Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Second Attack on Fort Meigs Part II

This past weekend I was out in Fremont, Ohio, taking part in the reenactment/ town pageant/ open-air theater commemoration of the attack on Fort Stephenson on August 2, 1813. It was a pretty fun event, even if my US artillery gun crew was portraying Royal Artillery gunners (they wear the same blue coats and yellow tape) alongside a gun crew wearing Civil War uniforms. But more about that later. Today I'll finish the narrative for the second battle of Fort Meigs:

From Lt. Joseph H Larwill's journal, July 21 1813:
You could by sunrise see the enemy's vessels about 3 miles below and the Indians around us in every direction with some British diving away our cattle and horses. What they could not get they would shoot down. The works of the savage was as much here depicted as in anything else. When they shot down some fine steers they would cut out small parts, take the tongue out and otherwise mangle the beast. A smart firing commenced by about 9 am from the Indians in the woods. Their balls done very little execution, being prevented by our pickets and traverses.
Every person was engaged in placing the garrison in as good a state of defense as possible, throwing up cross traverses, securing our magazine, having the troops that was not on fatigue to guard the pickets and block houses. This day was principally occupied in making preparations  for defense. The batteries and block houses was occupied with cannon and infantry. Capt. Cushing commanded the Grand Battery, B. House no. 1, Small Battery. I had command of B. houses no. 7 & 6 on the rear line of the camp. At the other batteries and block houses was placed in a similar situation. Capt. Cushing had the command of the whole.
By evening our traverses bore a different aspect and every person in the garrison appeared anxious to see the enemy attempt to attack the fort. The Genl. (Brigadier General Green Clay, Kentucky Volunteer Militia) issued orders that the troops should be stationed at the pickets, one third stand at their posts at a time, the others lay down by the pickets to be ready on any alarm.
July 22:
 By 1/2 past 1 am all was under arms at their posts. By sunrise the Indians made their appearance, kept up a smart fire, wounded a few individuals in the camp. The British column was plain to be seen at the old British garrison (Fort Miamis, across the river). This morning the British amused us with their Music- French horn and morning gun. This day I had the pleasure of having a fair shot at an Indian with my US rifle out of the block house I commanded. He was dist. 180 yards and in full form. The men who saw me shoot says that I certainly killed him. If I did not I ought, as I had and took deliberate aim at him. The enemy still hover around us. This night an express was dispatched to Genl. Harrison. Fair weather. All hands at their posts during the course of the day. At night as before.
July 24:
 This morning Indians seen in every direction around us. Kept up a smart fire in our garrison on us. We returned it with equal warmth. Whenever they appeared in view, fired several shorts from the different batteries and block houses. Lieut. Lovejoy, who was stationed at Portage or Carrying River (the Portage Blockhouse), arrived in camp about 10 am at a fortunate moment, as the Indians had retired from the route through which he passed. This day I had another tolerable fair shot at an Indian from the same place I before had, and the Indian was at the same place also. This shot was not so fair as before. Had two shots at them with the cannon, brass 12-pounder. They immediately upon firing the cannon, which was loaded with canister shot, gave the yell and dispersed. The shot went among them. Whether it done any execution or not have not ascertained. This evening an express went to Genl. Harrison. Men as usual at their posts and the same regulation kept in camp. All at their posts by 1/2 past 1 am.
 July 25:
This morning an express arrived from Genl. Harrison bringing us the pleasing intelligence that our vessels on the Lake was ready for sea. Troops was on their march to Lower Sandusky where was a considerable force there. Things have the same appearance as before. The firing kept up occasionally as before, bodies of mounted Indians to be seen on the opposite side of the river, passing and repassing upriver. Fine Day.
July 26:
Express starts this evening to Genl. Harrison.
July 27:
This day the Indians assembled in the woods at the rear of our camp. In the afternoon commenced a heavy fire. Appeared like an engagement with a considerable of a force. This was intended to decoy us out of the garrison, believing that we might think that they had attacked our troops that might be coming on to reinforce us. They keep up a continual yell and fire with rifles and musketry for 1 hour. Finding that all did not go out to meet them, they returned disappointed.  During this time all was ready and anxious to have an opportunity to engage the enemy. This afternoon, had a very heavy rain. wind from NW.
 Supposedly, the mock battle was interrupted by a heavy rainstorm.

July 28:
This day the wind shifted to SW. The vessels set sail down river and upwards of 200 sail, large and small, was discovered, so having from ten to 40 men each. Most of the former number.
 Most of General Procter's regular troops were transported on small barges or batteaux, since the larger ships of the Royal Navy squadron were busy blockading the American base at Erie, Pennsylvania.

July 29:
  The Indian force about us was inconsiderable. Few guns was fired at us. Believe that there was only small parties left to watch our movements. I forgot to mention in the foregoing part of this that the night before the siege commenced, that Capt. Martin of the spies went out on a scout up the river, have not returned nor has anything been heard of them. Much anxiety has been created, fearing they may have been cut off by the Indians round us at the time of their going out the camp, which must certainly have been the case. The weather continues to be fine, clear sky.
July 31- Aug 2:
Capt. Martin and the spies return. He reports that he heard our fire on the morning of the 21st. He was then 15 miles up the river. He took the firing to be signals for his return. He came on the opposite shore within 1 mile of this, but could not get through for the Indians. He retreated to Fort Defiance, 45 miles up river, was closely pursued by Indians. He lost no men...