Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter XXVIII - Events at Sackett's Harbor and on the Niagara Frontier in 1813.






British Designs against Sackett’s Harbor. – The Defenses there. – General Jacob Brown. – Brown’s Position. – Approach of the British. – Brown assumes Command at Sackett’s Harbor. – Assembling of the Militia. – The British Force approaches Sackett’s Harbor. – An Alarm. – Chase and Capture of American Vessels. – Position of the Militia. – A Panic and Flight. – Cowardly Flight of Militia. – Gallantry of Captain M‘Nitt. – Destruction of Public Stores. – The Militia reassembled. – Prevost alarmed. – His disgraceful Retreat. – How public Property was saved. – Conceit and Inefficiency of Sir George Prevost. – A Sort of "Greek Fire." – Sackett’s Harbor, and Occurrences there. – Description of its Defenses. – Map of the Same. – A Visit to Sackett’s Harbor. – Commodore Tattnall. – Historical Localities. – Henry Eckford. – The New Orleans Frigate. – Madison Barracks. – A neglected Monument. – Forts Pike and Virginia. – An evening Ride to Watertown. – A Visit to the Widow of General Brown. – General Brown’s Residence in Brownsville. – Return to Watertown. – The Whittlesey Rock. – A Confession extorted. – Suicide of the guilty Party. – Captain Hollins. – Movements on the Niagara Frontier. – Expedition against the British at the Beaver Dams. – Encounter with Indians. – An old German Church. – British Troops saved by a Heroine. – Mrs. Secord’s Services and Reward. – Bśrstler and his Command captured. – The Terms of Surrender violated by the Indians. – A bold Stroke for Liberty. – Fort George invested by the British. – A Visit to St. Catharine’s and the Beaver Dams’ Battle-ground. – De Cou’s and De Cou’s Falls. – Sketch of De Cou’s Falls. – A Veteran of the War of 1812. – Return to St. Catharine’s. – Visit to Hamilton and Stony Creek. – A Refugee from the Wyoming Valley. – Departure for Brantford. – Raids on the Niagara Frontier. – A Massacre by Western Indians. – Statement of Captain Merritt and others. – Expedition against Black Rock. – General Porter hurries to its Defense. – Repulse of the British. – Death of Bisshopp. – His Monument. – Expedition to Burlington Heights. – Descent on York. – General Dearborn succeeded by General Wilkinson. – Arrival of the Latter at Washington. – Indian skirmishing. – Secretary Armstrong and General Wilkinson. – Generals Wilkinson and Hampton. – Haughtiness of Hampton. – Wilkinson at Sackett’s Harbor. – Affairs on the Niagara Frontier. – Scott marches for Sackett’s Harbor. – Armstrong on the Frontier. – The British threaten Fort George. – It is abandoned. – Newark burnt. – Sufferings of the Inhabitants. – Just Indignation of the British. – Fort Niagara surrendered. – Massacre at Fort Niagara. – Savage Atrocities near Lewiston. – Desolation of the Niagara Frontier. – New York Militia at Buffalo. – The British at Black Rock. – Bad Conduct of the Militia. – Battle near Black Rock. – The Americans repulsed. – Destruction of Buffalo and Black Rock. – Murders by the Indians. – Horrors of retaliatory Warfare.


"To Sackett’s Harbor Yeo steered, with Prevost’s chosen blood-hounds,
But Brown his dogs of valor cheered, militia blood, but good hounds.
He chased them from the bloody track, and Yeo’s bull-dogs slighting,
Though Chauncey was not there, he show’d Sir James the art of fighting.

Bow, wow, wow!
Fresh-water dogs can tutor them with bow, wow, wow!"


When the military and naval authorities at Kingston were informed of the weakening of the important post at Sackett’s Harbor by the withdrawal of troops and vessels for the expedition against York, they resolved to attempt the capture of the place, or to destroy the new ship-of-war then on the stocks, 1 and other public property there. The capture of York made them circumspect, for the flushed victors might turn their faces toward Kingston; but when it was known that Dearborn and Chauncey were about to attack Fort George and its dependencies, it was resolved to assail Sackett’s Harbor immediately. The prize was more attractive now than ever before. Besides being the principal place of deposit on the lake for military and naval stores, and a fine vessel was there nearly completed, all the property captured at York 2 was deposited there. The possession or destruction of these by the British would have given them the command of Lake Ontario, and a decided advantage during the whole campaign. With singular remissness of duty on the part of the commanding general, these had been left exposed. The guard detailed for their protection, under Colonel Barker, was utterly inadequate for the task. It consisted of parts of the First and Second Regiments of Dragoons, numbering about two hundred and fifty men, fifty or sixty artillerists, and from eighty to one hundred infantry, composed chiefly of invalids, recruits, and fragments of companies left behind when the expedition sailed for York. The dragoons, dismounted, manned Fort Tompkins, a considerable work on the bluff; on the west side of the Harbor, 3 and covering the site of the present residence and garden of the naval commandant of the station. The artillerists, under Lieutenant Ketchum, were also there. A little north of the village, on the east side of the Harbor, opposite Fort Tompkins, was a small work, erected principally by the labor of a company of exempts, called Fort Volunteer.

General Jacob Brown, 4 of the New York Militia, who, having finished the six months’ service for which he was called to the field at the beginning of the war, as we have seen, was residing at his home in Brownsville, on the Black River, a few miles from Sackett’s Harbor, had been requested by General Dearborn, and urged by Colonel Macomb, to assume chief command in that region. He was unwilling to interfere with his esteemed friend, Colonel Backus, and agreed to take command only in the event of actual invasion. He went to head-quarters frequently to advise with Backus concerning preparations for defense, and it was understood between them that if the enemy should threaten the post, Brown was to call the neighboring militia to the Harbor and take chief command.

On the evening of the 27th of May, the Lady of the Lake, which had been cruising off Kingston to watch the movements of the enemy, came into Sackett’s Harbor with the startling information {original text has "informa-".} that a strong British squadron, under Sir James L. Yeo, had just put to sea. Colonel Backus sent an express to General Brown with the intelligence. That vigilant officer immediately dispatched messengers to the militia officers of his district with orders to hasten, with as many men as possible, to the Harbor. This accomplished, he mounted his horse, and before the dawn of the 28th he entered Backus’s camp, took command, ordered alarm guns to be fired to arouse the country, and sent off expresses in various directions to militia officers, and to Colonel Tuttle, who was advancing with regulars. During the day the people of the surrounding country continually arrived at head-quarters. Some were armed, and some were not, and all were entirely without discipline, and almost without organization.


As fast as they appeared they were armed and sent to Horse Island, a mile distant, where Colonel Mills and about two hundred and fifty Albany Volunteers had been stationed for a week. The island (on which the light-house stands) 5 commands the entrance to the Harbor, and there it was believed the enemy would attempt to land. Then, as now, it was separated from the main by only a shallow strait, always fordable, and sometimes almost dry. Between it and the village was a thin wood that had been partly cut over, and was encumbered with logs, stumps, and brush. The main shore is a ridge of gravel, about five feet in height, and at that time formed a natural breast-work.

At midday on the 28th [May, 1813.], the British squadron, which left Kingston on the evening of the 27th, appeared off Sackett’s Harbor. It consisted of the Wolfe, 24, just finished; Royal George, 24; Earl of Moira, 18; schooners Prince Regent, Simcoe, and Seneca, mounting from ten to twelve guns each, and about forty bateaux. The land troops, ten or twelve hundred strong, consisted of the grenadier company of the One hundredth Regiment, two companies of the Eighth or King’s, a section of the Royal Scots, four companies of the One Hundred and Fourth, one company of the Glengary Regiment, two of the Canadian Voltigeurs, a detachment of the Newfoundland Regiment, and another of the Royal Artillery, with two 6-pounders. There was also a considerable body of Indians attached to the expedition, and who accompanied it in canoes. Sir James Lucas Yeo commanded the squadron, and the whole expedition was under the direction of Sir George Prevost, the Governor General of Canada, who accompanied it as leader of the land forces. He was with Yeo on the Wolfe.

The British squadron lay to about six miles from the Harbor, and a large number of troops were embarked in boats for the purpose of landing. While anxiously waiting for the signal to pull for shore, the soldiers were perplexed by an order to return to the squadron. They were still more perplexed when that squadron, without apparent cause, spread its sails to the light breeze and turned toward Kingston. The secret was soon known. A flotilla of nineteen American gun-boats had been seen off Six-towns Point, approaching from the westward, and Sir George Prevost did not doubt their being filled with armed men destined to re-enforce Sackett’s Harbor. It was even so. They were conveying part of a regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Aspinwall from Oswego to the Harbor. The apparition had made Sir George nervous. The Indians were not so easily frightened as their pale-faced ally. They darted in their canoes toward the American flotilla. This movement shamed Sir George. He listened to the advice of Sir James, turned the prows of his vessels once more in the direction of Sackett’s Harbor, and sent several boats with armed men to join the canoes. Aspinwall and his party, closely chased, made for the shore. Twelve of his boats and seventy of his men were captured. The other seven boats, more fleet than their companions or pursuers, reached the haven in safety. The escaped party on shore made their way thither by land. They arrived at nine o’clock in the evening, and added one hundred men to the effective force at Sackett’s Harbor.

The night of the 28th [May, 1813.] was spent by the Americans in active preparations for the expected attack. Toward midnight, about forty Indians, under Lieutenant Anderson, were landed on the shore of Henderson Bay, for the purpose of attacking the American militia in the rear. They were discovered, and Colonel Mills and his force, about four hundred strong, were withdrawn from Horse Island and placed behind the gravel ridge, at a clearing of five or six acres on the main, with a 6-pounder field-piece. The remainder of the militia, under Colonel Gershom Tuttle, were posted on the edge of the woods, a little farther back; and Colonel Backus, with his dismounted dragoons, was stationed on the skirt of the same woods, nearer the village. Lieutenant Colonel Aspinwall was posted on the left of Backus, and the artillerists, under Lieutenant Ketchum, were stationed in Fort Tompkins, whose only armament was a 32-pounder mounted on a pivot.

Not a zephyr rippled the waters of the Harbor on the morning of the 29th, and not a cloud flecked the sky. Calmness, serenity, and beauty were visible on every side. The sails of the enemy’s squadron could not catch the slightest breeze, and it was impossible for the large vessels to approach near enough to join in the attack. At dawn, thirty-three boats, filled with armed men, left the British squadron and made for Horse Island, where they landed under cover of two gun-boats directed by Captain Mulcaster, of the royal navy.

As the flotilla rounded the island, the huge pivot gun in Fort Tompkins hurled murderous enfilading shots in their midst, and when they were near the shore they received a scattering fire from the muskets of the militia. This was promptly responded to by Mulcaster’s great guns, loaded with grape and canister, and by his first fire Colonel Mills, who was standing near his men, was shot dead.

The British formed in good order on the island, and with the grenadiers of the One Hundredth at their head, commanded by Colonel Baynes, they pressed rapidly across the shallow strait. The rank and file of the American militia had suffered no material injury, but the sound of bullets among the bushes, and the din of the oncoming foe, struck the whole line with an extraordinary panic, and before they had time to give a second fire they rose from their cover behind the gravel bank and fled with precipitation, leaving their 6-pounder behind. The efforts of the gallant Major Herkimer to arrest their flight were vain. 6

This disgraceful retreat astonished and perplexed General Brown, who was on the left of his little army. He expected the militia would have remained firm until the enemy were finally on the main. But their movement was so sudden, general, and rapid, that he found himself completely alone, not a man standing within several rods of him. Stung by this shameful conduct, he ran after the fugitives and endeavored to arrest their flight. His efforts were unavailing. Forgetful of their promises of courage, and unmindful of the orders they had received to rally in the woods in the event of their being driven back, they continued their flight until they were sure of being out of harm’s way. Some of them were not heard of again during the day. Those under Colonel Tuttle were equally recreant to duty, and joined in the disgraceful flight, although they had not in any way been exposed to the enemy’s fire. But there was an honorable exception. Captain Samuel M‘Nitt, with unflinching courage, had maintained his position on the extreme left, and stood blazing away at the enemy after his companions had fled. Seeing the panic, he started in pursuit of the fugitives, and, with the aid of Lieutenant Mayo, succeeded in rallying almost one hundred of them behind some fallen timber. From that cover they annoyed the enemy exceedingly, who were then marching through the woods toward the town. 7 Meanwhile Colonel Backus and his regulars had advanced, and, with the Albany Volunteers, who had stood firm when the militia fled, and had retired slowly along a wagon-road by the margin of the lake before superior numbers, was disputing the march of the invaders inch by inch.

