Read CHAPTER VII of Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812 Volume 2 , free online book, by Alfred Thayer Mahan, on ReadCentral.com.

THE NIAGARA CAMPAIGN, AND EVENTS ON THE GREAT LAKES, IN 1814

Active operations in the field for the winter of 1813-14 came to an end with the successful incursion of the British army upon the territory of the State of New York, before narrated. This had resulted in the capture of Fort Niagara and in the wasting of the frontier, with the destruction of the villages of Lewiston, Manchester, Buffalo, and others, in retaliation for the American burning of Newark. Holding now the forts on both banks of the Niagara, at its entrance into Lake Ontario, the British controlled the harbor of refuge which its mouth afforded; and to this important accession of strength for naval operations was added an increased security for passing troops, at will and secretly, from side to side of the river. From a military standpoint each work was a bridge-head, assuring freedom of movement across in either direction; that such transit was by boats, instead of by a permanent structure, was merely an inconvenient detail, not a disability. The command of the two forts, and of a third called Mississaga, on the Canadian side, immediately overlooking the lake, appears to have been vested in a single officer, to whom, as to a common superior, were issued orders involving the action of the three.

This disposition recognized implicitly the fact that the forts, taken together, constituted a distinct element in the general British scheme of operations. Fort Niagara by position threatened the line of communications of any American army seeking to act on the Canadian side. An effective garrison there, unless checked by an adequate force stationed for the particular purpose, could move at any unexpected moment against the magazines or trains on the American side; and it was impossible to anticipate what number might be thus employed at a given time, because intercourse between Niagara and George was open. If by original or acquired superiority of numbers, as had been the case in 1813, the American general should push his opponent back towards the head of the lake, Fort George would in turn become an additional menace to his communications. Therefore, properly to initiate a campaign for the command of the Niagara peninsula, in 1814, it would be necessary either to reduce both these works, which, if they were properly garrisoned, meant an expenditure of time; or else to blockade them by a large detachment of troops, which meant a constant expenditure of force, diminishing that available for operations in the field. The British military situation thus comprised two factors, distinct but complementary; the active army in the field, and the stationary fortifications which contributed to its support by sheltering its supplies and menacing those of the enemy. The British commander of the district, Lieutenant-General Drummond, estimated that the blockaders before either fort, being ever on the defensive against a sortie which they could not foresee, must in numbers considerably exceed the besieged, covered as these were by their works, and able to receive re-enforcement from the opposite shore. Consequently, when the officer in immediate local control, Major-General Riall, embarrassed by the smallness of his field force, suggested the destruction of Fort Niagara, except a citadel of restricted extent, needing a less numerous garrison, his superior replied that not only would such smaller work be much more easily taken, but that in every event the loss through holding the place was more than compensated by the danger and the precautions entailed upon the enemy.

The inactivity, substantially unbroken, which prevailed throughout the winter of 1813-14, was due principally to the unusual mildness of the weather. This impeded movement in all quarters, by preventing the formation of ice and of the usual hard snow surface, which made winter the most favorable season for land transportation. Chauncey at Sackett’s Harbor chafed and fretted over the detention of the stores and guns for his new ships then building, upon which he was reckoning for control of the lake. “The roads are dreadful,” he wrote on February 24, “and if the present mild weather continues we shall experience difficulty.” A week later, “I have the mortification to inform you that all our heavy guns are stopped at and below Poughkeepsie in consequence of the badness of the roads, and that the teamsters have abandoned them there.” He has given up hopes of a frost, and counts now only upon water communication; but the delay and change of route were the cause of two smart affairs with which the lake operations opened, for on March 29 he announces that the guns are still below Albany, and now must come by way of Oswego and the lake, instead of securely inland by sleds. Yeo reported a like delay on his side in the equipment of his new ships, owing to the unusual scarcity of snow.

The same conditions imposed similar, if less decisive, limitations upon the movements of bodies of men. The most important instance of purpose frustrated was in an enterprise projected by Drummond against Put-in Bay, where were still lying the “Detroit” and “Queen Charlotte”, the most powerful of the prizes taken by Perry the previous September, the injuries to which had prevented their removal to the safer position of Erie. On January 21 he communicated to Governor-General Prevost the details of an expedition of seventeen hundred and sixty men, two hundred of them seamen, who were to start from the Niagara frontier by land against Detroit, and from there to cross on the ice to the Bass Islands, where it was hoped they could seize and burn the vessels. The occupation of Fort Niagara, and other dispositions made of his division on the peninsula, had so narrowed his front of defence, and thereby strengthened it, as to warrant this large detachment.

This project was one of several looking to regaining control of Lake Erie, which during the remainder of the war occupied unceasingly the attention of British officers. Although the particular destination was successfully concealed, the general fact of preparations for some offensive undertaking did not escape the observation of the Americans, who noted that in the recent raid and destruction care had been taken to spare a great number of sleighs, and to collect them within the British lines. From this it was inferred that, when Lake Erie froze over, a dash would be made against the naval station and ships at Erie. This would be undoubtedly a more valuable achievement, but the enemy knew that the place was in some measure defended, with ample re-enforcements at call; whereas a descent upon Put-in Bay could encounter no other resistance than that of the small permanent garrison of seamen. The mildness of the weather, leaving the lake open on January 17, relieved the apprehension of the United States authorities, and on February 3 Drummond had to report that his scheme must be abandoned, as after that late period of the winter better conditions could not be expected.

In default of the control of Lake Erie, measures were taken by the British to supply the remote and isolated posts of Mackinac and St. Joseph’s by land carriage from Toronto to Lake Simcoe, a distance of only forty miles, and thence across the ice to Matchedash Bay, on Lake Huron; where also were being built batteaux and gunboats, to transport the stores to their destination when navigation opened. As far as Huron this land route was out of reach of probable molestation, but from there it was necessary to proceed at the earliest moment; for, although there was no American naval force then on that lake, one might be expected to arrive from Erie early in the season. To this cross-country line there was an alternative one still more remote, from Montreal up the Ottawa River, and thence by other water communication, striking Lake Huron much higher up. It was practicable only for canoes with light lading, and in other respects not satisfactory. The maintenance of Mackinac therefore must depend upon armed control of the upper lakes; and to this the destruction of the prizes at the islands would doubtless have contributed, morally and materially.

On the American side as little was accomplished during the winter. Wilkinson’s army, which at the end of 1813 was cantoned at French Mills, on the Salmon River, just within the New York boundary, was withdrawn from that position February 13. The greater part marched to Lake Champlain, where they again took winter quarters in two divisions; one at Burlington, Vermont, the other at Plattsburg. The third contingent, under the command of General Brown, was sent to Sackett’s Harbor, where it arrived February 24.

The Secretary of War, General Armstrong, despite his vacillating course the previous year, had never lost sight of his perfectly accurate conviction that Kingston, if not Montreal, was the true objective for the northern army. Convinced that he had been misled in the spring of 1813 by the opinions of the commanders on the spot, Chauncey and Dearborn, he was again anxious, as he had been in the intervening autumn, to retrieve the error. On February 28 he issued to Brown two sets of instructions; the one designed to transpire, in order to mislead the enemy, the other, most secret, conveying the real intention of the Department. In the former, stress was laid upon the exposure of western New York, and the public humiliation at seeing Fort Niagara in the hands of the British. Brigadier-General Scott accordingly had been sent there to organize a force for the capture of the fort and the protection of the frontier; but, as his numbers were probably insufficient, Brown was directed to march to Batavia, and thence to Buffalo, with the two thousand troops he had just brought from French Mills. This letter was meant to reach the enemy’s ears. The other, embodying the true object aimed at, read thus: “It is obviously Prevost’s policy, and probably his intention, to re-establish himself on Lake Erie during the ensuing month. But to effect this other points of his line must be weakened, and these will be either Kingston or Montreal. If the detachment from the former be great, a moment may occur in which you may do, with the aid of Commodore Chauncey, what I last year intended Pike should have done without aid, and what we now all know was very practicable, viz.: to cross the river, or head of the lake, on the ice, and carry Kingston by a coup de main.” The letter ended by making the enterprise depend upon a concurrence of favorable conditions; in brief, upon the discretion of the general, with whom remained all the responsibility of final decision and action.

These instructions were elicited, immediately, by recent information that the effective garrison in Kingston was reduced to twelve hundred, with no prospect of increase before June, when re-enforcements from Europe were expected. Certainly, Drummond at this time thought the force there no stronger than it should be, and early in April was apprehensive on that account for the safety of the place. Brown and Chauncey, however, agreed that less than four thousand men was insufficient for the undertaking. Singularly enough, this number was precisely that fixed upon by Yeo and Drummond, in consultation, as necessary for the reduction of Sackett’s Harbor; which they concurred with Prevost in considering the quickest and surest solution of the difficulty attending their situation about Niagara, owing to the exhaustion of local resources upon the peninsula. The scarcity thus experienced was aggravated by the number of dependent Indian warriors, who with their families had followed the British retreat from Malden and Detroit, and now hung like lead upon the movements and supplies of the army. “Nearly twelve hundred barrels of flour monthly to Indians alone,” complained the commanding officer, who had long since learned that for this expenditure there was no return in military usefulness. In the felt necessity to retain the good-will of the savages, no escape from the dilemma was open, except in the maintenance of a stream of supplies from Lower Canada by keeping command of the Lake; to secure which nothing was so certain as to capture Sackett’s and destroy the shipping and plant.

