xt73xs5j9t53 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt73xs5j9t53/data/mets.xml Young, Bennett Henderson, 1843-1919. 1903  books b92-56-27063367 English J.P. Morton, printers to the Filson Club, : Louisville, Ky. : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Thames, Battle of, 1813. Battle of the Thames  : in which Kentuckians defeated the British, French, and Indians, October 5, 1813, with a list of the officers and privates who won the victory / by Colonel Bennett H. Young. text Battle of the Thames  : in which Kentuckians defeated the British, French, and Indians, October 5, 1813, with a list of the officers and privates who won the victory / by Colonel Bennett H. Young. 1903 2002 true xt73xs5j9t53 section xt73xs5j9t53 








                OCTOBER 5, 18I3


                Member of The Filson Club


    'ytutm to Tbv Flson clubh
          D 1903:






IN the year 1780 the battle of King's Mountain was
    won by colonial backwoodsmen in the midst of con-
ditions not unlike those of 1813, when Kentuckians won
the battle of the Thames. The disasters which befell the
Americans before both of these battles filled the public mind
with a despondency which hung like a funeral pall over
sorrowing patriotism.  Isaac Shelby, the first and the
sixth governor of Kentucky, was a leader in both of these
battles, and the antecedents, the surroundings, and the
consequences of each of them were as like as his com-
manding person in both.
   Before the battle of King's Mountain the outlook for
the Americans, especially in the South, was through thick
gloom. Gates, with the glory of Saratoga blazing upon
him, had suffered a disastrous defeat at Camden. Sevier,
who was supposed to be always upon his guard, was sur-
prised at Fishing Creek. But worst of all Lincoln, after
failing to recover Savannah, had lost Charleston at the end
of a long and distressful siege. Ferguson, the able model
in the South for the weak Proctor in the North, flushed


iv                      Preface

with British victories over the Americans, was literally
riding roughshod over the Carolinas and filling his
regiments with Tories in numbers that threatened to
overrun the whole country.
   The conditions in the North, and especially in the
Northwest, were no less discouraging. The Americans
had held Fort Harrison, Fort Stephenson, and Fort
Meigs, but the surrender of Detroit and Mackinac, and
the massacres at Fort Dearborn, Fort Meigs, and the
river Raisin had more than eclipsed the glory of all
other quarters.  Proctor, reeking with the  blood his
treachery and brutality had drawn from fallen foes, stood
forth like a demon incarnate to desolate the land with
all the horrors of a savage and none of the ameliorations
of a civilized war.
   The victory of Perry on Lake Erie, like a bright
morning risen upon a dark night, lighted the way for the
Americans not only to recover Detroit but to invade
Canada and strike at the source of the ills that had
befallen them. The Americans were quick to see the
advantage of this naval victory and lost not a moment to
turn it to their full advantage. The thunder of Perry's
guns upon the water had scarcely died away when the
tramp of Shelby's regiments on their way to Canada
was heard upon the land. When they reached Malden


                        Preface                     v

they found the enemy had fled, but with the eagerness
of famished tigers in the pursuit of their prey they fol-
lowed and overtook them in battle array at a chosen
point on the river Thames, protected by a precipitous
bank on their left and by an impassable swamp on their
right. The strong position chosen by the enemy was at
once recognized by the Americans, but - they were so
eager to avenge the massacre of their fellow-soldiers that
they would have attacked them had their numbers been
twice as great and the fortifications of nature double as
strong around them.
   The advantages of position were with the enemy at
the battle of the Thames, as they had been in the battle
of King's Mountain. The British had in each instance
the field of their choice. At the Thames the Americans
had not to point their guns upward as at King's Mountain
to dislodge the enemy, but had to shoot at them around
trees and through swamps which would have discouraged
any other troops. No advantage of position, however, in
favor of the enemy could have slaked the thirst for battle
which was consuming every American heart.
  Beside the massacre of their brethren at Fort Dearborn
and Fort Meigs and the river Raisin, the Americans
remembered atrocities, barbarities, and oppressions in the
more distant past which helped to fire their spirit. The



