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FOR THE PORT FOLIQ.-MILITARY CHRONICLE.
CAPTURE OF FORT GEORGE.
The capture of York, in Upper Canada, opened the campaign of 1813. The troops which had been engaged in this ex. pedition, joined the army collected in the neighbourhood of Fort Niagara, about the middle of May. Preparations for an attack on Fort George, situated on the opposite side of the strait, had already far advanced under major-general Lewis, and were continued by the commander-in-chief, General Dearborn, with increased diligence. Batteries were erected, subsidiary to the fort, commanding the enemy's works; and boats were collected or constructed for the transportation of the troops. While these exertions for an attack were making on our part, the British were not inactive in providing means for defence; but both sides were permitted to pursce their respective labours unmolested. Those petty hostilities which disgraced the first year, and many subse- . quent periods, of the war, here gave place to a seemingly chivalrous forbearance. A slight incident interrupted this truce, and renewed all the horrors of warfare. Some boats, which had been built a few miles up the strait, were lanched and conducted down under the English batteries, with provoking indifference. The enemy, determined to punish this temerity, opened upon them a desultory and ineffectual fire. This occurred on the night of the
instant. It was probably the intention of the commanderin-chief to have reserved the fire of our batteries, until a simultaneous attack could be made in another quarter by the troops; but the fire, once communicated, could not be controlled, and kindled into flame all our artillery. Under the direction of colonel Porter, assisted by major Totten of the engineers, and captain Archer of the artillery, they poured red-hot shot into the enemy's combustible works, with such skilful efficacy, that, ere the dawn of morning, they were a levelled mass of smoking ruins. The prematurity of this attack somewhat diminished the satisfaction which was felt at its complete success. The army was not ready to take advantage of the discouragement and panic which the sight of his eviscerated fortress must have produced on the enemy. He had time to recover from his dejection, and renew his defences.
At length, on the 26th of May, our preparations were deemed sufficient, if not complete, and the army was directed to embark the next morning at two o'clock. The fleet under commodore Chauncey, which had arrived the night before, was at anchor off the creek (about four miles down the lake from Fort Niagara), where the army lay encamped. The following distribution of commands had previously been settled: viz. colonel Scott commanded the advance, amounting to about six hundred men, consisting of a detachment of the twenty-second regiment, Forsyth's corps of riflemen, two companies of his own regiment, the second artillery, one company of the third artillery, and a company of dismounted dragoons. The rest of the troops, exclusive of the light artillery, were divided into three brigades, amounting to about fourteen hundred men each—the first consisting of de
* It is believed that this was the 24th or 25th. Captain Vandeven. ter, of the quarter-master's department, conducted the boats
tachments from the sixth, fifteenth, and sixteenth regiments, and colonel M-Clure's corps of volunteers, was commanded by brigadier-general Boyd; the second, consisting of detachments from the fifth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and twentieth regiments, was commanded by brigadier-general Winder; the third, acting as a reserve, was commanded by brigadier-general Chandler. All these troops were to be embarked in boats. Colonel Macomb's corps of third artillery, to which the mariners were attached, baving arrived in the fleet, was not included in the first arrangement, but directed to remain on board, to act as the commander-in chief-who, although sick, was likewise to be there-might deem necessary. The immediate command of the troops was assigned to major-general Lewis.
Every exertion was made to insure a punctual obedience of the orders of the commander-in-chief; but difficulties, inseparable from embarkations of this kind, delayed the departure of the troops until about sun-rise. At that time, the divisions of boats were seen moving, in prescribed order, on the smooth surface of the Ontario. The fleet weighed anchor and accompanied them. A dense fog rested on the face of the waters, and veiled their movements.