Having decided that the enterprise against Kingston was not feasible, Brown fell into the not unnatural mistake of construing the Secretary’s other letter to present not merely a ruse, but an alternative line of action, more consonant to his active martial temper than remaining idle in garrison. Accordingly, he left Sackett’s with his two thousand, an event duly chronicled in a letter of Drummond’s, that on Sunday, March 13, three thousand five hundred left Sackett’s for Niagara; a statement sufficiently characteristic of the common tendency of an enemy’s force to swell, as it passes from mouth to mouth. The division had progressed as far as the present city of Syracuse, sixty miles from Sackett’s, and Brown himself was some forty miles in advance of it, at Geneva, when one of his principal subordinates persuaded him that he had misconstrued the Department’s purpose. In considerable distress he turned about, passing through Auburn on the 23d at the rate of thirty miles a day, so said a contemporary newspaper, and hurried back to Sackett’s. There further consultation with Chauncey convinced him again that he was intended to go to Niagara, and he resumed his march. Before April 1 he reached Batavia, where his instructions read he would receive further orders. General Scott was already at Buffalo, and there the troops were placed under his immediate charge for organization and drill; Brigadier-General Gaines being sent back to command at Sackett’s, where he arrived April 10.

At this moment Chauncey was undergoing his turn of qualms. “The enemy,” he wrote the following day, “have prepared a force of three thousand troops, with gunboats and a number of small craft, to attack the harbor the moment the fleet leaves it. They may, however, be determined to make the attack at all hazards, and I am sorry to say our force is but little adapted to the defence of the place. There are not a thousand effective men besides the sailors and marines." His information was substantially correct. Drummond had arranged to concentrate three thousand men from the north shore of the lake; but he wanted besides eight hundred from the peninsula, and for lack of these the project was abandoned.

The movement of Brown’s small contingent to Buffalo, though contrary to the intention of the Government, may be considered to have opened the campaign of 1814; destined to prove as abortive in substantial results as that of the year before, but not so futile and inglorious to the American arms. The troops engaged had been formed under the skilful organization and training of Scott. Led by Brown, who, though not an educated soldier nor a master of the technicalities of the profession, was essentially an aggressive fighting man of masculine qualities, they failed indeed to achieve success, for which their numbers were inadequate; but there was no further disgrace.

Wilkinson, indeed, in his district, contrived to give to the beginning of operations the air of absurdity that ever hung round his path. Although he was the senior officer on the whole frontier, the Department had not notified him of Brown’s orders. This vicious practice of managing the campaign from a point as distant as Washington then was, ignoring any local centre of control, drew subsequently the animadversion of the President, who in a minute to the Secretary remarked that “it does not appear that Izard,” Wilkinson’s successor, “though the senior officer of the district, has been made acquainted with the plan of operations under Brown." On the present occasion Wilkinson explained that, hearing of Brown’s march by common report, and having ascertained that the enemy was sending re-enforcements up the St. Lawrence, he undertook an incursion into Lower Canada as a diversion against such increase of the force with which Brown must contend. His enterprise was directed against La Colle, a few miles from Plattsburg, within the Canada boundary; but upon arriving before the position it was found that the garrison were established in a stone mill, upon which the guns brought along could make no impression. After this somewhat ludicrous experience, the division, more than three thousand strong, retreated, having lost over seventy men. The result was scarcely likely to afford Brown much relief by its deterrent influence upon the enemy.

This affair happened March 30, and in the course of the following month Wilkinson was finally superseded. He was succeeded by General Izard, who assumed command May 4, and remained in the neighborhood of Champlain, while Brown continued immediately responsible for Sackett’s Harbor and for the force at Buffalo. On April 14 Yeo launched two new ships, the “Prince Regent” of fifty-eight guns and the “Princess Charlotte” of forty; and he at the same time had under construction one destined to carry one hundred and two heavy guns, superior therefore in size and armament to most of the British ocean navy, and far more formidable than any in which Nelson ever served. Fortunately for the Americans, this vessel, which Yeo undertook without authority from home, was not ready until October; but the former two, added to his last year’s fleet, gave him for the moment a decided preponderance over Chauncey, who also was building but had not yet completed.

Under these circumstances the project of attacking Sackett’s in force was again most seriously agitated among the British officials, military and naval, upon whom the destitution of the Niagara peninsula pressed with increasing urgency. Such an intention rarely fails to transpire, especially across a border line where the inhabitants on either side speak the same tongue and are often intimately acquainted. Desertion, moreover, was frequent from both parties. The rumor brought Brown back hastily to the place, where he arrived April 24. The enemy, however, again abandoned their purpose, and after embarking a considerable body of troops turned their arms instead against Oswego.

It will be remembered that the mildness of the winter had prevented the transport of guns and stores by land, and made necessary to accumulate them by water carriage at Oswego, whence there remained the lake voyage to Sackett’s Harbor. This, though a coasting operation, involved much danger while the enemy possessed naval control. Meanwhile Oswego became a somewhat congested and much exposed intermediate station, inviting attack. Chauncey therefore had taken the precaution of retaining the most important articles, guns and their equipment, at the falls of the Oswego River, some twelve miles inland. The enemy’s change of plan becoming suspected, Brown detached a small party two hundred and ninety effectives to defend the place, in conjunction with the few seamen already there. The British fleet appeared on May 5, but the attack was not made until the following day, weather conditions being unfavorable. Despite the unprepared state of the defences characteristic of the universal American situation, on both lakes and seaboard, in this singular war, the officer in command offered a spirited resistance, inflicting considerable loss; but the urgency to preserve his force, for the superior necessity of protecting under more favorable circumstances the valuable property in the rear, compelled him to retreat, to escape the risk of being surrounded and captured. He accordingly drew off in good order, having lost six killed and thirty-eight wounded; besides twenty-five missing, probably prisoners. The casualties of the British, by their official reports, were eighteen killed and seventy-three wounded. They kept possession of the town during the night, retiring next day with two small schooners, over two thousand barrels of provisions, and a quantity of cordage. The most serious loss to the Americans was that of nine heavy cannon; but the bulk of the armament for the fleet remained safe at the falls.

After this Yeo took position with his squadron off Sackett’s Harbor, where the Americans on May 1 had launched a new big ship, the “Superior”, to carry sixty-two guns, thirty-two long 32-pounders, and thirty carronades of the same calibre. Besides her there was building still another, of somewhat smaller force, without which Chauncey would not consider himself able to contend with the enemy. On the 20th of the month he reported that “five sail were now anchored between Point Peninsula and Stoney Island, about ten miles from the harbor, and two brigs between Stoney Island and Stoney Point, completely blocking both passes.” He added, “This is the first time that I have experienced the mortification of being blockaded on the lakes." The line thus occupied by the enemy covered the entire entrance to Black River Bay, within which Sackett’s Harbor lies. This situation was the more intolerable under the existing necessity of bringing the guns by water. Drummond, whose information was probably good, wrote at this period that not more than fifteen of the heavy cannon needed for the new ships had arrived, and that they could come from Oswego only by the lake, as the roads were impassable except for horsemen. Carronades, cordage, and other stores were going on by wagon from Utica, but the long guns which were imperatively required could not do so.

American contrivance proved equal to the dilemma, and led to a marked British misadventure. A few miles south of Black River Bay, and therefore outside the line of the British blockade, there was an inlet called Stoney Creek, from the head of which a short land carriage of three miles would strike Henderson’s Bay. This, like Sackett’s, is an indentation of Black River Bay, and was well within the hostile ships. The transit from Oswego to Stoney Creek, however, remained open to an enemy’s attack, and to be effected without loss required address, enterprise, and rapidity of movement. The danger was lessened by the number of streams which enter Mexico Bay, the deep bight formed by the southern and eastern shores of Lake Ontario, between Oswego and Sackett’s. These, being navigable for batteaux, constituted a series of harbors of refuge.

Chauncey directed all the lighter equipment to be turned back from Oswego River to North Bay, on Lake Oneida, and the long guns to be placed in batteaux, ready to move instantly, either up or down, as the movements of the enemy or a favorable opportunity might determine. Discretionary power to act according to circumstances was then given to Captain Woolsey, in local command on the Oswego. Woolsey made great parade of his preparations to send everything, guns included, back across the portage from the river, to North Bay. The reports reached Yeo, as intended, but did not throw him wholly off his guard. On May 27 Woolsey despatched an officer in a fast pulling boat to reconnoitre the coast, while he himself went with the requisite force to the falls. On the 28th the batteaux, nineteen in number, carrying twenty-one long 32-pounders, and thirteen lighter pieces, besides ten heavy cables, were run over the rapids, reaching Oswego at sunset. The lookout boat had returned, reporting all clear, and after dark the convoy started. Besides the regular crews, there were embarked one hundred and fifty riflemen from the army. The next morning at sunrise one batteau was missing, but the other eighteen entered the Salmon River, over twenty miles from Oswego. The nights were short at that season, and the boats heavy; moreover there had been drenching rain.

At Salmon River, a party of one hundred and twenty Oneida Indians joined, who were to move along the coast on the flank of the convoy through the next stage of the journey, by day, to support the defence should the approach of an enemy compel refuge to be sought in one of the creeks. As soon as they had taken up their march the batteaux also started, and at noon, May 29, reached Big Sandy Creek, ten miles further on, but eight miles short of the final destination at Stoney Creek. Here greater care became necessary, on account of the nearness of the enemy’s fleet; and while awaiting information the division moved two miles up the Big Sandy, where it anchored.

