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After seizing a few more small lake craft, Everard on August
3 hastened back, anxious to regain his own ship and resume the regular
duties, for abandoning which he had no authority save his own. The
step he had taken was hardly to be anticipated from a junior officer,
commanding a ship on sea service so remote from the scene of the
proposed operation; and the rapidity of his action took the Americans
quite by surprise, for there had been no previous indication of
activity. As soon as Macdonough heard of his arrival at Isle aux Noix,
he wrote for re-enforcements, but it was too late. His letter did not
reach New York till the British had come and gone.[399]

Upon Everard's return both he and Captain Pring, of the royal navy,
who had been with him during the foray and thenceforth remained
attached to the fortunes of the Champlain flotilla, recommended the
building of a large brig of war and two gunboats, in order to preserve
upon the lake the supremacy they had just asserted in act. With the
material at hand, they said, these vessels could all be afloat within
eight weeks after their keels were laid.[400] This suggestion appears
to have been acted upon; for in the following March it was reported
that there were building at St. John's a brig to carry twenty guns, a
schooner of eighteen, and twelve 2-gun galleys. However, the Americans
also were by this time building, and at the crucial moment came out a
very little ahead in point of readiness.

Nothing further of consequence occurred during 1813. After the British
departed, Macdonough received a re-enforcement of men. He then went in
person with such vessels as he had to the foot of the lake, taking
station at Plattsburg, and advancing at times to the boundary line,
twenty-five miles below. The enemy occasionally showed themselves, but
were apparently indisposed to action in their then state of
forwardness. Later the American flotilla retired up the lake to Otter
Creek in Vermont, where, on April 11, 1814, was launched the ship
"Saratoga," which carried Macdonough's pendant in the battle five
months afterwards. On May 10, Pring, hoping to destroy the American
vessels before ready for service, made another inroad with his
squadron, consisting now of the new brig, called the "Linnet," five
armed sloops, and thirteen galleys. On the 14th he was off Otter Creek
and attacked; but batteries established on shore compelled him to
retire. Macdonough in his report of this transaction mentions only
eight galleys, with a bomb vessel, as the number of the enemy engaged.
The new brig was probably considered too essential to naval control to
be risked against shore guns; a decision scarcely to be contested,
although Prevost seems to have been dissatisfied as usual with the
exertions of the navy. The American force at this time completed, or
approaching completion, was, besides the "Saratoga," one schooner,
three sloops,[401] and ten gunboats or galleys. Of the sloops one
only, the "Preble," appears to have been serviceable. The "President"
and another called the "Montgomery" were not in the fight at
Plattsburg; where Macdonough certainly needed every gun he could
command. A brig of twenty guns, called the "Eagle," was subsequently
laid down and launched in time for the action. Prevost reported at
this period that a new ship was building at Isle aux Noix, which would
make the British force equal to the American.

[Illustration: CAPTAIN THOMAS MACDONOUGH.
_From the painting by Gilbert Stuart in the Century Club, New
York, by permission of Rodney Macdonough, Esq._]

Before the end of May, 1814, Macdonough's fleet was ready, except the
"Eagle"; and on the 29th he was off Plattsburg, with the "Saratoga,"
the schooner "Ticonderoga," the sloop "Preble," and ten galleys. The
command of the lake thus established permitted the transfer of troops
and stores, before locked up in Burlington. The "Saratoga" carried
twenty-six guns; of which eight were long 24-pounders, the others
carronades, six 42-pounders, and twelve 32's. She was so much superior
to the "Linnet," which had only sixteen guns, long 12-pounders, that
the incontestable supremacy remained with the Americans, and it was
impossible for the British squadron to show itself at all until their
new ship was completed. She was launched August 25,[402] and called
the "Confiance."[403] The name excited some derision after her defeat
and capture, but seems to have had no more arrogant origin than the
affectionate recollection of the Commander-in-Chief on the lakes, Sir
James Yeo, for the vessel which he had first and long commanded, to
which he had been promoted for distinguished gallantry in winning her,
and in which he finally reached post-rank. The new "Confiance," from
which doubtless much was hoped, was her namesake. She was to carry
twenty-seven 24-pounders. One of these, being on a pivot, fought on
either side of the ship; thus giving her fourteen of these guns for
each broadside. In addition, she had ten carronades, four of them
32-pounders, and six 24's.