These demonstrations of courage revived the sinking hopes of the commanding general. In hastening from M‘Nitt’s gallant band to Backus’s line, his affrighted horse had broken from him in the woods. Fortunately, he soon met a man on horseback, whose animal he seized and mounted, and then pushed forward to the extreme right. There he found Colonel Backus with his dismounted dragoons on the right, assisted by Major Lavall, the gallant Albany Volunteers on the left, and infantry and artillery in the centre, while the gun at Fort Tompkins was playing upon the advancing column of the foe. For an hour the conflict continued, and so great was the weight of the enemy that the American line was constantly pressed back. Lieutenant Fanning, in command at Fort Volunteer, perceiving no danger of an attack there, had led his little force forward and engaged gallantly in the fight. Still the foe bore heavily upon them, and when the Americans were most in want of encouragement a disheartening event occurred. Dense smoke arose in their rear, and it was soon ascertained that the store-houses on the margin of the Harbor, filled with the spoils of York and a vast amount of other valuable property, also the new ship General Pike, were in flames. Had a portion of the enemy landed in the rear and applied the torch? No. In the almost universal panic that prevailed when the militia fled, Lieutenant Wolcott Chauncey, of the Navy, who had the stores in charge, was informed that all was lost, and that the victorious enemy was rapidly marching upon the post. A train prepared for the emergency was lighted, and in a few minutes stores and ship were in flames. The friendly incendiary was soon named to General Brown, much to his relief and he hastened to inform and reassure Colonel Backus. He arrived just in time to see that gallant officer fall, mortally wounded, and to wipe his pallid brow with his own hand. 8

Pressed back, back, back, the wearied and worried Americans took refuge in some new log barracks in an open space near the town. The enemy made desperate efforts to dislodge them. Brown saw that all would be lost should they be driven from that shelter, and he determined to rally the fugitive militia, if possible, who, he was informed, were on the outskirts of the village and on the roads leading from it, and with them feign a descent upon the enemy’s boats. He sent out mounted dragoons instructed to proclaim a victory gained, knowing that in the supposed absence of danger most of them would return. The stratagem was successful. About three hundred of them were collected, though in great disorder, on the eastern side of the village, about three fourths of a mile from the place where the battle was still raging. There they were addressed by the commanding general, who loaded them with reproaches, and informed them that measures had been taken to shoot every man of them who should be found attempting to run again. Many of them, stung by the words of the general, begged to be led into the thickest of the fight, and almost two hundred of them formed under the direction of Westcott, a Sackett’s Harbor butcher, and Caleb, a volunteer, and, while others went toward the British landing-place, they attacked a flanking party of the enemy under Captain Grey, the adjutant general, just as they were about to assail the log barracks. Grey was a gallant soldier. He was walking backward, waving his sword, and had just shouted "Come on, boys; remember York! The day is ours!" when a drummer-boy among the rallied militia cried out, "Perhaps not yet!" and shot him. Grey fell, and instantly expired. 9

This rallying of the fugitive militia and menacing of the enemy’s boats decided the fortunes of the day in favor of the Americans. Sir George Prevost, sweeping the horizon with his glass from a high stump, perceived the militia on his flank and rear, and supposing them to be re-enforcements of regulars in large numbers, immediately sounded a retreat while the way to their boats was open. 10 It was commenced in good order, but soon became a disorderly flight. It was so precipitate that the fatigued Americans could not overtake them. They reached the squadron in safety, leaving a large portion of their dead and wounded behind. 11 At about ten o’clock in the morning, Sir George, with cool impudence, sent a flag to demand the surrender of the post which he had failed to capture. The summons was treated with deserved contempt. He then asked permission to send surgeons to take care of his wounded. This was denied; but an assurance was given by General Brown that Americans were "distinguished for humanity as well as bravery."

It was believed that the enemy intended to renew the attack. His squadron continued at anchor, and his boats remained filled with soldiers for some time not far from Horse Island. At noon they returned to the squadron, and the whole flotilla sailed for Kingston. It entered that port on the morning of the 30th, to the great mortification of the inhabitants, who had expected to see the expedition return with all the garrison at Sackett’s Harbor and the public property there. 12 The whole affair, on the part of the British, was pronounced at the time, and has been by their own writers since, "in a high degree disgraceful." 13 The skill, courage, and energy of General Brown, under the most appalling difficulties, seconded by the like qualities in a part of the troops, made it a brilliant achievement for the Americans, and a subject for just praise of the commanding general. 14

As soon as the battle was ended the efforts of the men were turned to the salvation of the public property from the flames. Because of the greenness of the timber of the General Pike she had burned but little, and was saved. The Duke of Gloucester, captured at York, also escaped destruction. She was saved by the gallantry of Lieutenant Talman, of the army, who, notwithstanding he knew there was a large quantity of gunpowder on board of her, hastened to her deck, extinguished the kindling flames, and brought her from under the fire that was consuming the store-houses. The Fair American and Pert had cut their cables and retreated up the Black River. Several of the guns on Navy Point were spiked. The value of the property destroyed by the fire was about half a million of dollars. The loss was severely felt, because the distance from Albany, from which most of these stores were drawn, was such that they could not be seasonably replaced. 15


No further attempts were made by the enemy to capture Sackett’s Harbor, and it remained, as it had been from the beginning, the most important place of deposit for the army and navy stores of the Americans on the Northern frontier. During the summer and autumn of 1813 several expeditions were fitted out there, which we shall hereafter consider, and labor was vigorously applied by the troops stationed there in the autumn, and by the sailors in the winter, in strongly fortifying the post. Fort Tompkins was strengthened, and several other works were constructed, and before the midsummer of 1814 the post seemed to be secured against any force the enemy might bring to bear upon it. 17


I visited Sackett’s Harbor in the summer of 1860. I rode up from Sandy Creek during a sultry morning, through the wealthy agricultural towns of Ellisburg and Henderson, after a heavy rain. Before noon the sky was almost cloudless, and I spent the afternoon in visiting places of interest around Sackett’s Harbor. Commodore Josiah Tattnall, one of the most accomplished men in the navy, and then in command of the naval station at the Harbor, accompanied me. I found him an exceedingly courteous man, of medium size in stature, and in the sixty-fourth year of his age. He had been commander of the East India squadron for some time, having the Powhatan for his flag-ship, in which he brought over the seas the Japanese embassadors in the spring of 1860. Having been for several years in arduous service, the government had kindly ordered him to the Sackett’s Harbor station to enjoy a season of rest. There he deserted the flag of his country, under which he had been cherished for almost half a century. He resigned his commission, joined the traitors in the slave-labor states who were then in open rebellion against his government, and became commander-in-chief of the "Confederate Navy." 18

Yet I can not forget the commodore’s kindness. He accompanied me to the ship-house on Navy Point, in which is the New Orleans, just as she was left in her unfinished state at the end of the war in 1815. He also went with me to the site of Fort Pike, to Madison Barracks and the burial-ground, and to visit the widow of Captain William Vaughan, whose exploits have already been mentioned in these pages. 19 Mrs. Vaughan (a small, delicate woman) occupied the Sackett mansion, which was her residence in 1812. At the time now under consideration, Colonels Backus and Mills boarded with her there. The house was near the site of Fort Tompkins. It was a substantial frame building, with a fine portico, and was embowered in shrubbery and trees.


The New Orleans was to have been a huge vessel, made to cope with the St. Lawrence, a three-deck man-of-war of 120 guns, which the British launched at Kingston in the autumn of 1813. Henry Eckford 20 was the constructor, and Henry Eagle, late of Oswego, was foreman of the navy yard. Time was precious, and Eckford applied to the work all the force that he could command. So vigorous were his efforts, that within twenty-seven days [January and February, 1815.] from the time when the axe was first laid to the timber in the surrounding forest for the great ship she was almost ready to be launched. She was to have been a three-decker, pierced for 110 guns, but capable of carrying 120 eighteens and forty-fours. Her frame was all completed, and planks nearly all on, when tidings of peace caused work upon her to cease. In the condition in which she was then left she has ever since remained. She was never launched. A spacious house was built over her, and so well has she been taken care of that her timbers remain perfectly sound. Her keel, according to a statement of Mr. Henry Metcalf; the ship-keeper, is 183 feet 7 ˝ inches; breadth of beam, 56 feet; depth, 47 feet; length over all, 214 feet; tonnage, 3000. She was to draw 27 feet. Within the time above mentioned all the timbers for other purposes connected with the vessel were got out. The annexed sketch shows the appearance of her bow as seen at the entrance to the ship-house. Near this building, on the south side, may be seen the sunken hulk of the Jefferson.

From the New Orleans we went up to Madison Barracks, on the high ground overlooking the village, the harbor, Black River Bay, and the wooded country beyond. These barracks are spacious stone buildings, covering three sides of a square, near the remains of Fort Pike. They were erected soon after the war, under the direction of Deputy Quarter-master General Thomas Tucker, at an expense of $85,000. They have not been occupied by troops for a number of years.


We strolled into the burial-ground attached to the barracks, and visited the wooden monument erected to the memory of General Pike and others who gave their lives to their country during the war. That monument, utterly neglected, was rapidly crumbling into dust. I was there five years before [July, 1855.], when it was more leaning than the Pisa tower, and fortunately made a sketch of it and copied the fading inscriptions upon it. Sergeant Gaines, who was then taking charge of the barracks, accompanied me, and assisted in deciphering the inscriptions. He had placed a copy of them, written on parchment, in a bottle, which was tightly sealed, and was then hanging under the urn, as the best way to preserve the precious records on the spot. When I was there in 1860 the urn and the bottle had disappeared, the panels were much decayed, and the inscriptions were illegible. The remains of the gallant dead were collected there during the administration "original text has "adminstration".} of Colonel Hugh Brady, who commanded the post for ten years after the war; and the monument, which was about seven feet in height to the top of the urn, was erected by the officers of the garrison. 21 How long will our national government suffer just reproach for neglect in not erecting enduring monuments over the graves of these heroes?


On leaving the barracks we went out to the remains of Fort Pike, south of them, whose grassy mounds skirt the brow of the high bank. Within these were a magazine, a few cannon, and heaps of balls; and across the parade, the declining sun, shining brightly, was casting long shadows of the poplar-trees which were planted there when the fort was built in 1814, It was a beautiful spot, and we lingered as long as time would permit, when we returned to the village and went to the site of Fort Virginia, whose block-house, made of heavy hewn timber, was yet standing in perfect preservation, and used as a barn. It was on the premises of Mrs. Tisdale, about twelve rods south from Washington Street.


We returned to the commodore’s residence at five o’clock, and after tea I started in a light wagon for Watertown, on the Black River, about twelve miles distant, where I spent the Sabbath [August 22, 1860.] with the family of an old friend. On Monday morning he accompanied me to Brownsville, four miles distant, where I had the pleasure of spending a part of the forenoon at the elegant mansion of the widow of General Brown. There many mementos of that gallant officer were preserved. Among them was the portrait painted by John Wesley Jarvis, from which the engraving on page 608 was copied; also a monochrome drawn by Sully, of Philadelphia (now [1867] the oldest painter in the United States), for the medal voted to General Brown by the American Congress for his meritorious conduct on the Niagara frontier. That medal was also there. There too was his sword; also the elegantly written and well ornamented diploma which by vote of the Common Council of New York conferred upon him the "freedom of the city," and the gold box in which it was presented to him. Of the latter mementos of the gallant soldier I shall have occasion to write hereafter.


The mansion of General Brown, which he built in 1814-’15, is spacious and elegant. It is of blue limestone, and stands on the borders of the village of six or seven hundred inhabitants, in the midst of a lawn of about eight acres, ornamented with shrubbery and stately trees. The view of it here given is from the banks of a little stream that runs through a gentle swale along the skirt of the lawn.


On our return to Watertown we rode along the margin of the Black River, where it sweeps in swift current through the village after leaping the precipice at the falls, and halted at the entrance to a cavern which extends to an unknown distance under the town. In front of it, projecting into the stream like a huge buttress, is a mass of limestone known as the Whittlesey Rock, it being the place where the guilty wife of a man of that name jumped into the stream and perished over fifty years ago. Her husband was a lawyer from Connecticut, and settled in Watertown in 1809. Toward the close of the war he was appointed brigade paymaster, and in the performance of his duties went to the city of New York for funds, accompanied by his wife. He received thirty thousand dollars. On the way back she robbed him of several thousand dollars; and he was induced by the machinations of his wife – a woman of education, but thoroughly depraved, who worked upon his fears – to report himself robbed of all, in order to secure the money for themselves. This was done on an occasion when he went out on a tour to pay off the drafted militia. He offered two thousand dollars reward for the robber, and made other demonstrations of honesty. But he was not believed by many; and his securities, Fairbanks and Keyes, of Watertown, were so well convinced of foul play, that they decoyed him into a lonely place [July 17, 1815.] not far from the village, and extorted from him a confession, and the assertion that a larger portion of the money might be found with his wife. One of the sureties and two or three others proceeded to the residence of Whittlesey, which stood near the bank of the river, forcibly entered the house, and there, between beds and quilted in a garment, most of the money was found. Whittlesey was taken to his home, and husband and wife, bitterly criminating each other, were placed under a guard. Unperceived by these, in a moment of confusion Mrs. Whittlesey glided from the house, crossed the present cemetery of Trinity Church to the river, and plunged in. Her body was found floating near the lower bridge. Public opinion fastened all the guilt upon the wretched wife. Whittlesey went into a Western state, where he led a correct life, and held the offices of justice of the peace and county judge. Mr. Fairbanks, one of the actors in the affair, is yet (1867) living at Watertown, and from his lips, on our return to the village, I received an account of the tragedy. 22

At the Woodruff House, in Watertown, I met Captain Hollins, of the navy, a stout, thick-set man, sixty-one years of age. He was a midshipman in our navy toward the close of the War of 1812, and in the course of long years rose to the rank of captain. He, too, deserted his flag in the hour of his country’s peril, went South, and, during the Great Rebellion, played traitor with all the vigor his abilities would allow. 23 His accomplished wife, who was with him in Watertown, was a daughter of the patriotic Colonel Sterett, of Baltimore, and, true to her family instincts, tried, it is said, to persuade her husband to stand by his flag. She was in Poughkeepsie, New York, when he arrived at Boston from a cruise in the Massachusetts in May or June, 1861, and hastened to him to prevent his apprehended purpose. She failed, and he fell.

