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War of 1812

Battle News

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Submitted by Nancy Piper


The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), November 4, 1812
St. Louis, Sept. 10
Attack on Fort Belle Vue.
On the 5th inst., at half past 5 o’clock P.M., this garrison was attacked by a party of Winebagoes, the number not precisely known, but supposed to be upwards of 200. Fortunately there was only one soldier out of the garrison (John Cox) who fell a victim to the scalping knife. A constant firing on both sides were kept until dark; early next morning they commenced again and about 7 o’clock they set fire to a Mr. Graham’s boat and loading – this man arrived on the 4th. They also burnt two boats belonging to the public. Soon after they began to throw fire on the block houses that stood near the bank of the river, but no sufficiently near as to command the space between them and the river, syringes being made of gun barrels, the roofs were wet so as to prevent fire taking; during this time, part of them, killed the live stock, plundered and burnt Mr. Julian’s house and destroyed the corn and on the 7th they continued throwing fire on the block houses and shot arrows in the roofs with matches tied to them. The morning being calm all their fire attempts on the block houses proves useless. In the morning they burnt Mr. McNabb’s house and attempted the Smith shop; and it was generally believed that they were only waiting for a favorable wind to burn the factory, so that it might catch the garrison, which would have been the certain means of destroying us all. To prevent that, as the evening was very calm, the commanding officer Lieut. Thomas Hamilton, dispatched a soldier with fire to the factory and less than three hours the buildings was consumed without any danger to the garrison. During this day several Indians crept into an old stable and commenced shooting out of it; but a shot from the cannon by Lieut. B. Vesques, soon made their yellow-jackets fly.
On the 8th we heard but little from them; several canoes were seen crossing the river, on the 9th not an Indian was seen or gun fired. I am happy to say no lives were lost in the Fort, one man was slightly wounded in the nose. The Indians must have had many killed as several of them were seen fall.

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), November 4, 1812
Charleston, Oct 7
Charleston blockaded.
All day yesterday, our port was blockaded by three English brigs of war, took seven or eight sail of vessels and one of the brigs sailed with their prizes last evening, supposed for Nassau. This is the first visit of the kind we have had since the war commenced.



The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), November 4, 1812
Utica, N.Y., Sept. 29
In the night of the 20th inst., Captain Forsyth, with 70 of his rifle company and 34 militia men, embarked on a number of boats at Cape Vincent and went over to a small village on the Canada shore called Ganonoque, in the town of Leeds, for the purpose of destroying the king’s warehouse at that place. They landed, unobserved, a short distance from the village, a little before flourish on the morning of the 21st, but were soon after discovered and fired upon by a party of the British consisting of about 125 regulars and militia. The Americans returned the fire with so much effect that the British retreated and were pursued to village, where they again rallied, but soon found the contest too warm for them they fled over a bride and made their escape, leaving behind them ten of their number killed (besides several who were seen to fall into the stream as they were fired upon when passing the bridge) and 8 regulars and a number of militia, prisoners. Capt. Forsyth had only one man killed and one man slightly wounded. The number wounded on the part of the enemy was not ascertained. The militia prisoners were discharged on parole. Capt. Forsyth and his party, with 8 prisoners, about 60 stands of arms, two barrels of fixed ammunition, one barrel of powder, one barrel of flints, and some other articles of public property which they had taken from the enemy, then returned to Cape Vincent, not however till they had set fire to his majesty’s store house, which was consumed together with a great quantity of flour and pork.



The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), November 18 1812
Travelling Amusement
The following is mentioned as a fact in a letter from a gentleman in Buffalo to another in this town.

A Dr. Lorton of Philadelphia, traveling through that country for amusement, arrived at Lewistown at 9 o’clock the night before the battle of Queenston, volunteered his services and fought in the ranks till captured. The butt of his musket was shot off. Major Mullany, it is said, speaks in the highest terms of his deliberate bravery in the battle. He was paroled and left at liberty to proceed on his diverting tour. – Penns. Rep.



