1814 - Operations on lake Ontario, Attack on Oswego


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1814 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 332

Oswego is situated on the river of the same name, near its confluence with Lake Ontario, and is distant from Sackett's-Harbour about 60 miles. At the mouth of the river there is a safe harbour, with two fathoms' water; the channel to which is completely commanded by a well-built fort, standing, near the state warehouses, barracks, and a few houses, upon a commanding height on the eastern shore of the river, having its front towards the lake. On the western bank of the river stands the town, consisting of about 30 houses. As this river afforded the only water communication between New-York and Sackett's-Harbour, the accumulation of naval stores in the warehouses of Oswego is readily explained, and gave to the post an importance which it would not otherwise possess. On the 3d of May, in the evening, a detachment of troops, numbering altogether 1080 rank and file, embarked in the vessels of Sir James Yeo's fleet, lying at Kingston ; and, early on the following morning, Lieutenant-general Drummond went on board the Prince-Regent, as commander of the troops. The squadron, consisting of the Prince-Regent, Captain Richard James Lawrence O'Connor, bearing the broad pendant of Sir James Yeo, Princess-Charlotte, Captain William Howe Mulcaster, Montreal, Captain Stephen Popham, Niagara, Captain Francis Brockell Spilsbury, Charwell, Captain Alexander Dobbs, Star, Captain Charles Anthony, and Magnet, Captain Henry Collier, immediately stood out of the harbour; but, on account of light and variable winds, did not arrive off Oswego until noon on the following day.

Either suspicion, or direct information, of the attack had led to preparations on the part of the Americans. Since the 30th of April Lieutenant-colonel Mitchell had arrived from Sackett's-Harbour, with 300 heavy and light artillery, and several engineer and artillery officers. The batteries were repaired and fresh picketed, and new platforms laid for the guns ; which were four in number, 24, 12, and 6 pounders ; besides a 12-pounder, planted en barbette close to the lake-shore. The United States' schooner Growler, of three heavy guns, Lieutenant George Pearce, was lying in the harbour, preparing, under the superintendence of Captain Woolsey, to conduct to Sackett's-Harbour a division of batteaux laden with stores. Arrangements had also been made for assembling the militia of the district : and, no sooner did the British squadron show itself at 6 a.m., on the 5th, than alarm guns were fired, which soon brought to the post upwards of 200 militia ; thus making a total force of at least 540 men. By way, also, of making this force appear treble what it was, in the hope thereby to daunt the British, and prevent them from attempting to land, the Americans pitched all their tents upon the opposite, or town side of the river, while they themselves remained in their barracks.

At 3 p.m. the ships lay to within long range of the shore ; and the gun-boats, 11. in number, were sent in, under the orders

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