While looking for information on War of 1812 action in the summer of 1814 in Maine and the Maritimes, I found this article, which was contained in an 1864 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine.
Thanks to an expert on the Battle of Plattsburg, I learned that this article was most likely written by Ben Lossings and that the information on the Battles of Plattsburg and Champlain appears pretty much spot on.
It covers war action in the Lake Champlain area and the New England Coast, with wonderful renditions, hopefully factual, of the Battles of Plattsburg and Lake Champlain; the bombardment of Stonington, Connecticut; the Battle of Hampden, Maine; and the captures of Eastport, Maine, and Castine, Maine.
Below the image of each page is a transcription.
Scene of the Battle on Lake Champlain
SCENES IN THE WAR OF 1812
X. - LAKE CHAMPLAIN AND THE NEW ENGLAND COAST
We are at midsummer, 1814. Since the opening of the spring campaign a great change has occurred in the aspect of foreign affairs. After his disaster at Leipsic, the sun of Napoleon's glory rapidly declined. His operations were confined chiefly to the soil of France by bayonets too numerous for him, and a moral force in public opinion outside of that domain still stronger than bayonets. Gradually the allied armies drew toward and around Paris, and hemmed the Emperor and his legions almost within the walls of his capital. There was no chance for escape; and on the 31st of March, 1814, the Emperor Alexander of Russia and the Duke of Wellington entered the city as conquerors amidst the acclamations of the people. The French Senate declared that "by arbitrary acts and violations of the Constitution", the Emperor had forfeited his right to the throne. In May he abdicated, and all that was left of his overshadowing political power was the sovereignty of the large Tuscan island of Elba between his native Corsica and the main. There for ten months he lived in retirement but not in inaction, for he was continually preparing for that bursting of the bars of his prison-house which afterward made Europe turn pale with terror.
The plan of the British campaign in 1814, on the northern frontier of New York, had features similar to that laid down for Burgoyne's guidance in 1777. The State was to be invaded; the possession of Lake Champlain secured; the country penetrated to Albany and below, while a land and naval force should attempt the capture of New York City; and by holding the Hudson River, separate, by military posts, the New England States from the remainder of the Union. As the downfall of Napoleon might release large bodies of British troops then on the Continent, and allow them to be sent over the Atlantic to assist in the subjugation of the Americans, that event gave joy to the enemy and their friends who composed the disloyal "Peace Party" of that day. The latter flaunted their shame at convivial parties and elsewhere quite as insanely as do their few imitators in our day.
The retirement of Napoleon to Elba did release from Continental service a large body of English troops, and several thousands of them were immediately dispatched to Canada to reinforce the little army there under the Governor-General, Sir George Prevost. They were sent from the Garonne, in Spain, and many of them were Wellington's veterans, hardy and skillful. They arrived at Quebec late in July and in August, and were rapidly pushed up to Montreal. In the mean time the force under Prevost had been very busy in preparations for the invasion of New York, and a flotilla of small war-vessels in the Richelieu or Sorel River had been greatly augmented in numbers and strength during the winter and spring. On the 9th of May, General George Izard of South Carolina, who had superseded the incompetent Hampton in command of the right wing
of the grand Army of the North, was informed that the enemy was in motion below. Captain Pring, the commander of the British flotilla, was moving up the Richelieu with a little squadron; and from behind Providence Island, in Lake Champlain, he proceeded on the 13th to attack an American flotilla under Lieutenant Thomas Macdonough, then at Vergennes, Vermont, at the head of the navigation of Otter Creek. Macdonough was early apprised of the movement, and send a party to reinforce a detachment of light artillery in the manning and working of a small battery at the mouth of the creek. Governor Chittenden also ordered out some Vermont militia to repel the threatened invation; and when, on the morning of the 14th, Pring's galleys and a bomb-sloop anchored off the mouth of the creek, they found ample preparations for their reception. A brisk fire was opened from the battery. It was answered from the water; and for more than an hour a cannonade was kept up, when the British vessels were driven off. They then entered the Boquet River for the purpose of destroying flour at the falls of that stream. On their return they were compelled to run the gauntlet of a shower of bullets from some militia who had hastily assembled. Many of the British were killed and wounded. Foiled and disheartened, Pring returned to the Richelieu a wiser man; for he had learned that even in Vermont, whose Governor was a zealous opponent of the war, the people were ready to fight the common enemy any where. A few days afterward Macdonough sailed out of Otter Creek with his flotilla, and anchored it in Cumberland or Plattsburg Bay, off Plattsburg.
Both parties - Americans and British - now prepared for a struggle for supremacy on Lake Champlain. Both parties were also reinforced during the remainder of May; and General Izard caused a battery of four 18-pounders to be planted on Cumberland Head instead of at Rouse's Point at the entrance to the Richelieu or Sorel, as directed by the Secretary of War, and urged by Major Totten, his chief engineer.
At the middle of June Izard disposed his troops for a movement into Canada. He sent Brigadier-General Thomas A. Smith, with a light brigade of about fourteen hundred men, to occupy the village of Champlain, five miles below the Canada line. Eight hundred men were at Chazy under Colonel Pearce; and about twelve hundred men occupied the cantonment at Plattsburg on the peninsula between the lake and the Saranac River, the works on Cumberland Head, and a position on Dead Creek, about two miles below Plattsburgh. Macdonough with his flotilla was below Cumberland Head watching the little British squadron which lay at the Isle aux Tetes. The British had thirty-six hundred troops at La Colle; a Swiss regiment, a thousand strong, at L'Acadia; and two brigades of artillery and three hundred cavalry were at Chambly - making a total of five thousand five hundred and fifty men. There was also a reserve of two thousand regulars at Montreal.
A feverishness was continually manifested among the soldiery and the people along the Canada border. The armed belligerents were eager for a trial of prowess. Finally, on the 22nd of June, Lieutenant-Colonal Forsyth, the commander of a corps of riflemen, leading seventy sharp-shooters, crossed the frontier line, and at the little hamlet of Odelltown he was attacked by two hundred of the enemy's light troops. Forsyth beat them off, and retired in good order to Champlain, with the loss of one man killed and five wounded. A few days afterward he was again sent in that direction for the purpose of drawing the enemy acoss the lines. He formed an ambuscade, and then sent a few men forward as a decoy. They met the enemy, fell back, and were eagerly followed by Captain Mahew and one hundred and fifty Canadians and Indians. When the pursuers were near the ambush Forsyth stepped upon a log to watch the movement, and was shot by one of the savages. His followers immediately arose, poured a deadly fire upon the foe, and drove him across the line with such slaughter that he left seventeen dead on the field. Incensed because of the employment of Indians by the British, the riflemen resolved to avenge the death of their beloved leader. A few days afterward some of them crossed the line and shot Mathews, the leader of the savages. He was taken to the house of Judge Moore, in Champlain, which was used by the officers of both nations as head-quarters, where he died.
