This article was found pasted into a scrapbook entitled, “1838 Patriot War.” The scrapbook is located at the Flower Memorial Library Genealogy Department at Watertown, New York. This article, one of a series written by L. N. Fuller, was copyrighted in 1923 by the Brockway Company, Publishers of the Watertown Daily Times. The series appeared in the Watertown Daily Times in March, April, and May of 1923. John B. Johnson, Jr., Editor/Co-Publisher of the Watertown Daily Times has granted me permission to incorporate these pieces on my website. I feel very honored to have been given this permission. (Shirley Farone)
Patriots in Hopeless
Condition at Windmill
With No Chance of Reinforcements Their Position is Most
Desperate -- Leader Not Lacking in Courage -- Resolutions
of St. Lawrence County Supervisors.
NORTHERN NEW YORK IN THE PATRIOT WAR
By L. N. Fuller
(Copyright, 1923, by the Brockway Company, Publishers of the Watertown Daily Times.)
The night of the second day was a gloomy one. The weather had turned cold and a storm of snow and sleet commenced. The wounded in the windmill suffered in particular. There was no fire, nothing to lie on but hay and no blankets to ward off the bleak November winds. There were no surgical supplies and the suffering was great. None of the unwounded were able to sleep. Their situation was even more gloomy than the night before. Though they had gained a victory, in that they were still in possession of the field and had inflicted far superior losses on the enemy, they knew that their lot was hopeless. The British forces could be reinforced indefinitely and heavier artillery could be secured that would batter the stronghold to pieces. Yet there was no lack of courage or any disposition to surrender on the part of the Patriots. They were cheered by the courage and coolness of their commander and resolved to die rather than surrender.
The morning of Wednesday, the 16th, dawned cold and cheerless. The ground was covered with dead bodies, some partially hidden in the snow. The battle re-opened with an artillery bombardment from the British boats and the field artillery along the shore, but it was of a desultory character. The shot bounded off the stone walls of the windmill without doing any damage. The British sent a flag of truce asking for an armistice so that the dead could be buried. This truce lasted an hour and friend and foe mingled on the field performing the last service to those who had fallen. It is recorded that one of the officers in the Canadian militia whispered to one of the Patriots that if the latter had been successful in taking Fort Wellington the Canadian militia would have gone over on their side.
The night before another requisition was sent to Sackets Harbor asking that more troops be sent to Ogdensburg to aid in enforcing neutrality.
The sound of the cannonading reached Canton where the board of supervisors was in session. Some of the members of the board were strong sympathizers with the Patriot cause. Isaac Elwood, supervisor of Morristown, introduced a resolution which is worthy of record. It follows:
“Whereas, the members of the board of supervisors of St. Lawrence county, having received information and believing the same to be authentic, that the Patriots have made a noble stand at Windmill Point near Prescott in Upper Canada, and have had a severe engagement with the advocates and minions of British tyranny on the 13th inst. and having every reason to believe from said information, unless the said Patriots are reinforced in the perilous situation in which they are placed, they will meet with defeat and sacrifice their lives in contending against a merciless and cruel foe; and whereas, this board feel a deep interest and intense anxiety in the success of that patriotic struggle which would spread the light of liberty over our oppressed brethren in Canada, and for the preservation of the lives of those patriots who are contending for the rights of men born free, and for the republican principles for which our venerably forefather shed their blood.
“Resolved that this board of supervisors adjourn, to meet again at the court house in the said county on the last Monday of the present month at 1 o’clock p.m. in order to enable the members thereof to rescue that Spartan band of patriotic friends and preserve their lives from their enemies, the tyrants and advocates of the British crown.”
The resolution did not pass. It was followed by this motion of Supervisor Buck of Canton, seconded by Supervisor Baron S. Doty of Oswegatchie. “Resolved, that the above resolution lie on the table until the same shall be drawn up.” The resolution was never again drawn up, although no small number of supervisors would have gone to Ogdensburg and have tried to cross the river if the opportunity had offered.
On the forenoon of Thursday, Nov. 15, Colonel Worth, the commander of the United States forces at Ogdensburg, called a conference of the prominent men of the place to meet on the steamer Paul Pry to ask their opinion on the propriety of making a proposal to Colonel Young, the British commander, that further loss of life be averted by allowing the Patriots to leave the windmill and return to the American side, those making the proposal holding themselves responsible that there be no further outbreaks along the frontier of Northern New York.
A citizen of Ogdensburg who was personally acquainted with Colonel Young was given the delicate mission of inviting him to meet with the American commander. Colonel Young met him and agreed to accompany him to the boat on which Colonel Worth was waiting. The two colonels met and the proposal was advanced to the British commander.
Colonel Young pointed out that if he consented to the plan he would be subject to the most severe censure. It would be virtually allowing the escape of an enemy whom he had in his power, a most unmilitary proceeding. Much to his regret, he said, as he sincerely wished to avoid further bloodshed, he felt obliged to decline the proposal.
He let drop the information that the steamer Experiment was temporarily disabled and the steamers Coburg and Victoria had gone back up the river and that it would be impossible for the Experiment to prevent any such attempt to rescue the Patriots until 2 the next morning. There is no record whether this information was inadvertently given or whether it was a hint that the attempt to rescue the patriots would meet with no resistance.
Colonel Worth saw that the opportunity presented itself and he politely saw Colonel Young to his launch and that officer returned to Prescott.
Colonel Worth wished to take advantage of the opportunity that was offered him and he held further consultation with some of the prominent citizens of Ogdensburg. The attempted rescue needed to be shorn of all official character and the word was passed that the steamer Paul Pry would be at the disposal of a rescue party if they wished to take advantage of it. It was strictly irregular, as American troops were supposed to prevent any intercourse between the two sides of the river, but Colonel Worth was of the type who could forget red tape when the occasion demanded.
There was no lack of volunteers and that night everything was in preparation for the rescue.
Monday: The attempted rescue of the Patriots.Index of All Patriot War Articles
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