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from the old Sow sent^pplinters from the hull of the Roytil George- mast high. The squadron bent their sails, and fled to the open lake as fast as a gentle breeze and good seamanship would allow, followed by the cheers of the people on shore, and the lively air of Yankee Doodle from fife and drum.
News soon came of skirmishings on the western shores of Lake Erie, and of a terrible massacre by Indians at Chicago. Almost simultaneously couriers brought the astounding intelligence of the surrender of Detroit by General Hull, with the Army of the Northwest and the whole peninsula of Michigan, without resistance! Alarm, sorrow, and hot indignation stirred the people of the whole land. The excitement was intense; and thousands of brave and patriotic men in and out of camp resolved to retrieve the loss and wipe out the disgrace at all hazards.
No man shared more largely in these feelings than Lieutenant-Colonel Seott. He was as restive as a hound in the leash in the narrow field of action to which he was assigned. His duties were very important and honorable, but he longed to be at the head of troops, flushed with the excitement of the march or battle. His wishes were not long ungratificd. At first the indulgence was small but grateful.
Only a narrow, but deep and rapid river—the outlet of vast inland seas—flowed between Scott and the enemy. Upon a gentle eminence two or three miles up the river, on the opposite shore, was Fort Erie—a considerable fortification of earth and stone, fairly armed and manned. The British had batteries, also, opposite Buffalo and Dlack Rock.
Under the guns of Fort Erie lay two armed British brigs—the Adams, captured at Detroit, and the Caledonia, belonging to the Northwestern
Fur Company, laden with a valuable cargo of skins from the forests. It was early in October, 1812. These vessels had anchored there on the morning of the 8th. Lieutenant Jesse D. Elliot, of the United States Navy, had just received at Buffalo a detachment of unarmed seamen. He wanted the two vessels to strengthen his own little navy on the lake, and he planned measures for their capture. He applied to Scott for aid. It was readily granted, by permission of his senior officer. Captain Towson, with fifty of his men, was detailed for the purpose, with arms and ammunition for the seamen. The combined force was about one hundred men. These were accompanied by some citizens of Buffalo and Black Rock. At a little past midnight, on the morning of the 9th, they left Buffalo Creek in boats to execute the plan. Success followed. The Adams was taken by Elliot in person, assisted by Lieutenant Roach of Scott's command, and the Caledonia by Towson. The crews were made prisoners in less than ten minutes, and the vessels were put under way. The wind was so light and the current so strong that the brigs could not be taken up the river. They ran down the stream under a warm enfilading fire from the fort and batteries. The Caledonia ran ashore under the guns of an American battery at Black Rock. After some manoeuvring, the Adams grounded upon Squaw Island, near Black Rock, and was put under the protection of Scott. The British determined to recapture her, and boarded her for that purpose. Scott was as determined to defend her, and he soon drove the assailing party to their boats with great loss. The heavy guns on both sides of the river were brought to bear upon her all the morning, and she was so terriblv battered that she was soon afterward consumed by the Americans. The Caledonia afterward performed good service in Perry's fleet on Lake Erie.
A wider field of action for Scott now opened. The British had erected batteries at Queenston village and upon the heights near, seven miles below Niagara Falls, and occupied strong positions at Fort George and vicinity, near the mouth of the Niagara River.
Early in October a considerable body of New York militia, under General Stephen Van Rensselaer, and a corps of regulars under Lieutenant-Colonels Fenwick and Chrystie, accompanied by Major Mulluney, were at Lewiston, opposite Queenston. Notwithstanding the militia were raw, undisciplined, and most of them unwilling to cross the boundaries of their State, it was resolved to attack the British at Queenston—that point being one of importance, as the northern terminus of the great portage between Lakes Erie and Ontario, around Niagara Falls.