Skirmishing along the borders was a frequent occurrence, but no movement of importance took place until the close of July, when General Macomb's brigade embarked in boats from Cumberland Head for Chazy Landing, at the mouth of the Chazy Creek. On the same day Bissell's brigade started for
Illustrations on this page show Alexander Macomb and Moore's House at Champlain
Chazy village, by land. A competent corps of effective men and invalids were left to complete the works on Cumberland Head; and a fatigue party, four hundred strong, were left in command of Colonel Fenwick to complete three redoubts on the peninsula between the lake and the Saranac River, at Plattsburgh. There were now four thousand five hundred effective American troops at Champlain, within five miles of the Canada border. But these were few compared to the number of the enemy in the field and reserved, which was constantly augmenting. During the months of July and August, not less than fifteen thousand armed men, chiefly veterans from Wellington's armies, arrived at Montreal. Only one brigade was sent westward, and the remainder were kept in reserve for the contemplated invasion of New York in such overwhelmingk numbers as to overbear all opposition. These newly-arrived troops were encamped in the level country between La Prairie on the St. Lawrence and Chamby on the Sorel.
Very soon after the advance of the Americans to Chazy and Champlain, Sir George Prevost arrived at Isle ax Noix, where he had concentrated a considerable body of veterans, and took chief command in person; and strong detachments of seamen were sent from Quebec to strengthen the naval power at the same place. It was evident that a speedy invasion of Northern New York was in contemplation; and yet, with full information on the subject, the United States Government, as if fearful of a conquest of Canada when a spirited general was in command near assailable points, ordered Izard, at that critical moment, to march a larger part of his force westward to cooperate with the Army of the Niagara. It was an open invitation to invasion; and the order astonished the army and the people. The disappointed Izard could scarcely restrain his indignation within the bounds of a soldier's privilege, and he wrote to the Secretary of War, saying, "I will make the movement you direct, if possible; but I shall do it with the apprehension of risking the force under my command, and with the certainty that every thing in this vicinity but the lately erected works at Plattsburg and Cumberland Head will, in less than three days after my departure, be in possession of the enemy". He continued to protest against the movement, but, like a true soldier, he obeyed orders. Although his means for transportation were limited, he soon set four thousand men in motion by the way of Lake George, Schenectady, and the Mohawk Valley, and arrived with them at Sackett's Harbor at the middle of September. He left all his sick and convalescents, and about twelve hundred effective men, to garrison the unfinished works at Plattsburg and on Cumberland Head, and made a requisition on Major-General Mooers of the militia of that district for the assembling of infantry and light dragoons at Chazy. Brigadier-General Alexander Macomb, of the regular army, was left in chief command, with his head-quarters at Plattsburg.
Macomb was vigilant and active. At the close of August he found himself in command of about three thousand four hundred troops; but they
Illustrations on this page of Stone Mill at Plattsburg and Sampson's
were in a weak condition, there being but one organized battalion among them. Full fourteen hundred of them were invalids or non-combatants. The garrisons at different points were composed chiefly of convalescents and new recruits; the condition of the ordnance and stores was chaotic; and the defensive works were all unfinished. Macomb concentrated all his troops at Plattsburg, and worked vigorously in preparations for defense.
On the day when Izard left his camp at Champlain [August 29], General Brisbane crossed the frontier with a considerable body of troops, and occupied that village; and on the 3d of September full fourteen thousand British soldiers were assembled in that vicinity under the general command of Prevost, assisted by General De Rottenburgh as his second. Prevost issued a proclamation, avowing his intention to take possession of the country, and inviting the inhabitants to cast off their allegiance to their Government, and furnish him with supplies. On the following day they moved forward to Chazy, and on the 5th they encamped at Sampson's, about eight miles north of Plattsburg. Captain Pring, with the British squadron, moved up the Sorel at the same time, anchored off Isle la Motte, and on the west side of that island erected a battery of three long 18-pounders to cover the landing of supplies for Prevost's army. Macomb, at the same time, was straining every muscle at his command for the completion of his defensive works. His soldiers labored day and night; and by great exertion three redoubts, named respectively Fort Moreau, Brown and Scott, and two block-houses, were completed on the peninsula. Fort Brown was on the high bank of the Saranac, and commanded the village; Fort Moreau, the principal work, was half-way between the river and the lake; and Fort Scott was near the bank of the lake. The remains of these forts, on a curved line across the neck of the peninsula, are still very prominent. Two bridges spanned the Saranac; one at the village, known as the Lower Bridge, and the other about a mile above, on the road to Salmon River. Between the Lower Bridge and some distance above Fort Brown, the right bank of the Saranac is steep, and from fifty to sixty feet in height; and about sixty rods above the Lower Bridge it is cleft by a deep ravine that extends from the river almost to the lake. Near this ravine a block-house was erected; and on the point overlooking the present steamboat-landing was another. At the mouth of the river, near the Lower Bridge, stood (and still stands) a heavy
Stone Church, Beekmantown - Culver's Hill in Distance
stone mill which served an excellent defensive purpose.
To create a spirit of emulation, Macomb divided his army into detachments, and held each responsbile for its particular work; declaring that each detachment was the garrison of its own fort or block-house, bound to finish it, and to defend it to the last extremity. Fort Moreau was placed in command of Colonel Melancthon Smith. Lieutenant-Colonel Storrs was intrusted with the command of Fort Brown; and Major Vinson was made the leader at Fort Scott. Captain Smith of the Rifles, with a part of his company and some convalescents, occupied the block-house near the ravine; and Lieutenant Fowler, with a detachment of artillery, held the one on the Point. The light artillery, under Captain Leonard, were directed to annoy the enemy whenever and wherever an opportunity should offer. The main body of Macomb's army lay within the triangular portion of the peninsula formed by the river, the ravine, and the lake.
