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Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter XXVII - Events on the St. Lawrence Frontier and Upper Canada.






The Energies of England Displayed. – Respect for the Skill and Valor of the Americans. – The Americans prepare for vigorous War. – Operations in the St. Lawrence Region. – Brockville and its Vicinity. – A general jail Delivery at Elizabethtown. – The British determine to retaliate. – Ogdensburg to be attacked. – Preparations to receive the British. – Adjutant Church and his Associates. – The British advance on Ogdensburg. – The British driven back upon the Ice. – Surrender of a Part of the Americans. – Historical Localities. – Bravery of Sheriff York. – Sketch of his Life. – Flight of Citizens. – Patriotism, Courage and Fidelity of Mrs. York. – Retreat of the Americans from Ogdensburg. – Plunder of the Village. – Prisoners carried to Canada. – A Day on the St. Lawrence. – A Visit to Ogdensburg and Prescott. – The "Rebellion" in Canada. – An American Steamer pressed into the Service of the "Patriots." – Siege of a garrisoned Wind-mill. – Fate of the captured "Patriots." – Fort Wellington. – Return to Ogdensburg and Departure eastward. – Dearborn and Chauncey on Lake Ontario. – Plans for invading Canada. – Preparations for active Movements. – The Troops at Sackett’s Harbor. – Expedition against Little York. – The British Defenses. – Neglect of Defenses. – General Pike’s Instructions. – His Troops confronted at their Landing-place. – Battle in the Woods. – Cowardly Flight of the Indians. – The British driven to Toronto. – Battle at York. – Explosion of the British Powder-magazine. – Death of General Pike and others. – Surrender of York. – Escape of General Sheaffe and his Regulars. – The Americans in Possession of the Post. – York abandoned by the Americans. – General Pike’s last Moments. – A Scalp adorning the Parliament-house. – A Journey to Toronto. – Experience in that City. – A Veteran of the War of 1812. – Remains of Old Fort Toronto. – An Adventure among the Fortifications at Toronto. – Displeasure of a British Official. – A courteous Sergeant. – Visit to the Don. – Chief Justice Robinson and William Lyon M‘Kenzie. – Passage across Lake Ontario. – The Railway to Lewiston. – Arrival at Niagara Falls. – Expedition against Fort George. – Preparations for an Attack. – The respective Forces there. – Cannonade between Forts George and Niagara. – The American Squadron off the Niagara River. – Opening of the Batteries. – Landing of the American Troops. – Gallantry of Commodore Perry. – A severe Contest on the Shore. – Retreat of the British. – Capture of Fort George. – Pursuit of the British checked. – Their Flight to the Beaver Dams and Burlington Heights. – British Property destroyed by themselves. – Injurious Delay. – Expedition sent toward Burlington Heights. – Encounter at Forty-mile Creek. – Americans at Stony Creek. – Preparations to surprise their Camp. – Assault on the American Camp. – Confusion and Disaster in the Darkness. – Capture of Generals Chandler and Winder. – Narrow Escape of General Vincent. – Retreat of the Americans. – A British Fleet in Sight. – Pursuit of the Americans. – The British at Sodus Bay. – Destruction of Property at Sodus. – British Fleet off Oswego.


"Once this soft turf, this riv’let’s sands,

Were trampled by a hurrying crowd,
And fiery hearts and armèd hands
Encounter’d in the battle-cloud.
Ah! never shall the land forget
How gush’d the life-blood of her brave –
Gush’d, warm with hope and courage yet,
Upon the soil they fought to save." – WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.


While the army of the Northwest, under Harrison, was slowly recovering what Hull had lost, and more, stirring and important events were occurring on the frontiers of Niagara, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River.

England was then putting forth her mightiest efforts to crush Napoleon, and her display of energy and resources was marvelous. It required the most vigilant exercise of these on the Continent, yet she withheld nothing that seemed necessary to secure success in America. The naval victories of the Americans during 1812 were very mortifying to the "Mistress of the Seas," and it was resolved by the British cabinet to prosecute the war on the ocean with the greatest vigor. A most profound and wholesome respect for the skill and valor of American seamen had been suddenly created in the British mind, and, to prevent farther disasters on that theatre of action, it was determined that no more conflicts with American ships should be hazarded but with such superior force as would seem to insure success. The American coast was to be practically blockaded, and with so much rigor as to prevent the egress of privateers and the return of them with prizes; and the fiat went forth from the British court that every thing American found afloat should be captured or destroyed, while all of her maritime towns should be menaced and annoyed by the presence and movements of British cruisers.

The success of the allied powers against Napoleon during 1812 greatly relieved England for the moment, and enabled her to give more force to her conflict in the Western world. During the winter of 1812-’13 a body of troops were sent to Halifax, to re-enforce those in Canada in the spring, the principal object to be accomplished in that quarter being the defense of the provinces against invasion, while the war should be carried on vigorously along the coast and on the ocean.

The Americans were disheartened by the results of their campaigns on land during 1812, and it was difficult to increase the army either by volunteers or militia. The government had determined to renew the efforts for the conquest of Canada, in which service nearly all of the regulars were to be employed. The remainder, to consist of militia and volunteers, were to compose, with the regulars, an army of fifty thousand men. By an arrangement for an exchange of prisoners, many valuable officers were restored to command. The states were divided into nine military districts, 1 to each of which a general officer of the United States army was assigned, whose duty it was to superintend and direct all the means of defense within his military district. Detachments of troops were stationed at the most exposed places on the sea-board to form rallying points for the militia in the event of invasion; and the commandant of each district was authorized to call upon the governors of the respective states for such portion of the militia most convenient to the menaced point as he should deem necessary, the operations of such troops to be combined with those of the regular force, and the whole to be under the direction of the commandant of the district, and while in service to be paid and supported by the United States. By this arrangement, designed to prevent any serious interference on the part of the governors of states who were opposed to the war, there was in each district a regular officer of rank equal with any militia officer who might be ordered out, and, under the Articles of War, entitled to chief command. Strict orders were also issued to receive no militia major general into the service of the United States except at the head of four thousand men, or a brigadier general without half as many. Eight new brigadiers were commissioned; 2 and each district, besides its commissary general, was to have an adjutant, a quarter-master, and an inspector of its own. Meanwhile vigorous preparations had been making by the Northern Army on the St. Lawrence and its vicinity, and the Army of the Centre on the Niagara frontier, for an invasion of Canada.

Early in February, 1813, some important movements were made on the St. Lawrence at Ogdensburg and its vicinity. In a former chapter we have observed some interesting occurrences between the hostile parties in that region during the preceding autumn and early winter. Both were vigilant, and both had committed "invasions" and made prisoners. British deserters had fled to the American lines, and parties of troops from Canada had crossed the river, captured some of these, and made prisoners of American soldiers and civilians. A number of these captives were confined in the jail at Elizabethtown, now Brockville, in Canada, eleven or twelve miles above Ogdensburg, some of whom expected to be shot by order of a court-martial.

An expedition to rescue the prisoners in Elizabethtown jail was planned by Major (late Captain) Forsyth, then stationed at Ogdensburg. With his riflemen, Lyttle’s company of volunteers, and some citizens, about two hundred in all, Forsyth left the village in sleighs at about nine o’clock in the evening of the 6th of February [1813.], rode along the southern shore of the St. Lawrence to Morristown, and there engaged Arnold Smith, 3 a tavern-keeper, to pilot them across the river, which is about two miles and a half wide there. It was a perilous passage, for the ice was not very strong. They crossed safely by keeping open order. The party was divided; Forsyth led one division, and Colonel Benedict, of the New York State Militia, the other. Flanking parties were thrown out under the respective command of Lieutenants Wells and Johnson. In this order they approached Elizabethtown, on the bank of the river, where the flanking parties took post at opposite ends of the village, to check any attempts at retreat or approaching re-enforcements.


The summer tourist on the St. Lawrence must remember with pleasure the appearance of Brockville (Elizabethtown), and the beautiful green ridges around it, rising, one above another, from and parallel to the river. It is at the foot of the group of the Thousand Islands, in the St. Lawrence; and in front of it, upon a bare rock a short distance from the shore, there still remained, when I visited the place in 1860, a small block-house erected there during the "Rebellion" in Canada in 1837. On the first of those ridges was the principal business part of Brockville, while on the one above stood a court-house and jail, of blue limestone, and churches and other fine buildings. On the site of that court-house and jail stood the building used for the same purpose in 1813, described as an "elegant brick edifice." Toward this building Major Forsyth moved through the town, after detaching small parties to secure the different streets in the village. On reaching it, he demanded the keys of the jailer. They were immediately surrendered, and the major proceeded to release every prisoner but one, who was confined for murder. He begged piteously to share the fate of his fellow-prisoners; but he was a criminal, and could not be taken from the hands of justice. Some of the prominent citizens were also seized and taken to Ogdensburg. A captured physician was paroled at Morristown and sent back. The only show of resistance was a shot from a window, which slightly wounded one man. Major Carley, the commander of the post, three captains, two lieutenants, with forty-six other prisoners, were taken in triumph to Ogdensburg, where the expedition arrived before daylight on the 7th, without the loss of a man. The spoils were one hundred and twenty muskets, twenty rifles, two casks of fixed ammunition, and a quantity of other stores. For this gallant enterprise, which called forth universal applause, Forsyth was made lieutenant colonel by brevet, his commission being dated the 6th of February, by which it was made to himself and family a memorial of the event.

This exploit led to early retaliation on the part of the British. At about that time Sir George Prevost, the Governor General of Canada, arrived at Prescott on his way to the capital of the upper province. Lieutenant Colonel Pierson, commanding at Prescott, proposed an attack upon Ogdensburg. The governor was willing to have the attempt made; but on learning that some deserters had crossed the St. Lawrence, and would probably inform the Americans of the proximity of a prize so precious as his excellency, he became alarmed for his personal safety, and ordered Pierson to accompany him on an immediate journey to Kingston with an escort. Lieutenant Colonel M‘Donell was charged with the business of assailing Ogdensburg, and was directed by the governor to first make a demonstration on the ice in front of the village, to engage the attention of the American troops, while his excellency should put much space between himself and his enemies.

British spies informed Forsyth of the intended attack, and he immediately dispatched a courier to General Dearborn at Plattsburg, on Lake Champlain, for re-enforcements. "I can afford you no help," replied Dearborn. "You must do as well as you are able, and if you can not hold the place you are at liberty to abandon it." He intimated that the sacrifice of Ogdensburg might be of public benefit in arousing the flagging energies of the Americans. On the receipt of this reply, Forsyth called a council of officers, when it was resolved to hold the place as long as possible. Its defenses were few and feeble, yet stout hearts were there. Near the intersection of Ford and Euphemia (now State) Streets stood a trophy-cannon taken from Burgoyne at Saratoga – an iron six-pounder, on a wheel-carriage, commanded by Captain Kellogg, of the Albany Volunteers. On the west side of Ford Street, between State and Isabella Streets, was a store used as an arsenal, in front of which, likewise on a wheel-carriage, was a brass six-pounder, manned by some volunteers and citizens, under Joseph York, Esq., then sheriff of the county and captain of a small company of volunteers.


On the river bank, a short distance from Parish’s huge stone store-house, 4 yet (1867) standing, near the International Ferry, was a rude wooden breastwork, on which was mounted, on a sled-carriage, an iron twelve-pounder, also taken from Burgoyne. This battery was commanded by Captain Joshua Conkey. On the point where the light-house now stands, near the site of old Fort Presentation, was a brass nine-pounder on a sled-carriage, in charge of one of Captain Kellogg’s sergeants.

Back of the old fort, and mounted on sleds, were two old-fashioned iron six-pounders, one of them commanded by Adjutant Daniel W. Church, 5 and the other by Lieutenant Baird, of Major Forsyth’s company. In front of the huge gateway between the two buildings then remaining of the old fort 6 was another brass six-pounder on a sled, and about twenty feet to the left of this was a six-pounder iron cannon on a sled. Several others were lying on the edge of the Oswegatchie fast bound in ice. Below the town, on the square bounded by Washington and Water, Elizabeth and Franklin Streets, was an unfinished redoubt, which was commenced the previous autumn by M. Ramee, a French engineer, by order of General Brown, and named Fort Oswegatchie. All the troops then available for the defense of the place were Forsyth’s riflemen, a few volunteers, and about a dozen raw recruits.

On the morning of the 22d of February, about eight hundred men, under Lieutenant Colonel M‘Donell, appeared on the ice, and approached Ogdensburg in two columns. It was a singular spectacle, for only once or twice before had the river been closed between Prescott and Ogdensburg. The right column, three hundred strong, composed of a detachment from the Glengary Light Infantry Fencibles 7 and a body of Canadian militia, was commanded by Captain Jenkins. The left column, five hundred strong, composed of detachments of the King’s Regiment and the Royal Newfoundland Corps, a body of Canadian local militia and some Indians, was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel M‘Donell. These troops moved steadily toward the village, while some of the inhabitants were yet in bed, and others were at breakfast.


