« VorigeDoorgaan »
death. The adikar, who escaped, raised the signal of revolt in the provinces where he had interest, and intreated the assistance and protection of the British. Many other chiefs joined more secretly in the same application, for all were wearied out with the cruelties of this incarnate fiend; and the manner in which the natives, in the provinces under the English government, had been treated since our acquisition of the island, inspired general confidence.
The British governor, General Brownrigg, had every reason for availing himself of so favourable an opportunity to destroy a hateful despotism. The treacherous massacre of Major Davie's detachment after their surrender, had been followed by other marks of malevolence, on the part of the King of Candy, which showed irreconcileable animosity to the British. A dreadful instance occurred just previous to the declaration of war; when ten natives of the British province of Columbo, who were quietly pursuing their ordinary traffic in the interior of the island, were barbarously mutilated of their hands and feet, seven losing their lives by the operation.
General Brownrigg no longer hesitated to declare war, and entered the inland districts of Candy, after a proclamation, stating, that he made war on the tyrant alone, and offered peace and security to his oppressed subjects. The invading force consisted of several divisions, which penetrated into this difficult country by different routes, hardly experiencing even the shew of resistance. Mulligoddy, the first adikar, or prime minister of the tyrant, appeared at the head of a few troops, but gave a private assurance that he had no thoughts of offering any serious opposition; and, on the contrary, only waited until he could extricate his wife and family from the tyrant's
custody, in order to declare against him. Having fortunately effected what he desired, he joined the British with his troops and the emblems of his dignity. The example was generally followed. As the British approached the capital, they learned that the king had fled; and when they reached the river by which it is covered, they saw many batteries prepared to protect the ford, but, instead of men or guns, hideous objects offered themselves, exemplifying that cruelty which had eventually deprived the despot of the means of making good his preparations for defence. The relics of nineteen wretches, stuck on the poles on which they had died, were visible on the banks of the river. The capital was occupied without opposition, amidst the acclamations of the inhabitants; and thus a conquest was successfully achieved through the acquiescence and aid of the natives, which, without their concurrence, might only have left another terrible lesson of caution to the governors of Columbo. The king, deserted by all but a few Malay attendants, was taken in his flight by some soldiers of Eheylapola Adikar, whose family he had treated with so much cruelty. He was delivered up to the British, who took measures for his safe but honourable custody at Columbo.
In acquiring complete possession of the island of Ceylon, two hundred and fifty miles in length, and an hundred and ninety in breadth, our troops did not lose a single man. The use made of this victory was to convoke a solemn assembly May 2. of the adikars, and other chiefs of the Candian provinces, in which the dominion of the Candian empire was vested in the sovereign of Great Britain, saving to the adikars and chiefs their rights and immunities. The religion of Buddha
which, though far exceeding in length any of the Duke of Wellington's, only narrated a difficult march and a bloodless triumph. But reason will forgive the self-complacence of the governor of Ceylon. He had achieved a conquest, preceding attempts at which had only left dreadful lessons of caution and forbearance. And what was still more material, he had delivered a fine country, and a well-disposed people, from the yoke of an inhuman tyrant,-secured to them the most important personal immunities, and placed them under the government of an enlightened people,-ensured the peaceful possession of the colony, which must have been precarious while the internal provinces were governed by a native prince, and added the whole of a fair and fruitful island to the dominions of the British sovereign.
was declared inviolable. All torture and mutilation was abolished. No sentence of death was to be executed, except by the written warrant of the British governor, founded on a report of the case. Subject to these conditions, the administration of civil and criminal justice and police over the Candian inhabitants is to be exer. cised, according to established forms, and by the ordinary authorities; saving always the inherent right of government to redress grievances and reform abuses in all instances what ever, particular or general, where such interposition shall become ne
The account of this important success reached Britain at a time when the public ear, accustomed to thrill at the recital of the dreadful and doubtful battles on the continent of Europe, listen with some indifference to a dispatch, 3
America.-Unsuccessful Attack on New Orleans.-Capture of Fort Mobile.
