Three August Events
The University of Texas at Austin has posted about a dozen titles, many single issues, on-line recently. These issues are very rare, and are often the only issues extant of these titles. They include four daily papers from Georgia: the Cherokee Phoenix for May, 1828, and the Augusta Tri-Weekly Constitutionalist, one issue from January, 1848, and one issue from each of June and July 1849. There are six issues from Oklahoma; one each of the Chickasaw Intelligencer from April, 1855, of the Choctaw Intelligencer from November, 1851; three of the Custer County Republican, for July 27, August 3 and 10 of 1905; and one of the Indian Progress, from October, 1875. There are eight issues from Louisiana: the New Orleans Weekly Crescent, one issue in November, 1854, and one in May, 1855; the Boussole (Napoleonville), one issue in August 1866; the New Orleans Daily City Item, one issue in August, 1889; the Feliciana Gazette, one issue in December, 1820; the New OrleansEvening Delta, one issue in April, 1862; the Mansfield Reporter, one issue in September, 1874; and the Natchitoches Times, one issue in October, 1864.
These may not be the only issues that UT holds, for instance, the Evening Delta, but the issues for these dates given are extremely rare, and may be unique.
The Battle at Lower Sandusky
Battle depicted in 1912 history book.
The following is not the usual army report to the Secretary at War, but a letter from Doctor H. Skinner, attached to the Ohio troops, to his brother in Annapolis, dated August 4, 1813. The good doctor gives details an officer would never dream of including. Taken from the Aurora,August 26, 1813.
“On the 1st inst. about half a mile from this fort, and in full view, a party consisting of 50 Indians, pursued and took one prisoner, and killed and scalped another. A few minutes after which, two British gun boats heaved in sight, and landed 600 British regulars, with several hundred Indians, the whole commanded by general Proctor. Cols. Elliot and Dixon, with several other officers of rank, accompanied them. We closed the gates, and made every preparation to meet the most bloody action. They, as heretofore, sent a flag demanding the surrender of the garrison; that it was the only opportunity we had of escaping the tomahawk of the savages; that if they were reduced to the necessity of a storm, the impetuosity and fury of the Indians would be ungovernable. The reply on the part of major Croghan, who commanded here and had sent ensign Shipp to meet the flag, was that the garrison would never be surrendered, that we were prepared for the worst, and would either maintain the fort, or all of us die in the attempt.–We then had only 120 effective men, one 6 pounder, with a poor supply of ammunition.
The enemy, including Indians, must have been at least 1000; with six pieces of artillery, from 3 to 12 pounders. We commenced a fire upon their boats, which was returned, without effect on either side, for 15 minutes, when the cannonading ceased until the enemy planted a piece within 150 yards of our works, and commenced throwing shells; and continued with those and other shot for 24 hours, when they attempted a desperate charge, calculating that our cannon was silenced either for want of ammunition, or had been dismounted and rendered unfit for service. The soldiers were astounded at the depth and width of our entrenchments, and were forced in by a lieut. Gordon, who commanded the van, and lieut. col. Short, who came to our works under the smoke of their own cannon, the former damning and swearing, the latter whistling; they were both, with about twenty, killed by the first two shots from our cannon. And so incessant was the discharge of our small arms, that the balance (upwards of 500) were forced to fall back, and made as precipitate a retreat as possible, taking off their killed and wounded who did not fall in the ditch.
The Indians lay concealed in the grass and bushes, and kept up an irregular fire for a considerable time; during which major Croghan and ensign Shipp, (who are each deserving a regiment) threw vessels of water to the wounded enemy, who were begging it in the entrenchment. We yesterday morning found in killed, 2 officers and 23 soldiers–prisoners wounded 20, five of whom are since dead, and more will die to-day. Seven or eight were taken not wounded. The whole amount of killed and wounded and prisoners taken, is 52. Not one Indian has been found, although I had the pleasure of seeing many dead during the action. At the most moderate calculation, there cannot be less than 250 killed, wounded and taken. The Indians were even discovered in our ditch, attempting to carry off the dead after the action. Our loss was one brave boy, who imprudently raised his head over the pickets, and lost it by a cannon ball–we had 7 wounded–only 2 seriously. I have every hope of their recovery.