When the British advanced to Chazy Macomb did not simply await an attack, but sent out troops to confront them. One party was stationed at Dead Creek Bridge, on the lake road, to watch and annoy the enemy, and obstruct his march by felling trees. General Mooers, with seven hundred militia, was sent four miles northward on the Beekmantown or interior road, on the evening of the 4th, on an errand similar to that intrusted to the occupants of Dead Creek Bridge. On the morning of the 5th he went still further northward, and that night bivouacked near the Stone Church in Beekmantown. Early the next morning Major John E. Wool, ever ready for a daring enterprise, volunteered to lead some regulars to the support of the militia and oppose the advance of the foe, which, it was ascertained, would commence at early dawn. He moved from Plattsburg at about the time when the British broke camp at Sampson's and at the head of two hundred and fifty regulars and about thirty volunteers he hastened toward the front with orders to set the militia a good example. This was done. He reached Beekmantown before the enemy appeared, and took position near the house of Ira Howe. There the first collision took place, the initial skirmish of the battle of Plattsburg. The enemy in full force was there met and checked by Wool's little band; while the militia, alarmed by the overwhelming numbers of the British and the rattle of musketry, broke and fled toward Plattsburg. Wool fell slowly back toward Culver's Hill, disputing the invaders' march inch by inch, and there made a stand. Some of the militia had been rallied. Steadily the British host, filling the entire road, moved sullenly up the northern slope of Culver's Hill. Their advance was driven back upon the main body by a furious attack by Wool; and their leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Willington of the Third Regiment of Buffs, with an Ensign of the same regiment, was killed. Other officers were severely wounded. The fight was sharp but short. Wool could not long withstand the heavy pressure of the great column of the foe. He also perceived a flank movement on their part, and he fell back to Halsey's Corners, within a mile and a half of Plattsburg. There he was joined, at eight o'clock, by Captan Leonard with two pieces of artillery. Those were immediately placed in battery at an angle in the road, and worked by Wool's infantry and some militia. As the enemy came on in heavy mass Leonard opened fire, and his balls cut fearful lanes through their
ranks. Three times that battery hurled its deadly missiles through their lives, yet it did not check their march. The bugles sounded a charge. The men cast away their knapsacks and rushed forward at double-quick. Leonard was compelled to fly, carrying his guns with him; and he and Wool and Mooer's militia made a safe retreat across the Saranac. At the same time the imperiled detachment at Dead Creek Bridge made its way along the shores of Cumberland Bay, and crossed the Lower Bridge before the British advance reached the village. In the affair at Halsey's Corners several British officers were killed or wounded. Among them was Lieutenant Kingsbury, of the Buffs, who received a mortal hurt, and was taken to the residence of the now venerable Isaac C. Platt, where he died. The British made that house a sort of hospital while they remained.
When all had safely crossed the Lower Bridge its planks were torn up and formed into a breastwork near the stone mill, close by which, on a rise of ground, Leonard planted his field-pieces to dispute the passage of the Saranac by the foe. Mooers and his militia had fled across the Upper Bridge and destroyed that in the same way.
When the British reached Plattsburg and found themselves checked by the destruction of the bridges, they prepared to encamp and make ample preparations to force a passage across the fords. They took position in some store-houses near the river, but were soon driven out by fire, communicated to the buildings by hot shot hurled upon them by Captain Brooks. Their light troops endeavored to ford the stream, but were always repulsed. A company of young men, known as Aiken's Volunteers, of Plattsburg, stationed in the stone mill, did excellent service in that citadel near the broken bridge. They had been out on the Beekmantown road in the morning, and had smelt powder sufficiently to give them a taste for adventure.
While the British were endeavoring to pass the Saranac at the village, a strong party of them had pursued Mooers, and were endeavoring to cross the stream near the Upper Bridge. Mooers and his men made a gallant resistance, and kept them at bay. Finding the passage every where too difficult, Prevost ordered his army to encamp upon an elevated ridge about a mile back from the river, and upon the high ground north of the village. He made his head-quarters at Allen's farm-house on the ridge, and issued orders for vigorous preparations for attack. Notwithstanding he was at the head of an overwhelming force the events of that day, the 6th of September, convinced the Baronet that the task before him was not a light one. He had lost in killed and wounded, since the dawn, over two hundred men, while the loss of the Americans was only forty-five.
Prevost employed the time between the 7th and the 11th in bringing up his battery trains and supplies, and in erecting several works that might command the river, the bay, and the American forts and block-houses on the Peninsula. The Americans in the mean time were not idle. They worked without ceasing in strengthening their defenses. They removed their sick and wounded to Crab Island, two miles distant, in the lake and there erected a two-gun battery (6-pounders) and manned it with convalescants.
While these preparations were under way on land the belligerents were making ready for a combat on the water. A great portion of the British flotilla under Captain Pring had advanced, as we have observed, to Isle la Motte, where they were joined by the remainder of the squadron and Captain George Downie, of the Royal Navy, who assumed chief command. Macdonough at the same time had the American squadron at anchor in Cumberland or Plattsburg Bay, and calmly awaited the approach of the enemy.
For almost five days the seamen waited for a general movement of the landsmen, which it was at first agreed should be a signal, on the part of the British, for the weighing of anchors and preparing ships for action. During that time no military operations of great importance occurred. There were some minor movements, however, which are worthy of notice. One of these, on the part of the Americans, was a bold one. On the night of the 9th, there was tempestuous weather - lightning, rain, wind, and intense darkness. The British had been seen at sunset busily engaged in the erection of a rocket battery opposite Fort Brown. Captain M'Glassin, who
Up the Saranac, from Fort Brown
was described to me by one who knew him as a "little beardless Scotchman", anxious to distinguish himself, asked General Macomb to allow him to lead fifty men that night to an attack on the builders. Macomb complied, and M'Glassin, who had arisen from a sick bed, sallied out in the gloom with his picked men, from whose gun-locks he had removed the flints, crossed the Saranac, about half-way between Fort Brown and the Upper Bridge, and, unobserved, reached the foot of the hill on which the new battery was rising. There he divided his men into two parties. One went to the rear of the battery by a circuitous route, and, when all was ready, M'Glassin shouted, "Charge! men, Charge! upon the front and rear!" His men rushed forward with frightful yells. The British, believing overwhelming numbers were upon them, fled precipitately to their main body. The work was taken, the guns were spiked, and M'Glassin returned without the loss of a single man. Over three hundred veteran troops had been surprised and frightened into a flight by only fifty men; and Sir George Prevost was much mortified.
The morning of the 11th dawned brightly, and at an early hour in the forenoon the British land and naval forces were in motion for a combined attack on the American. Prevost had arranged the movement with Downie. It was agreed that when the British squadron should be seen approaching Cumberland Head the advance of the army under Major-General Robinson should press forward, force the fords of the Saranac, climb the steep banks, and with ladders escalade the American works on the peninsula, while the several batteries around Plattsburgh village should open a brisk fire.
Between seven and eight o'clock the squadron was seen advancing, and at eight it rounded Cumberland Head. It consisted of the Confiance, 38 (Downie's flag-ship), the brig Linnet, 16, Captain Pring; the sloops Chub, 11, Lieutenant M'Ghee, and Finch, 11, Lieutenant Hicks. The last two were the Eagle and Growler, captured from the Americans the year before. There were also twelve gun-boats manned by about forty-five men each. Eight of them carried two guns, and four of them one gun each.