The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), November 25, 1812
Dayton, November 4.
On Sunday evening Mr. Jon Rankin arrived in town, as an express from Governor Shelby of Kentucky to General Harrison, with intelligence that General Hopkins, with about 2200 Kentuckians, was within twelve miles of the Indian encampment – that small parties of Indians were constantly hovering around him, and he had twice expected an attack. The Indian force was estimated at from 1500 to 2000. General Hopkins’s force consisted principally, if not entirely, of 30 days mounted volunteers and great fears were entertained in Kentucky for the safety of his army. The express was detained two days by Governor Shelby, in expectation of receiving further intelligence from General Hopkins, but none was received. The Indians were commanded by the celebrated Wyandott chief Walk-in-the-Water.



The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), December 9, 1812
From the Miami, Franklinton, Nov. 19.
An express arrived here this morning with a dispatch from Brigadier General Tupper, containing his report to Gen. Harrison, of his late expedition to the Rapids of the Miami, for the purpose of driving off a body of Indians and British, who had assembled there to take off a quantity of corn which remains in the fields at that place. Gen. Tupper arrived with his command at the rapids, undiscovered by the enemy, in the night of the 13th inst. He immediately made a disposition for passing the river, and some few of our men got over, but the greater part of them missed the ford and many of them were in great danger of being drowned – they were however rescued by the few horses which Gen. Tupper had with him, but lost a part of their arms. As soon as the day appeared, and they were discovered by the enemy, the gun and other boats that were in the river, slipped their cables and escaped down the Lake. The Indians, however, more brave than their allies, crossed over on horses and made several violent attacks upon our troops. They were received with firmness, driven back and forced to recross the river with considerable loss.

Gen. Tupper finding it impossible to re-cross the river and being entirely out of provisions, as the men took nothing with them except what they carried on their backs, was obliged to return. Four were killed on our side and one wounded. The enemy were seen to carry off many of their dead and wounded in the action on land, and many more were knocked off their horses in recrossing the river. The Indians were commanded by the Wyandot Chief Splitlog, who was very conspicuous, being mounted upon a fien white charger. This Chief was supposed to have been killed or wounded, as another Indian was upon his horse at the close of the action.

Gen. Tupper commanded 650 men.



The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), December 9, 1812
Col. Russell’s Expedition
It will be recollected that Gen. Hopkins ordered Col. Russell, with two companies of Rangers from Vincennes, and to take command of the regular troops and militia of the Illinois territory, to march up the Illinois river. The Colonel collected a force of about 400 men, with which, by rapid marching, he got within one mile of the Indian towns, where he met one warrior, who was shot down; and a brisk charge made upon the towns, defended by about 150 Indian warriors, who were put to flight with the loss of 25 found dead, besides a number carried off. The women and children fled to a swamp at the first approach of our men and the warriors soon took shelter under the same covert. We had only 3 wounded. Four prisoners were taken, and about 60 horses (prepared to remove the women and children) with all their plunder fell into our hands.

It appears the Indians of the neighboring towns had heard of General Hopkins crossing the Wabash and 700 warriors marched to meet him, leaving 150 warriors in charge of the women and children. About 10 o’clock in the morning, Col. Russell destroyed everything in the town which he could not bring away, and left it on the evening of the same day. 7 scalps taken in September, near Fort Harrison and also several Indians wounded in the attack of the Fort on that occasion, were found in the town. – Farmer’s Friend Extra.



The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), December 23, 1812
Gen. Harrison has been appointed by the President a Major General in the army of the United States, which appointment was confirmed by the Senate on the 2d inst.



The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), December 23, 1812
Pittsburg, Dec. 11
Mr. Ralph Dawson, a citizen of this town, arrived on Wednesday evening last, direct from Black Rock, which place he left on Saturday the 28th ult. He states that a detachment of the regular troops between day break and sunrise of that morning, under cover of the fire from our 3 batteries crossed over to the British side and took two of their batteries and that the British troops retreated down the river to the lower battery. The landing of our troops was opposed by the British flying artillery and constant fire from the fort and batteries.

When Mr. Dawson left Black Rock, the three American batteries were keeping up a constant and heavy fire on Fort Erie and the battery which the British still retained possession of. He distinctly saw a large fire behind the batteries which he conjectured was the burning either of the enemy’s barracks or stores.