You must know me well enough to be convinced that I would not suffer myself to be led away by enthusiasm; depend upon it, my calculation does not exceed their loss, it is given less than the prisoners themselves admit. Every attention and tenderness is extended to the prisoners. George [The doctor’s servant, a black boy about 16 years of age.] manned a port hole; my saddle horse was wounded with an arrow.”
August 8, 1813
A Royalist’s Letter, concerning Texas, from Natchitoches:
“Such would be considered as the highest degree of human insanity,” from the Alexandria Gazette, October 14, 1813
Not everyone who lived in the United States was in favor of the overthrow of the royalists in Central and South America, as this letter by “N.” attests.
“I was imprisoned at St. Antonio, and condemned to death by the insurgents when Elisondo advanced with a considerable detachment of Spanish regulars and militia. The notice of his arrival threw that unhappy town into confusion, and overwhelmed the presumptuous crowd of rebels with dismay, so that I found no difficulty to make my escape, and reach the Spanish field. But, alas! I cannot recollect without sorrow the unfortunate events of that day! The bold and proud, though unexperienced Elisondo, seems to have brought the most spirited and gallant warriors to an unavoidable route; who, under a sage leader, might have put down the insurgents, and their heterogeneous band of followers. He acted contrary to the orders of Aredondo; and without waiting to be joined either by him, or by the main division of the Spanish army, which was then near Rio Grande, fifty miles from St. Antonio, he advanced towards that place, and encamped with boasting and vain parade; and, losing time, he has been assailed impetuously, and in spite of the undaunted bravery of his troops, has been obliged disgracefully to retire. Thus he frustrated the noble enthusiasm and courage of the Spanish warriors under his command. I thought it proper to take refuge in this place, until affairs change at Texas, for I am convinced that they cannot fail to change soon, to the destruction of the insurgents. St. Antonio is plunged in general distress, famine, and misery; there is nothing but desolation. Neither flour, nor any other food is to be found there, except some maize at eight dollars a bushel and some loaf sugar at four dollars a pound. I don’t speak of other minute objects of common necessity; it must be sufficient to assure, that you would look in vain even for a grain of salt or an article of clothing in that mournful country; and the absolute want of money increases the general consternation. Confined to such a melancholy prospect of calamities, those mutineers are brought to despair, and the foreign adventurers who have been so blind as to follow them, begin to disband. How can it be possible to dwell longer, without money or provisions, in a vast desert, surrounded by ragged mountains, where we are only to meet with wild beasts, or some scattered bands of savage Indians? Such would be considered as the highest degree of human insanity.”
COLONEL CONSTANT’S RESIGNATION
On May 9, 1813, Colonel J. Constant wrote the following letter to thee Secretary of War: “SIR–I perceive by newspapers, which accidentally fell into my hands last evening, that Colonels Pike, Izard and Winder, whom I ranked, have been appointed Brigadier Generals in the army. I have the highest respect for the characters of those gentlemen, and doubt not the purity of the motives which has given them promotion– Yet, as I cannot consider their early elevation as complimentary to myself, and as I have no intention of serving in a grade subordinate to them–I take the earliest opportunity of begging you to accept of my resignation.
I have the honor to be, Sir, with great respect, your obedient servant. (Signed) J. Constant.”
On August 17, Colonel Constant received this letter from the Acting Adjutant General, dated Washington, 24th July, 1812 [1813?] “The resignation of Colonel J. Constant, of the 3d regiment of infantry is accepted by the President, to take effect from the 15th August next.” He responded with a printed item: “Colonel CONSTANT, has only to take leave of his Regiment–his best efforts have been devoted to its prosperity; and his best wishes will attend every Officer and Soldier, with whom he has had the honor to serve. (Signed) J. Constant.”