At that moment Macdonough's squadron lay in Plattsburg Bay on a line north from Crab Island, and almost parallel with the shore, at an average distance of two miles from it. On the extreme left, and at the head of the line, were two galleys at anchor, and next to them lay the brig Eagle, 26, Captain Henly, just within the point of Cumberland Head. Next south of her was the Saratoga, 26, Macdonough's flag-ship; and the next in line was the schooner Ticonderoga, 17, Lieutenant Cassin. Next southward in the line lay the Preble, Lieutenant Charles Budd, armed with seven guns. She lay so near the shoal extending from Crab Island that it was impossible for the enemy to turn that end of the line. In the rear of these larger vessels were ten gun-boats or galleys, six of them mounting one long 24-pounder, and one 18-pound Columbiad each; and the other four carrying each a 12-pounder. These were so arranged as to fill up the openings between the large vessels in the line, making the order of battle in two lines about forty rods apart. The larger vessels were at anchor, while the gun-boats were kept in position by the use of oars. The force of the American squadron was eighty-six guns and eight hundred and eight-two men; and that of the British ninety-five guns, and a little more than one thousand men.
The American line of battle had been formed with great skill by the young commander, reference being had to the conformation of the land. It extended completely across the entrance to Plattsburg Bay from Crab Island to Cumberland Head. The enemy, rounding the Head,
was compelled to approach the American squadron with his bows on, giving the latter a great advantage at the beginning. In this approach the little Finch led the van and made directly for the right of the American line in the direction of the Preble. The Chub at the same time moved toward the American left near Cumberland Head, keeping well to the windward of the Eagle, to support the Linnet in a direct attack on that vessel; while the gun-boats coming up in order, their commanders received from Commodore Downie final instructions for action. He then attempted to lay the Confiance athwart the Saratoga, while the Finch and the gun-boats should attack the Ticonderoga and Preble. He was baffled by shifting winds, and was compelled to anchor his vessel within two cable's-length of his antagonist.
Macdonough in the mean time had thoroughly prepared to receive the enemy. When his vessels were cleared for action, springs placed in the cables, and all was in readiness, he knelt upon the deck of the Saratoga near one of its heaviest guns, with his officers and men around him, and in a few words asked Almighty God for aid, and committed the issue into his hands. He arose with assured courage; and as the enemy came bearing down upon him his vessels sprang their broadsides to bear, and the Eagle opened the
action by firing the first shot. This was followed by the fire of a long 24-pounder from the Saratoga, which had been sighted by Macdonough. It entered the hawse-hole of the Confiance and went crashing through every obstacle the entire length of her deck, killing several men on its way, and demolishing the wheel. The Linnet, as she was passing to attack the Eagle, gave the Saratoga a broadside, but without serious effect. One of the shots demolished a hen-coop, in which a game-cock was confined. The released and startled fowl flew upon a gunslide, and clapping his wings crowed lustily and defiantly. The sailors cheered, and regarding it a good omen, felt their courage strengthened.
The Confiance made no reply to the Saratoga's 24-pounder until she had secured a desirable position, when she suddenly became a sheet of flame. Her entire larboard broadside guns, consisting of sixteen 24-pounders, double-shotted, leveled point-blank range, coolly sighted and favored by still water, were discharged at one time into the Saratoga. The effect was terrible. She shivered from round-top to keel as with an ague; and forty of her people - almost one-fifth of her complement - were disabled. But the stunning blow was felt only for a moment. Almost immediately Macdonough renewed the conflict, and the fire of the Saratoga was steady and gallantly conducted. Her first officer, Lieutenant Gamble, was killed; and fifteen minutes afterward Commodore Downie was slain.
The battle had now become general, steady, and active between the larger vessels. The Chub, while maneuvering near the head of the American line, received a broadside from the gallant Henly of the Eagle, which so crippled her that she drifted helplessly; and after receiving a shot from the Saratoga struck her colors. She was towed to the rear and anchored at the mouth of the Saranac. An hour later the Finch was driven from her position by the Ticonderoga, commanded by the intrepid Cassin. She was badly injured; and drifting upon the Crab Island shoals grounded there, when the invalid corps on the island brought their two 6-pounders to bear upon her and compelled her to surrender.
The British gun-boats now entered vigorously into the fight and soon compelled Budd of the Preble to cut his cable and flee to a safer place nearer the shore, where his vessel anchored, and was of no further service in the fight. This success emboldened the enemy, and the galleys, now fourteen in number, made a bold and combined attack upon the Ticonderoga. Cassin walked the taffrail in a storm of grape and cannon-shot, watching the movements of the assailants and directing effective discharges of musketry, while the new venerable Admiral Paulding, then a midshipman, touched off the cnnon with sparks from the snappings of his pistol, for the matches had become useless. The Ticonderoga maintained her position nobly, and covered the extremity of the line to the last, winning from the Commodore and all beholders unqualified praise for her commander and people.
While the fortunes of the day were thus fluctuating at the lower end of the line, the Americans were suffering at the other extremity. The Eagle lost the springs of her cable and became exposed to the combined fire of the Linnet and Confiance. Henly at once dropped her between and a little astern of the Saratoga and Ticonderoga, and, anchoring her there, opened his larboard guns afresh on the Confiance and the British galleys. But the Saratoga was left exposed to the whole fire of the Linnet, which sprung her broadsides in such manner as to rake the bows of her antagonist.
The two flag-ships soon became disabled. The Saratoga had not a single serviceable starboard gun left, and was silent. The Confiance was not much better off. Now was the moment for Macdonough to exhibit his splendid seamanship. He did so quickly and effectively. With the aid of Brum, his skillful sailing-master, he wound the ship by means of a stream-anchor and hawsers so that he brought the guns of his larboard quarter to bear on the Confiance, which had vainly endeavored to imitate the movement. Under the direction of acting Lieutenant La Valette (now Admiral La Vallette) these poured such a destructive fire on the British flag-ship that she soon surrendered. The Saratoga's fire was then directed upon the Linnet, and in the course of fifteen minutes she, too, struck her colors. The British galleys, in the mean time, had been driven off by the Ticonderoga half a mile in the rear of their statelier associates and lay scattered, affording them feeble aid. See-
ing the colors of the larger vessels go down, they too dropped their ensigns; and at little past noon, not one of the sixteen national flags which were so proudly floating over British decks in the morning might be seen. Because the Americans could not immediately pursue, the galleys bent their sweeps, fled down the Sorel, and escaped. Thus ended the Battle of Lake Champlain, in the complete discomfiture of the invaders.
For two hours and twenty minutes this severe naval battle raged, while the thunders of cannon, the hiss of rockets, the scream of bombs, and the rattle of musketry were heard on the shore. It was a sublime sight, and was beheld by hundreds of spectators on the head-lands of the Vermont shore, who greeted the victory with shouts. It was a battle characterized by a vigor and destructiveness not excelled by any during the war - indeed seldom equaled any where or at any time. The victory for the Americans was complete and substantial; and from the Saratoga, half an hour after the Linnet struck and the galleys fled, Macdonough sent the following dispatch ashore in a gig, to be forwarded to the Secretary of the Navy:
"SIR, _ The Almighty has been pleased to grant us a signal victory on Lake Champlain, in the capture of one frigate, one brig, and two sloops of war, of the enemy."