Orders were issued for the remainder of the troops to cross over and reinforce the regulars and it was confidently believed that Fort Erie would that night be in possession of the Americans. With pride we announce that Capts Lithgow, Cooper and Torbet’s companies, all from this town and neighborhood had volunteered to cross together with a number of other volunteer companies. Mr. Dawson however, understood, that some volunteers had refused to go over.



The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), December 23, 1812
Montpelier, Vt., Dec. 3
We are informed by an intelligent gentleman from the northward, that Major Young’s party, who lately surprised and took a small company of the British at the village of St. Regis, have themselves fallen into the hands of the enemy. A company of about 100 of the Canadian militia came over in the night to the Indian village and surprised about 40 of our troops and 400 Indians, without arms, who immediately surrendered. The guns of our troops were destroyed by the Canadians. A Mr. Fletcher supposing the Indians had risen rose from his bed and discharged a musket. He was fired upon by the enemy and it is said received 15 musket balls. We shall probably soon receive a more particular account.



The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), December 23, 1812

Extract of a letter from a gentleman who accompanied Gen. Tannehill’s army to Buffalo to his friend in Pittsburg, dated Buffalo, 23d Nov. 1812.

“Our army arrived here on the evening of the 18th, generally in good health and spirits. The day after our arrival, Gen. Smyth gave the British commandant on the opposite shore notice that the armistice (which had existed since the battle of Queenstown) would expire in 36 hours, being the time specified for giving notice before hostilities would recommence. At the expiration of the time, a heavy cannonading was heard at this place, supposed to be at Fort Niagara, which proved to be the case. Our Fort opened a fire against Fort George the result of which was that a storehouse and blockhouse at Fort George were burned, also three dwelling houses in the town of Newark and a British vessel laying at Fort George was entirely destroyed. This news we have from a gentleman from Niagara last evening. No damage was done on our side except 5 men killed, 3 of them by the bursting of one of our cannon.

“Great preparations are making for an attack on Fort Erie; I am anxiously waiting to hear our guns fire and do not know but before I finish my letter they will commence the attack.

“The enclosed handbill has been circulated through this town and country and has had good effect; suppose from 600 to 1000 volunteers are under arms from this town and country around for the purpose of joining the regular troops when they cross. As for our Pennsylvania volunteers, some of them will cross, but many will not.

“Three batteries are erected at and near Black Rock, in which 24 pounders 18, and long 12’s are place to play on Fort Erie and to cover the landing of our troops. The gentleman who had charge of erecting the batteries informed me that the cannon would be placed on them this evening. Boats are ready, sufficient to carry 3000 men and 10 pieces of artillery at once. The number of troops here cannot be accurately ascertained; the commissary says he thinks about 5000 rations are issued here daily. There are about 300 Indians here anxious to cross, but General Smyth informed them that not one should go over the river until the whites had taken possession.

“I confidently believe that tomorrow night is fixed on as the proper time to cross; but it is an entire secret.”



The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), December 30 1812
By the return of a gentleman of this place a few days since from Black Rock, which place he left on the (?st) inst., we have received correct information of the movements of the army under Gen. Smyth until that time.

The pompous proclamation of Gen. Smyth to the people of the state of New York had brought to Black Rock from 600 to 1000 volunteers, many of whom traveled on foot 160 miles and all determined to cross into Canada under such a brave and experienced leader as they believed the General to be. Boats were prepared to transport 3000 men and 10 pieces of artillery at one time and the 28th of November fixed on for the descent to be made.

About 2 o’clock that morning a party of sailors and regulars, amounting to about 150, were sent over to carry the enemy’s batteries opposite Black Rock, in which they completely succeeded after a very warm conflict at the point of the bayonet. They spilled the guns in four batteries, cut the gun carriages to pieces, set fire to a large building containing quantity of ammunition, and brought with them between 30 and 40 prisoners, principally of the 49th Regiment and returned to Black Rock about daylight. It was stated by those who returned last to our shore that Capt. King of the regulars, with 30 or 40 men were in possession of the enemy’s lower battery and determined to hold it until reinforced by our troops. Col. Winder of the regulars, with his regiment of about 280 effective men were immediately ordered on board of boats and pushed off to reinforce Captain King. They met with no opposition until they were in the act of landing. The Colonel, it is said, was on the shore when a heavy fire was opened on them by the enemy’s flying artillery and musketry. The detachment immediately retreated to our shore with the loss of some men and considerable injury to the boats; notwithstanding this partial defeat.

