of shoes, was considered enough for each man on
an expedition of so rapid a nature; whilst brushes and other articles
of that description were divided between comrades, one carrying what
would suffice for both.  Thus the additional load of twenty cartridges
was more than counterbalanced by the clothing and necessaries left

It was dusk when we reached the anchorage, consequently no
landing could take place before the morrow.  But as the boats
were ordered to be in readiness at dawn, every man slept in his
clothes, that he might be prepared to start at a moment's
warning.  There was something in this state of preparation at
once solemn and exciting.  That we should obtain possession of a
place so important as Baltimore without fighting was not to be
expected; and, therefore, this arming and this bustle seemed in
fact to be the prelude to a battle.  But no man of the smallest
reflection can look forward to the chance of a sudden and violent
death without experiencing sensations very different from those
which he experiences under any other circumstances.  When the
battle has fairly begun, I may say with truth that the feelings
of those engaged are delightful; because they are in fact so many
gamblers playing for the highest stake that can be offered.  But
the stir and noise of equipping, and then the calmness and
stillness of expectation, these are the things which force a man
to think.  On the other hand, the warlike appearance of
everything about you, the careless faces and rude jokes of the
private soldiers, and something within yourself, which I can
compare to nothing more seemly than the mirth which criminals are
said sometimes to experience and to express previous to their
execution; all these combine to give you a degree of false
hilarity, I had almost said painful from its very excess.  It is
an agitation of the nerves, such as we may suppose madmen feel,
which you are inclined to wish removed, though you are not
unwilling to admit that it is agreeable.

And yet, as if in mockery of these deadly preparations, I do not
recollect to have seen a more heavenly night than the present.
The heat of the day was past, a full clear moon shone brightly in
a sky where not a cloud could be discerned, and a heavy dew
falling appeared to refresh the earth, which had been parched and
burnt up by the sun.  We lay at this time within two miles of the
shore, consequently every object there was distinctly visible.
Around us were moored numerous ships, which, breaking the tide as
it flowed gently onwards, produced a ceaseless murmur like the
gushing of a mountain stream.  The voices of the sentinels too,
as they relieved one another on the decks, and the occasional
splash of oars, as a solitary boat rowed backwards and forwards
to the Admiral's ship for orders, sounded peculiarly musical in
the perfect stillness of a calm night.  Though I am far from
giving the preference, in all respects, to a sailor's life, it
must nevertheless be confessed that it has in it many moments of
exquisite enjoyment, and the present seemed to me to be of the



BUT the stillness of night soon passed away, and at three o'clock in
the morning every ship in the fleet began to lower her boats, and the
soldiers were roused from their slumbers.  The same precautions which
had been formerly used to cover the landing were again adopted,
several gun-brigs laying themselves within cable's length of the
beach, and the leading boats in every division being armed with
carronades, loaded and ready for action.  But, as had been the case at
St. Benedict's, they were unnecessary, for the troops reached the
shore without opposition, and leisurely formed in an open field close
to the river.

It was seven o'clock before the whole army was disembarked and in
order for marching.  The same arrangements which had been made on the
late expedition were, as far as circumstances would permit, again
adopted on this.  The light brigade, now commanded by Major Jones of
the 4th regiment, led the advance; then followed the artillery,
amounting to six field-pieces and two howitzers, all of them drawn by
horses; next came the second brigade, then the sailors, and last of
all the third brigade.  Flank patrols and reconnoitring parties were
likewise sent out; in short, the same admirable dispositions regulated
the present march which had governed our march to Washington.

The column being put in motion, advanced, without the occurrence
of any incident deserving of notice, for about an hour, when it
arrived at a piece of ground which appeared as if it had been
lately in possession of the enemy.  It was a narrow neck of land,
confined between the river on one side, and the head of a creek
on the other, measuring, perhaps, a mile across.  From the river
to the creek a breastwork had been begun, and was partly
completed.  In front of it there were lines drawn, apparently for
the purpose of marking out the width of a ditch; in some places
the ditch itself was dug, and the commencement of what resembled
an enfilading battery in the centre, showed that a considerable
degree of science had been displayed in the choice of this spot
as a military position.  And, in truth, it was altogether such a
position as, if completed, might have been maintained by a
determined force against very superior numbers.  Both flanks were
completely protected, not only by water, but by thick wood, while
a gentle eminence in the very middle of the line offered the most
desirable situation for the projecting battery which had been
begun; because a fire from it would have swept the whole, both to
the right and left.  In its present state, however, it was
untenable, unless by a force as able to attack as to defend;
consequently the Americans, who acted solely on the defensive,
did wisely in choosing another.

But the aspect of the ground was such as led us to conclude that
the enemy could not be very distant.  The troops were accordingly
halted, that the rear might be well up, and the men fresh and
ready for action.  Whilst this was done part of the flank patrol
came in, bringing with them three light-horse men, as prisoners.
These were young gentlemen belonging to a corps of volunteers,
furnished by the town of Baltimore, who had been sent out to
watch our motions, and convey intelligence to the American
General.  Being but little accustomed to such service, they had
suffered themselves to be surprised; and, instead of reporting to
their own leader as to the number and dispositions of their
adversaries, they were now catechized by General Ross respecting
the strength and preparations of their friends.  From them we
learned that a force of no less than twenty thousand men was
embodied for the defence of Baltimore; but as the accounts of
prisoners are generally over-rated, we took it for granted that
they made their report only to intimidate.


Having rested for the space of an hour, we again moved forward,
but had not proceeded above a mile when a sharp fire of musketry
was heard in front, and shortly afterwards a mounted officer came
galloping to the rear, who desired us to quicken our pace, for
that the advanced guard was engaged.  At this intelligence the
ranks were closed, and the troops advanced at a brisk rate, and
in profound silence.  The firing still continued, though, from
its running and irregular sound, it promised little else than a
skirmish; but whether it was kept up by detached parties alone,
or by the outposts of a regular army, we could not tell; because,
from the quantity of wood with which the country abounded, and
the total absence of all hills or eminences, it was impossible to
discern what was going on at the distance of half a mile from the
spot where we stood.

We were already drawing near to the scene of action, when another
officer came at full speed towards us, with horror and dismay in
his countenance, and calling loudly for a surgeon.  Every man
felt within himself that all was not right, though none was
willing to believe the whispers of his own terror.  But what at
first we would not guess at, because we dreaded it so much, was
soon realized; for the aide-de-camp had scarcely passed, when the
General's horse, without its rider, and with the saddle and
housings stained with blood, came plunging onwards.  Nor was much
time given for fearful surmise as to the extent of our
misfortune.  In a few moments we reached the ground where the
skirmishing had taken place, and beheld General Ross laid by the
side of the road, under a canopy of blankets, and apparently in
the agonies of death.  As soon as the firing began, he had ridden
to the front, that he might ascertain from whence it originated,
and, mingling with the skirmishers, was shot in the side by a
rifleman.  The wound was mortal: he fell into the arms of his
aide-de-camp, and lived only long enough to name his wife, and to
commend his family to the protection of his country.  He was
removed towards the fleet, but expired before his bearers could
reach the boats.

It is impossible to conceive the effect which this melancholy
spectacle produced throughout the army.  By the courteousness and
condescension of his manners, General Ross had secured the
absolute love of all who served under him, from the highest to
the lowest; and his success on a former occasion, as well as his
judicious arrangements on the present, had inspired every one
with the most perfect confidence in his abilities.  His very
error, if error it may be called, in so young a leader--I mean
that diffidence in himself which had occasioned some loss of time
on the march to Washington, appeared now to have left him.  His
movements were at once rapid and cautious; nay, his very
countenance indicated a fixed determination, and a perfect
security of success.  All eyes were turned upon him as we passed,
and a sort of involuntary groan ran from rank to rank, from the
front to the rear of the column.

By the fall of our gallant leader, the command now devolved upon
Colonel Brook, of the 44th regiment, an officer of decided
personal courage, but, perhaps, better calculated to lead a
battalion than to guide an army.  Being informed of his
unexpected and undesired elevation, he came to the front, and
under him we continued to move on; sorrowful, indeed, but not
dejected.  The skirmishing had now ceased, for the American
riflemen were driven in; and in a few minutes we found ourselves
opposite to a considerable force, drawn up with some skill, and
occupying a strong position.  Judging from appearances, I should
say that the corps now opposed to us amounted to six or seven
thousand men.  They covered a neck of land, very much resembling
that which we had passed; having both flanks defended by little
inland lakes; the whole of their position was well wooded, and in
front of their line was a range of high palings, similar to those
which intersected the field of Bladensburg.  About the centre,
though some way advanced, was a farm-house, with its outbuildings
and stack-yard; and near to the right ran the main road.  Their
artillery, which could not greatly exceed our own, either in
weight of metal or number of guns, was scattered along the line
of infantry in nearly the same order as had been preserved at
Bladensburg, and their reserve was partly seen, and partly hid by
a thick wood.

The whole of this country is flat and unbroken.  About half a
mile in rear of the enemy's position were some heights, but to
occupy these as they should be occupied would have required a
much greater number of men than the American army could muster.
Their General, therefore, exhibited some judgment in his choice
of ground, but, perhaps, he would have exhibited more had he
declined a pitched battle altogether.  Yet, to do him justice, I
repeat that the ground was well chosen; for, besides the covering
of wood which he secured for his own people, he took care to
leave open fields in his front; by which means we were of
necessity exposed to a galling fire, as soon as we came within
range.  Of one error, however, he was guilty.  Either he did not
possess himself of the farm-house at all, or he suffered it to be
taken from him with very little resistance; for on the arrival of
the column at the ground where it was to form, it was in the
occupation of our advanced guard.  He was likewise to blame in
not filling the wood upon our left with skirmishers.  In short,
he acted unwisely in merely attempting to repel attacks, without
ever dreaming that the most effectual mode of so doing is to turn
the tables, and attack the assailants.

As our troops came up they filed off to the right and left, and
drew up just within cannon shot in the following order.  The
light brigade, consisting, as I have formerly stated, of the 85th
regiment and the light companies of the other corps, in extended
order, threatened the whole front of the American army.  The 21st
remained in column upon the road; the 4th moved off to the right,
and advanced through a thicket to turn the enemy's left; and the
44th, the seamen and marines, formed line in rear of the light

While this formation was going on, the artillery being brought
up, opened upon the American army, and a smart cannonade ensued
on both sides.  That our guns were well served I myself can bear
witness; for I saw the Shrapnel shells which were thrown from
them strike among the enemy, and make fearful gaps in the line.
Our rockets likewise began to play, one of which falling short,
lighted upon a haystack in the barn-yard belonging to the
farm-house, and immediately set it on fire.  The house itself,
the stables, barns, and outhouses, as well as all the other
stacks, one after another caught the flames, and were quickly in
a state of conflagration; and the smoke and blaze which they
emitted, together with the roar of cannon and flashes of the
guns, produced altogether a very fine effect.

In the meantime the American artillery was not idle.  Pushing
forward two light field-pieces upon the road, they opened a
destructive fire of grape upon the 21st regiment, and such of the
sailors as occupied that point.  Three other guns were directed
against our artillery, between which and several of our pieces a
sort of duel was maintained; and the rest played without ceasing
upon the 85th and the light companies, who had lain down while
the other regiments took up their ground.  Neither was their
infantry altogether quiet.  They marched several strong bodies
from the right to the left, and withdrew others from the left to
the right of their line, though for what end this marching and
countermarching was undertaken I am at a loss to conceive.  While
thus fluctuating it was curious to observe their dread of every
spot where a cannon-ball had struck.  Having seen the shots fall,
I kept my eye upon one or two places, and perceived that each
company as it drew near to those points hung back; and then
assuming as it were a momentary courage, rushed past, leaving a
vacancy between it and the company which next succeeded.

All this while the whole of our infantry, except the 4th
regiment, lay or stood in anxious expectation of an order to
advance.  This, however, was not given till that corps had
reached the thicket through which it was to make its way; when
Colonel Brook, with his staff, having galloped along the line to
see that all was ready, commanded the signal to be made.  The
charge was accordingly sounded, and echoed back from every bugle
in the army, when, starting from the ground where they had lain,
the troops moved on in a cool and orderly manner.  A dreadful
discharge of grape and canister shot, of old locks, pieces of
broken muskets, and everything which they could cram into their
guns, was now sent forth from the whole of the enemy's artillery,
and some loss was on our side experienced.  Regardless of this,
our men went on without either quickening or retarding their
pace, till they came within a hundred yards of the American
line.  As yet not a musket had been fired, nor a word spoken on
either side, but the enemy, now raising a shout, fired a volley
from right to left, and then kept up a rapid and ceaseless
discharge of musketry.  Nor were our people backward in replying
to these salutes; for giving them back both their shout and their
volley, we pushed on at double-quick, with the intention of
bringing them to the charge.

The bayonet is a weapon peculiarly British; at least it is a
weapon which in the hands of a British soldier is irresistible.
Though they maintained themselves with great determination, and
stood to receive our fire till scarcely twenty yards divided us,
the Americans would not hazard a charge.  On the left, indeed,
where the 21st advanced in column, it was not without much
difficulty and a severe loss that any attempt to charge could be
made; for in that quarter seemed to be the flower of the enemy's
infantry, as well as the main body of their artillery; towards
the right, however, the day was quickly won.  The only thing to
be regretted, indeed, was that the attack had not been for some
time longer deferred; because the Americans were broken and fled,
just as the 4th regiment began to show itself upon the brink of
the water which covered their flank; and before a shallow
part could be discovered, and the troops were enabled to pass,
they had time to escape.

As soon as their left gave way, the whole American army fell into
confusion; nor do I recollect on any occasion to have witnessed a
more complete rout.  Infantry, cavalry, and artillery were
huddled together, without the smallest regard to order or
regularity.  The sole object of anxiety seemed to be, which
should escape first from the field of battle; insomuch, that
numbers were actually trodden down by their countrymen in the
hurry of the flight.  Yet, in spite of the short duration of the
action, which lasted little more than two hours from its first
commencement, the enemy's loss was severe.  They stood in some
respects better than at Bladensburg, consequently we were more
mingled with them when they gave way, and were thus enabled to
secure some prisoners, an event which their more immediate flight
had on the other occasion prevented.  In the capture of guns,
however, we were not so fortunate.  Their pieces being light, and
well supplied with horses, they contrived to carry off all except
two; both of which would have also escaped but for the shooting
of the leaders.

I have said that the number of killed and wounded in the American
army was very great; in ours, on the other hand, the casualties
were fewer by far than might have been expected.  The 21st and
seamen suffered a good deal, the 85th and light companies a
little; but had our gallant General been spared, we should have
pronounced this a glorious, because a comparatively bloodless
day.  In the loss of that one man, however, we felt ourselves
more deeply wounded than if the best battalion in the army had
been sacrificed.

In following up the flying enemy the same obstacles which
presented themselves at Bladensburg again came in the way.  The
thick woods quickly screened the fugitives, and as even our
mounted drivers were wanting, their horses having been taken for
the use of the artillery, no effectual pursuit could be
attempted.  We accordingly halted upon the field of battle, of
necessity content with the success which we had obtained; and
having collected the stragglers and called in the pursuers, it
was resolved to pass the night in this situation.  Fires were
speedily lighted, and the troops distributed in such a manner as
to secure a tolerable position in case of attack; and the wounded
being removed into two or three houses scattered along the
ground, the victors lay down to sleep under the canopy of heaven.

Having thus given a distinct and connected detail of this affair,
I shall beg leave to finish the present chapter with one or two
anecdotes, which may not be unamusing.  It is said that when
Admiral Cockburn, who accompanied the army, and attended General
Ross with the fidelity of an aide-de-camp, was in the wood where
the latter fell, he observed an American rifleman taking
deliberate aim at him from behind a tree.  Instead of turning
aside, or discharging a pistol at the fellow, as any other man
would have done, the brave Admiral, doubling his fist, shook it
at his enemy, and cried aloud, "O you d--d Yankee, I'll give it
you!" upon which the man dropped his musket in the greatest
alarm, and took to his heels.

It is likewise told of an officer of engineers, that having
overtaken an American soldier, and demanded his arms, the fellow
gave him his rifle very readily, but being ordered to resign a
handsome silver-hilted dagger and silver-mounted cartouch-box,
which graced his side, he refused to comply, alleging that they
were private property, and that, by our own proclamations,
private property should be respected.  This was an instance of
low cunning which reminded me of my own adventure with the
squirrel-hunters, and which was attended with equal success.

One other anecdote, of a different nature, and for the truth of
which I can myself answer, may likewise be related.  In strolling
over the field of battle, I came unexpectedly upon a wounded
American, who lay among some bushes with his leg broken.  I drew
near to offer him assistance, but on seeing me the wretch
screamed out, and appeared in the greatest alarm; nor was it
without some difficulty that I could persuade him e had nothing
to fear.  At last, being convinced that I intended him no harm,
the fellow informed me that it was impressed upon the minds of
the American levies that from the British they might expect no
quarter; and that it was consequently their determination to
give no quarter to the British troops.  The fellow might belie
his countrymen, and I hope and believe he did, but such was his
report to me.  To convince him of the erroneousness of his
notions, I removed him to one of our hospitals, where his leg was
amputated; and he saw himself, as well as many others of his
wounded comrades, treated with the same attention which was
bestowed upon our own soldiers.


AT an early hour on the 13th the troops were roused from their lairs,
and forming upon the ground, waited till daylight should appear.  A
heavy rain had come on about midnight, and now fell with so much
violence, that some precautions were necessary, in order to prevent
the firelocks from being rendered useless by wet.  Such of the men as
were fortunate enough to possess leathern cases, wrapped them round
the locks of their muskets, whilst the rest held them in the best
manner they could, under their elbows; no man thinking of himself, but
only how he could best keep his arms in a serviceable condition.

As soon as the first glimmering of dawn could be discerned, we
moved to the road, and took up our wonted order of march; but
before we pushed forward, the troops were desired to lighten
themselves still further, by throwing off their blankets, which
were to be left under a slender guard till their return.  This
was accordingly done; and being now unencumbered, except by a
knapsack almost empty, every man felt his spirits heightened in
proportion to the diminution of his load.  The grief of soldiers
is seldom of long duration, and though I will not exactly say
that poor Ross was already forgotten, the success of yesterday
had reconciled at least the privates to the guidance of their new
leader; nor was any other issue anticipated than what would have
attended the excursion had he still been its mainspring and

The country through which we passed resembled, in every
particular, that already described.  Wood and cultivation
succeeded each other at intervals, though the former surpassed
the latter in tenfold extent; but instead of deserted villages
and empty houses, which had met us on the way to Washington, we
found most of the inhabitants remaining peaceably in their homes,
and relying upon the assurance of protection given to them in our
proclamations.  Nor had they cause to repent of that confidence.
In no instance were they insulted, plundered, or ill-treated;
whereas every house which was abandoned fell a prey to the scouts
and reconnoitring parties.

But our march to-day was not so rapid as our motions generally
were.  The Americans had at last adopted an expedient which,
if carried to its proper length, might have entirely stopped
our progress.  In most of the woods they had felled trees,
and thrown them across the road; but as these abattis were
without defenders, we experienced no other inconvenience than
what arose from loss of time; being obliged to halt on all such
occasions till the pioneers had removed the obstacle.  So great,
however, was even this hinderance, that we did not come in sight
of the main army of the Americans till evening, although the
distance travelled could not exceed ten miles.

It now appeared that the corps which we had beaten yesterday was only
a detachment, and not a large one, from the force collected for the
defence of Baltimore; and that the account given by the volunteer
troopers was in every respect correct.  Upon a ridge of hills, which
concealed the town itself from observation, stood the grand army,
consisting of twenty thousand men.  Not trusting to his superiority in
numbers, their General had there entrenched them in the most
formidable manner, having covered the whole face of the heights with
breastworks, thrown back his left so as to rest it upon a strong fort
erected for the protection of the river, and constructed a chain of
field redoubts which covered his right and commanded the entire
ascent.  Along the side of the hill were likewise fleches and other
projecting works, from which a cross fire might be kept up; and there
were mounted throughout this commanding position no less than one
hundred pieces of cannon.

It would be absurd to suppose that the sight of preparations so
warlike did not in some degree damp the ardour of our leader; at
least it would have been madness to storm such works without
pausing to consider how it might best be attempted.  The whole of
the country within cannon-shot was cleared from wood, and laid
out in grass and corn-fields; consequently there was no cover to
shelter an attacking army from any part of the deadly fire which
would be immediately poured upon it.  The most prudent plan,
therefore, was to wait till dark; and then, assisted by the
frigates and bombs, which he hoped were by this time ready to
co-operate, to try the fortune of a battle.

Having resolved thus to act, Colonel Brook halted his army;
and, secured against surprise by a well-connected line of piquets,
the troops were permitted to light fires and to cook their
provisions.  But though the rain still fell in torrents, no
shelter could be obtained; and as even their blankets were no
longer at hand, with which to form gipsy-tents, this was the
reverse of an agreeable bivouac to the whole army.

Darkness had now come on, and as yet no intelligence had
arrived from the shipping.  To assail such a position, however,
without the aid of the fleet, was deemed impracticable; at least
our chance of success would be greatly diminished without their
co-operation.  As the left of the American army extended to a
fort built upon the very brink of the river, it was clear that
could the ships be brought to bear upon that point, and the fort
be silenced by their fire, that flank of the position would be
turned.  This once effected, there would be no difficulty in
pushing a column within their works; and as soldiers entrenched
always place more reliance upon the strength of their
entrenchments than upon their own personal exertions, the very
sight of our people on a level with them would in all probability
decide the contest.  At all events, as the column was to advance
under cover of night, it might easily push forward and crown the
hill above the enemy, before any effectual opposition could be
offered; by which means they would be enclosed between two fires,
and lose the advantage which their present elevated situation
bestowed.  All, however, depended upon the ability of the fleet
to lend their assistance; for without silencing the fort, this
flank could scarcely be assailed with any chance of success,
and, therefore, the whole plan of operations must be changed.


Having waited till it was considered imprudent to wait longer,
without knowing whether he was to be supported, Colonel Brook
determined, if possible, to open a communication with the fleet.
That the river could not be far off we knew, but how to get to it
without falling in with wandering parties of the enemy was the
difficulty.  The thing, however, must be done; and as secrecy,
and not force, was the main object, it was resolved to dispatch
for the purpose a single officer without an escort.  On this
service a particular friend of mine chanced to be employed.
Mounting his horse, he proceeded to the right of the army, where,
having delayed a few minutes till the moon rising gave light
enough through the clouds to distinguish objects, he pushed
forward at a venture, in as straight a line as he could guess at.
It was not long before his progress was stopped by a high hedge.
Like knight-errants of old, he then gave himself up to the
guidance of his horse, which taking him towards the rear, soon
brought him into a narrow lane, that appeared to wind in the
direction of the enemy's fort: this lane he determined to follow,
and holding a cocked pistol in his hand, pushed on, not perhaps
entirely comfortable, but desirous at all hazards of executing
his commission.  He had not ridden far, when the sound of voices
through the splashing of the rain arrested his attention.
Pulling up, he listened in silence, and soon discovered that they
came from two American soldiers, whether stragglers or sentinels
it was impossible to divine; but whoever they were, they seemed
to be approaching.  It now struck him that his safest course
would be to commence the attack, and having therefore waited till
he saw them stop short, as if they had perceived him, he rode
forward, and called out to them to surrender.  The fellows turned
and fled, but galloping after them, he overtook one, at whose
head he presented a pistol, and who instantly threw down his
rifle, and yielded himself prisoner; whilst the other, dashing
into a thicket, escaped, probably to tell that he had been
attacked by a whole regiment of British cavalry.  Having thus
taken a prisoner, my friend resolved to make him of some use;
with this view he commanded him to lay hold of his thigh, and to
guide him directly to the river, threatening, if he attempted to
mislead or betray him into the hands of the Americans, that he
would instantly blow out his brains.  Finding himself completely
in my friend's power, the fellow could not refuse to obey; and
accordingly, the man resting his hand upon the left thigh of the
officer, they proceeded along the lane for some time, till they
came to a part where it branched off in two directions.  My
friend here stopped for a moment; and again repeated his threat,
swearing that the instant his conduct became suspicious should be
the last of his life.  The soldier assured him that he would keep
his word, and moreover informed him that some of our ships were
almost within gun-shot of the fort; a piece of information which
was quickly confirmed by the sound of firing, and the appearance
of shells in the air.  They now struck to the right, and in half
an hour gained the brink of the river: where my friend found a
party just landed from the squadron, and preparing to seek their
way towards the camp.  By them he was conducted to the Admiral,
from whom he learnt that no effectual support could be given to
the land force; for such was the shallowness of the river, that
none except the very lightest craft could make their way within
six miles of the town; and even these were stopped by vessels
sunk in the channel, and other artificial bars, barely within a
shell's longest range of the fort.  With this unwelcome news he
was accordingly forced to return; and taking his unwilling guide
along with him, he made his way, without any adventure, to our
advanced posts; where, having thanked the fellow for his
fidelity, he rewarded it more effectually by setting him at

Having brought his report to head-quarters, a council of war was
instantly summoned to deliberate upon what was best to be done.
Without the help of the fleet, it was evident that, adopt what
plan of attack we could, our loss must be such as to
counterbalance even success itself; whilst success, under
existing circumstances, was, to say the least of it, doubtful.
And even if we should succeed, what would be gained by it?  We
could not remove anything from Baltimore, for want of proper
conveyances.  Had the ships been able to reach the town, then,
indeed, the quantity of booty might have repaid the survivors for
their toil, and consoled them for the loss of comrades; but as
the case now stood, we should only fight to give us an
opportunity of reacting /re-enacting?/ the scenes of Washington.
To distress an enemy is, no doubt, desirable, but, in the present
instance, that distress, even if brought upon the Americans,
would cost us dear; whereas, if we failed, it was hardly possible
to avoid destruction.


Such was the reasoning which influenced the council of war to
decide that all idea of storming the enemy's lines should be
given up.  To draw them from their works would require
manoeuvring, and manoeuvring requires time; but delays were all
in their favour, and could not possibly advantage us.  Every hour
brought in reinforcements to their army, whereas ours had no
source from which even to recruit its losses; and it was,
therefore, deemed prudent, since we could not fight at once,
to lose no time in returning to the shipping.

About three hours after midnight the troops were accordingly
formed upon the road, and began their retreat, leaving the
piquets to deceive the enemy, and to follow, as a rear-guard.
The rain, which had continued with little interruption since the
night before, now ceased, and the moon shone out bright and
clear.  We marched along, therefore, not in the same spirits as
if we had been advancing, but feeling no debasement at having
thus relinquished an enterprise so much beyond our strength.

