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Title: The Fight for a Free Sea: A Chronicle of the War of 1812 - The Chronicles of America Series, Volume 17
Author: Paine, Ralph Delahaye, 1871-1925
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 "The Fight for a Free Sea: A Chronicle of the War of 1812 - The Chronicles of America Series, Volume 17" ***

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[Illustration: "_OLD IRONSIDES_"

The old frigate _Constitution_ as she appears today in her snug
berth at the Boston Navy Yard where she is preserved as an
historical relic.

Photograph by N. L. Stebbins, Boston.]












The old frigate _Constitution_ as she appears today in her snug berth at
the Boston Navy Yard where she is preserved as an historical relic.
Photograph by N. L. Stebbins, Boston.


Map by W. L. G. Joerg, American Geographical Society.


Painting by J. W. Jarvis. In the City Hall, New York, owned by the
the City of New York.


Painting in the Comptroller's Office, City Hall, New York, owned by the
the City of New York.


Painting by Thomas Sully, 1811. In the Comptroller's Office, owned by
the City of New York.


An old print, illustrating the moment in the action at which the
mainmast of the _Guerrière_, shattered by the terrific fire of the
American frigate, fell overside, transforming the former vessel into a
floating wreck and terminating the action. The picture represents
accurately the surprisingly slight damage done the _Constitution_: note
the broken spanker gaff and the shot holes in her topsails.


Painting by J. W. Jarvis. In the City Hall, New York, owned by the


Painting by J. W. Jarvis. In the City Hall, New York, owned by the
Corporation. Reproduced by courtesy of the Municipal Art Commission of
the City of New York.


The _Constellation_, of which this is a photograph, is somewhat smaller
than the _Constitution_, being rated at 38 guns as against 44 for the
latter. In general appearance, however, and particularly in rig, the two
types are very similar. Although the Constellation did not herself see
action in the War of 1812, she is a good example of the heavily armed
American frigate of that day--and the only one of them still to be seen
at sea under sail within recent years. At the present time the
_Constellation_ lies moored at the pier of the Naval Training Station,
Newport, R. I. Photograph by E. Müller, Jr., Inc., New York.


Painting by J. W. Jarvis. In the City Hall, New York, owned by the


Painting by J. W. Jarvis. In the City Hall, New York, owned by the



The American people of today, weighed in the balances of the greatest
armed conflict of all time and found not wanting, can afford to survey,
in a spirit of candid scrutiny and without reviving an ancient grudge,
that turbulent episode in the welding of their nation which is called
the War of 1812. In spite of defeats and disappointments this war was,
in the large, enduring sense, a victory. It was in this renewed defiance
of England that the dream of the founders of the Republic and the ideals
of the embattled farmers of Bunker Hill and Saratoga achieved their
goal. Henceforth the world was to respect these States, not as so many
colonies bitterly wrangling among themselves, but as a sovereign and
independent nation.

The War of 1812, like the American Revolution, was a valiant contest
for survival on the part of the spirit of freedom. It was essentially
akin to the world-wide struggle of a century later, when sons of the old
foemen of 1812--sons of the painted Indians and of the Kentucky pioneers
in fringed buckskins, sons of the New Hampshire ploughboys clad in
homespun, sons of the Canadian militia and the red-coated regulars of
the British line, sons of the tarry seamen of the _Constitution_ and the
_Guerrière_--stood side by side as brothers in arms to save from brutal
obliteration the same spirit of freedom. And so it is that in Flanders
fields today the poppies blow above the graves of the sons of the men
who fought each other a century ago in the Michigan wilderness and at
Lundy's Lane.

The causes and the background of the War of 1812 are presented elsewhere
in this series of Chronicles.[1] Great Britain, at death grips with
Napoleon, paid small heed to the rights and dignities of neutral
nations. The harsh and selfish maritime policy of the age, expressed in
the British Navigation Acts and intensified by the struggle with
Napoleon, led the Mistress of the Seas to perpetrate indignity after
indignity on the ships and sailors which were carrying American commerce
around the world. The United States demanded a free sea, which Great
Britain would not grant. Of necessity, then, such futile weapons as
embargoes and non-intercourse acts had to give place to the musket, the
bayonet, and the carronade. There could be no compromise between the
clash of doctrines. It was for the United States to assert herself,
regardless of the odds, or sink into a position of supine dependency
upon the will of Great Britain and the wooden walls of her invincible

[Footnote 1: See _Jefferson and His Colleagues_, by Allen Johnson (in
_The Chronicles of America_).]

"Free Trade and Sailors' Rights!" was the American war cry. It expressed
the two grievances which outweighed all others--the interference with
American shipping and the ruthless impressment of seamen from beneath
the Stars and Stripes. No less high-handed than Great Britain's were
Napoleon's offenses against American commerce, and there was just cause
for war with France. Yet Americans felt the greater enmity toward
England, partly as an inheritance from the Revolution, but chiefly
because of the greater injury which England had wrought, owing to her
superior strength on the sea.

There were, to be sure, other motives in the conflict. It is not to be
supposed that the frontiersmen of the Northwest and Southwest, who
hailed the war with enthusiasm, were ardently aroused to redress wrongs
inflicted upon their seafaring countrymen. Their enmity towards Great
Britain was compounded of quite different grievances. Behind the recent
Indian wars on the frontier they saw, or thought they saw, British
paymasters. The red trappers and hunters of the forest were bloodily
defending their lands; and there was a long-standing bond of interest
between them and the British in Canada. The British were known to the
tribes generally as fur traders, not "land stealers"; and the great
traffic carried on by the merchants of Montreal, not only in the
Canadian wilderness but also in the American Northwest, naturally drew
Canadians and Indians into the same camp. "On to Canada!" was the slogan
of the frontiersmen. It expressed at once their desire to punish the
hereditary foe and to rid themselves of an unfriendly power to the

The United States was poorly prepared and equipped for military and
naval campaigns when, in June, 1812, Congress declared war on Great
Britain. Nothing had been learned from the costly blunders of the
Revolution, and the delusion that readiness for war was a menace to
democracy had influenced the Government to absurd extremes. The regular
army comprised only sixty-seven hundred men, scattered over an enormous
country and on garrison service from which they could not be safely
withdrawn. They were without traditions and without experience in actual
warfare. Winfield Scott, at that time a young officer in the regular
army, wrote:

     The old officers had very generally sunk into either sloth,
     ignorance, or habits of intemperate drinking.... Many of the
     appointments were positively bad, and a majority of the remainder
     indifferent. Party spirit of that day knew no bounds, and was of
     course blind to policy. Federalists were almost entirely excluded
     from selection, though great numbers were eager for the field....
     Where there was no lack of educated men in the dominant party, the
     appointments consisted generally of swaggerers, dependents, decayed
     gentlemen, and others "fit for nothing else," which always turned
     out utterly unfit for any military purpose whatever.

The main reliance was to be on militia and volunteers, an army of the
free people rushing to arms in defense of their liberties, as voiced by
Jefferson and echoed more than a century later by another spokesman of
democracy. There was the stuff for splendid soldiers in these farmers
and woodsmen, but in many lamentable instances their regiments were no
more than irresponsible armed mobs. Until as recently as the War with
Spain, the perilous fallacy persisted that the States should retain
control of their several militia forces in time of war and deny final
authority to the Federal Government. It was this doctrine which so
nearly wrecked the cause of the Revolution. George Washington had
learned the lesson through painful experience, but his counsel was
wholly disregarded; and, because it serves as a text and an
interpretation for much of the humiliating history which we are about to
follow, that counsel is here quoted in part. Washington wrote in

     Had we formed a permanent army in the beginning, which by the
     continuance of the same men in service had been capable of
     discipline, we never should have had to retreat with a handful of
     men across the Delaware in 1776, trembling for the fate of America,
     which nothing but the infatuation of the enemy could have saved; we
     should not have remained all the succeeding winter at their mercy,
     with sometimes scarcely a sufficient body of men to mount the
     ordinary guards, liable at every moment to be dissipated if they
     had only thought proper to march against us; we should not have
     been under the necessity of fighting Brandywine with an unequal
     number of raw troops, and afterwards of seeing Philadelphia fall a
     prey to a victorious army; we should not have been at Valley Forge
     with less than half the force of the enemy, destitute of
     everything, in a situation neither to resist or to retire; we
     should not have seen New York left with a handful of men, yet an
     overmatch for the main army of these States, while the principal
     part of their force was detached for the reduction of two of them;
     we should not have found ourselves this spring so weak as to be
     insulted by 5000 men, unable to protect our baggage and magazines,
     their security depending on a good countenance and a want of
     enterprise in the enemy; we should not have been, the greatest part
     of the war, inferior to the enemy, indebted for our safety to their
     inactivity, enduring frequently the mortification of seeing
     inviting opportunities to ruin them pass unimproved for want of a
     force which the country was completely able to afford, and of
     seeing the country ravaged, our towns burnt, the inhabitants
     plundered, abused, murdered, with impunity from the same cause.

The War of 1812, besides being hampered by short enlistments, confused
authority, and incompetent officers, was fought by a country and an army
divided against itself. When Congress authorized the enrollment of one
hundred thousand militia, the governors of Massachusetts and Connecticut
refused to furnish their quotas, objecting to the command of United
States officers and to the sending of men beyond the borders of their
own States. This attitude fairly indicated the feeling of New England,
which was opposed to the war and openly spoke of secession. Moreover,
the wealthy merchants and bankers of New England declined to subscribe
to the national loans when the Treasury at Washington was bankrupt, and
vast quantities of supplies were shipped from New England seaports to
the enemy in Canada. It was an extraordinary paradox that those States
which had seen their sailors impressed by thousands and which had
suffered most heavily from England's attacks on neutral commerce should
have arrayed themselves in bitter opposition to the cause and the
Government. It was "Mr. Madison's War," they said, and he could win or
lose it--and pay the bills, for that matter.

The American navy was in little better plight than the army. England
flew the royal ensign over six hundred ships of war and was the
undisputed sovereign of the seas. Opposed to this mighty armada were
five frigates, three ships, and seven brigs, which Monroe recommended
should be "kept in a body in a safe port." Not worth mention were the
two hundred ridiculous little gunboats which had to stow the one cannon
below to prevent capsizing when they ventured out of harbor. These craft
were a pet notion of Jefferson. "Believing, myself," he said of them,
"that gunboats are the only water defense which can be useful to us and
protect us from the ruinous folly of a navy, I am pleased with
everything which promises to improve them."

A nation of eight million people, unready, blundering, rent by internal
dissension, had resolved to challenge an England hardened by war and
tremendously superior in military resources. It was not all madness,
however, for the vast empire of Canada lay exposed to invasion, and in
this quarter the enemy was singularly vulnerable. Henry Clay spoke for
most of his countrymen beyond the boundaries of New England when he
announced to Congress: "The conquest of Canada is in your power. I trust
that I shall not be deemed presumptuous when I state that I verily
believe that the militia of Kentucky are alone competent to place
Montreal and Upper Canada at your feet. Is it nothing to the British
nation; is it nothing to the pride of her monarch to have the last
immense North American possession held by him in the commencement of his
reign wrested from his dominions?" Even Jefferson was deluded into
predicting that the capture of Canada as far as Quebec would be a mere
matter of marching through the country and would give the troops
experience for the attack on Halifax and the final expulsion of England
from the American continent.

The British Provinces, extending twelve hundred miles westward to Lake
Superior, had a population of less than five hundred thousand; but a
third of these were English immigrants or American Loyalists and their
descendants, types of folk who would hardly sit idly and await invasion.
That they should resist or strike back seems not to have been expected
in the war councils of the amiable Mr. Madison. Nor were other and
manifold dangers taken into account by those who counseled war. The
Great Lakes were defenseless, the warlike Indians of the Northwest were
in arms and awaiting the British summons, while the whole country beyond
the Wabash and the Maumee was almost unguarded. Isolated here and there
were stockades containing a few dozen men beyond hope of rescue,
frontier posts of what is now the Middle West. Plans of campaign were
prepared without thought of the insuperable difficulties of transport
through regions in which there were neither roads, provisions, towns,
nor navigable rivers. Armies were maneuvered and victories won upon the
maps in the office of the Secretary of War. Generals were selected by
some inscrutable process which decreed that dull-witted, pompous
incapables should bungle campaigns and waste lives.

It was wisely agreed that of all the strategic points along this
far-flung and thinly held frontier, Detroit should receive the earliest
attention. At all costs this point was to be safeguarded as a base for
the advance into Canada from the west. A remote trading post within
gunshot of the enemy across the river and menaced by tribes of hostile
Indians, Detroit then numbered eight hundred inhabitants and was
protected only by a stout enclosure of logs. For two hundred miles to
the nearest friendly settlements in Ohio, the line of communications was
a forest trail which skirted Lake Erie for some distance and could
easily be cut by the enemy. From Detroit it was the intention of the
Americans to strike the first blow at the Canadian post of Amherstburg
near by.

The stage was now set for the entrance of General William Hull as one of
the luckless, unheroic figures upon whom the presidential power of
appointment bestowed the trappings of high military command. He was by
no means the worst of these. In fact, the choice seemed auspicious. Hull
had seen honorable service in the Revolution and had won the esteem of
George Washington. He was now Governor of Michigan Territory. At sixty
years of age he had no desire to gird on the sword. He was persuaded by
Madison, however, to accept a brigadier general's commission and to lead
the force ordered to Detroit. His instructions were vague, but in June,
1812, shortly before the declaration of war, he took command of two
thousand regulars and militia at Dayton, Ohio, and began the arduous
advance through the wilderness towards Detroit. The adventure was
launched with energy. These hardy, reliant men knew how to cut roads, to
bridge streams, and to exist on scanty rations. Until sickness began to
decimate their ranks, they advanced at an encouraging rate and were
almost halfway to Detroit when the tidings of the outbreak of
hostilities overtook them. General Hull forthwith hurried his troops to
the Maumee River, leaving their camp equipment and heavy stores behind.
He now committed his first crass blunder. Though the British controlled
the waters of Lake Erie, yet he sent a schooner ahead with all his
hospital supplies, intrenching tools, official papers, and muster rolls.
The little vessel was captured within sight of Detroit and the documents
proved invaluable to the British commander of Upper Canada, Major
General Isaac Brock, who gained thereby a complete idea of the American
plans and proceeded to act accordingly. Brock was a soldier of uncommon
intelligence and resolution, acquitting himself with distinction, and
contrasting with his American adversaries in a manner rather painful to

At length Hull reached Detroit and crossed the river to assume the
offensive. He was strongly hopeful of success. The Canadians appeared
friendly and several hundred sought his protection. Even the enemy's
militia were deserting to his colors. In a proclamation Hull looked
forward to a bloodless conquest, informing the Canadians that they were
to be emancipated from tyranny and oppression and restored to the
dignified station of freemen. "I have a force which will break down all
opposition," said he, "and that force is but the vanguard of a much

He soundly reasoned that unless a movement could be launched against
Niagara, at the other end of Lake Erie, the whole strength of the
British might be thrown against him and that he was likely to be trapped
in Detroit. There was a general plan of campaign, submitted by Major
General Henry Dearborn before the war began, which provided for a
threefold invasion--from Sackett's Harbor on Lake Ontario, from
Niagara, and from Detroit--in support of a grand attack along the route
leading past Lake Champlain to Montreal. Theoretically, it was good
enough strategy, but no attempt had been made to prepare the execution,
and there was no leader competent to direct it.

In response to Hull's urgent appeal, Dearborn, who was puttering about
between Boston and Albany, confessed that he knew nothing about what was
going on at Niagara. He ranked as the commander-in-chief of the American
forces and he awoke from his habitual stupor to ask himself this amazing
question: "Who is to have the command of the operations in Upper Canada?
I take it for granted that my command does not extend to that distant
quarter." If Dearborn did not know who was in control of the operations
at Niagara, it was safe to say that nobody else did, and Hull was left
to deal with the increasing forces in front of him and the hordes of
Indians in the rear, to garrison Detroit, to assault the fort at
Amherstburg, to overcome the British naval forces on Lake Erie--and all
without the slightest help or cooperation from his Government.

Meanwhile Brock had ascertained that the American force at Niagara
consisted of a few hundred militia with no responsible officer in
command, who were making a pretense of patrolling thirty-six miles of
frontier. They were undisciplined, ragged, without tents, shoes, money,
or munitions, and ready to fall back if attacked or to go home unless
soon relieved. Having nothing to fear in that quarter, Brock gathered up
a small body of regulars as he marched and proceeded to Amherstburg to
finish the business of the unfortunate Hull.

That Hull deserves some pity as well as the disgrace which overwhelmed
him is quite apparent. Most of his troops were ill-equipped, unreliable,
and insubordinate. Even during the march to Detroit he had to use a
regular regiment to compel the obedience of twelve hundred mutinous
militiamen who refused to advance. Their own officer could do nothing
with them. At Detroit two hundred of them refused to cross the river, on
the ground that they were not obliged to serve outside the United
States. Granted such extenuation as this, however, Hull showed himself
so weak and contemptible in the face of danger that he could not expect
his fighting men to maintain any respect for him.

His fatal flaw was lack of courage and promptitude. He did not know how
to play a poor hand well. In the emergency which confronted him he was
like a dull sword in a rusty scabbard. While the enemy waited for
reinforcements, he might have captured Amherstburg. He had the superior
force, and yet he delayed and lost heart while his regiments dwindled
because of sickness and desertion and jeered at his leadership. The
watchful Indians, led by the renowned Tecumseh, learned to despise the
Americans instead of fearing them, and were eager to take the warpath
against so easy a prey. Already other bands of braves were hastening
from Lake Huron and from Mackinac, whose American garrison had been
wiped out.

Brooding and shaken, like an old man utterly undone, Hull abandoned his
pretentious invasion of Canada and retreated across the river to shelter
his troops behind the log barricades of Detroit. He sent six hundred men
to try to open a line to Ohio, but, after a sharp encounter with a
British force, Hull was obliged to admit that they "could only open
communication as far as the points of their bayonets extended." His only
thought was to extricate himself, not to stand and fight a winning
battle without counting the cost. His officers felt only contempt for
his cowardice. They were convinced that the tide could be turned in
their favor. There were steadfast men in the ranks who were eager to
take the measure of the redcoats. The colonels were in open mutiny and,
determined to set General Hull aside, they offered the command to
Colonel Miller of the regulars, who declined to accept it. When Hull
proposed a general retreat, he was informed that every man of the Ohio
militia would refuse to obey the order. These troops who had been so
fickle and jealous of their rights were unwilling to share the leader's

Two days after his arrival at Amherstburg, General Brock sent to the
Americans a summons to surrender, adding with a crafty discernment of
the effect of the threat upon the mind of the man with whom he was
dealing: "You must be aware that the numerous body of Indians who have
attached themselves to my troops will be beyond my control the moment
the contest commences." Hull could see only the horrid picture of a
massacre of the women and children within the stockades of Detroit. He
failed to realize that his thousand effective infantrymen could hold out
for weeks behind those log ramparts against Brock's few hundred regulars
and volunteers. Two and a half years later, Andrew Jackson and his
militia emblazoned a very different story behind the cypress
breastworks of New Orleans. Besides the thousand men in the fort, Hull
had detached five hundred under Colonels McArthur and Cass to attempt to
break through the Indian cordon in his rear and obtain supplies. These
he now vainly endeavored to recall while he delayed a final reply to
Brock's mandate.

Indecision had doomed the garrison which was now besieged. Tecumseh's
warriors had crossed the river and were between the fort and McArthur's
column. Brock boldly decided to assault, a desperate venture, but he
must have known that Hull's will had crumbled. No more than seven
hundred strong, the little British force crossed the river just before
daybreak on the 16th of August and was permitted to select its positions
without the slightest molestation. A few small field pieces, posted on
the Canadian side of the river, hurled shot into the fort, killing four
of Hull's men, and two British armed schooners lay within range.

Brock advanced, expecting to suffer large losses from the heavy guns
which were posted to cover the main approach to the fort, but his men
passed through the zone of danger and found cover in which they made
ready to storm the defenses of Detroit. As Brock himself walked forward
to take note of the situation before giving the final commands, a white
flag fluttered from the battery in front of him. Without firing a shot,
Hull had surrendered Detroit and with it the great territory of
Michigan, the most grievous loss of domain that the United States has
ever suffered in war or peace. On the same day Fort Dearborn (Chicago),
which had been forgotten by the Government, was burned by Indians after
all its defenders had been slain. These two disasters with the earlier
fall of Mackinac practically erased American dominion from the western
empire of the Great Lakes. Visions of the conquest of Canada were thus
rudely dimmed in the opening actions of the war.

General Hull was tried by court-martial on charges of treason,
cowardice, and neglect of duty. He was convicted on the last two charges
and sentenced to be shot, with a recommendation to the mercy of the
President. The verdict was approved by Madison, but he remitted the
execution of the sentence because of the old man's services in the
Revolution. Guilty though he was, an angry and humiliated people also
made him the scapegoat for the sins of neglect and omission of which
their Government stood convicted. In the testimony offered at his trial
there was a touch, rude, vivid, and very human, to portray him in the
final hours of the tragic episode at Detroit. Spurned by his officers,
he sat on the ground with his back against the rampart while "he
apparently unconsciously filled his mouth with tobacco, putting in quid
after quid more than he generally did; the spittle colored with tobacco
juice ran from his mouth on his neckcloth, beard, cravat, and vest."

Later events in the Northwest Territory showed that the British
successes in that region were gained chiefly because of an unworthy
alliance with the Indian tribes, whose barbarous methods of warfare
stained the records of those who employed them. "Not more than seven or
eight hundred British soldiers ever crossed the Detroit River," says
Henry Adams, "but the United States raised fully twenty thousand men and
spent at least five million dollars and many lives in expelling them.
The Indians alone made this outlay necessary. The campaign of
Tippecanoe, the surrender of Detroit and Mackinaw, the massacres at Fort
Dearborn, the river Raisin, and Fort Meigs, the murders along the
frontier, and the campaign of 1813 were the prices paid for the Indian
lands in the Wabash Valley."

Before the story shifts to the other fields of the war, it seems
logical to follow to its finally successful result the bloody, wasteful
struggle for the recovery of the lost territory. This operation required
large armies and long campaigns, together with the naval supremacy of
Lake Erie, won in the next year by Oliver Hazard Perry, before the
fugitive British forces fell back from the charred ruins of Detroit and
Amherstburg and were soundly beaten at the battle of the Thames--the one
decisive, clean-cut American victory of the war on the Canadian
frontier. These events showed that far too much had been expected of
General William Hull, who comprehended his difficulties but made no
attempt to batter a way through them, forgetting that to die and win is
always better than to live and fail.



General William Henry Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe and the Governor
of Indiana Territory, whose capital was at Vincennes on the Wabash,
possessed the experience and the instincts of a soldier. He had foreseen
that Hull, unless he received support, must either abandon Detroit or be
hopelessly hemmed in. The task of defending the western border was
ardently undertaken by the States of Kentucky and Ohio. They believed in
the war and were ready to aid it with the men and resources of a
vigorous population of almost a million. When the word came that Hull
was in desperate straits, Harrison hastened to organize a relief
expedition. Before he could move, Detroit had fallen. But a high tide of
enthusiasm swept him on toward an attempt to recover the lost empire.
The Federal Government approved his plans and commissioned him as
commander of the Northwestern army of ten thousand men.

In the early autumn of 1812, General Harrison launched his ambitious and
imposing campaign, by which three separate bodies of troops were to
advance and converge within striking distance of Detroit, while a fourth
was to invade and destroy the nests of Indians on the Wabash and
Illinois rivers. An active British force might have attacked and
defeated these isolated columns one by one, for they were beyond
supporting distance of each other; but Brock now needed his regulars for
the defense of the Niagara frontier. The scattered American army,
including brigades from Virginia and Pennsylvania, was too strong to be
checked by Indian forays, but it had not reckoned with the obstacles of
an unfriendly wilderness and climate. In October, no more than a month
after the bugles had sounded the advance, the campaign was halted,
demoralized and darkly uncertain. A vast swamp stretched as a barrier
across the route and heavy rains made it impassable.

Hull had crossed the same swamp with his small force in the favorable
summer season, but Harrison was unable to transport the food and war
material needed by his ten thousand men. A million rations were
required at the goal of the Maumee Rapids, and yet after two months of
heartbreaking endeavor not a pound of provisions had been carried within
fifty miles of this place. Wagons and pack-trains floundered in the mud
and were abandoned. The rivers froze and thwarted the use of flotillas
of scows. Winter closed down, and the American army was forlornly mired
and blockaded along two hundred miles of front. The troops at Fort
Defiance ate roots and bark. Typhus broke out among them, and they died
like flies. For the failure to supply the army, the War Department was
largely responsible, and Secretary Eustis very properly resigned in
December. This removed one glaring incompetent from the list but it
failed to improve Harrison's situation.

It was not until the severe frosts of January, 1813, fettered the swamps
that Harrison was able to extricate his troops and forward supplies to
the shore of Lake Erie for an offensive against Amherstburg. First in
motion was the left wing of thirteen hundred Kentucky militia and
regulars under General Winchester. This officer was an elderly planter
who, like Hull, had worn a uniform in the Revolution. He had no great
aptitude for war and was held in low esteem by the Kentuckians of his
command--hungry, mutinous, and disgusted men, who were counting the days
before their enlistments should expire. The commonplace Winchester was
no leader to hold them in hand and spur their jaded determination.

While they were building storehouses and log defenses, within
dangerously easy distance of the British post at Amherstburg, the
tempting message came that the settlement of Frenchtown, on the Raisin,
thirty miles away and within the British lines, was held by only two
companies of Canadian militia. Here was an opportunity for a dashing
adventure, and Winchester ordered half his total force to march and
destroy this detachment of the enemy. The troops accordingly set out,
drove home a brisk assault, cleared Frenchtown of its defenders, and
held their ground awaiting orders.

Winchester then realized that he had leaped before he looked. He had
seriously weakened his own force while the column at Frenchtown was in
peril from two thousand hostile troops and Indians only eighteen miles
beyond the river Raisin. The Kentuckians left with him decided matters
for themselves. They insisted on marching to the support of their
comrades at Frenchtown. Meanwhile General Harrison had learned of this
fatuous division of strength and was hastening to the base at the falls
of the Maumee. There he found only three hundred men. All the others had
gone with Winchester to reinforce the men at Frenchtown. It was too late
to summon troops from other points, and Harrison waited with forebodings
of disaster.

News reached him after two days. The Americans at the Raisin had
suffered not only a defeat but a massacre. Nearly four hundred were
killed in battle or in flight. Those who survived were prisoners. No
more than thirty had escaped of a force one thousand strong. The enemy
had won this extraordinary success with five hundred white troops and
about the same number of Indians, led by Colonel Procter, whom Brock had
placed in command of the fort at Amherstburg. Procter's name is infamous
in the annals of the war. The worst traditions of Indian atrocity,
uncontrolled and even encouraged, cluster about his memory. He was later
promoted in rank instead of being degraded, a costly blunder which
England came to regret and at last redeemed. A notoriously incompetent
officer, on this one occasion of the battle of the Raisin he acted with
decision and took advantage of the American blunder.

The conduct of General Winchester after his arrival at Frenchtown is
inexplicable. He did nothing to prepare his force for action even on
learning that the British were advancing from Amherstburg. A report of
the disaster, after recording that no patrols or pickets were ordered
out during the night, goes on:

     The troops were permitted to select, each for himself, such
     quarters on the west side of the river as might please him best,
     whilst the general took his quarters on the east side--not the
     least regard being paid to defense, order, regularity, or system in
     the posting of the different corps.... Destitute of artillery, or
     engineers, of men who had ever heard or seen the least of an enemy;
     and with but a very inadequate supply of ammunition--how he ever
     could have entertained the most distant hope of success, or what
     right he had to presume to claim it, is to me one of the strangest
     things in the world.

At dawn, on the 21st of January, the British and Indians, having crossed
the frozen Detroit River the day before, formed within musket shot of
the American lines and opened the attack with a battery of
three-pounders. They might have rushed the camp with bayonet and
tomahawk and killed most of the defenders asleep, but the cannonade
alarmed the Kentuckians and they took cover behind a picket fence, using
their long rifles so expertly that they killed or wounded a hundred and
eighty-five of the British regulars, who thereupon had to abandon their
artillery. Meanwhile, the American regular force, caught on open ground,
was flanked and driven toward the river, carrying a militia regiment
with it. Panic spread among these unfortunate men and they fled through
the deep snow, Winchester among them, while six hundred whooping Indians
slew and scalped them without mercy as they ran.

But behind the picket fence the Kentuckians still squinted along the
barrels of their rifles and hammered home more bullets and patches.
Three hundred and eighty-four of them, they showed a spirit that made
their conduct the bright, heroic episode of that black day. Forgotten
are their mutinies, their profane disregard of the Articles of War,
their jeers at generals and such. They finished in style and covered the
multitude of their sins. Unclothed, unfed, uncared for, dirty, and
wretched, they proved themselves worthy to be called American soldiers.
They fought until there was no more ammunition, until they were
surrounded by a thousand of the enemy, and then they honorably

The brutal Procter, aware that the Indians would commit hideous
outrages if left unrestrained, nevertheless returned to Amherstburg with
his troops and his prisoners, leaving the American wounded to their
fate. That night the savages came back to Frenchtown and massacred those
hurt and helpless men, thirty in number.

This unhappy incident of the campaign, not so much a battle as a
catastrophe, delayed Harrison's operations. His failures had shaken
popular confidence, and at the end of this dismal winter, after six
months of disappointments in which ten thousand men had accomplished
nothing, he was compelled to report to the Secretary of War:

     Amongst the reasons which make it necessary to employ a large
     force, I am sorry to mention the dismay and disinclination to the
     service which appears to prevail in the western country; numbers
     must give that confidence which ought to be produced by conscious
     valor and intrepidity, which never existed in any army in a
     superior degree than amongst the greater part of the militia which
     were with me through the winter. The new drafts from this State
     [Ohio] are entirely of another character and are not to be depended
     upon. I have no doubt, however, that a sufficient number of good
     men can be procured, and should they be allowed to serve on
     horseback, Kentucky would furnish some regiments that would not be
     inferior to those that fought at the river Raisin; and these were,
     in my opinion, superior to any militia that ever took the field in
     modern times.

There was to be no immediate renewal of action between Procter and
Harrison. Each seemed to have conceived so much respect for the forces
of the other that they proceeded to increase the distance between them
as rapidly as possible. Fearing to be overtaken and greatly outnumbered,
the British leader retreated to Canada while the American leader was in
a state of mind no less uneasy. Harrison promptly set fire to his
storehouses and supplies at the Maumee Rapids, his advanced base near
Lake Erie. Thus all this labor and exertion and expense vanished in
smoke while, in the set diction of war, he retired some fifteen miles.
In such a vast hurry were the adversaries to be quit of each other that
a day and a half after the fight at Frenchtown they were sixty miles
apart. Harrison remained a fortnight on this back trail and collected
two thousand of his troops, with whom he returned to the ruins of his
foremost post and undertook the task all over again.

