Opposing Fleets on Lake Ontario in 1814 -- Yeo Captures Oswego -- British squadron of Boats Taken At Salmon River -- Battle of Chippewa -- Battle of Lundy's Lane -- Fort Erie Invested -- British are Repulsed -- Schooners Somers and Ohio Lost -- Three-decker New Orleans -- St. Lawrence Launched -- Events on the Upper Lakes -- Expedition against Mackinac -- Schooner Mink Captured -- Schooner Perseverance Destroyed -- Fort Mackinac Invested -- Schooner Nancy is Taken -- Tigris and Scorpion Taken by the British -- Peace Is Declared.
DURING the winter of 1813-14 active preparations had been going on both at Kingston, Ontario, and Sacket's Harbor for the war on Lake Ontario during the summer of 1814. If there was any difference between the energy of the respective forces at the two places, Commodore Yeo had the advantage. He was ready for the campaign before Chauncey. The Prince Regent and the Princess Charlotte were launched on April 15, and his six original cruisers had all been renamed, some of them had been repaired, and his schooners had been converted into brigs. The Wolfe, Melville. Royal George, Earl of Moira, Beresford, and Sydney Smith had become the Montreal, Niagara, Star, Charwell, Netly and Magnet. Following is the list of his vessels, together with their rig, tonnage, crew and armament:
Yeo Captures Oswego. -- In the spring of that year there was a large quantity of stores and provisions at and near Oswego, a knowledge of which fact came into possession of Sir James Yeo. These stores and provisions Sir James determined to capture or destroy, and with this purpose in view he embarked 1,080 men on May 3, General Drummond embarking on the 4th. As before stated, Chauncey was not then ready for sea, and there was no one to defend these stores except the garrison at Oswego, which place is sixty miles from Sacket's Harbor. The fort at Oswego mounted only six guns, and there were about 300 men there on duty, chiefly light artillery, with probably about fifty militia, all under command of Colonel Mitchell. The Growler was in the harbor, with seven guns on board, destined for Sacket's Harbor. This vessel her commander sank, but after the battle was over she was raised and carried away by the British. The attack was made on the 6th, the Princess Charlotte, Montreal and Niagara engaging the batteries, while the Star and Charwell filled the woods with grape in order to clear them of militia.
The Montreal sustained nearly the entire fire of the forts, and was much cut up in her hull, masts and rigging. She was set on fire three times, but it was put out each time. Under cover of the cannonade 800 British troops landed, besides 200 seamen, who made an attack upon the fort and carried it by storm. Mitchell fell back to the fails of Oswego, twelve miles, where was the largest quantity of stores, and which Sir James might have captured had he known of their existence or cared anything about them. But instead of following Mitchell up the river he returned to Kingston, after capturing and destroying the guns of the fort, raising the Growler and taking away a considerable quantity of booty besides. In this battle the Americans lost 6 killed, 38 wounded and 25 missing, while the British loss was 22 killed and 73 wounded, a total of 95, nearly a third of the American force engaged.
On the 19th of the month, after being in Kingston about two weeks, Sir James again weighed anchor, and, crossing the lake, established a rigid blockade at Sacket's Harbor. Chauncey had been making strenuous efforts to get his fleet ready, having converted his schooners of the year before into transports, except the Sylph, and on February 2 had laid the keel of two 22-gun brigs, the Jefferson and the Jones, and had one large frigate, named the Superior, under way. The Superior was designed in the first place to carry 50 guns, but upon being informed that the British were building a very large war ship, he decided to enlarge the Superior to carry 62 guns. The Jefferson was launched April 7, and the Jones on the 10th, and the Superior on May 2, an attempt on the part of the British to destroy her by blowing her up having been frustrated some days before. Another frigate, the Mohawk, was at once begun.
When Commodore Yeo appeared off Kingston, Chauncey was making strenuous efforts to get the Superior ready for sea, but the heavy guns and cables necessary to complete her equipment had not arrived, and as these could only be brought forward by water, and as the port was blockaded by the British squadron, it was dangerous to attempt to bring them forward at all. To get the guns forward must be undertaken at all hazards, and Captain Woolsey was entrusted with the task. They were at Oswego Falls, and Captain Woolsey undertook to get them to Stony Creek, three miles away from Sacket's Harbor.
