Imagens das páginas

from the celebrated falls of Niagara The Americans, in expectation of being attacked, had chosen a position, with their right, under general Scott, resting on an orchard, close to the river Niagara, and strongly supported by artillery; their left, under general Porter, rested on a wood, with a body of riflemen and Indians in front; and general Ripley's brigade placed in reserve.

In a few minutes the British advanced in three columns, while their Indian allies occupied the woods on the right. In about half an hour a sharp action commenced between the Canadian militia, supported by the Indians, and the American riflemen and Indians, who for a short time withstood the attack; but the British light troops coming up, the New York and Pennsylvania volunteers gave way, and fled in every direction. General Brown perceiving this, ordered Scott's brigade and Towson's artillery to advance, and draw the enemy into action on the plains of Chippeway: this was effected immediately on crossing the bridge. Major Jessup, a gallant young officer, who commanded the third brigade, was ordered to turn the right of the British, which was steadily ad. vancing to the attack. This produced a severe contest, and Jessup being closely pressed in flank and rear, he deliberately gave orders to his men to support arms and advance, under a dreadful fire, until he gained a secure position. Captain Towson had now advanced in front of the British left wing, with three pieces of artillery, and took a position near the river. The steady and unremit, ting fire of these guns, had a visible effect upon the ranks of the British army; and the explosion of one of their ammunition waggons soon after, silenced their strongest battery. After the lapse of an hour from the time the action became general, captain Towson turned his guns upon the British infantry, upon which he poured a hoavy discharge of grape and cannister shot; and they were already exposed to an oblique fire from major M`Neill's musketry. " General Riall, no longer able to sustain this concentrated fire, and apprehending the issue of the con test with major Jessup on the right flank, ordered a re, treat, and the troops fell back to their intreochments behind Chippeway. This may be considered the first regular pitched battle between the contending parties, and was fought with great judgment and coolness on both sides. The loss of the Americans in this action was 338, killed, wounded, and missing; among the wounded were colonel Campbell, captains King, Read, and Harrison, and Lieutenabts Palmer, Brambell, Barron, De Witt, and Patchim. The British loss was six commissioned officers, şered sergeants, 134 rank and file killed; twenty-six commissioned officers, eighteen sergeants, 275 rank and file wounded ; one officer, one sergeant, forty-one rank and file missing. Among the killed were captains Bailey, Rowe, and Turney ; lieutenants Gibbon and M‘Donnell, and ensign Rea. Lieut.-colonel the marquis of Tweedale, and lieutenant.colonel Gordon, captains Holland and Sherrard, and lieutenant Hendrick were severely wounded, the rest of the oficers slightly. The numbers engaged on each side at the battle of Chippeway is not certainly known; that of the British is stated by their general at 1,500 regulars, exclusive of militia and Indians; by the same authority, the American force amounted to 6,000 men.

After the engagement, the American army took post at Chippeway, and the British retreated to a position near fort Niagara. On the morning of the 25th of July, general Drummond, with about 800 men, proceeded to reinforce general Riall; but when within a few miles of his post, he met the British retreating before the Americans, who were advancing in great force, uuder general Brown. The British general instantly countermanded the retreat, formed in order of battle, and moved forward to meet the enemy, whom he found posted on a rising ground at Bridgewater, within the tremendous roar of the falls of Niagara. Immediately the fronts of the contending armies were warmly and closely engaged; the Americans making desperate and repeated efforts against the left and centre of the British, which were for a time obliged to fall back. In the mean time, a tremendous cannonade was kept up against the American line, which was returned by captain Towson's artillery, but without being able to bring his pieces to bear upon the eminence where the enemy was posted. The action was continued for an hour with little advantage on either side ; when the eleventh and twenty-second regular regiments haring expended all their ammunition, both their colonels being severely wounded, and all the captains of the former, and most of the officers of the latter, either killed or wounded, general Brown ordered both regiments to be withdrawn from action; upon which most of the officers attached themselves to the ninth, and fought in various capacities.

The elevated ground held by the British artillery, supported by infantry, was considered by the American general as the key to the whole position; and he was determined if possible to dislodge the enemy. Addressing himself to colonel Miller, he asked whether he thought he could storm the batteries at the head of the twenty. first regiment, while the general himself would support him with the twenty-third ? To this, the wary, but intrepid, veteran replied, “ I will try, sir;" words which were afterwards given as the motto of his regiment. The twenty-third was immediately formed in close column under major M.Farlane, and the two regiments moved on to one of the most perilous charges ever attempted ; the whole of the artillery opening upon them as they advanced, supported by a powerful line of infantry in the rear. The twenty-first advanced steadily to its pur. pose; the twenty-third faultered on receiving the deadly fire of the enemy; but was instantly rallied by the personal exertions of general Ripley. When within 100 yards of the summit, they received another dreadful discharge, by which major M'Farlane was killed, and the command devolved on major Brooks. The struggle at this point was now arduous in the extreme; and the British troops, finding themselves severely pressed, formed round the colours of the eighty-ninth regiment, and fought with the most determined ralour. While contend. ing for the heights, the British leit flank had been turned by major Jessup; and general Riail having been severely wounded, was taken prisoner while moving to the rear; this event was announced by loud huzzas in the American army.