The points of attack had previously been determined. A brief topographical explanation will indicate and render them understood. The course of the Niagara, strait for about one mile from its mouth, describes the segment of a circle, its convex side formed by the American shore. Fort George stands on the Canadian side, about thirteen hundred yards from the lake; the village of Newark interjacent. A cleared level plain lies between Newark and the lake. Skinting this plain and the rear of the village, is a thick wood, which, commencing on the lake, spreads, with the exception of a few farms, over the adjacent country. The lake-shore of this plain, and particularly of the wood, is steep, high, and rather difficult of ascent, declivous a few yards from the brink, and forming a natural breast-work. The woody part of this shore was selected as the principal point of attack. Auxiliary to this main attack, and by waỹ of diver. sion, a company of light artillery, and a squadron of dragoons, under colonel Burn, were directed to march up the right bank of the strait, and threaten a passage to intercept the route leading to Queenstown. Our batteries were likewise opened, early in the morning, upon all the enemy's works.
About nine o'clock a. M., when our fleet and boats had arrived within 'about two miles of the Canadian shore, a brisker breeze sprung up, dispersed the fog, and unveiled them to the enemy. The ascending vapours, gilt by the bright sun, Aoating above,-the lofty fleet and bannered boats, moving below, together formed a scene at once imposing and beautiful. The proud or anxious feelings of the combatants, subsided for a monrent, at the sight, into emotions far removed from the mood of war.
The enemy lay concealed within the woods, and sheltered behind the natural breast-work from the fire of our smaller vessels, which had already taken commanding anchorage near the shore. The advance, under colonel Scott, led the van,--the other brigades following in numerical order. As soon as the advance came within reach of his shot, the eneiny, with a kind of magical celerity, arose from his concealment, and poured upon our troops a severe, but ill-directed fire. Undismayed by this reception, our boats, disdaining to return a shot, only accelerated their course. They soon struck the beach, and leaping upon it, formed with rapidity, and rushed up the bank. The unbroken and far superior enemy soon obliged them to recoil. Two or three times, it is believed, this gallant little band ascended, with undiscouraged, but ineffectual valour, during the eight or ten minutes which intervened between the commencement of the attack and the arri. val of the first brigade. This brigade now joining the advance, the whole resolutely mounted the bank, and formed on its crest. A destructive fire was interchanged for about ten minutes, with equal obstinacy on both sides, when the different regiments being ordered to advance, the enemy gave way, and retreated upon the rear of the village. Just as the shout of victory proclaimed our triumph, the second brigade reached the shore. General Chandler's reserve and colonel Macomb's command followed in quick succession. The whole line now marched by the left into the contiguous plain, and forming there, waited the arrival of majorgeneral Lewis. In this position, the enemy, probably to stay our
progress, and mask his intended retreat, opened upon us a fire of sharpnel-shells from the village; but was soon silenced by our light artillery, under colonel Porter. Major-general Lewis now assumed the command, and directed a pursuit of the eyemy. Just as the head of our coluinn debouched from the village, the rear of the enemy's column was seen evacuating the fort. The pursuit was urged, but his main body was already out of sight. As the flag of the fort was still flying, captain Hindman was detached to take possession of it. A few officers preceded him. As they approached, a magazine exploded. The remembrance of York made them pause; but, entering immediately after, they cut down the flag-slaff, and the flag sunk among the ruins. Rejoining the column, they continued the pursuit towards Queenstown. Colonel Burn now crossed with his dragoons, and joined the army. An order from the commander-in-chief arrested their march, when within a few miles of Queenstown, and directed them to return and encamp at Newark. The day was now far spent, and the army exhausted; it retrograded to Fort George, and there reposed that night.
Thus closed the affair of the 27th of May. All that the bravery of troops or the activity of subordinate officers could perform, was achieved. There were many instances of individual bravery, which a more fortunate campaign might have emblazoned and kept in remembrance. If the enemy escaped capture, the fault was probably in the plan, not in the execution of it. The enemy were about three thousand strong; we mustered about five thousand. Considering this disparity in our favour, it was not, perhaps, unreasonable to expect the capture of the garrison, as well as the post. Surrenders e not always consequent on victories; and perhaps the best concerted measures might have been unavailing in this case; but errors which experience has detected, may be pointed out, without claiming the merit of discernment, or incurring the imputation of illiberality. In the first place, landing at that part of the shore which was covered with wood, appears to have been a grand mistake. The enemy had thereby the benefit of concealment, and the protection of a natural breast-work. Had the open plain been selected, the enemy must either have declined meeting us at the landing, or have