The right column proceeded to attack Forsyth and his command at the old fort, or "stone garrison," as it was called. 8 Forsyth formed his men behind the stone buildings, and directed them to reserve their fire until he should give the word of command. Baird, with the brass six-pounder, was on the right of his line, and Church, with the iron six-pounder, was near the centre. Just as the enemy reached the flat, snow-drifted shore, they fired, but without effect. Forsyth then gave the word, and a full volley of musketry and a discharge of artillery swept down eight of the foe, and threw their line into utter confusion. They attempted to rally and charge upon the Americans, but the frightened militia failing to support the light infantry, the movement was not executed, and the assailing party, after losing, besides the killed and wounded, a number of prisoners, fled out upon the frozen river, seriously annoyed by the nine-pounder on the point where the light-house now stands.

While these events were in progress on the upper side of the village beyond the Oswegatchie, Lieutenant Colonel M‘Donell had marched up into the town, from a point below the battery, near the barracks, without resistance. 9 Captain Conkey kept his twelve-pounder silent, when he might have swept the enemy’s ranks fearfully, and perhaps utterly checked their advance; and, without the least resistance, he surrendered himself, his gun, and his men to the invaders. When this was accomplished they expected an easy conquest of the town, but they were soon confronted by the cannon under Captain Kellogg and Sheriff York. The gun of the former was soon disabled by the breaking of its elevator screw, and he and his men fled across the Oswegatchie and joined Forsyth, leaving the indomitable York to maintain the fight alone. 10 The sheriff continued to fire until two of his men were mortally wounded, and himself and the remainder of his party were made prisoners.


The village was now in full possession of the enemy, and the citizens fled, mostly in the direction of Remington’s, now Heuvelton. M‘Donell proceeded at once to complete the conquest by dislodging Forsyth and his party. He paraded his troops on the northern shore of the Oswegatchie, and sent a flag to Forsyth summoning him to surrender instantly. "If you surrender, it shall be well; if not, every man shall be put to the bayonet," was a message sent with the summons. "Tell Colonel M‘Donell," replied Forsyth, "there must be more fighting done first." The bearers of the flag had just reached their line on Ford Street, near Hasbrouck’s, when Church and Baird fired the two six-pounders that stood before the gate of the fort, both charged with grape and canister. The effect was severe, but less frightful than it might have been had not Forsyth peremptorily ordered Church to elevate his piece a little higher. The discharge frightened the enemy, and they took shelter behind Parish’s store-house and other buildings, and began picking off the Americans in detail, while another party, overwhelming in numbers, were preparing to storm the old fort. Forsyth’s quick eye and judgment comprehended the impending peril. It was heightened by the wounding of Church and Baird, and he gave orders for a retreat to Thurber’s Tavern, on Black Lake, eight or nine miles distant, where, on the same day, he wrote a dispatch to the Secretary of War, in which he gave a brief account of the affairs of the morning, and said, "If you can send me three hundred men, all shall be retaken, and Prescott too, or I will lose my life in the attempt."

Lieutenant Baird was too severely wounded to be taken away, and he was left at the mansion of Judge Ford, 11 where he was made a prisoner. The town now being in full possession of the enemy, the work of plunder commenced. Indians and camp-followers of both sexes came over from Canada, and these, with resident miscreants, defying the earnest efforts of the British officers to prevent plunder, carried off or destroyed a great amount of private property. Every house in the village except three was entered. The public property was carried over to Canada. Two armed schooners and two gun-boats fast in the ice were burned, the barracks near the river were laid in ashes, and an attempt was made to fire the bridge over the Oswegatchie. 12 Fifty-two prisoners were taken to Prescott, where those who were not found in arms were paroled and sent back. 13 Some of the prisoners were confined in the jail at Johnstown, three miles below Prescott, 14 and others were sent to Montreal. Fourteen of the latter escaped from prison at Montreal, and the remainder were sent to Halifax.

The Americans lost in this affair, besides the prisoners, five killed and fifteen wounded. The British lost six killed and forty-eight wounded. As the enemy immediately evacuated the place, the citizens soon returned. From that time until the close of the war Ogdensburg remained in an entirely defenseless state, which exposed the inhabitants to occasional insults from their belligerent neighbors over the river. 15 A little east of Prescott, on the bank of the St. Lawrence, the British erected a small fortification during the war, which commanded Ogdensburg. It was called Fort Wellington. The present fort of that name was built upon an eminence back of the other, in 1838, at the time of the "Rebellion" in Canada."

I visited the theatre of scenes just described, and places of interest in their neighborhood, in July, 1860, after spending a day or two among the Thousand Islands in the vicinity of Cape Vincent. At dawn on a beautiful morning [July 26, 1860.] I embarked on the steam-boat New York at that point for Ogdensburg, and had the pleasure of meeting an old acquaintance (Captain Van Cleve), a veteran commander of steam-boats on Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence, and who was an involuntary actor in the stirring scenes in the neighborhood of the Oswegatchie in 1838, which will be noted presently. Familiar with every island, rock, and bush on the route, I found him a most instructive companion during that delightful voyage among the Thousand Islands. Another passenger was Mr. Pierpont, of Pierpont Manor, Jefferson County, New York, who was one of the United States commissioners that fixed the boundary-line between the former and Canada soon after the close of the War of 1812-’15. With these two gentlemen as companions willing to impart information, I lacked nothing.

Just above Brockville, as we emerged from the Thousand Islands, a settlement of Tories of the Revolution was pointed out to me, and the house in which a grandson of Benedict Arnold lived, and where he died a few years ago.

We arrived at Ogdensburg early in the day, and I went out immediately to visit places of historic interest there, accompanied by Messrs. Westbrook and Guest, to whom I am indebted for kind attentions while there. The landing-places of the British from the ice; the sites of the "stone garrison" and other military works; the arsenal, court-house, and old burial-ground, on an eminence south of the Oswegatchie, were all visited before dinner. 16 Afterward I went alone over to Prescott, and, in company with a citizen of that village, rode to Wind-mill Point, a mile below, to visit the scene of a serious tragedy late in the autumn of 1838.

Allusion has already been made several times to the "Rebellion" in Canada in 1837 and 1838. It was a violent effort on the part of leaders and followers in both provinces to cast off the rule of an oligarchy and establish constitutional government, whose administrators should be responsible to the people. The most conspicuous leader in the upper province was the late William Lyon M‘Kenzie, a Scotchman, and in the lower province the late Louis Joseph Papineau, a wealthy French Canadian. These, with many followers, assumed the position of open insurrection against the provincial authorities. They were joined by many sympathizers from the United States frontier, and in the autumn of 1838 the affair had grown to alarming proportions – so alarming that, on account of the active sympathy of the Americans with the Canadian "Patriots," it threatened to disturb the friendly relations between the United States and Great Britain. All the frontier towns on both sides of the line were kept in continual excitement, and none more so for a time than Ogdensburg and Prescott. Matters were brought to a crisis there in this wise. One of the most active of the "Patriots" on the American side was William Johnson, of Frenchtown (now Clayton), commonly known as "Bill Johnson," and sometimes called the "Patriot," and sometimes the "Pirate" of the Thousand Islands. Of him we shall have occasion to speak more in detail hereafter, for he was an active partisan in the War of 1812. Johnson’s knowledge of the St. Lawrence from Cape Vincent to Ogdensburg made him a valuable auxiliary to the Canadian insurgents, and he engaged with them in co-operative movements for seizing Fort Wellington, which had just been completed at Prescott. For this purpose a large number of "Patriots" went down the St. Lawrence early in November, 1838. On the 12th, the steam-boat United States, Captain Van Cleve, just mentioned, took as passengers for Ogdensburg about two hundred and fifty "Patriots" from Sackett’s Harbor. On the way down the St. Lawrence, Van Cleve discovered two schooners becalmed. One of his passengers, a stranger of genteel appearance, asked him to take them in tow, as they were laden with goods from Ogdensburg, and he should be glad to have them reach port the next morning. The decks were covered with boxes and barrels, and only men enough to navigate the vessels were visible. The schooners were taken in tow, when Van Cleve was speedily undeceived. Full two hundred armed men came from them on board of his vessel. The schooners were a sort of Trojan horses. Van Cleve was perplexed. He resolved to "lay to" at Morristown, and send word to the authorities at Ogdensburg. This becoming known to the "Patriots," about one hundred of those on the United States who took passage at Sackett’s Harbor, and all who had come from the schooners, went on board of the latter, when they cast off from the steam-boat and sailed down the St. Lawrence. On the following morning they were at anchor in the river between Ogdensburg and Prescott, and created the greatest excitement in both towns.

The British armed steamer Experiment was lying at Prescott, and made immediate arrangements to attack the schooners. One of them meanwhile had run aground, and the other had gone down to Wind-mill Point and landed her armed men. At about the same time the United States arrived at Ogdensburg. The "Patriots" pressed her into their service, and, with the assistance of the American steam ferry-boat Paul Pry, rescued the stranded schooner, and conveyed the other to a place of safety near Ogdensburg. She was also employed in carrying over some "Patriots" whom Johnson had persuaded to accompany him to Wind-mill Point, in which service she lost her pilot, Solomon Foster, an excellent young man, who was instantly killed by-a ball from the Experiment that passed through the wheel-house of the United States. That evening Colonel Worth arrived at Ogdensburg with United States troops, accompanied by a marshal, who seized all vessels in the "Patriot" service, including the United States, and effectually cut off supplies of men, arms, and provisions from Windmill Point.


The "Patriots" at the Point made a citadel of the strong stone wind-mill there, took possession of some stone dwellings, and cast up breast-works. They were under the command of a brave young Polander named Von Schoultz. On the morning of the 13th [November, 1838.] they were attacked with shot and shell by the Experiment and two other armed steamers that had arrived. These were replied to by the battery that had been constructed on the shore near the wind-mill during the night. There were cowards among the "Patriots." So many had fled that when the cannonade commenced only one hundred and eighty were left. When, soon afterward, British regulars and volunteers to the number of more than six hundred went out from Fort Wellington and attacked the "Patriots" in the rear, only one hundred and twenty-eight were left; and yet these fought so desperately that, according to Dr. Theller’s account, 17 they drove the British back to the fort, killing one hundred of them and wounding many, after a conflict of an hour.

Little but burying the dead occupied the next day [November 14.]. That night, four hundred British regulars, sixteen hundred volunteers, cannon, and gun-boats arrived from Kingston. The "Patriots" were doomed. Food, ammunition, and physical strength were exhausted, and they surrendered. They had lost thirty-six killed; ninety were made prisoners. Von Schoultz, only thirty-one years of age, and several Americans, were hanged in less than a month afterward. Some were released, and twenty-three were sent to England, and from thence to the British penal colony in Van Diemen’s Land. Eleven years later they were all released by a declaration of amnesty by the crown.


The British burned the wood-work of the wind-mill and stone houses. In that desolated condition they yet remained when I visited the spot in 1860, and made the sketch from which our little engraving was copied. The wind-mill still exhibits many indentations made by the cannon-balls during the siege.


It was toward evening when I returned to Prescott, stopping on the way to visit Fort Wellington, a strong work covering about three acres of ground. It was not garrisoned, and every thing within seemed neglected. The citadel, in the form of a block-house, seen in the engraving, is a strong work, the lower part of stone, the upper of hewn timbers. The barracks are in good condition. A few cannon were on the ramparts, and on the river side of the fort lay a brass one, on which was inscribed the words and characters "S. N. Y., 1834. Taken from the rebels in 1837." It was a trophy.

When I recrossed the St. Lawrence at near sunset, heavy clouds were floating down from the region of the Thousand Islands, and low thunder-peals were heard in the far southwest. I stopped on the International Ferry wharf just long enough to sketch the Parish store-house, and arrived at the Seymour House a few minutes before a heavy shower of rain began to fall. I passed part of the short summer evening with Mrs. York, already mentioned, at the house of Mr. Chapin, her son-in-law, and at four o’clock the next morning, when the clouds, after a night of tempest, were breaking, departed in the cars for the eastward, to visit French Mills (now Covington), Malone, Odelltown, Champlain, Chazy, and Plattsburg. Of those visits I shall hereafter write.

A second invasion of Canada, as we have observed, was a principal feature in the programme of the campaign of 1813. Quebec, on account of its military strength and accessibility to large vessels from the sea, was held to be unassailable; but Montreal, the emporium of the vast Indian trade in the immense country westward of it, seemed to promise an easy conquest. The possession of that city, and of the entire Upper Province, was the prize for which the Army of the North was expected to contend. But the same lack of sagacity on the part of the cabinet, to which much of the disasters of 1812 were chargeable, now reappeared. Instead of sending a competent force for the capture of Montreal before the ice in the St. Lawrence should move and permit British transports to bring re-enforcements from Halifax, it was determined first to reduce Kingston and York (now Toronto), on Lake Ontario, and Forts George and Erie, on the Niagara River, recapture Detroit, and recover the Michigan Territory. The latter enterprise was successful, as we have seen in the last chapter; it now remains for us to consider the events connected with the prosecution of the former, namely, the capture of York, Forts George and Erie, and Kingston, in the order here named.