Two days afterward he went Commander Cassin to Washington with the flags of the captured squadron, and a more detailed yet brief account of the victory. The entire loss of the Americans was one hundred and ten, of whom fifty-two were killed. The total British loss was more than two hundred.
Macdonough received the officers of the captured vessels with great courtesy of manner and speech. When they offered him their swords, he instantly replied, "Gentlemen, your gallant conduct makes you worthy to wear your weapons. Return them to their scabbards." They did so; and they all walked the deck of the victorious Saratoga - American and English officers - more in the character of friends than of enemies. Lieutenant La Vallette, who had taken formal possession of the Confiance, was directed to prepare the prisoners for Crab Island; and before sunset all was quiet on the lake. The British vessels were afterward taken to Whitehall, at the head of the lake, and scuttled. The Saratoga shared the same fate. I saw her remains there as late as the summer of 1850.
We have observed that while the roar of the battle-storm was heard on the water its thunders were bellowing over the land. According to arrangement, when Prevost saw, over Cumberland Head, the pennants of the British squadron moving to the attack he set a portion of the British land-forces in motion, under General Robinson, to force their way across the Saranac, at the site of the two bridges and a ford at Pike's cantonment, three miles from the mouth of the stream, and carry the American works by storm. When the first gun was fired on the lake the British land batteries were opened; and under cover of the shot and shell which they hurled toward the American works the three assailing columns moved. At the Lower Bridge they were repulsed by the guards, block-houses, and artillery of the forst served by Captains Brooks, Richards, and Smith, and Lieutenants Mountfort, Smyth and Cromwell. At the Upper Bridge the riflemen and pickets under Captain Grovesnor, and Lieutenants Hamilton and Riley, aided by some militia, successfully disputed the passage. At the Upper Ford the enemy were a little more successful. There the Clinton and Essex militia, under Major-General Mooers, and Brigadier-General Wright, were stationed. After being driven back several times, with considerable loss, some companies of the British pushed across the stream, there shallow and rapid, firing briskly by platoons as they advanced, but doing very little harm. The militia fell back, and were soon joined by a large detachment of Vermont Volunteers and a party of artillery with a field-piece under Lieutenant Sumter.
The flying companies were now rallied and drawn up in battle-array to meet the pursuing foe, when Mr. Walworth (late Chancellor of the State of New York), Mooer's Adjutant-General, came dashing up, his horse flecked with foam, and announced the joyful intelligence that the British fleet had just surrendered! These glad tidings were greeted with three hearty cheers. At the same moment they observed their pursuers with their backs turned, making their way in haste toward the ford of the Saranac. Sir George Prevost, who always played the coward when near danger, according to British historians, had become terribly alarmed, and recalled these vigorous and only successful troops. He had experienced the "extreme mortification", he said, "to hear the shout of victory from the American works" when the fleet surrendered on the lake. They had been loud and mighty cheers, iterated and reiterated by corps after corps, as the eye and ear caught knowledge of the victory; and Sir George wisely saw, as he said, that "further prosecution of the service was become impracticable". He had assumed the position of co-operator with the fleet rather than principal, leaving Downie the brunt of the service, but ready to receive and wear the garlands of honor which might be won. Seeing the British flags humbled on all the ships, and the gun-boats flying, he resolved to fall back toward the Canada border, and halt until he should ascertain the use the Americans intended to make of their naval ascendency just acquired on Lake Champlain. It was a wise determination. Notwithstanding his number was overwhelming Prevost was really in peril. He might have crushed Macomb and captured the post, but it would have been at the expense of many lives without obtaining any permanent advantage. The British had lost the lake absolutely, and without any fair promises of its recovery; and the militia of all that region were thoroughly aroused, and were rapidly assembling. At the
Illustrations: United States Hotel, Plattsburg, in 1812; Graves of the Slain, Plattsburg
close of that memorable day, no less than twenty-five hundred Green Moutain Boys (Vermonters) were on the Saranac under General Strong. The militia of Washington and Warren counties were also streaming toward Plattsburg at the call of General Mooers; and reinforcements of regulars were on their way. Prevost's army would very soon have been equaled in numerical strength, and perhaps surrounded and its supplies from Canada cut off. He perceived these dangers when the navy was lost; and the moment the forces under General Robinson returned to camp he made preparations to abandon the siege, notwithstanding General Brisbane offered to cross the Saranac in force and carry the American works by storm in twenty minutes.
The fire from the British batteries was kept up until sunset, and Fort Brown, then under the immediate command of the gallant Mountfort, sent back responses with so much spirit and accuracy, that the British believed and reported that French artillerists were employed by the Americans. When night fell Prevost sent all his artillery and baggage for which he could find transportation Canada-ward; and at two o'clock in the morning of the 12th an entire army fled with a precipitation that indicated a panic. It was caused by a report, purposely communicated to Prevost, that Governor Chittenden, of Vermont, was approaching with ten thousand men. The sick and wounded, and a vast amount of munitions of war were left behind; and they had reached Chazy, eight or ten miles distant, before the Americans were apprised of the flight. Light troops, volunteers, and militia started in pursuit, but heavy rains compelled them to relinquish the chase. Prevost halted at Champlain, and on the 24th left the territory of the United States forever, and retired to Montreal with the main army. He had lost in killed, wounded, missing and deserters not much less than two thousand men, according to careful estimates made at the time. The American loss, on land, was less than one hundred and fifty.
The victory at Plattsburg on the 11th of September, 1814, produced a thrill of intense joy throughout the country; and spontaneous honors were every where awarded to the principal actors in the great drama. Bonfires and illuminations blazed in almost every city and village in honor of the event, and substantial testimonials of respect were given to the several commanders. The Congress of the United States voted them the thanks of the nation, and ordered a gold medal to be given to Macomb and Macdonough, Henly and Cassin.
A few days after the battle the citizens of Plattsburg gave Macdonough a public dinner at the United States Hotel; and honorable burial was awarded to Commodore Downie and other Britsh officers of the army and navy who fell there. In a beautiful cemetery, in the suburbs of Plattsburg, the remains of these men were interred, and an engraved slab of marble marks each grave. A pine-tree was planted on each side of Downie's grave, and these grew to be noble specimens of their species, when one decayed and disappeared. The victory was the subject for many a ballad, but none was so popular as that written by Michael Hawkins (afterward a grocer in Catherine Street, New York) for the proprietor of the Albany Theatre, and first sung there before Governor Tompkins and a great crowd, in the character of a negro sailor, commencing:
"Back side Albany stan' Lake Champlain,
Little pond, half full o'water;
Plat-te-burg dar, too, close 'pon de main!
Town small - he grow bigger, do' herearter
On Lake Champlain Uncle Sam sit he boat,
An' Massa Macdonough sail 'em;
While Gineral Macomb, make Plat-te-burg he home,
Wid de army, whose courage nebber fail 'em"
The freedom of the city of New York was given to Macomb in a gold box, and Vermont gave him a fine farm on Cumberland Head. He afterward became the General-in-Chief of the armies of the United States, on the death of General Brown; and over his grave, in the Congressional burial-ground at Washington, rests a beautiful white marble monument to his memory.