conduct of Great Britain against the United States had
been such for years before as to excite the public mind to
fever heat. The forcible taking of sailors from our ships
on the high seas and impressing them into the British
marine; the blockading of our seaports to the ruin of our
commerce, and worst of all, the arming, clothing, and
feeding of savages while they tomahawked and scalped
our helpless women and children raised public indignation
to such a height that the sight of an English soldier
excited a hatred that made every man an avenger.
Leading men everywhere in the United States reached
the conclusion that war, though a terrible evil, was a less
evil than to endure such outrages and oppressions.
   No secret was made of the determination of the people
that the United States would go to war with England if
such outrages continued. The matter was openly debated
in Congress and the newspapers of that day were full of
fiery articles on the subject, and politicians everywhere
made inflammatory speeches about it. Even the plan of
the initial campaign of the war was shadowed forth in the
proposed conquest of Canada, by the orators and writers
of the day. Some were opposed to the war, but enough
were in favor of it to bear down all opposition. War
against Great Britain was therefore declared by the United
States, June i8, 1812.




  The eighteenth publication of the Filson Club is prin-
cipally concerned with the war that followed this declara-
tion as it occurred in the Northwest. It was soon evident
after the declaration that we were not ready for war,
especially for the campaign in the Northwest. An inade-
quate number of undisciplined infantry were expected to
invade Canada and conquer it, without a navy and in spite
of the armed vessels of the enemy that floated upon the
lakes and protected Canada. Neither was our army ready
with officers or soldiers, or arms, or supplies. A beginning
had to be made, however, and when the initial steps were
taken it was found that the enemy, forewarned by our
proceedings in Congress, by our newspapers and our
stump orators, were better prepared for the fight than
those who had sent the challenge.
   The campaign began by the invasion of Canada by
Hull on the 12th of July, 1812. Instead of Hull attacking
Maiden he spent his time in trying to induce the Canadians
to come under the American flag and the Indians to keep
quiet, until he learned that the British were not as idle as
he was and were aIout ready to make an attack on him.
He then crept back to Detroit and there began that dis-
graceful series of acts which led to the surrender not only
of his army but of the whole Northwest frontier. His first
step after returning to Detroit was to get his supplies



viii                    Preface

from the river Raisin, where the enemy had blockaded
them, by sending an inadequate force, which was defeated.
He then sent a larger force, which after defeating the
enemy were withdrawn without getting the much-needed
supplies. While these unmilitary acts were progressing
and a third party had been sent to the river Raisin for
the supplies, General Brock marched his army to Sand-
wich, planted cannon so as to command Detroit, without
any interference on the part of Hull, and when ready for
bombarding demanded and secured the surrender of Hull,
August i 6, 1812, without the American general accom-
plishing anything but to cover himself with everlasting
disgrace. The fortress of Detroit and the territory of
Michigan, with a population of five thousand souls and
one thousand four hundred soldiers, with arms, ammuni-
tion, and supplies went from Hull to Brock by the
   Previous to the surrender of Detroit, Fort Mackinac
had been taken by the British, on the 17th of July, 1812.
Lieutenant Hanks was in command of the fort, but had
not been advised of the declaration of war until the enemy
were upon him. The garrison, consisting of only fifty-
seven effective men, could do nothing but surrender when
taken by surprise, as they were, by an overwhelming



   Hull's order to Captain Heald to evacuate Fort Dear-
born after distributing the stores to the Indians led to a
fearful massacre of the occupants of the fort on the 15th
of August, 1812. The Indians, who had promised to
conduct the garrison safely to Detroit, proved to be
treacherous, and either slaughtered or permitted others
to slaughter those they had promised and been paid to
protect. The massacre had all the horrors of Indian
barbarity in tomahawking and scalping not only soldiers
but women and children.
   Things had thus gone fearfully wrong in the year 1812,
the first year of the war. On the 8th of September,
however, a small bright spot appeared in the dark sky of
that period. The Indians attacked Fort Harrison, on the
Wabash, and set it on fire and seemed to be in the act of
taking it. But it was heroically defended by Captain
Taylor and saved. As the year 1812 ended so the year
1813 began with a show of favor to the Americans by the
God of War. The soldiers sent by General Winchester
to Frenchtown met the British there and defeated them
January i8, 1813. The defeat, however, was of short dura-
tion. On the twenty-second the British were reinforced
from Malden and the Americans from Fort Meigs. A
second battle ensued, in which the Americans were defeated
with great loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners. On the