The advance detachment of the invading force was intended to be six hundred strong, composed of an equal number of regulars and militia, the former commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Chrystie, and the latter by Lieutenant-Colonel Solomon Van Rensselaer, who was also the commander-in-chief of the expedition. Lieutenant-Colonel Fenwick and Major Mullanoy were to follow with regnlars and flying artillery, and then the militia in order, as fast as the boats could carry them. A battery was placed upon Lewiston Heights, to cover the landing-place of the troops on the Canada shore. These arrangements were completed on the evening of the 12th of October; and in a cold rain storm, at three o'clock the next morning, the leading detachment of troops were mustered upon the
river bank at Lewiston, preparatory to embarkation.
Meanwhile Lieutenant - Colonel Scott had heard of the intended movement. Anxious to be engaged in the expedition, he made a foreed mareh, partly by water, and partly through rain and mud on land, to Schlosscr, where the remains of the old fort still present a picturesque object. It was now late in the evening of the 12th. Leaving his companions to rest, he pressed forward to Lewiston, eight miles below, and offered his services to General Van Rensselaer as a volunteer. They were declined, because the arrangements were all made; but Scott was permitted to march his troops immediately to Lewiston, to act according to the requirement of cir
cumstances. He immediately rode back, brought forward his command, and arrived at Lewiston at four o'clock on the morning of the 13th. He placed his train in battery on the shore near the present Suspension Bridge, under the immediate command of Captains Towson and Barker, and was ready at dawn to open a fire upon the opposite shore.
Scarcity of boats was a great impediment, and the troops were compelled to cross the swift-flowing current in detachments. This produced confusion and delay; yet nearly the whole of the first attacking party were landed safely at the designated spot, now marked by a large rock directly under the Canada shore end of the Suspension Bridge.
General Brock, who was in command of the British forces, with his head-quarters at Fort George, did not expect an invasion at a point so high up the river, and the only force at Queenston was composed of two flank companies of the 49th regiment and the York militia. These were early apprised of the invading movement, and under the command of Captain Dennis, a portion of them were ready to oppose the first division of the Americans when they landed. The latter consisted of three companies of the thirteenth regiment of regulars, commanded respectively by Captains Wool, Maleolm, and Armstrong; forty picked artillerists from old Fort Niagara under Lieutenants Gansevoort and Rathbone, and about sixty militia. They landed in the face of a severe fire from the foe. Chrystie not having arrived, on account of a wound received in a drifting boat,
LAND1NG-PLAC'E OF AMEUICANS AT EE.N8TON, IWiO.
the command of the regulars devolved upon Captain John E. Wool, now the most distinguished Major-General in the army of the United States, and next in rank, as in the value of his public services, to General Scott.
Captain Wool formed the troops immediately, and pressed forward, unmindful of the missiles of the enemy. He soon reached the plateau on which the village of Queeuston stands, and there a severe engagement took place. The British fell back. Wool's command suffered terribly in the short conflict. He was shot through both thighs, but kept his feet gallantly. Every commissioned officer was killed or wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Van Rensselaer received four wounds, and was disabled, yet he was strong enough to note the position of affairs, and order the troops to fall back to the margin of the river, out of the range of the British guns. Faint from loss of blood, he gave up the command to Captain Wool, and was conveyed to Lewiston.
Wool recommended the immediate storming of the batteries on Queeuston Heights as the chief object of the expedition, and received orders to do so. A fresh company of regulars, under Captain Ogilvie, had just arrived. They were placed on the right of the attacking column. Led by Wool, they all ascended the Heights by a fisherman's path, and were soon in possession of one eighteenpouuder and two mortars in battery halfway up the acclivity. A few minutes later,
time to escape to the village below when the shout of victory was heard upon the Heights. He immediately placed himself at the head of the royal troops, and led them toward the Heights, intending to drive back the Americans and secure a strong position upon the crown of the mountain, where the monument to his memory now stands. For a few moments he was successful. The Americans fell back toward the river, and were about to break in confusion when the voice of Wool reassured them, and nerved them for another effort. They pressed forward, and the British line, in turn, gave way. Seeing this, Brock brought forward reinforcements to their support, and had just uttered the words.
and they were in possession of another and more important battery on the northeastern slope of the mountain, as the higher portion of the Heights were called, having driven the British to the shelter of a stone building near the river.