Upon hearing of Constant’s resignation, a committee of officers on behalf of those of the 3d regiment wrote, on August 18, him a letter of regret, including this paragraph: “Permit us now, Sir, to assure you that the respect in which we hold your worth as an officer and a gentleman, excites in us emotions of inexpressible regret at our separation.” The officers gave Constant a dinner on August 19th, “as an evidence of their respect and attachment.”
Colonel Constant wrote the following thank-you note to the committee from his plantation at Natchez on August 20, 1813: “I am pleased with the good will manifested by the officers of the 3d Regiment towards me. To merit the approbation of those with whom I have served, next to that of my government and country, has been the foremost of my wishes. The cause of my resignation is stated in my letter to the Secretary of war. Though my services are of but little moment, I would gladly have remained in the army, to see my country through her present struggle. I beg you to assure the officers of the 3d Regiment, that my separation from them has been among the most affecting occurrences of my life. And, could I have continued in service, there is none with whom I would sooner risk my fame, or with more confidence meet an enemy; or, in private life, with whom I would more gladly associate. Accept, gentlemen, for yourselves an assurance of the respect with which I am Your obe’t servant, J. CONSTANT”
(The previous letters were copied from the New York Spectator of October 9, 1813, which probably copied them from a Washington, Mississippi Territory newspaper of August 25, 1813)
There was a national reaction to this resignation. The New York Evening Post, on October 21, 1813, made this remark: “This promising young officer, it seems, has resigned his commissions in high dudgeon, and has, according to the fashion of the day, addressed a publication to the world, containing his reasons for retiring from the service at this interesting crisis.” It then reprinted an article from the Aurora, “Hints to young Officers by an Old Soldier,” the author of which made this flat assertion, “The principles assumed by Colonel Constant and the officers who have sanctioned his notions, are contrary to those which prevail in all armies, and which the experience of all nations sanction, in relation to military promotions.”
It is in the context of the Constant correspondence that the following letter should be read. Ross Bird, of the 3d United States Regiment, complaining of having been arrested by Col. Constant, submitted this resignation to Lieutenant Colonel G. C. Russell, who was on the committee that sent its regrets to Colonel Constant (reprinted by the Commercial Advertiser, November 6, 1813):
“The Editor of the Washington [Mississippi] Republican will please to insert the following:
Washington, September 16, 1813
Sir–It pleased Col. Constant to put me under arrest a day or two after the departure of the 3d regiment from New Orleans; in which situation I have continued bereft of my sword in those eventful hours of danger. It appears to me from a clause in Gen. Flournoy’s letter, which you were pleased to read to me, that no order or arrangement for my trial has yet taken place; which continues my privations and mortifications in a degree beyond the power of human fortitude to sustain.
I have, therefore, to apply to you for an alleviation of my condition; by permitting to remain at or in the vicinity of Natchez, until informed of the seat of my trial, where I shall promptly attend.
I cannot conceive it within the spirit of our laws, that I should be carried about like an European malefactor to the assize, for the purpose of adjucation.
To a situation so horrible and oppression so severe, any resort is preferable: I have, therefore, through you, to request of Gen. Flournoy to accept of this as my letter of resignation, to take effect on the 31st of December. The distance from my home justifies the request.
In leaving the service, I am not abandoning the cause of republicanism, but yet hope to brandish the glittering steel in the field, and carve my way to a name which shall prove my country’s neglect; and, when this mortal part shall be closeted in the dust, and the soul shall wing its flight for the regions above, in passing by the pale faced moon, I shall hang my hat upon brilliant Mars, and make a report to each superlative star–and, arriving at the portals of Heaven’s High Chancery, shall demand of the attending Angel to be ushered into the presence of Washington.
I am, sir, with high respect, your obedient servant.
Ross Bird, Captain, 3d U. S. regt.inf
Lt. Col. G. C. Russel
About the Author
Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.