x                       Preface

twenty-third followed such a massacre of the prisoners and
wounded by the Indians as has seldom occurred in the
annals of civilized war.
   There was another serious disaster to our arms in the
year 1813. It occurred at Fort Meigs on the 5th of May,
and came of Colonel Dudley either not understanding or
disobeying the orders given to him to take the English
batteries and then make his way to the fort. Instead of
doing this he took the batteries and then pursued the
Indians. In so doing he lost eight hundred men and left
the enemy's batteries to continue playing upon the fort.
   This bad current of events began to change for the
better in the second siege of Fort Meigs in May, i813.
It gained strength and flowed stronger in the defense of
Fort Stephenson August 2d, and yet stronger in the
victory of Perry on Lake Erie September ioth. The
decisive victory of Perry on the lake removed all obstacles
in the way of General Harrison to Detroit and into
Canada, and the battle of the Thames soon followed.
  This battle of the Thames is the subject of the follow-
ing pages. It was no big thing compared to armies as
now organized and brought against one another, but it was
immense in its influence on the War of 1812. It was like
the battle of King's Mountain in the Revolutionary War.
It came at a time when the Americans were full of gloom.



It dispelled that gloom and displayed a clear sky to the
American armies. Cornwallis felt as much despair in the
death of Ferguson as Harrison felt hope in the flight of
   It is not always best in a preface to anticipate too
much of what is said in the text. The story of the Battle
of the Thames is better told in the text than it can be
told in an introduction, and it is well to leave the reader
to learn what is said in the text of the author. He may
sometimes be thought to color his facts with the hues of
romance, but if they are thereby made more interesting
to the reader no harm can come of such a departure from
cold and naked narrative. Even if he should now and
then be thought to substitute creations of a vivid imagi-
nation for dry historic facts, the reader may be benefited
by the change, whether cold history approve or not.
Differences of opinion have always existed as to certain
facts about the battle of the Thames, and they may con-
tinue to exist after this or any other essay on the subject.
What battle was ever fought about which all historians
perfectly agreed
   One valuable feature of this account of the battle of
the Thames may be pointed out. It is the appendix, in
which the names of all the officers and soldiers who took
part in this battle are given. The descendants of these



xii                     Preface

heroes are now scattered far and wide over the land, and
they can but be pleased to see the names of their ances-
tors mentioned in a victory so glorious as that of the
Thames. These names are given as they appeared in
their regiments and companies, and the names of the
privates are alphabetically arranged, so that it is not diffi-
cult to find any one of them. The numerous illustrations
are also worthy of mention in this preface. The principal
persons engaged in the battle are represented by halftone
likenesses, which are the very best of their kind, and
worthy of the images they are intended to preserve.
   There will also be found in the appendix a sketch of
Oliver Hazard Perry, and the names of the Kentuckians
known to have been with him in the battle of Lake
                             R. T. DURRETT,
                                 President of The Filson Club



CHAPTER                                             PAGE
     PREFACE.  .  . .  . .  . .  . . .  . .  . .  I
         ARMY.   . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  29
         ING ENEMY, .52
 IV ARRIVED AT THE BATTLEFIELD,  . . . . . . .     67
 V  THE BATTLE AND THE VICTORY,  . . . . . . . 75
 VI AFTER THE BATTLE .   . . . . . . . . . .       94
 VII THE END .   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
     APPENDIX.  .  . . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  . .  199



COLONEL BENNETT H. YOUNG ...         ..................... ... Fron/isfiece

MOUND ON BATTLEFIELD OF THE THAMES           .    .    .      8

THAMES RIVER, LOOKING SOUTH FROM MOUND ..... ...............       16



GENERAL JOHN POAGUE      ........................................  38


THE BATTLEFIELD OF THE THAMES           ..............................  68

THE HOSPITAL BARN.       ..........         ..o........ S


GOVERNOR ISAAC SHELBY ...................................... .    I 10

GENERAL WILLIAM HENRY ....................     ..I       I6

GENERAL JOSEPH DESHA     ....................................s i8

GENERAL WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON ......        ...................... 120

GENERAL JOHN EDWARD KING                .     .     .      122

GOVERNOR JOHN ADAIR .        .............................. I ......... 124

GENERAL JAMES ALLEN      ........................................  128

COLONEL GEORGE TROTTER .................................... 130

GENERAL DAVID CHILES .        ....................................... 132

WILLIAM T. BARRY, POSTMASTER-GENERAL ............   ............ 134

J. J. CRITTENDEN                  .        .       .       140

COLONEL JAMES JOHNSON    .................................... .   146

COLONEL MICAH TAUL .       .........................................  160

COLONEL JOSEPH MCDOWELL ........        ...........................  162

MAJOR DEVALL PAYNE        ........................................ 170

GENERAL ROBERT B. MCAFEE .................................. 172
TECUMSEH ................................................... 180

COLONEL RICHARD M. JOHNSON              .      .     .     186

COLONEL JAMES DAVIDSON    ..................................... 190



This page in the original text is blank.





THE War of i812 was one of tremendous importance
      to the future development of the United States.
      Although thirty years had elapsed since the decla-
ration of peace, after the War of the Revolution, the
relations between England and the United States had
never been harmonious or fully adjusted.  There had
grown up in England, among many of its leading men,
the idea that in some way, somehow, at some time,
the United States would return to their allegiance to
Great Britain.
  In those days of slow communication the public at
large were not kept well informed of the conditions of
public sentiment in the United States, and the England
of that period could not understand how people who
spoke the English language and fashioned their laws
after English jurisprudence could desire any other system
of government than that then in vogue in England.
  Then, again, the English people were niever satisfied
with the result of the War of Independence ; they never


2             The Battle of the Thames

believed that they were fairly vanquished in that struggle,
and there was a strong undercurrent in the English
nation which, if it did not suggest, at least desired
another test of arms. That the Colonies would set up a
permanent government of their own in the Western
World on their own account did not appear reasonable
or possible, and, by a majority of the people in Great
Britain, it was expected that the republic would collapse
and the American nation again accept British sovereignty.
   England, then relatively the greatest nation on earth,
felt her power; she was insolent, rude, and domineering
toward the United States.  The English nation felt that
they had nothing to lose by a war with the United
States and would probably gain much; therefore Amer-
ican rights were ignored and American protests given no
consideration whatever.
   Through a long line of mean, petty aggressions, Eng-
land placed the United States in a position where, to
maintain even a semblance of national self-respect, war
became necessary.
   Under Mr. Jefferson's administration vessels had been
taken and wrongs had been suffered because the national
and commercial conditions of America were such that
Mr. Jefferson's party thought the taking of vessels the
lesser of evils.


The Batile of the Thames

   Many of the American people thought the conduct of
the administration at Washington was pusillanimous;
especially in the Southern and Southwestern States public
spirit had long before demanded an appeal to arms as
the only vindication of American nationality.
   On the first of June, 1812, James Madison, President
of the United States, had presented a manifesto to the
Senate and House of Representatives, communicating
certain doctrines and making suggestions, and, in effect,
advising a declaration of war.    In this manifesto Mr.
Madison says:

   We behold, in fine, on the side of Great Britain, a state of
war against the United States, and on the side of the United
States a state of peace toward Great Britain.
   Whether the United States shall continue peaceful under
these progressive usurpations and these accumulating wrongs or,
opposing force to force in defense of their natural rights, shall
commit a just cause into the hands of the Almighty disposer of
events, avoiding all connections which might entangle it in a
contest of views with other powers, and preserving a constant
readiness to concur in an honorable re-establishment of peace
and friendship, is a solemn question which the constitution wisely
confides to the legislative department of the Government.