Capture of the President Frigate.-Ratification of the Treaty of Peace.Discussion in Parliament on the Address of Thanks to the Prince Regent for this Treaty-Commercial Treaty entered into.-Reflections.
THE treaty of peace between Great Britain and America, which was signed by the commissioners for both nations at Ghent, in December 1814, could not immediately put a period to the hostilities which were carrying on in America.
In the end of the year 1814, preparations had been made for an attack upon the town of New Orleans, situated upon the river Mississippi. For this purpose, a considerable army was collected, under the command of Major-general Keane, which was to be conveyed to the point of disembarkation by the squadron under the com. mand of Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane. On the other hand, the Americans had made provision for a vigo rous defence of that place. After they had taken possession of Pensacola, in November, their general, Jackson, had received orders to proceed from thence to New Orleans with all his disposable force; and it appears that they had collected not less than 30,000 men for the defence of that place.
New Orleans is situated upon the left bank of the Mississippi, and a considerable way up the river. It can, however, be approached by water, to within a very short distance. A little
VOL. VIII. PART 1.
to the north of the Mississippi, and between New Orleans and the sea, there is a lake called Lac Borgne, which communicates with the sea by a considerable outlet, or river; and at the upper end, a river runs into it, which is navigable by boats to within six or eight miles of New Orleans. This mode of access was, accordingly, fixed upon by the British commanders. The Americans, aware of this intention, had stationed a formidable flotilla, consisting of five gun-vessels of the largest dimensions, upon Lac Borgne; and, as the principal means of transporting our troops to the point of disembarkation were open boats, it was impossible to proceed till these vessels were captured or destroyed. For this purpose, the boats of the squadron, under the command of Captain Lockyer, were sent into Lac Borgne on the 12th of December; and, after rowing for thirty-six hours, Captain Lockyer, on the morning of the 14th, discovered the flotilla prepared for his reception. As soon as he came within gun-shot of the enemy, he issued his orders that the boats should grapple; and they continued to pull up to the enemy against a strong current and under a destructive
main body of the British was moved up to oppose it. The conflict which now ensued was of a very singular description, and cannot be better described than in the words of General Keane's dispatch. "On the approach of the 85th regiment to the point of attack, the enemy, favoured by the darkness of the night, concealed themselves under a high fence which separated the fields, and, calling to the men as friends, under pretence of being part of our own force, offered to assist them in getting over, which was no sooner accomplished, than the 85th found itself in the midst of very superior numbers, who, discovering themselves, called on the regiment immediately to surrender. The answer was an instantaneous attack; a more extraordinary conflict has, perhaps, never occurred, absolutely hand to hand, both officers and men. It terminated in the repulse of the enemy, with the capture of thirty prisoners. A similar finesse was attempted with the 95th regiment, which met the same treatment." The enemy made repeated attacks, which were always repulsed, till about midnight, when he determined to make a final effort, and, forming his whole force into line, advanced again to the onset. He at first drove in the advanced posts; but Colonel Thornton, rallying the troops, and moving forward to charge, drove the enemy back, who did not dare again to advance. The American troops were commanded by General Jackson, and amounted to five thou sand men, a great number of whom were left on the field.
fire. At last, the boat which carried Captain Lockyer closed with the commodore of the flotilla. A desperate conflict of several minutes took place, in which the greater part of both the officers and men of this boat were killed or wounded; but some of the other boats coming up, they succeeded in carrying the vessel, and immediately turned her guns upon the remaining four. In the meantime, the remaining boats had been employed with equal gallantry; and in a very short time the whole of the enemy's vessels were taken. This brilliant exploit cost us seventeen men killed, and seventy-seven wounded; Captain Lockyer himself having received a severe wound in boarding the commodore of the enemy's flotilla.