I left Watertown on Monday evening for Cape Vincent, for the purpose of visiting places of historic interest on the St. Lawrence. Concerning my visit to Carleton Island, French Creek, and other places near the Thousand Islands, I shall hereafter write. Let us now return to the Niagara frontier, and consider the hostile movements there soon after the battles at Sackett’s Harbor, Fort George, and Stony Creek.

We left the Americans, under General Dearborn, at Fort George, and the enemy’s advance, at the same time, occupied a strong position at the Beaver Dams, among the hills, and at Ten-mile Creek (now Homer village, three miles eastward of St. Catharine’s), nearer the lake shore. At the former place, De Cou’s house, a strong stone building, was made a sort of citadel by the enemy, where supplies were collected from the surrounding country, especially from those of the inhabitants who favored the American cause. The character and position of the place had been ascertained by a scout of mounted riflemen under Major Cyrenius Chapin, of the New York Volunteers, who was under Towson in the capture of the Caledonia at Fort Erie the preceding autumn. 24 It was an important post, and General Dearborn determined to attempt its capture.

For that purpose he detached five hundred and seventy men, including Chapin’s corps, some artillerymen, and two field-pieces, under Lieutenant Colonel Charles G. Bśrstler, of the Fourteenth Infantry. 25

They left Fort George on the evening of the 23d of June, marched up the Niagara River to Queenston, and then halted for the night. Early the next morning they proceeded toward St. David’s, four miles west of Queenston, and when near it several British officers were seen to leave houses, mount their horses, and ride off westward in haste. They fired alarm guns and sounded a bugle, by which means the several cantonments of the enemy were aroused.


The Americans moved steadily forward until they reached the "Ten Road," a little eastward of the present village of Thorold, and at an old German church 26 commenced the ascent of the "Mountain" (as the Canadians call the gentle eminences that extend from the Niagara to Hamilton and beyond), through a forest of pine and beech trees, to the more level country on the summit, where they halted for some time. On resuming their march and proceeding about a mile, they saw Indians in a cleared field (Hoover’s) and open woods running toward a more dense forest of beech-trees that skirted each side of the road, near the present toll-gate, close by the residence of the Rev. Dr. R. H. Fuller, rural dean. Chapin was immediately ordered forward with his mounted men, who were kept considerably in advance of the main body. These had passed the beech woods, and a greater portion of the others had also gone by, when a body of Mohawk and Caughnawaga Indians, four hundred and fifty in number, under Captain John Brant and Captain William John Kerr 27 (who afterward became his brother-in-law), who had been lying in ambush, fell upon Bśrstler’s rear, where about twenty light dragoons were posted. Bśrstler immediately recalled Chapin, formed his troops, charged upon the half-concealed foe, and drove them almost a mile. The Indians might have been entirely routed had Bśrstler followed up the advantage gained. He hesitated. The Indians rallied, and hung upon his flank and rear, keeping up a most galling fire at every exposed situation. The Americans pressed onward, over the Beaver Dam Creek, fighting the wily foe to immense disadvantage, and made conscious that they were almost, if not altogether surrounded by them. For about three hours this annoying contest was kept up. Bśrstler’s cannon had been posted on a rise of ground at the turn in the road near the residence of Mr. Schriner at the time of my visit, and the Indians fell slowly back before the American bayonets.

At length Bśrstler determined to retire and abandon the object of the expedition. While moving off he encountered a small body of militia, under Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Clark, in the Beech Woods. They had hastened to the field from all quarters. Bśrstler halted, and sent a courier to Dearborn for re-enforcements. Very soon afterward Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon, who was in command at De Cou’s, appeared with forty or fifty men of the British Forty-ninth. 28

He had been warned of the expedition of Bśrstler, and the danger to his post and command, by Mrs. Laura Secord, then a resident of Queenston, and now (1867) dwelling at Chippewa, who had been privately informed of the plans of General Dearborn. Resolving to reveal them to her endangered friends, she made a circuit of nineteen miles on foot, and gave the information which led to the Indian ambush and the check of Bśrstler’s march. 29 Fitzgibbon displayed his men, and, perceiving much confusion in the American ranks, conceived the plan of boldly demanding their surrender in the name of Major De Haven, the commandant of the district. Fitzgibbon himself approached with a flag. He falsely assured Bśrstler that his party was the advance of fifteen hundred British troops and seven hundred Indians, then approaching under Lieutenant Colonel Bisshopp, and that the savages were becoming so exasperated that it would be difficult to keep them from massacring the Americans. Bśrstler believed, and was alarmed. He agreed to surrender on the conditions that the officers should retain their arms, horses, and baggage, and that the militia and volunteers, with Colonel Bśrstler (who was slightly wounded), should be permitted to return to the United States on parole. 30 By the time the capitulation was agreed to in final form, De Haven, who had been sent for by Fitzgibbon, came up with two hundred men and received the submission of the captives. The number of prisoners surrendered was five hundred and forty-two, and the spoils of victory were one 12-pounder, one 6-pounder, and a stand of colors.

The surrender was scarcely completed when the articles of the capitulation were violated. The Indians immediately commenced plundering the prisoners of their arms and clothing, and the militia and volunteers, instead of being released on parole, were taken to Burlington Heights and kept there as prisoners of war. Some of them escaped through the adroit management of Major Chapin, who was soon sent, with a number of his volunteers, in two bateaux, in charge of Captain Showers and a guard, to Kingston, there to be held as prisoners. When within twelve miles of York they arose and overpowered the guard, crossed the lake in the night, and arrived safely at Fort Niagara with their jailers as prisoners. 31

When Bśrstler’s courier reached Dearborn, that commander sent Colonel Christie with three hundred men to re-enforce him. They pushed forward rapidly to Queenston, where they heard of the surrender of the Americans. Christie hastened back to camp with the sad intelligence. It caused alarm there that was speedily justified by events. The British advanced upon Queenston, and, occupying that place and vicinity, soon invested the Americans at Fort George with a formidable force. General Vincent, with a small force, held Burlington Heights, and General De Rottenburg was encamped with a strong body at Ten-mile Creek. Dearborn, whose career as chief had been singularly unsuccessful, was soon superseded by a more incompetent and less trustworthy man, General Wilkinson, 32 whose movements on the Northern frontier present a series of blunders and disasters. 33

It was in sultry August, 1860, that I visited the scenes of Bśrstler’s march and disaster, and places in the vicinity. I have already mentioned my trip from Queenston to St. Catharine’s, and so on to Hamilton, Paris, Brantford, and the Indian settlements on the Grand River in Canada. 34 It was at that time that I stopped at St. Catharine’s for the purpose of seeing the Honorable William Hamilton Merritt, the brave British cavalry officer already mentioned, and of visiting places of interest near. I arrived there on Saturday evening, and at a boarding-house where I procured lodgings I had the pleasure of meeting the family of a once valued acquaintance in Virginia, who were seeking health from the use of the powerful mineral waters that flow up copiously there from the deep recesses of the earth. 35 Little did I think that within a few months the accomplished head of that family, whom I had learned to esteem most highly, would be seduced from his allegiance to the flag of his country, under which he had served with fidelity and distinction for five-and-thirty years, and become the general-in-chief of armies in rebellion against the government of the Republic! He held the narrow view of American citizenship, engendered by the doctrine of supreme state sovereignty, expressed in the words "I go with my state," and followed the terrible fortunes of his native Virginia when her political charlatans – her selfish trading politicians – declared her secession from the Union, and brought ruin on her people.

I was unfortunate in not finding Mr. Merritt at home. As a member of the Canadian Parliament, he had gone to Quebec to receive the Prince of Wales. To his son, Mr. J. P. Merritt, I am indebted for many kind courtesies while there. He gave me free access to his father’s military papers, and kindly lent me the MS. Narrative of Events in the campaigns on the Canadian Peninsula already referred to.

Early on Monday morning [August 20, 1860.], after a night made memorable by a fearful thunder-storm, I started for the Beaver Dams, accompanied by Mr. Merritt.. On the way I sketched the ancient German church delineated on page 620; and early in the forenoon we reached the house of the Reverend Dr. Fuller by the famous Beech Woods where Bśrstler was first attacked. From the roof of his dwelling we obtained a fine view of the Beaver Dams’ battle-ground and the theatre of Bśrstler’s misfortunes, and from that elevation made the sketch seen at the top of the picture on the following page.


On the right is seen the Beech Wood, and through the centre Beaver Dams’ Creek. On the left is seen the turn of the road where Bśrstler’s cannon were planted, and a little to the right of it is the stone house of Mr. Shriner, whose orchard, adjoining it, was the place where Bśrstler surrendered to De Haven. The two-story house on the right of the picture is De Cou’s, and the cascade on the left is a view of De Cou’s Falls, in Twelve-mile Creek.

From Dr. Fuller’s we rode on through Beaver Dam village to De Cou’s, passing on the way the smoking ruins of a barn which had been fired by lightning during the night. The famous house was of stone, two stories in height, spacious, with ornamental shrubbery around it. It was in an elevated, fertile, and beautiful region. After sketching the building we passed on to the lake slopes of the hills, and, following a farm-road a little distance, came to De Cou’s Falls, where the Twelve-mile Creek pours over a ledge of rocks, semicircular in form, into a wild ravine, in a perpendicular cascade of sixty feet. The sides of the ravine are very precipitous, and covered chiefly with evergreens. With much difficulty and some danger, I made my way to its wild depths, and obtained a favorable position for a sketch of the Falls, on the crown of which, shaded by cedars and hemlocks, were the remains of an old mill. A fourth of a mile below was another fall of thirty feet, where the ravine deepens and darkens, for the whole declivity down which the stream pours toward the plain is covered with a dense forest.

We made our way along a most picturesque road among the hills to the fertile rolling plain below, and stopped at the little log cottage of Captain James Dittrick, a bachelor of seventy-five, and a veteran of the War of 1812.

He was commander of the Fourth Lincoln company, and was in the battles at Queenston, Fort George, and Niagara, or Lundy’s Lane, and was active on the frontier and over the peninsula during the whole of the war. He arrived at the Beaver Dams a few minutes after the surrender of Bśrstler, and participated in the joy of the occasion. Captain Dittrick was a bald-headed, heavy man, very pleasant and communicative – ready to "fight his battles o’er again" by his hearthstone. Our visit was made too short for our pleasure and profit by the rumbling of thunder. We rode on to St. Catharine’s, where we arrived in time to escape a drenching shower. I dined with Mr. Merritt and his father’s family, and had the pleasure of meeting at the table the widow of the eminent Jesse Hawley, who was a distinguished citizen of Western New York, to whom Governor De Witt Clinton (autograph letter now before me) gave the credit of being the chief projector of that great work of internal improvement, the Erie Canal. He published a series of able letters over the signature of "Hercules," whose wise suggestions led to the construction of that mighty work which immortalized the name of Clinton, and added millions to the wealth of New York. 36

I left St. Catharine’s toward evening for the beautiful city of Hamilton, at the head of the lake. The railway passes through a most charming country lying between the "Mountain" or ancient shore of Ontario and the lake. This mountain approaches the lake within three fourths of a mile at Hamilton, and then, turning more southward, assists in forming the deep valley in which Dundas lies nestled. I passed the night at the Royal Hotel in Hamilton, and at six o’clock the next morning started in a light wagon for Stony Creek, seven miles eastward, over a fine stone road, I was directed to Colonel Daniel Lewis for information concerning the battle and its localities. His residence was a little northward of the village, but he was absent. From Mr. Heales, residing there, I obtained all needful knowledge respecting the place of the encampment and the combat. After making the sketch on page 603, I returned to the village, made my way half a mile southward of it, and took a hasty glance at the pouring down of Stony Creek from the "Mountain" in a perpendicular fall of one hundred and thirty feet into a deep, narrow gorge. Wishing to depart from Hamilton for Paris at twelve o’clock, I did not linger long at the falls. On my way back I stopped at the house of Mr. Michael Aikman to obtain some information concerning the place of the British encampment on Burlington Heights. He too was absent, but I spent a most interesting half hour with his mother, Mrs. Hannah Aikman, a small, delicate woman, then ninety-one years of age. She was the daughter of Michael Showers, a Tory refugee from the Wyoming Valley. She and her family were in Wintermoot’s Fort, and her father was one of Butler’s Rangers. After the battle there they were compelled to fly. They went up the Susquehanna, and across the country by way of the Genesee, intending to go to Niagara by the lake in a small boat which they took with them. It was so injured that it could not be used. The father walked to Fort Niagara for relief, and for a week his family subsisted on roots which they dug from the soil. They were timely relieved by some Mississagua Indians. Her father was one of the settlers with Butler’s Rangers on the Canadian peninsula, and for almost seventy years she had lived at her then place of abode. 37 When I told her of my visit to Wintermoot’s house, and described it as she remembered it, and spoke of the Wintermoots, the Burnets, the Hallenbecks, the Dorrances, and others whom she knew, her eyes brightened, and she said it seemed as if one of her old neighbors had come to see her.

I reached Hamilton 38 just in time to take the cars for the West, and, as I have already mentioned, arrived at Brantford, on the Grand River, that evening. Of my visit to the Indian settlements in that vicinity I have elsewhere written. 39

General Boyd, being the senior officer on the Niagara frontier, became temporary commander-in-chief there after the departure of General Dearborn. He found his position an important and arduous one. The success of the British at the Beaver Dams made them bold, and they were gradually closing upon the Americans at Fort George and Newark. Frequent picket skirmishing occurred, and bold raids into the American territory were performed. One of these occurred on the night of the 4th of July [1813.]. A party composed of Canadian militia and Indians, and led by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Clark, crossed the Niagara from Chippewa to Schlosser, captured the guard there, seized a large quantity of provisions, one brass 6-pounder cannon, several stands of arms, and some ammunition. With these spoils they returned in triumph to the Canada shore.

Four days later a sad tragedy was performed near the residences of John and Peter Ball, 40 about a mile and a half from Fort George. The gallant young leader, Merritt, then just twenty years of age, was sent with a small party to recover some medicines near Ball’s which the British had concealed when they fled from Fort George in May. A body of one hundred and fifty savages, just arrived from the Western wilderness, under Captain M. Elliott, and led by the bloody Blackbird, of Chicago fame, 41 were employed as a covering party. Merritt was encamped, and while breakfasting at Ball’s a skirmish with an American picket-guard took place not far off. Lieutenant Eldridge (then adjutant), with thirty-nine volunteers, went out to the relief of the guard, and a larger force, under Major Malcolm, prepared to follow. The impetuous Eldridge dashed forward into the thick wood, and fell into an ambush prepared for him by Blackbird and his followers. The foe was repulsed at first, but overwhelming numbers crushed Eldridge and his little party. 42 Only five escaped. The prisoners and wounded were butchered and scalped by the Western savages, whose conduct on the occasion was marked by the most atrocious barbarity. 43 This was so shocking and exasperating that General Boyd resolved to adopt Washington’s plan of having "Indians fight Indians," and to accept the services of the Senecas and Tuscaroras, who had proffered them, under certain conditions which humanity would impose.

Clark’s success at Schlosser suggested another and more important expedition. It was the surprise of the American naval station and deposit for stores and munitions of war at Black Rock, near Buffalo. It was organized by the gallant Lieutenant Colonel Cecil Bisshopp, of the British Forty-first. He left his head-quarters at Lundy’s Lane on the afternoon of the 10th [July, 1813.], with detachments from the Royal Artillery, and the Eighth, Forty-first, and Forty-ninth Regiments, and at Chippewa was joined by Lieutenant Colonel Clark, with a body of Lincoln militia and volunteers, making his whole force between three and four hundred in number. They embarked at Chippewa early in the evening, and at half an hour before dawn [July 11.] landed unperceived on the American shore, a short distance below Black Rock. The block-house there, called Fort Tompkins, was in charge of less than a dozen artillerists; and the only other available military force at the station was about two hundred militia, under Major Adams, with two or three pieces of artillery. At Buffalo, two miles distant, were less than a hundred infantry and dragoon recruits from the South, on their way to Fort George, and a small body of Indians under Henry O’Bail, the young Corn-planter, who had been partially educated at Philadelphia, but who, Indian-like, could not brook the restraints of civilization, and had gone back to his blanket and feather head-dress. These forces were under the command of General Peter B. Porter, who was then residing at his house near Black Rock. 44

Bisshopp was accompanied by Colonel Warren. They surprised Major Adam’s camp, and he and his alarmed militia fled precipitately to Buffalo, leaving the artillery unharmed on the ground. General Porter narrowly escaped capture in his own house. He made an unsuccessful attempt to reach Adam’s camp when he learned of the flight of the militia and the garrison at the block-house. He followed on foot toward Buffalo, and on the way met Captain Cummings, with one hundred regulars, who, having heard of the invasion, was advancing toward Black Rock. In the mean time the enemy had fired the block-house and barracks, attacked the navy buildings and a schooner lying there, and the principal officers had gone to the house of General Porter, where they ordered breakfast. Their followers, and the re-enforcements continually coming over from the Canada shore, were employed meanwhile in plundering the inhabitants and public stores not destroyed by fire.

On meeting Captain Cummings, Porter ordered him to halt. Then, mounting the horse of one of the dragoons, he hastened to Buffalo, rallied about one half of Major Adam’s militia, and, with these and about fifty volunteer citizens, he soon rejoined Cummings. With the united force and about forty Indians, he attacked the invaders, at eight o’clock, from three different points. The Indians, who were concealed in a ravine, arose from cover, and gave the appalling war-whoop at the moment of the attack, and added much to the surprise and confusion of the British, who did not expect the return of the Americans. After a short, spirited contest, the foe were beaten, and driven in confusion toward their boats, now moored near the present ferry, where they rallied. Porter now concentrated his own forces, and fell upon Bisshopp with so much power that, after a contest of not more than twenty minutes, he fled with precipitation to his boats, leaving nine killed and sixteen or eighteen prisoners, among whom was Captain Saunders, of Bisshopp’s regiment, who was badly wounded. 45 He was carried gently by the Indians in blankets to General Porter’s house. 46 The British suffered a greater loss after they had reached their boats. 47 Among those mortally wounded was the commander of the expedition, a gallant young man, thirty years of age. He was conveyed in sadness to his head-quarters at Lundy’s Lane, where, after lingering five days, he died.


He was buried in the bosom of a green slope, in a small cemetery on the south side of Lundy’s Lane, a short distance from the great cataract of the Niagara, by his brother officers, who erected over his grave a neat monument. In the course of time it fell into decay, and thirty-three years afterward the sisters of the young soldier replaced it by another and more elegant one. Upon the recumbent slab that surmounts it is an appropriate inscription. 48

During the remainder of the summer there were frequent skirmishes in the neighborhood of Fort George, caused by attacks upon American foraging parties, but no enterprise of much importance was undertaken excepting an attempt to capture the British stores at Burlington Heights, known to be in charge of a feeble guard under Major Maule. This was attempted toward the end of July. Colonel Winfield Scott had just been promoted to the command of a double regiment (twenty companies), and had resigned the office of adjutant general. He was eager for distinction and useful service, and he volunteered to lead any land force that might be sent to the head of Ontario. Chauncey was then making gallant cruises about the lake. He had twelve vessels, and felt strong enough to cope with any force that might appear under Sir James Yeo.

The expedition to Burlington Heights was under the chief command of Chauncey. He appeared at the mouth of the Niagara River with his fleet on the 27th of July, and on the following day he sailed for the head of Ontario, with three hundred land troops under Colonel Scott. Meanwhile Colonel Harvey had taken measures for the security of the British stores at Burlington. Lieutenant Colonel Battersby was ordered from York with a part of the Glengary corps to re-enforce the guard under Major Maule. By forced marches Battersby joined Maule before Chauncey’s arrival. That officer and Scott soon perceived that their force was insufficient for the prescribed work. Convinced of this, and informed of the defenseless state of York on account of the withdrawal of Battersby’s detachment, Chauncey spread his sails, went across the lake, and entered that harbor on the 31st. Colonel Scott landed his troops without opposition, took possession of the place, burnt the barracks, public storehouses and stores, and eleven transports, destroyed five pieces of cannon, and bore away as spoils one heavy gun and a considerable quantity of provisions, chiefly of flour. The expedition returned to the Niagara on the 3d of August, carrying with them the sick and wounded of Bśrstler’s command found in York. No military movements of much importance occurred on that frontier after this until late in the year. 49

Four days after the return to the Niagara, while Chauncey’s fleet was lying at anchor in the mouth of the river, a British squadron under Sir James Yeo made its appearance. Chauncey went out to attack the baronet. They manśuvred all day, and after midnight, during a heavy squall, two of the American vessels were capsized and lost, with all on board excepting sixteen. This movement we shall consider hereafter, in giving a connected account of the naval operations on Lake Ontario during the year 1813.

We have noticed the retirement of General Dearborn from the command of the Northern Army. That measure had been decided upon by General Armstrong, the Secretary of War, full six months before it occurred. He considered the command of that army "a burden too heavy for General Dearborn to carry with advantage to the nation or credit to himself" and two remedies were suggested to the Secretary’s mind – "the one a prompt and peremptory recall, the other such an augmentation of his staff as would secure to the army better instruction, and to himself the chance of wiser councils." 50 The former remedy was chosen, and General James Wilkinson, then in command in the Gulf region, and General Wade Hampton, stationed at Norfolk, in Virginia, were ordered to the Northern frontier. These men had been active officers in the old War for Independence, the first on the staff of General Gates, and the second as a partisan ranger in South Carolina in connection with Marion. Unfortunately for the good of the public service, they were now bitter enemies, and so jealous of each other that they would not co-operate, as we shall observe, at a critical moment.

It was early in March when the Secretary’s orders were sent to Wilkinson, and with them was a private letter from the same hand, breathing the most friendly spirit, and saying, "Why should you remain in your land of cypress when patriotism and ambition equally invite you to one where grows the laurel? . . . . If our cards be well played we may renew the scenes of Saratoga." 51 Wilkinson was flattered, and as soon as he could make his arrangements he left the "land of the cypress," journeyed through the Creek country by way of Fort Mims to the capital of Georgia, and thence northward to Washington City, where he arrived, weary and worn with several hundreds of miles of travel, and weak with sickness, on the 31st of July. He was cordially received by Armstrong and the President, and, after being allowed to rest a few days, and becoming formally invested with the power of commander-in-chief of the Army of the North in place of Dearborn, a plan of the proposed operations of that army during the remainder of the campaign, which the Secretary had laid before the Cabinet on the 23d of July [1813.], was presented to him for consideration [August 5.], with an expressed desire that if he should perceive any thing objectionable in the plan he would freely suggest modifications.

At the beginning of the campaign Armstrong was anxious to secure the control of the St. Lawrence by the capture of Kingston, but circumstances, as we have seen, 52 prevented an attempt to do so. That project was now revived, and had received the approval of the Cabinet. It did not strike Wilkinson favorably, and on the 6th of August, in a written communication to the Secretary, the general freely suggested modifications, saying, "Will it not be better to strengthen our force already at Fort George, cut up the British in that quarter, destroy Indian establishments, and (should General Harrison fail in his object) march a detachment and capture Malden? After which, closing our operations on the peninsula, razing all works there, and leaving our settlements on the strait in tranquillity, descend like lightning with our whole force on Kingston, and, having reduced that place, and captured both garrison and shipping, go down the St. Lawrence and form a junction with Hampton’s column, 53 if the lateness of the season should permit." 54 The object of that junction was to make a combined attack on Montreal. The Secretary of War, always impatient when his opinions were disputed, at once conceived a dislike of his old companion in arms, whom he had invited so kindly to come North and win laurels, and from that time a widening estrangement existed. Long years afterward the Secretary wrote, "This strategic labor of the general had no tendency to increase the executive confidence in either his professional knowledge or judgment. Still the President hoped that if the opinions it contained were mildly rebuked, the general would abandon them, and, after joining the army, would hasten to execute the plan already communicated to him." 55

Armstrong replied courteously to Wilkinson. He adhered to his own plan, but allowed that the fall of Kingston and the attainment of the control of the St. Lawrence might be as effectually accomplished indirectly by a quick movement down the river against Montreal, masked by a feigned attack on the former place. But he decidedly objected to any farther movements against the enemy on the Canadian peninsula, as they would but "wound the tail of the lion;" 56 and Wilkinson departed for Sackett’s Harbor [August 11, 1813.] without any definite plan of operations determined upon, while Armstrong sent instructions to General Boyd to keep within his lines at Fort George, and simply hold the enemy at bay, notwithstanding the American force was much larger than that of the British.

On his way to Sackett’s Harbor Wilkinson sent from Albany his first orders to Hampton, as commander-in-chief of the Northern Army. This aroused the ire of the old aristocrat, whose landed possessions in South Carolina and Louisiana were almost princely, and whose slaves were numbered by thousands. His anger was intensified by his hatred of Wilkinson, and he immediately wrote to the Secretary of War [August 23.], insisting that his was a separate command, and tendering his resignation in the event of his being compelled to act under Wilkinson. Wilkinson at the same time was distrustful of Armstrong, and evidently quite as jealous of his own rights, for on the 24th of August he wrote to the Secretary of War, saying, "I trust you will not interfere with my arrangements, or give orders within the district of my command, but to myself because it would impair my authority and distract the public service, Two heads on the same shoulders make a monster." "Unhappily for the country," says Ingersoll, "that deplorable campaign was a monster with three heads, biting and barking at each other with a madness which destroyed them all and disgusted the country." 57 This calamity we shall have occasion to consider hereafter.

Wilkinson arrived at Sackett’s Harbor late in August [August 20.], and found himself nominally in command of between twelve and fourteen thousand troops, four thousand of them, under Hampton, at Burlington, composing the right wing, and the remainder equally divided between Sackett’s Harbor, the centre, and Fort George, the left wing. 58 But his real effective force did not exceed nine thousand men. It had been a sickly summer on the frontier, especially on the Canadian peninsula, and the hospitals were full. The British force opposed to him amounted to about eight thousand. Their right was on Burlington Heights, their centre at Kingston, and their left at Montreal.

Wilkinson called a council of officers on the 28th [August, 1813.]. It was attended by Generals Lewis, Brown, and Swartwout, and Commodore Chauncey. It was determined to concentrate at Sackett’s harbor all the troops of that department except those on Lake Champlain, preparatory to striking "a deadly blow somewhere." 59 Wilkinson accordingly hastened to Fort George, leaving Lewis in command at the Harbor, and arrived there on the 4th of September, extremely ill, after a fatiguing voyage the whole distance in an open boat. As soon as his strength would allow he assumed active command there, and on the 20th held a council of officers, at which Generals Boyd, Miller, and Williams, eleven colonels and lieutenant colonels, and ten majors, attended. It was resolved to abandon and destroy Fort George, and transfer the troops to the east end of Lake Ontario. But orders came from Washington to "put Fort George in a condition to resist assault; to leave there an efficient garrison of at least six hundred regular troops; to remove Captain Nathaniel Leonard, of the First Regiment of Artillery, from the command of Fort Niagara, and give it to Captain George Armistead, of the same regiment; to accept the services of a volunteer corps offered by General P. B. Porter and others, and to commit the command of Fort George and the Niagara frontier to Brigadier General Moses Porter." 60 These instructions were but partially obeyed. Leonard was left in command of Fort Niagara; no arrangements were made for the acceptance of the volunteers; and Colonel Scott, instead of General Moses Porter, was placed in command of Fort George, with a garrison of about eight hundred regular troops, and a part of Colonel Philetus Swift’s regiment of militia, instructed, in the anticipated event of the British abandoning that frontier, to leave the fort in command of Brigadier General M‘Clure, of the New York Militia, and with his regulars join the expedition on the St. Lawrence. Having completed his arrangements, Wilkinson embarked with the Niagara army on Chauncey’s fleet, and sailed eastward on the 2d of October.