The defensive works which he now built were called Fort Meigs. For the
time there was no more talk of invading Canada. The service of the
Kentucky and Ohio militia was expiring, and these seasoned regiments
were melting away like snow. Presently Fort Meigs was left with no more
than five hundred war-worn men to hold out against British operations
afloat and ashore. Luckily Procter had expended his energies at
Frenchtown and seemed inclined to repose, for he made no effort to
attack the few weak garrisons which guarded the American territory near
at hand. From January until April he neglected his opportunities while
more American militia marched homeward, while Harrison was absent, while
Fort Meigs was unfinished.

At length the British offensive was organized, and a thousand white
soldiers and as many Indians, led by Tecumseh, sallied out of
Amherstburg with a naval force of two gunboats. Heavy guns were dragged
from Detroit to batter down the log walls, for it was the intention to
surround and besiege Fort Meigs in the manner taught by the military
science of Europe. Meanwhile Harrison had come back from a recruiting
mission; and a new brigade of Kentucky militia, twelve hundred strong,
under Brigadier General Green Clay, was to follow in boats down the
Auglaize and Maumee rivers. Procter's guns were already pounding the
walls of Fort Meigs on the 5th of May when eight hundred troops of this
fresh American force arrived within striking distance. They dashed upon
the British batteries and took them with the bayonet in a wild,
impetuous charge. It was then their business promptly to reform and
protect themselves, but through lack of training they failed to obey
orders and were off hunting the enemy, every man for himself. In the
meantime three companies of British regulars and some volunteers took
advantage of the confusion, summoned the Indians, and let loose a
vicious counter-attack.

Within sight of General Harrison and the garrison of Fort Meigs, these
bold Kentuckians were presently driven from the captured guns,
scattered, and shot down or taken prisoner. Only a hundred and seventy
of them got away, and they lost even their boats and supplies. The
British loss was no more than fifty in killed and wounded. Again Procter
inflamed the hatred and contempt of his American foes because forty of
his prisoners were tomahawked while guarded by British soldiers. He made
no effort to save them and it was the intervention of Tecumseh, the
Indian leader, which averted the massacre of the whole body of five
hundred prisoners.

Across the river, Colonel John Miller, of the American regular
infantry, had attempted a gallant sortie from the fort and had taken a
battery but this sally had no great effect on the issue of the
engagement. Harrison had lost almost a thousand men, half his fighting
force, and was again shut up within the barricades and blockhouses of
Fort Meigs. Procter continued the siege only four days longer, for his
Indian allies then grew tired of it and faded into the forest. He was
not reluctant to accept this excuse for withdrawing. His own militia
were drifting away, his regulars were suffering from illness and
exposure, and Fort Meigs itself was a harder nut to crack than he had
anticipated. Procter therefore withdrew to Amherstburg and made no more
trouble until June, when he sent raiding parties into Ohio and created
panic among the isolated settlements.

Harrison had become convinced that his campaign must be a defensive one
only, until a strong American naval force could be mustered on Lake
Erie. He moved his headquarters to Upper Sandusky and Cleveland and
concluded to mark time while Perry's fleet was building. The outlook was
somber, however, for his thin line of garrisons and his supply bases.
They were threatened in all directions, but he was most concerned for
the important depot which he had established at Upper Sandusky, no more
than thirty miles from any British landing force which should decide to
cross Lake Erie. The place had no fortifications; it was held by a few
hundred green recruits; and the only obstacle to a hostile ascent of the
Sandusky River was a little stockade near its mouth, called Fort

For the Americans to lose the accumulation of stores and munitions which
was almost the only result of a year's campaign would have been a fatal
blow. Harrison was greatly disturbed to hear that Tecumseh had gathered
his warriors and was following the trail that led to Upper Sandusky and
that Procter was moving coastwise with his troops in a flotilla under
oars and sail. Harrison was, or believed himself to be, in grave danger
of confronting a plight similar to that of William Hull, beset in front,
in flank, in rear. His first thought was to evacuate the stockade of
Fort Stephenson and to concentrate his force, although this would leave
the Sandusky River open for a British advance from the shore of Lake

An order was sent to young Major Croghan, who held Fort Stephenson with
one hundred and sixty men, to burn the buildings and retreat as fast as
possible up the river or along the shore of Lake Erie. This officer, a
Kentuckian not yet twenty-one years old, who honored the regiment to
which he belonged, deliberately disobeyed his commander. By so doing he
sounded a ringing note which was like the call of trumpets amidst the
failures, the cloudy uncertainties, the lack of virile leadership, that
had strewn the path of the war. In writing he sent this reply back to
General William Henry Harrison: "We have determined to maintain this
place, and by Heaven, we will."

It was a turning point, in a way, presaging more hopeful events, a
warning that youth must be served and that the doddering oldsters were
to give place to those who could stand up under the stern and exacting
tests of warfare. Such rash ardor was not according to precedent.
Harrison promptly relieved the impetuous Croghan of his command and sent
a colonel to replace him. But Croghan argued the point so eloquently
that the stockade was restored to him next day and he won his chance to
do or die. Harrison consolingly informed him that he was to retreat if
attacked by British troops "but that to attempt to retire in the face of
an Indian force would be vain."

Major Croghan blithely prepared to do anything else than retreat, while
General Harrison stayed ten miles away to plan a battle against
Tecumseh's Indians if they should happen to come in his direction. On
the 1st of August, Croghan's scouts informed him that the woods swarmed
with Indians and that British boats were pushing up the river. Procter
was on the scene again, and no sooner had his four hundred regulars
found a landing place than a curt demand for surrender came to Major
Croghan. The British howitzers peppered the stockade as soon as the
refusal was delivered, but they failed to shake the spirit of the
dauntless hundred and sixty American defenders. On the following day,
the 2d of August, Procter stupidly repeated his error of a direct
assault upon sheltered riflemen, which had cost him heavily at the
Raisin and at Fort Meigs. He ordered his redcoats to carry Fort
Stephenson. Again and again they marched forward until all the officers
had been shot down and a fifth of the force was dead or wounded.
American valor and marksmanship had proved themselves in the face of
heavy odds. At sunset the beaten British were flocking into their boats,
and Procter was again on his way to Amherstburg. His excuse for the
trouncing laid the blame on the Indians:

     The troops, after the artillery had been used for some hours,
     attacked two faces and, impossibilities being attempted, failed.
     The fort, from which the severest fire I ever saw was maintained
     during the attack, was well defended. The troops displayed the
     greatest bravery, the much greater part of whom reached the fort
     and made every effort to enter; but the Indians who had proposed
     the assault and, had it not been assented to, would have ever
     stigmatized the British character, scarcely came into fire before
     they ran out of its reach. A more than adequate sacrifice having
     been made to Indian opinion, I drew off the brave assailants.

The sound of Croghan's guns was heard in General Harrison's camp at
Seneca, ten miles up the river. Harrison had nothing to say but this:
"The blood be upon his own head. I wash my hands of it." This was a
misguided speech which the country received with marked disfavor while
it acclaimed young Croghan as the sterling hero of the western campaign.
He could be also a loyal as well as a successful subordinate, for he
ably defended Harrison against the indignation which menaced his station
as commander of the army. The new Secretary of War, John Armstrong,
ironically referred to Procter and Harrison as being always in terror of
each other, the one actually flying from his supposed pursuer after his
fiasco at Fort Stephenson, the other waiting only for the arrival of
Croghan at Seneca to begin a camp conflagration and flight to Upper

The reconquest of Michigan and the Northwest depended now on the
American navy. Harrison wisely halted his inglorious operations by land
until the ships and sailors were ready to cooperate. Because the British
sway on the Great Lakes was unchallenged, the general situation of the
enemy was immensely better than it had been at the beginning of the
campaign. During a year of war the United States had steadily lost in
men, in territory, in prestige, and this in spite of the fact that the
opposing forces across the Canadian border were much smaller.

That the men of the American navy would be prompt to maintain the
traditions of the service was indicated in a small way by an incident of
the previous year on Lake Erie. In September, 1812, Lieutenant Jesse D.
Elliott had been sent to Buffalo to find a site for building naval
vessels. A few weeks later he was fitting out several purchased
schooners behind Squaw Island. Suddenly there came sailing in from
Amherstburg and anchored off Fort Erie two British armed brigs, the
_Detroit_ which had been surrendered by Hull, and the _Caledonia_ which
had helped to subdue the American garrison at Mackinac. Elliott had no
ships ready for action, but he was not to be daunted by such an
obstacle. It so happened that ninety Yankee seamen had been sent across
country from New York by Captain Isaac Chauncey. These worthy tars had
trudged the distance on foot, a matter of five hundred miles, with their
canvas bags on their backs, and they rolled into port at noon, in the
nick of time to serve Elliott's purpose. They were indubitably tired,
but he gave them not a moment for rest. A ration of meat and bread and a
stiff tot of grog, and they turned to and manned the boats which were to
cut out the two British brigs when darkness fell.

Elliott scraped together fifty soldiers and, filling two cutters with
his amphibious company, he stole out of Buffalo and pulled toward Fort
Erie. At one o'clock in the morning of the 9th of October they were
alongside the pair of enemy brigs and together the bluejackets and the
infantry tumbled over the bulwarks with cutlass, pistols, and boarding
pike. In ten minutes both vessels were captured and under sail for the
American shore. The _Caledonia_ was safely beached at Black Rock, where
Elliott was building his little navy yard. The wind, however, was so
light that the _Detroit_ was swept downward by the river current and had
to anchor under the fire of British batteries. These she fought with her
guns until all her powder was shot away. Then she cut her cable, hoisted
sail again, and took the bottom on Squaw Island, where both British and
American guns had the range of her. Elliott had to abandon her and set
fire to the hull, but he afterward recovered her ordnance.

What Elliott had in mind shows the temper of this ready naval officer.
"A strong inducement," he wrote, "was that with these two vessels and
those I have purchased, I should be able to meet the remainder of the
British force on the Upper Lakes." The loss of the _Detroit_ somewhat
disappointed this ambitious scheme but the success of the audacious
adventure foreshadowed later and larger exploits with far-reaching
results. Isaac Brock, the British general in Canada, had the genius to
comprehend the meaning of this naval exploit. "This event is
particularly unfortunate," he wrote, "and may reduce us to incalculable
distress. The enemy is making every exertion to gain a naval superiority
on both lakes; which, if they accomplish, I do not see how we can retain
the country." And to Procter, his commander at Detroit, he disclosed
the meaning of the naval loss as it affected the fortunes of the western
campaign: "This will reduce us to great distress. You will have the
goodness to state the expedients you possess to enable us to replace, as
far as possible, the heavy loss we have suffered in the _Detroit_."

But another year was required to teach the American Government the
lesson that a few small vessels roughly pegged together of planks sawn
from the forest, with a few hundred seamen and guns, might be far more
decisive than the random operations of fifty thousand troops. This
lesson, however, was at last learnt; and so, in the summer of 1813,
General William Henry Harrison waited at Seneca on the Sandusky River
until he received, on the 10th of September, the deathless despatch of
Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry: "We have met the enemy and they are
ours." The navy had at last cleared the way for the army.

Expeditiously forty-five hundred infantry were embarked and set ashore
only three miles from the coveted fort at Amherstburg. A mounted
regiment of a thousand Kentuckians, raised for frontier defense by
Richard M. Johnson, moved along the road to Detroit. Harrison was about
to square accounts with Procter, who had no stomach for a stubborn
defense. Tecumseh, still loyal to the British cause, summoned
thirty-five hundred of his warriors to the royal standard to stem this
American invasion. They expected that Procter would offer a courageous
resistance, for he had also almost a thousand hard-bitted British
troops, seasoned by a year's fighting. But Procter's sun had set and
disgrace was about to overtake him. To Tecumseh, a chieftain who had
waged war because of the wrongs suffered by his own people, the thought
of flight in this crisis was cowardly and intolerable. When Procter
announced that he proposed to seek refuge in retreat, Tecumseh told him
to his face that he was like a fat dog which had carried its tail erect
and now that it was frightened dropped its tail between its legs and
ran. The English might scamper as far as they liked but the Indians
would remain to meet the American invaders.

It was a helter-skelter exodus from Amherstburg and Detroit. All
property that could not be moved was burned or destroyed, and Procter
set out for Moraviantown, on the Thames River, seventy miles along the
road to Lake Ontario. Harrison, amazed at this behavior, reported:
"Nothing but infatuation could have governed General Proctor's conduct.
The day I landed below Malden [Amherstburg] he had at his disposal
upward of three thousand Indian warriors; his regular force reinforced
by the militia of the district would have made his number nearly equal
to my aggregate, which on the day of landing did not exceed forty-five
hundred.... His inferior officers say that his conduct has been a series
of continued blunders."

Procter had put a week behind him before Harrison set out from
Amherstburg in pursuit, but the British column was hampered in flight by
the women and children of the deserted posts, the sick and wounded, the
wagon trains, the stores, and baggage. The organization had gone to
pieces because of the demoralizing example set by its leader. A hundred
miles of wilderness lay between the fugitives and a place of refuge.
Overtaken on the Thames River, they were given no choice. It was fight
or surrender. Ahead of the American infantry brigades moved Johnson's
mounted Kentuckians, armed with muskets, rifles, knives, and tomahawks,
and led by a resourceful and enterprising soldier. Procter was compelled
to form his lines of battle across the road on the north bank of the
Thames or permit this formidable American cavalry to trample his
straggling ranks under hoof. Tecumseh's Indians, stationed in a swamp,
covered his right flank and the river covered his left. Harrison came
upon the enemy early in the afternoon of the 5th of October and formed
his line of battle. The action was carried on in a manner "not
sanctioned by anything that I had seen or heard of," said Harrison
afterwards. This first American victory of the war on land was, indeed,
quite irregular and unconventional. It was won by Johnson's mounted
riflemen, who divided and charged both the redcoats in front and the
Indians in the swamp. One detachment galloped through the first and
second lines of the British infantry while the other drove the Indians
into the American left wing and smashed them utterly. Tecumseh was among
the slain. It was all over in one hour and twenty minutes. Harrison's
foot soldiers had no chance to close with the enemy. The Americans lost
only fifteen killed and thirty wounded, and they took about five hundred
prisoners and all Procter's artillery, muskets, baggage, and stores.

Not only was the Northwest Territory thus regained for the United States
but the power of the Indian alliance was broken. Most of the hostile
tribes now abandoned the British cause. Tecumseh's confederacy of Indian
nations fell to pieces with the death of its leader. The British army
of Upper Canada, shattered and unable to receive reinforcements from
overseas, no longer menaced Michigan and the western front of the
American line. General Harrison returned to Detroit at his leisure, and
the volunteers and militia marched homeward, for no more than two
regular brigades were needed to protect all this vast area. The struggle
for its possession was a closed episode. In this quarter, however, the
war cry "On to Canada!" was no longer heard. The United States was
satisfied to recover what it had lost with Hull's surrender and to rid
itself of the peril of invasion and the horrors of Indian massacres
along its wilderness frontiers. Of the men prominent in the struggle,
Procter suffered official disgrace at the hands of his own Government
and William Henry Harrison became a President of the United States.


Painting by J.W. Jarvis. In the City Hall, New York, owned by the

[Illustration: _ISAAC CHAUNCEY_

Painting in the Comptroller's Office, City Hall, New York, owned by the



Amid the prolonged vicissitudes of these western campaigns, two
subordinate officers, the boyish Major Croghan at Fort Stephenson and
the dashing Colonel Johnson with his Kentucky mounted infantry,
displayed qualities which accord with the best traditions of American
arms. Of kindred spirit and far more illustrious was Captain Oliver
Hazard Perry of the United States Navy. Perry dealt with and overcame,
on a much larger scale, similar obstacles and discouragements--untrained
men, lack of material, faulty support--but was ready and eager to meet
the enemy in the hour of need. If it is a sound axiom never to despise
the enemy, it is nevertheless true that excessive prudence has lost many
an action. Farragut's motto has been the keynote of the success of all
the great sea-captains, "_L'audace, et encore de l'audace, et toujours
de l'audace._"

It was not until the lesson of Hull's surrender had aroused the civil
authorities that Captain Chauncey of the navy yard at New York received
orders in September, 1812, "to assume command of the naval force on
Lakes Erie and Ontario and to use every exertion to obtain control of
them this fall." Chauncey was an experienced officer, forty years old,
who had not rusted from inactivity like the elderly generals who had
been given command of armies. He knew what he needed and how to get it.
Having to begin with almost nothing, he busied himself to such excellent
purpose that he was able to report within three weeks that he had
forwarded to Sackett's Harbor on Lake Ontario, "one hundred and forty
ship carpenters, seven hundred seamen and marines, more than one hundred
pieces of cannon, the greater part of large caliber, with musket, shot,
carriages, etc. The carriages have nearly all been made and the shot
cast in that time. Nay, I may say that nearly every article that has
been forwarded has been made."

It was found impossible to divert part of this ordnance to Buffalo
because of the excessively bad roads, which were passable for heavy
traffic only by means of sleds during the snows of winter. This
obstacle spoiled the hope of putting a fighting force afloat on Lake
Erie during the latter part of 1812. Chauncey consequently established
his main base at Sackett's Harbor and lost no time in building and
buying vessels. In forty-five days from laying the keel he launched a
ship of the corvette class, a third larger than the ocean cruisers
_Wasp_ and _Hornet_, "and nine weeks ago," said he, "the timber that she
is composed of was growing in the forest."

Lieutenant Elliott at the same time had not been idle in his little navy
yard at Black Rock near Buffalo, where he had assembled a small brig and
several schooners. In December Chauncey inspected the work and decided
to shift it to Presqu' Isle, now the city of Erie, which was much less
exposed to interference by the enemy. Here he got together the material
for two brigs of three hundred tons each, which were to be the main
strength of Perry's squadron nine months later. Impatient to return to
Lake Ontario, where a fleet in being was even more urgently needed,
Chauncey was glad to receive from Commander Oliver Hazard Perry an
application to serve under him. To Perry was promptly turned over the
burden and the responsibility of smashing the British naval power on
Lake Erie. Events were soon to display the notable differences in
temperament and capabilities between these two men. Though he had
greater opportunities on Lake Ontario, Chauncey was too cautious and
held the enemy in too much respect; wherefore he dodged and parried and
fought inconclusive engagements with the fleet of Sir James Yeo until
destiny had passed him by. He lives in history as a competent and
enterprising chief of dockyards and supplies but not as a victorious

To Perry, in the flush of his youth at twenty-eight years, was granted
the immortal spark of greatness to do and dare and the personality which
impelled men gladly to serve him and to die for him. His difficulties
were huge, but he attacked them with a confidence which nothing could
dismay. First he had to concentrate his divided force. Lieutenant
Elliott's flotilla of schooners at that time lay at Black Rock. It was
necessary to move them to Erie at great risk of capture by the enemy,
but vigilance and seamanship accomplished this feat. It then remained to
finish and equip the larger vessels which were being built. Two of these
were the brigs ordered laid down by Chauncey, the _Lawrence_ and the
_Niagara_. Apart from these, the battle squadron consisted of seven
small schooners and the captured British brig, the _Caledonia_. In size
and armament they were absurd cockleshells even when compared with a
modern destroyer, but they were to make themselves superbly memorable.
Perry's flagship was no larger than the ancient coasting schooners which
ply today between Bangor and Boston with cargoes of lumber and coal.

Through the winter and spring of 1813, the carpenters, calkers, and
smiths were fitting the new vessels together from the green timber and
planking which the choppers and sawyers wrought out of the forest. The
iron, the canvas, and all the other material had to be hauled by horses
and oxen from places several hundred miles distant. Late in July the
squadron was ready for active service but was dangerously short of men.
This, however, was the least of Perry's concerns. He had reckoned that
seven hundred and forty officers and sailors were required to handle and
fight his ships, but he did not hesitate to put to sea with a total
force of four hundred and ninety.

Of these a hundred were soldiers sent him only nine days before he
sailed, and most of them trod a deck for the first time. Chauncey was so
absorbed in his own affairs and hazards on Lake Ontario that he was not
likely to give Perry any more men than could be spared. This reluctance
caused Perry to send a spirited protest in which he said: "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."

As the superior officer, Chauncey resented the criticism and replied
with this warning reproof: "As you have assured the Secretary that you
should conceive yourself equal or superior to the enemy, with a force of
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

The quick temper of Perry flared at this. He was about to sail in search
of the British fleet with what men he had because he was unable to
obtain more, and he had rightly looked to Chauncey to supply the
deficiency. Impulsively he asked to be relieved of his command and gave
expression to his sense of grievance in a letter to the Secretary of the
Navy in which he said, among other things: "I cannot serve under an
officer who has been so totally regardless of my feelings.... 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, 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." Most
fortunately Perry's request for transfer could not be granted until
after the battle of Lake Erie had been fought and won. The Secretary
answered in tones of mild rebuke: "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."

Perry's indignation seems excusable. He had shown a cheerful willingness
to shoulder the whole load and his anxieties had been greater than his
superiors appeared to realize. Captain Barclay, who commanded the
British naval force on Lake Erie and who had been hovering off Erie
while the American ships were waiting for men, might readily have sent
his boats in at night and destroyed the entire squadron. Perry had not
enough sailors to defend his ships, and the regiment of Pennsylvania
militia stationed at Erie to guard the naval base refused to do duty on
shipboard after dark. "I told the boys to go, Captain Perry," explained
their worthless colonel, "but the boys won't go."

Perry's lucky star saved him from disaster, however, and on the 2d of
August he undertook the perilous and awkward labor of floating his
larger vessels over the shallow bar of the harbor at Erie. Barclay's
blockading force had vanished. For Perry it was then or never. At any
moment the enemy's topsails might reappear, and the American ships would
be caught in a situation wholly defenseless. Perry first disposed his
light-draft schooners to cover his channel, and then hoisted out the
guns of the _Lawrence_ brig and lowered them into boats. Scows, or
"camels," as they were called, were lashed alongside the vessel to lift
her when the water was pumped out of them. There was no more than four
feet of water on the bar, and the brig-of-war bumped and stranded
repeatedly even when lightened and assisted in every possible manner.
After a night and a day of unflagging exertion she was hauled across
into deep water and the guns were quickly slung aboard. The _Niagara_
was coaxed out of harbor in the same ingenious fashion, and on the 4th
of August Perry was able to report that all his vessels were over the
bar, although Barclay had returned by now and "the enemy had been in
sight all day."

Perry endeavored to force an engagement without delay, but the British
fleet retired to Amherstburg because Barclay was waiting for a new and
powerful ship, the _Detroit_, and he preferred to spar for time. The
American vessels thereupon anchored off Erie and took on stores. They
had fewer than three hundred men aboard, and it was bracing news for
Perry to receive word that a hundred officers and men under Commander
Jesse D. Elliott were hastening to join him. Elliott became second in
command to Perry and assumed charge of the _Niagara_.

For almost a month the Stars and Stripes flew unchallenged from the
masts of the American ships. Perry made his base at Put-in Bay, thirty
miles southeast of Amherstburg, where he could intercept the enemy
passing eastward. The British commander, Barclay, had also been troubled
by lack of seamen and was inclined to postpone action. He was
nevertheless urged on by Sir George Prevost, the Governor General of
Canada, who told him that "he had only to dare and he would be
successful." A more urgent call on Barclay to fight was due to the lack
of food in the Amherstburg region, where the water route was now
blockaded by the American ships. The British were feeding fourteen
thousand Indians, including warriors and their families, and if
provisions failed the red men would be likely to vanish.

At sunrise of the 10th of September, a sailor at the masthead of the
_Lawrence_ sighted the British squadron steering across the lake with a
fair wind and ready to give battle. Perry instantly sent his crews to
quarters and trimmed sail to quit the bay and form his line in open
water. He was eager to take the initiative, and it may be assumed that
he had forgotten Chauncey's prudent admonition: "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 a campaign."

Small, crude, and hastily manned as were the ships engaged in this
famous fresh-water battle, it should be borne in mind that the proven
principles of naval strategy and tactics used were as sound and true as
when Nelson and Rodney had demonstrated them in mighty fleet actions at
sea. In the final council in his cabin, Perry echoed Nelson's words in
saying that no captain could go very far wrong who placed his vessel
close alongside those of the enemy. Chauncey's counsel, on the other
hand, would have lost the battle. Perry's decision to give and take
punishment, no matter if it should cost him a ship or two, won him the

The British force was inferior, both in the number of vessels and the
weight of broadsides, but this inferiority was somewhat balanced by the
greater range and hitting power of Barclay's longer guns. Each had what
might be called two heavy ships of the line: the British, the _Detroit_
and the _Queen Charlotte,_ and the Americans, the _Lawrence_ and the
_Niagara_. Next in importance and fairly well matched were the _Lady
Prevost_ under Barclay's flag and the _Caledonia_ under Perry's. There
remained the light schooner craft of which the American squadron had six
and the British only three. Perry realized that if he could put ship
against ship the odds would be largely in his favor, for, with his
batteries of carronades which threw their shot but a short distance, he
would be unwise to maneuver for position and let the enemy pound him to
pieces at long range. His plan of battle was therefore governed entirely
by his knowledge of Barclay's strength and of the possibilities of his
own forces.

With a light breeze and working to windward, Perry's ship moved to
intercept the British squadron which lay in column, topsails aback and
waiting. The American brigs were fanned ahead by the air which breathed
in their lofty canvas, but the schooners were almost becalmed and four
of them straggled in the rear, their crews tugging at the long sweeps or
oars. Two of the faster of these, the _Scorpion_ and the _Ariel_, were
slipping along in the van where they supported the American flagship
_Lawrence_, and Perry had no intention of delaying for the others to
come up. Shortly before noon Barclay opened the engagement with the long
guns of the _Detroit_, but as yet Perry was unable to reach his opponent
and made more sail on the _Lawrence_ in order to get close.

The British gunners of the _Detroit_ were already finding the target,
and Perry discovered that the _Lawrence_ was difficult to handle with
much of her rigging shot away. He ranged ahead until his ship was no
more than two hundred and fifty yards from the _Detroit_. Even then the
distance was greater than desirable for the main battery of carronades.
A good golfer can drive his tee shot as far as the space of water which
separated these two indomitable flagships as they fought. It was a
different kind of naval warfare from that of today in which
superdreadnaughts score hits at battle ranges of twelve and fourteen

Perry's plans were now endangered by the failure of his other heavy
ship, the _Niagara_, to take care of her own adversary, the _Queen
Charlotte_, which forged ahead and took a station where her broadsides
helped to reduce the _Lawrence_ to a mass of wreckage. A bitter dispute
which challenged the courage and judgment of Commander Elliott of the
_Niagara_ was the aftermath of this flaw in the conduct of the battle.
It was charged that he failed to go to the support of his
commander-in-chief when the flagship was being destroyed under his eyes.
The facts admit of no doubt: he dropped astern and for two hours
remained scarcely more than a spectator of a desperate action in which
his ship was sorely needed, whereas if he had followed the order to
close up, the _Lawrence_ need never have struck to the enemy.

In his defense he stated that lack of wind had prevented him from
drawing ahead to engage and divert the _Queen Charlotte_ and that he had
been instructed to hold a certain position in line. At the time Perry
found no fault with him, merely setting down in his report that "at
half-past two, the wind springing up, Captain Elliott was enabled to
bring his vessel, the _Niagara_, gallantly into close action." Later
Perry formulated charges against his second in command, accusing him of
having kept on a course "which would in a few minutes have carried said
vessel entirely out of action." These documents were pigeonholed and a
Court of Inquiry commended Elliott as a brave and skillful officer who
had gained laurels in that "splendid victory."

The issue was threshed out by naval experts who violently disagreed, but
there was glory enough for all and the flag had suffered no stain.
Certain it is that the battle would have lacked its most brilliantly
dramatic episode if Perry had not been compelled to shift his pennant
from the blazing hulk of the _Lawrence_ and, from the quarter-deck of
the _Niagara_, to renew the conflict, rally his vessels, and snatch a
triumph from the shadow of disaster. It was one of the great moments in
the storied annals of the American navy, comparable with a John Paul
Jones shouting "_We have not yet begun to fight!_" from the deck of the
shattered, water-logged _Bon Homme Richard_, or a Farragut lashed in the
rigging and roaring "_Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!_"

Because of the failure of Elliott to bring the _Niagara_ into action at
once, as had been laid down in the plan of battle, Perry found himself
in desperate straits aboard the beaten _Lawrence_. Her colors still flew
but she could fire only one gun of her whole battery, and more than half
the ship's company had been killed or wounded--eighty-three men out of
one hundred and forty-two. It was impossible to steer or handle her and
she drifted helpless. Then it was that Perry, seeing the laggard
_Niagara_ close at hand, ordered a boat away and was transferred to a
ship which was still fit and ready to continue the action. As soon as he
had left them, the survivors of the _Lawrence_ hauled down their flag in
token of surrender, for there was nothing else for them to do.

As soon as he jumped on deck, Perry took command of the _Niagara_,
sending Elliott off to bring up the rearmost schooners. There was no
lagging or hesitation now. With topgallant sails sheeted home, the
_Niagara_ bore down upon the _Detroit_, driven by a freshening breeze.
Barclay's crippled flagship tried to avoid being raked and so fouled her
consort, the _Queen Charlotte_. The two British ships lay locked
together while the American guns pounded them with terrific fire.
Presently they got clear of each other and pluckily attempted to carry
on the fight. But the odds were hopeless. The officer whose painful
duty it was to signal the surrender of the _Detroit_ said of this
British flagship: "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."

It was later reported of the _Detroit_ that it was "impossible 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." The crew had suffered as severely as the
vessel. The valiant commander of the squadron, Captain Barclay, was a
fighting sailor who had lost an arm at Trafalgar. In the battle of Lake
Erie he was twice wounded and had to be carried below. His first
lieutenant was mortally hurt and in the critical moments the ship was
left in charge of the second lieutenant. In this gallant manner did
Perry and Barclay, both heirs of the bulldog Anglo-Saxon strain, wage
their bloody duel without faltering and thus did the British sailor
keep his honor bright in defeat.

The little American schooners played a part in smashing the enemy. The
_Ariel_ and _Scorpion_ held their positions in the van and their long
guns helped deal the finishing blows to the _Detroit_, while the others
came up when the breeze grew stronger and engaged their several
opponents. The _Caledonia_ was effective in putting the _Queen
Charlotte_ out of action. When the larger British ships surrendered, the
smaller craft were compelled to follow the example, and the squadron
yielded to Perry after three hours of battle. It was in no boastful
strain but as the laconic fact that he sent his famous message to the
nation. He had met the enemy and they were all his. It was
leadership--brilliant and tenacious--which had employed makeshift
vessels, odd lots of guns, and crews which included militia, sick men,
and "a motley set of blacks and boys." Barclay had labored under
handicaps no less heavy, but it was his destiny to match himself against
a superior force and a man of unquestioned naval genius. Oliver Hazard
Perry would have made a name for himself, no doubt, if his career had
led him to blue water and the command of stately frigates.