   This manifesto was an able and complete presentation
of the wrongs which England had inflicted upon the
United States, but in the then divided sentiment in this



The Battle of the Thames

country as to either the policy or the safety of a decla-
ration of war, Mr. Madison had gone fully as far as
political wisdom would admit.
   This message of the President was referred to the
Committee on Foreign Relations, which made its report
to the House, and resulted, after several days' debate, in
passing an act declaring war between the United King-
dom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Dependencies
thereof and the United States of America and their
   The causes which led up to the war had existed for
twenty years. England, with a persistence and with a
spirit of insolence unworthy of a great nation, had ignored
the rights of the United States, had assumed to be
mistress of the ocean, and had practically declared that
the United States had no rights that Great Britain was
bound to respect.
   For many years British cruisers had held up American
merchant vessels on the ocean and carried off persons
sailing under the American flag, claiming that England,
by reason of the nationality of these sailors, had the
right to take, capture, and hold them wherever found.
This course was persisted in without a hearing or inves-
tigation before a competent tribunal; the search was
exercised in a summary, harsh, and cruel manner, and



The Battle of the Thames

the rights of citizens of the United States or sailors of
the United States were thus subjected to the will or
caprice of any commander of any English war-vessel.
   Under pretext of search for these British subjects,
thousands of American citizens had been taken from
their country, had been carried on board of English
ships of war, subjected to the severest discipline, and
compelled to fight England's battles.
   Against such wrongs and outrages the United States
had in vain remonstrated and    expostulated, and the
United States had gone so far as to offer to enter into
an arrangement by which, if there were any British sub-
jects in American vessels, they  might, under proper
restrictions, be delivered up.
   In addition to this British ships of war had hovered
along the American coast and harrassed American com-
merce. They had seized and searched American vessels
and had in American harbors shed American blood in
pursuance of these extraordinary and unlawful methods.
  At every opportunity American commerce had been
plundered on the seas and the staples of America had
been cut off from all foreign markets.
  England had taken the position that while she was at
war with France all French allies or countries from which
the British flag was excluded were subject to the same



The Battle of the Thames

restrictions as if blockaded, and all vessels trading with
these ports were subject to English capture and con-
demnation. This practically meant that England had
entire domination of all oceans, and that commerce was
forbidden and every vessel driven from the ocean unless
sailing under the British flag.
   Under this extraordinary claim many American vessels
were seized, carried into English ports, and condemned
as prizes of war, while others were compelled to cease
their ocean trade, and the commerce of the United States
was thus substantially destroyed.
   To give effect to these demands American ports were
blockaded and impressments made by British cruisers in
American waters.
   Again, Great Britain had continued to excite hostility
among the American Indians against the United States,
had supplied them with arms and munitions of war, and
had openly and constantly encouraged savage assaults on
the American frontier. It was also proven that England
had sent agents secretly into the United States to disrupt
the United States and to endeavor to have States secede
from the Union while the two countries were negotiating
an adjustment of their differences.
   The American public mind had now become so fixed
in its determination to resist English aggressions and



The Baffle of the Thames

wrongs that it would have been extremely difficult to
longer restrain it.  Therefore the Committee on Foreign
Relations closed its report with these thrilling words:

   Your Committee, believing that the freeborn sons of America
are worthy to enjoy the liberty that their fathers purchased at
the price of so much blood and treasure, and seeing in the
measures adopted by Great Britain a course commenced and
persisted in which might lead to the loss of national life and
independence, feel no hesitation in advising resistance by force,
in which the Americans of the present day will prove to the
enemy and the world that they have not only inherited that
liberty which our fathers gave us, but also the will and power
to maintain it. Relying on the patriotism of the nation and
confidently trusting that the Lord of Hosts will go with us to
battle in a righteous cause and crown our efforts with success,
your Committee recommend an appeal to arms.

   War was declared by this act, passed on the i8th of
June, i812, which was immediately approved by the
President, and on the i9th of June President Madison
issued a proclamation of war.
   In the Senate the vote stood nineteen for the war and
thirteen against it, showing a very close division of public
sentiment on the subject.
   In the House there were ninety-eight yeas and sixty-
two nays.
   New Hampshire voted three for the war, two against it.



The Battle of the Thames

   Massachusetts, six for the war, eight against it.
   Rhode Island voted two against the war.
   Vermont, three for the war, one against it.
   Connecticut voted seven against the war.
   New York voted three for the war, eleven against it.
   New Jersey, two for the war, four against it.
   Pennsylvania, sixteen for the war, two against it.
   Delaware gave one vote against the war.
   Maryland gave six for the war and three against it.
   Virginia, fourteen for the war, five against it.
   North Carolina, six for the war and three against it.
   South Carolina, eight for the war, none against it.
   Georgia, three for the war, none against.
   Kentucky, five for the war, none against.
   Tennessee, three for the war, none against.
   Ohio, one for the war.
   Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Delaware were solidly
against the war, while South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky,
Tennessee, and Ohio were solidly for the war.
  No war with so brief a duration was ever marked
with more -disasters or mistakes, and while these mistakes
were not exclusively confined to the American armies a
large proportion of them happened on the American side.
The United States was not prepared for the war, but the
conduct of England became so insulting and degrading









This page in the original text is blank.