The missing batteau, carrying two long 24’s and a cable, had been captured; having wandered away from the rest of the detachment, despite the watchful care exerted to keep them together. Her crew betrayed the extent of the operation of which they formed part, and a division of boats was sent in quest, in charge of two captains of the blockading vessels; the senior officer of the whole being Commander Popham. On his way Popham fell in with another group of armed boats, which he took under his command, raising his total to three gun-vessels and four smaller boats, with near two hundred seamen and marines. Certain intelligence being received that the convoy had entered the Big Sandy, he steered thither, arriving off its mouth soon after daylight of May 30. A reconnaissance on shore discovering the masts of the batteaux plainly visible over a marsh, with apparently no intervening forest, an immediate attack was decided. Having landed a party of flankers on either bank, the expedition proceeded up stream with due caution, firing an occasional round into the brush to dislodge any possible ambush. It was not known that an escort, beyond the usual crews, had accompanied the movement. Such a precaution might indeed have been inferred from the importance of the object; but the same reason naturally, and not improperly, decided Popham that considerable risk was justifiable in order to frustrate his enemy’s purpose.

Woolsey was already forewarned of his coming. At 2 A.M. of the same day, May 30, he had received from Chauncey an express, in accordance with which an officer was sent out upon the lake, to reconnoitre towards the entrance of Black River Bay. At six o’clock he returned, having been seen and pursued by some of Popham’s division. The riflemen and Indians were now advanced half a mile below the batteaux, where they found cover and concealment in the woods. At eight the British guns were heard. At nine a re-enforcement of cavalry and light artillery arrived from Sackett’s Harbor, but it was decided that they should remain by the batteaux, the force already below being best adapted for bush fighting. Towards ten o’clock the riflemen and Indians attacked; a circumstance attributed by Captain Popham to an accident befalling the 68-pounder carronade in the bow of the leading gunboat, which compelled her to turn round, to bring into action her stern gun, a 24-pounder. “The enemy thought we were commencing a retreat, when they advanced their whole force, one hundred and fifty riflemen, near two hundred Indians, and a numerous body of militia and cavalry, who soon overpowered the few men I had.... The winding of the creek, which gave the enemy a great advantage in advancing to intercept our retreat, rendered further resistance unavailing.” The entire detachment surrendered, having had fourteen killed and twenty-eight wounded; besides whom two captains, six lieutenants, and one hundred and thirty-three seamen and marines remained prisoners. The American loss was but two wounded; a result showing clearly enough the disadvantage under which the British labored.

This affair has been related in detail, because, although on a small scale, it was actually one of great consequence; but yet more because it illustrates aptly one kind of those minor operations of war, upon the success of which so much greater matters turn. The American management throughout was admirable in its detailed foresight and circumspection. To this was due the trivial loss attending its final success; a loss therefore attesting far greater credit than would the attaining of the same result by lavish expenditure of blood. To Captain Popham must be attributed both enterprise and due carefulness in undertaking an advance he knew to be hazardous, but from which, if successful, he was entitled to expect nothing less than the capture of almost the entire armament of a very large ship. In such circumstances censure because of failure is unjust, unless the risk is shown to be taken reckless of due precautions, which was not the case in this instance. Yeo, whose deficiency in seamen was reported at two hundred and seventy-nine, three days after this affair, appears to have been more exasperated by the loss of the men than sensible of the merit of his subordinate. He had charged him not to enter any creek in the endeavor to capture the stores, and apparently laid the disaster to disregard of this order. The subsequent customary court martial decided that Popham, having greatly re-enforced himself by junction with a division of vessels, in a manner which Yeo could not have contemplated, was fully justified by the importance of preventing the convoy from reaching Sackett’s Harbor. The court regretted that Sir James Yeo should have used such reproachful expressions in his letter to the Admiralty communicating Captain Popham’s capture. Popham, and his second, Spilsbury, were included in the promotions of a year later.

Soon after this mishap Yeo abandoned the immediate blockade of Sackett’s Harbor, returning to Kingston June 6. The recent experience demonstrated that it would be impossible to prevent the forwarding of supplies by the mere presence of the fleet at the mouth of the port. The armament of the “Superior” had arrived despite his efforts, and her speedy readiness to take the lake was assured. An exchange of letters between himself and Drummond as to his proper course led to the conclusion that the blockade had not had all the effect expected; and that, in view of the large re-enforcements of men coming forward from England, the true policy was to avoid battle until the third new ship, the “St. Lawrence” of one hundred and two guns, should be ready. “The enemy,” wrote Yeo, “are not in sufficient force to undertake any expedition in the face of our present squadron, but any disaster on our side might give them a serious ascendancy.” Drummond, who had rejoiced that the blockade “assures us a free intercourse throughout the lake,” concurred in this view. “I have no hesitation in saying that there exists at present no motive or object, connected with the security of Upper Canada, which can make it necessary for you to act otherwise than cautiously on the defensive,” until the large ship is ready or other circumstances arise.

On June 7 the Cabinet of the United States held a meeting, in which was settled the plan of campaign on the northern frontier; where alone, and for a brief period only, an expected superiority of numbers would permit offensive operations. As in the year before, the decision, in general terms, was to direct the main effort against the enemy’s right and centre, Mackinac and the Niagara peninsula, instead of against his left, at Montreal or Kingston. The principal movement was to be by a concentration near Buffalo of forces from New York and the western territory, which the Secretary of War estimated might place under Brown’s command five thousand regular troops and three thousand volunteers. He had proposed that these, with the assistance of the Erie navy, should be landed on the coast between Fort Erie, at the entrance of the Niagara River, and Point Abino, ten miles to the westward. Thence they were to act against Burlington Heights, at the head of Lake Ontario, the tenure of which by Vincent in 1813, had baffled, on two occasions, the advance of the Americans, and maintained the land communications of the British with York (Toronto) despite their enemy’s control of the water. The Secretary’s anticipation was that, after gaining this position, the force could proceed along the north shore of the lake towards York, receiving its supplies by the fleet, which was expected to be ready by June 15. Chauncey himself stated June 8 that he would be ready by July 1, if men were sent him. On the 11th was launched a second new ship, the “Mohawk,” to carry forty-two guns. The crew of the “Congress” was ordered up from Portsmouth, and part of them, with other re-enforcements, were reported to have arrived before June 20. June 24 Chauncey wrote, “I shall sail the first week in July to offer the enemy battle." He did not, however, take the Lake until August 1.

The Cabinet had approved the Secretary’s suggestion, but extended the place of debarkation to be between Fort Erie and Long Point, eighty miles from the Niagara River, and well west of Burlington Heights. Subsidiary to this main attack, General Izard at Plattsburg was to make a diversion towards Montreal. Coincidently with these movements an expedition of four or five of the Erie fleet, with eight hundred to one thousand troops, should go against Mackinac; their first object, however, being Matchedash Bay, on Lake Huron, which was the seat of an incipient naval establishment, and the point of deposit for supplies proceeding to Mackinac from York by way of Lake Simcoe. This attempt to choke the communications of Mackinac, by holding a vital point upon their line, was to have its counterpart in the east by the provision of fifteen armed boats on the St. Lawrence, supported by posts on the river garrisoned by detachments from Izard’s army, so as to intercept the water transport between Montreal and Kingston. It may be mentioned that this particular method had specially commended itself to both Yeo and Chauncey, as most suited to embarrass the British situation throughout the upper province. In a subsequent report to the Admiralty, Yeo characterized the failure of the Americans to do this as an extreme stupidity, which had lost them the war, but upon a repetition of which in future hostilities Great Britain should not rely. The importance of this intercourse is indicated by a mention of Chauncey’s, that in the week before June 15 more than two hundred boats passed Ogdensburg for Kingston.

All this, however, simply emphasizes the fact that the decisive point of attack was Montreal or Kingston; not the line between them, which would become useless if either fell. Still less could the Niagara peninsula, though a valuable link in a chain of communication from the lower to the upper lakes, compare in importance with either of the places named. It matters not that a chain is complete in itself, if it is severed from one of the extremities which it is designed to connect. As regards any attempt on the part of the Americans to interrupt the traffic, Drummond appears to have been satisfied with Yeo’s promise that “every brigade of batteaux should have a suitable convoy of gunboats.”

The Secretary of War, in his communication to the President before the Cabinet met, had indicated plainly his preference for leaving Mackinac alone and concentrating upon the central point of effort, Niagara or Burlington. “Burlington and York carried, a barrier is interposed which completely protects Detroit and Malden, makes doubtful and hazardous the enemy’s intercourse with the western Indians, reduces Mackinac to a possession perfectly useless, renders probable the evacuation of Fort Niagara, and takes from the enemy half his motive for continuing the naval conflict on Lake Ontario. On the other hand, take Mackinac, and what is gained but Mackinac itself?" The reasoning was indisputable, although Armstrong acquiesced in the decision of the Cabinet. The main feature of the plan adopted, the reduction of Burlington Heights and a successful advance on York, was of doubtful issue; but, if successful, the vital end of the chain upon which Mackinac depended for existence dropped useless to the ground. All side enterprise that did not directly contribute to this decisive movement should have been discarded in favor of concentration upon Brown’s army, to which its execution was committed, and the actual strength of which was insufficient for the task. At the opening of the campaign its total strength was four thousand seven hundred and eighty, of whom eight hundred and thirty were militia. On July 1 there were present for duty three thousand five hundred. There were also six hundred Indians of the Six Nations. In this impotent conclusion resulted the Secretary’s estimate of five thousand regulars and three thousand volunteers.

