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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.[317] 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."[318] 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."[319] 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:[320] "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."[321]

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."[322]

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.



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