Early in the winter of 1813, Dearborn, who was in the immediate command of the Army of the North, had about six thousand troops under his control, and was empowered to call out as many of the local militia as might be needed to supply any deficiencies in the regular army. Commodore Chauncey, by operations described in a former chapter, 19 had acquired such complete control of Lake Ontario that he could confine all the British vessels of war to the harbor of Kingston.

Orders were given for the concentration of four thousand troops at Sackett’s Harbor, and three thousand at Buffalo. The former were to cross the ice to Kingston, capture that place, destroy all the shipping that might be wintering there, and then, as soon as practicable, either by land or water, proceed to York, seize the army stores collected there, and two frigates said to be on the stocks.

Dearborn received a general outline of this plan from the War Department on the 10th of February. He was then at Plattsburg with two brigades wintering there, amounting in the aggregate to about twenty-five hundred effective men. "Nothing shall be omitted on my part," he wrote on the 18th [February, 1813.], "in endeavoring to carry into effect the expedition proposed." 20 Major Forsyth, who returned to Ogdensburg after the British left it, was ordered to Sackett’s Harbor. General Brown was directed to call out several hundred militia; and Colonel Zebulon M. Pike (who was made a brigadier general a month later) was ordered to proceed from Plattsburg to the Harbor with four hundred of his best men in sleighs. But Chauncey was detained in New York, and the expedition against Kingston was abandoned, partly on that account, and partly because the arrival at that place of Sir George Prevost with Pierson’s escort 21 from Prescott gave foundation for a report that the British there had received large re-enforcements. 22 When, about the 1st of March, Dearborn arrived at Sackett’s Harbor, the story was current there, and generally believed, that Sir George, with six or eight thousand men, collected from Quebec, Montreal, and Upper Canada, was at Kingston, engaged in active preparations for offensive measures.

Dearborn found only about three thousand troops at the Harbor, and he sent expresses to hasten forward those on the way. On the 9th of March he wrote to the Secretary of War, saying, "I have not yet had the honor of a visit from Sir George Prevost," and expressed some doubts whether the knight would make his appearance at all. A week afterward all causes for apprehensions of an attack from Kingston had disappeared, and at a council of officers [March 15.] the expedition against that place was formally abandoned until the lake should be open and the cooperation of the fleet should be secured. To the strengthening of that arm of the service on the lake, the genius and industry of Henry Eckford, the naval constructor, were now earnestly directed, the President having, on the 3d of March, directed six sloops of war to be built on Lakes Ontario and Erie, and as many purchased as the exigencies of the service might require. The pay of seamen was advanced twenty-five per cent., and many of them were sent to the lakes for active service there. Early in April the brig Jefferson was launched [April 7.] at Sackett’s Harbor, and the keel of the General Pike was laid [April 9.]. On the 14th the British launched two large vessels at Kingston, and at about the same time received for the service on the water large numbers of seamen from the Royal Navy. On the 15th the ice in the lake disappeared, and two days afterward Chauncey sent out the Growler to reconnoitre. Brigadier General Chandler had lately arrived. The effective force at Sackett’s Harbor at this time consisted of about five thousand regulars and twelve months’ volunteers, two thousand militia, and thirteen hundred sailors.

At the middle of April Dearborn and Chauncey matured a plan of operations. A joint land and naval expedition was proposed, to first capture York, and then to cross Lake Ontario and reduce Fort George. At the same time, troops were to cross the Niagara from Buffalo and Black Rock, capture Forts Erie and Chippewa, join the fleet and army at Fort George, and all proceed to attack Kingston. Every thing being arranged, Dearborn embarked about seventeen hundred men on Chauncey’s fleet at Sackett’s Harbor on the 22d of April, and on the 25th the fleet, crowded with soldiers, sailed for York. 23

After a boisterous passage, it appeared before the little town early in the morning of the 27th, when General Dearborn, suffering from ill health, placed the land forces under charge of General Pike, 24 and resolved to remain on board the commodore’s flag-ship during the attack. The little village of York 25 was then chiefly at the bottom of the bay, near a marshy flat through which the Don, coming down from beautiful fertile valleys, flowed sluggishly into Lake Ontario, and, because of the softness of the earth there, it was often called "Muddy Little York." It gradually grew to the westward, and, while deserting the Don, it wooed the Humber, once a famous salmon stream, that flows into a broad bay two or three miles west of Toronto. In that direction stood the remains of old Fort Toronto, erected by the French, and now (1867) an almost shapeless heap. On the shore eastward of it, between the present new barracks and the city, were two batteries, the most easterly one being in the form of a crescent. A little farther east, on the borders of a deep ravine and small stream, was a picketed block-house, some intrenchments with cannon, and a garrison of about eight hundred men, under Major General Sheaffe.


On Gibraltar Point, the extreme western end of the peninsula, that embraced the Harbor with its protecting arm, was a small block-house; and another, seen in the engraving, stood on the high east bank of the Don, just beyond the present bridge at the eastern termination of King and Queen Streets. These defenses had been strangely neglected. Some of the cannon were without trunnions; others, destined for the war vessel then on the stocks, were in frozen mud and half covered with snow. Fortunately for the garrison, the Duke of Gloucester was then in port undergoing some repairs, and her guns furnished some armament for the batteries. These, however, amounted to only a few six-pounders. The whole country around, excepting a few spots on the lake shore, was covered with a dense forest.

On the day when the expedition sailed from Sackett’s Harbor General Pike issued minute instructions concerning the manner of landing and attack. "It is expected," he said," that every corps will be mindful of the honor of the American arms, and the disgraces which have recently tarnished our arms, and endeavor, by a cool and determined discharge of their duty, to support the one and wipe off the other." "The unoffending citizens of Canada," he continued, " are many of them our own countrymen, and the poor Canadians have been forced into this war. Their property, therefore, must be held sacred; and any soldier who shall so far neglect the honor of his profession as to be guilty of plundering the inhabitants, shall, if convicted, be punished with death. But the commanding general assures the troops that, should they capture a large quantity of public stores, he will use his best endeavors to procure them a reward from his government." With such instructions the Americans proceeded to invade the British soil at about eight o’clock on the morning of the 27th of April, 1813.

It was intended to land at a clearing near old Fort Toronto. An easterly wind, blowing with violence, drove the small boats in which the troops left the fleet full half a mile farther westward, and beyond an effectual covering by the guns of the navy. Major Forsyth and his riflemen, in two bateaux, led the van, and when within rifle-shot of the shore they were assailed by a deadly volley of bullets by a company of Glengary Fencibles and a party of Indians under Major Givens, who were concealed in the woods that fringe the shore. "Rest on your oars! prime!" said Forsyth, in a low tone. Pike, standing on the deck of the Madison, saw this halting, and impatiently exclaimed, with an expletive, "I can not stay here any longer! Come," he said, addressing his staff "jump into the boat." He was instantly obeyed, and very soon they and their gallant commander were in the midst of a fight, for Forsyth’s men had opened fire, and the enemy on the shore were returning it briskly. The vanguard soon landed, and were immediately followed, in support, by Major King and a battalion of infantry. Pike and the main body soon followed, and the whole column, consisting of the Sixth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Twenty-first Regiments of Infantry, and detachments of light and heavy artillery, with Major Forsyth’s riflemen and Lieutenant Colonel M‘Clure’s volunteers as flankers, pressed forward into the woods. The British skirmishers meanwhile had been re-enforced by two companies of the Eighth, or King’s Regiment of Regulars, two hundred strong, a company of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, a large body of militia, and some Indians. They took position in the woods, and were soon encountered by the advancing Americans, whose artillery it was difficult to move. Perceiving this, the British, led by General Sheaffe in person, attacked the American flanks with a six-pounder and howitzer. A very sharp conflict ensued, and both parties suffered much, Captain M‘Neil, of the King’s Regiment, was killed. The British were overpowered, and fell back, when General Pike, at the head of the American column, ordered his bugler to sound, and at the same time dashed gallantly forward. That bugle blast thrilled like electric fire along the nerves of the Indians. They gave one horrid yell, then fled like frightened deer to cover, deep into the forest. That bugle blast was heard in the fleet, in the face of the wind, and high above the voices of the gale, and evoked long and loud responsive cheers. At the same time Chauncey was sending to the shore, under the direction of Commander Elliott, something more effective than huzzas, for he was hurling deadly grape-shot upon the foe, which added to the consternation of the savages, and gave fleetness to their feet. They also hastened the retreat of Sheaffe’s white troops to their defenses in the direction of the village, while the drum and fife of the pursuers were briskly playing Yankee Doodle.

The Americans now pressed forward as rapidly as possible along the lake shore in platoons by sections. They were not allowed to load their muskets, and were compelled to rely upon the bayonet. Because of many ravines and little streams, the artillery was moved with difficulty, for the enemy had destroyed the bridges. It was a strong right arm, and essential in the service at hand; and by great exertions a field-piece and a howitzer, under Lieutenant Fanning, of the Third Artillery, was moved steadily with the column.


As that column emerged from thick woods, flanked by M‘Clure’s volunteers, divided equally as light troops, under Colonel Ripley, it was confronted by twenty-four pounders on the Western Battery, the remains of which are now (1867) plainly visible between the present New Barracks and the city on the lake shore. Upon that battery the guns of some of Chauncey’s vessels, which had beat up against the wind in range of the enemy’s works, were pouring heavy shot. Captain Walworth was ordered to storm it with his grenadiers, of the Sixteenth. They immediately trailed their arms, quickened their pace, and were about to charge, when the wooden magazine of the battery, that had been carelessly left open, blew up, killing some of the men, and seriously damaging the defenses. The dismayed enemy spiked their cannon, and fled to the next, or Half-moon Battery. Walworth pressed forward, when that, too, was abandoned, and he found nothing within but spiked cannon. Sheaffe and his little army, deserted by the Indians, fled to the garrison near the governor’s house, and there opened a fire of round and grape shot upon the Americans. Pike ordered his troops to halt, and lie flat upon the grass, while Major Eustis, with his artillery battery, moved to the front, and soon silenced the great guns of the enemy.

The firing from the garrison ceased, and the Americans expected every moment to see a white flag displayed from the block-house in token of surrender. Lieutenant Riddle, whose corps had brought up the prisoners taken in the woods, was sent forward with a small party to reconnoitre. General Pike, who had just assisted, with his own hands, in removing a wounded soldier to a comfortable place, was sitting upon a stump conversing with a huge British sergeant who had been taken prisoner, his staff standing around him. At that moment was felt a sudden tremor of the ground, followed by a tremendous explosion near the British garrison.


The enemy, despairing of holding the place, had blown up their powder-magazine, situated upon the edge of the water, at the mouth of a ravine, near where the buildings of the Great Western Railway stand. The effect was terrible. Fragments of timber, and huge stones of which the magazine walls were built, were scattered in every direction over a space of several hundred yards. 27 When the smoke floated away the scene was appalling. Fifty-two Americans lay dead, and one hundred and eighty others were wounded. 28 So badly had the affair been managed that forty of the British also lost their lives by the explosion. General Pike, two of his aids, and the British sergeant were mortally hurt, 29 while Riddle and his party were unhurt, the missiles passing entirely over them. The terrified Americans scattered in dismay, but they were soon rallied by Brigade Major Hunt and Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell. The column was reformed, and the general command was assumed by the gallant Pennsylvanian, Colonel Cromwell Pearce, of the Sixteenth, the senior officer. 30 After giving three cheers, the troops pressed forward toward the village, and were met by the civil authorities and militia officers with propositions for a capitulation, in response to a peremptory demand for surrender made by Colonel Pearce. An arrangement was concluded for an absolute surrender, with no other prescribed conditions than that all papers belonging to the civil officers should be retained by them, that private property of all kinds should be respected, and that the surgeons in attendance upon the British regulars and Canadian militia should not be considered prisoners of war. 31 General Sheaffe’s baggage and papers were captured. Among the former was a musical snuff-box that attracted much attention.

Taking advantage of the confusion that succeeded the explosion, and the time intentionally consumed in the capitulation, General Sheaffe and a large portion of his regulars, after destroying the vessel on the stocks and some store-houses and their contents, stole across the Don, and fled along Dundas Street toward Kingston. When several miles from York they met a portion of the King’s Regiment on their way to Fort George. These turned back, covered Sheaffe’s retreat, and all reached Kingston in safety. Sheaffe (who was the military successor of Brock) was severely censured for the loss of York, and was soon afterward superseded in command in Upper Canada by Major General De Rottenburg. He retired to Montreal, and took command of the troops there.

