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The Reign of George III. - (Concluded.) page 7

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On the 6th of August, the very day before Las Cases made this statement to lord Keith, Napoleon said to captain Maitland - " They say I made no conditions. Certainly, I made no conditions. How could an individual enter into conditions with a nation? I wanted nothing of them but hospitality, or, as the ancients would say, air and water." If he made no conditions, there is an end of the matter; but it may be as well to furnish the confirmation of count Montholon, who, before quitting the Bellerophon, pressed captain Maitland to accept from Napoleon his portrait set in diamonds. Maitland declined, and also mentioned how much he was hurt at the emperor charging him with making delusive promises to him. Montholon said that was Las Cases's representation; that he wanted to throw from himself the responsibility of inducing Napoleon to go on board a British ship; " But I assure you," he added, " the emperor is convinced your conduct has been most honourable;" and, taking his hand and pressing it, added, " and that is my opinion also." Yet, after all this, French writers have continued to repeat the charge.

Having failed to produce any effect by remonstrance, Buonaparte and his suite endeavoured to alarm the officers by menaces of committing suicide. Having delivered his protest, and written a second letter to the prince regent, Buonaparte shut himself up in his cabin, and would scarcely see any one. Madame Bertrand, who had done all in her power to persuade her husband to go back to Paris with her, and had even pretended to throw herself out of the cabin window on his refusal, now hinted that the emperor would not be found alive the next morning. General Lallemand added that, sooner than see the emperor taken to St. Helena, he would himself blow out his brains; on which lord Keith coolly replied, " Then you would get hanged."

The Bellerophon had been ordered to quit Plymouth Sound on the 4th of August, to put an end to the inconvenience of the perpetually crowding round the ship - sometimes not less than three thousand boats being assembled - and captain Maitland to ordered to cruise off the Stag till joined by Sir George Cockburn's squadron, bound for St. Helena. This took place the next morning, so that all this tempest of passion and remonstrance occurred whilst Sir George was waiting for his charge. But now Buonaparte - all the bluster, and menace of suicide, and blowing out of brains, being as ineffectual as the preceding remonstrance - gave an indication that he meant to comply by requesting captain Maitland to allow O'Meara, the surgeon of the Bellerophon, to accompany him to St. Helena, his own surgeon wishing to return on plea of ill-health. He had taken a fancy to O'Meara, and this was acceded to. Accordingly, the following morning, about eleven o'clock, lord Keith came in his barge to convey him on board the Northumberland, Sir George Cockburn's flag-ship; and he took his departure quietly, and took a polite leave of the officers and men, all of whom he had personally won upon by his powers of attraction during the voyage. As to his astonishment at being sent to St. Helena, it seems to have been all assumed, as an effort which it was as well to make; for even in Elba he had talked of the intention of the English to send him to St. Helena, and on the voyage in the Bellerophon, according to Las Cases' account, he had said to him, " It is quite certain that I shall go to St. Helena; but what can we do in that desolate place? " Las Cases replied that they would imitate Caesar; and Napoleon added, " Yes, we will write our memoirs."

Savary and Lallemand remained on board the Bellerophon when the Northumberland hoisted sail, and, followed by the squadron, directed its course for St. Helena. They had been in great alarm lest the British government should give them up to Louis XVIII., who had, in a proclamation of the 24th of July, declared them traitors. Savary in particular, who had the blood of the duke d'Enghien on his head, was in agonies of terror. He wrote to Sir Samuel Romilly to intercede on his behalf, repeating the threadbare falsities that he and Lallemand had gone on board the Bellerophon under the most positive assurances that they would be under the protection of the laws of England; and though they did not hesitate to assert that captain Maitland had given them such assurances, that officer himself wrote to lord Melville on their behalf. The British government, however, had no other intentions towards them than that they should not accompany Napoleon to St. Helena, and that they should not remain in England. And now, having dismissed the great troubler of Europe on his voyage to his last abode on earth, we must return, and finish the war with the United States of America.

The war in America, amid the absorbing momentousness of the gigantic conflict in Europe, went on with little attention from ministers at home, and, consequently, with the results which seem destined to attend our campaigns in that quarter. In Canada, which the Americans were particularly anxious to snatch from us, we had a most meagre and inadequate force; and, what was more disastrous, government still continued there the incompetent and dastardly governor, Sir George Prevost. The only circumstances to which we owed the preservation of those provinces were the loyalty of the people and the sterling bravery of the handful of soldiers. Early in the year 1813 the American general, Dearborn, suddenly approached York, on Lake Ontario, and attacked it, supported by the flotilla under command of commodore Chauncey. We had about seven hundred men there, partly regulars, partly militia, with some few Indians. General Sheaffe drew off the main part of his force, and left the rest to capitulate, thus leaving a considerable quantity of military and other stores, which were most desirable for the Americans. Our government ought to have taken care to have a good fleet on the lakes, but this had been utterly neglected, so that we could not prevent the Americans bearing down on any point of our lake frontiers. Accordingly, Dearborn, having a strong flotilla, embarked the stores he won at York, and sailed for Niagara, where he landed at Fort George, with six thousand infantry, two hundred and fifty cavalry, and a good train of artillery. Our troops there were not a fourth of the enemy. Vincent, therefore, after some gallant fighting, retired up the strait to Burlington Bay, about fifty miles from Fort George, and, collecting the little garrisons from Fort Erie and other points, found himself at the head of about one thousand six hundred men, and resolved to make a stand. Dearborn, rendered confident by his great superiority of numbers, marched after him, and, on the 4th of June, was seen approaching the English position. He encamped about five miles from Vincent, with three thousand five hundred men and nine pieces of artillery. He intended to attack the next morning, but in this he was forestalled; for colonel Harvey reconnoitred his camp, and advised general Vincent to assault it at midnight with fixed bayonets. This was done, and though the attacking party numbered only seven hundred and four men, the Americans fled in all directions, leaving two generals, one hundred prisoners, and four pieces of artillery in their hands. Colonel Harvey, who had headed the charge, returned to the English camp loaded with booty. It was expected that, in the morning, when Dearborn ascertained the inferior force of English, he would renew the fight; but, after destroying provisions and stores, to facilitate his flight, he decamped, and only halted eleven miles off, where he met with strong reinforcements.

About the same time Sir James Yeo, who had dared to attack the superior squadron of commodore Chauncey on Lake Ontario, and took two of his schooners, now prevailed on the spiritless Sir George Prevost to join him in an attack on Sackets' Harbour. Here the Americans had a dockyard, where they built vessels for the lake fleet, and had no w a frigate nearly ready for launching. Sir George consented, but, on reconnoitring the place, his heart failed him, and he returned across the water towards Kingston. Sir James was highly chagrined, but prevailed on this faint-hearted governor to make the attempt. Seven hundred and fifty men were landed, who drove the Americans at the point of the bayonet from the harbour, and set fire to the new frigate, to a gun-brig, and to the naval barracks and arsenal abounding with stores. Some of the Americans were in full flight into the woods, and others shut themselves up in a log barracks, whence they could soon have been burnt out. In the midst of this success, the miserable Sir George Prévost commanded a retreat. Men and officers, astonished at the order, and highly indignant at serving under so dastardly a commander, were, however, obliged to draw off. The Americans, equally amazed, turned back to endeavour to extinguish the flames. The arsenal, the brig, and the stores were too far gone; but the new frigate, being built of green wood, had refused to burn, and they recovered that but little injured. Thus, however, was lost the chance of crushing the American superiority on the lake, which must have been the case had Sacket's Harbour been completely destroyed.

Sir James Yeo, greatly disappointed, put Sir George Prévost and his troops over to Kingston again, and then proceeded to the head of the lake, to reinforce general Vincent. Dearborn, as soon as he learned this junction, fled along the lake shore to Fort George, where he shut himself up in a strongly-intrenched camp, with about five thousand men. There Vincent, however, determined to attack him, but once more he was met by the curse of an incompetent appointment. Major-general Rotenburg had been made governor of Upper Canada, and assumed the command over the brave Vincent, only to do nothing.

The western extremity of Lake Erie was the scene of a most unequal contest at the commencement of 1813. Colonel Procter lay near Frenchtown, about twenty miles from Detroit, with about five hundred troops, partly regulars, partly militia and sailors. In addition, he was supported by about the same number of Red Indians. The Americans, under general Winchester - an old officer of the war of independence - amounted to one thousand two hundred men. With these he had scoured the Michigan country, and, at the end of January, advanced to attack Procter. Sir George Prévost had strictly commanded Procter to act only on the defensive; but, scorning this cowardly advice, he suddenly advanced by night, as the Americans had quartered themselves in Frenchtown, surprised, and captured or destroyed the whole of them, except about thirty who escaped into the woods. Winchester himself was seized by Round Head, the Indian chief, who arrayed himself in his uniform, and then delivered him up to colonel Procter. From this point colonel Procter hastened to cross the lake in a flotilla, and attack general Harrison at Fort Meigs. He knew that Harrison was expecting strong reinforcements, and he was anxious to dislodge him before they arrived. Procter had with him one thousand men, half regulars, half militia, and one thousand two hundred Indians; but Harrison's force was much stronger, and defended by a well-intrenched camp. Procter erected batteries, and fired across the river Miami, endeavouring to destroy the American block-houses with red-hot shot, but they were ol" wood too green to take fire. On the 5th of May Harrison's expected reinforcements came down the river in boats, one thousand three hundred strong. Harrison now commenced acting on the offensive, to aid the disembarkation of the troops; but he was defeated by Procter, who routed the whole of the new forces, under general Clay, took five hundred and fifty prisoners, and killed as many more. But his success Iiad its disadvantage. His Indian allies, loaded with booty, returned to the Detroit frontier, and the Canadian militia to their farms. Procter was compelled, therefore, to leave Harrison in his camp, and return also to Detroit, for Sir George Prévost had provided him no new militia, or any other force, to supply the place of those gone. Still worse, he could not even be prevailed on to send sailors to man our few vessels in Lake Erie, in which the Americans had now a flotilla far superior to the English one. In vain did captain Barclay, who commanded our little squadron, urge Prévost to send him sailors, or our few vessels must be captured or destroyed; in vain did colonel Procter urge, too, the necessity of this measure. Sir George, who took care to keep out of harm's way himself, sent taunting messages to captain Barclay, telling him that the quality of his men made up for the inferiority of numbers, and that he ought to fight. Barclay, who was as brave a man as ever commanded a vessel, and had lost an arm in the service, but who did not pretend to do impossibilities, was now, however, stung to give battle. He had three hundred and fifty-six men - few of whom were experienced seamen - and forty- six guns of very inferior description. The American commodore, Percy, had five hundred and eighty men, and fifty-four guns, with picked crews on all his vessels. Barclay fought till he had taken Percy's ship, and lost his remaining arm. In the end the British vessels were compelled to strike, but not till they had lost, in killed and wounded, one hundred and thirty-five men, and had killed and wounded one hundred and twenty-three of the Americans. This success enormously elated the Americans, and they now confidently calculated on defeating Procter, and annexing Upper Canada. Harrison made haste to interpose nearly six thousand men betwixt Procter - who had now only five hundred, and as many Indians - and the country on which he was endeavouring to retreat. The forces of Procter were compelled to give ground, and Harrison inflicted a severe revenge on the Indians, for their slaughter of the Americans at Fort Meigs. The chief, Tecumthé, being killed, they flayed him, and cut up his skin into razor-straps, as presents to the chief men of congress, and Mr. Clay is said to have boasted the possession of one of these. These American armies now put themselves on the track for Kingston and Montreal. Harrison marched along the shore of Lake Erie with upwards of five thousand men, and general Wilkinson, with ten thousand more, crossed Lake Ontario, towards Kingston, to join him. General Hampton, at the same time also, was marching on Montreal. Sir George Prévost was in the utmost alarm, and sent orders to general Vincent to fall down to Kingston, leaving exposed all Upper Canada. But as general Rotenburg was moving on Kingston, Vincent, who was now joined by the remainder of Procter's force, determined to disobey these orders; and several general officers confirmed him in this resolution, and offered to share the responsibility. This was the salvation of Upper Canada. The whole of the three American generals were attacked and routed. The Canadian militia did good service, and the Americans were completely driven out of both Upper and Lower Canada before winter. In their retreat they grew brutal, and committed savage cruelties on the unarmed population. They burnt down the town of Newark, near Fort George, driving above four hundred women and children out of it into the snow. They destroyed various villages in their route. This ferocity excited the British and Canadians to retaliation. Colonel Murray crossed the water, and pursued them in their own territories. He attacked and carried Fort Niagara, and captured or killed the whole garrison, as well as the arms and stores. General Hull came up, with two thousand men, to check the march of Murray, who with one thousand regulars and militia, and between three and four hundred Indians, on the 30th of December, repulsed him with great slaughter, followed, and - to avenge the poor Canadians - set fire to Buffalo and the village of Black Rock. The whole of that frontier was thus left defenceless.

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