Syracuse Journal, Monday, March 20, 1939 - p. 4, Section E.

Salinians Aided
Canadian ‘Revolt’

Scores Took Part in Rebellion of 1837
And Battle of Windmill; Many
Killed and Hung

(Note: at right of this article appeared a photo of The Windmill)

Caption reads:

Sons of Onondaga fought in the Battle here to “Free
Canada” in the Rebellion of 1837; This and Other
“Campaigns” Proved Futile; the Windmill
Still Stands, Although It’s a Light-
house Now, and Overlooks the
Water of the St. Lawrence.

It was a little more than a century ago when the villagers of Syracuse and Salina decided to “free Canada from the yoke of England” and staged their own unofficial war.

Stirrings of discontent had provoked the futile Rebellion of 1837 against Great Britain, with William Lyon Mackenzie and Louis Joseph Papineau leading the forces across the border.

After Mackenzie set up a “revolutionary government” outside Toronto, a price was offered for him, and quarters were taken on Navy Island in the Niagara River boundary below Buffalo. Gen. Rensselaer von Rensselaer, an American, commanded the forces of 200 men, mostly Americans, who seized the Island

and held it for a month after Dec. 13, 1837.

Was Almost Provoked

During this period an American-British war was almost provoked when British troops seized the supply ship Caroline in the American port of Schlosser, N. Y.

President Van Buren, who had looked with friendship on the American rebels, then ordered ordered Americans to abandon their activities.

Instead, after defeats along the Niagara River, they redoubled their efforts.

After the political campaign of 1838 was out of the way---with both Whigs and Democrats in this section professing friendship for the Canadian rebels---there was a movement to avenge the previous year’s failure. General Van Rensselaer, after his final defeat at Gananoque, had come to Syracuse and had been arrested here by federal marshals.

In the Hunters’ Lodge here were men of all rank and order, from “Snow-shoe” to “Beaver,” “Master Hunter,” and “Patriotic Hunter.” P. Schuyler Stone, a merchant who kept a store at 38 S. Salina st., was one of them.

It was on Nov. 1 that he met young, pale featured Salina chemist named Niles Gustaf Scholtewskii Von Schoultz, a Pole whose father had been a major in Napolean’s army. Von Schoultz had been in this country two years. Thirty years of age, he had been trained in military technique Europe. When he heard of the proposed action, he set out with 10 countrymen and met the commander of the expedition, Gen J. Ward Birge of Cazenovia, at Watertown.

Delay Was Costly

Von Schultz was quickly made colonel, and second in command.

On Nov. 8 and 9 the boats on the Oswego Canal included some 30 men of Syracuse, Salina, and other points in Onondaga County who were excited, nervous, and heavily armed.

On the morning of the tenth, two schooners and a steamer set out from Oswego, 150 men aboard. At Sackets Harbor another 20 or 30 men came on, and a few more were added at French Creek, now Clayton. When they reached Ogdensburg the group joined another party, which made the total force close to 700.

General Birge, pleading “illness,” disembarked at Morristown, and left Colonel Von Schoultz in command. With him were Martin Woodruff of Salina, a captain, and two other officers from Watertown.

At that point there were some disputes among the commanders. Von Schoultz suggested an immediate landing on the Canadian side, at Prescott, fearing desertions. The others proposed to wait for additional recruits. By the time the “Patriot Army” was ready to make the crossing, on Monday, Nov. 12, only 170 men were found willing to go.

The crossing was not without mishap. One of schooner got over all right, but the other grounded in a mudbank. Two steamers, the United States and the Paul Fry, attempted to debark the men and carry them over, but the British ship Experiment drove them off. Finally, in midafternoon the other schooner carried them across.

A mile east of Prescott was a big stone windmill, still standing, that overlooks the St. Lawrence River. Today it serves as a lighthouse. But to the men alone across the border, with a vast country to conquer and free, the windmill loomed as a splendid fortification and there they dragged their three cannons.

There was fought the battle of the Windmill, almost forgotten by the historians, but occasionally renown as the fight that determined the fate of Canada and her free neighbor to the south.

A British regiment, the Eighty-third and Canadian militiamen were ready for the attack after the delay on the American side. Von Schoultz abandoned his plan to make a surprise attack on nearby Fort Wellington and mounted his cannons in the mill. The artillery included a six-pounder stolen from the village of Ogdensburg and a four-pounder stolen from the state of New York.

Arrival of American Army troops from Sackets Harbor prevented any further attempts by the hunters gathered in Ogdensburg to cross. In his ___?__ hope for reinforcements doomed, Colonel Von Schoultz sent a man across the river Monday night for vessels to return to the American side. The man was never heard from.

Bullets and Snow

Tuesday the British attacked. American farmers with keen eyes and squirrel guns picked off foemen until a retreat was forced. Then the exuberant patriots charged from their defense and 11 were cut off in a flanking movement. Five were killed in the day’s fighting and 13 wounded.

Then came snow.

An attempt by the steamer Paul Fry to return the Americans brought only a half a dozen desertions from the fighting front. Von Schoultz, still hoping for Canadian reinforcements, decided to hold his position.

For three days they were bombarded, cannons on the hillside, on river gunboats, and in entrenchments before the windmill pounding at the stone. The Patriots’ Army answered gamely, till Friday night saw their shelter in flames. Surrender was then inevitable.

In this “battle” 20 were killed. Of the prisoners, 11 were hanged and 141 deported to the penal colony of Van Dieman’s land in the North.

Colonel Von Schoultz, Captain Woodruff, Lemon (?) L. Leach, and Christopher Bulkley (sic) were the Syracuse and Salina men who faced the gibbet. Killed in the fighting were Nathan Coffin, 27, Liverpool; Ten Eyck Van Alstine, 40; Lorenzo West, 36; Moses Haynes, 20, and Rensselaer Drake, 23, all of Salina.

Some Pardoned

Three captured Salina youths, Philip Alger, Peter Myer and Giles Thomas, all youngsters in their early twenties, were wounded and given immediate release.

Another Onondaga group, equally youthful, were tried and pardoned. These included Phillip Coonrad, Joseph Drummond, Dave Defield, Joseph Dodge, Cornelius Goodrich, Charles Woodruff and Joseph Wagner of Salina and William Wolcott of Clay. Goodrich, who was only 18 at the time of the uprising, served seven years in the penitentiary before receiving his pardon.

Transported to the dreadful penal colony were Hugh Calhoun, Gideon Goodrich, Nelson and Jerry Griffs (sic), and Hiram Sharp of Salina, Nathan Whiting and Chauncey Matthews of Liverpool, Michael Friar of Clay, and Calvin Matthews of Lysander.

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