By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812 - Volume 2
Author: Mahan, A. T. (Alfred Thayer), 1840-1914
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812 - Volume 2" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

       *       *       *       *       *

    | Transcriber's Note:                                       |
    |                                                           |
    | Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original     |
    | document have been preserved.                             |
    |                                                           |
    | Subscripts are respresented with _{} e.g.: Q_{2}.          |
    |                                                           |
    | Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. For     |
    | a complete list, please see the end of this document.     |
    |                                                           |

       *       *       *       *       *




_United States Navy_





   [Illustration: _From a Copley Print copyright 1899 by Curtis &
   Cameron, Publishers, Boston._
   _The Constitution_]




Bainbridge's squadron sails                                          1

His plans for the cruise                                             2

The "Essex" fails to join                                            3

Proceedings of "Constitution" and "Hornet"                           3

Action between "Constitution" and "Java"                             4

The "Constitution" returns to the United States                      7

Proceedings of the "Hornet"                                          7

Action between the "Hornet" and "Peacock"                            8

The "Hornet" returns                                                 9

The Chesapeake and Delaware blockaded                                9

Subsequent extension of blockade to the whole coast south of
  Newport                                                           10

Three periods into which the War of 1812 divides                    10

Difficulty of American frigates in getting to sea                   11

Difficulty of manning the navy                                      12

Cruise of the "Chesapeake"                                          13

Gradual suppression of American commerce                            14

Increasing stringency of the commercial blockade                    15

British occupation of Delaware and Chesapeake Bays                  16

Diminution of the coasting trade, and increase of land carriage     17

Effects upon prices                                                 18

Abandoned condition of the western Atlantic                         20

Diminution in number of prizes taken by Americans                   20

Estimate of relative captures by the two belligerents               21

Relative captures no indication of relative immunity                23

American deprivation makes for the prosperity of Halifax and
  Canada                                                            23

The blockade the chief offensive maritime operation of Great
  Britain, in 1813                                                  24

No opposition longer possible to the American Navy                  25

Strength of the British blockading divisions                        25

Escape possible only by evasion                                     25

The brunt of the British naval operations falls upon the
  Chesapeake and Delaware                                           26



The British naval service on the lakes under Warren's
  supervision                                                       28

Sir James Yeo appointed to the local command                        29

Appoints Captain Barclay to take charge of British vessels on
  Lake Erie                                                         29

The Americans now superior on Ontario                               29

Montreal the true American objective                                29

Dearborn ordered to concentrate effort upon Lake Ontario            30

Chauncey's first plan, to capture Kingston                          30

Dearborn and Chauncey ordered to proceed first against Kingston,
  then Toronto, then Niagara                                        31

Dearborn's objections                                               32

His reports obtain change of plan from the Government               33

Chauncey's new plan                                                 33

The expedition leaves Sackett's Harbor                              36

Capture of Toronto                                                  36

Chauncey's anxiety for Sackett's Harbor                             37

Capture of Fort George, and British retreat from Niagara            38

Effects of the American occupation of the Niagara peninsula         40

American naval vessels escape from Black Rock to Erie               41

British attack upon Sackett's Harbor                                42

Premature firing of the naval yard and vessels                      45

Consequent delay in Chauncey's preparations                         45

Yeo takes the lake with his squadron                                46

American reverse at Stony Creek                                     46

The army retreats upon Fort George                                  47

The British re-occupy the peninsula, except Fort George             47

Dearborn is relieved from command                                   48

Paralysis of the American forces at Niagara                         48

Yeo in temporary control of Lake Ontario                            49

Chauncey sails to contest control                                   51

Characteristics of the ensuing naval campaign                       52

Predominant idea of Chauncey and Yeo                                52

Relative powers of the two squadrons                                53

Their encounter of August 10, 1813                                  56

Chauncey's extreme caution                                          59

The engagement of September 11                                      60

Expediency of a "general chase" under the conditions                61



The American Navy on Lake Erie                                      62

Perry's eagerness for active operations                             63

Coincidence of events on Lakes Erie and Ontario                     64

Inferiority of Perry's crews in numbers and quality                 64

Professional contrast between Chauncey and Perry                    65

Personal difficulty. Perry applies to be detached                   66

The Navy Department refuses                                         67

Position of the American army on the Maumee                         67

Procter's attack upon Fort Meigs                                    68

Procter and Barclay plan attack on Erie                             69

Re-enforcements of troops refused them                              69

Barclay blockades Erie                                              70

Barclay visits Long Point                                           71

Perry's squadron crosses the bar at Erie                            72

Procter attacks Fort Stephenson, and is repulsed                    73

Barclay retires to Malden                                           74

Perry in control of the lake                                        74

Destitution of provisions in the British camp and fleet             75

Barclay goes out to fight                                           76

Composition and armament of the two squadrons                       76

Controversy about the battle                                        78

Dispositions of the two commanders                                  80

Opening of the battle                                               81

Examination of the controversy between Perry and Elliott            82

Progress of the engagement                                          88

Second stage of the battle                                          89

The British surrender                                               94

Meritorious conduct of Captain Barclay                              94

Question of credit on the American side                             95

Comparison of the campaigns on Erie and on Ontario                  99

Effect of the battle on the fate of the Northwest                   99

Its bearing upon the peace negotiations of the following year      100

Influence of control of the water illustrated on the lakes         101



Perry's victory promptly followed up                               102

General Harrison lands his army at Malden                          103

Recovery of Detroit. Battle of the Thames, October 5, 1813         103

The Indians fall away from the British                             103

Harrison's army transferred to Niagara                             104

Perry detached from the lake service                               104

Changed American plan of campaign on Ontario                       104

General James Wilkinson replaces Dearborn                          104

The Government designates Kingston as the objective                105

The embarkation begins at Niagara under cover of the navy          106

Yeo's squadron appears in the neighborhood                         106

Encounter between the two squadrons, September 28, 1813            107

Criticism of Chauncey's management                                 108

Wilkinson's troops reach Sackett's Harbor                          110

The British re-enforce Kingston                                    110

New change of American plan. The army to be directed on
  Montreal                                                         111

Intended junction with the troops from Lake Champlain, under
  General Hampton                                                  111

Wilkinson's army assembled within the mouth of the St. Lawrence    114

It proceeds down the river                                         114

Pursuit by a British detachment                                    114

American reverse at Chrystler's Farm                               115

Hampton fails to join Wilkinson, and returns to Plattsburg         116

The expedition abandoned. Wilkinson goes into winter quarters
  at French Mills                                                  116

Chauncey returns to Sackett's Harbor from the St. Lawrence         117

Transports Harrison's division from Niagara to Sackett's Harbor    117

Fleets lay up for the winter                                       117

Disastrous close of the campaign upon the Niagara                  118

Americans evacuate Fort George and the peninsula                   120

They burn Newark                                                   120

Act disavowed by the American Government                           120

Sir Gordon Drummond in command in Upper Canada                     120

The British, under General Riall, cross the Niagara and
  capture Fort Niagara                                             121

Lewiston, Youngstown, and Manchester burned in retaliation for
  Newark                                                           121

Buffalo burned, and three naval vessels at Black Rock              121

General failure of the campaign about Lake Ontario                 122

Discussion of the causes                                           123



United States on the defensive on the seaboard                     126

British reasons for partially relaxing severity of blockade        127

Reasons do not apply to armed vessels or coasting trade            127

American Navy powerless to protect commerce                        127

To destroy that of the enemy its principal mission                 128

Cruises of the "President" and "Congress"                          128

Efficacy of the British convoy system                              130

Its chief failure is near ports of arrival                         131

This dictates the orders to Captain Lawrence                       131

Importance of the service                                          132

Imperfect preparation of the "Chesapeake"                          132

Efficiency of the "Shannon." Broke's professional merit            133

His challenge to Lawrence. Not received                            134

The "Chesapeake" sails, purposely to fight                         135

Account of the action                                              136

The "Chesapeake" captured                                          140

Analysis of the engagement                                         141

Decatur fails to get to sea with a squadron                        148

Driven to take refuge in New London                                148

Frigates confined there for the war                                149

Particular anxiety of the British Government about American
  frigates                                                         150

Expectations of the Admiralty and the country from Warren's
  fleet                                                            151

Effects of the blockade of New London on local coasting            152

Evidence of the closeness of the whole blockade south of
  New London                                                       153

Conditions at New York                                             154

British operations in the upper Chesapeake, 1813                   156

Conditions in Delaware Bay                                         158

American precautions in Chesapeake and Delaware                    159

Circumspect conduct of the British vessels in the Chesapeake       161

Warren brings a detachment of troops from Bermuda                  162

Rencounters in and near Hampton Roads                              163

British attack upon Craney Island. Fails                           164

Attack upon Hampton. Ineffective                                   166

Further movements of the British in the Chesapeake                 167

Movement of licensed vessels in Chesapeake Bay during these
  operations                                                       170

Consequent recommendation of President to prohibit all
  exports during the blockade                                      173

Rejected by Senate. Enforced in Chesapeake by executive order      174

Glaring necessity for such action                                  175

Embargo law passed in December, 1813                               176

Main British fleet quits the Chesapeake. Its failure in
  direct military operation                                        177

Efficacy of the blockade                                           177

Characteristics of the different sections of the United
  States, as affecting their suffering from blockade               178

Statistical evidences of its effects                               181

Prices of great staples: flour and sugar                           184

Dependence of Eastern and Southern States upon coasting,
  greater than that of Middle States                               186

Captain Hull's reports on Eastern coasting                         187

Action between the "Boxer" and "Enterprise"                        188

Intermission of Eastern blockade during winter                     192

Its resumption in increased vigor in 1814                          192

Undefended conditions of the American coast                        193

Conditions of Southern coasting trade                              195

British blockade severs the mutual intercourse of the different
  sections of the United States                                    198

Remarks of Representative Pearson, of North Carolina               199

Message of the Governor of Pennsylvania                            200

Rigors of the blockade shown by figures                            201

Momentary importance of the North Carolina coast                   203

Advocacy of an internal navigation system                          204

Evidence of privation in the rebound of prices and shipping
 movement after peace                                              205

Exposition of conditions, in a contemporary letter by a
  naval officer                                                    207

The experiences of the War of 1812 now largely forgotten           208

Lessons to be deduced                                              208

Pressure upon the British Government exerted, even by the
  puny contemporary American Navy                                  209

Advantage of the American position                                 211

Opinions of Presidents Washington and Adams as to the
  international advantage of a navy                                212

Policy of President Jefferson                                      213



Commerce destruction the one offensive maritime resort left
  open to the United States                                        215

Respective objects of privateers and of naval vessels              216

The approaches to the British islands the most fruitful
  field for operations against commerce                            216

Cruise of the "Argus"                                              217

Capture of the "Argus" by the "Pelican"                            217

Significance of the cruise of the "Argus"                          219

Great number of captures by American cruisers                      220

Comparatively few American merchant ships captured at sea          221

Shows the large scale on which British commerce throve, and
  the disappearance of American shipping                           221

Control of British Navy shown by American practice of
  destroying prizes                                                222

Successes of the privateers "Scourge" and "Rattlesnake"
  in the North Sea                                                 223

The "Leo" and "Lion" off coast of Portugal                         224

British army in southern France incommoded by cruisers off
  Cape Finisterre                                                  224

American cruises based on French ports                             225

The privateer "Yankee" on the gold-coast of Africa                 226

Action between the American privateer "Globe" and two British
  packets, off Madeira                                             227

Captures in the same neighborhood by privateers "Governor
  Tompkins" and "America"                                          228

The West Indies as a field for warfare on commerce                 229

Activity there of American cruisers                                230

Stringency of the Convoy Act in the West Indies. Papers captured
  there by the "Constitution"                                      230

Indirect effects of the warfare on commerce                        231

Cruise in the West Indies of the naval brigs "Rattlesnake" and
  "Enterprise"                                                     232

Combat between the privateer "Decatur" and British war schooner
  "Dominica"                                                       233

The "Comet" and the British ship "Hibernia"                        234

The "Saucy Jack" and the British ship "Pelham"                     235

The "Saucy Jack" with the bomb-ship "Volcano" and transport
  "Golden Fleece"                                                  236

Remarkable seizure by the privateer "Kemp"                         237

The cruises of the privateer "Chasseur"                            237

Combat between the "Chasseur" and the British war schooner "St.
  Lawrence"                                                        238

Contrasted motives of the ship of war and the privateer            241

Relative success of American naval vessels and privateers in
  the war upon commerce                                            242

Cruise of the frigate "Essex"                                      244

Arrival in Valparaiso of the "Essex," and of the British ships,
  "Phoebe" and "Cherub"                                            247

Action between the "Essex" and the "Phoebe" and "Cherub"           249

Cruise of the "Wasp"                                               253

Action between the "Reindeer" and "Wasp"                           254

Action between the "Avon" and "Wasp"                               256

Disappearance of the "Wasp"                                        257

Cruise of the "Peacock"                                            258

Action between "Epervier" and "Peacock"                            259

Further cruise of the "Peacock"                                    261

Activity of American cruisers in British waters                    262

Agitation in Great Britain                                         263

The effect produced due to the American people severally           265

Prostration of the Government in the United States, 1814           265

Determination to accept peace without relinquishment of
  impressment by Great Britain                                     266

Development of privateering                                        267

Adaptation of vessels to the pursuit                               268

Practical considerations determining vessels to be employed        269

Secretary of the Navy recommends squadrons of schooners for
  action against commerce                                          270

Debate in Congress                                                 271

Recommendation adopted                                             272



British advantages of position on the Niagara line                 274

Unusual mildness of winter 1813-1814                               276

Effect on operations                                               276

British project against the vessels in Put-in Bay                  277

Difficulty of maintaining British garrison at Mackinac             278

American army abandons cantonments at French Mills                 278

Part goes to Lake Champlain, part to Sackett's Harbor              278

American project against Kingston                                  279

General Brown's mistake as to the Government's purpose             280

Carries his army to the Niagara frontier                           281

Chauncey's fears for Sackett's Harbor                              281

Wilkinson's expedition to La Colle. Failure                        282

Wilkinson superseded by General Izard                              283

Yeo obtains momentary superiority on Ontario                       283

Importance of Oswego                                               284

British capture Oswego, and destroy depots                         284

Yeo blockades Sackett's Harbor                                     285

Difficulty of American situation on Ontario                        285

British naval disaster in attempting to intercept convoy
  from Oswego to Sackett's Harbor                                  286

Yeo abandons blockade of Sackett's Harbor                          290

American plan of operations on northern frontier                   291

Brown crosses the Niagara. Surrender of Fort Erie                  294

Advance towards Fort George                                        294

Battle of Chippewa                                                 295

Brown advances to Queenston                                        298

Chauncey's failure to co-operate                                   298

Consequent anxiety of the Government                               299

Decatur ordered to relieve Chauncey                                300

Chauncey's defence of his conduct                                  300

Discussion of his argument                                         301

British advantage through his inaction                             304

Leads to the battle of Lundy's Lane                                306

Battle of Lundy's Lane                                             309

Value to Americans of the battles of Chippewa and Lundy's Lane     311

Improvement in the militia through association with Brown's army   312

Brown unable longer to keep the field. Retires to Fort Erie        314

British assault upon Fort Erie. Disastrous repulse                 314

British now embarrassed by Chauncey's blockade                     315

American successful sortie from Fort Erie                          316

Drummond abandons the siege, and retires to the Chippewa           317

Brown unable to follow him                                         317

Izard ordered from Lake Champlain to Brown's aid                   318

His march                                                          320

His corps arrives at the Niagara frontier                          321

Strength of the British position on the Chippewa                   322

Izard's hopelessness                                               322

Blows up Fort Erie and retires across the Niagara                  323

Naval and military expedition against Mackinac                     324

Unsuccessful, except in destroying British transports              324

British capture the American naval schooners "Tigress" and
  "Scorpion"                                                       325

American schooners "Ohio" and "Somers" also captured, off
  Fort Erie                                                        327

Loss of the "Caledonia" and "Ariel"                                327

The Erie fleet lays up for the winter, after the British
  abandon the siege of Fort Erie                                   328



Defensive character of the British northern campaign in 1814       329

Increase of vigor in their seaboard operations                     330

Warren relieved by Cochrane                                        330

Intentions of the British Government                               331

Retaliation for American actions in Canada                         333

Prevost's call upon Cochrane to retaliate                          334

Cochrane's orders to his vessels                                   334

Attitude of British officers                                       335

Early operations in Chesapeake Bay, 1814                           336

Relations of Barney's flotilla to the British project against
  Washington                                                       337

Assembling of the British combined forces in the Chesapeake        340

Condition of American preparations                                 342

British advance. Destruction of Barney's flotilla                  344

Retreat of American forces                                         345

American position at Bladensburg                                   346

Battle of Bladensburg                                              347

Burning of Washington                                              349

Capture and ransom of Alexandria by British frigates               350

Failure of British attempt on Baltimore                            351

British harrying of New England coast                              352

Occupation of Castine, in Maine                                    353

Destruction of the American frigate "Adams"                        354



Arrival of large British re-enforcements in Canada                 355

Objects of the British northern campaign of 1814                   356

Previous neglect of lake Champlain by both belligerents            357

Operations on the lake in 1813                                     358

British attempt in spring of 1814                                  361

Macdonough in control of lake, in summer of 1814                   362

British "Confiance" building to contest control                    362

Instructions of British Government to Prevost                      362

Prevost in August reports approaching readiness to move            363

Treasonable actions of American citizens about Lake Champlain      364

Izard, with four thousand troops, leaves Plattsburg for
  Sackett's Harbor                                                 365

Consequent destitution of the Champlain frontier                   365

British advance to Plattsburg                                      366

Relative positions of American squadron and land forces            367

Question of distance between squadron and land batteries           368

Opinions of Izard and Yeo as to the relations of the batteries
  to the squadron                                                  370

Proper combination for Prevost                                     371

Backward state of "Confiance" upon Downie's taking command         372

Urgent letters of Prevost to Downie                                373

Downie's expectations in attacking                                 375

Macdonough's dispositions                                          376

Downie's consequent plan of engagement                             377

Naval battle of Lake Champlain                                     377

Decisive character of the American victory                         381

Preoccupation of the British Government with European conditions   382

Episodical character of the New Orleans expedition                 382

Negotiations of Admiral Cochrane for the co-operation of the
  Creek Indians                                                    383

His measures for training them, and preparations for the
  expedition                                                       384

Objects of the British ministry                                    385

Attack upon Fort Bowyer, Mobile Bay, by a British squadron         386

Previous occupation of West Florida to the Perdido, by the
  United States                                                    387

Pensacola, remaining in Spanish hands, utilized by British         387

Seized by Jackson, and works destroyed                             388

Arrival of British expedition in Mississippi Sound                 388

Gunboat battle of Lake Borgne                                      390

British advance corps reaches the bank of the Mississippi          391

Night attack by American Navy and Jackson                          391

Sir Edward Pakenham arrives from England                           392

His preliminary movements                                          392

Particular danger of Jackson's position                            393

Details of the final day of assault, January 8, 1815               394

The British withdraw after repulse                                 396

Capture of Fort Bowyer, Mobile Bay                                 397

Final naval episodes                                               397

Sailing of the "President." She grounds on the New York bar        398

Overtaken, and is captured, by the British blockading division     398

The "Constitution" captures the "Cyane" and "Levant"               404

Capture of the British sloop "Penguin" by the "Hornet"             407



Early overtures towards peace by the United States                 409

Castlereagh refuses to entertain the project of abandoning
  impressment                                                      410

Russia, in 1812, suggests negotiations for peace under mediation
  of the Czar                                                      411

United States accepts, but Great Britain refuses                   412

Great Britain, through the Czar, offers a direct negotiation,
  1813                                                             412

The United States accepts, and names five commissioners            413

The original instructions to the American Commission, 1813         413

Reduced, 1814, through pressure of the war                         414

Confident attitude of Great Britain at the opening of the
  negotiations                                                     415

Hostile spirit in Great Britain towards the United States          415

The instructions to the British Commission                         416

The demand on behalf of the Indians                                417

Faulty presentation of it by the British Commission                418

British claim concerning the Great Lakes and boundaries            419

Discussion of these propositions                                   419

Reasons for British advocacy of the Indians                        421

Final reduction of British demand for the Indians and acceptance
  by American Commission                                           423

Concern of British ministry for the opinion of Europe              424

News received of the capture of Washington                         424

Sanguine anticipations based upon reports from Cochrane and Ross   424

The British Government suggests the _uti possidetis_ as the
  basis of agreement                                               425

The American Commission refuse, and offer instead the _status
  ante bellum_                                                     426

News arrives of the British defeat on Lake Champlain               426

The political instructions to the commanders of the New Orleans
  expedition, to be communicated for the satisfaction of the
  continental powers                                               427

Urgency of the European situation                                  428

Dangerous internal state of France                                 428

Consequent wish of the British ministry to withdraw Wellington
  from Paris                                                       429

He is pressed to accept the American command                       429

Wellington thus brought into the discussion of terms               430

He pronounces against the basis of _uti possidetis_                431

The British ministry accept his judgment                           431

The _status ante bellum_ accepted by Great Britain                 431

Subsequent rapid conclusion of agreement                           432

Terms of the Treaty                                                432

Signed by the commissioners, December 24, 1814                     434

Despatched to America by a British ship of war                     435

Ratified by the United States, February 17, 1815                   435

Gallatin's opinion of the effect of the war upon the people
  of the United States                                             436

INDEX                                                              439



THE CHASE OF THE _Constitution_                         _Frontispiece_
    From the painting by S. Salisbury Tuckerman.

    From a drawing by Henry Reuterdahl.

THE NEW CARRYING TRADE                                         Page 18
    From a drawing by Stanley M. Arthurs.

    From a drawing by Henry Reuterdahl.

    From a drawing by Carlton T. Chapman.

CAPTAIN ISAAC CHAUNCEY                                         Page 60
    From the engraving by D. Edwin, after the painting by
    J. Woods.

CAPTAIN SIR JAMES LUCAS YEO                                    Page 60
    From the engraving by H.R. Cook, after the painting by
    A. Buck.

CAPTAIN OLIVER HAZARD PERRY                                    Page 66
    From the painting by Gilbert Stuart, in the possession
    of O.H. Perry, Esq.

  OF LAKE ERIE                                                 Page 94
    From a drawing by Henry Reuterdahl.

CAPTAIN PHILIP BOWES VERE BROKE                               Page 134
    From the mezzotint by Charles Turner, after the
    painting by Samuel Lane, in the possession of Lady

THE CAPTURE OF THE _Chesapeake_ BY THE _Shannon_--THE
  STRUGGLE ON THE QUARTERDECK                                 Page 138
    From a drawing by Henry Reuterdahl.

CAPTAIN JAMES LAWRENCE                                        Page 140
    From the painting by Gilbert Stuart, in the possession
    of the New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, N.J.

THE BURNING OF A PRIVATEER PRIZE                              Page 222
    From a drawing by Henry Reuterdahl.

CAPTAIN DAVID PORTER                                          Page 244
    From the painting by Charles Wilson Peale, in
    Independence Hall, Philadelphia.

CAPTAIN THOMAS MACDONOUGH                                     Page 360
    From the painting by Gilbert Stuart, in the Century
    Club, New York, by permission of the owner, Rodney
    Macdonough, Esq.

THE BATTLE OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN                                  Page 380
    From a drawing by Henry Reuterdahl.



Plan of Engagement between _Constitution_ and _Java_            Page 4

Plan of Engagement between _Hornet_ and _Peacock_               Page 8

Map of Niagara Peninsula                                       Page 38

Surroundings of Sackett's Harbor                               Page 43

Plan of Chauncey's Engagement, August 10, 1813                 Page 58

Plan of Erie Harbor, 1814                                      Page 72

Diagram of the Battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813         Page 82

Chauncey and Yeo, September 28, 1813                          Page 108

_Chesapeake_ and _Shannon_                                    Page 136

Outline Map of Chesapeake Bay and Rivers                      Page 156

_Enterprise_ and _Boxer_                                      Page 188

_Argus_ and _Pelican_                                         Page 218

_Montague_, _Pelham_, and _Globe_                             Page 228

_Chasseur_ and _St. Lawrence_                                 Page 238

_Wasp_ and _Reindeer_                                         Page 254

Sketch of the March of the British Army, under General Ross,
  from the 19th to the 29th August, 1814                      Page 344

Tracing from pencil sketch of Battle of Lake Champlain made
  by Commodore Macdonough                                     Page 368

Battle of Lake Champlain                                      Page 377

The Landing of the British Army, its Encampments and
  Fortifications on the Mississippi; Works they erected on
  their Retreat; with the Encampments and Fortifications
  of the American Army                                        Page 392

Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812

THE WAR (_Continued_)



The squadron under Commodore William Bainbridge, the third which
sailed from the United States in October, 1812, started nearly three
weeks after the joint departure of Rodgers and Decatur. It consisted
of the "Constitution" and sloop of war "Hornet," then in Boston, and
of the "Essex," the only 32-gun frigate in the navy, fitting for sea
in the Delaware. The original armament of the latter, from which she
derived her rate, had been changed to forty 32-pounder carronades and
six long twelves; total, forty-six guns. It is noticeable that this
battery, which ultimately contributed not merely to her capture, but
to her almost helplessness under the fire of an enemy able to maintain
his distance out of carronade range, was strongly objected to by
Captain Porter. On October 14 he applied to be transferred to the
"Adams," giving as reasons "my insuperable dislike to carronades, and
the bad sailing of the "Essex," which render her, in my opinion, the
worst frigate in the service."[1] The request was not granted, and
Porter sailed in command of the ship on October 28, the two other
vessels having left Boston on the 26th.

In order to facilitate a junction, Bainbridge had sent Porter full
details of his intended movements.[2] A summary of these will show his
views as to a well-planned commerce-destroying cruise. Starting about
October 25, he would steer first a course not differing greatly from
the general direction taken by Rodgers and Decatur, to the Cape Verde
Islands, where he would fill with water, and by November 27 sail for
the island Fernando de Noronha, two hundred and fifty miles south of
the Equator, and two hundred miles from the mainland of Brazil, then a
Portuguese colony, of which the island was a dependency. The trade
winds being fair for this passage, he hoped to leave there by December
15, and to cruise south along the Brazilian coast as far as Rio de
Janeiro, until January 15. In the outcome the meeting of the
"Constitution" with the "Java" cut short her proceedings at this
point; but Bainbridge had purposed to stay yet another month along the
Brazilian coast, between Rio and St. Catherine's, three hundred miles
south. Thence he would cross the South Atlantic to the neighborhood of
St. Helena, remaining just beyond sight of it, to intercept returning
British Indiamen, which frequently stopped there. Porter failed to
overtake the other vessels, on account of the bad sailing of the
"Essex." He arrived at Fernando de Noronha December 14, one day before
that fixed by Bainbridge as his last there; but the "Constitution" and
"Hornet" had already gone on to Bahia, on the Brazilian mainland,
seven hundred miles to the southwest, leaving a letter for him to
proceed off Cape Frio, sixty miles from the entrance of Rio. He
reached this rendezvous on the 25th, but saw nothing of Bainbridge,
who had been detained off Bahia by conditions there. The result was
that the "Essex" never found her consorts, and finally struck out a
career for herself, which belongs rather to a subsequent period of the
war. We therefore leave her spending her Christmas off Cape Frio.

The two other vessels had arrived off Bahia on December 13. Here was
lying a British sloop of war, the "Bonne Citoyenne," understood to
have on board a very large amount of specie for England. The American
vessels blockaded her for some days, and then Captain Lawrence
challenged her to single combat; Bainbridge acquiescing, and pledging
his honor that the "Constitution" should remain out of the way, or at
least not interfere. The British captain, properly enough, declined.
That his ship and her reported value were detaining two American
vessels from wider depredations was a reason more important than any
fighting-cock glory to be had from an arranged encounter on equal
terms, and should have sufficed him without expressing the doubt he
did as to Bainbridge's good faith.[3] On the 26th the Commodore,
leaving Lawrence alone to watch the British sloop, stood out to sea
with the "Constitution," cruising well off shore; and thus on the
29th, at 9 A.M., being then five miles south of the port and some
miles from land, discovered two strange sail, which were the British
frigate "Java," Captain Henry Lambert, going to Bahia for water, with
an American ship, prize to her.

Upon seeing the "Constitution" in the south-southwest, the British
captain shaped his course for her, directing the prize to enter the
harbor. Bainbridge, watching these movements, now tacked his ship,
and at 11.30 A.M. steered away southeast under all plain sail, to draw
the enemy well away from neutral waters; the Portuguese authorities
having shown some sensitiveness on that score. The "Java" followed,
running full ten miles an hour, a great speed in those days, and
gaining rapidly. At 1.30, being now as far off shore as desired,
Bainbridge went about and stood toward the enemy, who kept away with a
view to rake, which the "Constitution" avoided by the usual means of
wearing, resuming her course southeast, but under canvas much reduced.
At 2.10 the "Java," having closed to a half mile, the "Constitution"
fired one gun ahead of her; whereupon the British ship hoisted her
colors, and the American then fired two broadsides. The "Java" now
took up a position to windward of the "Constitution," on her port
side, a little forward (2.10); "within pistol-shot," according to the
minutes submitted by the officer who succeeded to the command; "much
further than I wished," by Bainbridge's journal. It is not possible
entirely to reconcile the pretty full details of further movements
given by each;[4] but it may be said, generally, that this battle was
not mainly an artillery duel, like those of the "Constitution" and
"Guerrière," the "Wasp" and "Frolic," nor yet one in which a principal
manoeuvre, by its decisive effect upon the use of artillery, played
the determining part, as was the case with the "United States" and
"Macedonian." Here it was a combination of the two factors, a
succession of evolutions resembling the changes of position, the
retreats and advances, of a fencing or boxing match, in which the
opponents work round the ring; accompanied by a continual play of
the guns, answering to the thrusts and blows of individual
encounter. In this game of manoeuvres the "Constitution" was somewhat
handicapped by her wheel being shot away at 2.30. The rudder remained
unharmed; but working a ship by relieving tackles, the substitute for
the wheel, is for several reasons neither as quick nor as accurate.


Certain salient incidents stand out in both accounts, marking the
progress of the engagement. Shortly before three o'clock the head of
the "Java's" bowsprit was shot away, and with it went the jib-boom. At
this time, the fore and main masts of the British frigate being badly
wounded, with all the rigging cut to pieces, Captain Lambert looked
upon the day as lost unless he could board. The sailing master having
been sent below wounded, the first lieutenant, whose account is here
followed, was directed to run the ship alongside the enemy; but the
helm was hardly put up when the foremast went overboard, at five
minutes past three, a time in which both accounts agree. The British
narrative states that the stump of their bowsprit caught in the mizzen
rigging of the "Constitution" (3.35). This Bainbridge does not
mention; but, if correct, the contact did not last long, for the
"Constitution" immediately wore across the "Java's" bow, and the
latter's maintopmast followed the foremast. The British frigate was
now beaten beyond recovery; nevertheless the flag was kept flying, and
it was after this that Captain Lambert fell, mortally wounded.
Resistance was continued until 4.05, by the American accounts; by the
British, till 4.35. Then, the enemy's mizzenmast having fallen, and
nothing left standing but the main lower mast, the "Constitution" shot
ahead to repair damages. There was no more firing, but the "Java's"
colors remained up till 5.25,--5.50 by the British times,--when they
were hauled down as the "Constitution" returned. The American loss
was nine killed and twenty-five wounded; that of the British, by their
official accounts, twenty-two killed, one hundred and two wounded.

The superiority in broadside weight of fire of the "Constitution" over
the "Java" was about the same as over the "Guerrière." The "Java's"
crew was stronger in number than that of the "Guerrière," mustering
about four hundred, owing to having on board a hundred supernumeraries
for the East India station, to which the ship was ultimately destined.
On the other hand, the material of the ship's company is credibly
stated to have been extremely inferior, a condition frequently
complained of by British officers at this late period of the
Napoleonic wars. It has also been said, in apparent extenuation of her
defeat, that although six weeks out from England, having sailed
November 12, and greater part of that time necessarily in the trade
winds, with their usual good weather, the men had not been exercised
in firing the guns until December 28, the day before meeting the
"Constitution," when six broadsides of blank cartridges were
discharged. Whatever excuse may exist in the individual instance for
such neglect, it is scarcely receivable in bar of judgment when
disaster follows. No particular reason is given, except "the many
services of a newly fitted ship, lumbered with stores;" for in such
latitudes the other allegation, "a succession of gales of wind since
the day of departure,"[5] is incredible. On broad general grounds the
"Java" needed no apology for being beaten by a ship so much heavier;
and the "Constitution's" loss in killed and wounded was over double
that suffered from the "Guerrière" four months before, when the
American ship had substantially the same crew.[6] Further,
Bainbridge reported to his Government that "the damage received in the
action, but more especially the decayed state of the "Constitution,"
made it necessary to return to the United States for repairs."
Although Lieutenant Chads, who succeeded Lambert, was mistaken in
supposing the American ship bound to the East Indies, he was evidently
justified in claiming that the stout resistance of the "Java" had
broken up the enemy's cruise, thus contributing to the protection of
the British commerce.

   _Drawn by Henry Reuterdahl._]

The "Java" was considered by Bainbridge too much injured to be worth
taking to the United States. She was therefore set on fire December
31, and the "Constitution" went back to Bahia, where the prisoners
were landed under parole. Thence she sailed for home January 6, 1813,
reaching Boston February 27. Before his departure the Commodore
directed Lawrence to blockade Bahia as long as seemed advisable, but
to beware of a British seventy-four, said to be on the coast. When it
became expedient, he was to quit the position and move northward;
first off Pernambuco, and thence to the coast of Cayenne, Surinam, and
Demerara, a favorite cruising ground for American commerce-destroyers.
The "Hornet" was to be in Boston in the first fortnight of April.

In pursuance of these discretionary orders Lawrence remained off Bahia
for eighteen days, till January 24, when the expected seventy-four,
the "Montagu," appeared, forcing him into the harbor; but the same
night he came out, gave her the slip, and proceeded on his cruise. On
February 24, off the Demarara River, he encountered the British brig
of war "Peacock," a vessel of the same class as the "Frolic," which
was captured a few months before by the "Wasp," sister ship to the
"Hornet." There was no substantial difference in size between these
two approaching antagonists; but, unfortunately for the equality of
the contest, the "Peacock" carried 24-pounder carronades, instead of
the 32's which were her proper armament. Her battery power was
therefore but two thirds that of the "Hornet." The vessels crossed on
opposite tacks, exchanging broadsides within half pistol-shot, the
"Hornet" to windward(1). The "Peacock" then wore; observing which,
Lawrence kept off at once for her and ran on board her starboard
quarter (2). In this position the engagement was hot for about fifteen
minutes, when the "Peacock" surrendered, hoisting a flag union down,
in signal of distress. She had already six feet of water in the hold.
Being on soundings, in less than six fathoms, both anchored, and every
effort was made to save the British vessel; but she sank, carrying
down nine of her own crew and three of the "Hornet's." Her loss in
action was her commander and four men killed, and twenty-nine wounded,
of whom three died; that of the American vessel, one killed and two
wounded. The inequality in armament detracts inevitably from glory in
achievement; but the credit of readiness and efficiency is established
for Lawrence and his crew by prompt action and decisive results. So,
also, defeat is not inglorious under such odds; but it remains to the
discredit of the British commander that his ship did no more
execution, when well within the most effective range of her guns. In
commenting upon this engagement, after noticing the dandy neatness of
the "Peacock," James says, "Neglect to exercise the ship's company at
the guns prevailed then over two thirds of the British navy; to which
the Admiralty, by their sparing allowance of powder and shot for
practice, were in some degree instrumental."

With the survivors of the "Peacock," and prisoners from other prizes,
Captain Lawrence found himself now with two hundred and seventy-seven
souls on board and only thirty-four hundred gallons of water. There
was at hand no friendly port where to deposit his captives, and
provisions were running short. He therefore steered for the United
States, and arrived at Holmes' Hole on March 19.[7]


The capture of the "Peacock" was the last of five naval duels, three
between frigates and two between sloops, all favorable in issue to the
United States, which took place in what may justly be considered the
first of the three periods into which the War of 1812 obviously
divides. Great Britain, long reluctant to accept the fact of war as
irreversible, did not begin to put forth her strength, or to exercise
the measures of repression open to her, until the winter of 1812-13
was drawing to a close. On October 13, convinced that the mere news of
the revocation of the Orders in Council would not induce any change in
the American determination, the hitherto deferred authority for
general reprisals was given; but accompanying them was an express
provision that they were not to be understood as recalling the
declaration which Warren had been commissioned to make, in order to
effect a suspension of hostilities.[8] On November 27, however, hopes
from this source having apparently disappeared, directions were sent
the admiral to institute a rigorous commercial blockade of Delaware
and Chesapeake bays,[9] the usual public notification of the fact to
neutral Powers, for the information of their shipping affected by it,
being issued December 26, three days before the action between the
"Constitution" and "Java." On February 21, three days before the
"Hornet" sank the "Peacock," Warren wrote that in compliance with the
orders of November 27 this blockade had been put in force. The ship
"Emily," from Baltimore for Lisbon, under a British license, with a
cargo of flour, was turned back when attempting to go to sea from the
Chesapeake, about February 5; Warren indorsing on her papers that the
bay had been placed under rigorous blockade the day before.[10]
Captain Stewart, the senior United States officer at Norfolk, notified
his Government of these facts on February 10.[11] Soon after, by an
Order in Council dated March 30, the measure was extended to New York,
Charleston, Port Royal, Savannah, and the Mississippi River.[12] Later
in the year Warren, by a sweeping proclamation, dated November 16,[13]
widened its scope to cover Long Island Sound, inside of Montauk and
Black Point; the latter being on the Connecticut shore, eight miles
west of New London. From thence it applied not only to the ports
named, but to all inlets whatsoever, southward, as far as the Florida
boundary. Narragansett Bay and the rest of New England remained still

These restrictions, together with the increase of Warren's force and
the operations of 1813 in the Chesapeake, may be considered as
initiating the second stage of the war, when Great Britain no longer
cherished hopes of any other solution than by the sword, but still was
restrained in the exercise of her power by the conflict with Napoleon.
With the downfall of the latter, in April, 1814, began the third and
final act, when she was more at liberty to let loose her strength, to
terminate a conflict at once weakening and exasperating. It is not
without significance that the treaty of peace with the restored
Bourbon government of France was signed May 30, 1814,[14] and that on
May 31 was issued a proclamation placing under strict and rigorous
blockade, not merely specified places, but "all the ports, harbors,
bays, creeks, rivers, inlets, outlets, islands, and sea-coasts of the
United States," from the border of New Brunswick to that of
Florida.[15] In form, this was only the public notification of a
measure already instituted by Warren's successor, Cochrane, embracing
Newport, Boston, and the East under restrictions heretofore limited to
New York--including Long Island Sound--and the coast southward; but it
was not merely the assertion of a stringent resolution. It was a clear
defiance, in the assurance of conscious power, of a principal
contention of the United States, that the measure of blockades against
neutrals was not legitimately applicable to whole coasts, but only to
specified ports closely watched by a naval force competent to its
avowed purpose.

Despite the gathering of the storm, the full force of which was to be
expected in the spring, the United States ships of war that reached
port in the early and middle winter of 1812-13 remained. There is,
perhaps, an unrecognized element of "hindsight" in the surprise felt
at this fact by a seaman of to-day, knowing the views and wishes of
the prominent officers of the navy at that period. Decatur, with the
"United States," reached New York in December, accompanied by the
"Macedonian." Neither of these vessels got to sea again during the
war. By the time they were ready, both outlets to the port were
effectually blocked. Rodgers, with the "President" and "Congress,"
entered Boston December 31, but did not sail again until April 23. The
"Constellation," Captain Stewart, was reported, perhaps erroneously,
as nearly ready for sea at Washington, November 26, waiting only for a
few additional hands. Later in the winter she went to Annapolis, to
examine her powder, leaving there for Hampton Roads February 1, on
account of the ice. On the 4th, approaching her destination, she
discovered two ships of the line, three frigates, and two smaller
British vessels, working up from the Capes for the Roads. In the face
of such a force there was nothing to do but to escape to Norfolk,
where she remained effectually shut up for the rest of the war.
Bainbridge, as already known, brought the "Constitution" back for
repairs in February. Even from Boston she was unable to escape till
the following December.

That there were satisfactory reasons for this seeming dilatoriness is
assured by the character of the officers. Probably the difficulty of
keeping up the ship's companies, in competition with the superior
attractions of privateering and the very high wages offered by the
merchants for their hazardous but remunerative commercial voyages
accounted for much. Hull wrote from New York, October 29, 1812, that
the merchants fitting out their vessels gave such high wages that it
was difficult to get either seamen or workmen.[16] Where no system of
forced enrolment--conscription or impressment--is permitted,
privateering has always tended to injure the regular naval service.
Though unquestionably capable of being put by owners on a business
basis, as a commercial undertaking, with the individual seaman the
appeal of privateering has always been to the stimulants of chance and
gain, which prove so attractive in the lottery. Stewart, an officer of
great intelligence and experience in his profession, found a further
cause in the heavy ships of the enemy. In the hostilities with France
in 1798-1800, he said, "We had nearly four thousand able seamen in the
navy. We could frequently man a frigate in a week. One reason was
because the enemy we were then contending with had not afloat (with
very few exceptions) vessels superior in rate to frigates. The enemy
we are fighting now have ships of the line, and our sailors know the
great difference between them and frigates, and cannot but feel a
degree of reluctance at entering the service from the disparity of
force."[17] The reason seems to prove too much; pressed to an extreme,
no navy would be able to use light vessels, because the enemy had
heavier which might--or might not--be encountered. Certain it is,
however, that when the government in the following winter, in order to
stop the license trade with the enemy, embargoed all vessels in home
ports, much less difficulty was experienced in getting seamen for the

Whatever the reasons, the only frigates at sea during the first four
months of 1813 were the "Essex" and the "Chesapeake." The former,
after failing to meet Bainbridge, struck off boldly for the Pacific
Ocean on Porter's own motion; and on March 15, 1813, anchored at
Valparaiso, preparatory to entering on a very successful career of a
year's duration in those seas. The "Chesapeake" had sailed from Boston
December 17, making for the Cape Verde Islands. In their neighborhood
she captured two of a British convoy, which, thinking itself beyond
danger, had dispersed for South American destinations. The frigate
then proceeded to her cruising ground near the equator, between
longitudes 24° and 30° west, where she remained for about a month,
taking only one other merchantman. Leaving this position, she was off
the coast of Surinam from March 2 to 6, when she returned to the
United States; passing sixty miles east of the Caribbean Islands and
thence north of Porto Rico and Santo Domingo, as far west as longitude
75°, whence she ran parallel to the American coast, reaching Boston
April 9. Having seen nothing between February 5 and March 19, she then
began to meet sails, speaking eight between the latter date and her
arrival. Most of these were Americans, homeward bound from the Spanish
peninsula; the others neutrals.[18] The conclusion is evident, that
the British were keeping their trade well shepherded in convoys. If a
ship like the "Chesapeake" struck one of them, she would probably have
to fight the escorting vessel, as the "Wasp" did the "Frolic," while
the merchantmen escaped; but the chances were against her seeing
anything. Another evident conclusion, corresponding to the export
returns already quoted, is that the enemy had not yet shut down upon
the access of American merchant ships to their own coast.

This process was gradual, but steady. It is necessary to keep in mind
the distinction between a blockade, in the loose use of the term,
which closes a port only to the ships of the hostile nation, and the
commercial blockade which forbids neutrals as well. The former may be
intermittent, for the mere fact of war authorizes the capture of the
belligerent's shipping, wherever found; hence to intercept them at the
mouths of their own harbors is merely a more effectual method of
carrying out the measure. A blockade against neutrals requires the
permanent presence, before the blockaded port, of a force adequate to
make the attempt to enter or leave dangerous. For this many more ships
are needed. The British ministry, desirous chiefly to compel the
United States to peace, and embarrassed by the gigantic continental
strife in which it was engaged, sought at the outset to inflict such
harassment on the American coast as would cost the least diversion of
strength from the European contest. An ordinary blockade might be
tightened or relaxed as convenience demanded; and, moreover, there
were as yet, in comparison with American vessels, few neutrals to be
restrained. Normally, American shipping was adequate to American
commerce. The first move, therefore, was to gather upon the coast of
the United States all cruisers that could be spared from the Halifax
and West India stations, and to dispose along the approaches to the
principal ports those that were not needed to repress the privateers
in the Bay of Fundy and the waters of Nova Scotia. The action of these
privateers, strictly offensive in character, and the course of
Commodore Rodgers in sailing with a large squadron, before explained,
illustrate exactly how offensive operations promote defensive
security. With numbers scanty for their work, and obliged to
concentrate instead of scattering, the British, prior to Warren's
arrival, had not disposable the cruisers with which greatly to harass
even the hostile shipping, still less to institute a commercial
blockade. The wish to stock the Spanish peninsula and the West Indies
with provisions contributed further to mitigate the pressure.

These restraining considerations gradually disappeared.
Re-enforcements arrived. Rodgers' squadron returned and could be
watched, its position being known. The license trade filled up Lisbon,
Cadiz, and the West Indies. Hopes of a change of mind in the American
Government lessened. Napoleon's disaster in Russia reversed the
outlook in European politics. Step by step the altered conditions were
reflected in the measures of the British ministry and navy. For
months, only the maritime centres of the Middle States were molested.
The senior naval officer at Charleston, South Carolina, wrote on
October 14, four months after war was declared, "Till to-day this
coast has been clear of enemy's cruisers; now Charleston is blockaded
by three brigs, two very large, and they have captured nine sail
within three miles of the bar."[19] The number was increased shortly;
and two months later he expressed surprise that the inland navigation
behind the sea islands had not been destroyed,[20] in consequence of
its defenceless state. In January, 1813, the mouth of the Chesapeake
was watched by a ship of the line, two frigates, and a sloop; the
commercial blockade not having been yet established. The hostile
divisions still remained outside, and American vessels continued to go
out and in with comparative facility, both there and at Charleston. A
lively trade had sprung up with France by letters-of-marque; that is,
by vessels whose primary object is commerce, and which therefore carry
cargoes, but have also guns, and a commission from the Government to
make prizes. Without such authorization capture is piracy. By February
12 conditions grow worse. The blockaders have entered the Chesapeake,
the commercial blockade has been proclaimed, vessels under neutral
flags, Spanish and Swedish, are being turned away, and two fine
letter-of-marque schooners have been captured inside, one of them
after a gallant struggle in which her captain was killed. Nautical
misadventures of that kind became frequent. On April 3 three
letters-of-marque and a privateer, which had entered the Rappahannock,
were attacked at anchor by boats from Warren's fleet. The
letters-of-marque, with smaller crews, offered little resistance to
boarding; but the privateer, having near a hundred men, made a sharp
resistance. The Americans lost six killed and ten wounded; the enemy,
two killed and eleven wounded.[21]

In like manner the lower Delaware was occupied by one or more ships of
the line. Supported thus by a heavy squadron, hostile operations were
pushed to the upper waters of both bays, and in various directions;
the extensive water communications of the region offering great
facilities for depredation. Dismay and incessant disquietude spread
through all quarters of the waterside. Light cruisers make their way
above Reedy Island, fifty miles from the Capes of the Delaware;
coasting vessels are chased into the Severn River, over a hundred
miles above Hampton Roads; and a detachment appears even at the mouth
of the Patapsco, twelve miles from Baltimore. The destruction of bay
craft, and interruption of water traffic, show their effects in the
rise of marketing and fuel to double their usual prices. By May 1, all
intercourse by water was stopped, and Philadelphia was also cut off
from the lower Delaware. Both Philadelphia and Baltimore were now
severed from the sea, and their commerce destroyed, not to revive till
after the peace; while alarms, which the near future was to justify,
were felt for the land road which connected the two cities. As this
crossed the head waters of the Chesapeake, it was open to attack from
ships, which was further invited by deposits of goods in transit at
Elkton and Frenchtown. Fears for the safety of Norfolk were felt by
Captain Stewart, senior naval officer there. "When the means and force
of the enemy are considered, and the state of this place for defence,
it presents but a gloomy prospect for security."[22] Commodore Murray
from Philadelphia reports serious apprehensions, consternation among
the citizens, a situation daily more critical, and inadequate
provision for resistance.[23] There, as everywhere, the impotence of
the General Government has to be supplemented by local subscription
and local energy.

At the same time, both northward and southward of these two great
estuaries, the approach of spring brought ever increasing enemies, big
and little, vexing the coasting trade; upon which, then as now, depended
largely the exchange of products between different sections of the
country. What it meant at that day to be reduced to communication by
land may be realized from a contemporary quotation: "Four wagons loaded
with dry goods passed to-day through Georgetown, South Carolina, for
Charleston, _forty-six days_ from Philadelphia."[24] Under the heading
"New Carrying Trade" a Boston paper announces on April 28 the arrival of
"a large number of teams from New Bedford with West India produce, and
four Pennsylvania wagons, seventeen days from Philadelphia."[25] "The
enemy has commenced his depredations on the coasting trade of the
Eastern States on a very extensive scale, by several ships and
sloops-of-war, and five or six active privateers. The United States brig
"Argus" cruises at the entrance of Long Island Sound for the protection
of trade, latterly jeopardized;"[26] a position from which she was soon
driven by an overwhelming force. Hull, now commanding at Portsmouth,
reports April 9, "several privateers on the Eastern coast, which have
been successful in cutting coasters out of several harbors east." May 7:
"A small force is indeed needed here; the enemy appear off the harbor
nearly every day. A few days since, a little east of this, they burnt
twelve coasters and chased several into this port."[27] The town is
defenceless. The Governor of Rhode Island laments to the Legislature
"the critical and exposed situation of our fellow-citizens in Newport,
who are frequently menaced by the ships and vessels about Point Judith";
mentioning beside, "the burning of vessels in Narragansett Bay, and the
destruction of our coasting trade, which deprives us of the usual and
very necessary supplies of bread stuffs from other States."[28] The ship
"Maddox," blockaded for two or three months in the Chesapeake, escaped
in May, and reached Newport with five thousand barrels of flour. This is
said to have reduced the price by $2.50 in Boston, where it was ranging
at $17 to $18; while at Cadiz and Lisbon, thanks to British licenses
and heavy stocking in anticipation of war, it stood at $12 to $13. The
arrival at Machias of a captured British vessel, laden with wheat, was
hailed "as a seasonable supply for the starving inhabitants of the

   [Illustration: THE NEW CARRYING TRADE.
   _Drawn by Stanley M. Arthurs._]

Ships returning from abroad necessarily had to pass through the
cruisers which interrupted the coasting trade. "Many valuable vessels
arrive, making at times hairbreadth escapes." The trade of Baltimore
and Philadelphia is thrown back upon New York and Boston; but both of
these, and the eastern entrance of Long Island Sound, have hostile
squadrons before them. The letter-of-marque schooner "Ned" has
transmitted an experience doubtless undergone by many. Bound to
Baltimore, she arrived off the Chesapeake April 18, and was chased
away; tried to get into the Delaware on the 19th, but was headed off;
made for Sandy Hook, and was again chased. Finally, she tried the east
end of the Sound, and there made her way through four or five ships of
war, reaching New York April 24.[30] Of course, under such
circumstances trade rapidly dwindled. Only very fast and weatherly
vessels could hope to cope with the difficulties. Of these the
conspicuous type was the Baltimore schooner, which also had not too
many eggs in one basket. In the general deprivation of commerce a
lucky voyage was proportionately remunerative; but the high prices of
the successful venture were but the complement and reflection of
suffering in the community. The harbors, even of New York, became
crowded with unemployed shipping.

This condition of things coastwise, supplemented by the activity of
American privateers, induced abnormal conditions of navigation in the
western Atlantic. The scanty success of Rodgers, Bainbridge, and the
"Chesapeake" have been noted; and it may be observed that there was a
great similarity in the directions taken by these and others. The Cape
Verdes, the equator between 24° and 30° west, the Guiana coast, the
eastern West Indies, Bermuda to Halifax, indicate a general line of
cruising; with which coincides substantially a project submitted by
Stewart, March 2, 1813, for a cruise by the "Constellation." These
plans were conceived with intelligent reference to known British
trade-routes; but, being met by the enemy with a rigid convoy system,
it was often hard to find a sail. The scattered American traders were
rapidly diminishing in numbers, retained in port as they arrived; and
it is noted that a British division of four vessels, returning to
Halifax after a four months' cruise between the Banks of Newfoundland
and Bermuda, have captured only one American.[31] An American
privateer, arriving at Providence after an absence of nearly four
months, "vexing the whole Atlantic," reports not seeing a single
enemy's merchant ship. Niles' return of prizes[32] to American
cruisers, national as well as privateers, gives three hundred and five
as the total for the first six months of the war; of which
seventy-nine only seem to have been taken distant from the home
shores. For the second six months, to June 30, 1813, the aggregate has
fallen to one hundred and fifty-nine, of which, as far as can be
probably inferred, ninety-one were captured in remote waters.
Comparing with the preceding and subsequent periods, we find here
evidently a time of transition, when American enterprise had not yet
aroused to the fact that British precaution in the Western Hemisphere
had made it necessary to seek prizes farther afield.

In view of the incompleteness of the data it is difficult to state
more than broad conclusions. It seems fairly safe, however, to say
that after the winter of 1812-13 American commerce dwindled very
rapidly, till in 1814 it was practically annihilated; but that, prior
to Napoleon's downfall, the necessities of the British Government, and
the importunity of the British mercantile community, promoted a
certain collusive intercourse by licenses, or by neutrals, real or
feigned, between the enemy and the Eastern States of the Union, for
the exportation of American produce. This trade, from the reasons
which prompted it, was of course exempt from British capture.
Subsidiary to it, as a partial relief to the loss of the direct
American market, was fostered an indirect smuggling import from Great
Britain, by way of Halifax and Montreal, which conduced greatly to the
prosperity of both these places during the war, as it had during the
preceding periods of commercial restriction. It was to maintain this
contraband traffic, as well as to foster disaffection in an important
section of the Union, that the first extension of the commercial
blockade, issued by Warren from Bermuda, May 26, 1813, stopped short
of Newport; while the distinction thus drawn was emphasized, by
turning back vessels even with British licenses seeking to sail from
the Chesapeake. By this insidious action the commercial prosperity of
the country, so far as any existed, was centred about the Eastern
States. It was, however, almost purely local. Little relief reached
the Middle and South, which besides, as before mentioned, were thus
drained of specie, while their products lay idle in their stores.

As regards relative captures made by the two belligerents, exact
numbers cannot be affirmed; but from the lists transmitted a fairly
correct estimate can be formed as to the comparative injury done in
this way. It must be remembered that such losses, however grievous in
themselves, and productive of individual suffering, have by no means
the decisive effect produced by the stoppage of commerce, even though
such cessation involves no more than the retention in harbor of the
belligerent's ships, as the Americans were after 1812, or as had been
the case during Jefferson's embargo of 1808. As that measure and its
congeners failed in their object of bringing the British Government to
terms, by deprivation of commerce, the pecuniary harm done the United
States by them was much greater than that suffered in the previous
years from the arbitrary action of Great Britain. She had seized, it
was alleged, as many as nine hundred and seventeen American
vessels,[33] many of which were condemned contrary to law, while the
remainder suffered loss from detention and attendant expenses; but
despite all this the commercial prosperity was such that the
commercial classes were averse to resenting the insults and injury. It
was the agricultural sections of the country, not the commercial,
which forced on the war.

Niles' Register has transmitted a careful contemporary compilation of
American captures, in closing which the editor affirmed that in the
course of the war he had examined not less than ten, perhaps twelve,
thousand columns of ship news, rejecting all prizes not accounted for
by arrival or destruction. It is unlikely that data complete as he
used are now attainable, even if an increase of accuracy in this point
were worth the trouble of the search. Up to May 1, 1813, he records
four hundred and eleven captures, in which are included the British
ships of war as well as merchantmen; not a very material addition. The
British Naval Chronicle gives the prize lists of the various British
admirals. From these may be inferred in the same period at least three
hundred seizures of American merchant vessels. Among these are a good
many Chesapeake Bay craft, very small. This excludes privateers, but
not letters-of-marque, which are properly cargo ships. Both figures
are almost certainly underestimates; but not improbably the proportion
of four to three is nearly correct. Granting, however, that the
Americans had seized four British ships for every three lost by
themselves, what does the fact establish as regards the effect upon
the commerce of the two peoples? Take the simple report of a British
periodical in the same month of May, 1813: "We are happy to announce
the arrival of a valuable fleet from the West Indies, consisting of
two hundred and twenty-six sail, under convoy of the "Cumberland,"
seventy-four, and three other ships of war."[34] This one fleet among
many, safely entering port, numbers more than half of their total
losses in the twelvemonth. Contrast this relative security with the
experience of the "Ned," cited a few pages back, hunted from headland
to headland on her home coast, and slipping in--a single ship by
dexterous management--past foes from whom no countryman can pretend to
shield her.

Even more mortifying to Americans, because under their very eyes, in
sharp contrast to their sufferings, was the prosperity of Halifax and
Canada. Vexed though British commerce was by the daring activity of
American cruisers, the main streams continued to flow; diminished in
volume, but not interrupted. The closure of American harbors threw
upon the two ports named the business of supplying American products
to the British forces, the British West Indies, and in measure to
Great Britain itself. The same reason fixed in them the deposit of
British goods, to be illicitly conveyed into the United States by the
smuggling that went on actively along the northern seacoast and land
frontier; a revival of the practices under the embargo of 1808. This
underground traffic was of course inadequate to compensate for that
lost by the war and the blockade; but it was quite sufficient to add
immensely to the prosperity of these places, the communications of
which with the sea were held open and free by the British navy, and in
which centred what was left from one of the most important branches of
British trade in the days of peace. Halifax, from its position on the
sea, was the chief gainer. The effects of the war on it were very
marked. Trade was active. Prices rose. Provisions were in great
demand, to the profit of agriculture and fisheries. Rents doubled and
trebled. The frequent arrival of prizes, and of ships of war going and
coming, added to the transactions, and made money plentiful.[35]

Recalling the generalization already made, that the seacoast of the
United States was strictly a defensive frontier, it will be recognized
that the successive institution of the commercial blockades, first of
the Chesapeake and Delaware in March, and afterward of the whole coast
south of Newport, in May, were the offensive operations with which the
British initiated the campaign of 1813. These blockades were
supported, and their effects sustained and intensified, by an
accumulation of naval force entirely beyond the competition of the
American navy. In view of such overwhelming disparity, it was no
longer possible, as in 1812, by assembling a squadron, to impose some
measure of concentration upon the enemy, and thus to facilitate
egress and ingress. The movements of the British had passed wholly
beyond control. Their admiral was free to dispose his fleet as he
would, having care only not to hazard a detachment weaker than that in
the port watched. This was a condition perfectly easy of fulfilment
with the numbers under his command. As a matter of fact, his vessels
were distributed over the entire seacoast; and at every point, with
the possible exception of Boston, the division stationed was so strong
that escape was possible only by evasion, under cover of severe
weather conditions.

Under such circumstances, the larger the ship the more difficult for
her to get out. As early as the middle of April, Captain Jones,
formerly of the "Wasp," and now commanding the "Macedonian" in New
York, reports that "both outlets are at present strongly blocked, but
I believe at dark of the moon we shall be able to pass without much
risk."[36] May 22, when a moon had come and gone, Decatur, still on
board the "United States," in company with which the "Macedonian" was
to sail, thinks it will be better to try the Sound route. "The last
gale, which promised the fairest opportunity for us to get out, ended
in light southerly winds, which continued till the blockading ships
had regained their stations."[37] A few days later, the attempt by the
Sound resulted in the two being driven into New London, where they
remained to the close of the war. The only offensive operation by sea
open to the United States, the destruction of the enemy's commerce,
fell therefore to the smaller cruisers and privateers, the size and
numbers of which combined to make it impossible to restrain them all.

For defensive measures the seaboard depended upon such fortifications
as existed, everywhere inadequate, but which either the laxness or the
policy of the British commander did not attempt to overcome in the
case of the seaports, narrowly so called. The wide-mouthed estuaries
of the Chesapeake and Delaware, entrance to which could not thus be
barred, bore, therefore, the full brunt of hostile occupation and
widespread harassment. In this there may have been deliberate
intention, as well as easy adoption of the readiest means of
annoyance. The war, though fairly supported in the middle section of
the Union, was essentially a Southern and Western measure. Its most
strenuous fomenters came from those parts, and the administration was
Virginian. The President himself had been identified with the entire
course of Jefferson's commercial retaliation, and general policy
toward Great Britain during twelve years past. It is impossible for
land forces alone to defend against naval aggression a region like the
Chesapeake, with its several great, and numerous small, streams
penetrating the country in every direction; and matters are not helped
when the defendants are loosely organized militia. The water in such a
case offers a great central district, with interior lines, in the
hands of a power to which belongs the initiative, with an overpowering
mobile force, able at any moment to appear where it will in superior

No wonder then that the local journals of the day speak of continual
watchfulness, which from the present organization of the militia is
exceedingly toilsome, and of no little derangement to the private
affairs of the people.[38] The enemy spreads in every direction; and,
although the alarm caused much exceeds the injury done, disquietude is
extreme and universal. "Applications from various quarters are
constantly pouring in upon us," wrote a Governor of Maryland to the
President; "and as far as our very limited means will enable us we are
endeavoring to afford protection. But we have not arms and ammunition
to supply the demands of every section of the State; the unavoidable
expense of calling out the militia for its protection would greatly
exceed the ability of the State government. The capital of the State
[which was three miles from the bay, on a navigable river] has not
sufficient force for its protection. By the Constitution of the United
States, the common defence is committed to the National Government,
which is to protect each State against invasion, and to defray all
necessary expenses of a national war; and to us it is a most painful
reflection that after every effort we have made, or can make, for the
security of our fellow-citizens and of their property, they have
little to rely on but the possible forbearance of the enemy."[39] The
process of reaping what has been sowed is at times extremely


[1] Captains' Letters. Navy Department.

[2] Ibid., Bainbridge, Oct. 13, 1812.

[3] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 25.

[4] Bainbridge's report is in the Captains' Letters. Navy Department,
Jan. 3, 1813. It will be found also in Niles' Register, vol. iii. p.
410. Both give extracts from Bainbridge's journal, which is very full on
the subject of manoeuvres and times. The British account will be found
in the Naval Chronicle, vol. xxix. pp. 403-408, from which the plan of
the battle is copied.

[5] James' Naval History, edition 1824, vol. v. p. 313.

[6] Bainbridge in a private letter speaks of the men looking forward to
prize money for the "Guerrière" on their return. Niles' Register, vol.
iii. p. 411.

[7] Lawrence's Report of these transactions is in Captains' Letters,
March 19, 1813. It will be found also in Niles' Register, vol. iv. p.

[8] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxviii. p. 305.

[9] Admiralty to Warren, British Records Office.

[10] Niles' Register, vol. iii. p. 383.

[11] Captains' Letters.

[12] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 159. The Admiralty's letter to Warren
to institute this blockade is dated March 25. British Records Office.

[13] Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 264.

[14] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxi. p. 464.

[15] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxi. p. 475.

[16] Captains' Letters.

[17] American State Papers, Naval Affairs, vol. i. p. 280.

[18] Captain Evans' Report, April 10, 1813. Captains' Letters.

[19] Captains' Letters.

[20] Ibid, Dec. 17, 1812.

[21] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 119. Naval Chronicle, vol. xxix. p.

[22] March 17, 1813. Captains' Letters.

[23] March 17, 18, and 21. Ibid.

[24] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 222.

[25] Columbian Centinel.

[26] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 117.

[27] Captains' Letters.

[28] Message of the Governor of Rhode Island, May 5, 1813.

[29] Niles' Register, vol. iv. pp. 200, 209. There were reported in
Cadiz at this time 160,000 barrels of flour, unsold. The Columbian
Centinel (Feb. 17) speaks of the Lisbon market as deplorable.

[30] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 150.

[31] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 101.

[32] Ibid., p. 117.

[33] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 584. France
in the same period had seized five hundred and fifty-eight.

[34] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxix. p. 497. The following extract from an
American journal may have interest as indicating the extent of the
British convoy movement. "American brig 'Hazard,' arrived at New York
from Madeira, June 5, reports: 'April 11, arrived at Funchal the outward
bound East India and Brazil fleets, forty sail, under convoy. Sailed
April 12. April 21, arrived outward bound Cork fleet, one hundred and
eighty sail convoyed by a seventy-four, a frigate, and a sloop.' April
30, sailed from Jamaica, three hundred merchantmen, under convoy of a
seventy-four, two frigates and a sloop." (Columbian Centinel, of Boston,
June 9, 1813.)

[35] Murdoch's History of Nova Scotia, vol. iii. p. 351.

[36] Captains' Letters, April 13, 1813.

[37] Ibid., May 22.

[38] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 134.

[39] Letter of Governor Winder, April 26, 1813. Niles' Register, vol.
iv. p. 204.



In April, 1813, on the land frontier of the north and west, no
substantial change had taken place in the conditions which gave to the
United States the power of the offensive. Such modification as
Chauncey's energy had effected was to strengthen superiority, by
promising ultimate control of the upper and lower lakes. The British
had not been idle; but the greater natural difficulties under which
they labored, from less numerous population and less advanced
development of the country and its communications, together with a
greater severity of climate, had not been compensated by a naval
direction similar to that exercised by the American commodore and his
efficient second, Perry. Sir John Warren had been ordered to pay
attention to the lakes, the naval service of which was placed under
his charge. This added to his responsibilities, and to the drain upon
his resources of men and materials; but, with an oversight already
extending from Halifax to Jamaica and Barbados, he could do little for
the lakes, beyond meeting requisitions of the local authorities and
furnishing a draft of officers. Among those sent from his fleet was
Captain Barclay, who commanded the British squadron in Perry's action.

The Admiralty, meantime, had awaked to the necessity of placing
preparations and operations under competent naval guidance, if command
of the water was to be secured. For that purpose they selected Captain
Sir James Lucas Yeo, a young officer of much distinction, just turned
thirty, who was appointed to the general charge of the lake service,
under Warren. Leaving England in March, accompanied by a body of
officers and seamen, Yeo did not reach Kingston until May 15, 1813,
when the campaign was already well under way; having been begun by
Dearborn and Chauncey April 24. His impressions on arrival were
discouraging. He found the squadron in a weak state, and the enemy
superior in fact and in promise. They had just succeeded in burning at
York a British vessel intended for thirty guns, and they had, besides,
vessels building at Sackett's Harbor. He had set to work, however,
getting his force ready for action, and would go out as soon as
possible to contest the control of Ontario; for upon that depended the
tenure of Upper Canada.[40] Barclay, upon the arrival of his superior,
was sent on to Amherstburg, to fulfil upon Erie the same relation to
Yeo that Perry did to Chauncey.

It had been clearly recognized by the American authorities that any
further movement for the recapture of Detroit and invasion of Canada
would depend upon the command of Lake Erie; and that that in turn
would depend largely upon mastery of Ontario. In fact, the nearer the
sea control over the water communications could be established, the
more radical and far-reaching the effect produced. For this reason,
Montreal was the true objective of American effort, but the
Government's attention from the first had centred upon the
northwestern territory; upon the extremity of the enemy's power,
instead of upon its heart. Under this prepossession, despite adequate
warning, it had persisted in the course of which Hull's disaster was
the outcome; and now, though aroused by this stunning humiliation, its
understanding embraced nothing beyond the Great Lakes. Clear
indication of this narrow outlook is to be found in the conditions on
Lake Champlain, the natural highway to Canada. Only the scantiest
mention is to be found of naval preparation there, because actually
little was being done; and although the American force was momentarily
superior, it was so simply because the British, being in Canada wholly
on the defensive, and therefore obliged to conform to American
initiative, contemplated no use of this lake, the mastery of which,
nevertheless, was soon afterward thrown into their hands by a
singularly unfortunate occurrence.

Dearborn, who still remained in chief command of the armies on the New
York frontier, was therefore directed to concentrate his effort upon
Ontario, starting from Sackett's Harbor as a base. Chauncey, whose
charge extended no farther than the upper rapids of the St. Lawrence,
had of course no other interest. His first plan, transmitted to the
Navy Department January 21, 1813,[41] had been to proceed immediately
upon the opening of navigation, with the fleet and a land force of a
thousand picked troops, against Kingston, the capture of which, if
effected, would solve at a single stroke every difficulty in the upper
territory. No other harbor was tenable as a naval station; with its
fall, and the destruction of shipping and forts, would go the control
of the lake, even if the place itself were not permanently held.
Deprived thus of the water communications, the enemy could retain no
position to the westward, because neither re-enforcements nor supplies
could reach them. To quote Chauncey's own words, "I have no doubt we
should succeed in taking or destroying their ships and forts, and, of
course, preserve our ascendency on this lake."

This remark, though sound, was narrow in scope; for it failed to
recognize, what was perfectly knowable, that the British support of
the Lake Erie stations and the upper country depended on their power
to control, or at worst to contest, Ontario. Of this they themselves
were conscious, as the words of Yeo and Brock alike testify. The new
American Secretary of War, Armstrong, who was a man of correct
strategical judgment and considerable military information, entered
heartily into this view; and in a letter dated February 10
communicated to Dearborn the orders of the President for his
operations, based upon the Secretary's recommendation.[42] Four
thousand men were to be assembled at Sackett's, and three thousand at
Buffalo. The former, under convoy of the fleet, was to proceed first
against Kingston, then against York (Toronto). After this the two
corps should co-operate in an attack to be made upon the British
Niagara frontier, which rested upon Fort George on the Ontario shore,
and Fort Erie upon Lake Erie. This plan was adopted upon the
assumption, which was probably correct, that the enemy's entire
military force upon Ontario did not exceed twenty-one hundred regular
troops, of whom six hundred were at Kingston and twelve hundred at
Niagara. Armstrong, who recognized the paramount importance of
Montreal, had received the exaggerated impression that there might be
in that neighborhood eight to ten thousand regulars. There were not
yet nearly that number in all Canada;[43] but he was perhaps correct
in thinking that the provision for the offensive, which he had found
upon taking office a few weeks before, was insufficient for an advance
in that quarter.

Dearborn very soon discovered objections to proceeding against
Kingston, in his own estimates of the enemy's numbers, based upon
remarkable reports received from sources "entitled to full credit."
On March 3 he was satisfied that from six to eight thousand men had
been assembled there from Quebec, Montreal, and Upper Canada; while
the presence of Sir George Prevost, the Governor General, and
commander-in-chief in Canada, who had seized an opportunity to make a
hurried visit to Kingston to assure himself as to the progress of the
ships building, convinced the American general that an attack upon
Sackett's was contemplated.[44] From that time forward Dearborn
realized in his own person the process of making pictures to one's
self concerning a military situation, against which Napoleon uttered a
warning. Chauncey was more sceptical, although he could not very well
avoid attention to the reports brought in. He expresses himself as
believing that a considerable number of men had been assembled in
Kingston, but that their real object was to proceed against Harrison
in the Far West.[45]

There seems to have been no foundation for any of these alarms.
Prevost was a soldier of good reputation, but wanting in initiative,
audacity, and resolution, as the current war was to prove. His
presence at Kingston at this moment was simply one incident in a rapid
official visit to the upper military posts, extending as far as
Niagara, and accomplished in four weeks; for, leaving Quebec February
17, he was again writing from there on the 17th of March. As far as
can be deduced from his correspondence, four companies of regulars had
preceded him from Montreal to Kingston, and there may very well have
been a gathering of local forces for inspection or otherwise; but no
re-enforcements of regulars, other than that just mentioned, reached
Kingston from down the river before May. Dearborn never renounced his
belief in the meditated attack, though finally satisfied that it was
abandoned; and his positive reports as to the enemy's numbers wrung
from Armstrong acquiescence in a change of plan, by which York, and
not Kingston, should be the first object of the campaign.[46]

Chauncey, who had some sound military ideas, as his first plan showed,
was also brought round to this conclusion by a process of reasoning
which he developed in a second plan of operations, submitted March
18,[47] but evidently long since matured. It apparently antedates
Dearborn's apprehensions, and is not affected by them, though the two
worked together to a common mistaken decision. The commodore's letter
presents an interesting study, in its demonstration of how an
erroneous first conception works out to false conclusions, and in the
particular instance to ultimate military disaster. The capture of
Kingston, his first plan, and its retention, which Armstrong purposed,
would have settled the whole campaign and affected decisively the
issue of the war. Chauncey's new project is dominated throughout by
the view, which was that of the Government, that the great object of
the war was to control the northwestern territory by local operations,
instead of striking at the source of British power in its
communication with the sea. At this moment, the end of March, the
British naval force on Ontario was divided between York and Kingston;
in each were vessels afloat and vessels building. An attack upon
Kingston, Chauncey said, no doubt would be finally successful--an
initial admission which gave away his case; but as the opposing force
would be considerable, it would protract the general operations of the
campaign--the reduction of the northwest--longer than would be
advisable, particularly as large re-enforcements would probably
arrive at Quebec in the course of two months. On the other hand, to
proceed against York, which probably could be carried immediately,
would result in destroying at once a large fraction of the British
fleet, greatly weakening the whole body. Thence the combined Americans
would turn against Fort George and the Niagara line. If successful
here, the abandonment of Fort Erie by the British would release the
American vessels which by its guns were confined at Black Rock. They
would sail forth and join their consorts at Erie; which done,
Chauncey, leaving his Ontario fleet to blockade Yeo at Kingston, would
go to the upper lake and carry against the British the squadron thus
concentrated there, would co-operate with the army under General
Harrison, recover Detroit, and capture Malden. Lake Erie and its
surroundings would thus become an American holding. After this, it
would be but a step to reconquer Michilimackinac, thereby acquiring an
influence over the Indians which, in conjunction with military and
naval preponderance, would compel the enemy to forsake the upper
country altogether, and concentrate his forces about Kingston and

It is interesting to see an elaborate piece of serious reasoning
gradually culminate in a _reductio ad absurdum_; and Chauncey's
reasoning ends in a military absurdity. The importance of Kingston is
conceded by him, and the probability of capturing it at the first is
admitted. Thereupon follows a long project of operation, which ends in
compelling the enemy to concentrate all his strength at the very
points--Kingston and Montreal--which it is most important for the
Americans to gain; away from which, therefore, they should seek to
keep the enemy, and not to drive him in upon them. This comes from the
bias of the Government, and of the particular officer, regarding the
Northwestern territory as the means whereby success was to be
accomplished instead of merely the end to be attained. To make the
Western territory and control of the Indians the objects of the
campaign was a political and military motive perfectly allowable, and
probably, in view of recent history, extremely necessary; but to make
these things the objective of operations was to invert the order of
proceedings, as one who, desiring to fell a tree, should procure a
ladder and begin cutting off the outermost branches, instead of
striking at the trunk by the ground.

Eighteen months later Chauncey wrote some very wise words in this
spirit. "It has always been my opinion that the best means to conquer
Canada was to cut off supplies from Lower to Upper by taking and
maintaining some position on the St. Lawrence. That would be killing
the tree by girdling; the branches, dependent on ordinary supplies,
die of necessity. But it is now attempted to kill the tree by lopping
off branches" [he is speaking of the Niagara campaign of 1814]; "the
body becomes invigorated by reducing the demands on its
resources."[48] By this time Chauncey had been chastened by
experience. He had seen his anticipated glory reaped on Lake Erie by
his junior. He had seen the control of Ontario contested, and finally
wrung from him, by vessels built at Kingston, the place which he had
failed to take when he thought it possible. He had been blockaded
during critical months by a superior squadron; and at the moment of
writing, November 5, 1814, Sir James Yeo was moving, irresistible,
back and forth over the waters of Ontario, with his flag flying in a
ship of 102 guns, built at Kingston. In short, the Canadian tree was
rooted in the ocean, where it was nourished by the sea power of Great
Britain. To destroy it, failing the ocean navy which the United States
had not, the trunk must be severed; the nearer the root the better.

Demonstration of these truths was not long in coming, and will be
supplied by the narrative of events. When Chauncey penned the plan of
operations just analyzed, there were in York two vessels, the "Prince
Regent" of twenty guns, the "Duke of Gloucester," sixteen, and two--by
his information--on the stocks. On April 14 the ice in Sackett's
Harbor broke up, though large floes still remained in the lake. On the
19th these also had disappeared. Eighteen hundred troops were embarked
by the squadron, and on the 24th the expedition started, but was
driven back by heavy weather. The next day it got away finally, and on
the early morning of the 27th appeared off York. The troops were
landed westward of the town, and proceeded to attack, supported by the
shipping. The enemy, inferior in number, retired; the small regular
force making its escape, with the exception of fifty who surrendered
with the militia present. The American loss, army and navy, was a
little over three hundred; among whom was General Pike, an excellent
soldier, who commanded the landing and was mortally wounded by the
explosion of a magazine. The "Duke of Gloucester" schooner was taken,
but the "Prince Regent" had gone to Kingston three days before; the
weather which drove Chauncey back had enabled her to join her fleet as
soon as released by the ice. By her escape the blow lost most of its
effect; for York itself was indefensible, and was taken again without
difficulty in the following July. A 30-gun vessel approaching
completion was found on the stocks and burned, and a large quantity of
military and naval stores were either destroyed or brought away by the
victorious squadron. These losses were among the news that greeted
Yeo's arrival; but, though severe, they were not irreparable, as
Chauncey for the moment imagined. He wrote: "I believe that the enemy
has received a blow that he cannot recover, and if we succeed in our
next enterprise, which I see no reason to doubt, we may consider the
upper province as conquered."[49] The mistake here was soon to be

No time was wasted at York. The work of destruction, and of loading
what was to be carried away, was completed in three days, and on May 1
the troops were re-embarked, to sail for Fort George on the morrow.
The wind, which for some days had been fair and moderate from the
eastward, then came on to blow a gale which would make landing
impossible off Niagara, and even navigation dangerous for the small
vessels. This lasted through the 7th, Chauncey writing on that day
that they were still riding with two anchors ahead and lower yards
down. So crowded were the ships that only half the soldiers could be
below at one time; hence they were exposed to the rain, and also to
the fresh-water waves, which made a clean breach over the schooners.
Under such circumstances both troops and seamen sickened fast. On the
8th, the weather moderating, the squadron stood over to Fort Niagara,
landed the troops for refreshment, and then returned to Sackett's; it
being thought that the opportunity for surprise had been lost, and
that no harm could come of a short further delay, during which also
re-enforcements might be expected.

Soon after his return Chauncey sent a flag of truce to Kingston. This
made observations as to the condition of the enemy which began to
dispel his fair illusions.[50] His purpose to go in person to Niagara
was postponed; and despatching thither the squadron with troops, he
remained at Sackett's to protect the yard and the ships building, in
co-operation with the garrison. His solicitude was not misplaced.
Niagara being a hundred and fifty miles from Sackett's, the fleet and
army had been committed to a relatively distant operation, depending
upon a main line of communication,--the lake,--on the flank and rear
of which, and close to their own inadequately protected base, was a
hostile arsenal, Kingston, harboring a naval force quite able to
compete with their own. The danger of such a situation is obvious to
any military man, and even to a layman needs only to be indicated.
Nevertheless the enterprise was launched, and there was nothing for it
now but to proceed on the lines laid down.

Chauncey accordingly sailed May 22, re-enforcements of troops for the
defence of Sackett's having meantime arrived. He did not reach Niagara
until the 25th. The next day was spent in reconnoissances, and other
preparations for a landing on the lake shore, a short mile west of
Fort George. On the 27th, at 9 A.M., the attack began, covered by the
squadron. General Vincent, in command of the British Niagara frontier,
moved out to meet his enemy with the entire force near Fort George,
leaving only a small garrison of one hundred and thirty men to hold
the post itself. There was sharp fighting at the coast-line; but
Vincent's numbers were much inferior, and he was compelled steadily to
give ground, until finally, seeing that the only alternatives were the
destruction of his force or the abandonment of the position, he sent
word to the garrison to spike the guns, destroy the ammunition, and to
join his column as it withdrew. He retreated along the Niagara River
toward Queenston, and thence west to Beaver Dam, about sixteen miles
from Fort George. At the same time word was sent to the officers
commanding at Fort Erie, and the intermediate post of Chippewa, to
retire upon the same place, which had already been prepared in
anticipation of such an emergency. The three divisions were thus in
simultaneous movement, converging upon a common point of
concentration, where they all assembled during the night; the whole,
as reported by Vincent to his superior, now not exceeding sixteen
hundred.[51] The casualties during the day's fighting had been
heavy, over four hundred killed and wounded; but in the retreat no
prisoners were lost except the garrison of the fort, which was
intercepted. Dearborn, as before at York, had not landed with his
troops; prevented, doubtless, by the infirmities of age increasing
upon him. Two days later he wrote to the Department, "I had presumed
that the enemy would confide in the strength of his position and
venture an action, by which an opportunity would be afforded to cut
off his retreat."[52] This guileless expectation, that the net may be
spread not in vain before the eyes of any bird, provoked beyond
control such measure of equanimity as Armstrong possessed. Probably
suspecting already that his correct design upon Kingston had been
thwarted by false information, he retorted: "I cannot disguise from
you the _surprise_ occasioned by the _two escapes of a beaten enemy_;
first on May 27, and again on June 1. Battles are not gained, when an
inferior and broken enemy is not destroyed. Nothing is done, while
anything that might have been done is omitted."[53] Vincent was unkind
enough to disappoint his opponent. The morning after the engagement he
retired toward a position at the head of the lake, known then as
Burlington Heights, where the town of Hamilton now stands. Upon his
tenure here the course of operations turned twice in the course of the
next six months.


While Vincent was in retreat upon Burlington, Captain Barclay arrived
at his headquarters, on the way to take charge of the Lake Erie
squadron;[54] having had to coast the north shore of Ontario, on
account of the American control of the water. The inopportuneness of
the moment was prophetic of the numberless disappointments with which
the naval officer would have to contend during the brief three months
preceding his defeat by Perry. "The ordnance, ammunition, and other
stores for the service on Lake Erie," wrote Prevost on July 20, with
reference to Barclay's deficiencies, "had been deposited at York for
the purpose of being transported to Amherstburg, but unfortunately
were either destroyed or fell into the enemy's hands when York was
taken by them; and the subsequent interruption to the communication,
by their occupation of Fort George, has rendered it extremely
difficult to afford the supplies Captain Barclay requires, which,
however, are in readiness to forward whenever circumstances will
permit it to be done with safety."[55] The road from Queenston to Fort
Erie, around Niagara Falls, was the most used and the best line of
transportation, because the shortest. To be thrown off it to that from
Burlington to Long Point was a serious mishap for a force requiring
much of heavy and bulky supplies. To add to these more vital
embarrassments, the principal ship, the "Queen Charlotte," which had
been lying at Fort Erie, had been ordered by Vincent to leave there
when the place was evacuated, and to go to Amherstburg, thus giving
Barclay the prospect of a land journey of two hundred miles through
the wilderness to his destination. Fortunately for him, a vessel
turned up at Long Point, enabling him to reach Amherstburg about June

The second step in Chauncey's programme had now been successfully
taken, and the vessels at Black Rock were free to move. With an energy
and foresight which in administration seldom forsook him, he had
prepared beforehand to seize even a fleeting opportunity to get them
out. Immediately upon the fall of York, "to put nothing to hazard, I
directed Mr. Eckford to take thirty carpenters to Black Rock, where he
has gone to put the vessels lying there in a perfect state of repair,
ready to leave the river for Presqu' Isle the moment we are in
possession of the opposite shore." Perry also was on hand, being
actively engaged in the landing at Fort George; and the same evening,
May 27, he left for Black Rock to hasten the departure. The process
involved great physical labor, the several vessels having to be
dragged by oxen against the current of the Niagara, here setting
heavily toward the falls. It was not until June 12 that they were all
above the rapids, and even this could not have been accomplished but
for soldiers furnished by Dearborn.[56] The circumstance shows how
hopeless the undertaking would have been if the enemy had remained in
Fort Erie. Nor was this the only peril in their path. Barclay, with
commendable promptitude, had taken the lake in superior force very
shortly after his arrival at Amherstburg, and about June 15 appeared
off Erie [Presqu' Isle]. Having reconnoitred the place, he cruised
between it and Black Rock, to intercept the expected division; but the
small vessels, coasting the beach, passed their adversary unseen in a
fog,[57] and on June 18 reached the port. As Chauncey had reported on
May 29 that the two brigs building there were launched, affairs on
that lake began to wear a promising aspect. The Lakes station as a
whole, however, was still very short of men; and the commodore added
that if none arrived before his approaching return to Sackett's, he
would have to lay up the Ontario fleet to man that upon Erie.

To do this would have been to abandon to the enemy the very important
link in the communications, upon which chiefly depended the
re-enforcement and supplies for both armies on the Niagara peninsula.
The inherent viciousness of the plan upon which the American
operations were proceeding was now quickly evident. At the very moment
of the attack upon Fort George, a threatening but irresolute movement
against Sackett's was undertaken by Prevost, with the co-operation of
Yeo, by whom the attempt is described as a diversion, in consequence
of the enemy's attack upon Fort George. Had the place fallen, Chauncey
would have lost the ship then building, on which he was counting to
control the water; he would have had nowhere to rest his foot except
his own quarter-deck, and no means to repair his fleet or build the
new vessels continually needed to maintain superiority. The case of
Yeo dispossessed of Kingston would have been similar, but worse; for
land transport in the United States was much better than in Canada.
The issue of the war, as regarded the lakes and the Northwestern
territory, lay in those two places. Upon them depended offensive and
defensive action.

At the time of the attack upon Sackett's only two vessels of the
squadron were there, the senior officer of which, Lieutenant Chauncey,
was in momentary command of the navy yard as well. The garrison
consisted of four hundred regular troops, the coming of whom a week
before had enabled Chauncey to leave for Niagara. Dearborn had already
written to Major-General Jacob Brown, of the New York militia, asking
him to take command of the station; for which his local knowledge
particularly fitted him, as he was a resident of some years' standing.
He had moreover manifested marked military capacity on the St.
Lawrence line, which was under his charge. Brown, whose instincts were
soldierly, was reluctant to supersede Colonel Backus, the officer of
regulars in command; but a letter from the latter received on the
27th, asking him to take charge, determined his compliance. When he
arrived five hundred militia had assembled.

The British expedition left Kingston with a fine fair wind on the
early morning of May 27--the same day that the Americans were landing
at Fort George. The whole fleet accompanied the movement, having
embarked troops numbering over seven hundred; chiefly regulars. At
noon they were off Sackett's Harbor. Prevost and Yeo stood in to
reconnoitre; but in the course of an hour the troops, who were already
in the boats, ready to pull to the beach, were ordered to re-embark,
and the squadron stood out into the lake. The only result so far was
the capture of twelve out of nineteen American barges, on their way
from Oswego to the Harbor. The other seven gained the port.

During the next thirty-six hours militia kept coming in, and Brown
took command. Sackett's Harbor is an indentation on the south side of
a broad bay, called Black River Bay, into which the Black River
empties. The harbor opens eastward; that is, its back is toward the
lake, from which it is distant a little over a mile; and its north
side is formed by a long narrow point, called Navy Point, on which was
the naval establishment. Where Black River Bay meets the lake, its
south shore is prolonged to the west by a projection called Horse
Island, connected with the land by a fordable neck. Brown expected the
landing to be made upon this, and he decided to meet the attack at the
water's edge of the mainland, as the enemy crossed the neck. There he
disposed his five hundred militia, placing the regulars under Backus
in a second line; a steadying point in case the first line of
untrained men failed to stand firm. It was arranged that, if the enemy
could not be resisted, Lieutenant Chauncey was to set fire to the
naval stores and shipping, and cross with his crews to the south side
of the harbor, east of a work called Fort Volunteer, where Brown
proposed to make his final stand. From there, although an enemy at the
yard could be molested, he could not certainly be prevented from
carrying off stores or ships; hence the necessity for destruction.


The British landed upon Horse Island soon after daylight of May 29,
and from there advanced. The militia met them with a volley, but then
broke and fled, as had been foreseen by Brown, himself yet a militia
officer. Their colonel behaved gallantly, and was killed in trying to
rally his men; while Brown in person, collecting a hundred of the
fugitives, worked round with them to the left flank of the approaching
British. These, moving through the woods, now encountered Backus and
his regulars, who made upon them an impression of overwhelming
numbers, to which the British official report bears a vivid testimony.
The failure to carry the place is laid by this paper upon the light
and adverse winds, which prevented the co-operation of the squadron's
heavy guns, to reduce the batteries and blockhouse. Without this
assistance, it was impracticable to carry by assault the works in
which the Americans had taken refuge. The gunboats alone could get
within range, and their small carronades were totally inadequate to
make any impression on the forts and blockhouses. "The troops were
reluctantly ordered to leave a beaten enemy." Brown makes no mention
of this retreat into the works, though it appears clear that the
Americans fell gradually back to their support; but he justifies
Prevost's withdrawal, bitterly criticised by writers of his own
nation, in the words, "Had not General Prevost retreated most rapidly
under the guns of his vessels, he would never have returned to

In the midst of the action word was brought to Lieutenant Chauncey
that the battle was lost, and that the yard must be fired. Brown, in
his official report, expressly acquitted him of blame, with words of
personal commendation. The two schooners in commission had retreated
up Black River; but the prize "Duke of Gloucester," and the ship
approaching completion, were fired. Fortunately, the flames were
extinguished before serious damage was done; but when Commodore
Chauncey returned on June 1, he found that among a large quantity of
materials consumed were the stores and sails of the new ship. The loss
of these he thought would delay the movements of the squadron three
weeks; for without her Yeo's force was now superior.[59]

   _Drawn by Henry Reuterdahl._]

The defence of Sackett's Harbor obtained immediately for Brown, who
was just thirty-eight, the commission of brigadier general in the
army; for the new Secretary, Armstrong, was looking round anxiously
for men to put in command, and was quick to seize upon one when he
found him. To Chauncey, on the other hand, the affair in its
consequences and demonstration of actualities was a rude awakening, to
which his correspondence during the succeeding six weeks bears witness
by an evident waning of confidence, not before to be noted. On June 4
he tells the Secretary of the Navy that he has on Ontario, exclusive
of the new ship not yet ready, fourteen vessels of every description,
mounting sixty-two guns; whereas Yeo has seven, which, with six
gunboats, carry one hundred and six. "If he leave Kingston, I shall
meet him. The result may be doubtful, but worth the trial." This
resolution is not maintained. June 11 he hears, with truth, that Yeo
was seen at the head of the lake on the 7th, and that the Americans at
Fort George had taken his squadron to be Chauncey's. By the same
channel he learns of a disastrous engagement of the army there, which
was likewise true. His impulse is to go out to meet the British
squadron; but he reflects that the enemy may then again find an
opportunity to descend upon Sackett's, and perhaps succeed in burning
the new ship. Her size and armament will, he thinks, give him the
decisive superiority. He therefore resolves to put nothing to hazard
till she is finished.[60]

The impression produced by the late attack is obvious, and this
decision was probably correct; but Yeo too is building, and meantime
he has possession of the lake. On June 3 he left Kingston with a
squadron, two ships and four schooners, carrying some three hundred
troops for Vincent. On the evening of the 7th, about six o'clock, he
was sighted by the American army, which was then at Forty Mile Creek
on the Ontario shore; a position to which it had retired after a
severe reverse inflicted by the enemy thirty-six hours before.
Vincent's retreat had been followed as far as Stony Creek, ten miles
west of Forty Mile Creek, and somewhat less distant from Burlington
Heights, where the British lay. The situation of the latter was
extremely perilous; for, though strongly placed, they were greatly
outnumbered. In case of being driven from their lines, they must
retreat on York by a long and difficult road; and upon the same poor
communications they were dependent for supplies, unless their squadron
kept control of the lake. Recognizing that desperate conditions call
for desperate remedies, Vincent resolved to risk an attack with seven
hundred men under Colonel Harvey, in whose suggestion the movement
originated. These fell upon the American advance corps at two o'clock
in the morning of June 6. An hour of fighting ensued, with severe loss
on both sides; then Harvey, considering sufficient effect produced,
drew off his men before daylight revealed the smallness of their

There was in this affair nothing intrinsically decisive, scarcely more
than a business of outposts; but by a singular coincidence both
American generals present were captured in the confusion. The officer
who succeeded to the command, a colonel of cavalry, modestly
distrustful of his own powers, could think of nothing more proper than
to return to Forty Mile Creek, sending word to Fort George. Dearborn,
still too weak to go to the front, despatched thither General Morgan
Lewis. On his way Lewis was overtaken by two brief messages from the
commander-in-chief announcing the appearance of Yeo's fleet, and
indicating apprehension that by means of it Vincent might come upon
Fort George before the main army could fall back there. It was most
improbable that the British general, with the command of the lake in
doubt would thus place himself again in the position from which he had
with difficulty escaped ten days before; but Dearborn's fears for the
safety of the forts prevailed, and he ordered a retreat. The movement
began by noon of June 8, and in a few days the army was back at
Niagara River, having lost or abandoned a quantity of stores. The
British followed to within ten miles of the fort, where they took up a
position. They also reoccupied Beaver Dam; and a force of six hundred
Americans sent to dislodge them, under Colonel Boerstler, was
compelled to surrender on June 24.[61] Dearborn, who had already
reported to the Department that he personally was "so reduced in
strength as to be incapable of any command," attributed his
embarrassments "to the temporary loss of command of the lake. The
enemy has availed himself of the advantage and forwarded
re-enforcements and supplies." The effect of controlling the water
cannot be contested; but the conditions at Stony Creek were such that
it should have been possible to drive Vincent away from any hold on
the south shore of Ontario. Creditable as had been the enterprise of
Colonel Harvey, it had accomplished no change in material conditions.
Dearborn was soon afterward relieved. His officers, including Scott,
joined in a letter of regret and esteem, prompted doubtless by
sympathy for the sufferings and miscarriage of an aged officer who had
served gallantly in his youth during the War of Independence.

To Colonel Harvey's attack, on the morning of June 6, a British
military critic has with justice assigned the turning of the tide in
the affairs of Upper Canada.[62] It is perfectly true that that
well-judged movement, admirable in conception and execution, checked
the progress of the American arms at a moment most favorable to them,
and put an end to conditions of advantage which never there recurred.
That this effect was produced, however, is attributable to the
inefficiency of the American officers in command. If Harvey had
divined this, from the previous operations, and made it a part of his
calculations, it is so much more to his credit; the competency of the
opponent is a chief factor to be considered in a military enterprise.
It detracts nothing from Harvey's merit to say that there was no
occasion for the American retreat, nor for the subsequent paralysis of
effort, which ended in expulsion from the Niagara peninsula at the end
of the year. "For some two months after this," wrote a very competent
eye-witness, afterward General Scott, "the army of Niagara, never less
than four thousand strong, stood fixed in a state of ignominy, under
Boyd, within five miles of an unintrenched enemy, with never more than
three thousand five hundred men."[63] Scott seems not to have known
that this inactivity was enjoined by the War Department till Chauncey
could resume control of the lake.[64] From this time, in fact, the
Niagara army and its plans disappear from the active operations.

Yeo remained in undisputed mastery of the water. That the British at
this time felt themselves the stronger in effective force, may be
reasonably inferred from their continuing to keep the lake after
Chauncey's new ship was out. She was launched June 12, and named the
"General Pike," in honor of the officer killed at the taking of York.
Her armament was to be twenty-six long 24-pounders, which under some
circumstances would make her superior, not only to any single vessel,
but to any combination of vessels then under the British flag. If it
was still possible, by use of favoring conditions, to contend with the
American fleet after the addition to it of this ship, by so much more
was Yeo able to deal successfully with it before her coming. A
comparison of the armaments of the opposing forces also demonstrates
that, whatever Chauncey's duty might have been without such prospect,
he was justified, having this decisive advantage within reach, in
keeping his fleet housed waiting for its realization. The British new
vessel, the "Wolfe," with the "Royal George"[65] and the "Melville,"
together threw a broadside weight of nine hundred and twenty
pounds,[66] to which the "Madison" and "Oneida" could oppose only six
hundred; and the batteries of all five being mainly carronades, there
are no qualifications to be made on the score of differing ranges. The
American schooners, though much more numerous than the British, in no
way compensated for this disparity, for reasons which will be given
when the narrative of operations begins. Unknown to Chauncey, the
vindication of his delay was to be found in Yeo's writing to the
Admiralty, that he was trying to induce the enemy to come out before
his new ship was ready.