With the repulse of the British at Plattsburg ended the most important military operations on the northern frontier of New York. Peace came a few months later. That repulse was almost simultaneous with the defeat of the British at Fort Erie, their expulsion from Baltimore, and their closing military operations of importance on the New England coast.
New England experienced very little actual war within its borders; yet it felt its pressure heavy in the paralysis of its peculiar industries, the continual drain upon its wealth of men and money, and the wasting excitements caused by constantly impending menaces and a sense of insecurity. From the spring of 1813 until the close of the war British squadrons were hovering along its coasts, and, in connection with the embargo acts, were double-barring its seaports against commerce, and threatening the destruction of its maritime cities and villages.
The year 1814 was a specially trying one for New England. Hitherto the more northerly coasts of the United States had been very little molested by the enemy, for Commodore Hardy's blockade of New London was so mild that it amounted to little more than simple inconvenience. Now a system of petty and distressing invasions commenced, and were followed by more serious operations.
The invasions began as early as April, 1814, when a party of British seamen and marines, from the blockading squadron off New London, entered the Connecticut River, and at Pautopaug Point, in the vicinity of Saybrook, seven miles from the Sound, spiked some cannon there, and destroyed property valued at $160,000. There was also, in the Sound, at that time, a bold privateer called the Liverpool Packet, which had swept or frightened nearly all the coast trade from that region. Commodore Lewis, with a flotilla of gun-boats, made after her, and when he arrived at Saybrook he found no less than fifty vessels there afraid to go out of the harbor because of the corsair. Lewis drove her off eastward, convoyed the coasting-vessels safely to the Thames, and boldly attacked the British blockading squadron; but the appearance of heavier ships compelled him to withdraw from the contest.
Early in June the enemy commenced depredations on the coast of Massachusetts. The chief vessels engaged in the business were the Superb and Nimrod, stationed a long time in Buzzard's Bay. Wareham, Scituate, and other places, suffered from depredations committed by armed men from these vessels.
On the 16th of June, the Bulwark, 74, Captain Milne, anchored off the mouth of the Saco River, and one hundred and fifty armed men went ashore in boats and destroyed a very large amount of property on the Neck, belonging to Captain Thomas Cutts. At about the same time the Nimrod and La Hogue menaced New Bedford and Fairhaven; and formidable squadrons were kept off New York, New London, and Boston.
Finally more formidable demonstrations were made. Eastport and Passamaquoddy Bay, and Castine and Penobscot Bay, fell into the permanent possession of the British; and Stonington became the theatre of a most distressing bombardment. All along the eastern coast, from the Connecticut to the St. Croix, the enemy carried on this kind of warfare, in most cases marauding on private property in a manner which degraded the actors in the eyes of all honorable men to the level of mere freebooters. The more respectable portion of British writers condemned the policy, for it was damaging to the British interest. Hitherto lukewarm New England now became intensely heated with indignation against the common enemy, and burned with a war-fever, which made the Peace Party in that region exceedingly circumspect.
Fort Pickering, near Salem
A more serious invasion of the New England coast occurred early in July. Sir Thomas M. Hardy sailed secretly from Halifax on the 5th with a considerable force for land and sea service. His squadron consisted of the Ramillies, 74, the sloop Martin, brig Borer, the Bream, the bomb-ship Terror, and several transports with troops under Colonel Thomas Pilkington. The squadron entered Passamaquoddy Bay on the 11th, and anchored off Fort Sullivan at Eastport, commanded by Major Perley Putnam. A peremptory demand for the surrender of the post was at first refused,but the alarmed inhabitants, who were unwilling to resist, were so importunate for submission, that the fort was given up on condition that private property should be protected. A large force then landed, with fifty or sixty pieces of cannon, and took formal possiession of the fort, town, and all the islands in Passamaquoddy Bay. A proclamation was issued declaring that British possession would be permanent, for that domain, of right, belonged to the Crown under the provisions of the treaty of 1783. The male inhabitants were required to take an oath of allegiance to his Majesty or leave within a week. The custom-house was opened by British officials, and business was resumed. The invaders took possession of all the public property, but failed to frighten the collector of the port into submission to their commands to sign, and thus perfect treasury notes to the amount of $9000.
Having established British authority at Eastport, and left eight hundred troops to maintain it, Hardy sailed westward with his squadron, spreading alarm along the coast. Preparations for his reception were made every where. Vigilant eyes were watching, and strong arms were waiting for the appearance of the foe at Portland. The energetic General Montgomery, of New Hampshire, was soon, with a tithe of his brigade, at Portsmouth. Fort Pickering, near Salem, and Fort Sewall, at Marblehead, were strengthened and garrisoned. Fort Warren and Fort Independence, on Castle Island, in Boston Harbor, were put in readiness for action, and well-garrisoned by the Massachusetts militia; and a heavy fort was speedily commenced on Noddle's Island (now East Boston), on Camp Hill, on the crown of present Webster Street. Opponents of the war, like Harrison Gray Otis, were active in forwarding the work; and when it was completed, it was named Fort Strong, in honor of the Peace Party governor. The war was at their doors, and it would have been madness to play non-combatant at that perilous hour. But Boston was spared the notoriety of a battle.
Hardy did not stop until he rejoined the blockading squadron off New London. He was not long inactive. He was charged with a part of the duty enjoined by the terrible order of Admiral Cochrane, to destroy the coast towns and ravage the country; and on the 9th of August he appeared off the borough of Stonington, in Connecticut, for that purpose, with the Ramillies, the Pactolus, 44, bomb-ship Terror, brig Dispatch, and barges and launches. He anchored within two miles of the narrow peninsula which Stonington lies at four o'clock in the afternoon, and at half past five sent a flag ashore with the following message:
"Not wishing to destroy the unoffending inhabitants residing in the town of Stonington, one hour is granted them from the receipt of this to remove out of the town."
The authorities inquired whether any arrangements might be made to spare the town, and the answer was, "I am instructed to destroy and can not spare." The dismayed inhabitants who were able to leave immediately fled, and removed as many valuable articles as possible. The few militia there, under Lieutenant Hough, were stationed on the Point to watch the movements of the enemy; and all waited anxiously for the threatened assault. It came soon. Toward sunset the Terror was warped up near the town, accompanied by barges and launches, with carronades. At eight o'clock in the evening she commenced throwing shells from two heavy mortars, and the smaller vessels hurled Congreve rockets. This assault, grand and terrible, continued until midnight without serious injury to the town.
