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   Chapter 5 No.5

Elsie's Journey on Inland Waters By Martha Finley Characters: 20533

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


As they left the table and gathered upon deck on the evening of the next day, the captain announced that they were nearing Mackinaw.

"I am glad of that, papa," said Grace; "for we shall have a lovely view of it by moonlight."

"Are we going to stop there, sir?" asked Walter.

"Not unless someone particularly desires it," returned the captain; "but we will pass slowly and quite near, so that we may all have a good view of it. Ah! it can be seen in the distance now," he added, pointing it out.

"And though the sun has set the moon will, as Gracie says, give us a lovely view of it," remarked Violet.

"Yes, she is nearly full," said the captain, glancing skyward, "which will help us to a more vivid conception of how things looked to Darman when he set out for Fort St. Joseph, on the 16th of July, 1812."

"I'm glad of that," said Lucilla. "I want to be able to imagine just how things looked at that time."

"Yes," said Grace, "but it is far more delightful to know that no war is going on now, and we are in no danger from either civilized or savage foes."

"It is indeed!" responded her father. "Peace is a great blessing; war a dreadful scourge."

"It is an Indian name the island bears, is it not, captain?" asked Evelyn.

"Yes; and the meaning is the Great Turtle, alluding to its shape. Notice that as we approach, and see if you do not think the name appropriate."

"To the tongue of which of the Indian tribes does the name belong, sir?" asked Walter.

"The Algonquin."

"The harbor is considered a fine one, is it not?"

"Yes; it is semicircular, 1 mile long; the strait is 40 miles long and 4 miles wide; the island 7 miles in circumference. Now we are near enough for a good view."

"What makes it look so white, papa?" queried little Elsie.

"It is limestone rock, my child," replied her father. "See the village down near the water and the fort on higher ground-the white cliffs half covered with green foliage-beyond it the ruins of old Fort Holmes."

"The one the British took in that war you told about, papa?"

"The very same," he said. "I believe you were not by when I pointed it out to the others on our former visit to the island."

"No, sir; I think Neddie and I were asleep in our berths."

"Yes, so you were," said her mother. "Ah, my dear," to her husband, "what a lovely sight it is by this witching light!"

"Yes," he said. "I think we will visit it again one of these days, when we can spend more time in viewing the various interesting places-such as the Arch Rock, a natural bridge almost as picturesque as the famous one in Virginia, the Rabbit's Peak, Giant's Causeway, and the Lover's Leap. We are passing that last now; and I want you all to notice a projecting crag at the other end of the island, called Robinson's Folly. These are all famous places, and each has its legendary story."

They steamed slowly past, greatly enjoying the moonlight view of the island; then, as it faded from sight, the speed of the vessel was increased, and before the older ones had retired they had entered Lake Huron.

The pleasant weather continued, and most of them spent the greater part of the following day upon the deck.

"We will reach Detroit early this evening, I suppose, Brother Levis?" said Rosie, in a tone of enquiry.

"Should nothing happen to prevent," was the pleasant-toned reply. "And now I wonder if my pupils can tell us most of the history of that city?"

"Beginning with the war of 1812, I suppose, as we have already gone over the story of the doings of Pontiac?"

"Yes; but first I shall give you a few facts concerning its settlement, growth, and so forth:

"It is by far the oldest city in the western part of our country, and older than either Philadelphia or Baltimore on the seaboard. It was founded by the French in 1670, as an outpost for the prosecution of the fur-trade; and as late as 1840 it still had less than 10,000 inhabitants. It is on the west side of Detroit River, about 7 miles from Lake St. Clair and 18 from Lake Erie. Can you tell me the meaning of the name Detroit, Elsie, daughter?"

"No, papa, you never taught me that," replied the little girl.

"It is the French for strait," he said. "The strait or river connecting Lakes St. Clair and Erie gave the name to the city."

"At the time we are talking of-when General Hull was marching toward the place-Detroit had only 160 houses and a population of about 800, most of them of French descent. It was a very small place considering its age, for it was a trading-post as early as 1620, and established as a settlement as early as 1701, when a Jesuit missionary came there with one hundred men. So it was a very old town though so small; but seven years before there had been a fire that destroyed all the houses but one."

"But there was a fort, was there not, papa?" asked Grace.

"Yes," replied the captain; "on a hill back of the town, about 250 yards from the river; built by the English after their conquest of Canada more than 100 years ago. It covered about 2 acres of ground, was quadrangular in shape, with bastions and barracks. It had embankments nearly 20 feet high, a deep, dry ditch, and was surrounded by a double row of pickets.

"The town too was surrounded by strong pickets 14 feet high, with loopholes to shoot through. Those pickets had been erected as defences against the Indians, and were still in good condition. There were in them four strong gates on different streets."

"Then the British couldn't get in to harm the folks, could they, papa?" asked Elsie.

"They would be able to, when they had finished the fortifications they had begun to build on the opposite side of the river," replied the captain; "so General Hull decided that it would be best to cross at once and drive them away.

"It was not easy to find boats enough to take his twenty-two hundred men across, but by great exertion he succeeded in getting enough to carry four hundred at a time, but should the British see them crossing they would in all probability attack that small number before the others could cross to take part in the fight. So Hull resorted to strategy. Toward the evening of the 11th all the boats were sent down the river in full view of the British, while at the same time Colonel M'Arthur with his regiment marched away in the same direction. The British were deceived and made ready to dispute their passage. But after dark troops and boats returned up the river past Detroit to Bloody Bridge, a mile and a half above the town, and made arrangements to cross the river there, which they did."

"Why was it called by that dreadful name-Bloody Bridge, papa?" asked Elsie.

"Because the Indians in Pontiac's time attacked and killed so many-fifty-nine-of the English there. Do you not remember my telling you about it?"

"Oh, yes, sir, when we went to Mackinaw before!" exclaimed the little girl.

"At dawn the regular troops and the Ohio volunteers crossed over to the Canadian side, and there hoisted the American flag," continued the captain.

"But I shall not now go into all the details of the marching and fighting that followed-how Hull changed his orders and restrained his brave, patriotic officers and men from attacks upon the enemy which they were eager to make, until they were almost convinced that he was either a traitor or a coward.

"He was doubtless too old for the command which had been given him. He had done good service in the Revolutionary War, and no doubt was really a patriot still, but he lacked energy, vigilance, and decision, and was too slow to take advantage of the necessities and mistakes of the foe; though he might have done much better but for the remissness of the Secretary of War and General Dearborn. His mistakes and dilatoriness bore very hard upon the brave fellows under him, who were burning with patriotic zeal for the discomfiture of the foe, and he perceived that, though they obeyed orders, there was a mutinous spirit among them that could scarcely be restrained. Therefore he called a council of field-officers, and by their advice it was agreed to march immediately upon Malden.

"Orders were at once issued for all the needful preparations and received with universal joy by the little army of men longing to defend their country.

"But before these were completed, or the long summer day was quite over, there came another order from the commanding general; an order for the army to recross the river to Detroit-abandoning Canada and its people to the vengeance of the British; leaving unprotected its inhabitants, who, trusting Hull's promised protection, had refused to take up arms for defence against the Americans. That order was in consequence of news which had reached Hull that a considerable force of British regulars, militia, and Indians were coming to attack the little army in the rear."

"Did our soldiers like to go back without fighting the British first, papa?" asked Elsie.

"No, my child, not at all; but they were obedient soldiers, and did as they were ordered by their commander, though sullenly, feeling themselves humiliated by being compelled to act like cowards. During that night and the next morning they crossed the deep, dark river and encamped on the rolling plain back of Fort Detroit.

"Not quite all of them, however. Major Denny, with 130 convalescents, and a corps of artillerists, under Lieutenant Anderson, were left behind in a strong house that had been stockaded and called Fort Gowris. Denny was ordered to defend the post to the last extremity, so long as attacked with only musketry, but to leave it if powerful artillery should be brought against it.

"Hull and his army were in need of supplies, which he knew were being sent him under the command of Captain Brush, who had come as far as the River Raisin, but was detained there by the knowledge that a party of Indians under Tecumseh, with perhaps some British regulars, had crossed the Detroit from Malden and were lying near the mouth of the Huron River, twenty-five miles below Detroit, for the purpose of seizing the men, cattle, provisions, and mail that Captain Brush had in charge.

"Brush had asked Hull to send him an escort. Hull at first flatly refused; but,

after much persuasion on the part of his officers, despatched Major Van Horn with a detachment of two hundred men to join Brush and help convoy the cattle, provisions, and mail. The major obeyed promptly, but was not successful; being surprised by the Indians, who lay in ambush and attacked him by the way. The Americans fought gallantly, but lost seventeen killed and several wounded.

"When the news reached the fort Hull was greatly disconcerted. His officers urged him to send a larger force to the aid of Brush-as many as five hundred; but he refused. 'I can spare only one hundred,' he said.

"That, as the officers knew, would not be enough; so, though indignant and alarmed for the safety of Brush and the needed stores he was bringing, they had to give up the hope of helping him for the present.

"But Hull perceived that his troops were angry and felt mutinous, and it was then he called his officers together, and after consulting them gave the orders for preparations to march upon Malden; but, as we have seen, before they could be carried out he changed his mind and ordered the army to cross the river to Detroit. He now felt the need of securing the supplies under Brush and ordered Colonel Miller to take six hundred men, go to that officer's assistance, and escort him to Detroit. Before starting upon their perilous expedition the troops paraded on the north side of Jefferson Avenue, and there Colonel Miller addressed them as they stood in marching order. 'Soldiers,' he said, 'we are going to meet the enemy, and to beat them. The reverse of the 5th (that was Van Horn's) must be repaired. The blood of our brethren, spilled by the savages, must be avenged. I will lead you. You shall not disgrace yourselves or me. Every man who shall leave the ranks or fall back without orders will be instantly put to death. I charge the officers to execute this order.'

"Then turning to the veteran Fourth Regiment of regulars, he said, 'My brave soldiers, you will add another victory to that of Tippecanoe-another laurel to that gained upon the Wabash last fall. If there is now any man in the ranks of the detachment who fears to meet the enemy, let him fall out and stay behind.'

"He paused, and a loud huzza went up from the entire corps, and 'I'll not stay! I'll not stay!' came from every lip.

"Miller led them to the River Rouge that night, and they bivouacked on its southern shore, having crossed it in two scows. Early the next morning they took up their march again, Major Thompson Maxwell, with his spies, leading the way; next a vanguard of forty men under Captain Snelling of the Fourth Regulars, while the infantry marched in two columns, about two hundred yards apart, the cavalry keeping the road in the centre in double file. The artillery followed, with flank guards of riflemen at suitable distances. Marching in that order a line of battle could be formed almost instantly, but it was slow and toilsome work to move the cannon over the marshy ground along which their road lay.

"It was Sunday morning, the weather sultry, the sky overcast with clouds, not a leaf stirring on the trees; in the distance they could see a few fleet Indians hurrying along; but nothing of much consequence occurred until some time in the afternoon, when they were nearing the Indian village of Maguaga, fourteen miles below Detroit. But there a man named White, who had joined them as a new recruit, hurrying on ahead of the rest, was shot from his horse near the cabin of an Indian chief called Walk-in-the-Water, by some Indians concealed behind it, and before the vanguard could reach the spot he was scalped.

"There were oak woods near Maguaga, which Captain Snelling and his regulars reached between three and four o'clock in the afternoon. In the meantime the flying savages the Americans had seen that morning, and who were the scouts of Major Muir, the commander of the Forty-first British regiment, had carried to him, in his camp at Brownstown, the news that the Americans, strong in numbers, were advancing upon them. There were in that camp 100 regulars, a good many Canadian militiamen, and between 200 and 300 Indians. Lossing mentions 4 chiefs of note among those-Tecumseh, Walk-in-the-Water, Split-log, and Lame-Hand.

"These troops had been sent over from Fort Maiden by Proctor to repeat their doings of the 5th-when Van Horn was defeated-cut off communication between Detroit and Captain Brush at the Raisin, and get possession of the stores he was bringing.

"As soon as Muir and Tecumseh heard the news brought by the spies they broke up their camp, hurried on to Maguaga, and formed an ambush in the Oak Woods, where the trees and bushes were thick enough to conceal them. There they watched for the coming of the Americans and were joined by a fresh detachment of troops sent by General Brock.

"Snelling and his soldiers had just entered the clearing when there came first a single shot, then the terrific yells of the scores of savages, followed by a terrible volley from the whole British line."

"Oh, papa! then did our soldiers turn round and run back to the others?" asked little Elsie.

"No, my child, they stood their ground and returned the fire like the brave men and patriots they were. Colonel Miller heard the sounds and he and his men started on the double quick, came up, and formed in battle order, and as they did so he waved his sword high over his head, crying in his clear, loud voice, 'Charge, boys! charge!' His order was instantly, gallantly, and effectually obeyed, Lossing tells us, while at the same time a six-pounder poured in a storm of grapeshot that harmed the foe not a little.

"At the same time the Michigan and Ohio volunteers charged a body of Indians at the left of the British and near the river, driving them back, and causing them to flee; and the whites in the ranks of the enemy, mistaking them for helpers of the Americans, fired upon them also, and the Indians returned it. So that our foes were helping us by fighting among themselves, and the mistake created such confusion in the British ranks that they wavered, broke, and fled, leaving Tecumseh and his Indians to bear the brunt of the fight.

"Muir rallied his men, in a good position, but the sound of firing in the woods on their left alarmed them again, so that they ran away, got in their boats, and fled across the river to Malden with all possible expedition.

"After a little more fighting the Indians too broke, and Miller ordered Sloan to pursue them. But he seemed to hesitate, and Snelling rushing up to him gave him a peremptory order to dismount, sprang into the saddle himself, and dashed away at the head of his troops, his red hair streaming in the wind, for he had lost his hat in the course of the fight. He pursued the flying foe for more than two miles; then Lieutenant-colonel Miller, realizing the danger of an ambuscade, and that night was approaching, and the wounded needed attention, ordered a suspension of the chase."

"Ah, that was a victory!" exclaimed Walter; "one that ought to have encouraged Hull to defend Detroit; it seems it didn't, though."

"Were there many killed in that battle, papa?" asked Grace.

"Of the Americans 18 were killed and 57 wounded," replied the captain. "The British, according to their account, lost 24 of their regulars, only 1 of whom was killed. They failed to mention how many of the militia and Indians, but our troops found 40 of the Indians dead on the field; how many of the militia, if any, I do not know.

"Miller was anxious to follow up his advantage, to press on to the assistance of Captain Brush and the getting of his stores to Detroit; so sent a messenger to Hull to carry the news of his successful fight with the enemy and ask for a supply of provisions.

"In response Hull sent Colonel M'Arthur with 100 men and 600 rations, ordering him to go down the river in boats to the relief of Miller and his men. M'Arthur, who seems to have been always ready and prompt, set out a little past two in the morning, in nine boats, and in the darkness and rain passed the British vessels Queen Charlotte and Hunter, and reached his destination in safety.

"Then the wounded were at once carried to the boats to be taken to Detroit. But it was now daylight, and it was found impossible to pass the British vessels. Fortunately M'Arthur had foreseen that difficulty, and ordered wagons sent down, and now leaving the boats he had the wounded carried through the woods to the road, placed in the wagons, and so taken the rest of the way to their destination."

"But what did he do with the boats, papa?" asked Elsie.

"The British took them," replied her father. "Colonel Cass had gone down and tried to secure them, but the enemy had already got possession.

"Miller had been thrown from his horse during the fight, and was too much injured to press on immediately to the River Raisin. He sent a messenger to Hull, and Cass met him on his way. He knew that time was precious, that Proctor would be likely to send a larger force to prevent our men from reaching Brush, and attack him himself. Therefore Cass wanted to take Miller's place and hurry on with the detachment to Brush's assistance, so he sent a laconic despatch to General Hull: 'Sir, Colonel Miller is sick; may I relieve him?-L. Cass.' No reply came, and he returned to Detroit, meeting on the way an express taking positive orders to Miller for him and his troops to return to headquarters.

"Miller and his men were only twenty-two miles from the Raisin, and were sorely disappointed by this order, but obeyed it, leaving their camp at noon on the day after the battle, and going slowly back to Detroit."

"Oh, I do think that was too bad!" exclaimed Lucilla. "I don't think I could have obeyed such a man as Hull."

"It would have been even worse than rendering obedience to Captain Raymond has sometimes proved, eh?" her father said, with a humorous look and smile.

"Oh, ten thousand times, papa, dear!" she answered earnestly. "Haven't you found out that for years it has been-almost always just a pleasure to me to obey you?"

"It is long since I have felt at all doubtful of that, daughter," he returned, in tender tones.

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