British Squadron of Boats Taken at Salmon River. -- At sunset on May 28, Woolsey left Oswego with nineteen boats carrying 21 long 32's, 10 long 24's, 3 42-pound carronades, and 10 cables, one of the latter for the Superior, being a rope 22 inches in circumference and weighing 9,600 pounds. On the morning of the 29th at sunrise the boats were off Salmon river, and as it was unsafe to travel by daylight, Woolsey ran up into Big Sandy creek, eight miles from the Harbor, with eighteen of his boats, one of them getting out of line and running directly into the British squadron with its 2 long 24's. Sir James thus being informed as to what was going on immediately determined to capture the entire outfit, sending out for this purpose a squadron of boats containing 180 men -- one boat armed with one 68-pound gun and one 24-pound carronade, and the other armed with a long 32-pound gun. These two armed boats were accompanied by three cutters and a gig mounting between them two long 12's and two brass 6's. This force ran up Sandy creek on the morning of the 3Oth, but the force turned out to be wholly inadequate for the object they had in view, for Woolsey had been re-inforced by some Oneida Indians, a company of light artillery and some militia, so that he felt justified in not only attempting to repel any attack that might be made on him, but also in attempting to capture the entire expedition sent out against him. Sending Major Appling down the river with about 120 riflemen and some Indians to lie in ambush, he anticipated the approach of the British with some anxiety, but with hope of capturing them. When they approached Major Ap-pling's position, he opened fire upon them, with such a destructive effect that they were at once thrown into confusion and stampeded, the entire outfit being captured with but little resistance, as is shown by the number of lost on the American side, only one man slightly wounded, while the British loss was 18 killed and 50 wounded.
On June 6, Sir James raised the blockade of Sacket's Harbor, and by July 31 Commodore Chauncey was ready to sail with his fleet. Sailing up to the head of Lake Ontario he intercepted the small brig Magnet. The Sylph was sent in to destroy her, but her crew ran her ashore and burned her. The Jefferson, Sylph and Oneida were then left to watch some other craft in the Niagara, and the Jones was kept cruising between Sacket's Harbor and Oswego, Chauncey at the same time with his four largest ships blockading Sir James' four largest ships in Kingston. The four American vessels were in the aggregate of 4,398 tons, were manned by 1,350 men, and presented 77 guns, firing a broadside of 2,328 pounds of shot, while the British fleet was in the aggregate of 3,812 tons, was manned by 1,220 men, presented in broadside 74 guns, firing 2,066 pounds of shot. It was because of the superiority of the American fleet that Sir James declined to come out to fight.
General Brown, at the close of June, 1814, was on the east bank of the Niagara river, with his headquarters at Buffalo. In his judgment he had a force of sufficient strength to successfully invade Canada, and his plan was to threaten Forts George and Niagara, carry Burlington Heights and York, and then proceed to Kingston, provided Chauncey would co-operate with his fleet and keep him supplied with provisions. To this request Chauncey sent reply that he intended to seek and find the enemy's fleet, and that he should not be diverted from his purpose. Chauncey remained off Kingston harbor, blockading Yeo. On September 21 he transferred General Izard with 3,000 men from Sacket's Harbor to General Brown, and then returned to Kingston, where he remained until the large vessel, then being built at Kingston, a two-decker carrying 120 guns, and named the St. Lawrence, was completed. He then retired to Sacket's Harbor. Commodore Yeo came out of Kingston with his fleet October 15, and went down to the Niagara frontier, where he assisted the British army until the close of navigation, about November 21.
General Brown made an attempt to invade Canada just below Fort Erie, and on the 2nd of July issued orders to cross the river from Black Rock. This force was under General Scott, and another force was ordered to cross above Fort Erie under General Ripley. Fort Erie was invested, and soon surrendered.