Colonel Scott immediately set Captain Totten, of the Engineers, at work to strengthen the post over which, a few months before, he had unfurled the American flag for the first time. Much had been accomplished at the end of a week, when, suddenly, to the surprise of all, the British broke camp and hastened toward Burlington Heights. General Vincent had received intelligence of the defeat of Proctor on the Thames, 61 and he instantly directed the concentration of all his forces at the head of the lake, to either meet Harrison, should he push in from the field of victory, or to renew the attempt to repossess themselves of the Niagara frontier. Proctor, with the small remnant of his vanquished army, joined Vincent on the 10th. This retrograde movement of the British was the contingency which Scott longed for, because he preferred active service down the St. Lawrence to garrison duty. He accordingly placed Fort George in command of General M‘Clure, and crossed the river to the American shore with all the regulars on the 13th of October [1813.]. He marched to the mouth of the Genesee River, where he expected to find lake transportation for his troops. He was disappointed; and in drenching rain, and through deep mud, he pressed on with his little army by way of the sites of Rochester 62 and Syracuse 63 to Utica, 64 where he struck the road that from there penetrated the Black River country. 65 There he met General Armstrong, who had left his post at Washington for the double purpose of reconciling the differences between Wilkinson and Hampton, and to superintend in person the movements of the St. Lawrence expedition. The Secretary permitted Scott to leave his troops in command of Major Hindman, and to push forward to Ogdensburg, where he joined Wilkinson, and took part in subsequent events of the expedition.

When Scott left Fort George [October 13, 1813.] it was believed that the British troops had been called from the west end of Lake Ontario to re-enforce the garrison at Kingston. Such order had been sent to Vincent by the timid Sir George Prevost when he heard of Proctor’s disaster. On the receipt of it Vincent called a council of officers, when it was resolved to disobey it, and not only hold the peninsula, but endeavor to repossess every British post on the Niagara frontier. Meanwhile M‘Clure was sending out foraging parties, who greatly alarmed and distressed the inhabitants. They appealed for protection to General Vincent, and he sent a detachment of about four hundred British troops under Colonel Murray, and about one hundred Indians under Captain M. Elliott, to drive the foragers back. The work was accomplished, and the Americans were very soon hemmed within their own lines by the foe, who took position at Twelve-mile Creek, now St. Catharine’s.

While affairs were in this condition at Fort George General Harrison arrived there, as we have seen, 66 with the expectation of leading an expedition against Burlington Heights. But he was speedily ordered to embark, with all his troops, on Chauncey’s squadron for Sackett’s Harbor. M‘Clure was again alone [November 10.] with his volunteers and militia. The time of service of the latter was about to expire, and none could be induced to remain. 67 Gloomy intelligence came from the St. Lawrence – Wilkinson’s expedition had failed. Startling intelligence came from the westward – Lieutenant General Drummond, accompanied by Major General Riall, had lately arrived on the Peninsula, with re-enforcements from Kingston, and assumed chief command; and Murray, with his regulars and Indians, was moving toward Fort George. Its garrison was reduced to sixty effective regulars of the Twenty-fourth United States Infantry. These were in great peril, and M‘Clure determined to abandon the post, and place his little garrison in Fort Niagara. The weather was extremely cold. Temperature had been faithful to the calendar, and winter had commenced in earnest on the 1st of December. Deep snow was upon the ground, and biting north winds came over the lake. "Shall I leave the foe comfortable quarters, and thus increase the danger to Fort Niagara?" he asked of the Spirit and Usage of War. They answered No, and with this decision, and under the sanction of an order from the itinerant War Department, 68 he attempted to blow up the fort while his men were crossing [December 10.] the icy flood. 69 Then he applied the brand to the beautiful village of Newark. One hundred and fifty houses were speedily laid in ashes. 70 The inhabitants had been given only a few hours’ warning; and, with little food and clothing, a large number of helpless women and children were driven from their homes into the wintry air houseless wanderers. 71 Oh! it was a cruel act. War is always cruel, but this was more cruel than necessity demanded. It excited hot indignation and the spirit of vengeance, which soon caused the hand of retaliation to work fearfully. It provoked the commission of great injury to American property, and left a stain upon the American character.

Murray was at Twelve-mile Creek when he heard of the conflagration of Newark. He pressed on eagerly, hoping to surprise the garrison. He was a little too late, yet his swift approach had caused M‘Clure to fly so precipitately that he failed to blow up the fort or destroy the barracks on the bank of the river; and he left behind tents sufficient to shelter fifteen hundred men. These, with several cannon, a large quantity of shot, and ten soldiers, fell into the hands of the British. That night the red cross of St. George floated over the fortress, and Murray’s troops slumbered within its walls.

"Let us retaliate by fire and sword," said Murray to Drummond, as they gazed, with eyes flashing with indignation, upon the ruins of Newark. "Do so," said the commander, "swiftly and thoroughly;" and on the night of the 18th of December – a cold, black night – Murray crossed the river at Five-mile Meadows, three miles above Fort Niagara, with about a thousand men, British and Indians. With five hundred and fifty regulars he pressed on toward the fort, carrying axes, scaling-ladders, and other implements for assault, and shielded from observation by the thick cover of darkness. They captured the advanced pickets, secured silence, and, while the garrison were soundly sleeping, hovered around the fort in proper order for a systematic and simultaneous attack at different points. Five companies of the One Hundredth Regiment, under Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton, were to assail the main gate and escalade the adjacent works; three companies of the same regiment, under Captain Martin, were to storm the eastern demi-bastion; the Royal Scots Grenadiers, Captain Bailey, were to assault the salient angle of the fortification; and the flank companies of the Forty-first Regiment were ordered to support the principal attack. 72

These preparations were unnecessary. Gross negligence or positive treachery had exposed the fort to easy capture. M‘Clure had established his head-quarters at Buffalo, and when he left Niagara on the 12th [December, 1813.], he charged Captain Leonard, commander of the garrison, to be vigilant and active, for invasion might be expected. This vigilance and activity the invaders had prepared for; but when, at about three o’clock in the morning, Hamilton went forward to assail the main gate, he found it standing wide open and unguarded! Leonard had left the fort the evening before at eleven o’clock, and spent the night with his family at his house three miles in the rear. He gave no hint to the garrison of expected assault, and his departure was without their knowledge. 73 They were between three and four hundred strong in fairly effective men, and, with a competent and faithful commander, might have kept the invaders at bay. They had neither, and when the foe came there was no one to lead. The sentinels were seized, and in fear gave up the countersign to the foe, and the fort was entered without much resistance. The occupants of the southeastern block-house, and the invalids of the Red Barracks, made such determined opposition for a few minutes that Lieutenant Nowlan and five men were killed, and Colonel Murray, three men, and a surgeon were wounded. This conflict was over before the remainder of the garrison were fairly awake to the cause of the tumult, and the fort was in possession of the foe. It might have been an almost bloodless victory had not the unhallowed spirit of revenge for the outrage at Newark demanded victims. Murray did not restrain that spirit, and a large number of the garrison, many of them invalids, were bayoneted after all resistance had ceased! 74 This horrid work was performed on Sunday morning, the 19th of December, 1813.


When Murray had gained full possession of the fort, he fired one of its largest cannon as a signal of success for the ear of General Riall, who, with a detachment of British regulars and about five hundred Indians, was waiting for it at Queenston. Riall immediately put his forces in motion, and at dawn crossed the Niagara to Lewiston, and took possession of the village without much opposition from Major Bennett and a detachment of militia who were stationed on Lewiston Heights at Fort Grey. At the same time a part of Murray’s corps plundered and destroyed the little village of Youngstown (only six or eight houses), near Fort Niagara.

Full license was given by Riall to his Indian allies, and Lewiston was sacked, plundered, and destroyed – made a perfect desolation. 75 This accomplished, the invaders pushed on toward the little hamlet of Manchester (now Niagara Falls Village); but, when ascending Lewiston Heights, they were met and temporarily checked and driven back by the gallant Major Mallory, who, with forty Canadian volunteers, came down from Schlosser and fought the foe for two days as they pushed him steadily back toward Buffalo. 76 He could do but little to stay the march of the desolator. The whole Niagara frontier on the American side, from Fort Niagara to Tonewanta Creek, a distance of thirty-six miles, and far into the interior, was swept with the besom of destruction placed by British authority in the hands of savage pagans. 77 Manchester, Schlosser, and Tuscarora Village shared the fate of Youngstown and Lewiston. 78 Free course was given to the blood-thirsty Indians, and many innocent persons were butchered, and survivors were made to fly in terror through the deep snow to some forest shelter or remote cabin of a settler far beyond the invaders’ track. Buffalo, too, would have been plundered and destroyed had not the progress of the foe been checked by the timely destruction of the bridge over the Tonewanta Creek.

But the respite for doomed Buffalo was short. Riall and his followers returned to Lewiston, crossed over to Queenston, and on the morning of the 28th appeared at Chippewa, under the command of Lieutenant General Drummond. In the mean time the alarm had spread over Western New York, and the inhabitants were thoroughly aroused. General M‘Clure had sent out a stirring address [December 18, 1813.] to the "inhabitants of Niagara, Genesee, and Chautauqua," urging them to repair immediately to Lewiston, Schlosser, and Buffalo. 79

General Amos Hall, with his usual alacrity, called out the militia and invited volunteers. His head-quarters were at Batavia, where the government had an arsenal, thirty or forty miles eastward from Buffalo, and there General M‘Clure resigned his command, and took orders from Hall. As fast as men were collected they were sent to Black Rock and Buffalo, and thitherward Hall hastened on the morning of the 25th. He reached Buffalo twenty-four hours after his departure from Batavia, and there found "a considerable body of irregular troops of various descriptions, disorganized and confused. Every thing wore the appearance of consternation and dismay." 80 He ordered their immediate organization; and when, on the 27th, he reviewed the troops, he found their number to be a little more than two thousand at Buffalo and Black Rock. 81

General Drummond advanced to a point nearly opposite Black Rock on the 29th, and reconnoitred the American camp. At midnight General Riall crossed with regulars, Canadians, and Indians, about a thousand strong, and landed where Bisshopp did, about two miles below Black Rock. Moving immediately forward, they encountered mounted pickets under Lieutenant Boughton, who, after a brief skirmish with the British vanguard, fled across Shogeoquady Creek. 82 The enemy took possession of the "Sailors’ Battery" there and the bridge, and then paused, while Boughton hastened with news of the fact to General Hall’s quarters, between Buffalo and Black Rock. The night was very dark. The troops at head-quarters were paraded, and Lieutenant Colonels Warren and Churchill (General Hopkins was absent from camp) were ordered to go forward with their corps and feel the position and strength of the enemy. They met the foe, and at the first fire they broke and fled, and were no more seen during the following day. Hall then ordered Adams and Chapin, with their commands, to the same duty, and the same result ensued; and at the dawn of the 30th he found himself in command of eight hundred troops less than at the evening twilight of the 29th. They had actually deserted.

Hall now advanced with his whole force, and ordered Lieutenant Colonel Blakeslee to move forward and commence the attack on the enemy’s left. They marched toward Black Rock on the Hill Road, and in the dim light of early dawn saw a flotilla of British boats making for the shore near General Porter’s mansion. These bore the Royal Scots, eight hundred in number, who landed under cover of a five-gun battery on the American shore, in the face of severe opposition. Their plan of attack was soon revealed to the American general, and he made his dispositions accordingly. Colonel Gordon, of the centre, with about four hundred Scots, commenced the attack, while the British left wing attempted to flank the American right. Hall quickly foiled this design by throwing Granger and his Indians, and Mallory and his Canadian Refugees, in the way of the enemy’s advancing left wing. At the same time Blakeslee and his Ontario militia confronted the centre, and M‘Mahon and his Chautauqua troops were posted as a reserve at the battery of Fort Tompkins, 83 which was commanded by the gallant Lieutenant John Seely.

The batteries on the Canada shore and the cannon of the Americans opened fire simultaneously and vigorously, while Blakeslee’s men, cool as veterans, disputed the ground with the foe inch by inch. But the Indians and Canadians, lacking moral strength, gave way almost before a struggle was begun, and M‘Mahon and his reserves were ordered to the breach. They, too, gave way and fled, and could not be rallied by their officers. Hall’s power was thus completely broken, and he was placed in great peril. Deserted by a large portion of his troops, opposed by veterans, vastly outnumbered, and almost surrounded, he was compelled, for the safety of the remnant of his little army, to sound a retreat, after he had maintained the unequal conflict for half an hour. He tried to rally his troops, but in vain. The gallant Chapin, with a few of the bolder men, retired slowly along the present Niagara Street toward Buffalo, keeping the enemy partially in check, 84 while Hall, with the remainder, who were alarmed and scattered, retired to Eleven-mile Creek, where he rallied about three hundred men, who remained true to the old flag. With these he was enabled to cover the flight of the inhabitants, and to check the advance of the invaders into the interior.