In the centre, the repeated and resolute attacks of the Americans were received with firm resolation and un. daunted bravery, and they were invariably repulsed at every attempt. These furious attacks were directed against the British cannon in so determined a manner, that the artillery-men were bayonetted in the act of loading, and the muzzles of their adversaries' guns brought Dearly in contact with theirs. During this extraordinary conflict, night overtook the combatants, and the British troops having been for a short time driven back, lost some of their cannon, which, however, were retaken, and one captured from the Americans. About nine o'clock, after the battle had raged for three hours, general Brown brought up his reserve, and the contest was renewed with determined bravery. The New York and Pennsylvania volunteers, led on by general Porter, made a desperate charge, which in a great measure retriered their credit, and obtained the applause of their commander-in-chief, About the same time general Drummond also received

reinforcements, which appears to have decided the fortune of the day. The Americans continued their efforts to carry the hill until midnight, when being unable to make any further impression, they gave up the contest, and retired to their camp beyond Chippeway; on the day following, they abandoned this camp, after throwing å part of their baggage and provisions into the rapids, and continued their retreat towards fort Erie. The loss on either side was proportioned to the nature of this dread. ful and sanguinary battle. On the side of the British, one assistant adjutant-general, one captain, three subalterns, and seventy-nine non-commissioned officers and privates were killed ; lieut.-general Drummond, major. general Riall, and three lieutenant-colonels, two majors, eight captains, twenty-two subalteros, and 512 noncommissioned officers and privates were wounded: the prisoners and missing, six captains, nine subalterns, and 225 non-commissioned officers and privates ; making in all 873 men. Many officers of distinction fell on the American side, and the total loss was little less than that of the British. It consisted of one major, five captains, five subalterns, and 159 non-commissioned officers and privates killed ; major-general Brown, brigadier-generals Scott and Porter, two aids-de-camp, one brigade-major, one colonel, four lieutenant-colonels, one major, seven captains, thirty-seven subalterns, and 515 non-commis sioned officers and privates, wounded ; and one brigademajor, one captain, six subalterns, and 102 non-commis-, sioned officers and privates missing; making a total of 851, and a difference of twenty-two only between the contending parties. According to the accounts of the British and American generals, neither of their armies amounted to more than 2,800 men; that of the former to no more than 1,600 during the first three hours of the engagement.

In consequence of generals Brown and Scott being both severely wounded, the command of the American army devolved upon general Ripley, who fell back to fort Erie, and inimediately began to extend the defences of the place; having tearned that general Drummond was advancing with a strong force in order to recapture it. The fort being nearly completed on the 7th of August, from this time to the 14th, there was almost an incessant cannonade, and many skirmishes between the out-posts and reconnoitring parties; in one of which the Americans lost major Morgan, a gallant officer, who was greatly Jamented. General Gaines arrived shortly after the coin

mencement of the siege, and being the senior officer, assumed the command. The British commander having reason to think that a sufficient impression had been made by the artillery, determined to carry the place by storm during the night; and the besieged, not knowing where the attack would be made, were prepared to meet it at every point. The fort and bastions were commanded by captain Williams of the artillery; the battery on the lake, by captain Douglas; a blockhouse by major Trimble ; the batteries in front, under captains Biddle and Fapning, supported by general Porter; and the whole body of artillery throughout the garrison, under major Hindman, The first brigade of infantry, under colonel Aspinwal, was posted on the right; and general Ripley's brigade, supported by Towson's battery, upon the left.

A few bours before the commencement of the assault, a shell thrown into the fort exploded a magazine, which was succeeded by a loud shout from the besiegers: the shout was returned by the garrison, accompanied by a discharge of Towson's heavy guns. At half past two o'clock in the morning of the 15th, two hours before day-light, a British column, under lieutenant-colonel Fischer, advanced to the attack, and proceeded to within about ten yards of the intrenchment, when a tremendous fire was opened upon it by the second brigade, under major Wood, and captain Towson's artillery, which compelled the assailants to fall back in confusion, Colonel Fischer, rallying his meu, led them on with redoubled fury, and was again repulsed, with still greater loss; but the possession of this battery being essential to the general plan of assault, he next endeavoured to carry his object by wading the lake : in this unsuccessful attempt a great number of his men, were either killed or drowned, and the remainder retreated to their encampment. The other British columns, having waited until the first was completely engaged, approached under colonels Scott and Drummond ; the former moving rapidly to the right along the lake, while the latter advanced to the assault in front. A vigorous attack made by the column under colonel Scott, was successfully resisted by the Douglas battery, the New York and Pennsylvania volunteers, a part of the ninth infantry, under captain Foster, and a six-pounder directed by colonel M‘Ree. Their fire was so well directed, that the advanced party paused at the distance of fifty yards, and then recoiled; but another .column composed of the bravest men, applied their scaling-ladders and mounted the parapet, notwithstanding

« AnteriorContinuar »