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41167Proctor's 1813 retreat and American Muskets

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  • James
    Nov 5, 2009
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      --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Mark Dickerson" <mdickerson1@...> wrote:
      > "Sometime in the late 1800's or early 1900's, the site of the General Myers had been located just outside Chatham. [snip] according to local folklore, a very numerous quantity of muskets were also found in the mud."

      One of the reasons Proctor was convicted at his court martial of professional negligence arose from the manner in which he conducted and "organized" the retreat of the Right Division after the Battle of Lake Erie. The fun started when he couldn't make a firm decision on how far the Division was going to withdraw.

      His initial plan was to set up a new base at "the Forks of the Thames", which, in 1813, usually referred to Chatham more often than London. Proctor had fantasies of setting up a new naval base there, and utilizing the "defences" of the spit of land between the Thames and McGregor's creek that is now Tecumseh Park.

      The fact was, there physically wasn't much at Chatham in 1813, no matter what Proctor's Ordnance maps might have shown, and the supply route down the Thames could be interdicted at will by American landings on the north shore of Lake Erie. Plus, it is doubtful if there was enough "lift" capacity on the Burlington Heights-Brantford-Burford-London-Chatham route to keep the Division and its Indian allies supplied in any event. Eventually, Proctor realized this, and Burford became the next preferred new base, with an interim stop planned for Moraviantown to try and shake off any American pursuit.

      In the stages when "the plan" was to retreat to Chatham, Proctor had all the supplies of the Right Division laboriously ferried there. This included items like captured American muskets, and some serious naval and "fortress" artillery pieces. Not much food, though. This took several weeks to accomplish, and is one of the contributing reasons why the Right Division would take a pasting at Moraviantown. If Proctor had been realistic from the get-go, the Right Division could have made a clean get-away while Harrison was carefully organizing his offensive after the Battle of Lake Erie.

      Anyway, after much effort and time being expended in ferrying all these assorted supplies to Chatham, the upshot was that they were all either captured by Harrison's men, or dumped in the Thames, when it became apparent that setting up shop at Chatham was not going to happen, and a further retreat was necessary. As hard as it had been to get these materials to Chatham, it was impossible to "save" them and move them much further upriver.

      Witnesses at Proctor's court martial who had actually worked on these supply "arrangements" were, needless to say, not happy about the way things had gone down...

      Jim Yaworsky
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