When the day broke, our piquets, which had withdrawn about an
hour before, rejoined us, and we went on in a body.  Marching
over the field where the battle of the 12th had been fought, we
beheld the dead scattered about, and still unburied; but so far
different from those which we had seen at Bladensburg, that they
were not stripped, every man lying as he had fallen.  One object,
however, struck me as curious.  I saw several men hanging
lifeless among the branches of trees, and learnt that they had
been riflemen, who chose, during the battle, to fix themselves in
these elevated situations, for the combined purposes of securing
a good aim and avoiding danger.  Whatever might be their success
in the first of these designs, in the last they failed; for our
men soon discovered them, and, considering the thing as unfair,
refused to give them quarter, and shot them on their perches.

Here we paused for about an hour, that the soldiers might collect
their blankets and refresh themselves; when we again moved
forward, passing the wood where the gallant Ross was killed.  It
was noon, and as yet all had gone on smoothly with out any check
or alarm.  So little indeed was pursuit dreamt of, that the
column began to straggle, and to march without much regard to
order; when suddenly the bugle sounded from the rear, and
immediately after some musket shots were heard.  In an instant
the men were in their places, and the regiments wheeled into
line, facing towards the enemy.  The artillery turned round and
advanced to the front; indeed I have never seen a manoeuvre more
coolly or more steadily performed on a parade in England than
this rally.  The alarm, however, turned out to be groundless,
being occasioned only by the sudden appearance of a squadron of
horse, which had been sent out by the American General to track
our steps.  These endeavoured to charge the rear-guard, and
succeeded in making two prisoners; but a single Shrapnel checked
their farther advance, and sent them back at full speed to boast
of the brave exploit which they had performed.

Seeing that no attack was seriously intended, the army broke once
more into the line of march, and proceeded to a favourable piece
of ground, near the uncompleted position which I have already
described, where we passed the night under little tents made with
blankets and ramrods.  No alarm occurring, nor any cause of delay
appearing, at daybreak we again got under arms, and pushed on
towards the shipping, which in two hours were distinguishable.


The infantry now halted upon a narrow neck of land, while the
artillery was lifted into boats, and conveyed on board the fleet.
As soon as this was done, brigade after brigade fell back to the
water's edge and embarked, till finally all, except the light
troops, were got off.  These being left to cover the embarkation,
were extended across the entire space which but a little before
contained the whole army; but as no attempt was made to molest
them, they had only the honour of being the last to quit the

Were I to enter into a review of the military proceedings in this
expedition, I should be condemned to repeat, almost word for
word, the remarks which I ventured to make upon the operations
previous to the capture of Washington.  On the present occasion,
however, neither hesitation nor precipitancy was displayed by the
British General.  He threw his valuable life away, indeed, by
exposing his person unnecessarily in a trifling skirmish; but who
will blame a soldier for excess of courage, or a leader for
excess of alertness?  Like other able men, he was unwilling to
trust to the report of his subalterns, when it was in his power
to ascertain what he sought to know by personal observation; and,
like other brave men, he would not be deterred from prosecuting
his design by the apprehension of danger.  In the plan of the
expedition here, he displayed both skill and resolution.
Instead of wasting time by an attempt to ascend the river, he
chose to land where he was least likely to meet with immediate
opposition; and such was the celerity of his motions, that, had
he lived, the chances are that we should have fought two battles
in one day.  But of what a man might have done, I have nothing to
say; let me rather do justice to his successor and his advisers.
Of these latter, there is one whom it would be improper not to
mention by name--I mean Lieutenant Evans, Deputy-Assistant
Quartermaster-General.  The whole arrangement of our troops in
order of battle was committed to him; and the judicious method in
which they were drawn up, proved that he was not unworthy of the
trust.  With respect to the determination of the council of war,
I choose to be silent.  Certain it is, that the number of our
forces would hardly authorise any desperate attempt; yet had the
attempt been made, I have very little doubt that it would have
been made successfully.

On the part of the Americans, again, the same blunders were
committed which marked their proceedings during the incursion to
Washington, with this exception, that more science was displayed
now than formerly in the distribution of their forces along their
principal position.  At Bladensburg, indeed, there existed no
works, and the troops were badly arranged in an open country:
here there were not only fortifications, but fortifications
constructed in a scientific manner, and troops drawn up in such
order, as that, even without their works, many cross fires would
have protected their front.  But they neglected numerous
favourable opportunities of harassing both our advance and
retreat.  They felled trees, but left no guards to keep them from
being removed, and took no advantage of the delays which their
removal created.  They risked a battle with a part of their army,
when there was no necessity for it; in a word, they committed all
those errors which men generally commit who are not soldiers, and
yet love war.



HAVING once more received the troops on board, the fleet remained
quietly at anchor till the 17th, when, at an early hour, we set
sail and stood towards the Patuxent.  In this voyage we passed
close to Sent Island, and again threw the inhabitants of Anapolis
into alarm by approaching almost within gun-shot of their town;
but at neither place were hostilities attempted, and on the 19th
we arrived, without any adventure, at our former anchorage in the
river.  Here we brought up, and parties were sent on shore to dig
wells in the sand, to which the boats resorted in great numbers
for water.  Cattle and sheep were likewise purchased from the
natives; some of the flour which had been captured was converted
into biscuit; and every preparation seemed to be making for a
long voyage.

To facilitate these operations, the fleet now separated, part
remaining here, and part proceeding under Admiral Malcolm to the
Potomac; whilst Sir Alexander Cochrane, in the Tonnant, with
several frigates and gun-brigs, quitted us altogether, and set
sail, as it was given out, for Halifax.  But our situation was by
no means agreeable.  The climate of this part of America is, at
certain seasons, far from healthy; and the prevalence of
dysentery through the armament proved that the unhealthy season
had already commenced.  Neither did there appear to be any
prospect of further employment.  No one talked of a future
enterprise, nor was the slightest rumour circulated as to the
next point of attack.  The death of General Ross seemed to have
disorganized the whole plan of proceedings, and the fleet and
army rested idle, like a watch without its main spring.

Whilst things were in this state, whilst the banks of the rivers
continued in our possession, and the interior was left unmolested
to the Americans, a rash confidence sprang up in the minds of
all, insomuch that parties of pleasure would frequently land
without arms, and spend many hours onshore.  On one of these
occasions, several officers from the 85th regiment agreed to pass
a day together at a farm-house, about a quarter of a mile from
the stream; and taking with them ten soldiers, unarmed, to row
the boat, a few sailors, and a young midshipman, not more than
twelve years of age, they proceeded to put their determination
into practice.  Leaving the men, under the command of their
youthful pilot, to take care of the boat, the officers went on to
the house; but they had not remained there above an hour, when
they were alarmed by a shout, which sounded as if it came from
the river.  Looking, out, they beheld their party surrounded by
seventy or eighty mounted riflemen; the boat dragged upon the
beach, and set on fire.  Giving themselves up for lost, they
continued for an instant in a sort of stupor; but the master of
the house, to whom some kindness had been shown by our people,
proved himself grateful, and, letting them out by a back door,
directed them to bide themselves in the wood, whilst he should
endeavour to turn their pursuers on a wrong scent.  As they had
nothing to trust to except the honour of this American, it cannot
be supposed that they felt much at ease; but, seeing no better
course before them, they resigned themselves to his guidance, and
plunging into the thicket, concealed themselves as well as they
could among the underwood.  In the mean time the American
soldiers, having secured all that were left behind, except the
young midshipman, who fled into the wood in spite of their fire,
divided into two bodies, one of which approached the house,
whilst the other endeavoured to overtake the brave boy.  It so
chanced that the party in pursuit passed close to the officers in
concealment, but by the greatest good fortune failed to observe
them.  They succeeded, however, in catching a glimpse of the
midshipman, just as he had gained the water's edge, and was
pushing off a light canoe which he had loosened from the stump of
a tree.  The barbarians immediately gave chase, firing at the
brave lad, and calling out to surrender; but the gallant youth
paid no attention either to their voices or their bullets.
Launching his little bark, he put to sea with a single paddle,
and, regardless of the showers of balls which fell about him,
returned alone and unhurt to the ship.  Whilst one party was thus
employed, the other hastened to the house in full expectation of
capturing the British officers.  But their host kept his word
with great fidelity, and, having directed his countrymen towards
another farm-house at some distance from his own, and in an
opposite quarter from the spot where his guests lay, he waited
till they were out of sight, and then joined his new friends in
their lurking-place.  Bringing with him such provisions as he
could muster, he advised them to keep quiet till dark, when,
their pursuers having departed, he conducted them to the river,
supplied them with a large canoe, and sent them off in perfect
safety to the fleet.

On reaching their ship, they found the 85th regiment under arms,
and preparing to land, for the purpose of either releasing their
comrades from captivity, or inflicting exemplary punishment upon
the farmer by whose treachery it was supposed that they had
suffered.  But when the particulars of his behaviour were
related, the latter alternative was at once abandoned; and it was
determined to force a dismissal of the captives, by advancing up
the country, and laying waste every thing with fire and sword.
The whole of the light brigade was accordingly carried on shore,
and halted on the beach, whilst a messenger was sent forward to
demand back the prisoners.  Such, however, was the effect of his
threatening, that the demand was at once complied with, and they
returned on board without having committed any ravages, or
marched above two miles from the boats.


Besides this trifling debarkation, another little excursion was
made by the second and third brigades, the light troops being
left most unaccountably on board of ship, Colonel Brook, having
heard that an encampment was formed a few miles from the left
bank of the Potomac, determined, if possible, to come up with and
engage the force there stationed.  With this view, two brigades
were landed on the night of the 4th of October, and pushed
forward at a brisk pace; but the enemy, being on the alert, had
timely notice of the movement, and retired; by which means our
people returned on the 5th, without effecting anything.


By this time the whole fleet was once more collected together;
and crowded the Potomac with their keels.  The Diadem being an
old slip and a bad sailer, it was determined to remove from her
the troops which she had formerly carried, to fill her with
American prisoners, and to send her to England.  The Menelaus was
likewise dispatched with such officers and soldiers as required
the benefit of their native air to complete the cure of their
wounds; and the rest, getting under weigh on the 6th, stood
directly towards the mouth of the Chesapeake.  When we reached
the James River, we anchored, and were joined by an American
schooner bearing a flag of truce.  She brought with her Colonel
Thornton, Lieut. Colonel Wood, with the rest of the officers and
men who had been left behind at Bladensburg, and, being under the
guidance of Commodore Barney, that gentleman was enabled to
discharge his trust even to the very letter.

It may readily be supposed that the meeting between friends thus
restored to each other was very agreeable.  But there was another
source of comfort which this arrival communicated, of greater
importance than the pleasure bestowed upon individuals.  In
Colonel Thornton we felt that we had recovered a dashing and
enterprising officer; one as well calculated to lead a corps of
light troops, and to guide the advance of an army, as any in the
service.  On the whole, therefore, the American schooner was as
welcome as if she had been a first-rate man-of-war filled with
reinforcements from England.

The wounded being now sent off, and Colonel Wood among the
number, the remainder of the fleet again set sail, and reached
the mouth of the bay without interruption.  Here they were met by
a frigate and two brigs, which spoke to the Admiral, and
apparently communicated some important intelligence; for we
immediately put about and stood once more up the Chesapeake.  The
wind, however, blew with great violence, and directly against us.
After beating about, therefore, for some time, without making any
progress, we turned our heads towards the ocean, and flying
between the Capes with amazing velocity, stood out to sea,
directing our course towards the S.S.E., and proceeding at the
rate of seven miles an hour under bare poles.  The sea ran
tremendously high, and the sky was dark and dreary; insomuch that
by a landsman the gale might safely be accounted a storm.  Under
these circumstances, the ship rolling as if she would dip her
topmasts in the water, and the waves breaking in at the back
windows of the cabin, nothing remained to be done but to go to
bed.  Thither most of us accordingly repaired, and holding
ourselves in our berths by clinging to the posts, we amused
ourselves by watching the motions of stools, books, trunks, and
other articles, as they floated majestically from one side of the
cabin to the other.  But the effects of the gale were not in
every respect ludicrous.  Two small schooners, which had been
captured at Alexandria and converted into tenders, foundered and
went down, without an opportunity being afforded of saving an
individual of their crews.


At length the wind began to moderate, and on the 18th there was a
dead calm.  In point of comfort, however, I cannot say that much
change was experienced; for though the gale had ceased, the swell
still continued; and the motion produced by a heavy sea after a
storm is even more disagreeable than that occasioned by the storm
itself.  But on this day the minds of all were set at ease as to
the place whither we were going, a telegraph signal being made to
steer for Jamaica.  It was likewise understood that we should be
there joined by strong reinforcements, and proceed upon a secret
expedition against some place on the southern borders of the
United States.

The calm which had succeeded the storm did not last long, for on
the 19th a fair breeze sprang up, and sent us at a moderate and
agreeable rate upon our course.  The heat, however, was most
oppressive; even awnings being unable to afford sufficient
shelter.  We were fast approaching the tropic of Cancer, and
every day experienced a greater degree of sultriness; till at
length, on the 25th, we crossed that imaginary boundary.  Here we
were visited, according to custom, by Neptune and his wife; and
as the ceremony of shaving may be unknown to some of my readers,
I shall beg leave to relate the particulars of that operation.

A clever active seaman, dressed up grotesquely in party-coloured
rags, adorned with a long beard made of the stuff which sailors
call spun-yarn, and armed with a tri-pronged harpoon, personates
the God of the Ocean.  Another seaman, arrayed in like manner,
except that, instead of a beard, he wears a hideous mask,
performs the part of the lady.  These are attended by a troop of
sea-gods and nymphs, similarly equipped; and advancing from the
bow of the vessel, as if just stepped on board, they come forward
to the mainmast, and summon before them all such persons as have
never sworn the oaths or previously visited their capital.  At
the foot of the mast is placed a large tub full of sea-water, and
covered by a piece of canvas, which is held tight by four of
their attendants.  Upon this unsteady throne is the luckless
wight, whom they design to initiate, compelled to sit; and being
asked several questions, which he cannot answer, and taking
several oaths, very much resembling those said to be administered
at Highgate, Neptune proceeds to confer upon him the honour of
filiation, by rather an extraordinary process.  Two of the
sea-nymphs, generally tall stout fellows, pinion his arms to his
sides; and another, bringing a bucket filled with grease and
slops from the kitchen, sets it down at his godship's feet,
putting a small painting-brush into his hand.  Neptune now dips
his brush into the filth, and proceeds to spread a lather over
the face of the novice, taking care to ask questions during the
whole process; and if the adopted be simple enough to reply, the
brush is instantly thrust into his mouth.  As soon as a
sufficient quantity of grease is laid upon the face, Neptune
seizes a piece of rusty iron, generally the broken hoop of some
water-cask, with which he scrapes off all that has been applied.
If the novice take all this patiently, his face is washed, and he
is permitted to descend from his throne in peace; but if he lose
his temper, which most men are apt to do, a bucket of sea-water
is poured upon his head.  If this be sufficient to cool his
wrath, he suffers no more; but if it only increase his
indignation, bucket after bucket is emptied over him, and at
last, the holders of the sail-cloth suddenly retiring, he is
plunged overhead into the tub.  To crown all, the unfortunate
wretch who has endured these miseries is fined by his tormentor
in a gallon of ruin; a fine which the force of custom compels him
to pay.  It must be confessed that this is a barbarous amusement,
much resembling that of the boys in the fable of the boys and the
frogs.  Though very agreeable to those who act and to the lookers
on, it is not so to him that suffers.

In this manner many persons were treated, till at length Neptune,
growing weary from the number of novices, was content to admit
the rest to the privileges of initiation, on condition that the
fines should be punctually paid; an agreement into which most of
us very thankfully entered.


Next morning, the first object which met our eyes was the land of
Caycos island.  We were so close to the shore, when daylight
discovered it, that had the wind been at all adverse we must
unquestionably have struck; but being assisted by a fair and
gentle breeze, the ships put about immediately, and escaped the
danger.  Standing out to sea, the fleet now doubled the
promontory, and steering round by the other side, sailed on
without losing sight of the land till late in the evening.

On the following day, a signal was made from the Admiral's ship,
that the Golden Fleece transport, under convoy of the Volcano
bomb, should proceed to Port Royal, whilst the rest of the fleet
held their course towards Negril Bay.  These two vessels
accordingly set all sail, and pushed forward by themselves; the
others keeping on at a more moderate rate, that none might stray
from the convoy: for the West India seas at this time swarmed
with American privateers, and it was of great consequence to keep
the store-ships and heavy transports in the middle of the

It so chanced that I took my passage in one of the two ships
which proceeded forward by themselves.  The wind was fair, and we
made great progress, insomuch that before dark the high land of
St. Domingo on one side, and the mountains of Cuba on the other,
were discernible.  In spite of the heat, therefore, our voyage
soon became truly delightful.  Secure of getting on under the
influence of the trade winds, we had nothing to distract our
thoughts, or keep us from feasting our eyes upon the glorious
shores of these two islands; whilst in addition to the sight of
land, which of itself was cheering, we were amused with
water-spouts, apparently playing about us in every direction.
One of these, however, began to form within a little distance of
the ship, and as they are dangerous as well as interesting, a
cannon was got ready to break it before it should reach us.  But
it did not complete its formation, though I cannot tell why; for,
after one spout had risen into the air some height, and another
bent down from the clouds to meet it, they were suddenly carried
away in different directions, and fell into the sea with the
noise of a cataract.

Among other sources of amusement, our attention was drawn, on the
29th, to a shark, which made its appearance at the stern of the
vessel.  A strong hook was immediately prepared, and baited with
a piece of salt pork, which being thrown over, was instantly
gulped by the voracious monster.  But as soon as he felt the pain
occasioned by the book in his jaws, he plunged towards the bottom
of the sea with such violence, as to render the very tafferel
hot, by the rapidity of the cord gliding over it.  Having
permitted him to go a certain length, he was again hauled up to
the surface, where he remained without offering further
resistance, till a boat was lowered, and a strong noose thrown
over his head.  Being thus made fast to the gunwale of the boat,
he was brought round to the gangway, when the end of the noose
being cast over the main-yard, he was lifted out of the sea and
swung upon the ship's deck.  Hitherto he had suffered quietly
enough, in apparent stupefaction from the pain of his jaw; but he
began now to convince us that neither life nor strength had
deserted him; lashing his tail with such violence as speedily to
clear the quarter-deck, and biting in the most furious manner at
everything within his reach.  One of the sailors, however, who
seemed to understand these matters more than his comrades, took
an axe, and watching his opportunity, at one, blow chopped off
his tail.  He was now perfectly harmless, unless, indeed, one had
chosen to thrust one's hand into his mouth; and the same sailor
accordingly proceeded to lay him open, and to take out his
entrails.  And now it was that the tenacity of life, peculiar to
these animals, displayed itself.  After his heart and bowels were
taken out; the shark still continued to exhibit proofs of
animation, by biting with as much force as ever at a bag of
carpenter's tools that happened to lie within his reach.

Being cut up, he was distributed in portions among the soldiers
and the ship's crew.  The tail part only was reserved as the
chief delicacy for our cabin, which, though dry and hard, with
little flavour or taste, was on the present occasion considered
as agreeable food, because it was fresh.


BUT what I principally relished, in this part of our voyage, was
the exquisite beauty of its night-scenery.  To an inhabitant of
Great Britain, the splendour of a night-scene in these climates
is altogether unknown.  Shining broad and full in a sky perfectly
cloudless, the moon sends forth a clear and mellow lustre, little
inferior, in point of brilliancy, to the full twilight in
England.  By this means you never lose sight of land, either by
night or day, as long as your course lies between Cuba and St.
Domingo; whilst the delicious coolness, which follows the setting
of the sun, tempts you, in spite of all the whispers of prudence,
to expose yourself to dews and damps, rather than forego the
pleasures of which they are the bane.  Besides, you have
constantly the satisfaction of observing yourself move steadily
on at the most agreeable of all rates, about five or six miles an
hour; a satisfaction far from trifling in a sea-life.  Then the
ocean is so smooth, that scarcely a ripple is seen to break the
moon-beams as they fall; whilst the quiet dash of little waves
against the ship's side, and the rushing noise occasioned by the
moving of her bow through the water, produce altogether an effect
which may, without affectation, be termed absolutely refreshing.
It was my common practice to sit for hours after night-fall upon
the tafferel, and strain my eyes in the attempt to distinguish
objects on shore or strange sails in the distance.

It happened that, on the 30th, I was tempted to indulge in this
idle but bewitching employment, even beyond my usual hour for
retiring, and did not quit the deck till towards two o'clock in
the morning of the 31st.  I had just entered my cabin, and was
beginning to undress, when a cry from above, of an enemy in
chase, drew me instantly to the quarter-deck.  On looking astern,
I perceived a vessel making directly after us, and was soon
convinced of the justice of the alarm, by a shot which whistled
over our heads.  All hands were now called to quarters, the small
sails were taken in, and having spoken to our companion, and made
an agreement as to position, both ships cleared for action.  But
the stranger, seeing his signal obeyed with so much alacrity,
likewise slackened sail, and, continuing to keep us in view,
followed our wake without approaching nearer.  In this state
things continued till daybreak, we still holding our course, and
he hanging back; but as soon as it was light, he set more sail
and ran to windward, moving just out of gun-shot, in a parallel
direction with us.  It was now necessary to fall upon some plan
of deceiving him, otherwise there was little probability that he
would attack.  In the bomb, indeed, the height of the bulwark
served to conceal some of the men; but in the transport no such
screen existed.  The troops were, therefore, ordered below, and
only the sailors, a few blacks, and the officers, kept the deck.
The same expedient was likewise adopted, in part, by Captain
Price, of the Volcano; and in order to give to his ship a still
greater resemblance than it already had to a merchantman, he
displayed an old faded scarlet ensign, and drew up his fore and
mainsail in what sailors term a lubberly manner.

As yet the stranger had shown no colours, but, from her build and
rigging, there was little doubt as to her country.  She was a
beautiful schooner, presenting seven ports on a side, and
apparently crowded with men, circumstances which immediately led
us to believe that she was an American privateer.  The Volcano,
on the other hand, was a clumsy strong-built ship, carrying
twelve guns; and the Golden Fleece mounted eight; so that, in
point of artillery, the advantage was rather on our side; but the
American's sailing was so much superior to that of either of us,
that this advantage was more than counterbalanced.

Having dodged us till eight o'clock, and reconnoitred with great
exactness, the stranger began to steer gradually nearer and
nearer, till at length it was judged that she had arrived within
range.  A gun was accordingly fired from the Volcano, and another
from the transport, the balls from both of which passed over her
and fell into the sea.  Finding herself thus assaulted, she
instantly threw off her disguise, and hung out an American
ensign; when, putting her helm up, she poured a broadside, with a
volley of musketry, into the transport; and ran alongside of the
bomb, which sailed to windward.

As soon as her flag was displayed, and her intention of attacking
discerned, all hands were ordered up, and she received two
well-directed broadsides from the Volcano, as well as a warm
salute from the Golden Fleece.  But such was the celerity of her
motion, that she was alongside of the bomb in less time than can
be imagined; and actually dashing her bow against the other,
attempted to carry her by boarding.  Captain Price, however, was
ready to receive them.  The boarders were at their posts in an
instant, and the enemy discovering, when it was too late, the
mistake into which he had fallen, left about twenty of his men
upon the Volcano's bowsprit, all of whom were thrown into the
sea; and filling his sails, sheered off with the same speed with
which he had borne down.  In attempting to escape, he unavoidably
fell somewhat to leeward, and exposed the whole of his deck to
the fire of the transport.  A tremendous discharge of musketry
saluted him as he passed; and it was almost laughable to witness
the haste with which his crew hurried below, leaving none upon
deck except such as were absolutely wanted to work his vessel.

The Volcano had by this time filled, and gave chase, firing with
great precision at the privateer's yards and rigging, in the hope
of disabling him.  But as fortune would have it, none of his
important ropes or yards were cut; and we had the mortification
to see him, in a few minutes, beyond our reach.

In this affair, a marine officer and two men were killed on board
the bomb; and some of the tackling was shot away.  The transport
suffered nothing in killed or wounded, having been in a great
degree protected from the enemy's fire by her commodore; and only
one rope, not, I believe, an important one, was destroyed.

The battle having ended, and the chase being given up as
fruitless, we continued our course without any other adventure;
and before dark were able to distinguish the blue mountains of
Jamaica.  St. Domingo and Cuba had both disappeared, and this
was now the only land visible; but it was not till the 1st of
November that we could obtain a distinct view of it.  Then,
indeed, we found ourselves within a few miles of the shore, and
seldom has landscape appeared more attractive to the eyes of a
voyager, than the romantic shores of Jamaica now appeared to ours.

Jamaica is in general a bold and mountainous island, but on this
side it is peculiarly so.  It appeared to me that even the
Pyrenees, magnificent as they are, were not to be compared, in
point of altitude, to the hills now before me; and early in the
morning, while yet the mists hung upon their summits and
concealed them, no prospect can be imagined more sublime than
that which they presented.  It was, in truth, a glorious scene;
and as the wind blew light and uncertain, we were permitted, from
the slowness of the ship's progress, to enjoy it to the full.
Towards evening, indeed, the breeze died entirely away, which
compelled us to anchor about eight miles from the harbour of Port


In spite of the little rest which I had procured during the two
preceding nights, having sat up till an early hour this morning,
to watch several strange sails that hovered about us, I could not
bring myself to quit the deck till after midnight, so beautiful,
in all respects, were the objects around me.  The moon shone with
her accustomed brilliancy, and exhibited every crag and tree upon
the land, changed and confounded in shape, but still plainly;
whilst the perfume, borne off upon the breeze, was odoriferous in
the highest degree.  The sound of the waves, likewise, breaking
upon the rocks, and the occasional cry of seamen, as they
adjusted ropes and sails, together with the sight of several
vessels which took advantage of the night-wind and stood to sea,
with canvas glittering in the moonbeams, produced so delightful a
combination, as completely riveted me to my seat; nor was it
without much reluctance that I at length yielded to the drowsy
god, and descended to my cabin.

Next morning, the ship got under weigh at an early hour, but,
owing to the unsteadiness of the breeze, it was ten o'clock
before we made any satisfactory progress.  As we approached the
bay which forms the harbour of Port Royal, a novel and pleasing
sight presented itself.  The hills dying gradually away, gave
place to gentle slopes and green knolls, till, towards the
entrance, the coast became perfectly level.  Pushing forward, we
soon found ourselves in a narrow channel between two projecting
headlands, beautifully ornamented with cocoa-nut trees, and so
near to each other, that I could with ease have thrown a biscuit
from the ship's deck upon either.  At the extremity of these
necks, just where the bay begins its sweep, stand two well-built
forts, bristling with cannon; and at the opposite side may be
seen a third, ready to sink whatever hostile fleet should be
fortunate enough to force an entrance.  But these were not the
most striking parts of the scene.  The water in this strait is
remarkably clear, and exhibits with great distinctness the tops
and chimneys of houses at the bottom.  It will be recollected,
that many years ago, an earthquake not only demolished great part
of the town of Port Royal, but likewise covered it with the sea;
by which means, the site of the harbour was completely changed,
and that which was formerly dry land, and a town, became part of
the entrance of the bay.

