We learn from Niagara that a British fleet consisting of 6 sail of their largest vessels, made its appearance off Newark light-house Saturday morning the 7th inst. Com. Chauncey being at anchor at 4 mile creek, immediately got under weigh and stood for the enemy: both fleets maneuvered some time to the advantage of position, but the British, not gaining the desired position, stood in the lake - our fleet in chase. No engagement ensued.
On Sunday following, in a violent gale of wind, the schooners Hamilton and Scourge were unfortunately sunk off Niagara, and we regret to state that only 16 of the crews of the two vessels were saved.
On Tuesday night the 10th, two of the schooners (names unknown) separated from the fleet and came into contact with the British ship Wolfe, when a brisk engagement ensured which lasted some time. As the two schooners were missing in the morning and nothing had been heard from them it was supposed they were either taken or destroyed by the British in the engagement.
Commodore Chauncey has gone down the lake, probably with the intention of cutting off the communication of the British squadron from Kingston and that part of the fleet which remains there.
Such is the information we have obtained from various sources, of the operations of the adverse fleets on Lake Ontario. Many contradictory reports are circulation in relation to these events, but we believe the true account will be found not to vary materially from the true result.
Com. Perry left Erie on the 6th inst. with the new brigs Lawrence and Niagara: he is believed to have gone to Long Point. These vessels were partly manned with volunteers, the sailors not having arrived. Capt. J.D. Elliot (who commanded the capture of the Caledonia and Detroit) passed through Buffalo the 6th inst. for Erie with about 100 seamen, late from Boston. Capt. E. will take command of one of the new brigs.
Buffalo, August 10
On Tuesday last, Chauncey's squadron arrived at Fort Niagara from a cruise. From - Chapin (who went out in the fleet), and from other sources, we have obtained the following information:
The fleet sailed on Thursday preceding, to the head of the lake, where the troops boarded and remained a day. From some unignorable circumstance, no attack was made on the enemy on Burlington Heights. Many of the Indians attached to the British army, on the appearance of the fleet, cleared out for the forest, and went home. In the morning the fleet run down to York: the British troops stationed there retreated before the shipping came to anchor.
Many of the inhabitants left their houses, when our troops landed, but returned again the next day. The fleet remained at York 2 days, 6 or 700 barrels of flour, one 24 pounder, a number stands of arms, a variety of utensils for constructing fortifications, and 53 invalids in the hospital, were taken. The barracks and public store-houses were burned.
The inhabitants, upon the arrive of the fleet, were panic struck, but before our forces left the place, they were convinced that women and children had little to fear from our troops. For, we learn, that such is the discipline of the sailors, marines and soldiers, that not an article of private property was plundered - a mulatto from the fleet was detected in some very uncivil contact, and severely punished for the same in the public street. Even 2 or 3 barrels of powder, which had been obtained to refresh troops on their departure, were paid for.
Many poor inhabitants and others applied for succor, which was very liberally dealt out to them, on condition of their withholding it from government; nearly 200 barrels were given out in this way. From such enterprises as these most beneficial results may be anticipated. When the American squadron left the harbor of York, the banks of the lake were lined with people of all descriptions.
Since the above was in type, we learn, that Col. Scott embarked with 500 troops, and that 12 boats were taken at York. The Gen. Pike is said to be an excellent ship, as staunch as any in the service, and outsails every thing on the lake.