Disappointed in this endeavor, the British commodore meantime employed
his vessels in maintaining the communications of the British and
harassing those of the Americans, thus observing the true relation of
the lake to the hostilities. Mention has been made of the effect upon
Dearborn; morally, in the apprehension created, actually, in the
strength contributed to Vincent's army. "The enemy's fleet is
constantly hovering on the coast and interrupting our supplies," wrote
General Lewis, during Dearborn's incapacity. Besides incidental
mentions by American officers, Yeo himself reports the capture of two
schooners and boats loaded with stores June 13; and between that date
and the 19th he landed parties at the Genesee River and Great Sodus,
capturing or destroying a quantity of provisions. Transit between
Oswego and Sackett's was also in constant danger of an unexpected
interference by the British squadron. On June 20 it appeared off
Oswego, with apparent disposition to attack; but Yeo, who in his
exercise of chief command displayed a degree of caution remarkable in
view of his deservedly high reputation for dash acquired in less
responsible positions, did not pass beyond threat. All the same, the
mere uncertainty exercised a powerful influence on the maintenance of
intercourse. "If the schooners 'Lark' and 'Fly' are not now in
Sackett's," wrote Lieutenant Woolsey from Oswego, "they must have been
taken yesterday by the British boats. They were loaded with powder,
shot, and hospital stores for the army." He has also cordage, powder,
guns, cables, to send, and boats in which to ship them; but "under
existing circumstances I dare not take upon myself to send them
farther than to Sandy Creek, under strong guard. I think it would be
unsafe to venture round Stony Point [a projecting headland twelve
miles from Sackett's] without convoy or a good guard."[67]

On July 2, having ranged the lake at will since June 1, Yeo returned
to Kingston, and Chauncey again began to hear rumors. "The fleet has
taken on board two thousand men, and two thousand more are to embark
in boats; an attack upon this place is the object. The plan is to make
a desperate push at our fleet before the 'General Pike' can be got
ready.... His real object may be to land re-enforcements near Fort
George, to act with General Vincent against Dearborn. If this be his
object, he will succeed in obliging our army to recross the Niagara
River;"[68] a damaging commentary on the American plan of campaign.
This fear, however, was excessive, for the reason that an effective
American army on the Niagara had a land line of communication, bad but
possible, alternative to the lake. The British had not. Moreover, the
Niagara peninsula had for them a value, as a land link between Ontario
and Erie, to which nothing corresponded on the United States side. Had
Vincent been driven from Burlington Heights, not only would he have
lost touch with the lake, and been forced back on York, but Ontario
would for the British have been entirely cut off from Erie.

The "General Pike" was ready for service on July 20, and the following
evening Chauncey sailed. With this begins a period, extending over ten
or twelve weeks, which has no parallel in the naval lake history of
the war. It was unproductive of decisive results, and especially of
the one particular result which is the object of all naval action--the
destruction of the enemy's organized force, and the establishment of
one's own control of the water; nevertheless, the ensuing movements of
Yeo and Chauncey constituted a naval campaign of considerable
interest. Nothing resembling it occurred on either Lake Champlain or
Erie, and no similar condition recurred on Ontario. The fleets were
frequently in presence of each other, and three times came to blows.
On Erie and on Champlain the opposing forces met but once, and then
without any prolonged previous attempts at manoeuvring. They fought
immediately; the result in each case being an American victory, not
only complete but decisive, which has kept their remembrance alive to
this day in the national memory. On Ontario, after the close of the
season of 1813, the struggle resolved itself into a race of
ship-building; both parties endeavoring to maintain superiority by the
creation of ever-increasing numbers, instead of by crushing the enemy.
Such a contest sufficiently befits a period of peace; it is, for
instance, at this moment the condition of the great naval nations of
the world, each of which is endeavoring to maintain its place in the
naval scale by the constant production and development of material. In
war, however, the object is to put an end to a period of national
tension and expense by destroying the enemy; and the failure of the
commanders to effect this object calls for examination.

The indecisive result on Ontario was due to the particular composition
of the two squadrons; to the absence of strong compelling conditions,
such as made fighting imperative on Barclay upon Erie, and perhaps
also on Downie upon Champlain; and finally, to the extreme wariness of
the commanders, each of whom was deeply impressed with the importance
of preserving his own fleet, in order not to sacrifice control of the
lake. Chauncey has depicted for us his frame of mind in instructions
issued at this very moment--July 14--to his subordinate, Perry. "The
first object will be to destroy or cripple the enemy's fleet; but in
all attempts upon the fleet you ought to use great caution, for the
loss of a single vessel may decide the fate of the campaign."[69] A
practical commentary of singular irony was passed upon this utterance
within two months; for by sacrificing a single ship Perry decided his
own campaign in his own favor. Given the spirit of Chauncey's warning,
and also two opponents with fleets so different in constitution that
one is strong where the other is weak, and _vice versa_, and there is
found the elements of wary and protracted fighting, with a strong
chance that neither will be badly hurt; but also that neither will
accomplish much. This is what happened on Ontario.

   _Drawn by Carlton T. Chapman._]

The relative powers of the two fleets need to be briefly explained;
for they constituted, so to say, the hands in the game which each
commander had to play. The British had six vessels, of varying sizes
and rigs, but all built for war, and sailing fairly well together.
They formed therefore a good manoeuvring squadron. The Americans had
three vessels built for war, and at the beginning ten schooners also,
not so designed, and not sailing well with the armaments they bore.
Whatever the merits of this or that vessel, the squadron as a whole
manoeuvred badly, and its movements were impeded by the poorer
sailors. The contrast in armaments likewise had a very decisive
effect. There were in those days two principal classes of naval
cannon,--long guns, often called simply "guns," and carronades. The
guns had long range with light weight of shot fired; the carronades
had short range and heavy shot. Now in long guns the Americans were
four times as strong as the British, while in carronades the British
were twice as strong as the Americans. It follows that the American
commodore should prefer long range to begin with; whereas the British
would be careful not to approach within long range, unless with such a
breeze as would carry him rapidly down to where his carronades would
come into play.

There was another controlling reason why short range favored the
British against the Americans. The schooners of the latter, not being
built for war, carried their guns on a deck unprotected by bulwarks.
The men, being exposed from the feet up, could be swept away by
canister, which is a quantity of small iron balls packed in a case and
fired from a cannon. When discharged, these separate and spread like
buckshot, striking many in a group. They can maim or kill a man, but
their range is short and penetrative power small. A bulwarked vessel
was, so to say, armored against canister; for it makes no difference
whether the protection is six inches of wood or ten of iron, provided
it keeps out the projectile. The American schooners were in this
respect wholly vulnerable.

Over-insistence upon details of advantage or disadvantage is often
wearisome, and may be pushed to pettifogging; but these quoted are
general and fundamental. To mention them is not to chaffer over
details, but to state principles. There is one other which should be
noted, although its value may be differently estimated. Of the great
long-gun superiority of the Americans more than one half was in the
unprotected schooners; distributed, that is, among several vessels not
built for war, and not capable of acting well together, so as to
concentrate their fire. There is no equality between ten guns in five
such vessels and the same ten concentrated on one deck, under one
captain. That this is not special pleading, to contravene the
assertion advanced by James of great American superiority on Ontario,
I may quote words of my own, written years ago with reference to a
British officer: "An attempt was made to disparage Howe's conduct (in
1778), and to prove that his force was even superior to that of the
French, by adding together the guns in all his ships, disregarding
their classes, or by combining groups of his small vessels against
D'Estaing's larger units. For this kind of professional arithmetic
Howe felt and expressed just and utter contempt."[70] So Nelson wrote
to the commander of a British cruising squadron, "Your intentions of
attacking the 'Aigle'"--a seventy-four--"with your three frigates are
certainly very laudable, but I do not consider your force by any means
equal to it." The new American ship, the "General Pike," possessed
this advantage of the seventy-four. One discharge of her broadside was
substantially equal to that of the ten schooners, and all her guns
were long; entirely out-ranging the batteries of her antagonists.
Under some circumstances--a good breeze and the windward position--she
was doubtless able to encounter and beat the whole British squadron on
Ontario. But the American schooners were mere gunboats, called to act
in conditions unfavorable to that class of vessel, the record of which
for efficiency is under no circumstances satisfactory.

After leaving Sackett's, Chauncey showed himself off Kingston and then
went up the lake, arriving off Niagara on the evening of July 27. An
abortive attempt, in conjunction with the army, was made upon a
position of the enemy at Burlington Heights, then far in rear of his
main line; but it being found too strong, the fleet, with the troops
still on board, bore over to York and there retaliated the injury done
by Yeo at Genesee and Sodus. There was no opposition; many stores were
destroyed or brought away, some military buildings burned, and the
vessels then returned to Niagara. They were lying there at daybreak of
August 7 when the British appeared: two ships, two brigs, and two
large schooners. Chauncey had substantially his whole force: two
ships, the "Pike" and "Madison," the brig "Oneida," and ten
schooners. He got under way shortly and put out into the lake. Various
manoeuvres followed, his principal object being to get to windward of
the enemy; or, when the wind failed, to sweep[71] the schooners close
enough for their long guns to reach; the only useful function they
possessed. These efforts were unsuccessful, and night shut in with the
two opponents sailing in parallel lines, heading north, with the wind
at west; the Americans to leeward and in rear of the British. At two
in the morning, in a heavy squall, two schooners upset, with the loss
of all on board save sixteen souls. Chauncey reckoned these to be
among his best, and, as they together mounted nineteen guns, he
considered that "this accident gave the enemy decidedly the
superiority"; another instance of faulty professional arithmetic,
omitting from the account the concentration of power in the "General

Yeo did not estimate conditions in the same way, and persisted warily
in keeping the weather gage, watching for a chance to cut off
schooners, or for other favoring opportunity; while Chauncey as
diligently sought to gain the advantage of the wind, to force action
with his heavy ships. Manoeuvring continued all day of the 8th, 9th,
and 10th. The winds, being light and shifting, favored now one, now
the other; but in no case for long enough to insure a meeting which
the American with good reason desired, and his antagonist with equal
propriety would accept only under conditions that suited him. At nine
in the evening of August 10 the American squadron was standing
northwest, with the wind at southwest, when the British, which was
then following to windward, wore and stood south. Chauncey made no
change in direction, but kept his vessels in two lines; this being the
order of battle by which, not being able to attack himself, he hoped
to induce Yeo to engage incautiously. The six smallest schooners, of
the eight now left to him, were put in the weather line; therefore
toward the enemy, if he persisted in keeping to windward. The lee
line, abreast of the other, and six hundred yards from it, was
composed of the "Pike," "Madison," and "Oneida," astern of which were
the two heaviest schooners. The smaller vessels were displayed as a
tempting bait, disposed, as it were, in such manner that the opponent
might hope to lay hands on one or more, without coming too much under
the "Pike's" heavy guns; for her two larger consorts, carrying
carronades chiefly, might be neglected at the distance named. If such
an attempt were made, the schooners' orders were to edge imperceptibly
to leeward, enticing the enemy to follow in his eagerness; and when he
was near enough they were to slip cleverly through the intervals in
the lee line, leaving it to finish the business. The lure was perhaps
a little too obvious, the enemy's innocent forgetfulness of the
dangers to leeward too easily presumed; for a ship does not get out of
the hold of a clear-headed captain as a mob of troops in hot pursuit
may at times escape the control of their officers. In view, however,
of Yeo's evident determination to keep his "fleet in being," by
avoiding action except on his own terms, nothing better was open to
Chauncey, unless fortune should favor him.

At half-past ten the British again wore, now standing northwest after
the American squadron, the rear vessels of which opened fire at eleven
(A). At quarter-past eleven the cannonade became general between the
enemy and the weather line (B). Fifteen minutes later, the four rear
schooners of the latter, which were overmatched when once within
carronade range, bore up and ran to leeward; two taking position on
the other side of the main division, and two astern of it (c, c). So
far all went according to plan; but unhappily the leading two American
schooners, instead of keeping away in obedience to orders,
tacked--went about towards the enemy--keeping to windward (d).
Chauncey, seeing the risk involved for them, but prepossessed with the
idea of luring Yeo down by the appearance of flight set by the
schooners, made what can scarcely be considered other than the mistake
of keeping away himself, with the heavy ships; "filled the
maintopsail, and edged away two points, to lead the enemy down, not
only to engage him to more advantage, but to lead him away from the
'Growler' and 'Julia'" (C). Yeo, equally dominated by a preconceived
purpose not to bring his ships under the guns of the "Pike," acted
much as a squirrel would do with two nuts in sight; he went for the
one safely distant from suspected danger. "He kept his wind," reported
Chauncey, "until he had completely separated those two vessels from
the rest of the squadron, exchanged a few shot with the 'Pike,' as he
passed, without injury to us, and made sail after the two schooners"
(e). Some time after midnight these surrendered to odds plainly

The tacking of the two schooners was an act as ill-judged as it was
insubordinate, for which Chauncey was in no wise responsible. His
bearing up was certainly an error, which unfortunately lent itself to
the statement, contemporaneously made by an American paper, that he
retreated, leaving the two vessels to their fate. It was possible,
therefore, for Sir James to word the transaction as he airily did: "At
eleven we came within gunshot of their line of schooners, which opened
a heavy fire, their ships keeping off the wind to prevent our closing.
At half-past twelve this ship came within gunshot of the 'Pike' and
'Madison,' when they immediately bore up, fired their stern
chase-guns, and made sail for Niagara, leaving two of their schooners
astern, which we captured."[73] This gives a more victorious and
dashing air to the success than it quite deserves. As it stood, it was
real enough, though trivial. To take two vessels from a superior
fleet, within range of its commander-in-chief, is a handsome business,
which should not need to be embellished by the implication that a
greatly desired fight could not be had. To quote Marryat, "It is very
hard to come at the real truth of this sort of thing, as I found out
during the time that I was in his Majesty's service." Chauncey's
version is perfectly probable. Seeing that the enemy would not follow,
"tacked and stood after him. At twelve (midnight), finding that I must
either separate from the rest of the squadron, or relinquish the hope
of saving the two which had separated, I reluctantly gave up the
pursuit." His reading of Yeo's conduct is plausible. "From what I have
been able to discover of the movements of the enemy, he has no
intention of engaging us, except he can get decidedly the advantage of
wind and weather; and as his vessels in squadron sail better than our
squadron, he can always avoid an action.... He thinks to cut off our
small dull sailing schooners in detail." Here and always Chauncey's
conduct reflects the caution prescribed in his instructions to Perry,
rather than the resolute determination the latter showed to bring
matters to an issue. On the other hand, it is to be remembered that,
owing to the nearly equal facilities for ship-building--for replacing
ships lost--possessed by Kingston and Sackett's, a decisive naval
victory would not have the finality of result to be expected on Lake
Erie. Contrary to the usual conditions of naval war, the two ports,
not the fleets dependent on them, were the decisive elements of the
Ontario campaign; and the ignoring of that truth was the fundamental,
irremediable, American error.

   [Illustration: PLAN OF CHAUNCEY'S ENGAGEMENT AUGUST 10, 1813]

Chauncey returned to Sackett's on August 13, provisioned the squadron
for five weeks, and sailed the same evening. On the 16th he was back
off Niagara, and there again sighted the enemy; but a heavy westerly
gale drove both squadrons to the lower end of the lake, where each
entered its own harbor on the 19th. August 29 the American put out
again, having an additional newly built schooner, named the "Sylph,"
large and fast, carrying three or four long 32-pounders. Chauncey
reported that he had now nine vessels with ninety-one guns, but that
the enemy was still superior. In number of guns, possibly; but it is
difficult to accept the statement otherwise, except in the one very
important particular of squadron manoeuvring power. This enabled Yeo
to avoid action, except when it suited him to fight; or unless
Chauncey was willing to engage first with part only of his squadron,
following it with the rest. Such advantage in manoeuvring greatly
increases the ability of the inferior to serve his own cause, but it
does not constitute superiority. The delusion of measuring force by
guns, irrespective of the ships that carry them, has been explained.

Yeo's intermediate movements do not appear, but on September 7 the
antagonists again met off the Niagara River. From that day till the
12th the American fleet endeavored to force a general action, which
the other steadily, and properly, refused. The persistent efforts of
the one to close, and of the other to avoid, led to a movement round
the lake, ending by the British entering Amherst Bay, five miles west
of Kingston. On one occasion, off the Genesee on September 11, a
westerly breeze carried the United States squadron within
three-quarters of a mile of the enemy, before the latter felt it. A
cannonade and pursuit of some hours followed, but without decisive
result. There seems traceable throughout Chauncey's account a distinct
indisposition to what is called technically "a general chase;" to
press on with part of the squadron, trusting to the slower vessels
coming up soon enough to complete the work of the faster. He was
unwilling thus to let his fleet loose. "This ship" (the "General
Pike"), "the 'Madison,' and the 'Sylph,' have each a schooner
constantly in tow, yet the others cannot sail as fast as the enemy's
squadron, which gives him decidedly the advantage, and puts it in his
power to engage me when and how he chooses." In such a situation
success can be had only by throwing the more rapid upon the enemy as
an advance guard, engaging as they get within range, relying upon
their effecting such detention that the others can arrive in time to
their support. To this recourse, though in halting fashion, Chauncey
finally came on what proved to be his last collision with Yeo,
September 28.

   _From the engraving by D. Edwin after the painting by J. Woods._]

   _From the engraving by H.R. Cook after the Painting by A. Buck._]


[40] Yeo to Croker, May 26, 1813. Admiralty In-Letters, Records Office.

[41] Captains' Letters, Navy Department.

[42] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 439.

[43] Between July, 1812, and March 25, 1813, Prevost received
re-enforcements amounting in all to 2,175 regulars. His total force
then, for all Canada, excluding militia, was 9,177; of which 2,000 were
provincial corps. British Records Office.

[44] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 441.

[45] Chauncey to Navy Department, March 8, 12, and 16, 1813. Captains'

[46] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 442.

[47] Captains' Letters.

[48] Captains' Letters, Nov. 5, 1814.

[49] Captains' Letters, May 7, 1813.

[50] Ibid., May 15.

[51] Canadian Archives. C. 678, p. 332.

[52] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 445.

[53] Ibid., p. 449. Armstrong's italics.

[54] Barclay's Narrative before the British Court Martial on the Battle
of Lake Erie. British Records Office.

[55] Prevost to Bathurst, Canadian Archives.

[56] Mackenzie's Life of Perry, vol. i. p. 148.

[57] Barclay's Narrative.

[58] Brown's and Prevost's Reports of this affair may be found in Niles'
Register, vol. iv. pp. 260, 261. That of Yeo is in the Canadian
Archives; M. 389, 6, p. 22.

[59] Captains' Letters, June 11, 1813.

[60] Captains' Letters.

[61] The account of these transactions is summarized from American State
Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. pp. 445-449. For Vincent's report of
the Stony Creek affair see Cruikshank's Documentary History of the
Campaign on the Niagara Frontier, 1813, Part II, p. 8.

[62] Smyth's Précis of Wars in Canada, p. 137.

[63] Scott's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 94.

[64] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. pp. 450, 451.

[65] Formerly the "Prince Regent."

[66] Yeo's Report of the Vessels on the Lakes, July 15, 1813. British
Records Office.

[67] Woolsey to Chauncey, June 20 and 21, 1813. Captains' Letters.

[68] Chauncey to the Department, July 5, 1813. Captains' Letters.

[69] Captains' Letters. Navy Department MSS.

[70] "History of the Royal Navy," edited by Sir W.L. Clowes, vol. iii.
p. 411.

[71] That is,--row

[72] Chauncey's Report of this cruise is in Captains' Letters, Aug. 13,
1813. Also, in Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 421.

[73] James, Naval Occurrences. Appendix, p. lxxiv.



While the movements last related in the preceding chapter were in
progress, the contest for Lake Erie was brought to a final decision.
After the successful transfer of the vessels from Black Rock to Erie,
June 18, Perry remained upon the upper lake superintending all
administrative work; but in particular pressing the equipment of the
two brigs ordered by Chauncey the previous winter. To one of these, on
which Perry intended to embark his own fortunes, was given the name of
"Lawrence," the captain of the "Chesapeake," whose death, heroic in
defeat, occurred at this period. The other was called the "Niagara."
They were sister vessels, of five hundred tons, constructed for war,
and brig-rigged; that is, with two masts, and carrying square sails on
both. Their armaments also were alike; eighteen 32-pounder carronades,
and two long 12-pounder guns. They were thus about equivalent in
fighting force to the ocean sloops-of-war, "Wasp" and "Hornet," which,
however, were three-masted. The remainder of the force would now be
called a scratch lot. Three were schooner-rigged gunboats, built for
the navy at Erie; the remainder were the vessels brought from Black
Rock. Of these, one was the brig "Caledonia," formerly British,
captured by Elliott the previous autumn; the others were purchased
lake craft. When finally taking the lake, August 6, the squadron
consisted of the two brigs, of the Black Rock division,--"Caledonia,"
"Somers," "Tigress," "Ohio," and "Trippe,"--and of three other
schooners,--"Ariel," "Scorpion," and "Porcupine,"--apparently those
built at Erie; ten sail, all of which, except the "Ohio," were in the
final decisive battle.

On July 23 the vessels were rigged, armed, and ready for service, but
there were not men enough to man them. How little exacting Perry was
in this matter, and how eager to enter upon active operations, is
shown by a letter from his superior, Chauncey, to the Secretary of the
Navy, dated July 8: "I am at a loss," he says, "to account for the
change in Captain Perry's sentiments with respect to the number of men
required for the little fleet at Presqu' Isle; for when I parted with
him on the last of May, we coincided in opinion perfectly as to the
number required for each vessel, which was one hundred and eighty for
each of the new brigs, sixty for the 'Caledonia,' and forty for each
of the other vessels, making in all seven hundred and forty officers
and men. But if Captain Perry can beat the enemy with half that
number, no one will feel more happy than myself."[74] Chauncey having
supreme control over both lakes, all re-enforcements from the seaboard
were sent to him; and as he had his own particular enemy on Ontario to
confront, it was evident, and natural, that Perry would be least well
served. Hence, after successive disappointments, and being of more
venturous temper than his superior, it is not surprising that he soon
was willing to undertake his task with fewer men than his unbiased
judgment would call necessary.

The clash of interests between the two squadrons, having a common
superior but separate responsibilities, is seen by a comparison of
dates, which shows operations nearly simultaneous. On July 23 the Erie
squadron was reported "all ready to meet the enemy the moment they are
officered and manned;" on July 20 the "General Pike" was ready, and
on the 21st the Ontario squadron sailed from Sackett's Harbor. On
August 5 Perry had his vessels across the bar at Erie, and next day
stood out into the lake. On the 7th Chauncey and Yeo met for their
first encounter. On the 8th the two Ontario schooners, "Hamilton" and
"Scourge," were lost with nearly all on board; and on the 10th the
"Julia" and "Growler" were captured. After this, it may be imagined
that Chauncey with difficulty parted with men; and in the midst of his
second collision with Yeo the battle of Lake Erie occurred. In it, of
the one hundred and eighty men deemed necessary by Chauncey, Perry's
brig had one hundred and forty-two, of whom thirty were sick; while
the squadron, with nearly all its vessels present, instead of the
intended seven hundred and forty, had but four hundred and ninety. Of
this total, nearly one hundred were received from the army on August
31, only nine days before the action. For the most part these were
strangers to shipboard. Barring them, Perry's fighting force was
barely more than half that required by Chauncey's estimate.

Indirectly, and notwithstanding Perry's disposition to make the best
of his difficulty, this condition came near causing his withdrawal
from the lake service; a loss which, had it occurred, might have
reversed the issues, for in few general actions has the personality of
the commander counted for so much, after the battle joined. In a
letter of July 26 to Chauncey, he had written: "The men that came by
Mr. Champlin are a motley set, blacks, soldiers, and boys. I cannot
think you saw them after they were selected."[75] Chauncey replied,
somewhat testily, "I regret you are not pleased with the men sent you;
for, to my knowledge, a part of them are not surpassed by any seamen
we have in the fleet; and I have yet to learn that the color of the
skin, or the cut and trimmings of the coat, can affect a man's
qualifications or usefulness." To this he added a warning not much
short of a reproof: "As you have assured the secretary that you should
conceive yourself equal or superior to the enemy, with a force in men
so much less than I had deemed necessary, there will be a great deal
expected from you by your country, and I trust they will not be
disappointed in the high expectations formed of your gallantry and
judgment. I will barely make an observation, which was impressed upon
my mind by an old soldier; that is, 'Never despise your enemy.'"[76]

This advice was sound, rightly weighed. Yet it is not too much to say
that the confidence which carried Perry on to decisive victory has in
it inevitably something of that assurance of success which is akin to
contempt of the enemy, and that it was the precise quality in which
Chauncey, throughout his own career on the lakes, showed himself
deficient, and consequently failed. His plan at that moment, as he
himself said in a letter to Perry of July 14, was "to seek a meeting
with Sir James Yeo as soon as possible, in order to decide the fate of
this lake, and join you immediately after." This was an intelligent
project: to beat one enemy first, and then carry his force over to
beat the other; but never, when in presence of his antagonist, could
he despise him sufficiently to cut his gunboats adrift, and throw one
or two vessels into the midst of the fire, as Perry rushed his own
ship in, had her cut to pieces,--and won. It is even worse to respect
your enemy too greatly than to despise him. Said Farragut, speaking of
an officer he highly valued: "Drayton does not know fear, but he
believes in acting as if the enemy never can be caught unprepared;
whereas I believe in judging him by ourselves, and my motto in action
is, '_L'audace, et encore de l'audace, et toujours de l'audace!_'"
This described Perry in battle.

Although Chauncey closed with expressions of confidence which might be
considered conciliatory, Perry experienced an annoyance which was
natural, though excessive. He was only twenty-eight, quick of temper,
though amiable, and somewhat prone to see more offence than was
intended. When the letter reached him, the squadron had just crossed
the bar; the most critical movement of the campaign, had the enemy
been duly watchful. Having accomplished this, he had before him only
the common vicissitudes of naval warfare. Nevertheless, under his
first impulse of resentment, he applied to be removed from the
station,[77] giving as his reason, not the quality of men sent,
concerning which indeed he had said, "I am pleased to see anything in
the shape of a man," but that "I cannot serve under an officer who has
been so totally regardless of my feelings." He then summarized the
difficulties with which he had contended, and added, "The critical
state of General Harrison was such that I took upon myself the
responsibility of going out with the few young officers you had been
pleased to send me," (Elliott, the second in command, did not arrive
till the squadron was over the bar), "with the few seamen I had, and
as many volunteers as I could muster from the militia. I did not
shrink from this responsibility; but, Sir, at that very moment I
surely did not anticipate the receipt of a letter in every line of
which is an insult." He then renewed his request. "I am willing to
forego that reward which I have considered for two months past almost
within my grasp." Fortunately for the renown of the service, from
which one of its finest actions might have been lost, it was
impossible to grant his application until after the battle had made
the question of the command on Lake Erie one of very minor
importance. The secretary replied to him with words in which rebuke
and appreciation were aptly blended. "A change of commander, under
existing circumstances, is equally inadmissible as it respects the
interest of the service and your own reputation. It is right that you
should reap the harvest which you have sown."[78]

   _From the painting by Gilbert Stuart in the possession of O.H.
   Perry, Esq._]

After the Frenchtown disaster[79] of January 22, 1813, the Army of the
Northwest under General Harrison had remained strictly on the
defensive throughout the spring and summer. The tenure of its position
on the Maumee River depended upon Fort Meigs, built during the winter
just above the Rapids, some twenty miles from the lake. Thirty miles
east of Meigs was Fort Stephenson at the mouth of the Sandusky River,
protecting the approaches to Sandusky Bay, near which were Harrison's
headquarters at the time Perry's squadron was ready to move. Fort
Stephenson by its situation contributed also to secure the
communications of the Maumee line with Central Ohio, and was an
obstacle to an enemy's approach by land to Erie, a hundred and fifty
miles further east. It was not, however, a work permanent in
character, like Meigs; and neither post could be considered secure,
because inadequately garrisoned. Fortunately, the general tenor of the
instructions received by Procter from Prevost conspired with his own
natural character to indispose him to energetic measures. His force of
regulars was small; and he had not the faculty, which occasional white
men have shown, to arouse vigorous and sustained activity in the
Indians, of whom he had an abundance at call. The use of them in
desultory guerilla warfare, which was prescribed to him by Prevost,
became in his hands ineffective. Nevertheless, from the number known
to be under his command, and the control of the water enabling him to
land where he would, the threat of savage warfare hung over the
frontier like a pall, until finally dissipated by Perry's victory.

The danger to British control of the water, and thereby to the
maintenance of their position in the northwest, if the American fleet
now building should succeed in getting upon the lake, was perfectly
apparent, and made Erie a third and principal point of interest. At
the time of Perry's arrival, March 27, the place was entirely
defenceless, and without any organization for defence, although the
keels of the two brigs were laid, and the three gunboats well advanced
in construction. By a visit to Pittsburgh he obtained from an army
ordnance officer four small guns, with some muskets; and upon his
application the local commander of Pennsylvania militia stationed at
Erie five hundred men, who remained till the vessels crossed the bar.
Under this slender protection went on the arduous work of building and
equipping a squadron in what was substantially a wilderness, to which
most of the mechanics and material had to be brought half a thousand
miles from the seaboard, under the difficulties of transport in those
days. The rapid advance in the preparations aroused the disquietude of
the British, but Procter had not the enterprising temper to throw all
upon the hazard, for the sake of destroying an armament which, if
completed, might destroy him; while the British inferiority of force
on Lake Ontario and the Niagara peninsula, together with the movement
of Chauncey and Dearborn resulting in the capture of York, April 27,
effectually prevented intervention from that quarter in the affairs of
Lake Erie. At this time Procter made his first effort of the season,
directed against Fort Meigs, which he held besieged for over a
week,--from May 1 to May 9. Although unable to capture it, the
mismanagement of an American relief force enabled him to inflict a
very severe loss; a corps of eight hundred and sixty-six men being cut
to pieces or captured, only one hundred and seventy escaping. The
chief points of interest in this business are the demonstration of the
weakness of the American frontier,--the principal defence of which was
thus not merely braved but threatened,--and the effect of control of
the water. By it Procter brought over gunboats which ascended the
river, and guns of a weight not to be transported by land. The lake
also secured his communications.

After the failure before Meigs, Procter turned his attention more
seriously to the situation at Erie, and demanded re-enforcements to
enable him to attack the place.[80] Prevost, being commander-in-chief
for all Canada, recognized the expediency of the move, and wrote him,
June 20, that he had directed General De Rottenburg at Niagara, to
push on re-enforcements and supplies; but Prevost was in Kingston, and
De Rottenburg, immediately responsible for Niagara, wrote declining to
weaken his force. He was already inferior to the United States army
under Boyd, which was then confronting him, resting upon Fort George;
and there was the prospect also that Chauncey might regain control of
the lake. Instead of co-operation for offence, he transmitted
arrangements for retreat in case of a disaster to Yeo on Ontario.
Procter enclosed this letter to the commander-in-chief, remarking
pathetically that he was fully confident of receiving aid from him,
but intentions were of no avail. Had the force ordered been sent, he
felt sure of destroying the fleet at Erie, thus securing the command
of the lake, which would have benefited also the centre [Niagara]
division. He should now, he said, make an attempt upon Sandusky; Erie
was impossible without re-enforcements. At the same time, July 13,
Captain Barclay was about to sail for Long Point, on the Canada shore
directly opposite Erie, to embark one hundred troops, and then to
endeavor to retain the American fleet in port until the required
assistance could be sent. The new British ship "Detroit" was nearly
ready for launching at Amherstburg, and could be equipped and gunned
there; but seamen were absolutely needed.

In accordance with these plans Barclay went with his squadron to Long
Point. There the desired soldiers were refused him; and, as also no
seamen were forthcoming, he wrote on July 16 a letter directly to Sir
George Prevost, "lest Sir James Yeo should be on the lake,"
representing the critical state of affairs, owing to the inadequate
equipment of his vessels, the want of seamen, and the advanced
preparations of the Americans to put afloat a force superior to his.
July 20 he appeared off Erie, where Perry's fleet was still in the
harbor, waiting for men. How imminent the exposure of the American
flotilla at that moment, and how great the British opportunity,
appears from the recently published memoirs of a prominent
resident.[81] "An English fleet of five vessels of war was at that
time cruising off the harbor, in full view. That fleet might at any
time have sent in its boats during a dark night, and the destruction
of the whole American fleet was almost inevitable; for Perry's force
was totally inadequate to its defence, and the regiment of
Pennsylvania militia, stationed at Erie expressly for the defence of
the fleet, refused to keep guard at night on board. 'I told the boys
to go, Captain,' said the worthless colonel of the regiment, 'but the
boys won't go.'" Like American merchant ships, American militia obeyed
or disobeyed as they pleased. Two hundred soldiers, loaned by Dearborn
when the Black Rock flotilla came round, had been recalled July 10. On
the 23d and 30th re-enforcements were received from Chauncey, in all
one hundred and thirty men. With these, and some landsmen enlisted on
the spot for four months, the force of the squadron, estimated to
require seven hundred and forty men, was raised to three hundred; but
having lately received two pressing letters from the Navy Department,
urging General Harrison's critical need of co-operation, Perry
determined to go out. Most opportunely for his purpose, Barclay
disappeared on the 30th, Friday, which thus for him made good its
title to "unlucky." He was absent until August 4, and was by the
Americans believed to have gone to Long Point. Before his Court
Martial he merely stated that "I blockaded as closely as I could,
until I one morning saw the whole of the enemy's force over the bar,
and in a most formidable state of preparation." The Court did not
press inquiry on the point, which perhaps lay beyond its instructions;
but the double failure, to intercept the Black Rock division on its
way to Erie,[82] and to prevent the crossing of the bar, were serious
strategic misadventures when confronting superior numbers. Perry's
preparations for the passage had been for some time completed, but
information of contemplated movements travelled so easily from shore
to shore that he gave no indication of immediate action until Sunday.
On that day the officers were permitted to disperse in town as usual,
but afterwards were hastily summoned back, and the vessels moved down
to the bar, on which the depth ordinarily was from five to seven feet,
much less than needed for the "Lawrence" and "Niagara." This obstacle,
hitherto a protection against naval attack, now imposed an extremely
critical operation; for to get over, the brigs must be lightened of
their guns and their hulls lifted upon floats. So situated, they were
helplessly exposed to destruction, as far as their own powers went.

From point to point the mouth of the harbor, where the outer bar
occurs, was eight tenths of a mile wide. As shown by a sketch of the
period, the distance to be travelled on the floats, from deep water
within to deep water without, was a mile; rather less than more. On
Monday morning, August 2, the movement of the vessels began
simultaneously. Five of the smaller, which under usual conditions could
pass without lightening, were ordered to cross and take positions
outside, covering the channel; a sixth, with the "Niagara," were
similarly posted within. The protection thus afforded was re-enforced
by three 12-pounder long guns, mounted on the beach, abreast the bar;
distant not over five hundred yards from the point where the channel
issued on the lake. While these dispositions were being made, the
"Lawrence's" guns were hoisted out, and placed in boats to be towed
astern of her; the floats taken alongside, filled, sunk, and made fast,
so that when pumped out their rising would lift the brig. In the course
of these preparations it was found that the water had fallen to four
feet, so that even the schooners had to be lightened, while the transit
of the "Lawrence" was rendered more tedious and difficult. The weather,
however, was propitious, with a smooth lake; and although the brig
grounded in the shoalest spot, necessitating a second sinking of the
burden-bearing floats,--appropriately called "camels,"--perseverance
protracted through that night and the day of the 3d carried her
outside. At 8 A.M. of the 4th she was fairly afloat. Guns, singly light
in weight as hers were, were quickly hoisted on board and mounted; but
none too soon, for the enemy appeared almost immediately. The
"Niagara's" passage was more easily effected, and Barclay offered no
molestation. In a letter to the Department, dated August 4, 1813, 9
P.M., Perry reported, "I have great pleasure in informing you that I
have succeeded in getting over the bar the United States vessels, the
'Lawrence,' 'Niagara,' 'Caledonia,' 'Ariel,' 'Scorpion,' 'Somers,'
'Tigress,' and 'Porcupine.'" He added, "The enemy have been in sight
all day." The vessels named, with the schooner "Ohio" and the sloop
"Trippe," constituted the entire squadron.

   [Illustration: PLAN OF ERIE HARBOR 1814
   Copied from Captain's Letters, 1814, vol. 3, page 23, with letter
   from Capt. A. Sinclair. May 6, 1814. A.H.E. Verified, Chas. W.

While Perry was thus profitably employed, Procter had embarked on
another enterprise against the magazines on the American front of
operations. His intention, as first reported to Prevost, was to attack
Sandusky; but the conduct of the Indians, upon the co-operation of
whom he had to rely, compelled him to diverge to Fort Meigs. Here the
savages began to desert, an attempt to draw the garrison into an
ambush having failed; and when Procter, after two days' stay,
determined to revert to Sandusky, he was accompanied by "as many
hundred of them as there should have been thousands." The white troops
went on by water, the Indians by the shore. They appeared before Fort
Stephenson on Sunday, August 1. The garrison was summoned, with the
customary intimation of the dire consequences to be apprehended from
the savages in case of an assault. The American commander, Major
Croghan, accepted these possibilities, and the following day, during
which the "Lawrence" was working her way over Erie bar, the artillery
and the guns of the gunboats were busy battering the northwest angle
of the fort. At 4 P.M. an assault was made. It was repelled with heavy
loss to the assailants, and little to the besieged. That night the
baffled enemy withdrew to Malden.

The American squadron having gained the lake and mounted its
batteries, Barclay found himself like Chauncey while awaiting the
"General Pike." His new and most powerful vessel, the ship "Detroit,"
was approaching completion. He was now too inferior in force to risk
action when he might expect her help so soon, and he therefore
retired to Malden. Perry was thus left in control of Lake Erie. He put
out on August 6; but, failing to find the enemy, he anchored again off
Erie, to take on board provisions, and also stores to be carried to
Sandusky for the army. While thus occupied, there came on the evening
of the 8th the welcome news that a re-enforcement of officers and
seamen was approaching. On the 10th, these joined him to the number of
one hundred and two. At their head was Commander Jesse D. Elliott, an
officer of reputation, who became second in command to Perry, and took
charge of the "Niagara."

On August 12 the squadron finally made sail for the westward, not to
return to Erie till the campaign was decided. Its intermediate
movements possess little interest, the battle of Lake Erie being so
conspicuously the decisive incident as to reduce all preceding it to
insignificance. Perry was off Malden on August 25, and again on
September 1. The wind on the latter day favoring movement both to go
and come, a somewhat rare circumstance, he remained all day
reconnoitring near the harbor's mouth. The British squadron appeared
complete in vessels and equipment; but Barclay had his own troubles
about crews, as had his antagonist, his continual representations to
Yeo meeting with even less attention than Perry conceived himself to
receive from Chauncey. He was determined to postpone action until
re-enforcements of seamen should arrive from the eastward, unless
failure of provisions, already staring him in the face, should force
him to battle in order to re-establish communications by the lake.

The headquarters of the United States squadron was at Put-in Bay, in
the Bass Islands, a group thirty miles southeast of Malden. The harbor
was good, and the position suitable for watching the enemy, in case he
should attempt to pass eastward down the lake, towards Long Point or
elsewhere. Hither Perry returned on September 6, after a brief visit
to Sandusky Bay, where information was received that the British
leaders had determined that the fleet must, at all hazards, restore
intercourse with Long Point. From official correspondence, afterwards
captured with Procter's baggage, it appears that the Amherstburg and
Malden district was now entirely dependent for flour upon Long Point,
access to which had been effectually destroyed by the presence of the
American squadron. Even cattle, though somewhat more plentiful, could
no longer be obtained in the neighborhood in sufficient numbers, owing
to the wasteful way in which the Indians had killed where they wanted.
They could not be restrained without alienating them, or, worse,
provoking them to outrage. Including warriors and their families,
fourteen thousand were now consuming provisions. In the condition of
the roads, only water transport could meet the requirements; and that
not by an occasional schooner running blockade, but by the free
transit of supplies conferred by naval control. To the decision to
fight may have been contributed also a letter from Prevost, who had
been drawn down from Kingston to St. David's, on the Niagara frontier,
by his anxiety about the general situation, particularly aroused by
Procter's repulse from Fort Stephenson. Alluding to the capture of
Chauncey's two schooners on August 10, he wrote Procter on the 22d,
"Yeo's experience should convince Barclay that he has only to dare and
he will be successful."[83] It was to be Sir George's unhappy lot, a
year later, to goad the British naval commander on Lake Champlain into
premature action; and there was ample time for the present indiscreet
innuendo to reach Barclay, and impel him to a step which Prevost
afterwards condemned as hasty, because not awaiting the arrival of a
body of fifty seamen announced to be at Kingston on their way to

At sunrise of September 10, the lookout at the masthead of the
"Lawrence" sighted the British squadron in the northwest. Barclay was
on his way down the lake, intending to fight. The wind was southwest,
fair for the British, but adverse to the Americans quitting the harbor
by the channel leading towards the enemy. Fortunately it shifted to
southeast, and there steadied; which not only enabled them to go out,
but gave them the windward position throughout the engagement. The
windward position, or weather gage, as it was commonly called,
conferred the power of initiative; whereas the vessel or fleet to
leeward, while it might by skill at times force action, or itself
obtain the weather gage by manoeuvring, was commonly obliged to await
attack and accept the distance chosen by the opponent. Where the
principal force of a squadron, as in Perry's case, consists in two
vessels armed almost entirely with carronades, the importance of
getting within carronade range is apparent.

Looking forward to a meeting, Perry had prearranged the disposition of
his vessels to conform to that which he expected the enemy to assume.
Unlike ocean fleets, all the lake squadrons, as is already known of
Ontario, were composed of vessels very heterogeneous in character.
This was because the most had been bought, not designed for the navy.
It was antecedently probable, therefore, that a certain general
principle would dictate the constitution of the three parts of the
order of battle, the centre and two flanks, into which every military
line divides. The French have an expression for the centre,--_corps de
bataille_,--which was particularly appropriate to squadrons like those
of Barclay and Perry. Each had a natural "body of battle," in vessels
decisively stronger than all the others combined. This relatively
powerful division would take the centre, as a cohesive force, to
prevent the two ends--or flanks--being driven asunder by the enemy.
Barclay's vessels of this class were the new ship, "Detroit," and the
"Queen Charlotte;" Perry's were the "Lawrence" and "Niagara." Each had
an intermediate vessel; the British the "Lady Prevost," the Americans
the "Caledonia." In addition to these were the light craft, three
British and six Americans; concerning which it is to be said that the
latter were not only the more numerous, but individually much more
powerfully armed.

The same remark is true, vessel for vessel, of those opposed to one
another by Perry's plan; that is, measuring the weight of shot
discharged at a broadside, which is the usual standard of comparison,
the "Lawrence" threw more metal than the "Detroit," the "Niagara" much
more than the "Queen Charlotte," and the "Caledonia," than the "Lady
Prevost." This, however, must be qualified by the consideration, more
conspicuously noticeable on Ontario than on Erie, of the greater
length of range of the long gun. This applies particularly to the
principal British vessel, the "Detroit." Owing to the difficulties of
transportation, and the demands of the Ontario squadron, her proper
armament had not arrived. She was provided with guns from the ramparts
of Fort Malden, and a more curiously composite battery probably never
was mounted; but, of the total nineteen, seventeen were long guns. It
is impossible to say what her broadside may have weighed. All her
pieces together fired two hundred and thirty pounds, but it is
incredible that a seaman like Barclay should not so have disposed them
as to give more than half that amount to one broadside. That of the
"Lawrence," was three hundred pounds; but all her guns, save two
twelves, were carronades. Compared with the "Queen Charlotte," the
battery of the "Niagara" was as 3 to 2; both chiefly carronades.

From what has been stated, it is evident that if Perry's plan were
carried out, opposing vessel to vessel, the Americans would have a
superiority of at least fifty per cent. Such an advantage, in some
quarter at least, is the aim of every capable commander; for the
object of war is not to kill men, but to carry a point: not glory by
fighting, but success in result. The only obvious dangers were that
the wind might fail or be very light, which would unduly protract
exposure to long guns before getting within carronade range; or that,
by some vessels coming tardily into action, one or more of the others
would suffer from concentration of the enemy's fire. It was this
contingency, realized in fact, which gave rise to the embittered
controversy about the battle; a controversy never settled, and
probably now not susceptible of settlement, because the President of
the United States, Mr. Monroe, pigeonholed the charges formulated by
Perry against Elliott in 1818. There is thus no American sworn
testimony to facts, searched and sifted by cross-examination; for the
affidavits submitted on the one side and the other were _ex parte_,
while the Court of Inquiry, asked by Elliott in 1815, neglected to
call all accessible witnesses--notably Perry himself. In fact, there
was not before it a single commanding officer of a vessel engaged.
Such a procedure was manifestly inadequate to the requirement of the
Navy Department's letter to the Court, that "a true statement of the
facts in relation to Captain Elliott's conduct be exhibited to the
world." Investigation seems to have been confined to an assertion in a
British periodical, based upon the proceedings of the Court Martial
upon Barclay, to the effect that Elliott's vessel "had not been
engaged, and was making away,"[84] at the time when Perry "was
obliged to leave his ship, which soon after surrendered, and hoist his
flag on board another of his squadron." The American Court examined
two officers of Perry's vessel, and five of Elliott's; no others. To
the direct question, "Did the 'Niagara' at any time during the action
attempt to make off from the British fleet?" all replied, "No." The
Court, therefore, on the testimony before it, decided that the charge
"made in the proceedings[85] of the British Court Martial ... was
malicious, and unfounded in fact;" expressing besides its conviction
"that the attempts to wrest from Captain Elliott the laurels he gained
in that splendid victory ... ought in no wise to lessen him in the
opinion of his fellow citizens as a brave and skilful officer." At the
same time it regretted that "imperious duty compelled it to promulgate
testimony which appears materially to differ in some of its most
important points."

In this state the evidence still remains, owing to the failure of the
President to take action, probably with a benevolent desire to allay
discord, and envelop facts under a kindly "All's well that ends well."
Perry died a year after making his charges, which labored under the
just imputation that he had commended Elliott in his report, and again
immediately afterwards, though in terms that his subordinate thought
failed to do him justice. American naval opinion divided, apparently
in very unequal numbers. Elliott's officers stood by him, as was
natural; for men feel themselves involved in that which concerns the
conduct of their ship, and see incidents in that light. Perry's
officers considered that the "Lawrence" had not been properly
supported; owing to which, after losses almost unparalleled, she had
to undergo the mortification of surrender. Her heroism, her losses,
and her surrender, were truths beyond question.

The historian to-day thus finds himself in the dilemma that the
American testimony is in two categories, distinctly contradictory and
mutually destructive; yet to be tested only by his own capacity to
cross-examine the record, and by reference to the British accounts.
The latter are impartial, as between the American parties; their only
bias is to constitute a fair case for Barclay, by establishing the
surrender of the American flagship and the hesitancy of the "Niagara"
to enter into action. This would indicate victory so far, changed to
defeat by the use Perry made of the vessel preserved to him intact by
the over-caution of his second. Waiving motives, these claims are
substantially correct, and constitute the analysis of the battle as
fought and won.

Barclay, finding the wind to head him and place him to leeward,
arranged his fleet to await attack in the following order, from van to
rear: The schooner "Chippewa," "Detroit," "Hunter," "Queen Charlotte,"
"Lady Prevost," "Little Belt."[86] This, he said in his official
letter, was "according to a given plan, so that each ship [that is,
the "Detroit" and "Queen Charlotte"] might be supported against the
superior force of the two brigs opposed to them." The British vessels
lay in column, in each other's wake, by the wind on the port tack,
hove-to (stopped) with a topsail to the mast, heading to the southwest
(position 1). Perry now modified some details of his disposition. It
had been expected that the "Queen Charlotte" would precede the
"Detroit," and the American commander had therefore placed the
"Niagara" leading, as designated to fight the "Charlotte," the
"Lawrence" following the "Niagara." This order was now reversed, and
the "Caledonia" interposed between the two; the succession being
"Lawrence," "Caledonia," "Niagara." Having more schooners than the
enemy, he placed in the van two of the best, the "Scorpion" and the
"Ariel"; the other four behind the "Niagara." His centre, therefore,
the "Lawrence," "Caledonia," and "Niagara," were opposed to the
"Detroit," "Hunter," and "Queen Charlotte." The long guns of the
"Ariel," "Scorpion," and "Caledonia" supplied in measure the
deficiency of gun power in the "Lawrence," while standing down outside
of carronade range; the "Caledonia," with the rear schooners, giving a
like support to the "Niagara." The "Ariel," and perhaps also the
"Scorpion," was ordered to keep a little to windward of the
"Lawrence." This was a not uncommon use of van vessels, making more
hazardous any attempt of the opponent to tack and pass to windward, in
order to gain the weather gage with its particular advantages
(position 1).

The rear four schooners, as is frequently the case in long columns,
were straggling somewhat at the time the signal to bear down was made;
and they had difficulty in getting into action, being compelled to
resort to the sweeps because the wind was light. It is not uncommon to
see small vessels with low sails thus retarded, while larger are being
urged forward by their lofty light canvas. The line otherwise having
been formed, Perry stood down without regard to them. At quarter
before noon the "Detroit" opened upon the "Lawrence" with her long
guns. Ten minutes later the Americans began to reply. Finding the
British fire at this range more destructive than he had anticipated,
Perry made more sail upon the Lawrence. Word had already been passed
by hail of trumpet to close up in the line, and for each vessel to
come into action against her opponent, before designated. The
"Lawrence" continued thus to approach obliquely, using her own long
twelves, and backed by the long guns of the vessels ahead and astern,
till she was within "canister range," apparently about two hundred and
fifty yards, when she turned her side to the wind on the weather
quarter of the "Detroit," bringing her carronade battery to bear
(position 2). This distance was greater than desirable for carronades;
but with a very light breeze, little more than two miles an hour,
there was a limit to the time during which it was prudent to allow an
opponent's raking fire to play, unaffected in aim by any reply.
Moreover, much of her rigging was already shot away, and she was
becoming unmanageable. The battle was thus joined by the
commander-in-chief; but, while supported to his satisfaction by the
"Scorpion" and "Ariel" ahead, and "Caledonia" astern, with their long
guns, the "Niagara" did not come up, and her carronades failed to do
their share. The captain of her opponent, the "Queen Charlotte,"
finding that his own carronades would not reach her, made sail ahead,
passed the "Hunter," and brought his battery to the support of the
"Detroit" in her contest with the "Lawrence" (Q_{2}). Perry's vessel
thus found herself under the combined fire of the "Detroit," "Queen
Charlotte," and in some measure of the "Hunter"; the armament of the
last, however, was too trivial to count for much.

Elliott's first placing of the "Niagara" may, or may not, have been
judicious as regards his particular opponent. The "Queen Charlotte's"
twenty-fours would not reach him; and it may be quite proper to take a
range where your own guns can tell and your enemy's cannot.
Circumstance must determine. The precaution applicable in a naval duel
may cease to be so when friends are in need of assistance; and when
the British captain, seeing how the case stood, properly and
promptly carried his ship forward to support his commander,
concentrating two vessels upon Perry's one, the situation was entirely
changed. The plea set up by Cooper, who fought Elliott's battle
conscientiously, but with characteristic bitterness as well as
shrewdness, that the "Niagara's" position, assigned in the line behind
the "Caledonia," could not properly be left without signal,
practically surrenders the case. It is applying the dry-rot system of
fleet tactics in the middle of the eighteenth century to the days
after Rodney and Nelson, and is further effectually disposed of by the
consentient statement of several of the American captains, that their
commander's dispositions were made with reference to the enemy's
order; that is, that he assigned a special enemy's ship to a special
American, and particularly the "Detroit" to the "Lawrence," and the
"Queen Charlotte" to the "Niagara." The vessels of both fleets being
so heterogeneous, it was not wise to act as with units nearly
homogeneous, by laying down an order, the governing principle of which
was mutual support by a line based upon its own intrinsic qualities.
The considerations dictating Perry's dispositions were external to his
fleet, not internal; in the enemy's order, not in his own. This was
emphasized by his changing the previously arranged stations of the
"Lawrence" and the "Niagara," when he saw Barclay's line. Lastly, he
re-enforced all this by quoting to his subordinates Nelson's words,
that no captain could go very far wrong who placed his vessel close
alongside those of the enemy.


Cooper, the ablest of Elliott's champions, has insisted so strongly
upon the obligation of keeping the station _in the line_, as laid
down, that it is necessary to examine the facts in the particular
case. He rests the certainty of his contention on general principles,
then long exploded, and further upon a sentence in Perry's charges,
preferred in 1818, that "the commanding officer [Perry] issued, 1st,
an order directing in what manner the line of battle should be formed
... and enjoined upon the commanders to preserve their stations in the
line" thus laid down.[87] This is correct; but Cooper omits to give
the words immediately following in the specification: "and in all
cases to keep as near the commanding officer's vessel [the "Lawrence"]
as possible."[88] Cooper also omits that which next succeeds: "2d, An
order of attack, in which the 'Lawrence' was designated to attack the
enemy's new ship (afterwards ascertained to have been named the
'Detroit'), and the 'Niagara' designated to attack the 'Queen
Charlotte,' which orders were then communicated to all the commanders,
including the said Captain Elliott, who for that purpose ... were by
signal called together by the said commanding officer ... and
expressly instructed that 'if, in the expected engagement, they laid
their vessels close alongside of those of the enemy, they could not be
out of the way.'"[89] An officer, if at once gallant and intelligent,
finding himself behind a dull sailing vessel, as Cooper tells us the
"Caledonia" was, could hardly desire clearer authority than the above
to imitate his commanding officer when he made sail to close the
enemy:--"Keep close to him," and follow up the ship which "the
'Niagara' was designated to attack."

Charges preferred are not technical legal proof, but, if duly
scrutinized, they are statements equivalent in value to many that
history rightly accepts; and, at all events, that which Cooper quotes
is not duly scrutinized if that which he does not quote is omitted. He
does indeed express a gloss upon them, in the words: "Though the
'Niagara' was ordered to direct her fire at the 'Queen Charlotte,' it
could only be done from her station astern of the 'Caledonia,' ...
without violating the primary order to preserve the line."[90] This
does not correctly construe the natural meaning of Perry's full
instructions. It is clear that, while he laid down a primary
formation, "a line of battle," he also most properly qualified it by a
contingent instruction, an "order of attack," designed to meet the
emergency likely to occur in every fleet engagement, and which
occurred here, when a slavish adherence to the line of battle would
prevent intelligent support to the main effort. If he knew naval
history, as his quotation from Nelson indicates, he also knew how many
a battle had been discreditably lost by "keeping the line."

With regard to the line, however, it is apt to remark that in fleet
battle, unless otherwise specially directed, the line of the assailant
was supposed to be parallel to that of the defence, for the obvious
reason that the attacking vessels should all be substantially at the
same effective range. This distance, equal for all in fleets as
usually constituted, would naturally be set, and in practice was set,
by the commander-in-chief; his ship forming the point through which
should be drawn the line parallel to the enemy. This rule, well
established under Rodney, who died in 1792, was rigidly applicable
between vessels of the same force, such as the "Lawrence" and
"Niagara;" and whatever deductions might be made for the case of a
light-framed vessel, armed with long guns, like the "Caledonia,"
keeping out of carronade distance of an opponent with heavy scantling,
would not in the least apply to the "Niagara." For her, the standard
of position was not, as Cooper insists, a half-cable's length from her
next ahead, the "Caledonia;" but abreast her designated opponent, at
the same distance as the "Lawrence" from the enemy's line. Repeated
mishaps had established the rule that position was to be taken from
the centre,--that is, from the commander-in-chief. Ships in line of
battle, bearing down upon an enemy in like order, did not steer in
each other's wake, unless specially ordered; and there is something
difficult to understand in the "Niagara" with her topsail sharp aback
to keep from running on board the "Caledonia," although the fact is in
evidence. The expression in Perry's report of the action, "at 10 A.M.
... formed the line and bore up," would by a person familiar with
naval battles be understood to mean that the line was first formed
parallel to the enemy, the vessels following one another, after which
they steered down for him, changing course together; they would then
no longer be in each other's wake, but in echelon, or as the naval
phrase then went, in bow and quarter line. Barclay confirms this, "At
10 the enemy bore up under easy sail, in a line abreast."[91] Thus,
when the distance desired by the commander-in-chief was reached,--a
fact more often indicated by his example than by signal,--the helm
would bring them again in line of battle, their broadsides bearing
upon the enemy.

The technical point at issue is whether Perry, finding the long-gun
fire of the "Detroit" more destructive than he had anticipated, and
determining in consequence to shorten the period of its duration by
changing his original plan, increasing sail beyond the speed of such
slower vessels as the "Caledonia," had a right to expect that his
subordinates would follow his example. In the opinion of the writer,
he had, in the then condition of the theory and practice of fleet
battles; his transfer of his own position transferred the line of
battle in its entirety to the distance relative to the enemy which he
himself was seeking to assume. Were other authority lacking, his
action was warrant to his captains; but the expression in his report,
"I made sail, and directed the other vessels to follow, for the
purpose of closing with the enemy," causes increased regret that the
exact facts were not ascertained by cross-examination before a

Elliott's place therefore was alongside the "Queen Charlotte," so to
engage her that she could attend to nothing else. This he did not do,
and for failure the only possible excuse was inability, through lack
of wind. The wind was light throughout, yet not so light but that the
"Lawrence" closed with the "Detroit," and the "Queen Charlotte" with
her flagship when she wished. None of Elliott's witnesses before the
Court of Inquiry state that he made sail before the middle of the
action, but they attribute the failure to get down to the lightness of
the wind. They do state that, after the "Lawrence" was disabled, a
breeze springing up, sail was made; which indicates that previously it
had not been. Again, it is alleged by the testimony in favor of
Elliott that much of the time the maintopsail was sharp aback, to keep
from running into the "Caledonia;" a circumstance upon which Cooper
dwells triumphantly, as showing that the "Niagara" was not by the wind
and was in her place, close astern of the "Caledonia." Accepting the
statements, they would show there was wind enough to fan the "Niagara"
to--what was really her place--her commodore's aid; for in those days
the distance between under fire and out of fire for efficient action
was a matter of half a mile.[92] Perry's formulated charge, addressed
to the Navy Department, and notified to Elliott, but never brought to
trial, was that when coming into action an order was passed by trumpet
for the vessels astern to close up in the line; that a few moments
previously to the enemy's opening fire the "Niagara" had been within
hail of the "Lawrence," and nevertheless she was allowed to drop
astern, and for two hours to remain at such distance from the enemy as
to render useless all her battery except the two long guns. Perry
himself made sail at the time the hail by trumpet was passed. The
"Niagara" did not.

There is little reason for doubt that the tenor of Perry's
instructions required Elliott to follow the "Queen Charlotte," and no
doubt whatever that military propriety imperiously demanded it of him.
The question of wind must be matter of inference from the incidents
above stated: the movement of the "Lawrence" and "Queen Charlotte,"
and the bracing aback of the "Niagara's" topsail. A sentence in
Perry's report apparently, but only apparently, attenuates the force
of these. He said, "At half-past two, the wind springing up, Captain
Elliott was enabled to bring his vessel, the 'Niagara,' gallantly into
close action." Alluding to, without insisting on, Perry's subsequent
statement that he endeavored to give as favorable a color as possible
to Elliott's course, it is clear enough that these words simply state
that Captain Elliott at 2.30 reached the range at which the "Lawrence"
had fought since a little after noon.

Quitting now the discussion of proprieties, the order of events seems
to have been as follows: Perry having taken the initiative of bearing
down, under increased sail, Elliott remained behind, governed by, or
availing himself of--two very different motives, not lightly to be
determined, or assumed, by the historian--the technical point, long
before abandoned in practice, that he could not leave his place in the
line without a signal. Thus his action was controlled by the position
of his next ahead in the line, the dull-sailing "Caledonia," a vessel
differing radically from his own in armament, having two long and for
that day heavy guns, quite equal in range and efficiency to the best
of the "Detroit's,"[93] and therefore capable of good service, though
possibly not of their best, from the distance at which Perry changed
his speed. Elliott's battery was the same as Perry's. He thus
continued until it became evident that, the "Queen Charlotte" having
gone to the support of the "Detroit," the "Lawrence" was heavily
overpowered. Then, not earlier than an hour after Perry bore down, he
realized that his commander-in-chief would be destroyed under his
eyes, unless he went to his support, and he himself would rest under
the imputation of an inefficient spectator. He ordered the "Caledonia"
to bear up, in order that he might pass (position 3; C_{1}, C_{2}).
Though not demonstrably certain, it seems probable that the wind,
light throughout, was now so fallen as to impede the retrieval of his
position; the opportunity to close, used by Perry, had passed away. At
all events it was not till between 2 and 2.30 that the "Niagara"
arrived on the scene, within effective range of the carronades which
constituted nine tenths of her battery.

With this began the second stage of the battle (3). Perry's bearing
down, receiving only the support of the long guns of the "Caledonia"
and of the schooners ahead of him, had brought the "Lawrence" into hot
engagement with the "Detroit," supported a half hour later by the
"Queen Charlotte." By a little after two o'clock both flagships were
well-nigh disabled, hull and battery; the "Lawrence" most so, having
but one gun left out of ten on the broadside. "At 2.30," wrote
Barclay, "the Detroit was a perfect wreck, principally from the raking
fire of the gunboats." Which gunboats? Evidently the "Ariel" and
"Scorpion," for all agree that the rear four were at this hour still
far astern, though not absolutely out of range. To these last was
probably due the crippling of the "Lady Prevost," which by now had
gone to leeward with her rudder injured. Up to this time, when the
first scene closed, what had been the general course of the action?
and what now the situation? Assuming, as is very probable, that
Barclay did not open with his long 24's until Perry was a mile, two
thousand yards, from him,--that distance requiring six degrees
elevation for those guns,--an estimate of speeds and courses, as
indicated by the evidence, would put the "Lawrence" in action, at two
hundred and fifty yards, at 12.10. This calculation, made
independently, received subsequent confirmation in consulting
Barclay's report, which says 12.15.[94] The same time, for the duller
"Caledonia" and the "Niagara," would place them one thousand yards
from the British line. This range, for the 32-pounder carronades of
the "Niagara," and the 24's of the "Queen Charlotte," required an
elevation of from four to six degrees. Coupling this with the British
statement, that the carronades of the "Charlotte" could not reach the
"Niagara," we obtain probable positions, two hundred and fifty yards
and one thousand yards, for the principal two American vessels at
quarter-past noon.

From the general lightness and occasional failure of the wind up to 2
P.M., it is more than likely that no great change took place before
that hour. What air there was might touch all alike, but would affect
least the "Lawrence," "Detroit," and "Queen Charlotte," because their
sails were being rent; and also they were in the centre of the
cannonade, which is believed usually to kill the breeze. The tendency
of the "Caledonia," "Niagara," and American vessels in rear of them,
between 12.30 and 2 P.M., during which period, to use Barclay's
report, "the action continued with great fury," would therefore be to
approach slowly the scene where the "Lawrence," supported by the long
guns of the "Ariel," "Scorpion," and "Caledonia," maintained the day
against the "Detroit" and "Queen Charlotte," backed by the schooner
"Chippewa" and the 6 and 4 pounder pop-guns of the "Hunter." How near
they drew is a mere matter of estimate. Taking all together, it may be
inferred that the "Niagara" had then been carried as close as five
hundred to six hundred yards to the British line, but it would appear
also towards its rear; rather, probably, that the British had advanced
relatively to her, owing to her course being oblique to theirs.

The situation then was as follows: The "Lawrence," disabled, was
dropping astern of the "Detroit," "Queen Charlotte," and "Hunter."
More than half her ship's company lay dead or wounded on her decks.
Her loss, 83 killed and wounded out of a total of 142,--sick
included,[95]--was mostly incurred before this. With only one gun
left, she was a beaten ship, although her colors were up. The
"Detroit" lay in the British line almost equally mauled. On her lee
quarter,--that is, behind, but on the lee side,--and close to her, was
the "Queen Charlotte." Her captain, second to Barclay, had been
killed,--the first man hit on board,--and her first lieutenant
knocked senseless; being succeeded in command by an officer whom
Barclay described as of little experience. The first lieutenant of the
"Detroit" was also wounded mortally; and Barclay himself, who already
had been once hit in the thigh, was now a second time so severely
injured,--being his eighth wound in battle, though now only
thirty-two,--that he was forced at this critical instant to go below,
leaving the deck with the second lieutenant. The "Hunter" was astern
of her two consorts. The "Lady Prevost," fifth in the British order,
had fallen to leeward with her rudder crippled. The position of the
leading and rear British schooners is not mentioned, and is not
important; the reliance of each being one long 9-pounder gun.

Before this, taking advantage of the breeze freshening, the "Niagara"
had gone clear of the "Caledonia," on her windward side, and had stood
to the southwest, towards the "Detroit." She had not at first either
foresail or topgallantsails set; and since she passed the "Lawrence"
to windward, she was then almost certainly over two hundred and fifty
yards from the British line, for there is no conclusive proof that the
"Lawrence" was nearer than that. Combining the narrative of the
British commodore with that of his second lieutenant, who now took
charge, it appears that Barclay, before going below, saw a boat
passing from the "Lawrence" to the "Niagara," and that the second
lieutenant, Inglis, after relieving him, found the "Niagara" on the
weather beam of the "Detroit." Perry, seeing the "Lawrence" incapable
of further offensive action, had decided to leave her and go on board
the "Niagara," and in this brief interval was making his passage from
one vessel to the other. After leaving the "Lawrence" astern, the
"Niagara" had made sail; the foresail having been set, and the
topgallantsails "in the act of being set, before Captain Perry came
on board."[96] This necessarily prolonged the time of his passage,
and may have given rise to the opprobrious British report that she was
making off. Her making sail as she did indicated that she had suffered
little aloft; she had been out of carronade range, while her consort,
still in fighting condition, was bearing the brunt; it was natural to
conclude that she would not alone renew the action, now that the
"Lawrence" was hopelessly disabled. The wish, too, may possibly have
helped the thought. The "Lawrence," in fact, having kept her colors
flying till Perry reached the "Niagara," struck immediately
afterwards. Had she surrendered while he was on board, he could not
honorably have quitted her; and the record was clearer by his reaching
a fresh ship while the flag of the one he left was still up.

What next happened is under no doubt so far as the movements of the
"Niagara" are concerned, though there is irreconcilable difference as
to who initiated the action. Immediately after Perry came on board,
Elliott left her, to urge forward the rear gunboats. Her helm was put
up, and she bore down ahead of the "Detroit" to rake her; supported in
so doing by the small vessels, presumably the "Ariel," "Scorpion," and
"Caledonia." The British ship tried to wear, both to avoid being raked
and to get her starboard battery into action; many of the guns on the
broadside heretofore engaged being disabled. The "Charlotte" being on
her lee quarter, and ranging ahead, the two fell foul, and so remained
for some time. This condition gave free play to the American guns,
which were soon after re-enforced by those of the rear gunboats;
enabled, like the "Niagara," to close with the freshening breeze.
After the two British vessels got clear, another attempt was made to
bring their batteries to bear; but the end was inevitable, and is
best told in the words of the officer upon whom devolved the duty of
surrendering the "Detroit." "The ship lying completely unmanageable,
every brace cut away, the mizzen-topmast and gaff down, all the other
masts badly wounded, not a stay left forward, hull shattered very
much, a number of guns disabled, and the enemy's squadron raking both
ships ahead and astern, none of our own in a position to support us, I
was under the painful necessity of answering the enemy to say we had
struck, the 'Queen Charlotte' having previously done so."[97] A
Canadian officer taken prisoner at the battle of the Thames saw the
"Detroit," a month later, at Put-in Bay. "It would be impossible," he
wrote, "to place a hand upon that broadside which had been exposed to
the enemy's fire without covering some portion of a wound, either from
grape, round, canister, or chain shot."[98] Her loss in men was never
specifically given. Barclay reported that of the squadron as a whole
to be forty-one killed, ninety-four wounded. He had lost an arm at
Trafalgar; and on this occasion, besides other injuries, the one
remaining to him was so shattered as to be still in bandages a year
later, when he appeared before the Court Martial which emphatically
acquitted him of blame. The loss of the American squadron was
twenty-seven killed, ninety-six wounded; of whom twenty-two killed and
sixty-one wounded were on board the "Lawrence."

   _Drawn by Henry Reuterdahl._]

Thus was the battle of Lake Erie fought and won. Captain Barclay not
only had borne himself gallantly and tenaciously against a superior
force,--favored in so doing by the enemy attacking in detail,--but the
testimony on his trial showed that he had labored diligently during
the brief period of his command, amid surroundings of extreme
difficulty, to equip his squadron, and to train to discipline and
efficiency the heterogeneous material of which his crews were
composed. The only point not satisfactorily covered is his absence
when Perry was crossing the bar. In his defence his allusion to this
incident is very casual,--resembles somewhat gliding rapidly over thin
ice; but the Court raised no question, satisfied, probably, with the
certainty that the honor of the flag had not suffered in the action.
On the American side, since the history of a country is not merely the
narrative of principal transactions, but the record also of honor
reflected upon the nation by the distinguished men it produces, it is
proper to consider the question of credit, which has been raised in
this instance. There can be no doubt that opportunity must be seized
as it is offered; for accident or chance may prevent its recurrence.
Constituted as Perry's squadron was, the opportunity presented to him
could be seized only by standing down as he did, trusting that the
other vessels would follow the example of their commander. The
shifting of the wind in the morning, and its failure during the
engagement, alike testify to the urgency of taking the tide as it
serves. There was no lagging, like Chauncey's, to fetch up heavy
schooners; and the campaign was decided in a month, instead of
remaining at the end of three months a drawn contest, to lapse
thenceforth into a race of ship-building. Had the "Niagara" followed
closely, there could have been no doubling on the "Lawrence"; and
Perry's confidence would have been justified as well as his conduct.
The latter needs no apology. Without the help of the "Niagara," the
"Detroit" was reduced to a "defenceless state," and a "perfect
wreck,"[99] by the carronades of the "Lawrence," supported by the
raking fire of the "Ariel" and "Scorpion." Both the expressions quoted
are applied by the heroic Barclay to her condition at 2.30, when, as
he also says, the "Niagara" was perfectly fresh. Not only was the
"Detroit" thus put out of action, but the "Charlotte" was so damaged
that she surrendered before her. To this the "Caledonia's" two long
twenty-fours had contributed effectively. The first lieutenant of the
"Queen Charlotte" testified that up to the time he was disabled, an
hour or an hour and a quarter after the action began, the vessel was
still manageable; that "the 'Niagara' engaged us on our quarter, out
of carronade range, with what long guns she had; but our principal
injury was from the 'Caledonia,' who laid on our beam, with two long
24-pounders on pivots, also out of carronade-shot distance."[100]

Is it to Perry, or to Elliott, that is due the credit of the
"Niagara's" action in bearing up across the bows of the "Detroit"?
This is the second stage of the battle; the bringing up the reserves.
An absolute reply is impossible in the face of the evidence, sworn but
not cross-examined. A probable inference, which in the present writer
amounts to conviction, is attainable. Before the Court of Inquiry, in
1815, Captain Elliott put the question to several of his witnesses,
"Was not the 'Niagara's' helm up and she standing direct for the
'Detroit' when Captain Perry came on board?" They replied, "Yes." All
these were midshipmen. By a singular fatality most of the "Niagara's"
responsible officers were already dead, and the one surviving
lieutenant had been below, stunned, when Perry reached the deck. It
may very possibly be that this answer applied only to the first change
of course, when Elliott decided to leave his position behind the
"Caledonia"; but if it is claimed as covering also the subsequent
bearing up eight points (at right angles), to cross the bows of the
"Detroit," it is to be observed that no mention of this very important
movement is made in a letter addressed to the Secretary of the Navy,
October 13, 1813, one month after the battle, drawn up for the
express purpose of vindicating Elliott, and signed by all the
lieutenants of the "Niagara," and by the purser, who formerly had been
a lieutenant in the navy. Their account was that Perry, on reaching
the ship, said he feared the day was lost; that Elliott replied it was
not, that he would repair on board the rear schooners, and bring them
up; that he did so, and "_the consequence was_ that in ten minutes the
'Detroit' and 'Queen Charlotte' with the 'Lady Prevost,' struck to us,
and soon after the whole of the enemy's squadron followed their
example."[101] This attributes the victory to the half-dozen long guns
of the four schooners, mostly inferior in caliber to the nine
carronades on board a single vessel, the "Niagara," raking within
pistol-shot of antagonists already in the condition described by
Barclay. Such a conclusion traverses all experience of the tactical
advantage of guns massed under one captain over a like number
distributed in several commands, and also contravenes the particular
superiority of carronades at close quarters. An officer of the
"Detroit," who was on deck throughout, testified that the "Lawrence"
had engaged at musket-shot, the "Niagara," when she bore down under
Perry, at pistol-shot. Barclay, and his surviving lieutenant, Inglis,
both lay most weight upon this action of the "Niagara," from which
arose also the fouling of the two largest British ships.

Perry's charges of 1818 against Elliott formulated deliberate
statements, under the responsible expectation of cross-examination
under oath. This is his account: "When the commanding officer [Perry]
went on board the 'Niagara,' Captain Elliott was keeping her on a
course by the wind, which would in a few minutes have carried said
vessel entirely out of action, to prevent which, and in order to bring
the said vessel into close action with the enemy, the said commanding
officer was under the necessity of heaving-to, stopping and
immediately wearing said vessel, and altering her course at least
eight points"; that is, perpendicular to the direction before steered.
Against this solemn and serious charge is unquestionably to be placed
the commendatory mention and letter given by Perry to Elliott
immediately after the battle. Upon these also he had to expect the
sharpest interrogation, to the mortification attendant upon which he
could only oppose evidence extenuative of, but in no case justifying,
undeniable self-contradiction. If the formal charge was true, no
excuse can be admitted for the previous explicit commendation. As a
matter of historical inquiry, however, such contradictions have to be
met, and must be weighed in the light of all the testimony. The
author's conclusion upon the whole is that, as Perry's action in first
standing down insured decisive action, so by him was imparted to the
"Niagara" the final direction which determined victory. The influence
of the rear gunboats brought up by Elliott was contributive, but not

In short, the campaign of Lake Erie was brought to an immediate
successful issue by the ready initiative taken by Perry when he found
the British distant fire more destructive than he expected, and by his
instant acceptance of necessary risk, in standing down exposed to a
raking cannonade to which he for a long while could not reply. If, as
the author holds, he was entitled to expect prompt imitation by the
"Niagara," the risk was actual, but not undue. As it was, though the
"Lawrence" surrendered, it was not until she had, with the help of
gunboats stationed by Perry for that object, so damaged both her
opponents that they were incapable of further resistance. In the
tactical management of the "Lawrence" and her supports was no mere
headlong dash, but preparation adequate to conditions. Had the
"Niagara" followed, the "Lawrence" need never have struck. The
contemporary incidents on Erie and Ontario afford an instructive
commentary upon Napoleon's incisive irony, that "War cannot be waged
without running risks." There has been sufficient quotation from
Chauncey to indicate why the campaign on Ontario dragged through two
seasons, and then left the enemy in control. Small as the scale and
the theatre of these naval operations, they illustrate the unvarying
lesson that only in offensive action can defensive security be found.

The destruction of the British naval force decided the campaign in the
Northwest by transferring the control of the water. Its general
military results were in this respect final. Nothing occurred to
modify them during the rest of the war. Detroit and Michigan territory
fell back into the hands of the United States; and the allegiance of
the Indians to the British cause, procured by Brock's sagacious daring
a twelvemonth before, but rudely shaken by the events narrated, was
destroyed by the death of their great leader, Tecumseh, a month later
in the battle of the Thames, itself the direct consequence of Perry's
success. The frontier was henceforth free from the Indian terror,
which had hitherto disquieted it from the Maumee to Cleveland.

A more far-reaching political issue was also here definitely settled.
A sense of having betrayed the Indian interests in the previous
treaties of 1783 and 1794 was prevalent in British official circles,
and in their counsels a scheme had been circulated for constituting an
independent Indian territory, under joint guarantee of the two
nations, between their several dominions. This would be locally within
the boundaries of the United States; the sole jurisdiction of which
was thus to be limited and trammelled, because open to continual
British representation and reclamation, based upon treaty
stipulations.[102] This infringement upon the perfect sovereignty of
the nation inside its own borders, in favor of savage communities and
under foreign guarantee, was one of the propositions formally brought
forward as a _sine quâ non_ by the British negotiators at Ghent.
Although by that time the United States stood alone face to face with
Great Britain, at whose full disposal were now the veterans of the
Peninsular War, and the gigantic navy, which the abdication of
Napoleon had released from all other opponents, the American
commissioners refused with dignity to receive the proposition even for
reference. "It is not necessary," they replied, "to refer such demands
to the American Government for its instructions. They will only be a
fit subject for deliberation when it becomes necessary to decide upon
the expediency of an absolute surrender of national independence."[103]

The envoys of the United States were able to be firm, because secure
of indignant support by their people; but it is beyond question that
two naval victories had arrayed upon their side, at the moment, the
preponderance of military argument, which weighs so heavily in
treaties of peace. New Orleans was yet in the future, with adverse
chances apparent; but, owing to the victory of Perry, the United
States was in firm military tenure of the territory, the virtual
cession of which was thus demanded. A year after Perry, McDonough's
equally complete success on Lake Champlain, by insuring control of the
water route for invasion, rolled back the army of Peninsular veterans
under Prevost, at a season of the year which forbade all hope of
renewing the enterprise until another spring. Great Britain was too
eager to end twenty years of continued war to brook further delay. The
lake campaigns of 1813 and 1814 thus emphasized the teaching of
history as to the influence of control of the water upon the course of
events; and they illustrate also the too often forgotten truth, that
it is not by brilliant individual feats of gallantry or skill, by
ships or men, but by the massing of superior forces, that military
issues are decided. For, although on a small scale, the lakes were
oceans, and the forces which met on them were fleets; and as, on a
wider field and in more tremendous issues, the fleets of Great Britain
saved their country and determined the fortunes of Europe, so Perry
and McDonough averted from the United States, without further
fighting, a rectification of frontier--as it is euphemistically
styled,--the effecting of which is one of the most fruitful causes and
frequent results of war in every continent and at every period.

    NOTE.--For the battle of Lake Erie, the most important original
    data are the Court Martial upon Barclay (British Records
    Office), and the Court of Inquiry held at Elliott's request, in
    April, 1815. The proceedings and testimony of the latter are
    published in the appendix to a "Biographical Notice of Commodore
    Jesse D. Elliott," by Russell Jarvis, Philadelphia, 1835.
    Perry's Report of the battle, Sept. 13, 1813, is in American
    State Papers, Naval Affairs, vol. i. p. 295. Barclay's report is
    in Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxi. pp. 250-253, as well as in the
    record of the Court. Jarvis, and Mackenzie's Life of Perry (5th
    edition), give a large number of affidavits by officers present
    in the engagement, and Mackenzie gives also a copy of the
    charges preferred by Perry in 1818 against Elliott. In the
    controversy which arose over the battle, Mackenzie, in the
    appendix to the fifth edition of Perry's Life, Duer, and Tristam
    Burges, Battle of Lake Erie (Boston, 1839), are the principal
    champions on Perry's side; Jarvis (as above) and J. Fenimore
    Cooper, Battle of Lake Erie, on the side of Elliott; but the
    latter himself published several vindications of his conduct.
    The usual naval histories, American and British, may be
    consulted, and there are also incidental mentions and reports in
    Niles' Register and the British Naval Chronicle, which will be
    found useful.


[74] Captains' Letters, Navy Department MSS.

[75] Mackenzie's Life of Perry, vol. i. p. 166.

[76] Mackenzie's Life of Perry, vol. i. p. 186.

[77] Perry to the Secretary of the Navy, Aug. 10, 1813. Mackenzie's Life
of Perry, vol. i. p. 191.

[78] Secretary's Letters, Aug. 18, 1813. Navy Department MSS.

[79] Otherwise known by the name of the River Raisin. Ante, vol. i. p.

[80] The data of this paragraph are taken from the Report on Canadian
Archives, 1896, Lower Canada, pp. 132, 138-140. Barclay in his Defence
before the Court Martial mentions the designs on Erie.

[81] Harm Jan Huidekoper, by Nina Moore Tiffany and Francis Tiffany.
1904. p. 187. Mr. Huidekoper speaks admiringly of the unfaltering
composure and cheerfulness which under these circumstances accompanied
Perry's energy.

[82] See ante, p. 41.

[83] Report on Canadian Archives, 1896. Lower Canada, p. 133.

[84] This statement appeared in the course of a _summary_ of the
evidence before the British Court, given by the Naval Chronicle, vol.
xxxii. pp. 241-242. The only support to it in the evidence, as recorded,
is Barclay's official letter, which he appears to have confirmed under
oath, that the "Niagara" kept out of carronade range, and "was perfectly
fresh at 2.30," when Perry went on board her. The first lieutenant of
the "Queen Charlotte," who remained in command, the captain being
killed, corroborated Barclay as to her distance.

[85] In the finding--or verdict--of the British Court, as in the
evidence, there is no expression of a charge that the "Niagara" was
making away. The finding restricted itself to the matter before the
Court, namely, Barclay's official conduct.

[86] There was a question whether the "Hunter" was ahead or astern of
the "Queen Charlotte." In the author's opinion the balance of evidence
is as stated in the text. Perry rearranged his line with reference to
the British, upon seeing their array. Had the "Charlotte" been next the
"Detroit," as James puts her, it seems probable he would have placed the
"Niagara" next the "Lawrence."

[87] Cooper, Battle of Lake Erie, p. 63.

[88] See Mackenzie's Life of Perry, 5th edition, vol. ii. pp. 251-252.
Perry's charges against Elliott, dated Aug. 8, 1818, are there given in

[89] See Mackenzie's Life of Perry, 5th edition, vol. ii. pp. 251-252.

[90] Cooper's Battle of Lake Erie, p. 63.

[91] Barclay's Report, Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxi. p. 251.

[92] The range of a 32 pdr. carronade, with which the "Niagara" was
armed, throwing one solid shot, with ¼ degree elevation,--substantially
point-blank,--was 260 yards; at 5 degrees, 1260 yards. The difference,
1000 yards, is just half a sea mile. A British professional writer of
that day, criticising their commander's choice of position at Lake
Champlain, says: "At 1000 or 1100 yards the elevation necessary to be
given a carronade would have been so great that none but chance shots
[from the Americans] could have taken effect; whereas, in closing, he
gave up this advantage." Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxiii. p. 132.

[93] The "Caledonia" had two long 24-pounders, and one other lighter
gun, variously stated. The "Detroit's" heaviest were also two long 24's;
she had besides one long 18, six long 12's, etc.

[94] With reference to times, always very difficult to establish, and
often very important as bases of calculation, the following extract from
the Diary of Dr. Usher Parsons, surgeon of the "Lawrence," possesses
value; the more so as it is believed to have been copied from the log of
the vessel, which afterwards disappeared. The phraseology is that of a
log and a seaman, not of a physician. "At 10 called all hands to
quarters. A quarter before meridian the enemy began action at one mile
distance. In a half hour came within musket-shot of the enemy's new
ship.... At 1.30, so entirely disabled we could work the brig no longer.
At 2 P.M., most of the guns were dismounted, breechings gone, or
carriages knocked to pieces. At half-past two, when not another gun
could be worked or fired, Captain Perry hauled down the fighting flag
[not the national flag], which bore this motto 'Don't give up the ship,'
and repaired on board the 'Niagara,' where he raised it again. In ten
minutes after we struck." Publications of the Rhode Island Historical
Society, vol. vii. p. 244. This was called to the author's attention
after the account in the text was written.

[95] Mackenzie's Life of Perry, vol. ii. p. 283.

[96] Evidence of Midshipman Montgomery of the "Niagara," before the
Court of Inquiry.

[97] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxi. p. 252.

[98] Richardson, War of 1812, p. 243.

[99] Barclay's Report.

[100] British Court Martial Record.

[101] Navy Department, MSS. Miscellaneous Letters. My italics.

[102] This scheme appears outlined in a letter of Oct. 5, 1812, to Lord
Bathurst from Sir George Prevost, who in support of it adduces Brock's
opinion (Canadian Archives MSS). Bathurst replied, Dec. 9, 1812, "I so
entirely concur in the expediency of the suggestions contained in your
despatch, as to the necessity of securing the territories of the Indians
from encroachment, that I have submitted it to His Majesty's Secretary
for Foreign Affairs, in order that whenever negotiations for peace may
be entered into, the security of their possessions may not be either
compromised or forgotten." (British Colonial Office Records). Prevost
transmitted a copy of the letter to Admiral Warren, in his early
diplomatic capacity as a peace envoy. Gordon Drummond, the successor of
Brock, and later of Prevost, expressed the same interest (Canadian
Archives MSS., April 2, 1814).

[103] American State Papers, Foreign Affairs, vol. iii. pp. 710-713.



Perry's victory was promptly followed up by himself and Harrison.
Besides its ultimate influence on the general course of events,
already mentioned, it produced immediate military consequences, the
effect of which was felt throughout the lake frontier, from Detroit to
Champlain. That success elsewhere did not follow was due to other
causes than remissness on their part to improve the occasion. Although
the "Lawrence" had to be sent back to Erie for extensive repairs, and
the "Detroit" and "Queen Charlotte" rolled their masts overboard at
anchor in Put-in Bay on the third day after the battle, Perry within a
week had his squadron and four of the prizes sufficiently in repair to
undertake the transport of the army. This timely facility, which
betrayed the enemy's expectations, was due largely to the "Lawrence"
having borne the brunt of the action. Had the injuries been more
distributed, the delay of repairs must have been greater. The British
Adjutant General at Niagara, Harvey, the hero of Stoney Creek, wrote
on hearing of the battle, "After an action of three hours and a half,
the enemy's vessels must have received so much damage as not to be in
a situation to undertake anything for some time."[104] By September 26
Harrison had assembled his forces at an island in the lake, called
Middle Sister, twelve miles from Malden. On the 27th they were
conveyed to Malden, partly in vessels and partly in boats, the weather
being fine. By September 30 Sandwich and Detroit were occupied;
Procter retreating eastward up the valley of the Thames. Harrison
pursued, and on October 5 overtook the British and Indians at a
settlement called Moravian Town. Here they made a stand and were
defeated, with the destruction or dispersal of the entire body, in an
action known to Americans as the battle of the Thames. Procter
himself, with some two hundred men, fled eastward and reached the
lines at Burlington Heights, at the head of Ontario, whither Vincent
had again retreated on October 9, immediately upon receiving news of
the disaster at Moravian Town.

After this the Western Indians fell wholly away from the British
alliance, and Harrison returned to Detroit, satisfied that it was
useless to pursue the enemy by land. The season was thought now too
far advanced for operations against Michilimackinac, which was
believed also to be so effectually isolated, by the tenure of Lake
Erie, as to prevent its receiving supplies. This was a mistake, there
being a route, practicable though difficult, from Toronto to Georgian
Bay, on Lake Huron, by which necessary stores were hurried through
before the winter closed in. Mackinac remained in British hands to the
end of the war.

At Detroit Harrison and Perry received orders to transport a body of
troops down Lake Erie, to re-enforce the army on the general scene of
operations centring round Lake Ontario. By the control of the Niagara
peninsula, consequent upon Vincent's necessary retreat after the
battle of the Thames, the American communications were complete and
secure throughout from Detroit to Sackett's Harbor, permitting free
movement from end to end. The two officers embarked together, taking
with them thirteen hundred men in seven vessels. October 24 they
reached Buffalo. Harrison went on to Niagara, but Perry was here
detached from the lake service, and returned to the seaboard, leaving
Elliott to command on Erie. In acknowledging the order for Perry's
removal, Chauncey regretted the granting of his application as a bad
precedent; and further took occasion to remark that when he himself
was sent to the lakes the only vessel on them owned by the United
States was the brig "Oneida." "Since then two fleets have been
created, one of which has covered itself with glory: the other, though
less fortunate, has not been less industrious." It may be questioned
whether the evident difference of achievement was to be charged to
fortune, or to relative quickness to seize opportunity, when offered.

The successes on Lake Erie had come very appositely for a change
recently introduced into the plans of the Government, and then in
process of accomplishment. Since the middle of the summer the
Secretary of War, Armstrong, who at this time guided the military
counsels, had become disgusted by the fruitlessness of the movements
at the west end of Ontario, and had reverted to his earlier and
sounder prepossession in favor of an attack upon either Kingston or
Montreal. It had now been for some time in contemplation to transfer
to Sackett's Harbor all the troops that could be spared from Niagara,
leaving there only sufficient to hold Fort George, with Fort Niagara
on the American side, as supports to a defensive attitude upon that
frontier. Assured command of the lake was essential to the safety and
rapidity of the concentration at Sackett's, and this led to the next
meeting of the squadrons.

General James Wilkinson, an officer advanced in years, of extremely
poor reputation, personal as well as professional, and of broken
constitution, had been either selected by, or forced upon,[105] the
Secretary of War to replace Dearborn in command of the New York
frontier and conduct of the proposed operations. To his suggested
doubts as to the direction of effort, whether westward or eastward,
Armstrong had replied definitely and finally on August 8: "Operations
westward of Kingston, if successful, leave the strength of the enemy
unbroken. It is the great depot of his resources. So long as he
retains this, and keeps open his communication with the sea, he will
not want the means of multiplying his naval and other defences, and of
re-enforcing or renewing the war in the West." He then explained that
there were two ways of reducing the place; by direct attack, or,
indirectly, by cutting its communications with the lower river. To
accomplish the latter, a demonstration of direct attack should be made
by part of the troops, while the main body should move rapidly down
the St. Lawrence to Madrid (or Hamilton),[106] in New York, and cross
there to the Canadian side, seizing and fortifying a bluff on the
north bank to control the road and river. This done, the rest of the
force should march upon Montreal. The army division on Champlain was
to co-operate by a simultaneous movement and subsequent junction. The
project, in general outline, had been approved by the President. In
transmitting it Armstrong wrote to Wilkinson, "After this exposition,
it is unnecessary to add, that, in conducting the present campaign,
you will make Kingston your _primary object_, and that you will
_choose_ (as circumstances may warrant), between a _direct_ and
_indirect_ attack upon that post."[107]

Contemporary and subsequent movements are to be regarded in their
bearing on this plan. The first object was the concentration at
Sackett's, for which some three thousand troops were to be withdrawn
from the Niagara frontier. Wilkinson arrived at Sackett's from
Washington, August 20. Chauncey was then in port, after the gale which
had driven both him and Yeo down the lake. He sailed on the 29th.
Wilkinson followed shortly, reaching Fort George September 4. On the
5th, Armstrong himself came to Sackett's, having established the War
Department in northern New York for the campaign. On the 10th Perry
destroyed the British squadron on Lake Erie, opening the way for
Harrison's victorious entry to Upper Canada and subsequent transfer to

Some days before the battle of the Thames the embarkation from Niagara
for Sackett's Harbor took place under cover of the naval operations.
After Yeo had gone into Amherst Bay on September 12, as already
mentioned,[108] Chauncey remained cruising in the neighborhood till
the 17th, when he went to Sackett's, the enemy having got into
Kingston. On the 19th he sailed again for Niagara, to support the
movement of the army. He arrived on the 24th, and found there a report
of Perry's victory, which had been received on the 22d. On the 25th
embarkation began, and Wilkinson hoped that the whole body, three
thousand strong, would start on their coasting voyage along the south
shore of the lake on the 27th; but after dark, to conceal the
direction taken. At this juncture, on September 26, Chauncey heard
that the British fleet was at York, which was confirmed by a lookout
vessel despatched by him. As Yeo, unless checked, might molest the
transportation of the troops, it became necessary first to seek him;
but owing to a head wind the American squadron could not leave the
river till the evening of the 27th.

As the schooner gun-vessels sailed badly, the "Pike," the "Madison,"
and the "Sylph" each took one in tow on the morning of the 28th,
steering for York, where the British fleet was soon after sighted. As
the Americans stood in, the British quitted the bay to gain the open
lake; for their better manoeuvring powers as a squadron would have
scope clear of the land. They formed on the port tack, running south
with the wind fresh at east (Positions 1). When about three miles
distant, to windward, Chauncey put his fleet on the same tack as the
enemy and edged down towards him (Positions 2). At ten minutes past
noon, the Americans threatening to cut off the rearmost two of the
British, Yeo tacked his column in succession, beginning with his own
ship, the leader (a), heading north toward his endangered vessels,
between them and the opponents. When round, he opened fire on the
"General Pike." As this movement, if continued, would bring the
leading and strongest British ships upon the weaker Americans astern,
Chauncey put his helm up and steered for the "Wolfe" (b), as soon as
the "General Pike" came abreast of her; the American column following
in his wake. The "Wolfe" then kept away, and a sharp encounter
followed between the two leaders, in which the rest of the squadrons
took some share (Positions 3).

At the end of twenty minutes the "Wolfe" lost her main and mizzen
topmasts, and main yard. With all her after sail gone, there was
nothing to do but to keep before the wind, which was fair for the
British posts at the head of the bay (Positions 4). The American
squadron followed; but the "Madison," the next heaviest ship to the
"Pike," superior in battery power to the "Wasp" and "Hornet" of the
ocean navy, and substantially equal to the second British ship, the
"Royal George," "having a heavy schooner in tow, prevented her
commander from closing near enough to do any execution with her
carronades."[109] The explanation requires explanation, which is not
forthcoming. Concern at such instants for heavy schooners in tow is
not the spirit in which battles are won or campaigns decided; and it
must be admitted that Commodore Chauncey's solicitude to keep his
schooners up with his real fighting vessels, to conform, at critical
moments, the action of ships of eight hundred and six hundred tons,
like the "Pike" and "Madison," to those of lake craft of under one
hundred, is not creditable to his military instincts. He threw out a
signal, true, for the fleet to make all sail; but as he held on to the
schooner he had in tow, neither the "Madison" nor "Sylph" dropped
hers. His flagship, individually, appears to have been well fought;
but anxiety to keep a squadron united needs to be tempered with
discretion of a kind somewhat more eager than the quality commonly
thus named, and which on occasion can drop a schooner, or other small
craft, in order to get at the enemy. As the dismasted "Wolfe" ran to
leeward, "the 'Royal George,'" says the American naval historian
Cooper, "luffed up in noble style across her stern to cover the
English commodore" (c), and "kept yawing athwart her stern, delivering
her broadsides in a manner to extort exclamations of delight from the
American fleet (Positions 5). She was commanded by Captain Mulcaster."
Her fighting mate, the "Madison," had a heavy schooner in tow. This
interposition of the "Royal George" was especially timely if, as Yeo
states, Chauncey was holding at a distance whence his long
twenty-fours told, while the "Wolfe's" carronades did not reach.

At quarter before three Chauncey relinquished pursuit. Both squadrons
were then about six miles from the head of the lake, running towards
it before a wind which had increased to a gale, with a heavy sea.
Ahead of them was a lee shore, and for the Americans a hostile coast.
"Though we might succeed in driving him on shore, the probability was
we should go on shore also, he amongst his friends, we amongst our
enemies; and after the gale abated, if he could get off one or two
vessels out of the two fleets, it would give him as completely the
command of the lake as if he had twenty vessels. Moreover, he was
covered at his anchorage by part of his army and several small
batteries thrown up for the purpose." For these reasons, the commodore
"without hesitation relinquished the opportunity then presenting
itself of acquiring individual reputation at the expense of my
country." The British squadron anchored without driving ashore. The
American returned to Niagara, having received a certain amount of
damage aloft, and one of the purchased schooners having lost her
foremast; but the killed and wounded by the enemy amounted to only
five, all on board the "General Pike." That vessel lost also
twenty-two men by the bursting of a gun.