Battle of Chippewa. -- General Riall in command on the British side, apprised of the danger impending at Fort Erie, immediately sent forward from below Chippewa five companies of the Royal Scots, to re-inforce that fort; but, when in front of Chippewa, they were met by the information that the surrender had already been made. General Riall then determined upon fighting the Americans on the Canada side of the river, the result being the battle of Chippewa, one of the most fiercely contested and important battles on the Niagara frontier, and indeed of the war. This battle was fought July 5 between about 1,700 British and 1,300 Americans, and after various fortunes and misfortunes on either side, was at length won by the Americans, though claimed by both sides as a victory. The fighting was severe on both sides, and was altogether creditable to the soldiers of the two opposing armies, as is fully attested by the losses, the Americans losing in killed 61, and in wounded 255, and 19 missing, while the British loss was 236 killed, 322 wounded, and 46 missing.
It was just after this success that General Brown wrote to Commodore Chauncey, as noted above, asking for his assistance. Failing to receive the assistance of Chauncey, General Brown returned to the battlefield of Chippewa, arriving there on the 24th, and there rested his army during the night and most of the next day. On the night preceding the 24th, Lieut.-Gen. Sir George Gordon Drummond landed at the mouth of the Niagara river, having come up the lake on the fleet from Kingston, bringing with him 800 men to re-inforce General Riall. Riall and Drummond formed a junction on the Niagara without being discovered by General Brown, and when General Scott, always active and eager for distinction in his country's service, asked permission to go down to the mouth of the river and attack the forts there, he was given 1,200 men, and started down. This was in the afternoon of the 25th, a day long to be remembered by both Canadians and Americans.
Battle of Lundy's Lane. -- General Scott started down the river about 5 o'clock in the afternoon, and was surprised to find the enemy in superior force, drawn up to meet him at Lundy's Lane. As it was impossible to retreat without throwing the army in his rear into a panic, Scott instantly determined to fight and to make the British general believe he had the whole American army at his command. The battle was fought with great courage and determination on each side, until half-past ten that night, when the British were driven from the field, their commanding general, Riall, having been taken prisoner by accident about 9 o'clock. Not long afterward the Americans "retired also from the field," leaving the battery they had fairly captured in the position it had occupied during the battle. Next morning, when General Ripley moved forward to bring off the cannon, he found them again in possession of the British, and there was no more fighting. Both parties had lost heavily, and both claimed the victory. The Americans lost 171 killed, 571 wounded, and 110 missing, a total loss of 852, while the British lost 84 killed, 559 wounded, and 193 missing, besides 42 prisoners, a total loss of 878.
Generals Brown and Scott being both severely wounded, the command devolved upon General Ripley, who determined to cross the Niagara with his army, and abandon Canada altogether. General Brown, then at Black Rock, promptly interfered, and by positive orders to General Ripley insisted that the army should take a strong position in Fort Erie, and should strengthen those works. Labor was continued on the fortifications from July 27 until August 2.
Fort Erie Invested. -- General Drummond, re-inforced by about 1,100 men of General De Watteville's brigade, determined to invest Fort Erie, and, August 2, it was discovered that the British were approaching that fort. Besides the fortifications already thrown up, the Americans were protected by the schooners Porcupine, Somers and Ohio, formed in line on the water side of the fort, thus completing the inclosure of the American camp. Drummond's plan was first to capture the batteries at Black Rock, and then to capture or destroy the armed schooners, before laying regular siege to Fort Erie, and with this end in view he sent over Lieutenant-Colonel Tucker, with a detachment of troops in nine boats to attack the batteries. Landing about half a mile below the mouth of Scajaquada creek, he found himself confronted by Major Morgan with about 240 riflemen, besides some volunteers and militia, and, after two unsuccessful attempts to land, was driven back across the river.
General Drummond then had to content himself with laying siege to Fort Erie, which went steadily forward from that time until August 14, on which day, at midnight, an assault was made upon the works, which was kept up with terrible energy until daylight, the defense being equally brave and determined. The British had before then secured possession of one of the bastions of the fort, and it seemed impossible to dislodge them, until all at once a terrible explosion occurred directly beneath them, in which fragments of timber, stones, earth and men's bodies were thrown into the air about 200 feet, and they were enveloped in disaster. This was the final blow to the British in the contest.
