The day before the event just mentioned, Scott had written and dispatched a note “To the Commanding Officer of the Armed British Vessels in the Niagara”:
“HEADQUARTERS, EASTERN DIVISION, U.S. ARMY,
“TWO MILES BELOW BLACK ROCK, January 15, 1838.
“SIR: With his Excellency, Governor Marcy, of New York, who has troops at hand, we are here to enforce the neutrality of the United States and to protect our own soil or waters from violation. The proper civil officers are also present to arrest, if practicable, the leaders of the expedition on foot against Upper Canada. Under these circumstances, it gives me pain to perceive the armed vessels mentioned, anchored in our waters, with the probable intention to fire upon that expedition moving in the same waters. Unless the expedition should first attack—in which case we shall interfere—we shall be obliged to consider a discharge of shot or shell from or into our waters, from the armed schooners of her Majesty, as an act seriously compromising the neutrality of the two nations. I hope, therefore, that no such unpleasant incident may occur.
“I have the honor to remain, etc.
The next morning, January 16th, the same information was given by General Scott to a British officer who called on him at his quarters. The Barcelona moved up the river, and Scott had his cannon pointed and his matches in readiness for firing. Scott stood on the highest point in full uniform and in view of the other shore. The vessel passed up unmolested, and doubtless by this act of Scott a war was averted.
In the meantime Van Rensselaer with his adherents had evacuated Navy Island and landed some miles below, where they were arrested by General Scott’s orders. Thus ended a disturbance which might have resulted in war, and it can not be gainsaid that its peaceful settlement was due to the wisdom, firmness, and prudence of General Scott.
Annexation of Texas—Causes that led to annexation—Message of the President—General Scott’s letters regarding William Henry Harrison—Efforts to reduce General Scott’s pay—Letter to T.P. Atkinson on the slavery question—Battle of Palo Alto, and of Resaca de la Palma, Monterey, and Buena Vista—“The hasty plate of soup”—Scott’s opinion of General Taylor—Scott ordered to Mexico—Proposal to revive the grade of lieutenant general, and to appoint Thomas H. Benton—Scott reaches the Brazos Santiago—Confidential dispatch from Scott to Taylor—Co-operation of the navy—Letters to the Secretary of War as to places of rendezvous—Arrival and landing at Vera Cruz, and its investment, siege, and capture—Letter to foreign consuls—Terms of surrender—Orders of General Scott after the surrender.