On July 2 Brown announced to his troops that he was authorized by the Government to put them in motion against the enemy. He had decided to leave Fort Niagara, with its menace to his communications, in his rear, unguarded, and to throw his command directly upon the enemy on the west bank of the river. The crossing was made that night in two divisions; one landing opposite Black Rock, below Fort Erie, the other above that post, which surrendered July 3, at 5 P.M. The garrison numbered one hundred and thirty-seven. From there Brown proposed to turn north and advance towards Ontario, where he hoped to join hands with the navy, which was expected by him, and by the Government, to be on hand to co-operate. This expectation was based on Chauncey’s own assurance that he would take the lake on July 1, if supplied with men, who were known since to have arrived. It does not appear, however, that he had received specific instructions as to the course he was intended to follow; and, in assuming that he would go to the head of the lake, for direct co-operation, the Government and the general were reckoning without their host, and in ignorance of his views. He was as loath to leave Kingston and Sackett’s in his rear, unwatched, as Brown was willing to take the same risk with regard to Niagara. It was a profound difference of temperament in two capable men, to whom the Government failed to impart the unifying element of orders.

On July 4 Scott’s brigade, which had crossed below the fort, advanced from Fort Erie fifteen miles, to Street’s Creek, a small stream, bridged near its mouth, entering the Niagara two miles south of the Chippewa River, the defensive line selected by the British, who now fell back upon it. The Chippewa is of respectable size, one hundred and fifty yards wide, and from twelve to twenty feet deep, running from west to east. In general direction it is parallel to Street’s Creek; both entering the Niagara at right angles to its course. In the belt separating the two the ground is flat, and was in great part open; but midway between them there was a strip of thick wood extending down to within a few hundred feet of the Niagara. This formed a dense curtain, hiding movements on either side from the other. The British forces under Riall were now north of the Chippewa, Scott’s brigade south of Street’s; each having a bridge by which to advance into the space between. The other American brigade, Ripley’s, was in rear of Scott to the south.

In this relative situation, Scott’s pickets on the left being disquieted by the British and Indians in the intervening woods, Brown ordered up the militia and American Indians under General Porter to expel them. This was done; but upon reaching the clearing on the further side, the Indians, who were in the lead, encountered a heavy fire, which drove them back upon the militia, and the whole body retreated in a confusion which ended in a rout. Riall had crossed the Chippewa, and was advancing in force, although he believed Brown’s army much to outnumber his own now on the field, which in fact it did. Gordon Drummond, in his instructions to him some months before, (March 23), had remarked that with the Americans liberties might be taken which would seem hazardous “to a military man unacquainted with the character of the enemy he had to contend with, or with the events of the last two campaigns on that frontier." This unflattering, but not unreasonable, deduction from the performances of Dearborn and others in 1813, as of Smyth and Van Rensselaer in 1812, was misplaced in the present instance; but it doubtless governed Riall’s action, and justified it to himself and his superiors. He had not been engaged since he drove the militia of New York before him like sheep, in the preceding December; and he would have attacked on the very night after the crossing, but that a regiment from York, which he had reason to expect twenty-four hours before, did not arrive until the morning of the 5th. The instant it came he made his dispositions to move at 4 P.M. of the same day.

It was this advance which met Porter and threw his division back, uncovering the wood on the west. Scott at the same moment was marching his brigade into the open space between Street’s Creek and the Chippewa; not to meet the enemy, whom he did not expect, but for some drill in the cool of a hot summer’s afternoon. As he went forward, the Commander-in-Chief, who had been reconnoitring in front, rode by, galloping to the rear to bring up his remaining force; for, while the army in the aggregate was superior to Riall, the one brigade was inferior. In passing, he called to Scott, “You will have a battle”; and the head of the latter’s column, as it crossed the bridge, came at once under the enemy’s guns.

Although inferior, exposed, and in a sense surprised, both commander and men were equal to the occasion. The division deployed steadily under fire, and its leader, sending hastily one battalion to check the enemy in the wood, formed front with the remainder of his force to meet those in the plain. These, being yet unopposed, advanced beyond the line of the wood, passing their own detachment within it, which was held in check by the Americans charged with that duty. Losing thus their support on that side, the British presented a new right flank, to use Scott’s expression. Thereupon he extended his two wings as far as he dared, leaving between them a considerable interval, so as to overlap his opponent at either extremity; which done, he threw his left forward. His brigade thus formed an obtuse angle, the apex to the rear, the bullets therefore converging and crossing upon the space in front, into which it and the enemy were moving. In the approach both parties halted several times to fire, and Scott says that the superiority of aim in his own men was evident. When within sixty paces a mutual rush, or charge, ensued; but the overlapping of the Americans crowded the flanks of the enemy in upon his centre and produced confusion, to which the preceding fire doubtless had contributed. Scott’s own description is that “the wings of the enemy being outflanked, and in some measure doubled upon, were mouldered away like a rope of sand." In this brief and brilliant struggle only the one brigade was engaged.

Riall’s account agrees substantially with that of Scott, mentioning particularly “the greatest regularity” with which his opponents “deployed and opened fire." He directed a charge by the three regiments in line, “but I am sorry to say that they suffered so severely that I was obliged to withdraw them, finding their further efforts against the superior numbers of the enemy would be unavailing.” He was right in believing that the aggregate of Brown’s army, although much short of the six thousand he estimated, was superior to that which he could bring together without abandoning posts he had to hold; but he was mistaken in thinking that in the actual collision his opponents were more numerous than the fifteen hundred regulars at which he states his own force, besides three hundred militia. Scott’s brigade, with its supporting artillery, when it crossed four days before, was less than fifteen hundred; and the militia and Indians were routed before he began to fight. His artillery also was of lighter weight. The superiority of the American fire was shown by the respective losses. They were: British, one hundred and forty-eight killed, two hundred and twenty-one wounded, forty-six missing; American, fifty-six killed, two hundred and thirty-nine wounded, thirty-six missing. Of this total, there fell to Scott’s command forty-four killed, and two hundred and twenty-four wounded; demonstrating conclusively that it alone was seriously engaged. Not a man was reported missing. The other brigade lost only three killed and three wounded. At the end of the action it was coming up on Scott’s left, where he was most exposed, but it did not arrive until he had wrought his own deliverance. The remaining casualties were among the militia and Indians.

After the battle of Chippewa, Riall fell back towards Fort George, and subsequently to the creek called Twenty Mile, west of Niagara, on Lake Ontario. Brown followed as far as Queenston, where he arrived July 10. On the 13th he wrote to Chauncey, begging for the fleet to meet him on the lake shore, west of Fort George, to arrange a plan of operations; in which case he had no doubt of breaking the power of the enemy in Upper Canada in a short time. “All accounts,” he said, “represent the force of the enemy at Kingston as very light. Sir James Yeo will not fight,” which was certain. “For God’s sake, let me see you. I have looked for your fleet with the greatest anxiety since the 10th."

Chauncey had not left Sackett’s Harbor, nor did he do so; to the utter consternation, not of Brown only, but of the Government. On July 7 he chronicled the burning of an enemy’s schooner on the north shore of the lake, an exploit creditable enough in itself, but utterly trivial in relation to pending issues; and on the 8th he wrote that some changes of officers and crews, incidental to the absence of a particular captain, would detain him a few days longer. These were flimsy reasons for inactivity at a moment of great national interest, and when the operations in progress had been begun absolutely upon the presupposition of naval control and co-operation, for which he had undertaken to provide the means, even if not pledged as to the manner. Then followed a silence of over two weeks; after which, on July 25, he wrote again by his second to say that “the squadron had been prevented being earlier fitted for sea, in consequence of the delay in obtaining blocks and ironwork." He himself was too unwell to write, and had been so for some days. It is probable that lapse of energy consequent upon illness had something to do with this remarkable paralysis of action, in a man usually bustling and efficient; and there may naturally have been unwillingness to relinquish command, which would have been his proper course, after the mortifications of the previous year, when he was just flattering himself with the prospect of a new opportunity.

This inaction, at the critical moment of Brown’s advance, caused the Government extreme perplexity and distress. In Chauncey was reposed a confidence expressed by the Secretary of the Navy to Congress the year before, when the resolution of thanks to Perry was pending. He then “intimated the propriety of noticing in an appropriate manner the commander-in-chief of the naval force upon the lakes, under whose immediate command Captain Perry acted;” and spoke of the “zeal, talent, constancy, courage, and prudence of the highest order, which appears to me to merit particular distinction." Such preconceived opinion was hard to shake; but as day succeeded day of expectation and suspense, the patience of the Administration gave way. Letters bearing those elaborated phrases of assurance which most clearly testify uneasiness were sent him, but did not arrive till after Brown had retreated and he himself taken the lake. On July 24 the Secretary writes, “I have expressed the solicitude which has produced this letter, but my confidence in your patriotism, skill, judgment, and energy is entire.” On August 3, however, he says the explanation about blocks and ironwork apparently just received is so extraordinary at such a moment that “I cannot withhold from you the extreme anxiety and astonishment which the protracted and fatal delay of the squadron has excited in the mind of the President;” and on the 5th, “the known detention of the squadron at Sackett’s Harbor until the 27th ultimo, the very feeble and precarious state of your health, the evils which have already resulted from delay,” etc., “have induced the President, though with extreme reluctance, and undiminished confidence in your zeal and capacity, to order Commodore Decatur to proceed to Sackett’s Harbor and take upon himself the naval command on Lake Ontario.”

The proposed change did not take place, the squadron having already resumed active cruising. The Secretary repeated his expressions of confidence, but does not appear to have renewed his recommendations to Congress. Chauncey, stung by the reflections, open and implied, upon his conduct, retorted with a defence and definition of his course, as proposed and realized, which raises the whole question of the method of naval co-operation under the circumstances, and of its probable effectiveness. Replying to Brown’s letter of July 13, quoted above, he said positively that he had never given the general ground to expect him at the head of the lake. This assertion he repeated to the Secretary, whose letters to him demonstrate that the Government had left him entire discretion as to his particular method of procedure. Acting therefore upon his own judgment, he justified his course by alleging that direct co-operation at the Niagara end of the lake was impossible, because the heavy ships could not get within two miles of the forts, and Brown’s army had never advanced to the lake shore; consequently, the fleet could neither have acted directly by itself, nor yet in support of a land force, with which it could not communicate. So much for the negative side of the argument. Positively, he said, the mission of the navy was to seek and fight the enemy’s squadron; and this duty was emphasized by the fact that to go westward to Niagara, while the enemy was at Kingston, would expose to capture Sackett’s Harbor, the safety of which had remained a dominant anxiety with Chauncey since its narrow escape the previous year.

The protection of his own base, and the controlling or beating the organized force of the enemy, are unquestionably two leading considerations which should govern the general conduct of a general officer, land or sea. In these particulars Chauncey’s statement was unassailable; but, whether well or ill, he seems to have been incapable of rising to the larger estimate of naval control, to which the rules enunciated, conduce simply as a formulation of principles, giving to action preciseness and steadiness of direction. The destruction of the enemy’s fleet is the means to obtain naval control; but naval control in itself is only a means, not an object. The object of the campaign, set by the Government, was the acquirement of mastery upon the Niagara peninsula, to the accomplishment of which Brown’s army was destined. Naval control would minister thereto, partly by facilitating the re-enforcement and supply of the American army, and, conversely, by impeding that of the British. Of these two means, the latter was the more efficacious, because, owing to the thoroughly denuded condition of the Canadian territory, from the Niagara to Detroit, local resources were exhausted, and dependence was wholly upon the water; whereas the United States forces, near a fruitful friendly region, and in possession of Lake Erie, had other independent and sufficient streams of maintenance.

To weaken the British was by so much to strengthen Brown, even though direct communication with him were impossible. It was of this that the British stood in continual anxious terror, as shown by their letters; and this it was that Chauncey gives no sign of recognizing. Of support to his own colleague he spoke with ill-timed scorn: “That you might find the fleet somewhat of a convenience in the transportation of provisions and stores for the use of the army, and an agreeable appendage to attend its marches and countermarches, I am ready to believe; but, Sir, the Secretary of the Navy has honored us with a higher destiny we are intended to seek and to fight the enemy’s fleet. This is the great purpose of the Government in creating this fleet; and I shall not be diverted in my efforts to effectuate it by any sinister attempt to render us subordinate to, or an appendage of, the army.” It would be difficult to cite an apter instance of wresting sound principles to one’s own destruction. Whatever the antecedent provocation, this is no temper in which to effect military objects. It is indeed hard to believe that an army so little numerous as that of Brown could have accomplished the ambitious designs confided to it; but that does not affect the clear duty of affording it the utmost assistance that ingenuity could devise and energy effect. The words quoted were written August 10, but ignore entirely an alternative suggested in a letter received that day from the Secretary, dated July 24, itself the repetition of one made July 20: “To destroy the enemy’s fleet, or to blockade his force and cut off his entire communication with the head of the lake.” The civilian here indicated clearly what the naval officer should have known from the very first moment.

As before said, the contemporary correspondence of British officers abundantly shows their anxiety lest Chauncey, in these important weeks, should do what he did not do. Sir James Yeo had deliberately formulated the policy of remaining inactive in Kingston until the completion of the 102-gun ship, which would give him command of the lake beyond chance of dispute. To occupy the American fleet meanwhile with a local blockade, which he intended not to contest, was precisely what he wanted. To distress the army at Niagara to the point of evacuating the peninsula was the one only thing that might impel or compel him to come out and fight, despite his deliberate intention. “Several small vessels,” wrote the Commissary-General a month later to Sir George Prevost, “were despatched while the enemy’s squadron were unable to leave Sackett’s Harbor; but since the enemy commands the lake, that resource for the moment is cut off, and only batteaux can be employed. These are [not] a very useful conveyance, not only from the danger of the enemy’s small vessels, which can approach the shore without difficulty, but also from want of proper steersmen, pilots, and middlemen.... This feeble means of transport will never effect the forming of a sufficient depot at York, Burlington Heights, and Niagara; and, unless the commissariat can be aided to a great extent by the Royal Navy, the most disastrous consequences must ensue.”

At the date this was written, August 27, Chauncey’s force was that which he had promised should be ready July 1, but with which he did not sail until August 1, too late. The very efficiency of his action in August condemns therefore his inaction in July. Besides his two new big ships, which matched Yeo’s two, he had added to the fleet of the previous year, then superior to the British, two brigs of the armament and tonnage of the ocean sloops of war, the “Peacock” and class. Against these Yeo had nothing to show. It was therefore open to Chauncey to blockade Kingston with an equal force, thus covering Sackett’s, and to despatch to the head of the lake vessels adequate to embarrass Riall and Drummond most seriously. From York to Niagara by land was eighty miles of road impassable to laden wagons; by lake thirty miles of water facility. From Kingston to York, an additional distance of a hundred and fifty miles, the same relative difficulty of transportation obtained. Yet as late as July 13, Drummond could write from Kingston, “As troops cannot be forwarded without provisions, I have requested Sir James Yeo to send his two brigs immediately, with as much flour and pork as they can carry to York and Burlington.” On the 16th, “The ‘Charwell’ sailed yesterday for the head of the lake with provisions and ammunition. I have strong hopes she will arrive safe, as the enemy’s whole squadron are lying in Sackett’s with their sails bent, and apparently ready for sea, though no guns forward of the foremast could be perceived on board the ‘Mohawk.’"

Yeo, holding both York and the mouth of the Niagara, ventured thither two brigs and two schooners, under Captain Dobbs, one of his officers. “Without their valuable aid in the transport of troops and stores,” wrote Drummond, August 12, “I certainly should not have been able to attempt offensive operations so soon after my arrival.” By that time, when Brown had of necessity abandoned the offensive, “Commodore Chauncey has left three of his brigs to watch our vessels in the Niagara. They continue cruising off that place." Chauncey, in his letter of vindication to the Secretary, had maintained that “if our whole fleet were at the head of the lake, it would not detain a regiment from [York to] Fort George more than twenty-four hours.... Any one who knows anything of the navigation of this lake knows that boats may cross the head of the lake, from York to the opposite shore, unobserved by any fleet during the night." Admitting that there is no literal exaggeration in this statement, it takes no account of the enemy’s apprehensions, nor of the decisive difficulty of running vessels of a size to transport the heavy stores, without which the army could not remain. No one familiar with maritime affairs will deny the impossibility of wholly suppressing all furtive movement of small coasters, but it is equally certain much can be done to impede that full course of supplies which constitutes security of communication. To Chauncey’s affirmation, Drummond gives an incidental reply, September 2: “The enemy’s blockading squadron not having been seen for some days, I sent the ‘Vincent’ across to York, where she has arrived in safety, and Captain Dobbs has directed the ‘Charwell’ to push across the first morning the wind is fair. By their aid I got rid of many encumbrances (prisoners and sick), and shall receive the supplies that are waiting at York for this division."

It is needless to multiply quotations from the utterances, and frequent outcries, that run throughout this correspondence. Chauncey, from early July, had it in his hand seriously to molest the British communications, and at the same time to contain the British squadron in Kingston. Such action would subject Yeo to the just and humiliating imputation of suffering the harassment of the army without an attempt at relief, or else would compel him to come out and fight under conditions which, “whatever the result,” to use Nelson’s words, “would leave his squadron in a state to do no further harm,” till the big ship was ready. Thus also Chauncey would cover his base; for, as Prevost wrote, “while Kingston is blockaded, no movement against Sackett’s Harbor can take place.” It was Chauncey’s misfortune himself to demonstrate his own shortcoming by the profound distress he inflicted, when sounder measures were instituted after the censure of the Government, too late.

One of the most conspicuous instances of the effect of this neglect was realized in the desperate and sanguinary engagement of Lundy’s Lane, the occurrence of which, at the time and in the manner it did, as stated by one of the chief actors, Winfield Scott, was due directly to the freedom of the lake to the British. Brown had remained at Queenston for some days after July 10, in painful suspense. A reconnaissance in force was made on the 15th by the militia brigade under General Porter, accompanied by two pieces of artillery, which moved round Fort George as far as Lake Ontario, whence the general reported “we had an opportunity to examine the northern face of Forts Riall and Niagara, about two miles distant." Beyond a few random shots, no opposition was experienced. On the 20th the army as a whole advanced to the neighborhood of Fort George, and made a demonstration of throwing up siege works; not without serious intention, for Brown had not yet abandoned hope of receiving the cannon of necessary weight, 24-pounders, from Sackett’s Harbor. He had with him only eighteens. Riall was greatly alarmed, exaggerating the force before him, and receiving reports of re-enforcements expected by the lake. On July 22 he sent hasty and pressing word of the impending emergency to Drummond, who arrived the same evening at York from Kingston; but in the afternoon of the day he was able to give better tidings. The Americans were falling back again upon Queenston, abandoning the positions recently assumed.

Brown had hoped that by his advance, blowing up the works at Queenston, and leaving his rear evidently much exposed, Riall might be induced to attack. The British general was much disposed to do so; but refrained, fearing for his own communications. On the morning of the 23d an express from General Gaines, commanding at Sackett’s Harbor, reached Brown at Queenston, informing him that Chauncey was sick, that no one knew when the fleet would sail, and that an endeavor had been made to send forward by batteaux, coasting the south shore, the 24-pounder guns needed for besieging Fort George; but the officer in command had stopped at the mouth of Black River Bay, thinking himself in danger from the British squadron. A contemporary account reads: “July 20, Morgan with the riflemen and cannon prevented from sailing by Yeo’s blockade of the harbor." Apparently, Yeo had even come out of port, in order by menace of attack to arrest the forwarding of this essential succor. Chauncey’s incidental mention is positive that he approached no nearer than the Ducks, some large islands thirty miles south of Kingston, and forty west of Sackett’s; but it is obvious that in the quiescence of the American squadron such a position was prohibitive of movement by batteaux. It may readily be conceived that had Brown’s demonstration against the fort been coupled with an attempt to land the guns from a naval division, Riall might have felt compelled to come out of his lines.

