Amphibious Operation at Fort Niagara
Commodore Victor Suthren
Lieutenant Thomas Hurlbut
OIC Naval Operation at Fort Niagara
I have the honour to advise you with the particulars of the Naval involvement at the recent assault of Fort Niagara in the State of New York.
Sir, the flotilla that I had the honour to command for this operation was assembled at the designated rendezvous point upriver from the objective, as per my orders. The flotilla consisting of Ferret, Dawn Star, Auld Alliance and Ship's Company jolly boat gathered at the embarkation docks
It is unfortunate that the Rolette, also to join us, was beset by transportation issues and could not comply with the directive. As the assault forces were in place, it was determined by Brigadier Twist that we would proceed with the transport available.
Members of the regiments listed below comprised the main assault force. We embarked the troops and then slipped at 1400 hours on the 21st, and let the strong current take us silently down river, past the fort. We then rowed along the shore below her guns, escaping detection, we believed.
At 1500 hours, we were off the chosen landing beaches, only to discover that they were covered by a strong battery of artillery including 6 pdrs, which began to fire upon us.
I ordered the flotilla to backtrack along the shoreline, seeking a covered landing site. A suitable place was discovered and the men were set ashore without incident.
After the marines were landed, and made for the American battery, a strong force of American infantry emerged and a general engagement was begun. We endeavored to cover the flank with our guns, playing them upon the quickly responding enemy forces.
Ultimately, our small guns had little effect at the long ranges faced and the small caliber was but a nuisance to the enemy. Ferret was somewhat more successful as she mounted a larger field piece in her midships, but when the US artillery decided to make us the target, we had no choice but to withdraw our vessels out of range. By then, our land forces were in full retreat, back towards the cover of the forest.
Sir, it is my belief that without a major fleet unit with her larger guns, or more and better equipped gunboats, the enterprise was doomed to fail owing to our forces being completely outclassed by the American artillery.
It will be noted that the army regrouped, and successfully concluded a night assault on the fort, capturing it with few casualties. Our role in this engagement was to standby and evacuate the army, should they prove unsuccessful.
Brigade Major Jason Everett led the first assault force with members of the Incorporated Militia, the 41st Regiment of Foot, and Royal Marines.
I am indebted to Major Doug DeCroix of the 6th Foot for his logistical support and assault planning.
I trust that the ultimate success of the operation will overshadow the lack of success of the initial assault, and that you will see fit to reward those whom you deem deserving.
Your Humble and Obedient Servant,
Thomas Hurlbut, Lieutenant (N)
OIC, Naval Operation off Fort Niagara
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