On Lake Ontario, Chauncey dragged his naval campaign through two
seasons and then left the enemy in control. Perry, by opening the way
for Harrison, rewon the Northwest for the United States because he
sagaciously upheld the doctrine of Napoleon that "war cannot be waged
without running risks." Behind his daring, however, lay tireless,
painstaking preparation and a thorough knowledge of his trade.



The events of the war by land are apt to be as confusing in narration as
they were in fact. The many forays, skirmishes, and retreats along the
Canadian frontier were campaigns in name only, ambitiously conceived but
most haltingly executed. Major General Dearborn, senior officer of the
American army, had failed to begin operations in the center and on the
eastern flank in time to divert the enemy from Detroit; but in the
autumn of 1812 he was ready to attempt an invasion of Canada by way of
Niagara. The direct command was given to Major General Stephen Van
Rensselaer of the New York State militia, who was to advance as soon as
six thousand troops were assembled. At first Dearborn seemed hopeful of
success. He predicted that "with the militia and other troops there or
on the march, they will be able, I presume, to cross over into Canada,
carry all the works in Niagara, and proceed to the other posts in that
province in triumph."

The fair prospect soon clouded, however, and Dearborn, who was of a
doubtful, easily discouraged temperament, partly due to age and
infirmities, discovered that "a strange fatality seemed to have pervaded
the whole arrangements." Yet this was when the movement of troops and
supplies was far brisker and better organized than could have been
expected and when the armed strength was thrice that of Brock, the
British general, who was guarding forty miles of front along the Niagara
River with less than two thousand men. At Queenston which was the
objective of the first American attack there were no more than two
companies of British regulars and a few militia, in all about three
hundred troops. The rest of Brock's forces were at Chippawa and Fort
Erie, where the heavy assaults were expected.

An American regular brigade was on the march to Buffalo, but its
commander, Brigadier General Alexander Smyth, was not subordinate to Van
Rensselaer, and the two had quarreled. Smyth paid no attention to a
request for a council of war and went his own way. On the night of the
10th of October Van Rensselaer attempted to cross the Niagara River,
but there was some blunder about the boats and the disgruntled troops
returned to camp. Two nights later they made another attempt but found
the British on the alert and failed to dislodge them from the heights of
Queenston. A small body of American regulars, led by gallant young
Captain Wool, managed to clamber up a path hitherto regarded as
impassable. There they held a precarious position and waited for help.
Brock, who was commanding the British in person, was instantly killed
while storming this hillside at the head of reinforcements. In him the
enemy lost its ablest and most intrepid leader.

The forenoon wore on and Captain Wool, painfully wounded, still clung to
the heights with his two hundred and fifty men. A relief column which
crossed the river found itself helpless for lack of artillery and
intrenching tools and was compelled to fall back. Van Rensselaer forgot
his bickering with General Smyth and sent him urgent word to hasten to
the rescue. Winfield Scott, then a lieutenant colonel, came forward as a
volunteer and took command of young Captain Wool's forlorn hope.
Gradually more men trickled up the heights until the ground was defended
by three hundred and fifty regulars and two hundred and fifty militia.

Meanwhile the British troops were mustering up the river at Chippawa,
and the red lines of their veterans were descried advancing from Fort
George below. Bands of Indians raced by field and forest to screen the
British movements and to harass the American lines. The tragic turn of
events appears to have dazed General Van Rensselaer. The failure to save
the beleaguered and outnumbered Americans on the heights he blamed upon
his troops, reporting next day that his reinforcements embarked very
slowly. "I passed immediately over to accelerate them," said he, "but to
my utter astonishment I found that at the very moment when complete
victory was in our hands the ardor of the unengaged troops had entirely
subsided. I rode in all directions, urged the men by every consideration
to pass over; but in vain."

The candid fact seems to be that this general of militia had made a
sorry mess of the whole affair, and his men had lost all faith in his
ability to turn the adverse tide. He stood and watched six hundred
valiant American soldiers make their last stand on the rocky eminence
while the British hurled more and more men up the slope. One concerted
attack by the idle American army would have swept them away like chaff.
But there was only one Winfield Scott in the field, and his lot was
cast with those who fought to the bitter end as a sacrifice to
stupidity. The six hundred were surrounded. They were pushed back by
weight of opposing numbers. Still they died in their tracks, until the
survivors were actually pushed over a cliff and down to the bank of the

There they surrendered, for there were no boats to carry them across.
The boatmen had fled to cover as soon as the Indians opened fire on
them. Winfield Scott was among the prisoners together with a brigadier
general and two more lieutenant colonels who had been bagged earlier in
the day. Ninety Americans were killed and many more wounded, while a
total of nine hundred were captured during the entire action. Van
Rensselaer had lost almost as many troops as Hull had lost at Detroit,
and he had nothing to show for it. He very sensibly resigned his command
on the next day.

The choice of his successor, however, was again unfortunate. Brigadier
General Alexander Smyth had been inspector general in the regular army
before he was given charge of an infantry brigade. He had a most
flattering opinion of himself, and promotion to the command of an army
quite turned his head. The oratory with which he proceeded to bombard
friend and foe strikes the one note of humor in a chapter that is
otherwise depressing. Through the newspapers he informed his troops that
their valor had been conspicuous "but the nation has been unfortunate in
the selection of some of those who have directed it... The cause of
these miscarriages is apparent. The commanders were popular men,
'destitute alike of theory and experience' in the art of war." "In a few
days," he announced, "the troops under my command will plant the
American standard in Canada. They are men accustomed to obedience,
silence, and steadiness. They will conquer or they will die. Will you
stand with your arms folded and look on this interesting struggle?...
Has the race degenerated? Or have you, under the baneful influence of
contending factions, forgot your country?... Shame, where is thy blush?

This invasion of Canada was to be a grim, deadly business; no more
trifling. His heroic troops were to hold their fire until they were
within _five paces_ of the enemy, and then to charge bayonets with
shouts. They were to think on their country's honor torn, her rights
trampled on, her sons enslaved, her infants perishing by the hatchet,
not forgetting to be strong and brave and to let the ruffian power of
the British King cease on this continent.

Buffalo was the base of this particular conquest of Canada. The advance
guard would cross the Niagara River from Black Rock to destroy the
enemy's batteries, after which the army was to move onward, three
thousand strong. The first detachments crossed the river early in the
morning on the 28th of November and did their work well and bravely and
captured the guns in spite of heavy loss. The troops then began to
embark at sunrise, but by noon only twelve hundred were in boats.
Upstream they moved at a leisurely pace and went ashore for dinner. The
remainder of the three thousand, however, had failed to appear, and
Smyth refused to invade unless he had the full number. Altogether, four
thousand troops, all regulars, had been sent to Niagara but many of them
had been disabled by sickness.

General Smyth then called a council of war, shifted the responsibility
from his own shoulders, and decided to delay the invasion. Again he
changed his mind and ordered the men into the boats two days later.
Fifteen hundred men answered the summons. Again the general marched them
ashore after another council of war, and then and there he abandoned
his personal conquest of Canada. His army literally melted away, "about
four thousand men without order or restraint discharging their muskets
in every direction," writes an eyewitness. They riddled the general's
tent with bullets by way of expressing their opinion of him, and he left
the camp not more than two leaps ahead of his earnest troops. He
requested permission to visit his family, after the newspapers had
branded him as a coward, and the visit became permanent. His name was
dropped from the army rolls without the formality of an inquiry. It
seemed rather too much for the country to bear that, in the first year
of the war, its armies should have suffered from the failures of Hull,
Van Rensselaer, and Smyth.

It had been hoped that General Dearborn might carry out his own idea of
an operation against Montreal at the same time as the Niagara campaign
was in progress. On the shore of Lake Champlain, Dearborn was in command
of the largest and most promising force under the American flag,
including seven regiments of the regular army. Taking personal charge at
Plattsburg, he marched this body of troops twenty miles in the direction
of the Canadian border. Here the militia refused to go on, and he
marched back again after four days in the field. Beset with rheumatism
and low spirits, he wrote to the Secretary of War: "I had anticipated
disappointment and misfortune in the commencement of the war, but I did
by no means apprehend such a deficiency of regular troops and such a
series of disasters as we have witnessed." Coupled with this complaint
was the request that he might be allowed "to retire to the shades of
private life and remain a mere but interested spectator of passing

The Government, however, was not yet ready to release Major General
Dearborn but instructed him to organize an offensive which should obtain
control of the St. Lawrence River and thereby cut communication between
Upper and Lower Canada. This was the pet plan of Armstrong when he
became Secretary of War, and as soon as was possible he set the military
machinery in motion. In February, 1813, Armstrong told Dearborn to
assemble four thousand men at Sackett's Harbor, on Lake Ontario, and
three thousand at Buffalo. The larger force was to cross the lake in the
spring, protected by Chauncey's fleet, capture the important naval
station of Kingston, then attack York (Toronto), and finally join the
corps at Buffalo for another operation against the British on the
Niagara River. But Dearborn was not eager for the enterprise. He
explained that he lacked sufficient strength for an operation against
Kingston. With the support of Commodore Chauncey he proposed a different
offensive which should be aimed first against York, then against
Niagara, and finally against Kingston. This proposal reversed
Armstrong's programme, and he permitted it to sway his decision. Thus
the war turned westward from the St. Lawrence.

The only apparent success in this campaign occurred at York, the capital
of Upper Canada, where on the 27th of April one ship under construction
was burned and another captured after the small British garrison had
been driven inland. The public buildings were also destroyed by fire,
though Dearborn protested that this was done against his orders. In the
next year, however, the enemy retaliated by burning the Capitol at
Washington. The fighting at York was bloody, and the American forces
counted a fifth killed or wounded. They remained on the Canadian side
only ten days and then returned to disembark at Niagara. Here Dearborn
fell ill, and his chief of staff, Colonel Winfield Scott, was left in
virtual control of the army.

In May, 1813, most of the troops at Plattsburg and Sackett's Harbor
were moved to the Niagara region for the purpose of a grand movement to
take Fort George, at the mouth of that river, from the rear and thus
redeem the failure of the preceding campaign. Commodore Chauncey with
his Ontario fleet was prepared to cooperate and to transport the troops.
Three American brigadiers, Boyd, Winder, and Chandler, effected a
landing in handsome fashion, while Winfield Scott led an advance
division. Under cover of the ships they proceeded along the beach and
turned the right flank of the British defenses. Fort George was
evacuated, but most of the force escaped and made their way to
Queenston, whence they continued to retreat westward along the shore of
Lake Ontario. Vincent, the British general, reported his losses in
killed and wounded and missing as three hundred and fifty-six. The
Americans suffered far less. It was a clean-cut, workmanlike operation,
and, according to an observer, "Winfield Scott fought nine-tenths of the
battle." But the chief aim had been to destroy the British force, and in
this the adventure failed.

General Dearborn was not at all reconciled to letting the garrison of
Fort George get clean away from him, and he therefore sent General
Winder in pursuit with a thousand men. These were reinforced by as many
more; and together they followed the trail of the retreating British to
Stony Creek and camped there for the night. Vincent and his sixteen
hundred British regulars were in bivouac ten miles beyond. The mishap at
Fort George had by no means knocked the fight out of them. Vincent
himself led six hundred men back in the middle of a black night (the 6th
of June) and fell upon the American camp. A confused battle followed.
The two forces intermingled in cursing, stabbing, swirling groups. The
American generals, Chandler and Winder, walked straight into the enemy's
arms and were captured. The British broke through and took the American
batteries but failed to keep them. At length both parties retired, badly
punished. The Americans had lost all ardor for pursuit and on the
following day retreated ten miles and were soon ordered to return to
Fort George.

General Dearborn was much distressed by this unlucky episode and was in
such feeble health that he again begged to be relieved. He was, he said,
"so reduced in strength as to be incapable of any command." General
Morgan Lewis took temporary command at Niagara, but, being soon called
to Sackett's Harbor, he was succeeded by General Boyd, whom Lewis was
kind enough to describe, by way of recommendation, in these terms: "A
compound of ignorance, vanity, and petulance, with nothing to recommend
him but that species of bravery in the field which is vaporing,
boisterous, stifling reflection, blinding observation, and better
adapted to the bully than the soldier."

In order to live up to this encomium, Boyd sent Colonel Boerstler on the
24th of June, with four hundred infantry and two guns, to bombard and
take an annoying stone house a day's march from Fort George. But two
hundred hostile Indians so alarmed Boerstler that he attempted to
retreat. Thirty hostile militia then caused him to halt the retreat and
send for reinforcements. The reinforcements came to the number of a
hundred and fifty, but the British also appeared with forty-seven more
men. Colonel Boerstler thereupon surrendered his total of five hundred
and forty soldiers. General Dearborn, still the nominal commander of the
forces, sadly mentioned the disaster as "an unfortunate and
unaccountable event."

There is a better account to be given, however, of events at Sackett's
Harbor in this same month of May. The operations on the Niagara front
had stripped this American naval base of troops and of the protection of
Chauncey's fleet. Sir George Prevost, the Governor in Chief of Canada,
could not let the opportunity slip, although he was not notable for
energy. He embarked with a force of regulars, eight hundred men, on Sir
James Yeo's ships at Kingston and sailed across Lake Ontario.

Sackett's Harbor was defended by only four hundred regulars of several
regiments and about two hundred and fifty militia from Albany. Couriers
rode through the countryside as soon as the British ships were sighted,
and several hundred volunteers came straggling in from farm and shop and
mill. In them was something of the old spirit of Lexington and Bunker
Hill, and to lead them there was a real man and a soldier with his two
feet under him, Jacob Brown, a brigadier general of the state militia,
who consented to act in the emergency. He knew what to do and how to
communicate to his men his own unshaken courage. On the beach of the
beautiful little harbor he posted five hundred of his militia and
volunteers to hamper the British landing. His second line was composed
of regulars. In rear were the forts with the guns manned.

The British grenadiers were thrown ashore at dawn on the 28th of May
under a wicked fire from American muskets and rifles, but their
disciplined ranks surged forward, driving the militia back at the point
of the bayonet and causing even the regulars to give ground. The
regulars halted at a blockhouse, where they had also the log barracks
and timbers of the shipyard for a defense, and there they stayed in
spite of the efforts of the British grenadiers to dislodge them. Jacob
Brown, stout-hearted and undismayed, rallied his militia in new
positions. Of the engagement a British officer said: "I do not
exaggerate when I tell you that the shot, both of musketry and grape,
was falling about us like hail... Those who were left of the troops
behind the barracks made a dash out to charge the enemy; but the fire
was so destructive that they were instantly turned by it, and the
retreat was sounded. Sir George, fearless of danger and disdaining to
run or to suffer his men to run, repeatedly called out to them to retire
in order; many, however, made off as fast as they could."

Before the retreat was sounded, the British expedition had suffered
severely. One man in three was killed or wounded, and the rest of them
narrowly escaped capture. Jacob Brown serenely reported to General
Dearborn that "the militia were all rallied before the enemy gave way
and were marching perfectly in his view towards the rear of his right
flank; and I am confident that even then, if Sir George had not retired
with the utmost precipitation to his boats, he would have been cut off."

Though he had given the enemy a sound thrashing, Jacob Brown found his
righteous satisfaction spoiled by the destruction of the naval barracks,
shipping, and storehouses. This was the act of a flighty lieutenant of
the American navy who concluded too hastily that the battle was lost and
therefore set fire to the buildings to keep the supplies and vessels out
of the enemy's hands. Jacob Brown in his straightforward fashion
emphatically placed the blame where it belonged:

     The burning of the marine barracks was as infamous a transaction as
     ever occurred among military men. The fire was set as the enemy met
     our regulars upon the main line; and if anything could have
     appalled these gallant men it would have been the flames in their
     rear. We have all, I presume, suffered in the public estimation in
     consequence of this disgraceful burning. The fact is, however, that
     the army is entitled to much higher praise than though it had not
     occurred. The navy alone are responsible for what happened on Navy
     Point and it is fortunate for them that they have reputations
     sufficient to sustain the shock.

A few weeks later General Dearborn, after his repeated failures to
shake the British grip on the Niagara front and the misfortunes which
had darkened his campaigns, was retired according to his wish. But the
American nation was not yet rid of its unsuccessful generals. James
Wilkinson, who was inscrutably chosen to succeed Dearborn, was a man of
bad reputation and low professional standing. "The selection of this
unprincipled imbecile," said Winfield Scott, "was not the blunder of
Secretary Armstrong." Added to this, Wilkinson was a man of broken
health. He was shifted from command at New Orleans because the Southern
Senators insisted that he was untrustworthy and incompetent. The regular
army regarded him with contempt.

Secretary Armstrong endeavored to mend matters by making his own
headquarters at Sackett's Harbor, where the next offensive, directed
against Montreal, was planned under his direction. Success hung upon the
cooperation and junction of two armies moving separately, the one under
Wilkinson descending the St. Lawrence, the other under Wade Hampton
setting out from Plattsburg on Lake Champlain. The fact that these two
officers had hated each other for years made a difficult problem no
easier. Hampton possessed uncommon ability and courage, but he was proud
and sensitive, as might have been expected in a South Carolina
gentleman, and he loathed Wilkinson with all his heart. That he should
yield the seniority to one whom he considered a blackguard was to him
intolerable, and he accepted the command on Lake Champlain with the
understanding that he would take no orders from Wilkinson until the two
armies were combined.

The expedition from Sackett's Harbor was ready to advance by way of the
St. Lawrence in October, 1813, and comprised seven thousand effective
troops. Even then the commanding general and the Secretary of War had
begun to regard the adventure as dubious and were accusing each other of
dodging the responsibility. Said Wilkinson to Armstrong: "It is
necessary to my justification that you should, by the authority of the
President, direct the operations of the army under my command
particularly against Montreal." Said Armstrong to Wilkinson: "I speak
conjecturally, but should we surmount every obstacle in descending the
river we shall advance upon Montreal ignorant of the force arrayed
against us and in case of misfortune having no retreat, the army must
surrender at discretion." This was scarcely the spirit to inspire a
conquering army. As though to clinch his lack of faith in the
enterprise, the Secretary of War ordered winter quarters built for ten
thousand men many miles this side of Montreal, explaining in later years
that he had suspected the campaign would terminate as it did, "with the
disgrace of doing nothing."

On the 17th of October the army embarked in bateaux and coasted along
Lake Ontario to the entrance of the St. Lawrence. After being delayed by
stormy weather, the flotilla passed the British guns across from
Ogdensburg and halted twenty miles below. There Wilkinson called a
council of war to decide whether to proceed or retreat. Four generals
voted to attack Montreal and two were reluctant but could see "no other
alternative." Wilkinson then became ill and was unable to leave his boat
or to give orders. Several British gunboats evaded Chauncey's blockade
and annoyed the rear of the expedition. Eight hundred British infantry
from Kingston followed along shore and peppered the boats with musketry
and canister wherever the river narrowed. Finally it became necessary
for the Americans to land a force to drive the enemy away. Jacob Brown
took a brigade and cleared the bank in advance of the flotilla which
floated down to a farm called Chrystler's and moored for the night.

General Boyd, who had been sent back with a strong force to protect the
rear, reported next morning that the enemy was advancing in column. He
was told to turn back and attack. This he did with three brigades. It
was a brilliant opportunity to capture or destroy eight hundred British
troops led by a dashing naval officer, Captain Mulcaster. Boyd lived up
to his reputation, which was such that Jacob Brown had refused to serve
under him. At this engagement of Chrystler's Farm, with two thousand
regulars at his disposal, he was unmercifully beaten. Both Wilkinson and
Morgan Lewis were flat on their backs, too feeble to concern themselves
with battles. The American troops fought without a coherent plan and
were defeated and broken in detail. Almost four hundred of them were
killed, wounded, or captured. Their conduct reflected the half-hearted
attitude of their commanding general and some of his subordinates. The
badly mauled brigades hastily took to the boats and ran the rapids,
stopping at the first harbor below. There Wilkinson received tidings
from Wade Hampton's army which caused him to abandon the voyage down
the St. Lawrence, and it is fair to conjecture that he shed no tears of

In September Hampton had led his forces, recruited to four thousand
infantry and a few dragoons, from Lake Champlain to the Canadian border
in faithful compliance with his instructions to join the movement
against Montreal. His line of march was westward to the Chateauguay
River where he took a position which menaced both Montreal and that
vital artery, the St. Lawrence. Building roads and bringing up supplies,
he waited there for Wilkinson to set his own undertaking in motion. Word
came from Secretary Armstrong to advance along the river, hold the enemy
in check, and prepare to unite with Wilkinson's army. Hampton acted
promptly and alarmed the British at Montreal, who foresaw grave
consequences and assembled troops from every quarter. Hampton then
learned that his army faced an enemy which was of vastly superior
strength and which had every advantage of natural defense, while he
himself was becoming convinced that Wilkinson was a broken reed and that
no further support could be expected from the Government. General
Prevost's own reports and letters showed that he had collected in the
Montreal district and available for defense at least fifteen thousand
rank and file, including the militia which had been mustered to repel
Hampton's advance. The American position at Chateauguay was not less
perilous than that of Harrison on the Maumee and far more so than that
which had cost Dearborn so many disasters at Niagara.

Hampton moved forward half-heartedly. He had received a message from the
War Department that his troops were to prepare winter quarters and these
orders confirmed his suspicions that no attempt against Montreal was
intended. "These papers sunk my hopes," he wrote in reply, "and raised
serious doubts of that efficacious support that had been anticipated. I
would have recalled the column, but it was in motion and the darkness of
the night rendered it impracticable."

The last words refer to a collision with a small force of Canadian
militia, led by Lieutenant Colonel de Salaberry, who had come forward to
impede the American advance. These Canadians had obstructed the road
with fallen trees and abatis, falling back until they found favorable
ground where they very pluckily intrenched themselves. The intrepid
party was comprised of a few Glengarry Fencibles and three hundred
French-Canadian Voltigeurs. Colonel de Salaberry was a trained soldier,
and he now displayed brilliant courage and resourcefulness. Two American
divisions attacking him were unable to carry his breastworks and were
driven along the river bank and routed. Hampton's troops abandoned much
of their equipment, and returned to camp with a loss of about fifty men.

There was great rejoicing in Canada and rightly so, for a victory had
been handsomely won without the aid of British regulars; and Colonel de
Salaberry's handful of French Canadians received the credit for
thwarting the American plans against Montreal. But, without belittling
the signal valor of the achievement, the documentary evidence goes to
prove that Hampton's failure was largely due to the neglect of his
Government. His state of mind at this time was such that he wrote:
"Events have no tendency to change my opinion of the destiny intended
for me, nor my determination to retire from a service where I can feel
neither security nor expect honor."

With this tame conclusion the armies of Wilkinson and Hampton tucked
themselves into log huts for the winter. Both accused the Secretary of
War of leading them into an impossible venture and of then deserting
them, while he in his turn accepted their resignations from the army.
The fiasco was a costly one in quite another direction, for the Niagara
sector had been overlooked in the elaborate attempt to capture Montreal.
The few American troops who had gained a foothold on the Canadian side,
at Fort George and the village of Niagara, were left unsupported while
all the available regulars were sent to the armies of Wilkinson and
Hampton. As soon as the British comprehended that the grand invasion had
crumbled, they bethought themselves of the tempting opportunity to
recover their forts at Niagara.

Wilkinson advised that the Americans evacuate Fort George, which they
did on the 10th of December, when five hundred British soldiers were
marching to retake it. There was no effort to reinforce the garrison,
although at the time ten thousand American troops were idle in winter
quarters. Fort Niagara, on the American side, still flew the Stars and
Stripes, but on the night of the 18th of December Colonel Murray with
five hundred and fifty British regulars rushed the fort, surprised the
sentries, and lost only eight men in capturing this stronghold and its
three hundred and fifty defenders. It was more like a massacre.
Sixty-seven Americans were killed by the bayonet. A few nights later
the Indian allies were loosed against Buffalo and Black Rock and ravaged
thirty miles of frontier. The settlements were helpless. The Government
had made not the slightest attempt to protect or defend them.

The war had come to the end of its second year, and by land the United
States had done no more than to regain what Hull lost at Detroit. The
conquest of Canada was a shattered illusion, a sorry tale of wasted
energy, misdirected armies, sordid intrigue, lack of organization. A few
worthless generals had been swept into the rubbish heap where they
belonged, and this was the chief item on the credit side of the ledger.
The state militia system had been found wanting; raw levies, defying
authority and miserably cared for, had been squandered against a few
thousand disciplined British regulars. The nation, angry and bewildered,
was taking these lessons to heart. The story of 1814 was to contain far
brighter episodes.



It has pleased the American mind to regard the War of 1812 as a maritime
conflict. This is natural enough, for the issue was the freedom of the
sea, and the achievements of Yankee ships and sailors stood out in
brilliant relief against the somber background of the inefficiency of
the army. The offensive was thought to be properly a matter for the land
forces, which had vastly superior advantages against Canada, while the
navy was compelled to act on the defensive against overwhelming odds.
The truth is that the navy did amazingly well, though it could not
prevent the enemy's squadrons from blockading American ports or raiding
the coasts at will. A few single ship actions could not vitally
influence the course of the war; but they served to create an
imperishable renown for the flag and the service, and to deal a
staggering blow to the pride and prestige of an enemy whose ancient
boast it was that Britannia ruled the waves.

The amazing thing is that the navy was able to accomplish anything at
all, neglected and almost despised as it was by the same opinion which
had suffered the army system to become a melancholy jest. During the
decade in which Great Britain captured hundreds of American merchant
ships in time of peace and impressed more than six thousand American
seamen, the United States built two sloops-of-war of eighteen guns and
allowed three of her dozen frigates to hasten to decay at their mooring
buoys. Officers in the service were underpaid and shamefully treated by
the Government. Captain Bainbridge, an officer of distinction, asked for
leave that he might earn money to support himself, giving as a reason:
"I have hitherto refused such offers on the presumption that my country
would require my services. That presumption is removed, and even doubts
entertained of the permanency of the naval establishment."

But, though Congress refused to build more frigates or to formulate a
programme for guarding American shores and commerce, the tiny navy kept
alive the spark of duty and readiness, while the nation drifted
inevitably towards war. There was no scarcity of capable seamen, for
the merchant marine was an admirable training-school. In those far-off
days the technique of seafaring and sea fighting was comparatively
simple. The merchant seaman could find his way about a frigate, for in
rigging, handling, and navigation the ships were very much alike. And
the American seamen of 1812 were in fighting mood; they had been whetted
by provocation to a keen edge for war. They understood the meaning of
"Free Trade and Sailors' Rights," if the landsmen did not. There were
strapping sailors in every deep-water port to follow the fife and drum
of the recruiting squad. The militia might quibble about "rights," but
all the sailors asked was the weather gage of a British man-of-war. They
had no patience with such spokesmen as Josiah Quincy, who said that
Massachusetts would not go to war to contest the right of Great Britain
to search American vessels for British seamen. They had neither
forgotten nor forgiven the mortal affront of 1807, when their frigate
_Chesapeake_, flying the broad pennant of Commodore James Barron,
refused to let the British _Leopard_ board and search her, and was fired
into without warning and reduced to submission, after twenty-one of the
American crew had been killed or wounded.

That shameful episode was in keeping with the attitude of the British
navy toward the armed ships of the United States, "a few fir-built
things with bits of striped bunting at their mast-heads," as George
Canning, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, described them.
Long before the declaration of war British squadrons hovered off the
port of New York to ransack merchant vessels or to seize them as prizes.
In the course of the Napoleonic wars England had met and destroyed the
navies of all her enemies in Europe. The battles of Copenhagen, the
Nile, Trafalgar, and a hundred lesser fights had thundered to the world
the existence of an unconquerable sea power.

Insignificant as it was, the American naval service boasted a history
and a high morale. Its ships had been active. The younger officers
served with seniors who had sailed and fought with Biddle and Barney and
Paul Jones in the Revolution. Many of them had won promotions for
gallantry in hand-to-hand combats in boarding parties, for following the
bold Stephen Decatur in 1804 when he cut out and set fire to the
_Philadelphia_, which had fallen into the hands of pirates at Tripoli,
and helping Thomas Truxtun in 1799-1800 when the _Constellation_ whipped
the Frenchmen, _L'Insurgente_ and _La Vengeance_. In wardroom or
steerage almost every man could tell of engagements in which he had
behaved with credit. Trained in the school of hard knocks, the sailor
knew the value of discipline and gunnery, of the smart ship and the
willing crew, while on land the soldier rusted and lost his zeal.

The bluejackets were volunteers, not impressed men condemned to brutal
servitude, and they had fought to save their skins in merchant vessels
which made their voyages, in peril of privateer, pirate, and picaroon,
from the Caribbean to the China Sea. The American merchant marine was at
the zenith of its enterprise and daring, attracting the pick and flower
of young manhood, and it offered incomparable material for the naval
service and the fleets of swift privateers which swarmed out to harry
England's commerce.[2]

[Footnote 2: For an account of the privateers of 1812, see _The Old
Merchant Marine_, by Ralph D. Paine (in _The Chronicles of America_).]

The American frigates which humbled the haughty Mistress of the Seas
beyond all precedent were superior in speed and hitting power to
anything of their class afloat. It detracts not at all from the glory
they won to remember that in every instance they were larger and of
better design and armament than the British frigates which they shot to
pieces with such methodical accuracy.

When war was declared, the American Government was not quite clear as to
what should be done with the navy. In New York harbor was a squadron of
five ships under Commodore John Rodgers, including two of the heavier
frigates or forty-fours, the _President_ and the _United States_.
Rodgers had also the lighter frigate _Congress_, the brig _Argus_, and
the sloop _Hornet_. His orders were to look for British cruisers which
were annoying commerce off Sandy Hook, chase them away, and then return
to port for "further more extensive and particular orders." One hour
after receiving these instructions the eager Rodgers put out to sea,
with Captain Stephen Decatur as a squadron commander. The quarry was the
frigate _Belvidera_, the most offensive of the British blockading force.
This warship was sighted by the _President_ and overtaken within
forty-eight hours. An unlucky accident then occurred. Instead of running
alongside, the _President_ began firing at a distance and was hulling
the enemy's stern when a gun on the forecastle burst, and killed or
wounded sixteen American sailors. Commodore Rodgers was picked up with a
broken leg. Meanwhile the _Belvidera_ cast overboard her boats and
anchors, emptied the fresh water barrels to better her sailing trim,
and, crowding on every stitch of canvas, drew away and was lost to view.
Rodgers then forgot his orders to return to New York and went off in
search of the great convoy of British merchant vessels homeward bound
from Jamaica, which was called the plate fleet. He sailed as far as the
English Channel before quitting the chase and then cruised back to

Meanwhile Captain Isaac Hull of the _Constitution_ had taken on a crew
and stores at Annapolis and was bound up the coast to New York. Hull's
luck appeared to be no better than Rodgers's. Off Barnegat he sailed
almost into a strong British squadron, which had been sent from Halifax.
The escape from this grave predicament was an exploit of seamanship
which is among the treasured memories of the service. It was the
beginning of the career of the _Constitution_, whose name is still the
most illustrious on the American naval list and whose commanders, Hull
and Bainbridge, are numbered among the great captains. It is a privilege
to behold today, in the Boston Navy Yard, this gallant frigate preserved
as a heritage, her tall masts and graceful yards soaring above the grim,
gray citadels that we call battleships. True it is that a single modern
shell would destroy this obsolete, archaic frigate which once swept the
seas like a meteor, but the very image of her is still potent to thrill
the hearts and animate the courage of an American seaman.