The passage for the disembarkation of our troops being now open, the whole army, consisting of about 2400 men, were put on board the gun-vessels and boats, and, on the 22d, they proceeded across Lac Borgne. Several of the gun-vessels grounded; but the advance, in the boats, pushed on, and, having rowed up the river, which runs into the lake, at its head, they effected a landing on the 23d, under the command of Col. Thornton, about six miles from New Orleans. In this situation, about an hour after sunset, when the troops, much exhausted by their previous exertions, were asleep in their bivouac, a heavy fire was open ed upon them by some vessels which had dropped down the Mississippi from New Orleans, and anchored opposite to their position. By a prompt and judicious movement, the men were instantly placed out of the reach of this fire; but soon afterwards a vigorous attack was made on the advanced picquets by a body of troops from the town. This assault was firmly resisted, and the enemy kept in check for a considerable time; but the attack being renewed with a large force, the
After this affair, the second division of the army was brought up, and the whole took up a position. On the 25th, Major-General Sir E. Pakenham and Major-General Gibbs arrived, and the former took the command of the army. From this time to the 8th of January, the army was
occupied in preparing for a general attack on the enemy's lines before New Orleans.
The position of our army was on a piece of flat ground, with the Mississippi on the left, and a thick wood on the right. The ground was open to the front, from which the enemy's line was distinctly seen. It consisted of an entrenchment of about a thousand yards of front, which extended, on the right, to the river, and, on the left, to a thick and impassable wood. This line was strengthened by flank works, and had a canal of about four feet deep along the front. On the right, or opposite bank of the Mississipi, which is here about eight hundred yards broad, the Americans had a battery of twelve guns, which enfiladed the whole front of their position on the left bank.
The dispositions made by the British commander for the attack appear to have been very judicious. In order to prevent our troops, when coming up to the attack of the enemy's line, from being exposed to the fire of the battery on the opposite side of the river, it was judged necessary that this battery should be carried. The stream, by which our boats had come from Lac Borgne to the place of disembarkation, communicated with the Mississippi by a narrow canal. This canal was, with considerable labour, cleared out and widened, by which means troops could be sent over to the opposite bank of the Mississippi. These preparations being made, it was resolved, that, in the night previous to the general attack, which was to be made at break of day, a body of troops, under Colonel Thornton, was to be sent across the river, and to move along the right bank till it reached the American battery which it was to carry. This, it was expected, would be done before the main body should reach the front of the American line in the morn
ing. Accordingly, as soon as it was dark, Colonel Thornton's corps proceeded in their expedition across the river. Unlooked-for difficulties, however, increased by the falling of the river, occasioned considerable delay; and it was not till five o'clock in the morning that these troops got over. By that time, Colonel Thornton perceived, by the flashes of the guns, that the attack on the enemy's position was begun; and he hastened forward, with the utmost expedition, to the attack of the flanking battery, which, he judged too truly, was by that time destructively employed against our troops. After overcoming various obstacles, he at last reached the battery, which he succeeded in carrying in a most gallant manner. The enemy fled in confusion, leaving in his hands sixteen pieces of cannon, and the colours of the New Orleans regiment of militia.
In the mean time, the main body, under the command of Major-General Gibbs, had moved up to the attack of the enemy's position. The obstruction in the movement of Colonel Thornton's corps had occasioned some delay in proceeding to the general attack, which did not take place till the advancing columns were discernible from the enemy's line at more than two hundred yards distance, when a destructive fire was instantly opened, not only from all parts of the enemy's line, but from the battery on the opposite side of the river. The gallant Pakenham, who, during his short but brilliant career, was always foremost in the path of glory and of danger, gallopped forward to the front, to animate his men by his presence. He had reached the crest of the glacis, and was in the act of cheering his troops, with his hat off, when he ceived two balls, one in the knee, and another in his body. He fell into the arms of Major M'Dougal, his aid-de