Page images

1813, of two cruises; the first of which, by proper guidance, so might have decided in our favour the superiority on the lake, and consequently in Canada.” This is what many of the american editors called, “chasing the british commander all round the lake.” Commodore Chauncey, although he had lost four of his 14 vessels, appeared in September with 11 sail; having brought out with him, the schooner Elizabeth, of about the same force as the Growler or Julia, and the new schooner Sylph, mounting, at that time, four long 32-pounders upon pivot-carriages, and four long sixes. This schooner was described by the Americans as upwards of 400 tons. She was afterwards converted into a brig. *... On the 11th of September, while the british ski squadron lay becalmed off Genessee river, the amejo" rican fleet of 11 sail, by the aid of a partial wind, tween succeeded in getting within range of their long 24 ...” and 32 pounders; and during five hours cannonaded mo- the British, who did not fire a carronade, and had * only six guns in all the squadron that could reach the enemy. At sunset a breeze sprang up from the westward, when sir James steered for the american fleet; but the american commodore avoided a close meeting, and thus the affair ended. It was so far unfortunate for sir James Yeo, that he had a midshipman (William Ellery) and three seamen killed and seven wounded. In his official letter on the subject of this action, commodore Chauncey most uncandidly says: “I was much disappointed that sir James refused to fight me, as he was so much superior in point of force, both in guns and men, having upwards of 20 guns more than we have, and heaves a greater weight of shot.” so Another partial engagement took place on the en- 28th of September. Commodore Chauncey, having #. the weathergage, kept his favourite distance, and one of his shot carried away the Wolfe's main topmast; which, in its fall, brought down the mizen topmast and cross-jack yard. It was this, and not, as Mr. Clark says, “a manoeuvre of the commodore's,” 1813; that “threw the British in confusion.” Even with M. this great advantage, commodore Chauncey would not venture within carronade-range. Mr. Clark, in describing this action, speaks of the british “frigate” Wolfe; upon which he had previously mounted “36 guns.” Only two shot from the Americans did any material damage; the one already mentioned, and another that struck the Royal-George's fore topmast, which fell, upon her anchoring. Mr. Clark says: “Prudence forbad any further pursuit on the part of the Americans;” and the editor of the “History of the War” another american publication, adds: “The commodore was obliged to give up the chase; his ship was making water so fast, that it required all his pumps to keep her clear, and others of his vessels were much damaged. The General-Pike suffered a considerable loss of men; among whom were 22 killed or wounded, by the bursting of a gun.” Other american accounts stated the commodore's loss in men, at upwards of 60 killed and wounded. It was therefore the damages and loss sustained by the american squadron, and not the “british batteries on Burlington heights,” upon which not a musket was mounted, that “obliged the commodore to give up the chase.” The effect produced by sir James's few long guns gave a specimen of what his carronades would have done, had his opponent allowed them to

be used. In the month of May, 1813, captain Robert Heriot .

Barclay was appointed to the command of the british fort. flotilla on this lake; an appointment which had been ..., declined by captain William Howe Mulcaster, another the of sir James Yeo's commanders, on account of the . exceedingly bad equipment of the vessels. These, oaks owing to the loss of one of them, now consisted of “ five; and they were not equal in tonnage or force to a british 20-gun ship. With a lieutenant, and 19 rejected seamen of the Ontario squadron, captain

Barelay, towards the middle of June, joined his


1813, enviable command; and, with the aid of the seamen ` he had brought, a ship was forthwith laid down at Amherstburgh, intended to be of 305 tons, and to mount as many as 18 guns. - j Since the latter end of March captain Oliver in- Hazard Perry, of the United States’ navy, had jo arrived at the port of Erie, with a numerous supply force, of officers and seamen, to equip a flotilla; and, by joi. the time captain Barclay arrived, the american force consisted of one brig, the Caledonia, six fine schooners, and one sloop, mounting 15 heavy long guns, all on traversing carriages. Two brigs, of about 460 tons each, to mount 18 carronades, 32-pounders, and two long twelves, had also been laid down at Presqu’isle, and were in a state of some forwardness. The destruction of these vessels on the stocks would have enabled the British to maintain the ascendancy on the lake, and would have averted the fatal blow that was afterwards struck in this quarter. Colonel Proctor, the british commanding officer at Amherstburgh, saw this; as well as the facility with which the thing might be done, if sir George Prevost would send him the long promised supply of troops, and about 100 sailors. He wrote letter after letter to sir George on the subject, but all in vain. The latter, when he had exhausted his excuses, became F. and rude. The two american brigs were aunched; and, although they had to pass a bar, with their guns and stores out, and almost on their beamends, the Niagara and Lawrence, by the beginning of August, were riding on the lake, in readiness for action.

* Diff. . By the latter end of August the Detroit, as the

so mew ship was named, was launched; and the next

ping, difficulty was to get guns for her. For this, the fort * of Amherstburgh was stripped, and 19, of four * different calibers, were obtained. It will convey “ some idea of the expense of hastily fitting vessels at this distance from home, to mention, that every round

shot cost one shilling a pound for the carriage from

Quebec to Lake Erie, that powder was ten times as loo. dear as at home, and that, for anchors, their weight sept. in silver would be scarcely an over-estimate. But, were the Americans on this lake any better off? In five days an express reaches Washington. It would, under the most favourable circumstances as to weather and despatch in office, take as many months to get an article ordered from England, or even permission to stir a peg out of the common routine of service. The american vessels were therefore completely at home, while the british vessels were upwards of 3500 miles from home ; penned up in a lake on the enemy's borders, inaccessible by water, and to which the land-carriage, for heavy articles, ordnance and naval stores especially, was most difficult and tedious. Early in September, captain Barclay received a . draught of seamen from the Dover troop-ship; and British many of these would have scarcely rated as “ordi-.” naries” on board the regular ships of war. He had board now 50 british seamen to distribute among two ships," two schooners, a brig, and a sloop, armed altogether with 63 carriage-guns. It must have been the incredibility of this, that induced some of the british journals, in their account of the proceedings on this lake, to state “150,” instead of 50 seamen. It is asserted, on the express authority of captain Barclay himself, that no more than 50 seamen were at any time on board the Lake Erie flotilla; the complements having been made up by canadian peasants and 'soldiers, men that, without disparagement to either, were sorry substitutes for british sailors. On the other hand, the ships of the Americans, as their newspapers informed us, were equipped in the most complete manner; and through the same channel we learned, that large draughts of seamen had repeatedly marched to Lake Erie from the sea-board. The best of riflemen were to be obtained on the spot.

What else was required, to render the american

1813, ships in these waters quite as effective as the best o appointed ships on the ocean? car. . . On the 9th of September captain Barclay was . lying, with his little squadron, in the port of Am;: herstburgh, anxiously waiting the arrival of a pro... mised supply of seamen. Almost surrounded by i.e. hostile shores, his people on half-allowance of food, go not another day’s flour in store, a large body of Indians, whose friendship would cease, with the least abridgement in their accustomed supply, close in his rear; alike hopeless of succour and of retreat, what was captain Barclay to do? Impelled by dread of famine, and, not improbably, of indian treachery too, he sailed out in the evening, to risk a battle with an enemy's fleet, whose force he knew was nearly - double his own. Force The following statement will place the fact of

j" superiority beyond a doubt:

tWO squadrons, BRITISH. AMERICANS. Long guns. No. No. Long guns. No. No. 24 pdrs. . . . . . . 2 32 pdrs. all on pivots 3 18 , on pivot ... 1 24 , ditto 4 12 , 2 on pivots 8 12 , 4 ditto 8 9 , ditto 12 6 , . . . . . . . . 8 4 » . . . . . ... 2 2 . . . . . . . . . 3 — 35 — 15 Carronades. Carronades. 24 ,, . . . . . . . . 15 32 , 2 ditto 38 . " 18 , . . . . . . . . 1 24 , ditto l 12 , • * * * * * * * 12 – 28 — 39 Total. . . . 63 | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . • . . . . . 54 Half of guns not on pivots 29 | . . . . . . . . . . * * * * * * * * * * * 20 Pivot guns . . . . . . . . 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Broadside-guns ...{i.;|....................' ...;

But this is supposing, that the two squadrons were fitted in an equal manner; whereas, however incre

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »