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 Surrender To
Much Superior Force
Survivors Marched to Prescott, Where They Are Jeered By
Hostile Population -- Saved From Injury By the British
Regulars -- Examples of Personal Heroism.
NORTHERN NEW YORK IN THE PATRIOT WAR
By L. N. FULLER
(Copyright, 1923, by the Brockway Company, Publishers of the Watertown Daily Times.)
About 4 on the afternoon of Friday, the British force advanced in solid (? illegible word) columns, with the intention of carrying the windmill by sheer weight of numbers.
Colonel Von Schoultz was not in the windmill, but with a small force was defending one of the houses nearby. A consultation of the officers in the windmill was held and it was deemed best to surrender. Colonel Von Schoultz was not present at this conference. It was finally decided to send out a flag of truce to learn what terms would be offered. This flag was borne by Colonel Woodruff and he was accompanied by Captain Heustis and two others. The militia fired on the flag and the bearers were compelled to return to the mill.
Then it was decided that there was no alternative but surrender. Von Schoultz, seeing that he was overruled, said that “not for himself would he surrender, but for the sake of those brave young men, who had become dupes of the designing, and in the faint hope of saving their lives in the unequal conflict.” The force laid down their arms and marching under a white flag left the windmill.
Captain Sandum of the 83rd British regulars was incensed at the firing on the white flag by the Canadian militia and testified at the trial later that if the act had been repeated he would have shot down the militia. The 83rd formed in files and the Patriots marched between them. Had it not been for this precaution they would have been subject to severe handling by the Canadian militia who acted more like savages than soldiers. As it was 10 Patriots suffered hard treatment and were robbed of all their valuables. Colonel Von Schoultz jumped from one of the out buildings and attempted to escape, but he was captured and was robbed of all his possessions, including the miniature of a young Syracuse woman to whom he was engaged.
Alexander Wright, a native born Canadian, who had been living at Ogdensburg, refused to surrender, saying that he knew death would be his fate and he was instantly shot down and stabbed through the heart with bayonets. John Morrisett, another Canadian, was stabbed in the side and was severely cut, but was not mortally wounded. All the out buildings were set on fire by the British. Leonard Root of Sackets Harbor refused to surrender and hid himself in an oven in one of the houses, where he was burned to death. The windmill itself was spared, as it was reported that there was a large quantity of powder underneath. The old stone building still stands, a landmark which has been seen by thousands of tourists each summer. It is used as a light house, but few who see it know the romantic history connected with it.
This ended the Battle of the Windmill from Tuesday until Friday the little band of untrained soldiers had held out against a much larger force of trained regulars. Historians may question the wisdom of the enterprise on which they embarked, but none can question their pure motives or the valor that they displayed. The courage and heroism displayed by that little band is excelled by nothing in modern history.
It was past sundown when the force surrendered and considerable time was consumed in making the arrangements for the transfer to Prescott village. The prisoners were marched in two’s, with the 83rd regiment on each side to protect them from the rapacity of the Canadian militia. All of the wounded who could possibly go on foot were compelled to travel in that manner. Lorenzo Finney, who was wounded the first day was supported by Charles F. Crossman of Watertown and Captain Heustis. He had been robbed of his coat and though his wounds had not been attended to for three and a half days, he was compelled to march through the mud and snow a distance of a mile and a half. He was later taken to the hospital at Kingston and was discharged in the spring, without trial, and returned to Watertown.
Monroe Wheelock, who was also wounded the first day, was compelled to walk to Prescott supported by two comrades. He had a severe wound in the thigh which caused him great pain. He lingered a few days after arriving in Kingston and passed away. His father asked for his body but it was refused him.
On the march to Prescott the British band played “Yankee Doodle” which served to make the plight of the prisoners more miserable. Worn out and jaded they at last reached Prescott which was brilliantly illuminated in honor of the British victory. The prisoners were paraded around the streets of Prescott where they were subject to vile indignities and abuse from the civil population which the British regulars were unable to prevent.
That night the party was crowded into the hold of the steamer Brockville to be conveyed to Kingston. The quarters were cramped and there was neither room to lie down or sit down. The wounded were crowded in with the well. There was insufficient ventilation. Colonel Von Schoultz was accorded the worst treatment. His hands were tied behind his back and he was paraded around the streets. When on board the steamer, one of the officers told him that he would be hanged in the morning at 3. Von Schoultz replied that he had faced death many times and that he would endeavor to obtain a little sleep before he was to meet his fate, as he had not slept in four nights. He sat down, with his hands still tied behind him and fell fast asleep. He did not wake up until about 5 the next morning and remarked with an air of indifference, “I declare, they must have forgotten me.”
All the prisoners were searched in the hope of finding some incriminating evidence on them. Most of the prisoners had taken the precaution to destroy any evidence they might have on their persons, but Captain Heustis happened to have two letters from Bill Johnston, one of which requested him to raise 50 men to be sent to Grindstone Island. Fortunately these letters were overlooked and during the passage to Kingston he destroyed them.
The next morning, Saturday, Nov. 17, the Brockville started for Kingston with the unhappy prisoners. Nothing was furnished to eat except some half-boiled fresh beef, with no salt, bread or potato. Few of the men had eaten anything in two or three days, but the fare was so poor that they could not bring themselves to eat it.