   [Illustration: CHAUNCEY AND YEO, SEPTEMBER 28, 1813]

Chauncey had been in consultation with Armstrong at Sackett's, and
understood perfectly the plans of the Government. On his return to
Niagara he was requested by Wilkinson to keep watch over the hostile
squadron in its present position under Burlington Heights, so as to
cover the eastward movement of the troops, which began October 1. On
the 2d the last transport had gone, and Wilkinson himself set out for
Sackett's; bringing, as he reported, thirty-five hundred men. On the
3d the British fleet was seen well towards the west end of the lake;
but on the 4th a vessel sent especially to reconnoitre came back with
the report that it was no longer there. This proved to be a mistake;
but, as it came from a careful and competent officer, Chauncey
inferred that the enemy had given him the slip and gone to the
eastward. He therefore ran down the lake, to cover the arrival of the
troops as he had their departure. On the afternoon of the 5th, near
Kingston, he captured six out of seven transports bound thither with
re-enforcements. Of these, two were the schooners taken by Yeo in the
engagement of August 10, which the British had not thought fit to add
to their fleet, but used simply as carriers; mounting their guns on
the fortifications of Kingston. Cooper justly remarks, "This
sufficiently proves the equivocal advantage enjoyed by the possession
of these craft." Chauncey himself, at the end of the campaign,
recommended the building of "one vessel of the size of the
'Sylph,'"--three hundred and forty tons,--"in lieu of all the heavy
schooners; for really they are of no manner of service, except to
carry troops or use as gunboats."[110] The reflection is
inevitable,--Why, then, had he allowed them so to hamper his
movements? It is to be feared that the long ascendency of the gunboat
policy in the councils of the Government had sapped the professional
intelligence even of some naval officers.

The capture of the detachment going from York to Kingston showed that
the British had divined the general character of the American plans.
In fact, as early as October 2, Major General de Rottenburg, who after
an interval had succeeded to Brock's place in Upper Canada, as
lieutenant governor and commander of the forces, had started with two
regiments to re-enforce Kingston, leaving the Niagara peninsula again
under the command of General Vincent. On October 6 Chauncey's squadron
entered Sackett's, where Wilkinson had arrived on the 4th. The general
began at once to remonstrate strenuously with Armstrong against an
attempt upon Kingston, as delaying and possibly frustrating what he
saw fit to style the chief object of the campaign, the capture of
Montreal. The Secretary listened patiently, but overruled him.[111]
Kingston had been the principal object from the beginning, and still
so continued; but, if the garrison should be largely re-enforced, if
the British fleet should enter the harbor, or if the weather should
make navigation of the lake dangerous for the transports, then the
troops should proceed direct for Montreal by the river. Yeo apparently
returned to Kingston soon after this; but when Chauncey left port on
October 16, to bring forward from the Genesee River a detachment under
Colonel Winfield Scott, he still had the understanding that Kingston
was first to be attacked.

On October 19, however, the Secretary reconsidered his decision. The
concentration of the army at Sackett's had not been effected until the
18th. On the 16th de Rottenburg, having coasted the north shore of the
lake, reached Kingston with his two regiments, reckoned by Armstrong
at fifteen hundred men. These raised to twenty-two hundred the
garrison previously estimated at seven to eight hundred.[112] The
numbers of the Americans were diminishing by sickness, and no further
re-enforcement was to be expected, excepting by uniting with the
Champlain division. This had been on the move from Plattsburg since
September 19, and was now at Chateaugay, on the Chateaugay River; a
local centre, whence roads running northeast, to the river's junction
with the St. Lawrence, immediately opposite the island of Montreal,
and west to St. Regis on the St. Lawrence, forty miles higher up, gave
facilities for moving in either direction to meet Wilkinson's advance.
By a letter of October 12 from its commander, General Wade Hampton,
this corps numbered "four thousand effective infantry, with a
well-appointed train." To bring it by land to Sackett's, over a
hundred miles distant, was considered too protracted and laborious in
the state of the roads; better utilize the current of the St. Lawrence
to carry Wilkinson down to it. In view of these circumstances, and of
the supposed increased strength of Kingston, Armstrong decided to
abandon the attack upon the latter and to move against Montreal, which
was believed to be much weaker, as well as strategically more
important.[113] The movement was hazardous; for, as planned, ultimate
success depended upon junction with another corps, which had natural
difficulties of its own to contend with, while both were open to
obstruction by an active enemy. As a distinguished military critic has
said, "The Americans committed upon this occasion the same error that
the British Government did in their plan for Burgoyne's march from the
head of Champlain to Albany,--that of making the desired result of an
important operation depend upon the success of all its constituent or
component parts." It is one of the most common of blunders in war.
Wilkinson and Hampton did not meet. Both moved, but one had retreated
before the other arrived.

In fact, while Montreal, as the most important point in Canada for the
British, except Quebec, and at the same time the one most accessible
to the United States, was the true objective of the latter,
concentration against it should have been made in territory entirely
under American control, about Lake Champlain, and the advance begun
early in the season. By its own choice the Government had relinquished
this obvious and natural course, and throughout the summer had
directed its efforts to the westward. When the change of operations
from Niagara to the lower end of the lake was initiated, in the
beginning of October, it was already too late to do more than attack
Kingston, the strength of which appears to have been gravely
over-estimated. Armstrong had good military ideas; but at this
critical moment he seems to have faltered in the presence of an
immediate difficulty, and to have sought escape from it by a hasty
consent to a side measure, contrary to the soundest teachings of war.

Not the least of objections was the risk to which Sackett's Harbor,
the naval base, was to be exposed. After October 16, Chauncey had
remained cruising between there and Kingston, covering the approaches
to the St. Lawrence. His intended trip to Genesee, to bring up Scott's
eight hundred regulars, had been abandoned at the urgent demand of
Wilkinson, who, while the troops were being transferred from Sackett's
to Grenadier Island, at the outlet of the lake to the river, "would
not allow any part of the fleet to be absent four days without
throwing the responsibility, in case of a failure of his expedition,
wholly on the navy."[114] The commodore did not learn of the new
scheme until October 30, ten days after its adoption, when he was
asked to cover the rear of the army from pursuit by water, by taking
position inside the St. Lawrence. While objecting strongly to the
change of plan, he of course consented to afford all the co-operation
in his power; but he wrote to the Navy Department, "If Sir James Yeo
knows the defenceless situation of Sackett's, he can take advantage of
a westerly wind while I am in the river, run over and burn it; for to
the best of my knowledge there are no troops left there except sick
and invalids, nor are there more than three guns mounted."[115]

After many delays by rough water, Wilkinson's troops were assembled at
Grenadier Island towards the end of October. On November 1 they began
entering the river by detachments, collecting at French Creek, on the
American side, fifteen miles from the lake. Being here immediately
opposite one of the points considered suitable for advance on
Kingston, the object of the movement remained still doubtful to the
enemy. The detachments first arriving were cannonaded by four of Yeo's
vessels that had come through the channel north of Long Island, which
here divides the stream. On November 2 Chauncey anchored near by,
preventing the recurrence of this annoyance. On the 4th the entire
force was assembled, and next day started down the river with fine
weather, which lasted until the 11th. Up to this date no serious
difficulty was encountered; but immediately that the departure from
French Creek proclaimed the real direction of the movement, de
Rottenburg despatched a body of six hundred regular troops, under
Lieutenant Colonel Morrison, accompanied by some gunboats under
Captain Mulcaster, to harass the rear. For the purpose of being on
hand to fall upon the American flotilla, should the attempt be made to
cross the river to the north bank, Sir James Yeo on the 5th came out
from Kingston with his fleet. He anchored on the north side of Long
Island, only five miles from the American squadron, but separated by a
reef, over which the "General Pike" could not pass without being
lightened.[116] Steps were taken to effect this, and to buoy a
channel; but on the 6th Yeo retired to Kingston. Chauncey's letters
make no mention of Mulcaster's division, and after Yeo's withdrawal he
moved down to Carleton Island.

Morrison and Mulcaster on the 8th reached Fort Wellington, opposite
Ogdensburg. Here they paused and received re-enforcements from the
garrison, raising their numbers to eight hundred, who continued to
follow, by water and by land, until the 11th. Then they were turned
upon by the rearguard of an American division, marching on the north
bank to suppress the harassment to which the flotilla otherwise was
liable in its advance. An action followed, known as that of
Chrystler's Farm, in which the Americans were the assailants and in
much superior numbers; but they were worsted and driven back, having
lost one hundred and two killed and two hundred and thirty-seven
wounded, besides one hundred prisoners. The troops engaged then
embarked, and passed down the Long Saut Rapids to Cornwall, which is
one hundred and twenty miles from Kingston and eighty-two from
Montreal. Here they were rejoined on the 12th by the vanguard of the
division, which had met little resistance in its progress.

At this time and place Wilkinson received a letter from General
Hampton, to whom he had written that the provisions of his army were
insufficient, and requested him to send "two or three months' supply
by the safest route in a direction to the proposed scene of
action."[117] He also instructed him to join the advance at St. Regis,
opposite Cornwall, the point which had now been reached. As the two
bodies were co-operating, and Wilkinson was senior, these instructions
had the force of orders. In his reply, dated November 8,[118] Hampton
said, "The idea of meeting at St. Regis was most pleasing, until I
came to the disclosure of the amount of your supplies of provision."
Actually, the disclosure about the supplies preceded in the letter the
appointment to meet at St. Regis, which was the last subject
mentioned. "It would be impossible," Hampton continued, "for me to
bring more than each man could carry on his back; and when I reflected
that, in throwing myself upon your scanty means, I should be weakening
you in your most vulnerable point, I did not hesitate to adopt the
opinion that by throwing myself back upon my main depot [Plattsburg],
where all means of transportation had gone, and falling upon the
enemy's flank, and straining every effort to open a communication from
Plattsburg to ... the St. Lawrence, I should more effectually
contribute to your success than by the junction at St. Regis."

Hampton then retired to Plattsburg, in the direction opposite from St.
Regis. Wilkinson, upon receiving his letter, held a council of war and
decided that "the attack on Montreal should be abandoned for the
present season." The army accordingly crossed to the American side and
went into winter quarters at French Mills, just within the New York
boundary; on the Salmon River, which enters the St. Lawrence thirteen
miles below St. Regis. Wilkinson was writing from there November 17,
twelve days after he started from French Creek to capture Montreal.
Thus two divisions, of eight thousand and four thousand respectively,
both fell back helplessly, when within a few days of a junction which
the enemy could not have prevented, even though he might successfully
have opposed their joint attack upon Montreal.

It is a delicate matter to judge the discretion of a general officer
in Hampton's position; but the fact remains, as to provisions, that he
was in a country where, by his own statement of a month before, "we
have, and can have, an unlimited supply of good beef cattle."[119] A
British commissary at Prescott wrote two months later, January 5,
1814, "Our supplies for sixteen hundred men are all drawn from the
American side of the river. They drive droves of cattle from the
interior under pretence of supplying their army at Salmon River, and
so are allowed to pass the guards, and at night to cross them over to
our side,"--the river being frozen. He adds, "I shall be also under
the necessity of getting most of my flour from their side."[120] It is
not necessary greatly to respect Wilkinson in order to think that in
such a region Hampton might safely have waited for his superior to
join, and to decide upon the movements of the whole. He was acting
conjointly, and the junior.[121] Under all the circumstances there can
be no reasonable doubt that his independent action was precipitate,
unnecessary, contrary to orders, and therefore militarily culpable. It
gave Wilkinson the excuse, probably much desired, for abruptly closing
a campaign which had been ludicrously inefficient from the first, and
under his leadership might well have ended in a manner even more

Chauncey remained within the St. Lawrence until November 10, the day
before the engagement at Chrystler's Farm. He was troubled with fears
as to what might happen in his rear; the defenceless condition of
Sackett's, and the possibility that the enemy by taking possession of
Carleton Island, below him, might prevent the squadron's getting
out.[122] None of these things occurred, and it would seem that the
British had not force to attempt them. On the 11th the squadron
returned to the Harbor, where was found a letter from Armstrong,
requesting conveyance to Sackett's for the brigade of Harrison's army,
which Perry had brought to Niagara, and which the Secretary destined
to replace the garrison gone down stream with Wilkinson. The execution
of this service closed the naval operations on Ontario for the year
1813. On November 21 Chauncey wrote that he had transported Harrison
with eleven hundred troops. On the night of December 2 the harbor
froze over, and a few days later the commodore learned that Yeo had
laid up his ships for the winter.

There remains yet to tell the close of the campaign upon the Niagara
peninsula, control of which had been a leading motive in the opening
operations. Its disastrous ending supplies a vivid illustration of the
military truth that positions are in themselves of but little value,
if the organized forces of the enemy, armies or fleets, remain
unimpaired. The regular troops were all withdrawn for Wilkinson's
expedition; the last to go being the garrison of Fort George, eight
hundred men under Colonel Winfield Scott, which left on October 13.
The command of the frontier was turned over to Brigadier General
George M'Clure of the New York Militia. Scott reported that Fort
George, "as a field work, might be considered as complete at that
period. It was garnished with ten pieces of artillery, which number
might have been increased from the spare ordnance of the opposite
fort"[123]--Niagara. The latter, on the American side, was garrisoned
by two companies of regular artillery and "such of M'Clure's brigade
as had refused to cross the river."

It was immediately before Scott's departure that the British forces
under General Vincent, upon receipt of news of the battle of the
Thames, had retreated precipitately to Burlington Heights, burning all
their stores, and abandoning the rest of the peninsula. This was on
October 9; a week after de Rottenburg had started for Kingston with
two regiments, leaving only ten or twelve hundred regulars. De
Rottenburg sent word for these also to retire upon York, and thence to
Kingston; but the lateness of the season, the condition of the roads,
and the necessity in such action to abandon sick and stores, decided
Vincent, in the exercise of his discretion, to hold on. This
resolution was as fortunate for his side as it proved unfortunate to
the Americans. M'Clure's force, as stated by himself, was then about
one thousand effective militia in Fort George, and two hundred and
fifty Indians. Concerning the latter he wrote, "An exhibition of two
or three hundred of them will strike more terror into the British than
a thousand militia."[124] From time to time there were also bodies of
"volunteers," who assembled on call and were subject to the orders of
the national government for the period of their service. With such
numbers, so constituted, it was as impossible for M'Clure to trouble
Vincent as it was inexpedient for Vincent to attack Fort George.

A gleam of hope appeared for the American commander when Perry brought
down the thirteen hundred of Harrison's victorious army, with the
general himself. The latter, who was senior to M'Clure, lent a
favorable ear to his suggestion that the two forces should be combined
to attack Vincent's lines. Some four hundred additional volunteers
gathered for this purpose; but, before the project could take effect,
Chauncey arrived to carry Harrison's men to Sackett's, stripped of
troops for Wilkinson's expedition. The urgency was real, and Chauncey
pressing, on account both of Sackett's and the season. In reply to a
very aggrieved remonstrance from M'Clure, Harrison expressed extreme
sympathy with his disappointment and that of the volunteers, but said
no material disadvantage was incurred, for he was convinced the
British were removing as fast as they could from the head of the lake,
and that an expedition thither would find them gone. Therewith, on
November 16, he embarked and sailed.

The period of service for which the militia were "draughted" would
expire December 9. To M'Clure's representations the national
government, which was responsible for the general defence, replied
impotently by renewing its draught on the state government for another
thousand militia. But, wrote Armstrong, if you cannot raise
volunteers, "what are you to expect from militia draughts, with their
constitutional scruples?"--about leaving their state. Armstrong was
not personally responsible for the lack of organized power in the
nation; but as the representative of the Government, which by a dozen
years of inefficiency and neglect had laid open this and other
frontiers, the fling was unbecoming. On December 10, the garrison of
Fort George was reduced to "sixty effective regulars and probably
forty volunteers. The militia have recrossed the river almost to a
man."[125] M'Clure also learned "that the enemy were advancing in
force." That night he abandoned the works, retiring to Fort Niagara,
and carrying off such stores as he could; but in addition he committed
the grave error of setting fire to the adjacent Canadian village of
Newark, which was burned to the ground.

For this step M'Clure alleged the authority of the Secretary of War,
who on October 4 had written him, "Understanding that the defence of
the post committed to your charge may render it proper to destroy the
town of Newark, you are directed to apprise its inhabitants of this
circumstance, and to invite them to remove themselves and their
effects to some place of greater safety." The general construed this
to justify destruction in order to deprive the hostile troops of
shelter near Fort George. "The enemy are now completely shut out from
any hopes or means of wintering in the vicinity of Fort George." The
exigency was insufficient to justify the measure, which was promptly
disavowed by the United States Government; but the act imparted
additional bitterness to the war, and was taken by the enemy as a
justification and incentive to the retaliatory violence with which the
campaign closed.

The civil and military government of Upper Canada at this time passed
into the hands of Sir Gordon Drummond. For the moment he sent to
Niagara General Riall, who took over the command from Vincent. On
December 13, M'Clure reported the enemy appearing in force on the
opposite shore; but, "having deprived them of shelter, they are
marching up to Queenston." This alone showed the futility of burning
Newark, but more decisive demonstration was to be given. Early on the
19th the British and Indians crossed the river before dawn, surprised
Fort Niagara, and carried it at the point of the bayonet; meeting,
indeed, but weak and disorganized resistance. At the same time a
detachment of militia at Lewiston was attacked and driven in, and that
village, with its neighbors, Youngstown and Manchester, were reduced
to ashes, in revenge for Newark. On December 30 the British again
crossed, burned Buffalo, and destroyed at Black Rock three small
vessels of the Erie flotilla; two of which, the "Ariel" and "Trippe,"
had been in Perry's squadron on September 10, while the third, the
"Little Belt," was a prize taken in that action. Two thousand militia
had been officially reported assembled on the frontier on December 26,
summoned after the first alarm; but, "overpowered by the numbers and
discipline of the enemy," wrote their commander, "they gave way and
fled on every side. Every attempt to rally them was ineffectual."[126]

With this may be said to have terminated the northern campaign of
1813. The British had regained full control of the Niagara peninsula,
and they continued to hold Fort Niagara, in the state of New York,
till peace was concluded. The only substantial gain on the whole
frontier, from the extreme east to the extreme west, was the
destruction of the British fleet on Lake Erie, and the consequent
transfer of power in the west to the United States. This was the left
flank of the American position. Had the same result been accomplished
on the right flank,--as it might have been,--at Montreal, or even at
Kingston, the centre and left must have fallen also. For the
misdirection of effort to Niagara, the local commanders, Dearborn and
Chauncey, are primarily responsible; for Armstrong yielded his own
correct perceptions to the representations of the first as to the
enemy's force, supported by the arguments of the naval officer
favoring the diversion of effort from Kingston to Toronto. Whether
Chauncey ever formally admitted to himself this fundamental mistake,
which wrecked the summer's work upon Lake Ontario, does not appear;
but that he had learned from experience is shown by a letter to the
Secretary of the Navy,[127] when the squadrons had been laid up. In
this he recognized the uselessness of the heavy sailing schooners when
once a cruising force of ships for war had been created, thereby
condemning much of his individual management of the campaign; and he
added: "If it is determined to prosecute the war offensively, and
secure our conquests in Upper Canada, Kingston ought unquestionably to
be the first object of attack, and that so early in the spring as to
prevent the enemy from using the whole of the naval force that he is

In the three chapters which here end, the Ontario operations have been
narrated consecutively and at length, without interruption by other
issues,--except the immediately related Lake Erie campaign,--because
upon them turned, and upon them by the dispositions of the Government
this year were wrecked the fortunes of the war. The year 1813, from
the opening of the spring to the closing in of winter, was for several
reasons the period when conditions were most propitious to the
American cause. In 1812 war was not begun until June, and then with
little antecedent preparation; and it was waged halfheartedly, both
governments desiring to nip hostilities. In 1814, on the other hand,
when the season opened, Napoleon had fallen, and the United States no
longer had an informal ally to divert the efforts of Great Britain.
But in the intervening year, 1813, although the pressure upon the
seaboard, the defensive frontier, was undoubtedly greater than before,
and much vexation and harassment was inflicted, no serious injury was
done beyond the suppression of commerce, inevitable in any event. In
the north, on the lakes frontier, the offensive and the initiative
continued in the hands of the United States. No substantial
re-enforcements reached Canada until long after the ice broke up, and
then in insufficient numbers. British naval preparations had been on
an inadequate scale, receiving no proper professional supervision. The
American Government, on the contrary, had had the whole winter to
prepare, and the services of a very competent naval organizer. It had
also the same period to get ready its land forces; while incompetent
Secretaries of War and of the Navy gave place in January to capable
men in both situations.

With all this in its favor, and despite certain gratifying successes,
the general outcome was a complete failure, the full measure of which
could be realized only when the downfall of Napoleon revealed what
disaster may result from neglect to seize opportunity while it exists.
The tide then ebbed, and never again flowed. For this many causes may
be alleged. The imbecile ideas concerning military and naval
preparation which had prevailed since the opening of the century
doubtless counted for much. The intrusting of chief command to
broken-down men like Dearborn and Wilkinson was enough to ruin the
best conceived schemes. But, despite these very serious drawbacks, the
strategic misdirection of effort was the most fatal cause of failure.

There is a simple but very fruitful remark of a Swiss military writer,
that every military line may be conceived as having three parts, the
middle and the two ends, or flanks. As sound principle requires that
military effort should not be distributed along the whole of an
enemy's position,--unless in the unusual case of overwhelming
superiority,--but that distinctly superior numbers should be
concentrated upon a limited portion of it, this idea of a threefold
division aids materially in considering any given situation. One
third, or two thirds, of an enemy's line may be assailed, but very
seldom the whole; and everything may depend upon the choice made for
attack. Now the British frontier, which the United States was to
assail, extended from Montreal on the east to Detroit on the west. Its
three parts were: Montreal and the St. Lawrence on the east, or left
flank; Ontario in the middle, centring at Kingston; and Erie on the
right; the strength of the British position in the last named section
being at Detroit and Malden, because they commanded the straits upon,
which the Indian tribes depended for access to the east. Over against
the British positions named lay those of the United States. Given in
the same order, these were: Lake Champlain, and the shores of Ontario
and of Erie, centring respectively in the naval stations at Sackett's
Harbor and Presqu' Isle.

Accepting these definitions, which are too obvious to admit of
dispute, what considerations should have dictated to the United States
the direction of attack; the one, or two, parts out of the three, on
which effort should be concentrated? The reply, as a matter of
abstract, accepted, military principle, is certain. Unless very urgent
reasons to the contrary exist, strike at one end rather than at the
middle, because both ends can come up to help the middle against you
quicker than one end can get to help the other; and, as between the
two ends, strike at the one upon which the enemy most depends for
re-enforcements and supplies to maintain his strength. Sometimes this
decision presents difficulties. Before Waterloo, Wellington had his
own army as a centre of interest; on his right flank the sea, whence
came supplies and re-enforcements from England; on his left the
Prussian army, support by which was imminently necessary. On which
flank would Napoleon throw the weight of his attack? Wellington
reasoned, perhaps through national bias, intensified by years of
official dependence upon sea support, that the blow would fall upon
his right, and he strengthened it with a body of men sorely needed
when the enemy came upon his left, in overwhelming numbers, seeking to
separate him from the Prussians.

No such doubt was possible as to Canada in 1813. It depended wholly
upon the sea, and it touched the sea at Montreal. The United States,
with its combined naval and military strength, crude as the latter
was, was at the beginning of 1813 quite able in material power to
grapple two out of the three parts,--Montreal and Kingston. Had they
been gained, Lake Erie would have fallen; as is demonstrated by the
fact that the whole Erie region went down like a house of cards the
moment Perry triumphed on the lake. His victory was decisive, simply
because it destroyed the communications of Malden with the sea. The
same result would have been achieved, with effect over a far wider
region, by a similar success in the east.


[104] Canadian Archives MSS.

[105] Scott says, "The selection of this unprincipled imbecile was not
the blunder of Secretary Armstrong." Memoirs, vol. i. p. 94, note.

[106] Both these names are used, confusingly, by Armstrong. Madrid was
the township, Hamilton a village on the St. Lawrence, fifteen to twenty
miles below the present Ogdensburg.

[107] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 464.
Armstrong's italics.

[108] Ante, p. 60.

[109] Chauncey's report, Oct. 1, 1813, Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 134.
The extract has been verified from the original in the Captains'
Letters. The report of Sir James Yeo (British Records Office) agrees
substantially with Chauncey's accounts of the movements, but adds that
upon the fall of the "Wolfe's" topmasts the "Pike" immediately took a
distance out of carronade range, whence her long 24's would tell. "I can
assure you, Sir, that the great advantage the enemy have over us from
their long 24-pounders almost precludes the possibility of success,
unless we can force them to close action, which they have ever avoided
with the most studied circumspection."

[110] Chauncey to Navy Department, Dec. 17, 1813. Captains' Letters.

[111] Armstrong, Oct. 5, 1813. American State Papers, Military Affairs,
vol. i. p. 470.

[112] Ibid., p. 471.

[113] Armstrong, Oct. 20, 1813. American State Papers, Military Affairs,
vol. i. p. 473.

[114] Scott's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 106. In consequence, though Scott
personally succeeded in joining the movement from which so much was
expected, this considerable number of regulars were withdrawn from it.
They ultimately reached Sackett's, forming the nucleus of a garrison.

[115] Captains' Letters, Oct. 30, 1813.

[116] Chauncey to the Navy Department, Nov. 11, 1813. Captains' Letters.

[117] Wilkinson to Hampton. American State Papers, Military Affairs,
vol. i. p. 462.

[118] Ibid.

[119] Hampton's Letters during this movement are in American State
Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. pp. 458-463.

[120] Ridout, Ten Years in Upper Canada, p. 269.

[121] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 465.

[122] Chauncey to Navy Department, Nov. 11. Captains' Letters.

[123] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 483.

[124] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 484.

[125] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 486.

[126] Report of General A. Hall, Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 394.

[127] December 17, 1813. Captains' Letters, Navy Department.



Upon the Canada frontier the conditions of 1813 had permitted the
United States an ample field for offensive operations, with good
prospect of success. What use was made of the opportunity has now been
narrated. Upon the seaboard, continuous illustration was afforded that
there the country was widely open to attack, thrown wholly on the
defensive, with the exception of preying upon the enemy's commerce by
numerous small cruisers. As a secondary operation of war this has
always possessed value, and better use of it perhaps never was made
than by the American people at this time; but it is not determinative
of great issues, and the achievements of the public and private armed
vessels of the United States, energetic and successful as they were at
this period, constituted no exception to the universal experience.
Control of the highways of the ocean by great fleets destroys an
enemy's commerce, root and branch. The depredations of scattered
cruisers may inflict immense vexation, and even embarrassment; but
they neither kill nor mortally wound, they merely harass. Co-operating
with other influences, they may induce yielding in a maritime enemy;
but singly they never have done so, and probably never can. In 1814 no
commerce was left to the United States; and that conditions remained
somewhat better during 1813 was due to collusion of the enemy, not to
national power.

The needs of the British armies in the Spanish Peninsula and in
Canada, and the exigencies of the West India colonies, induced the
enemy to wink at, and even to uphold, a considerable clandestine
export trade from the United States. Combined with this was the hope
of embarrassing the general government by the disaffection of New
England, and of possibly detaching that section of the country from
the Union. For these reasons, the eastern coast was not included in
the commercial blockade in 1813. But no motive existed for permitting
the egress of armed vessels, or the continuance of the coasting trade,
by which always, now as then, much of the intercourse between
different parts of the country must be maintained, and upon which in
1812 it depended almost altogether. With the approach of spring in
1813, therefore, not only was the commercial blockade extended to
embrace New York and all south of it, together with the Mississippi
River, but the naval constriction upon the shore line became so severe
as practically to annihilate the coasting trade, considered as a means
of commercial exchange. It is not possible for deep-sea cruisers
wholly to suppress the movement of small vessels, skirting the beaches
from headland to headland; but their operations can be so much
embarrassed as to reduce their usefulness to a bare alleviation of
social necessities, inadequate to any scale of interchange deserving
the name of commerce.

"I doubt not," wrote Captain Broke, when challenging Lawrence to a
ship duel, "that you will feel convinced that it is only by repeated
triumphs in even combat that your little navy can now hope to console
your country for the loss of that trade it cannot protect."[128] The
taunt, doubtless intended to further the object of the letter by the
provocation involved, was applicable as well to coasting as to
deep-sea commerce. It ignored, however, the consideration, necessarily
predominant with American officers, that the conditions of the war
imposed commerce destruction as the principal mission of their navy.
They were not indeed to shun combat, when it offered as an incident,
but neither were they to seek it as a mere means of glory,
irrespective of advantage to be gained. Lawrence, whom Broke's letter
did not reach, was perhaps not sufficiently attentive to this motive.

The British blockade, military and commercial, the coastwise
operations of their navy, and the careers of American cruisers
directed to the destruction of British commerce, are then the three
heads under which the ocean activities of 1813 divide. Although this
chapter is devoted to the first two of these subjects, brief mention
should be made here of the distant cruises of two American vessels,
because, while detached from any connection with other events, they
are closely linked, in time and place, with the disastrous seaboard
engagement between the "Chesapeake" and "Shannon," with which the
account of sea-coast maritime operations opens. On April 30 Captain
John Rodgers put to sea from Boston in the frigate "President,"
accompanied by the frigate "Congress," Captain John Smith. Head winds
immediately after sailing detained them inside of Cape Cod until May
3, and it was not till near George's Bank that any of the blockading
squadron was seen. As, by the Admiralty's instructions, one of the
blockaders was usually a ship of the line, the American vessels very
properly evaded them. The two continued together until May 8, when
they separated, some six hundred miles east of Delaware Bay. Rodgers
kept along northward to the Banks of Newfoundland, hoping, at that
junction of commercial highways, to fall in with a West India convoy,
or vessels bound into Halifax or the St. Lawrence. Nothing, however,
was seen, and he thence steered to the Azores with equal bad fortune.
Obtaining thereabouts information of a homeward-bound convoy from the
West Indies, he went in pursuit to the northeast, but failed to find
it. Not till June 9 did he make three captures, in quick succession.
Being then two thirds of the way to the English Channel, he determined
to try the North Sea, shaping his course to intercept vessels bound
either by the north or south of Ireland. Not a sail was met until the
Shetland Islands were reached, and there were found only Danes, which,
though Denmark was in hostility with Great Britain, were trading under
British licenses. The "President" remained in the North Sea until the
end of July, but made only two prizes, although she lay in wait for
convoys of whose sailing accounts were received. Having renewed her
supply of water at Bergen, in Norway, she returned to the Atlantic,
made three captures off the north coast of Ireland, and thence beat
back to the Banks, where two stray homeward-bound West Indiamen were
at last caught. From there the ship made her way, still with a
constant head wind, to Nantucket, off which was captured a British
man-of-war schooner, tender to the admiral. On September 27 she
anchored in Narragansett Bay, having been absent almost five months,
and made twelve prizes, few of which were valuable. One, however, was
a mail packet to Halifax, the capture of which, as of its
predecessors, was noted by Prevost.[129]

The "Congress" was still less successful in material result. She
followed a course which had hitherto been a favorite with American
captains, and which Rodgers had suggested as alternative to his own;
southeast, passing near the Cape Verde Islands, to the equator between
longitudes 24° and 31° west; thence to the coast of Brazil, and so
home, by a route which carried her well clear of the West India
Islands. She entered Portsmouth, New Hampshire, December 14, having
spent seven months making this wide sweep; in the course of which
three prizes only were taken.[130] It will be remembered that the
"Chesapeake," which had returned only a month before the "Congress"
sailed, had taken much the same direction with similar slight result.

These cruises were primarily commerce-destroying, and were pursued in
that spirit, although with the full purpose of fighting should
occasion arise. The paucity of result is doubtless to be attributed to
the prey being sought chiefly on the high seas, too far away from the
points of arrival and departure. The convoy system, rigidly enforced,
as captured British correspondence shows, cleared the seas of British
vessels, except in the spots where they were found congested,
concentrated, by the operation of the system itself. It may be noted
that the experience of all these vessels showed that nowhere was the
system so rigidly operative as in the West Indies and Western
Atlantic. Doubtless, too, the naval officers in command took pains to
guide the droves of vessels entrusted to them over unusual courses,
with a view to elude pursuers. As the home port was neared, the common
disposition to relax tension of effort as the moment of relief draws
nigh, co-operated with the gradual drawing together of convoys from
all parts of the world to make the approaches to the English Channel
the most probable scene of success for the pursuer. There the greatest
number were to be found, and there presumption of safety tended to
decrease carefulness. This was to be amply proved by subsequent
experience. It had been predicted by Rodgers himself, although he
apparently did not think wise to hazard in such close quarters so fine
and large a frigate as the "President." "It is very generally
believed," he had written, "that the coasts of England, Ireland, and
Scotland are always swarming with British men of war, and that their
commerce would be found amply protected. This, however, I well know
by experience, in my voyages when a youth, to be incorrect; and that
it has always been their policy to keep their enemies as far distant
from their shores as possible, by stationing their ships at the
commencement of a war on the enemy's coasts, and in such other distant
situations, ... and thereby be enabled to protect their own commerce
in a twofold degree. This, however, they have been enabled to do,
owing as well to the inactivity of the enemy, as to the local
advantages derived from their relative situations."[131]

The same tendency was observable at other points of arrival, and
recognition of this dictated the instructions issued to Captain
Lawrence for the cruise of the "Chesapeake," frustrated through her
capture by the "Shannon." Lawrence was appointed to the ship on May 6;
the sailing orders issued to Captain Evans being transferred to him on
that date. He was to go to the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
seeking there to intercept the military store-ships, and transports
with troops, destined to Quebec and Upper Canada. "The enemy," wrote
the Secretary, "will not in all probability anticipate our taking this
ground with our public ships of war; and as his convoys generally
separate between Cape Race and Halifax, leaving the trade of the St.
Lawrence to proceed without convoy, the chance of captures upon an
extensive scale is very flattering." He added the just remark, that
"it is impossible to conceive a naval service of a higher order in a
national point of view than the destruction of the enemy's vessels,
with supplies for his army in Canada and his fleets on this

Lawrence took command of the "Chesapeake" at Boston on May 20. The
ship had returned from her last cruise April 9, and had been so far
prepared for sea by her former commander that, as has been seen, her
sailing orders were issued May 6. It would appear from the statement
of the British naval historian James,[133] based upon a paper captured
in the ship, that the enlistments of her crew expired in April.
Although there were many reshipments, and a nucleus of naval seamen,
there was a large infusion of new and untrained men, amounting to a
reconstitution of the ship's company. More important still was the
fact that both the captain and first lieutenant were just appointed;
her former first lying fatally ill at the time she sailed. The third
and fourth lieutenants were also strange to her, and in a manner to
their positions; being in fact midshipmen, to whom acting appointments
as lieutenants were issued at Lawrence's request, by Commodore
Bainbridge of the navy yard, on May 27, five days before the action.
The third took charge of his division for the first time the day of
the battle, and the men were personally unknown to him. The first
lieutenant himself was extremely young.

The bearing of these facts is not to excuse the defeat, but to enforce
the lesson that a grave military enterprise is not to be hazarded on a
side issue, or on a point of pride, without adequate preparation. The
"Chesapeake" was ordered to a service of very particular importance at
the moment--May, 1813--when the Canada campaign was about to open. She
was to act against the communications of the enemy; and while it is
upon the whole more expedient, for the _morale_ of a service, that
battle with an equal should not be declined, quite as necessarily
action should not be sought when it will materially interfere with the
discharge of a duty intrinsically of greater consequence. The capture
of a single enemy's frigate is not to be confounded with, or inflated
to, that destruction of an enemy's organized force which is the prime
object of all military effort. Indeed, the very purpose to which the
"Chesapeake" was designated was to cripple the organized force of the
British, either the army in Canada, or the navy on the lakes. The
chance of a disabling blow by unexpected action in the St. Lawrence
much exceeded any gain to be anticipated, even by a victorious ship
duel, which would not improbably entail return to port to refit; while
officers new to their duties, and unknown to their men, detracted
greatly from the chances of success, should momentary disaster or
confusion occur.

The blockade of Boston Harbor at this moment was conducted by Captain
Philip Vere Broke of the "Shannon", a 38-gun frigate, which he had
then commanded for seven years. His was one of those cases where
singular merit as an officer, and an attention to duty altogether
exceptional, had not yet obtained opportunity for distinction. It
would probably be safe to say that no more thoroughly efficient ship
of her class had been seen in the British navy during the twenty
years' war with France, then drawing towards its close; but after
Trafalgar Napoleon's policy, while steadily directed towards
increasing the number of his ships, had more and more tended to
husbanding them against a future occasion, which in the end never
came. The result was a great diminution in naval combats. Hence, the
outbreak of the American war, followed by three frigate actions in
rapid succession, opened out a new prospect, which was none the less
stimulative because of the British reverses suffered. Captain Broke
was justly confident in his own leadership and in the efficiency of a
ship's company, which, whatever individual changes it may have
undergone, had retained its identity of organization through so many
years of his personal and energetic supervision. He now reasonably
hoped to demonstrate what could be done by officers and men so
carefully trained. Captain Pechell of the "Santo Domingo," the
flagship on the American station, wrote: "The 'Shannon's' men were
better trained, and understood gunnery better, than any men I ever
saw;" nevertheless, he added, "In the action with the 'Chesapeake' the
guns were all laid by Captain Broke's directions, consequently the
fire was all thrown in one horizontal line, not a shot going over the

The escape of the "President" and "Congress" early in May, while the
"Shannon" and her consort, the "Tenedos," were temporarily off shore
in consequence of easterly weather, put Broke still more upon his
mettle; and, fearing a similar mishap with the "Chesapeake," he sent
Lawrence a challenge.[135] It has been said, by both Americans and
English, that this letter was a model of courtesy. Undoubtedly it was
in all respects such as a gentleman might write; but the courtesy was
that of the French duellist, nervously anxious lest he should misplace
an accent in the name of the man whom he intended to force into fight,
and to kill. It was provocative to the last degree, which, for the end
in view, it was probably meant to be. In it Broke showed himself as
adroit with his pen--the adroitness of Canning--as he was to prove
himself in battle. Not to speak of other points of irritation, the
underlining of the words, "even combat," involved an imputation, none
the less stinging because founded in truth, upon the previous frigate
actions, and upon Lawrence's own capture of the "Peacock." In guns,
the "Chesapeake" and "Shannon" were practically of equal force; but in
the engagement the American frigate carried fifty more men than her
adversary. To an invitation couched as was Broke's Lawrence was doubly
vulnerable, for only six months had elapsed since he himself had sent
a challenge to the "Bonne Citoyenne." With his temperament he could
scarcely have resisted the innuendo, had he received the letter; but
this he did not. It passed him on the way out and was delivered to
Bainbridge, by whom it was forwarded to the Navy Department.

   _From the mezzotint by Charles Turner after the painting by
   Samuel Lane in the possession of Lady Saumarez._]

Although Broke's letter did not reach him, Captain Lawrence made no
attempt to get to sea without engagement. The "Shannon's" running
close to Boston Light, showing her colors, and heaving-to in defiance,
served the purpose of a challenge. Cooper, who was in full touch with
the naval tradition of the time, has transmitted that Lawrence went
into the action with great reluctance. This could have proceeded only
from consciousness of defective organization, for the heroic temper of
the man was notorious, and there is no hint of that mysterious
presentiment so frequent in the annals of military services. The wind
being fair from the westward, the "Chesapeake," which had unmoored at
8 A.M., lifted her last anchor at noon, June 1, and made sail. The
"Shannon," seeing at hand the combat she had provoked, stood out to
sea until on the line between Cape Ann and Cape Cod, where she hove-to
on the starboard tack, heading to the southeast. The "Chesapeake"
followed under all sail until 5 P.M., when she took in her light
canvas, sending the loftier--royal--yards on deck; and at 5.30 hauled
up her courses, thus reducing herself to the fighting trim already
assumed by her adversary. The "Shannon," which had been lying stopped
for a long time, at this same moment filled her sails, to regain
headway with which to manoeuvre, in case her opponent's action should
require it; but, after gathering speed sufficient for this purpose,
the British captain again slowed his ship, by so bracing the
maintopsail that it was kept shaking in the wind. Its effect being
thus lost, though readily recoverable, her forward movement depended
upon the sails of the fore and mizzen masts (1). In this attitude, and
steering southeast by the wind, she awaited her antagonist, who was
running for her weather--starboard--quarter, and whose approach, thus
seconded, became now very rapid. Broke made no further change in the
ship's direction, leaving the choice of windward or leeward side to
Lawrence, who took the former, discarding all tactical advantages, and
preferring a simple artillery duel between the vessels.

Just before she closed, the "Chesapeake" rounded-to, taking a parallel
course, and backing the maintopsail (1) to reduce her speed to that of
the enemy. Captain Lawrence in his eagerness had made the serious
error of coming up under too great headway. At 5.50, as her bows
doubled on the quarter of the "Shannon" (1), at the distance of fifty
yards, the British ship opened fire, beginning with the after gun, and
continuing thence forward, as each in succession bore upon the
advancing American frigate. The latter replied after the second
British discharge, and the combat at once became furious. The previous
history of the two vessels makes it probable that the British gunnery
was the better; but it is impossible, seeing the course the action
finally took, so far to disentangle the effects of the fire while they
were on equal terms of position, from the totals afterwards
ascertained, as to say where the advantage, if any, lay during those
few minutes. The testimony of the "Chesapeake's" second lieutenant,
that his division--the forward one on the gun deck--fired three rounds
before their guns ceased to bear, agrees with Broke's report that two
or three broadsides were exchanged; and the time needed by
well-drilled men to do this is well within, yet accords fairly with,
James' statement, that from the first gun to the second stage in the
action six minutes elapsed. During the first of this period the
"Chesapeake" kept moving parallel at fifty yards distance, but gaining
continually, threatening thus to pass wholly ahead, so that her guns
would bear no longer. To prevent this Lawrence luffed closer to the
wind to shake her sails, but in vain; the movement increased her
distance, but she still ranged ahead, so that she finally reached much
further than abreast of the enemy. To use the nautical expression, she
was on the "Shannon's" weather bow (2). While this was happening her
sailing master was killed and Lawrence wounded; these being the two
officers chiefly concerned in the handling of the ship.

   [Illustration: Diagram of the Chesapeake vs. Shannon Battle]

Upon this supervened a concurrence of accidents, affecting her
manageability, which initiated the second scene in the drama, and
called for instantaneous action by the officers injured. The
foretopsail tie being cut by the enemy's fire, the yard dropped,
leaving the sail empty of wind; and at the same time were shot away
the jib-sheet and the brails of the spanker. Although the latter,
flying loose, tends to spread itself against the mizzen rigging, it
probably added little to the effect of the after sails; but, the
foresail not being set, the first two mishaps practically took all the
forward canvas off the "Chesapeake." Under the combined impulses she,
at 5.56, came up into the wind (3), lost her way, and, although her
mainyard had been braced up, finally gathered sternboard; the upshot
being that she lay paralyzed some seventy yards from the "Shannon" (3,
4, 5), obliquely to the latter's course and slightly ahead of her. The
British ship going, or steering, a little off (3), her guns bore fair
upon the "Chesapeake," which, by her involuntarily coming into the
wind,--to such an extent that Broke thought she was attempting to haul
off, and himself hauled closer to the wind in consequence (4),--lost
in great measure the power of reply, except by musketry. The British
shot, entering the stern and quarter of her opponent, swept diagonally
along the after parts of the spar and main decks, a half-raking fire.

Under these conditions Lawrence and the first lieutenant were mortally
wounded, the former falling by a musket-ball through his body; but he
had already given orders to have the boarders called, seeing that the
ship must drift foul of the enemy (5). The chaplain, who in the
boarding behaved courageously, meeting Broke in person with a
pistol-shot, and receiving a cutlass wound in return, was standing
close by the captain at this instant. He afterwards testified that as
Lawrence cried "Boarders away", the crews of the carronades ran
forward; which corresponds to Broke's report that, seeing the enemy
flinching from their guns, he then gave the order for boarding. This
may have been, indeed, merely the instinctive impulse which drives
disorganized men to seek escape from a fire which they cannot return;
but if Cooper is correct in saying that it was the practice of that
day to keep the boarders' weapons, not by their side, but on the
quarter-deck or at the masts, it may also have been that this
division, which had so far stuck to its guns while being raked, now,
at the captain's call, ran from them to get the side-arms. At the
Court of Inquiry it was in evidence that these men were unarmed; and
one of them, a petty officer, stated that he had defended himself with
the monkey tail of his gun. Whatever the cause, although there was
fighting to prevent the "Chesapeake" from being lashed to the
"Shannon", no combined resistance was offered abaft the mainmast.
There the marines made a stand, but were overpowered and driven
forward. The negro bugler of the ship, who should have echoed
Lawrence's summons, was too frightened to sound a note, and the voices
of the aids, who shouted the message to the gun deck, were imperfectly
heard; but, above all, leaders were wanting. There was not on the
upper deck an officer above the grade of midshipman; captain, first
lieutenant, master, marine officer, and even the boatswain, had been
mortally wounded before the ships touched. The second lieutenant was
in charge of the first gun division, at the far end of the deck below,
as yet ignorant how the fight was going, and that the fate of his
superiors had put him in command. Of the remaining lieutenants, also
stationed on the gun deck, the fourth had been mortally wounded by the
first broadside; while the third, who had heard the shout for
boarders, committed the indiscretion, ruinous to his professional
reputation, of accompanying those who, at the moment the ships came
together, were carrying below the wounded captain.

   _Drawn by Henry Reuterdahl._]

Before the new commanding officer could get to the spar deck, the
ships were in contact. According to the report of Captain Broke, the
most competent surviving eye-witness, the mizzen channels of the
"Chesapeake" locked in the fore-rigging of the "Shannon." "I went
forward," he continues, "to ascertain her position, and observing that
the enemy were flinching from their guns, I gave orders to prepare for
boarding." When the "Chesapeake's" second lieutenant reached the
forecastle, the British were in possession of the after part of the
ship, and of the principal hatchways by which the boarders of the
after divisions could come up. He directed the foresail set, to shoot
the ship clear, to prevent thus a re-enforcement to the enemy already
on board; and he rallied a few men, but was himself soon wounded and
thrown below. In brief, the fall of their officers and the position of
the ship, in irons and being raked, had thrown the crew into the
confusion attendant upon all sudden disaster. From this state only the
rallying cry of a well-known voice and example can rescue men. "The
enemy," reported Broke, "made a desperate but disorderly resistance."
The desperation of brave men is the temper which at times may retrieve
such conditions, but it must be guided and fashioned by a master
spirit into something better than disorder, if it is to be effective.
Disorder at any stage of a battle is incipient defeat; supervening
upon the enemy's gaining a commanding position it commonly means
defeat consummated.

Fifteen minutes elapsed from the discharge of the first gun of the
"Shannon" to the "Chesapeake's" colors being hauled down. This was
done by the enemy, her own crew having been driven forward. In that
brief interval twenty-six British were killed and fifty-six wounded;
of the Americans forty-eight were killed and ninety-nine wounded. In
proportion to the number on board each ship when the action began, the
"Shannon" lost in men 24 per cent; the "Chesapeake" 46 per cent, or
practically double.

Although a certain amount of national exultation or mortification
attends victory or defeat in an international contest, from a yacht
race to a frigate action, there is no question of national credit in
the result where initial inequality is great, as in such combats as
that of the "Chesapeake" and "Shannon," or the "Constitution" and
"Guerrière." It is possible for an officer to command a ship for seven
years, as Broke had, and fail to make of her the admirable pattern of
all that a ship of war should be, which he accomplished with the
"Shannon"; but no captain can in four weeks make a thoroughly
efficient crew out of a crowd of men newly assembled, and never out of
harbor together. The question at issue is not national, but personal;
it is the credit of Captain Lawrence. That it was inexpedient to take
the "Chesapeake" into action at all at that moment does not admit of
dispute; though much allowance must be made for a gallant spirit,
still in the early prime of life, and chafing under the thought that,
should he get to sea by successful evasion, he would be open to the
taunt, freely used by Broke,[136] of dodging, "eluding," an enemy only
his equal in material force.

Having, however, undertaken a risk which cannot be justified, was
Captain Lawrence also reckless, and vainly confident, in his conduct
before and during the action? Was he foolhardy, or only rash? The
reply, if favorable, is due to one of the most gallant and attractive
personalities in the annals of the United States Navy.

   _From the painting by Gilbert Stuart in the possession of the New
   Jersey Historical Society, Newark, N.J._]

From his action it is evident that Lawrence clearly recognized that a
green crew can be more quickly formed to efficiency at the battery
than to that familiarity with the rigging and the sails, and that
habit of working together about decks, on which manoeuvring power
depends. He therefore chose an artillery duel, surrendering even the
opportunity of raking permitted him by Broke, who awaited his approach
without an attempt at molestation. How far was his expectation as to
the results overstrained? The American crew lost double in proportion
to their enemy; but it did not fail to inflict a very severe
punishment, and it must be added under a very considerable
disadvantage, which there has been a tendency recently to
underestimate. The loss of the head sails, and all that followed, is
part of the fortune of war; of that unforeseeable, which great leaders
admit may derange even the surest calculations. It is not, therefore,
to be complained of, but it is nevertheless to receive due account in
the scales of praise and blame; for the man who will run no risks of
accidents accomplishes nothing.

In the preceding narrative, and in the following analysis, the account
of the British naval writer James is in essentials adopted; chiefly
because, of all historians having contemporary sources of information,
he has been at most pains to insure precision.[137] As told by him,
the engagement divides into three stages. First, the combat side to
side; second, the period during which the "Chesapeake" lay in the wind
being raked; third, the boarding and taking possession. To these James
assigns, as times: for the first, six minutes; for the second, four;
for the third, five; this last being again subdivisible into a space
of two minutes, during which the "Chesapeake" was being lashed to her
opponent, and the actual fighting on her decks, which Broke states did
not exceed three.

The brief and disorderly, though desperate, resistance to boarding
proves that the "Chesapeake" was already beaten by the cannonade,
which lasted, as above, ten minutes. During only six of these,
accepting James' times, was she on equal gunnery terms. During four
tenths--nearly one half--of the gunnery contest she was at a great
disadvantage. The necessity of manoeuvring, which Lawrence tried to
avoid, was forced upon him; and the ship's company, or her
circumstances, proved unequal to meeting it. Nevertheless, though
little more than half the time on equal terms of position with her
opponent, half her own loss was inflicted upon him. How great her
subsequent disadvantage is best stated in the words of James, whom no
one will accuse of making points in favor of Americans. "At 5.56,
having had her jib-sheet and foretopsail tie shot away, and her helm,
probably from the death of the men stationed at it, being at the
moment unattended to, the 'Chesapeake' came so sharp to the wind as
completely to deaden her way." How extreme this deviation from her
course is shown by the impression made on Broke. "As the manoeuvres of
the 'Chesapeake' indicated an intention to haul away, Captain Broke
ordered the helm to be put a-lee, as the 'Shannon' had fallen off a
little." The "Chesapeake's" way being deadened, "the ship lay with
her stern and quarter exposed to her opponent's broadside. The shot
from the 'Shannon's' aftermost guns now took a diagonal direction
_along_[138] the decks of the 'Chesapeake,' beating in her stern
ports, and sweeping the men from their quarters. The shot from the
'Shannon's' foremost guns, at the same time, entering the
'Chesapeake's' ports from the mainmast aft, did considerable
execution." This describes a semi-raking fire, which lasted four
minutes, from 5.56 to 6 P.M., when the ships came together.

The manner of collision and the injuries received bear out the above
account. The quarter of the "Chesapeake" came against the side of the
"Shannon," the angle at the moment, as represented in James' diagram,
being such as to make it impossible that any of the "Chesapeake's"
guns, save one or two of the after ones, could then bear; and as she
was already paying off, they had been in worse position before. "She
was severely battered in the hull, on the larboard quarter
particularly; and several shot entered the stern windows.... Her three
lower masts were badly wounded, the main and mizzen especially. The
bowsprit received no injury." All these details show that the sum
total of the "Shannon's" fire was directed most effectively upon the
after part of the ship, in the manner described by James; and coupled
with the fact that the British first broadside, always reckoned the
most deadly, would naturally take effect chiefly on the fore part of
the "Chesapeake," as she advanced from the "Shannon's" stern to her
bow,[139] we are justified in the inference that the worst of her
loss was suffered after accident had taken her movements out of
Lawrence's instant control. Under these circumstances it may be
claimed for him that the artillery duel, to which he sought to confine
the battle, was not so entirely a desperate chance as has been

It may therefore be said that, having resolved upon a risk which
cannot be justified at the bar of dispassionate professional judgment,
Captain Lawrence did not commit the further unpardonable error of not
maturely weighing and judiciously choosing his course. That the crew
was not organized and exercised at the guns, as far as his time and
opportunity permitted, is disproved by incidental mention in the
courts martial that followed, as well as by the execution done. Within
ten minutes at the utmost, within six of equal terms, the
"Chesapeake," an 18-pounder frigate, killed and wounded of the
"Shannon's" ship's company as many as the "Constitution" with her 24's
did of the "Guerrière's" in over twenty;[140] and the "Constitution"
not only was a much heavier ship than her opponent, but had been six
weeks almost continuously at sea. When her crew had been together four
months longer, the loss inflicted by her upon the "Java," in a contest
spread over two hours, did not greatly exceed in proportion that
suffered by the "Shannon"; and the circumstances of that engagement,
being largely manoeuvring, justified Lawrence's decision, under his
circumstances, to have none of it. His reliance upon the marksmanship
of his men is further vindicated by Broke's report that neither vessel
suffered much aloft. The American and best British tradition of firing
low was sustained by both ships. Finally, although the organization of
the "Chesapeake" was not matured sufficiently to hold the people
together, without leaders, after a tremendous punishment by the
enemy's battery, and in the face of well-trained and rapidly supported
boarders, it had so far progressed in cohesion that they did not
flinch from their guns through a severe raking fire. What further
shows this is that the boatswain of the "Shannon," lashing the ships
together in preparation for boarding, was mortally wounded, not by
musketry only but by sabre. When thus attacked he doubtless was
supported by a body of fighters as well as a gang of workers. In fact,
Broke was himself close by.

Under thus much of preparation, certainly not sufficient, Lawrence
chose for action a smooth sea, a royal breeze, an artillery duel, and
a close range. "No manoeuvring, but downright fighting," as Nelson
said of his most critical battle; critical, just because his
opponents, though raw tyros compared to his own crews, had nothing to
do but to work their guns. The American captain took the most
promising method open to him for achieving success, and carried into
the fight a ship's company which was not so untrained but that, had
some luck favored him, instead of going the other way, there was a
fighting chance of victory. More cannot be claimed for him. He had no
right, under the conditions, voluntarily to seek the odds against him,
established by Broke's seven years of faithful and skilful command.
Except in material force, the "Chesapeake" was a ship much inferior to
the "Shannon," as a regiment newly enlisted is to one that has seen
service; and the moment things went seriously wrong she could not
retrieve herself. This her captain must have known; and to the
accusation of his country and his service that he brought upon them a
mortification which endures to this day, the only reply is that he
died "sword in hand." This covers the error of the dead, but cannot
justify the example to the living.

As is customary in such cases, a Court of Inquiry was ordered to
investigate the defeat of the "Chesapeake," and sat from February 2 to
February 8, 1814. Little can be gleaned from the evidence concerning
the manoeuvring of the ship; the only two commissioned officers
surviving, having been stationed on the gun deck, could not see what
passed above. Incidental statements by midshipmen examined confirm
substantially the account above given. One mentions the particular
that, when the head sheets were shot away, "the bow of the 'Shannon'
was abreast of the 'Chesapeake's' midships, and she came into the
wind;" he adds that the mizzen-topsail was a-back, as well as the
main. This is the only important contribution to the determination of
the relative positions and handling of the vessels. As far as it goes,
it confirms a general impression that Lawrence's eagerness prevented
his making due allowance for the way of the "Chesapeake," causing him
to overshoot his aim; an error of judgment, which the accidents to the
headsails converted into irretrievable disaster. The general testimony
agrees that the crew, though dissatisfied at non-receipt of pay and
prize money, behaved well until the moment of boarding. Four
witnesses, all officers, stated as of their own observation that the
"Shannon" received several shot between wind and water, and used her
pumps continuously on the way to Halifax. Budd, the second lieutenant,
"was informed by an officer of the 'Shannon' that she was in a sinking
condition." "The 'Chesapeake' was not injured below her quarters,
except by one or two shot." "The 'Chesapeake' made no water; but the
'Shannon' had hands at the pumps continually." A good deal of pumping
in a ship seven years in commission did not necessarily indicate
injuries in action; Midshipman Curtis, however, who was transferred to
the "Shannon," testified that "the British officers were encouraging
the men by cheering to work at the pumps," which looks more serious.
The purser of the "Chesapeake" swore that she had shot plugs at the
water-line, and that "her sailing master said she had three shot holes
below." The repetition of remarks made by the "Shannon's" officers is
of course only hearsay testimony; but as regards the shots below the
water-line,--as distinguished from the general body of the ship,--this
on the one hand shows that the "Shannon" had her share of bad luck,
for in the smoke of the battle this result is not attributable to nice
precision of aiming. On the other hand it strongly re-enforces the
proof of the excellent marksmanship of the American frigate, deducible
from the killed and wounded of her opponent, and it confirms the
inference that her own disproportionate loss was at least partly due
to the raking fire and her simultaneous disability to reply. Upon the
whole, the conclusion to the writer is clear that, while Lawrence
should not have courted action, the condition of the "Chesapeake" as a
fighting ship was far better than has commonly been supposed. It may
be added that an irresponsible contemporary statement, that his
"orders were peremptory," is disproved by the Department's letter,
which forms part of the Court's record. He was to "proceed to sea as
soon as weather, and the force and position of the enemy, will admit."
Even a successful action must be expected to compel return to port,
preventing his proceeding; and there is an obvious difference between
fighting an enemy when met, and going out especially to fight him. The
orders were discretional.

Whether, by paying attention to favoring conditions, Captain Lawrence
could have repeated the success of Commodore Rodgers in gaining the
sea a month before, must remain uncertain. The "Constitution," under
Captain Stewart, a seaman of very excellent reputation, was unable to
do so, until the winter gales made it impossible for the blockaders to
maintain an uninterrupted watch off Boston. The sailing of the
"President" and "Congress" was the last successful effort for many
months; and the capture of the "Chesapeake" was the first of several
incidents illustrating how complete was the iron-barring of the coast,
against all but small vessels.

Commodore Decatur, having found it impossible to get out from New York
by the Sandy Hook route, undertook that by Long Island Sound. Passing
through Hell Gate, May 24, with his little squadron,--the "United
States," the "Macedonian," her late prize, and the sloop of war
"Hornet,"--he was on the 26th off Fisher's Island, abreast of New
London. Here he remained until June 1, obtaining various information
concerning the enemy, but only certain that there was at least a ship
of the line and a frigate in the neighborhood. On the last named day,
that of the fight between the "Chesapeake" and the "Shannon," the wind
serving, and the two enemy's vessels being far to the southwest of
Montauk Point, at the east end of Long Island, the squadron put to sea
together; but on approaching Block Island, which was close to their
course, two more enemy's cruisers loomed up to the eastward. The
hostile groups manoeuvred severally to get between the Americans and
their ports of refuge, New London in the one quarter, Newport in the
other. In plain sight of this overwhelming force Decatur feared the
results of trying to slip out to sea, and therefore beat back to New
London.[141] The enemy followed, and, having now this division
securely housed, instituted a close blockade. It was apprehended even
that they might endeavor to take it by main force, the defences of the
place being weak; but, as is commonly the case, the dangers of an
attack upon land batteries were sufficient to deter the ships from an
attempt, the object of which could be attained with equal certainty by
means less hazardous, if less immediate.

The upshot was that the two frigates remained there blockaded to the
end of the war; dependent for their safety, in Decatur's opinion,
rather upon the difficulty of the channel than upon the strength of
the fortifications. "Fort Trumbull, the only work here mounted or
garrisoned, was in the most unprepared state, and only one or two
cannon were to be had in the neighborhood for any temporary work which
should be erected. I immediately directed all my exertions to
strengthening the defences. Groton Heights has been hastily prepared
for the reception of a few large guns, and they will be mounted
immediately.... I think the place might be made impregnable; but the
hostile force on our coast is so great that, were the enemy to exert a
large portion of his means in an attack here, I do not feel certain he
could be resisted successfully with the present defences."[142] On
December 6 he reported that the squadron was moored across the channel
and under Groton Heights, which had been fortified; while in the mouth
of the harbor, three gunshots distant, was anchored a British
division, consisting of one ship of the line, a frigate, and two
smaller vessels. Two other ships of the line and several frigates were
cruising in the open, between the east end of Long Island and Gay
Head. This state of affairs lasted throughout the winter, during which
the ships were kept in a state of expectancy, awaiting a possible
opportunity; but, when the return of spring found the hope
unfulfilled, it was plainly idle to look to the summer to afford what
winter had denied. The frigates were lightened over a three-fathom
bar, and thence, in April, 1814, removed up the Thames fourteen miles,
as far as the depth of water would permit. Being there wholly out of
reach of the enemy's heavy vessels, they were dismantled, and left to
the protection of the shore batteries and the "Hornet," retained for
that purpose. Decatur was transferred to the "President," then at New
York, taking with him his ship's company; while the crew of the
"Macedonian" was sent to the lakes. The enemy's vessels then off New
London were three seventy-fours, four frigates, and three sloops.

This accumulation of force, to watch Decatur's two frigates and the
"President," which during October and November was lying at Bristol,
Rhode Island, testified to the anxiety of the British Government to
restrain or capture the larger American cruisers. Their individual
power was such that it was unwilling to expose to attack by them the
vessels, nominally of the same class, but actually much inferior,
which were ranging all seas to protect British commerce. That this
should suffer, and in some considerable degree, from the operations of
well-developed privateering enterprise, pursued by a maritime people
debarred from every other form of maritime activity, was to be
expected, and must be endured; but the frigates carried with them the
further menace, not indeed of serious injury to the colossal naval
power of Great Britain, but of mortification for defeats, which,
however reasonably to be accounted for by preponderance of force, are
not patiently accepted by a nation accustomed to regard itself as
invincible. There are few things more wearing than explaining adverse
results; and the moral effect of so satisfactory a reply as the
victory of the "Shannon" might well have weighed with an American
captain, not to risk prestige already gained, by seeking action when
conscious of deficient preparation. The clamor aroused in Great
Britain by the three rapidly succeeding captures of the "Guerrière,"
"Macedonian," and "Java," was ample justification of the American
policy of securing superior force in single cruisers, throughout their
several classes; a policy entirely consistent with all sound military
principle. It should be remembered, however, that a cruiser is
intended generally to act singly, and depends upon herself alone for
that preponderance of strength which military effort usually seeks by
concentration of numbers. The advantage of great individual power,
therefore, does not apply so unqualifiedly to the components of
fleets, the superiority of which depends upon the mutual support of
its members, by efficient combination of movement, as well as upon
their separate power.

Both the Government and people of Great Britain expected with some
confidence, from the large fleet placed under Sir John Warren, the
utter destruction of the frigates and of the American navy generally.
"We were in hopes, ere this," said a naval periodical in June, 1813,
"to have announced the capture of the American navy; and, as our
commander-in-chief on that station has sufficient force to effect so
desirable an object, we trust, before another month elapses, to lay
before our readers what we conceive ought long since to have
happened."[143] The words of the Admiralty were more measured, as
responsible utterances are prone to be; but their tenor was the same.
Expressing to Warren disappointment with the results so far obtained,
they added: "It is of the highest importance to the _character_ and
interests of the country that the naval force of the enemy should be
quickly and completely disposed of. Their Lordships therefore have
thought themselves justified at this moment in withdrawing ships from
other important services, for the purpose of placing under your
command a force with which you cannot fail to bring the naval war to a
termination, either by the capture of the American national vessels,
or by strictly blockading them in their own waters."[144] This
expectancy doubtless weighed with Broke; and probably also prompted a
challenge sent to Decatur's squadron to meet two British frigates,
under pledge of fair play, and of safe return if victorious. In the
latter case they at least would be badly injured; so in either event
the blockaders would be relieved of much of their burden.

The presence of several American frigates, blockaded close to the
point where Narragansett Bay and Long Island Sound meet, constituted a
great inconvenience to all that region, by attracting thither so many
enemy's cruisers. To a coasting trade--then so singularly
important--projecting headlands, or capes, are the places of greatest
exposure; in this resembling the danger entailed by salients in all
military lines, in fortification or in the field. Traffic between New
England and New York, general and local, had derived a further impetus
from the fact that Newport, not being included in the commercial
blockade, could still receive external supplies by neutral vessels.
Intercourse depended largely on these waters; and it was to them a
grave misfortune that there were no United States frigates left in New
York to divert the enemy's attention. The vexations entailed were
forcibly presented by the Governor of Connecticut.[145] "The British
force stationed in our waters having occasioned great inquietude along
the whole of our maritime frontier, every precaution consistent with
due regard to the general safety has been adopted for its
protection.... In our present state of preparedness, it is believed a
descent upon our coast will not be attempted; a well-grounded hope is
entertained that it will be attended with little success.
Unfortunately, we have not the means of rendering our navigation
equally secure. Serious depredations have been committed even in our
harbors, and to such an extent that the usual communication through
the Sound is almost wholly interrupted. Thus, while anxiously engaged
in protecting our public ships [Decatur's], we are doomed to witness
the unrestrained capture of our private vessels, and the consequent
suspension of commercial pursuits." As "the disapprobation of the war
by the people of Connecticut had been publicly declared through the
proper organs shortly after hostilities commenced,"[146] it may be
supposed the conditions described, accompanied by continual alarms
withdrawing the militiaman from his shop or his harvest, to repel
petty invasion, did not tend to conciliate opinion. An officer of the
Connecticut militia wrote in December, "Our engagements with the enemy
have become so frequent that it would be in vain to attempt a
particular statement of each."[147]

Similar conditions prevailed along the entire seaboard, from Maine to
Georgia; being of course greatest where inland navigation with wide
entrances, like Long Island Sound, had given particular development to
the coasting trade, and at the same time afforded to pursuers
particular immunity from ordinary dangers of the sea. Incidental
confirmation of the closeness of the hostile pressure is afforded by
Bainbridge's report of the brig "Siren's" arrival at Boston, June 11,
1813, from New Orleans. "Although at sea between thirty and forty
days, and great time along our blockaded coast, she did not see one
enemy's cruiser."[148] The cause is evident. The Chesapeake and
Delaware were blockaded from within. Ships watching New York and Long
Island Sound would be far inside the course of one destined to Boston
from the southward. From Hatteras to the Florida line the enemy's
vessels, mostly of small class, kept in summer well inside the line
from cape to cape, harassing even the water traffic behind the
sea-islands; while at Boston, her port of arrival, the "Siren" was
favored by Broke's procedure. In his eagerness to secure action with
the "Chesapeake," he had detached his consort, the "Tenedos," with
orders not to rejoin until June 14. Under cover of her absence, and
the "Shannon's" return to Halifax with her prize, the "Siren" slipped
into a harbor wholly relieved of the enemy's presence. With such
conditions, a voyage along the coast could well be outside the British
line of cruising.

Owing to the difficulty of the New York entrance, except with good
pilotage, and to the absence thence of ships of war after Decatur's
departure, that port ceased to present any features of naval activity;
except as connected with the lake squadrons, which depended upon it
for supplies of all kinds. The blockade of the Sound affected its
domestic trade; and after May its external commerce shared the
inconveniences of the commercial blockade, then applied to it, and
made at least technically effective. What this pressure in the end
became is shown by a casual mention a year later, under the heading
"progress of luxury. A private stock of wine brought the average
'extraordinary' price of twenty-five dollars the gallon; while at the
same period one auction lot of prize goods, comprising three decanters
and twelve tumblers, sold for one hundred and twelve dollars."[149]
The arrival in August, 1813, of a vessel in distress, which, like the
"Siren," had passed along the whole Southern coast without seeing a
hostile cruiser, would seem to show some lapse of watchfulness; but,
although there were the occasional evasions which attend all
blockades, the general fact of neutrals turned away was established. A
flotilla of a dozen gunboats was kept in commission in the bay, but
under an officer not of the regular navy. As might readily have been
foreseen from conditions, and from experience elsewhere, the national
gunboat experiment had abundantly shown that vessels of that class
were not only excessively costly in expenditure, and lamentably
inefficient in results, as compared with seagoing cruisers, but were
also deleterious to the professional character of officers and
seamen. Two years before the war Captain Campbell, then in command
both at Charleston and Savannah, had commented on the unofficer-like
neglect noticeable in the gunboats, and Gordon now reported the same
effect upon the crew of the "Constellation," while thus detached for
harbor defence.[150] The Secretary of the Navy, affirming the general
observation, remarked that officers having knowledge of their business
were averse to gunboat duty, while those who had it yet to acquire
were unwilling, because there it could not be learned. "It is a
service in which those who are to form the officers for the ships of
war ought not to be employed."[151] He therefore had recommended the
commissioning of volunteer officers for this work. This local New York
harbor guard at times convoyed coasters in the Sound, and at times
interfered, both in that quarter and off Sandy Hook, to prevent small
cruisers or boats of the enemy from effecting seizures of vessels,
close in shore or run on the beach. Such military action possesses a
certain minor value, diminishing in some measure the grand total of
loss; but it is not capable of modifying seriously the broad results
of a strong commercial blockade.

The Delaware and the Chesapeake--the latter particularly--became the
principal scenes of active operations by the British navy. Here in the
early part of the summer there seems to have been a formed determination
on the part of Sir John Warren to satisfy his Government and people by
evidence of military exertion in various quarters. Rear Admiral George
Cockburn, an officer of distinction and energy, had been ordered at the
end of 1812 from the Cadiz station, with four ships of the line and
several smaller cruisers, to re-enforce Warren. This strong detachment,
a token at once of the relaxing demand upon the British navy in Europe,
and of the increasing purpose of the British Government towards the
United States, joined the commander-in-chief at Bermuda, and accompanied
him to the Chesapeake in March. Cockburn became second in command. Early
in April the fleet began moving up the bay; an opening incident, already
mentioned,[152] being the successful attack by its boats upon several
letters-of-marque and privateers in the Rappahannock upon the 3d of the
month. Some of the schooners there captured were converted into tenders,
useful for penetrating the numerous waterways which intersected the
country in every direction.

The fleet, comprising several ships of the line, besides numerous
smaller vessels, continued slowly upwards, taking time to land parties
in many quarters, keeping the country in perpetual alarm. The
multiplicity and diverseness of its operations, the particular object
of which could at no moment be foreseen, made it impossible to combine
resistance. The harassment was necessarily extreme, and the sustained
suspense wearing; for, with reports continually arriving, now from one
shore and now from the other, each neighborhood thought itself the
next to be attacked. Defence depended wholly upon militia, hastily
assembled, with whom local considerations are necessarily predominant.
But while thus spreading consternation on either side, diverting
attention from his main objective, the purpose of the British admiral
was clear to his own mind. It was "to cut off the enemy's supplies,
and destroy their foundries, stores, and public works, by penetrating
the rivers at the head of the Chesapeake."


On April 16 an advanced division arrived off the mouth of the
Patapsco, a dozen miles from Baltimore. There others successively
joined, until the whole force was reported on the 22d to be three
seventy-fours, with several frigates and smaller vessels, making a
total of fifteen. The body of the fleet remained stationary, causing
the city a strong anticipation of attack; an impression conducing to
retain there troops which, under a reasonable reliance upon adequate
fortifications, might have been transferred to the probable scene of
operations, sufficiently indicated by its intrinsic importance. Warren
now constituted a light squadron of two frigates, with a half-dozen
smaller vessels, including some of those recently captured. These he
placed in charge of Cockburn and despatched to the head of the bay. In
addition to the usual crews there went about four hundred of the naval
brigade, consisting of marines and seamen in nearly equal numbers.
This, with a handful of army artillerists, was the entire force. With
these Cockburn went first up the Elk River, where Washington thirty
years before had taken shipping on his way to the siege of Yorktown.
At Frenchtown, notwithstanding a six-gun battery lately erected, a
landing was effected on April 29, and a quantity of flour and army
equipments were destroyed, together with five bay schooners. Many
cattle were likewise seized; Cockburn, in this and other instances,
offering to pay in British government bills, provided no resistance
was attempted in the neighborhood. From Frenchtown he went round to
the Susquehanna, to obtain more cattle from an island, just below
Havre de Grace; but being there confronted on May 2 by an American
flag, hoisted over a battery at the town, he proceeded to attack the
following day. A nominal resistance was made; but as the British loss,
here and at Frenchtown, was one wounded on each occasion, no great
cause for pride was left with the defenders. Holding the inhabitants
responsible for the opposition in their neighborhood, he determined to
punish the town. Some houses were burned. The guns of the battery were
then embarked; and during this process Cockburn himself, with a small
party, marched three or four miles north of the place to a cannon
foundry, where he destroyed the guns and material found, together with
the buildings and machinery.

"Our small division," he reported to Warren, "has been during the
whole of this day on shore, in the centre of the enemy's country, and
on his high road between Baltimore and Philadelphia." The feat
testified rather to the military imbecility of the United States
Government during the last decade than to any signal valor or
enterprise on the part of the invaders. Enough and to spare of both
there doubtless was among them; for the expedition was of a kind
continuously familiar to the British navy during the past twenty
years, under far greater difficulty, in many parts of the world.
Seeing the trifling force engaged, the mortification to Americans must
be that no greater demand was made upon it for the display of its
military virtues. Besides the destruction already mentioned, a
division of boats went up the Susquehanna, destroyed five vessels and
more flour; after which, "everything being completed to my utmost
wishes, the division embarked and returned to the ships, after being
twenty-two hours in constant exertion." From thence Cockburn went
round to the Sassafras River, where a similar series of small injuries
was inflicted, and two villages, Georgetown and Frederickstown, were
destroyed, in consequence of local resistance offered, by which five
British were wounded. Assurance coming from several quarters that no
further armed opposition would be made, and as there was "now neither
public property, vessels, nor warlike stores remaining in the
neighborhood," the expedition returned down the bay, May 7, and
regained the fleet.[153]

The history of the Delaware and its waters during this period was
very much the same as that of the Chesapeake; except that, the water
system of the lower bay being less extensive and practicable, and the
river above narrower, there was not the scope for general marauding,
nor the facility for systematic destruction, which constituted the
peculiar exposure of the Chesapeake and gave Cockburn his opportunity.
Neither was there the same shelter from the sweep of the ocean, nor
any naval establishment to draw attention. For these reasons, the
Chesapeake naturally attracted much more active operations; and
Virginia, which formed so large a part of its coast-line, was the home
of the President. She was also the leading member of the group of
states which, in the internal contests of American politics, was
generally thought to represent hatred to Great Britain and attachment
to France. In both bays the American Government maintained flotillas
of gunboats and small schooners, together with--in the Delaware at
least--a certain number of great rowing barges, or galleys; but,
although creditable energy was displayed, it is impossible to detect
that, even in waters which might be thought suited to their particular
qualities, these small craft exerted any substantial influence upon
the movements of the enemy. Their principal effect appears to have
been to excite among the inhabitants a certain amount of unreasonable
expectation, followed inevitably by similar unreasoning complaint.

It is probable, however, that they to some extent restricted the
movements of small foraging parties beyond the near range of their
ships; and they served also the purpose of watching and reporting the
dispositions of the British fleet. When it returned downwards from
Cockburn's expedition, it was followed by a division of these schooners
and gunboats, under Captain Charles Gordon of the navy, who remained
cruising for nearly a month below the Potomac, constantly sighting the
enemy, but without an opportunity offering for a blow to be struck
under conditions favorable to either party. "The position taken by the
enemy's ships," reported Gordon, "together with the constant protection
given their small cruisers, particularly in the night, rendered any
offensive operations on our part impracticable."[154] In the Delaware,
a British corvette, running upon a shoal with a falling tide, was
attacked in this situation by a division of ten gunboats which was at
hand. Such conditions were unusually favorable to them, and, though a
frigate was within plain sight, she could not get within range on
account of the shoalness of water; yet the two hours' action which
followed did no serious injury to the grounded ship. Meantime one of
the gunboats drifted from its position, and was swept by the tide out
of supporting distance from its fellows. The frigate and sloop then
manned boats, seven in number, pulled towards her, and despite a plucky
resistance carried her; their largely superior numbers easily climbing
on board her low-lying deck. Although the record of gunboats in all
parts of the world is mostly unfruitful, some surprise cannot but be
felt at the immunity experienced by a vessel aground under such

On May 13 Captain Stewart of the "Constellation" reported from Norfolk
that the enemy's fleet had returned down the bay; fifteen sail being
at anchor in a line stretching from Cape Henry to near Hampton Roads.
Little had yet been done by the authorities to remedy the defenceless
condition of the port, which he had deplored in his letter of March
17; and he apprehended a speedy attack either upon Hampton, on the
north shore of the James River, important as commanding communications
between Norfolk and the country above, or upon Craney Island,
covering the entrance to the Elizabeth River, through the narrow
channel of which the navy yard must be approached. There was a party
now at work throwing up a battery on the island, on which five hundred
troops were stationed, but he feared these preparations were begun too
late. He had assigned seven gunboats to assist the defence. It was
clear to his mind that, if Norfolk was their object, active operations
would begin at one of these approaches, and not immediately about the
place itself. Meanwhile, he would await developments, and postpone his
departure to Boston, whither he had been ordered to command the

Much to Stewart's surprise, considering the force of the enemy, which
he, as a seaman, could estimate accurately and compare with what he
knew to be the conditions confronting them, most of the British fleet
soon after put to sea with the commander-in-chief, leaving Cockburn
with one seventy-four and four frigates to hold the bay. This apparent
abandonment, or at best concession of further time to Craney Island,
aroused in him contempt as well as wonder. He had commented a month
before on their extremely circumspect management; "they act
cautiously, and never separate so far from one another that they
cannot in the course of a few hours give to each other support, by
dropping down or running up, as the wind or tide serve."[156] Such
precaution, however, was not out of place when confronted with the
presence of gunboats capable of utilizing calms and local conditions.
To avoid exposure to useless injury is not to pass the bounds of
military prudence. It was another matter to have brought so large a
force, and to depart with no greater results than those of Frenchtown
and Havre de Grace. "They do not appear disposed to put anything to
risk, or to make an attack where they are likely to meet with
opposition. Their conduct while in these waters has been highly
disgraceful to their arms, and evinces the respect and dread they have
for their opponents."[157] He added a circumstance which throws
further light upon the well-known discontent of the British crews and
their deterioration in quality, under a prolonged war and the
confinement attending the impressment system. "Their loss in prisoners
and deserters has been very considerable; the latter are coming up to
Norfolk almost daily, and their naked bodies are frequently fished up
on the bay shore, where they must have been drowned in attempting to
swim. They all give the same account of the dissatisfaction of their
crews, and their detestation of the service they are engaged in."[158]
Deserters, however, usually have tales acceptable to those to whom
they come.

Whether Warren was judicious in postponing attack may be doubted, but
he had not lost sight of the Admiralty's hint about American frigates.
There were just two in the waters of the Chesapeake; the
"Constellation," 36, at Norfolk, and the "Adams," 24, Captain Charles
Morris, in the Potomac. The British admiral had been notified that a
division of troops would be sent to Bermuda, to be under his command
for operations on shore, and he was now gone to fetch them. Early in
June he returned, bringing these soldiers, two thousand six hundred
and fifty in number.[159] From his Gazette letters he evidently had in
view the capture of Norfolk with the "Constellation"; for when he
designates Hampton and Craney Island as points of attack, it is
because of their relations to Norfolk.[160] This justified the
forecast of Stewart, who had now departed; the command of the
"Constellation" devolving soon after upon Captain Gordon. In
connection with the military detachment intrusted to Warren, the
Admiralty, while declining to give particular directions as to its
employment, wrote him: "Against a maritime country like America, the
chief towns and establishments of which are situated upon navigable
rivers, a force of the kind under your orders must necessarily be
peculiarly formidable.... In the choice of objects of attack, it will
naturally occur to you that on every account any attempt which should
have the effect of crippling the enemy's naval force should have a
preference."[161] Except for the accidental presence of Decatur's
frigates in New London, as yet scarcely known to the British
commander-in-chief, Norfolk, more than any other place, met this
prescription of his Government. His next movements, therefore, may be
considered as resulting directly from his instructions.

The first occurrence was a somewhat prolonged engagement between a
division of fifteen gunboats and the frigate "Junon," which, having
been sent to destroy vessels at the mouth of the James River, was
caught becalmed and alone in the upper part of Hampton Roads; no other
British vessel being nearer than three miles. The cannonade continued
for three quarters of an hour, when a breeze springing up brought two
of her consorts to the "Junon's" aid. The gunboats, incapable of close
action with a single frigate in a working breeze, necessarily now
retreated. They had suffered but slightly, one killed and two wounded;
but retired with the confidence, always found in the accounts of such
affairs, that they had inflicted great damage upon the enemy. The
commander of a United States revenue cutter, lately captured, who was
on board the frigate at the time, brought back word subsequently that
she had lost one man killed and two or three wounded.[162] The British
official reports do not allude to the affair. As regards positive
results, however, it may be affirmed with considerable assurance that
the military value of gunboats in their day, as a measure of coast
defence, was not what they effected, but the caution imposed upon the
enemy by the apprehension of what they might effect, did this or that
combination of circumstances occur. That the circumstances actually
almost never arose detracted little from this moral influence. The
making to one's self a picture of possible consequences is a powerful
factor in most military operations; and the gunboat is not without its
representative to-day in the sphere of imaginative warfare.

The "Junon" business was a casual episode. Warren was already
preparing for his attack on Craney Island. This little strip of
ground, a half-mile long by two hundred yards across, lies within easy
gunshot to the west of the Elizabeth River, a narrow channel-way,
three hundred yards from edge to edge, which from Hampton Roads leads
due south, through extensive flats, to Norfolk and Portsmouth. The
navy yard is four miles above the island, on the west side of the
river, the banks of which there have risen above the water. Up to and
beyond Craney Island the river-bed proper, though fairly clear, is
submerged and hidden amid the surrounding expanse of shoal water. Good
pilotage, therefore, is necessary, and incidental thereto the
reduction beforehand of an enemy's positions commanding the approach.
Of these Craney Island was the first. From it the flats which
constitute the under-water banks of the Elizabeth extend north towards
Hampton Roads, for a distance of two miles, and are not traversable by
vessels powerful enough to act against batteries. For nearly half a
mile the depth is less than four feet, while the sand immediately
round the island was bare when the tide was out.[163] Attack here was
possible only by boats armed with light cannon and carrying troops. On
the west the island was separated from the mainland by a narrow strip
of water, fordable by infantry at low tide. It was therefore
determined to make a double assault,--one on the north, by fifteen
boats, carrying, besides their crews, five hundred soldiers; the other
on the west, by a division eight hundred strong,[164] to be landed
four miles away, at the mouth of the Nansemond River. The garrison of
the island numbered five hundred and eighty, and one hundred and fifty
seamen were landed from the "Constellation" to man one of the
principal batteries.

The British plan labored under the difficulty that opposite conditions
of tide were desirable for the two parties which were to act in
concert. The front attack demanded high water, in order that under the
impulse of the oars the boats might get as near as possible before
they took the ground, whence the advance to the assault must be by
wading. The flanking movement required low water, to facilitate
passing the ford. Between the two, the hour was fixed for an ebbing
tide, probably to allow for delays, and to assure the arrival of the
infantry so as to profit by the least depth. At 11 A.M. of June 22 the
boat division arrived off the northwest point of the island, opposite
the battery manned by the seamen, in that day notoriously among the
best of artillerists. A difference of opinion as to the propriety of
advancing at all here showed itself among the senior naval officers;
for there will always be among seamen a dislike to operating over
unknown ground with a falling tide. The captain in command, however,
overruled hesitations; doubtless feeling that in a combined movement
the particular interest of one division must yield to the
requirements of mutual support. A spirited forward dash was therefore
made; but the guiding boat, sixty yards ahead of the others, grounded
a hundred yards from the battery. One or two others, disregarding her
signal, shared her mishap; and two were sunk by the American fire.
Under these circumstances a seaman, sounding with a boat hook,
declared that he found along side three or four feet of slimy mud.
This was considered decisive, and the attack was abandoned.

The shore division had already retreated, having encountered
obstacles, the precise character of which is not stated. Warren's
report simply said, "In consequence of the representation of the
officer commanding the troops, of the difficulty of their passing over
from the land, I considered that the persevering in the attempt would
cost more men than the number with us would permit, as the other forts
must have been stormed before the frigate and dockyard could be
destroyed." The enterprise was therefore abandoned at the threshold,
because of probable ulterior difficulties, the degree of which it
would require to-day unprofitable labor even to conjecture; but
reduced as the affair in its upshot was to an abortive demonstration,
followed by no serious effort, it probably was not reckoned at home to
have fulfilled the Admiralty's injunctions, that the character as well
as the interest of the country required certain results. The loss was
trifling,--three killed, sixteen wounded, sixty-two missing.[165]

Having relinquished his purpose against Craney Island, and with it,
apparently, all serious thought of the navy yard and the
"Constellation", Warren next turned his attention to Hampton. On the
early morning of June 26 two thousand troops were landed to take
possession of the place, which they did with slight resistance. Three
stand of colors were captured and seven field guns, with their
equipment and ammunition. The defences of the town were destroyed; but
as no further use was made of the advantage gained, the affair
amounted to nothing more than an illustration on a larger scale of the
guerilla depredation carried on on all sides of the Chesapeake. With
it ended Warren's attempts against Norfolk. His force may have been
really inadequate to more; certainly it was far smaller than was
despatched to the same quarter the following year; but the Admiralty
probably was satisfied by this time that he had not the enterprise
necessary for his position, and a successor was appointed during the
following winter.

For two months longer the British fleet as a whole remained in the
bay, engaged in desultory operations, which had at least the effect of
greatly increasing their local knowledge, and in so far facilitating
the more serious undertakings of the next season. The Chesapeake was
not so much blockaded as occupied. On June 29 Captain Cassin of the
navy yard reported that six sail of the line, with four frigates, were
at the mouth of the Elizabeth, and that the day before a squadron of
thirteen--frigates, brigs, and schooners--had gone ten miles up the
James, causing the inhabitants of Smithfield and the surroundings to
fly from their homes, terrified by the transactions at Hampton. The
lighter vessels continued some distance farther towards Richmond. A
renewal of the attack was naturally expected; but on July 11 the fleet
quitted Hampton Roads, and again ascended the Chesapeake, leaving a
division of ten sail in Lynnhaven Bay, under Cape Henry. Two days
later the main body entered the Potomac, in which, as has before been
mentioned, was the frigate "Adams"; but she lay above the Narrows, out
of reach of such efforts as Warren was willing to risk. He went as
high as Blakiston Island, twenty-five to thirty miles from the river's
mouth, and from there Cockburn, with a couple of frigates and two
smaller vessels, tried to get beyond the Kettle Bottom Shoals, an
intricate bit of navigation ten miles higher up, but still below the
Narrows.[166] Two of his detachment, however, took the ground; and the
enterprise of approaching Washington by this route was for that time
abandoned. A year afterwards it was accomplished by Captain Gordon, of
the British Navy, who carried two frigates and a division of bomb
vessels as far as Alexandria.

Two United States gunboats, "The Scorpion" and "Asp", lying in
Yeocomico River, a shallow tributary of the Potomac ten miles from the
Chesapeake, were surprised there July 14 by the entrance of the enemy.
Getting under way hastily, the "Scorpion" succeeded in reaching the
main stream and retreating up it; but the "Asp", being a bad sailer,
and the wind contrary, had to go back. She was pursued by boats; and
although an attack by three was beaten off, she was subsequently
carried when they were re-enforced to five. Her commander, Midshipman
Sigourney, was killed, and of the twenty-one in her crew nine were
either killed or wounded. The assailants were considerably superior in
numbers, as they need to be in such undertakings. They lost eight.
This was the second United States vessel thus captured in the
Chesapeake this year; the revenue cutter "Surveyor" having been taken
in York River, by the boats of the frigate "Narcissus", on the night
of June 12. In the latter instance, the sword of the commander, who
survived, was returned to him the next day by the captor, with a
letter testifying "an admiration on the part of your opponents, such
as I have seldom witnessed, for your gallant and desperate attempt to
defend your vessel against more than double your numbers."[167]
Trivial in themselves as these affairs were, it is satisfactory to
notice that in both the honor of the flag was upheld with a spirit
which is worth even more than victory. Sigourney had before received
the commendation of Captain Morris, no mean judge of an officer's

The British fleet left the Potomac July 21, and went on up the bay,
spreading alarm on every side. Morris, with a body of seamen and
marines, was ordered from the "Adams" to Annapolis, the capital of
Maryland, on the River Severn, to command the defences. These he
reported, on August 13, to be in the "miserable condition"
characteristic of all the national preparations to meet hostilities.
With a view to entering, the enemy was sounding the bar, an operation
which frequently must be carried on beyond protection by ships' guns;
"but we have no floating force to molest them." The bulk of the fleet
was above the Severn, as were both admirals, and Morris found their
movements "contradictory, as usual."[168] As many as twenty sail had
at one time been visible from the state-house dome in the city. On
August 8, fifteen, three of which were seventy-fours, were counted
from North Point, at the mouth of the Patapsco, on which Baltimore
lies. Kent Island, on the eastern shore of the bay abreast Annapolis,
was taken possession of, and occupied for some days. At the same
period attacks were reported in other quarters on that side of the
Chesapeake, as elsewhere in the extensive basin penetrated by its
tributaries. The prosecution of these various enterprises was attended
with the usual amount of scuffling encounter, which associates itself
naturally with coastwise warfare of a guerilla character. The fortune
of war inclined now to one side, now to the other, in the particular
cases; but in the general there could be no doubt as to which party
was getting the worst, undergoing besides almost all the suffering and
quite all the harassment. This is the necessary penalty of the
defensive, when inadequate.

Throughout most of this summer of conflict there went on, singularly
enough, a certain amount of trade by licensed vessels, neutral and
American, which passed down Chesapeake Bay and went to sea. Doubtless
the aggregate amount of traffic thus maintained was inconsiderable, as
compared with normal conditions, but its allowance by either party to
the war is noticeable,--by the British, because of the blockade
declared by them; by the Americans, because of the evident
inexpediency of permitting to depart vessels having full knowledge of
conditions, and almost certain to be boarded by the enemy. Sailing
from blockaded ports is of course promoted in most instances by the
nation blockaded, for it is in support of trade; and with the sea
close at hand, although there is risk, there is also chance of safe
passage through a belt of danger, relatively narrow and entered at
will. The case is quite different where a hazardous navigation of
sixty to a hundred miles, increasing in intricacy at its further end,
and lined throughout with enemy's cruisers, interposes before the sea
is reached. The difficulty here is demonstrated by the fact that the
"Adams," a ship by no means large or exceptionally fettered by
navigational difficulties, under a young captain burning to exercise
his first command in war, waited four months, even after the bulk of
the enemy's fleet had gone, before she was able to get through; and
finally did so only under such conditions of weather as caused her to
miss her way and strike bottom.

The motive of the British for collusion is clear. The Chesapeake was
the heart of the wheat and flour production of the United States, and
while some provision had been made for meeting the wants of the West
Indies, and of the armies in Canada and Spain, by refraining from
commercial blockade of Boston and other eastern ports, these
necessary food supplies reached those places only after an expensive
transport which materially increased their price; the more as they
were carried by land to the point of exportation, it not suiting the
British policy to connive at coasting trade even for that purpose. A
neutral or licensed vessel, sailing from the Chesapeake with flour for
a port friendly to the United States, could be seized under cover of
the commercial blockade, which she was violating, sent to Halifax, and
condemned for her technical offence. The cargo then was available for
transport whither required, the whole transaction being covered by a
veil of legality; but it is plain that the risks to a merchant, in
attempting _bonâ fide_ to run a blockade like that of Chesapeake Bay,
exceeded too far any probable gain to have been undertaken without
some assurance of compensation, which did not appear on the surface.

Taken in connection with intelligence obtained by this means, the
British motive is apparent; but why did the United States
administration tolerate procedures which betrayed its counsels, and
directly helped to sustain the enemy's war? Something perhaps is due
to executive weakness in a government constituted by popular vote;
more, probably, at least during the period when immediate military
danger did not threaten, to a wish to frustrate the particular
advantage reaped by New England, through its exemption from the
restrictions of the commercial blockade. When breadstuffs were pouring
out of the country through the coast-line of a section which gloried
in its opposition to the war,[169] and lost no opportunity to renew
the declaration of its disapproval and its criticism of the
Government, it was at least natural, perhaps even expedient, to wink
at proceedings which transferred elsewhere some of the profits, and
did not materially increase the advantage of the enemy. But
circumstances became very different when a fleet appeared in the bay,
the numbers and action of which showed a determination to carry
hostile operations wherever conditions permitted. Then, betrayal of
such conditions by passing vessels became an unbearable evil; and at
the same time the Administration had forced upon its attention the
unpleasant but notorious fact that, by the active complicity of many
of its own citizens, not only the flour trade continued, but the wants
of the blockading squadrons along the coast were being supplied.
Neutrals, real or pretended, and coasting vessels, assuming a lawful
destination, took on board cattle, fresh vegetables, and other stores
acceptable to ships confined to salt provisions, and either went
direct to enemy's ports or were captured by collusion. News was
received of contracts made by the British admiral at Bermuda for fresh
beef to be supplied from American ports, by American dealers, in
American vessels; while Halifax teemed with similar transactions,
without serious attempt at concealment.

Such aid and comfort to an enemy is by no means unexampled in the
history of war, particularly where one of the belligerents is shrewdly
commercial; but it is scarcely too much to say that it attained
unusual proportions at this time in the United States, and was
countenanced by a public opinion which was more than tolerant,
particularly in New England, where the attitude of the majority
towards the Government approached hostility. As a manifestation of
contemporary national character, of unwillingness to subordinate
personal gain to public welfare, to loyalty to country, it was
pitiable and shameful, particularly as it affected large communities;
but its instructive significance at this time is the evidence it
gives that forty years of confederation, nearly twenty-five being of
the closer union under the present Constitution, had not yet welded
the people into a whole, or created a consciousness truly national.
The capacity for patriotism was there, and readiness to suffer for
patriotic cause had been demonstrated by the War of Independence; but
the mass of Americans had not yet risen sufficiently above local
traditions and interests to discern clearly the noble ideal of
national unity, and vagueness of apprehension resulted inevitably in
lukewarmness of sentiment. This condition goes far to palliate actions
which it cannot excuse; the reproach of helping the enemies of one's
country is somewhat less when the nation itself has scarcely emerged
to recognition, as it afterwards did under the inspiring watchword,
"The Union."

The necessity to control these conditions of clandestine intercourse
found official expression in a message of the President to Congress,
July 20, 1813,[170] recommending "an immediate and effectual
prohibition of all exports" for a limited time; subject to removal by
executive order, in case the commercial blockade were raised. A
summary of the conditions above related was given, as a cause for
action. The President's further comment revealed the continuity of
thought and policy which dictated his recommendation, and connected
the proposed measure with the old series of commercial restrictions,
associated with his occupancy of the State Department under
Jefferson's administration. "The system of the enemy, combining with
the blockade of our ports special licenses to neutral vessels, and
insidious discrimination between different ports of the United States,
if not counteracted, will have the effect of diminishing very
materially the pressure of the war on the enemy, and encourage
perseverance in it, and at the same time will leave the general
commerce of the United States under all the pressure the enemy can
impose, thus subjecting the whole to British regulation, in
subserviency to British monopoly."

The House passed a bill meeting the President's suggestions, but it
was rejected by the Senate on July 28. The Executive then fell back on
its own war powers; and on July 29 the Secretary of the Navy, by
direction of the President, issued a general order to all naval
officers in command, calling attention to "the palpable and criminal
intercourse held with the enemy's forces blockading and invading the
waters of the United States." "This intercourse," he explicitly added,
"is not only carried on by foreigners, under the specious garb of
friendly flags, who convey provisions, water, and succors of all kinds
(ostensibly destined for friendly ports, in the face, too, of a
declared and rigorous blockade),[171] direct to the fleets and
stations of the enemy, with constant intelligence of our naval and
military force and preparation, ... but the same traffic, intercourse,
and intelligence is carried on with great subtlety and treachery by
profligate citizens, who, in vessels ostensibly navigating our own
waters, from port to port [coasters], find means to convey succors or
intelligence to the enemy, and elude the penalty of law."[172]
Officers were therefore instructed to arrest all vessels, the
movements or situation of which indicated an intention to effect any
of the purposes indicated.