The British and their Indian allies took possession of Buffalo, 85 and proceeded to plunder, destroy, and slaughter. Only four buildings were left standing in the town. These were the jail (built of stone), the frame of a barn, Reese’s blacksmith-shop, and the dwelling of Mrs. St. John, a resolute woman, who, more fortunate than her neighbor, Mrs. Lovejoy (who was murdered and burnt in her own house), saved her own life and her property. 86 At Black Rock only a single building escaped conflagration. It was a log house, in which women and children had taken refuge. The Ariel, Little Belt, Chippewa, and Trippe, vessels that performed service in the battle on Lake Erie a little more than a hundred days before, were committed to the flames. Fearful was the retaliation for the destruction of half-inhabited Newark, where not a life was sacrificed! Six villages, many isolated country houses, and four vessels were consumed; and the butchery of innocent persons at Fort Niagara, Lewiston, Schlosser, Tuscarora Village, Black Rock, and Buffalo, and in farm-houses, attested the fierceness of the enemy’s revenge. 87



1 After the death of the gallant leader in the attack on York, this vessel was named General Pike.

2 See page 591.

3 This consisted of a strong block-house and surrounding intrenchments, and occupied the place of the battery on which the iron thirty-two-pounder that drove off the British in 1812 was mounted. See page 368. The single cannon with which it was armed at the time we are now considering was the same iron thirty-two-pounder. The fort was named Tompkins in honor of Daniel D. Tompkins, then governor of the State of New York. The bluff on which it stood overlooks Navy Point, within which is the Harbor, where the ship-yard was. The place was named in honor of Augustus Sackett, the first settler. Its Indian name was a long one, and signified "fort at the mouth of Great River."

4 Jacob Brown was born of Quaker parents, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on the 9th of May, 1775. He was well educated early. When he was sixteen years of age his father lost his property, and the right-minded youth resolved to earn his own livelihood. He taught school in the Quaker settlement of Crosswicks, in New Jersey, from his eighteenth to his twenty-first birthday. For a while he was a surveyor in the vicinity of Cincinnati, and in 1798 was a schoolteacher in the city of New York. He commenced the study of law, but it was distasteful to him, and he abandoned it. He then purchased some land on the Black River, in Jefferson County, and adopted the pursuit of a farmer. In 1809 he was appointed colonel of a regiment of militia in that section, and on his estate a settlement was formed and named Brownsville. In 1811 the Governor of New York commissioned him a brigadier general of militia, and, as we have seen (see page 366), he was intrusted with important command. From that time until the close of the war General Brown’s public career formed an important part of the history of the times, and the record may be found in these pages. He was retained in the army at the close of the war, and was appointed to the command of the Northern Division. He became a general-in-chief of the armies of the United States in 1821, and held that office until his death, at his head-quarters in the City of Washington, on the 24th of February, 1828, at the age of fifty-three years. His widow, yet (1867) living, resided, until recently, in the fine mansion erected at Brownsville by the general in 1814.


General Brown’s remains were interred with imposing ceremonies in the Congressional Burial-ground, and over them stands a beautiful white marble monument, composed of a truncated fluted column and tableted base, on which are the following inscriptions:

East Side. – "Sacred to the memory of Major General JACOB BROWN, by Birth, by Education, by Principle, devoted to Peace. In defense of his country, and in vindication of her rights, a Warrior. To her he dedicated his life – wounds received in her cause abridged his days."

South Side. – "He was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on the 9th of May, 1775, and died at the City of Washington, commanding general of the army, on the 24th of February, 1828.

"Let him whoe’er in after days
Shall view this monument of praise,
For Honor heave the Patriot sigh,
And for his country learn to die."

West Side. – "In both by the thanks of the Nation and a golden medal from the hands of their chief magistrate – and by this marble erected to honor him, at the command of the Congress of the United States."

North Side. – "In War his services are attested by the fields of Chippewa, Niagara, Erie; in Peace by the improved organization and discipline of the army."

The monument stands very near that of General Macomb, his successor in the chief command of the armies of the United States.

5 This is a view of the light-house as it appeared when I visited the island in 1855. It stands upon the spot where the enemy landed, and the keeper at the time of my visit was Captain Samuel M‘Nitt, of whom I shall hereafter speak. The island contains about twenty-seven acres.

6 It is said that one of the militia commanders, who had talked very valiantly and hopefully, became much discouraged as soon as he saw the enemy’s boats approaching the shore. As they came forward in a swarm he became less and less hopeful, until at length he told his men that he doubted the ability of the American force to cope with the enemy. "I fear we shall be compelled to retreat," he said. After a pause he continued, "I know we shall, and as I am a little lame I’ll start now," and away he went upon the road leading to Adams, as fast as his legs could carry him, just as Mulcaster’s guns opened their fire. He was among the "missing" at the close of the battle.

7 Samuel M‘Nitt was a Scotchman, and a brave and active man. He was for some time a member of Forsyth’s corps, and, as such, saw much active service at the beginning of the war. He commanded a militia company at the time we are now considering. He was in Wilkinson’s expedition that went down the St. Lawrence in the autumn of 1813, and was in command of a company of regulars in the battle at Chrysler’s Field. He died on the 9th of September, 1861, at Depauville, in Jefferson County, at the age of about ninety years.

8 Electus Backus was a native of New York. He was commissioned major of the First Light Dragoons in October, 1808, and in February following was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He died eight days after the battle (June 7, 1813), and was buried at Sackett’s Harbor with military honors.

9 Captain Grey was a son of General Grey, the commander of the corps in the massacre of a part of Wayne’s detachment at Paoli, in Pennsylvania, in September, 1777.

10 Oral statement of E. Camp, Esq., of Sackett’s Harbor.

11 The British lost 50 killed and 211 wounded. The Americans lost 47 killed, 84 wounded, and 36 missing. Most of the latter were the cowardly militia, who were ashamed to show their faces again.

12 James’s Military Occurrences, i., 173.

13 The conduct of Sir George Prevost in this and other occurrences where he became military commander was severely criticised. Wilkinson, in his Memoirs, i., 585, declares that Sir James Yeo was averse to the retreat. He says he was informed that Major Drummond (afterward Lieutenant Colonel Drummond, killed at Fort Erie), when Sir George gave the order to retreat, stepped up to him and said, "Allow me a few minutes, sir, and I will put you in possession of the place." To this the haughty baronet replied, "Obey your orders, sir, and learn the first duty of a soldier." The contempt for Sir George on the part of the army, which his conduct on this occasion engendered, was much intensified by his inglorious retreat from Plattsburg the following year.

14 The authorities consulted in the preparation of this narrative are the official reports of the respective commanders; the several American histories of the war; Auchinleck, Christie, and James on the British side; Wilkinson’s Memoirs; Cooper’s Naval History of the United States; manuscript statement found among General Brown’s papers, and narratives of survivors.

15 In a letter to the author in October, 1863, the late venerable Robert Carr, who was a lieutenant colonel on the Northern frontier, gave the following account of a sort of "Greek fire" that was exhibited at Sackett’s Harbor at about the time of the events recorded in the text. "At Sackett’s Harbor," says Colonel Carr, "in September, 1813, a person from New England called on General Brown to exhibit some preparation which he called liquid fire, or some such name. General Covington called at my tent and invited me to go with him to witness the trial to be made that morning; but as I was a member of a court-martial then sitting, I could not go with him. On his return he informed me that the affair was most astonishing. The liquid resembled ink, and he had it in two small porter-bottles, one of which he threw against a small hemlock-tree, which was instantly in a blaze from top to bottom. The other bottle he also broke against another tree with a similar result. He asserted that water would not extinguish it. General Covington remarked that it might be called ‘hellfire.’ "

16 This view is from a print from a drawing by Birch, published in the Port Folio in 1815. On the left is seen Pike’s cantonment, where were barracks erected by Major Darby Noon. See page 292. On the rocky bluff at the right is seen Fort Tompkins. Near Pike’s cantonment is seen a block-house, on the site of Fort Volunteer, and immediately back of it, a circular building with battlemented top represents Fort Chauncey. The little figures near the small boat, toward the centre of the picture, are on Navy Point, where the ship-house now stands.

17 Joseph Bouchette, one of the most eminent writers on the statistics of the Canadas, gave the following description of the place at the close of 1814: "A low point of land runs out from the northwest, upon which is the dock-yard, with large store-houses and all the requisite buildings belonging to such an establishment. Upon this point is a very powerful work, called Fort Tompkins, having within it a strong block-house two stories high; on the land side it is covered by a strong picketing, in which there are embrasures; twenty guns are mounted, besides two or three mortars, with a furnace for heating shot. At the bottom of the harbor is the village, that contains from sixty to seventy houses, and to the southward of it a barrack capable of accommodating two thousand men, and generally used for the marines belonging to the fleet. On a point eastward of the harbor stands Fort Pike, a regular work surrounded by a ditch, in advance of which there is a strong line of picketing. In the centre of the principal work there is a block-house two stories high. This fort is armed with twenty guns. About one hundred yards from the village, and a little to the westward of Fort Tompkins, is Smith’s cantonment or barrack, strongly built of logs, forming a square, with a block-house at each corner. It is loop-holed on every side, and capable of making a powerful resistance. Twenty-five hundred men have been accommodated in it. A little farther westward another fort presents itself [Fort Kentucky], built of earth and strongly palisaded, having in the centre of it a block-house one story high. It mounts twenty-eight guns. Midway between these two works [a little farther inland] is a powder magazine, inclosed within a very strong {original text has "stong".} picketing.

"By the side of the road that leads to Henderson Harbor stands Fort Virginia, a square work with bastions at the angles, covered with a strong line of palisades, but no ditch. It is armed with sixteen guns, and has a block-house in the middle of it. [See sketch on p. 617.] Fort Chauncey is a small circular tower, covered with plank, and loop-holed for the use of musketry, intended for a small-arm defense only. It is situated a small distance from the village, and commands the road that leads to Sandy Creek. In addition to these works of strength, there are several block-houses in different situations, that altogether render the place very secure, and capable of resisting a powerful attack; indeed, from recent events, the Americans have attached much importance to it, and, with their accustomed celerity, have spared no exertions to render it formidable." – Bouchette’s Canada, page 620. To this account may be added the statement that, after the battle in May, 1813, a breastwork of logs was thrown up around the village from Horse Island to the site of Madison Barracks.

The above map, showing a plan of Sackett’s Harbor and its defenses in 1814, as described by Bouchette, is from a manuscript drawing by Patrick May, a soldier who was stationed there for two years. The topography may not be precisely correct, but it gives a general idea of the pains taken, and the method adopted for making the post as secure from capture as possible. It shows the localities of the fortifications, and of the vessels in the harbor in the autumn of 1814.

18 Josiah Tattnall was born at Bonaventure, four miles from Savannah, Georgia, in November, 1796. He is a grandson of Governor Tattnall. He entered the navy as a midshipman in 1812, and was commissioned a lieutenant in 1818. He was promoted to commander in February, 1838, and to captain in February, 1850. He first served in the frigate Constellation, and was in the affair at Craney Island in June, 1813. He was in the Algerine war under Decatur, was with Perry on the coast of Africa, and with Porter in his expedition against the pirates in the Gulf of Mexico. He was in command of the Spitfire in the bombardment of Vera Cruz in the war with Mexico, and in the attacks on Tuspan, Tampico, and Alvarado. He was in command of the East India squadron during the trouble with the Chinese in the summer of 1858, and in the spring of 1860 brought the Japanese embassadors to this country. He resigned his commission in 1861, and accepted one from the "government" of the so-called "Confederate States of America." He was in command of the vessels of the rebels at Norfolk when the Merrimack was destroyed, and in 1863 was in command of the "musquito fleet" at Savannah, Georgia. His services were soon afterward dispensed with, and he sunk into obscurity.

19 See page 368.

20 Henry Eckford was born in Scotland on the 12th of March, 1775, and at the age of sixteen became an apprentice to his uncle, John Black, an eminent naval constructor at Quebec. In 1796 he commenced the business of ship-building in the city of New York, and soon rose to the head of his profession, and New York-built ships were most sought after. Eckford had become thoroughly identified with the interests and destiny of his adopted country when the war commenced in 1812, and he made large contracts with the government for vessels on the Lakes. His achievements were wonderful, considering the theatre on which they were performed. At the close of the war, his accounts with the government, involving several millions of dollars, were promptly and honorably settled. Soon after that he constructed the Robert Fulton, a steam-ship of a thousand tons, to run between New York and New Orleans. He became naval constructor at the Brooklyn dock-yard of the government. His genius was too much hampered by government interference, and he soon left the position and engaged extensively in his profession. Orders came to him from foreign governments to construct war vessels. At the request of General Jackson he furnished a plan for a new organization of the navy. He had now amassed an ample fortune, and had set aside $20,000 for the endowment of a professorship of Naval Architecture in Columbia College, when an unfortunate connection with an insurance company reduced him almost to penury. In 1831 Mr. Eckford built a sloop of war for the Sultan of Turkey, and he sailed in her to Constantinople. The sultan made him chief naval constructor of the empire. He died suddenly at Constantinople on the 12th of November, 1832, in the fifty-seventh year of his age.

21 The following were the inscriptions on the monument:

West Panel. – "In memory of Brigadier General Z. M. Pike, killed at York, U. C., 27th April, 1813. Captain Joseph Nicholson, 14th Infantry, aid-de-camp to General Pike, killed at York, U. C., 27th April, 1813."