In the mean time an express had been sent to General Cushing at New London, the United States commander of the District, who regarded this demonstration as a feint to cover an attack on New London, and an attempt to seize Decatur's vessels in the Thames. In connection with Brigadier-General Williams, commander of the militia, such disposition of troops was speedily made as would foil such design of the enemy, and confine his operations to Stonington.
The Stonington Flag
During the bombardment on the evening of the 9th some bold spirits at Stonington took measures for opposing the landing of the invaders. The only ordnance in the place consisted of two 18, one 6 and one 4 pound cannon. They dragged the 6 and one 18 pounder down to the extreme point of the peninsula, cast up some breast-works, and placed them in battery there. The other 18-pounder was left in a slight battery on the southwest point, near where the present breakwater leaves the shore. By the streaming light of the rockets they watched the enemy, reserving their fire until the barges and a launch came in a line near the southeast point of the peninsula, when they opened fire, with serious effect. The guns, loaded with solid balls, were double-shotted, and these so shattered the enemy's vessels that the little flotilla retreated in confusion toward the larger warriors. From midnight until dawn quiet prevailed, and during that time a number of militia and volunteers had assembled near Stonington.
The assault was resumed at daylight on the morning of the 10th by the rocketeers of the barges. At the same time the Pactolus and the Dispatch worked up nearer the town. The former grounded, but the latter beat up, while the Terror hurled bombs and carcasses industriously. One of the latter, weighing over two hundred pounds, may now be seen on a granite post in Stonington. So terrible was the bombardment that the militia and volunteers dared not enter the town. At length, at about six o'clock, some bold volunteers came over from Mystic, among whom was the now venerable Cpatain Jeremiah Holmes, who had been a prisoner in a British ship-of-war some years before, and had learned the art of gunnery. He and his companions made their way to the battery on the point, when Holmes took charge of the 18-pounder there. At that moment the Dispatch was making her last tack preparatory to anchoring. Holmes sighted the gun (which was double shotted), and at a favorable moment gave the word to fire. Both shot struck the hull of the brig, when she cast anchor and opened a heavy fire with 24-pound shot. The Terror sent shells in quick succession, while Holmes and his companions kept the old iron cannon busy.
The fight was now fairly opened, and it continued briskly for about an hour, when Holmes's ammunition gave out. He ceased firing at eight o'clock; and to prevent the great gun, which they could not take away, being turned upon the town by the enemy, they spiked it.
Stonington was now wholly defenseless and at the mercy of the invaders. A timid citizen proposed to haul down the flag over the battery, in token of submission. "No!" shouted Holmes, indignantly. "That flag shall never come down while I am alive!" And it didn't, in submission to the foe. And when the wind died away, and it hung drooping by the side of the staff, the brave Captain held out the flag on the point of a bayonet that the British might see it. While in that position several shots passed through it. He then caused it to be nailed to the staff, and it became completely riddled by British balls. I saw it in Stongton in the autumn of 1860, where it is preserved as a precious memento of the event.
The old cannon was not long silent. Some concealed powder, taken from the captured privateer Halka, was soon discovered, and at a little past nine o'clock Holmes resumed his firing, a blacksmith named Cobb having drawn the spike. It was double-shotted each time; and so telling were its missiles that by noon the Dispatch was so much injured that she slipped her cable and hauled off to a place of safety. The Terror kept throwing shells until night, but she was out of reach of the little battery.
During the day a considerable number of militia had assembled at Stonington, and General Isham took command. Order was soon restored, and some of the inhabitants, somewhat reassured, returned to their homes. A dispatch had been sent to Hardy by the magistrates to secure a cessation of further hostilities. They assured him that all offensive inhabitants had left the village, and that no torpedoes had ever been sent out from there, and none should be. Hardy agreed to suspend hostilities on condition that they should send to his ship the wife of James Stewart late British consul, who was then in New London. To this extraordinary demand they replied that they had no power to do so, when Hardy threatened to resume the assault if she was not delivered on board his flag-ship by noon on the 11th. He waited longer than noon, but in vain; and at three o'clock the Terror commenced throwing shells into the village. A sufficient military force was there to prevent the landing of the enemy.
All was silent on the water during the night of the 11th. It was broken at sunrise, when the Terror again opened her mortars, and the Ramillies and Pactolus warped up nearer the town. At eight o'clock they gave three tremendous broadsides. They proved to be a petulant parting salute; for soon afterward all the vessels withdrew, and anchored far away toward Fisher's Island.
Illustrations on this page: Cobb's House and Half-Moon Battery, Castine
Thus ended the assault on Stonington. Only one man was mortally wounded during the whole time, and give or six others slightly so. The martyr was Frederick Denison, a brave young man of nineteen. His gallantry was most conspicuous; and in commemoration of it the State of Connecticut erected a handsome marble monument over his grave in the cemetery at Mystic in 1856. About forty buildings were more or less injured, and two or three nearly ruined. Cobb's House, on Water Street, is yet standing, and exhibits many scars of wounds received on that day. The bombardment was singularly harmless, when it is remembered how perfectly exposed the village was, and that fifty tons of metal were hurled at it from the ships. The repulse was hailed, as it deserved to be, as a glorious exhibition of pluck. The assailing squadron had about fifteen hundred men, while the number actually engaged in driving them away did not exceed twenty. The loss to the British was twenty lives and fifty wounded, and a cost of ten thousand pounds sterling. The gain nothing. The impotence of the attack was a point for many a squib and epigram; and the occasion gave birth to one of the most popular ballads of the time, written by Philip Freneau,the bard of the Revolution.
Hardy's easy conquest of Eastport encouraged a more extensive invasion in that quarter on the part of the British. They resolved to seize the whole territory in Maine between the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot. For that purpose an expedition, consisting of the Bulwark, Dragon and Spencer, 74s; the frigates Bacchante and Tenedos; sloops-of-war Sylph and Peruvian; and schooner Pictou, with ten transports and four thousand land-troops, sailed from Halifax on the 26th of August, 1814. The fleet was commanded by Rear-Admiral Edward Griffith, and the troops by Lieutenant-General Sir John Cope Sherbrooke, Governor of Nova Scotia, assisted by General Gerard Goselin. The expedition entered Penobscot Bay and the fine harbor of Castine, off Bigaduce Cape, at dawn on the 1st of September, and Lieutenant-Colonel Nichols was sent in a schooner to demand the instant surrender of the post, then held by Lieutenant Lewis and about forty regulars, occupying a half-moon battery and redoubt, constructed by the Americans in 1808. Nichols heralded his demand by hurling a 24-pound shot ashore. Lewis perceived that resistance would be madness; so, at sunrise, he blew up the redoubt, and, with his two little cannon, fled over the high peninsula to its neck, and escaped up the river in boats. Colonel Douglass immediately landed with about six hundred troops, and took possession of Castine, and with it the control of Penobscot Bay.