A similar order was issued, August 5, by the War Department to army
officers.[173] In accordance with his instructions, Captain Morris of
the "Adams," on July 29 or 30, stopped the ship "Monsoon," from
Alexandria. Her agent wrote a correspondent in Boston that, when the
bill failed in the Senate, he had had no doubt of her being allowed
to proceed, "but the Secretary and Mr. Madison have made a sort of
embargo, or directed the stoppage of vessels."[174] He added that
another brig was lying in the river ready loaded, but held by the same
order. Morris's indorsement on the ship's papers shows the
barefacedness of the transaction. "Whereas the within-mentioned ship
'Monsoon' is laden with flour, and _must_ pass within the control of
the enemy's squadron now within, and blockading Chesapeake Bay, if she
be allowed to proceed on her intended voyage, and as the enemy might
derive from her such intelligence and succor as would be serviceable
to themselves and injurious to the United States, I forbid her
proceeding while the enemy shall be so disposed as to prevent a
reasonable possibility of her getting to sea without falling into
their possession."[175] At this writing the British had left the
Potomac itself, and the most of them were above. A week later, at
Charleston, a ship called the "Caroline" was visited by a United
States naval officer, and found with a license from Cockburn to carry
a cargo, free from molestation by British cruisers.[176] "With flour
at Lisbon $13 per barrel, _no sale_, and at Halifax $20, _in demand_,"
queries a Baltimore paper of the day, "where would all the vessels
that would in a few days have been off from Alexandria have gone, if
the 'Monsoon' had not been stopped? They would have been _captured_
and sent to Halifax."[177]

Morris's action was in accordance with the Secretary's order, and went
no further than to stop a voyage which, in view of the existing
proclaimed blockade, and of the great British force at hand, bore
collusion on its face. The President's request for legislation, which
Congress had denied, went much further. It was a recurrence, and the
last, to the policy of commercial retaliation, fostered by himself and
Jefferson in preference to armed resistance. By such measures in peace,
and as far as commercial prosperity was concerned, they had opened the
nation's veins without vindicating its self-respect. The military value
of food supplies to the enemy in Canada and on the coast, however,
could not be contested; and during the recess of Congress it received
emphasis by a Canadian embargo upon the export of grain. Hence, at the
next session the President's recommendation of July was given
attention, and there was passed almost immediately--December 17,
1813,--a sweeping embargo law, applicable not only to external commerce
but to coasters. As this ended the long series of commercial
restrictions, so was it also of limited duration as compared with them,
being withdrawn the following April.

By the Act of December 17, as interpreted by the Treasury, foreign
merchant vessels might depart with cargoes already laden, except
provisions and military stores, which must be relanded; but nothing
could be shipped that was not already on board when the Act was
received. Coasters, even for accustomed voyages, could obtain
clearances only by permission from the President; and the rules for
such permission, given through the collectors, were extremely
stringent. In no case were the vessels permitted to leave interior
waters, proceeding from one sound or bay to another, and be "at sea"
for even a short distance; nor were they to be permitted to carry any
provisions, or supplies useful to an enemy, if there was the slightest
chance of their falling into his power. It would appear that the
orders of July 29 had been allowed to lapse after the great body of
the British left the Chesapeake; for Morris, still in the Potomac,
acknowledging the receipt of this Act on December 20, writes: "There
are several vessels below us in the river with flour. I have issued
orders to the gunboats to detain them, and as soon as the wind will
permit, shall proceed with this ship, to give all possible effect to
the Act." Six days afterwards, having gone down as he intended, he
found the British anchored off the mouth of the stream, at a point
where the bay is little more than five miles wide. "Two American brigs
passed down before us, and I have every reason to believe threw
themselves into the enemy's hands last Wednesday."[178]

On September 6 the principal part of the British fleet quitted
Chesapeake Bay for the season; leaving behind a ship of the line with
some smaller vessels, to enforce the blockade. Viewed as a military
campaign, to sustain the character as well as the interests of the
country, its operations cannot be regarded as successful. With
overwhelming numbers, and signally favored by the quiet inland waters
with extensive ramifications which characterized the scene of war, the
results, though on a more extensive scale, differed nothing in kind
from the harassment inflicted all along the coast from Maine to
Georgia, by the squadrons cruising outside. Ample demonstration was
indeed afforded, there as elsewhere, of the steady, remorseless,
far-reaching effect of a predominant sea power; and is confirmed
explicitly by an incidental remark of the Russian minister at
Washington writing to Warren, April 4, 1813, concerning an armistice,
in connection with the abortive Russian proffer of mediation.[179]
Even at this early period, "It would be almost impossible to establish
an armistice, without raising the blockade, since the latter does them
more harm than all the hostilities."[180] But in direct military
execution the expedition had undoubtedly fallen far short of its
opportunity, afforded by the wretchedly unprepared state of the region
against which it had been sent. Whether the fault lay with the
commander-in-chief, or with the Admiralty for insufficient means given
him, is needless here to inquire. The squadron remaining through the
winter perpetuated the isolation of Norfolk from the upper bay, and
barred the "Constellation" and "Adams" from the sea. Ammunition and
stores had to be brought by slow and unwieldly transportation from the
Potomac across country, and it was not till January 18, 1814, that the
"Adams" got away. Two attempts of the "Constellation" a month later
were frustrated.

The principal two British divisions, the action of which has so far
been considered, the one blockading the Chesapeake, the other watching
Decatur's squadron in New London, marked the extremities of what may
be considered the central section of the enemy's coastwise operations
upon the Atlantic. Although the commercial shipping of the United
States belonged largely to New England, much the greater part of the
exports came from the district thus closed to the world; and within it
also, after the sailing of the "President" and "Congress" from Boston,
and the capture of the "Chesapeake", lay in 1813 all the bigger
vessels of the navy, save the "Constitution".

In the conditions presented to the enemy, the sections of the
coast-line south of Virginia, and north of Cape Cod, differed in some
important respects from the central division, and from each other.
There was in them no extensive estuary wide open to the sea,
resembling Chesapeake and Delaware bays, and Long Island Sound,
accessible to vessels of all sizes; features which naturally
determined upon these points the chief effort of a maritime enemy,
enabling him readily to paralyze the whole system of intercourse
depending upon them, domestic as well as foreign. The southern waters
abounded indeed in internal coastwise communications; not consecutive
throughout, but continuous for long reaches along the shores of North
and South Carolina and Georgia. These, however, were narrow, and not
easily approached. Behind the sea islands, which inclose this
navigation, small craft can make their voyages sheltered from the
perils of the sea, and protected in great measure from attack other
than by boats or very light cruisers; to which, moreover, some local
knowledge was necessary, for crossing the bars, or threading the
channels connecting sound with sound. Into these inside basins empty
numerous navigable rivers, which promoted intercourse, and also
furnished lines of retreat from danger coming from the sea. Coupled
with these conditions was the fact that the United States had in these
quarters no naval establishment, and no naval vessels of force.
Defence was intrusted wholly to gunboats, with three or four armed
schooners of somewhat larger tonnage. American offensive operation,
confined here as elsewhere to commerce destroying, depended entirely
on privateers. Into these ports, where there were no public facilities
for repair, not even a national sloop of war entered until 1814 was
well advanced.

Prior to the war, one third of the domestic export of the United
States had issued from this southern section; and in the harassed year
1813 this ratio increased. The aggregate for the whole country was
reduced by one half from that of 1811, and amounted to little more
than one fourth of the prosperous times preceding Jefferson's embargo
of 1808, with its vexatious progeny of restrictive measures; but the
proportion of the South increased. The same was observable in the
Middle states, containing the great centres of New York, Philadelphia,
and Baltimore. There a ratio to the total, of a little under fifty per
cent, rose to something above that figure. The relative diminution,
corresponding to the increases just noted, fell upon New England, and
is interesting because of what it indicates. Before the war the export
of domestic produce from the eastern ports was twenty per cent of the
national total; in 1813 it fell to ten per cent. When the domestic
export is taken in conjunction with the re-exportation of foreign
products, the loss of New England is still more striking. From
twenty-five per cent of the whole national export, domestic and
foreign, she now fell to ten per cent of the diminished total. When it
is remembered that throughout 1813 the Eastern ports alone were open
to neutral ships, no commercial blockade of them having yet been
instituted, these results are the more noticeable.

The general explanation is that the industries of the United States at
that time divided into two principal classes,--agricultural and
maritime; the former of which supplied the material for commerce,
while the latter furnished transportation for whatever surplus of
production remained for export. Manufactures sufficed only for home
demands, being yet in a state of infancy; forced, in fact, upon an
unwilling New England by the policy of commercial restriction which
drove her ships off the sea. Domestic products for export therefore
meant almost wholly the yield of the fields, the forests, and the
fisheries. The latter belonged to New England, but they fell with the
war. Her soil did not supply grain enough to feed her people; and her
domestic exports, therefore, were reduced to shipments of wheat and
flour conveyed to her by inland transportation from the more fertile,
but blockaded, regions to the southward. Despite the great demand for
provisions in Halifax and the St. Lawrence region, and the facility
for egress by sea, through the absence of blockade, the slowness and
cost of land carriage brought forward an insufficient supply, and laid
a heavy charge upon the transaction; while the license system of the
British, modifying this condition of things to their own advantage, by
facilitating exports from the Chesapeake, certainly did operate, as
the President's message said, to regulate American commerce in
conformity with British interests.

The re-exportation of foreign produce had once played a very large
part in the foreign trade of New England. This item consisted chiefly
in West India commodities; and although, owing to several causes, it
fell off very much in the years between 1805 and 1811, it had remained
still considerable. It was, however, particularly obnoxious to British
interests, as then understood by British statesmen and people; and
since it depended entirely upon American ships,--for it was not to the
interest of a neutral to bring sugar and coffee to an American port
merely to carry it away again,--it disappeared entirely when the
outbreak of war rendered all American merchant vessels liable to
capture. In fact, as far as the United States was concerned, although
this re-exportation appeared among commercial returns, it was not an
interest of commerce, accurately so called, but of navigation, of
carrying trade. It had to do with ships, not with cargoes; its gain
was that of the wagoner. Still, the loss by the idleness of the ships,
due to the war, may be measured in terms of the cargoes. In 1805 New
England re-exported foreign products to the amount of $15,621,484; in
1811, $5,944,121; in 1813, no more than $302,781. It remains to add
that, as can be readily understood, all export, whether of foreign or
domestic produce, was chiefly by neutrals, which were not liable to
capture so long as there was no blockade proclaimed. From December 1
to 24, 1813, forty-four vessels cleared from Boston for abroad, of
which five only were Americans.[181]

Under the very reduced amount of their commercial movement, the
tonnage of the Middle and Southern states was more than adequate to
their local necessities; and they now had no need of the aid which in
conditions of normal prosperity they received from the Eastern
shipping. The latter, therefore, having lost its usual local
occupation, and also the office it had filled towards the other
sections of the Union, was either left idle or turned perforce to
privateering. September 7, 1813, there were in Boston harbor
ninety-one ships, two barks, one hundred and nine brigs, and
forty-three schooners; total, two hundred and forty-five, besides
coasters. The accumulation shows the lack of employment. December 15,
two hundred square-rigged vessels were laid up in Boston alone.[182]
Insurance on American vessels was stated to be fifty per cent.[183]

Whether tonnage to any large amount was transferred to a neutral flag,
as afterwards so much American shipping was during the Civil War, I
have not ascertained. It was roundly intimated that neutral flags were
used to cover the illicit intercourse with the enemy before mentioned;
but whether by regular transfer or by fraudulent papers does not
appear. An officer of the frigate "Congress," in her unprofitable
voyage just mentioned, says that after parting with the "President,"
she fell in with a few licensed Americans and a great number of
Spaniards and Portuguese.[184] The flags of these two nations, and of
Sweden, certainly abounded to an abnormal extent, and did much of the
traffic from America; but it seems unlikely that there was at that
particular epoch any national commerce, other than British, at once
large enough, and sufficiently deficient in shipping of its own, to
absorb any great number of Americans. In truth, the commerce of the
world had lost pretty much all its American component, because this,
through a variety of causes, had come to consist chiefly of domestic
agricultural products, which were thrown back upon the nation's hands,
and required no carriers; the enemy having closed the gates against
them, except so far as suited his own purposes. The disappearance of
American merchant ships from the high seas corresponded to the void
occasioned by the blockade of American staples of commerce. The only
serious abatement from this generalization arises from the British
system of licenses, permitting the egress of certain articles useful
to themselves.

The results from the conditions above analyzed are reflected in the
returns of commerce, in the movements of American coasters, and in the
consequent dispositions of the enemy. In the Treasury year ending
September 30, 1813, the value of the total exports from the Eastern
states was $3,049,022; from the Middle section, $17,513,930; from the
South, $7,293,043. Virginia is here reckoned with the Middle, because
her exports found their way out by the Chesapeake; and this
appreciation is commercial and military in character, not political or
social. While this was the state of foreign trade under war
conditions, the effect of local circumstances upon coasting is also to
be noticed. The Middle section, characterized by the great estuaries,
and by the description of its products,--grain primarily, and secondly
tobacco,--was relatively self-sufficing and compact. Its growth of
food, as has been seen, was far in excess of its wants, and the
distance by land between the extreme centres of distribution, from
tide-water to tide-water, was comparatively short. From New York to
Baltimore by road is but four fifths as far as from New York to
Boston; and at New York and Baltimore, as at Boston, water
communication was again reached for the great lines of distribution
from either centre. In fact, traffic from New York southward needed to
go no farther than Elk River, forty miles short of Baltimore, to be in
touch with the whole Chesapeake system. Philadelphia lies half-way
between New York and Baltimore, approximately a hundred miles from

The extremes of the Middle section of the country were thus
comparatively independent of coastwise traffic for mutual intercourse,
and the character of their coasts co-operated to reduce the
disposition to employ coasters in war. From the Chesapeake to Sandy
Hook the shore-line sweeps out to sea, is safely approachable by
hostile navigators, and has for refuge no harbors of consequence,
except the Delaware. The local needs of the little communities along
the beaches might foster a creeping stream of very small craft, for
local supply; but as a highway, for intercourse on a large scale, the
sea here was too exposed for use, when taken in connection with the
facility for transport by land, which was not only short but with
comparatively good roads.

In war, as in other troublous times, prices are subject to complicated
causes of fluctuation, not always separable. Two great staples, flour
and sugar, however, may be taken to indicate with some certainty the
effects of impeded water transport. From a table of prices current, of
August, 1813, it appears that at Baltimore, in the centre of the wheat
export, flour was $6.00 per barrel; in Philadelphia, $7.50; in New
York, $8.50; in Boston, $11.87. At Richmond, equally well placed with
Baltimore as regarded supplies, but with inferior communications for
disposing of its surplus, the price was $4.00. Removing from the grain
centre in the other direction, flour at Charleston is reported at
$8.00--about the same as New York; at Wilmington, North Carolina,
$10.25. Not impossibly, river transportation had in these last some
cheapening effect, not readily ascertainable now. In sugar, the scale
is seen to ascend in an inverse direction. At Boston, unblockaded, it
is quoted at $18.75 the hundredweight, itself not a low rate; at New
York, blockaded, $21.50; at Philadelphia, with a longer journey,
$22.50; at Baltimore, $26.50; at Savannah, $20. In the last named
place, nearness to the Florida line, with the inland navigation,
favored smuggling and safe transportation. The price at New Orleans, a
sugar-producing district, $9.00, affords a standard by which to
measure the cost of carriage at that time. Flour in the same city, on
February 1, 1813, was $25 the barrel.

In both articles the jump between Boston and New York suggests
forcibly the harassment of the coasting trade. It manifests either
diminution of supply, or the effect of more expensive conveyance by
land; possibly both. The case of the southern seaboard cities was
similar to that of Boston; for it will not be overlooked that, as the
more important food products came from the middle of the country, they
would be equally available for each extreme. The South was the more
remote, but this was compensated in some degree by better internal
water communications; and its demand also was less, for the white
population was smaller and less wealthy than that of New England. The
local product, rice, also went far to supply deficiencies in other
grains. In the matter of manufactured goods, however, the disadvantage
of the South was greater. These had to find their way there from the
farther extreme of the land; for the development of manufactures had
been much the most marked in the east. It has before been quoted that
some wagons loaded with dry goods were forty-six days in accomplishing
the journey from Philadelphia to Georgetown, South Carolina, in May of
this year. Some relief in these articles reached the South by
smuggling across the Florida line, and the Spanish waters opposite St.
Mary's were at this time thronged with merchant shipping to an
unprecedented extent; for although smuggling was continual, in peace
as in war, across a river frontier of a hundred miles, the stringent
demand consequent upon the interruption of coastwise traffic provoked
an increased supply. "The trade to Amelia,"--the northernmost of the
Spanish sea-islands,--reported the United States naval officer at St.
Mary's towards the end of the war, "is immense. Upwards of fifty
square-rigged vessels are now in that port under Swedish, Russian,
and Spanish colors, two thirds of which are considered British
property."[185] It was the old story of the Continental and License
systems of the Napoleonic struggle, re-enacted in America; and, as
always, the inhabitants on both sides the line co-operated heartily in
beating the law.

The two great food staples chosen sufficiently indicate general
conditions as regards communications from centre to centre. Upon this
supervened the more extensive and intricate problem of distribution
from the centres. This more especially imparted to the Eastern and
Southern coasts the particular characteristics of coasting trade and
coast warfare, in which they differ from the Middle states. These form
the burden of the letters from the naval captains commanding the
stations at Charleston, Savannah, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire; nor
is it without significance that Bainbridge at Boston, not a way port,
but a centre, displayed noticeably less anxiety than the others about
this question, which less touched his own command. Captain Hull, now
commanding the Portsmouth Yard, writes, June 14, 1813, that light
cruisers like the "Siren," lately arrived at Boston, and the
"Enterprise," then with him, can be very useful by driving away the
enemy's small vessels and privateers which have been molesting the
coasting trade. He purposes to order them eastward, along the Maine
coast, to collect coasters in convoy and protect their long-shore
voyages, after the British fashion on the high seas. "The coasting
trade here," he adds, "is immense. Not less than fifty sail last night
anchored in this harbor, bound to Boston and other points south. The
'Nautilus' [a captured United States brig] has been seen from this
harbor every week for some time past, and several other enemy's
vessels are on the coast every few days." An American privateer has
just come in, bringing with her as a prize one of her own class,
called the "Liverpool Packet," which "within six months has taken from
us property to an immense amount."[186]

Ten days later Hull's prospects have darkened. There has appeared off
Portsmouth a blockading division; a frigate, a sloop, and two brigs.
"When our two vessels were first ordered to this station, I believed
they would be very useful in protecting the coasting trade; but the
enemy's cruisers are now so much stronger that we can hardly promise
security to the trade, if we undertake to convoy it." On the contrary,
the brigs themselves would be greatly hazarded, and resistance to
attack, if supported by the neighborhood, may entail destruction upon
ports where they have taken refuge; a thought possibly suggested by
Cockburn's action at Havre de Grace and Frenchtown. He therefore now
proposes that they should run the blockade and cruise at sea. This
course was eventually adopted; but for the moment the Secretary wrote
that, while he perceived the propriety of Hull's remarks, "the call
for protection on that coast has been very loud, and having sent those
vessels for that special purpose, I do not now incline immediately to
remove them."[187] It was necessary to bend to a popular clamor, which
in this case did not, as it very frequently does, make unreasonable
demands and contravene all considerations of military wisdom. A month
later Hull reports the blockade so strict that it is impossible to get
out by day. The commander of the "Enterprise," Johnston Blakely,
expresses astonishment that the enemy should employ so large a force
to blockade so small a vessel.[188] It was, however, no matter for
surprise, but purely a question of business. The possibilities of
injury by the "Enterprise" must be blasted at any cost, and Blakely
himself a year later, in the "Wasp," was to illustrate forcibly what
one smart ship can effect in the destruction of hostile commerce and
hostile cruisers.

Blakely's letter was dated July 31. The "Enterprise" had not long to
wait for her opportunity, but it did not fall to his lot to utilize
it. Being promoted the following month, he was relieved in command by
Lieutenant William Burrows. This officer had been absent in China, in
mercantile employment, when the war broke out, and, returning, was
captured at sea. Exchanged in June, 1813, he was ordered to the
"Enterprise," in which he saw his only service in the war,--a brief
month. She left Portsmouth September 1, on a coasting cruise, and on
the morning of the 5th, being then off Monhegan Island, on the coast
of Maine, sighted a vessel of war, which proved to be the British brig
"Boxer," Commander Samuel Blyth.

The antagonists in the approaching combat were nearly of equal force,
the respective armaments being, "Enterprise," fourteen 18-pounder
carronades, and two long 9-pounders, the "Boxer," twelve 18-pounder
carronades and two long sixes. The action began side by side, at half
pistol-shot, the "Enterprise" to the right and to windward (position
1). After fifteen minutes the latter ranged ahead (2). As she did so,
one of her 9-pounders, which by the forethought of Captain Burrows had
been shifted from its place in the bow to the stern,[189] was used
with effect to rake her opponent. She then rounded-to on the starboard
tack, on the port-bow of the enemy,--ahead but well to the left
(3),--in position to rake with her carronades; and, setting the
foresail, sailed slowly across from left to right. In five minutes the
"Boxer's" maintopmast and foretopsailyard fell. This left the
"Enterprise" the mastery of the situation, which she continued to hold
until ten minutes later, when the enemy's fire ceased. Her colors
could not be hauled down, Blyth having nailed them to the mast. He
himself had been killed at the first broadside, and almost at the same
instant Burrows too fell, mortally wounded.

   [Illustration: Diagram of the Enterprise vs. Boxer battle]

The "Boxer" belonged to a class of vessel, the gun brigs, which
Marryat through one of his characters styled "bathing machines," only
not built, as the legitimate article, to go up, but to go down.
Another,--the immortal Boatswain Chucks,--proclaimed that they would
"certainly d--n their inventor to all eternity;" adding
characteristically, that "their low common names, 'Pincher,'
'Thrasher,' 'Boxer,' 'Badger,' and all that sort, are quite good
enough for them." In the United States service the "Enterprise," which
had been altered from a schooner to a brig, was considered a
singularly dull sailer. As determined by American measurements, taken
four days after the action, the size of the two was the same within
twenty tons; the "Boxer" a little the larger. The superiority of the
"Enterprise" in broadside force, was eight guns to seven; or, stated
in weight of projectiles, one hundred and thirty-five pounds to one
hundred and fourteen. This disparity, though real, was in no sense
decisive, and the execution done by each bore no comparison to the
respective armaments. The hull of the "Boxer" was pierced on the
starboard side by twelve 18-pound shot, nearly two for each of the
"Enterprise's" carronades. The 9-pounder had done even better, scoring
five hits. On her port side had entered six of 18 pounds, and four of
9 pounds. By the official report of an inspection, made upon her
arrival in Portland, it appears that her upper works and sides forward
were torn to pieces.[190] In her mainmast alone were three 18-pound
shot.[191] As a set-off to this principal damage received, she had to
show only one 18-pound shot in the hull of the "Enterprise," one in
the foremast, and one in the mainmast.[192]

From these returns, the American loss in killed and wounded, twelve,
must have been largely by grapeshot or musketry. The British had
twenty-one men hurt. It has been said that this difference in loss is
nearly proportionate to the difference in force. This is obviously
inexact; for the "Enterprise" was superior in gun power by twelve per
cent, while the "Boxer's" loss was greater by seventy-five per cent.
Moreover, if the statement of crews be accurate, that the "Enterprise"
had one hundred and twenty and the "Boxer" only sixty-six,[193] it is
clear that the latter had double the human target, and scored little
more than half the hits. The contest, in brief, was first an artillery
duel, side to side, followed by a raking position obtained by the
American. It therefore reproduced in leading features, although on a
minute scale, the affair between the "Chesapeake" and "Shannon"; and
the exultation of the American populace at this rehabilitation of the
credit of their navy, though exaggerated in impression, was in
principle sound. The British Court Martial found that the defeat was
"to be attributed to a superiority of the enemy's force, principally
in the number of men, as well as to a greater degree of skill in the
direction of her fire, and the destructive effects of her first
broadside."[194] This admission as to the enemy's gunnery is
substantially identical with the claim made for that of the
"Shannon,"--notably as to the first broadside. As to the greater
numbers, one hundred and twenty is certainly almost twice sixty-six,
and the circumstance should be weighed; but in an engagement confined
to the guns, and between 18-pounder carronade batteries, it is of less
consequence than at first glance appears. A cruiser of those days
expected to be ready to fight with many men away in prizes. Had it
come to boarding, or had the "Boxer's" gunnery been good, disabling
her opponent's men, the numbers would have become of consideration. As
it was, they told for something, but not for very much.

If national credit were at issue in every single-ship action, the
balance of the "Chesapeake" and "Shannon," "Enterprise" and "Boxer,"
would incline rather to the American side; for the "Boxer" was not
just out of port with new commander, officers, and crew, but had been
in commission six months, had in that time crossed the ocean, and been
employed along the coast. The credit and discredit in both cases is
personal, not national. It was the sadder in Blyth's case because he
was an officer of distinguished courage and activity, who had begun
his fighting career at the age of eleven, when he was on board a
heavily battered ship in Lord Howe's battle of June 1, 1794. At
thirty, with little influence, and at a period when promotion had
become comparatively sluggish, he had fairly fought his way to the
modest preferment in which he died. Under the restricted opportunities
of the United States Navy, Burrows had seen service, and his qualities
received recognition, in the hostilities with Tripoli. The unusual
circumstance of both captains falling, and so young,--Burrows was but
twenty-eight,--imparted to this tiny combat an unusual pathos, which
was somewhat heightened by the fact that Blyth himself had acted as
pall-bearer when Lawrence, three months before, was buried with
military honors at Halifax. In Portland, Maine, the two young
commanders were borne to their graves together, in a common funeral,
with all the observance possible in a small coast town; business being
everywhere suspended, and the customary tokens of mourning displayed
upon buildings and shipping.

After this engagement, as the season progressed, coastwise operations
in this quarter became increasingly hazardous for both parties. On
October 22, Hull wrote that neither the "Enterprise" nor the
"Rattlesnake" could cruise much longer. The enemy still maintained his
grip, in virtue of greater size and numbers. Ten days later comes the
report of a convoy, with one of the brigs, driven into port by a
frigate; that the enemy appear almost every day, and never without a
force superior to that of both his brigs, which he fears to trust out
overnight, lest they find themselves at morning under the guns of an
opponent of weightier battery. The long nights and stormy seas of
winter, however, soon afforded to coasters a more secure protection
than friendly guns, and Hull's letters intermit until April 6, 1814,
when he announces that the enemy has made his appearance in great
force; he presumes for the summer. Besides the danger and interruption
of the coasting trade, Hull was increasingly anxious as to the safety
of Portsmouth itself. By a recent act of Congress four seventy-fours
had been ordered to be built, and one of them was now in construction
there under his supervision. Despite the navigational difficulties of
entering the port, which none was more capable of appreciating than
he, he regarded the defences as so inadequate that it would be
perfectly possible to destroy her on the stocks. "There is nothing,"
he said, "to prevent a very small force from entering the harbor." At
the same moment Decatur was similarly concerned for the squadron at
New London, and we have seen the fears of Stewart for Norfolk. So
marked was Hull's apprehension in this respect, that he sent the
frigate "Congress" four miles up the river, where she remained to the
end of the war; her crew being transferred to Lake Ontario. New York,
the greater wealth of which increased both her danger and her capacity
for self-protection, was looking to her own fortifications, as well as
manning, provisioning, and paying the crews of the gunboats that
patrolled her waters, on the side of the sea and of the Sound.

The exposure of the coasting trade from Boston Bay eastward was
increased by the absence of interior coastwise channels, until the
chain of islands about and beyond the Penobscot was reached. On the
other hand, the character of the shore, bold, with off-lying rocks and
many small harbors, conferred a distinct advantage upon those having
local knowledge, as the coasting seamen had. On such a route the
points of danger are capes and headlands, particularly if their
projection is great, such as the promontory between Portsmouth and
Boston, of which Cape Ann is a conspicuous landmark. There the coaster
has to go farthest from his refuge, and the deep-sea cruiser can
approach with least risk. In a proper scheme of coast defence
batteries are mounted on such positions. This, it is needless to say,
in view of the condition of the port fortifications, had not been done
in the United States. Barring this, the whole situation of the coast,
of trade, and of blockade, was one with which British naval officers
had then been familiar for twenty years, through their employment upon
the French and Spanish coasts, as well Mediterranean as Atlantic, and
in many other parts of the world. To hover near the land, intercepting
and fighting by day, manning boats and cutting out by night,
harassing, driving on shore, destroying the sinews of war by breaking
down communications, was to them simply an old experience to be
applied under new and rather easier circumstances.

Of these operations frequent instances are given in contemporary
journals and letters; but less account has been taken of the effects,
as running through household and social economics, touching purse and
comfort. These are traceable in commercial statistics. At the time
they must have been severely felt, bringing the sense of the war
vividly home to the community. The stringency of the British action is
betrayed, however, by casual notices. The captain of a schooner burned
by the British frigate "Nymphe" is told by her commander that he had
orders to destroy every vessel large enough to carry two men. "A brisk
business is now carrying on all along our coast between British
cruisers and our coasting vessels, in ready money. Friday last, three
masters went into Gloucester to procure money to carry to a British
frigate to ransom their vessels. Thursday, a Marblehead schooner was
ransomed by the "Nymphe" for $400. Saturday, she took off Cape Ann
three coasters and six fishing boats, and the masters were sent on
shore for money to ransom them at $200 each." There was room for the
wail of a federalist paper: "Our coasts unnavigable to ourselves,
though free to the enemy and the money-making neutral; our harbors
blockaded; our shipping destroyed or rotting at the docks; silence and
stillness in our cities; the grass growing upon the public
wharves."[195] In the district of Maine, "the long stagnation of
foreign, and embarrassment of domestic trade, have extended the sad
effects from the seaboard through the interior, where the scarcity of
money is severely felt. There is not enough to pay the taxes."[196]

South of Chesapeake Bay the coast is not bold and rocky, like that
north of Cape Cod, but in its low elevation and gradual soundings
resembles rather those of New Jersey and Delaware. It has certain more
pronounced features in the extensive navigable sounds and channels,
which lie behind the islands and sandbars skirting the shores. The
North Carolina system of internal water communications, Pamlico Sound
and its extensions, stood by itself. To reach that to the southward,
it was necessary to make a considerable sea run, round the far
projecting Cape Fear, exposed to capture outside; but from Charleston
to the St. Mary's River, which then formed the Florida boundary for a
hundred miles of its length, the inside passages of South Carolina and
Georgia were continuous, though in many places difficult, and in
others open to attack from the sea. Between St. Mary's and Savannah,
for example, there were seven inlets, and Captain Campbell, the naval
officer in charge of that district, reported that three of these were
practicable for frigates;[197] but this statement, while literally
accurate, conveys an exaggerated impression, for no sailing frigate
would be likely to cross a difficult bar for a single offensive
operation, merely to find herself confronted with conditions
forbidding further movement.

The great menace to the inside traffic consisted in the facility with
which cruisers outside could pass from entrance to entrance,
contrasted with the intricacies within impeding similar action by the
defence. If a bevy of unprotected coasters were discerned by an
enemy's lookouts, the ship could run down abreast, send in her boats,
capture or destroy, before the gunboats, if equidistant at the
beginning, could overcome the obstacles due to rise and fall of tide,
or narrowness of passage, and arrive to the rescue.[198] A suggested
remedy was to replace the gunboats by rowing barges, similar to, but
more powerful than, those used by the enemy in his attacks. The
insuperable trouble here proved to be that men fit for such work, fit
to contend with the seamen of the enemy, were unwilling to abandon the
sea, with its hopes of prize money, or to submit to the exposure and
discomfort of the life. "The crews of the gunboats," wrote Captain
Campbell, "consist of all nations except Turks, Greeks, and Jews." On
one occasion the ship's company of an American privateer, which had
been destroyed after a desperate and celebrated resistance to attack
by British armed boats, arrived at St. Mary's. Of one hundred and
nineteen American seamen, only four could be prevailed upon to enter
the district naval force.[199] This was partly due to the
embarrassment of the national finances. "The want of funds to pay off
discharged men," wrote the naval captain at Charleston, "has given
such a character to the navy as to stop recruiting."[200] "Men could
be had," reported his colleague at St. Mary's, now transferred to
Savannah, "were it not for the Treasury notes, which cannot be passed
at less than five per cent discount. Men will not ship without cash.
There are upwards of a hundred seamen in port, but they refuse to
enter, even though we offer to ship for a month only."[201]

During the American Civil War, fifty years after the time of which we
are speaking, this internal communication was effectually intercepted
by stationing inside steamers of adequate force; but that recourse,
while not absolutely impracticable for small sailing cruisers,
involved a risk disproportionate to the gain. Through traffic could
have been broken up by keeping a frigate in any one of the three
sounds, entrance to which was practicable for vessels of that class.
In view of the amount of trade passing back and forth, which Campbell
stated to be in one period of four months as much as eight million
dollars, it is surprising that this obvious expedient was not adopted
by the enemy. That they appreciated the situation is shown by the
intention, announced in 1813, of seizing one of the islands; which was
effected in January, 1815, by the occupation of Cumberland and St.
Simons'. As it was, up to that late period the routine methods of
their European experience prevailed, with the result that their
coastwise operations in the south differed little from those in the
extreme north. Smaller vessels occasionally, armed boats frequently,
pushed inside the inlets, seizing coasters, and at times even
attacking the gunboats. While the positive loss thus inflicted was
considerable, it will readily be understood that it was much exceeded
by the negative effect, in deterring from movement, and reducing
navigation to the limits of barest necessity.

In these operations the ships of war were seconded by privateers from
the West Indies, which hovered round this coast, as the Halifax vessels
did round that of New England, seeking such scraps of prize money as
might be left over from the ruin of American commerce and the
immunities of the licensed traders. The United States officers at
Charleston and Savannah were at their wits' ends to provide security
with their scanty means,--more scanty even in men than in vessels; and
when there came upon them the additional duty of enforcing the embargo
of December, 1813, in the many quarters, and against the various
subterfuges, by which evasion would be attempted, the task was
manifestly impossible. "This is the most convenient part of the world
for illicit trade that I have ever seen," wrote Campbell. From a return
made this summer by the Secretary of the Navy to Congress,[202] it is
shown that one brig of eighteen guns, which was not a cruiser, but a
station ship at Savannah, eleven gunboats, three other schooners, and
four barges, were apportioned to the stretch of coast from Georgetown
to St. Mary's,--over two hundred miles. With the fettered movement of
the gunboats before mentioned, contrasted with the outside cruisers, it
was impossible to meet conditions by distributing this force, "for the
protection of the several inlets," as had at first been directed by the
Navy Department. The only defensive recourse approximately satisfactory
was that of the deep-sea merchant service of Great Britain, proposed
also by Hull at the northward, to assemble vessels in convoys, and to
accompany them throughout a voyage. "I have deemed it expedient," wrote
Campbell from St. Mary's, "to order the gun vessels to sail in company,
not less than four in number, and have ordered convoy to the inland
trade at stated periods, by which means vessels may be protected, and
am sorry to say this is all that can be effected in our present
situation."[203] In this way a fair degree of immunity was attained.
Rubs were met with occasionally, and heavy losses were reported from
time to time. There was a certain amount of fighting and scuffling, in
which advantage was now on one side, now on the other; but upon the
whole it would appear that the novelty of the conditions and ignorance
of the ground rather imposed upon the imagination of the enemy, and
that their operations against this inside trade were at once less
active and less successful than under the more familiar features
presented by the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts.

Whatever more or less of success or injury attended the coastwise
trade in the several localities, the point to be observed is that the
enemy's operations effectually separated the different sections of the
country from one another, so far as this means of intercourse was
concerned; thereby striking a deadly blow at the mutual support which
might be given by communities differing so markedly in resources,
aptitudes, and industries. The remark before made upon the effect of
headlands, on the minor scale of a particular shore-line, applied with
special force to one so extensive as that of the United States
Atlantic coast in 1813. Cape Cod to the north and Cape Fear to the
south were conspicuous examples of such projection. Combined with the
relatively shelterless and harborless central stretch, intervening
between them, from the Chesapeake to Sandy Hook, they constituted
insuperable obstacles to sustained intercommunication by water. The
presence of the enemy in great numbers before, around, and within the
central section, emphasized the military weakness of position which
nature herself had there imposed. To get by sea from one end of the
country to the other it was necessary to break the blockade in
starting, to take a wide sweep out to sea, and again to break it at
the desired point of entrance. This, however, is not coasting.

The effect which this coast pressure produced upon the welfare of the
several sections is indicated here and there by official utterances.
The war party naturally inclined to minimize unfavorable results, and
their opponents in some measure to exaggerate them; but of the general
tendency there can be no serious doubt. Mr. Pearson, an opposition
member of the House from North Carolina, speaking February 16, 1814,
when the record of 1813 was made up, and the short-lived embargo of
December was yet in force, said: "Blocked up as we are by the enemy's
squadron upon our coast, corked up by our still more unmerciful
embargo and non-importation laws, calculated as it were to fill up the
little chasm in the ills which the enemy alone could not inflict; the
entire coasting trade destroyed, and even the little pittance of
intercourse from one port to the other in the same state destroyed [by
the embargo], the planters of the Southern and Middle states, finding
no market at home for their products, are driven to the alternative of
wagoning them hundreds of miles, in search of a precarious market in
the Northern and Eastern states, or permitting them to rot on their
hands. Many articles which are, or by habit have become, necessary for
comfort, are obtained at extravagant prices from other parts of the
Union. The balance of trade, if trade it may be called, from these and
other causes being so entirely against the Southern and Middle states,
the whole of our specie is rapidly travelling to the North and East.
Our bank paper is thrown back upon the institutions from which it
issued; and as the war expenditures in the Southern and Middle states,
where the loans have been principally obtained, are proportionately
inconsiderable, the bills of these banks are daily returning, and
their vaults drained of specie, to be locked up in Eastern and Western
states, never to return but with the return of peace and

The isolation of North Carolina was extreme, with Cape Fear to the
south and the occupied Chesapeake north of her. The Governor of the
central state of Pennsylvania, evidently in entire political sympathy
with the national Administration, in his message to the legislature at
the same period,[205] is able to congratulate the people on the
gratifying state of the commonwealth; a full treasury, abundant yield
of agriculture, and the progress of manufacturing development, which,
"however we may deprecate and deplore the calamities of protracted
war, console us with the prospect of permanent and extensive
establishments equal to our wants, and such as will insure the real
and practical independence of our country." But he adds: "At no period
of our history has the immense importance of internal navigation been
so strikingly exemplified as since the commencement of hostilities.
The transportation of produce, and the intercourse between citizens of
the different states, which knit more strongly the bonds of social and
political union, are greatly retarded, and, through many of their
accustomed channels, entirely interrupted by the water craft of the
enemy, sinking, burning, and otherwise destroying, the property which
it cannot appropriate to its own use." He looks forward to a renewal
of similar misfortune in the following year, an anticipation more than
fulfilled. The officials of other states, according to their political
complexion, either lamented the sufferings of the war and its supposed
injustice, or comforted themselves and their hearers by reflecting
upon the internal fruitfulness of the country, and its increasing
self-sufficingness. The people were being equipped for independence of
the foreigner by the progress of manufactures, and by habits of
economy and self-denial, enforced by deprivation arising from the
suppression of the coasting trade and the rigors of the commercial

The effect of the latter, which by the spring of 1814 had been in
force nearly a twelvemonth over the entire coast south of Narragansett
Bay, can be more directly estimated and concisely stated, in terms of
money, than can the interruption of the coasting trade; for the
statistics of export and import, contrasted with those of years of
peace, convey it directly. It has already been stated that the exports
for the year ending September 30, 1814, during which the operation of
the blockade was most universal and continuous, fell to $7,000,000, as
compared with $25,000,000 in 1813, and $45,000,000 in 1811, a year of
peace though of restricted intercourse. Such figures speak distinctly
as well as forcibly; it being necessary, however, to full appreciation
of the difference between 1813 and 1814, to remember that during the
first half of the former official period--from October 1, 1812, to
April 1, 1813,--there had been no commercial blockade beyond the
Chesapeake and Delaware; and that, even after it had been instituted,
the British license system operated to the end of September to qualify
its effects.

Here and there interesting particulars may be gleaned, which serve to
illustrate these effects, and to give to the picture that precision of
outline which heightens impression. "I believe," wrote a painstaking
Baltimore editor in December, 1814, "that there has not been an
arrival in Baltimore from a foreign port for a twelvemonth";[206] yet
the city in 1811 had had a registered tonnage of 88,398, and now
boasted that of the scanty national commerce still maintained, through
less secluded ports, at least one half was carried on by its
celebrated schooners,[207] the speed and handiness of which, combined
with a size that intrusted not too many eggs to one basket, imparted
special facilities for escaping pursuit and minimizing loss. A
representative from Maryland at about this time presented in the House
a memorial from Baltimore merchants, stating that "in consequence of
the strict blockade of our bays and rivers the private-armed service
is much discouraged," and submitting the expediency "of offering a
bounty for the destruction of enemy's vessels;" a suggestion the very
extravagance of which indicates more than words the extent of the
depression felt. The price of salt in Baltimore, in November, 1814,
was five dollars the bushel. In Charleston it was the same, while just
across the Spanish border, at Amelia Island, thronged with foreign
merchant ships, it was selling at seventy cents.[208]

Such a contrast, which must necessarily be reproduced in other
articles not indigenous, accounts at once for the smuggling deplored
by Captain Campbell, and at the same time testifies both to the
efficacy of the blockade and to the pressure exercised upon the
inland navigation by the outside British national cruisers and
privateers. This one instance, affecting one of the prime necessaries
of life, certifies to the stringent exclusion from the sea of the
coast on which Charleston was the chief seaport. Captain Dent,
commanding this naval district, alludes to the constant presence of
blockaders, and occasionally to vessels taken outside by them, chased
ashore, or intercepted in various inlets; narrating particularly the
singular incident that, despite his remonstrances, a flag of truce was
sent on board the enemy by local authorities to negotiate a purchase
of goods thus captured.[209] This unmilitary proceeding, which evinces
the necessities of the neighborhood, was of course immediately stopped
by the Government.

A somewhat singular incidental circumstance, supporting the other
inferences, is found in the spasmodic elevation of the North Carolina
coast into momentary commercial consequence as a place of entry and
deposit; not indeed to a very great extent, but ameliorating to a
slight degree the deprivation of the regions lying north and
south,--the neighborhood of Charleston on the one hand, of Richmond
and Baltimore on the other. "The waters of North Carolina, from
Wilmington to Ocracoke, though not favorable to commerce in time of
peace, by reason of their shallowness and the danger of the coast,
became important and useful in time of war, and a very considerable
trade was prosecuted from and into those waters during the late war,
and a coasting trade as far as Charleston, attended with less risk
than many would imagine. A vessel may prosecute a voyage from
Elizabeth City [near the Virginia line] to Charleston without being at
sea more than a few hours at any one time."[210] Some tables of
arrivals show a comparative immunity for vessels entering here from
abroad; due doubtless to the unquestioned dangers of the coast, which
conspired with the necessarily limited extent of the traffic to keep
the enemy at a distance. It was not by them wholly overlooked. In
July, 1813, Admiral Cockburn anchored with a division off Ocracoke
bar, sent in his boats, and captured a privateer and letter-of-marque
which had there sought a refuge denied to them by the blockade
elsewhere. The towns of Beaufort and Portsmouth were occupied for some
hours. The United States naval officer at Charleston found it
necessary also to extend the alongshore cruises of his schooners as
far as Cape Fear, for the protection of this trade on its way to his

The attention aroused to the development of internal navigation also
bears witness to the pressure of the blockade. "It is my opinion,"
said the Governor of Pennsylvania, "that less than one half the
treasure expended by the United States for the protection of foreign
commerce, if combined with state and individual wealth, would have
perfected an inland water communication from Maine to Georgia." It was
argued by others that the extra money spent for land transportation of
goods, while the coasting trade was suspended, would have effected a
complete tide-water inland navigation such as here suggested; and
there was cited a declaration of Robert Fulton, who died during the
war, that within twenty-one months as great a sum had been laid out in
wagon hire as would have effected this object. Whatever the accuracy
of these estimates, their silent witness to the influence of the
blockade upon commerce, external and coastwise, quite overbears
President Madison's perfunctory denials of its effectiveness, based
upon the successful evasions which more or less attend all such

Perhaps, however, the most signal proof of the pressure exerted is to
be seen in the rebound, the instant it was removed; in the effect upon
prices, and upon the movements of shipping. Taken in connection with the
other evidence, direct and circumstantial, so far cited, what can
testify more forcibly to the strangulation of the coasting trade than
the fact that in the month of March, 1815,--news of the peace having
been received February 11,--there sailed from Boston one hundred and
forty-four vessels, more than half of them square-rigged; and that of
the whole all but twenty-six were for United States ports. Within three
weeks of April there arrived at Charleston, exclusive of coasters, one
hundred and fifty-eight vessels; at Savannah, in the quarter ending June
30, two hundred and three. Something of this outburst of activity, in
which neutrals of many nations shared, was due, as Mr. Clay said, to the
suddenness with which commerce revived after momentary suspension. "The
bow had been unstrung that it might acquire fresh vigor and new
elasticity"; and the stored-up products of the country, so long barred
within, imparted a peculiar nervous haste to the renewal of intercourse.
The absolute numbers quoted do not give as vivid impression of
conditions at differing times as do some comparisons, easily made. In
the year 1813, as shown by the returns of the United States Treasury,
out of 674,853 tons of registered--sea-going--shipping, only
233,439--one third--paid the duties exacted upon each several voyage,
and of these many doubtless sailed under British license.[211] In 1814
the total tonnage, 674,632, shows that ship-building had practically
ceased; and of this amount one twelfth only, 58,756 tons, paid dues for
going out.[212] In 1816, when peace conditions were fully established,
though less than two years had passed, the total tonnage had increased
to 800,760; duties, being paid each voyage, were collected on
865,219.[213] Thus the foreign voyages that year exceeded the total
shipping of the country, and by an amount greater than all the American
tonnage that put to sea in 1814.

The movement of coasting vessels, technically called "enrolled," is
not so clearly indicated by the returns, because all the trips of each
were covered by one license annually renewed. A licensed coaster might
make several voyages, or she might make none. In 1813 the figures show
that, of 471,109 enrolled tonnage, 252,440 obtained licenses. In 1814
there is, as in the registered shipping, a diminution of the total to
466,159, of which a still smaller proportion, 189,662, took out the
annual license. In 1816 the enrolment was 522,165, the licensing
414,594. In the fishing craft, a class by themselves, the employment
rose from 16,453 in 1814 to 48,147 in 1816;[214] the difference
doubtless being attributable chiefly to the reopening of the cod
fishing on the banks of Newfoundland, necessarily closed to the
American flag by the maritime hostilities.

The influence of the peace upon prices is likewise a matter too
interesting to a correct appreciation of effects to be wholly passed
over. In considering it, the quotations before the receipt of the news
doubtless represent conditions more correctly than do the immediate
changes. The official tidings of peace reached New York, February 11,
1815. The Evening Post, in its number of February 14, says, "We give
to-day one of the effects of the prospect of peace, even before
ratification. Our markets of every kind experienced a sudden, and to
many a shocking, change. Sugar, for instance, fell from $26 per
hundredweight to $12.50. Tea, which sold on Saturday at $2.25, on
Monday was purchased at a $1.00. Specie, which had got up to the
enormous rate of 22 per cent premium, dropped down to 2. The article
of tin, in particular, fell from the height of $80 the box to $25. Six
per cents rose from 76 to 88; ten per cents and Treasury notes from 92
to 98. Bank stock generally rose from five to ten per cent." In
Philadelphia, flour which sold at $7.50 the barrel on Saturday had
risen to $10 on Monday; a testimony that not only foreign export but
home supply to the eastward was to be renewed. The fall in foreign
products, due to freedom of import, was naturally accompanied by a
rise in domestic produce, to which an open outlet with proportionate
increase of demand was now afforded. In Philadelphia the exchange on
Boston reflected these conditions; falling from twenty-five per cent
to thirteen.

It may then be concluded that there is little exaggeration in the
words used by "a distinguished naval officer" of the day, in a letter
contributed to Niles' Register, in its issue of June 17, 1815. "No
sooner had the enemy blockaded our harbors, and extended his line of
cruisers from Maine to Georgia, than both foreign and domestic
commerce came at once to be reduced to a deplorable state of
stagnation; producing in its consequences the utter ruin of many
respectable merchants, as well as of a great multitude besides,
connected with them in their mercantile pursuits. But these were not
the only consequences. The regular supply of foreign commodities being
thereby cut off, many articles, now become necessaries of life, were
raised to an exorbitant price, and bore much upon the finances of the
citizen, whose family could not comfortably exist without them. Add to
this, as most of the money loaned to the Government for the purposes
of the war came from the pockets of merchants, they were rendered
incapable of continuing these disbursements in consequence of this
interruption to their trade; whence the cause of that impending
bankruptcy with which the Government was at one time threatened.... At
a critical period of the war [April, 1814] Congress found it
necessary to remove all restrictions upon commerce, both foreign and
domestic. It is a lamentable fact, however, that the adventurous
merchant found no alleviation from these indulgences, his vessels
being uniformly prevented by a strong blockading force, not only from
going out, but from coming into port, at the most imminent risk of
capture. The risk did not stop here; for the islands and ports most
frequented by American vessels being known to the enemy, he was
enabled from his abundance of means to intercept them there also. The
coasting trade, that most valuable appendage to an extensive
mercantile establishment in the United States, was entirely
annihilated. The southern and northern sections of the Union were
unable to exchange their commodities, except upon a contracted scale
through the medium of land carriage, and then only at a great loss; so
that, upon the whole, nothing in a national point of view appeared to
be more loudly called for by men of all parties than a naval force
adequate to the protection of our commerce, and the raising of the
blockade of our coast."

Such was the experience which sums up the forgotten bitter truth,
concerning a war which has left in the United States a prevalent
impression of distinguished success, because of a few brilliant naval
actions and the closing battle of New Orleans. The lesson to be
deduced is not that the country at that time should have sought to
maintain a navy approaching equality to the British. In the state of
national population and revenue, it was no more possible to attempt
this than that it would be expedient to do it now, under the present
immense development of resources and available wealth. What had been
possible during the decade preceding the war,--had the nation so
willed,--was to place the navy on such a footing, in numbers and
constitution, as would have made persistence in the course Great
Britain was following impolitic to the verge of madness, because it
would add to her war embarrassments the activity of an imposing
maritime enemy, at the threshold of her most valuable markets,--the
West Indies,--three thousand miles away from her own shores and from
the seat of her principal and necessary warfare. The United States
could not have encountered Great Britain single-handed--true; but
there was not then the slightest prospect of her having to do so. The
injuries of which she complained were incidental to a state of
European war; inconceivable and impossible apart from it. She was
therefore assured of the support of most powerful allies, occupying
the attention of the British navy and draining the resources of the
British empire. This condition of things was notorious, as was the
fact that, despite the disappointment of Trafalgar, Napoleon was
sedulously restoring the numbers of a navy, to the restraining of
which his enemy was barely competent.

The anxiety caused to the British Admiralty by the operations of the
small American squadrons in the autumn of 1812 has already been
depicted in quotations from its despatches to Warren.[215] Three or
four divisions, each containing one to two ships of the line, were
kept on the go, following a general round in successive relief, but
together amounting to five or six battle ships--to use the modern
term--with proportionate cruisers. It was not possible to diminish
this total by concentrating them, for the essence of the scheme, and
the necessity which dictated it, was to cover a wide sweep of ocean,
and to protect several maritime strategic points through which the
streams of commerce, controlled by well-known conditions, passed,
intersected, or converged. So also the Admiralty signified its wish
that one ship of the line should form the backbone of the blockade
before each of the American harbors. For this purpose Warren's fleet
was raised to a number stated by the Admiralty's letter to him of
January 9, 1813, to be "upwards of ten of the line, exclusive of the
six sail of the line appropriated to the protection of the West India
convoys." These numbers were additional to detachments which, outside
of his command, were patrolling the eastern Atlantic, about the
equator, and from the Cape Verde Islands to the Azores, as mentioned
in another letter of February 10. "In all, therefore, about twenty
sail of the line were employed on account of American hostilities; and
this, it will be noticed, was after Napoleon's Russian disaster was
fully known in England. It has not been without interfering for the
moment with other very important services that my Lords have been able
to send you this re-enforcement, and they most anxiously hope that the
vigorous and successful use you will make of it will enable you
shortly to return some of the line of battle ships to England, which,
if the heavy American frigates should be taken or destroyed, you will
immediately do, retaining four line of battle ships." Attention should
fasten upon the importance here attached by the British Admiralty to
the bigger ships; for it is well to learn of the enemy, and to
appreciate that it was not solely light cruisers and privateers, but
chiefly the heavy vessels, that counted in the estimate of experienced
British naval officers. The facts are little understood in the United
States, and consequently are almost always misrepresented.

The reasons for this abundance of force are evident. As regards
commerce Great Britain was on the defensive; and the defensive cannot
tell upon which of many exposed points a blow may fall. Dissemination
of effort, however modified by strategic ingenuity, is thus to a
certain extent imposed. If an American division might strike British
trade on the equator between 20° and 30° west longitude, and also in
the neighborhood of the Cape Verdes and of the Azores, preparation in
some form to protect all those points was necessary, and they are too
wide apart for this to be effected by mere concentration. So the
blockade of the United States harbors. There might be in New York no
American frigates, but if a division escaped from Boston it was
possible it might come upon the New York blockade in superior force,
if adequate numbers were not constantly kept there. The British
commercial blockade, though offensive in essence, had also its
defensive side, which compelled a certain dispersion of force, in
order to be in local sufficiency in several quarters.

These several dispersed assemblages of British ships of war
constituted the totality of naval effort imposed upon Great Britain by
"the fourteen sail of vessels of all descriptions"[216] which composed
the United States navy. It would not in the least have been necessary
had these been sloops of war--were they fourteen or forty. The weight
of the burden was the heavy frigates, two of which together were more
than a match for three of the same nominal class--the 38-gun
frigate--which was the most numerous and efficient element in the
British cruising force. The American forty-four was unknown to British
experience, and could be met only by ships of the line. Add to this
consideration the remoteness of the American shore, and its dangerous
proximity to very vital British interests, and there are found the
elements of the difficult problem presented to the Admiralty by the
combination of American force--such as it was--with American advantage
of position for dealing a severe blow to British welfare at the
period, 1805-1812, when the empire was in the height of its
unsupported and almost desperate struggle with Napoleon; when Prussia
was chained, Austria paralyzed, and Russia in strict bonds of
alliance--personal and political--with France.

If conditions were thus menacing, as we know them to to have been in
1812, when war was declared, and the invasion of Russia just
beginning, when the United States navy was "fourteen pendants," what
would they not have been in 1807, had the nation possessed even one
half of the twenty ships of the line which Gouverneur Morris, a shrewd
financier, estimated fifteen years before were within her competency?
While entirely convinced of the illegality of the British measures,
and feeling keenly--as what American even now cannot but feel?--the
humiliation and outrage to which his country was at that period
subjected, the writer has always recognized the stringent compulsion
under which Great Britain lay, and the military wisdom, in his
opinion, of the belligerent measures adopted by her to sustain her
strength through that unparalleled struggle; while in the matter of
impressment, it is impossible to deny--as was urged by Representative
Gaston of North Carolina and Gouverneur Morris--that her claim to the
service of her native seamen was consonant to the ideas of the time,
as well as of utmost importance to her in that hour of dire need.
Nevertheless, submission by America should have been impossible; and
would have been avoidable if for the fourteen pendants there had been
a dozen sail of the line, and frigates to match. To an adequate
weighing of conditions there will be indeed resentment for impressment
and the other mortifications; but it is drowned in wrath over the
humiliating impotence of an administration which, owing to
preconceived notions as to peace, made such endurance necessary. It is
not always ignominious to suffer ignominy; but it always is so to
deserve it.

President Washington, in his last annual message, December 7, 1796,
defined the situation then confronting the United States, and
indicated its appropriate remedy, in the calm and forcible terms which
characterized all his perceptions. "It is in our own experience, that
the most sincere neutrality is not a sufficient guard against the
depredations of nations at war. To secure respect for a neutral flag
requires a naval force, organized and ready, to vindicate it from
insult or aggression. This may even prevent the necessity of going to
war, by discouraging belligerent powers from committing such
violations of the rights of the neutral party as may, first or last,
leave no other option" [than war]. The last sentence is that of the
statesman and soldier, who accurately appreciates the true office and
sphere of arms in international relations. His successor, John Adams,
yearly renewed his recommendation for the development of the navy;
although, not being a military man, he seems to have looked rather
exclusively on the defensive aspect, and not to have realized that
possible enemies are more deterred by the fear of offensive action
against themselves than by recognition of a defensive force which
awaits attack at an enemy's pleasure. Moreover, in his administration,
it was not Great Britain, but France, that was most actively engaged
in violating the neutral rights of American shipping, and French
commercial interests then presented nothing upon which retaliation
could take effect. The American problem then was purely defensive,--to
destroy the armed ships engaged in molesting the national commerce.

President Jefferson, whose influence was paramount with the dominant
party which remained in power from his inauguration in 1801 to the
war, based his policy upon the conviction, expressed in his inaugural,
that this "was the only government where every man would meet
invasions of the public order as his own personal concern;" and that
"a well-disciplined militia is our best reliance for the first moments
of war, till regulars may relieve them." In pursuance of these
fundamental principles, it was doubtless logical to recommend in his
first annual message that, "beyond the small force which will probably
be wanted for actual service in the Mediterranean [against the
Barbary pirates], whatever annual sum you may think proper to
appropriate to naval preparations would perhaps be better employed in
providing those articles which may be kept without waste or
consumption, and be in readiness when any exigence calls them into
use. Progress has been made in providing materials for seventy-four
gun ships;" but this commended readiness issued in not laying their
keels till after the war began.

Upon this first recommendation followed the discontinuance of building
ships for ocean service, and the initiation of the gunboat policy;
culminating, when war began, in the decision of the administration to
lay up the ships built for war, to keep them out of British hands. The
urgent remonstrances of two or three naval captains obtained the
reversal of this resolve, and thereby procured for the country those
few successes which, by a common trick of memory, have remained the
characteristic feature of the War of 1812.

    NOTE.--After writing the engagement between the "Boxer" and the
    "Enterprise," the author found among his memoranda, overlooked,
    the following statement from the report of her surviving
    lieutenant, David McCreery: "I feel it my duty to mention that
    the bulwarks of the 'Enterprise' were proof against our grape,
    when her musket balls penetrated through our bulwarks."
    (Canadian Archives, M. 389, 3. p. 87.) It will be noted that
    this does not apply to the cannon balls, and does not qualify
    the contrast in gunnery.


[128] Broke's Letter to Lawrence, June, 1813. Naval Chronicle, vol. xxx.
p. 413.

[129] Rodgers' Report of this cruise is in Captains' Letters, Sept. 27,

[130] Captains' Letters, Dec. 14, 1813.

[131] Captains' Letters, June 3, 1812.

[132] The Department's orders to Evans and the letter transferring them
to Lawrence, captured in the ship, can be found published in the Report
on Canadian Archives, 1896, p. 74. A copy is attached to the Record of
the subsequent Court of Inquiry, Navy Department MSS.

[133] James' Naval History, vol. vi., edition of 1837. The account of
the action between the "Chesapeake" and "Shannon" will be found on pp.

[134] Secretary to the Admiralty, In-Letters, May, 1814, vol. 505, p.

[135] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxx, p. 413.

[136] Broke, in his letter of challenge, "was disappointed that, after
various verbal messages sent into Boston, Commodore Rodgers, with the
'President' and 'Congress,' had _eluded_ the 'Shannon' and 'Tenedos,' by
sailing the first chance, after the prevailing easterly winds had
obliged us to keep an offing from the coast."

[137] For the reason here assigned, and others mentioned in the
narrative, the author has preferred to follow in the main James'
account, analyzed, and compared with Broke's report (Naval Chronicle,
vol. xxx. p. 83), and with the testimony in the Court of Inquiry held in
Boston on the surrender of the "Chesapeake," and in the resultant courts
martial upon Lieutenant Cox and other persons connected with the ship,
which are in the Navy Department MSS. The official report of Lieutenant
Budd, the senior surviving officer of the "Chesapeake", is published in
Niles' Register (vol. iv, p. 290), which gives also several unofficial
statements of onlookers, and others.

[138] Not "across"; the distinction is important, being decisive of
general raking direction.

[139] Actually, a contemporary account, borrowed by the British "Naval
Chronicle" (vol. xxx. p. 161) from a Halifax paper, but avouched as
trustworthy, says the "Chesapeake" was terribly battered on the larboard
bow as well as quarter. The details in the text indicate merely the
local preponderance of injury, and the time and manner of its

[140] A slight qualification is here needed, in that of the injured of
the "Shannon" some were hurt in the boarding, not by the cannonade; but
the general statement is substantially accurate.

[141] Decatur to Navy Department. Captains' Letters, June, 1813.

[142] Decatur to Navy Department. Captains' Letters, June, 1813.

[143] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxix. p. 497.

[144] Croker to Warren, Jan. 9, 1813. Admiralty Out-Letters, British
Records Office. My italics.

[145] Message of the Governor of Connecticut, October, 1813. Niles'
Register, vol. v. p. 121.

[146] Message of the Governor of Connecticut, October, 1813. Niles'
Register, vol. v. p. 121.

[147] Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 302.

[148] Captains' Letters.

[149] Niles' Register, vol. vi. p. 136.

[150] Captains' Letters, Nov. 3 and Dec. 31, 1809; March 26, 1810; and
Oct. 12, 1813.

[151] American State Papers, Naval Affairs, vol. i. p. 307.

[152] Ante, page 16.

[153] The official reports of Warren and Cockburn concerning these
operations are published in the Naval Chronicle, vol. xxx. pp. 162-168.

[154] Captains' Letters, June 21, 1813.

[155] The American official account of this affair is given in Niles'
Register, vol. iv. pp. 375, 422. James' Naval History, vol. vi. pp.
236-238, gives the British story.

[156] Captains' Letters, April, 1813.

[157] Captains' Letters, May 21, 1813.

[158] Ibid.

[159] James, Naval History (edition 1837), vol. vi. p. 231.

[160] Warren's Gazette Letters, here referred to, can be found in Naval
Chronicle, vol. xxx. pp. 243, 245.

[161] Croker to Warren, March 20, 1813. Admiralty Out-Letters, Records

[162] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 404.

[163] The rise of the tide is about two and a half feet.

[164] This is the number stated by James, the British naval historian,
and is somewhat difficult to reconcile with Warren's expression, "the
troops and a re-enforcement of seamen and marines from the ships." To be
effective, the attack should have been in greater numbers.

[165] The British story of this failure, outside the official
despatches, is given in James' Naval History, vol. vi. pp. 232-234.

[166] Report of the commander of the "Scorpion" to Captain Morris, July
21, 1813. Captains' Letters.

[167] This letter, from the commanding officer of the "Narcissus", is in
Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 279.

[168] Morris to Navy Department, August 13, 23, and 27. Captains'

[169] Captain Hayes, of the "Majestic," in charge of the blockade of
Boston, wrote to Warren, October 25, 1813: "Almost every vessel I meet
has a license, or is under a neutral flag. Spanish, Portuguese, and
Swedes are passing in and out by hundreds, and licensed vessels out of
number from the West Indies. I find the licenses are sent blank to be
filled up in Boston. This is of course very convenient, and the
Portuguese consul is said to be making quite a trade of that flag,
covering the property and furnishing the necessary papers for any person
at a thousand dollars a ship." Canadian Archives, M. 389. 3. p. 189.

[170] Annals of Congress, 1813-1814, vol. i. p. 500.

[171] This parenthesis shows that the censures were not directed against
New England only, for the blockade so far declared did not extend

[172] Niles' Register, vol. iv. pp. 370, 386.

[173] Ibid., p. 387.

[174] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 387.

[175] Ibid., p. 402.

[176] Ibid.

[177] Ibid. Author's italics.

[178] Morris to Navy Department, Dec. 20 and 26, 1813. Captains'

[179] Post, chapter xviii.

[180] British Records Office, Secret Papers MSS.

[181] Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 311.

[182] The Columbian Centinel, Boston, Sept. 7 and Dec. 15, 1813.

[183] Ibid., Dec. 18.

[184] Ibid.

[185] Campbell to the Navy Department, Nov. 11, 1814. Captains' Letters.

[186] Captains' Letters.

[187] Ibid., June 24, 1813.

[188] Hull to Navy Department, July 31, 1813. Ibid.

[189] Cooper tells the story that when this gun was transported, and
preparations being made to use it as a stern instead of a bow chaser,
the crew--to whom Burrows was as yet a stranger, known chiefly by his
reputation for great eccentricity--came to the mast to express a hope
that the brig was not going to retreat.

[190] Report of Lieutenant Tillinghast to Captain Hull. Captains'
Letters, Sept. 9, 1813.

[191] Hull to Bainbridge, Sept. 10. Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 58.

[192] Report of the carpenter of the "Enterprise." Captains' Letters.

[193] There is a discrepancy in the statements concerning the "Boxer's"
crew. Hull reported officially, "We have sixty-seven, exclusive of those
killed and thrown overboard." (Sept. 25. Captains' Letters.) Lieutenant
McCall, who succeeded to the command after Burrows fell, reported that
"from information received from officers of the 'Boxer' it appears that
there were between twenty and thirty-five killed, and fourteen wounded."
(U.S. State Papers, Naval Affairs, vol. i. p. 297.) The number killed is
evidently an exaggerated impression received, resembling some statements
made concerning the "Chesapeake;" but it is quite likely that the
"Boxer's" loss should be increased by several bodies thrown overboard.

[194] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxii. p. 473.

[195] Columbian Centinel, July 28, Sept. 1, and Nov. 13, 1813.

[196] Ibid., Sept. 25.

[197] Campbell to Navy Department, Jan. 4, 1814. Captains' Letters.

[198] For full particulars see Captains' Letters (Campbell), June 12,
1813; Jan. 2 and 4, Aug. 20, Sept. 3, Oct. 8, Oct. 15, Dec. 4, 1814.

[199] Campbell, Dec. 2, 1814. Captains' Letters.

[200] Dent to Navy Department, Jan. 28, 1815. Ibid.

[201] Campbell, Feb. 3, 1815. Ibid.

[202] June 7, 1813. Navy Department MSS.

[203] Captains' Letters, Sept. 3, 1814.

[204] Benton's Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, vol. v. p. 202.

[205] Dec. 10, 1813. Niles' Register, vol. v. pp. 257-260.

[206] Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 194.

[207] Ibid., vol. viii. p. 234.

[208] Ibid., vol. vii. p. 168. Quoted from a Charleston, S.C., paper.

[209] Captains' Letters, May 3, 23, 24; June 27, 29; August 7, 17; Nov.
9, 13, 23, 1813.

[210] Niles' Register, vol. viii. p. 311. Quoted from a Norfolk paper.

[211] American State Papers, Commerce and Navigation, vol. i. p. 1017.

[212] Ibid., vol. ii. p. 12.

[213] American State Papers, Commerce and Navigation, vol. ii. p. 87.

[214] Ibid., vol. i. p. 1017; vol. ii. pp. 12, 87.

[215] Ante, vol. i. pp. 402-404.

[216] Admiralty's Letter to Warren. Feb. 10, 1813.


STATES, 1813-1814

In broad generalization, based upon analysis of conditions, it has
been said that the seacoast of the United States was in 1812 a
defensive frontier, from which, as from all defensive lines, there
should be, and was, opportunity for offensive returns; for action
planned to relieve the shore-line, and the general military situation,
by inflicting elsewhere upon the opponent injury, harassment, and
perplexity. The last chapter dealt with the warfare depending upon the
seaboard chiefly from the defensive point of view; to illustrate the
difficulties, the blows, and the sufferings, to which the country was
exposed, owing to inability to force the enemy away from any large
portion of the coast. The pressure was as universal as it was
inexorable and irresistible.

It remains still to consider the employment and effects of the one
offensive maritime measure left open by the exigencies of the war; the
cruises directed against the enemy's commerce, and the characteristic
incidents to which they gave rise. In this pursuit were engaged both
the national ships of war and those equipped by the enterprise of the
mercantile community; but, as the operations were in their nature more
consonant to the proper purpose of privateers, so the far greater
number of these caused them to play a part much more considerable in
effect, though proportionately less fruitful in conspicuous action.
Fighting, when avoidable, is to the privateer a misdirection of
energy. Profit is his object, by depredation upon the enemy's
commerce; not the preservation of that of his own people. To the ship
of war, on the other hand, protection of the national shipping is the
primary concern; and for that reason it becomes her to shun no
encounter by which she may hope to remove from the seas a hostile

The limited success of the frigates in their attempts against British
trade has been noted, and attributed to the general fact that their
cruises were confined to the more open sea, upon the highways of
commerce. These were now travelled by British ships under strict laws
of convoy, the effect of which was not merely to protect the several
flocks concentrated under their particular watchdogs, but to strip the
sea of those isolated vessels, that in time of peace rise in irregular
but frequent succession above the horizon, covering the face of the
deep with a network of tracks. These solitary wayfarers were now to be
found only as rare exceptions to the general rule, until the port of
destination was approached. There the homing impulse overbore the
bonds of regulation; and the convoys tended to the conduct noted by
Nelson as a captain, "behaving as all convoys that ever I saw did,
shamefully ill, parting company every day." Commodore John Rodgers has
before been quoted, as observing that the British practice was to rely
upon pressure on the enemy over sea, for security near home; and that
the waters surrounding the British Islands themselves were the field
where commerce destruction could be most decisively effected.

The first United States vessel to emphasize this fact was the brig
"Argus," Captain William H. Allen, which sailed from New York June 18,
1813, having on board a newly appointed minister to France, Mr.
William H. Crawford, recently a senator from Georgia. On July 11 she
reached L'Orient, having in the twenty-three days of passage made but
one prize.[217] Three days later she proceeded to cruise in the chops
of the English Channel, and against the local trade between Ireland
and England; continuing thus until August 14, thirty-one days, during
which she captured nineteen sail, extending her depredations well up
into St. George's Channel. The contrast of results mentioned, between
her voyage across and her occupancy of British waters, illustrates the
comparative advantages of the two scenes of operations, regarded in
their relation to British commerce.

On August 12 the British brig of war "Pelican," Captain Maples,
anchored at Cork from the West Indies. Before her sails were furled
she received orders to go out in search of the American ship of war
whose depredations had been reported. Two hours later she was again at
sea. The following evening, at half-past seven, a burning vessel to
the eastward gave direction to her course, and at daybreak, August 14,
she sighted a brig of war in the northeast, just quitting another
prize, which had also been fired. The wind, being south, gave the
windward position to the "Pelican," which stood in pursuit; the
"Argus" steering east, near the wind, but under moderate sail to
enable her opponent to close (positions 1). The advantage in size and
armament was on this occasion on the British side; the "Pelican" being
twenty per cent larger, and her broadside seventeen per cent heavier.

At 5.55 A.M., St. David's Head on the coast of Wales bearing east,
distant about fifteen miles, the "Argus" wore, standing now to the
westward, with the wind on the port side (2). The "Pelican" did the
same, and the battle opened at six; the vessels running side by side,
within the range of grapeshot and musketry,--probably under two
hundred yards apart (2). Within five minutes Captain Allen received a
wound which cost him his leg, and in the end his life. He at first
refused to be taken below, but loss of blood soon so reduced him that
he could no longer exercise command. Ten minutes later the first
lieutenant was stunned by the graze of a grapeshot along his head, and
the charge of the ship devolved on the second. By this time the
rigging of the "Argus" had been a good deal cut, and the "Pelican"
bore up (3) to pass under her stern; but the American brig, luffing
close to the wind and backing her maintopsail (3), balked the attempt,
throwing herself across the enemy's path, and giving a raking
broadside, the poor aim of which seems to have lost her the effect
that should have resulted from this ready and neat manoeuvre. The main
braces of the "Argus" had already been shot away, as well as much of
the other gear upon which the after sails depended; and at 6.18 the
preventer (duplicate) braces, which formed part of the preparation for
battle, were also severed. The vessel thus became unmanageable,
falling off before the wind (4), and the "Pelican" was enabled to work
round her at will. This she did, placing herself first under the stern
(4), and then on the bow (5) of her antagonist, where the only reply
to her broadside was with musketry.

In this helpless situation the "Argus" surrendered, after an
engagement of a little over three quarters of an hour. The British
loss was two killed and five wounded; the American, six killed and
seventeen wounded, of whom five afterwards died. Among these was
Captain Allen, who survived only four days, and was buried with
military honors at Plymouth, whither Captain Maples sent his
prize.[218] After every allowance for disparity of force, the injury
done by the American fire cannot be deemed satisfactory, and suggests
the consideration whether the voyage to France under pressure of a
diplomatic mission, and the busy preoccupation of making, manning, and
firing prizes, during the brief month of Channel cruising, may not
have interfered unduly with the more important requirements of
fighting efficiency. The surviving officer in command mentions in
explanation, "the superior size and metal of our opponent, and the
fatigue which the crew of the 'Argus' underwent from a very rapid
succession of prizes."

   [Illustration: Diagram of the Argus vs. Pelican battle]

From the broad outlook of the universal maritime situation, this rapid
succession of captures is a matter of more significance than the loss
of a single brig of war. It showed the vulnerable point of British
trade and local intercommunication; and the career of the "Argus,"
prematurely cut short though it was, tended to fix attention upon
facts sufficiently well known, but perhaps not fully appreciated. From
this time the opportunities offered by the English Channel and
adjacent waters, long familiar to French corsairs, were better
understood by Americans; as was also the difficulty of adequately
policing them against a number of swift and handy cruisers, preying
upon merchant vessels comparatively slow, lumbering, and undermanned.
The subsequent career of the United States ship "Wasp," and the
audacious exploits of several privateers, recall the impunity of Paul
Jones a generation before, and form a sequel to the brief prelude, in
which the leading part, though ultimately disastrous, was played by
the "Argus."

While the cruise of the "Argus" stood by no means alone at this time,
the attending incidents made it conspicuous among several others of a
like nature, on the same scene or close by; and it therefore may be
taken as indicative of the changing character of the war, which soon
began to be manifest, owing to the change of conditions in Europe. In
general summary, the result was to transfer an additional weight of
British naval operations to the American side of the Atlantic, which
in turn compelled American cruisers, national and private, in pursuit
of commerce destruction, to get away from their own shores, and to
seek comparative security as well as richer prey in distant waters. To
this contributed also the increasing stringency of British convoy
regulation, enforced with special rigor in the Caribbean Sea and over
the Western Atlantic. It was impossible to impose the same strict
prescription upon the coastwise trade, by which chiefly the
indispensable continuous intercourse between the several parts of the
United Kingdom was maintained. Before the introduction of steam this
had a consequence quite disproportionate to the interior traffic by
land; and its development, combined with the feeling of greater
security as the British Islands were approached, occasioned in the
narrow seas, and on the coasts of Europe, a dispersion of vessels not
to be seen elsewhere. This favored the depredations of the light,
swift, and handy cruisers that alone are capable of profiting by such
an opportunity, through their power to evade the numerous, but
necessarily scattered, ships of war, which under these circumstances
must patrol the sea, like a watchman on beat, as the best substitute
for the more formal and regularized convoy protection, when that
ceases to apply.

From the end of the summer of 1813, when this tendency to distant
enterprise became predominant, to the corresponding season a year
later, there were captured by American cruisers some six hundred and
fifty British vessels, chiefly merchantmen; a number which had
increased to between four and five hundred more, when the war ended in
the following winter.[219] An intelligible account of such
multitudinous activities can be framed only by selecting amid the mass
some illustrative particulars, accompanied by a general estimate of
the conditions they indicate and the results they exemplify. Thus it
may be stated, with fair approach to precision, that from September
30, 1813, to September 30, 1814, there were taken six hundred and
thirty-nine British vessels, of which four hundred and twenty-four
were in seas that may be called remote from the United States. From
that time to the end of the war, about six months, the total captures
were four hundred and fourteen, of which those distant were two
hundred and ninety-three. These figures, larger actually and in
impression than they are relatively to the total of British shipping,
represent the offensive maritime action of the United States during
the period in question; but, in considering them, it must be
remembered that such results were possible only because the sea was
kept open to British commerce by the paramount power of the British
navy. This could not prevent all mishaps; but it reduced them, by the
annihilation of hostile navies, to such a small percentage of the
whole shipping movement, that the British mercantile community found
steady profit both in foreign and coasting trade, of which the United
States at the same time was almost totally deprived.

The numerous but beggarly array of American bay-craft and oyster
boats, which were paraded to swell British prize lists, till there
seemed to be a numerical set-off to their own losses, show indeed that
in point of size and value of vessels taken there was no real
comparison; but this was due to the fact, not at once suggested by the
figures themselves, that there were but few American merchant vessels
to be taken, because they did not dare to go to sea, with the
exception of the few to whom exceptional speed gave a chance of
immunity, not always realized. In the period under consideration,
September, 1813, to September, 1814, despite the great falling off of
trade noted in the returns, over thirty American merchant ships and
letters of marque were captured at sea;[220] at the head of the list
being the "Ned," whose hair-breadth escapes in seeking to reach a
United States port have been mentioned already.[221] She met her fate
near the French coast, September 6, 1813, on the outward voyage from
New York to Bordeaux. Privateering, risky though it was, offered a
more profitable employment, with less chance of capture; because,
besides being better armed and manned, the ship was not impeded in her
sailing by the carriage of a heavy cargo. While the enemy was losing a
certain small proportion of vessels, the United States suffered
practically an entire deprivation of external commerce; and her
coasting trade was almost wholly suppressed, at the time that her
cruisers, national and private, were causing exaggerated anxiety
concerning the intercourse between Great Britain and Ireland, which,
though certainly molested, was not seriously interrupted.

Further evidence of the control exerted by the British Navy, and of
the consequent difficulty under which offensive action was maintained
by the United States, is to be found in the practice, from this time
largely followed, of destroying prizes, after removing from them
packages of little weight compared to their price. The prospect of a
captured vessel reaching an American port was very doubtful, for the
same reason that prevented the movement of American commerce; and
while the risk was sometimes run, it usually was with cargoes which
were at once costly and bulky, such as West India goods, sugars and
coffees. Even then specie, and light costly articles, were first
removed to the cruiser, where the chances for escape were decidedly
better. Recourse to burning to prevent recapture was permissible only
with enemy's vessels. If a neutral were found carrying enemy's goods,
a frequent incident of maritime war, she must be sent in for
adjudication; which, if adverse, affected the cargo only. Summary
processes, therefore, could not be applied in such cases, and the
close blockade of the United States coast seriously restricted the
operations of her cruisers in this particular field.

   _Drawn by Henry Reuterdahl._]

Examination of the records goes to show that, although individual
American vessels sometimes made numerous seizures in rapid succession,
they seldom, if ever, effected the capture or destruction of a large
convoy at a single blow. This was the object with which Rodgers
started on his first cruise, but failed to accomplish. A stroke of
this kind is always possible, and he had combined conditions unusually
favorable to his hopes; but, while history certainly presents a few
instances of such achievement on the large scale, they are
comparatively rare, and opportunity, when it offers, can be utilized
only by a more numerous force than at any subsequent time gathered
under the American flag. In 1813 two privateers, the "Scourge" of New
York and "Rattlesnake" of Philadelphia, passed the summer in the North
Sea, and there made a number of prizes,--twenty-two,--which being
reported together gave the impression of a single lucky encounter;
were supposed in fact to be the convoy for which Rodgers in the
"President" had looked unsuccessfully the same season.[222] The logs,
however, showed that these captures were spread over a period of two
months, and almost all made severally. Norway being then politically
attached to Denmark, and hostile to Great Britain, such prizes as were
not burned were sent into her ports. The "Scourge" appears to have
been singularly fortunate, for on her homeward trip she took, sent in,
or destroyed, ten more enemy's vessels; and in an absence extending a
little over a year had taken four hundred and twenty prisoners,--more
than the crew of a 38-gun frigate.[223]

At the same time the privateer schooner "Leo," of Baltimore, was
similarly successful on the coast of Spain and Portugal. By an odd
coincidence, another of the same class, bearing the nearly identical
name, "Lion," was operating at the same time in the same waters, and
with like results; which may possibly account for a contemporary
report in a London paper, that an American off the Tagus had taken
thirty-two British vessels. The "Leo" destroyed thirteen, and took
four others; while the "Lion" destroyed fifteen, having first removed
from them cargo to the amount of $400,000, which she carried safely
into France. A curious circumstance, incidental to the presence of the
privateers off Cape Finisterre, is that Wellington's troops, which had
now passed the Pyrenees and were operating in southern France, had for
a long time to wait for their great-coats, which had been stored in
Lisbon for the summer, and now could not be returned by sea to Bayonne
and Bordeaux before convoy was furnished to protect the transports
against capture. Money to pay the troops, and for the commissariat,
was similarly detained. Niles' Register, which followed carefully the
news of maritime capture, announced in November, 1813, that eighty
British vessels had been taken within a few months in European seas by
the "President," "Argus," and five privateers. Compared with the
continuous harassment and loss to which the enemy had become hardened
during twenty years of war with France, allied often with other
maritime states, this result, viewed singly, was not remarkable; but
coming in addition to the other sufferings of British trade, and
associated with similar injuries in the West Indies, and disquiet
about the British seas themselves, the cumulative effect was
undeniable, and found voice in public meetings, resolutions, and
addresses to the Government.

Although the United States was not in formal alliance with France, the
common hostility made the ports of either nation a base of operations
to the other, and much facilitated the activities of American cruisers
in British seas. One of the most successful of the privateers, the
"True Blooded Yankee," was originally equipped at Brest, under
American ownership, though it does not appear whether she was American
built. On her first cruise her prizes are reported at twenty-seven.
She remained out thirty-seven days, chiefly off the coast of Ireland,
where she is said to have held an island for six days. Afterwards she
burned several vessels in a Scotch harbor. Her procedure illustrates
the methods of privateering in more respects than one. Thus, two large
ships, one from Smyrna and one from Buenos Ayres, were thought
sufficiently valuable to attempt sending into a French port, although
the enemy watched the French coast as rigorously as the American. The
recapture of a third, ordered to Morlaix, received specific mention,
because one of the prize crew, being found to be an Englishman, was
sentenced to death by an English court.[224] Eight others were
destroyed; and, when the privateer returned to port, she carried in
her own hold a miscellaneous cargo of light goods, too costly to risk
in a less nimble bottom. Among these are named eighteen bales of
Turkey carpets, forty-three bales of raw silk, seventy packs of skins,
etc.[225] The "True Blooded Yankee" apparently continued to prefer
European waters; for towards the end of 1814 she was taken there and
sent into Gibraltar.

While there were certain well-known districts, such as these just
mentioned, and others before specified, in which from causes constant
in operation there was always to be found abundant material for the
hazardous occupation of the commerce-destroyer, it was not to them
alone that American cruisers went. There were other smaller but
lucrative fields, into which an occasional irruption proved
profitable. Such were the gold-coast on the west shore of Africa, and
the island groups of Madeira, the Canaries, and Cape Verde, which
geographically appertain to that continent. Thither Captain Morris
directed the frigate "Adams," in January, 1814, after first escaping
from his long blockade in the Potomac. This voyage, whence he returned
to Savannah in April, was not remunerative; his most valuable prize,
an East India ship, being snatched out of his hands, when in the act
of taking possession, by an enemy's division in charge of a convoy of
twenty-five sail, to which probably she had belonged, and had been
separated by the thick weather that permitted her capture.[226] A year
before this the privateer "Yankee," of Bristol, Rhode Island, had had
better success. When she returned to Narragansett Bay in the spring of
1813, after a five months' absence, she reported having scoured the
whole west coast of Africa, taking eight vessels, which carried in the
aggregate sixty-two guns, one hundred and ninety-six men, and property
to the amount of $296,000. In accordance with the practice already
noticed, of distributing the spoil in order better to insure its
arrival, she brought back in her own hold the light but costly items
of six tons of ivory, thirty-two bales of fine goods, and $40,000 in
gold-dust.[227] This vessel was out again several times; and when the
war closed was said to have been the most successful of all American
cruisers. Her prizes numbered forty, of which thirty-four were ships
or brigs; that is, of the larger classes of merchantmen then used. The
estimated value of themselves and cargoes, $3,000,000, is to be
received with reserve.[228]

It was in this neighborhood that the privateer schooner "Globe,"
Captain Moon, of Baltimore, mounting eight 9-pounder carronades and
one long gun, met with an adventure illustrative of the fighting
incidental to the business. To this the privateersmen as a class were
in no wise loath, where there was a fair prospect of the gain for
which they were sent to look. Being off Funchal, in the island of
Madeira, November 1, 1813, two brigs, which proved to be English
packets, the "Montague" and "Pelham," were seen "backing and filling;"
that is, keeping position in the open roadstead which constitutes the
harbor, under sail, but not anchored. Packets, being in government
service, were well armed for their size, and as mail carriers were
necessarily chosen for speed; they therefore frequently carried
specie. In one taken by the "Essex," Captain Porter found $55,000,
which as ready cash helped him much to pay his frigate's way in a long
and adventurous career. It does not appear that the "Globe" at first
recognized the character of these particular vessels; but she lay-by
during the night, watching for their quitting the shelter of neutral
waters. This they did at 9 P.M., when the privateer pursued, but lost
sight of them in a squall. The next morning they were seen in the
southwest, and again chased. At 10.15 A.M. the "Montague" began firing
her stern guns. The schooner replied, but kept on to board, knowing
her superiority in men, and at 12.30 ran alongside (1). The attack
being smartly met, and the vessels separating almost immediately, the
attempt failed disastrously; there being left on board the packet the
two lieutenants of the "Globe" and three or four seamen. Immediately
upon this repulse, the "Pelham" crossed the privateer's bow and raked
her (P 2), dealing such destruction to sails and rigging as to leave
her unmanageable. The "Montague" and "Globe" now lay broadside to
broadside (2), engaging; and ten minutes later the "Montague" by her
own report was completely disabled (M 3). Captain Moon claimed that
she struck; and this was probably the case, if his further incidental
mention, that the mailbags were seen to be thrown overboard, is not a
mistake. The action then continued with the "Pelham," within
pistol-shot (3), for an hour or so, when the schooner, being found in
a sinking condition, was compelled to haul off; "having seven shot
between wind and water, the greater part of our standing and running
rigging shot away, and not a sail but was perfectly riddled and almost
useless." After separating, the several combatants all steered with
the tradewinds for the Canaries; the British going to Teneriffe, and
the American to the Grand Canary.[229]

From the injuries received, it is apparent that, for the armaments of
the vessels, this was a very severe as well as determined engagement.
The British had six killed and twelve wounded; the American five
killed and thirteen wounded, besides the prisoners lost in boarding.
All three captains were severely hurt, that of the "Montague" being
killed. The figures given are those reported by each side; how
exaggerated the rumors current about such encounters, and the
consequent difficulty to the historian, is shown by what each heard
about the other's casualties. A Spanish brig from Teneriffe told Moon
that the enemy had twenty-seven men killed; while the British were
equally credibly informed that the "Globe" lost thirty-three killed
and nineteen wounded.

Near about this time, in the same neighborhood of Madeira, the
privateer schooner "Governor Tompkins," of New York, captured in rapid
succession three British merchant vessels which had belonged to a
convoy from England to Buenos Ayres, but after its dispersal in a gale
were pursuing their route singly. Two of these reached an American
port, their bulky and heavy ladings of dry goods and hardware not
permitting transfer or distribution. The sale of one cargo realized
$270,000.[230] At about the same moment came in a brig of like
value, not improbably another wanderer from the same group, captured
near Madeira by the ship "America," of Salem. This vicinity, from the
islands to the equator, between 20° and 30° west longitude, belongs
essentially to the thronged highway and cross-roads of commerce, which
has been noted as a favorite cruising ground of American ships of war.
Hereabouts passed vessels both to and from the East Indies and South
America. The bad luck of several frigates, and the rough handling of
the "Globe" by the packets, illustrate one side of the fortune of war,
as the good hap of the "America" and "Governor Tompkins" shows the

   [Illustration: Diagram of the Montague, Pelham, Globe battle]

It is, however, the beginnings and endings of commercial routes,
rather than the intermediate stretch, which most favor enterprises
against an enemy's trade. In the thronging of vessels, the Caribbean
Sea, with its teeming archipelago, was second only, if second, to the
waters surrounding the United Kingdom. England was one extremity, and
the several West India Islands the other, of a traffic then one of the
richest in the world; while the tropical articles of this exchange, if
not absolute necessaries of life, had become by long indulgence
indispensable to the great part of civilized mankind. Here, therefore,
the numbers, the efforts, and the successes of American privateers
most nearly rivalled the daring achievements of their fellows in the
Narrow Seas and the approaches to Great Britain and Ireland. The two
regions resembled each other in another respect. Not only was there
for both an external trade, mainly with one another, but in each there
was also a local traffic of distribution and collection of goods, from
and to central ports, in which was concentrated the movement of import
and export. As has been remarked concerning the coastwise carriage of
the United Kingdom, this local intercourse, to be efficient, could not
be regulated and hampered to the same extent as the long voyage,
over-sea, transportation. A certain amount of freedom and
independence was essential, and the risk attendant upon such separate
action must be compensated, as far as might be, by diminishing the
size of the vessels engaged; a resource particularly applicable to the
moderate weather and quiet seas prevalent in the tropics.

Both the exposure of trade under such relaxed conditions, and the
relative security obtained by the convoy system, rigidly applied, are
shown by a few facts. From September 1, 1813, to March 1, 1814, six
months, the number of prizes taken by Americans, exclusive of those on
the Lakes, was reported as two hundred and seventy. Of these, nearly
one third--eighty-six--were to, from, or within the West Indies. Since
in many reports the place of capture is not given, nor any data
sufficient to fix it, it is probable that quite one third belonged to
this trade. This evidences the scale, both of the commerce itself and
of its pursuers, justifying a contemporary statement that "the West
Indies swarm with American privateers;" and it suggests also that many
of the seizures were local traders between the islands, or at least
vessels taking their chance on short runs. On the other hand, the
stringency with which the local officials enforced the Convoy Act was
shown, generally, by the experience at this time of the United States
naval vessels, the records of which, unlike those of most privateers,
have been preserved by filing or publication; and, specifically, by a
number of papers found in a prize by the United States frigate
"Constitution," Captain Charles Stewart, while making a round of these
waters in the first three months of 1814. Among other documents was a
petition, signed by many merchants of Demerara, praying convoy for
fifty-one vessels which were collected and waiting for many weary
weeks, as often had to be done. In one letter occurs the following:
"With respect to procuring a license for the "Fanny" to run it, in
case any other ships should be about to do so, we do not believe that,
out of forty vessels ready to sail, any application has been made for
such license, though out of the number are several out-port vessels
well armed and manned. Indeed, we are aware application would be
perfectly useless, as the present Governor, when at Berbice, would not
permit a vessel from that colony to this [adjoining] without convoy.
If we could obtain a license, we could not justify ourselves to
shippers, who have ordered insurance with convoy."[231]

The expense and embarrassment incident to such detentions are
far-reaching, and the effects are as properly chargeable as are
captures themselves to the credit of the cruisers, by the activity of
which they are occasioned. The "Constitution" could report only four
prizes as the result of a three months' cruise, necessarily shortened
by the approach of spring. This made it imperative for a vessel,
denied admission to most home ports by her draught of water, to
recover the shelter of one of them before the blockade again began,
and the exhaustion of her provisions should compel her to attempt
entrance under risk of an engagement with superior force. As it was,
she was chased into Salem, and had to lighten ship to escape. But
Stewart had driven an enemy's brig of war into Surinam, chased a
packet off Barbados, and a frigate in the Mona Passage; and the report
of these occurrences, wherever received, imposed additional
precaution, delay, and expense.

At the same time that the "Constitution" was passing through the
southern Caribbean, the naval brigs "Rattlesnake" and "Enterprise"
were searching its northern limits. These had put out from Portsmouth,
New Hampshire, when the winter weather drove the blockaders from
there, as from Boston, whence the "Constitution" had sailed. Starting
early in January, 1814, these two light cruisers kept company, passing
east of Bermuda to the island of St. Thomas, at the northeast corner
of the Caribbean. Thence they turned west, skirting the north shores
of Porto Rico and Santo Domingo as far as the Windward Passage.
Through this they entered the Caribbean, followed the south coast of
Cuba, between it and Jamaica, rounded Cape San Antonio, at its western
extremity, and thence, traversing the Straits of Florida, returned
along the coast of the United States. Having already been chased twice
in this cruise, they were compelled by a third pursuer to separate,
February 25. The stranger chose to keep after the "Enterprise," which
being a very dull sailer was obliged in a flight of seventy hours to
throw overboard most of her battery to escape. The two put into
Wilmington, North Carolina, a port impracticable to a frigate.[232]

In this long round the brigs overhauled eleven vessels, two only of
which were under the British flag. Two were Americans; the rest
neutrals, either Swedes or Spaniards. Of the two enemies, only one was
a merchant ship. The other was a privateer, the chase of which gave
rise to a curious and significant incident. Being near the Florida
coast, and thinking the brigs to be British, twenty or thirty of the
crew took to the boats and fled ashore to escape anticipated
impressment. As Marryat remarks, a British private vessel of that day
feared a British ship of war more than it did an enemy of equal force.
Of the neutrals stopped, one was in possession of a British prize
crew, and another had on board enemy's goods. For these reasons they
were sent in for adjudication, and arrived safely. Judged by these
small results from the several cruises of the "Enterprise,"
"Rattlesnake," and "Constitution," the large aggregate of captures
before quoted, two hundred and seventy, would indicate that to effect
them required a great number of cruisers, national and private. That
this inference is correct will be shown later, by some interesting and
instructive figures.

While the making of prizes was the primary concern of the American
privateers, their cruises in the West Indies, as elsewhere, gave rise
to a certain amount of hard fighting. One of the most noted of these
encounters, that of the schooner "Decatur," of Charleston, with the
man-of-war schooner "Dominica," can hardly be claimed for the United
States; for, though fought under the flag, her captain, Diron, was
French, as were most of the crew. The "Dominica" was in company with a
King's packet, which she was to convoy part of the way to England from
St. Thomas. On August 5, 1813, the "Decatur" met the two about three
hundred miles north of the island. The British vessel was superior in
armament, having fifteen guns; all carronades, except two long sixes.
The "Decatur's" battery was six carronades, and one long 18-pounder.
For long distances the latter was superior in carrying power and
penetration to anything on board the "Dominica;" but the American
captain, knowing himself to have most men, sought to board, and the
artillery combat was therefore mainly at close quarters, within
carronade range. It began at 2 P.M. At 2.30 the schooners were within
half-gunshot of one another; the "Dominica" in the position of being
chased, because of the necessity of avoiding the evident intention of
the "Decatur" to come hand to hand. Twice the latter tried to run
alongside, and twice was foiled by watchful steering, accompanied in
each case by a broadside which damaged her rigging and sails, besides
killing two of her crew. The third attempt was successful, the
"Decatur's" bow coming against the quarter of the "Dominica," the
jib-boom passing through her mainsail. The crew of the privateer
clambered on board, and there followed a hand-to-hand fight equally
honorable to both parties. The British captain, Lieutenant Barretté, a
young man of twenty-five, who had already proved his coolness and
skill in the management of the action, fell at the head of his men, of
whom sixty out of a total of eighty-eight were killed or wounded
before their colors were struck. The assailants, who numbered one
hundred and three, lost nineteen. The packet, though armed, took no
part in the fight, and when it was over effected her escape.[233] The
"Decatur" with her prize reached Charleston safely, August 20;
bringing also a captured merchantman. The moment of arrival was most
opportune; two enemy's brigs, which for some time had been blockading
the harbor, having left only the day before.

In March, 1814, the privateer schooner "Comet," of Baltimore, not
being able to make her home port, put into Wilmington, North Carolina.
She had been cruising in the West Indies, and had there taken twenty
vessels, most of which were destroyed after removing valuables. In the
course of her operations she encountered near St. Thomas the British
ship "Hibernia;" the size of which, and her height above the water, by
preventing boarding, enabled her successfully to repel attack, and the
privateer was obliged to haul off, having lost three men killed and
thirteen wounded. The American account of this affair ascribes
twenty-two guns to the "Hibernia." The British story says that she had
but six, with a crew of twenty-two men; of whom one was killed and
eleven wounded. The importance of the matter in itself scarcely
demands a serious attempt to reconcile this discrepancy; and it is
safer to accept each party's statement of his own force. The two agree
that the action lasted eight or nine hours, and that both were much
cut up. It is evident also from each narrative that they lay alongside
most of the time, which makes it probable that the ship's height
saved her from being overborne by superior numbers.