North Panel. – "In memory of Brigadier General L. Covington, killed at Chrysler’s Field, U. C., Nov. 11, 1813. Lieutenant Colonel E. Backus, 1st Dragoons, killed at Sackett’s Harbor, 29th May, 1813."

East Panel. – "In memory of Colonel Tuttle, Lieutenant Colonel Dix, Major Johnson, Lieutenant Vandeventer."

South Panel. – "In memory of Lieutenant Colonel John Mills, Volunteer, killed at Sackett’s Harbor, 29th May, 1813. Captain A. Spencer, 29th Infantry, killed at Lundy’s Lane, 25th July, 1814."

General Pike was first buried near Fort Tompkins, not far from the ship-house. The remains of all were deposited in the cemetery of the barracks in 1819, when the monument was erected. Those of Colonel Mills were taken to Albany immediately after the battle.

22 A minute account of this affair, with a portrait of Mr. Fairbanks, may be found in Hough’s History of Jefferson County, page 263.

23 George N. Hollins was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on the 20th of September, 1799. He entered the navy as midshipman in February, 1814, on the sloop-of-war Baltimore, Captain Ridgely. He was a volunteer, under Barney, in the battle of Bladensburg. He was also an aid of Commodore Rodgers during the attack on Baltimore, and carried messages to Fort M‘Henry. He was in the battle between the President and Endymion, off Sandy Hook, in January, 1815, when he was taken prisoner and carried to Bermuda. He is supposed to be the last survivor of the men of the President. He was with Decatur in the Mediterranean. His exploit in the attack on Greytown, Nicaragua, is fresh in memory, and not productive of pleasant reflections on the part of American citizens. Hollins seems not to have been highly prized by the leaders in the Rebellion, and is almost unknown to honorable fame among them.

24 See page 386. He was very efficient as lieutenant colonel commanding in skirmishes near Fort George in October following. He died in Buffalo in February, 1858.

25 Charles G. Bśrstler was a native of Maryland, and was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the Fourteenth Infantry in March, 1812. He was active, as we have seen (page 428), in affairs at Black Rock toward the close of that year. Three days before his unfortunate expedition to the Beaver Dams he was promoted to colonel of the Fourteenth. At the close of the war he was disbanded.

26 This is a view of the oldest building erected for the worship of God in that section of Canada remaining at the time of my visit. It was a little more than half a mile from the village of Thorold. The German refugees from the Mohawk valley at the close of the Revolution built it. It was formed of logs, and was about twenty-five feet square. It stood in the midst of a burial-ground.

27 Captain Kerr was a grandson of Sir William Johnson, by Molly Brant, sister of the great Mohawk chief, and was one quarter Mohawk. He married Elizabeth, the beautiful and accomplished youngest child of Brant.

28 A blacksmith in Smoky Hollow, two miles north from St. Catharine’s, named Yocum, piloted Fitzgibbon from De Cou’s to the Beaver Dams.

29 Mrs. Secord was then, as now, a woman of light and delicate frame, and her patriotic journey was performed on a very hot summer’s day. She is now (1867) living at the Canadian village of Chippewa, on the Niagara River, at the age of ninety-two years, her mental faculties in full play, and her eyesight sufficiently retained to see to read without spectacles. She is the widow of James Secord, Esq., who commanded a company of militia in the battle at Queenston in 1812, and was severely wounded there. In a letter to me, written on the 18th of February, 1861, Mrs. Secord has given the following interesting account of her exploit here mentioned:


"After going to St. David’s, and the recovery of Mr. Secord, we returned again to Queenston, where my courage again was much tried. It was then I gained the secret plan laid to capture Captain Fitzgibbon and his party. I was determined, if possible, to save them. I had much difficulty {original text has "difficutly".} in getting through the American guards. They were ten miles out in the country. When I came to a field belonging to a Mr. De Cou, in the neighborhood of the Beaver Dams, I then had walked nineteen miles. By that time daylight had left me. I yet had a swift stream of water to cross over an old fallen tree (Twelve-mile Creek), and to climb a high hill, which fatigued me very much.

"Before I arrived at the encampment of the Indians, as I approached they all arose with one of their war-yells, which indeed awed me. You may imagine what my feelings were to behold so many savages. With forced courage I went to one of the chiefs, told him I had great news for his commander, and that he must take me to him, or they would be all lost. He did not understand me, but said, ‘Woman! what does woman want here?’ The scene by moonlight to some might have been grand, but to a weak woman certainly terrifying. With difficulty I got one of the chiefs to go with me to their commander. With the intelligence I gave him he formed his plans and saved his country. I have ever found the brave and noble Colonel Fitzgibbon a friend to me; may he prosper in the world to come as he has done in this.


"Chippewa, U. C., February 18, 1861."


Lieutenant Fitzgibbon was promoted to the rank of captain in the British army, and is now (1867) a Poor Knight of Windsor Castle. He gave Mrs. Secord a certificate setting forth the facts above recorded. It is signed "James Fitzgibbon, formerly lieutenant in the Forty-ninth Regiment." That certificate is printed in the Anglo-American Magazine, and on page 175 of Auchinleck’s History of the War of 1812, published in Toronto in 1855.

When the Prince of Wales was making a tour in Canada in 1860, the veteran soldiers of 1812 on the Niagara frontier went to Niagara to sign an address to his royal highness. Mrs. Secord applied for permission to place her name on the list. "Wherefore?" was the natural question. She told her story, and it was agreed that she was one of the most eminently deserving of honor among the patriots of that war. The story was repeated to the prince on his arrival at Queenston, and it made such an impression on his memory and kind heart, especially when it was said that the brave and patriotic woman was not "rich in this world’s goods," that, soon after his return home, he caused the sum of one hundred pounds sterling to be presented to her. The likeness above given is from a daguerreotype kindly sent to me from Mrs. Secord by the hand of Mr. J. P. Merritt, of St. Catharine’s.

30 This capitulation, in four brief articles, the substance of which is given in the text, was signed on the part of Colonel Bśrstler by Captain Andrew M‘Dowell, and on that of Lieutenant Colonel Bisshopp by Major P. V. De Haven. Captain Merritt, in his MS. Narrative, says that Captain Norton, of the Indian force, humorously declared that the Caughnawagas fought the battle, the Mohawks got the plunder, and Fitzgibbon got the credit. "The greater part of the Caughnawagas," says Merritt, "were displeased, and returned home in a few days afterward, which at this time was a very great loss."

31 Major Chapin, in his Review of Armstrong’s Notices of the War of 1812, page 16, says that he was placed in one boat with a principal part of the guard, and Captain Sackrider and a greater portion of the prisoners in the other boat. Orders had been given for the boats to keep some rods apart, one ahead of the other. After they had passed out of Burlington Bay upon the open lake, Chapin made a signal to Sackrider in the hinder boat, which the Americans were rowing, to come up closer. He gave the word in whispers to the men, and while the major was amusing the British captain with a story, the hinder boat came up under the stern of the forward one. It was ordered back, when Chapin, with loud voice, ordered his men not to fall back an inch. Captain Showers attempted to draw his sword, and some of his men thrust at Chapin with bayonets. The latter prostrated the captain with a blow. He fell in the bottom of the boat, and two of his men who were thrusting at Chapin fell upon him. The latter immediately stepped upon them. The guard in both boats were speedily overcome and secured. "I succeeded to the command of our fleet of two bateaux," says Chapin, "with no little alacrity. We shifted our course, crossed Lake Ontario, and with the boats and prisoners arrived the next morning safe at Fort Niagara."

32 Congress was in session when this "climax of continual tidings of mismanagement and misfortune" reached Washington. The late Charles J. Ingersoll, one of the historians of the war, was then a member of the House of Representatives. The intelligence produced great irritation. "On the 6th of July, 1813, therefore," says Ingersoll, "after a short accidental communion of regret and impatience in the lobby of the House of Representatives with the Speaker and General Ringgold, of Maryland, I was deputed a volunteer to wait on the President, and request General Dearborn’s removal from a command which, so far, had been so unfortunate." The recall of General Dearborn immediately followed this request, and on the 15th of July that officer, who had performed noble service in the Continental army, took leave of that on the Niagara frontier, at Fort George, pursuant to an order from the Secretary of War that he should "retire from command until his health should be re-established." "The Northern army," says Ingersoll, "relieved of a veteran leader whose age and health disqualified him for active and enterprising services, in his successor, General Wilkinson, did not get a younger, healthier, or more competent commander." – Historical Sketch of the Second War, etc., i., 288.

33 The authorities consulted in the preparation of the foregoing narrative are the official dispatches; statements of officers; the Histories of Thompson, Perkins, Conner, Brackenridge, Ingersoll, James, Christie, Auchinleck; Stone’s Life of Brant; Chapin’s Review of Armstrong; Merritt’s MS. narrative; personal narratives of survivors, etc.

34 See page 420.

35 The city of St. Catharine’s, on the Twelve-mile Creek, the Welland Canal, and the Great Western Railway, was known as "Chipman’s" during the war. It is between twelve and thirteen miles west from the Niagara River. It is a port of entry (Port Dalhousie is at the mouth of the creek), is beautifully situated, and threatens to rival Hamilton. Its mineral springs are very noted for their healing properties, and St. Catherine’s has become a place of great resort for invalids and fashionable people. It is a very desirable place for those who love a quiet watering-place for a few weeks in summer. The population is about seven thousand.

36 It is proper to say here that the project of a canal to connect the waters of Lake Erie with those of the Hudson River was contemplated by General Philip Schuyler, Elkanah Watson, and Christopher Colles, many years before Mr. Hawley wrote his convincing letters.

37 I have before mentioned in this work that, after the Revolution, Butler’s Rangers and other refugees from the United States settled on the Canadian peninsula. Each one of Butler’s Rangers, almost five hundred in number, was presented with a thousand acres of land in this then wilderness, and that district, of which there were four in the province, was called Nassau. Governor Haldimand, a German, named the four districts respectively, beginning at the Detroit, Hesse, Nassau, Mecklenburg, and Lunenburg. Haldimand was a great friend of the Canadians; but Simcoe, desirous of making the province as English as possible, and denoting native nationality, gave British names to almost every place. In this spirit he changed the name of Toronto to York, in honor of a victory by the Duke of York on the Continent.

38 Hamilton was laid out in 1813, and is situated on the southwestern extremity of Burlington Bay. It is the chief city of West Canada, having a population of about 24,000. Burlington Heights are composed of an immense deposit of gravel, sand, and loam. The village of Burlington was the germ of the city of Hamilton, and stood on its site. The Great Western Railway passes along the shore of the bay, at the foot of the heights, and crosses the Des Jardins Canal, which is cut directly through the great hill north of the cemetery and the residence of the late Sir Allan M‘Nab. The present railway bridge over the canal is of iron, and seventy feet above the water. The first one was of wood. It gave way, with a train of cars upon it, in March, 1857, when fifty-six persons were killed. In the cemetery may be seen the remains of General Vincent’s fortified camp. They form a ridge across the grounds (which comprise about twenty-seven acres), running east and west. The palatial residence of the late Sir Allan M‘Nab is called Dundurn Castle. It is built of limestone, fronts southeast, overlooking the bay and Hamilton, and is surrounded by about forty acres of land.

39 See pages from 420 to 425, inclusive.

40 The Ball family still occupied this dwelling, I was informed, when I visited Niagara in 1860. They have, as a cherished relic, the military chapeau worn by the gallant Brock when he fell at Queenston.

41 See page 308.

42 Joseph C. Eldridge was a native of New York. He entered the army as second lieutenant in the Thirteenth Regular Infantry in the spring of 1812. A year afterward he was promoted to first lieutenant, and appointed adjutant. He was distinguished for bravery at Stony Creek a month earlier, and was a young officer of great promise.

43 There are statements by American and British writers concerning this affair too widely differing to admit of reconciliation. Some of the American writers say that the force which fell upon Eldridge was composed of British and Indians, while British writers declare that no white man was present. The only statement that I have ever met from an eye-witness is that of the late Hon. William Hamilton Merritt in his MS. narrative, now before me, and from that I have drawn the facts up to the ambush. He says that he had no expectation of being in the fight, and that he and John Bell were the only two white persons engaged in it except a boy thirteen years old, whose father was a prisoner and dangerously wounded, and whose eldest brother was killed at Fort George. "This little fellow," says Merritt, "was determined to revenge the loss his family had sustained, and would not be persuaded to leave the field until his mother [Mrs. Law, whose house was on the ground] came out and took him away in her arms by force." An American officer, writing from Fort George the next day, said that two of the five survivors, and who were at first taken prisoners, stated that there were British soldiers in the ambush, painted as Indians, "with streaks of green and red around their eyes." – "Niles’s Register, iv., 352.

Mr. Merritt says that his whole attention, after the fight, was given to the prisoners in the hands of Blackbird and his followers, and that his own life was threatened because he made intercession for those of the captives. "The poor devils," he says, "were crying and imploring me to save their lives, as I was the only white man they saw." He says that the Indians, after getting an interpreter, promised him that "the lives of the prisoners should be spared – would only frighten them a great deal, to prevent them coming again. I made a solemn vow," he continues, "if a prisoner was killed, never to go out with an Indian again." The savages violated their pledge, and butchered their prisoners with a barbarity too revolting to be repeated here. The American officer above alluded to says: "I break open this letter for the purpose of stating that the body (as is supposed) of Lieutenant Eldridge, the adjutant of the Thirteenth, has been brought in this moment, naked, mangled in the manner mentioned of the other." The excuse made for the murder of Eldridge was that, after he was made prisoner, he treacherously drew a concealed pistol and shot one of the chiefs through the head. This was Blackbird’s reason for murdering all. Mr. Merritt speaks of Eldridge as "the officer who forfeited his life by firing at an Indian while a prisoner." He does not speak from his own knowledge. An investigation proved the assertion of the savage leader to be wholly untrue, and this crime (strange as it may appear) stands, uncondemned by British writers, one of pure barbarian cruelty.

