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25, 1815, from the official paper, the National
Intelligencer. Niles, vol. vii. p. 410.

[369] Report of Secretary Armstrong to a Committee of the House of
Representatives. American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p.
526.

[370] Ibid., pp. 538, 540, 524.

[371] Ibid., p. 524.

[372] Works of Madison (Ed. 1865), vol. iii. p. 422.

[373] Winder's Narrative. American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol.
i pp. 552-560.

[374] Ross's Despatch, Aug. 30, 1814. Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxii. p.
338.

[375] Narrative of Monroe, the Secretary of State. American State
Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 536.

[376] Winder's Narrative.

[377] Barney's Report, Aug. 29, 1814. State Papers, Military Affairs,
vol. i. p. 579.

[378] Barney's Report.

[379] American State Papers, Military Affairs, vol. i. p. 530.

[380] Ross's Despatch.

[381] Report of Rear-Admiral Cockburn, Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxii. p.
345.

[382] Ante, p. 213.

[383] Report of Brigadier-General Stricker of the Maryland militia.
Niles' Register, vol. vii. pp. 27, 28.

[384] Ibid.

[385] Niles' Register, vol. vi. p. 317.

[386] Ibid., pp. 118, 133, 222.

[387] Ibid., p. 317.

[388] Maine was then attached politically to Massachusetts.

[389] Sherbrooke to Prevost, Aug. 2, 1814. Canadian Archives MSS., C.
685, p. 28.

[390] Sherbrooke to Prevost, Aug. 24, 1814. Ibid., p. 147.

[391] Morris' reports (Captains' Letters, Navy Dept.) are published in
Niles' Register, vol. vii. pp. 62, 63; and Supplement, p. 136.

[392] Sept. 21, 1814. Niles' Register, vol. vii. p. 117.

[393] Ibid., p. 347, and vol. viii. pp. 13, 214.




CHAPTER XVII

LAKE CHAMPLAIN AND NEW ORLEANS


General Brown's retirement within the lines of Fort Erie, July 26,
1814, may be taken as marking the definitive abandonment by the United
States of the offensive on the Canada frontier. The opportunities of
two years had been wasted by inefficiency of force and misdirection of
effort. It was generally recognized by thoughtful men that the war had
now become one of defence against a greatly superior enemy,
disembarrassed of the other foe which had hitherto engaged his
attention, and imbued with ideas of conquest, or at least of extorting
territorial cession for specific purposes. While Brown was
campaigning, the re-enforcements were rapidly arriving which were to
enable the British to assume the aggressive; although, in the absence
of naval preponderance on the lakes, their numbers were not sufficient
to compel the rectification of frontier by surrender of territory
which the British Government now desired. Lord Castlereagh, Secretary
for Foreign Affairs, and the leading representative of the aims of the
Cabinet, wrote in his instructions to the Peace Commissioners, August
14, 1814: "The views of the Government are strictly defensive.
Territory as such is by no means their object; but, as the weaker
Power in North America, Great Britain considers itself entitled to
claim the use of the lakes as a military barrier."[394] The
declaration of war by the United States was regarded by most
Englishmen as a wanton endeavor to overthrow their immemorial right to
the services of their seamen, wherever found; and consequently the
invasion of Canada had been an iniquitous attempt to effect annexation
under cover of an indefensible pretext. To guard against the renewal
of such, the lakes must be made British waters, to which the American
flag should have only commercial access. Dominion south of the lakes
would not be exacted, "provided the American Government will stipulate
not to preserve or construct any fortifications upon or within a
limited distance of their shores." "On the side of Lower Canada there
should be such a line of demarcation as may establish a direct
communication between Quebec and Halifax."[395]

Such were the political and military projects with which the British
ministry entered upon the summer campaign of 1814 in Canada. Luckily,
although Napoleon had fallen, conditions in Europe were still too
unsettled and volcanic to permit Great Britain seriously to weaken her
material force there. Two weeks later Castlereagh wrote to the Prime
Minister: "Are we prepared to continue the war for territorial
arrangements?" "Is it desirable to take the chances of the campaign, and
then be governed by circumstances?"[396] The last sentence defines the
policy actually followed; and the chances went definitely against it
when Macdonough destroyed the British fleet on Lake Champlain. Except at
Baltimore and New Orleans,--mere defensive successes,--nothing but
calamity befell the American arms. To the battle of Lake Champlain it
was owing that the British occupancy of United States soil at the end of
the year was such that the Duke of Wellington advised that no claim for
territorial cession could be considered to exist, and that the basis of
_uti possidetis_, upon which it was proposed to treat, was
untenable.[397] The earnestness of the Government, however, in seeking
the changes specified, is indicated by the proposition seriously made to
the Duke to take the command in America.

