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Harrison retreats from the Maumee.
Of the American army, which was about 800 strong, one-third were killed in the battle and the massacre which followed, and but 33 escaped."
General Harrison, as we have stated, was at Upper Sandusky when Winchester reached the Rapids; on the night of the 16th word came to him of the arrival of the left wing at that point, and of some meditated movement. He at once proceeded with all speed to Lower Sandusky, and on the morning of the 18th sent forward a battalion of troops to the support of Winchester. On the 19th he learned what the movement was that had been meditated and made, and with additional troops he started instantly for the falls where he arrived early on the morning of the 20th; here he waited the arrival of the regiment with which he had started, but which he had outstripped; this came on the evening of the 21st, and on the following morning, was despatched to Frenchtown, while all the troops belonging to the army of Winchester yet at the falls, 300 in number, were also hurried on to the aid of their commander.f But it was of course, in vain; on that morning the battle was fought, and General Harrison with his reinforcements met the few survivors long before they reached the ground. A council being called it was deemed unwise to advance any farther, and the troops retired to the Rapids again: here, during the night another consultation took place, the result of which was a determination to retreat yet farther in order to prevent the possibility of being cut off from the convoys of stores and artillery upon their way from Sandusky. On the next morning, therefore, the block-house which had been built was destroyed, together with the provisions it contained, and the troops retired to Portage river 18 miles in the rear of Winchester's position, there to await the guns and reinforcements which were daily expected, but which, as it turned out, were detained by rains until the 30th of January. Finding his army 1700 strong, General Harrison on the 1st of February again advanced to the Rapids where he took up a new and stronger position, at which point he ordered all the troops as rapidly as possible to gather. He did this in the hope of being able before the middle of the month to advance upon Mal
McAfee, 221.-See the accounts of Winchester and Major Madison in Armstrong's Notices, i. Appendix No. 7, p. 196.-In Niles' Register, iv. 9 to 13, may be found the British account, Winchester's, and one accompanied by a diagram: same vol. p. 29, is a fuller account by Winchester, and on page 83 one by Lewis and the other officers.
+ McAfee, 209 to 211, 227 to 235. #McAfee, 236 to 239.
1813 den, but the long continuance of warm and wet weather kept the roads in such a condition that his troops were unable to join him, and the project of advancing upon the ice was entirely frustrated; so at length the winter campaign had to be abandoned, as the autumnal one had been before.
So far the military operations of the northwest had certainly been sufficiently discouraging; the capture of Mackinac, the surrender of Hull, the massacre of Chicago, and the overwhelming defeat of Frenchtown, are the leading events. Nothing had been gained, and of what had been lost nothing had been retaken: the slight successes over the Indians by Hopkins, Edwards, and Campbell, had not shaken the power or the confidence of Tecumthe and his allies, while the fruitless efforts of Harrison through five months to gather troops enough at the mouth of the Maumee to attempt the reconquest of Michigan, which had been taken in a week, depressed the spirits of the Americans, and gave new life and hope to their foes.
About the time that Harrison's unsuccessful campaign drew to a close, a change took place in the War Department, and General Armstrong succeeded his incapable friend, Dr. Eustis. Armstrong's views were those of an able soldier: in October, 1812, he had again addressed the Government through Mr. Gallatin, on the necessity of obtaining the command of the lakes, and when raised to power determined to make naval operations the basis of the military movements of the northwest. His views in relation to the coming campaign in the West, were based upon two points, viz. the use of regular troops alone, and the command of the lakes, which he was led to think could be obtained by the 20th of June.t
Although the views of the Secretary, in relation to the nonemployment of militia, were not, and could not be, adhered to, the general plan of merely standing upon the defensive until the command of the lake was secured, was persisted in, although it was the 2nd of August instead of the 1st of June, before the vessels on Erie could leave the harbor in which they had been built. Among these defensive operations of the spring and summer of 1813, that at Fort or Camp Meigs, the new post taken by Harrison
Armstrong's Notices, i. 177, note.- Steps to command the lake had been taken before October.-See Niles' Register, iii. 142. 127.
† Armstrong's Notices, i. appendix, No. 23, p. 245. The Secretary and General did not entirely agree as to the plans of the campaign. See the Notices, i. 176, &c. MeAfee, 249, &c. Full accounts of the arrangement of the army in this year, may be seen in Niles. Register, iv. 145. 158. 187.