Neither guns nor naval division appeared, and Drummond, able to move troops freely across the lake, concerted now a plan for striking a dangerous blow from Fort Niagara, against Brown’s communications on the New York side; the exposed condition of which was known to him. This was the immediate offensive of which he had spoken; his ability to undertake which he attributed to naval aid. He had as adjutant-general Lieutenant-Colonel Harvey, the same who suggested and executed the brilliant stroke that disconcerted Dearborn’s campaign in 1813; and who on the present occasion drew up the instructions to Riall, and to Lieutenant-Colonel Tucker, the officer in charge of the forts, with a delightful lucidity which characterizes all papers signed by him. The brigs “Star” and “Charwell” left York July 23, with a re-enforcement of four hundred men for Fort Niagara, in which post the officer commanding was directed to concentrate so many more as would enable him to carry a full regiment of regulars against batteries that were being put up at Youngstown. This movement was to be made at daylight of Monday, July 25, and General Riall was instructed to support it by a threatening demonstration on his side of the river. On the evening of the 24th, Drummond himself sailed from York in one of Yeo’s schooners, and by daybreak reached Niagara.

Upon his arrival, or possibly before, he learned that the Americans had retired further, to the Chippewa. The motive for this backward step was to draw necessary supplies across the river, from the magazines at Fort Schlosser, and to leave there all superfluous baggage, prior to a rush upon Burlington Heights, which Brown had now substituted as the point of attack, in consequence of his disappointment about the siege guns. It had been his intention to rest over the 25th, in order to start forward fresh on the 26th. This retrograde movement, inducing Riall to advance, changed the situation found by Drummond. He decided therefore to apply his re-enforcements to the support of Riall directly, and to have the enterprise from Niagara proceed with somewhat smaller numbers towards Lewiston, opposite Queenston, where a body of Americans were posted. This advance appears to have been detected very soon, for Drummond writes, “Some unavoidable delay having occurred in the march of the troops up the right bank, the enemy had moved off previous to Colonel Tucker’s arrival.” Brown, in his report of this circumstance, wrote, “As it appeared that the enemy with his increased force was about to avail himself of the hazard under which our baggage and stores were on our [American] side of Niagara, I conceived the most effectual method of recalling him from the object was to put myself in motion towards Queenston. General Scott with his brigade were accordingly put in march on the road leading thither.” The result was the battle of Lundy’s Lane.

Scott in his autobiography attributes the report of an advance towards Schlosser to a mistake on the part of the officer making it. It was not so. There was an actual movement, modified in detail from the original elaborate plan, the execution of which was based by the British general upon the local control of the lake, enabling him to send re-enforcements. The employment of Dobbs’ four vessels, permitted by Chauncey’s inaction, thus had direct effect upon the occurrence and the result of the desperately contested engagement which ensued, upon the heights overlooking the lower torrent of the Niagara. From the Chippewa to the Falls is about two miles, through which the main road from Lake Erie to Ontario follows the curving west bank of the stream. A half mile further on it was joined at right angles by the crossroad, known as Lundy’s Lane. As Scott’s column turned the bend above the Falls there were evidences of the enemy’s presence, which at first were thought to indicate only a detachment for observation; but a few more paces disclosed the Lane held by a line of troops, superior in number to those encountered with equal unexpectedness on the Chippewa, three weeks before.

Scott hesitated whether to fall back; but apprehensive of the effect of such a step upon the other divisions, he sent word to Brown that he would hold his ground, and prepared for battle, making dispositions to turn the enemy’s left, towards the Niagara. It was then near sundown. A hot engagement followed, in the course of which the pressure on the British left caused it to give ground. In consequence, the American right advancing and the British left receding, the two lines swung round perpendicular to the Lane, the Americans standing with their backs to the precipices, beneath which roar the lower rapids of Niagara. At this period General Riall, who had received a severe wound, was captured while being carried to the rear.

As this change of front was taking place Brown arrived, with Ripley’s brigade and Porter’s militia, which were brought into line with Scott; the latter occupying the extreme right, Ripley the centre, and Porter the left. When this arrangement had been completed the attack was resumed, and a hill top, which was the key of the British position, was carried; the artillery there falling into the hands of the Americans. “In so determined a manner were these attacks directed against our guns,” reported Drummond, “that our artillery men were bayoneted by the enemy in the act of loading, and the muzzles of the enemy’s guns were advanced within a few yards of ours.... Our troops having for a moment been pushed back, some of our guns remained for a few minutes in the enemy’s hands." Upon this central fact both accounts agree, but on the upshot of the matter they differ. “Not only were the guns quickly recovered,” continued Drummond, “but the two pieces which the enemy had brought up were captured by us.” He admits, however, the loss as well as gain of one 6-pounder. Brown, on the contrary, claimed that the ground was held and that the enemy retired, leaving his guns. “He attempted to drive us from our position and to regain his artillery; our line was unshaken and the enemy repulsed. Two other attempts having the same object had the same issue." By this time both Brown and Scott had been severely wounded and carried off the field. In this situation the Commander-in-Chief directed the officer now in command to withdraw the troops to the camp, three miles behind, for refreshment, and then to re-occupy the field of battle. Whether this was feasible or not would require an inquiry more elaborate than the matter at stake demands. It is certain that the next day the British resumed the position without resistance, and continued to hold it.

To Americans the real interest and value of this action, combined with its predecessor at Chippewa, and with the subsequent equally desperate fighting about Fort Erie, were that the contest did not close without this conspicuous demonstration that in capable hands the raw material of the American armies could be worked up into fighting quality equal to the best. Regarded as an international conflict, the war was now staggering to its end, which was but a few months distant; and in every direction little but shame and mortification had befallen the American arms on land. It would have been a calamity, indeed, had the record closed for that generation with the showing of 1812 and 1813. Nothing is gained by explaining or excusing such results; the only expiation for them is by the demonstration of repentance, in works worthy of men and soldiers. This was abundantly afforded by Brown’s brief campaign of 1814, otherwise fruitless. Not only the regular troops, fashioned by Scott in a few brief months from raw recruits to disciplined fighters, proved their mettle; the irregulars associated with them, though without the same advantage of training and concert of movement, caught their enthusiasm, gained confidence from their example, and emulated their deeds. The rabble which scarcely waited for a shot before scattering at the approach of Riall’s columns in December, 1813, abandoning their homes to destruction, had earned the discriminating eulogium of General Brown before the year 1814 closed. In August, after Lundy’s Lane, he, a New Yorker himself, wrote to the Governor of New York: “This state has suffered in reputation in this war; its militia have done nothing, or but little, and that, too, after the state had been for a long time invaded.” On September 20, after the sanguinary and successful sortie from Fort Erie, he wrote again: “The militia of New York have redeemed their character they behaved gallantly. Of those called out by the last requisition, fifteen hundred have crossed the state border to our support. This re-enforcement has been of immense importance to us; it doubled our effective strength, and their good conduct cannot but have the happiest effect upon the nation."

The American losses at Lundy’s Lane were, killed one hundred and seventy-one, wounded five hundred and seventy-two, missing one hundred and seventeen; total, eight hundred and sixty. Those of the British were, killed eighty-four, wounded five hundred and fifty-nine, missing one hundred and ninety-three, prisoners forty-two; total, eight hundred and seventy-eight. Of the British missing and prisoners, one hundred and sixty-nine were reported by the Americans as in their hands; among them nineteen officers. This substantial equality in casualties corresponds to a similar equality in the numbers engaged. The Americans had present for duty two thousand six hundred and forty-four, including over four hundred militia; Drummond in his report states that first and last he had upon the field not more than two thousand eight hundred. That he estimates the force opposed to him to have been at least five thousand, may be coupled with his mention of “the reiterated and determined attacks which the enemy made upon our centre,” as showing the impression produced upon his mind during the progress of the struggle. The comparison of numbers engaged with injuries sustained justifies the inference that, in result, the actual contest upon the ground was at least a drawn battle, if not the positive success claimed by Brown and Scott. Colonel Hercules Scott, of the British 103d Regiment, who to be sure shows somewhat of the malcontent ever present in camps, but who afterwards fell well at the front in the assault upon Fort Erie, was in this action; and in a private letter uses an expression which practically corroborates the American assertion that they held the ground at the end, and withdrew afterwards. “In the last attack they gained possession of five out of seven of our guns, but the fire kept upon them was so severe that it afterwards appeared they had not been able to carry them off; for we found them next morning on the spot they had been taken. No [We?] boast of a ‘Great Victory,’ but in my opinion it was nearly equal on both sides."

