Page images
PDF

withstood the whole united force of the american ot, squadron, the Linnet hauled down her colours. As so. the Finch had been compelled to strike before, and the Chubb, from having her cable cut, very soon after, the action had commenced; and as the gunboats had all effected their escape, the surrender of the Linnet gave a complete victory to the american squadron. The brigade of the british army, which was one stationed near the banks of the Saranac, on the " opposite side of which, as already stated, lay the british army, if it deserved such a name, of general ..., Maccmb, was commanded by major-general Bris- the Sabane. It appears that, while the action between the . squadrons was going on, this portion of the british out army, either mistaking or disregarding sir George's" cooking signal, attacked the american works, and not only crossed the Saranac, but brought away some prisoners. This showed at once the practicability of the thing, and only wanted the quiescence, temporary or final, of the commander in chief, and the british army would have gained a victory in spite of sir George Prevost; but who, nevertheless, with the assistance of “Mr. secretary Brenton” in penning the despatch, would have got all the credit of it. Unfortunately, some one acquainted sir George with what was going on at the banks of the Saranac; and, learning at the same time that the Confiance had struck her colours, he sent orders to major-general Brisbane to desist from beating the poor Americans, to leave them in quiet possession of their half-carried works, and hasten after him out of the enemy's territory. So certain was commodore Macdonough, that, in a few minutes, the batteries at Plattsburg would be turned against the american squadron, that, before be took formal possession of the prizes, he removed his ships out of gun-shot. Lieutenant Robertson was then conveyed on board the Saratoga, to deliver up his sword. On that occasion, commodore Mac

1814, donough spoke to him as follows: “You owe it, ‘s. sir, to the shameful conduct of your gun-boats and candid cutters, that your are performing this office to me; *... for, had they done their duty, you must have peri.” ceived, from the situation of the Saratoga, that I ... could hold out no longer: and indeed, nothing o" induced me to keep up her colours, but seeing, from §... the united fire of all the rest of my squadron on the nough. Confiance, and her unsupported situation, that she must ultimately surrender.” Here is an acknowledgment candid and honourable in the extreme. Can this be the “ T. Macdonough,” whose signature appears to the two american official accounts of the action ? Losson The loss on board the Confiance amounted to 4l *... killed, including her captain and another officer, ... and about 60, including one officer, wounded. The Linnet had her second lieutenant, boatswain, and eight seamen killed, one midshipman and 13 seamen and marines wounded; the Chubb, six seamen and marines killed, one officer and 15 seamen and marines wounded; and the Finch two seamen and marines wounded; total 57 killed and 92 wounded. The loss on the american side, has been officially reported as follows: Saratoga, 28 killed and 29 wounded; Eagle 13 killed and 20 wounded; Ticonderoga, six killed and six wounded; and Preble and the gun-boats five killed, and three wounded ; total 52 killed and 58 wounded: a tolerable proof that the British, notwithstanding the many disadvantages under which they laboured, had made a good use of their ill-fitted guns. Force Now for a comparative statement of the force en... gaged in this, viewed in its consequences on both sides oci of the Atlantic, very important lake action. As the * Finch grounded opposite an american battery before the engagement between the squadrons commenced, we shall exclude her from the estimate; and so we shall one half of the british gun-boat force. Only

three of the 10 gun-boats, indeed, came near enough

to engage, while all the american gun-boats are 1814; admitted to have participated in the action. On ‘so. the american side, we shall take no notice of the armed sloops Montgomery and President, the batteries on shore, or the “militia ready to assist.” With respect to the Confiance, although she mounted 37 guns, 17 only of them, as has already been shown, could be presented in broadside; and even four of these, on account of there being only a ridge-rope, or rail, along either side of the poop and topgallant forecastle, were disabled after the first discharge. Having no gun-locks on board, (they being in the Junon frigate, which did not arrive at Quebec in time,) captain Downie attempted to substitute carroma de-locks; which he contrived to fasten to the guns by means of copper hoops. But the plan was not found to answer, and matches were resorted to. Determined that the British should derive no advantage from publishing this fact, an american paper subjoins to an exaggerated account of the Confiance's force in guns, “with locks.” We have enumerated the guns of the Confiance at 37; but we should have stated, that the ship had two long 18-pounders among the ballast in the hold. These commodore Macdonough, in his official letter, places on the “berth deck;” and, in his statement of comparative force, actually carries them out as part of the Confiance's “39 guns.” The substance of the following statement having appeared before the american, as well as the british, public more than nine years ago, and being, as far as we know, to this hour uncontradicted, we again submit it as the actual

