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Re:First US vrs 89th

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  • Richard Feltoe
    Dear Dave, I was very interested to see the quote you put up on the Battle of Lundys Lane, vis: ...The senoir Captain of the 1st, John Cleeves Symmes had the
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 29, 2001
      Dear Dave,
      I was very interested to see the quote you put up on the Battle of Lundys
      Lane, vis:
      "...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
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