Equality of loss, or even a technical victory, does not imply equality of subsequent conditions. Brown had at the front all his available force; he had no reserves or depots upon which to draw. He had expended the last shot in the locker. Drummond not only had been receiving re-enforcements, absolutely small, yet considerable in proportion to the contending numbers, but he was continuing to receive them. Lundy’s Lane was July 25; Chauncey did not take the lake until August 1, and it was the 5th when he came off Niagara, where he at once intercepted and drove ashore one of the British brigs, which was fired by her captain. He thus had immediate ocular demonstration of what had been going on in his absence; but it was already too late for the American squadron to turn the scales of war. If this could have been accomplished at all, it would have been by such intervention as in this instance; by injuring the enemy rather than by helping the friend. But this would have been possible only in the beginning. Brown felt himself unable longer to keep the field; and the army, now under General Ripley, withdrew the following day, July 26, to Fort Erie, where it proceeded to strengthen the work itself, and to develop a fortified line depending upon it, covering the angle of ground made by the shores of the Niagara River and Lake Erie. Brown was carried to Buffalo to recover of his wounds, which were not dangerous, though severe. He subsequently resumed chief command, but Scott was unable to serve again during the campaign. General Gaines was summoned from Sackett’s Harbor, and on August 5 took charge at Fort Erie.

From this time the operations on either side were limited to the effort to take or to hold this position. Drummond’s experience at Lundy’s Lane, and the extent of his loss, made him cautious in pursuit; and time was yielded to the enemy to make good their entrenchment. On the early morning of August 15 the British assaulted, and were repelled with fifty-seven killed, three hundred and nine wounded, and five hundred and thirty-nine missing. The Americans, covered by their works, reported a loss of less than one hundred. “I am now reduced to a most unpleasant predicament with regard to force,” wrote Drummond to Prevost. “I have ordered the 6th and 82d from York to this frontier. I had intended to order another regiment from Kingston, but from the badness of the roads since the recent rains I could not calculate upon their arrival here before our squadron will be able to take the lake, and as even at present the diminution of stores and provisions is beginning to be felt, I intreat your excellency will impress upon the Commodore the necessity of conveying to this division, the very moment the squadron can leave harbor, a full supply of each, as well as a re-enforcement of troops.”

After this sharp reverse Drummond settled down to a siege, in the course of which he complained frequently and grievously of the annoyance caused him by Chauncey’s blockade, established August 6, with three vessels competent seriously to interrupt transportation of supplies, or of men in large detachments. The season was still propitious for marching; but as early as August 21 Drummond was afraid “that relief by control of the lake may not reach us in time.” September 11, “Our batteries have almost been silent for several days from the reduced state of the ammunition.” September 14, “The sudden and most unlooked for return to the head of Lake Ontario of the two brigs, by which the Niagara has been so long blockaded, and my communication with York cut off, has had the effect of preventing the junction of the 97th regiment, which arrived at York the 10th, and probably would have been here the following day but for this unlucky circumstance." September 24, “The deficiency of provisions and transport is the difficulty attending every operation in this country, as it prevents the collection at any one point of an adequate force for any object. These difficulties we must continue to experience, until our squadron appears superior on the lake.” It would be impossible to depict more strongly the course incumbent upon Chauncey in July, or to condemn more severely, by implication, his failure then to do what he could, taking the chance of that chapter of accidents, “to be in the way of good luck,” which it is the duty of every military leader to consider as among the clear possibilities of war. “The blockade of Kingston,” wrote Prevost on October 11 to Lord Bathurst, “has been vigorously maintained for the last six weeks by the enemy’s squadron. The vigilance of the American cruisers on Lake Ontario was felt even by our batteaux creeping along the shore with provisions for Drummond’s division. In consequence, I found that the wants of that army had grown to an alarming extent."

In pushing his siege works, Drummond by September 15 had erected three batteries, the last of which, then just completed, “would rake obliquely the whole American encampment." Brown determined then upon a sortie in force, which was made on the afternoon of September 17, with entire success. It was in this attack that the New York militia, of whom fifteen hundred had crossed to the fort, bore an honorable and distinguished part. Brown states the actual force engaged in the fighting at one thousand regulars and one thousand militia, to whose energy and stubbornness Drummond again pays the compliment of estimating them at five thousand. The weight of the onslaught was thrown on the British right flank, and there doubtless the assailants were, and should have been, greatly superior. Two of the three batteries were carried, one of them being that which had directly incited the attack. “The enemy,” reported Drummond, “was everywhere driven back; not however before he had disabled the guns in N battery, and exploded its magazine;" that is, not before he had accomplished his purpose.

Nor was this all. The stroke ended the campaign. Drummond had nearly lost hope of a successful issue, and this blow destroyed what little remained. The American navy still held the lake; the big ship in Kingston still tarried; rains torrential and almost incessant were undermining the ramparts of Forts George and Niagara, causing serious alarm for the defence, and spreading sickness among his troops, re-enforcements to which could with difficulty be sent. The British returns of loss in repelling the sortie gave one hundred and fifteen killed, one hundred and forty-eight wounded, three hundred and sixteen missing; total, five hundred and seventy-nine. The Americans, whose casualties were five hundred and eleven, reported that they brought back three hundred and eighty-five prisoners; among whom the roll of officers tallies with the British list. Four days afterwards, September 21, Drummond abandoned his works, leaving his fires burning and huts standing, and fell back secretly by night to the Chippewa.

Brown was in no condition to follow. In a brief ten weeks, over which his adventurous enterprise spread, he had fought four engagements, which might properly be called general actions, if regard were had to the total force at his disposal, and not merely to the tiny scale of the campaign. Barring the single episode of the battle of New Orleans, his career on the Niagara peninsula is the one operation of the land war of 1812 upon which thoughtful and understanding Americans of the following generation could look back with satisfaction. Of how great consequence this evidence of national military character was, to the men who had no other experience, is difficult to be appreciated by us, in whose memories are the successes of the Mexican contest and the fierce titanic strife of the Civil War. In truth, Chippewa, Lundy’s Lane, and New Orleans, are the only names of 1812 preserved to popular memory, ever impatient of disagreeable reminiscence. Hull’s surrender was indeed an exception; the iron there burned too deep to leave no lasting scar. To Brown and his distinguished subordinates we owe the demonstration of what the War of 1812 might have accomplished, had the Government of the United States since the beginning of the century possessed even a rudimentary conception of what military preparation means to practical statesmanship.

Shortly after the sortie which decided Drummond to retire, the defenders of Fort Erie were brought into immediate relation with the major part of the forces upon Lake Champlain, under General Izard. Both belonged to the same district, the ninth, which in Dearborn’s time had formed one general command; but which it now pleased the Secretary of War, General Armstrong, to manage as two distinct divisions, under his own controlling directions from Washington. The Secretary undoubtedly had a creditable amount of acquired military knowledge, but by this time he had manifested that he did not possess the steadying military qualities necessary to play the rôle of a distant commander-in-chief. Izard, at the time of his appointment, reported everything connected with his command, the numbers and discipline of the troops, their clothing and equipment, in a deplorable state of inefficiency. The summer months were spent in building up anew the army on Champlain, and in erecting fortifications; at Plattsburg, where the main station was fixed, and at Cumberland Head, the promontory which defines the eastern side of Plattsburg Bay. Upon the maintenance of these positions depended the tenure of the place itself, as the most suitable advanced base for the army and for the fleet, mutually indispensable for the protection of that great line of operations.

On July 27, before the Secretary could know of Lundy’s Lane, but when he did anticipate that Brown must fall back on Fort Erie, he wrote to Izard that it would be expedient for him to advance against Montreal, or against Prescott, on the St. Lawrence opposite Ogdensburg, in case large re-enforcements had been sent from Montreal to check Brown’s advance, as was reported. His own inclination pointed to Prescott, with a view to the contingent chance of an attack upon Kingston, in co-operation with Chauncey and the garrison at Sackett’s. This letter did not reach Izard till August 10. He construed its somewhat tentative and vacillating terms as an order. “I will make the movement you direct, if possible; but I shall do it with the apprehension of risking the force under my command, and with the certainty that everything in this vicinity, save the lately erected works at Plattsburg and Cumberland Head, will, in less than three days after my departure, be in possession of the enemy." Izard, himself, on July 19, had favored a step like this proposed; but, as he correctly observed, the time for it was when Brown was advancing and might be helped. Now, when Brown had been brought to a stand, and was retiring, the movement would not aid him, but would weaken the Champlain frontier; and that at the very moment when the divisions from Wellington’s army, which had embarked at Bordeaux, were arriving at Quebec and Montreal.

On August 12, Armstrong wrote again, saying that his first order had been based upon the supposition that Chauncey would meet and beat Yeo, or at least confine him in port. This last had in fact been done; but, if the enemy should have carried his force from Montreal to Kingston, and be prepared there, “a safer movement was to march two thousand men to Sackett’s, embark there, and go to Brown’s assistance." Izard obediently undertook this new disposition, which he received August 20; but upon consultation with his officers concluded that to march by the northern route, near the Canada border, would expose his necessarily long column to dangerous flank attack. He therefore determined to go by way of Utica. On August 29 the division, about four thousand effectives, set out from the camp at Chazy, eight miles north of Plattsburg, and on September 16 reached Sackett’s. Bad weather prevented immediate embarkation, but on the 21st about two thousand five hundred infantry sailed, and having a fair wind reached next day the Genesee, where they were instantly put ashore. A regiment of light artillery and a number of dragoons, beyond the capacity of the fleet to carry, went by land and arrived a week later.

In this manner the defence of Lake Champlain was deprived of four thousand fairly trained troops at the moment that the British attack in vast superiority of force was maturing. Their advance brigade, in fact, crossed the frontier two days after Izard’s departure. At the critical moment, and during the last weeks of weather favorable for operations, the men thus taken were employed in making an unprofitable march of great length, to a quarter where there was now little prospect of successful action, and where they could not arrive before the season should be practically closed. Brown, of course, hailed an accession of strength which he sorely needed, and did not narrowly scrutinize a measure for which he was not responsible. On September 27, ten days after the successful sortie from Fort Erie, he was at Batavia, in New York, where he had an interview with Izard, who was the senior. In consequence of their consultation Izard determined that his first movement should be the siege of Fort Niagara. In pursuance of this resolve his army marched to Lewiston, where it arrived October 5. There he had a second meeting with Brown, accompanied on this occasion by Porter, and under their representations decided that it would be more proper to concentrate all the forces at hand on the Canadian bank of the Niagara, south of the Chippewa, and not to undertake a siege while Drummond kept the field.