The "Saucy Jack," of Charleston, passed through several severe
combats, in one of which she was even worse mauled than the "Comet" in
the instance just cited. On April 30, 1814, off St. Nicolas Mole, in
the Windward Passage between Cuba and Santo Domingo, she met the
British ship "Pelham," a vessel of five hundred and forty tons, and
mounting ten guns, bound from London to Port au Prince. The "Pelham"
fought well, and the action lasted two hours, at the end of which she
was carried by boarding. Her forty men were overpowered by numbers,
but nevertheless still resisted with a resolution which commanded the
admiration of the victors. She lost four killed and eleven wounded;
among the latter her captain, dangerously. The privateer had two
killed and nine wounded. Both vessels reached Charleston safely, and
the "Saucy Jack" at once fitted out again. It is told that, between
daylight and dark of the day she began to enlist, one hundred and
thirty able-bodied seamen had shipped; and this at a time when the
navy with difficulty found crews.[234]

The "Saucy Jack" returned to the West Indies for another cruise, in
which she encountered one of those rude deceptions which privateers
often experienced. She had made already eight prizes, for one of
which, the ship "Amelia," she had had to fight vigorously, killing
four and wounding five of the enemy, while herself sustaining a loss
of one killed and one wounded, when on October 31, 1814, about 1 A.M.,
being then off Cape Tiburon at the west end of Haïti, she sighted two
vessels standing to the westward. Chase was made, and an hour later
the privateer opened fire. The strangers replied, at the same time
shortening sail, which looked ominous; but the "Saucy Jack," willing
to justify her name, kept on to close. At 6 A.M., having arrived
within a few hundred yards, the enemy were seen to be well armed, but
appeared not to be well manned. At seven, by which time it was
daylight, the "Saucy Jack" began an engagement with the nearer, and
ten minutes later ran her alongside, when she was found to be full of
soldiers. The privateer sheered off at once, and took to her heels,
followed by an incessant fire of grape and musketry from those whom
she had recently pursued. This awkward position, which carried the
chance of a disabling shot and consequent capture, lasted till eight,
when the speed of the schooner took her out of range, having had in
all eight men killed and fifteen wounded; two round shot in the hull,
and spars and rigging much cut up. It was afterwards ascertained that
her opponent was the "Volcano" bombship, convoying the transport
"Golden Fleece," on board which were two hundred and fifty troops from
Chesapeake Bay for Jamaica. The "Volcano" lost an officer and two men
killed, and two wounded; proving that under somewhat awkward
circumstances the "Saucy Jack" could give as well as take.[235]

A little later in this season a group of nine sail, from the West
Indies for Europe, was encountered by the privateer "Kemp," of
Baltimore, broad off the coast of North Carolina. Excluded, like the
"Comet" and others, from return to the port where she belonged, the
"Kemp" had been in Wilmington, which she left November 29, 1814; the
strangers being sighted at 8 A.M. December 1. One was a convoying
frigate, which, when the "Kemp" pursued, gave chase and drove her off
that afternoon. The privateer outran her pursuer, and during the night
by devious courses gave her the slip; thereupon steering for the
position where she judged she would again fall in with the merchant
vessels. In this she was successful, at daylight discovering
them,--three ships, three brigs, and two schooners. At 11 A.M. one
ship was overtaken, but proving to be Spanish, from Havana to Hamburg,
was allowed to proceed, while the "Kemp" again followed the others. At
noon they were five miles to windward, drawn up in a line to fight;
for in those days of war and piracy most merchant ships carried at
least a few guns for defence, and in this case their numbers, combined
in mutual support, might effect a successful resistance. At two they
took the initiative, bearing down together and attacking. The "Kemp"
engaged them all, and in half an hour the untrained squadron was
naturally in confusion. One after the other, six of the seven were
boarded, or without waiting to be attacked struck their colors as the
schooner drew up; but while four were being taken into possession, the
two others seized the opportunity and made off. Two ships and two
brigs remained in the hands of the captor. All were laden with sugar
and coffee, valuable at any time, but especially so in the then
destitute condition of the United States. After this unusual, if not
wholly unique, experience, the "Kemp" returned to port, having been
absent only six days. Her prisoners amounted to seventy-one, her own
crew being fifty-three. The separation of the escort from the convoy,
the subsequent judicious search for the latter, and the completeness
of the result, constitute this a very remarkable instance of good
management accompanied by good fortune; success deserved and

The privateer brig "Chasseur," of Baltimore, Captain Thomas Boyle, was
one of the typically successful and renowned cruisers of the time. She
carried a battery of sixteen 12-pounder carronades, and in the course
of the war thirty prizes are credited to her. In the late summer of
1814 she cruised off the coast of Great Britain and Ireland,
returning at the end of October; having made eighteen captures during
an absence of three months. From these she paroled and sent in by
cartels one hundred and fifty prisoners, bringing back with her
forty-three, of whom she had not been able thus to rid herself.[237]
After refitting she went to the West Indies for a winter cruise, which
extended from the Windward Islands to the neighborhood of Havana. Here
she signalized the approaching end of her career by an action, fought
after peace not only had been concluded at Ghent, but already was
known in the United States. On February 26, 1815, at 11 A.M., being
then twenty miles east of Havana, and six miles from the Cuban coast,
a schooner was seen in the northeast (1), running down before the
northeast trade-wind. Sail was made to intercept her (2), there being
at the time visible from the "Chasseur's" masthead a convoy lying-to
off Havana, information concerning which probably accounts for her
presence at this spot. The chase steered more to the northward (2),
bringing the wind on her starboard side, apparently wishing to avoid a
meeting. The "Chasseur" followed her motions, and when within about
three miles the stranger's foretopmast went over the side, showing the
press of sail she was carrying. After clearing the wreck she hauled
close on the wind, heading northerly. At 1 P.M., she began to fire her
stern gun and showed British colors; but only three port-holes were
visible on her port side,--towards the "Chasseur."

Believing from appearances that he had before him a weakly armed
vessel making a passage, and seeing but few men on her deck, Captain
Boyle pressed forward without much preparation and under all sail. At
1.26 P.M. the "Chasseur" had come within pistol-shot (3), on the port
side, when the enemy disclosed a tier of ten ports and opened his
broadside, with round shot, grape, and musket balls. The American
schooner, having much way on, shot ahead, and as she was to leeward in
doing so, the British vessel kept off quickly (4) to run under her
stern and rake. This was successfully avoided by imitating the
movement (4), and the two were again side by side, but with the
"Chasseur" now to the right (5). The action continued thus for about
ten minutes, when Boyle found his opponent's battery too heavy for
him. He therefore ran alongside (6), and in the act of boarding the
enemy struck. She proved to be the British schooner "St. Lawrence,"
belonging to the royal navy; formerly a renowned Philadelphia
privateer, the "Atlas." Her battery, one long 9-pounder and fourteen
12-pounder carronades, would have been no very unequal match for the
sixteen of her antagonist; but the "Chasseur" had been obliged
recently to throw overboard ten of these, while hard chased by the
Barrosa frigate, and had replaced them with some 9-pounders from a
prize, for which she had no proper projectiles. The complement allowed
the "St. Lawrence" was seventy-five, though it does not seem certain
that all were on board; and she was carrying also some soldiers,
marines, and naval officers, bound to New Orleans, in ignorance
probably of the disastrous end of that expedition. The "Chasseur" had
eighty-nine men, besides several boys. The British loss reported by
her captain was six killed and seventeen wounded; the American, five
killed and eight wounded.[238]

   [Illustration: Diagram of the Chasseur vs. St. Lawrence battle]

This action was very creditably fought on both sides, but to the
American captain belongs the meed of having not only won success, but
deserved it. His sole mistake was the over-confidence in what he could
see, which made him a victim to the very proper ruse practised by his
antagonist in concealing his force. His manoeuvring was prompt, ready,
and accurate; that of the British vessel was likewise good, but a
greater disproportion of injury should have resulted from her superior
battery. In reporting the affair to his owners, Captain Boyle said,
apologetically: "I should not willingly, perhaps, have sought a
contest with a King's vessel, knowing that is not our object; but my
expectations at first were a valuable vessel, and a valuable cargo
also. When I found myself deceived, the honor of the flag intrusted to
my care was not to be disgraced by flight." The feeling expressed was
modest as well as spirited, and Captain Boyle's handsome conduct
merits the mention that the day after the action, when the captured
schooner was released as a cartel to Havana, in compassion to her
wounded, the commander of the "St. Lawrence" gave him a letter, in the
event of his being taken by a British cruiser, testifying to his
"obliging attention and watchful solicitude to preserve our effects,
and render us comfortable during the short time we were in his
possession;" in which, he added, the captain "was carefully seconded
by all his officers."[239]

These instances, occurring either in the West Indies, or, in the case
of the "Kemp," affecting vessels which had just loaded there, are
sufficient, when taken in connection with those before cited from
other quarters of the globe, to illustrate the varied activities and
fortunes of privateering. The general subject, therefore, need not
further be pursued. It will be observed that in each case the cruiser
acts on the offensive; being careful, however, in choosing the object
of attack, to avoid armed ships, the capture of which seems unlikely
to yield pecuniary profit adequate to the risk. The gallantry and
skill of Captain Boyle of the "Chasseur" made particularly permissible
to him the avowal, that only mistake of judgment excused his
committing himself to an encounter which held out no such promise; and
it may be believed that the equally capable Captain Diron, if free to
do as he pleased, would have chosen the packet, and not her escort the
"Dominica," as the object of his pursuit. This the naval schooner of
course could not permit. It was necessary, therefore, first to fight
her; and, although she was beaten, the result of the action was to
insure the escape of the ship under her charge. These examples define
exactly the spirit and aim of privateering, and distinguish them from
the motives inspiring the ship of war. The object of the privateer is
profit by capture; to which fighting is only incidental, and where
avoidable is blamable. The mission of a navy on the other hand is
primarily military; and while custom permitted the immediate captor a
share in the proceeds of his prizes, the taking of them was in
conception not for direct gain, personal or national, but for injury
to the enemy.

It may seem that, even though the ostensible motive was not the same,
the two courses of operation followed identical methods, and in
outcome were indistinguishable. This is not so. However subtle the
working of the desire for gain upon the individual naval officer,
leading at times to acts of doubtful propriety, the tone and spirit of
a profession, even when not clearly formulated in phrase and
definition, will assert itself in the determination of personal
conduct. The dominating sense of advantage to the state, which is the
military motive, and the dominating desire for gain in a mercantile
enterprise, are very different incentives; and the result showed
itself in a fact which has never been appreciated, and perhaps never
noted, that the national ships of war were far more effective as
prize takers than were the privateers. A contrary impression has
certainly obtained, and was shared by the present writer until he
resorted to the commonplace test of adding up figures.

Amid much brilliant achievement, privateering, like all other business
pursuits, had also a large and preponderant record of unsuccess. The
very small number of naval cruisers necessarily yielded a much smaller
aggregate of prizes; but when the respective totals are considered
with reference to the numbers of vessels engaged in making them, the
returns from the individual vessels of the United States navy far
exceed those from the privateers. Among conspicuously successful
cruisers, also, the United States ships "Argus," "Essex," "Peacock,"
and "Wasp" compare favorably in general results with the most
celebrated privateers, even without allowing for the evident fact that
a few instances of very extraordinary qualities and record are more
likely to be found among five hundred vessels than among twenty-two;
this being the entire number of naval pendants actually engaged in
open-sea cruising, from first to last. These twenty-two captured one
hundred and sixty-five prizes, an average of 7.5 each, in which are
included the enemy's ships of war taken. Of privateers of all classes
there were five hundred and twenty-six; or, excluding a few small
nondescripts, four hundred and ninety-two. By these were captured
thirteen hundred and forty-four vessels, an average of less than
three; to be exact, 2.7. The proportion, therefore, of prizes taken by
ships of war to those by private armed vessels was nearly three to

Comparison may be instituted in other ways. Of the twenty-two national
cruisers, four only, or one in five, took no prize; leaving to the
remaining eighteen an average of nine. Out of the grand total of five
hundred and twenty-six privateers only two hundred and seven caught
anything; three hundred and nineteen, three out of five, returned to
port empty-handed, or were themselves taken. Dividing the thirteen
hundred and forty-four prizes among the two hundred and seven more or
less successful privateers, there results an average of 6.5; so that,
regard being had only to successful cruisers, the achievement of the
naval vessels was to that of the private armed nearly as three to two.
These results may be accepted as disposing entirely of the extravagant
claims made for privateering as a system, when compared with a regular
naval service, especially when it is remembered with what difficulty
the American frigates could get to sea at all, on account of their
heavy draft and the close blockade; whereas the smaller vessels,
national or private, had not only many harbors open, but also
comparatively numerous opportunities to escape. The frigate "United
States" never got out after her capture of the "Macedonian," in 1812;
the "Congress" was shut up after her return in December, 1813; and the
"Chesapeake" had been captured in the previous June. All these
nevertheless count in the twenty-two pendants reckoned above.

The figures here cited are from a compilation by Lieutenant George F.
Emmons,[240] of the United States Navy, published in 1853 under the
title, "The United States Navy from 1775 to 1853." Mr. Emmons made no
analyses, confining himself to giving lists and particulars; his work
is purely statistical. Counting captures upon the lakes, and a few
along the coast difficult of classification, his grand total of
floating craft taken from the enemy reaches fifteen hundred and
ninety-nine; which agrees nearly with the sixteen hundred and
thirty-four of Niles, whom he names among his sources of information.
From an examination of the tables some other details of interest may
be drawn. Of the five hundred and twenty-six privateers and
letters-of-marque given by name, twenty-six were ships, sixty-seven
brigs, three hundred and sixty-four schooners, thirty-five sloops,
thirty-four miscellaneous; down to, and including, a few boats putting
out from the beach. The number captured by the enemy was one hundred
and forty-eight, or twenty-eight per cent. The navy suffered more
severely. Of the twenty-two vessels reckoned above, twelve were taken,
or destroyed to keep them out of an enemy's hands; over fifty per
cent. Of the twelve, six were small brigs, corresponding in size and
nautical powers to the privateer. Three were frigates--the
"President," "Essex," and "Chesapeake." One, the "Adams," was not at
sea when destroyed by her own captain to escape capture. Only two
sloops of war, the first "Wasp" and the "Frolic,"[241] were taken; and
of these the former, as already known, was caught when partially
dismasted, at the end of a successful engagement.

Contemporary with the career of the "Argus," the advantage of a sudden
and unexpected inroad, like hers, upon a region deemed safe by the
enemy, was receiving confirmation in the remote Pacific by the cruise
of the frigate "Essex." This vessel, which had formed part of
Commodore Bainbridge's squadron at the close of 1812, was last
mentioned as keeping her Christmas off Cape Frio,[242] on the coast of
Brazil, awaiting there the coming of the consorts whom she never
succeeded in joining. Captain Porter maintained this station, hearing
frequently about Bainbridge by vessels from Bahia, until January 12,
1813. Then a threatened shortness of provisions, and rumors of enemy's
ships in the neighborhood, especially of the seventy-four "Montagu"
combined to send him to St. Catherine's Island, another appointed
rendezvous, and the last upon the coast of Brazil. In this remote
and sequestered anchorage hostile cruisers would scarcely look for
him, at least until more likely positions had been carefully examined.

   [Illustration: CAPTAIN DAVID PORTER.
   _From the painting by Charles Wilson Peale, in Independence Hall,

At St. Catherine's Porter heard of the action between the
"Constitution" and "Java" off Bahia, a thousand miles distant, and
received also a rumor, which seemed probable enough, that the third
ship of the division, the "Hornet," had been captured by the
"Montagu." He consequently left port January 26, for the southward,
still with the expectation of ultimately joining the Commodore off St.
Helena, the last indicated point of assembly; but having been unable
to renew his stores in St. Catherine's, and ascertaining that there
was no hope of better success at Buenos Ayres, or the other Spanish
settlements within the River La Plata, he after reflection decided to
cut loose from the squadron and go alone to the Pacific. There he
could reasonably hope to support himself by the whalers of the enemy;
that class of vessel being always well provided for long absences.
This alternative course he knew would be acceptable to the Government,
as well as to his immediate commander.[243] The next six weeks were
spent in the tempestuous passage round Cape Horn, the ship's company
living on half-allowance of provisions; but on March 14, 1813, the
"Essex" anchored in Valparaiso, being the first United States ship of
war to show the national flag in the Pacific. By a noteworthy
coincidence she had already been the first to carry it beyond the Cape
of Good Hope.

Chile received the frigate hospitably, being at the time in revolt
against Spain; but the authority of the mother country was still
maintained in Peru, where a Spanish viceroy resided, and it was
learned that in the capacity of ally of Great Britain he intended to
fit out privateers against American whalers, of which there were many
in these seas. As several of the British whalers carried
letters-of-marque, empowering them to make prizes, the arrival of the
"Essex" not only menaced the hostile interests, but promised to
protect her own countrymen from a double danger. Her departure
therefore was hastened; and having secured abundant provision, such as
the port supplied, she sailed for the northward a week after
anchoring. A privateer from Peru was met, which had seized two
Americans. Porter threw overboard her guns and ammunition, and then
released her with a note for the viceroy, which served both as a
respectful explanation and a warning. One of the prizes taken by this
marauder was recaptured March 27, when entering Callao, the port of

The "Essex" then went to the Galapagos Islands, a group just south of
the equator, five hundred miles from the South American mainland.
These belong now to Ecuador, and at that day were a noted rendezvous
for whalers. In this neighborhood the frigate remained from April 17
to October 3, during which period she captured twelve British whalers
out of some twenty-odd reported in the Pacific; with the necessary
consequence of driving all others to cover for the time being. The
prizes were valuable, some more, some less; not only from the
character of their cargoes, but because they themselves were larger
than the average merchant ship, and exceptionally well found. Three
were sent to Valparaiso in convoy of a fourth, which had been
converted into a consort of the "Essex," under the name of the "Essex
Junior," mounting twenty very light guns. September 30 she returned,
bringing word that a British squadron, consisting of the 36-gun
frigate "Phoebe," Captain James Hillyar, and the sloops of war
"Cherub" and "Raccoon," had sailed for the Pacific. The rumor was
correct, though long antedating the arrival of the vessels. In
consequence of it, Porter, considering that his work at the Galapagos
was now complete, and that the "Essex" would need overhauling before a
possible encounter with a division, the largest unit of which was
superior to her in class and force, decided to move to a position then
even more remote from disturbance than St. Catherine's had been. On
October 25 the "Essex" and "Essex Junior" anchored at the island of
Nukahiva, of the Marquesas group, having with them three of the
prizes. Of the others, besides those now at Valparaiso, two had been
given up to prisoners to convey them to England, and three had been
sent to the United States. That all the last were captured on the way
detracts nothing from Porter's merit, but testifies vividly to the
British command of the sea.

At the Marquesas, by aid of the resources of the prizes, the frigate
was thoroughly overhauled, refitted, and provisioned for six months.
Porter had not only maintained his ship, but in part paid his officers
and crew from the proceeds of his captures. On December 12 he sailed
for Chile, satisfied with the material outcome of his venturous
cruise, but wishing to add to it something of further distinction by
an encounter with Hillyar, if obtainable on terms approaching
equality. With this object the ship's company were diligently
exercised at the guns and small arms during the passage, which lasted
nearly eight weeks; the Chilean coast being sighted on January 12, far
to the southward, and the "Essex" running slowly along it until
February 3, when she reached Valparaiso. On the 8th the "Phoebe" and
"Cherub" came in and anchored; the "Raccoon" having gone on to the
North Pacific.

The antagonists now lay near one another, under the restraint of a
neutral port, for several days, during which some social intercourse
took place between the officers; the two captains renewing an
acquaintance made years before in the Mediterranean. After a period of
refit, and of repose for the crews, the British left the bay, and
cruised off the port. The "Essex" and "Essex Junior" remained at
anchor, imprisoned by a force too superior to be encountered without
some modifying circumstances of advantage. Porter found opportunities
for contrasting the speed of the two frigates, and convinced himself
that the "Essex" was on that score superior; but the respective
armaments introduced very important tactical considerations, which
might, and in the result did, prove decisive. The "Essex" originally
had been a 12-pounder frigate, classed as of thirty-two guns; but her
battery now was forty 32-pounder carronades and six long twelves.
Captain Porter in his report of the battle stated the armament of the
"Phoebe" to be thirty long 18-pounders and sixteen 32-pounder
carronades. The British naval historian James gives her twenty-six
long eighteens, fourteen 32-pounder carronades, and four long nines;
while to the "Cherub" he attributes a carronade battery of eighteen
thirty-twos and six eighteens, with two long sixes. Whichever
enumeration be accepted, the broadside of the "Essex" within carronade
range considerably outweighed that of the "Phoebe" alone, but was much
less than that of the two British ships combined; the light built and
light-armed "Essex Junior" not being of account to either side. There
remained always the serious chance that, even if the "Phoebe" accepted
single combat, some accident of wind might prevent the "Essex"
reaching her before being disabled by her long guns. Hillyar,
moreover, was an old disciple of Nelson, fully imbued with the
teaching that achievement of success, not personal glory, must dictate
action; and, having a well established reputation for courage and
conduct, he did not intend to leave anything to the chances of fortune
incident to engagement between equals. He would accept no provocation
to fight apart from the "Cherub."

Forced to accept this condition, Porter now turned his attention to
escape. Valparaiso Bay is an open roadstead, facing north. The high
ground above the anchorage provides shelter from the south-southwest
wind, which prevails along this coast throughout the year with very
rare intermissions. At times, as is common under high land, it blows
furiously in gusts. The British vessels underway kept their station
close to the extreme western point of the bay, to prevent the "Essex"
from passing to southward of them, and so gaining the advantage of the
wind, which might entail a prolonged chase and enable her, if not to
distance pursuit, at least to draw the "Phoebe" out of support of the
"Cherub." Porter's aim of course was to seize an opportunity when by
neglect, or unavoidably, they had left a practicable opening between
them and the point. In the end, his hand was forced by an accident.

On March 28 the south wind blew with unusual violence, and the "Essex"
parted one of her cables. The other anchor failed to hold when the
strain came upon it, and the ship began to drift to sea. The cable was
cut and sail made at once; for though the enemy were too nearly in
their station to have warranted the attempt to leave under ordinary
conditions, Porter, in the emergency thus suddenly thrust upon him,
thought he saw a prospect of passing to windward. The "Essex"
therefore was hauled close to the wind under single-reefed topsails,
heading to the westward; but just as she came under the point of the
bay a heavy squall carried away the maintopmast. The loss of this spar
hopelessly crippled her, and made it impossible even to regain the
anchorage left. She therefore put about, and ran eastward until within
pistol-shot of the coast, about three miles north of the city. Here
she anchored, well within neutral waters; Hillyar's report stating
that she was "so near shore as to preclude the possibility of passing
ahead of her without risk to his Majesty's ships." Three miles, then
the range of a cannon-shot, estimated liberally, was commonly accepted
as the width of water adjacent to neutral territory, which was under
the neutral protection. The British captain decided nevertheless to

The wind remaining southerly, the "Essex" rode head to it; the two
hostile vessels approaching with the intention of running north of
her, close under her stern. The wind, however, forced them off as they
drew near; and their first attack, beginning about 4 P.M. and lasting
ten minutes, produced no visible effect, according to Hillyar's
report. Porter states, on the contrary, that considerable injury was
done to the "Essex"; and in particular the spring which he was trying
to get on the cable was thrice shot away, thus preventing the bringing
of her broadside to bear as required. The "Phoebe" and her consort
then wore, which increased their distance, and stood out again to sea.
While doing this they threw a few "random shots;" fired, that is, at
an elevation so great as to be incompatible with certainty of aim.
During this cannonade the "Essex," with three 12-pounders run out of
her stern ports, had deprived the "Phoebe" of "the use of her
mainsail, jib and mainstay." On standing in again Hillyar prepared to
anchor, but ordered the "Cherub" to keep underway, choosing a position
whence she could most annoy their opponent.

At 5.35 P.M., by Hillyar's report,--Porter is silent as to the
hour,--the attack was renewed; the British ships both placing
themselves on the starboard--seaward--quarter of the "Essex." Before
the "Phoebe" reached the position in which she intended to anchor, the
"Essex" was seen to be underway. Hillyar could only suppose that her
cable had been severed by a shot; but Porter states that under the
galling fire to which she was subjected, without power to reply, he
cut the cable, hoping, as the enemy were to leeward, he might bring
the ship into close action, and perhaps even board the "Phoebe." The
decision was right, but under the conditions a counsel of desperation;
for sheets, tacks, and halliards being shot away, movement depended
upon sails hanging loose,--spread, but not set. Nevertheless, he was
able for a short time to near the enemy, and both accounts agree that
hereupon ensued the heat of the combat; "a serious conflict," to use
Hillyar's words, to which corresponds Porter's statement that "the
firing on both sides was now tremendous." The "Phoebe," however, was
handled, very properly, to utilize to the full the tactical advantages
she possessed in the greater range of her guns, and in power of
manoeuvring. In the circumstances under which she was acting, the sail
power left her was amply sufficient; having simply to keep drawing to
leeward, maintaining from her opponent a distance at which his guns
were useless and her own effective.

Under these conditions, seeing success to be out of the question, and
suffering great loss of men, Porter turned to the last resort of the
vanquished, to destroy the vessel and to save the crew from captivity.
The "Essex" was pointed for the shore; but when within a couple of
hundred yards the wind, which had so far favored her approach, shifted
ahead. Still clinging to every chance, a kedge with a hawser was let
go, to hold her where she was; perhaps the enemy might drift
unwittingly out of range. But the hawser parted, and with it the
frigate's last hold upon the country which she had honored by an
heroic defence. Porter then authorized any who might wish to swim
ashore to do so; the flag being kept flying to warrant a proceeding
which after formal surrender would be a breach of faith. At 6.20 the
"Essex" at last lowered her colors.[244] Out of a ship's company of
two hundred and fifty-five, with which she sailed in the morning,
fifty-eight were killed, or died of their wounds, and sixty-five were
wounded. The missing were reported at thirty-one. By agreement between
Hillyar and Porter, the "Essex Junior" was disarmed, and neutralized,
to convey to the United States, as paroled prisoners of war, the
survivors who remained on board at the moment of surrender. These
numbered one hundred and thirty-two. It is an interesting particular,
linking those early days of the United States navy to a long
subsequent period of renown, and worthy therefore to be recalled, that
among the combatants of the "Essex" was Midshipman David G. Farragut,
then thirteen years old. His name figures among the wounded, as well
as in the list of passengers on board the "Essex Junior."

The disaster to the "Essex" is connected by a singular and tragical
link with the fate of an American cruiser of like adventurous
enterprise in seas far distant from the Pacific. After the defeat at
Valparaiso, Lieutenant Stephen Decatur McKnight and Midshipman James
Lyman of the United States frigate were exchanged as prisoners of war
against a certain number of officers and seamen belonging to one of
the "Essex's" prizes; which, having continued under protection of the
neutral port, had undergone no change of belligerent relation by the
capture of her captor. When the "Essex Junior" sailed, these two
officers remained behind, by amicable arrangement, to go in the
"Phoebe" to Rio Janeiro, there to give certain evidence needed in
connection with the prize claims of the British frigate; which done,
it was understood they would be at liberty to return to their own
country by such conveyance as suited them. After arrival in Rio, the
first convenient opportunity offering was by a Swedish brig sailing
for Falmouth, England. In her they took passage, leaving Rio August
23, 1814. On October 9 the brig fell in with the United States sloop
of war "Wasp," in mid-ocean, about three hundred miles west of the
Cape Verde Islands, homeward bound. The two passengers transferred
themselves to her. Since this occurrence nothing further has ever been
heard of the American ship; nor would the incident itself have escaped
oblivion but for the anxiety of friends, which after the lapse, of
time prompted systematic inquiry to ascertain what had become of the
missing officers.

The captain of the "Wasp" was Master-Commandant, or, as he would now
be styled, Commander Johnstone Blakely; the same who had commanded the
"Enterprise" up to a month before her engagement with the "Boxer,"
when was demonstrated the efficiency to which he had brought her
ship's company. He sailed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, May 1, 1814.
Of his instructions,[245] the most decisive was to remain for thirty
days in a position on the approaches to the English Channel, about one
hundred and fifty miles south of Ireland, in which neighborhood
occurred the most striking incidents of the cruise. On the outward
passage was taken only one prize, June 2. She was from Cork to
Halifax, twelve days out; therefore probably from six to eight hundred
miles west of Ireland. The second, from Limerick for Bordeaux, June
13, would show the "Wasp" on her station; on which, Blakely reported,
it was impossible to keep her, even approximately, being continually
drawn away in pursuit, and often much further up the English Channel
than desired, on account of the numerous sails passing.[246] When
overhauled, most of these were found to be neutrals. Nevertheless,
seven British merchant vessels were taken; all of which were
destroyed, except one given up to carry prisoners to England.

While thus engaged, the "Wasp" on June 28 sighted a sail, which proved
to be the British brig of war "Reindeer," Captain Manners, that had
left Plymouth six days before. The place of this meeting was latitude
48-½° North, longitude 11° East; therefore nearly in the cruising
ground assigned to Blakely by his instructions. The antagonists were
unequally matched; the American carrying twenty 32-pounder carronades
and two long guns, the British sixteen 24-pounders and two long; a
difference against her of over fifty per cent. The "Reindeer" was to
windward, and some manoeuvring took place in the respective efforts to
keep or to gain this advantage. In the end the "Reindeer" retained it,
and the action began with both on the starboard tack, closehauled, the
British sloop on the weather quarter of the "Wasp,"--behind, but on
the weather side, which in this case was to the right (1). Approaching
slowly, the "Reindeer" with great deliberation fired five times, at
two-minute intervals, a light gun mounted on her forecastle, loaded
with round and grape shot. Finding her to maintain this position, upon
which his guns would not train, Blakely put the helm down, and the
"Wasp" turned swiftly to the right (2), bringing her starboard battery
to bear. This was at 3.26 P.M. The action immediately became very hot,
at very close range (3), and the "Reindeer" was speedily disabled. The
vessels then came together (4), and Captain Manners, who by this time
had received two severe wounds, with great gallantry endeavored to
board with his crew, reduced by the severe punishment already
inflicted to half its originally inferior numbers. As he climbed into
the rigging, two balls from the "Wasp's" tops passed through his head,
and he fell back dead on his own deck. No further resistance was
offered, and the "Wasp" took possession. She had lost five killed and
twenty-one wounded, of whom six afterwards died. The British
casualties were twenty-three killed and forty-two wounded. The brig
herself, being fairly torn to pieces, was burned the next day.[247]

   [Illustration: Diagram of the Wasp vs. Reindeer battle]

The results of this engagement testify to the efficiency and
resolution of both combatants; but a special meed of praise is
assuredly due to Captain Manners, whose tenacity was as marked as his
daring, and who, by the injury done to his stronger antagonist,
demonstrated both the thoroughness of his previous general preparation
and the skill of his management in the particular instance. Under his
command the "Reindeer" had become a notable vessel in the fleet to
which she belonged; but as equality in force is at a disadvantage
where there is serious inferiority in training and discipline, so the
best of drilling must yield before decisive superiority of armament,
when there has been equal care on both sides to insure efficiency in
the use of the battery. To Blakely's diligence in this respect his
whole career bears witness.

After the action Blakely wished to remain cruising, which neither the
condition of his ship nor her losses in men forbade; but the number of
prisoners and wounded compelled him to make a harbor. He accordingly
went into L'Orient, France, on July 8. Despite the change of
government, and the peace with Great Britain which attended the
restoration of the Bourbons, the "Wasp" was here hospitably received
and remained for seven weeks refitting, sailing again August 27. By
September 1 she had taken and destroyed three more enemy's vessels;
one of which was cut out from a convoy, and burnt under the eyes of
the convoying 74-gun ship. At 6.30 P.M. of September 1 four sails
were sighted, from which Blakely selected to pursue the one most to
windward; for, should this prove a ship of war, the others, if
consorts, would be to leeward of the fight, less able to assist. The
chase lasted till 9.26, when the "Wasp" was near enough to see that
the stranger was a brig of war, and to open with a light carronade on
the forecastle, as the "Reindeer" had done upon her in the same
situation. Confident in his vessel, however, Blakely abandoned this
advantage of position, ran under his antagonist's lee to prevent her
standing down to join the vessels to leeward, and at 9.29 began the
engagement, being then on her lee bow. At ten the "Wasp" ceased firing
and hailed, believing the enemy to be silenced; but receiving no
reply, and the British guns opening again, the combat was renewed. At
10.12, seeing the opponent to be suffering greatly, Blakely hailed
again and was answered that the brig had surrendered. The "Wasp's"
battery was secured, and a boat was in the act of being lowered to
take possession, when a second brig was discovered close astern.
Preparation was made to receive her and her coming up awaited; but at
10.36 the two others were also visible, astern and approaching. The
"Wasp" then made sail, hoping to decoy the second vessel from her
supports; but the sinking condition of the one first engaged detained
the new-comer, who, having come within pistol-shot, fired a broadside
which took effect only aloft, and then gave all her attention to
saving the crew of her comrade. As the "Wasp" drew away she heard the
repeated signal guns of distress discharged by her late adversary, the
name of which never became known to the captain and crew of the
victorious ship.[248]

The vessel thus engaged was the British brig "Avon," of sixteen
32-pounder carronades, and two long 9-pounders; her force being to
that of the "Wasp" as four to five. Her loss in men was ten killed
and thirty-two wounded; that of the "Wasp" two killed and one wounded.
The "Avon" being much superior to the "Reindeer," this comparatively
slight injury inflicted by her testifies to inferior efficiency. The
broadside of her rescuer, the "Castilian," of the same weight as her
own, wholly missed the "Wasp's" hull, though delivered from so near; a
circumstance which drew from the British historian, James, the caustic
remark that she probably would have done no better than the "Avon,"
had the action continued. The "Wasp" was much damaged in sails and
rigging; the "Avon" sank two hours and a half after the "Wasp" left
her and one hour after being rejoined by the "Castilian."

The course of the "Wasp" after this event is traced by her captures.
The meeting with the "Avon" was within a hundred miles of that with
the "Reindeer." On September 12 and 14, having run south three hundred
and sixty miles, she took two vessels; being then about two hundred
and fifty miles west from Lisbon. On the 21st, having made four
degrees more southing, she seized the British brig "Atalanta," a
hundred miles east of Madeira. This prize being of exceptional value,
Blakely decided to send her in, and she arrived safely at Savannah on
November 4, in charge of Midshipman David Geisinger, who lived to
become a captain in the navy.[249] She brought with her Blakely's
official despatches, including the report of the affair with the
"Avon." This was the last tidings received from the "Wasp" until the
inquiries of friends elicited the fact that the two officers of the
"Essex" had joined her three weeks after the capture of the
"Atalanta," nine hundred miles farther south. Besides these, there
were among the lost two lieutenants who had been in the "Constitution"
when she took the "Guerrière" and the "Java," and one who had been in
the "Enterprise" in her action with the "Boxer."

Coincident in time with the cruise of the "Wasp" was that of her
sister ship, the "Peacock"; like her also newly built, and named after
the British brig sunk by Captain Lawrence in the "Hornet." The finest
achievement of the "Wasp," however, was near the end of her career,
while it fell to the "Peacock" to begin with a successful action.
Having left New York early in March, she went first to St. Mary's,
Georgia, carrying a quantity of warlike stores. In making this passage
she was repeatedly chased by enemies. Having landed her cargo, she
sailed immediately and ran south as far as one of the Bahama Islands,
called the Great Isaac, near to which vessels from Jamaica and Cuba
bound to Europe must pass, because of the narrowness of the channel
separating the islands from the Florida coast. In this neighborhood
she remained from April 18 to 24, seeing only one neutral and two
privateers, which were pursued unsuccessfully. This absence of
unguarded merchant ships, coupled with the frequency of hostile
cruisers met before, illustrates exactly the conditions to which
attention has been repeatedly drawn, as characterizing the British
plan of action in the Western Atlantic. Learning that the expected
Jamaica convoy would be under charge of a seventy-four, two frigates,
and two sloops, and that the merchant ships in Havana, fearing to sail
alone, would await its passing to join, Captain Warrington next stood
slowly to the northward, and on April 29, off Cape Canaveral, sighted
four sail, which proved to be the British brig "Epervier" of eighteen
32-pounder carronades,[250] also northward bound, with three merchant
vessels under her convoy; one of these being Russian, and one Spanish,
belonging therefore to nations still at war with France, though
neutral towards the United States. The third, a merchant brig, was the
first British commercial vessel seen since leaving Savannah.

As usual and proper, the "Epervier," seeing that the "Peacock" would
overtake her and her convoy, directed the latter to separate while she
stood down to engage the hostile cruiser. The two vessels soon came to
blows. The accounts of the action on both sides are extremely meagre,
and preclude any certain statement as to manoeuvres; which indeed
cannot have been material to the issue reached. The "Epervier," for
reasons that will appear later, fought first one broadside and then
the other; but substantially the contest appears to have been
maintained side to side. From the first discharge of the "Epervier"
two round shot struck the "Peacock's" foreyard nearly in the same
place, which so weakened the spar as to deprive the ship of the use of
her foresail and foretopsail; that is, practically, of all sail on the
foremast. Having thenceforth only the jibs for headsail, she had to be
kept a little off the wind. The action lasted forty-five minutes, when
the "Epervier" struck. Her loss in men was eight killed, and fifteen
wounded; the "Peacock" had two wounded.

In extenuation of this disproportion in result, James states that in
the first broadside three of the "Epervier's" carronades were
unshipped; and that, when those on the other side were brought into
action by tacking, similar mishaps occurred. Further, the moment the
guns got warm they drew out the breeching bolts. Allowing full force
to these facts, they certainly have some bearing on the general
outcome; but viewed with regard to the particular question of
efficiency, which is the issue of credit in every fight,[251] there
remains the first broadside, and such other discharges as the
carronades could endure before getting warm. The light metal of those
guns indisputably caused them to heat rapidly, and to kick nastily;
but it can scarcely be considered probable that the "Epervier" was not
able to get in half a dozen broadsides. The result, two wounded,
establishes inefficiency, and a practical certainty of defeat had all
her ironwork held; for the "Peacock," though only three months
commissioned, was a good ship under a thoroughly capable and attentive
captain. A comical remark of James in connection with this engagement
illustrates the weakness of prepossession, in all matters relating to
Americans, which in him was joined to a painstaking accuracy in
ascertaining and stating external facts. "Two well-directed shot," he
says, disabled the "Peacock's" foreyard. It was certainly a capital
piece of luck for the "Epervier" that her opponent at the outset lost
the use of one of her most important spars; but the implication that
the shot were directed for the point hit is not only preposterous but,
in a combat between vessels nearly equal, depreciatory. The shot of a
first broadside had no business to be so high in the air.

James alleges also poor quality and a mutinous spirit in the crew, and
that at the end, when their captain called upon them to board, they
refused, saying, "She is too heavy for us." To this the adequate reply
is that the brig had been in commission since the end of
1812,--sixteen months; time sufficient to bring even an indifferent
crew to a very reasonable degree of efficiency, yet not enough to
cause serious deterioration of material. That after the punishment
received the men refused to board, if discreditable to them under the
conditions, is discreditable also to the captain; not to his courage,
but to his hold upon the men whom he had commanded so long. The
establishment of the "Epervier's" inefficiency certainly detracts from
the distinction of the "Peacock's" victory; but it was scarcely her
fault that her adversary was not worthier, and it does not detract
from her credit for management and gunnery, considering that the
combat began with the loss of her own foresails, and ended with
forty-five shot in the hull, and five feet of water in the hold, of
her antagonist.

By dark of the day of action the prize was in condition to make sail,
and the "Peacock's" yard had been fished and again sent aloft. The two
vessels then steered north for Savannah. The next evening two British
frigates appeared. Captain Warrington directed the "Epervier" to keep
on close along shore, while he stood southward to draw away the enemy.
This proved effective; the "Epervier" arriving safely May 2 at the
anchorage at the mouth of the Savannah River, where the "Peacock"
rejoined her on the 4th. The "Adams," Captain Morris, was also there;
having arrived from the coast of Africa on the day of the fight, and
sailing again a week after it, May 5, for another cruise.

On June 4 the "Peacock" also started upon a protracted cruise, from
which she returned to New York October 30, after an absence of one
hundred and forty-seven days.[252] She followed the Gulf Stream,
outside the line of British blockaders, to the Banks of Newfoundland,
thence to the Azores, and so on to Ireland; off the south of which,
between Waterford and Cape Clear, she remained for four days. After
this she passed round the west coast, and to the northward as far as
Shetland and the Faroe Islands. She then retraced her course, crossed
the Bay of Biscay, and ran along the Portuguese coast; pursuing in
general outline the same path as that in which the "Wasp" very soon
afterwards followed. Fourteen prizes were taken; of which twelve were
destroyed, and two utilized as cartels to carry prisoners to England.
Of the whole number, one only was seized from September 2, when the
ship was off the Canaries, to October 12, off Barbuda in the West
Indies; and none from there to the United States. "Not a single vessel
was seen from the Cape Verde to Surinam," reported Warrington; while
in seven days spent between the Rock of Lisbon and Cape Ortegal, at
the northwest extremity of the Spanish peninsula, of twelve sail seen,
nine of which were spoken, only two were British.

In these conditions were seen, exemplified and emphasized, the alarm
felt and precautions taken, by both the mercantile classes and the
Admiralty, in consequence of the invasion of European waters by
American armed vessels, of a class and an energy unusually fitted to
harass commerce. The lists of American prizes teem with evidence of
extraordinary activity, by cruisers singularly adapted for their work,
and audacious in proportion to their confidence of immunity, based
upon knowledge of their particular nautical qualities. The impression
produced by their operations is reflected in the representations of
the mercantile community, in the rise of insurance, and in the
stricter measures instituted by the Admiralty. The Naval Chronicle, a
service journal which since 1798 had been recording the successes and
supremacy of the British Navy, confessed now that "the depredations
committed on our commerce by American ships of war and privateers have
attained an extent beyond all former precedent.... We refer our
readers to the letters in our correspondence. The insurance between
Bristol and Waterford or Cork is now three times higher than it was
when we were at war with all Europe. The Admiralty have been
overwhelmed with letters of complaint or remonstrance."[253] In the
exertions of the cruisers the pace seems to grow more and more
furious, as the year 1814 draws to its close amid a scene of
exasperated coast warfare, desolation, and humiliation, in America; as
though they were determined, amid all their pursuit of gain, to make
the enemy also feel the excess of mortification which he was
inflicting upon their own country. The discouragement testified by
British shippers and underwriters was doubtless enhanced and
embittered by disappointment, in finding the movement of trade thus
embarrassed and intercepted at the very moment when the restoration of
peace in Europe had given high hopes of healing the wounds, and
repairing the breaches, made by over twenty years of maritime warfare,
almost unbroken.

In London, on August 17, 1814, directors of two insurance companies
presented to the Admiralty remonstrances on the want of protection in
the Channel; to which the usual official reply was made that an
adequate force was stationed both in St. George's Channel and in the
North Sea. The London paper from which this intelligence was taken
stated that premiums on vessels trading between England and Ireland
had risen from an ordinary rate of less than one pound sterling to
five guineas per cent. The Admiralty, taxed with neglect, attributed
blame to the merchant captains, and announced additional severity to
those who should part convoy. Proceedings were instituted against two
masters guilty of this offence.[254] September 9, the merchants and
shipowners of Liverpool remonstrated direct to the Prince Regent,
going over the heads of the Admiralty, whom they censured. Again the
Admiralty alleged sufficient precautions, specifying three frigates
and fourteen sloops actually at sea for the immediate protection of
St. George's Channel and the western Irish coast against depredations,
which they nevertheless did not succeed in suppressing.[255]

At the same time the same classes in Glasgow were taking action, and
passing resolutions, the biting phrases of which were probably
prompted as much by a desire to sting the Admiralty as by a personal
sense of national abasement. "At a time when we are at peace with all
the rest of the world, when the maintenance of our marine costs so
large a sum to the country, when the mercantile and shipping interests
pay a tax for protection under the form of convoy duty, and when, in
the plenitude of our power, we have declared the whole American coast
under blockade, it is equally distressing and mortifying that our
ships cannot with safety traverse our own channels, that insurance
cannot be effected but at an excessive premium, and that a horde of
American cruisers should be allowed, unheeded, unmolested, unresisted,
to take, burn, or sink our own vessels in our own inlets, and almost
in sight of our own harbours."[256] In the same month the merchants of
Bristol, the position of which was comparatively favorable to
intercourse with Ireland, also presented a memorial, stating that the
rate of insurance had risen to more than twofold the amount at which
it was usually effected during the continental war, when the British
Navy could not, as it now might, direct its operations solely against
American cruisers. Shipments consequently had been in a considerable
degree suspended. The Admiralty replied that the only certain
protection was by convoy. This they were ready to supply but could not
compel, for the Convoy Act did not apply to trade between ports of
the United Kingdom.

This was the offensive return made by America's right arm of national
safety; the retort to the harrying of the Chesapeake, and of Long
Island Sound, and to the capture and destruction of Washington. But,
despite the demonstrated superiority of a national navy, on the whole,
for the infliction of such retaliation, even in the mere matter of
commerce destroying,--not to speak of confidence in national prowess,
sustained chiefly by the fighting successes at sea,--this weighty blow
to the pride and commerce of Great Britain was not dealt by the
national Government; for the national Government had gone to war
culpably unprepared. It was the work of the people almost wholly,
guided and governed by their own shrewdness and capacity; seeking,
indeed, less a military than a pecuniary result, an indemnity at the
expense of the enemy for the loss to which they had been subjected by
protracted inefficiency in administration and in statesmanship on the
part of their rulers. The Government sat wringing its hands, amid the
ruins of its capital and the crash of its resources; reaping the
reward of those wasted years during which, amid abounding warning, it
had neglected preparation to meet the wrath to come. Monroe, the
Secretary of State, writing from Washington to a private friend, July
3, 1814, said, "Even in this state, the Government shakes to the
foundation. Let a strong force land anywhere, and what will be the
effect?" A few months later, December 21, he tells Jefferson, "Our
finances are in a deplorable state. The means of the country have
scarcely yet been touched, yet we have neither money in the Treasury
nor credit."[257] This statement was abundantly confirmed by a
contemporary official report of the Secretary of the Treasury. At the
end of the year, Bainbridge, commanding the Boston navy yard, wrote
the Department, "The officers and men of this station are really
_suffering_ for want of pay due them, and articles now purchased for
the use of the navy are, in consequence of payment in treasury notes,
enhanced about thirty per cent. Yesterday we had to discharge one
hundred seamen, and could not pay them a cent of their wages. The
officers and men have neither money, clothes, nor credit, and are
embarrassed with debts."[258] No wonder the privateers got the seamen.

The decision to abandon the leading contention of the war had been
reached long before.[259] In an official letter, dated June 27, 1814,
to the commissioners appointed to treat for peace, after enumerating
the threatening conditions confronting the country, now that the
European conflict was at an end, Monroe wrote, "On mature
consideration it has been decided that, under all the circumstances
above alluded to, incident to a prosecution of the war, _you may omit
any stipulation on the subject of impressment_, if found indispensably
necessary to terminate it. You will of course not recur to this
expedient until all your efforts to adjust the controversy in a more
satisfactory manner have failed."[260] The phraseology of this
instruction disposes completely of the specious plea, advanced by
partisans of the Administration, that the subject was dropped because
impressment was no longer a live issue; the maritime war of Europe
being over. It was dropped because it had to be dropped; because the
favorable opportunities presented in 1812 and 1813 had been lost by
the incompetency of the national Government, distributed over a period
of nearly a dozen years of idle verbal argumentation; because in 1814
there stood between it and disastrous reverse, and loss of territory
in the north, only the resolution and professional skill of a yet
unrecognized seaman on the neglected waters of Lake Champlain.

Before concluding finally the subject of the offensive maritime
operations against the enemy's commerce, it may be mentioned that in
the last six months of the war, that is within one fifth of its
duration, were made one third of the total captures. Duly to weigh
this result, regard must be had to the fact that, when the navy is
adequate, the most numerous seizures of commercial shipping are
usually effected at the beginning, because the scattered merchantmen
are taken unawares. The success of the last few months of this war
indicates the stimulus given to privateering, partly by the conditions
of the country, imperiously demanding some relief from the necessity,
and stagnancy of occupation, caused by the blockade; partly by the
growing appreciation of the fact that a richer harvest was to be
reaped by seeking the most suitable fields with the most suitable
vessels. In an energetic and businesslike people it will be expected
that the experience of the two preceding twelvemonths would have
produced decided opinions and practical results in the construction of
privateers, as well as in the direction given them. It is one thing to
take what is at hand and make the most of it in an emergency; it is
another to design thoughtfully a new instrument, best qualified for
the end in view. The cruiser needed speed and handiness,--that is the
first and obvious requirement; but, to escape the numerous enemies
gradually let loose to shorten her career, it became increasingly
requisite that she should have also weight of armament, to fight, and
weight of hull--tonnage--to hold her way in rough and head seas. These
qualities were not irreconcilable; but, to effect the necessary
combination, additional size was inevitable.

Accordingly, recognition of these facts is found in the laying down of
privateers for the particular business. Niles' Register, a Baltimore
weekly, notes with local pride that, although the port itself is
bolted and barred by the blockade of the Chesapeake, the Baltimore
model for schooners is in demand from Maine to Georgia; that they are
being built, often with Baltimore capital, in many places from which
escape is always possible. In Boston, there are in construction three
stout hulls, pierced for twenty-two guns; clearly much heavier in
tonnage, as in armament, than the schooner rate, and bearing the
linked names of "Blakely," "Reindeer," and "Avon." Mention is made of
one vessel of twenty-two long, heavy guns, which has already sailed,
and of two others, to carry as many as thirty to thirty-six, nearly

Between the divergent requirements of size and numbers, there is
always a middle term; a mean, not capable of exact definition, but
still existent within certain not very widely separated extremes. For
commerce destroying by individual cruisers, acting separately, which
was the measure that commended itself to the men of 1812, vessels
approaching the tonnage of the national sloops of war seemed, by their
successes and their immunity from capture, to realize very nearly the
best conditions of advantage. The national brigs which put to sea were
all captured, save one; and she was so notoriously dull of sailing
that her escape was attributed to mere good luck, experienced on
several critical occasions. Nearly all the sloops escaped; while the
three frigates lost, the "Chesapeake," "Essex," and "President," were
taken under circumstances that offered no parallel to the exigencies
to which the privateer was liable. They were not run down, uninjured,
in a fair race. The only sloop so lost was the "Frolic," of the class
of the "Wasp" and "Peacock;" and the circumstances under which she was
caught by a frigate are not sufficiently known to pronounce whether
she might have been saved, as her sister ship, the "Hornet," was, from
the hot pursuit of a seventy-four. Under some conditions of wind and
sea, inferiority of bulk inflicts irredeemable disadvantage of speed;
but, taking one thing with another, in a system of commerce destroying
which rejected squadron action, and was based avowedly upon
dissemination of vessels, the gain of the frigate over the sloop due
to size did not counterbalance the loss in distribution of effort
which results from having only one ship, instead of two, for a first

That some such convictions, the fruit of rude experience in actual
cruising, were gradually forming in men's understanding, is probable
from the particulars cited; and they would receive additional force
from the consideration that, to make a profit out of privateering
under existing conditions, it would be necessary, not only to capture
vessels of weak force, but to return safely to port with at least some
notable salvage from their cargoes. In other words, there must be
power to fight small cruisers, and to escape large ones under all
probable disadvantage of weather. Whatever the conclusions of
practical seamen and shipowners in this respect, they found no
reflection in the dominant power in the Administration and Congress.
The exploits of the "Comet," the "Chasseur," and a few other fortunate
privateer schooners or brigs of small size, among them being cited
specifically the "Mammoth," which in the autumn of 1814 made
twenty-one prizes in three months, produced a strong popular
impression; and this was diligently but somewhat thoughtlessly
deepened by the press, as such popular movements are apt to be,
without thorough mastery of all facts, _contra_ as well as _pro_. It
was undeniable, also, that in the threatening aspect of affairs, when
Great Britain's whole strength was freed to be exerted against the
country, want of time to prepare new means was a weighty element in
decision, and recourse must be had to resources immediately at hand
for the retaliatory depredation upon the enemy's commerce, from the
effect of which so much was expected then, as it is now. For this
reason the scheme had naval backing, prominent in which was Captain
Porter, who had reached home in the July after the capture of the

Under these circumstances, the Secretary of the Navy addressed a
letter, October 22, 1814,[262] to the naval committees of both houses
of Congress, enlarging on the greater attention of the enemy drawn to
the heavy frigates, and the increased difficulty of their getting to
sea. He recommended an appropriation of $600,000 for the purchase of
fast-sailing schooners for preying on the hostile commerce. In
consequence, a bill was introduced to build or purchase for the navy
twenty vessels, to carry not less than eight nor more than fourteen
guns; in short, of privateer class, but to be under naval control, not
only as regarded discipline and organization but direction of effort.
It was intended that a squadron of them should be intrusted to Captain
Porter, another to Captain Perry;[263] and Porter drew up a plan of
operations, which he submitted to the Department, providing for the
departure of the vessels, their keeping together for support in one
quarter, scattering in another, and again reuniting at a fixed
rendezvous.[264] Both officers reported great difficulty in procuring
suitable vessels, owing to the extent of privateering, the lack of
necessary funds, and the depreciation of Government credit, which
caused its drafts to be refused.

When introducing the bill into the lower House, the Chairman of the
Naval Committee, after paying some compliments to the military
achievements of the naval vessels, said that in regard to depredation
on the commerce of the enemy, he believed their efficiency could not
be compared to that of vessels of a smaller class. This note dominated
the brief discussion; the speakers in favor being significantly enough
from Maryland, prepossessed doubtless by local pride in their justly
celebrated schooners. Mr. Ingersoll, of Pennsylvania, moved an
amendment to allow vessels of twenty-two guns; an increase of fifty
per cent. The limitation to fourteen guns, he remarked, was inserted
in the Senate by a gentleman from Maryland; but it was not the fact
that the best privateers were limited to fourteen guns. One or two
which had arrived lately, after reaping a rich harvest, carried
sixteen. Mr. Lowndes, of South Carolina, seconded this amendment,
hoping that the Senate limitation would be rejected. He quoted Captain
Perry, who had "never known an instance in which a brig of the United
States had failed to overtake a schooner." One member only, Mr. Reed,
of Massachusetts, spoke against the whole scheme. Though opposed to
the war, he said, he wished it conducted on correct principles. He
"was warranted by facts in saying that no force would be half as
efficient, in proportion to its expense; none would be of so much
service to the country; none certainly would touch the enemy half so
much as a naval force of a proper character;" which, he affirmed, this
was not. Ingersoll's amendment was rejected, obtaining only
twenty-five votes. The bill went again to conference, and on November
11, 1814, was reported and passed, fixing the limits of armament at
from eight to sixteen guns; a paltry addition of two. Forty years
later the editor of the "Debates of Congress," Senator Benton, wrote,
"This was a movement in the right direction. Private armed vessels,
and the success of small ships of war cruising as privateers, had
taught Congress that small vessels, not large ships, were the
effective means of attacking and annoying the enemy's commerce."[265]

The final test was not permitted, to determine what success would have
attended the operations of several Baltimore schooners, united under
the single control of a man like Porter or Perry, and limited strictly
to the injury of the enemy's commerce by the destruction of prizes,
without thought of profit by sending them in. The advent of peace put
a stop to an experiment which would have been most instructive as well
as novel. Looking to other experiences of the past, it may be said
with confidence little short of certainty that, despite the
disadvantage of size, several schooners thus working in concert, and
with pure military purpose, would effect vastly more than the same
number acting separately, with a double eye to gain and glory. The
French privateer squadrons of Jean Bart and Duguay Trouin, in the
early eighteenth century, the example of the celebrated "Western"
squadrons of British frigates in the war of the French Revolution, as
protectors and destroyers of commerce, demonstrated beyond
peradventure the advantage of combined action in this, as in all
military enterprise; while the greater success of the individual
United States cruiser over the average privateer, so singularly
overlooked by the national legislators, gives assurance that Porter's
and Perry's schooners would collectively have done incomparable work.
This, however, is far from indicating that divisions of larger
vessels,--sloops or frigates,--under officers of their known energy,
could not have pushed home into the English Channel, or elsewhere
where British commerce congregated, an enterprise the results of which
would have caused the ears of those that heard them to tingle.


[217] Captain Allen to Navy Department. Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 46.

[218] The American official report of this action can be found in Niles'
Register, vol. viii. p. 43. The British is in the Naval Chronicle, vol.
xxx. p. 247. Niles also gives it, vol. v. p. 118.

[219] The prize data have been taken from the successive volumes of
Niles' Register.

[220] Data concerning American vessels captured by British ships have
been drawn chiefly from prize lists, or official reports, in the Naval

[221] Ante, p. 19.

[222] Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 175.

[223] Niles gives an abstract of the log of the "Scourge," vol. vi. p.

[224] Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 90.

[225] Ibid., vol. vi. p. 69.

[226] For Morris' letter see Niles' Register, vol. vi. p. 180.

[227] Ibid., vol. iv. p. 86.

[228] Ibid., vol. vii. p. 366.

[229] Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 413. Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxi. p.

[230] Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 414; vol. vi. p. 151.

[231] Stewart's Letter is dated April 4, 1814, and, with the enclosures
mentioned, will be found among the Captains' Letters, Navy Department

[232] For the official reports of this cruise, and list of prizes, see
Niles, vol. vi. pp. 69-71.

[233] Niles' Register, vol. v. pp. 14, 15. Naval Chronicle, vol. xxx. p.

[234] Niles' Register, vol. vi. pp. 225, 371.

[235] Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 293, gives both the American and
British accounts.

[236] Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 293.

[237] Niles' Register, vol. vii. pp. 128, 290.

[238] Niles' Register, vol. viii. p. 61.

[239] It may not be amiss here to quote an incident similarly creditable
to privateersmen, a class usually much abused, and too often with good
cause. It was told by a British colonel to Colonel Winfield Scott, while
a prisoner in Canada. This gentleman with his wife had been passengers
from England in a transport captured near Halifax by an American
privateer. Although there was no fighting, the wife, who was in a
critical state of health, was dangerously affected by the attendant
alarm. As soon as the circumstances were mentioned to the captain of the
cruiser, he placed at the husband's disposition all that part of the
vessel where their quarters were, posting a sentry to prevent intrusion
and to secure all their personal effects from molestation. Scott's
Autobiography, vol. i. p. 70.

[240] Afterwards Rear-Admiral Emmons.

[241] The new United States sloop of war "Frolic," named after the
vessel taken by the "Wasp," was captured by the frigate "Orpheus," April
20, 1814.

[242] Ante, p. 3.

[243] Porter to the Secretary of the Navy, July 3, 1814. Niles'
Register, vol. vi. p. 338.

[244] Porter's Report of this action is to be found in Niles' Register,
vol. vi. pp. 338-341. Hillyar's in Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxii. pp.

[245] The Secretary of the Navy to Blakely, March 3, 1814. Navy
Department MSS.

[246] Blakely to the Navy Department, Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 115.

[247] The particulars of this action are taken from the minutes of the
"Wasp," enclosed in Blakely's Report, Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 115.

[248] Blakely's Report, Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 192.

[249] Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 173.

[250] James says that two of these guns were 18-pounders; but the first
lieutenant of the "Peacock," who brought the prize into port, and from
there wrote independently of Warrington, agrees with him in saying
eighteen thirty-twos. Niles' Register, vol. vi. pp. 180, 196.

[251] In a "Synopsis of Naval Actions," between British and American
vessels, contributed to the Naval Chronicle by a "British naval officer
on the American station," occurs the remark relative to the defeat of
the "Avon": "Miserable gunnery on our side, attributable ... above all
to not drilling the men at firing at the guns; a practice the Americans
never neglect." Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxiv. p. 469.

[252] For Captain Warrington's report of this cruise, see Niles'
Register, vol. vii. p. 155.

[253] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxii. p. 244. See also, Ibid., pp. 211,

[254] London paper, quoted in Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 175.

[255] Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 190. Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxii. p.

[256] Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 190.

[257] Writings of James Monroe.

[258] Captains' Letters, Dec. 11, 1814. Bainbridge's italics.

[259] It will be remembered that after the repeal of the Orders in
Council, June 23, 1812, impressment remained the only _sine quâ non_ of
the United States.

[260] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 704.
Author's italics. This was the result of a Cabinet meeting held the same
day. "June 27, 1814. In consequence of letters from Bayard and Gallatin
of May 6-7, and other accounts from Europe of the ascendancy and views
of Great Britain, and the dispositions of the great Continental Powers,
the question was put to the Cabinet: 'Shall a treaty of peace, silent on
the subject of impressment, be authorized?' Agreed to by Monroe,
Campbell, Armstrong, and Jones. Rush absent. Our minister to be
instructed, besides trying other conditions, to make a previous trial to
insert or annex some declaration, or protest, against any inference,
from the silence of the Treaty on the subject of impressment, that the
British claim was admitted or that of the United States abandoned."
(Works of Madison, vol. iii. p. 408.)

[261] Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 190.

[262] Navy Department MSS.

[263] For Porter's and Perry's correspondence on this subject see
Captains' Letters, Navy Department MSS., Oct. 14 and 25, Nov. 29, Dec.
2, 9, and 25, 1814; Jan. 9, 1815.

[264] Porter to Secretary, Feb. 8, 1815. Captains' Letters.

[265] Benton's Abridgment of Debates in Congress, vol. v. p. 359, note.



Active operations in the field for the winter of 1813-14 came to an
end with the successful incursion of the British army upon the
territory of the State of New York, before narrated.[266] This had
resulted in the capture of Fort Niagara and in the wasting of the
frontier, with the destruction of the villages of Lewiston,
Manchester, Buffalo, and others, in retaliation for the American
burning of Newark. Holding now the forts on both banks of the Niagara,
at its entrance into Lake Ontario, the British controlled the harbor
of refuge which its mouth afforded; and to this important accession of
strength for naval operations was added an increased security for
passing troops, at will and secretly, from side to side of the river.
From a military standpoint each work was a bridge-head, assuring
freedom of movement across in either direction; that such transit was
by boats, instead of by a permanent structure, was merely an
inconvenient detail, not a disability. The command of the two forts,
and of a third called Mississaga, on the Canadian side, immediately
overlooking the lake, appears to have been vested in a single officer,
to whom, as to a common superior, were issued orders involving the
action of the three.

This disposition recognized implicitly the fact that the forts, taken
together, constituted a distinct element in the general British scheme
of operations. Fort Niagara by position threatened the line of
communications of any American army seeking to act on the Canadian
side. An effective garrison there, unless checked by an adequate force
stationed for the particular purpose, could move at any unexpected
moment against the magazines or trains on the American side; and it
was impossible to anticipate what number might be thus employed at a
given time, because intercourse between Niagara and George was open.
If by original or acquired superiority of numbers, as had been the
case in 1813, the American general should push his opponent back
towards the head of the lake, Fort George would in turn become an
additional menace to his communications. Therefore, properly to
initiate a campaign for the command of the Niagara peninsula, in 1814,
it would be necessary either to reduce both these works, which, if
they were properly garrisoned, meant an expenditure of time; or else
to blockade them by a large detachment of troops, which meant a
constant expenditure of force, diminishing that available for
operations in the field. The British military situation thus comprised
two factors, distinct but complementary; the active army in the field,
and the stationary fortifications which contributed to its support by
sheltering its supplies and menacing those of the enemy. The British
commander of the district, Lieutenant-General Drummond, estimated that
the blockaders before either fort, being ever on the defensive against
a sortie which they could not foresee, must in numbers considerably
exceed the besieged, covered as these were by their works, and able to
receive re-enforcement from the opposite shore. Consequently, when the
officer in immediate local control, Major-General Riall, embarrassed
by the smallness of his field force, suggested the destruction of Fort
Niagara, except a citadel of restricted extent, needing a less
numerous garrison, his superior replied that not only would such
smaller work be much more easily taken, but that in every event the
loss through holding the place was more than compensated by the
danger and the precautions entailed upon the enemy.[267]

The inactivity, substantially unbroken, which prevailed throughout the
winter of 1813-14, was due principally to the unusual mildness of the
weather. This impeded movement in all quarters, by preventing the
formation of ice and of the usual hard snow surface, which made winter
the most favorable season for land transportation. Chauncey at
Sackett's Harbor chafed and fretted over the detention of the stores
and guns for his new ships then building, upon which he was reckoning
for control of the lake. "The roads are dreadful," he wrote on
February 24, "and if the present mild weather continues we shall
experience difficulty." A week later, "I have the mortification to
inform you that all our heavy guns are stopped at and below
Poughkeepsie in consequence of the badness of the roads, and that the
teamsters have abandoned them there." He has given up hopes of a
frost, and counts now only upon water communication; but the delay and
change of route were the cause of two smart affairs with which the
lake operations opened, for on March 29 he announces that the guns are
still below Albany, and now must come by way of Oswego and the
lake,[268] instead of securely inland by sleds. Yeo reported a like
delay on his side in the equipment of his new ships, owing to the
unusual scarcity of snow.

The same conditions imposed similar, if less decisive, limitations
upon the movements of bodies of men. The most important instance of
purpose frustrated was in an enterprise projected by Drummond against
Put-in Bay, where were still lying the "Detroit" and "Queen
Charlotte", the most powerful of the prizes taken by Perry the
previous September, the injuries to which had prevented their removal
to the safer position of Erie. On January 21 he communicated to
Governor-General Prevost the details of an expedition of seventeen
hundred and sixty men,[269] two hundred of them seamen, who were to
start from the Niagara frontier by land against Detroit, and from
there to cross on the ice to the Bass Islands, where it was hoped they
could seize and burn the vessels. The occupation of Fort Niagara, and
other dispositions made of his division on the peninsula, had so
narrowed his front of defence, and thereby strengthened it, as to
warrant this large detachment.

This project was one of several looking to regaining control of Lake
Erie, which during the remainder of the war occupied unceasingly the
attention of British officers. Although the particular destination was
successfully concealed, the general fact of preparations for some
offensive undertaking did not escape the observation of the Americans,
who noted that in the recent raid and destruction care had been taken
to spare a great number of sleighs, and to collect them within the
British lines. From this it was inferred that, when Lake Erie froze
over, a dash would be made against the naval station and ships at
Erie.[270] This would be undoubtedly a more valuable achievement, but
the enemy knew that the place was in some measure defended, with ample
re-enforcements at call; whereas a descent upon Put-in Bay could
encounter no other resistance than that of the small permanent
garrison of seamen. The mildness of the weather, leaving the lake open
on January 17, relieved the apprehension of the United States
authorities, and on February 3 Drummond had to report that his scheme
must be abandoned, as after that late period of the winter better
conditions could not be expected.[271]

In default of the control of Lake Erie, measures were taken by the
British to supply the remote and isolated posts of Mackinac and St.
Joseph's by land carriage from Toronto to Lake Simcoe, a distance of
only forty miles, and thence across the ice to Matchedash Bay, on Lake
Huron; where also were being built batteaux and gunboats, to transport
the stores to their destination when navigation opened. As far as
Huron this land route was out of reach of probable molestation, but
from there it was necessary to proceed at the earliest moment; for,
although there was no American naval force then on that lake, one
might be expected to arrive from Erie early in the season. To this
cross-country line there was an alternative one still more remote,
from Montreal up the Ottawa River, and thence by other water
communication, striking Lake Huron much higher up. It was practicable
only for canoes with light lading, and in other respects not
satisfactory. The maintenance of Mackinac therefore must depend upon
armed control of the upper lakes; and to this the destruction of the
prizes at the islands would doubtless have contributed, morally and

On the American side as little was accomplished during the winter.
Wilkinson's army, which at the end of 1813 was cantoned at French
Mills, on the Salmon River, just within the New York boundary, was
withdrawn from that position February 13. The greater part marched to
Lake Champlain, where they again took winter quarters in two
divisions; one at Burlington, Vermont, the other at Plattsburg. The
third contingent, under the command of General Brown, was sent to
Sackett's Harbor, where it arrived February 24.

The Secretary of War, General Armstrong, despite his vacillating
course the previous year, had never lost sight of his perfectly
accurate conviction that Kingston, if not Montreal, was the true
objective for the northern army. Convinced that he had been misled in
the spring of 1813 by the opinions of the commanders on the spot,
Chauncey and Dearborn, he was again anxious, as he had been in the
intervening autumn, to retrieve the error. On February 28 he issued to
Brown two sets of instructions;[272] the one designed to transpire, in
order to mislead the enemy, the other, most secret, conveying the real
intention of the Department. In the former, stress was laid upon the
exposure of western New York, and the public humiliation at seeing
Fort Niagara in the hands of the British. Brigadier-General Scott
accordingly had been sent there to organize a force for the capture of
the fort and the protection of the frontier; but, as his numbers were
probably insufficient, Brown was directed to march to Batavia, and
thence to Buffalo, with the two thousand troops he had just brought
from French Mills. This letter was meant to reach the enemy's ears.
The other, embodying the true object aimed at, read thus: "It is
obviously Prevost's policy, and probably his intention, to
re-establish himself on Lake Erie during the ensuing month. But to
effect this other points of his line must be weakened, and these will
be either Kingston or Montreal. If the detachment from the former be
great, a moment may occur in which you may do, with the aid of
Commodore Chauncey, what I last year intended Pike should have done
without aid, and what we now all know was very practicable, viz.: to
cross the river, or head of the lake, on the ice, and carry Kingston
by a _coup de main_." The letter ended by making the enterprise depend
upon a concurrence of favorable conditions; in brief, upon the
discretion of the general, with whom remained all the responsibility
of final decision and action.

These instructions were elicited, immediately, by recent information
that the effective garrison in Kingston was reduced to twelve
hundred, with no prospect of increase before June, when
re-enforcements from Europe were expected. Certainly, Drummond at this
time thought the force there no stronger than it should be, and early
in April was apprehensive on that account for the safety of the
place.[273] Brown and Chauncey, however, agreed that less than four
thousand men was insufficient for the undertaking. Singularly enough,
this number was precisely that fixed upon by Yeo and Drummond, in
consultation, as necessary for the reduction of Sackett's Harbor;
which they concurred with Prevost in considering the quickest and
surest solution of the difficulty attending their situation about
Niagara, owing to the exhaustion of local resources upon the
peninsula.[274] The scarcity thus experienced was aggravated by the
number of dependent Indian warriors, who with their families had
followed the British retreat from Malden and Detroit, and now hung
like lead upon the movements and supplies of the army. "Nearly twelve
hundred barrels of flour monthly to Indians alone," complained the
commanding officer, who had long since learned that for this
expenditure there was no return in military usefulness. In the felt
necessity to retain the good-will of the savages, no escape from the
dilemma was open, except in the maintenance of a stream of supplies
from Lower Canada by keeping command of the Lake;[275] to secure which
nothing was so certain as to capture Sackett's and destroy the
shipping and plant.

Having decided that the enterprise against Kingston was not feasible,
Brown fell into the not unnatural mistake of construing the
Secretary's other letter to present not merely a ruse, but an
alternative line of action, more consonant to his active martial
temper than remaining idle in garrison. Accordingly, he left
Sackett's with his two thousand, an event duly chronicled in a letter
of Drummond's, that on Sunday, March 13, three thousand five hundred
left Sackett's for Niagara; a statement sufficiently characteristic of
the common tendency of an enemy's force to swell, as it passes from
mouth to mouth. The division had progressed as far as the present city
of Syracuse, sixty miles from Sackett's, and Brown himself was some
forty miles in advance of it, at Geneva, when one of his principal
subordinates persuaded him that he had misconstrued the Department's
purpose. In considerable distress he turned about, passing through
Auburn on the 23d at the rate of thirty miles a day, so said a
contemporary newspaper,[276] and hurried back to Sackett's. There
further consultation with Chauncey convinced him again that he was
intended to go to Niagara, and he resumed his march. Before April 1 he
reached Batavia, where his instructions read he would receive further
orders. General Scott was already at Buffalo, and there the troops
were placed under his immediate charge for organization and drill;
Brigadier-General Gaines being sent back to command at Sackett's,
where he arrived April 10.

At this moment Chauncey was undergoing his turn of qualms. "The
enemy," he wrote the following day, "have prepared a force of three
thousand troops, with gunboats and a number of small craft, to attack
the harbor the moment the fleet leaves it. They may, however, be
determined to make the attack at all hazards, and I am sorry to say
our force is but little adapted to the defence of the place. There are
not a thousand effective men besides the sailors and marines."[277]
His information was substantially correct. Drummond had arranged to
concentrate three thousand men from the north shore of the lake; but
he wanted besides eight hundred from the peninsula, and for lack of
these the project was abandoned.

The movement of Brown's small contingent to Buffalo, though contrary
to the intention of the Government, may be considered to have opened
the campaign of 1814; destined to prove as abortive in substantial
results as that of the year before, but not so futile and inglorious
to the American arms. The troops engaged had been formed under the
skilful organization and training of Scott. Led by Brown, who, though
not an educated soldier nor a master of the technicalities of the
profession, was essentially an aggressive fighting man of masculine
qualities, they failed indeed to achieve success, for which their
numbers were inadequate; but there was no further disgrace.

Wilkinson, indeed, in his district, contrived to give to the beginning
of operations the air of absurdity that ever hung round his path.
Although he was the senior officer on the whole frontier, the Department
had not notified him of Brown's orders. This vicious practice of
managing the campaign from a point as distant as Washington then was,
ignoring any local centre of control, drew subsequently the
animadversion of the President, who in a minute to the Secretary
remarked that "it does not appear that Izard,"--Wilkinson's
successor,--"though the senior officer of the district, has been made
acquainted with the plan of operations under Brown."[278] On the present
occasion Wilkinson explained that, hearing of Brown's march by common
report, and having ascertained that the enemy was sending
re-enforcements up the St. Lawrence, he undertook an incursion into
Lower Canada as a diversion against such increase of the force with
which Brown must contend.[279] His enterprise was directed against La
Colle, a few miles from Plattsburg, within the Canada boundary; but
upon arriving before the position it was found that the garrison were
established in a stone mill, upon which the guns brought along could
make no impression. After this somewhat ludicrous experience, the
division, more than three thousand strong, retreated, having lost over
seventy men. The result was scarcely likely to afford Brown much relief
by its deterrent influence upon the enemy.

This affair happened March 30, and in the course of the following
month Wilkinson was finally superseded. He was succeeded by General
Izard, who assumed command May 4, and remained in the neighborhood of
Champlain, while Brown continued immediately responsible for Sackett's
Harbor and for the force at Buffalo. On April 14 Yeo launched two new
ships, the "Prince Regent" of fifty-eight guns and the "Princess
Charlotte" of forty; and he at the same time had under construction
one destined to carry one hundred and two heavy guns, superior
therefore in size and armament to most of the British ocean navy, and
far more formidable than any in which Nelson ever served. Fortunately
for the Americans, this vessel, which Yeo undertook without authority
from home, was not ready until October; but the former two, added to
his last year's fleet, gave him for the moment a decided preponderance
over Chauncey, who also was building but had not yet completed.

Under these circumstances the project of attacking Sackett's in force
was again most seriously agitated among the British officials,
military and naval, upon whom the destitution of the Niagara peninsula
pressed with increasing urgency. Such an intention rarely fails to
transpire, especially across a border line where the inhabitants on
either side speak the same tongue and are often intimately acquainted.
Desertion, moreover, was frequent from both parties. The rumor brought
Brown back hastily to the place, where he arrived April 24. The
enemy, however, again abandoned their purpose, and after embarking a
considerable body of troops turned their arms instead against Oswego.

It will be remembered that the mildness of the winter had prevented
the transport of guns and stores by land, and made necessary to
accumulate them by water carriage at Oswego, whence there remained the
lake voyage to Sackett's Harbor. This, though a coasting operation,
involved much danger while the enemy possessed naval control.
Meanwhile Oswego became a somewhat congested and much exposed
intermediate station, inviting attack. Chauncey therefore had taken
the precaution of retaining the most important articles, guns and
their equipment, at the falls of the Oswego River, some twelve miles
inland. The enemy's change of plan becoming suspected, Brown detached
a small party--two hundred and ninety effectives--to defend the place,
in conjunction with the few seamen already there. The British fleet
appeared on May 5, but the attack was not made until the following
day, weather conditions being unfavorable. Despite the unprepared
state of the defences characteristic of the universal American
situation, on both lakes and seaboard, in this singular war, the
officer in command offered a spirited resistance, inflicting
considerable loss; but the urgency to preserve his force, for the
superior necessity of protecting under more favorable circumstances
the valuable property in the rear, compelled him to retreat, to escape
the risk of being surrounded and captured. He accordingly drew off in
good order, having lost six killed and thirty-eight wounded; besides
twenty-five missing, probably prisoners. The casualties of the
British, by their official reports, were eighteen killed and
seventy-three wounded. They kept possession of the town during the
night, retiring next day with two small schooners, over two thousand
barrels of provisions, and a quantity of cordage.[280] The most
serious loss to the Americans was that of nine heavy cannon; but the
bulk of the armament for the fleet remained safe at the falls.

After this Yeo took position with his squadron off Sackett's Harbor,
where the Americans on May 1 had launched a new big ship, the
"Superior", to carry sixty-two guns, thirty-two long 32-pounders, and
thirty carronades of the same calibre. Besides her there was building
still another, of somewhat smaller force, without which Chauncey would
not consider himself able to contend with the enemy.[281] On the 20th
of the month he reported that "five sail were now anchored between
Point Peninsula and Stoney Island, about ten miles from the harbor,
and two brigs between Stoney Island and Stoney Point, completely
blocking both passes." He added, "This is the first time that I have
experienced the mortification of being blockaded on the lakes."[282]
The line thus occupied by the enemy covered the entire entrance to
Black River Bay, within which Sackett's Harbor lies. This situation
was the more intolerable under the existing necessity of bringing the
guns by water. Drummond, whose information was probably good, wrote at
this period that not more than fifteen of the heavy cannon needed for
the new ships had arrived, and that they could come from Oswego only
by the lake, as the roads were impassable except for horsemen.
Carronades, cordage, and other stores were going on by wagon from
Utica, but the long guns which were imperatively required could not do

American contrivance proved equal to the dilemma, and led to a marked
British misadventure. A few miles south of Black River Bay, and
therefore outside the line of the British blockade, there was an inlet
called Stoney Creek, from the head of which a short land carriage of
three miles would strike Henderson's Bay. This, like Sackett's, is an
indentation of Black River Bay, and was well within the hostile ships.
The transit from Oswego to Stoney Creek, however, remained open to an
enemy's attack, and to be effected without loss required address,
enterprise, and rapidity of movement. The danger was lessened by the
number of streams which enter Mexico Bay, the deep bight formed by the
southern and eastern shores of Lake Ontario, between Oswego and
Sackett's. These, being navigable for batteaux, constituted a series
of harbors of refuge.

Chauncey directed all the lighter equipment to be turned back from
Oswego River to North Bay, on Lake Oneida, and the long guns to be
placed in batteaux, ready to move instantly, either up or down, as the
movements of the enemy or a favorable opportunity might determine.
Discretionary power to act according to circumstances was then given
to Captain Woolsey, in local command on the Oswego. Woolsey made great
parade of his preparations to send everything, guns included, back
across the portage from the river, to North Bay. The reports reached
Yeo, as intended, but did not throw him wholly off his guard. On May
27 Woolsey despatched an officer in a fast pulling boat to reconnoitre
the coast, while he himself went with the requisite force to the
falls. On the 28th the batteaux, nineteen in number, carrying
twenty-one long 32-pounders, and thirteen lighter pieces, besides ten
heavy cables, were run over the rapids, reaching Oswego at sunset. The
lookout boat had returned, reporting all clear, and after dark the
convoy started. Besides the regular crews, there were embarked one
hundred and fifty riflemen from the army. The next morning at sunrise
one batteau was missing, but the other eighteen entered the Salmon
River, over twenty miles from Oswego. The nights were short at that
season, and the boats heavy; moreover there had been drenching rain.

At Salmon River, a party of one hundred and twenty Oneida Indians
joined, who were to move along the coast on the flank of the convoy
through the next stage of the journey, by day, to support the defence
should the approach of an enemy compel refuge to be sought in one of
the creeks. As soon as they had taken up their march the batteaux also
started, and at noon, May 29, reached Big Sandy Creek, ten miles
further on, but eight miles short of the final destination at Stoney
Creek. Here greater care became necessary, on account of the nearness
of the enemy's fleet; and while awaiting information the division
moved two miles up the Big Sandy, where it anchored.

The missing batteau, carrying two long 24's and a cable, had been
captured; having wandered away from the rest of the detachment,
despite the watchful care exerted to keep them together. Her crew
betrayed the extent of the operation of which they formed part, and a
division of boats was sent in quest, in charge of two captains of the
blockading vessels; the senior officer of the whole being Commander
Popham. On his way Popham fell in with another group of armed boats,
which he took under his command, raising his total to three
gun-vessels and four smaller boats, with near two hundred seamen and
marines. Certain intelligence being received that the convoy had
entered the Big Sandy, he steered thither, arriving off its mouth soon
after daylight of May 30. A reconnaissance on shore discovering the
masts of the batteaux plainly visible over a marsh, with apparently no
intervening forest, an immediate attack was decided. Having landed a
party of flankers on either bank, the expedition proceeded up stream
with due caution, firing an occasional round into the brush to
dislodge any possible ambush. It was not known that an escort, beyond
the usual crews, had accompanied the movement. Such a precaution might
indeed have been inferred from the importance of the object; but the
same reason naturally, and not improperly, decided Popham that
considerable risk was justifiable in order to frustrate his enemy's

Woolsey was already forewarned of his coming. At 2 A.M. of the same
day, May 30, he had received from Chauncey an express, in accordance
with which an officer was sent out upon the lake, to reconnoitre
towards the entrance of Black River Bay. At six o'clock he returned,
having been seen and pursued by some of Popham's division. The
riflemen and Indians were now advanced half a mile below the batteaux,
where they found cover and concealment in the woods. At eight the
British guns were heard. At nine a re-enforcement of cavalry and light
artillery arrived from Sackett's Harbor, but it was decided that they
should remain by the batteaux, the force already below being best
adapted for bush fighting. Towards ten o'clock the riflemen and
Indians attacked; a circumstance attributed by Captain Popham to an
accident befalling the 68-pounder carronade in the bow of the leading
gunboat, which compelled her to turn round, to bring into action her
stern gun, a 24-pounder. "The enemy thought we were commencing a
retreat, when they advanced their whole force, one hundred and fifty
riflemen, near two hundred Indians, and a numerous body of militia and
cavalry, who soon overpowered the few men I had.... The winding of the
creek, which gave the enemy a great advantage in advancing to
intercept our retreat, rendered further resistance unavailing." The
entire detachment surrendered, having had fourteen killed and
twenty-eight wounded; besides whom two captains, six lieutenants, and
one hundred and thirty-three seamen and marines remained prisoners.
The American loss was but two wounded; a result showing clearly
enough the disadvantage under which the British labored.

This affair has been related in detail,[284] because, although on a
small scale, it was actually one of great consequence; but yet more
because it illustrates aptly one kind of those minor operations of
war, upon the success of which so much greater matters turn. The
American management throughout was admirable in its detailed foresight
and circumspection. To this was due the trivial loss attending its
final success; a loss therefore attesting far greater credit than
would the attaining of the same result by lavish expenditure of blood.
To Captain Popham must be attributed both enterprise and due
carefulness in undertaking an advance he knew to be hazardous, but
from which, if successful, he was entitled to expect nothing less than
the capture of almost the entire armament of a very large ship. In
such circumstances censure because of failure is unjust, unless the
risk is shown to be taken reckless of due precautions, which was not
the case in this instance. Yeo, whose deficiency in seamen was
reported at two hundred and seventy-nine,[285] three days after this
affair, appears to have been more exasperated by the loss of the men
than sensible of the merit of his subordinate. He had charged him not
to enter any creek in the endeavor to capture the stores, and
apparently laid the disaster to disregard of this order. The
subsequent customary court martial decided that Popham, having greatly
re-enforced himself by junction with a division of vessels, in a
manner which Yeo could not have contemplated, was fully justified by
the importance of preventing the convoy from reaching Sackett's
Harbor. The court regretted that Sir James Yeo should have used such
reproachful expressions in his letter to the Admiralty communicating
Captain Popham's capture. Popham, and his second, Spilsbury, were
included in the promotions of a year later.

Soon after this mishap Yeo abandoned the immediate blockade of
Sackett's Harbor, returning to Kingston June 6. The recent experience
demonstrated that it would be impossible to prevent the forwarding of
supplies by the mere presence of the fleet at the mouth of the port.
The armament of the "Superior" had arrived despite his efforts, and
her speedy readiness to take the lake was assured. An exchange of
letters between himself and Drummond as to his proper course[286] led
to the conclusion that the blockade had not had all the effect
expected; and that, in view of the large re-enforcements of men coming
forward from England, the true policy was to avoid battle until the
third new ship, the "St. Lawrence" of one hundred and two guns, should
be ready. "The enemy," wrote Yeo, "are not in sufficient force to
undertake any expedition in the face of our present squadron, but any
disaster on our side might give them a serious ascendancy." Drummond,
who had rejoiced that the blockade "assures us a free intercourse
throughout the lake," concurred in this view. "I have no hesitation in
saying that there exists at present no motive or object, connected
with the security of Upper Canada, which can make it necessary for you
to act otherwise than cautiously on the defensive," until the large
ship is ready or other circumstances arise.

On June 7 the Cabinet of the United States held a meeting, in which
was settled the plan of campaign on the northern frontier;[287] where
alone, and for a brief period only, an expected superiority of numbers
would permit offensive operations. As in the year before, the
decision, in general terms, was to direct the main effort against the
enemy's right and centre, Mackinac and the Niagara peninsula, instead
of against his left, at Montreal or Kingston. The principal movement
was to be by a concentration near Buffalo of forces from New York and
the western territory, which the Secretary of War estimated might
place under Brown's command five thousand regular troops and three
thousand volunteers. He had proposed that these, with the assistance
of the Erie navy, should be landed on the coast between Fort Erie, at
the entrance of the Niagara River, and Point Abino, ten miles to the
westward. Thence they were to act against Burlington Heights, at the
head of Lake Ontario, the tenure of which by Vincent in 1813, had
baffled, on two occasions, the advance of the Americans, and
maintained the land communications of the British with York (Toronto)
despite their enemy's control of the water. The Secretary's
anticipation was that, after gaining this position, the force could
proceed along the north shore of the lake towards York, receiving its
supplies by the fleet, which was expected to be ready by June 15.
Chauncey himself stated June 8 that he would be ready by July 1, if
men were sent him.[288] On the 11th was launched a second new ship,
the "Mohawk," to carry forty-two guns. The crew of the "Congress" was
ordered up from Portsmouth, and part of them, with other
re-enforcements, were reported to have arrived before June 20. June 24
Chauncey wrote, "I shall sail the first week in July to offer the
enemy battle."[289] He did not, however, take the Lake until August 1.

The Cabinet had approved the Secretary's suggestion, but extended the
place of debarkation to be between Fort Erie and Long Point, eighty
miles from the Niagara River, and well west of Burlington Heights.
Subsidiary to this main attack, General Izard at Plattsburg was to
make a diversion towards Montreal. Coincidently with these movements
an expedition of four or five of the Erie fleet, with eight hundred to
one thousand troops, should go against Mackinac; their first object,
however, being Matchedash Bay, on Lake Huron, which was the seat of an
incipient naval establishment, and the point of deposit for supplies
proceeding to Mackinac from York by way of Lake Simcoe. This attempt
to choke the communications of Mackinac, by holding a vital point upon
their line, was to have its counterpart in the east by the provision
of fifteen armed boats on the St. Lawrence, supported by posts on the
river garrisoned by detachments from Izard's army, so as to intercept
the water transport between Montreal and Kingston. It may be mentioned
that this particular method had specially commended itself to both Yeo
and Chauncey, as most suited to embarrass the British situation
throughout the upper province. In a subsequent report to the
Admiralty, Yeo characterized the failure of the Americans to do this
as an extreme stupidity, which had lost them the war, but upon a
repetition of which in future hostilities Great Britain should not
rely.[290] The importance of this intercourse is indicated by a
mention of Chauncey's, that in the week before June 15 more than two
hundred boats passed Ogdensburg for Kingston.[291]

All this, however, simply emphasizes the fact that the decisive point
of attack was Montreal or Kingston; not the line between them, which
would become useless if either fell. Still less could the Niagara
peninsula, though a valuable link in a chain of communication from the
lower to the upper lakes, compare in importance with either of the
places named. It matters not that a chain is complete in itself, if it
is severed from one of the extremities which it is designed to
connect. As regards any attempt on the part of the Americans to
interrupt the traffic, Drummond appears to have been satisfied with
Yeo's promise that "every brigade of batteaux should have a suitable
convoy of gunboats."

The Secretary of War, in his communication to the President before the
Cabinet met, had indicated plainly his preference for leaving Mackinac
alone and concentrating upon the central point of effort, Niagara or
Burlington. "Burlington and York carried, a barrier is interposed
which completely protects Detroit and Malden, makes doubtful and
hazardous the enemy's intercourse with the western Indians, reduces
Mackinac to a possession perfectly useless, renders probable the
evacuation of Fort Niagara, and takes from the enemy half his motive
for continuing the naval conflict on Lake Ontario. On the other hand,
take Mackinac, and what is gained but Mackinac itself?"[292] The
reasoning was indisputable, although Armstrong acquiesced in the
decision of the Cabinet. The main feature of the plan adopted, the
reduction of Burlington Heights and a successful advance on York, was
of doubtful issue; but, if successful, the vital end of the chain upon
which Mackinac depended for existence dropped useless to the ground.
All side enterprise that did not directly contribute to this decisive
movement should have been discarded in favor of concentration upon
Brown's army, to which its execution was committed, and the actual
strength of which was insufficient for the task. At the opening of the
campaign its total strength was four thousand seven hundred and
eighty, of whom eight hundred and thirty were militia.[293] On July 1
there were present for duty three thousand five hundred. There were
also six hundred Indians of the Six Nations. In this impotent
conclusion resulted the Secretary's estimate of five thousand regulars
and three thousand volunteers.

On July 2 Brown announced to his troops that he was authorized by the
Government to put them in motion against the enemy.[294] He had
decided to leave Fort Niagara, with its menace to his communications,
in his rear, unguarded, and to throw his command directly upon the
enemy on the west bank of the river. The crossing was made that night
in two divisions; one landing opposite Black Rock, below Fort Erie,
the other above that post, which surrendered July 3, at 5 P.M. The
garrison numbered one hundred and thirty-seven. From there Brown
proposed to turn north and advance towards Ontario, where he hoped to
join hands with the navy, which was expected by him, and by the
Government, to be on hand to co-operate. This expectation was based on
Chauncey's own assurance that he would take the lake on July 1, if
supplied with men, who were known since to have arrived. It does not
appear, however, that he had received specific instructions as to the
course he was intended to follow; and, in assuming that he would go to
the head of the lake, for direct co-operation, the Government and the
general were reckoning without their host, and in ignorance of his
views. He was as loath to leave Kingston and Sackett's in his rear,
unwatched, as Brown was willing to take the same risk with regard to
Niagara. It was a profound difference of temperament in two capable
men, to whom the Government failed to impart the unifying element of

On July 4 Scott's brigade, which had crossed below the fort, advanced
from Fort Erie fifteen miles, to Street's Creek, a small stream,
bridged near its mouth, entering the Niagara two miles south of the
Chippewa River, the defensive line selected by the British, who now
fell back upon it. The Chippewa is of respectable size, one hundred
and fifty yards wide, and from twelve to twenty feet deep, running
from west to east. In general direction it is parallel to Street's
Creek; both entering the Niagara at right angles to its course. In the
belt separating the two the ground is flat, and was in great part
open; but midway between them there was a strip of thick wood
extending down to within a few hundred feet of the Niagara. This
formed a dense curtain, hiding movements on either side from the
other. The British forces under Riall were now north of the Chippewa,
Scott's brigade south of Street's; each having a bridge by which to
advance into the space between. The other American brigade, Ripley's,
was in rear of Scott--to the south.

In this relative situation, Scott's pickets on the left being
disquieted by the British and Indians in the intervening woods, Brown
ordered up the militia and American Indians under General Porter to
expel them. This was done; but upon reaching the clearing on the
further side, the Indians, who were in the lead, encountered a heavy
fire, which drove them back upon the militia, and the whole body
retreated in a confusion which ended in a rout.[295] Riall had crossed
the Chippewa, and was advancing in force, although he believed Brown's
army much to outnumber his own now on the field, which in fact it did.
Gordon Drummond, in his instructions to him some months before, (March
23), had remarked that with the Americans liberties might be taken
which would seem hazardous "to a military man unacquainted with the
character of the enemy he had to contend with, or with the events of
the last two campaigns on that frontier."[296] This unflattering, but
not unreasonable, deduction from the performances of Dearborn and
others in 1813, as of Smyth and Van Rensselaer in 1812, was misplaced
in the present instance; but it doubtless governed Riall's action, and
justified it to himself and his superiors. He had not been engaged
since he drove the militia of New York before him like sheep, in the
preceding December; and he would have attacked on the very night after
the crossing, but that a regiment from York, which he had reason to
expect twenty-four hours before, did not arrive until the morning of
the 5th. The instant it came he made his dispositions to move at 4
P.M. of the same day.

It was this advance which met Porter and threw his division back,
uncovering the wood on the west. Scott at the same moment was marching
his brigade into the open space between Street's Creek and the
Chippewa; not to meet the enemy, whom he did not expect, but for some
drill in the cool of a hot summer's afternoon. As he went forward, the
Commander-in-Chief, who had been reconnoitring in front, rode by,
galloping to the rear to bring up his remaining force; for, while the
army in the aggregate was superior to Riall, the one brigade was
inferior. In passing, he called to Scott, "You will have a battle";
and the head of the latter's column, as it crossed the bridge, came at
once under the enemy's guns.

Although inferior, exposed, and in a sense surprised, both commander
and men were equal to the occasion. The division deployed steadily
under fire, and its leader, sending hastily one battalion to check the
enemy in the wood, formed front with the remainder of his force to
meet those in the plain. These, being yet unopposed, advanced beyond
the line of the wood, passing their own detachment within it, which
was held in check by the Americans charged with that duty. Losing thus
their support on that side, the British presented a new right flank,
to use Scott's expression. Thereupon he extended his two wings as far
as he dared, leaving between them a considerable interval, so as to
overlap his opponent at either extremity; which done, he threw his
left forward. His brigade thus formed an obtuse angle, the apex to the
rear, the bullets therefore converging and crossing upon the space in
front, into which it and the enemy were moving. In the approach both
parties halted several times to fire, and Scott says that the
superiority of aim in his own men was evident. When within sixty paces
a mutual rush, or charge, ensued; but the overlapping of the Americans
crowded the flanks of the enemy in upon his centre and produced
confusion, to which the preceding fire doubtless had contributed.
Scott's own description is that "the wings of the enemy being
outflanked, and in some measure doubled upon, were mouldered away like
a rope of sand."[297] In this brief and brilliant struggle only the
one brigade was engaged.

Riall's account agrees substantially with that of Scott, mentioning
particularly "the greatest regularity" with which his opponents
"deployed and opened fire."[298] He directed a charge by the three
regiments in line, "but I am sorry to say that they suffered so
severely that I was obliged to withdraw them, finding their further
efforts against the superior numbers of the enemy would be
unavailing." He was right in believing that the aggregate of Brown's
army, although much short of the six thousand he estimated, was
superior to that which he could bring together without abandoning
posts he had to hold; but he was mistaken in thinking that in the
actual collision his opponents were more numerous than the fifteen
hundred regulars at which he states his own force, besides three
hundred militia. Scott's brigade, with its supporting artillery, when
it crossed four days before, was less than fifteen hundred; and the
militia and Indians were routed before he began to fight. His
artillery also was of lighter weight. The superiority of the American
fire was shown by the respective losses. They were: British, one
hundred and forty-eight killed, two hundred and twenty-one wounded,
forty-six missing; American, fifty-six killed, two hundred and
thirty-nine wounded, thirty-six missing. Of this total, there fell to
Scott's command forty-four killed, and two hundred and twenty-four
wounded; demonstrating conclusively that it alone was seriously
engaged. Not a man was reported missing. The other brigade lost only
three killed and three wounded. At the end of the action it was coming
up on Scott's left, where he was most exposed, but it did not arrive
until he had wrought his own deliverance. The remaining casualties
were among the militia and Indians.

