166 MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA
He determined to keep them from crossing, the bar, so, with a few badly-manned vessels, he cruised in the vicinity of Presqu'isle night and day, giving the foe no chance to slip out. Unfortunately, in a moment of over-confidence, he personally left the scene of action. A storm arose, and Captain Finnis, whom he had left in charge, withdrew, evidently fearing that his vessels might be driven on the south shore. Before the British fleet could reassemble the storm had subsided, and Perry by skilful seaman-ship had worked his brigs over the bar, and hurried guns and stores on board from lighters.
The tables were now turned. Barclay had to hasten to the protecting guns of Fort Malden, and remain in-active till such time as his fleet was sufficiently strong to risk battle with the nine vessels that were challenging him to come out and fight. As he hoped for great things from the Detroit he put all his energies into completing her, and succeeded in having her launched towards the beginning of September. But she still lacked masts and rigging, and some days were consumed in preparing her for her venturesome work.
In order to make the Detroit fit to meet Perry's strong and well armed vessels, it was found necessary to dismantle Fort Malden. Long, heavy battering pieces were taken on board, but they were not sufficient; and, as the Detroit would have to bear the brunt of the engagement, some of the largest guns were transferred to her from the other vessels. Barclay still hoped for further help from Hdquarters and, realizing his weakness, delayed leaving the harbour. Help was on its way, but owing to unpardonable delay, the guns intended for the Detroit reached Burlington from Kingston only after Barclay had been defeated and the Detroit was flying the American flag.
For Procter, it was fight, starve, or retreat across country, so at last Barclay was compelled to lead out a forlorn hope. The American vessels, so proudly cruising on the blue waters of Lake Erie, took away every chance of the British troops getting supplies by water, and as a