On that luckless July morning, at break of day, off the New Jersey
coast, it seemed as though the _Constitution_ would be flying British
colors ere she had a chance to fight. On her leeward side stood two
English frigates, the _Guerrière_ and the _Belvidera_, with the
_Shannon_ only five miles astern, and the rest of the hostile fleet
lifting topsails above the southern horizon.

Not a breath of wind stirred. Captain Hull called away his boats, and
the sailors tugged at the oars, towing the _Constitution_ very slowly
ahead. Captain Broke of the _Shannon_ promptly followed suit and
signaled for all the boats of the squadron. In a long column they
trailed at the end of the hawser; and the _Shannon_ crept closer.
Catspaws of wind ruffled the water, and first one ship and then the
other gained a few hundred yards as upper tiers of canvas caught the
faint impulse. The _Shannon_ was a crack ship, and there was no better
crew in the British navy, as Lawrence of the _Chesapeake_ afterwards
learned to his mortal sorrow. Gradually the _Shannon_ cut down the
intervening distance until she could make use of her bow guns.

At this Captain Hull resolved to try kedging his ship along, sending a
boat half a mile ahead with a light anchor and all the spare rope on
board. The crew walked the capstan round and hauled the ship up to the
anchor, which they then lifted, carried ahead, and dropped again. The
_Constitution_ kept two kedges going all through that summer day, but
the _Shannon_ was playing the same game, and the two ships maintained
their relative positions. They shot at each other at such long range
that no damage was done. Before dusk the _Guerrière_ caught a slant of
breeze and worked nearer enough to bang away at the _Constitution_,
which was, indeed, between the devil and the deep sea.

Night came on. The sailors, British and American, toiled until they
dropped in their tracks, pulling at the kedge anchors and hawsers or
bending to the sweeps of the cutters which towed at intervals and were
exposed to the spatter of shot. It seemed impossible that the
_Constitution_ could slip clear of this pack of able frigates which
trailed her like hounds. Toward midnight the fickle breeze awoke and
wafted the ships along under studding sails and all the light cloths
that were wont to arch skyward. For two hours the men slept on deck
like logs while those on watch grunted at the pump-brakes and the hose
wetted the canvas to make it draw better.

The breeze failed, however, and through the rest of the night it was
kedge and tow again, the _Shannon_ and the _Guerrière_ hanging on
doggedly, confident of taking their quarry. Another day dawned, hot and
windless, and the situation was unchanged. Other British ships had
crawled or drifted nearer, but the _Constitution_ was always just beyond
range of their heavy guns. We may imagine Isaac Hull striding across the
poop and back again, ruddy, solid, composed, wearing a cocked hat and a
gold-laced coat, lifting an eye aloft, or squinting through his brass
telescope, while he damned the enemy in the hearty language of the sea.
He was a nephew of General William Hull, but it would have been unfair
to remind him of it.

Near sunset of the second day of this unique test of seamanship and
endurance, a rain squall swept toward the _Constitution_ and obscured
the ocean. Just before the violent gust struck the ship her seamen
scampered aloft and took in the upper sails. This was all that safety
required, but, seeing a chance to trick the enemy, Hull ordered the
lower sails double-reefed as though caught in a gale of wind. The
British ships hastily imitated him before they should be overtaken in
like manner and veered away from the chase. Veiled in the rain and dusk,
the _Constitution_ set all sail again and foamed at twelve knots on her
course toward a port of refuge. Though two of the British frigates were
in sight next morning, the _Constitution_ left them far astern and
reached Boston safely.

Seafaring New England was quick to recognize the merit of this escape.
Even the Federalists, who opposed and hampered the war by land, were
enthusiastic in praise of Captain Hull and his ship. They had outsailed
and outwitted the best of the British men-of-war on the American coast,
and a general feeling of hopelessness gave way to an ardent desire to
try anew the ordeal of battle. With this spirit firing his officers and
crew, Hull sailed again a few days later on a solitary cruise to the
eastward with the intention of vexing the enemy's merchant trade and
hopeful of finding a frigate willing to engage him in a duel. From
Newfoundland he cruised south until a Salem privateer spoke him on the
18th of August and reported a British warship close by. The
_Constitution_ searched until the afternoon of the next day and then
sighted her old friend, the _Guerrière_.

To retell the story of their fight in all the vanished sea lingo of that
day would bewilder the land-man and prove tedious to those familiar with
the subject. The boatswains piped the call, "all hands clear ship for
action"; the fife and drum beat to quarters; and four hundred men stood
by the tackles of the muzzle-loading guns with their clumsy wooden
carriages, or climbed into the tops to use their muskets or trim sail.
Decks were sanded to prevent slipping when blood flowed. Boys ran about
stacking the sacks of powder or distributing buckets of pistols ready
for the boarding parties. And against the masts the cutlasses and pikes
stood ready.

Captain John Dacres of the ill-fated _Guerrière_ was an English
gentleman as well as a gallant officer. But he did not know his
antagonist. Like his comrades of the service he had failed to grasp the
fact that the _Constitution_ and the other American frigates of her
class were the most formidable craft afloat, barring ships of the line,
and that they were to revolutionize the design of war-vessels for half a
century thereafter. They were frigates, or cruisers, in that they
carried guns on two decks, but the main battery of long
twenty-four-pound guns was an innovation, and the timbers and planking
were stouter than had ever been built into ships of the kind. So stout,
indeed, were the sides that shot rebounded from them more than once and
thus gave the _Constitution_ the affectionate nickname of "Old

Sublimely indifferent to these odds, Captain Dacres had already sent a
challenge, with his compliments, to Commodore Rodgers of the United
States frigate _President_, saying that he would be very happy to meet
him or any other American frigate of equal force, off Sandy Hook, "for
the purpose of having a few minutes' tête-à-tête." It was therefore with
the utmost willingness that the _Constitution_ and the _Guerrière_
hoisted their battle ensigns and approached each other warily for an
hour while they played at long bowls, as was the custom, each hoping to
disable the other's spars or rigging and so gain the advantage of
movement. Finding this sort of action inconclusive, however, Hull set
more sail and ran down to argue it with broadsides, coolly biding his
time, although Morris, his lieutenant, came running up again and again
to beg him to begin firing. Men were being killed beside their guns as
they stood ready to jerk the lock strings. The two ships were abreast
of each other and no more than a few yards apart before the
_Constitution_ returned the cannonade that thundered from every gun port
of her adversary.

Within ten minutes the _Guerrière's_ mizzenmast was knocked over the
side and her hull was shattered by the accurate fire of the Yankee
gunners, who were trained to shoot on the downward roll of their ship
and so smash below the water line. Almost unhurt, the _Constitution_
moved ahead and fearfully raked the enemy's deck before the ships fouled
each other. They drifted apart before the boarders could undertake their
bloody business, and then the remaining masts of the British frigate
toppled overside and she was a helpless wreck. Seventy-nine of her crew
were dead or wounded and the ship was sinking beneath their feet.
Captain Isaac Hull could truthfully report: "In less than thirty minutes
from the time we got alongside of the enemy she was left without a spar
standing, and the hull cut to pieces in such a manner as to make it
difficult to keep her above water."

Captain Dacres struck his flag, and the American sailors who went aboard
found the guns dismounted, the dead and dying scattered amid a wild
tangle of spars and rigging, and great holes blown through the sides
and decks. The _Constitution_ had suffered such trifling injury that she
was fit and ready for action a few hours later. Of her crew only seven
men were killed and the same number hurt. She was the larger ship, and
the odds in her favor were as ten to seven, reckoned in men and guns,
for which reasons Captain Hull ought to have won. The significance of
his victory was that at every point he had excelled a British frigate
and had literally blown her out of the water. His crew had been together
only five weeks and could fairly be called green while the _Guerrière_,
although short-handed, had a complement of veteran tars. The British
navy had never hesitated to engage hostile men-of-war of superior force
and had usually beaten them. Of two hundred fights between single ships,
against French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Danish, and Dutch, the
English had lost only five. The belief of Captain Dacres that he could
beat the _Constitution_ was therefore neither rash nor ill-founded.

The English captain had ten Americans in his crew, but he would not
compel them to fight against their countrymen and sent them below,
although he sorely needed every man who could haul at a gun-tackle or
lay out on a yard. Wounded though he was and heartbroken by the
disaster, his chivalry was faultless, and he took pains to report: "I
feel it my duty to state that the conduct of Captain Hull and his
officers toward our men has been that of a brave and generous enemy, the
greatest care being taken to prevent our men losing the smallest trifle
and the greatest attention being paid to the wounded."

When the Englishman was climbing up the side of the _Constitution_ as a
prisoner, Isaac Hull ran to help him, exclaiming, "Give me your hand,
Dacres. I know you are hurt." No wonder that these two captains became
fast friends. It is because sea warfare abounds in such manly incidents
as these that the modern naval code of Germany, as exemplified in the
acts of her submarine commanders, was so peculiarly barbarous and

On board the _Guerrière_ was Captain William B. Orne, of the Salem
merchant brig _Betsy_, which had been taken as a prize. His story of the
combat is not widely known and seems worth quoting in part:

     At two P.M. we discovered a large sail to windward bearing about
     north from us. We soon made her out to be a frigate. She was
     steering off from the wind, with her head to the southwest,
     evidently with the intention of cutting us off as soon as possible.
     Signals were soon made by the _Guerrière_, but as they were not
     answered the conclusion was, of course, that she was either a
     French or American frigate. Captain Dacres appeared anxious to
     ascertain her character and after looking at her for that purpose,
     handed me his spyglass, requesting me to give him my opinion of the
     stranger. I soon saw from the peculiarity of her sails and from her
     general appearance that she was, without doubt, an American
     frigate, and communicated the same to Captain Dacres. He
     immediately replied that he thought she came down too boldly for an
     American, but soon after added, "The better he behaves, the more
     honor we shall gain by taking him."

     When the strange frigate came down to within two or three miles'
     distance, he hauled upon the wind, took in all his light sails,
     reefed his topsails, and deliberately prepared for action. It was
     now about five o'clock in the afternoon when he filled away and ran
     down for the _Guerrière_. At this moment Captain Dacres politely
     said to me: "Captain Orne, as I suppose you do not wish to fight
     against your own countrymen, you are at liberty to go below the
     water-line." It was not long after this before I retired from the
     quarter-deck to the cock-pit; of course I saw no more of the action
     until the firing ceased, but I heard and felt much of its effects;
     for soon after I left the deck the firing commenced on board the
     _Guerrière_, and was kept up almost incessantly until about six
     o'clock when I heard a tremendous explosion from the opposing
     frigate. The effect of her shot seemed to make the _Guerrière_ reel
     and tremble as though she had received the shock of an earthquake.

     Immediately after this, I heard a tremendous crash on deck and was
     told that the mizzen-mast was shot away. In a few moments
     afterward, the cock-pit was filled with wounded men. After the
     firing had ceased I went on deck and there beheld a scene which it
     would be difficult to describe: all the _Guerrière's_ masts were
     shot away and, as she had no sails to steady her, she lay rolling
     like a log in the trough of the sea. Many of the men were employed
     in throwing the dead overboard. The decks had the appearance of a
     butcher's slaughter-house; the gun tackles were not made fast and
     several of the guns got loose and were surging from one side to the

     Some of the petty officers and seamen, after the action, got liquor
     and were intoxicated; and what with the groans of the wounded, the
     noise and confusion of the enraged survivors of the ill-fated ship
     rendered the whole scene a perfect hell.

Setting the hulk of the _Guerrière_ on fire, Captain Hull sailed for
Boston with the captured crew. The tidings he bore were enough to amaze
an American people which expected nothing of its navy, which allowed its
merchant ships to rot at the wharves, and which regarded the operations
of its armies with the gloomiest forebodings. New England went wild with
joy over a victory so peculiarly its own. Captain Hull and his officers
were paraded up State Street to a banquet at Faneuil Hall while cheering
thousands lined the sidewalks. A few days earlier had come the news of
the surrender of Detroit, but the gloom was now dispelled. Americans
could fight, after all. Popular toasts of the day were:

OUR INFANT NAVY--_We must nurture the young Hercules in his cradle, if
we mean to profit by the labors of his manhood._

THE VICTORY WE CELEBRATE--_An invaluable proof that we are able to
defend our rights on the ocean._

Handbills spread the news through the country, and artillery salutes
proclaimed it from Carolina to the Wabash. Congress voted fifty thousand
dollars as prize money to the heroes of the _Constitution_ and medals to
her officers. The people of New York gave them swords, and Captain Hull
and Lieutenant Morris received pieces of plate from the patriots of
Philadelphia. Federalists laid aside for the moment their opposition to
the war and proclaimed that their party had founded and supported the
navy. The moral effect of the victory was out of all proportion to its
strategic importance. It was like sunshine breaking through a fog. Such
rejoicing had been unknown, even in the decisive moments of the War of
the Revolution. It served to show how deep-seated had been the American
conviction that Britain's mastery of the sea was like a spell which
could not be broken.


Painting by Thomas Sully, 1811. In the Comptroller's Office, owned by
the City of New York.]


An old print, illustrating the moment in the action at which the
mainmast of the _Guerrière_, shattered by the terrific fire of the
American frigate, fell overside, transforming the former vessel into a
floating wreck and terminating the action. The picture represents
accurately the surprisingly slight damage done the _Constitution_; note
the broken spanker gaff and the shot holes in her topsails.]



It was soon made clear that the impressive victory over the _Guerrière_
was neither a lucky accident nor the result of prowess peculiar to the
_Constitution_ and her crew. Ship for ship, the American navy was better
than the British. This is a truth which was demonstrated with
sensational emphasis by one engagement after another. During the first
eight months of the war there were five such duels, and in every
instance the enemy was compelled to strike his colors. In tavern and
banquet hall revelers were still drinking the health of Captain Isaac
Hull when the thrilling word came that the _Wasp_, an eighteen-gun ship
or sloop, as the type was called in naval parlance, had beaten the
_Frolic_ in a rare fight. The antagonists were so evenly matched in
every respect that there was no room for excuses, and on both sides were
displayed such stubborn hardihood and a seamanship so dauntless as to
make an Anglo-Saxon proud that these foemen were bred of a common stock.

The _Wasp_ had sailed from the Delaware on the 13th of October, heading
southeast to look for British merchantmen in the West India track. Her
commander was Captain Jacob Jones, a name revived in modern days by a
destroyer of the Queenstown fleet in the arduous warfare against the
German submarines. Shattered by a torpedo, the _Jacob Jones_ sank in
seven minutes, and sixty-four of the officers and crew perished, doing
their duty to the last, disciplined, unafraid, so proving themselves
worthy of the American naval service and of the memory of the
unflinching captain of 1812.

The little _Wasp_ ran into a terrific gale which blew her sails away and
washed men overboard. But she made repairs and stood bravely after a
British convoy which was escorted by the eighteen-gun brig _Frolic_,
Captain Thomas Whinyates. The _Frolic_, too, had been battered by the
weather, and the cargo ships had been scattered far and wide. The _Wasp_
sighted several of them in the moonlight but, fearing they might be war
vessels, followed warily until morning revealed on her leeward side the
_Frolic_. Jacob Jones promptly shortened sail, which was the nautical
method of rolling up one's sleeves, and steered close to attack.

It seemed preposterous to try to fight while the seas were still
monstrously swollen and their crests were breaking across the decks of
these vessels of less than five hundred tons burden. Wildly they rolled
and pitched, burying their bows in the roaring combers. The merchant
ships which watched this audacious defiance of wind and wave were having
all they could do to avoid being swept or dismasted. Side by side
wallowed _Wasp_ and _Frolic_, sixty yards between them, while the cannon
rolled their muzzles under water and the gunners were blinded with
spray. Britisher and Yank, each crew could hear the hearty cheers of the
other as they watched the chance to ply rammer and sponge and fire when
the deck lifted clear of the sea.

Somehow the _Wasp_ managed to shoot straight and fast. They were of the
true webfooted breed in this hard-driven sloop-of-war, but there were no
fair-weather mariners aboard the _Frolic_, and they hit the target much
too often for comfort. Within ten minutes they had saved Captain Jacob
Jones the trouble of handling sail, for they shot away his upper masts
and yards and most of his rigging. The _Wasp_ was a wreck aloft but the
_Frolic_ had suffered more vitally, for as usual the American gun
captains aimed for the deck and hull; and they had been carefully
drilled at target practice. The British sailors suffered frightfully
from this storm of grape and chain shot, but those who were left alive
still fought inflexibly. It looked as though the _Frolic_ might get
away, for the masts of the _Wasp_ were in danger of tumbling over the
side. With this mischance in mind, Captain Jacob Jones shifted helm and
closed in for a hand-to-hand finish.

For a few minutes the two ships plunged ahead so near each other that
the rammers of the American sailors struck the side of the _Frolic_ as
they drove the shot down the throats of their guns. It was literally
muzzle to muzzle. Then they crashed together and the _Wasp's_ jib-boom
was thrust between the _Frolic's_ masts. In this position the British
decks were raked by a murderous fire as Jacob Jones trumpeted the order,
"Boarders away!" Jack Lang, a sailor from New Jersey, scrambled out on
the bowsprit, cutlass in his fist, without waiting to see if his
comrades were with him, and dropped to the forecastle of the _Frolic_.
Lieutenant Biddle tried it by jumping on the bulwark and climbing to the
other ship as they crashed together on the next heave of the sea, but a
doughty midshipman, seeking a handy purchase, grabbed him by the coat
tails and they fell back upon their own deck. Another attempt and Biddle
joined Jack Lang by way of the bowsprit. These two thus captured the
_Frolic_, for as they dashed aft the only living men on deck were the
undaunted sailor at the wheel and three officers, including Captain
Whinyates and Lieutenant Wintle, who were so severely wounded that they
could not stand without support. They tottered forward and surrendered
their swords, and Lieutenant Biddle then leaped into the rigging and
hauled the British ensign down.

Of the _Frolic's_ crew of one hundred and ten men only twenty were
unhurt, and these had fled below to escape the dreadful fire from the
_Wasp_. The gun deck was strewn with bodies, and the waves which broke
over the ship swirled them to and fro, the dead and the wounded
together. Not an officer had escaped death or injury. The _Wasp_ was
more or less of a tangle aloft but her hull was sound and only five of
her men had been killed and five wounded. No sailors could have fought
more bravely than Captain Whinyates and his British crew, but they had
been overwhelmed in three-quarters of an hour by greater skill,
coolness, and judgment.

No sea battle of the war was more brilliant than this, but Captain Jacob
Jones was delayed in sailing home to receive the plaudits due him. His
prize crew was aboard the _Frolic_, cleaning up the horrid mess and
fitting the beaten ship for the voyage to Charleston, and the _Wasp_ was
standing by when there loomed in sight a towering three-decker--a
British ship of the line--the _Poictiers_. The _Wasp_ shook out her
sails to make a run for it, but they had been cut to ribbons and she was
soon overhauled. Now an eighteen-gun ship could not argue with a
majestic seventy-four. Captain Jacob Jones submitted with as much grace
as he could muster, and _Wasp_ and _Frolic_ were carried to Bermuda. The
American crew was soon exchanged, and Congress applied balm to the
injured feelings of these fine sailormen by filling their pockets to the
amount of twenty-five thousand dollars in prize money.

It was only a week later that the navy vouchsafed an encore to a
delighted nation. This time the sport royal was played between stately
frigates. On the 8th of October Commodore Rodgers had taken his squadron
out of Boston for a second cruise. After four days at sea the _United
States_ was detached, and Captain Stephen Decatur ranged off to the
eastward in quest of diversion. A fortnight of monotony was ended by a
strange sail which proved to be the British thirty-eight-gun frigate
_Macedonian_, newly built. Her commander, Captain Carden, had the
highest opinion of his ship and crew, and one of his officers testified
that "the state of discipline on board was excellent; in no British ship
was more attention paid to gunnery. Before this cruise the ship had been
engaged almost every day with the enemy; and in time of peace the crew
were constantly exercised at the great guns."

The _United States_ was a sister frigate of the _Constitution_, built
from the same designs and therefore more formidable than her British
opponent as three is to two. Captain Carden had no misgivings, however,
and instantly set out in chase of the American frigate. But he was
unfortunate enough to pit himself against one of the ablest officers
afloat, and his own talent was mediocre. The result was partly
determined by this personal equation in an action in which the
_Macedonian_ was outgeneraled as well as outfought. And again gunnery
was a decisive factor. Observers said that the broadsides of the
_United States_ flamed with such rapidity that the ship looked as though
she were on fire.

Early in the fight Captain Carden bungled an opportunity to pass close
ahead of the _United States_ and so rake her with a destructive attack.
Then rashly coming to close quarters, the _Macedonian_ was swept by the
heavy guns of the American frigate and reduced to wreckage in ninety
minutes. The weather was favorable for the Yankee gun crews, and the war
offered no more dramatic proof of their superbly intelligent training.
The _Macedonian_ had received more than one hundred shot in her hull,
several below the water line, one mast had been cut in two, and the
others were useless. More than a hundred of her officers and men were
dead or injured. The _United States_ was almost undamaged, a few ropes
and small spars were shot away, and only twelve of her men were on the
casualty list. Captain Decatur rightfully boasted that he had as fine a
crew as ever walked a deck, American sailors who had been schooled for
the task with the greatest care. English opinion went so far as to
concede this much: "As a display of courage the character of our service
was nobly upheld, but we would be deceiving ourselves were we to admit
that the comparative expertness of the crews in gunnery was equally
satisfactory. Now taking the difference of effect as given by Captain
Carden, we must draw this conclusion--that the comparative loss in
killed and wounded, together with the dreadful account he gives of the
condition of his own ship, while he admits that the enemy's vessel was
in comparatively good order, must have arisen from inferiority in
gunnery as well as in force."

Decatur sent the _Macedonian_ to Newport as a trophy of war and
forwarded her battle flag to Washington. It arrived just when a great
naval ball was in progress to celebrate the capture of the _Guerrière_,
whose ensign was already displayed from the wall. It was a great moment
for the young lieutenant of the _United States_, who had been assigned
this duty, when he announced his mission and, amid the cheers of the
President, the Cabinet, and other distinguished guests, proudly
exhibited the flag of another British frigate to decorate the ballroom!

Meanwhile the _Constitution_ had returned to sea to spread her royals to
the South Atlantic trades and hunt for lumbering British East-Indiamen.
Captain Isaac Hull had gracefully given up the command in favor of
Captain William Bainbridge, who was one of the oldest and most respected
officers of his rank and who deserved an opportunity to win distinction.
Bainbridge had behaved heroically at Tripoli and was logically in line
to take over one of the crack frigates. The sailors of the
_Constitution_ grumbled a bit at losing Isaac Hull but soon regained
their alert and willing spirit as they comprehended that they had
another first-rate "old man" in William Bainbridge. Henry Adams has
pointed out that the average age of Bainbridge, Hull, Rodgers, and
Decatur was thirty-seven, while that of the four generals most
conspicuous in the disappointments of the army, Dearborn, Wilkinson,
William Hull, and Wade Hampton, was fifty-eight. The difference is
notable and is mentioned for what it may be worth.

Through the autumn of 1812 the frigate cruised beneath tropic suns, much
of the time off the coast of Brazil. Today the health and comfort of the
bluejacket are so scrupulously provided for in every possible way that a
battleship is the standard of perfection for efficiency in organization.
It is amazing that in such a ship as the _Constitution_ four hundred men
could be cheerful and ready to fight after weeks and even months at sea.
They were crowded below the water line, without proper heat, plumbing,
lighting, or ventilation, each man being allowed only twenty-eight
inches by eight feet of space in which to sling his hammock against the
beams overhead. Scurvy and other diseases were rampant. As many as
seventy of the crew of the _Constitution_ were on the sick list shortly
before she fought the _Guerrière_. The food was wholesome for rugged
men, but it was limited solely to salt beef, hard bread, dried peas,
cheese, pork, and spirits.

Such conditions, however, had not destroyed the vigor of those hardy
seamen of the _Constitution_ when, on the 29th of December and within
sight of the Brazilian coast, the lookout at the masthead sang out to
Captain Bainbridge that a heavy ship was coming up under easy canvas. It
turned out to be His Britannic Majesty's frigate _Java_, Captain Henry
Lambert, who, like Carden, made the mistake of insisting upon a combat.
His reasons were sounder than those of Dacres or Carden, however, for
the _Java_ was only a shade inferior to the _Constitution_ in guns and
carried as many men. In every respect they were so evenly matched that
the test of battle could have no aftermath of extenuation.

The _Java_ at once hastened in pursuit of the American ship which drew
off the coast as though in flight, the real purpose being to get clear
of the neutral Brazilian waters. The _Constitution_ must have been a
picture to stir the heart and kindle the imagination, her black hull
heeling to the pressure of the tall canvas, the long rows of guns
frowning from the open ports, while her bunting rippled a glorious
defiance, with a commodore's pennant at the mainmast-head, the Stars and
Stripes streaming from the mizzen peak and main-topgallant mast, and a
Union Jack at the fore. The _Java_ was adorned as bravely, and Captain
Lambert had lashed an ensign in the rigging on the chance that his other
colors might be shot away.

The two ships began the fray at what they called long range, which would
be about a mile, and then swept onward to pass on opposite tacks. It was
the favorite maneuver of trying to gain the weather gage, and while they
were edging to windward a round shot smashed the wheel of the
_Constitution_ which so hampered her for the moment that Captain
Lambert, handsomely taking advantage of the mishap, let the _Java_ run
past his enemy's stern and poured in a broadside which hit several of
the American seamen. Both commanders displayed, in a high degree, the
art of handling ships under sail as they luffed or wore and tenaciously
jockeyed for position, while the gunners fought in the smoke that
drifted between the frigates.

At length Captain Lambert became convinced that he had met his master at
this agile style of warfare and determined to come to close quarters
before the _Java_ was fatally damaged. Her masts and yards were crashing
to the deck and the slaughter among the crew was already appalling.
Marines and seamen gathered in the gangways and upon the forecastle head
to spring aboard the _Constitution_, but Captain Bainbridge drove his
ship clear very shortly after the collision and continued to pound the
_Java_ to kindling-wood with his broadsides. The fate of the action was
no longer in doubt. The British frigate was on fire, Captain Lambert was
mortally wounded, and all her guns had been silenced. The _Constitution_
hauled off to repair damages and stood back an hour later to administer
the final blow. But the flag of the _Java_ fluttered down, and the
lieutenant in command surrendered.

The _Constitution_ had again crushed the enemy with so little damage to
herself that she was ready to continue her cruise, with a loss of only
nine killed and twenty-five wounded. The _Java_ was a fine ship utterly
destroyed, a sinking, dismasted hulk, with a hundred and twenty-four of
her men dead or suffering from wounds. It is significant to learn that
during six weeks at sea they had fired but six practice broadsides, of
blank cartridges, although there were many raw hands in the crew, while
the men of the _Constitution_ had been incessantly drilled in firing
until their team play was like that of a football eleven. There was no
shooting at random. Under Hull and Bainbridge they had been taught their
trade, which was to lay the gun on the target and shoot as rapidly as

For the diminutive American navy, the year of 1812 came to its close
with a record of success so illustrious as to seem almost incredible. It
is more dignified to refrain from extolling our own exploits and to
recall the effects of these sea duels upon the minds of the people, the
statesmen, and the press of the England of that period. Their outbursts
of wrathful humiliation were those of a maritime race which cared little
or nothing about the course of the American war by land. Theirs was the
salty tradition, virile and perpetual, which a century later and in a
friendlier guise was to create a Grand Fleet which should keep watch and
ward in the misty Orkneys and hold the Seven Seas safe against the
naval power of Imperial Germany. Then, as now, the English nation
believed that its armed ships were its salvation.

It is easier to understand, bearing this in mind, why after the fight of
the _Guerrière_ the London _Times_ indulged in such frenzied
lamentations as these:

     We witnessed the gloom which that event cast over high and
     honorable minds.... Never before in the history of the world did an
     English frigate strike to an American, and though we cannot say
     that Captain Dacres, under all circumstances, is punishable for
     this act, yet we do say there are commanders in the English navy
     who would a thousand times rather have gone down with their colors
     flying than to have set their fellow sailors so fatal an example.

     Good God! that a few short months should have so altered the tone
     of British sentiments! Is it true, or is it not, that our navy was
     accustomed to hold the Americans in utter contempt? Is it true, or
     is it not, that the _Guerrière_ sailed up and down the American
     coast with her name painted in large characters on her sails in
     boyish defiance of Commodore Rodgers? Would any captain, however
     young, have indulged such a foolish piece of vain-boasting if he
     had not been carried forward by the almost unanimous feeling of his

     We have since sent out more line-of-battle ships and heavier
     frigates. Surely we must now mean to smother the American navy. A
     very short time before the capture of the _Guerrière_ an American
     frigate was an object of ridicule to our honest tars. Now the
     prejudice is actually setting the other way and great pains seems
     to be taken by the friends of ministers to prepare the public for
     the surrender of a British seventy-four to an opponent lately so
     much contemned.

It was when the news reached England that the _Java_ had been destroyed
by the _Constitution_ that indignation found a climax in the outcry of
the _Pilot_, a foremost naval authority:

     The public will learn, with sentiments which we shall not presume
     to anticipate, that a third British frigate has struck to an
     American. This is an occurrence that calls for serious
     reflection,--this, and the fact stated in our paper of yesterday,
     that Lloyd's list contains notices of upwards of five hundred
     British vessels captured in seven months by the Americans. Five
     hundred merchantmen and three frigates! Can these statements be
     true; and can the English people hear them unmoved? Any one who
     would have predicted such a result of an American war this time
     last year would have been treated as a madman or a traitor. He
     would have been told, if his opponents had condescended to argue
     with him, that long ere seven months had elapsed the American flag
     would have been swept from the seas, the contemptible navy of the
     United States annihilated, and their maritime arsenals rendered a
     heap of ruins. Yet down to this moment not a single American
     frigate has struck her flag. They insult and laugh at our want of
     enterprise and vigor. They leave their ports when they please and
     return to them when it suits their convenience; they traverse the
     Atlantic; they beset the West India Islands; they advance to the
     very chops of the Channel; they parade along the coasts of South
     America; nothing chases, nothing intercepts, nothing engages them
     but to yield them triumph.