While these stirring scenes were in progress on the Canada shore, Scott's battery at Lewiston, with the one on Lewiston Heights, were in full co-operating play. At the same time a British battery upon Vrooman's Point, a mile below Queenston, had been performing active service all the morning in throwing heavy balls upon the American boats when crossing the river.
The sound of battle aroused the brave General Brock at Fort George, seven miles below. He was soon in the saddle, and with his aids, M'Donell and Glegg, he hastened to Queeuston. He was with them at the upper battery when Wool fell suddenly upon it, and they had barely
"Push on the York Volunteers!" when he fell, mortally wounded by a musket-hall. Thus perished a brave, good, and generous man. His countrymen and colonial friends have testified their love and veneration by erecting a splendid monument to his memory on Queenston Heights, and a more modest one on the spot where he fell, in the suburbs of the village. He was buried in a bastion of Fort George, near the old French magazine, now used for a dwelling. His aid, M'Donell, also fell on that occasion, and the British troops were driven beyond Queenston.
At this moment Lieutenant-Colonel Scott appeared upon Queenston Heights. He was dressed in full uniform, and commanded the attention and admiration of all the soldiers. He was six feet five inches in height, with the finest manly proportions of figure and dignity of bearing. As superior to all others upon the field in rank, he assumed the command of the regulars; and on the request of General Wadsworth of the New York militia, he became the commander of those troops likewise.
Reinforcements having arrived at about this time, Scott found himself in command of three hundred and fifty regulars, and two hundred and fifty volunteers under Wadsworth and Colonel Stranahan. The accomplished Captain Totten, Van Rensselaer's chief engineer (now Brigadier-General and chief of the Engineer Department), was with him, and a plan for permanent occupation was at once conceived. But they were allowed a very short time for deliberation. Brock had sent an order to General Sheaffe at Fort George to forward reinforcements; and five hundred Indians, under Captain Jacobs and a son of Brant, the Mohawk warrior against the patriots of the Revolution, had rushed toward Queenston, as soon as the roar of cannon was heard. They joined the British light troops at Queenston, and fell upon the Americans. They were routed but not subdued, and they kept the little band of Americans constantly employed, while Sheaffe was approaching with a detachment more than eight hundred strong. Chrystiehad arrived and assumed the command of a portion of the troops; Wool had been conveyed to a place of repose to have his wounds dressed; and Scott, as chief, with magnetic power infused his own enthusiasm into his soldiers.
General Sheaffe arrived with his reinforcements late in the afternoon. Very few of the militia had come over from Lewiston during the day. A pressing demand was now made for them. It was a critical moment. Scott had not more than three hundred effective men, while Sheaffe had at least thirteen hundred. Scott looked anxiously toward Lewiston, but not a single boat was seen in motion. Indeed there were few there. A panic had seized the militia.
MONCMENT WUEUE UUOCE FELL, 1SG0.
The commands and pleadings of General Van Rensselaer were equally vain. Not a company would cross the river! This fact was commujnicated to Scott when the strong foe was majnoeuvring cautiously with the intention of striking fatally. Retreat and succor were equally impossible at that moment; so the gallant commander resolved to fight as long as battle should be possible. He mounted a log in front of his wearied band, and said: "The enemy's balls begin to thin our ranks. His numbers are overwhelming. In a moment the shock must come, and there is no retreat. We are in the beginning of a national war. What Hull surrendered is to be redeemed, and the disgrace wiped out. Let us then die, arms in hand. Our country demands the sacrifice. The example will not be lost. The blood of the slain will make heroes of the living. Thosewho follow will avenge our fall and their country's wrongs. Wliodare to stand?" "all!" was the cry from every lip.
The shock soon came. For a while the Americans stood firm. They finally gave way as the enemy began to surround them, and they fell back to the brow of the high bank overlooking their landing - place.