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The War With the United States : A Chronicle of 1812 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 103 pages of information about The War With the United States .
out of their quarters to see what the matter was.  A stiff hand-to-hand fight followed.  But every American attempt to form was instantly broken up; and presently the whole place surrendered.  Drummond, who was delighted with such an excellent beginning, took care to underline the four significant words referring to the enemy’s killed and wounded—­all with the bayonet.  This was done in no mere vulgar spirit of bravado, still less in abominable bloody-mindedness.  It was the soldierly recognition of a particularly gallant feat of arms, carried out with such conspicuously good discipline that its memory is cherished, even to the present day, by the 100th, afterwards raised again as the Royal Canadians, and now known as the Prince of Wales’s Leinster regiment.  A facsimile of Drummond’s underlined order is one of the most highly honoured souvenirs in the officers’ mess.

Not a moment was lost in following up this splendid feat of arms.  The Indians drove the American militia out of Lewiston, which the advancing redcoats burnt to the ground.  Fort Schlosser fell next, then Black Rock, and finally Buffalo.  Each was laid in ashes.  Thus, before 1813 ended, the whole American side of the Niagara was nothing but one long, bare line of blackened desolation, with the sole exception of Fort Niagara, which remained secure in British hands until the war was over.

CHAPTER VI

1814:  LUNDY’S LANE, PLATTSBURG, AND THE GREAT BLOCKADE

In the closing phase of the struggle by land and sea the fortunes of war may, with the single exception of Plattsburg, be most conveniently followed territorially, from one point to the next, along the enormous irregular curve of five thousand miles which was the scene of operations.  This curve begins at Prairie du Chien, where the Wisconsin joins the Mississippi, and ends at New Orleans, where the Mississippi is about to join the sea.  It runs easterly along the Wisconsin, across to the Fox, into Lake Michigan, across to Mackinaw, eastwards through Lakes Huron, Erie, and Ontario, down the St Lawrence, round to Halifax, round from there to Maine, and thence along the whole Atlantic coast, south and west—­about into the Gulf of Mexico.

The blockade of the Gulf of Mexico was an integral part of the British plan.  But the battle of New Orleans, which was a complete disaster for the British arms, stands quite outside the actual war, since it was fought on January 8, 1815, more than two weeks after the terms of peace had been settled by the Treaty of Ghent.  This peculiarity about its date, taken in conjunction with its extreme remoteness from the Canadian frontier, puts it beyond the purview of the present chronicle.

All the decisive actions of the campaign proper were fought within two months.  They began at Prairie du Chien in July and ended at Plattsburg in September.  Plattsburg is the one exception to the order of place.  The tide of war and British fortune flowed east and south to reach its height at Washington in August.  It turned at Plattsburg in September.

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