Owing to the military conditions hitherto existing on the American
continent, the power to take the offensive throughout the lake
frontier had rested with the United States Government; and the
direction given by this to its efforts had left Lake Champlain
practically out of consideration. Sir George Prevost, being thrown on
the defensive, could only conform to the initiative of his adversary.
For these reasons, whatever transactions took place in this quarter up
to the summer of 1814 were in characteristic simply episodes; an
epithet which applies accurately to the more formidable, but brief,
operations here in 1814, as also to those in Louisiana. Whatever
intention underlay either attempt, they were in matter of fact almost
without any relations of antecedent or consequent. They stood by
themselves, and not only may, but should, be so considered. Prior to
them, contemporary reference to Lake Champlain, or to Louisiana, is
both rare and casual. For this reason, mention of earlier occurrences
in either of these quarters has heretofore been deferred, as
irrelevant and intrusive if introduced among other events, with which
they coincided in time, but had no further connection. A brief
narrative of them will now be presented, as a necessary introduction
to the much more important incidents of 1814.

At the beginning of hostilities the balance of naval power on Lake
Champlain rested with the United States, and so continued until June,
1813. The force on each side was small to triviality, nor did either
make any serious attempt to obtain a marked preponderance. The
Americans had, however, three armed sloops, the "President,"
"Growler," and "Eagle," to which the British could oppose only one.
Both parties had also a few small gunboats and rowing galleys, in the
number of which the superiority lay with the British. Under these
relative conditions the Americans ranged the lake proper at will; the
enemy maintaining his force in the lower narrows, at Isle aux Noix,
which was made a fortified station.

On June 1, 1813, a detachment of British boats, coming up the lake,
passed the boundary line and fired upon some small American craft. The
"Eagle" and "Growler," being then at Plattsburg, started in pursuit on
the 2d, and by dark had entered some distance within the narrows,
where they anchored. The following morning they sighted three of the
enemy's gunboats and chased them with a fair south wind; but, being by
this means led too far, they became entangled in a place where
manoeuvring was difficult. The officers of the royal navy designated
for service on Lake Champlain had not yet arrived, and the flotilla
was at the disposition of the commanding army officer at Isle aux
Noix. Only one sloop being visible at first to the garrison, he sent
out against her the three gunboats; but when the second appeared he
landed a number of men on each bank, who took up a position to rake
the vessels. The action which followed lasted three hours. The
circumstances were disadvantageous to the Americans; but the fair wind
with which they had entered was ahead for return, and to beat back was
impossible in so narrow a channel. The "Eagle" received a raking shot,
and had to be run ashore to avoid sinking. Both then surrendered, and
the "Eagle" was afterwards raised. The two prizes were taken into the
British service; and as this occurrence followed immediately after the
capture of the "Chesapeake" by the "Shannon," they were called "Broke"
and "Shannon." These names afterwards were changed, apparently by
Admiralty order, to "Chub" and "Finch," under which they took part in
the battle of Lake Champlain, where they were recaptured.

Although not built for war, but simply purchased vessels of not over
one hundred tons, this loss was serious; for by it superiority on the
lake passed to the British, and with some fluctuation so remained for
a twelvemonth,--till May, 1814. They were still too deficient in men
to profit at once by their success; the difficulty of recruiting in
Canada being as great as in the United States, and for very similar
reasons. "It is impossible to enlist seamen in Quebec for the lakes,
as merchants are giving twenty-five to thirty guineas for the run to
England. Recruits desert as soon as they receive the bounty."[398]
After some correspondence, Captain Everard, of the sloop of war
"Wasp," then lying at Quebec, consented to leave his ship, go with a
large part of her crew to Champlain, man the captured sloops, and raid
the American stations on the lake. A body of troops being embarked,
the flotilla left Isle aux Noix July 29. On the 30th they came to
Plattsburg, destroyed there the public buildings, with the barracks at
Saranac, and brought off a quantity of stores. A detachment was sent
to Champlain Town, and a landing made also at Swanton in Vermont,
where similar devastation was inflicted on public property. Thence
they went up the lake to Burlington, where Macdonough, who was
alarmingly short of seamen since the capture of the "Eagle" and
"Growler," had to submit to seeing himself defied by vessels lately
his own.



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