543 at the Rapids, and that at Lower Sandusky, deserve to be especially noticed. It had been anticipated that, with the opening of spring, the British would attempt the conquest of the position upon the Maumee, and measures had been taken by the General to forward reinforcements, which were detained however, as usual, by the spring freshets and the bottomless roads. As had been expected, on the 28th of April, the English forces began the investment of Harrison's camp, and by the 1st of May had completed their batteries; meantime, the Americans behind their tents had thrown up a bank of earth twelve feet high, and upon a basis of twenty feet, behind which the whole garrison withdrew the moment that the
enemy were prepared to commence operations. Upon this bank, the ammunition of his Majesty was wasted in vain, and down to the 5th, nothing was effected by either party. On that day, General Clay, with 1200 additional troops, came down the Maumee in flatboats, and, in accordance with orders received from Harrison, detached 800 men under Colonel Dudley to attack the batteries upon the left bank of the river, while, with the remainder of his forces, he landed upon the southern shore, and after some loss and delay, fought his way
into camp. Dudley, on his part, succeeded perfectly in capturing the batteries, but instead of spiking the cannon, and then instantly returning to his boats, he suffered his men to waste their time, and skirmish with the Indians, until Proctor was able to cut them off from their only chance of retreat; taken by surprise, and in disorder, the greater part of the detachment became an easy prey, only 150 of the 800 men escaping captivity or death.* This sad result was partially, though but little, alleviated by the success of a sortie made from the fort by Colonel Miller, in which he captured and made useless the batteries, that had been erected south of the Maumee.f The result of the day's doings had been sad enough for the Americans, but still the British General saw in it nothing to encourage him ; his cannon had done nothing, and were in fact no longer of value; his Indian allies found it “ hard to fight people who lived like groundhogs”;news of the American successes below had been received ; and additional troops were approaching from Ohio and Kentucky. Proctor, weighing all things, determined to retreat, and upon the 9th of May returned to Malden.||
• Harrison's Report. + McAfee, 261 to 272. See Tecumthe's Speech, McAfee,
| For account of seige of Fort Meigs, by Harrison, &c. see Niles' Register, iv. 191, &c., 210, &c. For diary of seige, do. iv. 243; for British account, do. iv, 272. O'Fallon's (aid to Ge. Harrison) is in National Intelligencer, June 16, 1840.
Vessels at Erie in danger.
The ship-building going forward at Erie had not, meanwhile, been unknown to or disregarded by the English, who proposed all in good time to destroy the vessels upon which so much depended, and to appropriate the stores of the republicans: “ the ordnance and naval stores you require,” said Sir George Prepost to General Proctor, “must be taken from the enemy, whose resources on lake Erie must become yours. I am much mistaken, if you do not find Captain Barclay disposed to play that game. Captain Barclay was an experienced, brave, and able seaman, and was waiting anxiously for a sufficient body of troops to be spared ihm, in order to attack Erie with success;
a sufficient force was promised him on the 18th of July, at which time the British fleet went down the lake to reconnoitre, and if it were wise, to make the proposed attempt upon the Americans at Erie; none, however, was made.f About the same time, the followers of Proctor again approached Fort Meigs, around which they remained for a week, effecting nothing, though very numerous. The purpose of this second investment seems, indeed, rather to have been the diversion of Harrison's attention from Erie, and the employment of the immense bands of Indians which the English had gathered at Malden, than any serious blow; and finding no progress made, Proctor next moved to Sandusky, into the neighborhood of the commander-in-chief. The principal stores of Harrison were at Sandusky, while he was himself at Seneca, and Major Croghan at Fort Stephenson or Lower Sandusky. This latter post being deemed indefensible against heavy cannon, and it being supposed that Proctor would of course bring heavy cannon, if he attacked it, the General and a council of war called by him, thought it wisest
abandon it; but before this could be done after the final determination of the matter, the appearance of the enemy upon the 31st of July made it impossible. The garrison of the little fort was composed of 150 men, under a commander just past his 21st year,|| and with a single piece of cannon, while the investing force, including Tecumseh’s Indians, was, it is said, 3,300 strong, and with six pieces of artillery, all of them, fortunately, light ones
, Proctor demanded a surrender, and told the unvarying story
* Letter of July 11th, given in Armstrong's Notices, i. Appendix, No. 19, p. 228. + Letter of General DeRottenburg, in Armstrong's Notices, i. Appendix
, No. 19, p. 299. McAfee, 343.
| McAfee, 297 to 299; 2,500 warriors were about Malden. 1 General Harrison, quoted in McAfee, 329.
545 the danger of provoking a general massacre by the savages, unless the fort was yielded: to all which the representative of young Croghan replied by saying that the Indians would have none left to massacre, if the British conquered, for every man of the garrison would have died at his post.* Proctor, upon this, opened his fire, which being concentrated upon the northwest angle of the fort, led the commander to think that it was meant to make a breach there, and carry the works by assault: he therefore proceeded to strengthen that point by bags of sand and flour, while under cover of night he placed his single six pounder in a position to rake the angle threatened, and then, having charged his infant battery with slugs, and hidden it from the enemy, he waited the event. During the night of the 1st of August, and till late in the evening of the 2d, the firing continued upon the devoted northwest corner; then, under cover of the smoke and gathering darkness, a column of 350 men approached unseen to within 20 paces of the walls. The musketry opened upon them, but with little effect,—the ditch was gained, and in a moment filled with men: at that instant, the masked cannon, only thirty feet distant, and so directed as to sweep the ditch, -- was unmasked and fired, - killing at once 27 of the assailants; the effect was decisive, the column recoiled, and the little fort was saved with the loss of one man : on the next morning the British and their allies, having the fear of Harrison before their eyes, were gone, leaving behind them in their haste, guns, stores, and clothing.t
From this time all were busy in preparing for the long anticipated attack upon Malden. Kentucky especially sent her sons in vast numbers, under their veteran Governor, Shelby, and the yet more widely distinguished Richard M. Johnson. On the 4th of August, Perry got his vessels out of Erie into deep water ; but for a month was unable to bring matters to a crisis: on the 10th of September, however, the fleet of Barclay was seen standing out of port, and the Americans hastened to receive him. Of the contest we give Perry's own account.
United States schooner Ariel, Put-in-Bay,
13th September, 1813. Sir: In my last I informed you that we had captured the enemy's fleet on this lake. I have now the honor to give you the most impor
* McAfee, 325. + McAfee, 324 to 328.—The accounts by Croghan and Harrison are in Niles' Register, iv. 388 to 390. A further account and plan of the fort in do, v. 7 to 9.