On hearing of the death of General Pike, General Dearborn went on shore, and assumed command after the capitulation. At sunset the work was finished; and at the same hour (eight o’clock in the evening), both Chauncey and Dearborn wrote brief dispatches to the government at Washington, the former saying, "We are in full possession of this place," and the latter, "I have the satisfaction to inform you that the American flag is flying upon the fort at York." The post, with about two hundred and ninety prisoners besides the militia, the war-vessel Duke of Gloucester, and a large quantity of naval and military stores, passed into the possession of the Americans. Such of the latter as could not be carried away by the squadron were destroyed; and before the victors left, the public buildings were fired by some unknown hand, and consumed. 32 Four days after the capitulation the troops were reembarked, preparatory to a descent upon Fort George. The post and village of York, possessing little value to the Americans, were abandoned [May 8, 1813.]. The British re-possessed themselves of the spot, built another block-house, and on the site of the garrison constructed a regular fortification.

The loss of the Americans in the capture of York was sixty-six killed and two hundred and three wounded on land, and seventeen killed and wounded on the vessels. The British lost, besides the prisoners, sixty killed and eighty-nine wounded. General Pike was crushed beneath a heavy mass of stone that struck him in the back. He was carried immediately after discovery to the water’s edge, placed in a boat, and conveyed, first on board the Pert, and then to the commodore’s flag-ship. Just as the surgeons and attendants, with the wounded general, reached the little boat, the huzzas of the troops fell upon his benumbed ears. "What does it mean?" he feebly asked. "Victory," said a sergeant in attendance. "The British union-jack is coming down from the block-house, and the stars and stripes are going up." The dying hero’s face was illuminated by a smile of great joy. His spirit lingered several hours, and then departed. Just before his breath ceased the captured British flag was brought to him. He made a sign for them to place it under his head, and thus he expired. His body was taken to Sackett’s Harbor, and with that of his pupil and aid, Captain Nicholson, was buried with military honors within Fort Tompkins there. Of his final resting-place I shall hereafter write. 33

When I visited the site of York and the theatre of events there in 1813, in August, 1860, I found on the borders of that harbor the beautiful – really beautiful city of Toronto, containing between fifty and sixty thousand souls. I arrived there by the Toronto branch of the Great Western Railway at eight o’clock in the evening, having left Paris, on the Grand River, at about five in the afternoon. We reached Burlington Station at six, and occupied about an hour and a half in traveling the remaining thirty-nine miles. Lieutenant Francis Hall, who traveled the same route in 1816, more than ten years before the first railway was built for the conveyance of passengers, says, "It took us three hours to accomplish the five miles of road betwixt the head of the lake and the main road, called Dundas Street, which runs from York toward Lake Erie and Amherstburg. . . . . The face of the country from the head of the lake to York is less varied than that of the Niagara frontier. The thread of settlements is slender, and frequently interrupted by long tracts of hemlock swamp and pine barrens." Cultivation has somewhat changed the features of the country since then, but, after leaving the glimpses of Lake Ontario on our right, we found the route rather uninteresting, the country being generally flat.

We crossed the rocky bed of the Humber at twilight, and before nine o’clock, having supped, I was settled as a guest at the "Rossin House" for two days. During the night a fearful thunder-storm burst over the city, and the lightning fired two buildings. Amid the din of the tempest came the doleful pealing of the fire-bells. At the midnight hour,

"Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells

Of despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar;
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!" – EDGAR A. POE.

For more than two hours I lay wondering when the tumult would cease. All things have an end, and so did this unwelcome disturbance – unwelcome, because I was worn and weary, and needed full rest for another hard day’s work on the morrow.

The sun, at rising, peered longitudinally through a veil of mist that hung over the land and the lake. There was great sultriness in the air. I went out early to find the venerable John Ross, one of the oldest inhabitants of Toronto, then in his seventieth year. He settled there in the year after it was made the seat of the provincial government, and for sixty-two years he had watched its growth from a few scattered huts to a stately city. He was born at "Butler’s Barracks," just back of Newark, now Niagara. Some of Butler’s Rangers, those bitter Tory marauders in Central New York during the Revolution, who in cruelty often shamed Brant and his braves, settled in Toronto, and were mostly men of savage character, who met death by violence. 34 In the War of 1812 Mr. Ross belonged to a company of York Volunteers. He was with Brock at Hull’s surrender, and in the battle of Queenstown, two months later, where his loved commander fell. He assisted in the burial of the hero in Fort George, and he gave me many interesting incidents connected with the event.

Mr. Ross gave me such minute and clear directions concerning the interesting places in and around Toronto that I experienced no difficulty in finding them. I hired a horse and light wagon, and a young man for driver, and spent a greater portion of the day in the hot sun, We first rode out to the plain westward of the city, to visit the landing-place of the Americans and the remains of old Fort Toronto. The latter, delineated on the next page, were on the margin of the lake, where the bank is only about eight feet above the water. The spot is about sixty rods westward of the present military post called the New Barracks. The principal remains of the fort (in which may be seen some timber-work placed there when the fort was partially repaired in the winter of 1812-’13) are seen in the foreground. They presented abrupt heaps covered with sod. On the right, in the distance, is seen Gibraltar Point, with the trees springing from its low, sandy surface. On the left are the New Barracks. A few rods westward of the fort were the remains of a battery, the mounds of which were four or five feet in height. Passing on toward the city, near the lake shore, we came to the remains of the Western Battery (see map on page 590), delineated on page 588, ten or fifteen rods eastward of the New Barracks; and, still nearer to the town, the mounds of the Half-moon Battery.


Riding into the city, we passed through the old garrison, where a few of the One Hundredth Regiment occupied a portion of the barracks, The gates were away, and the public road passed directly through the fort. For the purpose of obtaining a sketch of the old block-house of 1813, I mounted the half-ruined parapet on the north side, when I was accosted by the fort adjutant just as I had set my pencil at work. With great discourtesy of manner he informed me that it was a violation of law to make sketches of British fortifications, and that I ought to think myself fortunate in being allowed to escape without a penitential day in the guard-house. I assured him that had I for a moment dreamed that a few old mounds of earth, two deserted block-houses, and some tumble-down barracks, with a public road crossing the very centre of the group, constituted a fortification in the sense of British military law, I should not have been a trespasser. This intimation that a man with his eyes open could not, in the chaos around him, discover a British fort, did not increase the amiability of the adjutant, and, with the supercilious hauteur of offended dignity, he gave me to understand that he wished no farther conversation with me.


This was the only instance of incivility that I received during all my travels in Canada. I closed my portfolio, passed out at the eastern gateway, and from the causeway that crosses the ravine at the foot of Bathurst Street, a short distance from the site of the powder magazine that exploded, I obtained a much more interesting sketch than I should have done from the parapet. 35 This was full compensation for the fort adjutant’s incivility. When I had finished my sketch I started into and through the fort, and fell in with Sergeant Barlow, a most courteous young man, who invited me to his quarters to see his bride. There he showed me a number of relics of the War of 1812, lately thrown up by the excavators in the employ of the railway company. Among them was a military button marked "P. R." – Pennsylvania Rangers – some silver and copper coins found with a skeleton, and the remains of an epaulette. There I also met Sergeant Robertson, a veteran Scotch soldier, who was one of the Glengary Regiment during the War of 1812. He had served in the British army twenty years previous to that war. He was tall and vigorous, but somewhat lame, and about ninety years of age. He gave me some curious details of the operations of the famous Glengary men during the strife.

From the old fort we rode out to the River Don, at the eastern extremity of the city. It is there about seventy feet wide, and was spanned by a bridge at the junction of King and Queen Streets, made of heavy open timber-work. There General Sheaffe crossed in his flight, burning the bridge behind him. Looking up the Don from it about three fourths of a mile, where its wooded banks are high, may be seen St. James’s Cemetery, in the northeast corner of which is the site of the first palace or dwelling of the governor, which was built of logs and called Castle Frank. The spot still retains that name. I intended to visit it, but when we were at the bridge the day was waning, and a thunder-shower was gathering in the west; so we turned our faces cityward, and arrived at the hotel in time for a late dinner and a stroll around the city to view its very beautiful public buildings before dark.

On the following morning I called upon Sir John Beverly Robinson, chief justice of Upper Canada, at his pleasant residence on the southeast corner of John and Queen Streets. He was an aged man, small in stature, and elegant and affable in manners. His father was a member of Simcoe’s corps of Queen’s Rangers during our old War for Independence, and, with other Loyalists, fled to Nova Scotia at its close. He afterward settled in Upper Canada, where the chief justice was born. The son was destined for the legal profession, and finished his education in England, where he was admitted to the bar. When the War of 1812 broke out he abandoned his profession temporarily, joined the army in Canada, and was with Brock, in gallant service, at Detroit and Queenston. He was rewarded with the office of solicitor general, and was afterward made attorney general and chief justice of the province. He died at Toronto early in 1863, at the age of seventy-one years.

In the course of the morning I met the famous leader of the revolt in Upper Canada in 1837, William Lyon M‘Kenzie, with whom I had been acquainted several years. He was still engaged in his favorite profession of editing and publishing a newspaper, and, though at near the end of the allotted age of man, he seemed as vigorous as ever, and was conducting his paper with that boldness that ever characterized his career. He, too, has since been laid in the grave. Mr. M‘Kenzie accompanied me to the residence of the governor general, the Parliament-house, and the wharf, where great preparations were making for the reception of the Prince of Wales, who was then at Montreal on his way to the Upper Province. Workmen were engaged in the construction of an immense amphitheatre and triumphal arch, not far from the Parliament-house, at the foot of wide Brock Street, I think. The veteran agitator was to leave for Montreal that afternoon for the purpose of meeting the prince, and so we soon parted, he to dash off some spicy editorials – to hurl a shot at some political or social evil – and I to dine and prepare for a voyage across the lake to the Niagara River.

We left Toronto toward evening [August 23, 1860.], hoping to reach Lewiston in time to take the train that would connect with one leaving Niagara Falls early for the East, but in this we were disappointed. The voyage was a delightful one in a stanch steamer. We passed out of the harbor through the channel across the former neck of the peninsula, 36 and in a short time we were out of sight of land. All along the western and northern horizons heavy clouds were drifting, and the watery expanse back of us was as black as the Styx. Before us, as we approached the mouth of the Niagara River, the white mist, which is eternally rising from the Great Cataract, was seen above Queenston Heights, at least twenty miles distant. When we entered the river a heavy thunder-shower was rapidly rising in the direction of Burlington Bay. It burst upon us at Lewiston, where we entered the railway cars. It was short and severe.


As we moved along the fearful shelf in the rocks forming the perpendicular banks of the Niagara River – rocks a hundred feet above and a hundred feet below the railway that overlooks the rushing waters – the setting sun beamed out in splendor, and revealed clearly the whole country from Queenston Heights to Lake Ontario. Just as we had passed a small rocky tunnel, we were detained for a few minutes by some obstruction, when, from the back window of the last car in the train at which I was standing, I made the accompanying sketch. It will convey to the reader an idea of the nature of the road. Below is seen the waters of the Niagara, spanned by the suspension bridge at Lewiston, and, by a somewhat winding way, flowing into Lake Ontario in the far distance. We ran into Niagara Falls village at dark in the midst of another heavy thundershower, and late in the evening departed in the cars for the East. I rested at Rochester that night, and on the following day reached my home on the Hudson, after a wearisome but most interesting tour of a fortnight in Canada and along the Niagara frontier.

We have observed on page 591 that the victors at York abandoned that post preparatory to an attack upon Fort George, at the mouth of the Niagara River. On account of adverse winds, the expedition did not leave York Harbor until the 8th of May, when the whole fleet crossed the lake and anchored off the mouth of Four-mile Creek, four miles eastward of Fort Niagara. Dearborn and Chauncey, and other army and naval commanders, had preceded the fleet in the pilot schooner Lady of the Lake, and selected the place for an encampment near the mouth of the creek. There the troops were debarked, and Chauncey sailed for Sackett’s Harbor with most of his fleet, to obtain supplies and re-enforcements for the army. He arrived there on May, the 11th [1813.]. The smaller vessels were continually employed in conveying stores and troops to Dearborn’s camp; and on the 22d the Madison, with the commodore’s pennant flying in her, sailed for the same point with three hundred and fifty troops, including Macomb’s artillery corps. She arrived at Four-mile Creek on the 25th, and on the evening of the same day Commander Perry, who had come down hastily from Erie, joined Chauncey, to the great delight of that officer. At the moment of his arrival, all the officers of the squadron were assembled on board the flagship to receive orders. "No person on earth," Chauncey said to Perry, as he cordially grasped his hand, "could be more welcome at this time than yourself" On the following morning the commodore and Perry, in the Lady of the Lake, reconnoitred the enemy’s batteries with care, planted buoys for the government of the smaller vessels which it was intended to send close in shore, and arranged other preliminaries for the attack. They then called upon General Dearborn, who was quite ill at his quarters, when Chauncey urged the importance of making the attack the next morning. The general assented, and issued an order to that effect, which was signed by Winfield Scott, adjutant general and chief of staff. The last clause of the order placed the landing of the troops in charge of Commodore Chauncey, and that specific duty was intrusted to Commander Perry. Information of this arrangement was communicated to the commanding general, who, it appears, had no definite plan of attack. 37

Fort Niagara and the troops there were under the command of Major General Morgan Lewis, of New York. During the occupancy of the camp at Four-mile Creek re-enforcements had come in from various points, and on the return of Chauncey, prepared for attacking the British post. The American land force fit for duty was over four thousand in number, under the general command of Dearborn. He was too ill to take the field, and issued his orders part of the time from his bed. He was supported by Generals Lewis, Boyd, Winder, and Chandler, and eminently so by Colonel Scott, whose skill and industry in disciplining the troops during their detention in camp was of the greatest service.