Having doubled the promontories, a rich and extensive prospect
meets the eye.  You find yourself, as it were, in a large inland
lake, the banks of which are covered with plantations of sugar
cane, groves of cocoa-nut and plantain trees, and other woods
peculiar to these regions, beautifully interspersed with seats
and villages.  On your right is the town of Port Royal, lying
almost on a level with the water, and strongly protected by
fortifications, whilst in various other directions are castles
and batteries, adding an appearance of security to that of
plenty.  The banks, though not lofty, slope gently upwards,
with occasional falls or glens, and the background is composed
in general of the rugged tops of distant mountains.

Having waited till the ship dropped anchor, I put myself into a a
sort of barge rowed by four negroes, and proceeded to Kingston.
Though not the capital of the island, Kingston is the largest
town in Jamaica.  It stands upon the brink of a frith, about nine
miles above Port Royal, and thence enjoys all the advantages of
the chief mart in this trading country.  Like most other
mercantile seaports, it is built without much regard to
regularity.  The streets, though wide, are in general the reverse
of elegant, being composed almost entirely of wooden houses, and
by no means remarkable for cleanliness.  Of public buildings it
possesses none worthy of notice.  Its inns are, however,
excellent; and though certainly not moderate in their charges,
they are at least more so than those of Bermuda.  In a word, it
is exactly such a town as one would expect to find holding the
principal commercial rank in a colony where men's minds seldom
aspire beyond the occupations of trade.

Of the intense heat in this place, none but those who have
experienced it can form a notion.  It is impossible to walk out
with any comfort, except before the sun has risen, or after he
has set; and even within doors, with the aid of thorough draughts
and all the other expedients usually adopted on such occasions,
it is with the utmost difficulty that you can contrive to keep
your blood in a moderate degree of temperature.  In the town
itself, therefore, few of the higher classes reside, the
closeness produced by a proximity of houses being in this climate
peculiarly insupportable.  These inhabit for the most part little
villas, called Pens, about three or four miles in the country,
master of each family generally, retaining a suite of apartments,
or, perhaps an entire mansion, in some open street for his own
use, when business obliges, him, to exchange the comfort of fresh
air for the suffocating atmosphere of Kingston.  Towards the
outskirts, indeed, in one direction, a few gentile families
inhabit one or two handsome houses, surrounded by extensive
gardens and shrubberies; but these are not numerous, and they are
so far removed from the heart of the town, as to be in great
measure beyond the influence of its smoke and other nuisances.

During our sojourn in this place we received the most hospitable
attention from several persons of the first distinction.  Balls
and other entertainments were given, at which all the beauty and
fashion in this part of the island attended; and for some days I
had little leisure or inclination for any other pursuit than the
enjoyment of civilized pleasure, a pursuit which, from long
disuse, possessed more than ordinary zest.  But at length having
seen as much of Kingston and its vicinity as, I desired to see, I
determined to take advantage of the opportunity which fortune had
placed within my reach, and to make an excursion into the heart
of the Blue Mountains.  To this I was additionally induced by an
invitation from an old friend to visit him at Annotto bay; and
as, along with his letter, he sent a horse for my own conveyance,
and a mule for the conveyance of my baggage, no difficulty
respecting a mode of being transported stood in the way to
obstruct my design.

Having made up my mind to this journey, I waited, till sunset on
the 9th, when, starting in the cool of the evening, I reached a
little tavern called the Plum Tree, about half an hour after dark.
My ride carried me through an open and fertile country covered
with sugar-canes, coffee, and such other plants as are cultivated
in the low grounds of Jamaica.  It was a short one, not more than
twelve miles in extent, but I was forced to halt where I did,
because I had gained the foot of the mountains; and if I had
passed the Plum Tree, well known as a sort of half-way house on
such tours, I might have travelled all night without finding any
place of accommodation.

As darkness set in, one of the, beautiful peculiarities of a
tropical climate, which I had not previously witnessed, came
under my observation. The air was filled with fire-flies, which,
emitting a phosphoric light something similar to the light of
the glow-worm, only more red and brilliant, danced around me like
sparks from a smith's anvil when he is beating a bar of red-hot
iron.  These creatures flutter about with a humming noise, and
frequently settle in large swarms upon branches of trees, giving
them the semblance of so many pieces of timber taken newly out of
a fire.  When viewed by daylight they are in no way remarkable for
their elegance, resembling in the shape of the body a long beetle
which may be seen in the fields after sunset, without wings or
scales.  In colour they are a dingy brown, and, like the
glow-worm, carry their light in the tail.

As I had not before chanced to see anything of the kind, and
forgot at the moment that such an insect as the fire-fly existed,
I was for a few minutes at a loss to what cause to attribute the
phenomenon, and was at last indebted to my negro guide for
refreshing my memory on the subject.  The effect, however, cannot
be conceived without being witnessed.  A cluster of two or three
glow-worms shine so brilliantly, that they will furnish subject
for the commendatory eloquence of any one fortunate enough to
perceive them together; but their brilliancy is to a farthing
candle to the sun, when compared with that of the fire-fly.  Not
two, or three, but thousands of these creatures dance around,
filling the air with a wavering and uncertain glimmer, of the
extreme beauty of which no words can convey an adequate


Having passed the night at this tavern, a small cottage kept by a
free negro and his wife, I rose two hours before dawn, and
prosecuted my journey.  From the moment I quitted the Plate Tree
I began gradually to ascend, till at daybreak I found myself in
the midst of the most glorious scenery that the imagination of
man can conceive.  Everything around was new and romantic.  The
hills, towering into the very sky, were covered from top to
bottom with the richest herbage and the most luxuriant wood.
Rarely could a barren crag be discerned, and when it did appear
it was only a sharp point, or a bald projection pushing itself
forward from the midst of the thickest foliage. But what to me
formed the most bewitching part of the prospect was the elegance
of the trees and their perfect dissimilitude to any which had
previously beheld.  The cocoa-nut and plantain were mingled with
the wild pine and lime-tree; while the cashew and wild coffee,
with numberless other shrubs, loaded at once with fruit and
blossom, formed the underwood to these graceful forests.

As yet I had been favoured with a wide and good road, but now it
began gradually to narrow, till at last it ended in a path little
more distinct than the sheep-tracks over the hills in Scotland.
Winding along the sides of the mountains, it brought me
frequently to spots where the wood parting, as if artificially,
displayed deep ravines, to look down which, without becoming
dizzy, required no little strength of head; whilst above, the
same hill continued to stretch itself to a height far beyond any
I had before gazed upon.  Presently after it conducted me gently
down into valleys completely shut out from the rest of the world;
and as I descended I could hear the roar of water, though
neither, the stream nor the bottom of the glen could be
perceived.  On one of these occasions, after passing through a
thick grove, I beheld a river of some width dashing along the
glen, and chafing so as to produce the noise of a mighty
waterfall.  Towards the brink of this river my guide conducted me;
when, plunging in, we made our way with some difficulty to the
opposite bank, and again began to ascend.

For several hours, the same scenery surrounded me, only varied by
the occasional appearance of clusters of negro huts.  Than these,
it is impossible to imagine any species of huts or dwellings more
beautifully picturesque.  They are constructed of strong limbs of
trees, thatched over with straw, and usually ending in a cone;
having no windows, but only two, or sometimes four doors, for the
purpose of admitting a free current of air.  The spots chosen for
their erection, are generally small platforms or terraces in the
sides of the hills.  A little path, similar to that along which I
travelled, winds down from their doors to the bottom of the
valley, and conducts to the edge of the river, from whence the
inhabitants are supplied with water.  Other tracks likewise
branch off in different directions, some towards the summit, and
others along the sides of the mountains; leading, probably, to
the fields or spots where the inhabitants labour. These huts have
no chimney, but only a large hole in the roof, to give free
passage to the smoke; and I could perceive, by its rise at
present, that fires were now burning.

It would be labour lost, were I to attempt any more minute
description of this delightful journey.  Every step I took
presented something new, and something more grand and sublime
than I had just quitted; whilst the continual fording of the
swollen river (for I crossed the same stream no fewer than
eight-and-twenty times) gave an additional interest to the scene,
arising from the sense of danger.  The rainy season having just
ended, this stream, the Wag-water, a most appropriate name, had
not as yet returned to its natural size; but at the fords, which
in general would not cover a horse's knees, the depth was such as
to moisten the saddle-girths.  So great a quantity of water, in a
furious mountain-torrent, pouring on with all the violence
produced by a steep descent, occasioned no slight pressure upon
my steed; nor was it without considerable floundering on his
part, and some anxiety on mine, that once or twice we succeeded
in making good our passage.


NOON was approaching when my sooty fellow-traveller directed my
attention to a neat cottage, romantically situated on the top of
a low mound, which stood alone in the middle of stupendous
mountains.  It commanded one of the most exquisite prospects that
fancy can represent.  A sort of glen surrounded it on every side,
richly and beautifully wooded; behind, rose some of the most
lofty of the Blue Mountains; on the right there was an opening,
which admitted a fine view of Annotto Bay; whilst in the other
direction, the hills sloping gradually upwards, presented an
inclined plane, covered with fields of sugar-cane, and ending,
at a considerable distance, in one abrupt and broken ridge.

The cottage in question was the residence of my friend, and the
resting-place whither my steps were turned; nor did I experience
any regret at finding myself so near my journey's end.  The heat
had for some time been almost intolerable, and having eaten
nothing since the night before, nature began to cry out for
repose and repletion; and, in truth, the welcome which I
experienced, was of a nature to take away all desire of wandering
farther.  We had not met for several years--not, indeed, since I
was a child--and in the interval, some melancholy changes had
occurred in the family of my host; but he received me with the
cordial hospitality which a warm heart produces, and forgot his
private sorrows for a time, that he might not throw a damp upon
my enjoyments.

The remainder of this day I spent, as a powerful sensation of
fatigue warned me to spend it, within doors; but on the following
morning I set out at an early hour, for the purpose of gratifying
my curiosity on a number of points which had frequently exercised
it.  In this excursion, and indeed in all the excursions which I
undertook during my residence at his Pen, my friend accompanied
me; and an excellent and most intelligent guide he proved to be.
We made the tour of several estates, saw the process of making
sugar, visited the sugar and coffee plantations, and inspected
several hospitals, with one of which each estate is supplied, for
the accommodation and cure of sick negroes.  In the course of
these rambles, I made it my business to inquire into the
condition and treatment of the slave population; inspecting their
huts, and even examining their provisions; and I frankly confess
that, though I began my researches under the influence of as many
prejudices as, on such a subject, are wont to be entertained by
Englishmen in general, the result of the whole was to convince me
that I had done glaring injustice to the character of the Jamaica
planters, as well as fostered notions of the wretchedness of the
negroes, utterly and iniquitously erroneous.  It is no business
of mine, and, if it were, this is no proper place to take part in
what has of late been termed the West-Indian controversy; but, as
an eye-witness, I may venture to speak out on one point, by
affirming, that a countless proportion of the stories with which
the British public is amused, touching the barbarous treatment of
slaves by owners and overseers, are, if not absolute fables, at
all events gross exaggerations.  I am aware that my residence in
the island was too brief, and my acquaintance with it too
limited, to entitle my opinions to the weight which a more
protracted sojourn might have obtained for them; but it is but
justice to state, that whilst I was there, I enjoyed
opportunities of seeing the negro at all times, and under all
circumstances, such as few casual visitors can boast of.  My host
was not a planter, but a medical practitioner; and one prejudiced
rather against the slave system than in favour of it: there was
therefore no disposition on his part to cast dust into my eyes,
or to present to them only the bright side of the picture.  Under
his guidance, I beheld the negro at work in the fields, in the
bosom of his family, in the sick ward, and at market; and I never
saw him other than a contented and light-hearted being.  No doubt
there are instances of cruelty on the part of overseers in
Jamaica, exactly as there are instances of tyranny on the part of
parish officers and county magistrates in England; but had these
been as numerous, or as flagrant, as they are represented to be,
I cannot doubt but that something of the kind must have passed
under my eyes, even within the space of one week.  No such event,
however, took place; and, as far as I could learn, no such event
was to be expected.

Far be it from me to stand forward as the advocate of personal
bondage in the abstract--it is a grievous evil; and wherever men
are so far civilized as to render its abolition desirable, it is
an evil which ought to be abolished.  But it is an evil of long
standing, authorized in the Bible, and therefore, we may presume,
not without its counterbalancing benefits.  He, therefore, who
would seek, at all hazards and under all circumstances, to
dissolve the tie which binds a master to his slave, and a slave
to his master--whilst he would be doing that which the Apostles
never did, and which Christians are nowhere commanded to
do--would run no slight hazard of causing a quantity of mischief
to both parties, for which the benefits bestowed upon either
would not compensate.  With respect to our own colonies, in
particular, it is manifest that the whole matter resolves itself
into one consideration.  If the negroes be in such a state, as
that the boon of universal freedom would be productive to them of
universal benefit, by all means let it be bestowed at once, even
though it be attended by so much national expense, as the fair
demands of the proprietors for compensation shall impose upon us.
If they be not thus situated, let every practicable method be
adopted to advance them on the scale of civilization; but till
they be advanced far beyond their present station, let no false
hopes be excited that the moment of their liberation is at
hand.  Many measures for their improvement have been adopted since
the year 1814, and many more are in daily process of adoption;
but it is greatly to be apprehended that much of the benefit
which these measures promised to bring about, has been obstructed
by the indiscreet zeal of those who profess, and probably feel,
the liveliest interest in their welfare.

Besides adding to my stock of knowledge as to the cultivation of
the sugar-cane, the making of sugar, rum, &c. &c.; I had an
opportunity of seeing something of the Maroons, or free Negroes,
who inhabit the mountains.  These people dwell apart from the
European settlers, holding very little intercourse with them,
though a single European generally resides in each of their
villages, as a sort of chief or magistrate.  They struck me to be
a lazy, indolent, and harmless race of human beings; and they
formed, in all their habits, a striking contrast with their
enslaved brethren.  Whilst the latter devote their spare hours to
the culture of their own little spots, to cudgel-playing,
dancing, or other gambols, the former appear to spend their whole
time in a state between sleeping and waking, at the doors of
their huts, or under the shelter of trees.  Some of the Maroon
females, I observed, were really handsome, their features being
high, and their persons elegantly formed; but in general they
differed nothing from the other negroes, from whom, indeed, they
are principally descended.

I heard that the men carry on a petty trade in feathers, but that
their principal occupation, at least that from which they derive
the largest emolument, consists in apprehending, and leading back
to their masters, run-away slaves.  For their services in this
department, they were wont to receive a pension from the
Government; and they are still, I believe, supplied with muskets
and ammunition at the expense of the colonial authorities.  But
enough of these details.

My sojourn in St. Mary's having extended considerably beyond the
limits which prudence would have imposed upon it, I set out on
the morning of the 13th, on my return towards Kingston.  The
country through which I travelled differed in many respects from
that which I had crossed in my way hither: it was in general less
wild, and less mountainous; but it possessed features of striking
beauty, rich corn-fields being interspersed amidst graceful
forests, and here and there a wild hill-side rising as a contrast
to both.  The most remarkable variety, and not perhaps the least
agreeable, was, however, to be found in the absence of the
Wag-water; my guide having led me in a direction by which its
tortuous course was avoided.

As it was late before I started, my ride soon became toilsome on
account of the heat, and I was fain to stop short for the night
at a place called Stoney Hill, about twelve miles from Kingston.
Here I was hospitably entertained by the officers of the 102nd
regiment; and, rising at an early hour on the following morning,
I contrived to complete my journey before breakfast. And it was
well that no further time had been expended in my progress.  The
ships, I found, were preparing to put to sea; the stock was all
embarked, and the crews on board; nothing therefore remained for
me but to follow the general example, and to establish myself
with as little delay as possible in my cabin.


In spite of these preparations, the 15th and 16th of November
both passed away without any movement being made.  It was,
however, my custom not to neglect any opportunities which chanced
to come in my way of viewing strange places, and obtaining an
acquaintance with strange people; neither on the present occasion
did I fail to make the most of the interval, by landing and
wandering over the town of Port Royal.  But to describe minutely
a place so little deserving of description, would hardly repay me
for the labour of writing, or the reader for the toil of perusing
what I write.  It is sufficient to observe, that except to him who
takes delight in beholding a well-constructed military work,
there is nothing in the busy, bustling town of Port Royal which
will at all compensate for the heat and fatigue which he must
undergo who, like myself, traverses its streets and lanes at

The long looked-for signal to weigh was hung out at last; and at
an early hour on the 17th we put to sea.  Our point of
destination was Negril Bay, the appointed place of rendezvous for
the whole armament; and we reached it without the occurrence of
mishap or adventure on the evening of the 19th.  We found here a
large fleet already assembled; but the horses were all landed,
many officers were dwelling in tents on the shore, and everything
gave indication that some further delay might be expected.  To say
the truth, I experienced no degree of satisfaction at this
prospect; for the point of the island opposite to which we now
lay was neither remarkable for its natural beauty nor very
thickly inhabited; and had the contrary been the case, I had seen
as much of Jamaica and its people as I was at all desirous to
see.  Besides, it was impossible not to feel that whatever the
object of our expedition might be, it was not likely to be
furthered by this tardy mode of entering upon it; and rumours
already began to spread abroad, of discoveries incautiously and
untimely made.  It was, therefore, with no slight degree of
pleasure that, on the morning of the 24th, the topmasts of a
numerous squadron were seen over the eastern promontory, in full
sail towards us; and it was with still greater delight that in a
short time we were able to discern the flags of Sir Alexander
Cochrane and Admiral Malcolm floating in the breeze.  By and bye
the Tonnant and Royal Oak showed their hulls in the offing; and a
short while afterwards, these ships, followed by a large fleet of
troopers and transports, majestically entered the bay.  As may
be imagined, our curiosity was strongly excited to learn what
reinforcements they contained, and what intelligence they
brought; insomuch, that they had scarcely dropped anchor when
they were boarded from almost every one of the ships which they
came to join.


It appeared that this powerful reinforcement consisted of the
following corps:--the 93rd regiment, a fine battalion of
Highlanders, mustering nine hundred bayonets; six companies of
the 95th rifle corps; two West India regiments, each eight
hundred strong; two squadrons of the 14th Dragoons dismounted;
detachments of artillery, rockets, sappers, and engineers;
recruits for the different corps already in this part of the
world; and though last, not least, Major-General Keane to take
upon himself the command of the whole.  The intelligence brought
was likewise interesting, for it informed us of the point whither
we were to proceed; and it was soon known throughout the fleet,
that the conquest of New Orleans was the object in view.

But before I pursue my narrative further, having arrived, as it
were, at a second commencement, it may be well if I state in full
the number of men of which the army now consisted. In the first
place, then, there were the 4th, 44th, and 85th regiments,
originally dispatched from Bordeaux, and the 21st, which joined
the expedition at Bermuda.  These battalions, being considerably
reduced by past service, could not at present muster conjunctly
above two thousand two hundred men; and being likewise deprived
of the Marine battalion, which had fought beside them in the
Chesapeake, they retained no followers except the artillery,
sappers, &c. which had accompanied them from the first.  The whole
amount of this corps may, therefore, be estimated at two thousand
five hundred men.

Without computing the individual strength of each detachment
now arrived, I will venture to fix the aggregate at two thousand
five hundred; and thus the whole, taken collectively, will amount
to five thousand combatants.  That it might somewhat exceed or
fall under this computation, I do not deny; but neither the
excess nor deficiency could be considerable; and therefore my
statement may be received as correct, with very little allowance.

This, it must be confessed, was a formidable force, and such as,
had all its parts been trustworthy, might have done much.  But on
the black corps little reliance could be placed, especially if
the climate should prove colder than was anticipated;
consequently, there were not more than three thousand four
hundred men upon whom a General could fully depend.

Together with these forces were brought out abundant stores of
ammunition, some clothing for the troops, and tents to be used
when an opportunity should offer.  There were also numerous
additions to the commissariat and medical departments; in short,
the materiel of the army was increased in proportion to its
increase in number.

To find himself in the chief command of the army, exceeded the
expectation, and perhaps the desire, of General Keane.  Being a
young and dashing officer, he had been selected as most fit to
serve under General Ross; and having sailed from England before
the death of that gallant chief was known, he reached Madeira
before his elevation was communicated to him.  Young as he was,
however, his arrival produced much satisfaction throughout the
armament; for though no one entertained a doubt as to the
personal courage of Colonel Brook, it was felt that a leader of
more experience was wanted on the present expedition.

As soon as the newly-arrived squadron had anchored, the Bay was
covered with boats, which conveyed parties of officers from ship
to ship, hastening to salute their comrades, and to inquire into
the state of things at home.  Greetings and hearty embraces were
interchanged between friends thus again brought together; and a
few passing ejaculations of sorrow bestowed upon those who could
not now take part in the meeting.  Many questions were put,
relative to persons and places in England; in a word, the day
was spent in that species of employment, which can be completely
known only to those who have been similarly situated.



BUT the period granted for such indulgence was not of long
duration, for on the following morning the Tonnant, Ramilies, and
two brigs stood to sea; and on the 26th the rest of the fleet got
under weigh and followed the Admiral. It is impossible to
conceive a finer sea-view than this general stir presented.  Our
fleet amounted now to upwards of fifty sail, many of them vessels
of war, which shaking loose their topsails, and lifting their
anchors at the same moment, gave to Negril Bay an appearance of
bustle such as it has seldom been able to present. In half an
hour all the canvas was set, and the ships moved slowly and
proudly from their anchorage, till, having cleared the headlands,
and caught the fair breeze which blew without, they bounded over
the water with the speed of eagles, and long before dark the
coast of Jamaica had disappeared.

There is something in rapidity of motion, whether it be along a
high road or across the deep, extremely elevating; nor was its
effect unperceived on the present occasion.  It is true that
there were other causes for the high spirits which now pervaded
the armament, but I question if any proved more efficient in
their production than the astonishing rate of our sailing.
Whether the business we were about to undertake would prove
bloody or the reverse entered not into the calculations of a
single individual in the fleet.  The sole subject of remark was
the speed with which we got over the ground, and the probability
that existed of our soon reaching the point of debarkation.  The
change of climate, likewise, was not without its effect in
producing pleasurable sensations. The farther we got from
Jamaica, the more cool and agreeable became the atmosphere; from
which circumstance we were led to hope that, in spite of its
southern latitude, New Orleans would not be found so oppressively
hot as we had been taught to expect.

The breeze continuing without interruption, on the 29th we came
in sight of the island of Grand Cayman.  It is a small speck in
the middle of the sea, lying so near the level of the water as to
be unobservable at any considerable distance.  Though we passed
along with prodigious velocity, a canoe nevertheless ventured off
from the shore, and making its way through waves which looked as
if they would swallow it up, succeeded in reaching our vessel.
It contained a white man and two negroes, who brought off a
quantity of fine turtle, which they gave us in exchange for salt
pork; and so great was the value put upon salt provisions, that
the bartered a pound and a half of the one for a pound of the
other.  To us the exchange was very acceptable, and thus both
parties remained satisfied with their bargain.

Having lain-to till our turtle-merchants left us, we again filled
and stood our course.  The land of Cayman was soon invisible; nor
was any other perceived till the 2nd of December, when the
western shores of Cuba presented themselves.  Towards them we now
directed the ship's head, and reaching in within a few miles of
the beach, coasted along till we had doubled the promontory,
which forms one of the jaws of the Mexican Gulf.  Whilst keeping
thus close to the shore, our sail was more interesting than
usual, for though this side of Cuba be low, it is nevertheless
picturesque, from the abundance of wood with which it is
ornamented.  There are likewise several points where huge rocks
rise perpendicularly out of the water, presenting the appearance
of old baronial castles, with their battlements and lofty
turrets; and it will easily be believed that none of these
escaped our observation.  The few books which we had brought to
sea were all read, many of them twice and three times through;
and there now remained nothing to amuse except what the variety
of the voyage could produce.

But the shores of Cuba were quickly passed, and the old prospect
of sea and sky again met the gaze.  There was, however, one
circumstance from which we experienced a considerable diminution
of comfort.  As soon as we entered the gulf, a short disagreeable
swell was perceptible; differing in some respects from that in
the Bay of Biscay, but to my mind infinitely more unpleasant.  So
great was the motion, indeed, that all walking was prevented; but
as we felt ourselves drawing every hour nearer and nearer to the
conclusion of our miseries, this additional one was borne without
much repining.  Besides, we found some amusement in watching, from
the cabin windows, the quantity and variety of weed with which
the surface of the gulf is covered.  The current being here
extremely rapid, the weed sails continually in the same
direction; that is to say, it goes round by the opposite side of
Cuba towards the banks of Newfoundland, and is carried sometimes
as far as Bermuda, and even to the Western Isles.

It is not, however, my intention to continue the detail of this
voyage longer than may be interesting; I shall therefore merely
state that, the wind and weather having undergone some
variations, it was the 10th of December before the shores of
America could be discerned.  On that day we found ourselves
opposite to the Chandeleur Islands, and near the entrance of Lake
Borgne.  There the fleet anchored, that the troops might be
removed from the heavy ships into such as drew least water; and
from this and other preparations it appeared that to ascend this
lake was the plan determined upon.


But before I pursue my narrative further, it will be well if I
endeavour to give some account of the situation of New Orleans,
and of the nature of the country against which our operations
were directed.

New Orleans is a town of some note, containing from twenty to
thirty thousand inhabitants.  It stands upon the eastern bank of
the Mississippi, in 30 degrees north latitude, and about 110
miles from the Gulf of Mexico.  Though in itself unfortified, it
is difficult to conceive a place capable of presenting greater
obstacles to an invader; and at the same time more conveniently
situated with respect to trade.  Built upon a narrow neck of
land, which is confined on one side by the river, and on the
other by impassable morasses, its means of defence require little
explanation; and as these morasses extend to the distance of only
a few miles, and are succeeded by Lake Pontchartrain, which again
communicates through Lake Borgne* with the sea, its peculiar
commercial advantages must be equally apparent.  It is by means
of the former of these lakes, indeed, that intercourse is
maintained between the city and the northern parts of West
Florida, of which it is the capital; a narrow creek, called in
the language of the country a bayo or bayouke, navigable for
vessels drawing less than six feet water, running up through the
marsh, and ending within two miles of the town.  The name of this
creek is the Bayouke of St. John, and its entrance is defended
by works of considerable strength.

* These are, properly speaking, one and the same lake.  From the
entrance, however, as far as Ship Island, is called by the
inhabitants Lake Borgne, whilst all above that point goes under
the name of Lake Pontchartrain. They are both extremely shallow,
varying from 12 to 6 feet in depth.

But to exhibit its advantages in a more distinct point of view,
it will be necessary to say a few words respecting that mighty
river upon which it stands.  The Mississippi (a corruption of the
word Mechasippi, signifying, in the language of the natives, "the
father of rivers ") is allowed to be inferior, in point of size
and general navigability, to few streams in the world.  According
to the Sioux Indians it takes its rise from a large swamp, and is
increased by many rivers emptying themselves into its course as
far as the Fall of St. Anthony, which, by their account, is
upwards of 700 leagues from its source.  But this fall, which is
formed by a rock thrown across the channel, of about twelve feet
perpendicular height, is known to be 800 leagues from the sea;
and therefore the whole course of the Mississippi, from its
spring to its mouth, may be computed at little short of 5000

Below the fall of St. Anthony, again, the Mississippi is joined
by a number of rivers, considerable in point of size, and leading
out of almost every part of the continent of America.  These are
the St. Pierre, which comes from the west; St. Croix, from the
eat; the Moingona, which is said to run 150 leagues from the
west, and forms a junction about 250 below the fall; and the
Illinois, which rises near the lake Michigan, 200 leagues east of
the Mississippi.

But by far the most important of these auxiliary streams is the
Missouri, the source of which is as little known as that of the
Father of Rivers himself.  It has been followed by traders
upwards of 400 leagues, who traffic with the tribes which dwell
upon its banks, and obtain an immense return for European goods.
The mouth of this river is five leagues below that of the
Illinois, and is supposed to be 800 from its source, which,
judging from the flow of its waters, lies in a north-west
direction from the Mississippi.  It is remarkable enough that the
waters of this river are black and muddy, and prevail over those
of the Mississippi, which running with a clear and gentle stream
till it meets with this addition, becomes from that time both
dark and rapid.

The next river of note is the Ohio, which taking its rise near
Lake Erie, runs from the north-east to the south-west, and joins
the Mississippi about 70 leagues below the Missouri.  Besides
this there are the St. Francis, an inconsiderable stream, and
the Arkansas, which is said to originate in the same latitude
with Santa Fe in New Mexico, and which, holding its course nearly
300 leagues, falls in about 200 above New Orleans.  Sixty leagues
below the Arkansas, comes the Yazous from the northeast; and
about 58 nearer to the city is the Rouge, so called from the
colour of its waters, which are of a reddish dye, and tinge those
of the Mississippi at the time of the floods.  Its source is in
New Mexico, and after running about 200 leagues it is joined by
the Noir 30 miles above the place where it empties itself into
the Mississippi.

Of all these rivers there is none which will not answer the
purposes of commerce, at least to a very considerable extent; and
as they join the Mississippi above New Orleans, it is evident
that this city may be considered as the general mart of the
whole.  Whatever nation, therefore, chances to possess this
place, possesses in reality the command of a greater extent of
country than is included within the boundary-line of the whole
United States since from every direction are goods, the produce
of East, West, North, and South America, sent down by the
Mississippi to the Gulf.  But were New Orleans properly supplied
with fortifications, it is evident that no vessels could pass
without the leave of its governor; and therefore is it that I
consider that city as of greater importance to the American
government than any other within the compass of their

Having said so much on its commercial advantages, let me now
point out more distinctly than I have yet done the causes which
contribute to its safety from all hostile attempts.  The first of
these is the shallowness of the river at its mouth, and the
extreme rapidity of the current.  After flowing on in one
prodigious sheet of water, varying in depth from one hundred to
thirty fathoms, the Mississippi, previous to its joining the
Mexican Gulf, divides into four or five mouths, the most
considerable of which is encumbered by a sandbank continually
liable to shift.  Over this bank no vessel drawing above
seventeen feet water can pass; when once across, however, there
is no longer a difficulty in being floated; but to anchor is
hazardous, on account of the huge logs which are constantly
carried down the stream.  Should one of these strike the bow of
the ship, it would probably dash her to pieces; whilst,
independent of this, there is always danger of drifting or losing
anchors, owing to the number of sunken logs which the under-current
bears along within a few feet of the bottom.  All vessels
ascending the river are accordingly obliged, if the wind be foul,
to make fast to the trees upon the banks; because without a
breeze at once fair and powerful, it is impossible to stem the

But besides this natural obstacle to invasion, the mouth of the
river is defended by a fort, which from its situation may be
pronounced impregnable.  It is built upon an artificial causeway,
and is surrounded on all sides by swamps totally impervious,
which extend on both sides of the river to a place called the
Detour des Anglais, within twenty miles of the city.  Here two
other forts are erected, one on each bank.  Like that at the
river's mouth, these are surrounded by a marsh, a single narrow
path conducting from the commencement of firm ground to the gates
of each.  If, therefore, an enemy should contrive to pass both
the bar and the first fort, he must here be stopped, because all
landing is prevented by the nature of the soil; and however fair
his breeze may have hitherto been, it will not now assist his
further progress.  At this point the Mississippi winds almost in
a circle, insomuch that vessels which arrive are necessitated to
make fast till a change of wind occur.

From the Detour des Anglais towards New Orleans the face of the
country undergoes an alteration.  The swamp does not indeed end,
but it narrows off to the right, leaving a space of firm ground,
varying, from three to one mile in, width, between it and the
river.  At the back of this swamp, again, which may be about six
or eight miles across, come up the waters of Lake Pontchartrain,
and thus a neck of arable land is formed, stretching for some way
above the city.  The whole of these morasses are covered as far
as the Detour with tall reeds; a little wood now succeeds,
skirting the open country, but the wood measures no more than one
mile in depth, when it again gives place to reeds.  Such is the
aspect of that side of the river upon which the city is built;
with respect to the other I can speak with less confidence,
having seen it but cursorily.  It appears, however, to resemble
this in almost every particular, except that it is more wooded
and less confined with marsh.  Both sides are flat, containing no
broken ground, nor any other cover, for military movements; for
on the open shore there are no trees, except a few in the gardens
of those houses which skirt the rivers; the whole being laid out
in large fields of sugar-cane; separated from one another by
rails and ditches.

From the preceding brief account of the country, the advantages
possessed by a defending army must; be apparent.  To approach by
the river is out of the question, and therefore an enemy can land
only from the lake.  But this can be done nowhere, except where
creeks or bayos offer convenience for that purpose, because the
banks of the lake are universally swampy; and can hardly supply
footing for infantry, far less for the transportation of
artillery.  Of these, however, there are not above one or two
which could be so used.  The Bayo of St. John is one; but it is
too well defended, and too carefully guarded for any attempts;
and the Bayo of Catiline is another, about ten miles below the
city.  That this last might be found useful in an attack, was
proved by the landing affected by our army at that point; but
what is the consequence?  The invaders arrive upon a piece of
ground, where the most consummate generalship will be of little
If the defenders can but retard their progress--which, by
crowding the Mississippi with armed vessels, may very easily be
done, the labour of a few days will cover the narrow neck with
entrenchments; whilst the opposite bank remaining in their hands,
can at all times gall their enemy with a close and deadly
cannonade.  Of wood, as I have already said, or broken ground
which might conceal an advance, there exists not a particle.
Every movement of the assailants must, therefore, be made under
their eyes; and as one flank of their army will be defended by a
morass, and the other by the river, they may bid defiance to all
attempts at turning.

Such are the advantages of New Orleans; and now it is only fair
that I should state its disadvantages: these are owing solely the
climate.  From the swamps with which it is surrounded, there
arise, during the summer months, exhalations extremely fatal to
the health of its inhabitants.  For some months of the year,
indeed, so deadly are the effects of the atmosphere, that the
garrison is withdrawn, and most of the families retire from their
houses to more genial spots, leaving the town as much deserted as
if it had been visited by a pestilence.  Yet, in spite of these
cautions, agues and intermittent fevers abound here at all times.
Nor is it wonderful that the case should be so; for independent
of the vile air which the vicinity of so many putrid swamps
occasions, this country is more liable than perhaps any other to
sudden and severe changes of temperature.  A night of keen frost
sufficiently powerful to produce ice a quarter of an inch in
thickness, frequently follows a day of intense heat; whilst heavy
rains and bright sunshine often succeed each other several times
in the course of a few hours.  But these changes, as may
supposed, occur only during the winter; the summer being one
continued series of intolerable heat and deadly fog.


Of all these circumstances the conductors of the present
expedition were not ignorant.  To reduce the forts which command
the navigation of the river was regarded as a task too difficult
to be attempted; and for any ships to pass without their
reduction seemed impossible.  Trusting, therefore, that the
object of the enterprise was unknown to the Americans, Sir
Alexander Cochrane and General Keane determined to effect a
landing somewhere on the banks of the lake; and pushing directly
on, to take possession of the town, before any effectual
preparation could be made for its defence.  With this view the
troops were removed from the larger into the lighter vessels, and
these, under convoy of such gun-brigs as the shallowness of the
water would float, began on the 13th to enter Lake Borgne.  But we
had not proceeded far, when it was apparent that the Americans
were well acquainted with our intentions, and ready to receive
us.  Five large cutters, armed with six heavy guns each, were
seen at anchor in the distances: and as all endeavours to land,
till these were captured, would have been useless, the transports
and largest of the gun-brigs cast anchor, whilst the smaller
craft gave chase to the enemy.

But these cutters were built purposely to act upon the lake.
They accordingly set sail as soon as the English cruisers arrived
within a certain distance, and running on, were quickly out of
sight, leaving the pursuers fast aground.  To permit them to
remain in the hands of the enemy, however, would be fatal,
because, as long as they commanded the navigation of the lake, no
boats could venture to cross.  It was therefore determined at all
hazards, and at any expense, to take them; and since our lightest
craft could not float where they sailed, a flotilla of launches
and ships' barges was got ready for the purpose.

This flotilla consisted of fifty open boats; most of them armed
with a carronade in the bow, and well manned with volunteers from
the different ships of war.  The command was given to Captain
Lockier, a brave and skilful officer, who immediately pushed off;
and about noon came in sight of the enemy, moored fore and aft,
with broadsides pointing towards him.  Having pulled a
considerable distance, he resolved to refresh his men before he
hurried them into action; and, accordingly, letting fall
grapplings just beyond the reach of the enemy's guns, the crews
of the different boats coolly ate their dinner.

As soon as that meal was finished, and an hour spent in resting,
the boats again got ready to advance.  But, unfortunately, a
light breeze which had hitherto favoured them, now ceased to
blow, and they were in consequence compelled to make way only
with the oar.  The tide also ran strong against them, at once
increasing their labour and retarding their progress; but all
these difficulties appeared trifling to British sailors; and,
giving a hearty cheer, they moved steadily onward in one extended

It was not long before the enemy's guns opened upon them, and a
tremendous shower of balls saluted their approach.  Some boats
were sunk, others disabled, and many men were killed and wounded;
but the rest pulling with all their might, and occasionally
returning the discharges from their carronades, succeeded, after
an hour's labour, in closing with the Americans.  The marines now
began a deadly fire of musketry; whilst the seamen, sword in
hand, sprang up the vessels' sides in spite of all opposition;
and sabring every man that stood in their way, hauled down the
American ensign, and hoisted the British flag in its place.

One cutter alone, which bore the commodore's broad pendant, was
not so easily subdued.  Having noted its pre-eminence, Captain
Lockier directed his own boat against it; and happening to have
placed himself in one of the lightest and fastest sailing barges
in the flotilla, he found himself alongside of his enemy before
any of the others were near enough to render him the smallest
support.  But nothing dismayed by odds so fearful, the gallant
crew of this small bark, following their leader, instantly leaped
on board the American.  A desperate conflict ensued, in which
Captain Lockier received several severe wounds; but after
fighting from the bow to the stern, the enemy were at length
overpowered; and other barges coming up to the assistance of
their commander, the commodore's flag shared the same fate with
the others.


Having destroyed all opposition in this quarter, the fleet again
weighed anchor, and stood up the lake.  But we had not been many
hours under sail, when ship after ship ran aground: such as still
floated were, therefore, crowded with the troops from those which
could go no farther, till finally the lightest vessel stuck fast;
and the boats were of necessity hoisted out, to carry us a
distance of upwards of thirty miles.  To be confined for so long
a time as the prosecution of this voyage would require, in one
posture, was of itself no very agreeable prospect; but the
confinement was but a trifling misery when compared with that
which arose from the change in the weather.  Instead of a
constant bracing frost, heavy rains, such as an inhabitant of
England cannot dream of, and against which no cloak could furnish
protection, began.  In the midst of these were the troops embarked
in their new and straitened transports, and each division, after
an exposure of ten hours, landed upon a small desert spot of
earth, called Pine Island, where it was determined to collect the
whole army, previous to its crossing over to the main.

Than this spot it is scarcely possible to imagine any place more
completely wretched.  It was a swamp, containing a small space of
firm ground at one end, and almost wholly unadorned with trees of
any sort or description.  There were, indeed, a few stinted [sic]
firs upon the very edge of the water, but these were so
diminutive in size as hardly to deserve a higher classification
than among the meanest of shrubs.  The interior was the resort of
wild ducks and other water-fowl; and the pools and creeks with
which it was intercepted abounded in dormant alligators.

Upon this miserable desert the army was assembled, without tents
or huts, or any covering to shelter them from the inclemency of
the weather; and in truth we may fairly affirm that our hardships
had here their commencement.  After having been exposed all day
to a cold and pelting rain, we landed upon a barren island,
incapable of furnishing even fuel enough to supply our fires.  To
add to our miseries, as night closed, the rain generally ceased,
and severe frosts set in, which, congealing our wet clothes upon
our bodies, left little animal warmth to keep the limbs in a
state of activity; and the consequence was, that many of the
wretched negroes, to whom frost and cold were altogether new,
fell fast asleep, and perished before morning.

For provisions, again, we were entirely dependent upon the fleet.
There were here no living creatures which would suffer themselves
to be caught; even the water-fowl being so timorous that it was
impossible to approach them within musket-shot.  Salt meat and
ship biscuit were, therefore, our food, moistened by a small
allowance of rum; fare which, though no doubt very wholesome, was
not such as to reconcile us to the cold and wet under which we

On the part of the navy, again, all these hardships were
experienced in a four-fold degree.  Night and day were boats
pulling from the fleet to the island, and from the island to the
fleet; for it was the 21st before all the troops were got on
shore; and as there was little time to inquire into men's turns
of labour, many seamen were four or five days continually at the
oar.  Thus they had not only to bear up against variety of
temperature, but against hunger, fatigue, and want of sleep in
addition; three as fearful burdens as can be laid upon the human
frame.  Yet in spite of all this, not a murmur nor a whisper of
complaint could be heard throughout the whole expedition.  No man
appeared to regard the present, whilst every one looked forward
to the future.  From the General, down to the youngest drum-boy,
a confident anticipation of success seemed to pervade all ranks;
and in the hope of an ample reward in store for them, the toils
and grievances of the moment were forgotten.  Nor was this
anticipation the mere offspring of an overweening confidence in
themselves.  Several Americans had already deserted, who
entertained us with accounts of the alarm experienced at New
Orleans.  They assured us that there were not at present 5000
soldiers in the State; that the principal inhabitants had long
ago left the place; that such as remained were ready to join us
as soon as we should appear among them; and that, therefore, we
might lay our account with a speedy and bloodless conquest.  The
same persons likewise dilated upon the wealth and importance of
the town, upon the large quantities of Government stores there
collected, and the rich booty which would reward its capture;
subjects well calculated to tickle the fancy of invaders, and to
make them unmindful of immediate afflictions, in the expectation
of so great a recompense to come.


IT is well known that, at the period to which my narrative
refers, an alliance, offensive and defensive, subsisted between
the Government of Great Britain and the heads of as many Indian
nations or tribes as felt the aggressions of the settlers upon
their ancient territories, and were disposed to resent them.  On
this side of the continent our principal allies were the Chaktaws
and Cherokees, two nations whom war and famine had reduced from a
state of comparative majesty to the lowest ebb of feebleness and
distress.  Driven from hunting-ground to hunting-ground, and
pursued like wild beasts wherever seen, they were now confined to
a narrow tract of country, lying chiefly along the coasts of the
gulf and the borders of the lakes which adjoin to it.  For some
time previous to the arrival of the expedition, the warriors of
these tribes put themselves under the command of Colonel
Nickolls, of the Royal Marines, and continued to harass the
Americans by frequent incursions into the cultivated districts.
It so happened, however, that, being persuaded to attempt the
reduction of a fort situated upon Mobile Point, and being, as
might be expected, repulsed with some loss, their confidence in
their leader, and their dependence upon British aid, had begun of
late to suffer a serious diminution.  Though not very profitable
as friends, their local position and desultory mode of warfare
would have rendered them at this period exceedingly annoying to
us as enemies; it was accordingly determined to dispatch an
embassy to their settlements, for the purpose of restoring them
to good humour, or at least discovering their intentions.

Whilst the troops were assembling upon Pine Island, a cutter,
having proper officers on board, and carrying presents of
clothing, arms, and rum, was dispatched upon this business.  It
reached its place of destination in safety, and the ambassadors
found very little difficulty in bringing back the fickle Indians
to their wonted reliance upon British support.  Several of the
chiefs and warriors, indeed, requested and obtained permission to
visit our Admiral and General, and to follow the fortunes of our
troops; and a very grotesque and singular appearance they
presented as they stood upon the quarter-deck of the Tonnant.
But the costume, habits, and customs of these savages have been
too frequently and too accurately described elsewhere, to render
any account of them on the present occasion desirable.  It is
sufficient to observe, that whilst they gazed upon everything
around them with a look expressive of no astonishment whatever,
they were themselves objects of eager curiosity to us; and that
they bore our close inspection and somewhat uncourteous
deportment with the most perfect philosophy.  But to my tale.

The enemy's cutters having fallen into our hands, at an early
hour on the morning of the 16th the disembarkation of the troops
began.  So deficient, however, was the fleet in boats and other
small craft fit to navigate the lakes, that it was late on the
evening of the 21st before the last division took up its ground
upon Pine Island, and even then the inconveniences of our descent
were but beginning.  The troops had yet to be arranged in corps
and brigades; to each of these its proportion of Commissaries,
Purveyors, and Medical attendants, &c., &c., required to be
allotted; and some attempt at establishing depots of provisions
and military stores behoved to be made.  In adjusting these
matters the whole of the 22nd was occupied, on which day the
General likewise reviewed the whole of the army.  This being
ended, the force was next distributed into divisions, or corps;
and the following is the order it assumed.

Instead of a light brigade, the General resolved to set apart
three battalions as an advanced guard.  The regiments nominated
to that service were the 4th, the 85th Light Infantry, and the
95th. Rifles; and he selected Colonel Thornton of the 85th, as an
officer of talent and enterprise, to command them.  Attached to
this corps were a party of rocket-men, with two light three-pounders--
a species of gun convenient enough, where celerity of movement is
alone regarded, but of very little real utility in the field.
The rest of the troops were arranged, as before, into two
brigades.  The first, composed of the 21st, 44th, and one
black regiment, was intrusted to Colonel Brook; and the second,
containing the 93rd and the other black corps, to Colonel
Hamilton, of the 7th West India regiment.  To each of these, a
certain proportion of artillery and rockets was allotted: whilst
the dragoons, who had brought their harness and other
appointments on shore, remained as a sort of bodyguard to the
General, till they should provide themselves with horses.

The adjustment of these matters having occupied a considerable
part of the 22nd, it was determined that all things should remain
as they were till next morning.  Boats, in the mean time, began
to assemble from all quarters, supplies of ammunition were
packed, so as to prevent the possibility of damage from moisture, and
stores of various descriptions were got ready.  But it appeared
that, even now, many serious inconveniences must be endured, and
obstacles surmounted, before the troops could reach the scene of
action. In the first place, from Pine Island to that part of the
main towards which prudence directed us to steer, was a distance
of no less than 80 miles.  This, of itself, was an obstacle, or
at least an inconvenience, of no slight nature; for should the
weather prove boisterous, open boats, heavily laden with
soldiers, would stand little chance of escaping destruction in
the course of so long a voyage.  In the next place, and what was
of infinitely greater importance, it was found that there were
not, throughout the whole fleet, a sufficient number of boats to
transport above one third of the army at a time.  But to land in
divisions would expose our forces to be attacked in detail, by
which means one party might be cut to pieces before the others
could arrive to its support.  The undertaking was, therefore, on
the whole, extremely dangerous, and such as would have been
probably abandoned by more timid leaders.  Ours, however, were
not so to be alarmed.  They had entered upon a hazardous
business, in whatever way it should be prosecuted; and since they
could not work miracles, they resolved to lose no time in
bringing their army into the field in the best manner which
circumstances would permit.


With this view, the advance, consisting of 1600 men and two
pieces of cannon, was next morning embarked.  I have already
stated that there is a small creek, called the Bayo de Catiline,
which runs up from Lake Pontchartrain through the middle of an
extensive morass, about ten miles below New Orleans.  Towards
this creek were the boats directed, and here it was resolved to
effect a landing.  When we set sail, the sky was dark and
lowering, and before long a heavy rain began to fall.  Continuing
without intermission during the whole of the day, towards night,
it, as usual, ceased, and was succeeded by a sharp frost; which,
taking effect upon men thoroughly exposed, and already cramped by
remaining so long in one posture, rendered our limbs completely
powerless.  Nor was there any means of dispelling the benumbing
sensation, or effectually resisting the cold.  Fires of charcoal,
indeed, being lighted in the sterns of the boats, were permitted
to burn as long as daylight lasted; but as soon as it grew dark,
they were of necessity extinguished, lest the flame should be
seen by row-boats from the shore, and an alarm be thus
communicated. Our situation was, therefore, the reverse of
agreeable; since even sleep was denied us, from the apprehension
of fatal consequences.


Having remained in this uncomfortable state till midnight, the
boats cast anchor and hoisted awnings.  There was a small piquet
of the enemy stationed at the entrance of the creek by which it
was intended to effect our landing.  This it was absolutely
necessary to surprise; and whilst the rest lay at anchor, two or
three fast-sailing barges were pushed on to execute the service.
Nor did they experience much difficulty in accomplishing their
object.  Nothing, as it appeared, was less dreamt of by the
Americans than an attack from this quarter, consequently no
persons could be less on their guard than the party here
stationed.  The officer who conducted the force sent against
them, found not so much as a single sentinel posted! but having
landed his men at two places, above and below the but which they
inhabited, extended his ranks so as to surround it, and closing
gradually in, took them all fast asleep, without noise or

When such time had been allowed as was deemed sufficient for the
accomplishment of this undertaking, the flotilla again weighed
anchor, and without waiting for intelligence of success, pursued
their voyage.  Hitherto we had been hurried along at a rapid rate
by a fair breeze, which enabled us to carry canvas; but this now
left us, and we made way only by rowing.  Our progress was
therefore considerably retarded, and the risk of discovery
heightened by the noise which that labour necessarily occasions;
but in spite of these obstacles, we reached the entrance of the
creek by dawn; and about nine o'clock, were safely on shore.

The place where we landed was as wild as it is possible to
imagine.  Gaze where we might, nothing could be seen except one
huge marsh covered with tall reeds; not a house nor a vestige of
human industry could be discovered; and even of trees there were
but a few growing upon the banks of the creek.  Yet it was such a
spot as, above all others, favoured our operations.  No eye could
watch us, or report our arrival to the American General.  By
remaining quietly among the reeds, we might effectually conceal
ourselves from notice; because, from appearance of all around, it
was easy to perceive that the place which we occupied had been
seldom, if ever before, marked with a human footstep.
Concealment, however, was the thing of all others which we
required; for be it remembered that there were now only sixteen
hundred men on the mainland.  The rest were still at Pine Island,
where they must remain till the boats which had transported us
should return for their conveyance, consequently many hours must
elapse before this small corps could be either reinforced or
supported.  If, therefore, we had sought for a point where a
descent might be made in secrecy and safety, we could not have
found one better calculated for that purpose than the present;
because it afforded every means of concealment to one part of our
force, until the others should be able to come up.


For these reasons, it was confidently expected that no movement
would be made previous to the arrival of the other brigades; but,
in our expectations of quiet, we were deceived.  The deserters
who had come in, and accompanied us as guides, assured the
General that he had only to show himself, when the whole district
would submit. They repeated, that there were not five thousand
men in arms throughout the State: that of these, not more than
twelve hundred were regular soldiers, and that the whole force
was at present several miles on the opposite side of the town,
expecting an attack on that quarter, and apprehending no danger
on this.  These arguments, together with the nature of the ground
on which we stood, so ill calculated for a proper distribution of
troops in case of attack, and so well calculated to hide the
movements of an army acquainted with all the passes and tracks
which, for aught we knew, intersected the morass, induced our
leader to push forward at once into the open country.  As soon,
therefore, as the advance was formed, and the boats had departed,
we began our march, following an indistinct path along the edge
of the ditch or canal.  But it was not without many checks that
we were able to proceed. Other ditches, similar to that whose
course we pursued, frequently stopped us by running in a cross
direction, and falling into it at right angles.  These were too
wide to be leaped, and too deep to be forded; consequently, on
all such occasions, the troops were obliged to halt, till bridges
were hastily constructed of such materials as could be procured,
and thrown across.

Having advanced in this manner for several hours, we at length
found ourselves approaching a more cultivated region.  The marsh
became gradually less and less continued, being intersected by
wider spots of firm ground; the reeds gave place, by degrees, to
wood, and the wood to inclosed fields.  Upon these, however,
nothing grew, harvest having long ago ended. They accordingly
presented but a melancholy appearance, being covered with the
stubble of sugar-cane, which resembled the reeds which we had
just quitted, in everything except altitude.  Nor as yet was any
house or cottage to be seen.  Though we knew, therefore, that
human habitations could not be far off, it was impossible to
guess where they lay, or how numerous they might prove; and as
we could not tell whether our guides might not be deceiving us,
and whether ambuscades might not be laid for our destruction as
soon as we should arrive where troops could conveniently act, our
march was insensibly conducted with increased caution and

But in a little while some groves of orange-trees presented
selves; on passing which two or three farm-houses
appeared. Towards these, our advanced companies immediately
hastened, with the hope of surprising the inhabitants, and
preventing any from being raised.  Hurrying on at double-quick
time, they surrounded the buildings, succeeded in securing the
inmates, capturing several horses; but becoming rather careless
in watching their prisoners, one man contrived to effect his
escape. Now, then, all hope of eluding observation might be laid
aside. The rumour of our landing would, we knew, spread faster
than we could march; and it only remained to make that rumour as
terrible as possible.

With this view, the column was commanded to widen its files, and
to present as formidable an appearance as could be assumed.
Changing our order, in obedience to these directions, we marched,
not in sections of eight or ten abreast, but in pairs, and thus
contrived to cover with our small division as large a tract or
ground as if we had mustered thrice our present numbers.  Our
steps were likewise quickened, that we might gain, if possible,
some advantageous position, where we might be able to cope with
any force that might attack us; and thus hastening on, we soon
arrived at the main road which leads directly to New
Orleans.  Turning to the right, we then advanced in the direction
of that town for about a mile; when, having reached a spot where
it was considered that we might encamp in comparative safety, our
little column halted; the men piled their arms, and a regular
bivouac was formed.


The country where we had now established ourselves, answered, in
every respect, the description which I have already given of the
neck of land on which New Orleans is built.  It was a narrow
plain of about a mile in width, bounded on one side by the
Mississippi, and on the other by the marsh from which we had just
emerged. Towards the open ground this marsh was covered with
dwarf wood, having the semblance of a forest rather than of a
swamp; but on trying the bottom, it was found that both
characters were united, and that it was impossible for a man to
make his way among the trees, so boggy was the soil upon which
they grew.  In no other quarter, however, was there a single
hedge-row, or plantation of any kind; excepting a few apple and
other fruit trees in the gardens of such houses as were scattered
over the plain, the whole being laid out in large fields for the
growth of sugar-cane, a plant which seems as abundant in this
part of the world as in Jamaica.

Looking up towards the town, which we at this time faced, the
marsh is upon your right, and the river upon your left.  Close to
the latter runs the main road, following the course of the stream
all the way to New Orleans.  Between the road and the water is
thrown up a lofty and strong embankment, resembling the dykes in
Holland, and meant to serve a similar purpose; by means of which
the Mississippi is prevented from overflowing its banks, and the
entire flat is preserved from inundation.  But the attention of a
stranger is irresistibly drawn away from every other object, to
contemplate the magnificence of this noble river.  Pouring along
at the prodigious rate of four miles an hour, an immense body of
water is spread out before you; measuring a full mile across, and
nearly a hundred fathoms in depth.  What this mighty stream must
be near its mouth, I can hardly imagine, for we were here upwards
of a hundred miles from the ocean.

Such was the general aspect of the country which we had
entered;--our own position, again, was this.  The three regiments
turning off from the road into one extensive green field, formed
three close columns within pistol-shot of the river.  Upon our
right, but so much in advance as to be of no service to us, was a
large house, surrounded by about twenty wooden huts, probably
intended for the accommodation of slaves.  Towards this house
there was a slight rise in the ground, and between it and the
camp was a small pond of no great depth.  As far to the rear as
the first was to the front, stood another house, inferior in
point of appearance, and skirted by no outbuildings: this was
also upon the right; and here General Keane, who accompanied us,
fixed his head-quarters; but neither the one nor the other could
be employed as a covering redoubt, the flank of the division
extending, as it were, between them.  A little way in advance,
again, where the outposts were stationed, ran a dry ditch and a
row of lofty palings; affording some cover to the front of our
line, should it be formed diagonally with the main road.  The
left likewise was well secured by the river; but the right and
the rear were wholly unprotected.  Though in occupying this
field, therefore, we might have looked very well had the country
kind us been friendly, it must be confessed that our situation
hardly deserved the title of a military position.


NOON had just passed, when the word was given to halt, by which
means every facility was afforded of posting the piquet's leisure
and attention.  Nor was this deemed enough to secure
tranquillity: parties were sent out in all directions to
reconnoitre, who returned with an account that no enemy nor any
trace of an enemy could be discerned.  The troops were
accordingly suffered to light fires, and to make themselves
comfortable, only their accoutrements were not taken off, and the
were piled in such form as to be within reach at a moment's

As soon as these agreeable orders were issued, the soldiers to
obey them both in letter and in spirit.  Tearing up a number of
strong palings, large fires were lighted in a moment; water was
brought from the river, and provisions were cooked.  But their
bare rations did not content them.  Spreading themselves over the
country as far as a regard to safety would permit, they entered
every house, and brought away quantities of hams, fowls, and
wines of various descriptions; which being divided among them,
all fared well, and none received too large a quantity.  In this
division of good things, they were not unmindful of their
officers; for upon active warfare the officers are considered by
the privates as comrades, to whom respect and obedience are due,
rather than as masters.

It was now about three o'clock in the afternoon, and all had as
yet remained quiet.  The troops having finished their meal, lay
stretched beside their fires, or refreshed themselves by bathing,
for to-day the heat was such as to render this latter employment
extremely agreeable, when suddenly a bugle from the advanced
posts sounded the alarm, which was echoed back from all in the
army.  Starting up, we stood to our arms, and prepared for
battle, the alarm being now succeeded by some firing; but we were
scarcely in order, when intelligence arrived from the front that
there was no danger, only a few horse having made their
appearance, who were checked and put to flight at the first
discharge.  Upon this information, our wonted confidence
returned, and we again betook ourselves to our former
occupations, remarking that, as the Americans had never yet dared
to attack, there was no great probability of their doing so on
the present occasion.

In this manner the day passed without any further alarm; and
darkness having set in, the fires were made to blaze with
increased splendour, our evening meal was eaten, and we prepared
to sleep.  But about half-past seven o'clock, the attention of
several individuals was drawn to a large vessel, which seemed to
be stealing up the river till she came opposite to our camp; when
her anchor was dropped, and her sails leisurely furled.  At first
we were doubtful whether she might not be one of our own cruisers
which had passed the fort unobserved, and had arrived to render
her assistance in our future operations.  To satisfy this doubt,
she was repeatedly hailed; but returning no answer, an alarm
immediately spread through the bivouac, and all thought of sleep
was laid aside.  Several musket-shots were now fired at her with
the design of exacting a reply, of which no notice was taken;
till at length, having fastened all her sails, and swung her
broadside towards us, we could distinctly hear some one cry out
in a commanding voice, "Give them this for the honour of
America."  The words were instantly followed by the flashes of her
guns, and a deadly shower of grape swept down numbers in the

Against this destructive fire we had nothing whatever to oppose.
The artillery which we had landed was too light to bring into
competition with an adversary so powerful; and as she had
anchored within a short distance of the opposite bank, no
musketry could reach her with any precision or effect.  A few
rockets were discharged, which made a beautiful appearance in the
air; but the rocket is at the best an uncertain weapon, and these
deviated too far from their object to produce even terror amongst
those against whom they were directed.  Under these
circumstances, as nothing could be done offensively, our sole
object was to shelter the men as much as possible from the iron
hail.  With this view, they were commanded to leave the fires,
and to hasten under the dyke. Thither all accordingly repaired,
without much regard to order and regularity, and laying ourselves
along wherever we could find room, we listened in painful silence
to the pattering of grape-shot among our huts, and to the shrieks
and groans of those who lay wounded beside them.


The night was now as dark as pitch, the moon being but young, and
totally obscured with clouds.  Our fires deserted by us, and beat
about by the enemy's shot, began to burn red and dull, and,
except when the flashes of those guns which played upon us cast a
momentary glare, not an object could be distinguished at the
distance of a yard.  In this state we lay for nearly an hour,
unable to move from our ground, or offer any opposition to those
who kept us there; when a straggling fire of musketry called our
attention towards the piquets, and warned us to prepare for a
closer and more desperate struggle. As yet, however, it was
uncertain from what cause this dropping fire arose.  It might
proceed from the sentinels, who, alarmed by the cannonade from
the river, mistook every tree for an American; and till the real
state of the case should be ascertained, it would be improper to
expose the troops by moving any of them from the shelter which
the bank afforded.  But these doubts were not permitted to
continue long in existence.  The dropping fire having paused for
a few moments, was succeeded by a fearful yell; and the heavens
were illuminated on all sides by a semi-circular blaze of
musketry. It was now manifest that we were surrounded, and that
by a very superior force; and that no alternative remained,
except to surrender at discretion, or to beat back the

The first of these plans was never for an instant thought of; the
second was immediately put into force.  Rushing from under the
bank, the 85th and 95th flew to support the piquets, whilst the
4th, stealing to the rear of the encampment, formed close column,
and remained as a reserve.  And now began a battle of which no
language were competent to convey any distinct idea; because it
was one to which the annals of modern warfare furnish no
parallel.  All order, all discipline were lost.  Each officer, as
he succeeded in collecting twenty or thirty men about him,
plunged into the midst of the enemy's ranks, where it was fought
hand to hand, bayonet to bayonet, and sabre to sabre.

I am well aware that he who speaks of his own deeds in the field
of battle lies fairly open to the charge of seeking to make a
hero of himself in the eyes of the public; and feeling this, it
is not without reluctance that I proceed to recount the part
which I myself took in the affair of this night.  But, in truth,
I must either play the egotist awhile, or leave the reader
without any details at all; inasmuch as the darkness and general
confusion effectually prevented me from observing how others,
except my own immediate party, were employed.

Offering this as my apology for a line of conduct which I should
otherwise blush to pursue, and premising that I did nothing, in
my own person, which was not done by my comrades at least as
effectually, I go on to relate as many of the particulars of this
sanguinary conflict as came under the notice of my own senses.

My friend Grey and myself had been supplied by our soldiers with
a couple of fowls taken from a neighbouring hen-roost, and a few
bottles of excellent claret, borrowed from the cellar of one of
the houses near.  We had built ourselves a sort of hut, by piling
together, in a conical form, a number of large stakes and broad
rails torn up from one of the fences; and a bright wooden fire
was blazing at the door of it. In the wantonness of triumph, too,
we had lighted some six or eight wax-candles; a vast quantity of
which had been found in the store-rooms of the chateaux hard by;
and having done ample justice to our luxurious supper, we were
sitting in great splendour and in high spirits at the entrance of
our hut, when the alarm of the approaching schooner was
communicated to us.  With the sagacity of a veteran, Grey
instantly guessed how matters stood: he was the first to hail
the suspicious stranger; and on receiving no answer to his
challenge, he was the first to fire a musket in the direction of
her anchorage.  But he had scarcely done so when she opened her
broadside, causing the instantaneous abandonment of fires,
viands, and mirth throughout the bivouac.

As we contrived to get our men tolerably well around us, Grey and
myself were among the first who rushed forth to support the
piquets and check the advance of the enemy upon the right.
Passing as rapidly as might be through the ground of encampment
amidst a shower of grape-shot from the vessel, we soon arrived at
the pond; which being forded, we found ourselves in front of the
farm-house of which I have already spoken as composing the
head-quarters of General Keane.  Here we were met by a few
stragglers from the outposts, who reported that the advanced
companies were all driven in, and that a numerous division of
Americans was approaching.  Having attached these fugitives to
our little corps, we pushed on, and in a few seconds reached the
lower extremity of a sloping stubble-field, at the other end of
which we could discern a long line of men, but whether they were
friends or foes the darkness would not permit ups to determine.
We called aloud for the purpose of satisfying our doubts; but the
signal being disregarded, we advanced.  A heavy fire of musketry
instantly opened upon us; but so fearful was Grey of doing injury
to our own troops, that he would not permit it to be returned.
We accordingly pressed on, our men dropping by ones and twos on
every side of us, till having arrived within twenty or thirty
yards of the object of our curiosity, it became to me evident
enough that we were in front of the enemy.  Grey's humane caution
still prevailed; he was not convinced, till he, should be
convinced it was but natural that he should alter his plans.
There chanced to be near the spot where we were standing a huge
dung-heap, or rather a long solid stack of stubble, behind which
we directed the men to take shelter whilst one of us should creep
forward alone, for the purpose of more completely ascertaining a
fact of which all except my brave and noble-minded comrade were
satisfied.  The event proved that my sight had not deceived me: I
approached within sabre's length of the line; and having
ascertained beyond the possibility of doubt that the line was
composed of American soldiers, I returned to my friend and again
urged him to charge.  But there was an infatuation upon him that
night for which I have ever been unable to account: he insisted
that I must be mistaken; he spoke of the improbability which
existed that any part of the enemy's army should have succeeded
in taking up a position in rear of the station of one of our
outposts, and he could not be persuaded that the troops now
before him were not the 95th Rifle corps.  At last it was agreed
between us that we should separate; that Grey with one half of
the party should remain where he was, whilst I with the other
half should make a short detour to the right, and come down upon
the flank of the line from whose fire we had suffered so
severely.  The plan was carried into immediate execution.  Taking
with me about a dozen or fourteen men, I quitted Grey, and we
never met again.

How or when he fell I know not; but, judging from the spot and
attitude in which I afterwards found his body, I conceive that my
back could have been barely turned upon him when the fatal ball
pierced his brain.  He was as brave a soldier and as good a man
as the British army can boast of; beloved by his brother officers
and adored by his men.  To me he was as a brother; nor have I
ceased even now to feel, as often as the 23rd of December
returns, that on that night a tie was broken than which the
progress of human life will hardly furnish one more tender or
more strong.  But to my tale.

Leaving Grey--careless as he ever was in battle of his own
person, and anxious as far as might be to secure the safety of
his followers--I led my little party in the direction agreed
upon, and fortunately falling in with about an equal number of
English riflemen, I caused them to take post beside my own men,
and turned up to the front.  Springing over the paling, we found
ourselves almost at once upon the left flank of the enemy; and we
lost not a moment in attacking it.  But one volley was poured in,
and then bayonets, musket-butts, sabres, and even fists, came
instantly into play. In the whole course of my military career
remember no scene at all resembling this.  We fought with the
savage ferocity of bull-dogs; and many a blade which till
to-night had not drunk blood became in a few minutes crimsoned

Such a contest could not in the nature of things be of very long
continuance.  The enemy, astonished at the vigour of our assault,
soon began to waver, and their wavering was speedily converted
into flight.  Nor did we give them a moment's time to recover
from their panic.  With loud shouts we continued to press upon
them; and amidst the most horrible din and desperate carnage
drove them over the field and through the little village of huts,
of which notice has already been taken as surrounding the mansion
on our advanced right.  Here we found a number of our own people
prisoners, and under a guard of Americans.  But the guard fled as
we approached, and our countrymen catching up such weapons as
came first to hand, joined in the pursuit.

In this spot I halted my party, increased by the late additions
to the number of forty; among whom were two gallant young
officers of the 95th.  We had not yet been joined, as I expected
be joined, by Grey; and feeling that we were at least far enough
in advance of our own line, we determined to attempt nothing
further except to keep possession of the village should it
attacked.  But whilst placing the men in convenient situations,
another dark line was pointed out to us considerably to the left
our position.  That we might ascertain at once of what troops was
composed, I left my brother officers to complete the arrangements
which we had begun, and walking down the field, demanded in a
loud voice to be informed who they were that kept post in so
retired a situation.  A voice from the throng made answer that
they were Americans, and begged of me not fire upon my friends.
Willing to deceive them still further, I asked to what corps they
belonged; the speaker replied that they were the second battalion
of the first regiment, and inquired what had become of the first
battalion.  I told him that it was upon my right, and assuming a
tone of authority, commanded him not to move from his present
situation till I should join him with a party of which I was at
the head.

The conversation ended here, and I returned to the village; when,
communicating the result of my inquiries to my comrades, we
formed our brave little band into line and determined to attack.
The men were cautioned to preserve a strict silence, and not to
fire a shot till orders were given; they observed these
injunctions, and with fixed bayonets and cautious tread advanced
along the field.  As we drew near, I called aloud for the
commanding officer of the second regiment to step forward, upon
which an elderly man, armed with a heavy dragoon sabre, stepped
out of the ranks.  When he discovered by our dress that we were
English, this redoubtable warrior lost all self-command; he
resigned his sword to me without a murmur, and consented at once
to believe that his battalion was surrounded, and that to offer
any resistance would but occasion a needless loss of blood.  Nor
was he singular in these respects: his followers, placing
implicit reliance in our assurances that they were hemmed in on
every side by a very superior force, had actually begun to lay
down their arms, and would have surrendered, in all probability,
at discretion, but for the superior gallantry of one man.  An
American officer, whose sword I demanded, instead of giving it up
as his commander had done, made a cut at my head, which with some
difficulty I managed to ward off; and a few soldiers near him,
catching ardour from his example, discharged their pieces among
our troops.  The sound of firing was no sooner heard than it
became general, and as all hope of success by stratagem might now
be laid aside, we were of necessity compelled to try the effect
of violence.  Again we rushed into the middle of the throng, and
again was the contest that of man to man, in close and desperate
strife; till a panic arising among the Americans, they dispersed
in all directions and left us masters of the field.

In giving a detail so minute of my own adventures this night, I
beg to repeat what has been stated already, that I have no wish
whatever to persuade my readers that I was one whit more cool or
more daring than my companions.  Like them I was driven to
depend, from first to last, upon my own energies; and I believe
the energies of few men fail them when they are satisfied that on
them alone they must depend.  Nor was the case different with my
comrades.  Attacked unexpectedly, and in the dark, surrounded,
too, by a numerous enemy, and one who spoke the same language with
ourselves, it is not to be wondered at if the order and routine of
civilised warfare were everywhere set at nought.  Each man who
felt disposed to command was obeyed by those who stood near
him, without any question being asked as to his authority; and
more feats of individual gallantry were performed in this
single night than many regular campaigns might furnish an
opportunity to perform.

The night was far spent, and the sound of firing had begun to wax
faint, when, checking the ardour of our brave followers, we
collected them once more together and fell back into the village.
Here likewise considerable numbers from other detachments
assembled, and here we learned that the Americans were repulsed
on every side.  The combat had been long and obstinately
contested: it began at eight o'clock in the evening and continued
till three in the morning--but the victory was ours.  True, it
was the reverse of a bloodless one, not fewer than two hundred
fifty of our best men having fallen in the struggle: but even
at the expense of such a loss, we could not but account ourselves
fortunate in escaping from the snare in which we had confessedly

To me, however, the announcement of the victory brought no
rejoicing, for it was accompanied with the intelligence that my
friend was among the killed.  I well recollect the circumstances
under which these sad news reached me.  I was standing with a
sword in each hand--my own and that of the officer who had
surrendered to me, and, as the reader may imagine, in no bad
humour with myself or with the brave fellows about me, when a
brother officer stepping forward abruptly told the tale.  It came
me upon me like a thunderbolt; and casting aside my trophy,
thought only of the loss which I had sustained.  Regardless of
every other matter I ran to the rear, and found Grey lying behind
the dung-heap, motionless and cold.  A little pool of blood which
had coagulated under his head, pointed out the spot where the
ball had entered, and the position of his limbs gave proof that
he must have died without a struggle. I cannot pretend to
describe what were then my sensations, but of whatever nature
they might be, little time was given for their indulgence; the
bugle sounding the alarm, I was compelled to leave him as he lay,
and to join my corps. Though the alarm proved to be a false one,
it had the good effect of bringing all the troops together, by
which means a regular line was now, for the first time since the
commencement of the action, formed.  In this order, having
defiled considerably to the left, so as to command the highway,
we stood in front of our bivouac till dawn began to appear; when,
to avoid the fire of the schooner, we once more moved to the
river's bank and lay down.  Here, during the whole of the
succeeding day, the troops were kept shivering in the cold frosty
air, without fires, without provisions, and exhausted with
fatigue; nor was it till the return of night that any attempt to
extricate them from their comfortless situation could be made.


Whilst others were thus reposing, I stole away with two or three
men for the purpose of performing the last sad act of affection
which it was possible for me to perform to my friend Grey.  As we
had completely changed our ground, it was not possible for me at
once to discover the spot where he lay; indeed I traversed a
large portion of the field before I hit upon it.  Whilst thus
wandering over the arena of last night's contest, the most
shocking and most disgusting spectacles everywhere met my eyes.
I have frequently beheld a greater number of dead bodies within
as narrow a compass, though these, to speak the truth, were
numerous enough, but wounds more disfiguring or more horrible I
certainly never witnessed.  A man shot through the head or heart
lies as if he were in a deep slumber; insomuch that when you gaze
upon him you experience little else than pity.  But of these,
many had met their deaths from bayonet wounds, sabre cuts, or
heavy blows from the butt ends of muskets; and the consequence
was, that not only were the wounds themselves exceedingly
frightful, but the very countenances of the dead exhibited the
most savage and ghastly expressions.  Friends and foes lay
together in small groups of four or six, nor was it difficult to
tell almost the very hand by which some of them had fallen.  Nay,
such had been the deadly closeness of the strife, that in one or
two places an English and American soldier might be seen with the
bayonet of each fastened in the other's body.

Having searched for some time in vain, I at length discovered
friend lying where during the action we had separated, and where,
when the action came to a close, I had at first found him, shot
through the temples by a rifle bullet so remarkably small as
scarcely to leave any trace of its progress.  I am well aware
that this is no fit place to introduce the working of my own
personal feelings, but he was my friend, and such a friend as few
men are happy enough to possess.  We had known and loved each
other for years; our regard had been cemented by a long
participation in the same hardships and dangers, and it cannot;
therefore surprise, if even now I pay that tribute to his worth
and our friendship which, however unavailing it may be, they both

When in the act of looking for him I had flattered myself that I
should be able to bear his loss with something like philosophy,
but when I beheld him pale and bloody, I found all my resolution
evaporate.  I threw myself on the ground beside him and wept,
like a child.  But this was no time for the indulgence of useless
sorrow.  Like the royal bard, I knew that I should to him, but he
could not return to me, and I knew not whether an hour would pass
before my summons might arrive.  Lifting him therefore upon a
cart, I had him carried down to head-quarter house, now converted
into an hospital, and having dug for him a grave at the bottom of
the garden, I laid him there as a soldier should be laid,
arrayed, not in a shroud, but in his uniform.  Even the privates
whom I brought with me to assist at his funeral mingled their
tears with mine, nor are many so fortunate as to return to the
parent dust more deeply or more sincerely lamented.


Retiring from the performance of this melancholy duty, I strolled
into the hospital and visited the wounded.  It is here that war
loses its grandeur and show, and presents only a real picture of
its effects.  Every room in the house was crowded with wretches
mangled, and apparently in the most excruciating agonies.
Prayers, groans, and, I grieve to add, the most horrid
exclamations, smote upon the ear wherever I turned. Some lay at
length upon straw, with eyes half closed and limbs motionless;
some endeavoured to start up, shrieking with pain, while the
wandering eye and incoherent speech of others indicated the loss
of reason, and usually foretold the approach of death.  But
there was one among the rest whose appearance was too horrible
ever to be forgotten.  He had been shot through the windpipe,
and the breath making its way between the skin and the flesh had
dilated him to a size absolutely terrific.  His head and face were
particularly shocking.  Every feature was enlarged beyond what can
well be imagined; whilst his eyes were so completely hidden by
the cheeks and forehead as to destroy all resemblance to a human

Passing through the apartments where the private soldiers lay,
I next came to those occupied by officers.  Of these there
were five or six in one small room, to whom little better
accommodation could be provided than to their inferiors.  It was
a sight peculiarly distressing, because all of them chanced to be
personal acquaintances of my own.  One had been shot in the head,
and lay gasping and insensible; another had received a musket-
ball in the belly, which had pierced through and lodged in the
backbone.  The former appeared to suffer but little, giving no
signs of life, except what a heavy breathing produced; the latter
was in the most dreadful agony, screaming out, and gnawing the
covering under which he lay.  There were many besides these, some
severely and others slightly hurt; but as I have already dwelt at
sufficient length upon a painful subject, I shall only observe,
that to all was afforded every assistance which circumstances
would allow, and that the exertions of their medical attendants
were such as deserved and obtained the grateful thanks of even
the most afflicted among the sufferers themselves.



IN the mean time the rest of the troops were landing as fast as
possible, and hastening to join their comrades.  Though the
advance had set out from Pine Island by themselves, they did not
occupy all the boats in the fleet.  Part of the second brigade,
therefore, had embarked about twelve hours after their departure;
and rowing leisurely on, were considerably more than half way
across the lakes when the action began.  In the stillness of
night, however, it is astonishing at what distance a noise is
heard.  Though they must have been at least twenty miles from
the Bayo when the schooner first opened her fire, the sound
reaching them roused the rowers from their indolence, who, pulling
with all their might, hurried on, whilst the most profound silence
reigned among the troops, and, gaining the creek in little more an
three hours, sent fresh reinforcements to share in the danger and
glory of the night.

Nor was a moment lost by the sailors in returning to the island.
Intelligence of the combat spread like wildfire; the boats were
loaded even beyond what was strictly safe, and thus, by exerting
themselves in a degree almost unparalleled, our gallant seamen
succeeded in bringing the whole army into position before dark on
the 24th.  The second and third brigades, therefore, now took up
their ground upon the spot where the late battle had been fought,
and, resting their right upon the woody morass, extended so far
towards the river, as that the advance by by wheeling up might
continue the line across the entire plain.

But instead of taking part in this formation, the advance was
still fettered to the bank, from which it was additionally
prevented from moving by the arrival of another large ship,
which, cast anchor about a mile above the schooner.  Thus were
three battalions kept stationary by the guns of these two
formidable floating batteries, and it was clear that no attempt
to extricate them could be made without great loss, unless under
cover of night.  During the whole of the 24th, therefore, they
remained in this uncomfortable situation; but as soon as darkness
had well set in, a change of position was effected.  Withdrawing
the troops, company by company, from behind the bank, General
Keane stationed them in the village of huts, by which means the
high road was abandoned to the protection of a piquet, and the
left of the army covered by a large chateau.

Being now placed beyond risk of serious annoyance from the
shipping whole army remained quiet for the night.  How long we
were to continue in this state nobody appeared to know; not
whisper was circulated as to the time of advancing, nor a surmise
ventured respecting the next step likely to be taken.  In our to
whose rumours we had before listened with avidity, no confidence
was reposed.  It was quite evident, either that they had
purposely deceived us, or that their information was gathered
from a most imperfect source; and hence, though they were not
exactly placed in confinement, they were strictly watched, and
treated more like spies than deserters.  Instead of an easy
conquest, we had already met with a vigorous opposition; instead
of finding the inhabitants ready and eager to join us, we found
the houses deserted, the cattle and horses driven away, and every
appearance of hostility.  To march by the only road was rendered
impracticable; so completely was it commanded by the shipping.
In a word, all things had turned out diametrically opposite to
what had been anticipated; and it appeared that, instead of a
trifling affair more likely to fill our pockets than to add to
our renown, we had embarked in an undertaking which presented
difficulties not to be surmounted without patience and

Having effected this change of position, and covered the front of
his army with a strong chain of outposts, General Keane, as I
have said, remained quiet during the remainder of the night, and
on the morrow was relieved from further care and responsibility
by the unexpected arrival of Sir Edward Pakenham and General
Gibbs.  As soon as the death of Ross was known in London, the
former of these officers was dispatched to take upon himself the
command of the army.  Sailing immediately with the latter as his
second in command, he had been favoured during the whole voyage
by a fresh and fair wind, and now arrived in time to see his
troops brought into a predicament from which all his abilities
could scarcely expect to extricate them.  Nor were the troops
themselves ignorant of the unfavourable circumstances in which
they stood.  Hoping everything, therefore, from a change, they
greeted their new leader with a hearty cheer; whilst the
confidence which past events had tended in some degree to dispel,
returned once more to the bosoms of all.  It was Christmas-day,
and a number of officers, clubbing their little stock of
provisions, resolved to dine together in memory of former times.
But at so melancholy a Christmas dinner I do not recollect at any
time to have been present.  We dined in a barn; of plates,
knives, and forks, there was a dismal scarcity; nor could our
fare boast of much either in intrinsic good quality or in the way
of cooking.  These, however, were mere matters of merriment; it
was the want of many well-known and beloved faces that gave us
pain; nor were any other subjects discussed besides the amiable
qualities of those who no longer formed part of our mess, and
never would again form part of it.  A few guesses as to the
probable success of future attempts alone relieved this topic,
and now and then a shot from the schooner drew our attention to
ourselves; for though too far removed from the river to be in
much danger, we were still within cannon-shot of our enemy.  Nor
was she inactive in her attempts to molest.  Elevating her guns
to a great degree, she contrived occasionally to strike the wall
of the building within which we sat; but the force of the ball
was too far spent to penetrate, and could therefore produce no
serious alarm.

Whilst we were thus sitting at table a loud shriek was heard
after one of these explosions, and on running out we found that a
shot had taken effect in the body of an unfortunate soldier.  I
mention this incident because I never beheld in any human being
so great a tenacity of life.  Though fairly cut in two at the
lower part of the belly, the poor wretch lived for nearly an
hour, gasping for breath and giving signs even of pain.

But to return to my narrative.  As soon as he reached the camp
Sir Edward proceeded to examine with a soldier's eye every point
and place within view.  Of the American army nothing, whatever
could be perceived except a corps of observation, composed of
five or six hundred mounted riflemen, which hovered along our
front and watched our motions.  The town itself was completely
hid; nor was it possible to see beyond the distance of a very few
miles either in front or rear, so flat and unbroken was the face
of the country.  Under these circumstances little insight into
the state of affairs could be obtained by reconnoitring.  The
only, thing, indeed, which he could learn from it was, that while
the vessels kept their present station upon river no advance
could be made; and as he felt that every moment's delay was
injurious to us and favourable to the enemy, he resolved to remove
these incumbrances and to push forward as soon as possible.

With this view nine field-pieces, two howitzers, and one mortar
were brought down to the brink of the stream as soon as it dark.
Working parties were likewise ordered out, by whom was thrown up
opposite to the schooner; and having got all things in readiness,
at dawn on the 26th a heavy cannonade was opened upon her with
red-hot shot.  It was not long before we could perceive her crew
hastening into their boats, whilst the smoke which began to rise
from her decks proved that the balls had taken effect.  She was,
in fact, on fire, and being abandoned without resistance, in
little more than an hour she blew up.  In itself the sight was a
fine one, but to us it was peculiarly gratifying, for we could
not but experience something like satiated revenge at the
destruction of a vessel from which we had suffered so much
damage.  A loud shout accordingly followed the explosion, and the
guns were immediately turned against the ship.  But the fate of
her companion had warned her not to remain till she herself
should be attacked.  Setting every inch of canvas, and hoisting
out her boats, she began, to stem the stream at the very instant
the schooner took fire, and being impelled forward both by towing
and sailing, she succeeded in getting beyond the range of shot
before the guns could be brought to bear.  One shell, however,
was thrown with admirable precision, which falling upon her deck
caused considerable execution; but excepting this, she escaped
without injury, and did not anchor again till she had got too far
for pursuit.

Having thus removed all apparent obstacles to his future
progress, the General made dispositions for a speedy advance.
Dividing the army into two columns, he appointed General Gibbs to
the command of one, and General Keane to the command of the
other.  The left column, led on by the latter officer, consisted
of the 95th, the 85th, the 93rd, and one black corps; the right,
of the 4th, 21st, 44th, and the other black corps.  The
artillery, of which we had now ten pieces in the field, though
at present attached to the left column, was designed to act as
circumstances and the nature of the ground would permit; whilst
the dragoons, few of whom had as yet provided themselves with
horses, were appointed to guard the hospitals, and to secure the
wounded from any sudden surprise or molestation from the rear.

But the day was too far spent in making these arrangements, and
in clearing the way for future operations, to permit any movement
before the morrow.  The whole of the 26th was therefore spent in
bringing up stores, ammunition, and a few heavy guns from the
ships, which being placed in battery upon the banks of the river,
secured us against the return of our floating adversary.  All
this was done quietly enough, nor was there any cause of alarm
till after sunset; but from that time till towards dawn, we were
kept in a constant state of anxiety and agitation.  Sending down
small bodies of riflemen, the American General harassed our
piquets, killed and wounded a few of the sentinels, and prevented
the main body from obtaining any sound refreshing sleep.
Scarcely had the troops lain down when they were roused by a
sharp firing at the outposts, which lasted only till they were in
order, and then ceased; but as soon as they had dispersed and had
once more addressed themselves to repose, the same cause of alarm
returned, and they were again called to their ranks.  Thus was
the entire night spent in watching, or at best in broken and
disturbed slumbers, than which nothing is more trying, both to
the health and spirits of an army.

With the piquets, again, it fared even worse.  For the outposts
of an army to sleep is at all times considered as a thing
impossible; but in modern and civilized warfare they are
nevertheless looked upon as in some degree sacred.  Thus, whilst
two European armies remain inactively facing each other, the
outposts of neither are molested, unless a direct attack upon the
main body be intended; nay, so far is this tacit good
understanding carried, that I have myself seen French and English
sentinels not more than twenty yards apart.  But the Americans
entertained no such chivalric notions.  An enemy was to them an
enemy, whether alone or in the midst of five thousand companions;
and they therefore counted the death of every individual as so
much taken from the strength of the whole.  In point of fact they
no doubt reasoned correctly, but to us at least it appeared an
ungenerous return to barbarity.  Whenever they could approach
unperceived within proper distance of our watch-fires, six or
eight riflemen would fire amongst the party that sat around them,
while one or two, stealing as close to each sentinel as a regard
to their own safety would permit, acted the part of assassins
rather than that of soldiers, and attempted to murder him in cold
blood.  For the officers, likewise, when going their rounds, they
constantly lay in wait, and thus, by a continued dropping fire,
they not only wounded some of those against whom their aim was
directed, but occasioned considerable anxiety and uneasiness
throughout the whole line.

It was on this night, and under these circumstances, that I was
indebted to the vigilance of my faithful dog for my life.  Amid
all the bustle of landing, and throughout the tumult of the
nocturnal battle, she never strayed from me; at least if she did
lose me for a time, she failed not to trace me out again as soon
as order was restored, for I found her by my side when the dawn
of the 24th came in, and I never lost sight of her afterwards.
It was my fortune on the night of the 26th to be put in charge of
an outpost on the left front of the army; on such occasions I
seldom experienced the slightest inclination to sleep; and on the
present, I made it a point to visit my sentinels at least once in
every, half-hour.  Going my rounds for this purpose, it was
necessary that I should pass a little copse of low underwood,
just outside the line of our videttes; and I did pass it again
and again, without meeting with any adventure.  But about an hour
after midnight, my dog, which, as usual, trotted a few paces
before me, suddenly stopped short at the edge of the thicket, and
began to bark violently, and in great apparent anger.  I knew the
animal well enough to be aware that some cause must exist for
such conduct; and I too stopped short, till I should ascertain
whether danger were near.  It was well for me that I had been
thus warned; for at the instant of my halting, about half a dozen
muskets were discharged from the copse, the muzzles of which, had
I taken five steps forward, must have touched my body.  The balls
whizzed harmlessly past my head; and, on my returning the fire
with the pistol which I carried in my hand, the ambuscade broke
up, and the party composing it took to their heels.  I was
Quixote enough to dash sword in hand into the thicket after them:
but no one waited for me; so I continued my perambulations in


Having continued this detestable system of warfare till towards
morning, the enemy retired and left us at rest.  But as soon as
day began to break, our piquets were called in, and the troops
formed in order of attack.  The right column, under General
Gibbs, took post near the skirts of the morass, throwing out
skirmishers half way across the plain, whilst the left column
drew up upon the road covered by the rifle corps, which in
extended order met the skirmishers from the other.  With this last
division went the artillery, already well supplied with
horses; and, at the signal given the whole moved forward.

It was a clear frosty morning, the mists had dispersed, and the
sun shone brightly upon our arms when we began our march.  The
enemy's corps of observation fell back as we advanced, without
offering in any way to impede our progress, and it was impossible
to guess, ignorant as we were of the position of his main body,
at what moment opposition might be expected.  Nor, in truth, was
it matter of much anxiety.  Our spirits, in spite of the troubles
of the night, were good, and our expectations of success were
high, consequently many rude jests were bandied about, and many
careless words spoken: for soldiers are, of all classes of men,
the freest from care, and on that account, perhaps, the most
happy.  By being continually exposed to it, danger, with them,
ceases to be frightful; of death they have no more terror than the
beasts that perish; and even hardships, such as cold, wet,
hunger, and broken rest, lose at least part of their
disagreeableness, by the frequency of their recurrence.

Moving on in this merry mood, we advanced about four or five
miles without the smallest check or hindrance; when, at length,
we found ourselves in view of the enemy's army, posted in a very
advantageous manner.  About forty yards in their front was a
canal, which extended from the morass to within a short distance
of the high road.  Along their line were thrown up breastworks,
not indeed completed, but even now formidable.  Upon the road at
several other points were erected powerful batteries; whilst the
ship, with a large flotilla of gun-boats, flanked the whole
position from the river.


When I say that we came in sight of the enemy, I do not mean that
he was gradually exposed to us in such a manner as to leave time
for cool examination and reflection.  On the right, indeed, he
was seen for some time, but on the left a few houses built at a
turning in the road entirely concealed him; nor was it till they
gained that turning, and beheld the muzzles of his guns pointed
towards them, that those who moved in this direction were aware
of their proximity to danger.  But that danger was indeed near
they were quickly taught; for scarcely had the head of the column
passed the houses when a deadly fire was opened from both the
battery and the shipping.  That the Americans are excellent
marksmen, as well with artillery as with rifles, we have had
frequent cause to acknowledge; but, perhaps, on no occasion did
they assert their claim to the title of good artillery-men more
effectually than on the present.  Scarce a ball passed over or
fell short of its mark, but all striking full into the midst of
our ranks, occasioned terrible havoc.  The shrieks of the
wounded, therefore, the crash of firelocks, and the fall of such
as were killed; caused at first some little confusion; and what
added to the panic was, that from the houses beside which we
stood bright flames suddenly burst out.  The Americans, expecting
this attack, had filled them with combustibles for the purpose;
and directing against them one or two guns, loaded with red-hot
shot, in an instant set them on fire.  The scene was altogether
very sublime.  A tremendous cannonade mowed down our ranks, and
deafened us with its roar; whilst two large chateaux and their
outbuildings almost scorched us with the flames, and blinded us
with the smoke which they emitted.

The infantry, however, was not long suffered to remain thus
exposed; but being ordered to quit the path and to form line in
the fields, the artillery was brought up, and opposed to that of
the enemy.  But the contest was in every respect unequal, since
their artillery far exceeded ours, both in numerical strength and
weight of metal.  The consequence was, that in half an hour two
of our field-pieces and one field-mortar were dismounted: many of
the gunners were killed; and the rest, after an ineffectual
attempt to silence the fire of the shipping, were obliged to

In the mean time the infantry having formed line, advanced under
a heavy discharge of round and grape shot, till they were checked
by the appearance of the canal.  Of its depth they were of course
ignorant, and to attempt its passage without having ascertained
whether it could be forded might have been productive of fatal
consequences.  A halt was accordingly ordered, and the men were
commanded to shelter themselves as well as they could from the
enemy's fire.  For this purpose they were hurried into a wet
ditch, of sufficient depth to cover the knees, where, leaning
forward, they concealed themselves behind some high rushes which
grew upon its brink, and thus escaped many bullets which fell
around them in all directions.


Thus fared it with the left of the army, whilst the right, though
less exposed to the cannonade, was not more successful in its
object.  The same impediment which checked one column forced the
other likewise to pause; and after having driven in an advanced
body of the enemy, and endeavoured, without effect, to penetrate
through the marsh, it also was commanded to halt.  In a word, all
thought of attacking was for this day abandoned; and it now only
remained to withdraw the troops from their present perilous
situation, with as little loss as possible.

The first thing to be done was to remove the dismounted guns.
Upon this enterprise a party of seamen were employed, who,
running forward to the spot where they lay, lifted them, in spite
of the whole of the enemy's fire, and bore them off in triumph.
As soon as this was effected, regiment after regiment stole away;
not in a body, but one by one, under the same discharge which
saluted their approach.  But a retreat thus conducted necessarily
occupied much time.  Noon had therefore long passed before the
last corps was brought off; and when we again began to muster
twilight was approaching.  We did not, however, retire to our
former position; but having fallen back only about two miles from
the canal, where it was supposed that we should be beyond reach
of annoyance from the American artillery, we there established
ourselves for the night, having suffered less during the day than,
from our exposed situation and the enemy's heavy fire, might have
been expected.

The ground which we now occupied resembled, in almost every
particular, that which we had quitted.  We again extended across
the plain, from the marsh to the river; no wood or cover of any
description concealing our line, or obstructing the view of either
army; while both in front and rear was an open space, laid out in
fields and intersected by narrow ditches.  Our outposts, however
were pushed forward to some houses within a few hundred yards of
the enemy's works, sending out advanced sentinels even farther;
and the head-quarters of the army were established near the spot
where the action of the 23rd had been fought.


In this state we remained during the 28th, the 29th, and 30th,
without any efforts being made to fortify our own position, or to
annoy that of the enemy.  Some attempts were, I believe, set on
foot to penetrate into the wood on the right of our line, and to
discover a path through the morass, by which the enemy's left
might be turned.  But all of these proved fruitless, and a few
valuable lives having been sacrificed, the idea was finally laid
aside.  In the meanwhile the American General directed the whole
of his attention to the strengthening of his post.  Day and night
we could observe numerous parties at work upon his lines, whilst
from the increased number of tents, which almost every hour might
be discerned, it was evident that strong reinforcements were
continually pouring into his camp.  Nor did he leave us totally
unmolested.  By giving to his guns a great degree of elevation,
he contrived at last to reach our bivouac; and thus were we
constantly under a cannonade which, though it did little
execution, proved nevertheless extremely annoying.  Besides this,
he now began to erect batteries on the opposite bank of the
river; from which a flanking fire could be thrown across the
entire front of his position.  In short, he adopted every
precaution which prudence could suggest, and for the reception of
which the nature of his ground was so admirably adapted.

Under these circumstances it was evident that the longer an
attack was delayed the less likely was it to succeed; that
something must be done immediately every one perceived, but how
to proceed was the difficulty.  If we attempted to storm the
American lines, we should expose ourselves to almost certain
destruction from their artillery; to turn them was impossible;
and to draw their troops by any manoeuvring from behind their
entrenchments was a thing altogether out of the question.  There
seemed therefore to be but one practicable mode of assault; which
was, to treat these field-works as one would treat a regular
fortification; by erecting breaching batteries against them, and
silencing, if it were possible, at least some of their guns.  To
this plan, therefore, our leader had recourse; and, in
consequence, the whole of these three days were employed in
landing heavy cannon, bringing up ammunition, and making such
preparations as might have sufficed for a siege.

At length, having completed his arrangements, and provided such
means as were considered sufficient to ensure success, General
Pakenham determined to commence operations without delay.  One
half of the army was accordingly ordered out on the night of the
31st, and marched to the front, passing the piquets, and halting
about three hundred yards from the enemy's line.  Here it was
resolved to throw up a chain of works; and here the greater part
of this detachment, laying down their firelocks, applied
themselves vigorously to their tasks, whilst the rest stood
armed and prepared for their defence.

The night was dark, and our people maintained a profound silence;
by which means, not an idea of what was going on existed in the
American camp.  As we laboured, too, with all diligence, six
batteries were completed long before dawn, in which were mounted
thirty pieces of heavy cannon; when, falling back a little way,
we united ourselves to the remainder of the infantry, and lay
down behind some rushes, in readiness to act, as soon as we
should be wanted.

In the erection of these batteries, a circumstance occurred
worthy of notice, on account of its singularity.  I have already
stated that the whole of this district was covered with the
stubble of sugar-cane; and I might have added, that every
storehouse and barn, attached to the different mansions scattered
over it, was filled with barrels of sugar.  In throwing up these
works, the sugar was used instead of earth.  Rolling the
hogsheads towards the front, they were placed upright in the
parapets of batteries; and it was computed that sugar to the
value of many thousand pounds sterling was thus disposed of.



THE infantry having retired, and the gunners taken their station,
dawn was anxiously expected.  But the morning of the 1st of January
chanced to be peculiarly gloomy.  A thick haze obscured for a
long time the rays of the sun, nor could objects be discerned
with any accuracy till a late hour.

But at length the mist gave way, and the American camp was fully
exposed to view.  Being at this time only three hundred yards
distant, we could perceive all that was going forward with great
exactness.  The different regiments were upon parade; and being
dressed in holiday suits, presented really a fine appearance.
Mounted officers were riding backwards and forwards through the,
ranks, bands were playing, and colours floating in the air; in a
word, all seemed jollity and gala; when suddenly our batteries
opened, and the face of affairs was instantly changed.  The ranks
were broken; the different corps dispersing, fled in all
directions, whilst the utmost terror and disorder appeared to
prevail.  Instead of nicely-dressed lines, nothing but confused
crowds could now be observed; nor was it without much difficulty
that order was finally restored.  Oh, that we had charged at that


Whilst this consternation prevailed among the infantry, their
artillery remained silent; but as soon as the former rallied,
they also recovered confidence, and answered our salute with
great rapidity and precision.  A heavy cannonade quickly commenced
on both sides, and continued during the whole of the day; till,
towards evening, our ammunition began to fail, and our fire in
consequence to slacken.  The fire of the Americans, on the other
hand, was redoubled: landing a number of guns from the flotilla,
they increased their artillery to a prodigious amount; and
directing at the same time the whole force of their cannon on the
opposite bank against the flank of our batteries, they soon
convinced us that all endeavours to surpass them in this mode of
fighting would be useless.  Once more, therefore, were we obliged
to retire, leaving our heavy guns to their fate; but as no
attempt was made by the Americans to secure them, working parties
were again sent out after dark, and such as had not been
destroyed were removed.

Of the fatigue undergone during these operations by the whole
army, from the General down to the meanest sentinel, it would be
difficult to form an adequate conception.  For two whole nights
and days not a man had closed an eye, except such as were cool
enough to sleep amidst showers of cannon-ball; and during the day
scarcely a moment had been allowed in which we were able so much
as to break our fast.  We retired, therefore, not only baffled
and disappointed, but in some degree disheartened and
discontented.  All our plans had as yet proved abortive; even
this, upon which so much reliance had been placed, was found to
be of no avail; and it must be confessed that something like
murmuring began to be heard through the camp.  And, in truth, if
ever an army might be permitted to murmur, it was this.  In
landing they had borne great hardships, not only without
repining, but with cheerfulness; their hopes had been excited by
false reports, as to the practicability of the attempt in which
they were embarked; and now they found themselves entangled
amidst difficulties from which there appeared to be no escape,
except by victory.  In their attempts upon the enemy's line,
however, they had been twice foiled; in artillery they perceived
themselves to be so greatly overmatched, that their own could
hardly assist them; their provisions, being derived wholly from
the fleet, were both scanty and coarse; and their rest was
continually broken.  For not only did the canon and mortars from
the main of the enemy's position play unremittingly upon them
both by day and night, but they were likewise exposed to a deadly
fire from the opposite bank of the river, where no less than
eighteen pieces of artillery were now mounted, and swept the
entire line of our encampment.  Besides all this, to undertake
the duty of a piquet was as dangerous as to go into action.
Parties of American sharpshooters harassed and disturbed those
appointed to that service from the time they took possession of
their post till they were relieved; whilst to light fires at
night was impossible, because they served but as certain marks
for the enemy's gunners.  I repeat, therefore, that a little
murmuring could not be wondered at.  Be it observed, however,
that these were not the murmurs of men anxious to escape from a
disagreeable situation by any means.  On the contrary, they
resembled rather the growling of a chained dog, when he sees his
adversary and cannot reach him; for in all their complaints, no
man ever hinted at a retreat, whilst all were eager to bring
matters to the issue of a battle, at any sacrifice of loves.

Nor was our gallant leader less anxious to fight than his
followers.  To fight upon something like equal terms was,
however, his wish; and for this purpose a new scheme was
invented, worthy, for its boldness, of the school in which Sir
Edward had studied his profession.  It was determined to divide
the army, to send part across the river, who should seize the
enemy's guns, and turn them on themselves; whilst the remainder
should at time make a general assault along the whole
entrenchment.  But before this plan could be put into execution,
it would be necessary to cut a canal across the entire neck of
land from the Bayo de Catiline to the river, of sufficient width
and depth to admit of boats being brought up from the lake.  Upon
this arduous undertaking were the troops immediately employed.
Being divided into four companies, they laboured by turns, day
and night; one party relieving another after a stated number of
hours, in such order as that the work should never be entirely
deserted.  The fatigue undergone during the prosecution of this
attempt no words can sufficiently describe; yet it was pursued
without repining, and at length, by unremitting exertions, they
succeeded in effecting their purpose by the 6th of January.

Whilst these things were going on, and men's minds were anxiously
turned towards approaching events, fresh spirit was given to the
army by the unexpected arrival of Major-General Lambert, with
the 7th and 43rd; two fine battalions, mustering each 800
effective men.  By this reinforcement, together with the addition
of a body of sailors and marines from the fleet, our numbers
amounted now to little short of 6000 men; a force which, in
almost any other quarter of America, would have been
irresistible.  Of the numbers of the enemy, again, various
reports were in circulation; some stating them at 20,000, others
at 30,000; but I believe that I come nearer the truth when I
suppose their whole force to have comprised 12,000 men of all
arms.  It is, at least, certain that they exceeded us in numbers
as much as they did in resources; and that scarcely an hour
passed which did not bring in new levies to their camp.

The canal, as I have stated, being finished on the 6th, it was
resolved to lose no time in making use of it.  Boats were
accordingly ordered up for the transportation of 1400 men; and
Colonel Thornton, with the 85th regiment, the marines, and a
party of sailors, was appointed to cross the river.  But a number
of untoward accidents occurred, to spoil a plan of operations as
accurately laid down as any in the course of the war.  The soil
through which the canal was dug being soft, part of the bank gave
way, and, choking up the channel, prevented the heaviest of the
boats from getting forward.  These again blocked up the passage,
so that none of those which were behind could proceed; and thus,
instead of a flotilla for the accommodation of 1400 men, only a
number of boats sufficient to contain 350 was enabled to reach
their destination.  Even these did not arrive at the time
appointed.  According to the preconcerted plan, Colonel
Thornton's detachment was to cross the river immediately after
dark.  They were to push forward, so as to carry all the
batteries, and point the guns before daylight; when, on the
throwing up of a rocket, they were to commence firing upon the
enemy's line, which at the same moment was to be attacked by the
main off our army.

In this manner was one part of the force to act, whilst the rest
thus appointed:--Dividing his troops into three columns, Sir
Edward directed that General Keane, at the head of the 95th, the
light companies of the 21st, 4th, and 44th, together with the two
black corps, should make a demonstration, or sham attack, upon
the right; that General Gibbs, with the 4th, 21st, 44th, and
93rd, should force the enemy's left, whilst General Lambert, with
the 7th and 43rd, remained in reserve, ready to act as
circumstances might require.  But in storming an entrenched
position, something more than bare courage is required.  Scaling
ladders and fascines had, therefore, been prepared, with which to
fill up the ditch and mount the wall; and since to carry these a
service of danger, requiring a corps well worthy of dependence,
the 44th was for that purpose selected, as a regiment of
sufficient numerical strength, and already accustomed to American
warfare.  Thus were all things arranged on the night the 7th, for
the 8th was fixed upon as the day decisive of the fate of New Orleans.


Whilst the rest of the army lay down to sleep till they should be
roused up to fight, Colonel Thornton, with the 85th, and a corps
of marines and seamen, amounting in all to 1400 men, moved down
to the brink of the river.  As yet, however, no boats had
arrived; hour after hour elapsed before they came; and when they
did come, the misfortunes which I have stated above were
discovered, for out of all that had been ordered up, only a few
made their appearance.  Still it was absolutely necessary that
this part of the plan should be carried into execution.
Dismissing, therefore, the rest of his followers, the Colonel
put himself at the head of his own regiment, about fifty seamen,
and as many marines, and with this small force, consisting of no
[on] 340 men, pushed off.  But, unfortunately, the loss of time
nothing could repair.  Instead of reaching the opposite bank at
latest by midnight, dawn was beginning to appear before the boats
quitted the canal.  It was in vain that they rowed on in perfect
silence, and with oars muffled, gaining the point of debarkation
without being perceived.  It was in vain that they made good
their landing and formed upon the beach, without opposition or
alarm; day had already broke, and the signal-rocket was seen in
the air, while they were yet four miles from the batteries, which
ought hours ago to have been taken.

In the mean time, the main body armed and moved forward some way
in front of the piquets.  There they stood waiting for daylight,
and listening with the greatest anxiety for the firing which
ought now to be heard on the opposite bank.  But their attention
was exerted in vain, and day dawned upon them long before they
desired its appearance.  Nor was Sir Edward Pakenham disappointed
in this part of his plan alone.  Instead of perceiving everything
in readiness for the assault, he saw his troops in battle array,
but not a ladder or fascine upon the field.  The 44th, which was
appointed to carry them, had either misunderstood or neglected
their orders; and now headed the column of attack, without any
means being provided for crossing the enemy's ditch or scaling
his rampart.

The indignation of our brave leader on this occasion may be
imagined, but cannot be described.  Galloping towards Colonel
Mullens, who led the 44th, he commanded him instantly to return
with his regiment for the ladders, but the opportunity of
planting them was lost, and though they were brought up, it was
only to be scattered over the field by the frightened bearers.
For our troops were by this time visible to the enemy.  A
dreadful fire was accordingly opened upon them, and they were
mowed down by hundreds, while they stood waiting for orders.

Seeing that all his well-laid plans were frustrated, Pakenham
gave the word to advance, and the other regiments, leaving the
44th with the ladders and fascines behind them, rushed on to the
assault.  On the left, a detachment under Colonel Rennie, of the
21st regiment, stormed a three-gun battery, and took it.  Here
they remained for some time in expectation of support; but none
arriving, and a strong column of the enemy forming for its
recovery, they determined to anticipate the attack, and pushed
on.  The battery which they had taken was in advance of the body
of the works, being cut off from it by a ditch, across which only
a single plank was thrown.  Along this plank did these brave men
attempt to pass; but being opposed by overpowering numbers, they
were repulsed; and the Americans, in turn, forcing their way into
the battery, at length succeeded in recapturing it with immense
slaughter.  On the right, again, the 21st and 4th, supported by
the 93rd, though thrown into some confusion by the enemy's fire,
pushed on with desperate gallantry to the ditch; but to scale the
parapet without ladders was a work of no slight difficulty.  Some
few, indeed, by mounting one upon another's shoulders, succeeded
in entering the works, but these were speedily overpowered, most
of them killed, and the rest taken; whilst as many as stood
without were exposed to a sweeping fire, which cut them down by
whole companies.  It was in vain that the most obstinate courage
was displayed.  They fell by the hands of men whom they
absolutely did not see; for the Americans, without so much as
lifting their faces above the rampart, swung their firelocks by
one arm over the wall, and discharged them directly upon their
heads.  The whole of the guns likewise, from the opposite bank,
kept up a well-directed wand deadly cannonade upon their flank;
and thus were they destroyed without an opportunity being given
of displaying their valour, or obtaining so much as revenge.

Sir Edward saw how things were going, and did all that a general
could do to rally his broken troops.  Riding towards the 44th,
which had returned to the ground, but in great disorder, he
called out for Colonel Mullens to advance; but that officer
disappeared, and was not to be found.  He therefore prepared to
lead them on himself, and had put himself at their head for that
purpose, when he received a slight wound in the knee from a
musket-ball, which killed his horse.  Mounting another, he again
headed the 44th, when a second ball took effect more fatally, and
he dropped lifeless into the arms of his aide-de-camp.

Nor were Generals Gibbs and Keane inactive.  Riding through the
ranks, they strove by all means to encourage the assailants and
recall the fugitives; till at length both were wounded, and borne
off the field.  All was now confusion and dismay.  Without
leaders, ignorant of what was to be done, the troops first halted
and then began to retire; till finally the retreat was changed
into a flight, and they quitted the ground in the utmost
disorder.  But the retreat was covered in gallant style by the
reserve.  Making a forward motion, the 7th and 43rd presented the
appearance of a renewed attack; by which the enemy were so much
awed, that they did not venture beyond their lines in pursuit of
the fugitives.

Whilst affairs were thus disastrously conducted in this quarter,
the party under Colonel Thornton had gained the landing-place.
On stepping ashore, the first thing they beheld was a rocket
thrown up as a signal that the battle was begun.  This unwelcome
sight added wings to their speed.  Forming in one little column,
and pushing forward a single company as an advanced guard, they
hastened on, and in half an hour reached a canal, along the
opposite bank of which a detachment of Americans was drawn up.
To dislodge them was the work of a moment a boat, with a
carronade in her bow, got upon their flank, gave them a single
discharge of grape, whilst the advanced guard extended its ranks,
and approached at double-quick time.  But they scarcely waited
till the latter were within range, when, firing a volley, they
fled in confusion.  This, however, was only an outpost: the main
body was some way in rear, and amounted to no fewer than 1500

It was not long, however, before they likewise presented
themselves.  Like their countrymen on the other side, they were
strongly entrenched, a thick parapet with a ditch covering their
front; whilst a battery upon their left swept the whole
position, and two field-pieces commanded the road.  Of artillery
the assailants possessed not a single piece, nor any means beyond
what nature supplied of scaling the rampart.  Yet nothing daunted
by the obstacles before them, or by the immense odds to which
they were opposed, dispositions for an immediate attack were
made.  The 85th, extending its files, stretched across the entire
line of the enemy; the sailors in column prepared to storm the
battery, whilst the marines remained some little way in rear of
the centre as a reserve.

These arrangements being completed, the bugle sounded, and our
troops advanced.  The sailors raising a shout, rushed forward,
but were met by so heavy a discharge of grape and canister that
for an instant they paused.  Recovering themselves, however, they
again pushed on; and the 85th dashing forward to their aid, they
received a heavy fire of musketry, and endeavoured to charge.  A
smart firing was now for a few minutes kept up on both sides,
but our people had no time to waste in distant fighting, and
accordingly hurried on to storm the works, upon which a panic
seized the Americans, they lost their order, and fled, leaving us
in possession of their tents and of eighteen pieces of cannon.

In this affair our loss amounted to only three men killed and
about forty wounded, among the latter of whom was Colonel
Thornton.  Nor could the loss on the part of the enemy greatly
exceed our own.  Had they stood firm, indeed, it is hardly
conceivable that so small a force could have wrested an
entrenched position from numbers so superior; at least it could
not have been done without much bloodshed.  But they were
completely surprised.  An attack on this side was a circumstance
of which they had not dreamed; and when men are assaulted in a
point which they deem beyond the reach of danger, it is well
known that they defend themselves with less vigour than where
such an event was anticipated.

When in the act of storming these lines the word was passed
through our ranks that all had gone well on the opposite bank.
This naturally added to the vigour of the assault; but we had
not followed our flying enemy above two miles when we were
commanded to halt.  The real state of the case had now reached
us, and the same messenger who brought the melancholy news brought
likewise an order to return.

The place where we halted was in rear of a canal, across which
was thrown a wooden bridge, furnishing apparently the only means
of passing.  At the opposite end of this bridge stood a
collection of wooden cottages and one chateau of some size.  Here
a company was stationed to serve the double purpose of a piquet
and a rear-guard; whilst the main body, having rested for half an
hour, began their march towards the point where they had landed.


As soon as the column had got sufficiently on their way the
piquet likewise prepared to follow.  But in doing so it was
evident that some risk must be run.  The enemy having rallied,
began again to show a front; that is to say, parties of sixty or
a hundred men approached to reconnoitre.  These, however, must be
deceived, otherwise a pursuit might be commenced, and the
re-embarkation of the whole corps hindered or prevented.  It so
happened that the piquet in question was this day under my
command; as soon, therefore, as I received information that the
main body had commenced its retreat, I formed my men, and made a
show of advancing.  The Americans perceiving this, fled; when,
wheeling about, we set fire to the chateau, and under cover of
the smoke destroyed the bridge and retreated.  Making all haste
towards the rear, we overtook our comrades just as they had
begun to embark; when the little corps being once more united,
entered their boats, and reached the opposite bank without



As soon as the whole army was re-united, and the broken regiments
had recovered their order, a flag of truce was dispatched with
proposals for the burial of the dead.  To accomplish this end a
truce of two days was agreed upon, and parties were immediately
sent out to collect and bury their fallen comrades.  Prompted by
curiosity, I mounted my horse and rode to the front; but of all
the sights I ever witnessed, that which met me there was beyond
comparison the most shocking and the most humiliating.  Within
the narrow compass of a few hundred yards were gathered together
nearly a thousand bodies, all of them arrayed in British
uniforms.  Not a single American was among them; all were
English; and they were thrown by dozens into shallow holes,
scarcely deep enough to furnish them with a slight covering of
earth.  Nor was this all.  An American officer stood by smoking a
cigar, and apparently counting the slain with a look of savage
exultation, and repeating over and over to each individual that
approached him, that their loss amounted only, to eight men
killed and fourteen wounded.

I confess that when I beheld the scene I hung down my head, half
in sorrow and half in anger.  With my officious informant I had
every inclination to pick a quarrel; but he was on duty, and an
armistice existed, both of which forbade the measure.  I could
not, however, stand by and repress my choler, and since to give
it vent would have subjected me to more serious inconvenience
than a mere duel, I turned my horse's head and galloped back to
the camp.

But the change of expression visible there in every countenance
no language can portray.  Only twenty hours ago, and all was life
and animation; wherever you went you were enlivened by the sound
of merriment and raillery; whilst the expected attack was
mentioned in terms indicative not only of sanguine hope, but, of
the most perfect confidence as to its result.  Now gloom and
discontent everywhere prevailed.  Disappointment, grief,
indignation, and rage, succeeded each other in all bosoms; nay,
so completely were the troops overwhelmed by a sense of disgrace,
that for awhile they retained their sorrow without so much as
hinting at its cause.  Nor was this dejection occasioned wholly
by the consciousness of laurels tarnished.  The loss of
comrades was to the full as afflicting as the loss of honour; for
out of more than 5000 men brought on this side into the field, no
fewer than 1500 had fallen.  Among these were two generals (for
Gibbs survived his wound but a few hours), and many officers of
courage and ability; besides which, hardly an individual
survived who had not to mourn the loss of some particular
and well-known companion.

Yet it is most certain that amidst all this variety of
conflicting passions no feeling bordering upon despair or even
terror found room.  Even among the private soldiers no fear was
experienced; for if you attempted to converse with them on the
subject of the late defeat, they would end with a bitter curse
upon those to whose misconduct they attributed their losses, and
refer you to the future, when they hoped for an opportunity of
revenge.  To the Americans they would allow no credit, laying the
entire blame of the failure upon certain individuals among
themselves; and so great was the indignation expressed against
one corps, that the soldiers of other regiments would hardly
exchange words with those who chanced to wear that uniform.
Though deeply afflicted, therefore, we were by no means
disheartened, and even, yet anticipated, with an eagerness far
exceeding what was felt before, a renewal of the combat.


But General Lambert, on whom the chief command had devolved, very
prudently determined not to risk the safety of his army by
another attempt upon works evidently so much beyond their
strength.  He considered, and considered justly, that his chances
of success were in every respect lessened by the late repulse.
In the first place, an extraordinary degree of confidence was
given to the enemy; in the next place, the only feasible plan of
attack having been already tried, they would be more on their
guard to prevent its being again put in execution; and lastly,
his own force was greatly diminished in numbers, whilst theirs
continued every day to increase.  Besides, it would be casting
all upon the hazard of a die.  If again defeated, nothing could
save our army from destruction, because unless it retreated in
force no retreat could be effected.  A retreat, therefore, whilst
yet the measure appeared practicable, was resolved upon, and
towards that end were all our future operations directed.

To the accomplishment of this desirable object, however, one
great obstacle existed: by what road were the troops to travel,
and in what order were they to regain the fleet?  On landing we
had taken advantage of the creek or bayo, and thus come up by
water within two miles of the cultivated country.  But to adopt a
similar course in returning was impossible.  In spite of our
losses there were not throughout the armament a sufficient number
of boats to transport above one-half of the army at a time.  If,
however, we should separate, the chances were that both parties
would be destroyed; for those embarked might be intercepted, and
those left behind would be obliged to cope with the entire
American force.  Besides, even granting that the Americans might
be repulsed, it would be impossible to take to our boats in their
presence, and thus at least one division, if not both, must be

To obviate this difficulty prudence required that the road which
we had formed on landing should be continued to the very margin
of the lake; whilst appearances seemed to indicate the total
impracticability of the scheme.  From firm ground to the water's
edge was here a distance of many miles, through the very centre
of a morass where human foot had never before trodden.  Yet it was
desirable at least to make the attempt; for if it failed we
should only be reduced to our former alternative of gaining a
battle or surrendering at discretion.

Having determined to adopt this course, General Lambert
immediately dispatched strong working parties, under the guidance
of engineer officers, to lengthen the road, keeping as near as
possible to the margin of the creek.  But the task assigned to
them was burthened with innumerable difficulties.  For the extent
of several leagues no firm footing could be discovered on which
to rest the foundation of a path; nor any trees to assist in
forming hurdles.  All that could be done, therefore, was to bind
together large quantities of reeds, and lay them across the
quagmire; by which means at least the semblance of a road was
produced, however wanting in firmness and solidity.  But where
broad ditches came in the way, many of which intersected the
morass, the workmen were necessarily obliged to apply more
durable materials.  For these, bridges composed in part of large
branches brought with immense labour from the woods, were
constructed; but they were, on the whole, little superior in
point of strength to the rest of the path, for though the edges
were supported by timber, the middle was filled up only with

To complete this road, bad as it was, occupied the space of nine
days, during which time our army remained in position without
making any attempt to molest the enemy.  The Americans, however,
were not so inactive.  In the course of two days six guns were
again mounted upon the bank of the river, from which a continual
fire was kept up upon our camp.  The same mode of proceeding was
adopted in front, and thus, night and day, were we harassed by
danger against which there was no fortifying ourselves.  Of the
extreme unpleasantness of our situation it is hardly possible to
convey any adequate conception.  We never closed our eyes in
peace, for we were sure to be awakened before many minutes
elapsed, by the splash of a round shot or shell in the mud beside
us.  Tents we had none, but lay, some in the open air, and some
in huts made of boards, or any materials that could be procured.
From the first moment of our landing not a man had undressed
excepting to bathe; and many had worn the same shirt for weeks
together, Besides all this, heavy rains now set in, accompanied
with violent storms of thunder and lightning, which lasting
during the entire day, usually ceased towards dark, and gave
place to keen frosts.  Thus were we alternately wet and frozen:
wet all day, and frozen all night.  With the outposts again there
was constant skirmishing.  With what view the Americans wished to
drive them in I cannot tell; but every day were they attacked,
and compelled to maintain their ground by dint of hard fighting.
In one word, none but those who happened to belong to this army
can form a notion of the hardships which it endured and the
fatigue which it underwent.

Nor were these the only evils which tended to lessen our numbers.
To our soldiers every inducement was held out by the enemy to
desert.  Printed papers, offering lands and money as the price of
desertion, were thrown into the piquets, whilst individuals made
a practice of approaching our posts, and endeavouring to persuade
the very sentinels to quit their stations.  Nor could it be
expected that bribes so tempting would always be refused.  Many
desertions began daily to take place, and became  before long so
frequent, that the evil rose to be of a serious nature.

There occurred, however, one instance of magnanimous fidelity on
the part of a British soldier, which I cannot resist the
inclination of repeating.  A private of the 95th, whose name I
should have joyfully mentioned had I not forgotten it, chanced
one day to stand sentinel, when he was addressed by an American
officer.  The American offered him a hundred dollars and a
quantity of land if he would come over; representing, at the same
time, the superiority of a democratical government, and railing,
as these persons generally do, against the title of king.  Though
the Englishman heard what was said distinctly enough, he
nevertheless pretended to be deaf, and begged his tempter to come
a little nearer, that, in his own words, "he might tell him all
about it."  Jonathan, exulting at the prospect of drawing this
fine fellow from his duty, approached within twenty paces of
where he stood, when just as he had opened his mouth to renew his
offer, the sentinel levelled his piece and shot him through the
arm.  Nor was he contented with inflicting this punishment.
Walking forward, he seized his wounded enemy, and reproaching him
with dishonourable dealings, brought him in a prisoner to the
camp.  But, unhappily, conduct such as this was rare; in the
course of a week many men quitted their colours, and fled to the


In the mean time the whole of the wounded, except such as were
too severely hurt to be removed, were embarked upon the canal,
and sent off to the fleet.  Next followed the baggage and stores,
with the civil officers, commissaries, purveyors, &c.; and last
of all, such of the light artillery as could be withdrawn with
out trouble or the risk of discovery.  But of the heavy artillery,
of which about ten pieces were mounted in front of the bivouac,
and upon the bank of the river, no account was taken.  They were
ship's guns, of little value, and extremely cumbersome;
consequently their removal, had it been practicable, would
scarcely have rewarded the trouble.  It was therefore determined
to leave them behind; and they were accordingly permitted to
retain their stations to the last.

These preparations being continued for some days, on the 17th no
part of our force remained in camp except the infantry.  Having
therefore delayed only till the abandoned guns were rendered
unserviceable, on the evening of the 18th it also began its
retreat.  Trimming the fires, and arranging all things in the same
order as if no change were to take place, regiment after regiment
stole away, as soon as darkness concealed their motions; leaving
the piquets to follow as a rear-guard, but with strict
injunctions not to retire till daylight began to appear.  As may
be supposed, the most profound silence was maintained; not a man
opening his mouth, except to issue necessary orders, and even
then speaking in a whisper.  Not a cough or any other noise was to
be heard from the head to the rear of the column; and even the
steps of the soldiers were planted with care, to prevent the
slightest stamping or echo.  Nor was this extreme caution in any
respect unnecessary.  In spite of every endeavour to the contrary,
a rumour of our intended movement had reached the Americans for
we found them of late watchful and prying, whereas they had been
formerly content to look only to themselves.

For some time, that is to say, while our route lay along the high
road and beside the brink of the river, the march was agreeable
enough; but as soon as we began to enter upon the path through
the marsh all comfort was at an end.  Being constructed of
materials so slight, and resting upon a foundation so infirm, the
treading of the first corps unavoidably beat it to pieces; those
which followed were therefore compelled to flounder on in the
best way they could; and by the time the rear of the column
gained the morass all trace of a way had entirely disappeared.
But not only were the reeds torn asunder and sunk by the pressure
of those who had gone before, but the bog itself, which at first
might have furnished a few spots of firm footing, was trodden
into the consistency of mud.  The consequence was, that every
step sank us to the knees, and frequently higher.  Near the
ditches, indeed, many spots occurred which we had the utmost
difficulty in crossing at all; and as the night was dark, there
being no moon, nor any light except what the stars supplied, it
was difficult to select our steps, or even to follow those who
called to us that they were safe on the opposite side.  At one of
these places I myself beheld an unfortunate wretch gradually sink
till he totally disappeared.  I saw him flounder in, heard his
cry for help, and ran forward with the intention of saving him;
but before I had taken a second step, I myself sank at once as
high as the breast.  How I contrived to keep myself from
smothering is more than I can tell, for I felt no solid bottom
under me, and continued slowly to go deeper and deeper till the
mud reached my arms.  Instead of endeavouring to help the poor
soldier, of whom nothing could now be seen except the head and
hands, I was forced to beg assistance for myself: when a leathern
canteen strap being thrown to me, I laid hold of it, and was
dragged out just as my fellow-sufferer became invisible.

Over roads such as these did we continue our journey during the
whole of the night: and in the morning reached a place called
Fisherman's huts, upon the margin of the lake.  The name is
derived from a clump of mud-built cottages, situated in as
complete a desert as the eye of man was ever pained by beholding.
They stand close to the water, upon a part of the morass rather
more firm than the rest.  Not a tree or bush of any description
grows near them.  As far as the eye could reach a perfect ocean
of reeds everywhere presented itself, except on that side where a
view of the lake changed without fertilizing the prospect.  Were
any set of human beings condemned to spend their lives here, I
should consider their fate as little superior to that of the
solitary captive: but during many months of the year these huts
are wholly unoccupied, being erected, as their name denotes,
merely to shelter a few fishermen while the fishing season lasts.

Here at length we were ordered to halt; and perhaps I never
rejoiced more sincerely at any order than at this.  Wearied with
my exertions, and oppressed with want of sleep, I threw myself on
the ground without so much as pulling off my muddy garments, and
in an instant all my cares and troubles were forgotten.  Nor did
I wake from that deep slumber for many hours, when I rose cold
and stiff, and creeping beside a miserable fire of reeds,
addressed myself to the last morsel of salt pork which my wallet


The whole army had now come up, the piquets having escaped
without notice, or at least without annoyance.  Forming along the
brink of the lake, a line of outposts was planted, and the
soldiers were commanded to make themselves as comfortable as they
could.  But, in truth, the word comfort is one which cannot in
any sense be applied to people in such a situation.  Without
tents or huts of any description (for the few from which the
place is named were occupied by the General and other heads of
departments), our bed was the morass, and our sole covering the
clothes which had not quitted our backs for upwards of a month.
Our fires, upon the size and goodness of which much of a
soldier's happiness depends, were composed solely of reeds; a
species of fuel which, like straw, soon blazes up, and soon
expires again, almost without communicating any degree of warmth.
But, above all, our provisions were expended, and from what
quarter to obtain an immediate supply it defied the most
inventive genius to discover.  Our sole dependence was upon the
boats.  Of these a flotilla lay ready to receive us, in which
were embarked the black corps, with the 44th; but they had
brought with them only food for their own use.  It was therefore
necessary that they should reach the fleet and return again
before they could furnish us with what we so much wanted.  But
the distance to the nearest of the shipping could not be less
than eighty miles; and if the weather should become boisterous or
the winds obstinately adverse we might starve before any supply
could arrive.

These numerous grievances were, however, without remedy, and we
bore them with patience; though for two whole days the only
provisions issued to the troops were some crumbs of biscuit and a
small allowance of rum.  For my own part I did not fare so badly
as many others.  Having been always fond of shooting, I took a
firelock and went in pursuit of wild ducks, which abounded
throughout the bog.  Wandering along in this quest I reached a
lake, by the margin of which I concealed myself and waited for my
prey; nor was it long before I had an opportunity of firing.
Several large flocks flew over me, and I was fortunate enough to
kill three birds.  But, alas, those birds, upon which I had
already feasted in imagination, dropped into the water: my dog,
more tired than her master, would not fetch them out, and they
lay about twenty yards off, tantalizing me with the sight of a
treasure which I could not reach.  Moving off to another point, I
again took my station where I hoped for better fortune; but the
same evil chance once more occurred, and the ducks fell into the
lake.  This was too much for a hungry man to endure; the day was
piercingly cold, and the edge of the pool was covered with ice;
but my appetite was urgent, and I resolved at all hazards to
indulge it.  Pulling off my clothes, therefore, I broke the ice
and plunged in; and though shivering like an aspen-leaf, I
returned safely to the camp with a couple of birds.  Next day I
adopted a similar course with like success, but at the expense
of what was to me a serious misery.  My stockings of warm wool
were the only part of my dress which I did not strip off, and
to-day it unfortunately happened that one was lost.  Having
secured my ducks, I attempted to land where the bottom was muddy;
but my leg stuck fast, and in pulling it out off came the
stocking; to recover it was beyond my power, for the mud closed
over it directly, and the consequence was that till I regained
the transport only one of my feet could be warm at a time.  To
those who can boast of many pairs of fine cotton and woollen
hose, this misfortune of mine may appear light, but to me, who
had only two stockings on shore, the loss of one was very
grievous; and I therefore request that I may not be sneered at
when I record it as one of the disastrous consequences of this
ill-fated expedition.



AS soon as the boats returned, regiment after regiment embarked
and set sail for the fleet; but the distance being considerable
and the wind foul, many days elapsed before the whole could be
got off.  Excepting in one trifling instance, however, no accident
occurred, and by the end of the month we were all once more on
board our former ships.  But our return was far from
triumphant.  We, who only seven weeks ago had set out in the
surest confidence of glory, and I may add of emolument, were
brought back dispirited and dejected.  Our ranks were wofully
thinned, our chiefs slain, our clothing tattered and filthy, and
even our discipline in some degree injured.  A gloomy silence
reigned throughout the armament, except when it was broken by the
voice of lamentation over fallen friends; and the interior of
each ship presented a scene well calculated to prove the
short-sightedness of human hope and human prudence.

The accident to which I allude was the capture of a single boat
by the enemy.  About thirty men of the 14th dragoons having
crowded into an unarmed barge, were proceeding slowly down the
lake, when a boat mounting a carronade in its bow suddenly darted
from a creek and made towards them.  To escape was impossible,
for their barge was too heavily laden to move at a rate of even
moderate rapidity; and to fight was equally out of the question,
because of the superiority which their cannon gave to the Americans.
The whole party was accordingly compelled to surrender to six men
and an officer; and having thrown their arms into the lake, their
boat was taken in tow and they were carried away prisoners.

This, however, was the only misfortune which occurred.  Warned by
the fate of their comrades, the rest kept together in little
squadrons, each attended by one or more armed launches; and thus
rowing steadily on, they gained the shipping without so much as
another attempt at surprisal being made.

On reaching the fleet, we found that a considerable reinforcement
of troops had arrived from England.  It consisted of the 40th
foot, a fine regiment, containing nearly a thousand men, which,
ignorant of the fatal issue of our attack, had crossed the lakes
only to be sent back to the ships without so much as stepping on
shore.  The circumstance, however, produced little satisfaction.
We felt that the coming of thrice the number could not recover
what was lost or recall past events; and therefore no rejoicing
was heard, nor the slightest regard paid to the occurrence.  Nay,
so great was the despondency which had taken possession of men's
minds, that not even a rumour respecting the next point of attack
obtained circulation; whilst a sullen carelessness, a sort of
indifference as to what might happen, seemed to have succeeded
all our wonted curiosity and confidence of success in every


In this state we remained wind-bound till the 4th of February,
when, at length getting under weigh, the fleet ran down as far as
Cat Island.  This is a spot of sandy soil at the mouth of the
lake, remarkable for nothing except a solitary Spanish family
which possesses it.  Completely cut off from the rest of the
world, an old man, his wife, two daughters, and a son, dwell here
in apparent happiness and contentment.  Being at least one
hundred and twenty miles from the main, it is seldom that their
little kingdom is visited by strangers; and I believe that till
our arrival the daughters, though grown up to womanhood, had seen
few faces besides those of their parents and brother.  Their
cottage, composed simply of a few boughs, thatched and in-woven
with straw, is beautifully situated within a short distance of
the water.  Two cows and a few sheep grazed beside it; whilst a
small tract of ground covered with stubble, and a little garden
well stocked with fruit-trees and vegetables, at once gave proof
of their industry, and showed the source from whence they
supplied themselves with bread.

Having remained here till the 7th, we again took advantage of a
fair wind and stood to sea.  As soon as we had cleared the lake,
we directed our course towards the east, steering, as it was
rumoured, upon Mobile; nor was it long before we came in sight of
the bay which bears that name.  It is formed by a projecting
headland called Point Bayo, and a large island called Isle
Dauphin.  Upon the first is erected a small fort, possessing the
same title with the promontory which commands the entrance; for
though the island is, at least five miles from the main, there is
no water for floating a ship of any burthen except within a few
hundred yards of the latter.  The island is, like Cat Island,
uninhabited, except by one family, and unprovided with any works
of defence.


As the attack of Mobile was professedly our object, it was clear
that nothing could be done previous to the reduction of the fort.
The ships accordingly dropped anchor at the mouth of the bay, and
immediate preparations were made for the siege.  But the fort was
too inconsiderable in point of size to require the employment of
all our forces in its investment.  Whilst one brigade, therefore,
was allotted to this service, the rest proceeded to establish
themselves on the island, where, carrying tents and other
conveniences on shore, the first regular encampment which we had
seen since our arrival in this hemisphere was formed.

The spot of ground, of which we had now taken possession,
extended twelve miles in length, and from one to three in width.
Its soil is in general dry and sandy, well covered with grass,
and ornamented by continued groves of pine, cedar, oak, and
laurel.  On one side only is there a swamp, but not of sufficient
size to contaminate the atmosphere of the whole, which is
considered so peculiarly healthy, that the place is generally
used as a depot for the sick in the American army.  At present,
as I have said, it was tenanted by no more than a single family,
the master of which was a midshipman in the American navy, and
banished hither for some misdemeanor; but what was to us of much
greater importance, it was likewise stocked with cattle
resembling in appearance the black cattle of the Highlands of
Scotland, and not behind them in point of wildness.

Whilst the remainder of the army spent their time here, the 4th,
21st, and 44th, being landed above the fort, were busied in the
siege.  This small work stands, as I have stated, at the
extremity of a promontory.  Towards the sea its fortifications
are respectable enough, but on the land side it is little better
than a blockhouse.  The ramparts being composed of sand, not more
than three feet in thickness, are faced with plank barely
cannon-proof; whilst a sand-hill rising within pistol-shot of the
ditch, completely commands them.  Within, again, the fort is as
much wanting in accommodation as it is in strength.  There are no
bomb-proof barracks, nor any hole or arch under which men might
find protection from shells; indeed, so deficient is it in common
lodging-rooms, that a great part of the garrison slept in tents.
To reduce this place, therefore, occupied but a short time.  The
troops having assembled on the 8th, drove the enemy within their
lines on the 9th, and broke ground the same evening.  On the
10th, four eighteen-pounders with two howitzers were placed in
battery upon the top of the sand-hill; on the 11th, the fort
surrendered; and on the 12th, the garrison, consisting of four
hundred men of the second American regiment, marched out with all
the honours of war, and laid down their arms upon the glacis.


