1814 - British and Americans on lake Champlain

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1814 British and Americans on Lake Champlain 347

that the squadron under Commodore Downie wanted a full third of being as strong as that under Commodore Macdonough. As was to be expected, however, the Americans claimed it as a victory obtained over a decidedly superior force ; and, instead of attributing the retreat of the British army of 11,000 men to the imbecility (to say no worse) of General Sir George Prevost, they ascribed it all to the superior prowess of the American army, of less than 2000 men, under General Alexander Macomb.

Unfortunately, justice was interrupted in its course by the death of Sir George, before he could be tried upon the following charges brought against him by Commodore Sir James Lucas Yeo : 1. For having, on or about the 11th of September, 1814, by holding out the expectation of a co-operation of the army, under his command, induced Captain Downie, late of his majesty's ship Confiance, to attack the American squadron on, Lake Champlain, when it was highly imprudent to make such attack without the co-operation of the land forces, and for not having afforded that co-operation. 2. For not having stormed the American works on shore, at nearly the same time that the said naval action commenced, as he had given Captain Downie reason to expect. 3. For having disregarded the signal for cooperation, which had been previously agreed upon. 4. For not having attacked the enemy on shore, either during the said naval action, or after it was ended ; whereby his majesty's naval squadron under the command of Captain Downie, might have been saved.

On the 28th of August, 1815, Captain Pring, and the surviving officers and crews late belonging to the British Lake Champlain squadron, were tried by court-martial on board the Gladiator at Portsmouth, and the following was the sentence pronounced: " The court having maturely weighed the evidence, is of opinion, that the capture of H. M. S. Confiance, and the remainder of the squadron, by the American squadron, was principally caused by the British squadron having been urged into battle previous to its being in a proper state to meet the enemy ; by the promised co-operation of the land forces not being carried into effect, and by the pressing letters of their commander-in-chief, whereby it appears that he had on the 10th of September, 1814, only waited for the naval attack to storm the enemy's works. That the signal of the approach on the following day was made, by the scaling of the guns, as settled between Captain Downie and Major Coote ; and the promised co-operation was communicated to the other officers and crews of the British squadron before the commencement of the action.

"The court, however, is of opinion, that the attack would have been attended with more effect, if a part of the gun-boats had not withdrawn themselves from the action, and others of the vessels had not been prevented by baffling winds from getting into

I think that this must be the earliest use I've seen of the "H. M. S." abbreviation ! PB (transcriber)

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