The Battle of the Thames

that there was nothing left to do but to fight, and Mr.
Madison's predecessors had not made that preparation
which was essential to the preservation of peace or to fit
the nation for war, when war, which was inevitable, should
occur. There was no enthusiasm for the war in many
States of the Union.  The narrow margin, both in the
Senate and House of Representatives, in favor of war
was an unmistakable indication that the whole country
was neither willing nor prepared for hostilities.  Six
majority in the Senate and thirty - six majority in the
House was a very slim vote on which to enter into a
conflict with a nation like Great Britain; with Rhode
Island, Connecticut, and Delaware solidly against the
war, and Massachusetts eight against it, with New York
eleven against and three for, and New Jersey four against
and two for. The condition of the public mind was not
prepared to enter upon a great conflict and fight out a
great issue with a nation like Great Britain, then con-
fessedly the most powerful of the world.
   This difference of sentiment hampered American effort
and destroyed American enthusiasm; it made the men
less brave and the generals less confident. With foes in
front and foes behind no man can often lead an army to
a great victory.  The nation desired peace, the majority
of those who had fought in the Revolutionary Army still



IO            The Battle of the Thames

lived. Indian aggressions on the frontier had produced a
depressing effect, but it is just to say that the States
like Tennessee and Kentucky, Georgia and Ohio, which
would suffer most, were those which were most anxious
and earnest in their demands for hostilities. The anti-
war spirit was especially strong in New England. The
legislatures of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New
Jersey protested against the war, and the shipping interests
of Boston hung flags at half-mast expressive of their
disapproval of what Congress had done.
   It took some months to create real enthusiasm in the
quarters where it was most needed to give the armies
of the United States proper backing, and     the very
first results of the war were such as to justify those who
opposed it with their prophecies of evil.   The men
who were appointed first in military positions were men
who had been prominent in the Revolutionary War and
greatly advanced in years. As a result of this, operations
were slow, the march of forces was timid, and movements
hesitating.  Unfortunately for the United States, General
William Hull was Governor of the Territory of Michigan.
No man in the country could have been found less fitted
for the exigencies or the conditions which were sure to
arise at one of the most important points of contact
between the armies of the two countries.


              The Battle of the Thames               II

   In the beginning of 1813 the American Army was
organized in three divisions:  First, the Army of the
North, under General Wade Hampton, which was to act
in the country around Lake Champlain; second, the
Army of the Center, under General Henry Dearborn,
which was to conduct operations on Lake Ontario and
the Niagara frontier; third, the Army of the West, com-
manded by General Winchester for a short time and
subsequently by General Harrison. After the defeat at
the River Raisin General Harrison located himself at the
Maumee Rapids, fifteen miles from Lake Erie, in what
is now known as Perrysburg, in Wood County, Ohio.
General Proctor had besieged these forces, and on the
5th day of May occurred the disaster in which Colonel
Dudley and the troops led by him were captured and so
many Kentuckians massacred, but the Americans now
returned to their old way of fighting, and Proctor was
driven off. In July the siege was again renewed, with no
better results. The Americans maintained themselves
with gallantry and courage, and George Crogham, a mere
youth, on August 2d, with one hundred and sixty men,
inflicted a tremendous loss upon the British troops and
held Fort Stephenson in such a way as not only to make
him a hero, but to encourage the American soldiers in
subsequent conflicts.


I2            The Ba/te of the Thames

   The capture of York, now Toronto, in April, the activ-
ity under Generals Dearborn and Pike, and the defense
of Sackett's Harbor, again gave encouragement; but these
were offset in turn by disasters on Lake Ontario and
the defeats at Stony Creek and Beaver Dams. Thus a
year of war left the Americans without a signal victory
on land, and practically nothing to compensate for the
loss of life and property which twelve month