Page images

1814, hy the prompitude and gallantry of captain

‘s. Alexander, who pushed off with his own boats, and, being followed by those of the other ships, compelled to: , the renowned commodore to face about, and fly .." under as much alarm towards, as about 13 months P. before he had fled from, an Alexandria. The cool by re- and steady conduct of midshipman John Moore, of * the Seahorse, in towing the nearest fire-vessel on shore, while the others were removed from the power of doing mischief by the smaller boats of the Devastation, is spoken of in high and just terms of commendation by captain Gordon, Ameri- Notwithstanding that the Meteor and Fairy, i.e. assisted by the despatch-boat, a prize gun-boat, and ... a boat belonging to the Euryalus, with a howitzer, * had greatly impeded the progress of the Americans in ... their works, the latter were enabled to increase their battery from five to 11 guns, with a furnace for heating shot. On the 3d of September, the wind coming to the north-west, the AEtna and Erebus succeeded in getting down to the assistance of the Meteor and her companions. On the 4th the frigates and prizes reached the same spot; but the Devastation, in spite of the utmost exertions in warping her, still remained five miles higher up the river. This was the moment that the Americans made their greatest efforts to effect the destruction of the british squadron. The Erebus, who had been placed by her commander in an admirable position for harassing the workmen employed in the trenches, was attacked by three field-pieces; which, before they were beaten off, did the ship considerable injury. A second attempt was now made to destroy the Devastation by fire-vessels; but, owing Defeat to the alacrity with which captain Baker with the ... boats of the squadron went to her assistance, the at , american boats and fire-vessels retreated, and the ship ... was saved. In consequence of the Americans having #... sought refuge under some guns in a narrow creek,

to thickly wooded, and from which it was impossible

to dislodge them, captain Baker sustained a serious
loss, including among the killed his second lieutenant,
Charles Dickinson.
On the 5th, at noon, the wind coming fair and
every suitable arrangement having been made, the
Seahorse and Euryalus anchored within musket-shot



British ships engage and

[ocr errors]

of the batteries, while the whole of the prizes passed ioni. between the frigates and the shoal. The three bomb-..."

ships, the Fairy, and the Erebus, firing as they passed, anchored in a favourable position for facilitating,

are allowed to pass

by means of their force, the further removal of the onun.

frigates. At 3 P. M., having completely silenced the fire of the american batteries, the Seahorse and Erebus cut their cables, and the whole squadron proceeded to the next position taken up by the american troops; who had here two batteries mounting from 14 to 18 guns, on a range of cliffs about a mile in extent, and close under which the ships were obliged to pass. It was not intended to make the attack that evening; but, the Erebus grounding within range of the batteries, the frigates and other vessels were necessarily called into action. On this occasion the fire of the Fairy produced the most decisive effect, as well as that of the Erebus, while the Devastation, AEtna, and Meteor threw their shells with admirable precision. In consequence of these vigorous measures, the american batteries, by 8 P.M., were completely silenced. On the 6th, at daylight, the british squadron again got under way; and, so satisfied were the whole of the parties on shore that their opposition was ineffectual, that they allowed the British to pass without further molestation. On the 9th the Seahorse and her companion sailed out of the Potomac, and came to an anchor in safety at the spot whence they had weighed 23 days before. The toil and fatigue undergone by the officers and men, and the deprivations they so cheerfully submitted to, were equalled only by their gallantry in defeating the batteries on shore, and their skill and perseverance in surmounting the difficulties of


Loss on board the . squadron.

1814. Sept.

Skilful conduct of Mr. Louthean.

Sir Peter Parker lands with men from the Menelaus.