It was to be taken for granted that England would do something more than
scold about the audacity of the American navy. Even after the
declaration of war her most influential men hoped that the repeal of the
obnoxious Orders-in-Council might yet avert a solution of the American
problem by means of the sword. There was hesitation to apply the utmost
military and naval pressure, and New England was regarded with feelings
almost friendly because of its opposition to an offensive warfare
against Great Britain and an invasion of Canada.

Absorbed in the greater issue against Napoleon, England was nevertheless
aroused to more vigorous action against the United States and devised
strong blockading measures for the spring of 1813. Unable to operate
against the enemy's ships in force or to escape from ports which were
sealed by vigilant squadrons, the American navy to a large extent was
condemned to inactivity for the remainder of the war. Occasional actions
were fought and merit was justly won, but there was nothing like the
glory of 1812, which shone undimmed by defeat and which gave to the
annals of the nation one of its great chapters of heroic and masterful
achievement. It was singularly apt that the noble and victorious
American frigates should have been called the _Constitution_ and the
_United States_. They inspired a new respect for the flag with the
stripes and the stars and for all that it symbolized.

[Illustration: _ISAAC HULL_

Painting by J. W. Jarvis. In the City Hall, New York, owned by the


Painting by J. W. Jarvis. In the City Hall, New York, owned by the



The second year of the war by sea opened brilliantly enough to satisfy
the American people, who were now in a mood to expect too much of their
navy. In February the story of the _Wasp_ and the _Frolic_ was repeated
by two ships of precisely the same class. The American sloop-of-war
_Hornet_ had sailed to South America with the _Constitution_ and was
detached to blockade, in the port of Bahia, the British naval sloop
_Bonne Citoyenne_, which contained treasure to the amount of half a
million pounds in specie. Captain James Lawrence of the _Hornet_ sent in
a challenge to fight, ship against ship, pledging his word that the
_Constitution_ would not interfere, but the British commander, perhaps
mindful of his precious cargo, declined the invitation. Instead of this,
he sensibly sent word to a great seventy-four at Rio de Janeiro, begging
her to come and drive the pestiferous _Hornet_ away.

The British battleship arrived so suddenly that Captain Lawrence was
compelled to dodge and flee in the darkness. By a close shave he gained
the open sea and made off up the coast. For several weeks the _Hornet_
idled to and fro, vainly seeking merchant prizes, and then off the
Demerara River on February 24, 1813, she fell in with the British brig
_Peacock_, that flew the royal ensign. The affair lasted no more than
fifteen minutes. The _Peacock_ was famous for shining brass work,
spotless paint, and the immaculate trimness of a yacht, but her gunnery
had been neglected, for which reason she went to the bottom in six
fathoms of water with shot-holes in her hull and thirty-seven of her
crew put out of action. The sting of the _Hornet_ had been prompt and
fatal. Captain Lawrence had only one man killed and two wounded, and his
ship was as good as ever. Crowding his prisoners on board and being
short of provisions and water, he set sail for a home port and anchored
in New York harbor. He was in time to share with Bainbridge the carnival
of salutes, processions, dinners, addresses of congratulation, votes of
thanks, swords, medals, prize money, promotion--every possible tribute
of an adoring and grateful people.

One of the awards bestowed upon Lawrence was the command of the frigate
_Chesapeake_. Among seamen she was rated an unlucky ship, and Lawrence
was confidently expected to break the spell. Her old crew had left her
after the latest voyage, which met with no success, and other sailors
were reluctant to join her. Privateering had attracted many of them, and
the navy was finding it difficult to recruit the kind of men it desired.
Lawrence was compelled to sign on a scratch lot, some Portuguese, a few
British, and many landlubbers. Given time to shake them together in hard
service at sea, he would have made a smart crew of them no doubt, as
Isaac Hull had done in five weeks with the men of the _Constitution_,
but destiny ordered otherwise.

In the spring of 1813 the harbor of Boston was blockaded by the
thirty-eight-gun British frigate _Shannon_, Captain Philip Vere Broke,
who had been in this ship for seven years. In the opinion of Captain
Mahan, "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."

Captain Broke was justly confident in his own leadership and in the
efficiency of a ship's company, which had retained its identity of
organization through so many years of his personal and energetic
supervision. Indeed, the captain of the British flagship on the American
station wrote: "The _Shannon's_ men were trained and understood gunnery
better than any men I ever saw." Every morning the men were exercised at
training the guns and in the afternoon in the use of the broadsword,
musket, and pike. Twice each week the crew fired at targets with great
guns and musketry and the sailor who hit the bull's eye received a pound
of tobacco. Without warning Captain Broke would order a cask tossed
overboard and then suddenly order some particular gun to sink it. In
brief, the _Shannon_ possessed those qualities which had been notable in
the victorious American frigates and which were lamentably deficient in
the _Chesapeake_.

Lawrence's men were unknown to each other and to their officers, and
they had never been to sea together. The last draft came aboard, in
fact, just as the anchor was weighed and the _Chesapeake_ stood out to
meet her doom. Even most of her officers were new to the ship. They had
no chance whatever to train or handle the rabble between decks. Now
Captain Broke had been anxious to fight this American frigate as
matching the _Shannon_ in size and power. He had already addressed to
Captain Lawrence a challenge whose wording was a model of courtesy but
which was provocative to the last degree. A sailor of Lawrence's heroic
temper was unlikely to avoid such a combat, stimulated as he was by the
unbroken success of his own navy in duels between frigates.

On the first day of June, Captain Broke boldly ran into Boston harbor
and broke out his flag in defiance of the _Chesapeake_ which was riding
at anchor as though waiting to go to sea. Instantly accepting the
invitation, Captain Lawrence hoisted colors, fired a gun, and mustered
his crew. In this ceremonious fashion, as gentlemen were wont to meet
with pistols to dispute some point of honor, did the _Chesapeake_ sail
out to fight the waiting _Shannon_. The news spread fast and wide and
thousands of people, as though they were bound to the theater, hastened
to the heights of Malden, to Nahant, and to the headlands of Salem and
Marblehead, in hopes of witnessing this famous sight. They assumed that
victory was inevitable. Any other surmise was preposterous.

These eager crowds were cheated of the spectacle, however, for the
_Chesapeake_ bore away to the eastward after rounding Boston Light and
dropped hull down until her sails were lost in the summer haze, with the
_Shannon_ in her company as if they steered for some rendezvous. They
were firing when last seen and the wind bore the echo of the guns, faint
and far away. It was most extraordinary that three weeks passed before
the people would believe the tidings of the disaster. A pilot who had
left the _Chesapeake_ at five o'clock in the afternoon reported that he
was still near enough an hour later to see the two ships locked side by
side, that a fearful explosion had happened aboard the _Chesapeake_, and
that through a rift in the battle smoke he had beheld the British flag
flying above the American frigate.

This report was confirmed by a fishing boat from Cape Ann and by the
passengers in a coastwise packet, but the public doubted and still hoped
until the newspapers came from Halifax with an account of the arrival of
the _Chesapeake_ as prize to the _Shannon_ and of the funeral honors
paid to the body of Captain James Lawrence. The tragic defeat came at an
extremely dark moment of the war when almost every expectation had been
disappointed and the future was clouded. Richard Rush, the American
diplomatist, wrote, recalling the event:

     I remember--what American does not!--the first rumor of it. I
     remember the startling sensation. I remember at first the universal
     incredulity. I remember how the post-offices were thronged for
     successive days by anxious thousands; how collections of citizens
     rode out for miles on the highway, accosting the mail to catch
     something by anticipation. At last, when the certainty was known, I
     remember the public gloom; funeral orations and badges of mourning
     bespoke it. "Don't give up the ship"--the dying words of
     Lawrence--were on every tongue.

It was learned that the _Chesapeake_ had followed the _Shannon_ until
five o'clock, when the latter luffed and showed her readiness to begin
fighting. Lawrence was given the choice of position, with a westerly
breeze, but he threw away this advantage, preferring to trust to his
guns with a green crew rather than the complex and delicate business of
maneuvering his ship under sail. He came bowling straight down at the
_Shannon_, luffed in his turn, and engaged her at a distance of fifty
yards. The breeze was strong and the nimble American frigate forged
ahead more rapidly than Lawrence expected, so that presently her
broadside guns had ceased to bear.

While Lawrence was trying to slacken headway and regain the desired
position, the enemy's shot disabled his headsails, and the _Chesapeake_
came up into the wind with canvas all a-flutter. It was a mishap which a
crew of trained seamen might have quickly mended, but the frigate was
taken aback--that is, the breeze drove her stern foremost toward the
_Shannon_ and exposed her to a deadly cannonade which the American
gunners were unable to return. The hope of salvation lay in getting the
ship under way again or in boarding the _Shannon_. It was in this moment
that the battle was won and lost, for every gun of the British broadside
was sweeping the American deck diagonally from stern to bow, while the
marines in the tops of the _Shannon_ picked off the officers and seamen
of the _Chesapeake_, riddling them with musket balls. It was like the
swift blast of a hurricane. Lawrence fell, mortally wounded. Ludlow, his
first lieutenant, was carried below. The second lieutenant was stationed
between decks, and the third forsook his post to assist those who were
carrying Lawrence below to the gun deck. Not an officer remained on the
spar deck and not a living man was left on the quarter deck when the
_Chesapeake_ drifted against the _Shannon_ after four minutes of this
infernal destruction. As the ships collided, Captain Broke dashed
forward and shouted for boarders, leading them across to the American
deck. No more than fifty men followed him and three hundred Yankee
sailors should have been able to wipe the party out, but most of the
_Chesapeake_ crew were below, and, demoralized by lack of discipline and
leadership, they refused to come up and stand the gaff. Brave resistance
was made by the few who remained on deck and a dozen more followed the
second lieutenant, George Budd, as he rushed up to rally a forlorn hope.

It was a desperate encounter while it lasted, and Captain Broke was
slashed by a saber as he led a charge to clear the forecastle. Yet two
minutes sufficed to clear the decks of the _Chesapeake_, and the few
visible survivors were thrown down the hatchways. The guns ceased
firing, and the crew below sent up a message of surrender. The frigates
had drifted apart, leaving Broke and his seamen to fight without
reinforcement, but before they came together again the day was won. This
was the most humiliating phase of the episode, that a handful of British
sailors and marines should have carried an American frigate by boarding.

It must not be inferred that the _Chesapeake_ inflicted no damage
during the fifteen minutes of this famous engagement. Thirty-seven of
the British boarding party were killed or wounded and the American
marines--"leather-necks" then and "devil-dogs" now--fought in accordance
with the spirit of a corps which had won its first laurels in the
Revolution. Such broadsides as the _Chesapeake_ was able to deliver were
accurately placed and inflicted heavy losses. The victory cost the
_Shannon_ eighty-two men killed and wounded, while the American frigate
lost one hundred and forty-seven of her crew, or more than one-third of
her complement. Even in defeat the _Chesapeake_ had punished the enemy
far more severely than the _Constitution_ had been able to do.

Lawrence lay in the cockpit, or hospital, when his men began to swarm
down in confusion and leaderless panic. Still conscious, he was aware
that disaster had overtaken them and he muttered again and again with
his dying breath, "Don't give up the ship. Blow her up." Thus passed to
an honorable fame an American naval officer of great gallantry and
personal charm. Although he brought upon his country a bitter
humiliation, the fact that he died sword in hand, his last thought for
his flag and his service, has atoned for his faults of rashness and
overconfidence. The odds were against him, and ill-luck smashed his
chance of overcoming them. He was no more disgraced than Dacres when he
surrendered the _Guerrière_ to a heavier ship, or than Lambert, dying on
his own deck, when he saw the colors of the _Java_ hauled down.

The _Shannon_ took her prize to Halifax, and when the news came back
that the captain of the _Chesapeake_ lay dead in a British port, the
bronzed sea-dogs of the Salem Marine Society resolved to fetch his body
home in a manner befitting his end. Captain George Crowninshield
obtained permission from the Government to sail with a flag of truce for
Halifax, and he equipped the brig _Henry_ for the sad and solemn
mission. Her crew was picked from among the shipmasters of Salem, some
of them privateering skippers, every man of them a proven deep-water
commander. It was such a crew as never before or since took a vessel out
of an American port. When they returned to Salem with the remains of
Captain Lawrence and Lieutenant Ludlow, the storied old seaport saw
their funeral column pass through the quiet and crowded streets. The
pall-bearers bore names to thrill American hearts today--Hull, Stewart,
Bainbridge, Blakely, Creighton, and Parker, all captains of the navy. A
Salem newspaper described the ceremonies simply and with an unconscious

     The day was unclouded, as if no incident should be wanting to crown
     the mind with melancholy and woe--the wind from the same direction
     and the sea presented the same unruffled surface as was exhibited
     to our anxious view when on that memorable first day of July we saw
     the immortal Lawrence proudly conducting his ship to action.... The
     brig _Henry_ containing the precious relics lay at anchor in the
     harbor. They were placed in barges and, preceded by a long
     procession of boats filled with seamen uniformed in blue jackets
     and trousers, with a blue ribbon on their hats bearing the motto of
     "Free Trade and Sailors' Rights," were rowed by minute strokes to
     the end of India Wharf, where the bearers were ready to receive the
     honored dead. From the time the boats left the brig until the
     bodies were landed, the United States brig _Rattlesnake_ and the
     brig _Henry_ alternately fired minute guns... On arriving at the
     meeting-house the coffins were placed in the centre of the church
     by the seamen who rowed them ashore and who stood during the
     ceremony leaning upon them in an attitude of mourning. The church
     was decorated with cypress and evergreen, and the names of Lawrence
     and Ludlow appeared in gilded letters on the front of the pulpit.

It was wholly reasonable that the exploit of the _Shannon_ should arouse
fervid enthusiasm in the breast of every Briton. The wounds inflicted
by Hull, Decatur, and Bainbridge still rankled, but they were now
forgotten and the loud British boastings equaled all the tales of Yankee
brag. A member of Parliament declared that the "action which Broke
fought with the _Chesapeake_ was in every respect unexampled. It was
not--and he knew it was a bold assertion which he made--to be surpassed
by any other engagement which graced the naval annals of Great Britain."
Admiral Warren was still in a peevish humor at the hard knocks inflicted
on the Royal Navy when he wrote, in congratulating Captain Broke: "At
this critical moment you could not have restored to the British naval
service the preeminence it has always preserved, or contradicted in a
more forcible manner the foul aspersions and calumnies of a conceited,
boasting enemy than by the brilliant act you have performed. The
relation of such an event restores the history of ancient times and will
do more good to the service than it is possible to conceive."

Captain Broke was made a baronet and received other honors and awards
which he handsomely deserved, but the wound he had suffered at the head
of his boarding party disabled him for further sea duty. If the
influence of the _Constitution_ and the _United States_ was far-reaching
in improving the efficiency of the American navy, it can be said also
that the victory of the _Shannon_ taught the British service the value
of rigorous attention to gunnery and a highly trained and disciplined

American chagrin was somewhat softened a few weeks later when two very
small ships, the _Enterprise_ and the _Boxer_, met in a spirited combat
off the harbor of Portland, Maine, like two bantam cocks, and the
Britisher was beaten in short order on September 5, 1813. The
_Enterprise_ had been a Yankee schooner in the war with Tripoli but had
been subsequently altered to a square rig and had received more guns and
men to worry the enemy's privateers. The brig-of-war was a kind of
vessel heartily disliked by seamen and now vanished from blue water. The
immortal Boatswain Chucks of Marryat proclaimed that "they would
certainly damn their inventor to all eternity" and that "their common,
low names, 'Pincher,' 'Thrasher,' 'Boxer,' 'Badger,' and all that sort,
are quite good enough for them."

Commanding the _Enterprise_ was Captain William Burrows, twenty-eight
years old, who had seen only a month of active service in the war.
Captain Samuel Blyth of the _Boxer_ had worked his way up to this
unimportant post after many years of arduous duty in the British navy.
He might have declined a tussel with the _Enterprise_ for his crew
numbered only sixty-six men against a hundred and twenty, but he nailed
his colors to the mainmast and remarked that they would never come down
while there was any life in him.

The day was calm, the breeze fitful, and the little brigs drifted about
each other until they lay within pistol shot. Then both loosed their
broadsides, while the sailors shouted bravely, and both captains fell,
Blyth killed instantly and Burrows mortally hurt but crying out that the
flag must never be struck. There was no danger of this, for the
_Enterprise_ raked the British brig through and through until resistance
was hopeless. Captain Blyth was as good as his word. He did not live to
see his ensign torn down. Great hearts in little ships, these two
captains were buried side by side in a churchyard which overlooks Casco
Bay, and there you may read their epitaphs today.

The grim force of circumstances was beginning to alter the naval policy
of the United States. Notwithstanding the dramatic successes, her flag
was almost banished from the high seas by the close of the year 1813.
The frigates _Constellation_, _United States_, and _Macedonian_ were
hemmed in port by the British blockade; the _Adams_ and the
_Constitution_ were laid up for repairs; and the only formidable ships
of war which roamed at large were the _President_, the _Essex_, and the
_Congress_. The smaller vessels which had managed to slip seaward and
which were of such immense value in destroying British commerce found
that the system of convoying merchantmen in fleets of one hundred or two
hundred sail had left the ocean almost bare of prizes. It was the habit
of these convoys, however, to scatter as they neared their home ports,
every skipper cracking on sail and the devil take the hindmost--a
failing which has survived unto this day, and many a wrathful officer of
an American cruiser or destroyer in the war against Germany could
heartily echo the complaint of Nelson when he was a captain, "behaving
as all convoys that ever I saw did, shamefully ill, and parting company
every day."

This was the reason why American naval vessels and privateers left their
own coasts and dared to rove in the English Channel, as Paul Jones had
done in the _Ranger_ a generation earlier. It was discovered that enemy
merchantmen could be snapped up more easily within sight of their own
shores than thousands of miles away. First to emphasize this fact in the
War of 1812 was the naval brig _Argus_, Captain William H. Allen, which
made a summer crossing and cruised for a month on end in the Irish Sea
and in the chops of the Channel with a gorgeous recompense for her
shameless audacity. England scolded herself red in the face while the
saucy _Argus_ captured twenty-seven ships and took her pick of their
valuable cargoes. Her course could be traced by the blazing hulls that
she left in her wake and this was how the British gun brig _Pelican_
finally caught up with her.

Although the advantage of size and armament was with the _Pelican_, it
was to be expected that the _Argus_ would prove more than a match for
her. The American commander, Captain Allen, had played a distinguished
part in several of the most famous episodes of the navy. As third
lieutenant of the _Chesapeake_, in 1807, he had picked up a live coal in
the cook's galley, held it in his fingers, and so fired the only gun
discharged against the _Leopard_ in that inglorious surprise and
surrender. As first officer of the frigate _United States_ he received
credit for the splendid gunnery which had overwhelmed the _Macedonian_,
and he enjoyed the glory of bringing the prize to port. It was as a
reward of merit that he was given command of the _Argus_. Alas, in this
fight off the coast of Wales he lost both his ship and his life, and
England had scored again. There was no ill-luck this time--nothing to
plead in excuse. The American brig threw away a chance of victory
because her shooting was amazingly bad, and instead of defending the
deck with pistol, pike, and musket, when the boarders came over the bow
the crew lowered the flag.

It was an early morning fight, on August 14, 1813, in which Captain
Allen had his leg shot off within five minutes after the two brigs had
engaged. He refused to be taken below, but loss of blood soon made him
incapable of command, and presently his first lieutenant was stunned by
a grapeshot which grazed his scalp. The ship was well sailed, however,
and gained a position for raking the _Pelican_ in deadly fashion, but
the shot went wild and scarcely any harm was done. The British captain
chose his own range and methodically made a wreck of the _Argus_ in
twenty minutes of smashing fire, working around her at will while not a
gun returned his broadsides. Then he sheered close and was prepared to
finish it on the deck of the _Argus_ when she surrendered with
twenty-three of her crew out of action. The _Pelican_ was so little
punished that only two men were killed. The officer left in command of
the _Argus_ laid this unhappy conclusion to "the superior size and metal
of our opponent, and the fatigue which the crew underwent from a very
rapid succession of prizes." There were those on board who blamed it to
the casks of Oporto wine which had been taken out of the latest prize
and which the sailors had secretly tapped. Honesty is the best policy,
even in dealing with an enemy. The affair of the _Argus_ and the
_Pelican_ was not calculated to inflate Yankee pride.

To balance this, however, came two brilliant actions by small ships. The
new _Peacock_, named for the captured British brig, under Captain Lewis
Warrington, stole past the blockade of New York. Off the Florida coast
on the 29th of April she sighted a convoy and attacked the escort brig
of eighteen guns, the _Epervier_. In this instance the behavior of the
American vessel and her crew was supremely excellent and not a flaw
could be found. They hulled the British brig forty-five times and made a
shambles of her deck and did it with the loss of one man.

Even more sensational was the last cruise of the _Wasp_, Captain
Johnston Blakely, which sailed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in May
and roamed the English Channel to the dismay of all honest British
merchantmen. The brig-of-war _Reindeer_ endeavored to put an end to her
career but nineteen minutes sufficed to finish an action in which the
_Wasp_ slaughtered half the British crew and thrice repelled boarders.
This was no light task, for as Michael Scott, the British author of _Tom
Cringle's Log_, candidly expressed it:

     In the field, or grappling in mortal combat on the blood-slippery
     deck of an enemy's vessel, a British soldier or sailor is the
     bravest of the brave. No soldier or sailor of any other country,
     saving and excepting those damned Yankees, can stand against
     them... I don't like Americans. I never did and never shall like
     them. I have no wish to eat with them, drink with them, deal with
     or consort with them in any way; but let me tell the whole
     truth,--_nor fight_ with them, were it not for the laurel to be
     acquired by overcoming an enemy so brave, determined, and alert,
     and every way so worthy of one's steel as they have always proved.

Refitting in a French port, the dashing Blakely took the _Wasp_ to sea
again and encountered a convoy in charge of a huge, lumbering ship of
the line. Nothing daunted, the _Wasp_ flitted in among the timid
merchant ships and snatched a valuable prize laden with guns and
military stores. Attempting to bag another, she was chased away by the
indignant seventy-four and winged it in search of other quarry until she
sighted four strange sails. Three of them were British war brigs in hot
pursuit of a Yankee privateer, and Johnston Blakely was delighted to
play a hand in the game. He selected his opponent, which happened to be
the _Avon_, and overtook her in the darkness of evening. Before a strong
wind they foamed side by side, while the guns flashed crimson beneath
the shadowy gleam of tall canvas. Thus they ran for an hour and a half,
and then the _Avon_ signaled that she was beaten, with five guns
dismounted, forty-two men dead or wounded, seven feet of water in the
hold, the magazine flooded, and the spars and rigging almost destroyed.

Blakely was about to send a crew aboard when another hostile brig,
forsaking the agile Yankee privateer, came up to help the _Avon_. The
_Wasp_ was perfectly willing to take on this second adversary, but just
then a third British ship loomed through the obscurity, and the ocean
seemed a trifle overpopulated for safety. Blakely ran off before the
wind, compelled to abandon his prize. The _Avon_, however, was so badly
battered that she went to the bottom before the wounded seamen could be
removed from her. Thence the _Wasp_ went to Madeira and was later
reported as spoken near the Cape Verde Islands, but after that she
vanished from blue water, erased by some tragic fate whose mystery was
never solved. To the port of missing ships she carried brave Blakely and
his men after a meteoric career which had swept her from one victory to

Of the frigates, only three saw action during the last two years of the
war, and of these the _President_ and the _Essex_ were compelled to
strike to superior forces of the enemy. The _Constitution_ was lucky
enough to gain the open sea in December, 1814, and fought her farewell
battle with the frigate _Cyane_ and the sloop-of-war _Levant_ on the
20th of February. In this fight Captain Charles Stewart showed himself a
gallant successor to Hull and Bainbridge. Together the two British ships
were stronger than the _Constitution_, but Stewart cleverly hammered the
one and then the other and captured both. Honor was also due the plucky
little _Levant_, which, instead of taking to her heels, stood by to
assist her larger comrade like a terrier at the throat of a wolf. It is
interesting to note that the captains, English and American, had
received word that peace had been declared, but without official
confirmation they preferred to ignore it. The spirit which lent to naval
warfare the spirit of the duel was too strong to let the opportunity

The _President_ was a victim of a continually increased naval strength
by means of which Great Britain was able to strangle the seafaring trade
and commerce of the United States as the war drew toward its close.
Captain Decatur, who had taken command of this frigate, remarked "the
great apprehension and danger" which New York felt, in common with the
entire seaboard, and the anxiety of the city government that the crew of
the ship should remain for defense of the port. Coastwise navigation was
almost wholly suspended, and thousands of sloops and schooners feared to
undertake voyages to Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Charleston. Instead of
these, canvas-covered wagons struggled over the poor highways in
continuous streams between New England and the Southern coast towns.
This awkward result of the blockade moved the sense of humor of the
Yankee rhymsters who placarded the wagons with such mottoes as "Free
Trade and Oxen's Rights" and parodied _Ye Mariners of England_ with the

  Ye wagoners of Freedom
  Whose chargers chew the cud,
  Whose wheels have braved a dozen years
  The gravel and the mud;
  Your glorious hawbucks yoke again
  To take another jag,
  And scud through the mud
  Where the heavy wheels do drag,
  Where the wagon creak is long and low
  And the jaded oxen lag.

  Columbia needs no wooden walls,
  No ships where billows swell;
  Her march is like a terrapin's,
  Her home is in her shell.
  To guard her trade and sailor's rights,
  In woods she spreads her flag.

Such ribald nonsense, however, was unfair to a navy which had done
magnificently well until smothered and suppressed by sheer weight of
numbers. It was in January, 1815, that Captain Decatur finally sailed
out of New York harbor in the hope of taking the _President_ past the
blockading division which had been driven offshore by a heavy northeast
gale. The British ships were struggling back to their stations when they
spied the Yankee frigate off the southern coast of Long Island. It was a
stern chase, Decatur with a hostile squadron at his heels and unable to
turn and fight because the odds were hopeless. The frigate _Endymion_
was faster than her consorts and, as she came up alone, the _President_
delayed to exchange broadsides before fleeing again with every sail set.
Her speed had been impaired by stranding as she came out past Sandy
Hook, else she might have out-footed the enemy. But soon the _Pomone_
and the _Tenedos_, frigates of the class of the _Shannon_ and the
_Guerrière_, were in the hunt. Decatur was cornered, but his guns were
served until a fifth of the crew were disabled, the ship was crippled,
and a force fourfold greater than his own was closing in to annihilate
him at its leisure. "I deemed it my duty to surrender," said he, and a
noble American frigate, more formidable than the _Constitution_, was
added to the list of the Royal Navy.

[Illustration: _A FRIGATE OF 1812 UNDER SAIL_

The _Constellation_, of which this is a photograph, is somewhat smaller
than the _Constitution_, being rated at 38 guns as against 44 for the
latter. In general appearance, however, and particularly in rig, the two
types are very similar. Although the _Constellation_ did not herself see
action in the War of 1812, she is a good example of the heavily armed
American frigate of that day--and the only one of them still to be seen
at sea under sail within recent years. At the present time the
_Constellation_ lies moored at the pier of the Naval Training Station,
Newport, R.I.

Photograph by E. Müller, Jr., Inc., New York.]



The last cruise of the _Essex_ frigate, although an ill-fated one, makes
a story far less mournful than that of the _President_. She was the
first man-of-war to display the American flag in the wide waters of the
Pacific. Her long and venturesome voyage is still regarded as one of the
finest achievements of the navy, and it made secure the fame of Captain
David Porter. The _Essex_ has a peculiar right to be held in
affectionate memory, apart from the very gallant manner of her ending,
because into her very timbers were builded the faith and patriotism of
the people of the New England seaport which had framed and launched her
as a loan to the nation in an earlier time of stress.

At the end of the eighteenth century France had been the maritime enemy
more hotly detested than England, and unofficial war existed with the
"Terrible Republic." This situation was foreshadowed as early as 1798
by James McHenry, Secretary of War, when he indignantly announced to
Congress: "To forbear under such circumstances from taking naval and
military measures to secure our trade, defend our territories in case of
invasion, and to prevent or suppress domestic insurrection would be to
offer up the United States a certain prey to France and exhibit to the
world a sad spectacle of national degradation and imbecility."

Congress thereupon resolved to build two dozen ships which should teach
France to mend her manners on the high seas, but the Treasury was too
poor to pay the million dollars which this modest navy was to cost.
Subscription lists were therefore opened in several shipping towns, and
private capital advanced the funds to put the needed frigates afloat.
The _Essex_ was promptly contributed by Salem, and the advertisement of
the master builder is brave and resonant reading:

     To Sons of Freedom! All true lovers of Liberty of your Country!
     Step forth and give your assistance in building the frigate to
     oppose French insolence and piracy. Let every man in possession of
     a white oak tree be ambitious to be foremost in hurrying down the
     timber to Salem where the noble structure is to be fabricated to
     maintain your rights upon the seas and make the name of America
     respected among the nations of the world. Your largest and longest
     trees are wanted, and the arms of them for knees and rising timber.
     Four trees are wanted for the keel which altogether will measure
     146 feet in length and hew sixteen inches square.

The story of the building of the _Essex_ is that of an aroused and
reliant people. The great timbers were cut in the wood lots of the towns
near by and were hauled through the snowy streets of Salem on ox-sleds
while the people cheered them as they passed. The _Essex_ was a Salem
ship from keel to truck. Her cordage was made in three ropewalks.
Captain Jonathan Haraden, the most famous Salem privateersman of the
Revolution, made the rigging for the mainmast in his loft. The sails
were cut from duck woven for the purpose in the mill on Broad Street and
the ironwork was forged by Salem shipsmiths. When the huge hempen cables
were ready to be conveyed to the frigate, the workmen hoisted them upon
their shoulders and in procession marched to the music of fife and drum.
In 1799, six months after the oak timbers had been standing trees, the
_Essex_ slid from the stocks into the harbor of old Salem. She was the
handsomest and fastest American frigate of her day and when turned over
to the Government, she cost what seemed at that day the very
considerable amount of seventy-five thousand dollars.

Peace was patched up with France, however, and the _Essex_ was compelled
to pursue more humdrum paths, now in the Indian Ocean and again with the
Mediterranean squadron, until war with England began in 1812. It was
intended that Captain Porter should rendezvous with the _Constitution_
and the _Hornet_ in South American waters for a well-planned cruise
against British commerce, but other engagements detained Bainbridge,
notably his encounter with the _Java_, and so they missed each other by
a thousand miles or so. Since he had no means of communication, it was
characteristic of Porter to conclude to strike out for himself instead
of wandering about in an uncertain search for his friends.

Porter conceived the bold plan of rounding the Horn and playing havoc
with the British whaling fleet. This adventure would take him ten
thousand miles from the nearest American port, but he reckoned that he
could capture provisions enough to feed his crew and supplies to refit
the ship. As a raid there was nothing to match this cruise until the
_Alabama_ ran amuck among the Yankee clippers and whaling barks half a
century later. It was the wrong time of year to brave the foul weather
of Cape Horn, however, and the _Essex_ was battered and swept by one
furious gale after another. But at last she won through, stout ship that
she was, and her weary sailors found brief respite in the harbor of
Valparaiso on March 14, 1813. Thence Porter headed up the coast,
disguising the trim frigate so that she looked like a lubberly,
high-pooped Spanish merchantman.

The luck of the navy was with the American captain for, as he went
poking about the Galapagos Islands, he surprised three fine, large
British whaling ships, all carrying guns and too useful to destroy. To
one of them, the _Georgiana_, he shifted more guns, put a crew of forty
men aboard under Lieutenant John Downes, ran up the American flag, and
commissioned his prize as a cruiser. The other two he also manned--and
now behold him, if you please, sailing the Pacific with a squadron of
four good ships! Soon he ran down and captured two British
letter-of-marque vessels, well armed and in fighting trim, and in a
trice he had not a squadron but a fleet under his command, seven ships
in all, mounting eighty guns and carrying three hundred and forty men
and eighty prisoners. Two of these prizes he discovered to be crammed
to the hatches with cordage, paint, tar, canvas, and fresh provisions.
The list could not have been more acceptable if Captain David Porter
himself had signed the requisition in the New York Navy Yard.

Lieutenant Downes was now sent off cruising by himself, and so well did
he profit by his captain's example and precepts that in a little while
he had bagged a squadron of his own, three ships with twenty-seven guns
and seventy-five men. When he rejoined the flagship in a harbor of the
mainland, Porter rewarded him by calling his cruiser the _Essex,
Junior_, promoting him to the rank of commander, and increasing his
armament. They then resumed cruising in two squadrons, finding more
British ships and sending them into the neutral harbor of Valparaiso or
home to the United States with precious cargoes of whale oil and bone.
Within a few months he swept the Southern Pacific almost clean of
British merchantmen, whalers, and privateers. Winter coming on, Porter
then sailed to the pleasant Marquesas Islands and laid the _Essex_ up
for a thorough overhauling. The enemy had furnished all needful supplies
and even the money to pay the wages of the officers and crew.

Fit for sea again, the _Essex_ and the _Essex, Junior_, betook
themselves to Valparaiso where they received information that the
thirty-six-gun frigate _Phoebe_ of the British navy was earnestly
looking for them. She had been sent out from England to proceed to the
northwest American coast and destroy the fur station at the mouth of the
Columbia River. At Rio de Janeiro Captain Hillyar had heard reports of
the ravages of the _Essex_ and he considered it his business to hunt
down this defiant Yankee. To make sure of success, he took the
sloop-of-war _Cherub_ along with him and, doubling the Horn, they made
straight for Valparaiso. David Porter got wind of the pursuit but
assumed that the _Phoebe_ was alone. He made no attempt to avoid a
meeting but on the contrary rather courted a fight with his old friend
Hillyar, whom he had known socially on the Mediterranean station. For an
officer of Porter's temper and training the capture of British whalers
was a useful but by no means glorious employment. He believed the real
vocation of a frigate of the American navy was to engage the enemy.

The _Phoebe_ and the _Cherub_ sailed into the Chilean roadstead in
February, 1814, and found the _Essex_ there. As Captain Hillyar was
passing in to seek an anchorage, the mate of a British merchantman
climbed aboard to tell him that the _Essex_ was unprepared for attack
and could be taken with ease. Her officers had given a ball the night
before in honor of the Spanish dignitaries of Valparaiso, and the decks
were still covered with awnings and gay with bunting and flags.
Reluctant to forego such a tempting opportunity, Captain Hillyar ran in
and luffed his frigate within a few yards of the Essex. To his
disappointed surprise, the American fighting ship was ready for action
on the instant. Though the punctilious restraints of a neutral port
should have compelled them to delay battle, Porter was vigilant and took
no chances. The liberty parties had been recalled from shore, the decks
had been cleared, the gunners were sent to quarters with matches
lighted, and the boarders were standing by the hammock nettings with
cutlasses gripped. Making the best of this unexpected turn of events,
the English captain shouted a greeting to David Porter and politely
conveyed his compliments, adding that his own ship was also ready for
action. So close were the two frigates at this moment that the jib-boom
of the _Phoebe_ hung over the bulwarks of the _Essex_, and Porter called
out sharply that if so much as a rope was touched he would reply with a
broadside. The urbane Captain Hillyar, perceiving his disadvantage,
exclaimed, "I had no intention of coming so near you. I am very sorry
indeed." With that he moved his ship to a respectful distance. Later he
had a chat with Captain Porter ashore and, when asked if he intended to
maintain the neutrality of the port, made haste to protest, "Sir, you
have been so careful to observe the rules that I feel myself bound in
honor to do the same."

After a few days the _Phoebe_ and the _Cherub_ left the harbor and
watchfully waited outside, enforcing a strict blockade and determined to
render the _Essex_ harmless unless she should choose to sally out and
fight. David Porter was an intrepid but not a reckless sailor. He had
the faster frigate but he had unluckily changed her battery from the
long guns to the more numerous but shorter range carronades. He was not
afraid to risk a duel with the _Phoebe_ even with this handicap in
armament, but the sloop-of-war _Cherub_ was a formidable vessel for her
size and the _Essex, Junior_, which was only a converted merchantman,
was of small account in a hammer-and-tongs action between naval ships.

For his part, Captain Hillyar had no intention of letting the Yankee
frigate escape him. "He was an old disciple of Nelson," observes Mahan,
"fully imbued with the teaching that the achievement of success and not
personal glory must dictate action. Having a well established reputation
for courage and conduct, he intended to leave nothing to the chances of
fortune which might decide a combat between equals. He therefore would
accept no provocation to fight without the _Cherub_. His duty was to
destroy the _Essex_ with the least possible loss."

Porter endured this vexatious situation for six weeks and then, learning
that other British frigates were on his trail, determined to escape to
the open sea. This decision involved waiting for the most favorable
moment of wind and weather, but Porter found his hand forced on the 28th
of March by a violent southerly gale which swept over the exposed bay of
Valparaiso and dragged the _Essex_ from her anchorage. One of her cables
parted while the crew struggled to get sail on her. As she drifted
seaward, Porter decided to seize the emergency and take the long chance
of running out to windward of the _Phoebe_ and the _Cherub_. He
therefore cut the other cable, and the _Essex_ plunged into the wind
under single-reefed topsails to claw past the headland. Just as she was
about to clear it, a whistling squall carried away the maintopmast.
This accident was a grave disaster, for the disabled frigate was now
unable either to regain a refuge in the bay or to win her way past the
British ship.

As a last resort Captain Porter turned and ran along the coast, within
pistol shot of it, far inside the three-mile limit of neutral water, and
came to an anchor about three miles north of the city. Captain Hillyar
had no legal right to molest him, but in his opinion the end justified
the means and he resolved to attack. Deliberately the _Phoebe_ and
_Cherub_ selected their stations and, late in this stormy afternoon,
bombarded the crippled _Essex_ without mercy. Porter with his carronades
was unable to repay the damage inflicted by the broadsides of the longer
guns, nor could he handle his ship to close in and retrieve the day in
the desperate game of boarding. He tried this ultimate venture,
nevertheless, and let go his cables. But the ship refused to move ahead.
Her sheets, tacks, and halliards had been shot away. The canvas was
hanging loose.

Porter's guns were by no means silent, however, even in this hopeless
situation, and few crews have died harder or fought more grimly than
these seamen of the _Essex_. Among them was a little midshipman, wounded
but still at his post, a mere child of thirteen years whose name was
David Farragut. His fortune it was to link those early days of the
American navy with a period half a century later when he won his renown
as the greatest of American admirals.

In many a New England seaport were told the tales of this last fight of
the _Essex_ until they became almost legendary--of Seaman John Ripley,
who cried, after losing his leg, "Farewell, boys, I can be of no more
use to you," and thereupon flung himself overboard out of a bow port; of
James Anderson, who died encouraging his comrades to fight bravely in
defense of liberty; of Benjamin Hazen, who dressed himself in a clean
shirt and jerkin, told his messmates that he could never submit to being
taken prisoner by the English and forthwith leaped into the sea and was
drowned. Such incidents help us to descry, amid the smoke and slaughter
of that desperate encounter, the spirit of the gallant David Porter.
Never was the saying, "It's not the ships but the men in them," better
exemplified. To Porter was granted greatness in defeat, a lot that comes
to few.

For two hours he and his men endured such dreadful punishment as not
many ships have suffered. Again he attempted to work his way nearer the
enemy, until he had not enough men left unhurt to serve the guns or to
haul at the pitifully splintered spars. In the last extremity, Porter
made an effort to destroy his vessel and to save her people from
captivity by letting the _Essex_ drive ashore. A kedge anchor was let
go, and a dozen sailors tramped around the capstan while the chantey man
piped up a tune, but again fortune seemed against him for the hawser
snapped, and the wind began to blow the frigate into deeper water. What
happened then is best recalled in the simple words of Captain David
Porter himself:

     I now sent for the officers of division to consult them and what
     was my surprise to find only acting Lieutenant Stephen Decatur
     M'Knight remaining.... I was informed that the cockpit, the
     steerage, the wardroom, and the berth deck could contain no more
     wounded, that the wounded were killed while the surgeons were
     dressing them, and that if something was not speedily done to
     prevent it, the ship would soon sink from the number of shot holes
     in her bottom. On sending for the carpenter he informed me that all
     his crew had been killed or wounded.

     The enemy, from the impossibility of reaching him with our
     carronades and the little apprehension that was excited by our
     fire, which had now become much slackened, was enabled to take aim
     at us as at a target; his shot never missed our hull and my ship
     was cut up in a manner which was perhaps never before witnessed; in
     fine, I saw no hope of saving her, and at twenty minutes after 6
     P.M. I gave the painful order to strike the colors. Seventy-five
     men including officers were all that remained of my whole crew
     after the action, many of them severely wounded, some of whom have
     since died.

     The enemy still continued his fire and my brave, though unfortunate
     companions were still falling about me. I directed an opposite gun
     to be fired to show them we intended no further resistance but they
     did not desist. Four men were killed at my side and others at
     different parts of the ship. I now believed he intended to show us
     no quarter, that it would be as well to die with my flag flying as
     struck, and was on the point of again hoisting it when about ten
     minutes after hauling down the colors he ceased firing.

     ... We have been unfortunate but not disgraced--the defense of the
     _Essex_ has not been less honorable to her officers and crew than
     the capture of an equal force; and I now consider my situation less
     unpleasant than that of Captain Hillyar, who in violation of every
     principle of honor and generosity, and regardless of the rights of
     nations, attacked the _Essex_ in her crippled state within pistol
     shot of a neutral shore, when for six weeks I had daily offered him
     fair and honorable combat on terms greatly to his advantage.

The behavior of Captain Hillyar after the surrender, however, was most
humane and courteous, and lapse of time has dispelled somewhat of the
bitterness of the American opinion of him. If he was not as chivalrous
as his Yankee foemen had expected, it must be remembered that there was
a heavy grudge and a long score to pay in the havoc wrought among
British merchantmen and whalers and that in those days the rights of
South American neutrals were rather lightly regarded.



Spectacular as were the exploits of the American navy on the sea, they
were of far less immediate consequence in deciding the destinies of the
war than were the naval battles fought on fresh water between hastily
improvised squadrons. On Lake Erie Perry's victory had recovered a lost
empire and had made the West secure against invasion. Macdonough's
handful of little vessels on Lake Champlain compelled the retreat of ten
thousand British veterans of Wellington's campaigns who had marched down
from Canada with every promise of crushing American resistance. This was
the last and most formidable attempt on the part of the enemy to conquer
territory and to wrest a decision by means of a sustained offensive. Its
collapse marked the beginning of the end, and such events as the capture
of Washington and the battle of New Orleans were in the nature of

That September day of 1814, when Macdonough won his niche in the naval
hall of fame, was also the climax and the conclusion of the long
struggle of the American armies on the northern frontier, a confused
record of defeat, vacillation, and crumbling forces, which was redeemed
towards the end by troops who had learned how to fight and by new
leaders who restored the honor of the flag at Chippawa and Lundy's Lane.
Although the ambitious attempts against Canada, so often repeated, were
so much wasted effort until the very end, they ceased to be inglorious.
The tide turned in the summer of 1814 with the renewal of the struggle
for the Niagara region where the British had won a foothold upon
American soil.

In command of a vigorous and disciplined American army was General Jacob
Brown, that stout-hearted volunteer who had proved his worth when the
enemy landed at Sackett's Harbor. He was not a professional soldier but
his troops had been trained and organized by Winfield Scott who was now
a brigadier. After two years of dismal reverses, the United States was
learning how to wage war. Incompetency was no longer the badge of high
military rank. A general was supposed to know something about his trade
and to have a will of his own.

With thirty-five hundred men, Jacob Brown made a resolute advance to
find and join battle with the British forces of General Riall which
garrisoned the forts of St. George's, Niagara, Erie, Queenston, and
Chippawa. Early in the morning of July 3, 1814, the American troops in
two divisions crossed the river and promptly captured Fort Erie. They
then pushed ahead fifteen miles until they encountered the British
defensive line on the Chippawa River where it flows into the Niagara.

The field was like a park, with open, grassy spaces and a belt of
woodland which served as a green curtain to screen the movements of both
armies. Riall boldly assumed the offensive, although he was aware that
he had fewer men. His instructions intimated that liberties might be
taken with the Americans 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." The
deduction was unflattering but very much after the fact.

The British attack was unlooked for. It was the Fourth of July and in
celebration Winfield Scott had given his men the best dinner that the
commissary could supply and was marching them into a meadow in the cool
of the summer afternoon for drill and review. The celebration, however,
was interrupted by firing and confusion among the militia who happened
to be in front, and Scott rushed his brigade forward to take the brunt
of the heavy assault. General Jacob Brown rode by at a gallop, waving
his hat and cheerily shouting, "You will have a battle." He was hurrying
to bring up his other forces, but meanwhile Scott's column crossed a
bridge at the double-quick and faced the enemy's batteries.

Exposed, taken by surprise, and outnumbered, Winfield Scott and his
regiments were nevertheless equal to the occasion. A battalion was sent
to cover one flank in the dense woodland, while the main body drove
straight for the columns of British infantry and then charged with
bayonets at sixty paces. The American ranks were steady and unbroken
although they were pelted with musketry fire, and they smashed a British
counter-charge by three regiments before it gained momentum. Handsomely
fought and won, it was not a decisive battle and might be called no more
than a skirmish but its significance was highly important, for at
Chippawa there was displayed a new spirit in the American army.

Riall retreated with his red-coated regulars to a stronger line at
Queenston, while Jacob Brown was sending anxious messages to Commodore
Chauncey begging him to use his fleet in cooperation and so break the
power of the enemy in Upper Canada. "For God's sake, let me see you," he
implored. But again the American ships on Lake Ontario failed to seize
an opportunity, and in this instance Chauncey's inactivity dismayed not
only General Brown but also the Government at Washington. The fleet
remained at Sackett's Harbor with excuses which appeared inadequate:
certain changes were being made among the officers and crews, and again
"the squadron had been prevented being earlier fitted for sea in
consequence of the delay in obtaining blocks and iron-work." Chauncey
subsequently fell ill, which may have had something to do with his lapse
of energy. The whole career of this naval commander on Lake Ontario had
disappointed expectations, even though the Secretary had commended his
"zeal, talent, constancy, courage, and prudence of the highest order."
The trouble was that Chauncey let slip one chance after another to win
the control of Lake Ontario in pitched battle. Always too intent on
building more ships instead of fighting with those he had, he is
therefore not remembered in the glorious companionship of Perry and

This failure to act at the moment when Jacob Brown was so valiantly
endeavoring to wrest from the British the precious Niagara peninsula was
responsible for the desperate and inconclusive battle of Lundy's Lane.
Winfield Scott frankly blamed the unsuccessful result upon the freedom
with which the British troops and supplies were moved on Lake Ontario.
For ten days Jacob Brown had remained in a painful state of suspense and
perplexity, until finally the word came that nobody knew when the
American fleet would sail. As he had feared, the British command, able
to move its troops unmolested across the lake, planned to attack him in
the rear and to cut his communications on the New York side of the
Niagara River. For this purpose two enemy brigs were filled with troops
and were sent over to Fort Niagara with more to follow.

It was to parry this threat that Brown moved his forces and brought
about the clash at Lundy's Lane. "As it appeared," he explained, "that
the enemy with his increased strength was about to avail himself of the
hazard under which our baggage and stores were on our side of the
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 action was fought about a mile back from the torrent of the Niagara,
below the Falls, where the by-road known as Lundy's Lane joined the main
road running parallel with the river. Here Scott's column came suddenly
upon a force of British redcoats led by General Drummond. Scott
hesitated to attack, because the odds were against his one brigade, but,
fearing the effect of a retreat on the divisions behind him, he sent
word to Brown that he would hold his ground and try to turn the enemy's
left toward the Niagara. It was late in the day and the sun had almost
set. Gradually Scott forced the British wing back, and Brown threw in
reinforcements until the engagement became general. The fight continued
furious even after darkness fell and never have men employed in the
business of killing each other shown courage more stubborn. Both sides
were equally determined and they fought until exhaustion literally
compelled a halt.

Later in the evening fresh troops were hurled in on both sides, and
they were at it again with the same impetuosity. A small hill, over
which ran Lundy's Lane, was the goal the Americans fought for. They
finally stormed it, "in so determined a manner," reported the enemy,
"that our artillery men were bayoneted in the act of loading and the
muzzles of the enemy's guns were advanced within a few yards of ours."
Back and forth flowed the tide of battle in bloody waves, until
midnight. Then sullenly and in good order the Americans retired three
miles to camp at Chippawa. Next day the enemy resumed the position and
held it unattacked.

It is fair to call Lundy's Lane a drawn battle. The casualties were
something more than eight hundred for each side, and the troops engaged
were about twenty-five hundred Americans and a like number of British.
Both the shattered columns soon retired behind strong defenses. General
Drummond led the British troops into camp at Niagara Falls, and General
Ripley, in temporary command of the American brigades, Scott and Brown
having been wounded, occupied the unfinished works of Fort Erie, on the
Canadian side, just where the waters of Lake Erie enter the Niagara

The British determined to bombard these walls and intrenchments with
heavy guns and then carry them by infantry assault. But this plan failed
disastrously. On the 15th of August the British charged in three columns
the bastions and batteries only to be savagely repulsed at every point
with a loss of nine hundred men killed, wounded, or prisoners, while the
defenders had only eighty-five casualties. Then Drummond settled down to
besiege the place and succeeded in making it so uncomfortable that Jacob
Brown, now recovered from his wound, organized a sortie in force which
was made on the 17th of September. In the action which followed, the
British batteries were overwhelmed and the American militia displayed
magnificent steadiness and valor. Jacob Brown proudly informed the
Governor of New York that "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 reinforcement has been of immense importance to us; it
doubled our effective strength, and their good conduct cannot but have
the happiest effect upon our nation."

This bold stroke ended the Niagara campaign. The British fell back, and
the American army was in no condition for pursuit. In ten weeks Jacob
Brown had fought four engagements without defeat and, barring the battle
of New Orleans, his brief campaign was the one operation of the land war
upon which Americans could look back with any degree of satisfaction.

The scene now shifted to Lake Champlain. The main work was the building
up of an army to resist the menacing preparations for a British invasion
from Montreal. Among the new American generals who had gained promotion
by merit instead of favor was George Izard, trained in the military
schools of England and Prussia, and an aide to Alexander Hamilton during
his command of the army of the United States. Izard had been sent to
Plattsburg in May, 1814, on the very eve of the great British campaign,
and found everything in a deplorable state of unreadiness and
inefficiency. While he was manfully struggling with these difficulties,
Secretary Armstrong directed him to send four thousand of his men to the
assistance of Jacob Brown on the Niagara front. General Izard obediently
and promptly set out, although the defense of Lake Champlain was thereby
deprived of this large body of troops. The expedition was almost barren
of results, however, and at a time when every trained soldier was needed
to oppose the march of the British veterans, Izard was at Fort Erie,
idle, waiting to build winter quarters and writing to the War
Department: "I confess I am greatly embarrassed. At the head of the most
efficient army the United States have possessed during this war, much
must be expected of me; and yet I can discern no object which can be
achieved at this point worthy of the risk which will attend its

Izard had already predicted that the withdrawal of his forces from
Plattsburg would leave northeastern New York at the mercy of the British
and he spoke the truth. No sooner had his divisions started westward
than the British army, ten thousand strong, under General Prevost,
crossed the frontier and marched rapidly toward the Saranac River and
then straight on to Plattsburg. Possession of this trading town the
British particularly desired because through it passed an enormous
amount of illicit traffic with Canada. Both Izard and Prevost agreed in
the statement that the British army was almost entirely fed on supplies
drawn from New York and Vermont by way of Lake Champlain. "Two thirds of
the army in Canada are supplied with beef by American contractors,"
wrote Prevost, and there were not enough highways to accommodate the
herds of cattle which were driven across the border.

To protect this source of supply by conquering the region was the task
assigned the splendid army of British regulars who had fought under
Wellington. The conclusion of the Peninsular campaign had released them
for service in America, and England was now able for the first time to
throw her military strength against the feeble forces of the United
States. It was announced as the intention of the British Government to
take and hold the lakes, from Champlain to Erie, as territorial waters
and a permanent barrier. To oppose the large and seasoned army which was
to effect these projects, there was an American force of only fifteen
hundred men, led by Brigadier General Alexander Macomb. All he could do
was to try to hold the defensive works at Plattsburg and to send forward
small skirmishing parties to annoy the British army which advanced in
solid column, without taking the trouble to deploy.

On the 6th of September Sir George Prevost with his army reached
Plattsburg and encamped just outside the town. From a ridge the British
leader beheld the redoubts, strong field works, and blockhouses, and at
anchor in the bay the little American fleet of Commodore Thomas
Macdonough. To Prevost it looked like a costly business to attempt to
carry these defenses by assault and he therefore decided to await the
arrival of the British ships of Captain George Downie. A combined attack
by land and sea, he believed, should find no difficulty in wiping out
American resistance.

Such was the situation and the weighty responsibility which confronted
Macdonough and his sailors. It was the most critical moment of the war.
With a seaman's eye for defense Macdonough met it by stationing his
vessels in a carefully chosen position and prepared with a seaman's
foresight for every contingency. Plattsburg Bay is about two miles wide
and two long and lies open to the southward, with a cape called
Cumberland Head bounding it on the east. It was in this sheltered water
that Macdonough awaited attack, his ships riding about a mile from the
American shore batteries. These guns were to be captured by the British
army and turned against him, according to the plans of General Prevost,
who was urging Captain Downie to hasten with his fleet and undertake a
joint action, for, as he said, "it is of the highest importance that
the ships, vessels, and gunboats of your command should combine a
cooperation 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."

These demands became more and more insistent, although the largest
British ship, the _Confiance_, had been launched only a few days before
and the mechanics were still toiling night and day to fit her for
action. She was a formidable frigate, of the size of the American
_Chesapeake_, and was expected to be more than a match for Macdonough's
entire fleet. Captain Downie certainly expected the support of the army,
which he failed to receive, for he clearly stated his position before
the naval battle. "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 the 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."

Compelled to seek and offer battle in Plattsburg Bay, the British
vessels rounded Cumberland Head on the morning of the 11th of September
and hove to while Captain Downie went ahead in a boat to observe the
American position. He perceived that Macdonough had anchored his fleet
in line in this order: the brig _Eagle_, twenty guns, the flagship
_Saratoga_, twenty-six guns, the schooner _Ticonderoga_, seven guns, and
the sloop _Preble_, seven guns. There was also a considerable squadron
of little gunboats, or galleys, propelled by oars and mounting one gun.
Opposed to this force was the stately _Confiance_, with her three
hundred men and thirty-seven guns, such a ship as might have dared to
engage the _Constitution_ on blue water, and the _Chub_, _Linnet_, and
_Finch_, much like Macdonough's three smaller vessels, besides a
flotilla of the tiny, impudent gunboats which were like so many hornets.

Macdonough was a youngster of twenty-eight years to whom was granted
this opportunity denied the officers who had grown gray in the service.
The navy, which was also very young, had set its own stamp upon him, and
his advancement he had won by sheer ability. Self-reliant and
indomitable, like Oliver Hazard Perry, he had wrestled with obstacles
and was ready to meet the enemy in spite of them. His fame among naval
men outshines Perry's, and he is rated as the greatest fighting sailor
who flew the American flag until Farragut surpassed them all.

The battle of Plattsburg Bay was contested straight from the shoulder
with little chance for such evolutions as seeking the weather gage or
wearing ship. With one fleet at anchor, as Nelson demonstrated at the
Nile, the proper business of the other was to drive ahead and try to
break the line or turn an end of it. This Captain Downie proceeded to
attempt in a brave and highly skillful manner, with the _Confiance_
leading into the bay and proposing to smash the _Eagle_ with her first
broadsides. The wind failed, however, and the British frigate dropped
anchor within close range of the _Saratoga_, which displayed
Macdonough's pennant, and pounded this vessel so accurately that forty
American seamen, or one-fifth of the crew, were struck down by the first
blast of the British guns.

Meanwhile the _Linnet_ had reached her assigned berth and fought the
American _Eagle_ so successfully that the latter was disabled and had to
leave the line. To balance this the _Chub_ was so badly damaged that
she drifted helpless among the American ships and was compelled to haul
down her colors. The _Finch_ committed a blunder of seamanship and by
failing to keep close enough to the wind, which soon died away, she
finally went aground and took no part in the battle. The _Preble_ was
driven from her anchorage and ran ashore under the Plattsburg batteries,
and the _Ticonderoga_ played no heavier part than to beat off the little
British galleys.

The decisive battle was therefore fought by four ships, the American
_Saratoga_ and _Eagle_, and the British _Confiance_ and _Linnet_. It was
then that Macdonough acquitted himself as a man who did not know when he
was beaten. The _Confiance_, which must have towered like a ship of the
line, had so cruelly mauled the _Saratoga_ that she seemed doomed to be
blown out of water. So many of his gunners were killed by the
double-shotted broadsides that Macdonough jumped from the quarter-deck to
take a hand himself and encourage the survivors. He was sighting a gun
when a round shot cut the spanker boom, and a fragment of the heavy spar
knocked him senseless.

Recovering his wits, however, he returned to his gun. But another shot
tore off the head of the gun captain and flung it in Macdonough's face
with such force that he was hurled across the deck. At length all but
one of the guns along the side exposed to the _Confiance_ had been
smashed or dismounted, and this last gun broke its fastening bolts,
leaped from its carriage with the heavy recoil, and plunged into the
main hatch. Silenced, shot through and through, her decks strewn with
dead, the _Saratoga_ might then have struck her colors with honor. But
Macdonough had not begun to fight. Prepared for such an emergency, he
let go a stern anchor, cut his bow cable, and "winded" or turned his
ship around so that her other side with its uninjured row of guns was
presented to the _Confiance_. Captain Downie had by this time been
killed, and the acting commander of the British flagship endeavored to
execute the same maneuver, but the _Confiance_ was too badly crippled to
be swung about. While she floundered, the Saratoga reduced her to
submission. One of the surviving officers stated that "the ship's
company declared they would no longer stand to their quarters nor could
the officers with their utmost exertions rally them." The ship was
sinking, with more than a hundred ragged holes in her hull and fivescore
men dead or hurt. Fifteen minutes later the plucky _Linnet_ surrendered
after a long and desperate duel with the _Eagle_. The British galleys
escaped from the bay under sail and oar because no American ships were
fit to chase them, but the Royal Navy had ceased to exist on Lake
Champlain. For more than two hours the battle had been fought with a
bulldog endurance not often equaled in the grim pages of naval history.
And more nearly than any other incident of the War of 1812 it could be
called decisive.

The American victory made the position of Prevost's army wholly
untenable. With the control of Lake Champlain in Macdonough's hands, the
British line of communication would be continually menaced. For the ten
thousand veterans of Wellington's campaigns there was nothing to do but
retreat, nor did they linger until they had marched across the Canada
border. Though the way had lain open before them, they had not fought a
battle, but were turned out of the United States, evicted, one might
say, by a few small ships manned by several hundred American sailors. As
Perry had regained the vast Northwest for his nation so, more
momentously, did Macdonough avert from New York and New England a tide
of invasion which could not otherwise have been stemmed.

[Illustration: _THOMAS MACDONOUGH_

Painting by J. W. Jarvis. In the City Hall, New York, owned by the
Corporation. Reproduced by courtesy of the Municipal Art Commission of
the City of New York.]

[Illustration: _JACOB BROWN_

Painting by J. W. Jarvis. In the City Hall, New York, owned by the
Corporation. Reproduced by courtesy of the Municipal Art Commission of
the City of New York.]



The raids of the British navy on the American sea-coast through the last
two years of the war were so many efforts to make effective the blockade
which began with the proclamation of December, 1812, closing Chesapeake
and Delaware bays. Successive orders in 1813 closed practically all the
seaports from New London, Connecticut, to the Florida boundary, and the
last sweeping proclamation of May, 1814, placed under strict blockade
"all the ports, harbors, bays, creeks, rivers, inlets, outlets, islands,
and seacoasts of the United States." It was the blockade of ports of the
Middle States which caused such widespread ruin among merchants and
shippers and which finally brought the Government itself to the verge of

The first serious alarm was caused in the spring of 1813 by the
appearance of a British fleet, under command of Admiral Sir John Borlase
Warren and Rear-Admiral George Cockburn, in the Chesapeake and Delaware
bays. Apparently it had not occurred to the people of the seaboard that
the war might make life unpleasant for them, and they had undertaken no
measures of defense. Unmolested, Cockburn cruised up Chesapeake Bay to
the mouth of the Susquehanna in the spring of 1813 and established a
pleasant camp on an island from which five hundred sailors and marines
harried the country at their pleasure, looting and burning such
prosperous little towns as Havre de Grace and Fredericktown. The men of
Maryland and Virginia proceeded to hide their chattels and to move their
families inland. Panic took hold of these proud and powerful
commonwealths. Cockburn had no scruples about setting the torch to
private houses, "to cause the proprietors who had deserted them and
formed part of the militia which had fled to the woods to understand and
feel what they were liable to bring upon themselves by building forts
and acting toward us with so much useless rancor." Though Cockburn was
an officer of the British navy, he was also an unmitigated ruffian in
his behavior toward non-combatants, and his own countrymen could not
regard his career with satisfaction.