How this explosion occurred is differently explained. General Drummond said that it was through the accidental ignition of ammunition, unfortunately placed under the platform, which had caught fire from the firing of the guns in the rear; while Lossing presents evidence that it was because of the explosion of a magazine directly beneath the British, touched off purposely by the Americans. The loss to the Americans in this siege of Fort Erie was 17 killed, 56 wounded and II missing; while the British lost 221 killed, 174 wounded, and 186 prisoners.
Schooners Somers and Ohio Lost. -- The Americans also lost the schooners Somers and Ohio, which on the night of the 12th had been captured and carried away, while the Porcupine drove off her assailants.
British are Repulsed. -- Immediately after this siege both parties began preparations for another contest, and until the middle of September each was constantly re-inforced. By this time the Americans had 27 guns in position and 3,000 men behind them. General Gaines was then in command, but on account of a shell falling through the roof of his tent, exploding at his feet and severely wounding him, he was compelled to retire and relinquish the command to General Brown, who though not fully recovered from the wounds received at Lundy's Lane, was yet able to assume this responsibility. On the 17th General Brown planned a sortie on General Riall's position, and on the same day Gen. Peter B. Porter, who had for many years been a prominent citizen of Black Rock, was ready to co-operate with General Brown with 2,000 men. Brown's troops were soon in motion, divided into three separate corps, one of which was General Porter's. The sortie was in all respects a success, the British being driven from the position they had selected and occupied for some time in anticipation of another attack on Fort Erie, the Americans losing in the attack 80 men killed, and more than 400 wounded and missing, while the British loss was about 500 in killed, wounded and missing, besides 385 taken prisoners. General Drummond then fell back to his old camp ground, behind Chippewa creek.
General Izard's division, which had been ordered up to the lakes, reached Sacket's Harbor on the very day this sortie took place, and at once resolved to move westward. On the 21st he embarked in Chauncey's fleet 2,500 infantry, and directed his dragoons and light artillery to move by land by way of Onondaga. Izard and his infantry reached Genesee river on the 21st, where they disembarked next day, and began their march toward the Niagara frontier on the 24th, reaching Lewiston on the 5th of October. Moving up to Black Rock, he crossed the Niagara river on the 10th and 11th, and took command of the forces there, General Brown retiring to Sacket's Harbor.
Soon General Izard had nearly 8,000 troops under his command, and, leaving a sufficient garrison at Fort Erie, he moved with his army toward Chippewa, having a sharp engagement on the way at Cook's Mill on Lyon's creek, in which his troops were successful, the British losing about 150 in killed, wounded and missing, while his loss was 12 killed, 54 wounded and one prisoner. Drummond, perceiving that the American force was too strong for him, fell back to Fort George and Burlington Heights.
Active operations then ceased for the season, winter rapidly coming on. General Winder led a portion of General Brown's forces to Sacket's Harbor, and a portion of them went to Greenbush, and still another portion to Erie, while General Izard ordered that Fort Erie be blown up, as it would be of no further use that season, the explosion occurring on November 5, 1814.
The Three-Decker New Orleans. -- The building of the St. Lawrence at Kingston by the British in the summer of 1814 led to the construction at Sacket's Harbor of a vessel to match the British double-decker, which was intended to carry about 120 guns. This American was built under the supervision of Henry Eckford, and was named the New Orleans. Her construction was rushed forward with great rapidity, for according to Hough's History of Jefferson County, N. Y., she was built between the time of the signing of the treaty of Ghent, December 24, 1814, and the date of receiving the news of the treaty having been signed. She was to have been a three-decker, pierced for 110 guns below her upper deck, and to carry 120 guns in all, 18's and 44's. Her frame was completed, and her planks nearly all on when the glad tidings of peace caused work upon her to cease. She was never launched nor completed, but instead a spacious house was erected over her, and she was well taken care of until February 18, 1880, on which day a violent storm blew down her ship house, and on February 9, 1884, she was sold to Alfred Wilkinson, of Syracuse, and torn down.
Her dimensions were as follows: Length over all, 214 feet; keel, 187 feet; beam, 56 feet, and depth of hold, 47 feet, and she was designed to draw 27 feet of water. She was of 3,200 tons burden. During the many years of her existence she was visited by many thousands of people, especially on public occasions, as a historic reminder of the times when Sacket's Harbor was the seat of war between the United States and Great Britain.
