Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fort Meigs-- 1 May 1813


On this day, the bombardment of Fort Meigs by the British army commenced.

From the notebook of Major Chambers, 41st Regt.:
1st May 10 o'clock A.M. On a signal fired from the Myers the Batteries opened, consisted of one Battery of 2-24 Pounders and one 8 Inch Howitzer--- One Mortar D [ditto] of 2--51/2 inch, one Battery of two 12 Pounders and a Battery called the Sailors of one 12 Pounder--We expected great effect from our Guns, we were much disappointed the Enemy had  thrown up an Empailment [emplacement] which in a great measure sheltered them from our fire, and there were a great number of Traverses within their Fort. The Enemy fired occasionally at us without doing any injury.
 Captain Wood recorded that the traverses were finished just in time:
This particular peice of work was completed early on the morning of the first of May, just as it was discovered that  the enemy had finished three of his principal batteries had got his guns in, was then loading and bringing them to battery; when orders were directly given for all the tents in front [of the traverse] to be instantly struck and carried into the rear... and that beautiful prospect of beating up our quarters, which but an instant before presented itself to the view of the eager and skilful artillerists, had now entirely fled, and in its place suddenly appeared an immense shield of earth, obscuring from his sight every tent, every horse (of which there were 200) and every creature belonging to the camp.
 Captain Cushing's diary:
Saturday, May 1st-- At 2 o'clock in the morning the British opened their artillery upon our garrison from their gun-boats, which lay one and one-half miles below us, but it was without effect. At 8 o'clock they hoisted the red flag at their lower battery and commenced firing with 24, 12 and 6 pounders, and eight inch mortars. They fired at us this day 240 shot and shells; did very little damage. They continued firing shells through the night but not often, just enough to keep our camp from rest. We keep up a heavy fire on them all day from different parts of our camp, the Indians are very thick on our flank and in our rear. We have not more than two killed and four wounded today.
  From the memoirs of Adjutant Alexander Bourne, Ohio Militia:
Just before night [on April 30], the Adjutant Genl. informed, that I was appointed Adjutant of the day for the next 24 hours, & Major [John] Alexander of the Volunteers, field Officer of the day--& requested me to inform him of it-- I found him in the Marque of Col. [John] Miller [19th US Infantry], drinking brandy--He said he was unfit for duty, & I ought to have told him sooner--I told him I had just been informed of it myself--& as it was nearly dark, nobody would perceive his inebriety--& that I would attend to his duties, as far as it was admissible & taking him by the arm, we went to his marque & sat down--he lamenting his situation, & I cheering him up--
It  had become very dark, & we heard the report of a large cannon--I told him that it was from the enemy, & that we must go to head quarters immediately for special orders--he was afraid his situation would be discovered. I told him there was no alternative, if he did not go, he would be sent for, & we then went--The General was standing in his marque, surrounded by his staff--He asked me if I was on duty? I told him I was--He then said, "put out every light in the camp," "that the enemy may lose his aim"--
 ...I executed the order & returned to head quarters--when the General & staff, & all the Officers on duty, set out on the grand rounds, to see that all the guards were wide awake--It was extremely dark, wet, & muddy--we often fell down in the ditches--sometimes one or two upon the top of another-- the British firing slowly, without the least effect--for all their balls struck the bluff below us...
...The next morning the enemy opened all his batteries, & poured in a constant stream of 24 pound balls & 10 [8] inch bomb shells--his balls generally going through the front pickets above our heads & lodging in the traverse bank-- the shells falling & bursting, part of them inside of the fort, & the others outside-- We soon had a few men killed & wounded, & some mangled in a shocking manner, which was very revolting to my feelings at first--but I soon become accustomed to it...