Despite many embarrassments, and anxieties on the score of supplies and provisions while deprived of the free use of the lake, the British general was now master of the situation. His position rested upon the Chippewa on one flank, and upon Fort Niagara on the other. From end to end he had secure communication, for he possessed the river and the boats, below the falls. By these interior lines, despite his momentary inferiority in total numbers, he was able to concentrate his forces upon a threatened extremity with a rapidity which the assailants could not hope to rival. Fort Niagara was not in a satisfactory condition to resist battery by heavy cannon; but Izard had none immediately at hand. Drummond was therefore justified in his hope that “the enemy will find the recapture of the place not to be easily effected." His line of the Chippewa rested on the left upon the Niagara. On its right flank the ground was impassable to everything save infantry, and any effort to turn his position there would have to be made in the face of artillery, to oppose which no guns could be brought forward. Accordingly when Izard, after crossing in accordance with his last decision, advanced on October 15 against the British works upon the Chippewa, he found they were too strong for a frontal attack, the opinion which Drummond himself entertained, while the topographical difficulties of the country baffled every attempt to turn them. Drummond’s one serious fear was that the Americans, finding him impregnable here, might carry a force by Lake Erie, and try to gain his rear from Long Point, or by the Grand River. Though they would meet many obstacles in such a circuit, yet the extent to which he would have to detach in order to meet them, and the smallness of his numbers, might prove very embarrassing.

Izard entertained no such project. After his demonstration of October 15, which amounted to little more than a reconnaisance in force, he lapsed into hopelessness. The following day he learned by express that the American squadron had retired to Sackett’s Harbor and was throwing up defensive works. With his own eyes he saw, too, that the British water service was not impeded. “Notwithstanding our supremacy on Lake Ontario, at the time I was in Lewiston [October 5-8] the communication between York and the mouth of the Niagara was uninterrupted. I saw a large square-rigged vessel arriving, and another, a brig, lying close to the Canada shore. Not a vessel of ours was in sight." The British big ship, launched September 10, was on October 14 reported by Yeo completely equipped. The next day he would proceed up the lake to Drummond’s relief. Chauncey had not waited for the enemy to come out. Convinced that the first use of naval superiority would be to reduce his naval base, he took his ships into port October 8; writing to Washington that the “St. Lawrence” had her sails bent, apparently all ready for sea, and that he expected an attack in ten days. “I confess I am greatly embarrassed,” wrote Izard to Monroe, who had now superseded Armstrong as Secretary of War. “At the head of the most efficient army the United States have possessed during this war, much must be expected from me; and yet I can discern no object which can be achieved at this point worthy of the risk which will attend its attempt.” The enemy perfectly understood his perplexity, and despite his provocations refused to play into his hands by leaving the shelter of their works to fight. On October 21, he broke up his camp, and began to prepare winter quarters for his own command opposite Black Rock, sending Brown with his division to Sackett’s Harbor. Two weeks later, on November 5, having already transported all but a small garrison to the American shore, he blew up Fort Erie and abandoned his last foothold on the peninsula.

During the operations along the Niagara which ended thus fruitlessly, the United States Navy upon Lake Erie met with some severe mishaps. The Cabinet purpose, of carrying an expedition into the upper lakes against Michilimackinac, was persisted in despite the reluctance of Armstrong. Commander Arthur Sinclair, who after an interval had succeeded Perry, was instructed to undertake this enterprise with such force as might be necessary; but to leave within Lake Erie all that he could spare, to co-operate with Brown. Accordingly he sailed from Erie early in June, arriving on the 21st off Detroit, where he was to embark the troops under Colonel Croghan for the land operations. After various delays St. Joseph’s was reached July 20, and found abandoned. Its defences were destroyed. On the 26th the vessels were before Mackinac, but after a reconnaisance Croghan decided that the position was too strong for the force he had. Sinclair therefore started to return, having so far accomplished little except the destruction of two schooners, one on Lake Huron, and one on Lake Superior, both essential to the garrison at Mackinac; there being at the time but one other vessel on the lakes competent to the maintenance of their communications.

This remaining schooner, called the “Nancy,” was known to be in Nottawasaga Bay, at the south end of Georgian Bay, near the position selected by the British as a depot for stores coming from York by way of Lake Simcoe. After much dangerous search in uncharted waters, Sinclair found her lying two miles up a river of the same name as the bay, where she was watching a chance to slip through to Mackinac. Her lading had been completed July 31, and the next day she had already started, when a messenger brought word that approach to the island was blocked by the American expedition. The winding of the river placed her present anchorage within gunshot of the lake; but as she could not be seen through the brush, Sinclair borrowed from the army a howitzer, with which, mounted in the open beyond, he succeeded in firing both the “Nancy” and the blockhouse defending the position. The British were thus deprived of their last resource for transportation in bulk upon the lake. What this meant to Mackinac may be inferred from the fact that flour there was sixty dollars the barrel, even before Sinclair’s coming.

Having inflicted this small, yet decisive, embarrassment on the enemy, Sinclair on August 16 started back with the “Niagara” and “Hunter” for Erie, whither he had already despatched the “Lawrence” Perry’s old flagship and the “Caledonia.” He left in Nottawasaga Bay the schooners “Scorpion” and “Tigress,” “to maintain a rigid blockade until driven from the lake by the inclemency of the weather,” in order “to cut the line of communications from Michilimackinac to York.” Lieutenant Daniel Turner of the “Scorpion,” who had commanded the “Caledonia” in Perry’s action, was the senior officer of this detachment.

After Sinclair’s departure the gales became frequent and violent. Finding no good anchorage in Nottawasaga Bay, Turner thought he could better fulfil the purpose of his instructions by taking the schooners to St. Joseph’s, and cruising thence to French River, which enters Georgian Bay at its northern end. On the night of September 3, the “Scorpion” being then absent at the river, the late commander of the “Nancy,” Lieutenant Miller Worsley, got together a boat’s crew of eighteen seamen, and obtained the co-operation of a detachment of seventy soldiers. With these, followed by a number of Indians in canoes, he attacked the “Tigress” at her anchors and carried her by boarding. The night being very dark, the British were close alongside when first seen; and the vessel was not provided with boarding nettings, which her commander at his trial proved he had not the cordage to make. Deprived of this essential defence, which in such an exposed situation corresponds to a line of intrenched works on shore, her crew of thirty men were readily overpowered by the superior numbers, who could come upon them from four quarters at once, and had but an easy step to her low-lying rail. The officer commanding the British troops made a separate report of the affair, in which he said that her resistance did credit to her officers, who were all severely wounded. Transferring his men to the prize, Worsley waited for the return of the “Scorpion,” which on the 5th anchored about five miles off, ignorant of what had happened. The now British schooner weighed and ran down to her, showing American colors; and, getting thus alongside without being suspected, mastered her also. Besides the officers hurt, there were of the “Tigress’” crew three killed and three wounded; the British having two killed and eight wounded. No loss seems to have been incurred on either side in the capture of the “Scorpion.” In reporting this affair Sir James Yeo wrote: “The importance of this service is very great. Had not the naval force of the enemy been taken, the commanding officer at Mackinac must have surrendered." He valued it further for its influence upon the Indians, and upon the future of the naval establishment which he had in contemplation for the upper lakes.

When Sinclair reached Detroit from Nottawasaga he received news of other disasters. According to his instructions, before starting for the upper lakes he had left a division of his smaller vessels, under Lieutenant Kennedy, to support the army at Niagara. When Brown fell back upon Fort Erie, after Lundy’s Lane, three of these, the “Ohio,” “Somers,” and “Porcupine,” anchored close by the shore, in such a position as to flank the approaches to the fort, and to molest the breaching battery which the British were erecting. As this interfered with the besiegers’ plans for an assault, Captain Dobbs, commanding the naval detachment on Ontario which Yeo had assigned to co-operate with Drummond, transported over land from below the falls six boats or batteaux, and on the night of August 12 attacked the American schooners, as Worsley afterwards did the “Tigress” and “Scorpion.” The “Ohio” and “Somers,” each with a crew of thirty-five men, were carried and brought successfully down the river within the British lines. Dobbs attributed the escape of the “Porcupine” to the cables of the two others being cut, in consequence of which they with the victorious assailants on board drifted beyond possibility of return. To these four captures by the enemy must be added the loss by accident of the “Caledonia" and “Ariel,” reported by Sinclair about this time. Perry’s fleet was thus disappearing by driblets; but the command of the lake was not yet endangered, for there still remained, besides several of the prizes, the two principal vessels, “Lawrence” and “Niagara."

With these Sinclair returned to the east of the lake, and endeavored to give support to the army at Fort Erie; but the violence of the weather and the insecurity of the anchorage on both shores, as the autumn drew on, not only prevented effectual co-operation, but seriously threatened the very existence of the fleet, upon which control of the water depended. In an attempt to go to Detroit for re-enforcements for Brown, a gale of wind was encountered which drifted the vessels back to Buffalo, where they had to anchor and lie close to a lee shore for two days, September 18 to 20, with topmasts and lower yards down, the sea breaking over them, and their cables chafing asunder on a rocky bottom. After this, Drummond having raised the siege of Fort Erie, the fleet retired to Erie and was laid up for the winter.