After the battle of Chippewa, Riall fell back towards Fort George, and
subsequently to the creek called Twenty Mile, west of Niagara, on Lake
Ontario. Brown followed as far as Queenston, where he arrived July 10.
On the 13th he wrote to Chauncey, begging for the fleet to meet him on
the lake shore, west of Fort George, to arrange a plan of operations;
in which case he had no doubt of breaking the power of the enemy in
Upper Canada in a short time. "All accounts," he said, "represent the
force of the enemy at Kingston as very light. Sir James Yeo will not
fight,"--which was certain. "For God's sake, let me see you. I have
looked for your fleet with the greatest anxiety since the 10th."[299]

Chauncey had not left Sackett's Harbor, nor did he do so; to the utter
consternation, not of Brown only, but of the Government. On July 7 he
chronicled the burning of an enemy's schooner on the north shore of
the lake,[300] an exploit creditable enough in itself, but utterly
trivial in relation to pending issues; and on the 8th he wrote that
some changes of officers and crews, incidental to the absence of a
particular captain, would detain him a few days longer.[301] These
were flimsy reasons for inactivity at a moment of great national
interest, and when the operations in progress had been begun
absolutely upon the presupposition of naval control and co-operation,
for which he had undertaken to provide the means, even if not pledged
as to the manner. Then followed a silence of over two weeks; after
which, on July 25, he wrote again by his second to say that "the
squadron had been prevented being earlier fitted for sea, in
consequence of the delay in obtaining blocks and ironwork."[302] He
himself was too unwell to write, and had been so for some days. It is
probable that lapse of energy consequent upon illness had something to
do with this remarkable paralysis of action, in a man usually bustling
and efficient; and there may naturally have been unwillingness to
relinquish command,--which would have been his proper course,--after
the mortifications of the previous year, when he was just flattering
himself with the prospect of a new opportunity.

This inaction, at the critical moment of Brown's advance, caused the
Government extreme perplexity and distress. In Chauncey was reposed a
confidence expressed by the Secretary of the Navy to Congress the year
before, when the resolution of thanks to Perry was pending. He then
"intimated the propriety of noticing in an appropriate manner the
commander-in-chief of the naval force upon the lakes, under whose
immediate command Captain Perry acted;" and spoke of the "zeal,
talent, constancy, courage, and prudence of the highest order, which
appears to me to merit particular distinction."[303] Such preconceived
opinion was hard to shake; but as day succeeded day of expectation
and suspense, the patience of the Administration gave way. Letters
bearing those elaborated phrases of assurance which most clearly
testify uneasiness were sent him, but did not arrive till after Brown
had retreated and he himself taken the lake. On July 24 the Secretary
writes, "I have expressed the solicitude which has produced this
letter, but my confidence in your patriotism, skill, judgment, and
energy is entire." On August 3, however, he says the explanation about
blocks and ironwork--apparently just received--is so extraordinary at
such a moment that "I cannot withhold from you the extreme anxiety and
astonishment which the protracted and fatal delay of the squadron has
excited in the mind of the President;" and on the 5th, "the known
detention of the squadron at Sackett's Harbor until the 27th ultimo,
the very feeble and precarious state of your health, the evils which
have already resulted from delay," etc., "have induced the President,
though with extreme reluctance, and undiminished confidence in your
zeal and capacity, to order Commodore Decatur to proceed to Sackett's
Harbor and take upon himself the naval command on Lake Ontario."

The proposed change did not take place, the squadron having already
resumed active cruising. The Secretary repeated his expressions of
confidence, but does not appear to have renewed his recommendations to
Congress. Chauncey, stung by the reflections, open and implied, upon
his conduct, retorted with a defence and definition of his course, as
proposed and realized, which raises the whole question of the method
of naval co-operation under the circumstances, and of its probable
effectiveness. Replying to Brown's letter of July 13, quoted above, he
said positively that he had never given the general ground to expect
him at the head of the lake.[304] This assertion he repeated to the
Secretary, whose letters to him demonstrate that the Government had
left him entire discretion as to his particular method of procedure.
Acting therefore upon his own judgment, he justified his course by
alleging that direct co-operation at the Niagara end of the lake was
impossible, because the heavy ships could not get within two miles of
the forts, and Brown's army had never advanced to the lake shore;
consequently, the fleet could neither have acted directly by itself,
nor yet in support of a land force, with which it could not
communicate. So much for the negative side of the argument.
Positively, he said, the mission of the navy was to seek and fight the
enemy's squadron; and this duty was emphasized by the fact that to go
westward to Niagara, while the enemy was at Kingston, would expose to
capture Sackett's Harbor, the safety of which had remained a dominant
anxiety with Chauncey since its narrow escape the previous year.

The protection of his own base, and the controlling or beating the
organized force of the enemy, are unquestionably two leading
considerations which should govern the general conduct of a general
officer, land or sea. In these particulars Chauncey's statement was
unassailable; but, whether well or ill, he seems to have been
incapable of rising to the larger estimate of naval control, to which
the rules enunciated, conduce simply as a formulation of principles,
giving to action preciseness and steadiness of direction. The
destruction of the enemy's fleet is the means to obtain naval control;
but naval control in itself is only a means, not an object. The object
of the campaign, set by the Government, was the acquirement of mastery
upon the Niagara peninsula, to the accomplishment of which Brown's
army was destined. Naval control would minister thereto, partly by
facilitating the re-enforcement and supply of the American army, and,
conversely, by impeding that of the British. Of these two means, the
latter was the more efficacious, because, owing to the thoroughly
denuded condition of the Canadian territory, from the Niagara to
Detroit, local resources were exhausted, and dependence was wholly
upon the water; whereas the United States forces, near a fruitful
friendly region, and in possession of Lake Erie, had other independent
and sufficient streams of maintenance.

To weaken the British was by so much to strengthen Brown, even though
direct communication with him were impossible. It was of this that the
British stood in continual anxious terror, as shown by their letters;
and this it was that Chauncey gives no sign of recognizing. Of support
to his own colleague he spoke with ill-timed scorn: "That you might
find the fleet somewhat of a convenience in the transportation of
provisions and stores for the use of the army, and an agreeable
appendage to attend its marches and countermarches, I am ready to
believe; but, Sir, the Secretary of the Navy has honored us with a
higher destiny--we are intended to seek and to fight the enemy's
fleet. This is the great purpose of the Government in creating this
fleet; and I shall not be diverted in my efforts to effectuate it by
any sinister attempt to render us subordinate to, or an appendage of,
the army." It would be difficult to cite an apter instance of wresting
sound principles to one's own destruction. Whatever the antecedent
provocation, this is no temper in which to effect military objects. It
is indeed hard to believe that an army so little numerous as that of
Brown could have accomplished the ambitious designs confided to it;
but that does not affect the clear duty of affording it the utmost
assistance that ingenuity could devise and energy effect. The words
quoted were written August 10, but ignore entirely an alternative
suggested in a letter received that day from the Secretary, dated July
24, itself the repetition of one made July 20: "To destroy the enemy's
fleet, or to blockade his force _and cut off his entire communication
with the head of the lake_." The civilian here indicated clearly what
the naval officer should have known from the very first moment.

As before said, the contemporary correspondence of British officers
abundantly shows their anxiety lest Chauncey, in these important
weeks, should do what he did not do. Sir James Yeo had deliberately
formulated the policy of remaining inactive in Kingston until the
completion of the 102-gun ship, which would give him command of the
lake beyond chance of dispute. To occupy the American fleet meanwhile
with a local blockade, which he intended not to contest, was precisely
what he wanted. To distress the army at Niagara to the point of
evacuating the peninsula was the one only thing that might impel--or
compel--him to come out and fight, despite his deliberate intention.
"Several small vessels," wrote the Commissary-General a month
later[305] to Sir George Prevost, "were despatched while the enemy's
squadron were unable to leave Sackett's Harbor; but since the enemy
commands the lake, that resource for the moment is cut off, and only
batteaux can be employed. These are [not][306] a very useful
conveyance, not only from the danger of the enemy's small vessels,
which can approach the shore without difficulty, but also from want of
proper steersmen, pilots, and middlemen.... This feeble means of
transport will never effect the forming of a sufficient depot at York,
Burlington Heights, and Niagara; and, unless the commissariat can be
aided to a great extent by the Royal Navy, the most disastrous
consequences must ensue."

At the date this was written, August 27, Chauncey's force was that
which he had promised should be ready July 1, but with which he did
not sail until August 1,--too late. The very efficiency of his action
in August condemns therefore his inaction in July. Besides his two new
big ships, which matched Yeo's two, he had added to the fleet of the
previous year, then superior to the British, two brigs of the armament
and tonnage of the ocean sloops of war,--the "Peacock" and class.
Against these Yeo had nothing to show. It was therefore open to
Chauncey to blockade Kingston with an equal force, thus covering
Sackett's, and to despatch to the head of the lake vessels adequate to
embarrass Riall and Drummond most seriously. From York to Niagara by
land was eighty miles of road impassable to laden wagons; by lake
thirty miles of water facility. From Kingston to York, an additional
distance of a hundred and fifty miles, the same relative difficulty of
transportation obtained. Yet as late as July 13, Drummond could write
from Kingston, "As troops cannot be forwarded without provisions, I
have requested Sir James Yeo to send his two brigs immediately, with
as much flour and pork as they can carry to York and Burlington." On
the 16th, "The 'Charwell' sailed yesterday for the head of the lake
with provisions and ammunition. I have strong hopes she will arrive
safe, as the enemy's whole squadron are lying in Sackett's with their
sails bent, and apparently ready for sea, though no guns forward of
the foremast could be perceived on board the 'Mohawk.'"[307]

Yeo, holding both York and the mouth of the Niagara, ventured thither
two brigs and two schooners, under Captain Dobbs, one of his officers.
"Without their valuable aid in the transport of troops and stores,"
wrote Drummond, August 12, "I certainly should not have been able to
attempt offensive operations so soon after my arrival." By that time,
when Brown had of necessity abandoned the offensive, "Commodore
Chauncey has left three of his brigs to watch our vessels in the
Niagara. They continue cruising off that place."[308] Chauncey, in
his letter of vindication to the Secretary, had maintained that "if
our whole fleet were at the head of the lake, it would not detain a
regiment from [York to] Fort George more than twenty-four hours....
Any one who knows anything of the navigation of this lake knows that
boats may cross the head of the lake, from York to the opposite shore,
unobserved by any fleet during the night."[309] Admitting that there
is no literal exaggeration in this statement, it takes no account of
the enemy's apprehensions, nor of the decisive difficulty of running
vessels of a size to transport the heavy stores, without which the
army could not remain. No one familiar with maritime affairs will deny
the impossibility of wholly suppressing all furtive movement of small
coasters, but it is equally certain much can be done to impede that
full course of supplies which constitutes security of communication.
To Chauncey's affirmation, Drummond gives an incidental reply,
September 2: "The enemy's blockading squadron not having been seen for
some days, I sent the 'Vincent' across to York, where she has arrived
in safety, and Captain Dobbs has directed the 'Charwell' to push
across the first morning the wind is fair. By their aid I got rid of
many encumbrances (prisoners and sick), and shall receive the supplies
that are waiting at York for this division."[310]

It is needless to multiply quotations from the utterances, and
frequent outcries, that run throughout this correspondence. Chauncey,
from early July, had it in his hand seriously to molest the British
communications, and at the same time to contain the British squadron
in Kingston. Such action would subject Yeo to the just and humiliating
imputation of suffering the harassment of the army without an attempt
at relief, or else would compel him to come out and fight under
conditions which, "whatever the result," to use Nelson's words, "would
leave his squadron in a state to do no further harm," till the big
ship was ready. Thus also Chauncey would cover his base; for, as
Prevost wrote, "while Kingston is blockaded, no movement against
Sackett's Harbor can take place." It was Chauncey's misfortune himself
to demonstrate his own shortcoming by the profound distress he
inflicted, when sounder measures were instituted after the censure of
the Government,--too late.

One of the most conspicuous instances of the effect of this neglect
was realized in the desperate and sanguinary engagement of Lundy's
Lane, the occurrence of which, at the time and in the manner it did,
as stated by one of the chief actors, Winfield Scott, was due directly
to the freedom of the lake to the British. Brown had remained at
Queenston for some days after July 10, in painful suspense. A
reconnaissance in force was made on the 15th by the militia brigade
under General Porter, accompanied by two pieces of artillery, which
moved round Fort George as far as Lake Ontario, whence the general
reported "we had an opportunity to examine the _northern_ face of
Forts Riall and Niagara, about two miles distant."[311] Beyond a few
random shots, no opposition was experienced. On the 20th the army as a
whole advanced to the neighborhood of Fort George, and made a
demonstration of throwing up siege works; not without serious
intention, for Brown had not yet abandoned hope of receiving the
cannon of necessary weight, 24-pounders, from Sackett's Harbor. He had
with him only eighteens. Riall was greatly alarmed, exaggerating the
force before him, and receiving reports of re-enforcements expected by
the lake. On July 22 he sent hasty and pressing word of the impending
emergency to Drummond, who arrived the same evening at York from
Kingston; but in the afternoon of the day he was able to give better
tidings. The Americans were falling back again upon Queenston,
abandoning the positions recently assumed.[312]

Brown had hoped that by his advance, blowing up the works at
Queenston, and leaving his rear evidently much exposed, Riall might be
induced to attack. The British general was much disposed to do so; but
refrained, fearing for his own communications. On the morning of the
23d an express from General Gaines, commanding at Sackett's Harbor,
reached Brown at Queenston, informing him that Chauncey was sick, that
no one knew when the fleet would sail, and that an endeavor had been
made to send forward by batteaux, coasting the south shore, the
24-pounder guns needed for besieging Fort George; but the officer in
command had stopped at the mouth of Black River Bay, thinking himself
in danger from the British squadron.[313] A contemporary account
reads: "July 20, Morgan with the riflemen and cannon prevented from
sailing by Yeo's blockade of the harbor."[314] Apparently, Yeo had
even come out of port, in order by menace of attack to arrest the
forwarding of this essential succor. Chauncey's incidental mention is
positive that he approached no nearer than the Ducks, some large
islands thirty miles south of Kingston, and forty west of
Sackett's;[315] but it is obvious that in the quiescence of the
American squadron such a position was prohibitive of movement by
batteaux. It may readily be conceived that had Brown's demonstration
against the fort been coupled with an attempt to land the guns from a
naval division, Riall might have felt compelled to come out of his

Neither guns nor naval division appeared, and Drummond, able to move
troops freely across the lake, concerted now a plan for striking a
dangerous blow from Fort Niagara, against Brown's communications on
the New York side; the exposed condition of which was known to him.
This was the immediate offensive of which he had spoken; his ability
to undertake which he attributed to naval aid. He had as
adjutant-general Lieutenant-Colonel Harvey, the same who suggested and
executed the brilliant stroke that disconcerted Dearborn's campaign in
1813; and who on the present occasion drew up the instructions to
Riall, and to Lieutenant-Colonel Tucker, the officer in charge of the
forts, with a delightful lucidity which characterizes all papers
signed by him.[316] The brigs "Star" and "Charwell" left York July 23,
with a re-enforcement of four hundred men for Fort Niagara, in which
post the officer commanding was directed to concentrate so many more
as would enable him to carry a full regiment of regulars against
batteries that were being put up at Youngstown. This movement was to
be made at daylight of Monday, July 25, and General Riall was
instructed to support it by a threatening demonstration on his side of
the river. On the evening of the 24th, Drummond himself sailed from
York in one of Yeo's schooners, and by daybreak reached Niagara.

Upon his arrival,--or possibly before,--he learned that the Americans
had retired further, to the Chippewa. The motive for this backward
step was to draw necessary supplies across the river, from the
magazines at Fort Schlosser, and to leave there all superfluous
baggage, prior to a rush upon Burlington Heights, which Brown had now
substituted as the point of attack, in consequence of his
disappointment about the siege guns.[317] It had been his intention
to rest over the 25th, in order to start forward fresh on the 26th.
This retrograde movement, inducing Riall to advance, changed the
situation found by Drummond. He decided therefore to apply his
re-enforcements to the support of Riall directly, and to have the
enterprise from Niagara proceed with somewhat smaller numbers towards
Lewiston,--opposite Queenston,--where a body of Americans were posted.
This advance appears to have been detected very soon, for Drummond
writes, "Some unavoidable delay having occurred in the march of the
troops up the right bank, the enemy had moved off previous to Colonel
Tucker's arrival." Brown, in his report of this circumstance, wrote,
"As it appeared that the enemy with his increased force was about to
avail himself of the hazard under which our baggage and stores were on
our [American] side of Niagara, I conceived the most effectual method
of recalling him from the object was to put myself in motion towards
Queenston. General Scott with his brigade were accordingly put in
march on the road leading thither." The result was the battle of
Lundy's Lane.

Scott in his autobiography attributes the report of an advance towards
Schlosser to a mistake on the part of the officer making it. It was
not so. There was an actual movement, modified in detail from the
original elaborate plan, the execution of which was based by the
British general upon the local control of the lake, enabling him to
send re-enforcements. The employment of Dobbs' four vessels, permitted
by Chauncey's inaction, thus had direct effect upon the occurrence and
the result of the desperately contested engagement which ensued, upon
the heights overlooking the lower torrent of the Niagara. From the
Chippewa to the Falls is about two miles, through which the main road
from Lake Erie to Ontario follows the curving west bank of the stream.
A half mile further on it was joined at right angles by the
crossroad, known as Lundy's Lane. As Scott's column turned the bend
above the Falls there were evidences of the enemy's presence, which at
first were thought to indicate only a detachment for observation; but
a few more paces disclosed the Lane held by a line of troops, superior
in number to those encountered with equal unexpectedness on the
Chippewa, three weeks before.

Scott hesitated whether to fall back; but apprehensive of the effect
of such a step upon the other divisions, he sent word to Brown that he
would hold his ground, and prepared for battle, making dispositions to
turn the enemy's left,--towards the Niagara. It was then near sundown.
A hot engagement followed, in the course of which the pressure on the
British left caused it to give ground. In consequence, the American
right advancing and the British left receding, the two lines swung
round perpendicular to the Lane, the Americans standing with their
backs to the precipices, beneath which roar the lower rapids of
Niagara. At this period General Riall, who had received a severe
wound, was captured while being carried to the rear.

As this change of front was taking place Brown arrived, with Ripley's
brigade and Porter's militia, which were brought into line with Scott;
the latter occupying the extreme right, Ripley the centre, and Porter
the left. When this arrangement had been completed the attack was
resumed, and a hill top, which was the key of the British position,
was carried; the artillery there falling into the hands of the
Americans. "In so determined a manner were these attacks directed
against our guns," reported Drummond, "that our artillery men were
bayoneted by the enemy in the act of loading, and the muzzles of the
enemy's guns were advanced within a few yards of ours.... Our troops
having for a moment been pushed back, some of our guns remained for a
few minutes in the enemy's hands."[318] Upon this central fact both
accounts agree, but on the upshot of the matter they differ. "Not only
were the guns quickly recovered," continued Drummond, "but the two
pieces which the enemy had brought up were captured by us." He admits,
however, the loss as well as gain of one 6-pounder. Brown, on the
contrary, claimed that the ground was held and that the enemy retired,
leaving his guns. "He attempted to drive us from our position and to
regain his artillery; our line was unshaken and the enemy repulsed.
Two other attempts having the same object had the same issue."[319] By
this time both Brown and Scott had been severely wounded and carried
off the field. In this situation the Commander-in-Chief directed the
officer now in command to withdraw the troops to the camp, three miles
behind, for refreshment, and then to re-occupy the field of battle.
Whether this was feasible or not would require an inquiry more
elaborate than the matter at stake demands. It is certain that the
next day the British resumed the position without resistance, and
continued to hold it.

To Americans the real interest and value of this action, combined with
its predecessor at Chippewa, and with the subsequent equally desperate
fighting about Fort Erie, were that the contest did not close without
this conspicuous demonstration that in capable hands the raw material
of the American armies could be worked up into fighting quality equal
to the best. Regarded as an international conflict, the war was now
staggering to its end, which was but a few months distant; and in
every direction little but shame and mortification had befallen the
American arms on land. It would have been a calamity, indeed, had the
record closed for that generation with the showing of 1812 and 1813.
Nothing is gained by explaining or excusing such results; the only
expiation for them is by the demonstration of repentance, in works
worthy of men and soldiers. This was abundantly afforded by Brown's
brief campaign of 1814, otherwise fruitless. Not only the regular
troops, fashioned by Scott in a few brief months from raw recruits to
disciplined fighters, proved their mettle; the irregulars associated
with them, though without the same advantage of training and concert
of movement, caught their enthusiasm, gained confidence from their
example, and emulated their deeds. The rabble which scarcely waited
for a shot before scattering at the approach of Riall's columns in
December, 1813, abandoning their homes to destruction, had earned the
discriminating eulogium of General Brown before the year 1814 closed.
In August, after Lundy's Lane, he, a New Yorker himself, wrote to the
Governor of New York:[320] "This state has suffered in reputation in
this war; its militia have done nothing, or but little, and that, too,
after the state had been for a long time invaded." On September 20,
after the sanguinary and successful sortie from Fort Erie, he wrote
again: "The militia of New York have redeemed their character--they
behaved gallantly. Of those called out by the last requisition,
fifteen hundred have crossed the state border to our support. This
re-enforcement has been of immense importance to us; it doubled our
effective strength, and their good conduct cannot but have the
happiest effect upon the nation."[321]

The American losses at Lundy's Lane were, killed one hundred and
seventy-one, wounded five hundred and seventy-two, missing one hundred
and seventeen; total, eight hundred and sixty. Those of the British
were, killed eighty-four, wounded five hundred and fifty-nine,
missing one hundred and ninety-three, prisoners forty-two; total,
eight hundred and seventy-eight. Of the British missing and prisoners,
one hundred and sixty-nine were reported by the Americans as in their
hands; among them nineteen officers. This substantial equality in
casualties corresponds to a similar equality in the numbers engaged.
The Americans had present for duty two thousand six hundred and
forty-four, including over four hundred militia; Drummond in his
report states that first and last he had upon the field not more than
two thousand eight hundred. That he estimates the force opposed to him
to have been at least five thousand, may be coupled with his mention
of "the reiterated and determined attacks which the enemy made upon
our centre," as showing the impression produced upon his mind during
the progress of the struggle. The comparison of numbers engaged with
injuries sustained justifies the inference that, in result, the actual
contest upon the ground was at least a drawn battle, if not the
positive success claimed by Brown and Scott. Colonel Hercules Scott,
of the British 103d Regiment, who to be sure shows somewhat of the
malcontent ever present in camps, but who afterwards fell well at the
front in the assault upon Fort Erie, was in this action; and in a
private letter uses an expression which practically corroborates the
American assertion that they held the ground at the end, and withdrew
afterwards. "In the last attack they gained possession of five out of
seven of our guns, but the fire kept upon them was so severe that it
afterwards appeared they had not been able to carry them off; _for we
found them next morning_ on the spot they had been taken. No [We?]
boast of a 'Great Victory,' but in my opinion it was nearly equal on
both sides."[322]

Equality of loss, or even a technical victory, does not imply equality
of subsequent conditions. Brown had at the front all his available
force; he had no reserves or depots upon which to draw. He had
expended the last shot in the locker. Drummond not only had been
receiving re-enforcements, absolutely small, yet considerable in
proportion to the contending numbers, but he was continuing to receive
them. Lundy's Lane was July 25; Chauncey did not take the lake until
August 1, and it was the 5th when he came off Niagara, where he at
once intercepted and drove ashore one of the British brigs, which was
fired by her captain. He thus had immediate ocular demonstration of
what had been going on in his absence; but it was already too late for
the American squadron to turn the scales of war. If this could have
been accomplished at all, it would have been by such intervention as
in this instance; by injuring the enemy rather than by helping the
friend. But this would have been possible only in the beginning. Brown
felt himself unable longer to keep the field; and the army, now under
General Ripley, withdrew the following day, July 26, to Fort Erie,
where it proceeded to strengthen the work itself, and to develop a
fortified line depending upon it, covering the angle of ground made by
the shores of the Niagara River and Lake Erie. Brown was carried to
Buffalo to recover of his wounds, which were not dangerous, though
severe. He subsequently resumed chief command, but Scott was unable to
serve again during the campaign. General Gaines was summoned from
Sackett's Harbor, and on August 5 took charge at Fort Erie.

From this time the operations on either side were limited to the
effort to take or to hold this position. Drummond's experience at
Lundy's Lane, and the extent of his loss, made him cautious in
pursuit; and time was yielded to the enemy to make good their
entrenchment. On the early morning of August 15 the British assaulted,
and were repelled with fifty-seven killed, three hundred and nine
wounded, and five hundred and thirty-nine missing.[323] The Americans,
covered by their works, reported a loss of less than one hundred. "I
am now reduced to a most unpleasant predicament with regard to force,"
wrote Drummond to Prevost.[324] "I have ordered the 6th and 82d from
York to this frontier. I had intended to order another regiment from
Kingston, but from the badness of the roads since the recent rains I
could not calculate upon their arrival here before our squadron will
be able to take the lake, and as even at present the diminution of
stores and provisions is beginning to be felt, I intreat your
excellency will impress upon the Commodore the necessity of conveying
to this division, the very moment the squadron can leave harbor, a
full supply of each, as well as a re-enforcement of troops."

After this sharp reverse Drummond settled down to a siege, in the
course of which he complained frequently and grievously of the
annoyance caused him by Chauncey's blockade, established August 6,
with three vessels competent seriously to interrupt transportation of
supplies, or of men in large detachments. The season was still
propitious for marching; but as early as August 21 Drummond was afraid
"that relief by control of the lake may not reach us in time."
September 11, "Our batteries have almost been silent for several days
from the reduced state of the ammunition." September 14, "The sudden
and most unlooked for return to the head of Lake Ontario of the two
brigs, by which the Niagara has been so long blockaded, _and my
communication with York cut off_, has had the effect of preventing the
junction of the 97th regiment, which arrived at York the 10th, and
probably would have been here the following day but for this unlucky
circumstance."[325] September 24, "The deficiency of provisions and
transport is the difficulty attending every operation in this country,
as it prevents the collection at any one point of an adequate force
for any object. These difficulties we must continue to experience,
until our squadron appears superior on the lake." It would be
impossible to depict more strongly the course incumbent upon Chauncey
in July, or to condemn more severely, by implication, his failure then
to do what he could, taking the chance of that chapter of accidents,
"to be in the way of good luck," which it is the duty of every
military leader to consider as among the clear possibilities of war.
"The blockade of Kingston," wrote Prevost on October 11 to Lord
Bathurst,[326] "has been vigorously maintained for the last six weeks
by the enemy's squadron. The vigilance of the American cruisers on
Lake Ontario was felt even by our batteaux creeping along the shore
with provisions for Drummond's division. In consequence, I found that
the wants of that army had grown to an alarming extent."[327]

In pushing his siege works, Drummond by September 15 had erected three
batteries, the last of which, then just completed, "would rake
obliquely the whole American encampment."[328] Brown determined then
upon a sortie in force, which was made on the afternoon of September
17, with entire success. It was in this attack that the New York
militia, of whom fifteen hundred had crossed to the fort, bore an
honorable and distinguished part. Brown states the actual force
engaged in the fighting at one thousand regulars and one thousand
militia, to whose energy and stubbornness Drummond again pays the
compliment of estimating them at five thousand. The weight of the
onslaught was thrown on the British right flank, and there doubtless
the assailants were, and should have been, greatly superior. Two of
the three batteries were carried, one of them being that which had
directly incited the attack. "The enemy," reported Drummond, "was
everywhere driven back; not however before he had disabled the guns in
No. 3 battery, and exploded its magazine;"[329] that is, not before he
had accomplished his purpose.

Nor was this all. The stroke ended the campaign. Drummond had nearly
lost hope of a successful issue, and this blow destroyed what little
remained. The American navy still held the lake; the big ship in
Kingston still tarried; rains torrential and almost incessant were
undermining the ramparts of Forts George and Niagara, causing serious
alarm for the defence, and spreading sickness among his troops,
re-enforcements to which could with difficulty be sent. The British
returns of loss in repelling the sortie gave one hundred and fifteen
killed, one hundred and forty-eight wounded, three hundred and sixteen
missing; total, five hundred and seventy-nine. The Americans, whose
casualties were five hundred and eleven, reported that they brought
back three hundred and eighty-five prisoners; among whom the roll of
officers tallies with the British list. Four days afterwards,
September 21, Drummond abandoned his works, leaving his fires burning
and huts standing, and fell back secretly by night to the Chippewa.

Brown was in no condition to follow. In a brief ten weeks, over which
his adventurous enterprise spread, he had fought four engagements,
which might properly be called general actions, if regard were had to
the total force at his disposal, and not merely to the tiny scale of
the campaign. Barring the single episode of the battle of New
Orleans, his career on the Niagara peninsula is the one operation of
the land war of 1812 upon which thoughtful and understanding Americans
of the following generation could look back with satisfaction. Of how
great consequence this evidence of national military character was, to
the men who had no other experience, is difficult to be appreciated by
us, in whose memories are the successes of the Mexican contest and the
fierce titanic strife of the Civil War. In truth, Chippewa, Lundy's
Lane, and New Orleans, are the only names of 1812 preserved to popular
memory,[330] ever impatient of disagreeable reminiscence. Hull's
surrender was indeed an exception; the iron there burned too deep to
leave no lasting scar. To Brown and his distinguished subordinates we
owe the demonstration of what the War of 1812 might have accomplished,
had the Government of the United States since the beginning of the
century possessed even a rudimentary conception of what military
preparation means to practical statesmanship.

Shortly after the sortie which decided Drummond to retire, the
defenders of Fort Erie were brought into immediate relation with the
major part of the forces upon Lake Champlain, under General Izard.
Both belonged to the same district, the ninth, which in Dearborn's
time had formed one general command; but which it now pleased the
Secretary of War, General Armstrong, to manage as two distinct
divisions, under his own controlling directions from Washington. The
Secretary undoubtedly had a creditable amount of acquired military
knowledge, but by this time he had manifested that he did not possess
the steadying military qualities necessary to play the role of a
distant commander-in-chief. Izard, at the time of his appointment,
reported everything connected with his command, the numbers and
discipline of the troops, their clothing and equipment, in a
deplorable state of inefficiency.[331] The summer months were spent in
building up anew the army on Champlain, and in erecting
fortifications; at Plattsburg, where the main station was fixed, and
at Cumberland Head, the promontory which defines the eastern side of
Plattsburg Bay. Upon the maintenance of these positions depended the
tenure of the place itself, as the most suitable advanced base for the
army and for the fleet, mutually indispensable for the protection of
that great line of operations.

On July 27, before the Secretary could know of Lundy's Lane, but when
he did anticipate that Brown must fall back on Fort Erie, he wrote to
Izard that it would be expedient for him to advance against Montreal,
or against Prescott,--on the St. Lawrence opposite Ogdensburg,--in
case large re-enforcements had been sent from Montreal to check
Brown's advance, as was reported. His own inclination pointed to
Prescott, with a view to the contingent chance of an attack upon
Kingston, in co-operation with Chauncey and the garrison at
Sackett's.[332] This letter did not reach Izard till August 10. He
construed its somewhat tentative and vacillating terms as an order. "I
will make the movement you direct, if possible; but I shall do it
with the apprehension of risking the force under my command, and with
the certainty that everything in this vicinity, save the lately
erected works at Plattsburg and Cumberland Head, will, in less than
three days after my departure, be in possession of the enemy."[333]
Izard, himself, on July 19, had favored a step like this proposed;
but, as he correctly observed, the time for it was when Brown was
advancing and might be helped. Now, when Brown had been brought to a
stand, and was retiring, the movement would not aid him, but would
weaken the Champlain frontier; and that at the very moment when the
divisions from Wellington's army, which had embarked at Bordeaux, were
arriving at Quebec and Montreal.

On August 12, Armstrong wrote again, saying that his first order had
been based upon the supposition that Chauncey would meet and beat Yeo,
or at least confine him in port. This last had in fact been done; but,
if the enemy should have carried his force from Montreal to Kingston,
and be prepared there, "a safer movement was to march two thousand men
to Sackett's, embark there, and go to Brown's assistance."[334] Izard
obediently undertook this new disposition, which he received August
20; but upon consultation with his officers concluded that to march by
the northern route, near the Canada border, would expose his
necessarily long column to dangerous flank attack. He therefore
determined to go by way of Utica.[335] On August 29 the division,
about four thousand effectives, set out from the camp at Chazy, eight
miles north of Plattsburg, and on September 16 reached Sackett's. Bad
weather prevented immediate embarkation, but on the 21st about two
thousand five hundred infantry sailed, and having a fair wind reached
next day the Genesee, where they were instantly put ashore. A
regiment of light artillery and a number of dragoons, beyond the
capacity of the fleet to carry, went by land and arrived a week later.

In this manner the defence of Lake Champlain was deprived of four
thousand fairly trained troops at the moment that the British attack
in vast superiority of force was maturing. Their advance brigade, in
fact, crossed the frontier two days after Izard's departure. At the
critical moment, and during the last weeks of weather favorable for
operations, the men thus taken were employed in making an unprofitable
march of great length, to a quarter where there was now little
prospect of successful action, and where they could not arrive before
the season should be practically closed. Brown, of course, hailed an
accession of strength which he sorely needed, and did not narrowly
scrutinize a measure for which he was not responsible. On September
27, ten days after the successful sortie from Fort Erie, he was at
Batavia, in New York, where he had an interview with Izard, who was
the senior. In consequence of their consultation Izard determined that
his first movement should be the siege of Fort Niagara.[336] In
pursuance of this resolve his army marched to Lewiston, where it
arrived October 5. There he had a second meeting with Brown,
accompanied on this occasion by Porter, and under their
representations decided that it would be more proper to concentrate
all the forces at hand on the Canadian bank of the Niagara, south of
the Chippewa, and not to undertake a siege while Drummond kept the

Despite many embarrassments, and anxieties on the score of supplies
and provisions while deprived of the free use of the lake, the British
general was now master of the situation. His position rested upon the
Chippewa on one flank, and upon Fort Niagara on the other. From end
to end he had secure communication, for he possessed the river and the
boats, below the falls. By these interior lines, despite his momentary
inferiority in total numbers, he was able to concentrate his forces
upon a threatened extremity with a rapidity which the assailants could
not hope to rival. Fort Niagara was not in a satisfactory condition to
resist battery by heavy cannon; but Izard had none immediately at
hand. Drummond was therefore justified in his hope that "the enemy
will find the recapture of the place not to be easily effected."[338]
His line of the Chippewa rested on the left upon the Niagara. On its
right flank the ground was impassable to everything save infantry, and
any effort to turn his position there would have to be made in the
face of artillery, to oppose which no guns could be brought forward.
Accordingly when Izard, after crossing in accordance with his last
decision, advanced on October 15 against the British works upon the
Chippewa, he found they were too strong for a frontal attack, the
opinion which Drummond himself entertained,[339] while the
topographical difficulties of the country baffled every attempt to
turn them. Drummond's one serious fear was that the Americans, finding
him impregnable here, might carry a force by Lake Erie, and try to
gain his rear from Long Point, or by the Grand River.[340] Though they
would meet many obstacles in such a circuit, yet the extent to which
he would have to detach in order to meet them, and the smallness of
his numbers, might prove very embarrassing.

Izard entertained no such project. After his demonstration of October
15, which amounted to little more than a reconnaisance in force, he
lapsed into hopelessness. The following day he learned by express that
the American squadron had retired to Sackett's Harbor and was
throwing up defensive works. With his own eyes he saw, too, that the
British water service was not impeded. "Notwithstanding our supremacy
on Lake Ontario, at the time I was in Lewiston [October 5-8] the
communication between York and the mouth of the Niagara was
uninterrupted. I saw a large square-rigged vessel arriving, and
another, a brig, lying close to the Canada shore. Not a vessel of ours
was in sight."[341] The British big ship, launched September 10, was
on October 14 reported by Yeo completely equipped. The next day he
would proceed up the lake to Drummond's relief. Chauncey had not
waited for the enemy to come out. Convinced that the first use of
naval superiority would be to reduce his naval base, he took his ships
into port October 8; writing to Washington that the "St. Lawrence" had
her sails bent, apparently all ready for sea, and that he expected an
attack in ten days.[342] "I confess I am greatly embarrassed," wrote
Izard to Monroe, who had now superseded Armstrong as Secretary of War.
"At the head of the most efficient army the United States have
possessed during this war, much must be expected from me; and yet I
can discern no object which can be achieved at this point worthy of
the risk which will attend its attempt." The enemy perfectly
understood his perplexity, and despite his provocations refused to
play into his hands by leaving the shelter of their works to fight. On
October 21, he broke up his camp, and began to prepare winter quarters
for his own command opposite Black Rock, sending Brown with his
division to Sackett's Harbor. Two weeks later, on November 5, having
already transported all but a small garrison to the American shore, he
blew up Fort Erie and abandoned his last foothold on the peninsula.

During the operations along the Niagara which ended thus fruitlessly,
the United States Navy upon Lake Erie met with some severe mishaps.
The Cabinet purpose, of carrying an expedition into the upper lakes
against Michilimackinac, was persisted in despite the reluctance of
Armstrong. Commander Arthur Sinclair, who after an interval had
succeeded Perry, was instructed to undertake this enterprise with such
force as might be necessary; but to leave within Lake Erie all that he
could spare, to co-operate with Brown. Accordingly he sailed from Erie
early in June, arriving on the 21st off Detroit, where he was to
embark the troops under Colonel Croghan for the land operations. After
various delays St. Joseph's was reached July 20, and found abandoned.
Its defences were destroyed. On the 26th the vessels were before
Mackinac, but after a reconnaisance Croghan decided that the position
was too strong for the force he had. Sinclair therefore started to
return, having so far accomplished little except the destruction of
two schooners, one on Lake Huron, and one on Lake Superior, both
essential to the garrison at Mackinac; there being at the time but one
other vessel on the lakes competent to the maintenance of their

This remaining schooner, called the "Nancy," was known to be in
Nottawasaga Bay, at the south end of Georgian Bay, near the position
selected by the British as a depot for stores coming from York by way
of Lake Simcoe. After much dangerous search in uncharted waters,
Sinclair found her lying two miles up a river of the same name as the
bay, where she was watching a chance to slip through to Mackinac. Her
lading had been completed July 31, and the next day she had already
started, when a messenger brought word that approach to the island was
blocked by the American expedition. The winding of the river placed
her present anchorage within gunshot of the lake; but as she could
not be seen through the brush, Sinclair borrowed from the army a
howitzer, with which, mounted in the open beyond, he succeeded in
firing both the "Nancy" and the blockhouse defending the position. The
British were thus deprived of their last resource for transportation
in bulk upon the lake. What this meant to Mackinac may be inferred
from the fact that flour there was sixty dollars the barrel, even
before Sinclair's coming.

Having inflicted this small, yet decisive, embarrassment on the enemy,
Sinclair on August 16 started back with the "Niagara" and "Hunter" for
Erie, whither he had already despatched the "Lawrence"--Perry's old
flagship--and the "Caledonia." He left in Nottawasaga Bay the
schooners "Scorpion" and "Tigress," "to maintain a rigid blockade
until driven from the lake by the inclemency of the weather," in order
"to cut the line of communications from Michilimackinac to York."
Lieutenant Daniel Turner of the "Scorpion," who had commanded the
"Caledonia" in Perry's action, was the senior officer of this

After Sinclair's departure the gales became frequent and violent.
Finding no good anchorage in Nottawasaga Bay, Turner thought he could
better fulfil the purpose of his instructions by taking the schooners
to St. Joseph's, and cruising thence to French River, which enters
Georgian Bay at its northern end. On the night of September 3, the
"Scorpion" being then absent at the river, the late commander of the
"Nancy," Lieutenant Miller Worsley, got together a boat's crew of
eighteen seamen, and obtained the co-operation of a detachment of
seventy soldiers. With these, followed by a number of Indians in
canoes, he attacked the "Tigress" at her anchors and carried her by
boarding. The night being very dark, the British were close alongside
when first seen; and the vessel was not provided with boarding
nettings, which her commander at his trial proved he had not the
cordage to make. Deprived of this essential defence, which in such an
exposed situation corresponds to a line of intrenched works on shore,
her crew of thirty men were readily overpowered by the superior
numbers, who could come upon them from four quarters at once, and had
but an easy step to her low-lying rail. The officer commanding the
British troops made a separate report of the affair, in which he said
that her resistance did credit to her officers, who were all severely
wounded.[343] Transferring his men to the prize, Worsley waited for
the return of the "Scorpion," which on the 5th anchored about five
miles off, ignorant of what had happened. The now British schooner
weighed and ran down to her, showing American colors; and, getting
thus alongside without being suspected, mastered her also. Besides the
officers hurt, there were of the "Tigress'" crew three killed and
three wounded; the British having two killed and eight wounded. No
loss seems to have been incurred on either side in the capture of the
"Scorpion." In reporting this affair Sir James Yeo wrote: "The
importance of this service is very great. Had not the naval force of
the enemy been taken, the commanding officer at Mackinac must have
surrendered."[344] He valued it further for its influence upon the
Indians, and upon the future of the naval establishment which he had
in contemplation for the upper lakes.

When Sinclair reached Detroit from Nottawasaga he received news of
other disasters. According to his instructions, before starting for
the upper lakes he had left a division of his smaller vessels, under
Lieutenant Kennedy, to support the army at Niagara. When Brown fell
back upon Fort Erie, after Lundy's Lane, three of these, the "Ohio,"
"Somers," and "Porcupine," anchored close by the shore, in such a
position as to flank the approaches to the fort, and to molest the
breaching battery which the British were erecting. As this interfered
with the besiegers' plans for an assault, Captain Dobbs, commanding
the naval detachment on Ontario which Yeo had assigned to co-operate
with Drummond, transported over land from below the falls six boats or
batteaux, and on the night of August 12 attacked the American
schooners, as Worsley afterwards did the "Tigress" and "Scorpion." The
"Ohio" and "Somers," each with a crew of thirty-five men, were carried
and brought successfully down the river within the British lines.
Dobbs attributed the escape of the "Porcupine" to the cables of the
two others being cut, in consequence of which they with the victorious
assailants on board drifted beyond possibility of return.[345] To
these four captures by the enemy must be added the loss by accident of
the "Caledonia"[346] and "Ariel," reported by Sinclair about this
time. Perry's fleet was thus disappearing by driblets; but the command
of the lake was not yet endangered, for there still remained, besides
several of the prizes, the two principal vessels, "Lawrence" and

With these Sinclair returned to the east of the lake, and endeavored
to give support to the army at Fort Erie; but the violence of the
weather and the insecurity of the anchorage on both shores, as the
autumn drew on, not only prevented effectual co-operation, but
seriously threatened the very existence of the fleet, upon which
control of the water depended. In an attempt to go to Detroit for
re-enforcements for Brown, a gale of wind was encountered which
drifted the vessels back to Buffalo, where they had to anchor and lie
close to a lee shore for two days, September 18 to 20, with topmasts
and lower yards down, the sea breaking over them, and their cables
chafing asunder on a rocky bottom. After this, Drummond having raised
the siege of Fort Erie, the fleet retired to Erie and was laid up for
the winter.


[266] Ante, pp. 118-121.

[267] Documentary History of the Campaign on the Niagara Frontier in
1814, by Ernest Cruikshank, Part I. p. 5.

[268] Captains' Letters, Feb. 24, March 4 and 29, 1814.

[269] Canadian Archives, C. 682, p. 32.

[270] Niles' Register, Feb. 5, 1814, vol. v. pp. 381, 383.

[271] Canadian Archives. C. 682, p. 90.

[272] Armstrong, Notices of the War of 1812, vol. ii. p. 213.

[273] Canadian Archives, C. 683, p. 10.

[274] Ibid., pp. 53, 61-64.

[275] Ibid., C. 682, p. 194.

[276] Niles' Register, April 9, 1814, vol. vi. p. 102.

[277] Captains' Letters, April 11, 1814.

[278] Writings of Madison, Edition of 1865, vol. ii. p. 413.

[279] Wilkinson's letter to a friend, April 9, 1814. Niles' Register,
vol. vi. p. 166. His official report of the affair is given, p. 131.

[280] Yeo's Report, Canadian Archives, M. 389.6, p. 116.

[281] The armaments of the corresponding two British vessels were:
"Prince Regent", thirty long 24-pounders, eight 68-pounder carronades,
twenty 32-pounder carronades; "Princess Charlotte", twenty-four long
24-pounders, sixteen 32-pounder carronades. Canadian Archives, M. 389.6,
p. 109.

[282] Captains' Letters.

[283] Canadian Archives, C. 683, p. 157.

[284] Woolsey's Report, forwarded by Chauncey June 2, is in Captains'
Letters. It is given, together with several other papers bearing on the
affair, in Niles' Register, vol. vi. pp. 242, 265-267. For Popham's
Report, see Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxii. p. 167.

[285] Canadian Archives, C. 683, p. 225.

[286] Cruikshank's Documentary History, 1814, pp. 18-20.

[287] Writings of Madison (Edition of 1865), vol. iii. p. 403.

[288] Captains' Letters.

[289] Ibid.

[290] Yeo to Admiralty, May 30, 1815. Canadian Archives, M. 389.6, p.
310. For Chauncey's opinion to the same effect, see Captains' Letters,
Nov. 5, 1814.

[291] Captains' Letters, June 15, 1814.

[292] Armstrong to Madison, April 31 (_sic_), 1814. Armstrong's Notices
of War of 1812, vol. ii. p. 413.

[293] These official returns are taken by the present writer from Mr.
Henry Adams' History of the United States.

[294] Cruikshank's Documentary History of the Niagara Campaign of 1814,
p. 37.

[295] Cruikshank, Documentary History.

[296] Ibid., p. 4.

[297] Scott's Autobiography, vol. i. pp. 130-132.

[298] Cruikshank's Documentary History, p. 31.

[299] Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 38.

[300] Captains' Letters.

[301] Secretary of the Navy to Chauncey, July 24, 1814, Secretary's

[302] Secretary to Chauncey, Aug. 3, 1814. Ibid.

[303] Ibid., Dec. 29, 1813.

[304] Chauncey to Brown, Aug. 10, 1814. Niles' Register, vol. vii. p.

[305] August 27. Cruikshank's Documentary History, pp. 180-182. The
whole letter has interest as conveying an adequate idea of the
communications difficulty.

[306] This word is wanting; but the context evidently requires it.

[307] Cruikshank's Documentary History, 1814, pp. 58, 60.

[308] Cruikshank's Documentary History, 1814, p. 134.

[309] Captains' Letters. Aug. 19, 1814.

[310] Cruikshank's Documentary History, 1814, p. 191.

[311] Cruikshank's Documentary History, 1814, p. 68.

[312] Cruikshank's Documentary History, 1814. Riall to Drummond, July
20, 21, 22, pp. 75-81.

[313] Ibid., p. 87.

[314] Ibid., p. 78.

[315] "Sir James Yeo has not been nearer Sackett's Harbor than the Ducks
since June 5." Captains' Letters, Aug. 19, 1814.

[316] Cruikshank's Documentary History, 1814, pp. 82, 84.

[317] Brown's Report of Lundy's Lane to Secretary of War, Aug. 7, 1814.
Ibid., p. 97.

[318] Drummond's Report of the Engagement, July 27. Cruikshank, pp.

[319] Brown's Report. Ibid., p. 99.

[320] Brown to Governor Tompkins, Aug. 1, 1814. Cruikshank, p. 103.

[321] Ibid., p. 207.

[322] Cruikshank's Documentary History, 1814, p. 131. Author's italics.

[323] The American account of this total is: killed, left on the field,
222; wounded, left on the field, 174; prisoners, 186. Total, 582.

Two hundred supposed to be killed on the left flank (in the water) and
permitted to float down the Niagara.

[324] Aug. 16. Cruikshank, pp. 146-147.

[325] Cruikshank's Documentary History, 1814, pp. 199, 200. Author's

[326] Bathurst was Secretary of State for War and the Colonies.

[327] Cruikshank's Documentary History, 1814, pp. 229, 245.

[328] Ibid., p. 207. Brown to Tompkins, Sept. 20, 1814.

[329] Cruikshank's Documentary History, p. 205.

[330] An interesting indication of popular appreciation is found in the
fact that two ships of the line laid down by Chauncey in or near
Sackett's Harbor, in the winter of 1814-15, were named the "New Orleans"
and the "Chippewa." Yeo after the peace returned to England by way of
Sackett's and New York, and was then greatly surprised at the rapidity
with which these two vessels, which he took to be of one hundred and
twenty guns each, (Canadian Archives, M. 389.6, p. 310), had been run
up, to meet his "St. Lawrence" in the spring, had the war continued. The
"New Orleans" remained on the Navy List, as a seventy-four, "on the
stocks," until 1882, when she was sold. For years she was the exception
to a rule that ships of her class should bear the name of a state of the
Union. The other square-rigged vessels on Ontario were sold, in May,
1825. (Records of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, Navy

[331] Izard to Secretary of War, May 7, 1814. Official Correspondence of
the Department of War with Major-General Izard, 1814 and 1815.

[332] Izard Correspondence, p. 64.

[333] Izard Correspondence, p. 65.

[334] Ibid., p. 69.

[335] Ibid., p. 63.

[336] Izard Correspondence, p. 93.

[337] Ibid., p. 98.

[338] Oct. 6, 1814. Cruikshank's Documentary History, 1814, p. 240.

[339] Izard Correspondence, p. 102; Cruikshank, p. 242.

[340] Cruikshank, p. 240.

[341] Izard Correspondence, p. 103.

[342] Captains' Letters.

[343] Canadian Archives, C. 685, pp. 172-174.

[344] Ibid., M. 389.6, p. 222.

[345] The Reports of Captain Dobbs and the American lieutenant,
Conkling, are in Cruikshank's Documentary History, p. 135.

[346] Captains' Letters, Sept. 12, 1814.

[347] This account of naval events on the upper lakes in 1814 has been
summarized from Sinclair's despatches, Captains' Letters, May 2 to Nov.
11, 1814, and from certain captured British letters, which, with several
of Sinclair's, were published in Niles' Register, vol. vii. and



The British command of the water on Lake Ontario was obtained too late
in the year 1814 to have any decisive effect upon their operations.
Combined with their continued powerlessness on Lake Erie, this caused
their campaign upon the northern frontier to be throughout defensive
in character, as that of the Americans had been offensive. Drummond
made no attempt in the winter to repeat the foray into New York of the
previous December, although he and Prevost both considered that they
had received provocation to retaliate, similar to that given at Newark
the year before. The infliction of such vindictive punishment was by
them thrown upon Warren's successor in the North Atlantic command, who
responded in word and will even more heartily than in deed. The
Champlain expedition, in September of this year, had indeed offensive
purpose, but even there the object specified was the protection of
Canada, by the destruction of the American naval establishments on the
lake, as well as at Sackett's Harbor;[348] while the rapidity with
which Prevost retreated, as soon as the British squadron was
destroyed, demonstrated how profoundly otherwise the spirit of a
simple defensive had possession of him, as it had also of the more
positive and aggressive temperaments of Drummond and Yeo, and how
essential naval control was in his eyes. In this general view he had
the endorsement of the Duke of Wellington, when his attention was
called to the subject, after the event.

Upon the seaboard it was otherwise. There the British campaign of 1814
much exceeded that of 1813 in offensive purpose and vigor, and in
effect. This was due in part to the change in the naval
commander-in-chief; in part also to the re-enforcements of troops
which the end of the European war enabled the British Government to
send to America. Early in the year 1813, Warren had represented to the
Admiralty the impossibility of his giving personal supervision to the
management of the West India stations, and had suggested devolving the
responsibility upon the local admirals, leaving him simply the power
to interfere when circumstances demanded.[349] The Admiralty then
declined, alleging that the character of the war required unity of
direction over the whole.[350] Later they changed their views. The
North Atlantic, Jamaica, and Leeward Islands stations were made again
severally independent, and Warren was notified that as the American
command, thus reduced, was beneath the claims of an officer of his
rank,--a full admiral,--a successor would be appointed.[351]
Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane accordingly relieved him, April 1,
1814; his charge embracing both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. At the
same period the Lakes Station, from Champlain to Superior inclusive,
was constituted a separate command; Yeo's orders to this effect being
dated the same day as Cochrane's, January 25, 1814.

Cochrane brought to his duties a certain acrimony of feeling,
amounting almost to virulence. "I have it much at heart," he wrote
Bathurst, "to give them a complete drubbing before peace is made,
when I trust their northern limits will be circumscribed and the
command of the Mississippi wrested from them." He expects thousands of
slaves to join with their masters' horses, and looks forward to
enlisting them. They are good horsemen; and, while agreeing with his
lordship in deprecating a negro insurrection, he thinks such bodies
will "be as good Cossacks as any in the Russian army, and more
terrific to the Americans than any troops that can be brought
forward." Washington and Baltimore are equally accessible, and may be
either destroyed or laid under contribution.[352] These remarks,
addressed to a prominent member of the Cabinet, are somewhat
illuminative as to the formal purposes, as well as to the subsequent
action, of British officials. The sea coast from Maine to Georgia,
according to the season of the year, was made to feel the increasing
activity and closeness of the British attacks; and these, though
discursive and without apparent correlation of action, were evidently
animated throughout by a common intention of bringing the war home to
the experience of the people.

As a whole, the principal movements were meant to serve as a
diversion, detaining on the Chesapeake and seaboard troops which might
otherwise be sent to oppose the advance Prevost was ordered to make
against Sackett's Harbor and Lake Champlain; for which purpose much
the larger part of the re-enforcements from Europe had been sent to
Canada. The instructions to the general detailed to command on the
Atlantic specified as his object "a diversion on the coast of the
United States in favor of the army employed in the defence of Upper
and Lower Canada."[353] During the operations, "if in any descent you
shall be enabled to take such a position as to threaten the
inhabitants with the destruction of their property, you are hereby
authorized to levy upon them contributions in return for your
forbearance." Negroes might be enlisted, or carried away, though in no
case as slaves. Taken in connection with the course subsequently
pursued at Washington, such directions show an aim to inflict in many
quarters suffering and deprivation, in order to impress popular
consciousness with the sense of an irresistible and ubiquitous power
incessantly at hand. Such moral impression, inclining those subject to
it to desire peace, conduced also to the retention of local forces in
the neighborhood where they belonged, and so furthered the intended

The general purpose of the British Government is further shown by some
incidental mention. Gallatin, who at the time of Napoleon's abdication
was in London, in connection with his duties on the Peace Commission,
wrote two months afterwards: "To use their own language, they mean to
inflict on America a chastisement which will teach her that war is not
to be declared against Great Britain with impunity. This is a very
general sentiment of the nation; and that such are the opinions of the
ministry was strongly impressed on the mind of ---- by a late
conversation he had with Lord Castlereagh. Admiral Warren also told
Levett Harris, with whom he was intimate at St. Petersburg, that he
was sorry to say the instructions given to his successor on the
American station were very different from those under which he acted,
and that he feared very serious injury would be done to America."[354]

Thus inspired, the coast warfare, although more active and efficient
than the year before, and on a larger scale, continued in spirit and
in execution essentially desultory and wasting. As it progressed, a
peculiar bitterness was imparted by the liberal construction given by
British officers to the word "retaliation." By strict derivation, and
in wise application, the term summarizes the ancient retribution of
like for like,--an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; and to destroy
three villages for one, as was done in retort for the burning of
Newark, the inhabitants in each case being innocent of offence, was an
excessive recourse to a punitive measure admittedly lawful. Two
further instances of improper destruction by Americans had occurred
during the campaign of 1814. Just before Sinclair sailed for Mackinac,
he suggested to a Colonel Campbell, commanding the troops at Erie,
that it would be a useful step to visit Long Point, on the opposite
Canada shore, and destroy there a quantity of flour, and some mills
which contributed materially to the support of the British forces on
the Niagara peninsula.[355] This was effectively done, and did add
seriously to Drummond's embarrassment; but Campbell went further and
fired some private houses also, on the ground that the owners were
British partisans and had had a share in the burning of Buffalo. A
Court of Inquiry, of which General Scott was president, justified the
destruction of the mills, but condemned unreservedly that of the
private houses.[356] Again, in Brown's advance upon Chippewa, some
American "volunteers," despatched to the village of St. David's,
burned there a number of dwellings. The commanding officer, Colonel
Stone, was ordered summarily and immediately by Brown to retire from
the expedition, as responsible for an act "contrary to the orders of
the Government, and to those of the commanding general published to
the army."[357]

In both these cases disavowal had been immediate; and it had been
decisive also in that of Newark. The intent of the American Government
was clear, and reasonable ultimate compensation might have been
awaited; at least for a time. Prevost, however, being confined to the
defensive all along his lines, communicated the fact of the
destruction to Cochrane, calling upon him for the punishment which it
was not in his own power then to inflict. Cochrane accordingly issued
an order[358] to the ships under his command, to use measures of
retaliation "against the cities of the United States, from the Saint
Croix River to the southern boundary, near the St. Mary's River;" "to
destroy and lay waste," so he notified the United States Government,
"such towns and districts upon the coast as may be found
assailable."[359] In the first heat of his wrath, he used in his order
an expression, "and you will spare merely the lives of the unarmed
inhabitants of the United States," which he afterwards asked Prevost
to expunge, as it might be construed in a sense he never meant;[360]
and he reported to his Government that he had sent private
instructions to exercise forbearance toward the inhabitants.[361] It
can easily be believed that, like many words spoken in passion, the
phrase far outran his purposes; but it has significance and value as
indicating the manner in which Americans had come to be regarded in
Great Britain, through the experience of the period of peace and the
recent years of war.

However the British Government might justify in terms the impressment
of seamen from American ships, or the delay of atonement for such an
insult as that of the Chesapeake, the nation which endured the same,
content with reams of argument instead of blow for blow, had sunk
beneath contempt as an inferior race, to be cowed and handled without
gloves by those who felt themselves the masters. Nor was the matter
bettered by the notorious fact that the interference with the freedom
of American trade, which Great Britain herself admitted to be outside
the law, had been borne unresisted because of the pecuniary stake
involved. The impression thus produced was deepened by the confident
boasts of immediate successes in Canada, made by leading members of
the party which brought on the war; followed as these were by a
display of inefficiency so ludicrous that opponents, as well native as
foreign, did not hesitate to apply to it the word "imbecility." The
American for a dozen years had been clubbed without giving evidence of
rebellion, beyond words; now that he showed signs of restiveness,
without corresponding evidence of power, he should feel the lash, and
there need be no nicety in measuring punishment. Codrington, an
officer of mark and character, who joined Cochrane at this time as
chief of staff, used expressions which doubtless convey the average
point of view of the British officer of that day: President Madison,
"by letting his generals burn villages in Canada again, has been
trying to excite terror; but as you may shortly see by the public
exposition of the Admiral's orders, the terror and the suffering will
probably be brought home to the doors of his own fellow citizens. I am
fully convinced that this is the true way to end this Yankee war,
whatever may be said in Parliament against it."[362]

It is the grievous fault of all retaliation, especially in the heat of
war, that it rarely stays its hand at an equal measure, but almost
invariably proceeds to an excess which provokes the other party to
seek in turn to even the scale. The process tends to be unending; and
it is to the honor of the United States Government that, though
technically responsible for the acts of agents which it was too
inefficient to control, it did not seriously entertain the purpose of
resorting to this means, to vindicate the wrongs of its citizens at
the expense of the subjects of its opponent. Happily, the external
brutality of attitude which Cochrane's expression so aptly conveyed
yielded for the most part to nobler instincts in the British officers.
There was indeed much to condemn, much done that ought not to have
been done; but even in the contemporary accounts it is quite possible
to trace a certain rough humanity, a wish to deal equitably with
individuals, for whom, regarded nationally, they professed no respect.
Even in the marauding of the Chesapeake, the idea of compensation for
value taken was not lost to view; and in general the usages of war, as
to property exempt from destruction or appropriation, were respected,
although not without the rude incidents certain to occur where
atonement for acts of resistance, or the price paid for property
taken, is fixed by the victor.

If retaliation upon any but the immediate culprit is ever permissible,
which in national matters will scarcely be contested, it is logically
just that it should fall first of all upon the capital, where the
interests and honor of the nation are centred. There, if anywhere, the
responsibility for the war and all its incidents is concrete in the
representatives of the nation, executive and legislative, and in the
public offices from which all overt acts are presumed to emanate. So
it befell the United States. In the first six months of 1814, the
warfare in the Chesapeake continued on the same general lines as in
1813; there having been the usual remission of activity during the
winter, to resume again as milder weather drew on. The blockade of the
bay was sustained, with force adequate to make it technically
effective, although Baltimore boasted that several of her clipper
schooners got to sea. On the part of the United States, Captain Gordon
of the navy had been relieved in charge of the bay flotilla by
Commodore Barney, of revolutionary and privateering renown. This local
command, in conformity with the precedent at New York, and as was due
to so distinguished an officer, was made independent of other branches
of the naval service; the commodore being in immediate communication
with the Navy Department. On April 17, he left Baltimore and proceeded
down the bay with thirteen vessels; ten of them being large barges or
galleys, propelled chiefly by oars, the others gunboats of the
ordinary type. The headquarters of this little force became the
Patuxent River, to which in the sequel it was in great measure
confined; the superiority of the enemy precluding any enlarged sphere
of activity. Its presence, however, was a provocation to the British,
as being the only floating force in the bay capable of annoying them;
the very existence of which was a challenge to their supremacy. To
destroy it became therefore a dominant motive, which was utilized also
to conceal to the last their purpose, tentative indeed throughout, to
make a dash at Washington.

The Patuxent enters Chesapeake Bay from the north and west, sixty
miles below Baltimore, and twenty above the mouth of the Potomac, to
the general direction of which its own course in its lower part is
parallel. For boats drawing no more than did Barney's it is navigable
for forty miles from its mouth, to Pig Point; whence to Washington by
land is but fifteen miles. A pursuit of the flotilla so far therefore
brought pursuers within easy striking distance of the capital,
provided that between them and it stood no obstacle adequate to impose
delay until resistance could gather. It was impossible for such a
pursuit to be made by the navy alone; for, inadequate as the militia
was to the protection of the bay shore from raiding, it was quite
competent to act in conjunction with Barney, when battling only
against boats, which alone could follow him into lairs accessible to
him, but not to even the smaller vessels of the enemy. Ships of the
largest size could enter the river, but could ascend it only a little
way. Up the Patuxent itself, or in its tributaries, the Americans
therefore had always against the British Navy a refuge, in which they
might be blockaded indeed, but could not be reached. For all these
reasons, in order to destroy the flotilla, a body of troops must be
used; a necessity which served to mask any ulterior design.

In the course of these operations, and in support of them, the British
Navy had created a post at Tangier Island, ten miles across the bay,
opposite the mouth of the Potomac.[363] Here they threw up
fortifications, and established an advanced rendezvous. Between the
island and the eastern shore, Tangier Sound gave sheltered anchorage.
The position was in every way convenient, and strategically central.
Being the junction of the water routes to Baltimore and Washington, it
threatened both; while the narrowness of the Chesapeake at this point
constituted the force there assembled an inner blockading line, well
situated to move rapidly at short notice in any direction, up or down,
to one side or the other. At such short distance from the Patuxent,
Barney's movements were of course well under observation, as he at
once experienced. On June 1, he left the river, apparently with a view
to reaching the Potomac. Two schooners becalmed were then visible, and
pursuit was made with the oars; but soon a large ship was seen under
sail, despatching a number of barges to their assistance. A breeze
springing up from southwest put the ship to windward, between the
Potomac and the flotilla, which was obliged to return to the Patuxent,
closely followed by the enemy. Some distant shots were exchanged, but
Barney escaped, and for the time was suffered to remain undisturbed
three miles from the bay; a 74-gun ship lying at the river's mouth,
with barges plying continually about her. The departure of the
British schooners, however, was construed to indicate a return with
re-enforcements for an attack; an anticipation not disappointed. Two
more vessels soon joined the seventy-four; one of them a brig. On
their appearance Barney shifted his berth two miles further up,
abreast St. Leonard's Creek. At daylight of June 9, one of the ships,
the brig, two schooners, and fifteen rowing barges, were seen coming
up with a fair wind. The flotilla then retreated two miles up the
creek, formed there across it in line abreast, and awaited attack. The
enemy's vessels could not follow; but their boats did, and a skirmish
ensued which ended in the British retiring. Later in the day the
attempt was renewed with no better success; and Barney claimed that,
having followed the boats in their retreat, he had seriously disabled
one of the large schooners anchored off the mouth of the creek to
support the movement.

There is no doubt that the American gunboats were manfully and
skilfully handled, and that the crews in this and subsequent
encounters gained confidence and skill, the evidences of which were
shown afterwards at Bladensburg, remaining the only alleviating
remembrance from that day of disgrace. From Barney would be expected
no less than the most that man can do, or example effect; but his
pursuit was stopped by the ship and the brig, which stayed within the
Patuxent. The flotilla continued inside the creek, two frigates lying
off its mouth, until June 26, when an attack by the boats, in concert
with a body of militia,--infantry and light artillery,--decided the
enemy to move down the Patuxent. Barney took advantage of this to
leave the creek and go up the river. We are informed by a journal of
the day that the Government was by these affairs well satisfied with
the ability of the flotilla to restrain the operations of the enemy
within the waters of the Chesapeake, and had determined on a
considerable increase to it. Nothing seems improbable of that
Government; but, if this be true, it must have been easily satisfied.
Barney had secured a longer line of retreat, up the river; but the
situation was not materially changed. In either case, creek or river,
there was but one way out, and that was closed. He could only abide
the time when the enemy should see fit to come against him by land and
by water, which would seal his fate.[364]

On June 2 there had sailed from Bordeaux for America a detachment from
Wellington's army, twenty-five hundred strong, under Major-General
Ross. It reached Bermuda July 25, and there was re-enforced by another
battalion, increasing its strength to thirty-four hundred. On August 3
it left Bermuda, accompanied by several ships of war, and on the 15th
passed in by the capes of the Chesapeake. Admiral Cochrane had
preceded it by a few days, and was already lying there with his own
ship and the division under Rear-Admiral Cockburn, who hitherto had
been in immediate charge of operations in the bay. There were now
assembled over twenty vessels of war, four of them of the line, with a
large train of transports and store-ships. A battalion of seven
hundred marines were next detailed for duty with the troops, the
landing force being thus raised to over four thousand. The rendezvous
at Tangier Island gave the Americans no certain clue to the ultimate
object, for the reason already cited; and Cochrane designedly
contributed to their distraction, by sending one squadron of frigates
up the Potomac, and another up the Chesapeake above Baltimore.[365] On
August 18 the main body of the expedition moved abreast the mouth of
the Patuxent, and at noon of that day entered the river with a fair

The purposes at this moment of the commanders of the army and navy,
acting jointly, are succinctly stated by Cochrane in his report to the
Admiralty: "Information from Rear-Admiral Cockburn that Commodore
Barney, with the Potomac flotilla, had taken shelter at the head of
the Patuxent, afforded a pretext for ascending that river to attack
him near its source, above Pig Point, while the ultimate destination
of the combined force was Washington, should it be found that the
attempt might be made with any prospect of success."[366] August 19,
the troops were landed at Benedict, twenty-five miles from the mouth
of the river, and the following day began their upward march, flanked
by a naval division of light vessels; the immediate objective being
Barney's flotilla.

For the defence of the capital of the United States, throughout the
region by which it might be approached, the Government had selected
Brigadier-General Winder; the same who the year before had been
captured at Stoney Creek, on the Niagara frontier, in Vincent's bold
night attack. He was appointed July 2 to the command of a new military
district, the tenth, which comprised "the state of Maryland, the
District of Columbia, and that part of Virginia lying between the
Potomac and the Rappahannock;"[367] in brief, Washington and
Baltimore, with the ways converging upon them from the sea. This was
just seven weeks before the enemy landed in the Patuxent; time enough,
with reasonable antecedent preparation, or trained troops, to concert
adequate resistance, as was shown by the British subsequent failure
before Baltimore.

The conditions with which Winder had to contend are best stated in the
terms of the Court of Inquiry[368] called to investigate his conduct,
at the head of which sat General Winfield Scott. After fixing the
date of his appointment, and ascertaining that he at once took every
means in his power to put his district in a proper state of defence,
the court found that on August 24, the day of the battle of
Bladensburg, he "was enabled by great and unremitting exertions to
bring into the field about five or six thousand men, all of whom
except four hundred were militia; that he could not collect more than
half his men until a day or two previously to the engagement, and six
or seven hundred of them did not arrive until fifteen minutes before
its commencement; ... that the officers commanding the troops were
generally unknown to him, and but a very small number of them had
enjoyed the benefit of military instruction or experience." So far
from attributing censure, the Court found that, "taking into
consideration the complicated difficulties and embarrassments under
which he labored, he is entitled to no little commendation,
notwithstanding the result; before the action he exhibited industry,
zeal, and talent, and during its continuance a coolness, a
promptitude, and a personal valor, highly honorable to himself."

The finding of a court composed of competent experts, convened shortly
after the events, must be received with respect. It is clear, however,
that they here do not specify the particular professional merits of
Winder's conduct of operations, but only the general hopelessness of
success, owing to the antecedent conditions, not of his making, under
which he was called to act, and which he strenuously exerted himself
to meet. The blame for a mishap evidently and easily preventible still
remains, and, though of course not expressed by the Court, is
necessarily thrown back upon the Administration, and upon the party
represented by it, which had held power for over twelve years past. A
hostile corps of less than five thousand men had penetrated to the
capital, through a well populated country, which was, to quote the
Secretary of War, "covered with wood, and offering at every step
strong positions for defence;"[369] but there were neither defences
nor defenders.

The sequence of events which terminated in this humiliating manner is
instructive. The Cabinet, which on June 7 had planned offensive
operations in Canada, met on July 1 in another frame of mind, alarmed
by the news from Europe, to plan for the defence of Washington and
Baltimore. It will be remembered that it was now two years since war
had been declared. In counting the force on which reliance might be
placed for meeting a possible enemy, the Secretary of War thought he
could assemble one thousand regulars, independent of artillerists in
the forts.[2] The Secretary of the Navy could furnish one hundred and
twenty marines, and the crews of Barney's flotilla, estimated at five
hundred.[2] For the rest, dependence must be upon militia, a call for
which was issued to the number of ninety-three thousand, five
hundred.[370] Of these, fifteen thousand were assigned to Winder, as
follows: From Virginia, two thousand; from Maryland, six thousand;
from Pennsylvania, five thousand; from the District of Columbia, two
thousand.[371] So ineffective were the administrative measures for
bringing out this paper force of citizen soldiery, the efficiency of
which the leaders of the party in power had been accustomed to vaunt,
that Winder, after falling back from point to point before the enemy's
advance, because only so might time be gained to get together the
lagging contingents, could muster in the open ground at Bladensburg,
five miles from the capital, where at last he made his stand, only the
paltry five or six thousand stated by the court. On the morning of the
battle the Secretary of War rode out to the field, with his colleagues
in the Administration, and in reply to a question from the President
said he had no suggestions to offer; "as it was between regulars and
militia, the latter would be beaten."[372] The phrase was Winder's
absolution; pronounced for the future, as for the past. The
responsibility for there being no regulars did not rest with him, nor
yet with the Secretary, but with the men who for a dozen years had
sapped the military preparation of the nation.

Under the relative conditions of the opposing forces which have been
stated, the progress of events was rapid. Probably few now realize
that only a little over four days elapsed from the landing of the
British to the burning of the Capitol. Their army advanced along the
west bank of the Patuxent to Upper Marlborough, forty miles from the
river's mouth. To this place, which was reached August 22, Ross
continued in direct touch with the navy; and here at Pig Point, nearly
abreast on the river, the American flotilla was cornered at last.
Seeing the inevitable event, and to preserve his small but invaluable
force of men, Barney had abandoned the boats on the 21st, leaving with
each a half-dozen of her crew to destroy her at the last moment. This
was done when the British next day approached; one only escaping the

The city of Washington, now the goal of the enemy's effort, lies on
the Potomac, between it and a tributary called the Eastern Branch.
Upon the east bank of the latter, five or six miles from the junction
of the two streams, is the village of Bladensburg. From Upper
Marlborough, where the British had arrived, two roads led to
Washington. One of these, the left going from Marlborough, crossed the
Eastern Branch near its mouth; the other, less direct, passed through
Bladensburg. Winder expected the British to advance by the former; and
upon it Barney with the four hundred seamen remaining to him joined
the army, at a place called Oldfields, seven miles from the capital.
This route was militarily the more important, because from it branches
were thrown off to the Potomac, up which the frigate squadron under
Captain Gordon was proceeding, and had already passed the
Kettle-bottoms, the most difficult bit of navigation in its path. The
side roads would enable the invaders to reach and co-operate with this
naval division; unless indeed Winder could make head against them.
This he was not able to do; but he remained almost to the last moment
in perplexing uncertainty whether they would strike for the capital,
or for its principal defence on the Potomac, Fort Washington, ten
miles lower down.[373]

   [Illustration: SKETCH _of the_ MARCH OF THE BRITISH ARMY Under
   Gen. Ross _From the 19th. to the 29th. August 1814_]

For the obvious reasons named, because the doubts of their opponent
facilitated their own movements by harassing his mind, as well as for
the strategic advantage of a central line permitting movement in two
directions at choice, the British advanced, as anticipated, by the
left-hand road, and at nightfall of August 23 were encamped about
three miles from the Americans. Here Winder covered a junction; for at
Oldfields the road by which the British were advancing forked. One
division led to Washington direct, crossing the Eastern Branch of the
Potomac where it is broadest and deepest, near its mouth; the other
passed it at Bladensburg. Winder feared to await the enemy, because of
the disorder to which his inexperienced troops would be exposed by a
night attack, causing possibly the loss of his artillery; the one arm
in which he felt himself superior. He retired therefore during the
night by the direct road, burning its bridge. This left open the way
to Bladensburg, which the British next day followed, arriving at the
village towards noon of the 24th. Contrary to Winder's instruction,
the officer stationed there had withdrawn his troops across the
stream, abandoning the place, and forming his line on the crest of
some hills on the west bank. The impression which this position made
upon the enemy was described by General Ross, as follows: "They were
strongly posted on very commanding heights, formed in two lines, the
advance occupying a fortified house, which with artillery covered the
bridge over the Eastern Branch, across which the British troops had to
pass. A broad and straight road, leading from the bridge to
Washington, ran through the enemy's position, which was carefully
defended by artillerymen and riflemen."[374] Allowing for the tendency
to magnify difficulties overcome, the British would have had before
them a difficult task, if opposed by men accustomed to mutual support
and mutual reliance, with the thousand-fold increase of strength which
comes with such habit and with the moral confidence it gives.

The American line had been formed before Winder came on the ground. It
extended across the Washington road as described by Ross. A battery on
the hill-top commanded the bridge, and was supported by a line of
infantry on either side, with a second line in the rear. Fearing,
however, that the enemy might cross the stream higher up, where it was
fordable in many places, a regiment from the second line was
reluctantly ordered forward to extend the left; and Winder, when he
arrived, while approving this disposition, carried thither also some
of the artillery which he had brought with him.[375] The anxiety of
the Americans was therefore for their left. The British commander was
eager to be done with his job, and to get back to his ships from a
position militarily insecure. He had long been fighting Napoleon's
troops in the Spanish peninsula, and was not yet fully imbued with
Drummond's conviction that with American militia liberties might be
taken beyond the limit of ordinary military precaution. No time was
spent looking for a ford, but the troops dashed straight for the
bridge. The fire of the American artillery was excellent, and mowed
down the head of the column; but the seasoned men persisted and forced
their way across. At this moment Barney was coming up with his seamen,
and at Winder's request brought his guns into line across the
Washington road, facing the bridge. Soon after this, a few rockets
passing close over the heads of the battalions supporting the
batteries on the left started them running, much as a mule train may
be stampeded by a night alarm. It was impossible to rally them. A part
held for a short time; but when Winder attempted to retire them a
little way, from a fire which had begun to annoy them, they also broke
and fled.[376]

The American left was thus routed, but Barney's battery and its
supporting infantry still held their ground. "During this period,"
reported the Commodore,--that is, while his guns were being brought
into battery, and the remainder of his seamen and marines posted to
support them,--"the engagement continued, the enemy advancing, and our
own army retreating before them, apparently in much disorder. At
length the enemy made his appearance on the main road, in force, in
front of my battery, and on seeing us made a halt. I reserved our
fire. In a few minutes the enemy again advanced, when I ordered an
18-pounder to be fired, which completely cleared the road; shortly
after, a second and a third attempt was made by the enemy to come
forward, but all were destroyed. They then crossed into an open field
and attempted to flank our right; he was met there by three
12-pounders, the marines under Captain Miller, and my men, acting as
infantry, and again was totally cut up. By this time not a vestige of
the American army remained, except a body of five or six hundred,
posted on a height on my right, from whom I expected much support from
their fine situation."[377]

In this expectation Barney was disappointed. The enemy desisted from
direct attack and worked gradually round towards his right flank and
rear. As they thus moved, the guns of course were turned towards them;
but a charge being made up the hill by a force not exceeding half that
of its defenders, they also "to my great mortification made no
resistance, giving a fire or two, and retired. Our ammunition was
expended, and unfortunately the drivers of my ammunition wagons had
gone off in the general panic." Barney himself, being wounded and
unable to escape from loss of blood, was left a prisoner. Two of his
officers were killed, and two wounded. The survivors stuck to him till
he ordered them off the ground. Ross and Cockburn were brought to him,
and greeted him with a marked respect and politeness; and he reported
that, during the stay of the British in Bladensburg, he was treated by
all "like a brother," to use his own words.[378]

The character of this affair is sufficiently shown by the above
outline narrative, re-enforced by the account of the losses sustained.
Of the victors sixty-four were killed, one hundred and eighty-five
wounded. The defeated, by the estimate of their superintending
surgeon, had ten or twelve killed and forty wounded.[379] Such a
disparity of injury is usual when the defendants are behind
fortifications; but in this case of an open field, and a river to be
crossed by the assailants, the evident significance is that the party
attacked did not wait to contest the ground, once the enemy had gained
the bridge. After that, not only was the rout complete, but, save for
Barney's tenacity, there was almost no attempt at resistance. Ten
pieces of cannon remained in the hands of the British. "The rapid
flight of the enemy," reported General Ross, "and his knowledge of the
country, precluded the possibility of many prisoners being

That night the British entered Washington. The Capitol, White House,
and several public buildings were burned by them; the navy yard and
vessels by the American authorities. Ross, accustomed to European
warfare, did not feel Drummond's easiness concerning his position,
which technically was most insecure as regarded his communications. On
the evening of June 25 he withdrew rapidly, and on that of the 26th
regained touch with the fleet in the Patuxent, after a separation of
only four days. Cockburn remarked in his official report that there
was no molestation of their retreat; "not a single musket having been
fired."[381] It was the completion of the Administration's disgrace,
unrelieved by any feature of credit save the gallant stand of Barney's
four hundred.

The burning of Washington was the impressive culmination of the
devastation to which the coast districts were everywhere exposed by
the weakness of the country, while the battle of Bladensburg crowned
the humiliation entailed upon the nation by the demagogic prejudices
in favor of untrained patriotism, as supplying all defects for
ordinary service in the field. In the defenders of Bladensburg was
realized Jefferson's ideal of a citizen soldiery,[382] unskilled, but
strong in their love of home, flying to arms to oppose an invader; and
they had every inspiring incentive to tenacity, for they, and they
only, stood between the enemy and the centre and heart of national
life. The position they occupied, though unfortified, had many natural
advantages; while the enemy had to cross a river which, while in part
fordable, was nevertheless an obstacle to rapid action, especially
when confronted by the superior artillery the Americans had. The
result has been told; but only when contrasted with the contemporary
fight at Lundy's Lane is Bladensburg rightly appreciated. Occurring
precisely a month apart, and with men of the same race, they
illustrate exactly the difference in military value between crude
material and finished product.

Coincident with the capture of Washington, a little British
squadron--two frigates and five smaller vessels--ascended the Potomac.
Fort Washington, a dozen miles below the capital, was abandoned August
27 by the officer in charge, removing the only obstacle due to the
foresight of the Government. He was afterwards cashiered by sentence
of court martial. On the 29th, Captain Gordon, the senior officer,
anchored his force before Alexandria, of which he kept possession for
three days. Upon withdrawing, he carried away all the merchantmen that
were seaworthy, having loaded them with merchandise awaiting
exportation. Energetic efforts were made by Captains Rodgers, Perry,
and Porter, of the American Navy, to molest the enemy's retirement by
such means as could be extemporized; but both ships and prizes
escaped, the only loss being in life: seven killed and forty-five

After the burning of Washington, the British main fleet and army moved
up the Chesapeake against Baltimore, which would undoubtedly have
undergone the lot of Alexandria, in a contribution laid upon shipping
and merchandise. The attack, however, was successfully met. The
respite afforded by the expedition against Washington had been
improved by the citizens to interpose earthworks on the hills before
the city. This local precaution saved the place. In the field the
militia behaved better than at Bladensburg, but showed, nevertheless,
the unsteadiness of raw men. To harass the British advance a body of
riflemen had been posted well forward, and a shot from these mortally
wounded General Ross; but, "imagine my chagrin, when I perceived the
whole corps falling back upon my main position, having too credulously
listened to groundless information that the enemy was landing on Back
River to cut them off."[383]

The British approached along the narrow strip of land between the
Patapsco and Back rivers. The American general, Stricker, had
judiciously selected for his line of defence a neck, where inlets from
both streams narrowed the ground to half a mile. His flanks were thus
protected, but the water on the left giving better indication of being
fordable, the British directed there the weight of the assault. To
meet this, Stricker drew up a regiment to the rear of his main line,
and at right angles, the volleys from which should sweep the inlet.
When the enemy's attack developed, this regiment "delivered one random
fire," and then broke and fled; "totally forgetful of the honor of the
brigade, and of its own reputation," to use Stricker's words.[384]
This flight carried along part of the left flank proper. The remainder
of the line held for a time, and then retired without awaiting the
hostile bayonet. The American report gives the impression of an
orderly retreat; a British participant, who admits that the ground was
well chosen, and that the line held until within twenty yards, wrote
that after that he never witnessed a more complete rout. The invaders
then approached the city, but upon viewing the works of defence, and
learning that the fleet would not be able to co-operate, owing to
vessels sunk across the channel, the commanding officer decided that
success would not repay the loss necessary to achieve it. Fleet and
army then withdrew.

The attacks on Washington and Baltimore, the seizure of Alexandria,
and the general conduct of operations in the Chesapeake, belong
strictly to the punitive purpose which dictated British measures upon
the seaboard. Similar action extended through Long Island Sound, and
to the eastward, where alarm in all quarters was maintained by the
general enterprise of the enemy, and by specific injury in various
places. "The Government has declared war against the most powerful
maritime nation," wrote the Governor of Massachusetts to the
legislature, "and we are disappointed in our expectations of national
defence. But though we may be convinced that the war was unnecessary
and unjust, and has been prosecuted without any useful or practicable
object with the inhabitants of Canada, while our seacoast has been
left almost defenceless, yet I presume there will be no doubt of our
right to defend our possessions against any hostile attack by which
their destruction is menaced." "The eastern coast," reports a journal
of the time, "is much vexed by the enemy. Having destroyed a great
portion of the coasting craft, they seem determined to enter the
little outports and villages, and burn everything that floats."[385]
On April 7, six British barges ascended the Connecticut River eight
miles, to Pettipaug, where they burned twenty-odd sea-going
vessels.[386] On June 13, at Wareham, Massachusetts, a similar
expedition entered and destroyed sixteen.[387] These were somewhat
large instances of an action everywhere going on, inflicting
indirectly incalculably more injury than even the direct loss
suffered; the whole being with a view to bring the meaning of war
close home to the consciousness of the American people. They were to
be made to realize the power of the enemy and their own helplessness.

An attempt looking to more permanent results was made during the
summer upon the coast of Maine. The northward projection of that
state, then known as the District of Maine,[388] intervened between
the British provinces of Lower Canada and New Brunswick, and imposed a
long détour upon the line of communications between Quebec and
Halifax, the two most important military posts in British North
America. This inconvenience could not be remedied unless the land in
question were brought into British possession; and when the end of the
war in Europe gave prospect of a vigorous offensive from the side of
Canada, the British ministry formulated the purpose of demanding there
a rectification of frontier. The object in this case being
acquisition, not punishment, conciliation of the inhabitants was to be
practised; in place of the retaliatory action prescribed for the
sea-coast elsewhere.

Moose Island, in Passamaquoddy Bay, though held by the United States,
was claimed by Great Britain to have been always within the boundary
line of New Brunswick. It was seized July 11, 1814; protection being
promised to persons and property. In August, General Sherbrooke, the
Governor of Nova Scotia, received orders "to occupy so much of the
District of Maine as shall insure an uninterrupted communication
between Halifax and Quebec."[389] His orders being discretional as to
method, he decided that with the force available he would best comply
by taking possession of Machias and the Penobscot River.[390] On
September 1, a combined naval and army expedition appeared at the
mouth of the Penobscot, before Castine, which was quickly abandoned. A
few days before, the United States frigate "Adams," Captain Charles
Morris, returning from a cruise, had run ashore upon Isle au Haut, and
in consequence of the injuries received had been compelled to make a
harbor in the river. She was then at Hampden, thirty miles up. A
detachment of seamen and soldiers was sent against her. Her guns had
been landed, and placed in battery for her defence, and militia had
gathered for the support necessary to artillery so situated; but they
proved unreliable, and upon their retreat nothing was left but to fire
the ship.[391] This was done, the crew escaping. The British
penetrated as far as Bangor, seized a number of merchant vessels, and
subsequently went to Machias, where they captured the fort with
twenty-five cannon. Sherbrooke then returned with the most of his
force to Halifax, whence he issued a voluminous proclamation[392] to
the effect that he had taken possession of all the country between the
Penobscot and New Brunswick; and promised protection to the
inhabitants, if they behaved themselves accordingly. Two regiments
were left at Castine, with transports to remove them in case of attack
by superior numbers. This burlesque of occupation, "one foot on shore,
and one on sea," was advanced by the British ministry as a reason
justifying the demand for cession of the desired territory to the
northward. Wellington, when called into counsel concerning American
affairs, said derisively that an officer might as well claim
sovereignty over the ground on which he had posted his pickets. The
British force remained undisturbed, however, to the end of the war.
Amicable relations were established with the inhabitants, and a brisk
contraband trade throve with Nova Scotia. It is even said that the
news of peace was unwelcome in the place. It was not evacuated until
April 27, 1815.[393]


[348] "Some Account of the Life of Sir George Prevost." London, 1823,
pp. 136, 137. The author has not been able to find the despatch of June
3, 1814, there quoted.

[349] Warren to Croker, Feb. 26, 1813. Admiralty In-Letters MSS.

[350] Croker to Warren, March 20, 1813. Admiralty Out-Letters.

[351] Warren to Croker, Jan. 28, 1814. Canadian Archives MSS.

[352] Cochrane to Bathurst, July 14, 1814. War Office In-Letters MSS.

[353] Bathurst's Instructions to the officer in command of the troops
detached from the Gironde. May 20, 1814. From copy sent to Cochrane.
Admiralty In-Letters, from Secretary of State.

[354] Gallatin to Monroe, London, June 13, 1814. Adams' Writings of
Gallatin, vol. i. p. 627.

[355] Sinclair, Erie, May 13, 1814. Captains' Letters.

[356] Cruikshank's Documentary History of the Campaign of 1814, p. 18.

[357] Ibid., p. 74.

[358] Cruikshank's Documentary History, pp. 414, 415.

[359] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. pp. 693, 694.

[360] Cochrane to Prevost, July 26, 1814. Canadian Archives MSS., C.
684, p. 231.

[361] Report on Canadian Archives, 1896, p. 54.

[362] Life of Sir Edward Codrington, vol. i. p. 313.

[363] See Map of Chesapeake Bay, ante, p. 156.

[364] This account of Barney's movements is summarized from his letters,
and others, published in Niles' Register, vol. vi. pp. 244, 268, 300.

[365] Report of Admiral Cochrane, Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxii. p. 342.

[366] Report of Admiral Cochrane, Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxii. p. 342.

[367] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 524.

[368] The finding of the Court of Inquiry was published in Niles'
Register for Feb. 25, 1815, from the official paper, the National
Intelligencer. Niles, vol. vii. p. 410.

[369] Report of Secretary Armstrong to a Committee of the House of
Representatives. American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p.

[370] Ibid., pp. 538, 540, 524.

[371] Ibid., p. 524.

[372] Works of Madison (Ed. 1865), vol. iii. p. 422.

[373] Winder's Narrative. American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol.
i pp. 552-560.

[374] Ross's Despatch, Aug. 30, 1814. Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxii. p.

[375] Narrative of Monroe, the Secretary of State. American State
Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 536.

[376] Winder's Narrative.

[377] Barney's Report, Aug. 29, 1814. State Papers, Military Affairs,
vol. i. p. 579.

[378] Barney's Report.

[379] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 530.

[380] Ross's Despatch.

[381] Report of Rear-Admiral Cockburn, Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxii. p.

[382] Ante, p. 213.

[383] Report of Brigadier-General Stricker of the Maryland militia.
Niles' Register, vol. vii. pp. 27, 28.

[384] Ibid.

[385] Niles' Register, vol. vi. p. 317.

[386] Ibid., pp. 118, 133, 222.

[387] Ibid., p. 317.

[388] Maine was then attached politically to Massachusetts.

[389] Sherbrooke to Prevost, Aug. 2, 1814. Canadian Archives MSS., C.
685, p. 28.

[390] Sherbrooke to Prevost, Aug. 24, 1814. Ibid., p. 147.

[391] Morris' reports (Captains' Letters, Navy Dept.) are published in
Niles' Register, vol. vii. pp. 62, 63; and Supplement, p. 136.

[392] Sept. 21, 1814. Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 117.

[393] Ibid., p. 347, and vol. viii. pp. 13, 214.



General Brown's retirement within the lines of Fort Erie, July 26,
1814, may be taken as marking the definitive abandonment by the United
States of the offensive on the Canada frontier. The opportunities of
two years had been wasted by inefficiency of force and misdirection of
effort. It was generally recognized by thoughtful men that the war had
now become one of defence against a greatly superior enemy,
disembarrassed of the other foe which had hitherto engaged his
attention, and imbued with ideas of conquest, or at least of extorting
territorial cession for specific purposes. While Brown was
campaigning, the re-enforcements were rapidly arriving which were to
enable the British to assume the aggressive; although, in the absence
of naval preponderance on the lakes, their numbers were not sufficient
to compel the rectification of frontier by surrender of territory
which the British Government now desired. Lord Castlereagh, Secretary
for Foreign Affairs, and the leading representative of the aims of the
Cabinet, wrote in his instructions to the Peace Commissioners, August
14, 1814: "The views of the Government are strictly defensive.
Territory as such is by no means their object; but, as the weaker
Power in North America, Great Britain considers itself entitled to
claim the use of the lakes as a military barrier."[394] The
declaration of war by the United States was regarded by most
Englishmen as a wanton endeavor to overthrow their immemorial right to
the services of their seamen, wherever found; and consequently the
invasion of Canada had been an iniquitous attempt to effect annexation
under cover of an indefensible pretext. To guard against the renewal
of such, the lakes must be made British waters, to which the American
flag should have only commercial access. Dominion south of the lakes
would not be exacted, "provided the American Government will stipulate
not to preserve or construct any fortifications upon or within a
limited distance of their shores." "On the side of Lower Canada there
should be such a line of demarcation as may establish a direct
communication between Quebec and Halifax."[395]

Such were the political and military projects with which the British
ministry entered upon the summer campaign of 1814 in Canada. Luckily,
although Napoleon had fallen, conditions in Europe were still too
unsettled and volcanic to permit Great Britain seriously to weaken her
material force there. Two weeks later Castlereagh wrote to the Prime
Minister: "Are we prepared to continue the war for territorial
arrangements?" "Is it desirable to take the chances of the campaign, and
then be governed by circumstances?"[396] The last sentence defines the
policy actually followed; and the chances went definitely against it
when Macdonough destroyed the British fleet on Lake Champlain. Except at
Baltimore and New Orleans,--mere defensive successes,--nothing but
calamity befell the American arms. To the battle of Lake Champlain it
was owing that the British occupancy of United States soil at the end of
the year was such that the Duke of Wellington advised that no claim for
territorial cession could be considered to exist, and that the basis of
_uti possidetis_, upon which it was proposed to treat, was
untenable.[397] The earnestness of the Government, however, in seeking
the changes specified, is indicated by the proposition seriously made to
the Duke to take the command in America.

Owing to the military conditions hitherto existing on the American
continent, the power to take the offensive throughout the lake
frontier had rested with the United States Government; and the
direction given by this to its efforts had left Lake Champlain
practically out of consideration. Sir George Prevost, being thrown on
the defensive, could only conform to the initiative of his adversary.
For these reasons, whatever transactions took place in this quarter up
to the summer of 1814 were in characteristic simply episodes; an
epithet which applies accurately to the more formidable, but brief,
operations here in 1814, as also to those in Louisiana. Whatever
intention underlay either attempt, they were in matter of fact almost
without any relations of antecedent or consequent. They stood by
themselves, and not only may, but should, be so considered. Prior to
them, contemporary reference to Lake Champlain, or to Louisiana, is
both rare and casual. For this reason, mention of earlier occurrences
in either of these quarters has heretofore been deferred, as
irrelevant and intrusive if introduced among other events, with which
they coincided in time, but had no further connection. A brief
narrative of them will now be presented, as a necessary introduction
to the much more important incidents of 1814.

At the beginning of hostilities the balance of naval power on Lake
Champlain rested with the United States, and so continued until June,
1813. The force on each side was small to triviality, nor did either
make any serious attempt to obtain a marked preponderance. The
Americans had, however, three armed sloops, the "President,"
"Growler," and "Eagle," to which the British could oppose only one.
Both parties had also a few small gunboats and rowing galleys, in the
number of which the superiority lay with the British. Under these
relative conditions the Americans ranged the lake proper at will; the
enemy maintaining his force in the lower narrows, at Isle aux Noix,
which was made a fortified station.

On June 1, 1813, a detachment of British boats, coming up the lake,
passed the boundary line and fired upon some small American craft. The
"Eagle" and "Growler," being then at Plattsburg, started in pursuit on
the 2d, and by dark had entered some distance within the narrows,
where they anchored. The following morning they sighted three of the
enemy's gunboats and chased them with a fair south wind; but, being by
this means led too far, they became entangled in a place where
manoeuvring was difficult. The officers of the royal navy designated
for service on Lake Champlain had not yet arrived, and the flotilla
was at the disposition of the commanding army officer at Isle aux
Noix. Only one sloop being visible at first to the garrison, he sent
out against her the three gunboats; but when the second appeared he
landed a number of men on each bank, who took up a position to rake
the vessels. The action which followed lasted three hours. The
circumstances were disadvantageous to the Americans; but the fair wind
with which they had entered was ahead for return, and to beat back was
impossible in so narrow a channel. The "Eagle" received a raking shot,
and had to be run ashore to avoid sinking. Both then surrendered, and
the "Eagle" was afterwards raised. The two prizes were taken into the
British service; and as this occurrence followed immediately after the
capture of the "Chesapeake" by the "Shannon," they were called "Broke"
and "Shannon." These names afterwards were changed, apparently by
Admiralty order, to "Chub" and "Finch," under which they took part in
the battle of Lake Champlain, where they were recaptured.