With the reduction of this trifling work ended all hostilities in
this quarter of America, for the army had scarcely re-assembled
when intelligence arrived from England of peace.  The news
reached us on the 14th, and I shall not deny that it was received
with general satisfaction.  Though war is the soldier's harvest,
yet it must be confessed, that when carried on as it had of late
been conducted, it is a harvest of which men in time become
weary; and many of us having been absent for several years from
our native shores, experienced absolute delight at the prospect
of returning once more to the bosom of our families.  The
communication was therefore welcomed with unfeigned joy, nor
could any other topic of conversation gain attention throughout
the camp, except the anticipated re-embarkation. .

But as the preliminaries only had been signed, and as
Mr. Maddison's approval was required before we should be at
liberty to depart, our army still continued stationary upon the
island.  Of the President's conduct, however, no doubts were
entertained; all thoughts of future military operations were in
consequence laid aside; and the sole aim of every individual
thenceforth was to make himself as comfortable as circumstances
would permit.  To effect this end various expedients were
adopted.  Among others a theatre was erected, in which such
officers as chose to exhibit performed for their own amusement
and the amusement of their friends.  In shooting and fishing,
likewise, much of our time was spent; and thus, by adopting the
usual expedients of idle men, we contrived to pass some days in a
state of tolerable comfort.

Occupations such as these, however, soon grew insipid, and it was
with sincere rejoicing that on the 5th of March we were made
acquainted with Mr. Maddison's agreement to the terms proposed.
All was now hope and exultation, an immediate departure was
anticipated, and those were pitied as unfortunate whose lot it
was supposed, might detain them even a day behind their fellows.
But as yet no movement took place; our provisions were not
sufficient to authorize the undertaking so long a voyage as we
must undertake, did we attempt to run for the nearest British
settlement; we were therefore compelled to remain where we were,
till a frigate should return, which had been sent forward to
solicit supplies from the Governor of Cuba.

During this interval, the same occupations were resorted to; and
others of a less agreeable nature undertaken.  As summer came on,
the island sent forth multitudes of snakes from their lurking-
places, which infested the camp, making their way in some
instances into our very beds.  This was bad enough, but it was
not the only nuisance to which we were subject.  The alligators,
which during the winter months lie in a dormant state, now began
to awaken, and prowling about the margin of the pool, created no
little alarm and agitation.  Apparently confounded at our
invasion of their territories, these monsters at first confined
themselves to the marshy part of the island, but becoming by
degrees more familiar, they soon ventured to approach the very
precincts of the camp.  One of them at length entered a tent; in
which only a woman and child chanced to be, and having stared
round as if in amazement, walked out again without offering to
commit any violence.  But the visit was of too serious a nature
to be overlooked.  Parties were accordingly formed for their
destruction, and it was usual on the return of each from an
excursion, instead of asking how many birds, to demand how many
snakes and alligators they had shot.  Of the former, indeed,
great numbers were killed,`and of the latter not a few, the
largest of which measured about nine feet from the snout to the

Another employment, also, deserves to be noted, because it is
truly characteristic of the boyish jollity of young soldiers.
Wearied with a state of idleness, the officers of the 7th, 43rd,
and 14th dragoons made an attack with fir-apples upon those of
the 85th, 93rd, and 95th.  For the space of some days they pelted
each other from morning till night, laying ambuscades and
exhibiting, on a small scale, all the stratagems of war; whilst
the whole army, not even excepting the Generals themselves, stood
by and spurred them on.

But to continue a detail of such proceedings would only swell my
narrative, without amusing my reader; I shall therefore content
myself with observing, that things remained in this state till
the 14th of March, when the long-looked for frigate at length
arrived, and on the 15th, the first division of the army
embarking, set sail for England.  The wind, however, was foul,
nor did the ships make any way till the 17th, when a fresh breeze
springing up, we stood our course, and by ten o'clock on the 21st
could distinguish the high land of Cuba.  But the violence of the
gale having driven us considerably to leeward, we were forced to
bear up, and beat along the coast, on which account it was not
till the 23rd that we came opposite to the port of Havannah.


Than the approach to this city, and its first appearance from the
water, it is impossible to conceive anything more grand and
imposing.  A little bay, extremely narrow at the entrance, forms
the harbour.  On each side of it stand forts of prodigious
strength, particularly those on the left, where the ground is
considerably elevated, whilst the city itself, with its ramparts
and towers, its numerous steeples, spires, and public
buildings, gives an assurance of wealth and magnificence
peculiarly striking.  When we entered, every tower was surmounted
by a national banner half-mast high, a circumstance which did not
at least diminish the effect of a first view; and the guns from
the forts answering our salute, showed us how desperate must be
the condition of an enemy that should venture within their
range.  Why the flags should thus indicate a general mourning, we
were at a loss to guess, till the pilot informed us that this was
Holy week.  Then, indeed, we remembered that we had returned to a
Roman Catholic country, and rejoiced at the lucky accident which
had brought us thither at such a season.

As it was late before we anchored, I was prevented from landing
that night, but on the morrow I went on shore at an early hour,
with the intention of seeing as much as my time would allow.  But
in my proposed visits to the different points worthy of attention
I was interrupted.  It was Good-Friday, consequently all public
places were shut, and neither guides nor carriages could be
procured.  But if I was disappointed in this, my disappointment
was amply compensated by a view of the religious ceremonies
peculiar to that day.

Walking into the largest church in the city, I beheld beside the
altar a figure of our Saviour as large as life nailed to a cross.
Beside this figure stood a number of monks, one of whom presented
a rod with a sponge affixed to its mouth, while a second thrust a
spear into its side, from which came out a liquor having the
colour of blood and water.  This being carefully caught in a
golden dish, the figure was taken down from the cross, wrapped
round with white linen clothes, and laid upon a bier, when an
imposing procession began in the following order: First marched a
military band playing slow and solemn music; next came a guard of
soldiers with heads bent down and arms reversed; then followed
about two hundred monks belonging to different orders, arrayed in
their dark robes, with hands and feet bare, and crucifixes
suspended from their necks.  A short interval now succeeded, and
another party of monks dressed in white appeared, singing hymns
in honour of the Virgin.  Next came a splendid couch surmounted
by a canopy covered with white silk and sparkling with gold and
jewels, upon which sat a waxen image of the Mother of God,
clothed in gorgeous apparel.  Following this was another party of
white-robed monks, chanting a requiem for a departed soul, and
then a second interval.  At the distance of perhaps twenty yards
from these came two monks bearing two large silver nails, then
two others bearing a spear and a rod, and then the body of our
Saviour stretched at full length upon the bier.  After the bier
came two monks bearing two other nails, and then another two
bearing a small cross and a ladder.  Here, again, there was
another interval, which was succeeded by a third white-robed
party likewise chanting a requiem.  Next to these came about
twenty canons arrayed in scarlet; then another couch covered with
crimson velvet, which supported a figure of Mary Magdalen,
likewise in a sitting posture; then a second body of canons,
succeeded by about two hundred monks in black; after these
another guard of soldiers, and last of all a second military

In spite of prejudice I could not avoid being deeply struck by
this solemn procession.  The airs performed by the bands were
slow and mournful, the voices of the singers were deep and
musical, the dresses were rich to a degree of splendour, and the
whole was gone through with much apparent devotion.  No doubt,
when regarded with the eye of reflection, the whole may seem
something worse than ludicrous, but it is impossible to witness
the scene and to reason on its propriety at the same time.  As
long as the pageant is before your eyes you cannot avoid being
powerfully impressed by it; nor is it till after it has
disappeared that you are inclined to ask yourself why you gave
way to feelings of that nature.  Yet among the natives I thought
I could observe a considerable degree of levity.  It is true that
as many as were in the streets or at the windows dropped upon
their knees while the procession passed, but their careless looks
and suppressed smiles sufficiently proved that they knelt only
because they were obliged to kneel.

Commencing at the door of the church where the representation of
the crucifixion had been exhibited, the funeral party (for it was
neither more nor less) proceeded through the principal streets in
the town with a slow and measured pace.  As all except the
soldiers walked two and two, it covered, I should conceive,
little less than a mile in extent, and after winding from lane to
lane and from square to square, directed its steps towards a
particular convent, where the waxen image was solemnly deposited
in a vault.  It is said, but with what truth I cannot pretend to
determine, that a different image is made use of every year, and
that the vault is now so full of waxen corpses, that it will be
necessary before long to have some of them destroyed.

Having now got rid of the most sacred part of their burthen, the
monks, bearing only the two couches, returned in procession by
the same route and in the same order as they had proceeded, only
the bands struck up lively airs and the singers chanted hymns of
rejoicing and hallelujahs.  Instead of walking at a slow pace
likewise, they stepped out almost in a sort of dance, and
reaching the door of the great church they there separated, each
party hastening to its own house to celebrate mass.

Into one or two of the convent chapels I likewise entered, and
was present during the performance of their very striking
service.  I found them ornamented in the most magnificent manner,
the rafters of many being gilded over and all the windows crowded
with stained glass.  Of pictures, and what struck me as something
better than mere daubs, there were also great numbers.  In a
word, it seemed as if I had reached the heart and capital of
Roman Catholic splendour.  Nothing that I had beheld in the
mother-country could at all compare with what was now before me,
and I returned in the evening to my ship, not indeed a convert to
the principles of that religion, but decidedly astonished and
confounded at the solemn magnificence of its ceremonies.


AT an early hour next morning I returned to the city, and found
that the face of affairs had undergone a complete revolution.  No
more melancholy countenances, no closed shops and vacant streets
were now to be seen; all was bustle and rejoicing, bells ringing,
carriages rattling along, flags flying, and guns firing.  The
solemnity of Good-Friday ends, it appeared, at ten o'clock on
Saturday morning, and from that time the merriments of Easter
have their commencement.

The whole of this day I spent in strolling over the different
walks and points of view from whence the town and surrounding
country may be seen to most advantage; and I certainly must
pronounce it to be by far the most magnificent colonial capital
which I have visited.  The streets are in general wide, clean,
and airy; the houses, except in the suburbs, are composed
entirely of stone, and being occasionally intermingled with
convents, churches, and other public buildings, produce a very
striking and handsome effect.  Though surrounded by a rampart,
Havannah has little of the confined and straitened appearance by
which fortified towns are generally disfigured.  The works being
of great extent, have left within their circumference abundant
room for the display of elegance and neatness in its
construction, an advantage which has not been neglected; whilst
from their situation they command as glorious a prospect as can
well be imagined.

When you ascend a bastion which overhangs the harbour, the city,
with all its towers and spires, lies immediately and distinctly
beneath your gaze.  Beyond it, again, you perceive a winding of
the bay, which washes three sides of the promontory where the
city stands; numerous fields of sugar-cane and Indian corn
succeed, intersected by groves of orange and other fruit trees,
which extend for some miles in a sort of inclined plane, and are
at length bounded by lofty and rugged mountains.  On your left,
again, is the creek or entrance to the bay, separating you from
the Moro, a line of castles remarkable for their strength and
extent.  Behind sweep the waters of the Gulf of Mexico; and on
the right is another view much resembling that which lies before
you, only that it is more narrowed; the high ground bearing in
this direction closer upon the city.  On the whole I do not
remember to have been more forcibly struck by any scenery than
that which I beheld from this bastion; so well were town and
country, castles and convents, land and water, hill and valley

Having spent some hours in wandering through the city, I
endeavoured to make my way into the forts, and to examine the
state of the works.  But in both of these attempts I was
interrupted.  Without an order from the Governor, I was informed,
that none, even of the natives, are permitted to enter the Moro,
and all applications on the part of foreigners are uniformly
refused.  There was a degree of jealousy in this, as needless as
it was illiberal; but indeed the whole conduct of the Spanish
authorities gave proof of their reluctance to admit their old
allies, even to the common rites of hospitality.  From the moment
we entered the harbour the militia of the island were called out,
many of the guns which commanded our shipping were shotted, and
artillerymen with lighted fuzes stood constantly beside them.  An
order was likewise issued, prohibiting more than two persons to
land at the same time from each vessel, and many other
precautions were taken, little complimentary to the good faith of
those to whom Spain must feel that she owes her very existence.
In spite of these drawbacks, however, I contrived to spend a week
in this city with much satisfaction.  The opera and theatre
opening on Easter Sunday, and continuing open during the
remainder of our stay, furnished sufficient amusement for the
evenings, whilst in walking or riding about, in examining the
different churches and chapels, and in chatting with nuns through
the grate, or monks within their cells, my mornings passed away
more quickly than I desired.

At length our victualling and watering being complete, on the 9th
of April we bade adieu to the shores of Cuba, and running along
with the Gulf-stream, took our course towards Bermuda.  The wind
favoured us greatly, and on the 17th we again reached these
islands; where we delayed till the 23rd, when, once more setting
sail, we steered directly for England.  During the remainder of
the voyage nothing of importance occurred till the 7th of May,
when, reaching in towards the shores of Brest, we were astonished
by beholding the tri-coloured flag floating from the citadel.  Of
the mighty events which dad taken place in Europe, we were as yet
in perfect ignorance.  Though surprised, therefore, at the first
view of that beacon of war, we naturally concluded it to be no
more than a signal, and passed on without inquiry.  As we
ascended the channel, however, we were hailed by a schooner,
which professed to communicate some news concerning Buonaparte;
but the wind being high, we could not distinctly tell what was
said; nor was it till the 9th, when we had anchored off Spithead,
that the reappearance of that wonderful man was made known.

The effect of this intelligence it would be difficult to
describe.  At first it was received with acclamations, but by and
bye those who had dreamed of home began to perceive in it the
destruction of their visions.  Yet we considered that we were
soldiers, and certainly no regret was experienced when we were
ordered to re-embark, and sail for the Downs.


Having thus brought my narrative to a conclusion, I cannot lay
aside my pen without offering a few remarks upon the events of
this busy year, and the nature of an American war in general.
In doing so, I shall begin with the unfortunate attack upon New
Orleans, and endeavour, in as few words as possible, to assign
the true causes of its failure.

From the account which I have given of this affair, it will
appear that, from its very commencement, it was replete with
error, and gave promise of no better result than actually
occurred.  I do not here allude to the spot fixed upon for
landing, because that was as appropriate as could be chosen.
Neither do I refer to the groundless rumours brought in by
deserters; for to such all assailants are liable; but the error
lay in the steps subsequently taken; in the unhappy advance of
the first division from a place of concealment into the open
country, without pushing forward to the extent required.  The
fact is, that having reached the main land in safety, one out of
two plans might have been selected by General Keane; which, in
all probability, would have been equally attended with success.
Either he might have remained in the morass till the whole army
was assembled, or, if this were deemed too dangerous, he ought to
have advanced upon the city with the first division alone.  If it
be objected that a force of 1600 men was incompetent for an
undertaking so important as the latter, I reply that there could
be no more hazard in it than in the course actually pursued.  New
Orleans is not a regular fortification requiring a large army and
a powerful battering train for its reduction.  In obtaining
possession of such a place there would have been no difficulty,
because it has since been ascertained that the American troops
were, at the time of our landing, some miles above the city; and
surely it would not have been more difficult to repulse an attack
within a town than in the open country.  But neither of these
courses was adopted.  The advance was drawn from concealment, and
halted just where it became most exposed, as if it had been our
design to warn the American General of his danger; the
consequence of which was a well-directed attack upon our bivouac,
and an immediate commencement of those works which afterwards
resisted and repelled all our efforts.

The second error evident in this business was the selection of
the schooner instead of the ship for destruction.  Had the
latter, which lay farther up the stream been destroyed, the
former never could have passed our battery, nor been of further
annoyance to us; whereas, the schooner being burnt, the ship was
only removed out of the reach of danger, and posted where she
could be infinitely more advantageous to her friends and
detrimental to her enemies.  This in itself was a grave error,
which beyond all doubt contributed, in some degree, to our
repulse on the 29th of December.

The third error, and one which continued to exert its influence
throughout the whole campaign, was the delay in bringing on a
general action.  Why our troops fell back on the 29th I confess
is to me a mystery.  It was not to be supposed that an officer
who had shown so much judgment as the American General, Jackson,
in his first endeavours to check our advance, would lose the
advantage which the nature of his position afforded.  That he
would fortify the neck of land, indeed, was exactly what might
have been expected: and, therefore, every hour during which an
attack was deferred, contributed so much to his strength and to
our weakness.  It is true that we should have suffered, and
perhaps suffered severely; but our chances of suffering were
certainly not diminished by delay.  We ought, therefore, instead
of falling back, to have pursued our operations with vigour on
that day; because the American lines, being then incomplete,
would have assisted rather than retarded our progress.

It has been said, and perhaps truly, that the movement on the
29th was never intended for more than a reconnoissance: and
that the scheme subsequently adopted, of overpowering the enemy's
fire by a superior artillery brought from the fleet, was a wise
one.  All this may be true; but as we did not succeed in silencing
the enemy's batteries, who, on the contrary, put ours to silence,
either the project was faulty in its design, or some grievous
error was committed in its execution.  As far as our position was
affected by it, the results were these:--Three days more were lost
in making preparations, which ended in nothing; while, by the
enemy, these same days were judiciously and indefatigably
employed to improve their deficiency and recruit their force.

At last came the idea of digging a canal from the lakes to the
river, by means of which a portion of our army might be thrown to
the other side; a project which is said to have been suggested by
Sir Alexander Cochrane; but which, wheresoever originating, was
at once bold and judicious.  The canal was accordingly formed;
not, however, with sufficient attention to the rules of art in
like cases, as was shown by the falling in of the banks, and the
consequent impossibility of bringing up boats to transport the
whole detachment.  Still there it was, and 350 men, instead of
1400, made good their landing on the right bank of the river.  It
is deeply to be regretted that Sir Edward Pakenham did not delay
his own advance with the main body till this fact had been
ascertained.  His plan of battle was to carry the enemy's works
on the right bank, to turn their own guns from that flank against
themselves, and to alarm them for their communications, ere he
should attack the main position on the left.  Nor can it be
doubted, that had the detached corps arrived at the hour first
named, an easy triumph would have been achieved.  But Pakenham
was too fiery to restrain his troops, after they had assumed
their ground on his own side.  Instead, therefore, of causing the
columns to fall back out of gun-shot, and wait quietly till the
battle began on the left, he hurried them into action as soon as
the day dawned; and they became exposed to the whole of that
volume of fire which it was one main object of his movement
across the Mississippi to destroy.  Moreover, from all the moral
effects of a partial defeat the enemy were saved; and I need not
say how serious such things are to irregular and undisciplined
bodies.  I do not mean to assert that, in spite of all this, the
American lines ought not to have been carried.  On the contrary,
had every officer and man done his duty, the victory would have
been complete, though purchased, beyond a doubt, at a severe
cost.  Yet it is absurd to deny that, speaking of the movement as
an operation of war, the attack on the right ought to have been
withheld till that on the left had either failed or succeeded.
So far, therefore, the General is liable to censure; and
chivalrous and high-minded as he was, it is just that he should
receive it.  But there were other causes of defeat than this;
among which, the gross misconduct of one individual deserves to
be especially noticed.

To Lieutenant-Colonel Mullens, with the 44th regiment, of which
he was in command, was intrusted the arduous and therefore
honourable duty of carrying the fascines and ladders.  The orders
were given in good time over night; and Colonel Mullens received
them as if they had conveyed a sentence of death.  He stated, in
the hearing of the private soldiers, that his corps was devoted
to destruction; and conducted himself, in every respect, like a
condemned criminal on the night previous to his execution.  When
the troops got under arms, instead of bringing his battalion to
the redoubt, where he had been instructed to find the ladders, he
marched directly past it, and led them into the field without a
single ladder or fascine.  When the day dawned, and he was sent
back for these instruments, he headed his corps in its retrograde
movement, but left it to return as it could to the front; and
when sought for to guide the attack, he was nowhere to be found.
That a regiment thus abused and deserted by its commanding
officer should fall into confusion, cannot occasion any surprise;
it would have been surprising indeed, had a different result
ensued.  But the melancholy effect of such confusion was, that
other regiments were likewise broken; and before order could be
restored, all the Generals were borne dead or wounded from the
field.  A large share, therefore, of the blame attachable to this
failure must rest where fidelity of narration has obliged me to
place it.

Again, the recall of the victorious detachment from the left to
the right bank of the Mississippi, and the consequent abandonment
of that complete command of the river which this partial success
had obtained, was a military error of the gravest kind.  Great as
our numerical loss had been in the principal action of the 8th,
the advantages of position were at the close of the day so
decidedly with us, that for General Jackson to maintain himself
any longer in front of New Orleans was physically impossible.
His own dispatch, indeed, addressed to the Secretary-at-War,
shows that he felt the truth so forcibly, that he had actually
issued orders for a retreat, when the removal of the English from
his menaced flank was reported to him; and his battalions, which
had begun to get under arms, were directed to resume their
places.  It is, however, but just to state, that such was the
miserable condition of our commissariat, that the fleet contained
not provisions enough to feed the people on half rations during a
quick passage to Cuba; and General Lambert did not feel that he
would be justified in risking the total loss of his army, which,
had the campaign been prolonged another fortnight, must under
such circumstances have taken place.  That he erred in this
supposition is certain; but his was probably an error into which
most men similarly circumstanced would have fallen.

But the primary cause of all our disasters may be traced to a
source even more distant than any yet mentioned; I mean, to the
disclosure of our designs to the enemy.  How this occurred I
shall not take it upon me to declare, though several rumours
bearing at least the guise of probability have been circulated.
The attack upon New Orleans was professedly a secret expedition;
so secret, indeed, that it was not communicated to the inferior
officers and soldiers in the armament till immediately previous
to our quitting Jamaica.  To the Americans, however, it appears
to have been known long before; and hence it was that, instead of
taking them unawares, we found them fully prepared for our
reception.  Nor is this all.  It appears difficult to account for
the degree of negligence which affected the naval heads of the
present expedition, as far as the providing a competent number of
boats and small craft to transport the troops is concerned.
Throughout the whole fleet, barges enough to carry one-half of
the army could not be found; whereas there ought to have been a
sufficient quantity to contain not only the entire force, but all
its stores and ammunition.  To this neglect, indeed, more perhaps
than to any other circumstances, is the failure of the attempt to
be attributed; since not a doubt can exist that, if General Keane
had been enabled to bring the whole of his army to land on the
morning of the 23rd, he would have reached New Orleans, without
firing a shot, before nightfall.  But the opportunity is past, it
cannot be recalled, and therefore to point out errors on the part
of my countrymen can serve no good end.  That the failure is to
be lamented no one will deny, since the conquest of New Orleans
would have proved beyond all comparison the most valuable
acquisition that could be made to the British dominions
throughout the whole western hemisphere.  In possession of that
post we should have kept the entire southern trade of the United
States in check, and furnished means of commerce to our own
merchants of incalculable value.

The fact, however, is, that when we look back upon the whole
series of events produced by the late American war, we shall find
little that is likely to flatter our vanity or increase our
self-importance.  Except a few successes in Canada at its very
commencement, and the brilliant inroad upon Washington, it will
be found that our arms have been constantly baffled or repulsed
on shore; whilst at sea, with the exception of the capture of the
Chesapeake and one or two other affairs towards its conclusion,
we have been equally unsuccessful.  From what cause does this
proceed?  Not from any inferiority in courage or discipline,
because in these particulars British soldiers and sailors will
yield to none in the world.  There must, then, be some other
cause for these misfortunes, and the cause is surely one which
has continually baffled all our plans of American warfare.

We have long been habituated to despise the Americans as an enemy
unworthy of serious regard.  To this alone it is to be attributed
that frigates half manned were sent out to cope with ships
capable of containing them within their hulls; and to this also
the trifling handfuls of troops dispatched to conduct the war by
land.  Instead of fifteen hundred, had ten thousand men sailed
from the Garonne under General Ross, how differently might he
have acted! There would have been then no necessity for a
reembarkation after the capture of Washington, and consequently
no time given for the defence of Baltimore; but, marching across
the country, he might have done to the one city what he did to
the other.  And it is thus only that a war with America can be
successfully carried on.  To penetrate up the country amidst
pathless forests and boundless deserts, and to aim at permanent
conquest, is out of the question.  America must be assaulted only
on her coasts.  Her harbours destroyed, her shipping burned, and
her seaport towns laid waste, are the only evils which she has
reason to dread; and were a sufficient force embarked with these
orders, no American war would be of long continuance.

A melancholy experience has now taught us that such a war must
not be entered into, unless it be conducted with spirit; and
there is no conducting it with spirit, except with a sufficient
numerical force.  To the plan proposed of making desert the whole
line of coast, it may be objected, that by so doing we should
distress individuals, and not the Government.  But they who offer
this objection, forget the nature both of the people whose cause
they plead, and of the Government under which they live.  In a
democratical Government, the voice of the people must at all
times prevail.  The members of the House of Representatives are
the very persons who, from such proceedings, would suffer most
severely, and we all know how far private suffering goes to
influence a man's public opinions.  Besides, the principle upon
which the advocates for the sacredness of private property
proceed, is erroneous.  Every one will allow that, in absolute
monarchies, where war is more properly the pastime of kings than
the desire of subjects, non-combatants ought to be dealt with as
humanely as possible.  Not so, how ever, in States governed by
popular assemblies.  By compelling the constituents to experience
the real hardships and miseries of warfare, you will compel the
representatives to a vote of peace; and surely that line of
conduct is, upon the whole, most humane, which puts the speediest
period to the cruelties of war.  There are few men who would not
rather endure a raging fever for three days, than a slow and
lingering disease for three months.  So it is with a democracy at
war.  Burn their houses, plunder their property, block up their
harbours, and destroy their shipping in a few places; and before
you have time to proceed to the rest, you will be stopped by
entreaties for peace.  Whereas, if you do no mischief that can be
avoided, if you only fight their fleets and armies wherever you
meet them, and suffer the inhabitants to live in undisturbed
tranquillity, they will continue their hostilities till they have
worn out the means of one party, and greatly weakened those of

Should another war break out between Great Britain and America,
this is the course to be adopted by the former.  Besides which, I
humbly conceive that a second attempt might be hazarded upon New
Orleans, because the importance of the conquest would authorise
almost any sacrifice for its attainment; and once gained, it
could easily be defended.  The neck of land, upon which it is
built, extends in the same form above as below the town; and the
same advantages which it holds out to its present defenders
would, of course, be afforded to us.  A chain of works thrown
across from the river to the marsh would render it inaccessible
from above; whilst by covering the lakes and the Mississippi with
cruisers, all attacks from below would be sufficiently guarded


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