Admiral Warren had more justification in attacking Norfolk, which had a
navy yard and forts and was therefore frankly belligerent. Unluckily for
him the most important battery was manned by a hundred sailors from the
_Constellation_ and fifty marines. Seven hundred British seamen tried to
land in barges, but the battery shattered three of the boats with heavy
loss of life. Somewhat ruffled, Admiral Warren decided to go elsewhere
and made a foray upon the defenseless village of Hampton during which he
permitted his men to indulge in wanton pillage and destruction. Part of
his fleet then sailed up to the Potomac and created a most distressing
hysteria in Washington. The movement was a feint, however, and after
frightening Baltimore and Annapolis, the ships cruised and blockaded the
bay for several months.

In September of the following year another British division harassed the
coast of Maine, first capturing Eastport and then landing at Belfast,
Bangor, and Castine, and extorting large ransoms in money and supplies.
New England was wildly alarmed. In a few weeks all of Maine east of the
Penobscot had been invaded, conquered, and formally annexed to New
Brunswick, although two counties alone might easily have furnished
twelve thousand fighting men to resist the small parties of British
sailors who operated in leisurely security. The people of the coastwise
towns gave up their sheep and bullocks to these rude trespassers, cut
the corn and dug the potatoes for them, handed over all their powder and
firearms, and agreed to finish and deliver schooners that were on the

Cape Cod was next to suffer, for two men-of-war levied contributions of
thousands of dollars from Wellfleet, Brewster, and Eastham, and robbed
and destroyed other towns. Farther south another fleet entered Long
Island Sound, bombarded Stonington, and laid it in ruins. The pretext
for all this havoc was a raid made by a few American troops who had
crossed to Long Point on Lake Erie, May 15, 1814, and had burned some
Canadian mills and a few dwellings. The expedition was promptly disowned
by the American Government as unauthorized, but in retaliation the
British navy was ordered to lay waste all towns on the Atlantic coast
which were assailable, sparing only the lives of the unarmed citizens.

Included in the British plan of campaign for 1814 was a coastal attack
important enough to divert American efforts from the Canadian frontier.
This was why an army under General Ross was loaded into transports at
Bermuda and escorted by a fleet to Chesapeake Bay. The raids against
small coastwise ports, though lucrative, had no military value beyond
shaking the morale of the population. The objective of this larger
operation was undecided. Either Baltimore or Washington was tempting.
But first the British had to dispose of the annoying gunboat flotilla of
Commodore Joshua Barney, who had made his name mightily respected as a
seaman of the Revolution and who had never been known to shake in his
shoes at sight of a dozen British ensigns. He had found shelter for his
armed scows, for they were no more than this, in the Patuxent River, but
as he could not hope to defend them against a combined attack by British
ships and troops he wisely blew them up. This turn of affairs left a
fine British army all landed and with nothing else to do than promenade
through a pleasant region with nobody to interfere. The generals and
admirals discussed the matter and decided to saunter on to Washington
instead of to Baltimore. In the heat of August the British regiments
tramped along the highways, frequently halting to rest in the shade,
until they were within ten miles of the capital of the nation. There
they found the American outposts in a strong position on high ground,
but these tarried not, and the invaders sauntered on another mile before
making camp for the night. It is difficult to regard the capture of
Washington with the seriousness which that lamentable episode deserves.
The city was greatly surprised to learn that the enemy actually intended
a discourtesy so gross, and the Government was pained beyond expression.
But beyond this display of emotion nothing was done. The war was now two
years old but no steps whatever had been taken to defend Washington,
although there was no room for doubt that a British naval force could
ascend the river whenever it pleased.

The disagreeable tidings that fifty of the enemy's ships had anchored
off the Potomac, however, reminded the President and his advisers that
not a single ditch or rampart had been even planned, that no troops were
at hand, that it was rather late for advice which seemed to be the only
ammunition that was plentiful. Quite harmoniously, the soldier in
command was General Winder who could not lose his head, even in this
dire emergency, because he had none to lose. His record for ineptitude
on the fighting front had, no doubt, recommended him for this place. He
ran about Washington, ordering the construction of defenses which there
was no time to build, listening to a million frenzied suggestions,
holding all manner of consultations, and imploring the Governors of
Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia to send militia.

The British army was less than five thousand strong. To oppose them
General Winder hastily scrambled together between five and six thousand
men, mostly militia with a sprinkling of regulars and four hundred
sailors from Barney's flotilla. During the night before the alleged
battle the camp was a scene of such confusion as may be imagined while
futile councils of war were held. The troops when reviewed by President
Madison realized Jefferson's ideal of a citizen soldiery, unskilled but
strong in their love of home, flying to arms to oppose an invader.
General Jacob Brown and Winfield Scott at Lundy's Lane, which was fought
within the same month, could have pointed out, in language quite
emphatic, that a large difference existed between the raw material and
the finished product.

On the 24th of August the British army advanced to Bladensburg, five
miles from Washington, where a bridge spanned the eastern branch of the
Potomac. Here the hilly banks offered the Americans an excellent line of
defense. The Cabinet had gone to the Washington Navy Yard, by request
of General Winder, to tell him what he ought to do, but this final
conference was cut short by the news that the enemy was in motion. The
American forces were still mobilizing in helter-skelter fashion, and
there was a wild race to the scene of action by militiamen, volunteers,
unattached regulars, sailors, generals, citizens at large, Cabinet
members, and President Madison himself.

Some Maryland militia hastily joined the Baltimore troops on the ridge
behind the village of Bladensburg, but part of General Winder's own
forces were still on the march and had not yet been assigned positions
when the advance column of British light infantry were seen to rush down
the slope across the river and charge straight for the bridge. They
bothered not to seek a ford or to turn a flank but made straight for the
American center. It was here that Winder's artillery and his steadiest
regiments were placed and they offered a stiff resistance, ripping up
the British vanguard with grapeshot and mowing men down right and left.
But these hardened British campaigners had seen many worse days than
this on the bloody fields of Spain, and they pushed forward, closing the
gaps in their ranks, until they had crossed the bridge and could find a
brief respite under cover of the trees which lined the stream. Advancing
again, they ingeniously discharged flights of rockets and with these
novel missiles they not only disorganized the militia in front of them
but also stampeded the battery mules. Most of the American army promptly
followed the mules and endeavored to set a new record for a foot race
from Bladensburg to Washington. The Cabinet members and other dignified
spectators were swept along in the rout.

Commodore Joshua Barney and his four hundred weather-beaten bluejackets
declined to join this speed contest. They were used to rolling decks and
had no aptitude for sprinting, besides which they held the simple-minded
notion that their duty was to fight. Up to this time they had been held
back by orders and now arrived just as the American lines broke in wild
confusion. With them were five guns which they dragged into position
across the main highway and speedily unlimbered. The British were
hastening to overtake the fleeing enemy when they encountered this
awkward obstacle. Three times they charged Barney's battery and were
three times repulsed by sailors and marines who fought them with
muskets, cutlasses, and handspikes, and who served those five guns with
an efficiency which would have pleased Isaac Hull or Bainbridge.

Unwilling to pay the price of direct attack, the British General Ross
wisely ordered his infantry to surround Barney's stubborn contingent.
The American troops who were presumed to support and protect this naval
battery failed to hold their ground and melted into the mob which was
swirling toward Washington. The sailors, though abandoned, continued to
fight until the British were firing into them from the rear and from
both flanks. Barney fell wounded and some of his gunners were bayoneted
with lighted fuses in their hands. Snarling, undaunted, the sailors
broke through the cordon and saved themselves, the last to leave a
battlefield upon which not one American soldier was visible. They had
used their ammunition to the end and they faced five thousand British
veterans; wherefore they had done what the navy expected of them. On a
day so shameful that no self-respecting American can read of it without
blushing they had enacted the one redeeming episode. Commodore Barney
described this action in a manner blunt and unadorned:

     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
     eighteen-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 twelve-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 which I expected
     much support from their fine situation.

Barney was made a prisoner, although his men stood by him until he
ordered them to retreat. Loss of blood had made him too weak to be
carried from the field. General Ross and Admiral Cockburn saw to it
personally that he was well cared for and paid him the greatest respect
and courtesy. As for the other British officers, they, too, were
sportsmen who admired a brave man, even in the enemy's uniform, and
Barney reported that they treated him "like a brother."

The American army had scampered to Washington with a total loss of ten
killed and forty wounded among the five thousand men who had been
assembled at Bladensburg to protect and save the capital. The British
tried to pursue but the afternoon heat was blistering and the rapid pace
set by the American forces proved so fatiguing to the invaders that many
of them were bowled over by sunstroke. To permit their men to run
themselves to death did not appear sensible to the British commanders,
and they therefore sat down to gain their breath before the final
promenade to Washington in the cool of the evening. They found a
helpless, almost deserted city from which the Government had fled and
the army had vanished.

The march had been orderly, with a proper regard for the peaceful
inhabitants, but now Ross and Cockburn carried out their orders to
plunder and burn. At the head of their troops they rode to the Capitol,
fired a volley through the windows, and set fire to the building. Two
hundred men then sought the President's mansion, ransacked the rooms,
and left it in flames. Next day they burned the official buildings and
several dwellings and, content with the mischief thus wrought, abandoned
the forlorn city and returned to camp at Bladensburg. But more vexation
for the Americans was to follow, for a British fleet was working its way
up the Potomac to anchor off Alexandria. Here there was the same
frightened submission, with the people asking for terms and yielding up
a hundred thousand dollars' worth of flour, tobacco, naval stores, and

The British squadron then returned to Chesapeake Bay and joined the main
fleet which was preparing to attack Baltimore. The army of General Ross
was recalled to the transports and was set ashore at the mouth of the
Patapsco River while the ships sailed up to bombard Fort McHenry, where
the star-spangled banner waved. To defend Baltimore by land there had
been assembled more than thirteen thousand troops under command of
General Samuel Smith. The tragical farce of Bladensburg, however, had
taught him no lesson, and to oppose the five thousand toughened regulars
of General Ross he sent out only three thousand green militia most of
whom had never been under fire. They put up a wonderfully good fight and
deserved praise for it, but wretched leadership left them drawn up in an
open field, with both flanks unprotected, and they were soon driven
back. Next morning--the 13th of September--the British advanced but
found the roads so blocked by fallen trees and entanglements that
progress was slow and laborious. The intrenchments which crowned the
hills of Baltimore appeared so formidable that the British decided to
await action by the fleet and attempt a night assault.

General Ross was killed during the advance, and this loss caused
confusion of council. The heavy ships were unable to lie within
effective range of the forts because of shoal water and a barrier of
sunken hulks, and Fort McHenry was almost undamaged by the bombardment
of the lighter craft. All through the night a determined fire was
returned by the American garrison of a thousand men, and, although the
British fleet suffered little, Vice-Admiral Cochrane concluded that a
sea attack was a hopeless enterprise. He so notified the army, which
thereupon retreated to the transports, and the fleet sailed down
Chesapeake Bay, leaving Baltimore free and unscathed.

Among those who watched Fort McHenry by the glare of artillery fire
through this anxious night was a young lawyer from Washington, Francis
Scott Key, who had been detained by the British fleet down the bay while
endeavoring to effect an exchange of prisoners. He had a turn for
verse-making. Most of his poems were mediocre, but the sight of the
Stars and Stripes still fluttering in the early morning breeze inspired
him to write certain deathless stanzas which, when fitted to the old
tune of _Anacreon in Heaven_, his country accepted as its national
anthem. In this exalted moment it was vouchsafed him to sound a trumpet
call, clear and far-echoing, as did Rouget de Lisle when, with soul
aflame, he wrote the _Marseillaise_ for France. If it was the destiny of
the War of 1812 to weld the nation as a union, the spirit of the
consummation was expressed for all time in the lines which a hundred
million of free people sing today:

    O! say can you see by the dawn's early light,
      What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming
    Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
      O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?

The luckless endeavor to capture Baltimore by sea and land was the last
British expedition that alarmed the Atlantic coast. The hostile army and
naval forces withdrew to Jamaica, from which base were planned and
undertaken the Louisiana campaign and the battle of New Orleans.

       *       *       *       *       *

The brilliant leadership and operations of Andrew Jackson were so
detached and remote from all other activities that he may be said to
have fought a private war of his own. It had seemed clear to Madison
that, as a military precaution, the control of West Florida should be
wrenched from Spain, whose neutrality was dubious and whose Gulf
territory was the rendezvous of privateers, pirates, and other lawless
gentry, besides offering convenient opportunity for British invasion by
sea. As early as the autumn of 1812 troops were collected to seize and
hold this region for the duration of the war. The people of the
Mississippi Valley welcomed the adventure with enthusiasm. It was to be
aimed against a European power presumably friendly, but the sheer love
of conquest and old grudges to settle were motives which brushed
argument aside. Andrew Jackson was the major general of the Tennessee
militia, and so many hardy volunteers flocked to follow him that he had
to sift them out, mustering in at Nashville two thousand of whom he
said: "They are the choicest of our citizens. They go at our call to do
the will of Government. No constitutional scruples trouble them. Nay,
they will rejoice at the opportunity of placing the American eagle on
the ramparts of Pensacola, Mobile, and Fort St. Augustine."

Where the fiery Andrew Jackson led, there was neither delay nor
hesitation. At once he sent his backwoods infantry down river in boats,
while the mounted men rode overland. Four weeks later the information
overtook him at Natchez that Congress had refused to sanction the
expedition. When the Secretary of War curtly told him that his corps was
"dismissed from public service," Andrew Jackson in a furious temper
ignored the order and marched his men back to Nashville instead of
disbanding them. He was not long idle, however, for the powerful
confederacy of the Creek Indians had been aroused by a visit of the
great Tecumseh, and the drums of the war dance were sounding in sympathy
with the tribes of the Canadian frontier. In Georgia and Alabama the
painted prophets and medicine men were spreading tales of Indian
victories over the white men at the river Raisin and Detroit. British
officials, moreover, got wind of a threatened uprising in the South and
secretly encouraged it.

The Alabama settlers took alarm and left their log houses and clearings
to seek shelter in the nearest blockhouses and stockades. One of these
belonged to Samuel Mims, a half-breed farmer, who had prudently
fortified his farm on a bend of the Alabama River. A square stockade
enclosed an acre of ground around his house and to this refuge hastened
several hundred pioneers and their families, with their negro slaves,
and a few officers and soldiers. Here they were surprised and massacred
by a thousand naked Indians who called themselves Red Sticks because of
the wands carried by their fanatical prophets. Two hundred and fifty
scalps were carried away on poles, and when troops arrived they found
nothing but heaps of ashes, mutilated bodies, and buzzards feeding on
the carrion.

From Fort Mims the Indians overran the country like a frightful scourge,
murdering and burning, until a vast region was emptied of its people.
First to respond to the pitiful calls for help was Tennessee, and within
a few weeks twenty-five hundred infantry and a thousand cavalry were
marching into Alabama, led by Andrew Jackson, who had not yet recovered
from a wound received in a brawl with Thomas H. Benton. Among Jackson's
soldiers were two young men after his own heart, David Crockett and
Samuel Houston. The villages of the fighting Creeks, at the Hickory
Ground, lay beyond a hundred and sixty miles of wilderness, but Jackson
would not wait for supplies. He plunged ahead, living somehow on the
country, until his men, beginning to break under the strain of
starvation and other hardships, declared open mutiny. But Jackson
cursed, threatened, argued them into obedience again and again. When
such persuasions failed, he planted cannon to sweep their lines and told
them they would have to pass over his dead body if they refused to go

The failure of other bodies of troops to support his movements and a
discouraged Governor of Tennessee could not daunt his purpose. He was
told that the campaign had failed and that the struggle was useless. To
this he replied that he would perish first and that energy and decision,
together with the fresh troops promised him, would solve the crisis.
Months passed, and the militia whose enlistments had expired went home,
while the other broke out in renewed and more serious mutinies. The few
regulars sent to Jackson he used as police to keep the militia in order.
The court-martialing and shooting of a private had a beneficial effect.

With this disgruntled, unreliable, weary force, Jackson came, at
length, to a great war camp of the Creek Indians at a loop of the
Tallapoosa River called Horseshoe Bend. Here some ten hundred picked
warriors had built defensive works which were worthy of the talent of a
trained engineer. They also had as effective firearms as the white
troops who assaulted the stronghold. Andrew Jackson bombarded them with
two light guns, sent his men over the breastworks, and captured the
breastworks in hand-to-hand fighting in which quarter was neither asked
nor given. No more than a hundred Indians escaped alive, and dead among
the logs and brushwood were the three famous prophets, gorgeous in war
paint and feathers, who had preached the doctrine of exterminating the

The name of Andrew Jackson spread far and wide among the hostile Indian
tribes, and the fiercest chiefs dreaded it like a tempest. Some made
submission, and others joined in signing a treaty of peace which Jackson
dictated to them with terms as harsh as the temper of the man who had
conquered them.

For his distinguished services Jackson was made a major general of the
regular army. He was then ordered to Mobile, where his impetuous anger
was aroused by the news that the British had landed at Pensacola and
had pulled down the Spanish flag. The splendor of this ancient seaport
had passed away, and with it the fleets of galleons whose sailors heard
the mission bells and saw the brass guns gleam from the stout fortresses
which in those earlier days guarded the rich commerce of the overland
trade route to St. Augustine.

Aforetime one of the storied and romantic ports of the Spanish Main,
Pensacola now slumbered in unlovely decay and was no more than a village
to which resorted the smugglers of the Caribbean, the pirates of the
Gulf, and rascally men of all races and colors. The Spanish Governor
still lived in the palace with a few slovenly troops, but he could no
more than protest when a hundred royal marines came ashore from two
British sloops-of-war, and the commander, Major Nicholls, issued a
thunderous proclamation to the oppressed people of the American States
adjoining, letting them know that he was ready to assist them in
liberating their paternal soil from a faithless, imbecile Government.
They were not to be alarmed at his approach. They were to range
themselves under the standard of their forefathers or be neutral.

Having fired this verbal blunderbuss, Major Nicholls sent a sloop-of-war
to enlist the support of Jean and Pierre Lafitte, enterprising brothers
who maintained on Barataria Bay in the Gulf, some forty miles south of
New Orleans, a most lucrative resort for pirates and slave traders.
There they defied the law and the devil, trafficking in spoils filched
from honest merchantmen whose crews had walked the plank. Pierre Lafitte
was a very proper figure of a pirate himself, true to the best
traditions of his calling. But withal he displayed certain gallantry to
atone for his villainies, for he spurned British gold and persuasions
and offered his sword and his men to defend New Orleans as one faithful
to the American cause.

If it was the purpose of Nicholls to divert Jackson's attention from New
Orleans which was to be the objective of the British expedition
preparing at Jamaica, he succeeded admirably; but in deciding to attack
Jackson's forces at Mobile, he committed a grievous error. The worthy
Nicholls failed to realize that he had caught a Tartar in General
Jackson--"Old Hickory," the sinewy backwoodsman who would sooner fight
than eat and who was feared more than the enemy by his own men. As might
have been expected, the garrison of one hundred and sixty soldiers who
held Fort Bowyer, which dominated the harbor of Mobile, solemnly swore
among themselves that they would never surrender until the ramparts were
demolished over their heads and no more than a corporal's guard
survived. This was Andrew Jackson's way.

Four British ships, with a total strength of seventy-eight guns, sailed
into Mobile Bay on the 15th of September and formed in line of battle,
easily confident of smashing Fort Bowyer with its twenty guns, while the
landing force of marines and Indians took position behind the sand dunes
and awaited the signal. The affair lasted no more than an hour. The
American gunnery overwhelmed the British squadron. The _Hermes_
sloop-of-war was forced to cut her cable and drifted under a raking fire
until she ran aground and was blown up. The _Sophie_ withdrew after
losing many of her seamen, and the two other ships followed her to sea
after delaying to pick up the marines and Indians who merely looked on.
Daybreak saw the squadron spreading topsails to return to Pensacola.

Andrew Jackson was eager to return the compliment but, not having troops
enough at hand to march on Pensacola, he had to wait and fret until his
force was increased to four thousand men. Then he hurled them at the
objective with an energy that was fairly astounding. On the 3d of
November he left Mobile and three days later was demanding the surrender
of Pensacola. The next morning he carried the town by storm, waited
another day until the British had evacuated and blown up Fort Barrancas,
six miles below the city, and then returned to Mobile. Sickness laid him
low but, enfeebled as he was, he made the journey to New Orleans by easy
stages and took command of such American troops as he could hastily
assemble to ward off the mightiest assault launched by Great Britain
during the War of 1812. It was known, and the warning had been repeated
from Washington, that the enemy intended sending a formidable expedition
against Louisiana, but when Jackson arrived early in December the
Legislature had voted no money, raised no regiments, devised no plan of
defense, and was unprepared to make any resistance whatever.

A British fleet of about fifty sail, carrying perhaps a thousand guns,
had gathered for the task in hand. The decks were crowded with trained
and toughened troops, the divisions which had scattered the Americans at
Bladensburg with a volley and a shout, kilted Highlanders, famous
regiments which had earned the praise of the Iron Duke in the Spanish
Peninsula, and brawny negro detachments recruited in the West Indies. It
was such an army as would have been considered fit to withstand the
finest troops in Europe. In command was one of England's most brilliant
soldiers, General Sir Edward Pakenham, of whom Wellington had said, "my
partiality for him does not lead me astray when I tell you that he is
one of the best we have." He was the idol of his officers, who agreed
that they had never served under a man whose good opinion they were so
desirous of having, "and to fall in his estimation would have been worse
than death." In brief, he was a high-minded and knightly leader who had
seen twenty years of active service in the most important campaigns of

It was Pakenham's misfortune to be unacquainted with the highly
irregular and unconventional methods of warfare as practiced in America,
where troops preferred to take shelter instead of being shot down while
parading across open ground in solid columns. Improvised breastworks
were to him a novelty, and the lesson of Bunker Hill had been forgotten.
These splendidly organized and seasoned battalions of his were confident
of walking through the Americans at New Orleans as they had done at
Washington, or as Pakenham himself had smashed the finest French
infantry at Salamanca when Wellington told him, "Ned, d'ye see those
fellows on the hill? Throw your division into column; at them, and drive
them to the devil."

Stranger than fiction was the contrast between the leaders and between
the armies that fought this extraordinary battle of New Orleans when,
after the declaration of peace, the United States won its one famous but
belated victory on land. On the northern frontier such a man as Andrew
Jackson might have changed the whole aspect of the war. He was a great
general with the rare attribute of reading correctly the mind of an
opponent and divining his course of action, endowed with an unyielding
temper and an iron hand, a relentless purpose, and the faculty of
inspiring troops to follow, obey, and trust him in the last extremity.
He was one of them, typifying their passions and prejudices, their
faults and their virtues, sharing their hardships as if he were a common
private, never grudging them the credit in success.

In the light of previous events it is probable that any other American
general would have felt justified in abandoning New Orleans without a
contest. In the city itself were only eight hundred regulars newly
recruited and a thousand volunteers. But Jackson counted on the arrival
of the hard-bitted, Indian-fighting regiments of Tennessee who were
toiling through the swamps with their brigadiers, Coffee and Carroll.
The foremost of them reached New Orleans on the very day that the
British were landing on the river bank. Gaunt, unshorn, untamed were
these rough-and-tumble warriors who feared neither God nor man but were
glad to fight and die with Andrew Jackson. In coonskin caps, buckskin
shirts, fringed leggings, they swaggered into New Orleans, defiant of
discipline and impatient of restraint, hunting knives in their belts,
long rifles upon their shoulders. There they drank with seamen as wild
as themselves who served in the ships of Jackson's small naval force or
had offered to lend a hand behind the stockades, and with lean,
long-legged Yankees from down East, swarthy outlaws who sailed for
Pierre Lafitte, Portuguese and Norwegian wanderers who had deserted
their merchant vessels, and even Spanish adventurers from the West

The British fleet disembarked its army late in December after the most
laborious difficulties because of the many miles of shallow bayou and
toilsome marsh which delayed the advance. A week was required to carry
seven thousand men in small boats from the ships to the Isle aux Poix
on Lake Borgne chosen as a landing base. Thence a brigade passed in
boats up the bayou and on the 23d of December disembarked at a point
some three miles from the Mississippi and then by land and canal pushed
on to the river's edge. Here they were attacked at night by Jackson with
about two thousand troops, while a war schooner shelled the British left
from the river. It was a weird fight. Squads of Grenadiers, Highlanders,
Creoles, and Tennessee backwoodsmen blindly fought each other in the fog
with knives, fists, bayonets, and musket butts. Jackson then fell back
while the British brigade waited for more troops and artillery.

On Christmas Day Pakenham took command of the forces at the front now
augmented to about six thousand, but hesitated to attack. And well he
might hesitate, in spite of his superior numbers, for Jackson had
employed his time well and now lay entrenched behind a parapet,
protected by a canal or ditch ten feet wide. With infinite exertion more
guns were dragged and floated to the front until eight heavy batteries
were in position. On the morning of the 1st of January the British
gunners opened fire and felt serenely certain of destroying the rude
defenses of cotton bales and cypress logs. To their amazement the
American artillery was served with far greater precision and effect by
the sailors and regulars who had been trained under Jackson's direction.
By noon most of the British guns had been silenced or dismounted and the
men killed or driven away. "Never was any failure more remarkable or
unlooked for than this," said one of the British artillery officers.
General Pakenham, in dismay, held a council of war. It is stated that
his own judgment was swayed by the autocratic Vice-Admiral Cochrane who
tauntingly remarked that "if the army could not take those mud-banks,
defended by ragged militia, he would undertake to do it with two
thousand sailors armed only with cutlases and pistols."

Made cautious by this overwhelming artillery reverse, the British army
remained a week in camp, a respite of which every hour was priceless to
Andrew Jackson, for his mud-stained, haggard men were toiling with pick
and shovel to complete the ditches and log barricades. They could hear
the British drums and bugles echo in the gloomy cypress woods while the
cannon grumbled incessantly. The red-coated sentries were stalked and
the pickets were ambushed by the Indian fighters who spread alarm and
uneasiness. Meanwhile Pakenham was making ready with every resource
known to picked troops, who had charged unshaken through the slaughter
of Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, and San Sebastian, and who were about to
justify once more the tribute to the British soldier: "Give him a plain,
unconditional order--go and do _that_--and he will do it with a cool,
self-forgetting pertinacity that can scarcely be too much admired."

It was Pakenham's plan to hurl a flank attack against the right bank of
the Mississippi while he directed the grand assault on the east side of
the river where Jackson's strength was massed. To protect the flank,
Commodore Patterson of the American naval force had built a water
battery of nine guns and was supported by eight hundred militia. Early
in the morning of the 8th of January twelve hundred men in boats, under
the British Colonel Thornton, set out to take this west bank as the
opening maneuver of the battle. Their errand was delayed, although later
in the day they succeeded in defeating the militia and capturing the
naval guns. This minor victory, however, was too late to save Pakenham's
army which had been cut to pieces in the frontal assault.

Jackson had arranged his main body of troops along the inner edge of
the small canal extending from a levee to a tangled swamp. The legendary
cotton bales had been blown up or set on fire during the artillery
bombardment and protection was furnished only by a raw, unfinished
parapet of earth and a double row of log breastworks with red clay
tamped between them. It was a motley army that Jackson led. Next to the
levee were posted a small regiment of regular infantry, a company of New
Orleans Rifles, a squad of dragoons who were handling a howitzer, and a
battalion of Creoles in bright uniforms. The line was extended by the
freebooters of Pierre Lafitte, their heads bound with crimson kerchiefs,
a group of American bluejackets, a battalion of blacks from San Domingo,
a few grizzled old French soldiers serving a brass gun, long rows of
tanned, saturnine Tennesseans, more regulars with a culverin, and rank
upon rank of homespun hunting shirts and long rifles, John Adair and his
savage Kentuckians, and, knee-deep in the swamp, the frontiersmen who
followed General Coffee to death or glory.

A spirit of reckless elation pervaded this bizarre and terrible little
army, although it was well aware that during two and a half years almost
every other American force had been defeated by an enemy far less
formidable. The anxious faces were those of the men of Louisiana who
fought for hearth and home, with their backs to the wall. Many a brutal
tale had they heard of these war-hardened British veterans whose
excesses in Portugal were notorious and who had laid waste the harmless
hamlets of Maryland. All night Andrew Jackson's defenders stood on the
_qui vive_ until the morning mist of the 8th of January was dispelled
and the sunlight flashed on the solid ranks of British bayonets not more
than four hundred yards away.

At the signal rocket the enemy swept forward toward the canal, with
companies of British sappers bearing scaling ladders and fascines of
sugar cane. They moved with stolid unconcern, but the American cannon
burst forth and slew them until the ditch ran red with blood. With
cheers the invincible British infantry tossed aside its heavy knapsacks,
scrambled over the ditch, and broke into a run to reach the earthworks
along which flamed the sparse line of American rifles. Against such
marksmen as these there was to be no work with the bayonet, for the
assaulting column literally fell as falls the grass under the keen
scythe. The survivors retired, however, only to join a fresh attack
which was rallied and led by Pakenham himself.

He died with his men, but once more British pluck attempted the
impossible, and the Highland brigade was chosen to lead this forlorn
hope. That night the pipers wailed _Lochaber no more_ for the mangled
dead of the MacGregors, the MacLeans, and the MacDonalds who lay in
windrows with their faces to the foe. This was no Bladensburg holiday,
and the despised Americans were paying off many an old score. Two
thousand of the flower of Britain's armies were killed or wounded in the
few minutes during which the two assaults were so rashly attempted in
parade formation. Coolly, as though at a prize turkey shoot on a tavern
green, the American riflemen fired into these masses of doomed men, and
every bullet found its billet.

On the right of the line a gallant British onslaught led by Colonel
Rennie swept over a redoubt and the American defenders died to a man.
But the British wave was halted and rolled back by a tempest of bullets
from the line beyond, and the broken remnant joined the general retreat
which was sounded by the British trumpeters. An armistice was granted
next day and in shallow trenches the dead were buried, row on row, while
the muffled drums rolled in honor of three generals, seven colonels,
and seventy-five other officers who had died with their men. Behind the
log walls and earthworks loafed the unkempt, hilarious heroes of whom
only seventy-one had been killed or hurt, and no more than thirteen of
these in the grand assault which Pakenham had led. "Old Hickory" had
told them that they could lick their weight in wildcats, and they were
ready to agree with him.

