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protected American vessels and nearly broke up the British whaling trade
in that ocean. He made so many captures that he soon had almost a fleet
under his command, and was able to pay his men with the money taken from
the enemy. Every nation in that region was a friend of England, and he
seized the Marquesas Islands, where he refitted his fleet and resumed
his cruise. Early in 1814, he entered the neutral harbor of Valparaiso,
where he was blockaded by two British vessels that had long been
searching for him. Regardless of international law, they attacked the
_Essex_, which was in a crippled condition and unable to close with
them, and finally compelled her surrender.


OPERATIONS ON THE LAKES.

Thus far our record of the exploits of the American navy has been
confined to the ocean, but the most important doings of all occurred on
the lakes. At the beginning, our force upon these inland waters was
weak. On Lake Ontario, there was but one small vessel, while the British
had several. Both sides began building war-vessels. The American fleet
was commanded by Commodore Chauncey and the British by Sir James Yeo.
They alternated in gaining command of the lake. Meanwhile, the
ship-builders were so busy that from about a dozen vessels on either
side they increased the number to more than a hundred each by the close
of the war.


PERRY'S GREAT VICTORY.

One of the grandest of all triumphs was gained by the American navy in
the early autumn of 1813. Captain Oliver Hazard Perry was sent to Lake
Erie to build a navy. Perry at that time was not thirty years old and
had never seen a naval battle. By August, he had a squadron of two large
and seven small vessels, carrying 54 guns and 416 men, with which he set
out to find Commodore Barclay, who had two large and four small vessels,
with 63 guns and 440 men.

The two squadrons met at the western end of Lake Erie on the 10th of
September. Barclay centred such a furious fire upon the _Lawrence_,
Perry's flagship, that in two hours she was in a sinking condition.
Perry entered a small boat, and, exposed to a sharp fire, was rowed to
the _Niagara_, on which he hoisted his flag. The battle was renewed,
and, while the enemy was trying to form a new line of battle, Perry ran
the _Niagara_ directly through the fleet, delivering broadsides right
and left. The other vessels were prompt in following her, and poured
such a raking fire into the enemy that fifteen minutes later Barclay
surrendered. The British commander had but one arm when the battle
opened, and, before it ended, his remaining arm was shot off. He lost
200 killed and wounded and 600 prisoners, while the Americans had 27
killed and 96 wounded.

It has already been shown that this victory was of the utmost
importance, for Proctor was waiting to invade Ohio, if it went his way,
while General Harrison was also waiting to invade Canada, in the event
of an American triumph. In sending news of his victory to General
Harrison, Perry, in his hastily written dispatch, used the words which
have been quoted thousands of times: "We have met the enemy and they are
ours." It will be recalled that Harrison immediately embarked his troops
on Perry's ships, and, crossing the lake, pursued Proctor to the Thames,
where he decisively defeated him and ended all danger of an invasion of
Ohio by the enemy.

The American government now began to heed the benefit of the severe
lessons of defeat. The worthless generals were weeded out, and the army
in western New York reorganized so effectually that the country was
cheered by a number of victories--proof that the rank and file were of
the best quality and that their previous defeats were due to their
leaders.

On July 3, 1814, Gens. Scott, Ripley, and Brown crossed the Niagara from
Black Rock to Erie with 3,000 men. Brown's ability had become so
manifest that by this time he was a major-general. When he appeared in
front of Fort Erie, it surrendered without resistance. Brown pursued a
British corps of observation down the river until it crossed Chippewa
Creek and joined the main body. Brown withdrew and united also with the
principal forces of the Americans, who attacked the British on the 5th
of July, in their strong intrenchments behind the Chippewa. They were
completely defeated, routed out of their defenses, and driven up the
shore of Lake Ontario. Their Indian allies were so disgusted with the
defeat of the British and the furious fighting of the Americans that all
deserted the British commander.


BATTLE OF LUNDY'S LANE.

The British army received reinforcements and turned back to meet the
Americans who were pursuing them. The armies met, July 25th, at Lundy's
Lane, within sight of Niagara Falls, where the fiercely contested
battle, beginning at sunset, lasted until midnight. The British
commander was wounded and captured and the enemy driven back. The loss
of the Americans was serious. Scott was so badly wounded that he could
take no further part in the war, Brown was less severely injured, and
Ripley withdrew with the army to Fort Erie.

An exploit of Colonel James Miller deserves notice. At a critical point
in the battle, General Brown saw that victory depended upon the
silencing of a battery of seven guns stationed on a hill, that was
pouring a destructive fire into the Americans.

"Colonel," said he, "can you capture that battery?"

"I can try," was the modest reply, and a few minutes later Colonel
Miller was in motion with his regiment. The darkness enabled the men to
conceal themselves under the shadow of a fence, along which they
silently crept until they could peep between the rails and see the
gunners standing with lighted matches awaiting the order to fire.
Thrusting the muzzles of their guns through the openings, they shot down
every gunner, and, leaping over the fence, captured the battery in the
face of a hot infantry fire. The enemy made three attempts to recapture
the battery, but were repulsed each time. When General Ripley retreated,
he left the guns behind, so that they again fell into the hands of the
British from whom they had been so brilliantly won.

The enemy soon received reinforcements and besieged the Americans in
Fort Erie. Brown, although still suffering from his wound, resumed
command and drove his besiegers once more beyond the Chippewa. The
Americans evacuated Fort Erie on the 5th of November, and recrossing the
Niagara went into winter quarters at Black Rock and Ontario. There were
no more military operations during the war between Lakes Erie and
Ontario.


THE ARMY OF THE NORTH.

General Wilkinson was so inefficient with the Army of the North that he
was superseded by General Izard, who advanced with his force to the aid
of General Brown at Fort Erie. This left Plattsburg uncovered, and the
British decided to attack it by land, and to destroy at the same time
the American flotilla on Lake Champlain.

Sir George Prevost, at the head of an army of 14,000 men, entered
American territory on the 3d of September, and three days later reached
Plattsburg. The garrison withdrew to the south side of the Saranac, and
prepared to dispute the passage of the stream. Commodore Downie appeared
off the harbor of Plattsburg, with the British squadron, September 11th.
The American squadron, under Commodore Macdonough, was in the harbor,
and consisted of two less barges than the enemy, 86 guns, and 820 men,
while the English commander had 95 guns and more than a thousand men.

During the battle which followed the British land forces made repeated
attempts to cross the Saranac, but were defeated in every instance. The
battle on the water lasted less than three hours, during which Commodore
Downie was killed, his vessel sunk, and the remainder sunk or captured.
The destruction of the British squadron was complete, and the land
forces withdrew during the night. England was so dissatisfied with the
action of Sir George Prevost that he was dismissed from command. No more
serious fighting took place in that section during the war.


PUNISHMENT OF THE CREEK INDIANS.

Mention has been made of the massacre at Fort Mimms in Alabama by the
Creeks, August 30, 1813. Tennessee acted with prompt vigor. General
Jackson at the head of 5,000 men marched into the Creek country and
punished the Indians with merciless rigor. After repeated defeats, the
Creeks made a stand at the Great Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River.
There a thousand warriors gathered, with their wives and children,
prepared to fight to the last. The desperate battle was fought March 27,
1814, and at its close 600 Indians were killed and the remainder
scattered. The spirit of the Creeks was crushed, and General Jackson's
exploit made him the most popular military leader in the Southwest.

Matters looked gloomy for the Americans at the beginning of 1814.
England sent a formidable force of veterans to Canada, and another to
capture Washington, while the main body expected to take New Orleans,
with the intention of retaining the city and province of Louisiana upon
the conclusion of peace.


PREPARING FOR THE FINAL STRUGGLE.

The American government gathered up her loins for the great struggle.
The President was authorized to borrow $25,000,000, and to issue
treasury notes to the amount of $5,000,000. Such sums are but bagatelles
in these days, but in 1814 the credit of the government was so poor that
the notes depreciated one-fifth of their face value. One hundred and
twenty-four dollars were offered as a bounty for every recruit, while
the pay, rations, and clothing were placed upon a generous scale. An
order was issued increasing the regular army to 66,000 men, and an
embargo laid with the aim of stopping trade under British licenses was
repealed in April.

The British cruisers kept the Atlantic coast in continual alarm.
Entering Delaware Bay they burned every merchant vessel in sight. When
the people of Lewiston refused to sell food to them, they bombarded
their homes. In Chesapeake Bay Admiral Cockburn plundered private
dwellings. Among the places sacked and burned were Lewes, Havre de
Grace, Fredericktown, and Georgetown.



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