a most intricate and dangerous navigation. Happily,
the loss in this daring enterprise did not exceed,
on board all the vessels, seven killed, including the
Fairy's lieutenant already named, and 35 wounded,
including captains Napier and Bartholomew, lieu-
tenant Reuben Paine, and master's mate Andrew
Reid, all slightly. Of the captains and other officers
associated with him, and of lieutenants Henry King,
first of the Seahorse, and Thomas Herbert, first of
the Euryalus, captain Gordon, in his official letter,
speaks in the highest terms; also of the master of
the Seahorse, Mr. Alexander Louthean, “for both
finding and buoying the channel of a navigation,
which no ship of a similar draught of water had ever
before passed with her guns and stores on board.”
It was stated by a seaman of the Seahorse, who had
served on board the President, that that frigate did
not accomplish the same task under a period of 42
days, and then not without taking out her guns. -
We formerly noticed that sir Peter Parker, of
the Menelaus frigate, had been detached on service
up Chesapeake bay. Having but recently arrived
on the North American station, sir Peter was not
aware of the ambushing tricks to which a small
invading force would be exposed, in a country so
filled with woods, ravines, and defiles; and where
local knowledge, and skill with the rifle, were an
overmatch for all the valour he could bring against
them. Information having reached the ship, then
at anchor off Moor's fields, that 200 american militia
were encamped behind a wood distant about a
mile from the beach, captain Parker, at li P.M. on
the 30th of August, was induced to land with 104
marines and 20 seamen, in two divisions, one com-
manded by lieutenant Henry Crease, the other by
lieutenant Robert Pearce.
It appears that colonel Read, the commander of
the american force, stated at 170 Maryland volun-
teers, having been apprized of the intended attack,
had retired to a small open space, surrounded by

woods, distant four or five miles from his first 1814. encampment. Thither, having captured a small of cavalry picket, the heedless seamen and marines, i. headed by their undaunted chief, proceeded. The drawn enemy, with some pieces of artillery, was found. drawn up in line in front of his camp. The British on commenced the fire; and, charging, drove the Ame-" ricans through their camp into the woods. It was about this time that sir Peter received a mortal wound. Secure behind the trees, the Americans Total levelled their pieces, with unerring aim ; while the . British, deceived by the apparent flight of their wary to foe, rushed on through the woods, until, bewildered “” and embarrassed, the survivors of this adventurous band were compelled to retreat to theirship; bringing away, however, the body of their lamented commander, and all their wounded but three. The British suffered a loss of 14 killed including sir Peter Parker and midshipman John T. Sandes, and 27 wounded, including both lieutenants of marines, Benjamin George Benyon and George Poe. The Americans, as a proof how little they exposed themselves, sustained a loss of not more than three men slightly wounded. At the head of a narrow bay or inlet of the De: Patapsco river, and distant from its confluence withi." the Chesapeake about 14 miles, stands the city of . Baltimore, containing about 50000 inhabitants. It is nearly surrounded by detached hills; one of which, Clinkapin hill, situated on its eastern side, commands the city itself, as well as the approach to it by land, from the Chesapeake. Its water approach is defended by a strong fortification, named Fort M'Henry, situated at the distance of about two miles from the city, upon the point of the peninsula that forms the south side of the bay or o which, at its entrance, is scarcely a quarter of a mile in width. As an additional security, the Patapsco is not navigable for vessels drawing more than 18 feet

1814, water; and, just within the harbour, is a 14 or 15 ` feet bar. prepa. The arrival of troops in the Chesapeake, and the for subsequent operations of the British in the Patuxent and Potomac rivers, could not do otherwise than cause serious alarm at Baltimore, distant, from Washington but 35 miles. The panic-struck inhabit. ants believed, that the british troops would march across the country, and attack them in the rear, while the squadron was cannonading them in front. The numbers of the British on shore were too small to warrant such an enterprise; but, had it been risked, and had the fleet made a simultaneous movement up the bay, there is little doubt that Baltimore would have capitulated. Fortunately for the city, the military and naval forces within it were becoming. hourly more powerful; and, far from desponding, the generals and commodores used their utmost exertions, in strengthening the defences and improving the natural advantages of the position. Upon the hills to the eastward and northward of the city, a chain of pallisadoed redoubts, connected by breastworks, with ditches in front, and well supplied with artillery, was constructed; and works were thrown up and guns mounted at every spot from which an invading force, either by land or water, could meet with annoyance. The Java frigate,...of 60 guns, and two new sloops of war, of 22 guns each, the Erie and Ontario, were equipping at Baltimore. There were also in the harbour several gun-boats, armed each with a long french 36-pounder, besides a carronade; as well as several private armed vessels. So that the Americans, including their field and regular battery guns, had an immense train of artillery to put in operation against an enemy. As to troops, exclusively of the 16300 militia, regulars, and flotilla-men, which general Winder had been authorized to assemble for the defence of the 10th military district, volunteers were

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »