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THE ARMY AT FORT ERIE.
true, had been almost annihilated, and nothing apparently been gained; but those err much who graduate the results of a battle by the number taken prisoners or the territory acquired. Moral power is always more valuable than physical, and though we are forever demanding something tangible to show as the reward of such a great effort and sacrifice, yet to gain a national position is more important than to take an army. Thus while many think that the battle of Niagara, though gallantly fought, was a barren one, and furnished no compensation for the great slaughter that characterized it, yet there has been none since that of Bunker Hill, more important to this country, and which, directly and indirectly, has more affected its interests. It probably saved more battles than if, by stratagem or superior force, General Brown had succeeded in capturing Drummond's entire army.
Brown and Scott both being disabled, the command devolved on Major Ripley, who retired behind the Chippewa, and the defences recently erected by the British. Scott's last wound was a severe one. A musket ball had shattered his shoulder dreadfully, and for a long time it was extremely doubtful whether he ever recovered. He suffered excruciating pain from it, and it was September before he ventured to travel, and then slowly and with great care. His progress was a constant ova
tion. The young and wounded chieftain was hailed on his passage with salvos of artillery, and shouts of freemen. He arrived at Princeton on commencement day of Nassau Hall. The professors immediately sent a delegation requesting his attendance at the church. Leaning on the arm of his gallant aidde-camp, Worth—his arm in a sling, and his countenance haggard and worn from his long suffering and confinement, the tall young warrior slowly moved up the aisle, and with great difficulty ascended the steps to the stage. At first sight of the invalid, looking so unlike the dashing, fearless commander, à murmur of sympathy ran through the house, the next moment there went up a shout that shook the building to its foundations.
Passing on to Baltimore, then threatened with an attack by the British, he finally so far recovered as to take command in the middle of October of the tenth military district, and established his headquarters at Washington City.
General Brown was indignant with General Ripley for leaving the cannon behind, and peremptorily ordered him to reoccupy the heights of Lundy's Lane at day-break, and remain there till the dead were buried and the guns removed. He however did not commence his march till after sunrise, and then being told that the enemy were in possession.
CONDUCT OF RIPLEY.
of the heights, he halted, and finally retired to Chippewa.
This officer, on whom the command had devolved since the battle, seemed from the first opposed to all the movements. When the army was about to cross the river against Riall, he not only strongly condemned the proceeding, but even offered his resignation, which was not accepted. By his neglect to remove, or attempt to remove the captured guns, which had cost such a heroic struggle, and his after delay to return and take them, it would seem as if he were offended that such brilliant results had followed a course which had met with his strong disapprobation. He was an able officer and a brave man, yet his heart was not in this movement of Brown's, consequently he did not go into combat with the enthusiasm of Scott, Miller, and Jesup, nor feel so elated by the victory.
Soon after, a rumor was spread that Drummond was marching on the American camp. Although occupying a strong position, Ripley immediately ordered a retreat to the ferry opposite Black Rock, with the intention of recrossing the river into the limits of the United States. This sudden determination, founded on a mere rumor, can hardly be accounted for, except on the supposition that he could not be contented till the army was back to the place it started from, and whence it never would have moved had he been commander-in-chief. He was prevented from carrying out this purpose by the earnest remonstrances of McCrea and Wood, who scorned to flee so ignominiously from the field of their fame. Ripley then left the army and hastened to Buffalo, to obtain Brown's consent to the measure. The wounded hero was enraged that the commanding officer should contemplate such a virtual confession of defeat-rebuked him, and ordered the division to remain at Fort Erie, and fortify and defend it to the last extremity. He also sent a dispatch to General Gaines, commanding at Sackett's Harbor, to repair at once to the army at Fort Erie, and take command of both.
Siege of Fort Erie-Assault and repulse of the British-Brown takes command-Re
solves to destroy the enemy's works by a sortie-Opposed by his officers The sortie-Anecdote of General Porter-Retreat of Drummond-Conduct of Izard.
GAINES, immediately on his arrival at Fort Erie, set about strengthening the works, so that when
Drummond actually invested it, he found it Aug. 3.
in a good state of defence. In the mean time, the English commander hearing that Brown's magazine had been removed from Schlosser to Buffalo, dispatched Colonel Tucker to the latter place, with twelve hundred men, to seize them. But Brown anticipating such a movement, had stationed Major Morgan, with a battalion of riflemen, at Black Rock, to meet and repel it. This vigilant and gallant officer thwarted every attempt of the British to advance, and compelled them reluctantly to return.
A night expedition sent to cut out three small American vessels at anchor in the river, succeeded better-two of them being surprised and captured.