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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."[299]

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,[300] 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.[301] 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."[302] 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."[303] 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.[304] 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.



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