Previous Index Next

 

THE WAR OF 1812   177

Odelltown, and directed his movement in a more westerly direction, via the valley of the Chateauguay river.

Prior to taking up this new route, Hampton withdrew his advance column into United States territory, where it was followed up by de Salaberry as far as the Four Corners, a place about five miles within the United States frontier. The gallant de Salaberry, at this point, made an attempt to surprise the United States camp, but the surprise failed through the accidental discharge of a musket. An at-tack, however, was delivered by fifty voltigeurs and a few Indians, with the result that a detachment of the enemy, consisting of some 800 men, was thrown back in confusion. After this, de Salaberry retreated with his small force along the Chateauguay river to a well selected position on the left, or north, bank, seven miles from Hampton's encampment, in a forest cut by deep ravines, which formed natural defences. Hampton sent out a party of scouts to reconnoitre, and a ford was discovered across the Chateauguay on de Salaberry's left flank. Hampton believed that he could capture the entire British force, and decided to send Colonel Purdy with a strong contingent across the Chateauguay by means of this ford; while this force at-tacked the British in the rear, he, with his main army, would fall on the enemy's front; retreat being effectually cut off by Purdy, there would be nothing for it but a British surrender.

De Salaberry was in a naturally strong position, which he had improved by fallen trees and abattis, but he had little hope of victory. With his mere handful, composed of a flank company of fencibles and four companies of voltigeurs, he could only hope to retard the enemy's advance for a brief period. But he expected reinforcements and to his delight they arrived on the eve of battle. Prevost, at Kingston, had received warning of Hampton's intended invasion, and had despatched Lieut.-Col. George Macdonell, with a force of 600 men, to de Sala-berry's aid. Macdonell with his hardy company of voyageurs and woodsmen sped down the St. Lawrence and


Previous Index Next