Although not built for war, but simply purchased vessels of not over
one hundred tons, this loss was serious; for by it superiority on the
lake passed to the British, and with some fluctuation so remained for
a twelvemonth,--till May, 1814. They were still too deficient in men
to profit at once by their success; the difficulty of recruiting in
Canada being as great as in the United States, and for very similar
reasons. "It is impossible to enlist seamen in Quebec for the lakes,
as merchants are giving twenty-five to thirty guineas for the run to
England. Recruits desert as soon as they receive the bounty."[398]
After some correspondence, Captain Everard, of the sloop of war
"Wasp," then lying at Quebec, consented to leave his ship, go with a
large part of her crew to Champlain, man the captured sloops, and raid
the American stations on the lake. A body of troops being embarked,
the flotilla left Isle aux Noix July 29. On the 30th they came to
Plattsburg, destroyed there the public buildings, with the barracks at
Saranac, and brought off a quantity of stores. A detachment was sent
to Champlain Town, and a landing made also at Swanton in Vermont,
where similar devastation was inflicted on public property. Thence
they went up the lake to Burlington, where Macdonough, who was
alarmingly short of seamen since the capture of the "Eagle" and
"Growler," had to submit to seeing himself defied by vessels lately
his own. After seizing a few more small lake craft, Everard on August
3 hastened back, anxious to regain his own ship and resume the regular
duties, for abandoning which he had no authority save his own. The
step he had taken was hardly to be anticipated from a junior officer,
commanding a ship on sea service so remote from the scene of the
proposed operation; and the rapidity of his action took the Americans
quite by surprise, for there had been no previous indication of
activity. As soon as Macdonough heard of his arrival at Isle aux Noix,
he wrote for re-enforcements, but it was too late. His letter did not
reach New York till the British had come and gone.[399]

Upon Everard's return both he and Captain Pring, of the royal navy,
who had been with him during the foray and thenceforth remained
attached to the fortunes of the Champlain flotilla, recommended the
building of a large brig of war and two gunboats, in order to preserve
upon the lake the supremacy they had just asserted in act. With the
material at hand, they said, these vessels could all be afloat within
eight weeks after their keels were laid.[400] This suggestion appears
to have been acted upon; for in the following March it was reported
that there were building at St. John's a brig to carry twenty guns, a
schooner of eighteen, and twelve 2-gun galleys. However, the Americans
also were by this time building, and at the crucial moment came out a
very little ahead in point of readiness.

Nothing further of consequence occurred during 1813. After the British
departed, Macdonough received a re-enforcement of men. He then went in
person with such vessels as he had to the foot of the lake, taking
station at Plattsburg, and advancing at times to the boundary line,
twenty-five miles below. The enemy occasionally showed themselves, but
were apparently indisposed to action in their then state of
forwardness. Later the American flotilla retired up the lake to Otter
Creek in Vermont, where, on April 11, 1814, was launched the ship
"Saratoga," which carried Macdonough's pendant in the battle five
months afterwards. On May 10, Pring, hoping to destroy the American
vessels before ready for service, made another inroad with his
squadron, consisting now of the new brig, called the "Linnet," five
armed sloops, and thirteen galleys. On the 14th he was off Otter Creek
and attacked; but batteries established on shore compelled him to
retire. Macdonough in his report of this transaction mentions only
eight galleys, with a bomb vessel, as the number of the enemy engaged.
The new brig was probably considered too essential to naval control to
be risked against shore guns; a decision scarcely to be contested,
although Prevost seems to have been dissatisfied as usual with the
exertions of the navy. The American force at this time completed, or
approaching completion, was, besides the "Saratoga," one schooner,
three sloops,[401] and ten gunboats or galleys. Of the sloops one
only, the "Preble," appears to have been serviceable. The "President"
and another called the "Montgomery" were not in the fight at
Plattsburg; where Macdonough certainly needed every gun he could
command. A brig of twenty guns, called the "Eagle," was subsequently
laid down and launched in time for the action. Prevost reported at
this period that a new ship was building at Isle aux Noix, which would
make the British force equal to the American.

   _From the painting by Gilbert Stuart in the Century Club, New
   York, by permission of Rodney Macdonough, Esq._]

Before the end of May, 1814, Macdonough's fleet was ready, except the
"Eagle"; and on the 29th he was off Plattsburg, with the "Saratoga,"
the schooner "Ticonderoga," the sloop "Preble," and ten galleys. The
command of the lake thus established permitted the transfer of troops
and stores, before locked up in Burlington. The "Saratoga" carried
twenty-six guns; of which eight were long 24-pounders, the others
carronades, six 42-pounders, and twelve 32's. She was so much superior
to the "Linnet," which had only sixteen guns, long 12-pounders, that
the incontestable supremacy remained with the Americans, and it was
impossible for the British squadron to show itself at all until their
new ship was completed. She was launched August 25,[402] and called
the "Confiance."[403] The name excited some derision after her defeat
and capture, but seems to have had no more arrogant origin than the
affectionate recollection of the Commander-in-Chief on the lakes, Sir
James Yeo, for the vessel which he had first and long commanded, to
which he had been promoted for distinguished gallantry in winning her,
and in which he finally reached post-rank. The new "Confiance," from
which doubtless much was hoped, was her namesake. She was to carry
twenty-seven 24-pounders. One of these, being on a pivot, fought on
either side of the ship; thus giving her fourteen of these guns for
each broadside. In addition, she had ten carronades, four of them
32-pounders, and six 24's.

On July 12, 1814, Prevost had reported the arrival at Montreal of the
first of four brigades from Wellington's Peninsular Army. These had
sailed from Bordeaux at the same period as the one destined for the
Atlantic coast operations, under General Ross, already related. He
acknowledged also the receipt of instructions, prescribing the
character of his operations, which he had anxiously requested the year
before. Among these instructions were "to give immediate protection to
his Majesty's possessions in America," by "the entire destruction of
Sackett's Harbor, and of the naval establishments on Lake Erie and
Lake Champlain."[404] They will be obeyed, he wrote, as soon as the
whole force shall have arrived; but defensive measures only will be
practicable, until the complete command of Lakes Ontario and
Champlain shall be obtained, which cannot be expected before
September.[405] The statement was perfectly correct. The command of
these lakes was absolutely essential to both parties to the war, if
intending to maintain operations in their neighborhood.

On August 14, Prevost reported home that the troops from Bordeaux had
all arrived, and, with the exception of a brigade destined for
Kingston, would be at their points of formation by the 25th; at which
date his returns show that he had under his general command, in Upper
and Lower Canada, exclusive of officers, twenty-nine thousand four
hundred and thirty-seven men. All these were British regulars, with
the exception of four thousand seven hundred and six; of which last,
two thousand two hundred belonged to "foreign" regiments, and the
remainder to provincial corps. Of this total, from eleven thousand to
fourteen thousand accompanied him in his march to Plattsburg. Under
the same date he reported that the "Confiance" could not be ready
before September 15; for which time had he patiently waited, he would
at least have better deserved success. His decision as to his line of
advance was determined by a singular consideration, deeply mortifying
to American recollection, but which must be mentioned because of its
historical interest, as an incidental indication of the slow progress
of the people of the United States towards national sentiment.
"Vermont has shown a disinclination to the war, and, as it is sending
in specie and provisions, I will confine offensive operations to the
west side of Lake Champlain."[406] Three weeks later he writes again,
"Two thirds of the army are supplied with beef by American
contractors, principally of Vermont and New York."[407]

That this was no slander was indignantly confirmed by a citizen of
Vermont, who wrote to General Izard, June 27, "Droves of cattle are
continually passing from the northern parts of this state into Canada
for the British." Izard, in forwarding the letter, said: "This
confirms a fact not only disgraceful to our countrymen but seriously
detrimental to the public interest. From the St. Lawrence to the ocean
an open disregard prevails for the laws prohibiting intercourse with
the enemy. The road to St. Regis [New York] is covered with droves of
cattle, and the river with rafts destined for the enemy. On the
eastern side of Lake Champlain the high roads are insufficient for the
cattle pouring into Canada. Like herds of buffaloes they press through
the forests, making paths for themselves. Were it not for these
supplies, the British forces in Canada would soon be suffering from
famine."[408] The British commissary at Prescott wrote, June 19, 1814,
"I have contracted with a Yankee magistrate to furnish this post with
fresh beef. A major came with him to make the agreement; but, as he
was foreman of the grand jury of the court in which the Government
prosecutes the magistrates for high treason and smuggling, he turned
his back and would not see the paper signed."[409] More vital still in
its treason to the interests of the country, Commodore Macdonough
reported officially, June 29, that one of his officers had seized two
spars, supposed from their size to be for the fore and mizzen masts of
the "Confiance," on the way to Canada, near the lines, under the
management of citizens of the United States; and eight days later
there were intercepted four others, which from their dimensions were
fitted for her mainmast and three topmasts.[410] By this means the
British ship was to be enabled to sail for the attack on the American
fleet, and by this only; for to drag spars of that weight up the
rapids of the Richelieu, or over the rough intervening country, meant
at least unendurable delay. "The turpitude of many of our citizens in
this part of the country," wrote Macdonough, "furnishes the enemy with
every information he wants."[411]

On August 29, four days after Prevost's divisions were expected to be
assembled at their designated rendezvous, Izard, in the face of the
storm gathering before him, started with his four thousand men from
Plattsburg for Sackett's Harbor, in obedience to the intimation of the
War Department, which he accepted as orders. Brigadier-General Macomb
was left to hold the works about Plattsburg with a force which he
stated did not exceed fifteen hundred effectives.[412] His own brigade
having been broken up to strengthen Izard's division, none of this
force was organized, except four companies of one regiment. The
remainder were convalescents, or recruits of new regiments; soldiers
as yet only in name, and without the constituted regimental framework,
incorporation into which so much facilitates the transition from the
recruit to the veteran. On September 4 seven hundred militia from the
neighborhood joined, in response to a call from Macomb; and before the
final action of the 11th other militia from New York, and volunteers
from Vermont, across the lake, kept pouring in from all quarters, in
encouraging contrast to their fellow citizens who were making money by
abetting the enemy.

Prevost's army, which had been assembled along the frontier of Lower
Canada, from the Richelieu River to the St. Lawrence, began its
forward march August 31; the leading brigade entering the State of
New York, and encamping that night at Champlain Town, a short distance
south of the boundary. By September 4 the whole body had reached to
the village of Chazy, twenty-five miles from Plattsburg. Thus far, to
the mouth of the Little Chazy River, where the supplies of the army
were to be landed, no opposition was experienced. The American
squadron waiting on the defensive at Plattsburg, the left flank of the
British received constant support from their flotilla of gunboats and
galleys under the command of Captain Pring, who seized also the
American Island La Motte, in the narrows of the lake, abreast the
Little Chazy. The following day, September 5, delays began to be met
through the trees felled and bridges broken by Macomb's orders. On the
6th there was some skirmishing between the advanced guards; but the
American militia "could not be prevailed on to stand, notwithstanding
the exertions of their officers, although the fields were divided by
strong stone walls, and they were told that the enemy could not
possibly cut them off."[413] Deprived of this support, the small body
of regulars could do little, and the British Peninsulars pushed on
contemptuously, and almost silently. "They never deployed in their
whole march," reported Macomb, "always pressing on in column." That
evening they entered Plattsburg. Macomb retreated across the Saranac,
which divided the town. He removed from the bridges their planking,
which was used to form breastworks to dispute any attempt to force a
passage, and then retired to the works previously prepared by Izard.
These were on the bluffs on the south side of the Saranac, overlooking
the bay, and covering the peninsula embraced between the lake and the

From the 7th to the 11th, the day of the battle, the British were
employed in preparations for battering the forts, preliminary to an
assault, and there was constant skirmishing at the bridges and fords.
Macomb utilized the same time to strengthen his works, aided by the
numbers of militia continually arriving, who labored night and day
with great spirit. Prevost's purposes and actions were dominated by
the urgency of haste, owing to the lateness of the season; and this
motive co-operated with a certain captiousness of temper to
precipitate him now into a grave error of judgment and of conduct. At
Plattsburg he found the small American army intrenched behind a
fordable river, the bridges of which had been made useless; and in the
bay lay the American squadron, anchored with a view to defence. The
two were not strictly in co-operation, in their present position.
Tactically, they for the moment contributed little to each other's
support; for the reason that the position chosen judiciously by
Macdonough for the defence of the bay was too far from the works of
the army to receive--or to give--assistance with the guns of that day.
The squadron was a little over a mile from the army. It could not
remain there, if the British got possession of the works, for it would
be within range of injury at long shot; but in an engagement between
the hostile fleets the bluffs could have no share, no matter which
party held them, for the fire would be as dangerous to friend as to

The question of probability, that the American squadron was within
long gunshot of the shore batteries, is crucial, for upon it would
depend the ultimate military judgment upon the management of Sir
George Prevost. That he felt this is evident by letters addressed on
his behalf to Macdonough; by A.W. Cochran, a lawyer of Quebec, to whom
Prevost, after his recall to England for trial, left the charge of
collecting testimony, and by Cadwalader Colden of New York.[414] Both
inquire specifically as to this distance, Colden particularizing that
"it would be all important to learn that the American squadron were
during the engagement beyond the effectual range of the batteries." To
Colden, Macdonough replied guardedly, "It is my opinion that our
squadron was anchored one mile and a half from the batteries." The
answer to Cochran has not been found; but on the back of the letter
from him the Commodore sketched his recollection of the situation,
which is here reproduced. Without insisting unduly on the precision of
such a piece, it seems clear that he thought his squadron but little
more than half way towards the other side of the bay. Cumberland Head
being by survey two miles from the batteries, it would follow that the
vessels were a little over a mile from them. This inference is adopted
as more dependable than the estimate, "a mile and a half." Such eye
reckoning is notoriously uncertain; and this seemingly was made by
recollection, not contemporaneously.[415]

The 24- and 32-pounder long gun of that day ranged a sea mile and a
half, with an elevation of less than fifteen degrees.[416] They could
therefore annoy a squadron at or within that distance. The question
is not of best fighting range. It is whether a number of light built
and light draught vessels could hold their ground under such a
cannonade, knowing that a hostile squadron awaited them without. Even
at such random range, a disabling shot in hull or spars must be
expected. At whatever risk, departure is enforced.

   [Illustration: Tracing from pencil sketch of Battle of L.
   Champlain, made by Com. Macdonough on back of a letter of
   inquiry, addressed to him within a year of the action.
   The names are not in the sketch; but with the letters, express
   the author's understanding of the Commodore's meaning.]

To a similar letter from Colden, General Macomb replied that he did
not think the squadron within range. There is also a statement in
Niles' Register[417] that several British officers visited Macomb at
Plattsburg, and at their request experiments were made, presumably
trial shots, to ascertain whether the guns of the forts could have
annoyed the American squadron. It was found they could not. Macomb's
opinion may have rested upon this, and the conclusion may be just; but
it is open to remark that, as the squadron was not then there, its
assumed position depended upon memory,--like Macdonough's sketch.
Macomb said further, that "a fruitless attempt was made during the
action to elevate the guns so as to bear on the enemy; but none were
fired, all being convinced that the vessels were beyond their reach."
The worth of this conviction is shown by the next remark, which he
repeated under date of August 1, 1815.[418] "This opinion was
strengthened by observations on the actual range of the guns of the
'Confiance'--her heaviest metal [24-pounders] falling upwards of five
hundred yards short of the shore." The "Confiance" was five hundred
yards further off than the American squadron, and to reach it her guns
would be elevated for that distance only. Because under such condition
they dropped their shot five hundred yards short of three thousand
five hundred yards, it is scarcely legitimate to infer that guns
elevated for three thousand could not carry so far.

The arguments having been stated, it is to be remarked that, whatever
the truth, it is knowledge after the fact as far as Prevost was
concerned. In his report dated September 11, 1814, the day of the
action, he speaks of the difficulties which had been before him; among
them "blockhouses armed with _heavy_ ordnance." This he then believed;
and whether this ordnance could reach the squadron he could only know
by trying. It was urgently proper, in view of his large land force,
and of the expectations of his Government, which had made such great
exertions for an attainable and important object, that he should storm
the works and try. After a careful estimate of the strength of the two
squadrons, I think that a seaman would certainly say that in the open
the British was superior; but decidedly inferior for an attack upon
the American at anchor. This was the opinion of the surviving British
officers, under oath, and of Downie. General Izard, who had been in
command at Plattsburg up to a fortnight before the attack, wrote
afterwards to the Secretary of War, "I may venture to assert that
without the works, Fort Moreau and its dependencies, Captain
Macdonough would not have ventured to await the enemy's attack in
Plattsburg Bay, but would have retired to the upper part of Lake
Champlain."[419] The whole campaign turning upon naval control, the
situation was eminently one that called upon the army to drive the
enemy from his anchorage. The judgment of the author endorses the
words of Sir James Yeo: "There was not the least necessity for our
squadron giving the enemy such decided advantages by going into their
bay to engage them. Even had they been successful, it could not in the
least have assisted the troops in storming the batteries; whereas,
had our troops taken their batteries first, it would have obliged the
enemy's squadron to quit the bay and given ours a fair chance."[420]
At the Court Martial two witnesses, Lieutenant Drew of the "Linnet,"
and Brydone, master of the "Confiance," swore that after the action
Macdonough removed his squadron to Crab Island, out of range of the
batteries. Macdonough in his report does not mention this; nor was it
necessary that he should.

In short, though apparently so near, the two fractions of the American
force, the army and the navy, were actually in the dangerous military
condition of being exposed to be beaten in detail; and the destruction
of either would probably be fatal to the other. The largest two
British vessels, "Confiance" and "Linnet," were slightly inferior to
the American "Saratoga" and "Eagle" in aggregate weight of broadside;
but, like the "General Pike" on Ontario in 1813, the superiority of
the "Confiance" in long guns, and under one captain, would on the open
lake have made her practically equal to cope with the whole American
squadron, and still more with the "Saratoga" alone, assuming that the
"Linnet" gave the "Eagle" some occupation.

It would seem clear, therefore, that the true combination for the
British general would have been to use his military superiority, vast
in quality as in numbers, to reduce the works and garrison at
Plattsburg. That accomplished, the squadron would be driven to the
open lake, where the "Confiance" could bring into play her real
superiority, instead of being compelled to sacrifice it by attacking
vessels in a carefully chosen position, ranged with a seaman's eye for
defence, and prepared with a seaman's foresight for every contingency.
Prevost, however, became possessed with the idea that a joint attack
was indispensable,[421] and in communicating his purpose to the
commander of the squadron, Captain Downie, he used language
indefensible in itself, tending to goad a sensitive man into action
contrary to his better judgment; and he clenched this injudicious
proceeding with words which certainly implied an assurance of assault
by the army on the works, simultaneous with that of the navy on the

Captain Downie had taken command of the Champlain fleet only on
September 2. He was next in rank to Yeo on the lakes, a circumstance
that warranted his orders; the immediate reason for which, however, as
explained by Yeo to the Admiralty, was that his predecessor's temper
had shown him unfit for chief command. He had quarrelled with Pring,
and Yeo felt the change essential. Downie, upon arrival, found the
"Confiance" in a very incomplete state, for which he at least was in
no wise responsible. He had brought with him a first lieutenant in
whom he had merited confidence, and the two worked diligently to get
her into shape. The crew had been assembled hurriedly by draughts from
several ships at Quebec, from the 39th regiment, and from the marine
artillery. The last detachment came on board the night but one before
the battle. They thus were unknown by face to their officers, and
largely to one another. Launched August 25, the ship hauled from the
wharf into the stream September 7, and the same day started for the
front, being towed by boats against a head wind and downward current.
Behind her dragged a batteau carrying her powder, while her magazine
was being finished.

The next day a similar painful advance was made, and the crew then
were stationed at the guns, while the mechanics labored at their
fittings. That night she anchored off Chazy, where the whole squadron
was now gathered. The 9th was spent at anchor, exercising the guns;
the mechanics still at work. In fact, the hammering and driving
continued until two hours before the ship came under fire, when the
last gang shoved off, leaving her still unfinished. "This day"--the
9th--wrote the first lieutenant, Robertson, "employed setting-up
rigging, scraping decks, manning and arranging the gunboats. Exercised
at great guns. Artificers employed fitting beds, coins, belaying pins,
etc;"[422]--essentials for fighting the guns and working the sails. It
scarcely needs the habit of a naval seaman to recognize that even
three or four days' grace for preparation would immensely increase
efficiency. Nevertheless, such was the pressure from without that the
order was given for the squadron to go into action next day; and this
was prevented only by a strong head wind, against which there was not
channel space to beat.

As long as Prevost was contending with the difficulties of his own
advance he seems not to have worried Downie; but as soon as fairly
before the works of Plattsburg he initiated a correspondence, which on
his part became increasingly peremptory. It will be remembered that he
not only was much the senior in rank,--as in years,--but also
Governor-General of Canada. Nor should it be forgotten that he had
known and written a month before that the "Confiance" could not be
ready before September 15. He knew, as his subsequent action showed,
that if the British fleet were disabled his own progress was hopeless;
and, if he could not understand that to a ship so lately afloat a day
was worth a week of ordinary conditions, he should at least have
realized that the naval captain could judge better than he when she
was ready for battle. On September 7 he wrote to urge Downie, who
replied the same day with assurances of every exertion to hasten
matters. The 8th he sent information of Macdonough's arrangements by
an aid, who carried also a letter saying that "it is of the highest
importance that the ships, vessels, and gunboats, under your command,
should combine a co-operation with the division of the army under my
command. I only wait for your arrival to proceed against General
Macomb's last position on the south bank of the Saranac." On the 9th
he wrote, "In consequence of your communication of yesterday I have
postponed action until your squadron is prepared to co-operate. I need
not dwell with you on the evils resulting to both services from
delay." He inclosed reports received from deserters that the American
fleet was insufficiently manned; and that when the "Eagle" arrived, a
few days before, they had swept the guard houses of prisoners to
complete her crew. A postscript conveyed a scarcely veiled intimation
that an eye was kept on his proceedings. "Captain Watson of the
provincial cavalry is directed to remain at Little Chazy until you are
preparing to get underway, when he is instructed to return to this
place with the intelligence."[423]

Thus pressed, Downie, as has been said, gave orders to sail at
midnight, with the expectation of rounding into Plattsburg Bay about
dawn, and proceeding to an immediate attack. This purpose was
communicated formally to Prevost. The preventing cause, the head wind,
was obvious enough, and spoke for itself; but the check drew from
Prevost words which stung Downie to the quick. "In consequence of your
letter the troops have been held in readiness, since six o'clock this
morning, to storm the enemy's works at nearly the same moment as the
naval action begins in the bay. I ascribe the disappointment I have
experienced to the unfortunate change of wind, and shall rejoice to
learn that my reasonable expectations have been frustrated by no other
cause." The letter was sent by the aid, Major Coore, who had carried
the others; and both he and Pring, who were present, testified to the
effect upon Downie. Coore, in a vindication of Prevost, wrote, "After
perusing it, Captain Downie said with some warmth, 'I am surprised Sir
George Prevost should think necessary to urge me upon this subject. He
must feel I am as desirous of proceeding to active operations as he
can be; but I am responsible for the squadron, and no man shall make
me lead it into action before I consider it in fit condition.'"[424]
Nevertheless, the effect was produced; for he remarked afterward to
Pring, "This letter does not deserve an answer, but I will convince
him that the naval force will not be backward in their share of the

It was arranged that the approach of the squadron should be signalled
by scaling the guns,--firing cartridges without shot; and Downie
certainty understood, and informed his officers generally, that the
army would assault in co-operation with the attack of the fleet. The
precise nature of his expectation was clearly conveyed to Pring, who
had represented the gravity of this undertaking. "When the batteries
are stormed and taken possession of by the British land forces, which
the commander of the land forces has promised to do at the moment the
naval action commences, the enemy will be obliged to quit their
position, whereby we shall obtain decided advantage over them during
their confusion. I would otherwise prefer fighting them on the lake,
and would wait until our force is in an efficient state; but I fear
they would take shelter up the lake and would not meet me on equal
terms."[426] The following morning, September 11, the wind being fair
from northeast, the British fleet weighed before daylight and stood up
the narrows for the open lake and Plattsburg Bay. About five o'clock
the agreed signal was given by scaling the guns, the reports of which
it was presumed must certainly be heard by the army at the then
distance of six or seven miles, with the favorable air blowing. At
7.30, near Cumberland Head, the squadron hove-to, and Captain Downie
went ahead in a boat to reconnoitre the American position.

For defence against the hostile squadron, Macdonough had had to rely
solely on his own force, and its wise disposition by him. On shore, a
defensive position is determined by the circumstances of the ground
selected, improved by fortification; all which gives strength
additional to the number of men. A sailing squadron anchored for
defence similarly gained force by adapting its formation to the
circumstances of the anchorage, and to known wind conditions, with
careful preparations to turn the guns in any direction; deliberate
precautions, not possible to the same extent to the assailant
anchoring under fire. To this is to be added the release of the crew
from working sails to manning the guns.

Plattsburg Bay, in which the United States squadron was anchored, is
two miles wide, and two long. It lies north and south, open to the
southward. Its eastern boundary is called Cumberland Head. The British
vessels, starting from below, in a channel too narrow to beat, must
come up with a north wind. To insure that this should be ahead, or
bring them close on the wind, after rounding the Head,--a condition
unfavorable for attack,--Macdonough fixed the head of his line as far
north as was safe; having in mind that the enemy might bring guns to
the shore north of the Saranac. His order thence extended southward,
abreast of the American works, and somewhat nearer the Cumberland than
the Plattsburg side. The wind conditions further made it expedient to
put the strongest vessels to the northward,--to windward,--whence they
would best be able to manoeuvre as circumstances might require. The
order from north to south therefore was: the brig "Eagle," twenty
guns; the ship "Saratoga," twenty-six; the "Ticonderoga" schooner,
seven, and the sloop "Preble," seven.

Macdonough's dispositions being perfectly under observation, Captain
Downie framed his plan accordingly.[427] The "Confiance" should engage
the "Saratoga;" but, before doing so, would pass along the "Eagle,"
from north to south, give her a broadside, and then anchor head and
stern across the bows of the "Saratoga." After this, the "Linnet,"
supported by the "Chub," would become the opponent of the "Eagle,"
reduced more nearly to equality by the punishment already received.
Three British vessels would thus grapple the two strongest enemies.
The "Finch" was to attack the American rear, supported by all the
British gunboats--eleven in number. There were American gunboats, or
galleys, as well, which Macdonough distributed in groups, inshore of
his order; but, as was almost invariably the case, these light vessels
exerted no influence on the result.

This being the plan, when the wind came northeast on the morning of
September 11, the British stood up the lake in column, as follows:
"Finch," "Confiance," "Linnet," "Chub." Thus, when they rounded
Cumberland Head, and simultaneously changed course towards the
American line, they would be properly disposed to reach the several
places assigned. As the vessels came round the Head, to Downie's
dismay no co-operation by the army was visible. He was fairly
committed to his movement, however, and could only persist. As the
initial act was to be the attack upon the "Eagle" by the "Confiance,"
she led in advance of her consorts, which caused a concentration of
the hostile guns upon her; the result being that she was unable to
carry out her part. The wind also failed, and she eventually anchored
five hundred yards from the American line. Her first broadside is said
to have struck down forty, or one fifth of the "Saratoga's" crew. As
in the case of the "Chesapeake," this shows men of naval training,
accustomed to guns; but, as with the "Chesapeake," lack of
organization, of the habit of working together, officers and men, was
to tell ere the end. Fifteen minutes after the action began Captain
Downie was killed, leaving in command Lieutenant Robertson.


The "Linnet" reached her berth and engaged the "Eagle" closely; but
the "Chub," which was to support her, received much damage to her
sails and rigging, and the lieutenant in charge was nervously
prostrated by a not very severe wound. Instead of anchoring, she was
permitted to drift helplessly, and so passed through the American
order, where she hauled down her colors. Though thus disappointed of
the assistance intended for her, the "Linnet" continued to fight
manfully and successfully, her opponent finally quitting the line; a
result to which the forward battery of the "Confiance" in large
measure contributed.[428] The "Finch," by an error of judgment on the
part of her commander, did not keep near enough to the wind. She
therefore failed to reach her position, near the "Ticonderoga;" and
the breeze afterwards falling, she could not retrieve her error.
Ultimately, she went ashore on Crab Island, a mile to the southward.
This remoteness enabled her to keep her flag flying till her consorts
had surrendered; but the credit of being last to strike belongs really
to the "Linnet," Captain Pring. By the failure of the "Finch," the
"Ticonderoga" underwent no attack except by the British gunboats.
Whatever might possibly have come of this was frustrated by the
misbehavior of most of them. Four fought with great gallantry and
persistence, eliciting much admiration from their opponents; but the
remainder kept at distance, the commander of the whole actually
running away, and absconding afterwards to avoid trial. The
"Ticonderoga" maintained her position to the end; but the weak
"Preble" was forced from her anchors, and ran ashore under the
Plattsburg batteries.

The fight thus resolved itself into a contest between the "Saratoga"
and "Eagle," on one side, the "Confiance" and "Linnet" on the other.
The wind being north-northeast, the ships at their anchors headed so
that the forward third of the "Confiance's" battery bore upon the
"Eagle," and only the remaining two thirds upon the "Saratoga." This
much equalized conditions all round. It was nine o'clock when she
anchored. At 10.30 the "Eagle," having many of her guns on the engaged
side disabled, cut her cable, ran down the line, and placed herself
south of the "Saratoga," anchoring by the stern. This had the effect
of turning towards the enemy her other side, the guns of which were
still uninjured. "In this new position," wrote Lieutenant Robertson,
"she kept up a destructive fire on the "Confiance," without being
exposed to a shot from that ship or the "Linnet." On the other hand,
Macdonough found the "Saratoga" suffer from the "Linnet," now relieved
of her immediate opponent."[429]

By this time the fire of both the "Saratoga" and "Confiance" had
materially slackened, owing to the havoc among guns and men. Nearly
the whole battery on the starboard side of the United States ship was
dismounted, or otherwise unserviceable. The only resource was to
bring the uninjured side towards the enemy, as the "Eagle" had just
done; but to use the same method, getting under way, would be to
abandon the fight, for there was not astern another position of
usefulness for the "Saratoga." There was nothing for it but to
"wind"[430] the ship--turn her round where she was. Then appeared the
advantage attendant upon the defensive, if deliberately utilized. The
"Confiance" standing in had had shot away, one after another, the
anchors and ropes upon which she depended for such a manoeuvre.[431]
The "Saratoga's" resources were unimpaired. A stern anchor was let go,
the bow cable cut, and the ship winded, either by force of the wind,
or by the use of "springs"[432] before prepared, presenting to the
"Confiance" her uninjured broadside--for fighting purposes a new
vessel. The British ship, having now but four guns that could be used
on the side engaged,[433] must do the like, or be hopelessly
overmatched. The stern anchor prepared having been shot away, an
effort was made to swing her by a new spring on the bow cable; but
while this slow process was carrying on, and the ship so far turned as
to be at right angles with the American line, a raking shot entered,
killing and wounding several of the crew. Then, reported Lieutenant
Robertson, the surviving officer in command, "the ship's company
declared they would stand no longer to their quarters, nor could the
officers with their utmost exertions rally them." The vessel was in a
sinking condition, kept afloat by giving her a marked heel to
starboard, by running in the guns on the port side, so as to bring the
shot holes out of water.[434] The wounded on the deck below had to be
continually moved, lest they should be drowned where they lay. She
drew but eight and a half feet of water. Her colors were struck at
about 11 A.M.; the "Linnet's" fifteen minutes later. By Macdonough's
report, the action had lasted two hours and twenty minutes, without

   _Drawn by Henry Reuterdahl._]

Few combats have been more resolutely contested. The "Saratoga" had
fifty-five round shot in her hull; the "Confiance," one hundred and
five.[435] Of the American crew of two hundred and ten men,
twenty-eight were killed and twenty-nine wounded. The British loss is
not known exactly. Robertson reported that there were thirty-eight
bodies sent ashore for interment, besides those thrown overboard in
action. This points to a loss of about fifty killed, and James states
the wounded at about sixty; the total was certainly more than one
hundred in a ship's company of two hundred and seventy.

There was reason for obstinacy, additional to the natural resolution
of the parties engaged. The battle of Lake Champlain, more nearly than
any other incident of the War of 1812, merits the epithet "decisive."
The moment the issue was known, Prevost retreated into Canada;
entirely properly, as indicated by the Duke of Wellington's words
before and after. His previous conduct was open to censure, for he had
used towards Captain Downie urgency of pressure which induced that
officer to engage prematurely; "goaded" into action, as Yeo wrote.
Before the usual naval Court Martial, the officers sworn testified
that Downie had been led to expect co-operation, which in their
judgment would have reversed the issue; but that no proper assault was
made. Charges were preferred, and Prevost was summoned home; but he
died before trial. There remains therefore no sworn testimony on his
side, nor was there any adequate cross-examination of the naval
witnesses. In the judgment of the writer, it was incumbent upon
Prevost to assault the works when Downie was known to be approaching,
with a fair wind, in the hope of driving the American squadron from
its anchors to the open lake, where the real superiority of the
British could assert itself.[436]

Castlereagh's "chances of the campaign" had gone so decidedly against
the British that no ground was left to claim territorial adjustments.
To effect these the war must be continued; and for this Great Britain
was not prepared, nor could she afford the necessary detachment of
force. In the completeness of Napoleon's downfall, we now are prone to
forget that remaining political conditions in Europe still required
all the Great Powers to keep their arms at hand.

       *       *       *       *       *

The war was practically ended by Prevost's retreat. What remained was
purely episodical in character, and should be so regarded.
Nevertheless, although without effect upon the issue, and indeed in
great part transacted after peace had been actually signed, it is so
directly consecutive with the war as to require united treatment.

Very soon after reaching Bermuda, Vice-Admiral Cochrane, in pursuance
of the "confidential communications with which he was charged," the
character of which, he intimated to Warren,[437] was a reason for
expediting the transfer of the command, despatched the frigate
"Orpheus" to the Appalachicola River to negotiate with the Creek and
other Indians. The object was to rouse and arm "our Indian allies in
the Southern States," and to arrange with them a system of training by
British officers, and a general plan of action; by which, "supporting
the Indian tribes situated on the confines of Florida, and in the back
parts of Georgia, it would be easy to reduce New Orleans, and to
distress the enemy very seriously in the neighboring provinces."[438]

The "Orpheus" arrived at the mouth of the Appalachicola May 10, 1814,
and on the 20th her captain, Pigot, had an interview with the
principal Creek chiefs. He found[439] that the feeling of their people
was very strong against the Americans; and from the best attainable
information he estimated that twenty-eight hundred warriors were ready
to take up arms with the British. There were said to be as many more
Choctaws thus disposed; and perhaps a thousand other Indians, then
dispersed and unarmed, could be collected. The negroes of Georgia
would probably also come over in crowds, once the movement started.
With a suitable number of British subalterns and drill sergeants, the
savages could be fitted to act in concert with British troops in eight
or ten weeks; for they were already familiar with the use of
fire-arms, and were moreover good horsemen. The season of the year
being still so early, there was ample time for the necessary training.
With these preparations, and adequate supplies of arms and military
stores, Pigot thought that a handful of British troops, co-operating
with the Creeks and Choctaws, could get possession of Baton Rouge,
from which New Orleans and the lower Mississippi would be an easy
conquest. Between Pensacola, still in the possession of Spain, and New
Orleans, Mobile was the only post held by the United States. In its
fort were two hundred troops, and in those up country not more than
seven hundred.

When transmitting this letter, which, with his own of June 20, was
received at the Admiralty August 8, Cochrane endorsed most of Pigot's
recommendations. He gave as his own estimate, that to drive the
Americans entirely out of Louisiana and the Floridas would require not
more than three thousand British troops; to be landed at Mobile, where
they would be joined by all the Indians and the disaffected French and
Spaniards.[440] In this calculation reappears the perennial error of
relying upon disaffected inhabitants, as well as savages. Disaffection
must be supported by intolerable conditions, before inhabitants will
stake all; not merely the chance of life, but the certainty of losing
property, if unsuccessful. Cochrane took the further practical step of
sending at once such arms and ammunition as the fleet could spare,
together with four officers and one hundred and eight non-commissioned
officers and privates of the marine corps, to train the Indians. These
were all under the command of Major Nicholls, who for this service was
given the local rank of Colonel. The whole were despatched July 23, in
the naval vessels "Hermes" and "Carron," for the Appalachicola. The
Admiral, while contemplating evidently a progress towards Baton Rouge,
looked also to coastwise operations; for he asked the Government to
furnish him vessels of light draught, to carry heavy guns into Lake
Ponchartrain, and to navigate the shoal water between it and Mobile,
now called Mississippi Sound.

The Admiralty in reply[441] reminded Cochrane of the former purpose
of the Government to direct operations against New Orleans, with a
very large force under Lord Hill, Wellington's second in the
Peninsular War. Circumstances had made it inexpedient to send so many
troops from Europe at this moment; but, in view of the Admiral's
recommendation, General Ross would be directed to co-operate in the
intended movement at the proper season, and his corps would be raised
to six thousand men, independent of such help in seamen and marines as
the fleet might afford. The re-enforcements would be sent to Negril
Bay, at the west end of Jamaica, which was made the general
rendezvous; and there Cochrane and Ross were directed to join not
later than November 20. The purpose of the Government in attempting
the enterprise was stated to be twofold. "First, to obtain command of
the embouchure of the Mississippi, so as to deprive the back
settlements of America of their communication with the sea; and,
secondly, to occupy some important and valuable possession, by the
restoration of which the conditions of peace might be improved, or
which we might be entitled to exact the cession of, as the price of
peace." Entire discretion was left with the two commanders as to the
method of proceeding, whether directly against New Orleans, by water,
or to its rear, by land, through the country of the Creeks; and they
were at liberty to abandon the undertaking in favor of some other,
should that course seem more suitable. When news of the capture of
Washington was received, two thousand additional troops were sent to
Bermuda, under the impression that the General might desire to push
his success on the Atlantic coast. These ultimately joined the
expedition two days before the attack on Jackson's lines. Upon the
death of General Ross, Sir Edward Pakenham was ordered to replace him;
but he did not arrive until after the landing, and had therefore no
voice in determining the general line of operations adopted.

These were the military instructions. To them were added certain
others, political in character, dictated mainly by the disturbed state
of Europe, and with an eye to appease the jealousies existing among
the Powers, which extended to American conditions, colonial and
commercial. While united against Napoleon, they viewed with distrust
the aggrandizement of Great Britain. Ross was ordered, therefore, to
discountenance any overture of the inhabitants to place themselves
under British dominion; but should he find a general and decided
disposition to withdraw from their recent connection with the United
States, with the view of establishing themselves as an independent
people, or of returning under the dominion of Spain, from which they
then had been separated less than twenty years, he was to give them
every support in his power. He must make them clearly understand,
however, that in the peace with the United States neither independence
nor restoration to Spain could be made a _sine quâ non_;[442] there
being about that a finality, of which the Government had already been
warned in the then current negotiations with the American
commissioners. These instructions to Ross were communicated to Lord
Castlereagh at Vienna, to use as might be expedient in the discussions
of the Conference.

No serious attempt was made in the direction of Baton Rouge, through
the back countries of Georgia and Florida; nor does there appear any
result of consequence from the mission of Colonel Nicholls. On
September 17 the "Hermes" and "Carron," supported by two brigs of war,
made an attack upon Fort Bowyer, a work of logs and sand commanding
the entrance to Mobile Bay. After a severe cannonade, lasting between
two and three hours, they were repulsed; and the "Hermes," running
aground, was set on fire by her captain to prevent her falling into
the hands of the enemy. Mobile was thus preserved from becoming the
starting point of the expedition, as suggested by Cochrane; and that
this object underlay the attempt may be inferred from the finding of
the Court Martial upon Captain Percy of the "Hermes," which decided
that the attack was perfectly justified by the circumstances stated at
the trial.[443]

In October, 1810, by executive proclamation of President Madison, the
United States had taken possession of the region between Louisiana and
the River Perdido,[444] being the greater part of what was then known
as West Florida. The Spanish troops occupying Mobile, however, were
not then disturbed;[445] nor was there a military occupation, except
of one almost uninhabited spot near Bay St. Louis.[446] This
intervention was justified on the ground of a claim to the territory,
asserted to be valid; and occasion for it was found in the danger of a
foreign interference, resulting from the subversion of Spanish
authority by a revolutionary movement. By Great Britain it was
regarded as a usurpation, to effect which advantage had been taken of
the embarrassment of the Spaniards when struggling against Napoleon
for national existence. On May 14, 1812, being then on the verge of
war with Great Britain, the ally of Spain, an Act of Congress declared
the whole country annexed, and extended over it the jurisdiction of
the United States. Mobile was occupied April 15, 1813. Pensacola, east
of the Perdido, but close to it, remained in the hands of Spain, and
was used as a base of operations by the British fleet, both before and
after the attack of the "Hermes" and her consorts upon Fort Bowyer.
From there Nicholls announced that he had arrived in the Floridas for
the purpose of annoying "the only enemy Great Britain has in the
world"[447]; and Captain Percy thence invited the pirates of Barataria
to join the British cause. Cochrane also informed the Admiralty that
for quicker communication, while operating in the Gulf, he intended to
establish a system of couriers through Florida, between Amelia Island
and Pensacola, both under Spanish jurisdiction.[448] On the score of
neutrality, therefore, fault can scarcely be found with General
Jackson for assaulting the latter, which surrendered to him November
7. The British vessels departed, and the works were blown up; after
which the place was restored to the Spaniards.

In acknowledging the Admiralty's letter of August 10, Cochrane said
that the diminution of numbers from those intended for Lord Hill would
not affect his plans; that, unless the United States had sent very
great re-enforcements to Louisiana, the troops now to be employed were
perfectly adequate, even without the marines. These he intended to
send under Rear-Admiral Cockburn, to effect a diversion by occupying
Cumberland Island, off the south coast of Georgia, about November 10,
whence the operations would be extended to the mainland. It was hoped
this would draw to the coast the American force employed against the
Indians, and so favor the movements in Louisiana.[449] While not
expressly stated, the inference seems probable that Cochrane
still--October 3--expected to land at Mobile. For some reason
Cockburn's attack on Cumberland Island did not occur until January 12,
when the New Orleans business was already concluded; so that, although
successful, and prosecuted further to the seacoast, it had no
influence upon the general issues.

Cochrane, with the division from the Atlantic coast, joined the
re-enforcements from England in Negril Bay, and thence proceeded to
Mississippi Sound; anchoring off Ship Island, December 8. On the 2d
General Jackson had arrived in New Orleans, whither had been ordered a
large part of the troops heretofore acting against the Creeks. The
British commanders had now determined definitely to attack the city
from the side of the sea. As there could be little hope for vessels
dependent upon sails to pass the forts on the lower Mississippi,
against the strong current, as was done by Farragut's steamers fifty
years later, it was decided to reach the river far above those works,
passing the army through some of the numerous bayous which intersect
the swampy delta to the eastward. From Ship Island this desired
approach could be made through Lake Borgne.

For the defence of these waters there were stationed five American
gunboats and two or three smaller craft, the whole under command of
Lieutenant Thomas ap Catesby Jones. As even the lighter British ships
of war could not here navigate, on account of the shoalness, and the
troops, to reach the place of debarkation, the Bayou des Pêcheurs, at
the head of Lake Borgne, must go sixty miles in open boats, the
hostile gun vessels had first to be disposed of. Jones, who from an
advanced position had been watching the enemy's proceedings in
Mississippi Sound, decided December 12 that their numbers had so
increased as to make remaining hazardous. He therefore retired, both
to secure his retreat and to cause the boats of the fleet a longer and
more harassing pull to overtake him. The movement was none too soon,
for that night the British barges and armed boats left the fleet in
pursuit. Jones was not able to get as far as he wished, on account of
failure of wind; but nevertheless on the 13th the enemy did not come
up with him. During the night he made an attempt at further
withdrawal; but calm continuing, and a strong ebb-tide running, he was
compelled again to anchor at 1 A.M. of the 14th, and prepared for
battle. His five gunboats, with one light schooner, were ranged in
line across the channel way, taking the usual precautions of springs
on their cables and boarding nettings triced up. Unluckily for the
solidity of his order, the current set two of the gunboats, one being
his own, some distance to the eastward,--in advance of the others.

At daylight the British flotilla was seen nine miles distant, at
anchor. By Jones' count it comprised forty-two launches and three
light gigs.[450] They soon after weighed and pulled towards the
gunboats. At ten, being within long gunshot, they again anchored for
breakfast; after which they once more took to the oars. An hour later
they closed with their opponents. The British commander, Captain
Lockyer, threw his own boat, together with a half-dozen others, upon
Jones' vessel, "Number 156,"[451] and carried her after a sharp
struggle of about twenty minutes, during which both Lockyer and Jones
were severely wounded. Her guns were then turned against her late
comrades, in support of the British boarders, and at the end of
another half-hour, at 12.40 P.M., the last of them surrendered.

That this affair was very gallantly contested on both sides is
sufficiently shown by the extent of the British loss--seventeen killed
and seventy-seven wounded.[452] They were of course in much larger
numbers than the Americans. No such attempt should be made except with
this advantage, and the superiority should be as great as is permitted
by the force at the disposal of the assailant.

This obstacle to the movement of the troops being removed, debarkation
began at the mouth of the Bayou des Pêcheurs;[453] whence the
British, undiscovered during their progress, succeeded in penetrating
by the Bayou Bienvenu and its tributaries to a point on the
Mississippi eight miles below New Orleans. The advance corps, sixteen
hundred strong, arrived there at noon, December 23, accompanied by
Major-General Keane, as yet in command of the whole army. The news
reached Jackson two hours later.

Fresh from the experiences of Washington and Baltimore, the British
troops flattered themselves with the certainty of a quiet night. The
Americans, they said to each other, have never dared to attack. At
7.30, however, a vessel dropped her anchor abreast them, and a voice
was heard, "Give them this for the honor of America!" The words were
followed by the discharge of her battery, which swept through the
camp. Without artillery to reply, having but two light field guns,
while the assailant--the naval schooner "Caroline," Lieut. J.D.
Henley--had anchored out of musket range, the invaders, suffering
heavily, were driven to seek shelter behind the levee, where they lay
for nearly an hour.[454] At the end of this, a dropping fire was heard
from above and inland. Jackson, with sound judgment and characteristic
energy, had decided to attack at once, although, by his own report, he
could as yet muster only fifteen hundred men, of whom but six hundred
were regulars. A confused and desperate night action followed, the men
on both sides fighting singly or in groups, ignorant often whether
those before them were friends or foes. The Americans eventually
withdrew, carrying with them sixty-six prisoners. Their loss in killed
and wounded was one hundred and thirty-nine; that of the British, two
hundred and thirteen.

The noise of this rencounter hastened the remainder of the British
army, and by the night of December 24 the whole were on the ground.
Meantime, the "Caroline" had been joined by the ship "Louisiana,"
which anchored nearly a mile above her. In her came Commodore
Patterson, in chief naval command. The presence of the two impelled
the enemy to a slight retrograde movement, out of range of their
artillery. The next morning, Christmas, Sir Edward Pakenham arrived
from England. A personal examination satisfied him that only by a
reconnaissance in force could he ascertain the American strength and
preparations, and that, as a preliminary to such attempt, the vessels
whose guns swept the line of advance must be driven off. On the 26th
the "Caroline" tried to get up stream to Jackson's camp, but could not
against a strong head wind; and on the 27th the British were able to
burn her with hot shot. The "Louisiana" succeeded in shifting her
place, and thenceforth lay on the west bank of the stream, abreast of
and flanking the entrenchments behind which Jackson was established.

These obstacles gone, Pakenham made his reconnaissance. As described
by a participant,[455] the British advanced four or five miles on
December 28, quite unaware what awaited them, till a turn in the road
brought them face to face with Jackson's entrenchments. These covered
a front of three fourths of a mile, and neither flank could be turned,
because resting either on the river or the swamp. They were not yet
complete, but afforded good shelter for riflemen, and had already
several cannon in position, while the "Louisiana's" broadside also
swept the ground in front. A hot artillery fire opened at once from
both ship and works, and when the British infantry advanced they
were met equally with musketry. The day's results convinced Pakenham
that he must resort to the erection of batteries before attempting an
assault; an unfortunate necessity, as the delay not only encouraged
the defenders, but allowed time for re-enforcement, and for further
development of their preparations. While the British siege pieces were
being brought forward, largely from the fleet, a distance of seventy
miles, the American Navy was transferring guns from the "Louisiana" to
a work on the opposite side of the river, which would flank the
enemies' batteries, as well as their columns in case of an attempt to

   [Illustration: MAP
   its several Encampments and Fortifications on the Mississippi and
   the Works they erected on their Retreat; also the different
   Posts, Encampments and Fortifications made by the several Corps
   of the American Army during the whole Campaign
   by Major A. LACARRIERE LATOUR Late Principal Engineer 7th
   Military District U.S. Army 1815]

When the guns had arrived, the British on the night of December 31
threw up entrenchments, finding convenient material in the sugar
hogsheads of the plantations. On the morning of January 1 they opened
with thirty pieces at a distance of five hundred yards; but it was
soon found that in such a duel they were hopelessly overmatched, a
result to which contributed the enfilading position of the naval
battery. "To the well-directed exertions from the other side of the
river," wrote Jackson to Patterson, after the close of the operations,
"must be ascribed in great measure that harassment of the enemy which
led to his ignominious flight." The British guns were silenced, and
for the moment abandoned; but during the night they were either
withdrawn or destroyed. It was thus demonstrated that no adequate
antecedent impression could be made on the American lines by
cannonade; and, as neither flank could be turned, no resource
remained, on the east shore at least, but direct frontal assault.

But while Jackson's main position was thus secure, he ran great risk
that the enemy, by crossing the river, and successful advance there,
might establish themselves in rear of his works; which, if effected,
would put him at the same disadvantage that the naval battery now
imposed upon his opponents. His lines would be untenable if his
antagonist commanded the water, or gained the naval battery on his
flank, to which the crew of the "Louisiana" and her long guns had now
been transferred. This the British also perceived, and began to
improve a narrow canal which then led from the head of the bayou to
the levee, but was passable by canoes only. They expected ultimately
to pierce the levee, and launch barges upon the river; but the work
was impeded by the nature of the soil, the river fell, and some of the
heavier boats grounding delayed the others, so that, at the moment of
final assault, only five hundred men had been transported instead of
thrice that number, as intended.[456] What these few effected showed
how real and great was the danger.

The canal was completed on the evening of January 6, on which day the
last re-enforcements from England, sixteen hundred men under
Major-General Lambert, reached the front. Daylight of January 8 was
appointed for the general assault; the intervening day and night being
allowed for preparations, and for dragging forward the boats into the
river. It was expected that the whole crossing party of fifteen
hundred, under Colonel Thornton, would be on the west bank, ready to
move forward at the same moment as the principal assault, which was
also to be supported by all the available artillery, playing upon the
naval battery to keep down its fire. There was therefore no lack of
ordinary military prevision; but after waiting until approaching
daylight began to throw more light than was wished upon the advance of
the columns, Pakenham gave the concerted signal. Owing to the causes
mentioned, Thornton had but just landed with his first detachment of
five hundred. Eager to seize the battery, from which was to be feared
so much destructive effect on the storming columns on the east bank,
he pushed forward at once with the men he had, his flank towards the
river covered by a division of naval armed boats; "but the ensemble of
the general movement," wrote the British general, Lambert, who
succeeded Pakenham in command, "was thus lost, and in a point which
was of the last importance to the [main] attack on the left bank of
the river."

Not only was Thornton too weak, but he was eight hours[457] late,
though not by his own fault. Commodore Patterson, whose duties kept
him on the west bank, reported that the naval battery was actively and
effectively employed upon the flank of the storming columns, and it
was not until some time after the engagement opened that he was
informed of the near approach of the British detachment on that side.
In prevision of such an attempt, a line of works had been thrown up at
the lower end of the naval battery, at right angles to it, to cover
its flank. This was weak, however, at the extremity farthest from the
river, and thither the British directed their attack. The defenders
there, some very newly joined Kentucky militia, broke and fled, and
their flight carried with them all the other infantry. The seamen of
the battery, deprived of their supports, retreated after spiking their
guns, which fell into the enemy's hands; and Thornton, who was
severely wounded, was able to date his report of success from the
"Redoubt on the right bank of the Mississippi."[458] He advanced
actually, and without serious opposition, a mile above--that is, in
rear of--Jackson's lines and the "Louisiana's" anchorage. "This
important rout," wrote Jackson, "had totally changed the aspect of
affairs. The enemy now occupied a position from which they might annoy
us without hazard, and by means of which they might have been enabled
to defeat, in a great measure, the effects of our success on this side
of the river. It became, therefore, an object of the first consequence
to dislodge him as soon as possible."

Jackson himself attributed his success in this desirable object as
much to negotiation as to the force he would be able to apply. The
story of the main assault and its disastrous repulse is familiar. In
itself, it was but an instance of a truth conspicuously illustrated,
before and after, on many fields, of the desperate character of a
frontal attack upon protected men accustomed to the use of
fire-arms--even though they be irregulars. Could Thornton's movement
have been made in full force assigned, and at the moment intended,--so
that most of the advance on both sides the river could have been
consummated before dawn,--a successful flanking operation would have
been effected; and it is far from improbable that Jackson, finding the
naval guns turned against him, would have been driven out of his
lines. With raw troops under his command, and six thousand veterans
upon his heels, no stand could have been made short of the town, nor
in it.

As it was, the failure of the two parts of the British to act
coincidently caused them to be beaten in detail: for the disastrous
and bloody repulse of the columns on the east bank led to the
withdrawal of the tiny body on the west.[459] No further attempt was
made. On the 18th of January the British withdrew. In pursuance of the
full discretionary power given by their orders as to any further
employment upon the American coast of the forces under their command,
General Lambert and the Admiral then concerted an attack upon Fort
Bowyer, at the entrance to Mobile Bay. This surrendered February 11,
the day that the news of the Peace reached New York.

       *       *       *       *       *

The ocean as well as the land had its episodes of fighting after peace
had been signed. The United States frigate "President," which during
the first two years of the war had been commanded continuously by
Commodore John Rodgers, was in May, 1814, transferred to Decatur, who
took to her with him the crew of his old ship, the "United States,"
irretrievably shut up in New London. The "President" remained in New
York throughout the year, narrowly watched by the enemy. In a letter
of August 10, Decatur speaks of the unfavorable conditions of the
season for sailing; that four British ships kept close to Sandy Hook,
at times even anchored. He then mentions also "the great apprehension
and danger" which New York was undergoing, in common with the entire
seaboard, and the wish of the city government that the crew of the
ship should remain for defence of the port.[460] It will be remembered
that this was in the anxious period preceding the development of the
British menace to the coast, which issued in the capture of Washington
and Alexandria, and the attack on Baltimore. Philadelphia also
trembled; and Decatur received an order to carry the "President's"
crew to her protection, if threatened.[461]

On New Year Day, 1815, the "President" was still in the bay, awaiting
a chance to sail. She was deeply laden for a long absence, and was to
be accompanied by a merchant brig, the "Macedonian," carrying further
stores. The sloops "Hornet" and "Peacock," and brig "Tom Bowline,"
were likewise watching to slip out. On the night of January 14, 1815,
in a heavy northwester, the "President's" attempt was made; the
pilots for the occasion having undertaken to mark the channel by boats
suitably stationed. Despite these precautions the ship grounded, and
beat heavily on the bottom for an hour and a half. By this she was
seriously injured, and would have gone back had the wind permitted. As
it was, she had to be forced over, and at 10 P.M. went clear; but with
loss of a large part of that speed for which she was known, and which
had been among Decatur's chief reasons for preferring her to the new
"Guerrière."[462] The "Macedonian" was in company.

The British blockading division was under the command of Captain John
Hayes, of the razee[463] "Majestic," and consisted, besides that ship,
of the forty-gun 24-pounder frigate "Endymion," and the
thirty-eight-gun 18-pounder frigates "Pomone" and "Tenedos"; the
latter of which had joined on the 13th. The vessels were driven off
shore by the violence of the gale; but Hayes, reasoning as a seaman,
anticipated both Decatur's sailing that night and his probable course.
After clearing the bar, the "President" steered nearly due east, along
the south shore of Long Island, for fifty miles, when she headed off,
southeast by east, for the open sea. At 5 A.M. three of the British
squadron were seen ahead on the new course; the fourth, the "Tenedos,"
being then out of sight to the southward, either detached for a wider
sweep of watchfulness, or separated by the gale.

The "President," on seeing the enemy, hauled up again along shore, and
a stern chase began, which lasted till near nightfall of the 15th;
the "Endymion" leading the British squadron. The "Tenedos" being
sighted soon after daybreak, Hayes detached the "Pomone" to ascertain
what ship it was; a step which for the time threw the "Pomone," as
well as the "Tenedos," out of the running. At 5 P.M. the "Endymion"
had got well within point-blank shot of the "President." It must be
appreciated that, with the whole hostile squadron at her heels, the
American frigate could not delay, or turn her side with its battery
towards an assailant behind; for to do so enabled the others to gain
on her. On the other hand, the pursuer could so deflect--yaw--at
frequent intervals, and having the greater speed could continually
recover the ground thus lost. This was what Captain Hope of the
"Endymion" did, with sound judgment. He took a position on the
off-shore quarter of the "President," where neither her broadside nor
stern guns could bear upon him, so long as she held her course.
Thence, yawing continually, the "Endymion" poured in her successive
broadsides, practically unopposed, mistress of the situation.

Decatur endured this for a time; but it was the military merit of his
antagonist's conduct that it must eventually force him to turn aside,
and so convert the stern chase of the British squadron to the more
hopeful attempt to cut him off on a new course. After half an hour the
"President's" helm was put to port, and the ship headed abruptly
south, threatening to cross the "Endymion's" bow, and rake. The
British frigate had to follow this movement of her opponent, and the
two ran off on parallel lines, exchanging broadsides. The object of
Decatur was to dismantle this enemy, strip him of his motive power,
and so increase his own chance of escape. In this he was successful.
After two hours and a half, between 8 and 8.30 P.M., the "Endymion's"
sails were stripped from the yards. She dropped astern, and the
"President" again steered east, bringing the other enemy's ships once
more in her wake,--a stern chase.

At 11 P.M. the "Pomone" and "Tenedos" overtook her. These were of the
class of the "Guerrière," "Macedonian," and "Shannon," very much
lighter, singly, than the "President," which had a heavier battery than
the "Constitution." Had the American ship retained her normal speed, she
probably would have escaped; but the "Pomone," the first to arrive,
outsailed her without using studdingsails, which the "President" was
still able to carry alow and aloft, despite her engagement with the
"Endymion." This fresh British ship luffed to port, and fired her
starboard broadside. The "President" imitated the manoeuvre, heading up
to north; but she did not fire. At this point the historian is met by a
direct contradiction of evidence. Decatur says that the "Pomone" was now
on the port bow, within musket-shot,[464] the "Tenedos" five hundred
yards astern, "taking up a raking position on our quarter, and the rest
(with the exception of the 'Endymion') within gunshot."[465] These
statements are confirmed by the sworn testimony before the American
Court of Inquiry. The log of the "Pomone," published with intention,
reads that the "Tenedos" was not more than three miles off,--a distance
to which no gun on shipboard of that day could carry,--and the
"Endymion" and "Majestic" so far away that they did not come on the
scene until 12.45 and 3 A.M., respectively, of the 16th. The "Pomone"
fired a second broadside, and hauling still further to port was about to
discharge a third, from a raking position ahead, when the "President"
struck. She had not fired a gun at either the "Pomone" or the "Tenedos."
The log of the "Pomone" is clear on this point, and Decatur's elaborate
report makes no mention of having done so. The witnesses before the
Court of Inquiry are equally silent.

Between the "Endymion" and the "President," in point of battery, the
proportion of force was as four to three, in favor of the American
ship. Against that must fairly be weighed the power of the "Endymion"
to maintain for half an hour a quartering and raking position, owing
to the necessity to escape laid on the "President." A quantitative
estimate of this advantage would be largely guess; but it may safely
be said that the disproportion of killed and wounded[466] can probably
be laid to this, coupled with the very proper endeavor of Decatur to
throw off his immediate enemy by aiming at her spars. After two and a
half hours' fighting, the sails of the "Endymion" were "stripped from
the yards," Captain Hayes reported; while the "President," by the
"Pomone's" log, "continued to stand east under a press of sail," all
studdingsails set, from lower to royal. This result accounts for where
the "President's" shot went, and under the circumstances should have
gone, and for why the "Endymion" lost fewer men; and it was not the
sole reason for the last. There is, in the writer's judgment, no
ground whatever for the assumption that the "Endymion" did, or singly
would, have beaten the "President." The disparity of material force
was counterbalanced by the circumstance that the "President" had the
other vessels to take into account. From the legal point of view ships
merely in sight contribute, and are therefore entitled to prize money.
In the present instance they necessarily affected the manoeuvring and
gunnery of the "President."

There is a good deal of human nature, and some food for quiet
entertainment, in the British accounts. There were several to share,
and apparently the glory was not quite enough to go round. With
Admiral Hotham, not present in the action, but in immediate command of
the station during Cochrane's absence at New Orleans and Cockburn's in
Georgia, it was "the force which I had collected off the bar of New
York." Captain Hayes had much to say on his calculations of the
enemy's movements: "What is a little singular, at the very instant of
arriving at the point of the supposed track of the enemy, Sandy Hook
west-northwest fifteen leagues, we were made happy by the sight of a
ship and a brig, not more than two miles on the weather bow." The
published report of Captain Hope, of the "Endymion," is simple and
modest; but some of his followers apparently would have all the glory.
The "Endymion" had done the whole business. This drew forth the
publication of the "Pomone's" log, concerning which the Naval
Chronicle remarks, "It appears that some differences have taken place
between the British frigates engaged, as to the honor of having
captured the 'President.'"[467]

Had Decatur appreciated at the moment that his speedy surrender to the
"Pomone" would be attributed to the subjection to which the "Endymion"
was supposed to have reduced his ship, he very probably would have
made a second fight of it. But he was convinced that ultimate escape
was impossible. "Two fresh," though much weaker, ships of the enemy at
hand, his own having fought for two hours and a half; "about one fifth
of my crew killed and wounded, my ship crippled, and a more than
fourfold force opposed to me, without a chance of escape left, I
deemed it my duty to surrender." Physical and mental fatigue, the
moral discomfiture of a hopeless situation, are all fairly to be taken
into account; nor should resistance be protracted where it means
merely loss of life. Yet it may be questioned whether the moral tone
of a military service, which is its breath of life, does not suffer
when the attempt is made to invest with a halo of extraordinary
heroism such a resistance as Decatur made, by his own showing. Unless
the "President" was really thrashed out by the "Endymion," which was
the British assertion,[468] she might have put one of his Majesty's
thirty-eight-gun frigates, the "Pomone," out of commission for a long
time; and that, in addition to the "Endymion,"--the two fastest
British vessels,--would have been no light matter in the then state of
the New York blockade. If the finding of the American Court of
Inquiry,[469] that "the 'Endymion' was conquered, while the
'President' in the contest with her had sustained but little injury,"
be admitted, there seems no reply to the comment that the "President"
surrendered within musket-shot of a thirty-eight-gun frigate which
with three or four broadsides she should have nearly annihilated. She
was out to destroy commerce and enemy's cruisers, and she struck
before her powers in that respect--by the Court's finding--were
exhausted. Escape was impossible; one object of her cruise--the
enemy's commerce--had become impracticable; was it justifiable to
neglect the last opportunity for the other? Decatur's personal
gallantry is beyond question; but, if the defence of the "President"
is to be considered "glorious," and "heroic," it is difficult to know
what term can be applied to that of the "Essex." War is violence,
wounds, and death. Needless bloodshed is to be avoided; but even more,
at the present day, is to be deprecated the view that the objects of a
war are to be sacrificed to the preservation of life.

After a long detention, through the closeness of the Boston blockade,
the "Constitution," still commanded by Captain Charles Stewart,
effected her escape to sea towards the end of December. On February
20, 1815, two hundred miles east-northeast from Madeira, she fell in
with two British ships of war, the "Cyane," and the "Levant," then on
their way from Gibraltar to the Azores, and thence to the American
coast. The "Cyane," a frigate-built ship, carried a battery of
carronades: thirty 32-pounders, two 18-pounders. She had also two long
9-pounders; making a total of thirty-four guns, throwing a broadside
weight of five hundred and seven pounds.[470] The "Levant" was a sloop
of war, of the American "Hornet" class, carrying eighteen 32-pounder
carronades and two long 9-pounders; giving two hundred and
ninety-seven as her broadside weight. Between the two they therefore
threw eight hundred and four pounds of metal. The "Constitution's"
broadside was seven hundred and four pounds; but of this three hundred
and eighty-four were in long 24-pounders. Supposing both parties
willing to fight under such circumstances, the game would be all in
the "Constitution's" hands. Her problem rather was so to conduct the
contest that neither enemy should escape. Captain Stewart, in
reporting his success, dwelt upon the advantages derived by the enemy
"from a divided and more active force, as also their superiority in
the weight and numbers of guns." One cannot but feel the utmost
diffidence in differing from a seaman of the time, and one so skilful
as Stewart; but the advantage of a divided force is as difficult to
see as the superiority in battery power.

Though consorts, the enemy when first seen were separated by a
distance of ten miles; and were sighted successively between 1 and 2
P.M. The wind was easterly and light. The "Constitution" was unable to
prevent their junction, which was effected at 5.45. They then formed
in line on the starboard tack, the "Levant" leading; with an interval
between them of three hundred feet. At six the "Constitution" drew up
on the weather side of the "Cyane," and five minutes later the action
began at a distance of three hundred yards. After a quarter of an
hour, noting the enemy's fire to slacken, Stewart stopped his own, to
allow the smoke to lift. When he could see, he found the
"Constitution" abreast the "Levant," with the "Cyane" astern, luffing
up for his port quarter. He gave his port broadside to the "Levant,"
then braced aback his after-sails, and so went astern towards the
"Cyane," bringing her abeam under cover of the renewed cannonade. At
6.35--about ten minutes later--the enemy's fire again weakened, and
the "Levant" was seen to be bearing up before the wind. Stewart made
sail ahead, raked her twice from astern with the port guns, and then
saw the "Cyane" also wearing. The "Constitution" immediately wore
short round, and caught this opponent before she had completed her
manoeuvre, so that she raked her also from astern with the starboard
battery. The "Cyane" then came to the wind on the port tack, and fired
that broadside, to which the "Constitution," having reloaded after
raking, was about to reply, when, at 6.50 this enemy struck, and fired
a lee gun,--the signal of submission. A prize crew, with a party of
marines to guard prisoners, was hastily thrown on board, and at eight
the "Constitution" made sail again after the "Levant." At 8.30 this
plucky little ship was met returning to the conflict. At 8.50 the two
passed on opposite tacks, and exchanged broadsides, after which the
"Constitution" kept away under the enemy's stern and raked again. The
"Levant" could now run with a clear conscience. Whatever argument can
be based on the united batteries of the two British ships, and the
advantage of divided force, eighteen 32-pounder carronades were no
match for the "Constitution." The "Levant" took to her heels, but at
10 P.M. was overtaken and surrendered.[471]

The losses as reported by Stewart were: "Constitution," killed three;
wounded twelve; "Cyane," killed twelve; wounded twenty-six; "Levant,"
killed twenty-three; wounded sixteen. Captain Stewart's management of
his vessel was strikingly clever and prompt. The advantages which he
attributed to the enemy, an aggregate of guns, slightly superior in
total weight, divided between two smaller ships, the author has never
been able to recognize.[472]

The sloops of war "Hornet," Commander James Biddle, and "Peacock,"
Commander Lewis Warrington, and the brig "Tom Bowline," which were
waiting their opportunity in the lower bay of New York when the
"President" sailed, got to sea five days after her, January 20. When
two days out, the "Hornet" separated in chase. The vessels had a
rendezvous at the lonely island of Tristan d'Acunha, in the South
Atlantic, some fifteen hundred miles west of the Cape of Good Hope.
The "Hornet" arrived first, and was about to anchor, at 10.30 in the
morning of March 23, when a sail was seen to the southeast, steering
west. As it soon passed behind the island, the "Hornet" made sail to
the westward, and the two shortly came within sight. The stranger was
the British sloop of war "Penguin," Captain Dickinson. By the report
of Captain Biddle, based on examination after the action, she carried
sixteen 32-pounder carronades, two long 12-pounders in broadside, and
one long twelve on a pivot, fighting either side. The "Hornet" had
eighteen 32-pounder carronades, and two long twelves.

The wind being south-southwest, the "Penguin" was to windward, and
bore up to close. At 1.40 P.M., being nearly within musket-shot, she
hauled to the wind on the starboard tack, a movement which the
"Hornet" at once imitated, and the battle began; the "Hornet" to
leeward, the two running on parallel courses,--an artillery duel. The
"Penguin" drew gradually nearer, and at 1.55 put her helm hard up, to
run her antagonist on board. The American crew were called to repel
boarders, and so were on hand when the enemy's bowsprit came in
between the main and mizzen rigging; but, while ready to resist an
attempt to board, the course of the action had so satisfied Biddle of
the superiority of his ship's gunnery that he would not throw his men
away in a hand-to-hand contest upon the enemy's decks. The small arms
men and marines, however, distributed along the "Hornet's" side kept
up a lively musketry fire, which the British endured at great
disadvantage, crowded upon the narrow front presented by a ship's
forecastle. The "Penguin" finally wrenched clear with the loss of her
foremast and bowsprit, and in this crippled state surrendered
immediately. From the first gun to hauling down the flag was
twenty-two minutes. The British ship had lost fourteen killed and
twenty-eight wounded, her captain being among the slain. The "Hornet"
had one killed and ten wounded. The comparative efficiency of the two
vessels is best indicated by the fact that the "Hornet" had not a
single cannon-ball in her hull, nor any serious injury even to her
lower masts; yet that her rigging and sails were very much cut proves
that her opponent's guns were active. By the ready skill of the seamen
of that day she was completely ready for any service forty-eight hours
later. The "Penguin" was scuttled.

The action between the "Hornet" and "Penguin" was the last naval
combat of the War of 1812. The day after it, March 24, the "Peacock"
and "Tom Bowline" arrived, in time to see the "Penguin" before her
captor sunk her. The brig "Macedonian," which had sailed in company
with the "President," but escaped her fate, also came to Tristan
d'Acunha, which would seem to have been intended as a fresh starting
point for some enterprise in common.


[394] Memoirs and Correspondence of Lord Castlereagh. Series iii. vol.
ii. pp. 86-91.

[395] Castlereagh Memoirs, series iii. vol. ii. pp. 86-91.

[396] Castlereagh to Liverpool (Prime Minister), Aug. 28, 1814. Ibid.,
pp. 100-102.

[397] Wellington to Liverpool, Nov. 9, 1814. Castlereagh Memoirs, series
iii. vol. ii. pp. 186-189.

[398] Canadian Archives, C. 680, p. 46. The date is Sept. 10, 1813.

[399] Letter of Captain Evans, commanding N.Y. Navy Yard, Aug. 6, 1813.

[400] Canadian Archives, C. 679, pp. 348, 362.

[401] Izard says two. Official Correspondence of the Department of War
with Major-General Izard, 1814 and 1815, p. 7.

[402] British Court Martial Record.

[403] Confidence.

[404] Account of the Public Life of Sir George Prevost, p. 136.

[405] Prevost to Bathurst, July 12, 1814. Report on Canadian Archives,
1896. Lower Canada, p. 31.

[406] Prevost to Bathurst, Aug. 5, 1814. Ibid., p. 35.

[407] Prevost to Bathurst, Aug. 27.

[408] Official Correspondence of General Izard with the Department of
War, pp. 56, 57. Philadelphia, 1816.

[409] Ridout, Ten Years in Upper Canada, p. 282.

[410] Niles' Register, vol. vi. p. 357.

[411] June 8, 1814. Navy Department MSS.

[412] Macomb's Report, Brannan's Military and Naval Letters, p. 415.
Izard (Correspondence, p. 98) says, "There were at or about the works at
Plattsburg not less than three thousand regulars, of whom fifteen
hundred were fit for duty in the field. In the number were three
companies of artillery."

[413] General Benjamin Mooers, who was in command of the New York State
militia during these operations, in a letter to Governor Tompkins, dated
Sept. 16, 1814 (Gov. Tompkins MSS. vol. ix. pp. 212-217, State Library,
Albany, N.Y.), claims that Macomb was here less than just to the
militia, "many of whom stood their ground as long as it was tenable"
during the first day. In a general order issued by him Sept. 8 (Niles'
Register, vol. vii. p. 70), he spoke of some "who fled at the first
approach of the enemy, and afterwards basely disbanded themselves, and
returned home." Macomb himself wrote that after the first day, when the
army had retired to the works, "the militia behaved with great spirit."

[414] For copies of these letters, and of Macdonough's reply and
endorsement, I am indebted to Mr. Rodney Macdonough, the Commodore's
grandson. Cochran's is dated March 22, and Colden's June 26, 1815;
Macdonough's reply July 3. It is well to note that all these preceded
the British naval court martial, held in Portsmouth, Aug. 18-21, 1815,
where the testimony that the squadron was within range was unanimous and
accepted by the Court.

[415] The first lieutenant of the "Confiance" in his evidence said that
it was not more than ten minutes after the ship rounded Cumberland Head
that the enemy began firing at her, and that the shot at first fell
short. As far as it goes, this would show that the American squadron was
over a mile from the Head; and, if so, scarcely more than a mile from
the batteries.

[416] For information as to ranges, the author applied to Professor
Philip R. Alger, U.S. Navy, whose intimate acquaintance with questions
of ordnance and gunnery is known throughout his service.

[417] Vol. viii. p. 70, April 1, 1815.

[418] These two letters of Macomb are given in the "Account of the
Public Life of Sir George Prevost," p. 165.

[419] Izard's Correspondence, p. 98.

[420] Yeo to the Admiralty, Sept. 24, 1814. From a copy in the Court
Martial Record.

[421] In his Narrative, submitted to the Court Martial, Captain Pring
stated that Prevost wished a joint attack, because, in the advance along
the head of Cumberland Bay, the left flank of the army, when crossing
Dead Creek, had been much annoyed by the American gunboats. He feared
the same in crossing the Saranac to the assault of the works, and wanted
the navy to draw off the gunboats.

[422] Robertson's Narrative before the Court Martial.

[423] The correspondence between Prevost and Downie, Sept. 7-10, is in
the Canadian Archives, M. 389.6. pp. 176-183.

[424] This letter of Major Coore, published in a Canadian paper, Feb.
26, 1815, is to be found in the Canadian Archives MSS., M. 389.6. p.

[425] Court Martial Evidence.

[426] Evidence of Pring, and of Brydone, master of the "Confiance,"
before the Court Martial. Robertson in his narrative is equally positive
and explicit on this point.

[427] Robertson's Narrative.

[428] Robertson's Narrative.

[429] Macdonough's Report.

[430] Pronounced "wynd."

[431] Robertson's Narrative.

[432] A spring is a rope taken from the stern of a ship to the anchor,
by hauling on which the ship is turned in the direction desired.

[433] Brydone's Evidence.

[434] Evidence of Sailing Master Brydone.

[435] Macdonough's Report.

[436] For the battle of Lake Champlain much the most complete and
satisfactory evidence is the Record of the British Court Martial. There
having been no dispute on the American side, as between Perry and
Elliott at Lake Erie, there has not been the same output of conflicting
statements, tending to elucidate as well as to confuse. Commander Henley
of the "Eagle" was apparently dissatisfied with Macdonough's report, as
the Commodore (apparently) was with his action. This drew from him a
special report. Navy Department MSS. Niles' Register, vol. vii.
Supplement, p. 135, contains this letter with many verbal changes, which
do not materially affect its purport.

[437] Cochrane arrived at Bermuda March 6; but, despite his urgency and
evident annoyance, Warren, who was senior, and had had ample notice of
his supersession, took his own leisurely time about giving over the
command, which he did not do till April 1, sailing for England April 8.

[438] Bathurst to Ross, Sept. 6, 1814. War Office, Entry Book.

[439] Pigot's Report to Cochrane, June 8, 1814. Admiralty In-Letters

[440] Cochrane to the Admiralty, June 20, 1814. Admiralty In-Letters

[441] Admiralty to Cochrane, Aug. 10, 1814. The reference in the text
depends upon a long paper near the end of vol. 39, British War Office
Records, which appears to the writer to have been drawn up for the use
of the ministry in parliamentary debate. It gives step by step the
procedure of the Government in entering on the New Orleans undertaking.

[442] Bathurst to Ross, Sept. 6, 1814. British War Office Records.

[443] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxiii. p. 429.

[444] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 397.

[445] Ibid., p. 572.

[446] Niles' Register, vol. iii. p. 182.

[447] Ibid., vol. vii. pp. 133-135.

[448] Cochrane to the Admiralty, Oct. 3, 1814. Admiralty In-Letters.

[449] Ibid.

[450] Neither Cochrane nor Lockyer gives the number of the British
boats; but as there were three divisions, drawn from five ships of the
line and three or four frigates, besides smaller vessels, Jones' count
was probably accurate. He had ample time to observe.

[451] The gunboats of Jefferson's building had no names, and were
distinguished by number only.

[452] Jones' Report of this affair is found in Niles' Register, vol.
viii. p. 126; those of Cochrane and Lockyer in the Naval Chronicle, vol.
xxxiii. pp. 337-341.

[453] So styled in Cochrane's Report, which also speaks of it as Bayou
Catalan. The name does not appear on the map of Major Latour, chief of
engineers to Jackson, who in his report calls the whole bayou Bienvenu.

[454] Gleig, Narrative of the Campaign of Washington, Baltimore, and New
Orleans, pp. 282-288.

[455] Gleig, pp. 308-309.

[456] Gleig's Narrative, p. 321. Cochrane's Report, Naval Chronicle,
vol. xxxiii. p. 341. Report of Major C.R. Forrest, British Assistant
Quarter-master-General, War Office Records.

[457] Thornton's Report. James' Military Occurrences of the War of 1812,
vol. ii., p. 547.

[458] James' Military Occurrences, vol. ii. p. 547.

[459] Niles' Register, vols. vii. and viii., gives a large number of the
official reports, as well British as American, concerning the New
Orleans Expedition. So also does James in his "Military Occurrences" and
"Naval Occurrences" of the War of 1812. Regarded in outline, as is
attempted in the text, the operations are of a simple character,
presenting no difficulties.

[460] Captains' Letters. Navy Department MSS.

[461] Ibid., Sept. 26, 1814.

[462] Decatur to Navy Department, April 9, 1814. Captains' Letters.

[463] A razee is a ship cut down, and reduced from her original rate.
The "Majestic" had been a seventy-four, and probably was the same vessel
which under that name and rate took part in the battle of the Nile. The
expedient of razeeing had been adopted by the British Government, in
order rapidly to prepare vessels superior to the American forty-fours,
yet less costly in crews than ships of the line. These razees were rated
as carrying fifty-six guns.

[464] Deposition of Commodore Decatur at Bermuda. Naval Chronicle, vol.
xxxiii. p. 371.

[465] Decatur's Report. Niles' Register, vol. viii. p. 8. In his
deposition Decatur says "the 'Tenedos' did not fire at the time of such

[466] The loss of the "President" was twenty-four killed, fifty-five
wounded. (Decatur's Report.) That of the "Endymion," eleven killed and
fourteen wounded. (Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxiii. p. 262.)

[467] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxiii. p. 370.

[468] Captain Hayes' Report. Niles' Register, vol. viii. p. 175. Naval
Chronicle, vol. xxxiii. p. 261.

[469] Niles' Register, vol. viii. p. 147.

[470] The armament of the "Cyane" is that reported by Lieut. Hoffman,
U.S. Navy, who brought her to the United States. Niles' Register, vol.
viii. p. 134.

[471] The "Cyane" reached a United States port, but the "Levant" was
recaptured by a British squadron. Both names remained in the United
States Navy till the Civil War. A "Levant," built in succession to the
one captured, was lost at sea in 1860--never heard from.

[472] The account given in the text depends upon Stewart's "minutes of
the action" (Niles' Register, vol. viii. p. 219), compared with the
"Constitution's" log (Navy Department MSS.), of which the minutes are a



The Government of the United States had been honestly loath to declare
war in 1812, and had signalized its reluctance by immediate advances
looking to a restoration of peace. These were made through Jonathan
Russell, the _chargé d'affaires_ in London when hostilities began. To
use the expression of Monroe, then Secretary of State, "At the moment
of the declaration of war, the President, regretting the necessity
which produced it, looked to its termination, and provided for
it."[473] The two concessions required as indispensable, in the
overture thus referred to, dated June 26, 1812, were the revocation of
the Orders in Council, and the abandonment of the practice of
impressing from American merchant ships. Should these preliminary
conditions be obtained, Russell was authorized to stipulate an
armistice, during which the two countries should enter upon
negotiations, to be conducted either at Washington or in London, for
the settlement of all points of difference.

Russell made this communication to Castlereagh August 24, 1812. Before
this date Admiral Warren had sailed from England for the American
command, carrying with him the propositions of the British Government
for a suspension of hostilities, consequent upon the repeal of the
Orders in Council.[474] In view of Warren's mission, and of the fact
that Russell had no powers to negotiate, but merely to conclude an
arrangement upon terms which he could not alter, and which his
Government had laid down in ignorance of the revocation of the Orders,
Castlereagh declined to discuss with him the American requirements. "I
cannot, however," he wrote, "refrain on one single point from
expressing my surprise, namely, that as a condition preliminary even
to a suspension of hostilities, the Government of the United States
should have thought fit to demand that the British Government should
desist from its ancient and accustomed practice of impressing British
seamen from the merchant ships of a foreign state, simply on the
assurance that a law shall hereafter be passed to prohibit the
employment of British seamen in the public or commercial service of
that state."[475] "The Government could not consent to suspend the
exercise of a right upon which the naval strength of the empire mainly
depends," until fully convinced that the object would be assured by
other means. To a subsequent modification of the American
propositions, in form, though not in tenor, the British minister
replied in the same spirit, throwing the weight of his objections upon
the question of impressment, which indeed remained alone of the two
causes of rupture.[476]

Commendable as was its desire for peace, the American Government had
made the mistake of being unwilling to insure it by due and timely
preparation for war. In these advances, therefore, its adversary
naturally saw not magnanimity, but apprehension. Russell, in reporting
his final interview, wrote, "Lord Castlereagh once observed somewhat
loftily, that if the American Government was so anxious _to get rid of
the war_,[477] it would have an opportunity of doing so on learning
the revocation of the Orders in Council." The American representative
rejoined with proper spirit; but the remark betrayed the impression
produced by this speedy offer, joined to the notorious military
unreadiness of the United States. Such things do not make for peace.
The British ministry, like a large part of the American people, saw in
the declaration of war a mere variation upon the intermittent policy
of commercial restrictions of the past five years; an attempt to
frighten by bluster. In such spirit Monroe, in this very letter of
June 26 to Russell, had dwelt upon the many advantages to be derived
from peace with the United States; adding, "not to mention the
injuries which cannot fail to result from a prosecution of the war."
In transcribing his instructions, Russell discreetly omitted the
latter phrase; but the omission, like the words themselves, betrays
consciousness that the Administration was faithful to the tradition of
its party, dealing in threats rather than in deeds. Through great part
of the final negotiations the impression thus made remained with the
British ministers.

On September 20, 1812, the Chancellor of the Russian Empire requested
a visit from the American minister resident at St. Petersburg, Mr.
John Quincy Adams. In the consequent interview, the next evening, the
Chancellor said that the Czar, having recently made peace and
re-established commercial intercourse with Great Britain, was much
concerned that war should have arisen almost immediately between her
and the United States. Hostilities between the two nations, which
together nearly monopolized the carrying trade of the world, would
prevent the economical benefits to Russia expected from the recent
change in her political relations. The question was then asked,
whether a proffer of Russian mediation would be regarded favorably by
the United States. Adams had not yet received official intelligence
even of the declaration of war, and was without information as to the
views of his Government on the point suggested; but he expressed
certainty that such an advance would be cordially met, and he could
foresee no obstacle to its entertainment. The proposal was accordingly
made to the President, through the customary channels, and on March
11, 1813, was formally accepted by him. James A. Bayard and Albert
Gallatin were nominated commissioners, conjointly with Mr. Adams, to
act for the United States in forming a treaty of peace under the
mediation of the Czar. They sailed soon afterwards.

The American acceptance reached St. Petersburg about June 15; but on
that day Adams was informed by the Chancellor that his despatches from
London signified the rejection of the Russian proposition by the
British Government, on the ground that the differences with the United
States involved principles of the internal government of Great
Britain, which could not be submitted to the discussion of any
mediation.[478] As the Russian Court was then in campaign, at the
headquarters of the allied armies, in the tremendous operations of the
summer of 1813 against Napoleon, much delay necessarily ensued. On
September 1, however, the British ambassador, who was accompanying the
Court in the field, presented a formal letter reaffirming the
unwillingness of his Government to treat under mediation, but offering
through the Czar, whose mediatorial advance was so far recognized, to
nominate plenipotentiaries to meet those of the United States in
direct consultation. In the backward and forward going of despatches
in that preoccupied and unsettled moment, it was not till near
November 1 that the British Foreign Office heard from the ambassador
that the American commissioners were willing so to treat, and desirous
to keep their business separate from that of the continent of Europe;
but that their powers were limited to action through the mediation of
Russia. Castlereagh then, on November 4, addressed a note to the
United States Government, offering a direct negotiation. This was
accepted formally, January 5, 1814;[479] and Henry Clay with Jonathan
Russell were added to the commission already constituted, raising the
number of members to five. The representatives of Great Britain were
three: Admiral Lord Gambier, Henry Goulburn, and William Adams. Ghent
was fixed upon for the place of meeting.

The instructions issued to the American commissioners were voluminous.
They contained not only the requirements of the Government, but
arguments from every point of view, and alternatives of several
descriptions, to meet anticipated objections. Such elaboration was
perhaps necessary when negotiation was to take place so remote from
communication with home. On one point, however, as originally issued
in contemplation of Russian mediation, demand was peremptory.
Impressment must cease, by stipulation. "If this encroachment of Great
Britain is not provided against, the United States have appealed to
arms in vain." At that moment, April 15, 1813,[480] the flush of
expectation was still strong. "Should improper impressions have been
taken of the probable consequences of the war, you will have ample
means to remove them. It is certain that from its prosecution Great
Britain can promise to herself no advantage, while she exposes herself
to great expenses and to the danger of still greater losses." Nine
months later, looking to direct negotiation, the same confident tone
is maintained. "On impressment, the sentiments of the President have
undergone no change. This degrading practice must cease.... No
concession is contemplated on any point in controversy;"[481] and
three weeks afterwards, February 14, 1814, "Should peace be made in
Europe, it is presumed that the British Government would have less
objection to forbear impressment for a specified term, than it would
have should the war continue. In concluding a peace, even in case of a
previous general peace in Europe, it is important to obtain such a
stipulation."[482] On June 27, the note was lowered. "If found
indispensably necessary to terminate the war, you may omit any
stipulation on the subject of impressment." This was in pursuance of
the Cabinet determination of June 27, already quoted.[483] It
abandoned the only ground for war that had existed since August, 1812,
when the Orders in Council were known to have been repealed. The
commissioners were indeed to do their best to obtain from the British
Government the demanded concessions, not in the matter of impressment
only, but on the whole subject of irregular blockades, which underlay
the Orders in Council, as well as on other maritime questions in
dispute; but in pressing such demands they were under orders to fall
back before resistance. From the opening of the colloquy they were on
the defensive.

Quite different was the position assumed at first by the British
Government and people. The events of the critical year 1813, both in
Europe and America, had changed the entire outlook. Alexander Baring,
whose general attitude towards the United States was friendly, wrote
to Gallatin, October 12, 1813, "We wish for peace, but the pressure of
the war upon our commerce and manufactures is over. They have ample
relief in other quarters; indeed, the dependence of the two countries
on each other was overrated." He was positive that there would be no
concession on impressment. Again, on December 14, "The pressure of
the war is diminished. Commerce is now abundantly prosperous."[484]
Gallatin himself had occasion to spend some time in London during the
succeeding spring,--1814. Quotation from his observations has been
made already.[485] In a letter of April 21,--after Napoleon's
abdication,--"The prosecution of war with the United States would
afford a convenient pretext for preserving a more considerable
standing force."[486] This would be a useful element in the
troublesome diplomacy to be foreseen, in settling the disturbed
affairs of Europe; and the Government stood in need of reasons for
maintaining the pressure of taxation, which was already eliciting, and
later in the year still more elicited, symptoms of great discontent
and dangerous Parliamentary opposition. Yet in its conduct towards
America the Cabinet had the people behind it. Two months later,
Gallatin wrote to the Secretary of State, "You may rest assured of the
general hostile spirit of this nation, and of its wish to inflict
serious injury on the United States; that no assistance can be
expected from Europe; and that no better terms will be obtained than
the _status ante bellum_."[487]

At the time of this writing, June 13, the British Foreign Secretary,
Lord Castlereagh, returned from Paris, where he had been spending the
two months succeeding the first abdication of Napoleon. During this
period formal peace with France had been established, and the Bourbons
reseated on her throne. His instructions to the British commissioners
at Ghent, issued July 28, were framed on lines which showed
consciousness of mastery.[488] The question of abandoning the
practice of impressment would not be so much as entertained. The Rule
of 1756 should "rest on its own clear and well established
authority."[489] The commissioners were not even to discuss it.
Equally decisive was the position taken with regard to questions of
irregular blockades, and of compensation for seizures under the Orders
in Council. When these were presented by the American commissioners,
the first was waived aside, as one on which there was no difference of
abstract principle; while as to the second, "you cannot be too
peremptory in discouraging, at the outset, the smallest expectation of
any restitution of captures made under the Orders in Council."[490]

Military and naval weakness, combined with the changed conditions in
Europe, made the United States powerless when thus confronted with
refusal. The British Secretary stood on far less sure ground, as to
success, when he began to formulate his own demands. These were
essentially two: suitable arrangements for the Indians, and a
rectification of the frontiers. There was a third question, concerning
the fisheries on the Great Banks of Newfoundland. As to these, the
general right of all nations to frequent the Banks, being open sea,
was explicitly admitted; but the subjects of a foreign state had no
right to fish within the maritime jurisdiction of Great Britain, much
less to land with their catch on coasts belonging to her. The
provisions of the Treaty of 1783 therefore would not be renewed,
unless for an equivalent.

As regarded the Indians, an adequate arrangement of their interests
was a _sine quâ non_ of peace; nor would a full and express
recognition of present limits by itself alone fulfil this demand.
There must be security for its future observance. The particular
method by which this observance should be maintained was not made
indispensable; but it was plainly stated in the instructions that the
best means was "a mutual guarantee of the Indian possessions, as they
shall be established upon the peace, against encroachment on the part
of either State." The suggestion, in its logical consequence and in
its intent, went to establishing the communities of Indians as a
sovereign state, with boundaries guaranteed by Great Britain and the
United States,--a most entangling alliance. In support of this,
Castlereagh alleged that such a barrier of separation possessed a
distinct advantage over a line of contact between the two guaranteeing
states, such as now existed in their common boundary. The collisions
incident to intercourse between red and white men were easily
transferred from side to side of such a conventional line, causing
continual disputes. The advantages of a buffer state, to use the
modern term, would be secured by the proposed arrangement. Writing to
the prime minister, the Earl of Liverpool, he said, "The question is
one of expediency; and not of principle, as the American commissioners
have endeavored to make it. It does not follow, because, in the year
1783, the two States, not perhaps very justly, took a common boundary,
thereby assuming a sort of sovereignty over the Indians, that they may
not mutually recede from that boundary, if a frontier conterminous
with that of the Indians is preferable to one with each other."[491]

However plausible reasoning based upon such premises might seem to the
party advancing it, it could not qualify the fact that it required
from the United States a large cession of territory, to be
surrendered to the Indians under British guarantee. Such a demand was
a dangerous diplomatic weapon to put within reach of a commission, of
which Adams and Gallatin were members. In presenting it, also, the
British representatives went beyond the letter of their instructions,
issued by Castlereagh on July 28, and enlarged August 14. Not only was
the inclusion of the Indians in the peace to be a _sine quâ non_, but
they wrote, "_It is equally necessary_" that a definite boundary be
assigned, and the integrity of their possessions mutually
guaranteed.[492] This paper was submitted to Castlereagh as he passed
through Ghent to Paris, on his way to the Vienna Conference. "Had I
been to prepare the note given in on our part, I should have been less
peremptory;" but, like many superiors, he hesitated to fetter the men
in immediate charge, and "acquiesced in the expression, 'It is equally
necessary, etc.,' which is very strong."[493] The prime minister was
still more deprecatory. He wrote Castlereagh, "Our commissioners had
certainly taken a very erroneous view of our policy. If the
negotiations had been allowed to break off upon the two notes already
presented, ... I am satisfied the war would have become popular in

The American commissioners could see this also, and were quick to use
the advantage given by the wording of the paper before them, to
improve the status of the United States in the negotiation; for one of
the great weaknesses, on which Great Britain reckoned, was the
disunion of American sentiment on the subject of the war. Of their
reply, dated August 24, Castlereagh wrote, "It is extremely material
to answer the American note, as it is evidently intended to rouse the
people upon the question of their independence."[495] Besides the
Indian proposition, the British note of August 19 had conveyed also
the explicit views of the ministry as to rectification of frontier.
Stated briefly, the chain of the Great Lakes was asserted to be a
military barrier essential to the security of Canada, as the weaker
community in North America. To assure it, no territorial cession was
required; but the lakes should be in the sole military tenure of Great
Britain. The United States might use them freely for commercial
purposes, but should maintain on them no ship of war, nor build any
fortification on their shores, or within a certain distance, to be
fixed by agreement. In addition to this, on the side of the lower St.
Lawrence, there was to be such a cession of the northern part of Maine
as would establish a direct communication between Quebec and Halifax.
The American reply of August 24[496] discussed these questions,
patiently but instructively. The matters involved were made plain for
the American reader, and the paper closed with the clear intimation
that before such terms were accepted there must be a great deal more
fighting. "It is not necessary to refer such demands to the American
Government for instructions. They will only be a fit subject of
deliberation when it becomes necessary to decide upon the expediency
of an absolute surrender of national independence." So far as the
British proposals went, the question was military, not diplomatic; for
soldiers and seamen to decide, not for negotiators.

So it stood, and so in the solution it proved. The American
commissioners held firm to this ground; while on the part of the British
there was thenceforth a continual effort to escape from a false
position, or to temporize, until some favorable change of circumstances
might enable them to insist. "The substance of the question," wrote
Castlereagh to the prime minister, "is, are we prepared to continue the
war for territorial arrangements. If not, is this the best time to make
peace, or is it desirable to take the chances of the campaign and then
to be governed by circumstances?"[497] "If our campaign in Canada should
be as successful as our military preparations would lead us to expect,"
... replied Liverpool, "if our commander does his duty, I am persuaded
we shall have acquired by our arms every point on the Canadian frontier,
which we ought to insist on keeping."[498]

By these considerations the next British note was dictated, and
presented September 4.[499] It simply argued the question, with
dilatory design, in a somewhat minatory tone. "I think it not
unlikely," Liverpool had written with reference to it, "that the
American commissioners will propose to refer the subject to their
Government. In that case, the negotiation may be adjourned till the
answer is received, and we shall know the result of the campaign
before it can be resumed." But the Americans did not refer. They too
needed time for their people to learn what now was the purpose of
hostilities, which the British envoys had precipitately stated as an
indispensable concession, and to manifest the national temper under
the changed circumstances; but they did not choose that the matter
should be stated as one open to discussion. They knew well enough the
harassment of maintaining a land warfare three thousand miles from
Great Britain, as well as the dangers threatening the European
situation and embarrassing the British ministry. They in turn
discussed at length, scrutinizing historically the several arguments
of their opponents; but their conclusion was foregone. The two
propositions--first, of assigning "a definite boundary to the Indians
living within the limit of the United States, beyond which boundary
they [the United States] should stipulate not to acquire any
territory; secondly, of securing the exclusive military possession of
the lakes to Great Britain--are both inadmissible. We cannot subscribe
to, and would deem useless to refer to our Government, any arrangement
containing either of these propositions." The British Government was
not permitted any subterfuge to escape from the premature insistence
upon cession of territory made by their envoys, which would tend to
unite the people in America; nor was it to be anticipated that
prolonged hostilities for such an object would be acceptable in Great

The pre-eminence given to the Indian question by Great Britain in
these negotiations was due to the importance attached by British local
officials to the aid of the savages in war, and to a sensitive
conviction that, when thus utilized, they should not be abandoned in
peace. Their military value was probably over-estimated. It consisted
chiefly in numbers, in which the British were inferior, and in the
terror produced by their cruelties; doubtless, also, in some degree to
their skill in woodcraft; but they were not dependable. Such as it
was, their support went usually to the weaker party; not because the
Indian naturally sided with the weaker, but because he instinctively
recognized that from the stronger he had most to fear. Therefore in
colonial days France, in later days Great Britain, in both cases
Canada, derived more apparent profit from their employment than did
their opponent, whose more numerous white men enabled him to dispense
with the fickle and feebler aid of the aborigines.