Had the war lasted until the next year Chauncey would have had the advantage, for besides the New Orleans he had another vessel under course of Construction, to be called the Chippewa. This vessel was being built further up the bay at Storr's Harbor. This was to have been an 84-gun ship, of the same mold as the New Orleans, but not so large. The Chippewa was not housed as was the New Orleans, and was sold at auction many years before the larger vessel. Some have believed that these vessels were put together with copper bolts, but according to information sent the writer by W. B. Camp, of Sacket's Harbor, this was not the case. But Mr. Camp says that copper sheeting was found on the bottom of the frigate and the gunboats when the magazines were placed.
St. Lawrence Launched. -- On the Canadian side the St. Lawrence was launched on October 2, 1814, and on the 15th of that month she sailed with Sir James Yeo on board and nearly 1,000 men. She was accompanied by four ships, two brigs and a schooner, and for the remainder of the season Sir James was lord of the lakes.
In 1814 Capt. Arthur Sinclair was placed in command of the lakes above Niagara Falls, and active preparations were now put on foot to take Mackinac. An expedition for this purpose had been planned immediately after the battle of the Thames, but it was prevented by the delay in the arrival of the two boats, the Chippewa and Ohio, which had been sent for provisions. These vessels had encountered a storm, and were stranded off the lower end of the lake. Early in April, 1814, the expedition was again started, with the two-fold object of taking the fort and of destroying some boats the English were building in Gloucester bay. This too, was temporarily abandoned, partly because it was thought Great Britain would not endeavour to retain possession of the upper lakes, and partly because of a misunderstanding between General Harrison and Colonel Croghan, who commanded at Detroit, and the Secretary of War.
Expedition Against Mackinac. -- But the plan was revived, and a squadron, consisting of the United States sloops of war Niagara and Lawrence, carrying twenty guns each, and the smaller schooners Caledonia, Scorpion, Tigris, Detroit, and others, and a land force of 750 men placed on board. Commodore Sinclair was the naval commander, and Lieut.-Colonel Croghan, who had gained distinction by his defense of Sandusky in 1812, was in command of the militia. Ambrose R. Davenport, who had refused to take the oath of allegiance to the British crown on the taking of Fort Mackinac, was chosen as quartermaster and guide. On July 3, the fleet set sail. High hopes of success and glory cheered both officers and men, but disappointment awaited them. They made every effort to gain Gloucester bay, and destroy the vessels supposed to be there, but the islands and sunken rocks in Lake Huron threatened destruction to the fleet, and dense fogs prevailed. Provisions were growing short, and the fleet pushed on to the head waters of the lake.
Schooner Mink Captured. -- When near-ing their destination, a counsel was called to decide whether they invest Fort Mackinac, or attack St. Joseph. The latter course was pursued. On July 20 they arrived at St. Joseph, but found the place deserted. They burned the fort, leaving the town and the Northwest Company's storehouses uninjured. While windbound at this point, Sinclair captured the Northwest Company's schooner Mink, from Mackinac to St. Mary's with a cargo of flour, and by this means received intelligence that the schooner Perseverance was lying above the Falls of St. Mary's, at the foot of Lake Superior, in waiting to transport the Mink's cargo to Fort Williams.
Schooner Perseverance Destroyed. -- Sinclair immediately dispatched Lieutenant Turner to capture her and, if possible, get her down the falls. Colonel Croghan attached Major Holmes with a party of regulars to co-operate in the expedition, in which the capture of St. Mary's was included. The following is Lieutenant Turner's official report, dated U. S. Schooner Scorpion, off Michilimackinac, July 28, 1814.
Sir: -- I have the honor to inform you, that agreeable to your orders of the 22nd inst., I proceeded to Lake Superior with the launches. I rowed night and day; but having a distance of sixty miles, against a strong current, information had reached the enemy at St. Mary's of our approach about two hours before I arrived at that place, carried by Indians in their light canoes; several of whom I chased, and by firing on them and killing some, prevented their purposes; some I captured and kept prisoners until my arrival, others escaped. The force under Major Holmes prevented anything like resistance at the fort, the enemy, with their Indians, carrying with them all light valuable articles, peltry, clothes, etc. I proceeded across the strait of Lake Superior without a moment's delay; and on my appearance, the enemy, finding they could not get off with the vessel I was in quest of, set fire to her in several places, scuttled and left her. I succeeded in boarding her, and by considerable exertions extinguished the flames and secured her from sinking. I then stripped her, and prepared for getting her down the falls. Adverse winds prevented my attempting the falls until the 26th, when every possible effort was used, but I am sorry to say without success, to get her over in safety. The fall in three-quarters of a mile is fifty-five feet, and the channel very rocky; the current runs from twenty to thirty knots, and in one place there is a perpendicular leap of ten feet between three rocks; here she bilged, but was brought down so rapidly that we succeeded in running her on shore below the rapids before she filled, and burned her. She was a fine new schooner, upwards of 100 tons, called the Perseverance, and will be a severe loss to the Northwest Company. Had I succeeded in getting her safe, I could have loaded her to advantage from the enemy's storehouses. I have, however, brought down four captured boats, loaded with Indian goods to a considerable amount; the balance contained in four large and two small storehouses, were destroyed, amounting in value from fifty to one hundred thousand dollars. All private property was, according to your orders, respected. The officers and men under my command behaved with great activity and zeal, particularly midshipman Swartwout.
On the return to St. Joseph, the squadron at once proceeded to Fort Mackinac, arriving there on the 26th. Colonel McDonald, the British commander, had made the most of his opportunities in strengthening his fort, during the interval given him by the American tactics. All weak points in the fortifications had been strengthened, and Indian aid summoned.
Fort Mackinac Invested. -- Sinclair went as near to the channel between the islands of Round and Mackinac as the batteries would permit and anchored on the eastern extremity of Round island, where he thought he would be out of range. Scarcely had the anchors reached the bottom when the whizzing balls warned them they were still too close, and they were compelled to move toward the island Bois Blanc, when Croghan dispatched an officer with a number of men, and Mr. Davenport as guide, to reconnoitre the enemy's position and find the most advantageous spot on which to erect the battery. Several landings of troops were made upon the island, but the numerous bands of skulking savages constantly harassed them with considerable loss, Major Holmes being among the slain. The attempt to wrest Fort Mackinac from the English by force, and the island upon which it stood, was finally abandoned.
Having failed in the reduction of Fort Mackinac, which Sinclair denominated a perfect Gibraltar, measures were taken to starve it into submission, by cutting off its supplies. The troops, with the exception of three companies, were dispatched in two vessels to join General Brown on the Niagara, and the remainder of the squadron directed its course to the east side of the lake, to break up any establishment which the enemy might have in that quarter. They proceeded to the mouth of the Nottawasau-ga, in hopes of finding the enemy's schooner Nancy, which was thought to be in that quarter. On August 13 the fleet anchored off the mouth of that river.
Schooner Nancy is Taken. -- An old English author, James, in his "Naval History of Great Britain," gives this account of the capture of the Nancy: "The Nancy was lying about two miles up the Nottawasauga under the protection of a block house situated on the southeast side of the river. This enabled Captain Sinclair to anchor his vessels within good battering distance of the block house. A spirited cannonade was kept up between them and the block house, where, besides two 24-pounder carronades on the ground, a six pounder was mounted. The three American vessels outside, composed of the Niagara, mounted eighteen carronades (thirty two pounders) and two long twelve-pounders, and the Tigris and Scorpion mounted between them one long twelve and two long twenty-four pounders. In addition to this force, a five and a half inch howitzer, with a suitable detachment of artillery, had been landed on the peninsula. Against these twenty-four pieces of cannon and upward of 500 men were opposed one piece of cannon and twenty-three officers and seamen.
"Further resistance was in vain, and just as Lieutenant Worsley had prepared a train, leading to the Nancy from the blockhouse, one of the enemy's shells burst in the latter and both the blockhouse and the vessel were presently blown up. Lieutenant Worsley and his men escaped in their boat up the river and, fortunately, the whole of the Northwest Company's richly laden canoes, bound across the lake, also escaped into French river. Having thus led to the destruction of a vessel which the American commander had the modesty to describe as ' His Britannic Majesty's schooner, Nancy,' Captain Sinclair departed for Lake Erie, leaving the Tigris and Scorpion to blockade the Nottawasauga, and, as that was the only route by which supplies could be readily forwarded, to starve the garrison at Michilimackinac into a surrender. After remaining at their station for a few days, the two American schooners took a trip to the neighborhood of St. Joseph. Here they were discovered, August 25, by some Indians on their way to Michilimackinac."
After the destruction of the Nancy, her captain, with several of his men, proceeded to Fort Mackinac. Provisions were getting low; the men were subsisting on half rations, and had already been reduced to the necessity of killing several horses to ward off starvation. A long and dreary winter was near at hand. An expedition was at once fitted out by Colonel McDonald, consisting of a force of 150 sailors and soldiers, and 250 Indians, in open boats, to break the blockade, if possible.
Tigris and Scorpion taken by the British. -- On September 3, at 6 o'clock p. M. , they found the Tigris at anchor, and came within one hundred yards unobserved, when a smart fire of grape and musketry was opened upon them. They advanced, and, two boats boarding her on each side, she was carried, after a short contest, in which the British lost seven men killed and wounded, and the Americans, out of a crew of twenty-eight, had three killed and two wounded. The prisoners having been sent to Mackinac, the Tigris was got under way the next day, still keeping the American colors flying, and proceeded in search of the Scorpion. On the fifth, they came in sight of her, and, as those on board knew nothing of what had happened to the Tigris, were suffered to approach. At daylight the next morning, the Tigris was again got under way, and running alongside her late consort, the British carried her by boarding, after a short scuffle, in which four of the Scorpion's crew were killed and wounded, and one of the British wounded. The schooners had on board large quantities of arms and ammunition.
Mackinac was left in the hands of the English until peace was declared. In the spring of 1815, the post was evacuated by the English, and a company of American troops, under Colonel Chambers, took peaceable possession.
Peace is Declared. -- Peace was arranged between the two governments at Ghent, December 24, 1814, fifteen days before the battle of New Orleans. By this treaty provision was made for definitely determining the boundary line between the United States and Canada, from the point where the forty-fifth degree of north latitude strikes the "River Iroquois or Cataraguy" (St. Lawrence) to Lake Superior, in accordance with the intent of the Treaty of 1783, and also from the water communication between Lake Huron and Lake Superior to the northwesternmost point of the Lake of the Woods; to decide to which party the several islands lying in the lakes, water communications and rivers respectively belong, and to particularize the latitude and longitude of the northwesternmost point of the Lake of the Woods.
The commissioners of each government who met at Ghent were instructed by their respective governments to exclude, if possible, the other party from the lakes; but this was found impracticable, and the British commissioners, under instructions from their home government, gradually receded from this point, as from many other points, during the long summer and fall of 1814, and the treaty was concluded as noted above. It did not in any way touch upon the question of American and British naval forces upon the lakes.
In April, 1817, an agreement was entered into at Washington to the effect that but one vessel of not more than 100 tons burden, and armed with one 18-pound gun, should be maintained by each of the two nations on Lakes Ontario and Champlain. This agreement having been approved by each of the two governments, it was announced by a proclamation issued by President James Monroe, April 28, 1818. The Lady of the Lake with three pivot guns on deck, and the brig Jones, with 18 guns on deck, were kept up until this agreement was announced; the Pike, Jefferson, Mohawk, Madison, Superior and Sylph having been dismantled soon after peace was declared. The Jones and fifteen barges were, in 1816, reported in good order. Most of these vessels were covered with a roof, but in the annual returns to the department were successively marked "much decayed," "sunk," "useless," etc., until March 3, 1824, when an Act was passed directing that all public vessels on Lakes Erie and Ontario, except the ships of the line, New Orleans and Chippewa, then on the stocks under cover, should be sold, and the avails should be applied to the repair and building of sloops of war. The Lady of the Lake continued to be kept up until the passage of this Act.
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Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.