The British force in the vicinity was composed of about eighteen hundred regulars, consisting of the Forty-ninth Regiment, and detachments from the Eighth, Forty-first, Glengary, and Newfoundland Corps, under the command of Brigadier General John Vincent. Eight companies of the Forty-ninth, five companies of the Eighth or King’s, three companies of the Glengary, and two of the Newfoundland Regiment, and a portion of the artillery, were stationed at Fort George and its immediate vicinity, with three hundred and fifty militia and fifty Indians. The right, from Fort George to Brown’s Point (the first below Vrooman’s, near Queenston), was commanded by Colonel Harvey; the left, from the fort to Four-mile Creek, on the Canada side of the Niagara River, was commanded by Colonel Myers, the deputy quarter-master general; and the centre, at the fort, by General Vincent. In the rear of Fort George, in the several ravines, companies were stationed so as to support each other when required. 38

Besides Fort George, the British had several smaller works along the shores of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, in the vicinity. Five of the twenty-four-pounders taken from Hull had been brought to that frontier, four of which had been mounted in Fort George, and the fifth had been placed en barbette, 39 about half a mile from Newark, on or near the site of the present Fort Mississagua. They had another battery at the mouth of the Two-mile Creek. The Americans had quite a powerful work, called the Salt Battery, in the lower part of Youngstown, opposite Fort George. There were two other batteries above it, and two between it and Fort Niagara.

Arrangements were made for the attack on Fort George on the morning of the 27th of May. A large number of boats had been built at Five-mile Meadow, on the Niagara River, and orders were sent for them to be brought round to Four-mile Creek. When they were launched, toward evening on the 26th, a small battery opposite the Meadows opened upon the workmen. This brought on a general cannonading between the two forts and their dependent batteries, during which the Salt Battery at Youngstown inflicted severe injury upon every wooden building in and near Fort George, while the return fire from the fort was slow and feeble, owing, it is said, to a scarcity of powder. Meanwhile night came on, and under its cover the boats went down the river and reached the American encampment in safety. During the night, all the heavy artillery, and as many troops as possible, were placed on the Madison, Oneida, and Lady of the Lake, and instructions given for the remainder to follow in the smaller war vessels and boats, according to a prescribed plan.

Generals Dearborn and Lewis went on board the Madison, and between three and four o’clock in the morning the squadron weighed anchor. The troops were all embarked at a little past four, and the whole flotilla moved toward the Niagara with a very gentle breeze. The wind soon failed, and the smaller vessels were compelled to employ their sweeps. A heavy fog hovered over land and water from early dawn until the sun broke forth in splendor, when a magnificent sight was opened to view on the lake. The large vessels, filled with troops, were all under way, and the bosom of the water was covered with scores of boats, filled with soldiers, light artillery, and horses, grandly advancing upon the enemy, who had been greatly perplexed by the fog. The breeze had now freshened a little, and all the vessels took their designated positions without difficulty.


The Julia, Sailing-master Trant, and the Growler, Sailing-master Mix, took a position at the mouth of the Niagara River, to keep in check or silence a battery near the light-house (on or near the site of Fort Mississagua), in the vicinity of which it was intended to land some of the troops. The Ontario, commanded by Mr. Stevens, took a position north from the light-house, so as to enfilade the same battery and cross the fire of the other two. The Governor Tompkins, Lieutenant Brown, and the Conquest, commanded by another lieutenant of the same name, took position near Two-mile Creek, so as to command a battery which the enemy had erected there. Near this was the designated place for the debarkation of most of the troops. For the purpose of covering them in that movement, the Hamilton, Lieutenant M‘Pherson, the Asp, Lieutenant Smith, and the Scourge, Sailing-master Osgood, took stations near the other two, but closer to the shore.

While the vessels were taking their positions, and the troops were preparing to land, the batteries upon both sides were playing briskly. Colonel Scott, on accepting the position of adjutant general, had stipulated that he should be allowed to command his regiment (Second Artillery) on extraordinary occasions. This he considered an extraordinary occasion, and he was placed in the command of the vanguard or forlorn hope of five hundred men destined to make the first attack. The troops were to land in three brigades, from six divisions of boats. Scott’s advance was composed of his own corps acting as infantry, Forsyth’s riflemen, and detachments from infantry regiments. These were to be followed by General Lewis’s division and Colonel Moses Porter with his light artillery, and these, in turn, by the commands of Generals Boyd (who had succeeded General Pike), Winder, and Chandler. The reserve consisted of Colonel Alexander Macomb’s regiment of artillery, in which the marines of the squadron, under Captain Smith, had been incorporated. Four hundred seamen were also held in reserve, to land, if necessary, under the immediate command of Commodore Chauncey.

Before the expedition reached the place of intended debarkation the wind had increased, and a rather heavy sea rolling shoreward made the landing difficult. The Tompkins swept gracefully into her designated position. Lieutenant Brown coolly prepared for action, and then opened a fire upon the British battery with so much precision that it was silenced, and its people driven away in less than ten minutes. The boats now dashed in under the skillful management of Perry; and so eager were the troops of the van, under Scott, to meet the foe, that they leaped into the water and waded to the shore, Captain Hindman, of the Second Artillery, being the first man who touched the beach. They had already been under fire; for, as the first brigade, under Boyd, with Scott in the van, approached the shore, they were unexpectedly assailed by volleys of musketry from more than two hundred of the Glengary and Newfoundland regiments under Captain Winter, and about forty Indians under Norton, who was conspicuous at Queenston the year before. These had been concealed in a ravine and wood not far from the battery that had been silenced. The shot passed over the heads of the Americans; and, a few minutes afterward, Scott and his party were on the beach, sheltered by an irregular bank, varying from six to twelve feet in height, where they formed for immediate action. The enemy, from apprehension of the fire from the schooners, did not approach the shore again immediately, but kept back, with the intention of assailing the invaders when they should ascend the bank to the plain above.

The conduct of Perry on this occasion was remarkable. Unmindful of personal danger, he went from vessel to vessel in an open boat, giving directions personally concerning the landing. With Scott he leaped into the water, and rushed ashore through the surf, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing the whole first brigade, under Boyd, landed in perfect order on the beach, flanked by M‘Clure’s Baltimore and Albany Volunteers. Meanwhile the schooners were not firing briskly enough to suit the young hero. He pushed off to the Hamilton, of nine guns, and while Scott and his party were attempting to ascend to the plain, he opened a tremendous discharge of grape and canister shot on the British, who were now advancing to repel the Americans, full one thousand strong, infantry and artillery, under Colonel Myers.

The struggle of the Americans in ascending the bank was most severe. Three times they were compelled to fall back, hard pushed by the bayonets of the foe. In the first attempt, Scott, at the head of his men, was hurled backward to the beach. Dearborn, who was anxiously watching the movement with his glass from the Madison, and who placed more reliance on Scott than any other man, seeing him fall, exclaimed in agony, "He is lost! he is killed!" Scott soon recovered himself, rallied his men, rushed up the bank, knocked up the bayonets of the enemy, and took and held a position at a ravine near by. He was supported by Porter’s field train and a part of Boyd’s brigade, in which service the Sixth Regiment, three hundred strong, under Colonel James Miller, performed a conspicuous part. A severe and gallant action ensued – gallant on both sides – which was chiefly sustained by Scott’s corps, and the Eighth (King’s) British regiment, under Major Ogilvie. The contest lasted only about twenty minutes, when the severe cannonade from the Hamilton and the well-applied fire of the American troops caused the British to break and flee in much confusion. The whole body of the enemy, including the Forty-ninth Regiment, which had been brought forward by Colonel Harvey as a re-enforcement, fled toward Queenston, closely pursued by Colonel Scott. Colonel Myers, their commander, was wounded and taken from the field; and the whole corps, officers and men, who fought bravely, suffered severely.

General Vincent was satisfied that the victory of the Americans was complete, and that Fort George was untenable, so he ordered its guns to be spiked, the ammunition to be destroyed, the fort to be abandoned, and the whole force under his command to retreat westward, by the way of Vrooman’s and St. David’s, to a strong position among the hills, at a place called the Beaver Dams, about eighteen miles distant, and rendezvous there.


Information of the impending destruction of the fort was communicated to Scott while passing it with his pursuing column by some prisoners who came running out. He immediately detached two companies, under Captains Hindman and Stockton, 41 and, wheeling to the left, dashed on at their head toward the fort to save the guns and ammunition, if possible. When he was about eighty paces from the works one of the magazines exploded, and a piece of flying timber threw the impetuous leader from his horse, and hurt him severely. He soon recovered from the shock, and pressed forward. The gate was forced, the lighted trains for firing two smaller magazines were extinguished, and, with his own hands, Scott hauled down the British flag. The whole manœuvre occupied but a few minutes, and Scott was soon again at the head of his column, in hot pursuit of the flying enemy, satisfied that he would overtake and capture them. Twice he disregarded an order from General Lewis to give up the pursuit, saying to Lieutenants Worth and Vandeventer, the messengers, "Your general does not know that I have the enemy within my power; in seventy minutes I shall capture his whole force." Just then Colonel Burn, 42 his senior, was crossing the Niagara River from the Five-mile Meadows with precisely the troops which Scott deemed necessary to make his successful pursuit of the enemy secure. While waiting for these he was overtaken by General Boyd, who gave him peremptory orders to relinquish the chase and return to Fort George. He obeyed with regret. He had followed the enemy five miles, and was then so near them that he was in the midst of the British stragglers. Lieutenant Riddle, who was not aware of the order, pursued the fugitives almost to Queenston, and captured and brought back several prisoners.

At meridian, Fort George and its dependencies, with the village of Newark, were in the quiet possession of the Americans, the attack and conquest having occupied only three hours. The Americans had been eleven hours on duty since embarking at Four-mile Creek. Only a small portion of them had been actually engaged in the conflict. 43 Their loss was about forty killed and one hundred wounded. The only officer slain was Lieutenant Henry A. Hobart, of the Light Artillery. The loss of the British regulars was fifty-one killed, and three hundred and five wounded, missing, and prisoners. The number of British militia made prisoners was five hundred and seven, making the entire loss of the enemy eight hundred and sixty-three, with quite a large quantity of munitions and stores saved from destruction at Fort George and the batteries.

General Vincent and most of his troops reached the Beaver Dams toward sunset, and during the evening he was joined by a "battalion company" of the Eighth, and a "detachment of the royal navy" under Captain Barclay, who had been escorted by the gallant Captain Merritt, of the mounted militia, from the Twenty-mile Creek. 44 Between midnight and dawn, the troops from Fort Erie, under Lieutenant Colonel Bisshopp, and from Fort Chippewa, under Major Ormsby, reached the camp, orders having been sent to those commanders to abandon the entire Niagara frontier. Early in the morning Vincent resumed his march toward the head of Lake Ontario, his whole force being about sixteen hundred men. From Forty-mile Creek (now Grimsby) he wrote an official dispatch to Sir George Prevost that evening, giving an account of his disasters, and suggesting the propriety of establishing a communication with the army on Burlington Heights (whither he was marching) "through the medium of the fleet." On the 29th he took post on the heights, and was soon joined by troops from Kingston.

On the morning of the 28th [May, 1813.], when it was known that Vincent had fallen back to his deposit of provisions and stores at the Beaver Dams, General Lewis was sent in pursuit of him with the brigades of Chandler and Winder. They accomplished nothing. Ascertaining that Vincent had fled westward, they made a circuit of many miles to assure themselves of the British evacuation of the frontier, and then returned to camp.

Forts Erie and Chippewa, and all public property from the former down to Niagara Falls, were doomed to destruction by an order received from General Vincent on the afternoon of the 27th. In pursuance of that order, Major Warren, in command of the batteries opposite Black Rock, was ordered to open fire upon that place, and keep it up all night, until the troops should move off. He did so; and in the morning the magazine at Fort Erie was blown up, and magazines, barracks, and store-houses all along the frontier were fired. In the evening of Friday the 28th, Lieutenant Colonel James P. Preston, the commandant at Black Rock (who was Governor of Virginia in 1816), crossed over with the Twelfth Regiment and took possession of Fort Erie. He at once issued an admirable proclamation to the people of Canada, by which he allayed their apprehensions and disarmed all resentment. 45

Two or three days were now consumed in apathy at Newark, Dearborn and Chauncey not having been able to agree respecting future movements. The latter, who had anchored his fleet in Niagara River, sailed for Sackett’s Harbor on the 31st. Meanwhile a rumor came that Proctor was marching from the Detroit frontier to assist Vincent in recovering that of the Niagara. This determined the American commander to send troops in pursuit of Vincent immediately, for the purpose of attacking him among the hills or arresting his flight westward. For this purpose he detached General Winder, at his own request, on the 1st of June, with about eight hundred men, including Burn’s dragoons, and Archer’s and Towson’s artillery. He took the Lake Road, and marched rapidly to Twenty-mile Creek, where he was informed of Vincent’s position at Burlington Heights and his re-enforcements from Kingston. Winder prudently halted, sent to Dearborn for re-enforcements, and waited for their arrival. He was joined on the 5th by General Chandler and about five hundred men.

