Re:First US vrs 89th
- Dear Dave,
I was very interested to see the quote you put up on the Battle of Lundys
"...The senoir Captain of the 1st, John Cleeves Symmes had the following to
say regarding the 89th......
..."above all I would like to have the British Regiments who fought in front
of us consulted; particularly the 89th, they must say we swept them to the
ground and that we took two of their officers ...in the course of the
battle. I am told they admit that we drove them some distance with the
points of our close persuing Bayonets at a full charge in which they were
the principal suffers"
John Cleeves Symmes to Lt. Col. Trimble 8 April 1815. Symmes Papers,
Drapers collection Wisconsin State Historical Society.
The question that comes to mind when I read this is who is the "we" that
supposedly "drove them some distance" I cannot believe Symmes was referring
to the actual First U.S. Infantry Regiment, but rather to the generic we of
the American forces in capturing the artillery on the hill and withstanding
the numerous counterattacks from the British forces. As far as I am aware,
the only two instances where the Americans made any form of direct assault
with the bayonet (with any degree of success) came when Miller's Regiment
(Twenty-first) took the guns from the Artillery crews and then towards the
end when Porter's New York Volunteers and Pennsylvania militia pushed back
part of the already retiring British right wing after its third attempt to
retake the guns.
Certainly the First Regiment cannot claim any part in either of these
actions and otherwise their contribution to the battle was entirely
defensive and relatively static, with no "Bayonets at a full charge" being
possible. I say this, because as I read it, after the First took its place
on the hilltop on the left of the Twenty-first it remained in place and on
the defensive throughout the remainder of the battle. Furthermore, apart
from the possibility of meeting the 89th during the first British counter
attack, it would have been unlikely that the First and 89th would have had
any further opportunity to be lined up against each other as their records
of position and action within the battle do not correspond.
If on the other hand you have some additional details that could shed some
light on this reference, I would be very glad to see it. Have you seen the
voluminous amount of material related to Lt Col Nicholas (CO of the First),
his (rigged) court martial for cowardice in leading the First Rgt at the
Battle of Lundys Lane and Fort Erie and the detailed testimonies that came
with that trial? It's great detailed information.
Regards Richard Feltoe