Magnificent but useless, after all, excepting as a proud heritage for
later generations and a vindication of American valor against odds, was
this battle of New Orleans which was fought while the Salem ship,
_Astrea_, Captain John Derby, was driving home to the westward with the
news that a treaty of peace had been signed at Ghent. With a sense of
mutual relief the United States and England had concluded a war in which
neither nation had definitely achieved its aims. The treaty failed to
mention such vital issues as the impressment of seamen and the injury to
commerce by means of paper blockades, while on the other hand England
relinquished its conquest of the Maine coast and its claim to military
domination of the Great Lakes. English statesmen were heartily tired of
a war in which they could see neither profit nor glory, and even the
Duke of Wellington had announced it as his opinion "that no military
advantage can be expected if the war goes on, and I 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." The reverses of first-class British armies at Plattsburg,
Baltimore, and New Orleans had been a bitter blow to English pride.
Moreover, British commerce on the seas had been largely destroyed by a
host of Yankee privateers, and the common people in England were
suffering from scarcity of food and raw materials and from high prices
to a degree comparable with the distress inflicted by the German
submarine campaign a century later. And although the terms of peace were
unsatisfactory to many Americans, it was implied and understood that the
flag and the nation had won a respect and recognition which should
prevent a recurrence of such wrongs as had caused the War of 1812. One
of the Peace Commissioners, Albert Gallatin, a man of large experience,
unquestioned patriotism, and lucid intelligence, set it down as his
deliberate verdict:

     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 foundation of
     permanent taxes and military establishments which the Republicans
     had deemed unfavorable to the happiness and free institutions of
     our 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 feeling 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.

After a hundred years, during which this peace was unbroken, a commander
of the American navy, speaking at a banquet in the ancient Guildhall of
London, was bold enough to predict: "If the time ever comes when the
British Empire is seriously menaced by an external enemy, it is my
opinion that you may count upon every man, every dollar, and every drop
of blood of your kindred across the sea."

The prediction came true in 1917, and traditional enmities were
extinguished in the crusade against a mutual and detestable foe. The
candid naval officer became Vice-Admiral William S. Sims, commanding
all the American ships and sailors in European waters, where the Stars
and Stripes and the British ensign flew side by side, and the squadrons
toiled and dared together in the finest spirit of admiration and
respect. Out from Queenstown sailed an American destroyer flotilla
operated by a stern, inflexible British admiral who was never known to
waste a compliment. At the end of the first year's service he said to
the officers of these hard-driven vessels:

     I wish to express my deep gratitude to the United States officers
     and ratings for the skill, energy, and unfailing good nature which
     they have all so consistently shown and which qualities have so
     materially assisted in the war by enabling ships of the Allied
     Powers to cross the ocean in comparative freedom.

     _To command you is an honor, to work with you is a pleasure, to
     know you is to know the finest traits of the Anglo-Saxon race._

The United States waged a just war in 1812 and vindicated the principles
for which she fought, but as long as the poppies blow in Flanders fields
it is the clear duty, and it should be the abiding pleasure, of her
people to remember, not those far-off days as foemen, but these latter
days as comrades in arms.


Of the scores of books that have been written about the War of 1812,
many deal with particular phases, events, or personalities, and most of
them are biased by partisan feeling. This has been unfortunately true of
the textbooks written for American schools, which, by ignoring defeats
and blunders, have missed the opportunity to teach the lessons of
experience. By all odds the best, the fairest, and the most complete
narrative of the war as written by an American historian is the
monumental work of Henry Adams, _History of the United States of
America_, 9 vols. (1889-91). The result of years of scholarly research,
it is also most excellent reading.

Captain Mahan's _Sea Power in its Relation to the War of 1812_, 2 vols.
(1905), is, of course, the final word concerning the naval events, but
he also describes with keen analysis the progress of the operations on
land and fills in the political background of cause and effect. Theodore
Roosevelt's _The Naval War of 1812_ (1882) is spirited and accurate but
makes no pretensions to a general survey. Akin to such a briny book as
this but more restricted in scope is _The Frigate Constitution_ (1900)
by Ira N. Hollis, or Rodney Macdonough's _Life of Commodore Thomas
Macdonough_ (1909). Edgar Stanton Maclay in _The History of the Navy_, 3
vols. (1902), has written a most satisfactory account, which contains
some capital chapters describing the immortal actions of the Yankee

Benson J. Lossing's _The Pictorial Field Book of the War of 1812_ (1868)
has enjoyed wide popularity because of his gossipy, entertaining
quality. The author gathered much of his material at first hand and had
the knack of telling a story; but he is not very trustworthy.

As a solemn warning, the disasters of the American armies have been
employed by several military experts. The ablest of these was Bvt. Major
General Emory Upton, whose invaluable treatise, _The Military Policy of
the United States_ (1904), was pigeonholed in manuscript by the War
Department and allowed to gather dust for many years. He discusses in
detail the misfortunes of 1812 as conclusive proof that the national
defense cannot be entrusted to raw militia and untrained officers. Of a
similar trend but much more recent are Frederic L. Huidekoper's _The
Military Unpreparedness of the United States_ (1915) and Major General
Leonard Wood's _Our Military History; Its Facts and Fallacies_ (1916).

Of the British historians, William James undertook the most diligent
account of them all, calling it _A Full and Correct Account of the
Military Occurrences of the Late War between Great Britain and the
United States of America_, 2 vols. (1818). It is irritating reading for
an American because of an enmity so bitter that facts are willfully
distorted and glaring inaccuracies are accepted as truth. As a naval
historian James undertook to explain away the American victories in
single-ship actions, a difficult task in which he acquitted himself with
poor grace. Theodore Roosevelt is at his best when he chastises James
for his venomous hatred of all things American.

To the English mind the War of 1812 was only an episode in the mighty
and prolonged struggle against Napoleon, and therefore it finds but
cursory treatment in the standard English histories. To Canada, however,
the conflict was intimate and vital, and the narratives written from
this point of view are sounder and of more moment than those produced
across the water. _The Canadian War of 1812_ (1906), published almost a
century after the event, is the work of an Englishman, Sir Charles P.
Lucas, whose lifelong service in the Colonial Office and whose thorough
acquaintance with Canadian history have both been turned to the best
account. Among the Canadian authors in this field are Colonel Ernest A.
Cruikshank and James Hannay. To Colonel Cruikshank falls the greater
credit as a pioneer with his _Documentary History of the Campaign upon
the Niagara Frontier_, 8 vols. (1896-). Hannay's _How Canada Was Held
for the Empire; The Story of the War of 1812_ (1905) displays careful
study but is marred by the controversial and one-sided attitude which
this war inspired on both sides of the border.

Colonel William Wood has avoided this flaw in his _War with the United
States_ (1915) which was published as a volume of the _Chronicles of
Canada_ series. As a compact and scholarly survey, this little book is
recommended to Americans who comprehend that there are two sides to
every question. The Canadians fought stubbornly and successfully to
defend their country against invasion in a war whose slogan "Free Trade
and Sailors' Rights" was no direct concern of theirs.


Adair, John, 215
Adams, Henry, quoted, 20, 117
_Adams_ (ship), 141
Alabama, Indians aroused in, 201
_Alabama_ raids compared with those of _Essex_, 154
Albany, militia at Sackett's Harbor from, 77
Alexandria, British fleet at, 197
Allen, Captain W. H., 142, 143
Amherstburg, Canadian post, 11;
  Hull plans assault, 11, 14, 16;
  Brock at, 17;
  defeat of British, 21, 42;
  Harrison against, 24, 25;
  Procter commands, 26;
  British advance from, 27
Anderson, James, of the _Essex_, 162
Annapolis, British fleet at, 187
_Argus_ (brig), 94;
  and the _Pelican_, 142-44
_Ariel_ (brig), 57, 62
Armstrong, John, Secretary of War, 37, 175;
  plans offensive, 72, 80, 84;
  and Wilkinson, 81-82;
  orders winter quarters, 82
Army, in 1812, 5-8;
  state control, 6-8;
  incapable officers, 10-11;
  at Niagara, 14-15;
  Hull's forces, 15;
  mutiny, 17;
  failure to supply, 24;
  forces under Winchester, 25;
  at New Orleans, 210-11
_Astrea_ (ship), 218
_Avon_ (British brig), fight with _Wasp_, 146-47
Bainbridge, Captain William, 90, 95, 117, 121, 127, 136-137, 138
Baltimore, British fleet at, 187;
  attack on, 197-99, 219
Bangor (Me.), British land at, 187
Barclay, Captain R. H., British officer, 52, 53, 54, 56, 60, 61
Barney, Commodore Joshua, 92, 189, 193, 194;
  account of battle of Bladensburg, 195
Barrancas, Fort, 208
Barron, Commodore James, 91
Belfast (Me.), British at, 187
_Belvidera_ (British frigate), 96;
  fight with _President_, 94-95
Benton, T. H., and Jackson, 202
_Betsy_ (brig), 104
Biddle, Lieutenant James, on the _Wasp_, 111-12
Biddle, Captain Nicholas, 92
Black Rock, navy yard at, 39, 48;
  Elliott at, 49;
  invasion of Canada from, 70;
  Indians against, 88
Bladensburg, battle, 191-96
Blakely, Captain Johnston, 137, 144, 145, 146, 147
Blockade, 124-25, 148, 185
Blyth, Captain Samuel, 140
Boerstler, Colonel, 76
_Bonne Citoyenne_ (British sloop-of-war), 126
Bowyer, Fort, 206, 207
_Boxer_, duel with _Enterprise_, 189-40
Boyd, General J. P., 74, 76, 83
Brewster (Mass.), war levy, 188
Brock, Major General Isaac, British commander, 12-13, 14;
  against Hull, 15, 17;
  Hull surrenders Detroit to, 18-19;
  on Elliott's victory, 40;
  on Niagara River, 65;
  killed, 66
Broke, Captain P. V., of the _Shannon_, 96, 128-29, 130, 134, 138-39
Brown, General Jacob, at Sackett's Harbor, 77, 78, 79;
  at Chrystler's Farm, 82-83;
  Niagara campaign, 167, 168, 169, 170;
  at Lundy's Lane, 171-72, 191
Budd, George, second lieutenant on _Chesapeake_, 134
Buffalo, Elliott at, 38;
  difficulty of taking supplies to, 47;
  American regulars sent to, 65;
  base of operations, 70, 72;
  Indians against, 88
Burrows, Captain William, of the _Enterprise_, 139

Cabinet advises General Winder, 192

_Caledonia_ (British brig), 38-39;
  Elliott captures, 39;
  in American squadron, 49-50, 56
Canada, "On to Canada!" slogan of frontiersmen, 4;
  vulnerable point in War of 1812, 9, 10;
  population and extent, 10;
  plans for invasion of, 13-14;
  Hull abandons invasion of, 16;
  Niagara campaign, 64 _et seq._, 167-77
Canning, George, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 92
Carden, Captain J. S., of the _Macedonian_, 114, 115, 116
Cass, Colonel Lewis, 18
Castine, British land at, 187
Champlain, Lake, Dearborn on, 71;
  Hampton in command, 80, 81;
  Macdonough's victory, 166 _et seq._
Chandler, General John, 74, 75
Chateauguay River, Hampton on, 84, 85
Chauncey, Captain Isaac, leads sailors from New York to Buffalo, 39;
  in command of naval forces on Lakes Erie and Ontario, 47, 48;
  extreme caution, 49, 55, 56, 170-71;
  on Lake Ontario, 49, 50, 63;
  and Perry, 50-51, 55, 56;
  and Niagara campaign, 72, 73, 74, 77, 82, 170-71
_Cherub_ (British sloop-of-war), 157, 159, 160, 161
_Chesapeake_ (frigate), and _Leopard_, 91;
  Lawrence on, 96, 127-28;
  defeated by _Shannon_, 128-39;
  Allen on, 142
Chesapeake Bay, blockade of 185;
  Cockburn in, 186;
  British army comes to, 189;
  British fleet in, 197
Chippawa, Brock's forces at 65, 67;
  battle, 168-70
Chrystler's Farm, battle, 83
_Chub_ (British schooner), 180
Clay, Brigadier General Green, 31
Clay, Henry, on conquest of Canada, 9
Cleveland, Harrison's headquarters at, 33
Cochrane, Vice Admiral Alexander, 198, 218
Cockburn, Rear Admiral George, 186, 195, 196
Cod, Cape, British raids on, 188
Coffee, General John, 211, 215
_Confiance_ (British frigate), 179, 180
Congress, declares war on Great Britain (1812), 4;
  and the navy, 90;
  votes prize money for _Constitution_, 107;
  prize money for _Wasp_, 113;
  and maritime trouble with France, 152;
  refuses to sanction Jackson's expedition, 201
_Congress_ (frigate), 94, 141
Connecticut, attitude toward War of 1812, 7
_Constellation_ (frigate), 92, 141, 187
_Constitution_ (frigate), 2, 125;
  Hull and, 95, 116, 128;
  now in Boston Navy Yard, 95-96;
  encounter with British squadron, 96-99;
  and _Guerrière_, 100-07, 108, 122-23;
  "Old Ironsides," 101;
  under Bainbridge, 116-17;
  health conditions on, 117-18;
  encounter with _Java_, 118-21, 123-24, 154;
  Lawrence and, 126;
  influence, 139;
  in 1813, 141;
  gains open sea in 1814, 147
Creek Indians, 201
Creighton, Captain J. O., 137
Crockett, David, 202
Croghan, Major George, at Fort Stephenson, 34-35, 36, 38, 46
Crowninshield, Captain George, 136
_Cyane_ (British frigate), 147

Dacres, Captain John, of the _Guerrière_, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104
Dayton (O.), Hull takes command at, 12
Dearborn, Major General Henry, plans invasion of Canada, 13, 73;
  commander-in-chief of American forces, 14;
  incompetency, 14;
  and Niagara campaign, 64, 65, 74-75, 76;
  campaign against Montreal, 71-72;
  wishes to retire, 72, 75;
  Armstrong and, 72;
  Brown reports battle of Sackett's Harbor to, 78-79;
  retired, 80;
  age, 117
Dearborn, Fort (Chicago), burned, 19;
  massacre, 20
Decatur, Captain Stephen, 138;
  and the _Philadelphia_ (1804), 92;
  squadron commander, 94;
  on the _United States_, 114, 115;
  on the _President_, 148, 149;
Defiance, Fort, 24
Delaware Bay, blockade of, 185
Derby, Captain John, 218
Detroit, 64;
  first campaign from, 11, 14;
  Hull at, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16;
  mutiny at, 15;
  surrender of, 17-18, 19, 20, 22, 106-07;
  in British hands, 31;
  Procter abandons, 42;
  Harrison returns to, 45
_Detroit_ (brig), taken from Hull, 38;
  Elliott captures, 39-40
_Detroit_ (British ship), 54, 56, 57, 60
Downes, Lieutenant John, 155, 156
Downie, Captain George, British officer, 178, 183
Drummond, General Sir George Gordon, 172

_Eagle_ (brig), 180
Eastham (Mass.), war levy, 188
Eastport (Me.), captured, 187
Elliott, Lieutenant J. D., builds fleet on Lake Erie, 38, 48;
  captures _Caledonia_ and _Detroit_, 39-40;
  with Perry, 54, 58
_Endymion_ (British frigate), 150
_Enterprise_ (brig), encounter with _Boxer_, 139-40
_Epervier_ (British brig), fight with _Peacock_, 144
Erie, Barclay off, 52;
  _see also_ Presqu' Isle
Erie, Fort, Elliott captures ships near, 39;
  Brock at, 65;
  Americans capture, 168;
  Scott and Brown occupy, 173
Erie, Lake, Hull's schooner captured on, 12;
  Perry on, 21, 40 _et seq._;
  Harrison on shores of, 24, 30;
  Chauncey in command on, 47, 48
_Essex_ (frigate), 141, 147;
  last cruise, 151 _et seq._;
  building of, 153;
  capture by Hillyar, 161-65
_Essex, Junior_ (cruiser), 156, 159
Eustis, William, Secretary of War, 24

Faneuil Hall, banquet for Hull at, 106
Farragut, Admiral D. G., 181;
  motto, 46;
  cited, _59_;
  midshipman on _Essex_, 161-62
_Finch_ (British schooner), 180
Florida, West, Jackson and, 200
France, American feeling toward, 3;
  as maritime enemy, 151-52, 154
Fredericktown burned, 186
"Free Trade and Sailors' Rights," 3, 91, 137
Frenchtown, _see_ Raisin River
_Frolic_ (British brig), encounter with _Wasp_, 108-13

Galapagos Islands, _Essex_ at, 155
Gallatin, Albert, quoted, 219-220
George, Fort, British fort, 67;
  evacuated by British, 74-75;
  retaken, 87
Georgia, Indians aroused in, 201
_Georgiana_ (British whaling ship), _Essex_ captures, 155;
  renamed _Essex, Junior_, 156
Great Britain, and free sea, 2-3;
  Indian wars, 4;
  war declared on (1812), 4;
  and Indians, 10;
  and Napoleon, 124;
  blockading measures, 124-25
Great Lakes, British on, 38
_Guerrière_ (British frigate), 2, 96;
  encounter with _Constitution_, 100-07, 108, 122-23;
  celebration of capture, 116

Hamilton, Alexander, Izard aide to, 175
Hampton, General Wade, in campaign against Montreal, 80, 81, 83-84, 86;
  and Wilkinson, 80-81;
  cause of failure, 86;
  age, 117
Hampton, British foray on village of, 187
Haraden, Captain Jonathan, 153
Harrison, General W. H., campaign, 22 _et seq._;
  report to Secretary of War, 29-30;
  Croghan and, 35;
  Armstrong on, 37-38;
  and Perry's victory, 41, 63;
  resumes campaign, 42;
  becomes President of United States, 45
Havre de Grace burned, 186
Hazen, Benjamin, of the _Essex,_ 162
_Henry_ (brig), 186, 187
_Hermes_ (British sloop-of-war), 207
Hillyar, Captain James, British officer, 157, 158, 159-60, 161, 164-65
_Hornet_ (sloop-of-war), 48, 94;
  Lawrence on, 126;
   and _Peacock_, 127;
  in South American waters, 154
Horseshoe Bend, battle, 204
Houston, Samuel, 202
Hull, Captain Isaac, of the _Constitution_, 95, 128, 138;
  and British squadron, 96, 97, 98, 99;
  and _Guerrière_, 101, 102, 103, 106;
  and Dacres, 104;
  victory celebrated, 106, 107, 108;
  gives up command of _Constitution_, 116-17;
  at Lawrence's funeral, 136
Hull, General William, 34, 68, 71, 88, 98;
  Detroit campaign, 11 _et seq._;
  troops, 15, 17;
  surrender, 19;
  court-martial, 19-20;
  Harrison and, 22;
  age, 117

Impressment of seamen, 90
Indian wars, enmity toward Great Britain because of, 4
Indians, British and, 10, 55;
  against Americans, 16, 67, 76;
  in Canadian army, 17;
  Procter and, 26;
  abandon British cause, 44;
  ravage frontier, 88;
  massacre at Fort Mims, 202
Izard, General George, 175, 176

Jackson, Andrew, at New Orleans, 17-18, 208 _et seq._;
  and Florida expedition, 200-03;
  at Horseshoe Bend, 204;
  at Pensacola, 207-08
_Jacob Jones_ (destroyer), 109
_Java_ (British frigate), encounter with _Constitution_, 118-20, 154
Jefferson, Thomas, and gunboats, 8-9;
  on conquest of Canada, 9-10
Johnson, Allen, _Jefferson and his Colleagues_, cited, 2
Johnson, Colonel R. M., 41, 43, 44, 46;
Jones, Captain, Jacob, of the _Wasp_, 109, 110, 111, 113;
Jones, John Paul, cited, 59;
  American naval officers serve with, 92;
  on the _Ranger_, 141

Kentucky, defends western border, 22;
  militia, 24, 31
Key, F. S., _Star-Spangled Banner_, 198-99
Kingston, plan to capture, 72, 73;
  Prevost embarks at, 77

_Lady Prevost_ (British schooner), 56
Lafitte, Jean, 206
Lafitte, Pierre, 206, 211, 215
Lambert, Captain Henry, of the _Java_, 118
Lang, Jack, sailor on the _Wasp_, 111
_La Vengeance_ (French ship) and _Constellation_, 93
Lawrence, Captain James, of the _Chesapeake_, 96, 127-28, 129-30;
  on the _Hornet_, 126, 127;
  fights _Shannon_, 130-136;
  death, 131, 133, 135;
  account of funeral, 136-37
_Lawrence_ (brig), 49, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58
_Leopard_ and _Chesapeake_, 91, 142
_Levant_ (British sloop-of-war), fight with _Constitution_, 147
Lewis, General Morgan, 75-76, 83
_Linnet_ (British brig), 180
_L'Insurgente_ (French ship) and _Constellation_, 92
Long Island Sound, British fleet in, 188
Ludlow, Lieutenant A. C, of the _Chesapeake_, 133,136, 137
Lundy's Lane, battle, 2, 171-173

McArthur, Colonel, 18
Macdonough, Commodore Thomas, on Lake Champlain, 166, 167, 171, 178, 179-84
_Macedonian_ (British frigate), Decatur captures, 114-16, 142;
  as American frigate, 141
McHenry, Fort, 197, 198
Mackinac, fall of, 19, 20
Mackinaw, _see_ Mackinac
M'Knight, Lieutenant, S. D., of the _Essex_, 163
Macomb, Brigadier General Alexander, 177
Madison, James, and Hull, 12, 19;
  reviews troops, 191;
  at battle of Bladensburg, 192;
  policy as to West Florida, 200
Mahan, Captain A. T., quoted, 128
Maine, British raids, 187
Malden (Amherstburg), 43;
  _see also_ Amherstburg
Massachusetts, attitude toward War of 1812, 7, 91
Maumee Rapids, Harrison at, 30
Maumee River, Hull at, 12
Meigs, Fort, massacre at, 20, 32;
  built, 30;
  Procter besieges, 31-32, 36;
  Harrison again at, 33
Merchant marine, 93
Miller, Captain, at battle of Bladensburg, 195
Miller, Colonel John, 17, 33
Mims, Samuel, 202
Mims, Fort, massacre, 202
Mississippi Valley and invasion of Florida, 200
Mobile, Jackson at, 204, 206-207, 208
Montreal, plan of attack, 14;
  campaign against, 71, 82-87
Moraviantown, Procter goes to, 42
Morris, Lieutenant Charles, on the _Constitution_, 101, 107
Mulcaster, Captain W. H., 83
Murray, Colonel, British officer, 87

Napoleon, Great Britain and, 2;
  offenses against American commerce, 8
Navy, 8-9,38;
  on Lake Erie, 46 _et seq._;
  on the sea, 89 _et seq._;
  augmented by private subscriptions, 152;
  victory on Lake Champlain, 166 _et seq._
Nelson, Horatio, Viscount, quoted, 141
New England, attitude toward War of 1812, 7-8;
  British raids in, 187-88
New Orleans, battle of, 166, 175, 208-18, 219
New York, apprehension in, 148
Niagara, campaign planned, 13-14;
  American forces at, 14-15;
  campaign, 64 _et seq._;
  renewal of struggle for region of (1814), 167-77
_Niagara_ (brig), 49, 53, 54, 56, 58, 59
Niagara, Fort, 87
Nicholls, Major Edward, 205
Norfolk, Warren attacks, 187
Northwest Territory regained for United States, 44, 63

Ohio, Hull sends troops to, 16;
  defends western border, 22;
  militia, 31
"Old Ironsides," 101, see also _Constitution_
Ontario, Lake, Chauncey in command on, 47, 48, 49, 50;
  battle at Sackett's Harbor, 77-79
Orne, Captain W. B., 104

Paine, R. D., _The Old Merchant Marine_, cited, 93 (note)
Pakenham, General Sir Edward, at New Orleans, 209-210, 212, 213, 214, 216-17
Patterson, Commodore D. T., at New Orleans, 214
_Peacock_ (British brig) and _Hornet_, 127
_Peacock_ (sloop-of-war), 144
_Pelican_ (British brig), 142
Pennsylvania, brigade in Western campaign from, 23;
  militia at Erie, 52-53
Pensacola, British pull down Spanish flag at, 204-05;
  Jackson at, 207-08
Perry, O. H., 180-81;
  victory on Lake Erie, 21, 46 _et seq._, 166;
  and Harrison, 41, 63;
  famous message, 41, 62
_Philadelphia_ (frigate), 92
_Phoebe_ (British frigate) and _Essex_, 157-65
_Pilot_, The, on destruction of the _Java_, 123-24
Plattsburg, Dearborn at, 71;
  troops moved from, 74, 80;
  Izard at, 175, 176;
  Prevost at, 176, 177,178
Plattsburg Bay, battle of, 177-184, 219
_Poictiers_ (British ship), 113
_Pomone_ (British frigate), 150
Porter, Captain David, of the _Essex_, 151;
  raids on British whaling fleet, 154-56;
  _Phoebe_ and _Cherub_ seek, 157-64;
  account of surrender of _Essex_, 163-64
_President_ (frigate), 141, 147, 148, 149;
  encounters _Belvidera_, 94-95;
  Rodgers in command of, 101;
  captured, 150
Presqu' Isle (Erie), navy yard at, 48;
  _see also_ Erie
Prevost, Sir George, Governor General of Canada, 54;
  crosses Lake Ontario, 77;
  defends Montreal, 84-85;
  goes to Plattsburg, 176, 177;
  quoted, 176-77, 178-79
Privateers, 93
Procter, Colonel Henry, battle of the Raisin, 26;
  character, 26;
  and Harrison, 30, 34, 37-38;
  at Fort Meigs, 31-32, 33;
  at Fort Stephenson, 36;
  blames Indians for defeat, 36-37;
  Brock reports to, 40-41;
  and Tecumseh, 42;
  official disgrace, 45
Put-in Bay, Perry at, 54

_Queen Charlotte_ (British ship), 56, 58, 60
Queenston, attack on, 65-67;
  British at, 168, 170
Quincy, Josiah, 91

Raisin River, massacre at, 20, 26-30, 36;
  Winchester at Frenchtown, 25
_Ranger_ (frigate), 141
_Rattlesnake_ (brig), 137
_Reindeer_ (British brig), 145
Rennie, Colonel, British officer, 217
Riall, General Phineas, 168,170
Ripley, General E. W., 173
Ripley, John, seaman on _Essex_, 162
Rodgers, Commodore John, 94, 95, 101, 113-14
Ross, General Robert, 188, 194;
  and Barney, 195;
  in Washington, 196;
  against Baltimore, 197;
  killed, 198
Rush, Richard, quoted, 132

Sackett's Harbor, Lake Ontario, invasion of Canada planned from, 13-14;
  Chauncey, at, 47, 48;
  in Niagara campaign, 72, 74, 76-77;
  battle at, 77-79;
  campaign against Montreal, 80, 81;
  Brown at, 167;
  fleet at, 170
St. Lawrence River, plan to gain control of, 72;
  Wilkinson's army descends, 80;
  Wilkinson abandons voyage down, 83-84
Salaberry, Colonel de, 85, 86
Salem contributes _Essex_ to navy, 152
Salem Marine Society, 136
_Saratoga_ (flagship), 180
_Scorpion_ (brig), 57, 62
Scott, Michael, _Tom Cringle's Log_, quoted, 145
Scott, Winfield, quoted, 5;
  at Queenston, 66;
  at Chippawa, 68, 168-69;
  taken prisoner, 68;
  in control of army, 73;
  at Fort George, 74;
  on Wilkinson, 80;
  trains Brown's troops, 167;
  at Lundy's Lane, 171, 172,191;
  wounded, 173
Seneca, Harrison at, 37, 38, 41
_Shannon_ (British frigate), encounter with _Constitution_, 96-99;
  defeats _Chesapeake_, 128-39
Shipbuilding on Lake Erie, 50
Sims, Vice-Admiral W. S., 220-21
Smith, General Samuel, 197
Smyth, Brigadier General Alexander, 65, 66, 68-69, 70-71
_Sophie_ (British ship), 207
Spain and West Florida, 200
Squaw Island, Elliott at, 38
Stephenson, Fort, Harrison at, 34;
  Croghan at, 36, 46;
  Procter's defeat, 36, 37-38
Stewart, Captain Charles, 136, 147
Stonington, British bombard, 188
Stony Creek, battle, 75

Tecumseh, 16, 18, 31, 32, 34, 42;
  death, 44;
  and Creek Indians, 201
_Tenedos_ (British frigate), 150
Thames River, Procter's defeat at, 43-44
Thornton, Colonel Sir William, British officer, 214
_Ticonderoga_ (schooner), 180
_Times_, London, account of fight of _Guerrière_, 122-23
Tippecanoe campaign, 20
Toronto, _see_ York
Transportation, effect of blockade on, 148

_United States_ (frigate), 94, 139;
  captures _Macedonian_, 114-116, 142;
  and blockade, 141
Upper Sandusky, Harrison's headquarters, 33, 34

Valparaiso, _Essex_ at, 155, 156, 157;
  _Essex_ and _Phoebe_ at, 158 _et seq._
Van Rensselaer, Major General Stephen, 64, 65, 66, 68, 71
Vincent, General John, British officer, 74, 75
Virginia, brigades from, 23

War of 1812, a victory, 1;
  causes, 2-4;
  army, 5-8;
  "Mr. Madison's War," 8;
  navy, 8-9, 89 _et seq._;
  campaign in West, 11 _et seq._;
  Perry and Lake Erie, 46 _et seq._;
  the Northern Front, 64 _et seq._;
  victory on Lake Champlain, 166 _et seq._;
  peace with honor, 185 _et seq._;
  bibliography, 223-25
Warren, Admiral Sir J. B., 138, 185, 187
Warrington, Captain Lewis, of the _Peacock_, 144
Washington, George, on need of regular army, 6-7;
  and Hull, 11
Washington, Capitol burned, 73, 196;
  naval ball to celebrate capture of _Guerrière_, 116;
  British fleet causes consternation in, 187;
  British decide to attack, 189;
  capture of, 166, 190-96
_Wasp_ (sloop-of-war), 48;
  encounter with _Frolic_, 108-13;
  last cruise, 144-47;
  disappearance, 147
Wellfleet (Mass.), war levy, 188
Whinyates, Captain Thomas, of the _Frolic_, 109, 112
Wilkinson, James, succeeds Dearborn, 80;
  character, 80;
  Hampton and, 81, 84;
  and Armstrong, 81;
  campaign, 82, 83, 84, 86, 87;
  age, 117
Winchester, General James, as a leader, 24-25;
  at Raisin River, 25, 26-27, 28
Winder, General W. H., in Niagara campaign, 74, 75;
  at Washington, 190-91, 192
Wool, Captain J. E., at Queenston, 66

Yeo, Sir James, 49, 77
York (Toronto), plans to capture, 72, 73
  capture, 73

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