Before the firm attitude of the note of September 9, the British
Government again procrastinated, and receded from demands which sound
policy should from the first have recognized as untenable, unless
reposing upon decisive military success and occupation. On September
19, their commissioners replied[500] that while the exclusive military
possession of the lakes would be conducive to a good understanding,
without endangering the security of the United States, it had not been
advanced as a _sine quâ non_. A final proposition on the subject of
the Canadian boundaries would be made, when the Indian question was
settled. Concerning this, they were "authorized distinctly to declare
that they are instructed not to sign a treaty of peace, unless the
Indian nations are included in it, and restored to all the rights,
privileges, and territories, which they enjoyed in the year 1811," by
treaties then existing. "From this point the British plenipotentiaries
cannot depart." They were instructed further to _offer for discussion_
an article establishing Indian boundaries, within which the two
countries should bind themselves not to make acquisitions by purchase
during a term of years. To the absence of Lord Castlereagh, and
consequent private correspondence between him and his colleagues in
London, we owe the knowledge that the question of purchasing Indian
lands, and the guarantee, would no longer be insisted on; and that the
military control of the lakes was now reduced in purpose to the
retention of Forts Michilimackinac and Niagara.[501] The intention
remained, however, to insist upon the Indian provisions as just

On September 26, the American commission replied that, as thus
presented, there was no apparent difference in the purposes of the two
nations as regarded the substantial welfare of the Indians themselves.
The United States meant towards them peace, and the placing them in
the position in which they stood before the war. "The real difference
was" in the methods proposed. Great Britain "insisted on including the
Indians, as allies, in the treaty of peace between her and the United
States." But the Indians concerned dwelt within the acknowledged
bounds of the United States, and their political relations towards her
were no concern of Great Britain; nor could any arrangement be
admitted which would constitute them independent communities, in whose
behalf Great Britain might hereafter claim a right to interfere. The
error underlying the British demand was the assumption that the Indian
tribes were independent; whereas, in their relation to foreign
countries, they were merely dwellers in the United States, who had
made war upon her in co-operation with Great Britain. The upshot was a
mutual agreement, drawn up by the British plenipotentiaries, that upon
the conclusion of peace each state would put an end to hostilities in
which it might be engaged with the Indians, and would restore them to
the rights enjoyed before 1811. The Americans accepted this, subject
to ratification at home, on the ground that, while it included the
Indians in the peace, it did not do so as parties to the treaty, and
left the manner of settlement in the hands of each Government
interested. The agreement thus framed formed one of the articles of
the treaty.

On September 27 the Gazette account of the capture of Washington was
published in London. Lord Bathurst, who in the absence of Castlereagh
was acting as Foreign Secretary, despatched the news the same day to
the commissioners at Ghent, instructing them to assure the Americans
that it made no difference in the British desire for peace, nor would
modify unfavorably the requirements as to frontier, as yet
unstated.[502] Liverpool wrote coincidently to Castlereagh, suggesting
that he should communicate to the sovereigns and ministers at Vienna
the moderation with which the Government was acting, as well as the
tone assumed by the American commissioners, "so very different from
what their situation appears to warrant." "I fear the Emperor of
Russia is half an American, and it would be very desirable to do away
any prejudices which may exist in his mind, or in that of Count
Nesselrode, on this subject."[503] The remark is illuminating as to
the reciprocal influence of the American contest and the European
negotiations, and also as to the reasons for declining the proposed
Russian mediation of 1813. The continent generally, and Russia
conspicuously, held opinions on neutral maritime rights similar to
those of the United States. Liverpool had already[504] expressed his
wish to be well out of the war, although expecting decided military
successes, and convinced that the terms as now reduced would be very
unpopular in England; "but I feel too strongly the inconvenience of a
continuance not to make me desirous of concluding it at the expense of
some popularity."

It was in this spirit, doubtless, that Bathurst instructed the envoys
that, if the Americans wished to refer the very modified proposals, or
to sign them conditional upon ratification at home, either proposition
would be accepted; an assurance repeated on October 5.[505] Were
neither alternative embraced as to the Indian settlement, the
negotiation should be closed and the commission return to England.
British military anticipation then stood high. Not only was the
capture of Washington over-estimated, but Ross and Cochrane had
impressed their Government with brilliant expectations. "They are very
sanguine about the future operations. They intend, on account of the
season, to proceed in the first instance to the northward, and to
occupy Rhode Island, where they propose remaining and living upon the
country until about the first of November. They will then proceed
southward, destroy Baltimore, if they should find it practicable
without too much risk, occupy several important points on the coast
of Georgia and the Carolinas, take possession of Mobile in the
Floridas, and close the campaign with an attack on New Orleans."[506]
This was a large programme for a corps of the size of Ross', after all
allowance made for the ease with which Washington had fallen. It is
probably to be read in connection with the project of sending to
America very large re-enforcements; so numerous, indeed, that Lord
Hill, Wellington's second in the Peninsula, had been designated for
the command. This purpose had been communicated to Ross and Cochrane;
and at the time of the capture of Washington they had not received the
letters notifying them that "circumstances had induced his Majesty's
Government to defer their intention of employing so considerable a
force in that quarter."[507] For this change of mind America doubtless
was indebted to European considerations. Besides the expectations
mentioned, the British Government had well-founded reasons to hope for
control of Lake Ontario, and for substantial results from the handsome
force placed at the disposal of Sir George Prevost, to which the
triumphant expedition of Cochrane and Ross had been intended only as a

Under these flattering anticipations were formulated the bases upon
which to treat, now that the Indian question was out of the way. On
October 18 and 20 Bathurst instructed the commissioners to propose, as
a starting point, the principle that each party should hold what it
had, subject to modifications for mutual accommodation. "Considering
the relative situation of the two countries, the moderation evinced by
his Majesty's Government in admitting this principle, (thereby
surrendering claim to the future conquests), in the present state of
the contest, must be manifest." When this was accepted, but not
before, the mutual accommodations were to be suggested. The present
captured possessions were stated to be: British, Fort Michilimackinac,
Fort Niagara, and all the country east of the Penobscot; the American,
Fort Erie and Fort Malden. Upon the surrender of the two latter, Great
Britain would restore the forts at Castine and Machias. She would
retain Mackinac and Fort Niagara, the latter with a surrounding strip
of five miles of territory; and in exchange (apparently) for "all the
country east of the Penobscot," would accept that part of Maine which
lies north of the Aroostook River, thus insuring between Quebec and
Halifax a direct communication, wholly under British jurisdiction.

There were some further minor matters of detail, unnecessary to mention;
the more so that they did not come formally before the American
commissioners, who immediately rejected the proposed principle of _uti
possidetis_, and replied, October 24, that they were not empowered to
yield any territory, and could treat only on the basis of entire mutual
restitution. This Liverpool testily likened to the claim of the French
revolutionary Government[508] that territory could not be ceded because
contrary to the fundamental law of the Republic. In the American case,
however, it was substantially an affirmation that the military
conditions did not warrant surrender. Meanwhile, on October 21, the news
of Macdonough's victory reached London from American sources. Although
the British official accounts did not arrive until some time later,
Liverpool, writing to Castlereagh on that day, admitted that there could
be no doubt of the defeat of the flotilla.[509] Despite this check, the
Cabinet still cherished hopes of further successes, and were unwilling
yet to abandon entirely the last inches of the ground heretofore
assumed. "Had it not been for this unfortunate adventure on Lake
Champlain," wrote Bathurst to Castlereagh, "I really believe we should
have signed a peace by the end of this month. This will put the enemy in
spirits. The campaign will end in our doing much where we thought we
should have done little, and doing nothing where we expected
everything."[510] He announced the intention to send Pakenham in Ross'
place for the New Orleans expedition, and to increase his force in the
spring, should the war last till then. Meanwhile, it might be well to
let the Powers assembled at Vienna understand that, whatever the success
in Louisiana, the inhabitants would be distinctly told that in no case
would the country be taken under British protection. They might be
granted independence, but preferably would be urged to place themselves
again under the Spanish Crown; but they must know that, in treating with
the United States, neither of these solutions would be made by Great
Britain a _sine quâ non_. The Government had probably taken a distaste
to that peremptory formula by the unsatisfactory result of the
proposition about the Indians.

This care concerning the effect produced upon the course of events at
Vienna appears forcibly in the letters of Liverpool. After the receipt
of the American commission's refusal to accept the basis of the _uti
possidetis_, he wrote to Castlereagh, October 28, that he feared it
put an end to any hopes of bringing the American war to a conclusion.
The expectation of some favorable change in the aspect of affairs,
however, decided the ministry to gain a little more time before
bringing the negotiation to a close; and the envoys at Ghent were
therefore to be instructed to demand a full _projet_ of all the
American conditions before entering on further discussion. The same
day Liverpool sent a second letter,[511] in which he said distinctly
that, in viewing the European settlement, it was material to consider
that the war with America would probably be of some duration; that
enemies should not be made in other quarters by holding out too long
on the questions of Poland, Naples, and Saxony, for he was
apprehensive that "some of our European allies will not be indisposed
to favor the Americans; and, if the Emperor of Russia should be
desirous of taking up their cause, we are well aware from some of Lord
Walpole's late communications that there is a most powerful party in
Russia to support him. Looking to a continuance of the American war,
our financial state is far from satisfactory. We shall want a loan for
the ensuing year of £27,000,000 or £28,000,000. The American war will
not cost us less than £10,000,000, in addition to our peace
establishment and other expenses. We must expect, therefore, to have
it said that the property tax is continued for the purpose of securing
a better frontier for Canada." Castlereagh himself had already spoken
of the financial conditions as "perfectly without precedent in our
financial history."[512]

The renewal of the European war, avowedly dreaded by Liverpool,[513]
was thought not impossible by Castlereagh and Wellington; while
conditions in France already threatened an explosion, such as
Bonaparte occasioned in the succeeding March. "It is impossible,"
wrote Wellington, "to conceive the distress in which individuals of
all descriptions are. The only remedy is the revival of Bonaparte's
system of war and plunder; and it is evident that cannot be adopted
during the reign of the Bourbons."[514] Neither he nor Castlereagh
doubted the imminence of the danger. "It sounds incredible," wrote the
latter, "that Talleyrand should treat the notion of any agitation at
Paris as wholly unfounded."[515] A plot was believed to exist, which
embraced as one of its features the seizing of the Duke, and holding
him as a hostage. He himself thought it possible, and saw no means in
the French Government's hands adequate to resist. "You already know my
opinion of the danger at Paris.... The event may occur any night, and
if it should occur, I don't think I should be allowed to depart. My
safety depends upon the King's;"[516] but he was characteristically
averse to any step which bore the appearance of precipitate

While the American negotiators were drawing up the _projet_ which they
had decided to present in response to the British demand, the
combination of circumstances just stated led the British ministry to
resolve on removing Wellington from Paris on some pretext, lest his
services should be lost to them in the emergency now momentarily
dreaded. The urgency for peace with America co-operated to determine
the ostensible reason, which was almost a true one. The American
command was offered to him. "The Duke of Wellington would restore
confidence to the army, place the military operations on a proper
footing, and give us the best chance of peace. I know he is very
anxious for the restoration of peace with America, if it can be made
upon terms at all honorable. It is a material consideration, likewise,
that if we shall be disposed for the sake of peace to give up
something of our just pretensions, we can do this more creditably
through him than through any other person."[517] Liverpool voiced the
conclusions of the Cabinet, and it would be difficult for words to
manifest more forcibly anxiety to escape from a situation. Wellington
himself drew attention to this. "Does it not occur to your lordship
that, by appointing me to go to America at this moment, you give
ground for belief, all over Europe, that your affairs there are in a
much worse situation than they really are? and will not my nomination
at this moment be a triumph to the Americans, and their friends here
and elsewhere?"[518] Conditions were alarming, but the action
resembled panic.

The offer, which was really a request, brought Wellington by a side
wind into the American negotiations, and enabled him to give the
Government the weight of his name and authority in concluding a peace
otherwise than on their "just pretensions." The war, he said, has been
honorable to Great Britain; meaning doubtless that, considering the
huge physical mass and the proximity of the United States, it was well
done to have escaped injury, as it was militarily disgraceful to the
American Government, with such superiority, to have been so impotent.
But, he continued, neither I nor any one else can achieve success, in
the way of conquests, unless you have naval superiority on the lakes.
That was what was needed; "not a general, nor general officers and
troops. Till that superiority is acquired, it is impossible, according
to my notion, to maintain an army in such a situation as to keep the
enemy out of the whole frontier, much less to make any conquest from
the enemy, which, with those superior means, might, with reasonable
hopes of success, be undertaken.... The question is, whether we can
obtain this naval superiority on the lakes. If we cannot, I shall do
you but little good in America; and I shall go there only to prove the
truth of Prevost's defence, and to sign a peace which might as well be
signed now." This endorsed not only Prevost's retreat, but also the
importance of Macdonough's victory. The Duke then added frankly that,
in the state of the war, they had no right to demand any concession of
territory. He brushed contemptuously aside the claim of occupying the
country east of the Penobscot, on the ground of Sherbrooke's few
companies at Castine, ready to retreat at a moment's notice. "If this
reasoning be true, why stipulate for the _uti possidetis_?"[519]

Penned November 9, the day before the American negotiators at Ghent
handed in their requested _projet_, this letter may be regarded as
decisive. November 13, Liverpool replied that the ministry was waiting
anxiously for the American _projet_, ... and, "without entering into
particulars, I can assure you that we shall be disposed to meet your
views upon the points on which the negotiation appears to turn at
present;" the points being the _uti possidetis_, with the several
details of possession put forward by Bathurst. The American paper was in
London before the 18th, when Liverpool wrote to Castlereagh, "I think we
have determined, if all other points can be satisfactorily settled, not
to continue the war for the purpose of obtaining, or securing, any
acquisition of territory. We have been led to this determination by the
consideration of the unsatisfactory state of the negotiations at Vienna,
and by that of the alarming situation of the interior of France." "Under
such circumstances, it has appeared to us desirable to bring the
American war, if possible, to a conclusion."[520] The basis of the
_status quo ante bellum_, sustained all along by the American
commission, was thus definitely accepted, and so stated formally by

This fundamental agreement having been reached, the negotiations ran
rapidly to a settlement without further serious hitch; a conclusion to
which contributed powerfully the increasing anxiety of the British
ministry over the menacing aspect of the Continent. The American
_projet_,[522] besides the customary formal stipulations as to
procedure for bringing hostilities to a close, consisted of articles
embodying the American positions on the subjects of impressment and
blockade, with claims for indemnity for losses sustained by irregular
captures and seizures during the late hostilities between France and
Great Britain; a provision aimed at the Orders in Council. These
demands, which covered the motives of the war, and may be regarded as
the offensive side of the American negotiation, were pronounced
inadmissible at once by the British, and were immediately abandoned.
Their presentation had been merely formal; the United States
Government, within its own council chamber, had already recognized
that they could not be enforced. The _projet_ included the agreement
previously framed concerning the Indians; who were thus provided for
in the treaty, though excluded from any recognition as parties to it,
or as independent political communities. This was the only demand
which Great Britain can be said fairly to have carried, and it was so
far a reduction from her original requirement as to be unrecognizable.
An American proposition, pledging each of the contracting parties not
again to employ Indians in war, was rejected.

The remaining articles of the _projet_, although entirely suitable to
a treaty of peace, were not essentially connected with the war. The
treaty merely gave a suitable occasion for presenting them. They
provided for fixing, by mixed commissions, the boundary lines between
the British possessions and the United States. These the Treaty of
1783 had stated in terms which had as yet received no proper
topographical determination. From the mouth of the St. Croix River,
and the islands within it and in the adjacent sea, around, north and
west, as far as the head of Lake Superior, the precise course of the
bounding line needed definition by surveyors. These propositions were
agreed to; but when it came to similar provision for settling the
boundary of the new territories acquired by the Louisiana purchase, as
far as the Rocky Mountains, difficulties arose. In the result it was
agreed that the determination of the boundary should be carried as far
as the most northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods, "in
conformity with the true intent of the said Treaty of Peace of one
thousand seven hundred and eighty-three." The treaty was silent on the
subject of boundary westward of the Lake of the Woods, and this
article of the _projet_ was dropped. It differed indeed from its
associates, in providing the settlement for a new question, and not
the definition of an old settlement. In conclusion, the British
commissioners obtained the adoption of an agreement that both parties
"would use their best endeavors to promote the entire abolition of the
slave trade." In Great Britain the agitation for this measure had
reached proportions which were not the least among the embarrassments
of the ministry; and at this critical juncture the practical
politicians conducting affairs found themselves constrained by a
popular demand to press the subject upon the less sympathetic
statesmen of the Cabinet.

The American commissioners had made a good fight, and shown complete
appreciation of the factors working continuously in their behalf. To
the end, and even more evidently at the end, was apparent the
increasing anxiety of the British Government, the reasonable cause for
it in European conditions, and the immense difficulty under such
circumstances of accomplishing any substantial military successes in
America. The Duke of Wellington wrote that "all the American armies
of which I ever read would not beat out of a field of battle the
troops that went from Bordeaux last summer;"[523] but still, "his
opinion is that no military advantage can be expected if the war goes
on, and he would have great reluctance in undertaking the command
unless we made a serious effort first to obtain peace, without
insisting upon keeping any part of our conquests."[524] On December
23, Liverpool sent a long and anxious letter to Castlereagh, in reply
to his late despatches. The fear of a renewal of war on the Continent
is prominent in his consideration, and it was recognized that the size
of the European armaments, combined with the pecuniary burden of
maintaining them, tended of itself to precipitate an outbreak. Should
that occur, France could scarcely fail to be drawn in; and France, if
involved, might direct her efforts towards the Low Countries, "the
only object on the continent which would be regarded as a distinct
British interest of sufficient magnitude to reconcile the country to
war," with its renewed burden of taxation. "We are decidedly and
unanimously of opinion that all your efforts should be directed to the
continuance of peace. There is no mode in which the arrangements in
Poland, Germany, and Italy, can be settled, consistently with the
stipulations of the Treaty of Paris, which is not to be preferred,
under present circumstances, to a renewal of hostilities between the
Continental Powers." Coincidently with this, in another letter of the
same day, he mentions the meetings which have taken place on account
of the property tax, and the spirit which had arisen on the subject.
"This, as well as other considerations, make us most anxious to get
rid of the American war."[525]

The Treaty of Ghent was signed December 24, 1814, by the eight
commissioners. The last article provided for its ratification, without
alteration, at Washington, within four months from the signature. A
_chargé d'affaires_ to the United States was appointed, and directed
to proceed at once in a British ship of war to America, with the
Prince Regent's ratification, to be exchanged against that of the
President; but he was especially instructed that the exchange should
not be made unless the ratification by the United States was without
alteration, addition, or exclusion, in any form whatsoever.
Hostilities were not to cease until such action had taken place. The
British Government were apparently determined that concessions wrung
from them, by considerations foreign to the immediate struggle, should
not be subjected to further modification in the Senate.

Mr. Baker, the British _chargé_, sailed in the British sloop of war
"Favorite," accompanied by Mr. Carroll bearing the despatches of the
American commissioners. The "Favorite" arrived in New York on
Saturday, February 11. The treaty was ratified by the President, as it
stood, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, on the 17th
of February, 1815.

       *       *       *       *       *

A year after the conclusion of peace, a weighty opinion as to the
effect of the War of 1812 upon the national history was expressed by
one of the commissioners, Mr. Albert Gallatin. For fifteen years past,
no man had been in closer touch with the springs of national life,
national policy, and national action; as representative in Congress,
and as intimate adviser of two consecutive Presidents, in his position
as Secretary of the Treasury. His experience, the perspicuity of his
intellect, and his lucidity of thought and expression, give particular
value to his conclusions; the more so that to some extent they are the
condemnation, regretfully uttered, of a scheme of political conduct
with the main ideas of which he had been closely identified. He wrote:
"The war has been productive of evil and of good, but I think the good
preponderates. Independent of the loss of lives, and of the property
of individuals, the war has laid the foundations of permanent taxes
and military establishments, which the Republicans[526] had deemed
unfavorable to the happiness and free institutions of the country. But
under our former system we were becoming too selfish, too much
attached exclusively to the acquisition of wealth, above all, too much
confined in our political feelings to local and state objects. The war
has renewed and reinstated the national feelings and character which
the Revolution had given, and which were daily lessening. The people
have now more general objects of attachment, with which their pride
and political opinions are connected. They are more Americans; they
feel and act more as a nation; and I hope that the permanency of the
Union is thereby better secured."[527]

Such, even at so early a date, could be seen to be the meaning of the
War of 1812 in the progress of the national history. The people, born
by war to independence, had by war again been transformed from
childhood, absorbed in the visible objects immediately surrounding it,
to youth with its dawning vision and opening enthusiasms. They issued
from the contest, battered by adversity, but through it at last fairly
possessed by the conception of a national unity, which during days of
material prosperity had struggled in vain against the predominance of
immediate interests and local prepossessions. The conflict, indeed,
was not yet over. Two generations of civic strife were still to
signalize the slow and painful growth of the love for "The Union";
that personification of national being, upon which can safely fasten
the instinct of human nature to centre devotion upon a person and a
name. But, through these years of fluctuating affections, the work of
the War of 1812 was continuously felt. Men had been forced out of
themselves. More and more of the people became more Americans; they
felt and acted more as a nation; and when the moment came that the
unity of the state was threatened from within, the passion for the
Union, conceived in 1812, and nurtured silently for years in homes and
hearts, asserted itself. The price to be paid was heavy. Again war
desolated the land; but through war the permanency of the Union was
secured. Since then, relieved from internal weakness, strong now in
the maturity of manhood, and in a common motive, the nation has taken
its place among the Powers of the earth.


[473] Monroe to Russell, Aug. 21, 1812. American State Papers, Foreign
Relations, vol. iii. p. 587.

[474] Ante, vol. i. p. 390.

[475] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 590.

[476] Correspondence between Russell and Castlereagh, Sept. 12-18, 1812;
and Russell to Monroe, Sept. 17. American State Papers, Foreign
Relations, vol. iii. pp. 591-595.

[477] Russell's italics.

[478] The correspondence relating to the Russian proffer of mediation is
to be found in American State Papers, vol. iii. pp. 623-627.

[479] American State Papers, vol. iii. pp. 621-622.

[480] Ibid., pp. 695-700.

[481] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 701.

[482] Ibid., p. 703.

[483] Ante, p. 266, and note.

[484] Writings of Albert Gallatin, edited by Henry Adams, vol. i. pp.
586, 592.

[485] Ante, p. 332.

[486] Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. i. p. 603.

[487] Ibid., vol. i. p. 629.

[488] A similar consciousness appears to the writer discernible in a
letter of Wellington to Castlereagh, of May 25, 1814. To procure "the
cession of Olivenza by Spain to Portugal, we could promise to _bind_
North America, by a secret article in our treaty of peace, to give no
encouragement, or _countenance_, or assistance, to the Spanish colonies"
(then in revolt). Memoirs and Correspondence of Lord Castlereagh, series
iii. vol. ii. p. 44. The italics are mine.

[489] Castlereagh to the British commissioners, July 28, 1814.
Castlereagh's Memoirs and Correspondence, series iii. vol. ii. p. 69.

[490] Ibid., Aug. 14, 1814, pp. 88, 89.

[491] Castlereagh to Liverpool, Paris, Aug. 28, 1814. Castlereagh
Memoirs, p. 101.

[492] Note of the British commissioners, Aug. 19, 1814. American State
Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 710. My italics.

[493] Castlereagh to Liverpool, Aug. 28, 1814. Castlereagh Memoirs,
series iii. vol. ii. p. 100.

[494] Liverpool to Castlereagh, Sept. 2, 1814. Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[495] Castlereagh Memoirs, etc., series iii. vol. ii. p. 101.

[496] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. pp. 711-713.

[497] Castlereagh to Liverpool, August 28. Memoirs, etc., series iii.
vol. ii. p. 102.

[498] Liverpool to Castlereagh, September 2, Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[499] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 713.

[500] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 717.

[501] Bathurst to Castlereagh, Sept. 16, 1814. Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[502] Castlereagh Memoirs, series iii. vol. ii. p. 138.

[503] Liverpool to Castlereagh, September 27. Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[504] September 23. Ibid.

[505] Castlereagh Memoirs, series iii. vol. ii. p. 148.

[506] Liverpool to Castlereagh, Sept. 27, 1814. Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[507] Ante, p. 385; and 384, note.

[508] Liverpool to Castlereagh, Oct. 28. Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[509] Liverpool to Castlereagh, Oct. 21, 1814. Ibid.

[510] Bathurst to Castlereagh, Oct. 21, 1814. Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[511] Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[512] Castlereagh to Sir H. Wellesley, Sept. 9, 1814. Memoirs, series
iii. vol. ii. p. 112.

[513] Liverpool to Castlereagh, Nov. 2, 1814. Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[514] Wellington to Liverpool, Nov. 9, 1814. Castlereagh Memoirs, series
iii. vol. ii. p. 187.

[515] Castlereagh to Wellington, Nov. 21, 1814. Castlereagh Memoirs,
series iii. vol. ii. p. 205.

[516] Wellington to Liverpool, Nov. 7 and 9, 1814. Ibid., pp. 186, 190.

[517] Liverpool to Castlereagh, Nov. 4, 1814. Castlereagh MSS.

[518] Wellington to Liverpool, Nov. 18, 1814. Castlereagh Letters,
series iii. vol. ii. p. 203.

[519] Wellington to Liverpool, Nov. 9, 1814. Castlereagh Memoirs, series
iii. vol. ii. p. 189.

[520] Liverpool to Castlereagh, Nov. 18, 1814. Castlereagh MSS.

[521] Bathurst to the commissioners, Dec. 6, 1814. Castlereagh Memoirs,
series iii. vol. ii. p. 214.

[522] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 735.

[523] Castlereagh Memoirs, series iii. vol. ii. p. 188.

[524] Liverpool to Castlereagh, Nov. 18, 1814. Castlereagh MSS.

[525] Ibid., Dec. 23, 1814. Castlereagh MSS.

[526] The contemporary name of the political party to which Jefferson,
Madison, and Gallatin belonged.

[527] Writings of Gallatin, May 7, 1816, vol. i. p. 700.


_Actions, Land._
    Detroit, 346;
    Queenston, 357;
    Niagara, 358;
    Frenchtown, 370.
    York [Toronto], 36, 55;
    Fort George, 38;
    Sackett's Harbor, 42;
    Stony Creek, 46;
    Beaver Dam, 47;
    Fort Meigs, 68;
    Fort Stephenson, 73;
    The Thames, 103;
    Chrystler's Farm, 115;
    Chippewa, 295;
    Lundy's Lane, 306;
    Fort Erie, 314, 316;
    Bladensburg, 346;
    Plattsburg, 366;
    New Orleans, 394.

_Actions, Naval._
    Elliott's capture of "Caledonia" and "Detroit," 354;
    "Constitution" and "Guerrière," 330;
    "Frolic" and "Wasp," 412;
    "Macedonian" and "United States," 416.
    "Constitution" and "Java," 3;
    "Hornet" and "Peacock," 7;
    squadron engagements on Lake Ontario, 1813, August 10, 56;
      September 11, 60;
      September 28, 107;
    battle of Lake Erie, 76;
    "Chesapeake" and "Shannon," 135;
    "Boxer" and "Enterprise," 188;
    "Argus" and "Pelican," 217;
    "Essex" with "Phoebe" and "Cherub," 249;
    "Wasp" and "Reindeer," 254;
    "Wasp" and "Avon," 256;
    "Epervier" and "Peacock," 259;
    battle of Lake Champlain, 377;
    gunboat squadron on Lake Borgne, 389;
    "President" with British squadron, 398;
    "Constitution" with "Cyane" and "Levant," 405;
    "Hornet" and "Penguin," 407.

_Actions, Privateer._
    "Globe" with British packets, 226;
    "Decatur" and "Dominica," 233;
    "Comet" and "Hibernia," 234;
    "Saucy Jack" and "Pelham," 235;
    "Saucy Jack" with "Volcano" and "Golden Fleece," 235;
    "Kemp" with seven British merchantmen, 237;
    "Chasseur" and "St. Lawrence," 238.

_Acts of Congress._
  To protect American shipping, i. 76, 80;
  Non-Importation Act, against Great Britain, April, 1806, 113, 131, 183;
  Embargo Act, December 22, 1807, 182;
  Act for the better Enforcement of the Embargo, January 9, 1809, 208;
  partial repeal of Embargo Act--"Non-Intercourse" Act against Great
    Britain and France, March 1, 1809, 210, 211, 213, 214;

  Act repealing Non-Intercourse Act, with a substitute, May 1, 1810,
    234, 235;
  supplementary Act, reviving Non-Intercourse against Great Britain
    alone, March 2, 1811, 248, 249;
  Embargo Act for ninety days, war measure, April 4, 1812, 263;
  Declaration of War, June 18, 1812, 279.

_Adams, John._ Minister to Great Britain.
  French colonial principles, i. 28;
  British interest in navigation, 11, 30 (and note);
  public opinion in England, as observed by him, 47, 63, 64, 69, 79;
  remonstrates against impressment of American seamen, 119;
  President of United States, instructs against impressment, 121;
  care for the navy, ii. 213.

_Adams, John Quincy._ Senator from Massachusetts.
  Opinions as to Orders in Council, i. 178-181;
  opinions on a navy, 186;
  Minister to Russia, ii. 411;
  commissioner to treat for peace, 412.

"_Adams._" American frigate.
  Blockaded in Potomac, ii. 162, 169-170, 174;
  escapes, 178;
  cruise of, 226, 261;
  runs ashore on Isle au Haut, 353;
  takes refuge in Penobscot, and destroyed to escape capture, 354.

_Allen, William H._ Commander, U.S.N.
  Commands "Argus," ii. 216;
  killed in action, 218.

  Private armed ship, i. 398; ii. 229.

  American brig of war, i. 314-415;
  captured by "Pelican," ii. 217.

_Armstrong, John._
  U.S. Minister to France at the time of the Berlin Decree, i. 172-174,
    181, 182, 236-238, 240, 244.
  Advice to Eustis, Secretary of War, before the outbreak of
    hostilities, 309, 339.
  Secretary of War, 31, 33, 39, 45, 104-106, 110-112, 117, 120, 122,
    266 (note), 278, 291-293, 319, 343, 344.

"_Avon._" British brig of war.
  Sunk by U.S.S. "Reindeer," ii. 256.

_Bainbridge, William._ Captain, U.S.N.
  Applies for furlough, because of the condition of the navy, i. 257;
  opinion as to employment of navy in war, 318;
  mentions public opinion in Boston, 393;
  commands squadron, 407;
  his plans for the cruise, ii. 2;
  captures Java, 4;
  instructions to Lawrence for cruise of "Hornet," 7;
  returns to the United States, 7;
  commands Boston navy yard, 135, 153, 186.

_Barclay, Robert H._ Commander, R.N.
  Sent to lakes by Warren, ii. 28;
  ordered by Yeo to command on Lake Erie, 29;
  difficulty in reaching his command, 39;
  operations prior to battle of Lake Erie, 41, 69-74;
  battle of Lake Erie, 76;
  merits of his conduct, 94.

_Barclay, Thomas._ British Consul-General at New York.
  On impressment question, i. 118, 122;
  on effects of embargo on seamen, 192.

_Barlow, Joel._
  U.S. Minister to France, in succession to Armstrong, i. 176, 193,
    264, 271-273.

_Barney, Joshua._ Commodore by courtesy.
  Commands privateer "Rossie," i. 395-398;
  commands Chesapeake flotilla, ii. 336-344;
  gallant conduct of himself and men at Bladensburg, 347, 348.

_Bassano, Duke of._ French Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  Presents to the American minister the spurious Decree of April 28,
    1811, i. 272.

_Bathurst, Earl._ British Secretary for War and Colonies.
  Quoted, ii. 100, 331 (note), 383, 422, 423, 424, 425, 426, 427, 431.

_Berkeley, George C._ Vice-Admiral, R.N., commanding North American
  Issues the order to search the U.S.S. "Chesapeake," i. 156;
  recalled from his command in consequence, 167,
    but given within a year the important command at Lisbon, 168;
  British Government refuses further punishment for his action, 168.

_Biddle, James._ Commander, U.S.N.
  Commands "Hornet" when she captures "Penguin," ii. 407.

_Black Rock._
  Selected by Elliott as American naval station on Lake Erie, i. 355, 374;
  changed by Chauncey, 375;
  mentioned in operations, 355, 358, 374, 377; ii. 34, 40, 41, 62, 71, 121.

_Blakely, Johnstone._ Commander, U.S.N.
  Commands "Enterprise," ii. 187;
  commands "Wasp," 253;
  captures "Reindeer," 254;
  sinks "Avon," 256;
  lost at sea, 257.

  General principle determining legality of, i. 99, 110, 145;
  position of United States concerning, defined, 110;
  that of May 16, 1806, illustrates difference between United States
    and Great Britain, 111;
  Napoleon's definition of the right of blockade, 142-144;
  Marshall, in 1800, and Pinkney, 1811, incidentally support Napoleon's
    view, 146, 147;
  effect of this view upon sea power, and upon Great Britain, 147;
  effect upon the Civil War of the United States, had it been
    conceded, 148;
  the Orders in Council of 1807 are admitted by Great Britain to usurp
    the privileges of, without complying with the obligations, 177;
  though modelled on the general plan of, 179;
  distinction between military and commercial, 286;
  in essence and effect, a form of commerce destruction, 287;
  as such, the weapon of the stronger, 288;
  of Chesapeake and Delaware,--commercial,--by British, notified,
    December 26, 1812, ii. 9;
  extended to coast south of Narragansett Bay, March 30 and November
    16, 1813, 10;
  to whole United States coast, April and May, 1814, 11;
  the last a defiance in form of the United States claim concerning, 11;
  effects of the British commercial, upon United States, 177-187, 193-208;
  American definition of, rejected as inadmissible at the treaty of
    peace, 432.

"_Boxer._" British brig of war.
  Captured by "Enterprise," ii. 188.
  See also note to chap. xiii.

_Brock, Isaac._ British general.
  Lieutenant Governor, and military commander in Upper Canada, i. 337;
  his professional opinions, 304, 308;
  his successful action against Hull for the preservation of the
    northwest, 341-348;
  returns to the Niagara frontier, 351;
  killed in action at Queenston, 357.

_Broke, Philip B.V._ Captain, R.N.
  Commands frigate "Shannon";
  senior officer of vessels of New York, i. 325;
  accompanies West India convoy, 326;
  chase of "Constitution," 327;
  blockading Boston, ii. 133;
  singular merit of, 133;
  sends challenge to Lawrence, 134;
  action with, and capture of, U.S.S. "Chesapeake," 135.

_Brown, Jacob._ American general.
  First in the militia, successfully defends Sackett's Harbor, ii. 42;
  appointed brigadier general in the army, 45;
  stationed at Sackett's Harbor, 1814, 278;
  campaign on Niagara peninsula, 280-318;
  wounded at Lundy's Lane, 311;
  defence of Fort Erie, 314-318;
  returns to Sackett's at end of the campaign, 323.

_Burrows, William._ Lieutenant, U.S.N.
  Commands "Enterprise" when she captures "Boxer," ii. 188;
  killed in the action, 189.

"_Caledonia._" British armed brig on lakes.
  Aids at capture of Mackinac, i. 341;
  captured by Lieutenant Elliott, 355;
  takes part as American in battle of Lake Erie, ii. 81;
  lost, 327.

_Calhoun, John C._ Member of American Congress.
  Confidence concerning the conquest of Canada, i. 303.

_Campbell, Hugh G._ Captain, U.S.N., commanding Georgia coast district.
  Reports on coast conditions, ii. 185, 186, 195, 196, 197, 198.

  Expected by British writers to take the place of the United States in
    supplying West Indies, i. 45, 48;
  unable to do so, 64, 86;
  benefited, however, by enforcement of navigation laws against the
    United States, 78, 79;
  propriety of invasion of by the United States, in 1812, considered,
  object of invasion of, defined by Monroe, 293;
  how regarded in England, ii. 356.

_Canning, George._ British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  Takes office, i. 134;
  statement as to the British right of impressment from foreign merchant
    vessels, 115;
  refusal to re-open treaty negotiations with Monroe and Pinkney, 135;
  characteristics of his letters, 154;
  negotiations with Monroe, concerning the "Chesapeake" affair, 156-168;
  instructions to Erskine, for proposals to United States, 215-219;
  Erskine's action disavowed by, and Jackson sent in place, 221;
  misquotation of, by Robert Smith, American Secretary of State, 226, 227;
  duel with Castlereagh, 229;
  succeeded in office by Lord Wellesley, 229.

_Carden, John S._ Captain, R.N.
  Commands "Macedonian" captured by "United States," i. 416.

_Castlereagh, Lord._ British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  Duel with Canning, i. 229;
  remains in office after Perceval's assassination, 273;
  opinion on political movements in United States immediately before
    war, 274;
  concerning Napoleon's alleged decree of April 28, 1811, 276;
  instructions to the peace commission at Ghent, 415-418;
  quoted in connection with the peace negotiations, 410, 417, 418, 420,
    428, 429.

_Chalmers, George._ British writer on political and economical subjects.
  Quoted, i. 21, 26, 32, 36, 50, 68, 77 (note).

_Champagny, Duc de Cadore._ French Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  Quoted in connection with Napoleon's Decrees, i. 174. 175, 181;
  celebrated letter of, August 5, 1810, 237;
  accepted by American Government as a valid revocation of the
    Decrees, 238;
  discussion of, 239-242;
  rejected as a revocation by Great Britain, 242.

_Champlain, Lake._
  Natural highway to Canada, i. 309;
  neglected by American Government in 1812, i. 351, 359; ii. 30, 357;
  not under Chauncey's command, i. 361;
  events on, 1812 and 1813, ii. 357-360;
  Sir George Prevost's expedition, 362-381;
  battle of Lake Champlain, 377-381;
  effects of battle on conditions of peace, 382 (see also 99-101).

_Chauncey, Isaac._ Captain, U.S.N.
  Ordered to command on Lakes Erie and Ontario, i. 354, 361;
  early measures of preparation, 362-364;
  cruises in 1812, 364, 365;
  lays up for the winter, 366;
  preparations on Lake Erie, 374-376;
  Commander Perry ordered as second to, 376;
  effects of energy of, ii. 28;
  first plan of campaign, 1813, 30;
  second plan, 33;
    comment upon, 34;
  expedition against York, 36;
  operations about Niagara peninsula, 37-41;
  impression produced on, by attack on Sackett's Harbor, 45;
  naval campaign of, 1813, July 21-September 28, 51-60, 106-109;
  engagements with British squadron, August 10, 56-59;
    September 11, 60;
    September 28, 106;
  professional characteristics shown, 28, 35, 40, 45, 52, 56, 60, 61,
    63, 65, 95, 108, 109, 110, 117, 294, 298-302, 305-306, 316, 323;
  recommendations for campaign of 1814, 122;
  singular inaction of, in June and July, 1814, 298-300;
  controversy with General Brown, 300-302;
  correspondence of Department with, 300;
  Decatur ordered to relieve, 300;
  subsequent movements of, 314-316, 323.

"_Cherub._" British sloop of war.
  Takes part in attack on "Essex," ii. 247-252.

_Chesapeake Bay._ Blockade of, ii. 9;
  operations in, 1813, 16, 156-158, 160-169;
  singular contraband trade in, 1813, 170-175;
  military exposure of, 159, 178, 202;
  operations in, 1814, 336-351.

"_Chesapeake._" American frigate.
  Attack upon by British ship of war "Leopard," i. 3, 134, 155;
  negotiations concerning the affair, 156-170, 222, 228, 251;
  settlement of, 255;
  cruise of, in 1813, ii. 13;
  action with, and capture by, the "Shannon," 132-147.

_Cheves, Langdon._ Member of American Congress.
  Report recommending increase of navy, i. 260-263.

_Clay, Henry._ Member of American Congress.
  Favors increase of navy, i. 260;
  expects rapid conquest of Canada, 304;
  calculations on Bonaparte's success in Russia, 390;
  appointed peace commissioner at Ghent, ii. 413.

_Cochrane, Sir Alexander._ Vice-Admiral, R.N.
  Appointed commander-in-chief on the American station, in succession
    to Warren, ii. 330, 382 (note);
  his retaliatory order for the burning of Newark, 334-335;
  operations in the Chesapeake, 1814, 340-351;
  plans for action against New Orleans, 383-388;
  operations against New Orleans and Mobile, 388-396;
  capture of Fort Bowyer, Mobile, 397.

_Cockburn, George._ Rear Admiral, R.N.
  Second in command to Warren, ii. 155;
  expedition to the upper Chesapeake, 1813, 157, 158;
  in the Potomac, 168;
  American vessel licensed by, 175;
  attack at Ocracoke inlet, N.C., 204;
  at capture of Washington, 348, 349;
  expedition against Cumberland Island, Georgia, 388.

  Relations of colonies to mother countries in respect to trade, during
    the period of American dependence, i. 24-28;
  Montesquieu's phrase, 27;
  Bryan Edwards' statement, 28;
  John Adams' observation, 28;
  supposed effect of, upon the carrying trade, 25, 26, 49, 50, 65;
  and naval power, 51, 52;
  the _entrepôt_ monopoly, derived from colonial system, 12, 16, 24;
  renewed by the Orders in Council of 1807, 27;
  characteristics of the West India group of colonies, 32, 33,
    and of those now the United States, 34, 35;
  their mutual relations, as colonies, 31, 35, 36;
  the imperial inter-action of the mother country, and the two groups
    of colonies, 52, 55, 63;
  British hopes of reinstating this condition, after the Revolution, by
    substituting Canada and Nova Scotia for the lost continental
    colonies, 48, 64;
  effect of colonial traditions upon events subsequent to American
    independence, 65-70, 75-79;
  tendency to reimpose colonial restriction upon the new states, a
    cause of War of 1812, 40, 87, 88, 90-92, 177, 178.

_Committee_, of the Privy Council of Great Britain, 1791.
  Report on the conditions of British commerce since the independence
    of the United States, and the probable effect of American
    legislation for the protection of American carrying trade, i. 77-85.

"_Constellation._" American frigate.
  Hopelessly blockaded in Norfolk throughout the war, ii. 11, 162, 178.

"_Constitution._" American frigate.
  Chased by British squadron, i. 328;
  captures the "Guerrière," i. 330-335;
  the "Java," ii. 3-7;
  the "Cyane" and "Levant," 404-406.

  Distinctive significance of the term, applied to the colonial system
    of Great Britain in North America, i. 32;
  Bermuda and the Bahamas reckoned officially among the continental
    colonies, 31 (note).

_Continental System_ of Napoleon.
  Extraordinary political character of, defined, i. 152, 153, 174;
  co-operation of the United States desired in, 173;
  and practically given by the United States, 176.

_Cooper, James Fenimore._ American naval historian.
  Quoted, ii. 83-87, 101 (note), 108, 110, 135, 138, 188 (note).

_Craney Island_, near Norfolk.
  Attack on by the British, in 1813, ii. 164-166.

_Croghan, George._ Major, U.S. Army.
  Gallant defence of Fort Stephenson, 1813, ii. 73;
  commands troops in the abortive military and naval expedition against
    Michilimackinac, 1814, 324.

"_Cyane._" British ship of war.
  Captured by the "Constitution," ii. 404-406.

_Dacres, James R._ Captain, R.N., commanding "Guerrière."
  His defence before the Court Martial, i. 334.

_Dearborn, Henry._ American general.
  Appointed, i. 337;
  age, 337;
  characterized by a British officer, 351;
  negotiates a suspension of hostilities, which is disapproved, 352;
  inactivity, 359; ii. 39, 47, 48;
  apprehensions, ii. 32, 47;
  relieved from command, 48.

_Decatur, Stephen._ Captain, U.S.N.
  Commands a squadron, i. 314;
  plan for employment of the navy in war, 317, 415;
  accompanies John Rodgers on the first cruise of the war, 322-324;
  sails on an independent cruise, 407, 408, 415;
  action between the "United States" and "Macedonian," 416;
  in 1813 unable to get to sea with a squadron, ii. 25, 148,
    which is blocked in New London for the rest of the war, 149;
  ordered to relieve Chauncey on the lakes, 300;
  appointed to command frigate "President," 397;
  action with "Endymion," 399;
  surrenders to British squadron, 400-403.

_Decrees, Napoleon's._
  Berlin, November 21, 1806, i. 141-148;
    its design, and counter design of Great Britain, 149;
    rigid enforcement of, 172;
  Milan, December 17, 1807, 180, 189, (note), 205;
  Bayonne, April 17, 1808, 189, 203;
  Rambouillet, March 23, 1810, 235, 236;
    alleged revocation of, by Champagny's letter of August 5, 1810,
  spurious Decree of April 28, 1811, 282.

_Delaware Bay._
  Blockade of, and operations in, ii. 9, 16, 158-160.

_Dent, John H._ Captain, U.S.N., commanding South Carolina coast district.
  Reports on coast conditions, ii. 15, 196, 203 (and note), 204.

"_Detroit._" British armed brig (late American "Adams").
  Captured by Elliott on Lake Erie, i. 354-356.

  British flagship at battle of Lake Erie, ii. 73, 77;
  condition when surrendered, 94.

_Direct Trade._
  To foreign countries, forbidden to colonies, i. 24-26;
  common practice of all maritime states, 27, 28;
  stress laid upon this idea in Great Britain, 75, 76, 83, 84, 96;
  question of what constitutes, 100;
  decision adverse to American navigation, by Sir William Scott, 101;
  practical effect of the decision, 102.

_Downie, George._ Commander, R.N.
  Commands the British squadron on Lake Champlain, ii. 372-375;
  his plan of action, 377;
  killed in the battle, 378.

_Drummond, Sir Gordon._
  Civil and military Governor of Upper Canada, ii. 120;
  his plans for the winter of 1813-1814, 276-278;
  his appreciations of the strength of Kingston and of Sackett's
    Harbor, 280;
  dependence upon the control of the water, i. 301, 302; ii. 290,
    302-306, 308-309, 314-317;
  comments on American troops, 295;
  campaign of 1814--arrival at York, 307;
  plan of action, 308-309;
  battle of Lundy's Lane, 310-312;
  assault on Fort Erie, 314;
  American sortie against, 316;
  line of the "Chippewa," 317, 321-322.

_Elliott, Jesse D._ Commander U.S.N.
  Serves under Chauncey on the lake, i. 354, 363;
  captures British brigs "Caledonia" and "Detroit," 355;
  selects Black Rock for naval station on Lake Erie, 374;
  ordered as second to Perry, on Lake Erie, ii. 74;
  conduct in the battle, 78-80, 83-88, 96;
  in command on Lake Erie, after Perry's detachment, 104.

_Embargo_, of 1808.
  Approved by President Jefferson, December 22, 1807, i. 182;
  its aims, 183-186;
  its effects in the United States, 186-207;
    upon West Indies, 196-198;
    upon Canada and Nova Scotia, 198;
    upon Great Britain, 200, 201;
  Act for better Enforcement, January 9, 1809, 208;
    repeal of, 214;
  Embargo of 1812, for ninety days, 263.

"_Endymion._" British frigate.
  Her action with the "President," ii. 398-407.

  American brig of war, ii. 186, 187, 231-233;
  capture of British brig "Boxer," 188.

  Significance of the term, and advantage to commerce, i. 12;
  conspicuous part in colonial regulation, 16, 24-26;
  underlying relation to Orders in Council of 1807, 27.

"_Enumerated_" articles.
  Definition of, i. 24.

"_Epervier._" British sloop of war.
  Captured by the "Peacock," ii. 258-261.

_Erie, Town of._
  Selected by Chauncey for naval station on Lake Erie, i. 375;
  advantages and drawbacks, 375;
  British designs against, ii. 69.

_Erskine, David M._ British Minister to Washington.
  Exceeds his instructions in negotiating, i. 216-218;
  disavowed and recalled, 219;
  succeeded by Francis J. Jackson, 221.

"_Essex._" American frigate.
  Captain Porter's dissatisfaction with, ii. 1, 2;
  sails, but fails to join Bainbridge's squadron, 3;
  goes to the Pacific, 244;
  cruise in the Pacific, 246;
  action with, and capture by, British ships "Phoebe" and "Cherub,"

  Conditions in, as affecting war in America, i. 378-385, 389-390, 401,
    410; ii. 9-11, 126, 210-212, 266 (and note), 330, 340, 355-356,
    362-363, 385-387;
  effect upon the peace negotiations, ii. 411, 414, 415, 420, 423-424,
    427-431, 434.

_Fox, Charles James._ British Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
  Takes office, i. 104;
  negotiations with Monroe concerning "direct" trade, 105;
  connection with blockade of May 16, 1806, 108;
  illness and death, 128-131.

"_Frolic._" British brig of war.
  Captured by "Wasp," 412-415;
  recaptured, 415.

"_Frolic._" American sloop of war, named after above.
  Captured by "Orpheus," ii. 269 (note), 244 (note).

_Gallattin, Albert._ American Secretary of the Treasury.
  Concerning the Embargo of 1808, i. 194, 196, 202, 208;
  concerning Non-Intercourse Act, 217;
  conversation with Turreau, concerning Erskine's proposition, 230;
  report on the finances, immediately before the war, 281;
  opinion as to privateering, 396;
  observations as to feeling in England, 1814, ii. 332, 415;
  appointed peace commissioner, 412;
  opinion as to the effect of the war upon the nation, 435-436.

_Gambier, Lord._ British admiral.
  Peace commissioner at Ghent, 413.

_Gaston, William._ Representative from North Carolina.
  Speech on allegiance and impressment, i. 6-8, 123, 137.

  Negotiations at, and Treaty of, ii. 413-435;
  names of commissioners, 412, 413;
  terms of, 431-433;
  signature and ratification of, 434-435.

_Goulburn, Henry._
  British peace commissioner at Ghent, ii. 413.

_Grenville, Lord._ British Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
  Correspondence with Rufus King concerning impressment, i. 117-118,

"_Guerrière._" British frigate.
  Captured by the "Constitution," i. 330-335.

"_Guerrière._" American, named after above.
  Command declined by Decatur for reasons, i. 422; ii. 398.

  Jefferson's sole naval dependence on, i. 187; ii. 213-214;
  nautical disqualifications of, 196, 291, 296;
  extravagant expense of, 260, 262; ii. 154;
  proclaim a merely defensive policy, 296;
  demoralizing effect upon officers and crews, ii. 154, 155;
  committed in war to officers not of regular navy, 154, 336-337;
  general uselessness in war, 154, 159, 160, 161, 163, 164, 179, 195, 198;
  gallant defence of the "Asp," 168, and of the Lake Borgne flotilla,

  Benefited by American embargo and War of 1812, i. 198; ii. 21, 23;
  importance relative to trade routes, and cruising, i. 392, 394.

_Hampton._ Town in Virginia.
  Local military importance of, ii. 160, 162;
  attack on, 167.

_Hampton, Wade._ American general.
  Commands Lake Champlain district, 1813, ii. 111;
  to co-operate with Wilkinson, 111;
  fails to join, and retires on Plattsburg, 115, 116.

_Harrison, William H._ American general.
  Succeeds to Hull's command, i. 367;
  plans of campaign, 368, 369,
    overthrown by Winchester's disaster at Frenchtown, 370;
  remains on defensive awaiting naval control of lakes, 371;
  resumes operations after Perry's victory, ii. 102;
  wins battle of the Thames, 103;
  transferred to Niagara, 104,
    and thence to Sackett's Harbor, 117.

_Harvey, J._ Lieutenant-colonel, British army.
  Suggests and conducts decisive attack at Stony Creek, ii. 46-48.
  Quoted, 102, 308.

_Hillyar, James._ Captain, R.N.
  Commands frigate "Phoebe," ii. 246;
  in company with "Cherub" captures U.S.S. "Essex," 247-252.

"_Hornet._" American sloop of war.
  Captures the "Peacock," ii. 8;
  sails with Decatur's squadron, 1813, and driven into New London,
    148, 149;
  escapes thence to New York, sails again, 397,
    and captures, "Penguin," 406-408.

_Hull, Isaac._ Captain, U.S.N.
  Commands "Constitution," i. 328;
  chased by British squadron, 329;
  sails from Boston on a cruise, 329;
  captures "Guerrière," 330-335;
  commanding Portsmouth yard, reports on coastwise conditions, ii. 186,
    187, 192, 198.

_Hull, William._ American general.
  Appointed brigadier general, i. 337;
  his letter setting forth military conditions prior to war, 339;
  his campaign, 340-346, and surrender, 347.

  A principal cause of War of 1812, i. 2;
  statement of the British claim, 3;
  counter-claim of American Government, 4, 120;
  American people not unanimous in support, 5, 116;
  opinions of Morris, Gaston, and Strong, 6-8;
  not mentioned in Jay's instructions, 1794, 88;
  made pre-eminent in those to Monroe and Pinkney, 1806, 114;
  historical summary of the controversy, to 1806, 114-133;
  treaty of December 31, 1806, does not provide for, satisfactorily, 133;
  rejected therefore by Jefferson, 133;
  a real cause of the war, though so denied by some, 136-138;
  American demand revived in connection with the "Chesapeake" affair, 161;
  Great Britain refuses to mingle the two questions, 165;
  numbers of American seamen alleged to have been impressed, 128, 300
    (and note);
  demand renewed, coincident with a proposal looking to peace after the
    declaration of war, ii. 409;
  Great Britain again refuses, 410;
  stated as a _sine quâ non_ in reply to British propositions made
    through Admiral Warren, i. 391;
  embodied in instructions to peace commissioners, ii. 413-414;
  again refused by Great Britain, 416;
  abandoned by the American Government, in consequence of the pressure
    of the war, ii. 266 (and note), 414, 432.

_Indians_, American.
  Estimated importance of, in consideration of war, i. 305-307, 338,
    339; ii. 67, 293, 421;
  effect upon Hull, in surrendering, 349;
  instability of, 345, 346; ii. 73, 75, 99, 103, 280, 421;
  desire of British officials to secure them in their possessions at
    the peace, ii. 99, 100 (note), 421;
  the consequent effect upon the peace negotiations, 416-423;
  not included, as parties to the treaty, 432.

_Izard, George._ American general.
  Relieves Wilkinson in command of Champlain district, ii. 283;
  action first intended for, 292;
  his reports of conditions, 318-319, 364;
  his preparations about Plattsburg, 319, 370;
  ordered to proceed to Brown's assistance on Niagara frontier, 319-320;
  his march thither, 320-321, 365;
  proceedings about Niagara, 321-323;
  blows up Fort Erie and retreats to New York side, 323.

_Jackson, Andrew._ American general.
  Takes Pensacola, ii. 388;
  goes to New Orleans, 388;
  operations about New Orleans, 391-396.

_Jackson, Francis J._ British Minister to the United States.
  Appointed, with special powers, i. 221;
  negotiations at Washington, 221-225;
  American Government declines further intercourse with, 225;
  discussion of the correspondence, 226-228;
  British Government declines to censure, 228, 231.

_James, William._ British naval historian.
  Quoted, i. 325, 327, 414, 415; ii. 6, 8, 54, 58, 80 (note), 132, 141
    (and note), 142, 143, 160 (note), 162, 165 (note), 257, 258 (note),
    260, 381, 395 (note), 396 (note).

"_Java._" British frigate.
  Captured by "Constitution," ii. 3-7.

_Jay, John._ Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
  Epochal significance of treaty with Great Britain negotiated by, i. 43;
  appointed special envoy, 88;
  occasion for the mission, 89, 90;
  character of the negotiation, 93-95;
  the treaty a temporary arrangement, 95;
  ratified, with an omission, 96.

_Jefferson, Thomas._
  American Secretary of State.
    Opinion as to the importance of navigation to national defence, i. 52;
    unflattering opinion of British policy, 70;
    favors coercive retaliation in matters of commerce and navigation, 71;
    principle as to impressment enunciated by, 120.
  President of the United States.
    Broad principle as to impressment asserted by, i. 4;
    expectations of commercial concessions from Great Britain, 1804, 100;
    aversion to military and naval preparations, 106, 138, 187, 280, 291,
      297, 300, 336; ii. 213-214;
    reliance upon commercial coercion, 107;
    refuses approval of treaty of December 31, 1806, because without
      stipulation against impressment, 133;
    consistency of position in regard to impressment, 136-138;
    action in the "Chesapeake" affair, 160-162;
    endeavors to utilize it to obtain relinquishment of impressment, 164;
    recommends a general embargo, 181;
    expectations of, from the embargo, 183 (and note);
    dislike to the carrying trade, 187,
      and to Great Britain, 188-190;
    gunboat policy of, 187, 260, 262; ii. 213-214;
    embarrassment in executing embargo, i. 194;
    tenacious adherence to the embargo policy, 202;
    views as to American neutral waters, 291.
  After leaving office.
    Opinion as to cause of Erskine's arrangement, 1809, i. 231;
    on Bonaparte's policy, 239;
    favors keeping navy under cover during war, 280;
    expectations as to easy conquest of Canada, 291.

_Jones, Jacob._ Commander, U.S.N., commanding "Wasp."
  Captures "Frolic," i. 411-415;
  taken by British seventy-four, 415;
  commands frigate "Macedonian" (as captain), ii. 25;
  expectations of escape, deceived, 25;
  sails with Decatur, 148, and blockaded in New London, 150.

_Jones, Thomas ap Catesby._ Lieutenant, U.S.N.
  Commands gunboat flotilla in Lake Borgne and Mississippi Sound, ii. 389;
  overpowered, wounded, and captured by superior enemy's force, 390.

_Jones, William._ Secretary of the Navy.
  Commercial estimate of privateering by, i. 396;
  judicious reply to Perry's request for detachment, ii. 67;
  comments on the effects of gunboat service on naval officers, 154, 155;
  stigmatizes American intercourse with enemy, and issues order to
    prevent, 174;
  recommends to Congress procurement of naval schooners for commerce
    destroying, 270;
  recommendation of Chauncey to Congress, 1813, 299;
  anxious correspondence with Chauncey, 1814, 300;
  naval force available for defence of Washington, stated by, 343.

_Keane, John._ British general.
  In temporary command of the expedition against New Orleans, 391.

_King, Rufus._ American Minister to Great Britain.
  Appointed, i. 120;
  negotiations concerning impressment, 120-122, 124-127.

_Kingston_, Canada.
  Strategic importance of, i. 305-308; ii. 30, 42, 59;
  operations contemplated against, ii. 30-33, 104-106, 278-280, 319.

_Lakes, the Great._
  Strategic importance of, in War of 1812, i. 300-303, 353, 356;
    ii. 29, 46-48, 99-101, 102-104, 276-278, 285, 290-291, 298-300;
  decisive positions upon, i. 304-308;
  Hull's exposition of effect of naval predominance on, 339;
  Madison's admission concerning, 350;
  improved conditions on, through Chauncey's energy, 361-366;
  control of, dependent on naval force, 371, 373; ii. 68-70, 73-75,
    99-101, 300-308, 314-315;
  minor naval events on, i. 354-356; ii. 324-328;
  British demands concerning, in the negotiations for peace,
    ii. 355-356, 419, 421, 422.

_Lambert, Henry._ Captain, R.N.
  Commands "Java" when taken by the "Constitution," ii. 3;
  mortally wounded in the action, 5.

_Lambert, Sir John._ British general.
  Joins New Orleans expedition two days before the assault, ii. 385;
  succeeds to command upon Pakenham's death, 394-397;
  proceeds against and captures Fort Bowyer, in Mobile Bay, 397.

_Lawrence, James._ Captain, U.S.N.
  Commands "Hornet" in Bainbridge's squadron, i. 407;
  sails in company with "Constitution," ii. 2;
  challenges "Bonne Citoyenne," 3;
  sinks the "Peacock," 8;
  returns to United States, 9;
  ordered to command "Chesapeake," 131;
  nature of his orders, 131-132;
  action with, and captured by, "Shannon," 135-140;
  mortally wounded, 137;
  examination of his conduct, 140-145.

"_Levant._" British sloop of war.
  Captured by "Constitution," ii. 404-406;
  recaptured by British squadron, 406 (note).

_Lewis, Morgan._
  American general, ii. 47;
  temporarily succeeds Dearborn in command at Niagara, 50.

  British to American merchant vessels, i. 203-206;
  for the supply of armies in Spanish Peninsula, i. 265, 409-412;
    ii. 9, 15, 21, 170-175.

_Liverpool, Earl of._ Prime Minister of Great Britain.
  Quotations from correspondence of, relative to the peace negotiations,
    chap. xviii., ii. 409-434.

_Macdonough, Thomas._ Captain, U.S.N.
  Commands flotilla on Lake Champlain, ii. 356;
  operations prior to Prevost's invasion, 356-363;
  preparations for battle, 367-371, 376-377, 380;
  wins battle of Lake Champlain, 377-381;
  effects of the victory, 381-382, 427, 430-431;
  news of the victory received in London, 426.

"_Macedonian._" British frigate.
  Captured by the United States, i. 416-422.

"_Macedonian._" American frigate (captured as above).
  Unable to get to sea, ii. 25,
    and blockaded in New London during the war, 148-150.

_Macomb, Alexander._ American general.
  Left by Izard in command at Plattsburg, ii. 365;
  operations before, and at, Plattsburg, 366-367;
  opinions of, as to distance of Macdonough's squadron from the shore
    batteries, 369.

_M'Clure, George._ American, general of N.Y. militia.
  Left in command of Niagara frontier, ii. 118;
  difficulties of situation of, 119;
  retreats to American side of river, 120;
  burns Canadian village of Newark, 120;
  this action of, disavowed by the Government, 120.

_Madison, James._ Secretary of State, and President of the United States.
  Close association of, with events leading to War of 1812, and summary
    of its cause, i. 41;
  characterization of, 106;
  discussion of questions of blockade, 110, 111;
  pronouncement on impressment, 114, 131, 132;
  instructions to Monroe and Pinkney to reopen negotiations, 1807, 133;
  narrow outlook of, 139;
  opinion of the Berlin Decree, 142, 182;
  upon the Rule of 1756, 152;
  instructions to Monroe by, in the "Chesapeake" affair, 161, 241;
  object of Jefferson's course in that affair, stated by, 164;
  use of the affair, made by, 170;
  explanation of the motive of the Embargo of 1808 by, 183;
  relation of, to Non-Intercourse Act, 215;
  misled (as President) in negotiations with Erskine, 216-218;
  proclamation, renewing intercourse with Great Britain, 219;
  annulled, 219;
  negotiations with Jackson, Erskine's successor, 221-225;
  declines further communication with Jackson, 225;
  special supervision of this correspondence by, 226;
  interpretation of British motive for Erskine's supposed concession, 230;
  accepts Champagny's letter as an actual revocation of Napoleon's
    Decrees, and so proclaims, 238, 254;
  afterwards recognizes delicacy of situation thus created, 266;
  non-intercourse with Great Britain revives, 248;
  message of, to Congress in special session, November 4, 1811, 259;
  recommends embargo, preparatory to war, 263;
  identified with policy of peaceful coercion, 278, 378; ii. 26, 175-176;
  sends war message to Congress, and approves declaration of war, i. 279;
  assumes only his share of responsibility for the war, 393;
  indignation of, at British sectional blockade of coast, 296; ii. 173;
  selects Dearborn and Hull for general officers, i. 337;
  failure of expectations as to Hull's expedition, admitted by, 339;
  ingenuous surprise at capitulation of Michilimackinac, 341;
  admits mistake of not securing naval command of lakes, 350;
  military inefficiency of Government under, 360; ii. 26-27, 265;
  insists on relinquishment of impressment as a preliminary to treating
    for peace, i. 391,
    but obtains also from Congress law excluding British-born seamen
      from American ships, 392;
  to prevent clandestine supply of enemy, recommends prohibition of all
    export, ii. 173;
  issues executive order to same end, 174;
  denials of effectiveness of British blockade, 204;
  decides to abandon demand for cessation of impressment as a condition
    for peace, 266 (note);
  comment on Armstrong's management of military operations, 282.

_Manners, William._
  Commander, R.N., commanding "Reindeer," ii. 254;
  skill and gallantry of, in action with "Wasp," 254-255;
  killed in the action, 255.

_Maples, J.F._ Commander, R.N., commanding "Pelican."
  Captures "Argus," ii. 217-219.

_Marshall, John._ American Secretary of State under President John Adams.
  Summary of commercial injuries received from Great Britain, i. 97;
  propositions to Great Britain concerning impressment, 121;
  opinion concerning blockades, 146;
  tendency of this opinion, if accepted, 148.
  (Afterwards Chief Justice of Supreme Court.)

  Jefferson's dependence upon, i. 52; ii. 213;
  conduct of, American and Canadian, i. 344, 345, 346, 351, 357, 360;
    ii. 26, 27, 42, 44, 70, 119-121, 157-158, 295, 312, 316, 337, 339,
    343, 347-351, 354, 365, 366, (and note), 367, 391-396.

_Monroe, James._
  American Minister to Great Britain, i. 104, 126;
  reports conditions of American commerce in 1804 prosperous, 99, 100, 104,
    but changed in 1805, 104;
  consequent negotiations with Fox, 104-113;
  Pinkney appointed as colleague to, for special negotiation, 113;
  negotiations with British ministry on impressment, 128-132;
  with Pinkney signs treaty of December 31, 1806, 133;
  treaty rejected by Jefferson, and new negotiations ordered, 133;
  "Chesapeake" affair intervenes, but British Government eventually
    refuses to reopen, 135;
  unlucky comment of, upon Rule of 1756, 151;
  negotiations of, with Canning, concerning "Chesapeake" affair, 156-165;
  returns to the United States, leaving Pinkney as minister, 135;
  after return vindicates the rejected treaty, 169, 213;
  proposes to Jefferson, in 1809, a special mission to France and Great
    Britain, for which he offers himself, 212;
  becomes Secretary of State, under President Madison, 254;
  correspondence, while Secretary, quoted, 255, 293, 391; ii. 265, 266,
    411, 413, 414;
  advanced views, for one of his party, concerning utility of a navy,
    i. 280;
  on project of keeping navy in port, in war, 106, 281;
  statement regarding readiness for war, 393.
  Secretary of War, ii. 323.

  Strategic importance of, i. 303-309.

_Mooers, Benjamin._ General, New York militia.
  Vindicates the conduct of most part of the militia under his command,
    ii. 366 (note).

_Morris, Charles_. Captain, U.S.N. (first lieutenant of the
    "Constitution" in action with "Guerrière").
  Commands frigate "Adams," in Potomac, ii. 162, 167;
  services in Potomac, and at Annapolis, 169, 174-177;
  difficulty in escaping British blockade, 170, 178;
  first cruise of "Adams," 226, 261;
  second cruise, strikes on Isle au Haut, takes refuge in Penobscot,
    and burned to escape capture, 353-354.

_Morris, Gouverneur._ American statesman.
  Opinion favorable to British right of impressment of British-born
    seamen on high seas, i. 5-7;
  opinion of the United States' ability to maintain a strong navy, 71;
  in London, contends against impressment of Americans, 119.

_Napoleon, The Emperor._
  Issues Berlin Decree, i. 112;
  purpose, as defined by himself, 144;
  objects of, as towards the United States, 149, 169, 173, 182, 235,
    249, 268, 278;
  scope of Berlin Decree, 152, 173, 176, 182, 253-254;
  sole control of Continent by, 153, 174, 220, 221, 269;
  vigorous application of Decree to American shipping, 172;
  effects of his reverses in Spain, 191, 209;
  Bayonne Decree of, 203;
  tenor of Milan Decree of, 205;
  Decree of Rambouillet, 235-236;
  alleged revocation of decrees by, 237, 271, 272;
  instances of arguments of, 240, 267;
  effect of reverses in Russia upon the War of 1812, 389;
  of downfall of, ii. 10, 123, 330.

  Connection between naval power and, 11, 49-52, 81;
  distinction between commerce and, 11, 81.

_Navigation, Acts of._
  The formulated expression of a national need, i. 9;
  opinion of Adam Smith concerning, 9-10;
  historical summary of, 13-19;
  apparent effects of, 19;
  British national conviction concerning, 21-24, 60-61;
  relation of colonies to system of, 24-27;
  endeavor to maintain system of, towards United States after
    independence, 27, 29, 40, 41, 45-48, 103;
  copied by French Convention, 28;
  attitude of foreigners towards, 30;
  progress of British colonies under, 31-39;
  attitude of American colonists towards, 39;
  Lord Sheffield's pamphlet upon, 46, 47, 49, 50, 57, 64, 65, 73 (and
    note), 75;
  inter-relations of British Empire protected by, 53-55, 63-64, 67;
  working of, threatened by American independence, 56-58, 65;
  modifications of, proposed by Pitt, but rejected by country, 58;
  dependence of, upon West Indies, 65;
  system of, continued by proclamation towards United States,
    1783-1794, 67-70;
  British commerce and shipping grow under this enforcement of, 76-84;
  purpose of, offensive, in military sense, 79;
  effect of French Revolution on, 87-88;
  dependence of Rule of 1756 upon the system of, 90;
  principle of Rule of 1756 leads up to molestation of American
    navigation, and Orders in Council of 1807, 93, 98-104,
    and so to war with United States, 136.

_Navy, American._
  Gouverneur Morris' opinion of power of United States to maintain, i. 71;
  opinion of John Quincy Adams, 186;
  recommendation of Presidents Washington and John Adams, ii. 212, 213;
  policy of President Jefferson, 213; i. 187, 280;
  neglect of, during administrations of Jefferson and Madison, shown by
    condition of, at outbreak of war, 257, 297, 300,
    and stated by a committee of Congress, 1812, 260-262;
  Madison's lukewarm mention, 259, 260;
  Congress on approach of war refuses to increase, 263;
  high professional merit of officers of, 279-280;
  numbers of, as estimated by British admiralty, ii. 211;
  total numbers of vessels in active employment, all told, from beginning
    of war to its conclusion, twenty-two, 242.

_New Orleans._
  For battle of, see _Actions, Land_.

"_New Orleans._"
  Ship of the line, on the lakes, ii. 318 (note).

_Niagara, Peninsula of._
  Strategic importance of, i. 338, 345-346, 352, 353; ii. 39-40, 51,
    291, 293;
  effect of climatic conditions of, i. 359.

_Orders in Council._
  General definition of, i. 2 (note);
  of 1807, cause of war with United States, 2;
  _entrepôt_ motive for, 16, 27;
  of June and November, 1793, 89, 92;
  of January, 1794, 93;
  relations of, to Rule of 1756, 93;
  of January, 1798, motive of, 98,
    and renewal in 1803, 99;
  effect of these last upon "direct trade," 101;
  of May, 1806, 108,
    effect and purpose of, 109;
  legitimacy of, denied by the United States, 110-112,
    and by Napoleon, who upon it bases Berlin Decree, 112;
  of January, 1807, and its effects, 150-152;
  Of November, 1807, purport of, 177, 187;
    resented by United States, 178;
    delay in communicating to American Government, 179;
    general plan of, that of blockades, 180;
    illustrative instances of execution of, 180 (note), 204, 205 (notes);
    known in United States before the passage of Embargo Act, 181;
    conditional offer of British Government to withdraw, 215-218;
    revocation of, by substitution of Order of April, 1809, 220;
    American expectation of revocation, in consequence of Champagny's
      letter, 238;
    British Government declines to revoke, 243-245;
    Pinkney's analysis, and condemnation, of, to Wellesley, 245-246;
    Wellesley's reply, 246;
    Wellesley's exposition of policy of, 253-254;
    discontent in Great Britain with, 269;
    order of April 12, 1812, promises revocation, conditional, 270;
    British determination to maintain, otherwise, 273-276;
    revocation of, June, 1812, 276,
      to date from August 1, 1812, 277;
    too late to secure peace with America, 278,
      or to restore it, 391-392; ii. 9;
    compensation for seizures under, refused in peace negotiations,
      ii. 416, 432.

_Pakenham, Sir Edward._ British general.
  Named to command New Orleans expedition after death of Ross, ii. 385;
  instructions to, concerning conduct in Louisiana, 427;
  arrival and operations, 392-396.

_Patterson, Daniel T._ Captain, U.S.N.
  Commands in chief in waters of New Orleans, ii. 392-395.

"_Peacock._" British sloop of war.
  Captured by "Hornet," ii. 7-9.

"_Peacock._" American sloop of war.
  Captures "Epervier," ii. 258-261;
  subsequent cruise of, 261-262;
  sails again, January 20, 1815, 406.

_Pearson, Joseph._ Representative in Congress from North Carolina.
  Speech on conditions of country, owing to the war, ii. 199.

"_Pelican._" British brig of war.
  Captures American brig "Argus," ii. 217.

"_Penguin._" British sloop of war.
  Captured by "Hornet," ii. 407.

_Perceval, Spencer._ Prime Minister of Great Britain.
  Murder of, and consequent confusion in the Government, i. 273;
  firm determination of, to maintain Orders in Council, and opinion
    of American resistance, 274.

_Perry, Oliver H._ Captain, U.S.N.
  Applies for, and ordered to, the lakes service, i. 376;
  assigned by Chauncey to Lake Erie, and practical independence of
    action there, 377;
  conditions of force found, 377,
    and merits of general action of, 378;
  engaged at capture of Fort George, and transfers Black Rock flotilla
    to Erie, ii. 41;
  thenceforth remains on Lake Erie, 62,
    but always under Chauncey, 63;
  collision of interests between the two officers, 64;
  altercation with Chauncey, 65;
  applies to be detached, 66;
  Navy Department refuses, 67;
  exposed situation of Erie, and preparations for defence, during
    equipment of squadron, 68-70;
  blockaded by British squadron, 70;
  seizes opportunity of its absence, to cross bar, 71;
  proceedings prior to battle of Lake Erie, 74-75;
  battle of Lake Erie, 76-94;
  discussion of claim to credit of, 95-99;
  consequences of success of, 99-101;
  prompt subsequent action of, 102;
  detached from lakes service, 104;
  engaged in harassing retreat of British squadron down the Potomac, 350;
  opinion as to qualities of smaller and larger vessels, 271;
  detailed to command a squadron of schooners, against enemy's
    commerce, 270-273.

"_Phoebe._" British frigate.
  Sent to Pacific with two sloops of war to capture "Essex," 246;
  with "Cherub" captures "Essex," 248-252.

_Pinkney, William._
  Appointed colleague to Monroe, in London, for special negotiations,
    i. 113;
  course of negotiations, 127-133;
  signs treaty of December 31, 1806, 133;
  remains as minister, after Monroe's return, 135;
  quoted in connection with mission, 146, 177, 215, 216, 218, 219, 230,
    238, 241, 251;
  party relations, 169;
  early forwards a copy of Orders in Council of November 11, 1807,
    179 (note);
  letter of Secretary of State to, communicating dismissal of Jackson
    by U.S. Government, 226-228;
  communicates the same to the British Government, 230;
  construes Champagny's letter to revoke French Decrees, and demands
    recall of British Orders in Council, 238;
  letter to British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, analyzing and
    condemning system of Orders in Council, 245;
  conditional instructions to, to present recall, 250;
  dilatory course of Wellesley towards, 251;
  presents recall, 252;
  returns to the United States, 252;
  no successor to, till after the war, 252.

_Pitt, William._ Prime Minister of Great Britain.
  Popularity of, i. 1;
  as Chancellor of Exchequer, 1783, introduces bill favorable to United
    States, for regulating commerce, 58;
  controversy over bill, 60;
  measure then dropped, 67, 68;
  concession becomes possible to, 87, 97;
  return to power, in 1804, 100;
  new measures of, due to popular discontents, 101-104;
  remark to Gouverneur Morris, concerning impressment difficulties, 120;
  death of, 104.

_Porter, David._ Captain, U.S.N.
  Commands frigate "Essex," i. 407; ii. 1-3, 13;
  cruise of "Essex," in Pacific, ii. 244-247;
  action with, and capture by, "Phoebe" and "Cherub," 249-252;
  approves of commerce destroying by naval armed schooners, appointed
    to command a squadron of them, and draws up plan of operations, 270;
  engaged in harassing retreat of British frigates in Potomac, 350.

_Porter, Peter B._ Representative in Congress from New York, and general
    of New York militia.
  Testimony at trial of General Hull, i. 340;
  duel with General Smyth, 358;
  tribute to gallantry of naval detachment at Niagara, 315;
  engaged at Chippewa, ii. 295,
    on Niagara peninsula, 306,
    and Lundy's Lane, 310.

"_President._" American frigate.
  Rencounter with British sloop of war "Little Belt," i. 256-259;
  cruises under command of Commodore Rodgers, i. 322-324, 407-409;
    ii. 128-129;
  sails under Decatur, 397;
  capture of, by British squadron, 398-401.

_Prevost, Sir George._ British general.
  Governor of Nova Scotia, reports failure of American embargo, i. 199.
  Governor-General of Canada, and commander-in-chief, reports British
    naval superiority on lakes, 1812, i. 295;
    statements of effect of naval control on operations, 302; ii. 40,
      306, 316, 362-363, 374-375;
    negotiates suspension of hostilities with Dearborn, i. 351-352;
    instructs Brock to forbear offensive, 356, 367;
    visit of, to Kingston, February, 1813, effect of, on American
      plans, ii. 32;
    attack on Sackett's Harbor by, in conjunction with Yeo, 42-45;
    instructions to Procter, at Malden, 67,
      and to De Rottenburg, at Niagara, 69;
    submits plan for securing territories in United States to Indian
      allies of Great Britain, 99 (note);
    calls upon Admiral Cochrane to inflict retaliation for unauthorized
      burning by Americans in Canada, 329, 334;
    receives large re-enforcements from Wellington's Peninsular army,
      with instructions for operations, 362;
    reasons for advancing by New York side of Lake Champlain, instead
      of through Vermont, 363;
    advance upon Plattsburg, 365-367;
    awaits the arrival of British squadron before attacking, 372-375;
    reason for desiring a joint attack by army and navy, 372 (note);
    correspondence with Captain Downie, commanding the squadron, 373-375;
    charges against, by naval officers of the squadron, 375, 381;
    retreats after squadron's defeat, 381;
    summoned home under charges, but dies before trial, 381.
    Retreat of, after the naval defeat, endorsed by Wellington, 430.

_Pring, Daniel._ Commander, R.N.
  Attached to lake service, Lake Champlain, 360;
  operations on, 360-361, 366;
  second in command at battle of Lake Champlain, 372-381.

  Employment of a sea-militia force, requiring little antecedent
    training, i. 286;
  recourse of the weaker belligerent, 288;
  aptitude of Americans for, 384;
  extemporized character of early, in War of 1812, 394;
  opinions concerning nature of, of Secretaries Gallatin and Jones, 396;
  susceptible of business regulation and direction, 397, 399; ii. 220,
    225, 229;
  energy of American, noted by Warren, i. 401-402;
  effect of, upon regular navy, ii. 12;
  a secondary operation of war, not in itself decisive, 126;
  primary object of, 215-216, 241;
  details of methods pursued, in 1812, 222, 225, 226, 240;
  comparison of, with a regular naval service, in motive, and
    inefficiency for the particular object of commerce destroying,
  a popular effort in War of 1812, independent of Government
    initiative, 265;
  development and systematization of, towards end of war, 267-268, 269.

_Privateers_ mentioned by name:
  "America," i. 398; ii. 229;
  "Chasseur," ii. 237-240;
  "Comet," ii. 234;
  "Decatur," ii. 233;
  "Globe," ii. 226-228;
  "Governor Tompkins," ii. 228;
  "Kemp," ii. 236;
  "Leo," ii. 224;
  "Lion," ii. 224;
  "Mammoth," ii. 269;
  "Rapid," i. 398;
  "Rattlesnake," ii. 223;
  "Rossie," i. 295-297;
  "Saucy Jack," ii. 235-236;
  "Scourge," ii. 223;
  "True-blooded Yankee," ii. 225;
  "Yankee," ii. 226.
    Number and classes of, ii. 243-244.
    Combats, of. See _Actions, Privateer_.

_Prizes_ taken by Americans in first three months of war, and in what
    localities taken, i. 394-395;
  taken by British in same period, 399-400;
  at later period of war, 406;
  transition period of prize-taking, January-June, 1813, ii. 20;
  estimate of relative losses by the two belligerents, 21-22;
  compilation of lists, by Niles' Register, 22;
  overlooked significance of the greater British losses, 23, 221;
  limited success of American frigates in taking, to what attributable,
  taken by American cruisers, in latter part of war, 220-221;
  in West Indies, 230;
  total number taken throughout the war, by American naval vessels, and
    by privateers, 241-243.

  Commerce between Great Britain and America, regulated by, 1783-1794,
    i. 67-70;
  issued by Jefferson excluding British armed vessels from American
    waters, after "Chesapeake" affair, 160-161;
  Royal, directing commanders of British naval vessels to impress
    British-born seamen found in foreign merchant ships, and denying
    efficacy of naturalization papers to discharge from allegiance, 166;
  by Jefferson, against combinations to defy Embargo laws, 207;
  by Madison, permitting renewal of trade with Great Britain, 219,
    and withdrawn, 219;
  by Madison, announcing revocation of Napoleon's Decrees, 238.

_Procter, Henry._ British general.
  As colonel, in command of Fort Malden, i. 345;
  acts against Hull's communications, 345;
  instructions from Brock, after fall of Detroit, 367;
  compels surrender of Winchester's detachment at Frenchtown, 370;
  subsequent action, 373; ii. 67, 68;
  attack on Fort Meigs, 68;
  project against Erie, 69;
  baffled at Fort Stephenson, 73;
  upon Harrison's approach, after battle of Lake Erie, evacuates
    Detroit and Malden, retreating up valley of the Thames, and defeated
    at Moravian Town, 103;
  reaches British lines at Burlington, with remnant of his force, 103.

_Quincy, Josiah._ Representative in Congress from Massachusetts.
  Defines position of New England concerning Orders in Council and
    impressment questions, i. 211-212;
  disproves the accuracy of the charge brought by the Administration
    against the British minister, Jackson, 232;
  supports the report for increase of navy, 260;
  predicts that a suitable naval establishment would be a unifying force
    in national politics, 261;
  sends word to seaports of intended embargo of April, 1812, 263.

"_Rattlesnake._" American brig of war.
  Particulars of cruise of, ii. 231-233.

  British writer on the Navigation Laws, quoted, i. 14, 15, 17, 19, 23,
    25, 39 (note).

"_Reindeer._" British sloop of war.
  Captured by "Wasp," ii. 254.

_Riall, Phineas._ British general, commanding on Niagara frontier,
    December, 1813.
  Captures Fort Niagara, and raids successfully western New York,
    burning towns in retaliation for the burning of Newark, ii. 120-122;
  in 1814, suggests destruction of Fort Niagara, 275;
  at Chippewa and Lundy's Lane, with intervening operations, 295-298,
  wounded and captured at Lundy's Lane, 310.

_Rodgers, John._ Captain, U.S.N.
  Encounter with British sloop "Little Belt," i. 256-259;
  commands a squadron at declaration of war, 314;
  opinion as to proper mode of using navy against enemy's commerce,
    317-320; ii. 130-131, 216;
  orders of Navy Department to, 320;
  sails with squadron on the first cruise of the war, 322;
  incidents, 323-324,
    and effects, direct and indirect, of first cruise of, 324-327;
  effects of second cruise, 402-404;
  incidents of second cruise, with "President" and "Congress," 407-409;
  incidents of third cruise, in "President" alone, ii. 128-129;
  after fourth cruise, enters New York, and turns over command of
    "President" to Decatur, i. 405.
  Employed in Potomac River, harassing retreat of British squadron from
    Alexandria, 350.

_Rose, George H._
  British special envoy to Washington for settlement of "Chesapeake"
    affair, i. 165-167;
  failure of mission, 167.

_Ross, Robert._ British general employed in Chesapeake expedition.
  Instructions issued to, ii. 331;
  capture of Washington, 340-351;
  killed in advance against Baltimore, 357;
  instructions to, for New Orleans expedition, 385-386;
  sanguine expectations of, after capture of Washington, 424-425;
  succeeded by Sir Edward Pakenham for New Orleans expedition, 392, 427.

_Rottenburg, De._
  British general in command on Niagara frontier June, 1813, ii. 69;
  declines to detach to aid of Procter and Barclay on Lake Erie, 69;
  proceeds to Kingston, with re-enforcements, in anticipation of
    American attack, 110-111;
  despatches detachment in pursuit of Wilkinson's movement down the St.
    Lawrence, 114.

_Russell, Jonathan._
  American _chargé d'affaires_ in France, after Armstrong's departure,
    i. 247;
  correspondence with American and French Governments relative to the
    alleged repeal of the French Decrees, quoted, 247, 267, 268;
  transferred as _chargé_ to London, 264;
  correspondence as such with American and British Governments, quoted,
    264, 266, 272-278;
  opinion of the alleged French Decree of April 28, 1811, 272, 276;
  negotiation with Castlereagh, after declaration of war, looking to
    suspension of hostilities, ii. 409-411;
  appointed additional peace commissioner at Ghent, 413.

  Offers in 1812 mediation between Great Britain and United States,
    ii. 411;
  accepted by United States, but rejected by Great Britain, 412;
  attitude of Czar towards America, 423-124, 428.

_Sackett's Harbor._ American naval station on Lake Ontario.
  Conditions at, i. 302, 309, 363, 374, 376; ii. 37, 38, 50, 104-106,
    110-113, 119, 276, 278, 280, 281, 291, 304;
  ships constructed at, 364, 366, 377; ii. 49, 276, 283, 291, 318 (note);
  attack upon, by Prevost and Yeo, ii. 42-45;
  Brown's march from, to Niagara frontier, 281;
  Yeo's blockade of, 285,
    abandoned, 290;
  Izard's march to, on way to support Brown at Niagara, 319-320;
  Chauncey retires finally to, after launch of the British "St.
    Lawrence," 323;
  destruction of, prescribed to Prevost by instructions, in 1814, 329, 362;
  Yeo's observations at, 318 (note).

_Seaboard, United States._
  Conditions on, i. 296-298, 300, 310-313, 360, 393, 404-406;
    ii. 15-19, 24-27, 127-128, 148-150, 152-155, 202;
  Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, 1813, ii. 155-178;
  three divisions of the seaboard, Northern, Middle, and Southern, 178;
  distinctive topographical features of each, 178, 179, 183, 184, 193, 195;
  proportionate effect of the war upon each, with reasons therefor,
  commercial and military characteristics of Middle section, 183-184;
  necessity of coasting trade to Middle, 184,
    less than to Northern and Southern, 185-187;
  effect of hostile pressure upon coasting in Northern section, 192-194;
  in Southern section, 195-198, 203;
  effectual separation between the sections by the British blockades,
  statistics of export, 201;
  momentary importance of North Carolina coast, 203;
  effects of pressure upon seaboard shown by rebound upon peace, in
    prices, and in shipping statistics, 204-207;
  statement by a naval officer of the time, 207-208;
  operations in Chesapeake Bay, 1814, 336-341, 350-351;
  capture of Washington, 341-350;
  occurrences on New England coast, 352;
  invasion of Maine, and occupation of Castine, 353-354;
  Gulf coast and New Orleans, 382-397.

_Scott, Winfield._ American general.
  Quoted, i. 336; ii. 48, 104 (note), 118, 240 (note), 297;
  joins Wilkinson's expedition down the St. Lawrence, ii. 113;
  on Niagara frontier, in 1814, 279, 281, 282;
  battle of Chippewa, 294-298;
  Lundy's Lane, 306-311;
  severely wounded, 311,
    and unable to serve again during the campaign, 314;
  president of the Court of Inquiry concerning the capture of
    Washington, 341-342.

"_Shannon._" British frigate, blockading off New York.
  Pursuit of "Constitution," and protection of convoy, i. 325-329;
  admirable efficiency of, under Captain Broke, 133-134;
  capture of "Chesapeake" by, 135-145;
  reported injuries to, 146-147.

_Sheffield, Lord._ British writer on economical questions.
  Conspicuous opponent of Pitt's policy in opening West India trade to
    American navigation, i. 50;
  leading constructive ideas of, in scheme of policy towards the United
    States, 63-64, 65-66;
  success of, in preventing Pitt's measure, 67, 68;
  Gibbon's estimate of, 73 (note);
  apparent temporary success of policy of, 75-79;
  Canada and the other North-American colonies fail to fulfil the part
    expected from them, 86;
  pamphlet of, "Observations on the Commerce of the American States," 65;
  quotations from, i. 28 (note), 31 (note), 37 (and note), 46, 47, 49,
    50, 57, 65, 72.

_Sherbrooke, Sir John._ British general, Governor of Nova Scotia.
  Ordered to occupy so much of Maine as shall insure direct
    communication between Halifax and Quebec, ii. 353;
  expedition to the Penobscot, and seizure of Castine and Machias, 354;
  Wellington's opinion of the result, 354, 431.

_Sinclair, Arthur._ Commander, U.S.N., commanding on Upper Lakes, in
    1814, ii. 324;
  operations of, 324-328;
  mentioned, 333.

_Smith, Adam._
  Quoted in connection with the Navigation Act, i. 9-10, 49.

_Smith, Robert._
  American Secretary of State during early part of Madison's first term,
    i. 222;
  correspondence with, and in the case of, Jackson, the British minister
    to Washington, 222-228;
  attributes to Madison's intervention an offensive expression in letter
    to Erskine, 228-229.

_Smith, Samuel._ Senator from Maryland.
  Quoted in connection with Embargo legislation, i. 184.

_Stewart, Charles._ Captain, U.S.N.
  Commands "Constellation," ii. 11,
    when driven into Norfolk, and there blockaded for the rest of the
    war, 12;
  his reports while in Norfolk waters, 10, 17, 160-162;
  transferred to the "Constitution," at Boston, 161, 162;
  difficulty in escaping from Boston, 147 (see also i. 405 and ii. 12);
  first cruise in "Constitution," 230-231;
  second escape, 404;
  captures "Cyane" and "Levant," 405-406;
  quoted, ii. 12, 20.

_Strong, Caleb._ Governor of Massachusetts.
  Quoted, in support of British claim to impress, i. 7;
  in condemnation of the war, and of the invasion of Canada, ii. 352.

_St. Vincent, Earl of._ British admiral and First Lord of the Admiralty.
  Statements and opinions concerning impressment, during Rufus King's
    negotiations, i. 124-126.

_Turreau, General._ French Minister to the United States.
  Opinion that Erskine's concessions showed the break-down of Great
    Britain, i. 230.

_Vincent, John._
  British general, commanding on Niagara line, at the time of Dearborn's
    attack, ii. 38;
  retreat to Burlington, 39;
  attack by, at Stony Creek, 46;
  on American retreat reoccupies peninsula, except Fort George, 47-48;
  superseded by De Rottenburg, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, 69;
  left again in command by De Rottenburg's departure to Kingston, 110;
  retreats again to Burlington on the news of battle of the Thames,
    103, 118;
  ordered to retire further, to York, and reasons for not doing so, 118.

_Warren, Sir John._
  British admiral, and commander-in-chief on North American station,
    i. 387;
  Halifax and West Indian stations consolidated under, 387;
  charged with diplomatic overture to American Government, 390;
  reply received by, 391;
  first impressions on arrival, 392;
  representations to, 401,
    and correspondence with, Admiralty, 402-404;
  proclamations of blockades, ii. 9, 10;
  the lakes service under supervision of, 28;
  expectations of British Government and people from, 151;
  operations in the Chesapeake, 155-169;
  quits Chesapeake for the season, 177;
  urgency of the Admiralty upon, 209-211;
  relieved by Cochrane, 330.
  Remark quoted, 332.

_Warrington, Lewis._ Commander, U.S.N., commanding "Peacock."
  Captures "Epervier," ii. 258-261;
  subsequent cruise, 261-262;
  later cruise, 406-408.

_Washington, City of._
  Capture by the British, ii. 337-350.

_Washington, George._
  Statements concerning conditions in the United States before the
    adoption of the Constitution, i. 47;
  as President of the United States, recommendations concerning the navy,
    ii. 212-213.

"_Wasp._" American sloop of war.
  Action with, and capture of, "Frolic," i. 411-415;
  is captured with her prize by the "Poictiers," seventy-four, 415.

"_Wasp._" American sloop of war, built and named for the last, which
    was captured only by overwhelming force.
  Cruise of, ii. 253-258;
  action with, and capture of, "Reindeer," 254;
  action with, and sinking of, "Avon," 256;
  disappears at sea, 257.

_Wellesley, Marquis of._ British Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
  Succeeds Canning, i. 229;
  treatment of the Jackson case, 230-231, 250-252;
  action in view of Champagny's letter, 238, 241-247;
  construction placed by him upon the American demands consequent on
    that letter, 246;
  dilatory actions of, 252;
  suggests to Pinkney to reconsider his intended departure, in view of
    the nomination of Foster, 252;
  summary statement of the British policy in the Orders in Council,

_Wellington, Duke of._
  Represents to British Government conditions in France, 1814, ii. 428,
    and imminence of trouble in Paris, 429;
  anxiety of British Government, to remove him from Paris, 429;
  pressed to accept the command in America, 429;
  reluctance of, 430;
  influence of, upon the negotiations at Ghent, 430-431;
  approves Prevost's retreat in default of naval command of the lakes,
  opinion of Sherbrooke's occupation of Maine, 431 (see also 354).

_West Indies._
  Relations of, to the mother country and to the colonies of the American
    continent, i. 32-40, 53-55, 56-58, 65-67;
  British expectation that in these relations the lost colonies might
    be replaced by Canada, Nova Scotia, etc., 44-48, 50-51, 64;
  sufferings of, after 1776 and 1783, 54, 62-63, 67;
  Pitt's measure, 1783, for benefit of, 58-60;
  measure fails, and Navigation Acts applied to intercourse between
    United States and, 68-70;
  effect upon, 75, 78, 79;
  recommendations of Committee of Privy Council, 1791, 82-84;
  increased importance of, after outbreak of French Revolution, 86-88;
  result, in fettering American intercourse with, 89, 95;
  concession to United States of trade to, obtained in Jay's treaty, 96;
  continued by British executive order, although article not confirmed
    by Senate, 97;
  course of British policy relating to, until 1805, 97-100;
  question of American trade from, "direct" or "indirect," raised in
    1805, 100;
  decision adverse to American interests, 101-103;
  object of new departure of British Government, 103;
  principle asserted identical with colonial practice, and with Orders
    in Council of 1807, which led to War of 1812, 104.
  As a field for operations against commerce, ii. 229-240.

_Wilkinson, James._ American general.
  Replaces Dearborn in command of New York frontier, ii. 104;
  Armstrong's instructions to, 105;
  movements of, 106;
  concentrates at Sackett's Harbor, 109-111;
  expedition down St. Lawrence against Montreal, 112-115;
  failure of, and winter quarters at French Mills, 116;
  removes thence to Plattsburg, 278;
  abortive attempt against La Colle, 282-283;
  superseded by Izard, 283.

_Winder, William H._ American general.
  Captured in the British attack at Stony Creek, ii. 47, 341;
  appointed to command the tenth military district, including Baltimore
    and Washington, 341;
  conditions found by, as shown by Court of Inquiry, 342;
  operations of, 343-350.

_Woolsey, Melancthon T._ Lieutenant (afterwards captain), U.S.N.
  Commands brig "Oneida" on Lake Ontario when war begins, i. 354;
  employed organizing lake force, 364;
  affairs at Oswego, 1813, ii. 50-51;
  successful expedition by, in 1814, 285-289.

_Yeo, Sir James Lucas._ British commodore.
  Appointed to charge of lakes service, under Sir J. Warren, ii. 29;
  attack on Sackett's Harbor, in combination with army, 42-45;
  in temporary control of Lake Ontario, 46-51;
  contest with Chauncey in 1813, 51-61;
  action of August 10, 56-59,
    and September 11, 60;
  action of September 28, 106-109;
  subsequent movements in 1813, 111, 114;
  proposed renewed attack on Sackett's Harbor, 280, 283;
  made on Oswego instead, 284;
  blockades Sackett's Harbor for a time, 285-289;
  abandons blockade, returns to Kingston, and there remains, 290;
  opinion of the importance of the St. Lawrence River, 292;
  inactive policy during summer of 1814, 303, 307;
  launches, and takes the lake with, a ship of 102 guns, giving him
    entire control, 323;
  observations at Sackett's Harbor, on his return to England after
    peace, 318 (note);
  given independent command on lakes after Warren's detachment, 330.

       *       *       *       *       *

    | Typographical errors corrected in text:                   |
    |                                                           |
    | Page  13: vesesls replaced with vessels                   |
    | Page 131: frustated replaced with frustrated              |
    | Page 184: Philadephia replaced with Philadelphia          |
    |                                                           |

       *       *       *       *       *

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812 - Volume 2" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.