COMPARATIVE FORCE OF THE COMBATANTS.
- CAPT, DOWNIE. CAP. MACDONOUGH,

Vessels . . . . . . . . . . No. 8 14
Broadside-guns .. No. ;: n:
Crews. . . . . . . . Agg. No, 537 950
Size.......... ,, tons 1426 2540

This, without bringing in aid the shameful abandonment of the enterprise by the commander in

1814, chief of the Canadas, shows that the squadron under commodore Downie wanted a full third of being as strong as that under commodore Macdonough. As was to be expected, however, the Americans claimed it as a victory obtained over a decidedly superior force; and, instead of attributing the retreat of the british army of 11000 men to the imbecility (to say no worse) of general sir George Prevost, they ascribed it all to the superior prowess of the american army, of less than 2000 men, under general Alexander Macomb. Death . Unfortunately, justice was interrupted in its 2. course by the death of sir George, before, he could i-revost be tried upon the following charges brought against him by commodore sir James Lucas Yeo: 1. For having, on or about the 11th of September, 1814, by holding out the expectation of a cooperation of the army, under his command, induced captain Downie, i.e, late of his majesty's ship Confiance, to attack the Yeo's american squadron on Lake Champlain, when it was : highly imprudent to make such attack without the him, cooperation of the land forces, and for not having afforded that cooperation. 2. For not having stormed the american works on shore, at nearly the same time that the said naval action commenced, as he had given captain Downie reason to expect. 3. For having disregarded the signal for cooperation, which had been previously agreed upon. 4. For not having attacked the enemy on shore, either during the said naval action, or after it was ended; whereby his majesty’s naval squadron, under the command of captain Downie, might have been saved. Court. On the 28th of August, 1815, captain Pring, and . the surviving officers and crews late belonging to of the british Lake Champlain squadron, were tried by ... court-martial on board the Gladiator at Portsmouth, and the following was the sentence pronounced: “The court having maturely weighed the evidence, is of opinion, that the capture of H. M. S. Confiance, and the remainder of the squadron, by the american squadron, was principally caused by the british

squadron having been urged into battle previous to l8l4, its being in a proper state to meet the enemy; by ~ the promised cooperation of the land forces not being carried into effect, and by the pressing letters of their commander in chief, whereby it appears that he had on the 10th of September, 1814, only waited for the naval attack to storm the enemy's works. That the signal of the approach on the following day was made, by the scaling of the guns, as settled between captain Downie and major Coote; and the promised cooperation was communicated to the other officers and crews of the british squadron before the commencement of the action. The court, however, is of opinion, that the attack would have been attended with more effect, if a part of the gun-boats had not withdrawn themselves from the action, and others of the vessels had not been prevented by baffling winds from getting into the stations assigned them. That captain Pring of the Linnet, and lieutenant Robertson, who succeeded to the command of the Confiance, after the lamented fate of captain Downie, (whose conduct was marked by the greatest valour,) and lieutenant Christopher James Bell, commanding the Murray, and Mr. James Robertson, commanding the Beresford, gun-boats, who appeared to take their trial at this court-martial, conducted themselves with great zeal, bravery, and ability, during the action: that lieutenant William Hicks, command. ing the Finch, also conducted himself with becoming bravery; that the other surviving officers and ship's crew, except lieutenant M'Ghie of the Chubb, who has not appeared here to take his trial, also conducted themselves with bravery; and that captain Pring, lieutenant Robertson, lieutenant Hicks, lieutenant Bell, and Mr. James Robertson, and the rest of the surviving officers and ship's comany, except lieutenant-M“Ghie, ought to be most |. acquitted; and they are hereby most honourably acquitted accordingly.” On the 18th of the ensuing September lieutenant M'Ghie was put

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »