Page images

the Union, have been offended at it; not considering that in the position in which they were placed, a tremendous responsibility devolved upon them; they had not only to supply the deficiency of the National government, in providing for defence against a foreign foe, but to guard against the violations of the Constitution, by the encroachments of that administration. Their efforts to preserve the integrity of the State governments, to save the militia from conscription, to make a stand against the mismanagement of the finances, and prevent the whole country from being cursed with the evils of a depreciated currency, will be remembered, and when the passions of the day have subsided, be justly appreciated.

We come now to the work under consideration. The author was the principal engineer in that military division, and an eye witness of the most remarkable events that took place before New-Orleans. The work is divided into two parts, an historical memoir, containing 251 pages, and an appendix of 190 pages, comprising all the documents relating to the campaign. The atlas accompanying the work, has eight maps and plans, of all the military operations that took place in that quarter, at Fort Bowyer, and Fort St. Philip, as well as before New-Orleans. A portrait of General Jackson is given, which, it may be presumed, has the merit of resemblance, since it has no other, and is really too mean a specimen of art, to accompany a volume so respectable. In the preface, the author gives some short account of the political causes of the war; these have been the subject of endless discussion, and we have no desire to advert to them, but if we had, his opinion, that the Embargo was a wise measure, and that its repeal was unfortunate, would be sufficient to make us relinquish it. Perhaps it may look like arrogance, but in this part of the country at least, opinion is decided with regard to that execrable system`; and an argument would no more be held with a person who should approve it, than with one who should deny a demonstration in geometry.

Major Latour commences, by some observations on the notoriety that was given early in the spring, by the British government, and their newspapers, openly talking of the intended expedition to Louisiana: and yet, "that as late as in the month of September, nothing had been done in the way of effectual preparations, to put that country in a state

of defence." The operations in this quarter were com menced, by a small expedition, the naval part under the command of Captain Percy, and the troops under Colonel Nicholls. They landed and took forcible possession of Pensacola, and were aided by the Spaniards in all their proceedings; they collected all the Indians that would resort to their standard, and Colonel Nicholls began his career by a flaming proclamation, truly ludicrous. He then sent an officer to the piratical establishment at Barataria, to enlist the Chief, Lafitte, and his followers in their cause; the most liberal and tempting offers were made them. These people however, shewed that they were not destitute of all princi ple; they deceived the English by delay, conveyed intelligence of their designs to the Governour at New-Orleans, and offered their services to defend the country. Disappointed in securing their aid, the expedition proceeded to the attack of Fort Bowyer, on Mobile point, confident of success, having loudly boasted to the Spaniards that they would bring them the garrison as prisoners. This brave garrison, commanded by Major Lawrence, was only composed of 130 men, officers included. The force brought against it consisted of two sloops of war, and two brigs, and the number of men on board and on shore amounted to more than 1300. The result was a loss to the besiegers of more than 200 men; the Commodore's ship was so disabled that they set fire to her, and she blew up, and the remaining three vessels, shattered and filled with wounded men, returned to Pensacola. The enemy being thus sheltered in this place, where they were busily occupied in bringing over the Indians to join them, General Jackson formed an expedition of about 4000 men, regulars and mili tia, to go and dislodge them. He summoned the place, and was refused entrance by the Spanish Governour, and his flag of truce was fired upon; the British soldiers being in the forts where their flag had been hoisted, in conjunction with the Spanish, the day before the American forces appeared. Preparations were immediately made to carry the place; one battery was taken by storm, with slight loss on either side; the Governour then surrendered the place, the English having previously retired on board their ships. The forts below, which commanded the passage, were blown up, and this enabled the ships to put to sea. General Jackson then evacuated the Spanish territory, and marched his

Vol. III. No. 8.


troops back to Mobile and New-Orleans, which he reached himself on the second day of December. The author thus describes the state of things on his arrival.

"The situation of our country at that period, owing to the proximity of the enemy-the number of whose ships of war on our coast was daily increasing-was critical in the extreme but the unbounded confidence which the nation in general had in the talents of General Jackson, made us all look up to that officer, as a commander destined to lead our troops to victory, and to save our country. It is hardly possible to form an idea of the change which his arrival produced on the minds of the people. Hitherto partial attempts had been made to adopt measures of defence; the legislature had appointed a joint committee of both houses, to concert with the Governour, Commodore Patterson, and the military commandant, such measures as they should deem most expedient; but nothing had been done. There was wanting that concentration of power, so necessary for the success of military operations. The citizens, having very little confidence in their civil or military authorities, for the defence of the country, were filled with distrust and gloomy apprehension. Miserable disputes on account of two different committees of defence; disputes, unfortunately countenanced by the presence and influence of several publick officers, had driven the people to despondency; they complained, and not without cause, that the legislature wasted time, and consumed the money of the State, in idle discussions on empty formalities of election, while all their time, and all the wealth they squandered, might be profitably employed in the defence of the country. Credit was annihilated-already for several months had the banks suspended the payment of their notes; to supply the want of specie, one and three dollar notes had been issued, and dollars had been cut as a substitute for small change. On the banks refusing specie, the monied men had drawn in their funds, which they no longer lent out, without an usurious interest of three or four per cent. per month. Every one was distressed; confidence had ceased; and with it, almost every species of business.

[ocr errors]

"Our situation seemed desperate. In case of an attack, we could hope to be saved only by a miracle, or by the wis dom and genius of a commander-in-chief. Accordingly, on

his arrival, he was immediately invested with the confidence of the publick, and all hope centered in him. We shall, hereafter, see how amply he merited the confidence which he inspired."

General Jackson reviewed a corps of volunteers the day of his arrival, and immediately proceeded to visit the next day, every post in the neighbourhood, to give orders for adding fortifications, and establishing defensive works and out-posts in every spot where the enemy might be expected; as there was the greatest uncertainty where the landing would be made. Commodore Patterson, commanding the naval force on the station, had received notice, by an anonymous letter from Pensacola, of the arrival of the enemy's fleet on the coast. The author has here occasion to remark, on the gross neglect which had been shewn towards the defence of Louisiana, though he is willing to absolve the Administration from all blame. We were equally neglected in this quarter, but are less disposed to acquit those who had the management of publick affairs, and who were exhausting all their resources in a senseless attack upon Canada, and building ships of the line on Lake Ontario. Had there been twenty-five or thirty gun-boats for the defence of Lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain, it is probable that they would have been sufficient, by assuming a station in the narrow passes, to have defeated all attempts at invasion through those Lakes, in which case the enemy must have gone to Florida, and then would never have reached NewOrleans. But in the only district where they could be of real and effective service, there were only five of these disastrous favourites to be found. These were indeed made the most of, and the gallant contest they maintained, is almost a solitary item to be placed to the credit of the gunboat system, which had well nigh destroyed our navy, after costing the nation several millions of dollars! The command of these gun-boats was entrusted to Lieutenant Thomas Ap Catesby Jones, who was directed to watch the movements of the enemy, and if they advanced in superiour force, to make good his retreat through Lake Borgne, which lake, it must be understood, is a bay of the sea, to the pass of the Rigolets, which communicates between this lake or bay and Lake Pontchartrain. In pursuance of this duty, he sailed to Dauphine Island, and as he discovered the fleet advancing, endeavoured to gain the Rigolets; having been from

the 9th of December to the 13th, on this service, reconnoitring: they on the 13th, were obliged to anchor by Malheureux Island, near the bottom of Lake Borgne, the wind having died away, and the current being strong against them. The water was so shallow that the boats were several inches in the mud, which prevented their making any change of position. In this situation they were attacked on the 14th by forty barges and launches, containing 1200 men-one of the launches had a long brass 12 pounder, the other a long nine-each of the barges a carronade from nine to twenty-four calibre. Our force mounted 25 guns, and contained 182 men. It is needless to say, that after a gallant conflict, the whole were taken by this vast disparity of force, after having six men killed, and thirty-five wounded; among whom were almost all the officers. The loss of the enemy was estimated at upwards of three hundred, with a large proportion of officers, and the commander, Captain Lockyer, received three severe wounds; the official report to Admiral Cochrane, states the loss in killed and wounded, at 94: the truth may, perhaps, be half way between the two accounts. That the official reports are not to be confided in exactly, may be gathered from the following fact among others. There was a sloop rigged boat accompanying the gunboats, which had been constructed originally for a gig, and brought to Lake Borgne on a waggon. Captain Lockyer, in his report, thus narrates her capture: "Observing also, as we approached the flotilla, an armed sloop endeavouring to join them, Captain Roberts, who volunteered to take her with part of his division, succeeded in cutting her off and capturing her, without much opposition." On this Major Latour had made the following note: "This armed sloop,' which required a division of barges to capture her, mounted one four pounder, and carried eight men." In making the return of the vessels captured, she is put down "armed sloop, one long six pounder, two twelve pound carronades, with a complement of 20 men,"


The loss of the gun-boats, after a contest which added to the reputation of our navy, left no means of watching the movements of the enemy, or ascertaining where the landing would be made. Orders were given for increased vigilance at every post; the people of colour were formed into a battalion; the offer of the Baratarians to volunteer, on condition of a pardon for previous offences, if they conducted

« PreviousContinue »