Sherbrooke had been informed that the corvette John Adams, commanded by Captain Charles Morris, had struck a rock in entering Penobscot Bay in thick weather, and was so badly damaged that she had gone up the river for repairs. He now learned the she was lying at Crosby's Wharf, at Hampden, a few miles below Bangor, and he and Griffith at once detached vessels and troops to go up and capture or destroy her. Captain Robert Barrie, of the Dragon, was placed in command of the naval part of the expedition, and Lieutenant-Colonel Henry John of the land-force, seven hundred strong. The vessels employed were the Sylph and Peruvian, a small schooner as a tender, the brig Harmony, and nine launches. The expedition sailed in the afternoon of the day on which the fleet arrived at Castine. They went up as far as the vicinity of Frankfort that evening, and anchored for the night in Marsh Bay, an expansion of the Penobscot.
On the appearance of the fleet an express was sent to Captain Morris, apprising him of the fact. He immediately sent a note to General Blake, who was then at his home opposite Bangor, eight or ten miles distant, asking him to call out the militia of his brigade to meet the
Illustrations on this page: Blake's Residence; Crosby's Wharf, Hampden
invaders. Blake immediately rode to Bangor, issued orders for the assembling of the militia, and on the same evening went down to Hampden to confer with Morris. He found that vigilant officer busily engaged in preparations for defense. He was dismantling his wounded ship, and dragging her heavy cannon to the summit of the high right bank of the Soadabscook, fifty rods from Crosby's wharf, and placing them in battery there, so as to command the river approaches from below.
On the morning of the 2nd General Blake held a consultation with Morris and citizens of Hampden and Bangor on the best means of defense; but opinions were so various that no specific measures were adopted.
Morris had not much confidence in the militia, and declined any immediate co-operation with them. He advised meeting the foe at their landing-place, wherever it might be, and expressed his resolution to destroy the Adams should the militia retreat.
On the morning of the 2nd General Goselin, with six hundred men, took possession of Belfast without resistance, and at the same time the river expedition sailed northward from Marsh Bay. They reached Bald Hill Cove, below Hampden, at five in the evening, where the troops were landed, with eighty marines, and bivouacked during the night, in the midst of a heavy rain storm. A detachment had been landed at Frankfort in the morning, and marched up the western side of the Penobscot.
During the 2nd about six hundred raw militia assembled at Hampden. Not one of them had ever been in actual war service, and many were without arms and ammunition. This want Morris supplied as far as possible. Blake posted them in an admirable position on the crown of a ridge between the upper and lower village. The artillery company of his brigade were there, wth two brass 3-pounders and one iron 18 from Morris' ship. Such was Blake's position on the gloomy morning of the 3d.
Morris in the meantime had planted a battery of nine short 18-pounders from the Adams on the bank above, and placed it in command of Lieutenant Wadsworth, the first officer of the Adams; and with the remainder of his guns, two hundred seamen and marines, and twenty invalids, he took position on Crosby's wharf, and prepared to defend his crippled ship to the last extremity.
The whole region of the Penobscot was enveloped in a dense fog on the morning of the 3d. The British at Bald Hill Cove had been joined by the detachment from below; and at five o'clock all were in motion toward Hampden. They moved cautiously in the thick mist, and were not discovered by Blake's scouts until they were about to ascend the eminence on which his forces were posted. Information ws immediately given to the commander. No enemy could be seen, for the fog yet lay heavily on the earth. Blake pointed his cannon in the direction of their approach, and blazed away with some effect. He reserved the fire of his musketry until the enemy should be near enough to be hurt; but the waiting was an ordeal too severe for the untried militia. When the foe rushed forward at double-quick, firing volley after volley, the militia fled, leaving Blake and his officers alone. This fact was communicated to Morris, who ordered Wadsworth to spike his cannon and retreat over the only bridge that spanned the Soadabscook, for the tide was rising, and that stream would soon be unfordable. He then fired the Adams, spiked the guns on the wharf, and ordered his men to fly. He was the last man to leave, and his way to the bridge by
Remains of Fort George, Castine
that time was cut off by the foe. He plunged into the Soadabscook, and, under a sharp fire from the British, reached the opposite shore in safety, and with Blake and their followers fled to Bangor. - From thence Morris soon afterward made his way overland to Portland.
About five hundred British troops pushed on in pursuit to Bangor; and the little squadron went up the river at the same time. Colonel John met a deputation from Bangor a mile from the village with a message from the magistrates, asking terms for capitulation. Nothing was promised but respect for private property. The invaders entered the town at about ten o'clock in the morning. Commodore Barrie made professions of justice; at the same time he gave his sailors tacit license to plunder. All the stores on the western side of the Kenduskeag Creek were robbed. The enemy remained there about thirty-one hours, quartered on the inhabitants, whom they compelled not only to surrender up all arms and public property - even a few dollars in the post-office - but made them report themselves prisoners of war for parole. General Blake was among those thus paroled. The Selectmen were then required to give a bond in the penal sum of $30,000, as a guaranty for the delivery of certain vessels to the British authorities at Castine, by the last of October. The speedy return of peace canceled this bond.
Having despoiled the inhabitants of Bangor of property valued at $23,000, the British returned to Hampden, where Barrie, who was an arrogant, heartless man, allowed the sailors and German soldiers to commit many depredations. Private houses were robbed, and the Meeting-house was broken open, its Bibles and psalm-books were torn up,and its pulpit and pews were demolished. They exacted a bond from the Selectmen of Hampden for $12,000, for the security of vessels there, and after plundering the inhabitants of property to the amount of $44,000, the invaders went down the river, and returned to Castine. Colonel John had endeavored to save the people from robbery, and Sherbrooke and Griffith rebuked the brutal Barrie for his outrageous connivance at barbarian atrocities.
On the 11th of September Sherbrooke and Griffith, with most of the troops and a greater part of the fleet, left Penobscot Bay, and, after capturing Machias, returned to Halifax. General Goselin, a gentlemen in manners and a brave soldier, was left in command at Castine. He required all the male inhabitants above sixteen years of age, residing in the territory lying between the Penobscot and the boundary-line of New Brunswick, to take an oath of allegiance to his Majesty, or an oath that they would peaceably and quietly demean and conduct themselves while inhabiting and residing within that territory; that they would not carry arms, harbor British deserts, nor carry intelligence to the King's enemies, etc., during the current war. Goselin caused old Fort George, in the middle of the peninsula at Castine, to be repaired and strengthened, barracks to be erected, and various preparations made for the permanent occupation of the place. By his kindness and justice the General won the respect of the inhabitants. But his stay was short. The war ended a few months after the capture of Castine; and on the 26th of April, 1815, the British evacuated the whole country west of the St. Croix and Passamaquoddy Bay [The author of this article was apparently unaware that Eastport was not returned to the United States until June, 1818.] Peace, joy, tranquility, and prosperity came with the birds and blossoms; and from that time until now no foreign enemy has ever appeared on our coast with hostile intentions, and probably never will.
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