On July 12, 1814, Prevost had reported the arrival at Montreal of the
first of four brigades from Wellington's Peninsular Army. These had
sailed from Bordeaux at the same period as the one destined for the
Atlantic coast operations, under General Ross, already related. He
acknowledged also the receipt of instructions, prescribing the
character of his operations, which he had anxiously requested the year
before. Among these instructions were "to give immediate protection to
his Majesty's possessions in America," by "the entire destruction of
Sackett's Harbor, and of the naval establishments on Lake Erie and
Lake Champlain."[404] They will be obeyed, he wrote, as soon as the
whole force shall have arrived; but defensive measures only will be
practicable, until the complete command of Lakes Ontario and
Champlain shall be obtained, which cannot be expected before
September.[405] The statement was perfectly correct. The command of
these lakes was absolutely essential to both parties to the war, if
intending to maintain operations in their neighborhood.

On August 14, Prevost reported home that the troops from Bordeaux had
all arrived, and, with the exception of a brigade destined for
Kingston, would be at their points of formation by the 25th; at which
date his returns show that he had under his general command, in Upper
and Lower Canada, exclusive of officers, twenty-nine thousand four
hundred and thirty-seven men. All these were British regulars, with
the exception of four thousand seven hundred and six; of which last,
two thousand two hundred belonged to "foreign" regiments, and the
remainder to provincial corps. Of this total, from eleven thousand to
fourteen thousand accompanied him in his march to Plattsburg. Under
the same date he reported that the "Confiance" could not be ready
before September 15; for which time had he patiently waited, he would
at least have better deserved success. His decision as to his line of
advance was determined by a singular consideration, deeply mortifying
to American recollection, but which must be mentioned because of its
historical interest, as an incidental indication of the slow progress
of the people of the United States towards national sentiment.
"Vermont has shown a disinclination to the war, and, as it is sending
in specie and provisions, I will confine offensive operations to the
west side of Lake Champlain."[406] Three weeks later he writes again,
"Two thirds of the army are supplied with beef by American
contractors, principally of Vermont and New York."[407]

That this was no slander was indignantly confirmed by a citizen of
Vermont, who wrote to General Izard, June 27, "Droves of cattle are
continually passing from the northern parts of this state into Canada
for the British." Izard, in forwarding the letter, said: "This
confirms a fact not only disgraceful to our countrymen but seriously
detrimental to the public interest. From the St. Lawrence to the ocean
an open disregard prevails for the laws prohibiting intercourse with
the enemy. The road to St. Regis [New York] is covered with droves of
cattle, and the river with rafts destined for the enemy. On the
eastern side of Lake Champlain the high roads are insufficient for the
cattle pouring into Canada. Like herds of buffaloes they press through
the forests, making paths for themselves. Were it not for these
supplies, the British forces in Canada would soon be suffering from
famine."[408] The British commissary at Prescott wrote, June 19, 1814,
"I have contracted with a Yankee magistrate to furnish this post with
fresh beef. A major came with him to make the agreement; but, as he
was foreman of the grand jury of the court in which the Government
prosecutes the magistrates for high treason and smuggling, he turned
his back and would not see the paper signed."[409] More vital still in
its treason to the interests of the country, Commodore Macdonough
reported officially, June 29, that one of his officers had seized two
spars, supposed from their size to be for the fore and mizzen masts of
the "Confiance," on the way to Canada, near the lines, under the
management of citizens of the United States; and eight days later
there were intercepted four others, which from their dimensions were
fitted for her mainmast and three topmasts.[410] By this means the
British ship was to be enabled to sail for the attack on the American
fleet, and by this only; for to drag spars of that weight up the
rapids of the Richelieu, or over the rough intervening country, meant
at least unendurable delay. "The turpitude of many of our citizens in
this part of the country," wrote Macdonough, "furnishes the enemy with
every information he wants."[411]

On August 29, four days after Prevost's divisions were expected to be
assembled at their designated rendezvous, Izard, in the face of the
storm gathering before him, started with his four thousand men from
Plattsburg for Sackett's Harbor, in obedience to the intimation of the
War Department, which he accepted as orders. Brigadier-General Macomb
was left to hold the works about Plattsburg with a force which he
stated did not exceed fifteen hundred effectives.[412] His own brigade
having been broken up to strengthen Izard's division, none of this
force was organized, except four companies of one regiment.



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