Col. Winder and his men were the first to embark after the boats had been brought back to the place from whence they had set out. By this time it was 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning. There were from 2500 to 3000 regulars and militia paraded on the beach, ready to embark, and the boats at hand to take them across and not one gun of the enemy in a situation to do them injury.

About the middle of the day three sailors crossed to the British side in a skiff, remained there an hour and an half, burned three houses and returned unmolested.

The troops momently expected orders to embark until about 2 o’clock in the afternoon when Gen. Smyth sent Capt. Gibson with a flag across the river for what purpose was not known and after some time Captain Gibson returned with a British officer, who had a long conference with the general. When Captain Gibson was coming across with the British officer, General Smyth ordered all the boats at Black Rock to be taken down to the Navy Yard behind Squaw Island, about a mile below, and the troops to return to their tents.

On the 29thth, general orders as gasconading as his proclamation were issued requiring everyone to be in readiness to make a “rapid descent on the British possessions,” at eight o’clock the next morning. When the hour arrived, orders were received to remain until 3 o’clock p.m. then to march down and encamps so far from the beach that the enemy could not see their fires. All this was done and about 2 o’clock on the morning of the 1st of December, the men were ordered on board the boats where they remained until daylight when the general’s aid informed them that they must return to their tents.

This strange and inconsistent conduct of Gen. Smyth could not be accounted for on any other principle than cowardice and this opinion was entertained by the army in general. Such are the men appointed to the command of our armies and such the men our administration delighteth to humor.

The greatest dissatisfaction prevailed amongst the troops in consequence of the failure of the expedition. The New York volunteers who had come in under Gen. Smyth’s proclamation, were ordered to return their arms to the arsenal and take up their receipts, and the Pennsylvania and other militia were coming away in “companies, half companies, pairs and singly,” some with and some without leave of their officers and declaring they will never again serve under Gen. Smyth.



The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), December 30 1812
Lima, Dec. 5, 1812
“I have just time to inform you that Gen. Smyth has had his troops several times under arms and in his boats in order to cross from Black Rock into Canada. On Monday last he had them again in his boats and ordered them back to camp. The troops were much incensed. He sailed a number of his officers and made a statement which satisfied them. Among them was Gen. P. B. Porter. General Porter said that General Smyth had pledged his honor to go over on Tuesday morning and that all things were ready. Tuesday the troops were accordingly ordered down to the river and into the boats but were soon ordered back again. Secret murmurs then broke out into loud complaints, threats and denunciations. General P. B. Porter said publicly that Smyth was a scoundrel and a traitor. He was at the Rock and appointed to meet some of his officers at 12 o’clock at Landon’s to explain. On his way there, while riding along the beach, he (Gen. Smyth) was fired at. The ball passed through the clothes of his Aid who was by his side. The interview at Landon’s was not satisfactory to his officers. Gen. Smyth had spoken to Landon for lodgings. Landon heard threats from soldiers in the streets that they would commit violence upon his person that night and tear down Landon’s House. He then went to Smyth and requested him to leave his house as being unsafe. The general left the house, went to his camp, double guards were set and every precaution taken to prevent surprise. The threats were made by some of the distant volunteers. In the course of the evening inquiries were repeatedly made for him by some suspicious persons at his former lodgings. Nothing further occurred that night. It is now said by everyone from headquarters that he is concealed somewhere and dare not appear in public. The volunteers who have been drawn out by his proclamation and dismissed are continually passing here, much enraged at the noble Smyth who was to lead them to victory or death. With them he is now considered as a traitor and a coward.

From what motives General Smyth has acted, I know not; but I am confident that by omitting to go over, he has saved his army. The general opinion of those who are now on their return is that Gen. Smyth if found, will be torn to pieces. At any rate there will be no invasion of Canada from this quarter at present unless by the volunteers which is talked of.”



The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), December 30 1812
A gentleman arrived at New York in the Steam Boat, informs that Gen. Smyth, commander in chief at Niagara, had resigned his command.


 


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