Chandler, being the senior officer, took the chief command, and the whole body moved forward briskly to Forty-mile Creek, where they rested, after driving off a patrol of mounted militia under Captain Merritt. They then moved forward to Stony Creek, ten miles farther westward and within about seven miles of Vincent’s camp, where they encountered a British picket-guard. These were dispersed, and hotly pursued by the American advance-guard, consisting of light infantry under Captains Hindman, Biddle, and Nicholas, part of a rifle corps under Captain Lyttle, and a detachment of dragoons under Captain Selden. Near the present toll-gate, a little eastward of Hamilton, they encountered another picket. These, too, were driven in, and the victors pushed on in pursuit until they saw Vincent’s camp on the great gravelly hill at the head of Burlington Bay. Then they wheeled, and made their way leisurely back to camp at Stony Creek.

The main body of the army encamped upon ground rising slightly above a meadow, through which flows a branch of Stony Creek, and occupied the space from the main stream north of the village to the house of Mr. Gage, at the foot of the hills, on the site of which, when I visited the spot in 1860, stood the residence of Nelson Miller. The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Regiments, and a company of artillery under Captain Archer, 46 took post on the lake shore, near the mouth of the creek, about three miles from the main body. The troops in both camps, expecting a night attack, slept on their arms, and every precaution was taken by Chandler in the posting of pickets, throwing out patrols, etc., to prevent a surprise. Explicit directions were given by him where and how to form the line of battle in the event of an attack. The cannon were properly planted, and the horses that drew them were unharnessed.

There was equal vigilance in the British camp. The audacity of the American vanguard in pursuing the pickets amazed and alarmed Vincent. He was anxious to obtain immediate knowledge of the numerical strength and the disposition of his foe, and sent out Lieutenant Colonel Harvey, with the light companies of the Eighth and Forty-ninth Regiments, to reconnoitre the American camp. The duty was well performed, notwithstanding the night was very dark, and Harvey reported, before midnight, that "the enemy’s camp-guards were few and negligent; that his line of encampment was long and broken; that his artillery was feebly supported; and that several of the corps were placed too far in the rear to aid in repelling a blow which might be rapidly and vigorously struck at the front." He advised a night attack, and Vincent, heeding it, made immediate preparations to execute the movement.

At midnight the British commander left his camp with about six hundred men, composed of five companies of the King’s (Eighth) Regiment and the whole of the Forty-ninth, and marched for Stony Creek. Harvey’s scout joined them, and at about two o’clock in the morning they all halted within a mile of the American camp. Harvey had discovered the centre to be the weakest point in Chandler’s line. By one of the inhabitants of the neighborhood, who had treacherously joined the Americans and deserted, Vincent had obtained the countersign for that night, and through it he was enabled to secure the sentinels without giving alarm.


It was now two o’clock in the morning [June 6, 1813.] – a warm Sabbath morning – and the little army of Americans were sleeping soundly, unconscious of impending danger. Clouds covering a moonless sky made the gloom deep, but not impenetrable. Five hundred British regulars loaded their muskets, fixed their bayonets, and, led by General Vincent in person, rushed upon the American centre at double-quick, with the appalling Indian war-whoop, and plied the bayonet so fearfully that the line was cut, and that portion of it scattered to the winds. This furious charge was immediately followed by Major Plenderleath at the head of forty men of the Forty-ninth, who fell upon the artillery, bayoneted the men at the guns, captured two six-pounders, and turned them with fearful effect upon the camp. The greatest confusion prevailed, Chandler’s centre and the assailants becoming almost inextricably mixed in the dark, and each was unable to distinguish friends from foes.

In the mean time Major Ogilvie, with a part of the King’s Regiment, had fallen upon the American left, composed of the Fifth, Sixteenth, and Twenty-third Regulars, and some riflemen under General Winder, to which was attached Burn’s dragoons, who were too far in the rear to render immediate assistance. This attack was at first gallantly resisted, the Twenty-fifth, of the centre, lending their aid; but a fire in the rear, from a detachment of the assailing party that broke through the line, threw them into great confusion.

While Chandler 48 was making preparations to meet this unexpected assault, a heavy fire was opened on the right flank of the Americans. Perceiving this, he hastened in that direction to prevent its being turned, when, in the darkness, his horse stumbled and fell, and the general was severely hurt. He soon recovered his feet, succeeded in providing for the safety of his right, and was returning to the centre, moving with difficulty on foot, when he was attracted to the artillery, where there was much confusion. He was not aware that the two cannon were in possession of the enemy; and, under the impression that those in confusion around the pieces were some of his own command, he gave orders for them to rally. To his utter astonishment he found himself among the enemy, and in a moment he was disarmed and made a prisoner of war. At about the same time General Winder and Major Van De Venter 49 fell into the same trap and were made prisoners. 50

At this moment there was the wildest confusion every where. Towson’s artillery had poured a destructive fire upon the assailants and had broken their ranks, Colonel Burn, with his cavalry, had cut his way through the British Forty-ninth, and was performing the same feat with the American Sixteenth, when he discovered that he was fighting his own friends. They had combated severely for several minutes before the fatal mistake was discovered. Meanwhile General Vincent, the British commander, had been thrown from his horse in the darkness, and being unable to find either his animal or his troops, had wandered off in the woods. His friends supposed him to be killed or a prisoner. The command devolved upon Colonel Harvey, who, finding it impossible to drive the Americans from their position, collected his scattered forces as quickly as possible, and while it was yet dark hastened back toward Burlington Heights with his notable prisoners. He sent Captain Merritt back to look for General Vincent. He was unsuccessful, but captured two Americans, and took them into camp as trophies. 51 During the ensuing day [June 6, 1813.] Vincent was found by his friends in the woods, four miles from the place of conflict, without hat or sword, and almost famished. His horse and accoutrements had fallen into the hands of the Americans.

In this confused and terrible night-battle the Americans lost seventeen men killed, thirty-eight wounded, and ninety-nine missing. The British lost twenty-three killed, one hundred wounded, and fifty-five missing. Notwithstanding the Americans held the ground, it was a substantial victory for the British, and the loss of the two generals a severe one for the former. Through the gallantry of Lieutenant M‘Chesney one piece of artillery was immediately recovered, and the other the enemy was not able to take away for the want of horses. 52 They were endeavoring to do so when they were overtaken by Lieutenant Macdonough, and the piece was seized by him.

The Americans, fearing a renewal of the attack, retreated so precipitately that they left their dead unburied. Under the command of Colonel Burn they fled to Forty-mile Creek, near which they were met by Colonel James Miller and four hundred men sent to re-enforce them. "I can assure you," Colonel Miller wrote to his wife, "I can scarce believe that you would have been more glad to see me than that army was. 53 On the following day [June 7.], in the afternoon, they were joined by Generals Lewis and Boyd, with their staffs, and the little army encamped there, on a plain, its right flank on the lake, and its left on a creek which skirts the base of a very steep but not lofty mountain.

At six o’clock that evening a British squadron under Sir James L. Yeo appeared in the distance. The Americans lay on their arms all night, and in the morning the hostile vessels were near. There was a dead calm. At six in the morning an armed schooner was towed in, and opened a fire upon the American boats in which most of their baggage and camp equipage was transported, which lay on the shore. Meanwhile the artillery companies under Archer and Towson had placed four cannon in defensive position, and Lieutenant Totten had constructed a temporary furnace for heating shot. The hostile vessel was soon driven off. At about the same time some savage allies of the British appeared on the bald brow of the mountain, and fired ineffectually into the camp, and intelligence came that the British were moving eastward from Burlington Heights. Sir James sent an officer, with a flag, to demand from General Lewis an immediate surrender of his force, reminding him that a British fleet was on his front, a savage foe in his rear, and an approaching British army on his flank. Lewis answered that the summons was too ridiculous to merit a serious reply. He had not lost a man in the whole affair of the morning. The schooner had been driven away, and he was prepared to send off the boats with baggage and camp equipage, accompanied by a guard of two hundred men under Colonel Miller. The boats started prematurely – before the troops were ready. They were chased by an armed schooner. A dozen of them were captured, and the remainder were run ashore and abandoned by the crews. At ten o’clock in the morning the whole army commenced a retrograde movement, the savages and local militia constantly hovering on their flank and rear. They reached Fort George after losing several prisoners captured by pursuers, and General Vincent came forward and occupied their camp at Forty-mile Creek. Lieutenant Colonel Bisshopp, who was placed in command of the right division of the British force, pushed forward with detachments, and took positions which commanded the cross-roads from a little west of the present Port Dalhousie, on the lake shore, to the mountain passes at the Beaver Dams. 54

The British squadron in the mean time hovered along the lake coast, and interfered greatly with the supplies for the American camp. On the evening of the 12th [June, 1813.], they captured two vessels laden with valuable hospital stores in the mouth of Eighteen-mile Creek, eastward of the Niagara River; and on Tuesday evening, the 15th, they made a descent upon the village of Charlotte, at the head of the navigation of the Genesee River, and carried off a large quantity of stores. Sailing eastward, they appeared off Sodus Bay on Friday, the 18th, and on the following evening a party of about one hundred, fully armed, landed at Sodus Point (now in Wayne County) for the purpose of destroying the American stores known to be deposited there. These had been removed to a place of concealment a little back of the village. The enemy were exasperated on finding the store-houses empty, and threatened to destroy the village if the place of the concealment of their contents should not be revealed. The women and children fled in alarm. A negro, compelled by threats, gave the enemy the desired information, and they were marching in the direction of the stores, when they were confronted at a bridge over a ravine by forty men under Captain Turner, of Lyons. A sharp skirmish ensued, in which each party lost two men. 55 Both parties fell back, and the foiled British, as they returned to their vessels, burned the public store-houses, five dwellings, and the old Williamson Hotel. They laid waste by fire property valued at about twenty-five thousand dollars.

From Sodus the British squadron sailed eastward, and appeared off Oswego [June 20, 1813.], with a wish to enter the harbor and seize or destroy stores there; but Sir James, who was a cautious commander, did not venture in, and on the morning of the 21st his squadron turned westward, and for several days lay off the Niagara River.



1 The districts were composed as follows: 1. Massachusetts and New Hampshire. 2. Rhode Island and Connecticut. 3. New York from the sea to the Highlands, and the State of New Jersey. 4. Pennsylvania from its eastern limit to the Alleghany Mountains, and Delaware. 5. Maryland and Virginia. 6. The two Carolinas. 7. The States of Tennessee, Louisiana, and the Mississippi Territory. 8. Kentucky, Ohio, and the Territorial governments of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. 9. Pennsylvania from the Alleghany Mountains westward, New York north of the Highlands, and Vermont.

2 These were Thomas H. Cushing, Thomas Parker, George Izard, and Zebulon M. Pike, of the old army; William H. Winder, Duncan M‘Arthur, Lewis Cass, and Benjamin Howard. Robert Swartwout, of New York, appointed quartermaster as successor of Morgan Lewis, bore the rank of brigadier.

3 Mr. Smith was one of the earlier settlers there. Morristown was laid out in 1799 by Jacob (afterward General) Brown. Colonel David Ford made an actual settlement there in 1808, and Arnold Smith and Thomas Hill took up their residence, at about the same time, on the site of the village. Smith’s was the first public house kept there. He also erected the first tavern at the present village of Edwardsvllle. Morristown now (1867) contains about 400 inhabitants.

4 This was built by David Parish, a wealthy banker, who early in this century bought an extensive landed estate on the St. Lawrence frontier. He caused the large stone store on Water Street, Ogdensburg, to be erected in 1810, and in 1813 he constructed a blast-furnace at Rossie. He is regarded as the early benefactor of St. Lawrence County, and is always spoken of with affection.

5 Daniel W. Church was born at Brattleboro’, Vermont, in 1772, and emigrated to Northern New York in 1801, where, at Canton, St. Lawrence County, he commenced the business of millwright by erecting the first saw-mill built there. He was one of the pioneer settlers in that county, and acted a conspicuous part in its early history. He assisted in organizing the first court in that county, and was sitting on the bench as associate justice, with Judge Raymond presiding, in the court-house at Ogdensburg when the shot from Prescott passed through the building, as mentioned in note 1, page 580. He volunteered in the military service at the beginning of the War of 1812, and was appointed adjutant of Colonel Benedict’s regiment. His particular services at Ogdensburg and vicinity are mentioned in the text. Twice during the war be received the special thanks of General Brown. He was a man of fine personal appearance, fond of history and science, and charming in society. He died at Morristown, on the St. Lawrence, on the 7th of January, 1857, in the 85th year of his age, universally esteemed and deeply regretted by the whole community.

6 See picture on page 373.

7 These were Scotch Roman Catholics, of the families of refugee Loyalists from the domain of the Johnsons in the Mohawk Valley, the most of whom inhabit the County of Glengary.

8 Father Francis Picquet was a priest of the Sulpician order, and was active, after his arrival in Canada in 1733, in the establishment of the Catholic religion and French political dominion in the New World. For the purpose of attaching as many of the Iroquois confederacy of Indians to the French and the Church as possible, he founded a mission at the mouth of the Oswegatchie in 1748, and recommended the erection of a fort there. The river was called La Presentation by the French. There he erected a substantial stone building, on the corner-stone of which, found among the ruins many years ago, was the following inscription: "IN NOMINE † DEI OMNIPOTENTIS HUIC HABITATIONE INITIA DEDIT FRANS. PICQUET, 1749." Translation: "Francis Picquet laid the foundations of this habitation, in the name of the Almighty God, in 1749." Another stone building of the same size was erected about sixteen feet from the first one; and when a stockade fort was built there soon afterward, covering about an acre of ground, these edifices, standing on the bank of the Oswegatchie, formed part of the fort, which was called Presentation. Between the two buildings massive gates of oak, fifteen feet in height, were erected. "The remainder of the eastern or southeastern portions," says Mr. Guest, in his "Recollections of Ogdensburg and its Vicinity," "was heavy stone wall; indeed, this maybe said to have inclosed the whole. Here was held the first court in St. Lawrence County, and here, also, they had preaching when they were fortunate enough to obtain a clergyman." Nothing now remains of these old works but a few traces of the foundation. The inscribed corner-stone occupies a conspicuous position in the State Armory, erected in Ogdensburg in 1858. I saw it in 1855 in a wall of the Hasbrouck estate on Ford Street. In the above sketch of the site of Fort Presentation, taken from in front of Judge Ford’s mansion, the position of the stone buildings above mentioned is indicated by the two little figures seen between the low one-story building toward the right of the picture and the more distant landing-place at Ogdensburg. Toward the left of the picture, on the point projecting into the St. Lawrence, is seen the light-house, and across the river a glimpse of Prescott and Fort Wellington. Toward the extreme right, on the distant shore, are seen the ruined buildings on Windmill Point, desolated during the "Rebellion" of 1837. The landing-place of the British, on the marshy shore, to attack Forsyth, was directly beyond the clump of trees on the extreme left of the picture.

9 The British struck the shore at the foot of Caroline (now Franklin) Street, and marched up that street to Washington, along Washington, past Parish’s house, to State Street, and halted; then to the Arsenal in Ford Street, between State and Isabella Streets.

10 Joseph York was born in Claremont, New Hampshire, on the 8th of January, 1781, and when quite young settled with his father in Randolph, Vermont. At the age of seventeen years (1798) he joined the Provisional Army under Lieutenant Nathaniel Leonard, and served until the army was disbanded in 1800. He emigrated to Ogdensburg in 1805. He was deputy sheriff three years, and sheriff four years. When made prisoner on the occasion above noted, he was taken to Prescott, and thence to the Johnstown jail, where, through the active exertions of his wife, he was paroled, and a few weeks afterward exchanged.


Mr. York’s residence at that time was in the court-house, a frame building that stood on the corner of Knox and Euphemia (now State) Streets. His widow was living when I visited Ogdensburg in the summer of 1860. She was a small, delicate, and highly-intelligent woman, and I remember my interview with her with great pleasure. She gave me a graphic account of the events of the invasion, and kindly allowed me to make a copy of the silhouette likeness of her husband. She said she did not leave her home in the courthouse until the British had fired several shots into it, and almost reached it, when she took some money and tablespoons, and ran as fast as she could into the country, with a number of other women. They retreated about fifteen miles. The next day she returned, and found the house plundered, the furniture broken, and her husband a prisoner. The heroic little woman (who had made many cartridges for the soldiers) immediately resolved to go over into Canada in search of her husband. She crossed the river in a skiff, went to the house of a friend (Mrs. Yates) at Johnstown, having a British officer as escort, made personal application to Lieutenant Colonel M‘Donnell, procured the release of her husband on parole, and took him back with her. Sheriff York was very highly esteemed in St. Lawrence County. Three successive years he represented that county in the Legislature of New York. The town of York, in Livingston County, was named in honor of him. He died on the 6th of May, 1827, at the age of forty-six years. Mrs. York died in July, 1862.

11 This mansion stood on a pleasant spot not far from the left bank of the Oswegatchie River. Nathan Ford, its owner, was among the earliest settlers of Ogdensburg. He was born in Morristown, New Jersey, on the 8th of December, 1763. He served in the Continental army, and in 1794 and 1795 he was employed by Ogden and others, who had purchased lands in Northern New York, to look after their affairs in that quarter. He was a man of indomitable energy, and early foresaw prosperity for the little settlement at the mouth of the Oswegatchie. He died in April, 1829, at the age of sixty-six years.

12 The plunder of public property consisted of 1400 stand of arms, with accoutrements, 12 pieces of artillery, 2 stands of colors, 300 tents, a large quantity of ammunition and camp equipage, with some beef, pork, flour, and other stores.

13 The prisoners in the jail at Ogdensburg represented to the British that they were only political offenders, and then were all released. Most of them accompanied the invaders back to Prescott, when it was ascertained that they had deceived the British officers. Some were given up at once, and Sheriff York finally recovered the most of them.

14 This jail was used as a place of public worship for a long time, to which the inhabitants of Ogdensburg frequently resorted before the year 1812. Previous to that time there was no regular place of worship in Ogdensburg.

15 In May, 1813, an officer came over from Prescott for deserters, and insolently threatened to burn Ogdensburg if they were not given up. "You will do no such thing," said Judge Ford. "No sooner will I see the incendiaries landing than I will set fire to my own house with my own hands, rally my neighbors, cross the river with torches, and burn every house from Prescott to Brockville." The British officer, perceiving the consequences that might ensue, afterward apologized for his conduct. – Hough’s History of St. Lawrence County, page 635.

16 I visited the fine mansion and beautiful grounds of Mr. Parish, son of the early proprietor of vast landed estates in that region. There for many years was the residence of Elena Vespucci, a lineal descendant of the Florentine Americus Vespucci, in whose honor our continent was named. She visited this country with the expectation of receiving a grant of land or money from Congress. She was a brilliant, fascinating woman. She left for Europe in 1859. Many evidences of her taste were seen about the mansion.

17 Theller’s Canada in 1837-’38.

18 In this view, looking toward the St. Lawrence, the village of Ogdensburg is seen in the extreme distance, on the height.

19 See Chapter XVIII.

20 General Dearborn to the Secretary of War.

21 See page 577.

22 "Chauncey has not returned," Dearborn wrote to the Secretary of War on the 25th of February. "I am satisfied that if he had arrived as soon as I had expected him, we might have made a stroke at Kingston on the ice; but his presence was necessary for having the aid of the seamen and marines."

23 Chauncey’s fleet consisted of the flag-ship Madison, commanded by Commander Elliott; the Oneida, Lieutenant Commanding Woolsey; the Fair American, Lieutenant Chauncey; the Hamilton, Lieutenant M’Pherson; the Governor Tompkins, Lieutenant Brown; the Conquest, Lieutenant Pettigrew; the Asp, Lieutenant Smith; the Pert, Lieutenant Adams; the Julia, Mr. Trant; the Growler, Mr. Mix; the Ontario, Mr. Stevens; the Scourge, Mr. Osgood; the Lady of the Lake, Mr. Flinn; and Raven, transport.

24 Zebulon Montgomery Pike was one of the earlier explorers of the wilderness around the head-waters of the Mississippi River. He was born in Lamberton, New Jersey. His father was an army officer, and young Pike entered the army while yet a boy. His whole life was devoted to the military profession. Soon after the purchase of Louisiana, in 1803, President Jefferson decided to have the vast unknown territory explored, and sent Captains Lewis and Clarke to accomplish a portion of it. At the same time, young Pike (who was born on the 5th of January, 1779) was commissioned to explore the present Minnesota region. That was in 1805. In the following year he made a perilous but successful reconnoissance of the wilderness in the direction of Northern Mexico, and, returning in the summer of 1807, he received the thanks of Congress. He reached the rank of colonel of infantry in 1810, and in March, 1813, he was commissioned a brigadier. He lost his life in the attack on York (Toronto), in April, 1813, when he was little more than thirty-four years of age. His name and memory are perpetuated, not only on the pages of History, but in the titles of ten counties, and twenty-eight townships and villages in the United States, chiefly in the Western country.

On the day before he left Sackett’s Harbor, General Pike wrote as follows to his father: "I embark to-morrow in the fleet, at Sackett’s Harbor, at the head of a column of 1500 choice troops, on a secret expedition. Should I be the happy mortal destined to turn the scale of war, will you not rejoice, oh my father? May heaven be propitious, and smile on the cause of my country. But if we are destined to fall, may my fall be like Wolfe’s – to sleep in the arms of victory." His wish was gratified.

25 York, or "Little York," as it was generally called, was a village of about nine hundred inhabitants, situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario, a little west of the meridian of the Niagara River. It was founded by Governor Simcoe, was made by him the seat of government in 1797, and designed to be, what it has since become, a large and flourishing city. In front of it is a beautiful bay, nearly circular, a mile and a half in diameter, formed by the main and a curious-shaped peninsula, which, within a few years, has become an island. It was only a few rods wide, where, in 1858, a storm cut a channel and made most of the peninsula an island, while at its western extremity it was very broad, and embraced several ponds. See map on page 590. It is low and sandy – so low that, from the moderate elevation of the town (fifteen or twenty feet above the water), the dark line of the lake may be seen over it. Upon it were, and still are, some trees, which, at first glance, seem to be standing on the water. This gave the name of Tarontah, an Indian word signifying "trees on the water," to the place. When the French built a fort there, westward of the extreme western end of the peninsula (which was called "Gibraltar Point"), they named it Fort Tarontah, or Toronto. In pursuance of his plan of Anglicizing the Upper Province, Simcoe named it York. The people, at a later day, with singular good taste, resumed the Indian name of Tarontah, or Toronto.

26 In this sketch the appearance of the mounds in 1860 is given. On the left, in the distance, is seen a glimpse of a wharf and part of Toronto. On the right a portion of the peninsula, now an island. In the centre of the picture is the opening between the island and the remainder of the peninsula, looking out upon the lake. The steam-boat indicates the present channel, which is narrow and not very deep.

27 The magazine was about twenty feet square. It contained five hundred barrels of gunpowder, and an immense quantity of shot and shells. It was built of heavy stone, close by the lake shore, with a heavy stone wall on its water front. Its roof was nearly level with the surface of the ground. The descent to its vaults was by stone steps inside of the wall. It was so situated that the Americans did not suspect its existence there. The picture of it above given, as it appeared before the explosion, is from a pencil sketch by an English officer. It is said that some of the fragments of the magazine were thrown by the explosion as far as the decks of Chauncey’s vessels, and, says Ingersoll, "the water was shocked as with an earthquake."

28 A late provincial writer, whose pages exhibit the most bitter spirit, says, in speaking of this destruction of life, "We heartily agree with James [the most malignant and mendacious of the British writers on the War] ‘that, even had the whole column been destroyed, the Americans would but have met their deserts;’ and if disposed to commiserate the poor soldiers, at least, we wish, with him, ‘that their places had been filled by the American President and the ninety-eight members of the Legislature who voted for the war.’ " – A History of the Late War between Great Britain and the United States of America, by G. Auchinleck, Toronto, 1855.

29 One of General Pike’s officers afterward wrote: "I was so much injured in the general crash that it is surprising how I survived. Probably I owe my escape to the corpulency of the British sergeant, whose body was thrown upon mine by the concussion." – Letter in The Aurora, quoted by Hough in his History of Jefferson County, page 482.

30 Cromwell Pearce was born in Willistown, Chester County, Pennsylvania, on the 13th of August, 1772, on the farm where the celebrated "Paoli massacre" occurred in the autumn of 1777. His father was a native of Ireland. Cromwell was brought up a farmer. At the age of twenty-one years Governor Mifflin commissioned him a captain of militia, and in 1799 he entered the regular army of the United States as first lieutenant in the Tenth Regiment of Light Infantry. He was commissioned a colonel of the Sixteenth Infantry in July, 1812, and marched to the Northern frontier. He bore a distinguished part in the capture of York, and yet his name was not mentioned in General Dearborn’s report of the affair. Only Chauncey, in his official report, speaks of him. Pearce was brave, modest, and unassuming, and performed his duties nobly throughout the war. In the autumn of 1813 he was in the battle of Chrysler’s Field, on the St. Lawrence, when, on the fall of the commander, he again became the leader of the contending forces. At the close of the war he retired to private life. In 1816 he was elected sheriff of his native county. In 1824 he was chosen a presidential elector, and was deputed to carry to Washington City the electoral vote of the state. In 1825 he was appointed an associate judge of the County Court, which office he held until 1839. He died suddenly on the 2d of April, 1852, in the eightieth year of his age. - Notœ Cestriensis, by William Darlington, M. D., LL. D.

31 The following were the commissioners who arranged the terms of capitulation:

Americans: Lieutenant Colonel E. G. Mitchell; Major Samuel S. Conner, aid-de camp to General Dearborn; and Commander Elliott, of the Navy. British: Lieutenant Colonel W. Chewett, of the York Militia; Major W. Allen, of the same corps; and Lieutenant F. Gaurreau.

32 The Parliament-houses stood on the site of the present jail in Toronto. It is said that the incendiary was instigated by the indignation of the Americans, who found hanging upon the walls of the legislative chamber a human scalp! British writers, ever ready to charge the Americans with all manner of crimes, have not only affected to disbelieve this story, but have charged American writers who have stated the fact with deliberate falsehood. It is not pleasant to relate facts so shameful to the boasted civilization of that country as this incident furnishes; but as one of the latest of British historians has, without the shadow of an excuse, intimated that the scalp in question had been taken by Commodore Chauncey from the head of a British Indian, "shot while in a tree," during the advance of the Americans on the town (see Auchinleck’s History of the War of 1812, published in Toronto in 1855), I feel compelled, by a sense of justice, to submit the proofs of this evidence of the barbarism of the British authorities in Canada at that time.

On the 4th of June, 1813, Commodore Chauncey wrote from Sackett’s Harbor to the Secretary of the Navy, saying, "I have the honor to present to you, by the hands of Lieutenant Dudley, the British standard taken at York on the 27th of April last, accompanied by the mace, over which hung a human scalp. These articles were taken from the Parliament-houses by one of my officers and presented to me. The scalp I caused to be presented to General Dearborn." – Autograph Letter, Navy Department, Washington City. Armstrong, who was Secretary of War at that time, writing in 1836, says, "One regimental standard was (by some strange confusion of ideas) sent to the Navy Department, and one human scalp, a prize made, as we have understood, by the commodore, was offered, but not accepted, as a decoration to the walls of the War Department." – Notices of the War of 1812, i., 182. General Dearborn wrote, "A scalp was found in the executive and legislative council-chamber, suspended near the speaker’s chair, accompanied by the mace." – Niles’s Register, iv., 190. Commenting on this, Niles says, "The mace is the emblem of authority, and the scalp’s position near it is truly symbolical of the British power in Canada." The Canadian people had no part nor lot in the matter, and should not bear any of the odium. If British writers would fairly condemn the wrong-doings of their rulers, they would be more just to their fellow-subjects.

33 The chief authorities consulted in the preparation of the foregoing narrative in this chapter are the official reports of the commanders on both sides; the histories of the events by Thompson, Perkins, James, Auchinleck, Armstrong, Christy, Ingersoll, and minor writers; Whiting’s Biography of General Pike; Hough’s Histories of Jefferson, Franklin, and St. Lawrence Counties; Rogers’s History of Canada; Smith’s Canada, Past and Present; Cooper’s Naval History of the United States; The War; Niles’s Register; the Port Folio; Analectic Magazine; manuscript notes of Dr. Amasa Trowbridge; autograph letters of actors in the scenes, and notes from the lips of survivors.

34 Mr. Ross knew a Mr. D----, one of these Rangers, who, when intoxicated, once told him that "the sweetest steak he ever ate was the breast of a woman, which he cut off and broiled!"

35 In this view is seen the causeway and bridge over the ravine, and the general appearance of the fort in 1860. In the embankment is seen a fraise, or pickets placed horizontally. On the left is the old block-house of 1813. In the centre, to the right of the open gateway, is another block-house with a flag on it, built after the Americans left York, On the right is the governor’s house, built after the war, with a poplar-tree near it. In the ravine, a little to the left of the cannon and horses, was situated the magazine that exploded.

36 See note 3, page 586.

37 Letter of Commodore Perry, supposed to be to his parents, cited by M‘Kenzie in his Life of Perry, ii., 138.

38 Merritt’s MS. Narrative.

39 That is, on the top of an embankment, without embrasures or openings in the banks by which the cannon is sheltered and concealed.

40 This view is from a drawing made in 1813, previous to the attack on Fort George, and published in the Port Folio in July, 1817. On the extreme left is seen Fort Niagara, and at a greater distance, across the river, Fort George and the village {original text has "vilage".} of Newark. To the right of the light-house, over which is a flag, is seen the battery which the Julia and Growler controlled.

41 Thomas Stockton was a native of Delaware, and was appointed captain of artillery in 1812. In 1814 he became major of the Forty-second Infantry, and at the close of the war was retained as captain, with the brevet rank of major. He afterward served in the artillery. He resigned in 1825. In 1844 he was governor of Delaware, and died at Newcastle in March, 1846.

42 James Burn was a native of South Carolina. He was a captain of cavalry in 1799. He settled in Pennsylvania, and in the spring of 1812 was appointed colonel of the Second Light Dragoons. He left the service on the disbanding of the army in 1815. He died at Frankfort, near Philadelphia, in 1823.

43 General Dearborn, in a second dispatch to the Secretary of War, written on the 8th of June, spoke in the highest terms of all the officers and men engaged in the affair, especially of the "animating examples" of Scott and Boyd, and the services of Colonel Porter, Major Armistead, and Lieutenant Totten, in their "judicious and skillful execution in demolishing the enemy’s batteries." Lieutenant Totten finally became a brigadier general, and was the Chief Engineer of the United States Army for several years before his death.

44 "We formed again at the Council-house" [see plan on page 599], says Captain Merritt, "when I was sent up to order down the light company of the King’s, who, we understood, were at the Eight-mile Creek. I rode through the woods, around the American regiments, followed up the lake to the Twenty-mile Creek (was two hours on the road), where I met Commodore Barclay with his sailors, and the King’s. We hurried on to Shipman’s, where I learned the army had retreated to De Cou’s [the Beaver Dams]. I took the party through the woods, and arrived there at nine o’clock in the evening. Next morning the militia were allowed to remain or follow the army. This was a bad day for many as well as myself. I went home, prepared my ‘kit,’ and with a heavy heart bid adieu, as I thought, to the place of my nativity for a long time. I was determined to share the fate of the army." – MS. Narrative.

45 "The Albany steam-boat which arrived yesterday (Sunday) brings intelligence that Fort Erie had surrendered to the troops of the United States, under Generals Dearborn and Lewis, with little or no resistance on the part of the enemy." This announcement appeared in a New York paper on Monday morning, the 7th of June, 1813. This form of announcement of war news from the North and West at that time was very common. Expresses from the army at different points were sent to Governor Tompkins, the chief magistrate of the State of New York, living at Albany, and the steam-boat was the most rapid method for conveying intelligence then known. Every few days the New York papers would say, "The Albany steam-boat brings intelligence," et cetera. It must be remembered that steam navigation was then in its infancy. It was not six years since Fulton’s first successful experiment had been made. There were only three steam-boats on the Hudson at that time, whose owners had, by legislative grant, the monopoly of that kind of navigation. These were the Paragon, Car of Neptune, and North River. The average length of the passage from New York to Albany was then about thirty-six hours. *

* The following advertisement, taken from the New York Evening Post of the date under consideration, with a facsimile of a cut of "the steam-boat" at its head, will seem very curious to the traveler now, at the distance of sixty years:



For the Information of the Public.

The Paragon, Captain Wiswall, will leave New York every Saturday afternoon, at 5 o’clock. The Car of Neptune, Captain Roorback, do., every Tuesday afternoon, at 5 o’clock. The North River, Captain Bartholomew, do., every Thursday afternoon, at 5 o’clock.

The Paragon will leave Albany every Thursday morning, at 9 o’clock. The Car of Neptune, do,, every Saturday morning, at 9 o’clock. The North River, do., every Tuesday morning, at 9 o’clock.


From New York to Verplanck’s Point, $2; West Point, $2.50; Newburg, $3; Wappinger’s Creek, $3.25; Poughkeepsie, $3.50; Hyde Park, $4; Esopus, $4.25; Red Hook, $4.50; Catskill, $5; Hudson, $5; Coxsackie, $5.50; Kinderhook, $5.75; Albany, $7.

From Albany to Kinderhook, $1.50; Coxsackie, $2; Hudson, $2; Catskill, $2.25; Red Hook, $2.75; Esopus. $3; Hyde Park, $3.25; Poughkeepsie, $3.50; Wappinger’s Creek, $4; Newburg, $4.25; West Point, $4.75; Verplanck’s Point, $5.25; New York, $7.

All other way passengers to pay at the rate of one dollar for every twenty miles. No one can be taken on board and put on shore, however short the distance, for less than one dollar.

Young persons from two to ten years of age to pay half price. Children under two years, one fourth price. Servants who use a berth, two thirds’ price; half price of none.


46 Samuel B. Archer was a native of Virginia. He was a captain in Scott’s Second Regiment of artillery, and was breveted major for his gallant conduct at Fort George on the 27th of May, 1813. He was retained in the service in 1815, and in 1821 became inspector general, with the rank of colonel. He died on the 11th of December, 1823.

47 This view, sketched in the morning sunlight, is from the residence of Daniel Lewis, Esq., lieutenant colonel of the Wentworth Militia, who was in the battle. In the foreground is seen the meadow through which flows a branch of Stony Creek. Beyond it, on the left, is a gentle elevation, the estate of Mr. Thomas Waddle, of Hamilton, and near the village, on which lay the encampment. Miller’s (Gage’s) house is seen on the extreme right, with a veranda and grove of trees in front. In the distance is the range of hills which extend westward from Queenston, and are called "the Mountain" by the Canadians.

48 John Chandler was born within the bounds of the present State of Maine (Kennebec County), then a part of Massachusetts, in the year 1760. His parents were very humble, and be became an itinerant blacksmith. His residence was in General Dearborn’s settlement of Monmouth, about fifteen miles west from Augusta. It is recorded, in a late History and Description of New England, by Coolidge and Mansfield, that "he was the poorest man in the settlement." By industry and perseverance he became wealthy. His talents were of a high order. He was a representative in Congress from 1805 to 1808, and when the war broke out and he was commissioned a brigadier general, he was major general of militia. His military career ended at Stony Creek, and he was disbanded in 1815. He represented Maine in the Senate of the United States from 1820 to 1829. He died at Augusta, Maine, September 25, 1841, at the age of eighty-one years.

49 Christopher Van De Venter was a native of New York. He was appointed lieutenant in Scott’s regiment of artillery in 1809. In 1812 he was assistant military agent at Fort Columbus, in New York Harbor. He was afterward deputy quarter-master, with the rank of major, and in that capacity served on the Niagara frontier. He was taken a prisoner to Quebec. At the close of the war he was retained in the service, and in 1816 was aid-de-camp to Brigadier General Joseph G. Swift. He resigned in August that year, and from 1817 until 1827 he was chief clerk in the War Department. He died at Georgetown, D. C., on the 22d of April, 1838.

50 Colonel William Fraser (then a sergeant), who was living at Perth, back of Brockville, in Canada, in 1860, took both the generals prisoners. He advanced upon the artillery, he said, with forty-six men, but when they drew near it they had only twenty-five men. The American cannon in their front was loaded with all sorts of missiles. The priming flashed, and the gun was not discharged. They then rushed forward, shouting "Come on, Brant!" The cannon were taken. Plenderleath was wounded. Fraser was binding up his wounds, when Chandler and Winder fell into the snare and were captured.

51 Merritt’s MS. Narrative.

52 The same.

53 Autograph letter to his wife, dated Fort George, June 13, 1813.

54 The chief authorities consulted are the official dispatches of commanders on both sides, and the several histories of the war already mentioned; Mansfield’s Life of General Scott; autograph letters of Colonel James Miller; MS. statement of Captain William H. Merritt; Armstrong’s Notices of the War of 1812; Niles’s Weekly Register; The War, and oral statements of survivors.

An account of my visit to the battle-grounds of Stony Creek and the Beaver Dams will be given in the next chapter.

55 Statement of Captain Luther Redfield, of Clyde, Wayne County, New York, in a letter to the author in February, 1860, when the old soldier was about eighty-six years of age. He says that in a log house a few rods north of the present Presbyterian church, in the village of Junius, public worship was held. The attack of the British at Sodus was on Saturday evening. The next day, just as the afternoon service was about to commence at the house above mentioned, a horseman came dashing up at full speed with the news of the British Invasion. Redfield was a captain in the regiment of Colonel Philetus Swift. There were several non-commissioned officers in the church. These were sent to arouse the military of the neighborhood, and by five o’clock Captain Redfield was on the march with about one hundred men. They halted most of the night a few miles north of Lyons, and resumed their march by moonlight toward morning. They arrived at Sodus at a little after sunrise on Monday morning, when they met a funeral procession with the body of Turner’s slain soldier. The British had gone, but the fleet was in sight. The company remained about a week at Sodus, and were then discharged.



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