The following least revolting recital is from a letter from an American officer to his friend in Baltimore, dated at Fort George, July 12: "A recital will make you shudder. I will merely mention the fate of a young officer who came under my notice, whose body was found, the day after the action, cut and mangled in the most shocking manner, his entrails torn from his body, and HIS HEART STUFFED IN HIS MOUTH! We are resolved to show no quarter to the Indians after this." – Niles’s Weekly Register, iv., 352.

44 See page 426.

45 Stone’s Life of Brant, page 242; Lieutenant Colonel Clarke’s Official Report to Lieutenant Colonel Harvey, dated Chippewa, July 12, 1813. Mr. Stone says that, after he had written his account of the affair at Black Rock, he placed his manuscript in the hands of General Porter, who was then living. The general not only corrected it, but rewrote the whole narrative, the substance of which is given in the text.

46 The Indians, after taking from Captain Saunders his cap, epaulettes, sword, and belt, carried him gently to Porter’s house. He was wounded by a rifle-ball passing through his chest and lungs, and another shattering his wrist. He remained at Porter’s, kindly treated and attended by his wife, who was sent for, for about three weeks, when he was sufficiently recovered to be sent to the rendezvous of prisoners at Williamsville. – Stone’s Life of Red Jacket, page 246.

47 The entire loss of the British during this expedition, in killed, wounded, and missing, must have been almost seventy. Some estimated it as high as one hundred. The loss of the Americans was three killed and five wounded. Two of the latter were Indians. The destruction of property was not so great as has been generally represented. The Americans did not lose, by destruction or plunder, more than one third of the valuable naval stores at Black Rock, collected for Commodore Perry, nor did they reach a particle of the military stores for the use of the army, then deposited at Buffalo. The enemy destroyed or captured 4 cannon, 177 English and French muskets, 1 three-pounder traveling carriage, 6 ammunition kegs, a small quantity of round and case shot, 123 barrels of salt, 46 barrels of whisky, considerable clothing and blankets, and a small quantity of other stores. – Clark’s Official Report.

48 The following is a copy of the inscription:

"Sacred to the memory of Lieutenant Colonel the Honorable Cecil Bisshopp, 1st Foot Guards, and inspecting field-officer in Upper Canada, eldest and only surviving son of Sir Cecil Bisshopp, Bart., Baron de la Fouche, in England. After having served with distinction in the British army in Holland, Spain, and Portugal, he died on the 16th of July, 1813, aged 30, in consequence of wounds received in action with the enemy at Black Rock on the 11th of the same month, to the great grief of his family and friends, and is buried here.

"This tomb, erected at the time by his brother officers, becoming much dilapidated, is now (1846) renewed by his affectionate sisters, the Baroness de la Fouche and the Honorable Mrs. Rechell, in memory of an excellent man and beloved brother."

Lieutenant Colonel Bisshopp received a severe, but not mortal wound while on shore, and four or five others after he entered his boat. The gallant Fitzgibbon took charge of him, and conveyed him as tenderly as possible from Chippewa to Lundy’s Lane.

49 There were frequent picket skirmishes. Among the most conspicuous of these was one that occurred near Fort George on the 16th of August while the belligerents were near each other. It was the first, of any account, in which the Indians of Western New York engaged after their alliance with the Americans, which had been made with the explicit understanding that they were not to kill the enemy who were wounded or prisoners, or take scalps. The occasion referred to was an effort to capture a strong British picket. About three hundred volunteers and Indians under Major Chapin and General Peter B. Porter, and two hundred regulars under Major Cummings, were sent out by General Boyd for the purpose. The primary object was defeated by a heavy rain, but a severe skirmish ensued, in which the enemy was routed, and twelve British Indians and four white soldiers were captured. The principal chiefs who led the American Indians were Farmer’s Brother, Red Jacket, Little Billy, Pollard, Blacksnake, Johnson, Silver Heels, Captain Half-town, Major Henry O’Bail (Cornplanter’s son), and Captain Cold, chief of the Onondagas. – Boyd’s Dispatch.

50 Notices of the War of 1812, ii., 23.

51 Armstrong to Wilkinson, March 12, 1813. Armstrong and Wilkinson were both members of General Gates’s military staff during the campaign which resulted in the capture of Burgoyne at Saratoga in the autumn of 1777.

52 See page 585.

53 Hampton was on Lake Champlain, with his head-quarters at Burlington.

54 Notices of the War of 1812, ii., 31.

55 The same.

56 Armstrong’s letter to Wilkinson, August 8, 1813.

57 Historical Sketch of the Second War, etc., i., 295.

58 Report of the adjutant general, August 2, 1813.

59 Minutes of the council.

60 Armstrong’s Notices of the War of 1812.

61 See page 554.

62 The only dwelling then at the Falls of the Genesee, where the city of Rochester now stands, was the log house of Enos Stone, built in 1807. Now (1867) the population of Rochester is about 55,000.

63 Syracuse was then in embryo, in the form of a few huts of salt-boilers, and called by the village name, South Salina. It now (1867) contains a population of about 34,000.

64 Utica is on the site of old Fort Schuyler, a few miles eastward of the later Fort Schuyler, originally called Fort Stanwix, now Rome. It was then an incorporated post village, and considered the commercial capital of the great Western District of New York. It was first called Old Fort Schuyler Village. At the time we are considering it had about 1700 inhabitants, and was a central point for all the principal avenues of communication. Its population now is about 25,000.

65 The present Jefferson County was then known as the Black River country.

66 See page 559.

67 "I offered a bounty of two dollars a month," says M‘Clure, in the Buffalo Gazette, "for one or two months, but without effect. Some few of Colonel Bloom’s regiment took the bounty, and immediately disappeared."

68 From Sackett’s Harbor the Secretary of War wrote as follows:


"War Department, October 4, 1813.

"SIR, – Understanding that the defense of the post committed to your charge may render it proper to destroy the town of Newark, you are hereby directed to apprise the inhabitants of this circumstance, and invite them to remove themselves and their effects to some place of greater safety.


"Brigadier General M‘Clure, or officer commanding at Fort George."


Behind this order General M’Clure took shelter when assailed by the public indignation.

69 Mr. E. Giddings, a printer, kept the ferry between the fort and Youngstown opposite at that time, and for many years succeeding the war he had charge of Fort Niagara. He narrowly escaped capture when the British took the fort in December, 1813.

70 Only one house was left standing. Mr. Merritt, in his Narrative, says: "Nothing but heaps of boats, and streets full of furniture that the inhabitants were fortunate enough to get out of their houses, met our eyes. My old quarters, Gordon’s house, was the only one standing."

71 The unscrupulous James (ii., 8) says: "General M‘Clure gave about half an hour’s notice to the inhabitants of Newark that he should burn down their village," and says very few believed him to be in earnest. General M‘Clure, in a communication to the Buffalo Gazette, says: "The inhabitants had twelve hours’ notice to remove their effects, and those who chose to come across the river were provided with all the necessaries of life."

72 Colonel J. Murray’s Report to Lieutenant General Drummond, December 19, 1813.

73 Captain Leonard was suspected of treason. It was stated by General M‘Clure, six days after the capture of the fort, that he had given himself up to the enemy, "and that his family are now on the Canada side of the strait." It is known that he returned to the fort and became a prisoner. He was "disbanded," or dropped from the service not long afterward.

74 The loss of the Americans was 80 killed – many of them hospital patients – 14 wounded, and 344 made prisoners. Of the entire garrison only 20 escaped. The spoils consisted of 27 pieces of cannon, 3000 stand of arms and many rifles, an immense amount of ordnance and commissariat stores, and a large quantity of clothing and camp equipage of every description.

75 A letter to the editor of Niles’s Weekly Register from a gentleman on the frontier said: "They killed at and near Lewiston eight or ten of the inhabitants, who, when found, were all scalped with the exception of one, whose head was cut off. Among the bodies was that of a boy ten or twelve years old, stripped and scalped."

76 General M‘Clure’s Report to Governor Tompkins, dated at Buffalo, December 22, 1813.

77 This was a hamlet. Augustus Porter, Esq., had valuable mills there. These were destroyed.

78 A handbill printed at Montreal on the 28th of December, and cited by the Plattsburg Republican of January 1, 1814, contained an extract of a letter from "an officer of high rank" (Lieutenant General Drummond?) at Queenston, written on the 19th, in which the following passage occurs: "A war-whoop from five hundred of the most savage Indians (which they gave just at daylight, on hearing of the success of the attack on Fort Niagara) made the enemy take to their heels [at Lewiston], and our troops are in pursuit. We shall not stop until we have cleared the whole frontier. The Indians are retaliating the conflagration of Newark. Not a house within my sight but is in flames. This is a melancholy but just retaliation."

79 This address was issued on the day preceding the capture of Fort Niagara, M‘Clure having been informed by his scouts of the preparations of the British to make a descent upon the American side of the Niagara.

80 Hall’s Report to Governor Tompkins.

81 There were 129 mounted volunteers, under Lieutenant Colonel Boughton; 433 exempts and volunteers, under Lieutenant Colonel Blakeslee, of Ontario; 136 Buffalo militia, under Colonel Chapin; 97 Canadian volunteers, under Major Mallory; * 332 Genesee militia, under Major Adams. These were at Buffalo. At Black Rock were stationed 382 effective men, under Brigadier General Hopkins, composed of corps commanded by Lieutenant Colonels Warren and Churchill, exclusive of a body of 37 mounted infantry under captain Ransom; 83 Indians, under Lieutenant Colonel Granger; 25 artillery, under Lieutenant Seely, with a 6-pounder; and about 300 Chautauqua Indians, under Lieutenant Colonel M‘Mahon. – Hall’s Report to Governor Tompkins, January 6, 1814.

* Major Benajah Mallory had been, in early youth, in the military service toward the close of the Revolutionary War. He had settled in Canada, but, with others, took sides with his own country, and became the commander of the famous partisan corps known as the "Canadian Refugees." He was in the severe battle at Niagara Falls, or Lundy’s Lane, and assisted General Scott from the field after he was wounded. He resided many years in Lockport, New York, and when, in 1852, Scott stopped there on a journey, he recognized the veteran as one of his loved companions in arms.

82 See map on page 382.

83 This battery, of three guns, was on the site of William Bird’s house, and Fort Tompkins was on ground now occupied by the stables of the Niagara Street Railway Company. It had six pretty heavy guns, and was the largest work there.

84 "Among these was Lieutenant John Seely, a carpenter and joiner, who lived on the corner of Auburn and Niagara Streets, and was lieutenant of a company of artillery at Black Rock. He had fought his pieces on the brow of the hill, on what is now Breckinridge Street, until he had but seven men and one horse left. Mounting the horse, which was harnessed to the gun, he brought it away with him, firing upon the enemy whenever occasion offered. Near where Mohawk Street joins Niagara was then a slough. Here Seely turned upon his foe. The gun was thrown off from its carriage by the discharge, but was quickly replaced, and taken to the village." – Buffalo during the War of 1812; a paper read before the Buffalo Historical Society, March 13, 1863, by WILLIAM DORSHEIMER, Esq.

85 The place was unofficially surrendered by Colonel Chapin to prevent farther bloodshed. He approached the British with a piece of his shirt as a flag of truce, and agreed to surrender on condition that private property should be respected. It was agreed to, and he and some other citizens became prisoners. When General Riall found that Chapin had no authority to surrender the city, he declared his own agreement void, and gave his marauders free play.

86 Mrs. St. John was a stout, resolute woman. I was informed by the venerable Dr. Trowbridge, of Buffalo, who was there at the time, that he went to the house of Mrs. St. John, begged her to leave because the Indians would kill her, offered her the use of his horse for the purpose, and assured her that he would take care of her children. She said, "I can’t do it; here is all I have in the world, and I will stay and defend it." She did so, not by force but kindness of manner, and her life and property were spared. Mrs. Lovejoy was not so prudent. She, too, was resolute, but resisted the Indians by force when they came to the house. They killed and scalped her, and left her body, covered with the silk in which she was dressed, upon the floor. On the following day, when the savages came into the town again to complete their work of destruction, her house and corpse were consumed. The latter had been laid out across the cords of a bedstead by a neighbor. Her son, Henry Lovejoy (see note 2, page 387), now (1867) living in Buffalo, was then a lad twelve years of age, and was in the affair at Black Rock when Bisshopp was repulsed, where he carried a flint-lock musket, too huge for his strength to bear it long, when the enemy approached at the time we are considering, this brave-hearted woman said to the boy, "Henry, you have fought against the British; you must run. They will take you prisoner. I am a woman; they’ll not harm me." He fled to the woods. Her house stood on the site of the present Phśnix Hotel.

87 In a letter of a gentleman to his wife in Albany, written on the 6th of January, 1814, from Le Roy, he says: "Numerous witnesses testify to the following facts: The Indians mangled and burned Mrs. Lovejoy in Buffalo; massacred two large families at Black Rock, namely, Mr. Luffer’s and Mr. Lecort’s; murdered Mr. Gardner; put all the sick to death at Youngstown, and killed, scalped, and mangled sixty at Fort Niagara after it was given up. Many dead bodies are yet lying unburied at Buffalo, mangled and scalped. Colonel Marvin counted thirty-three this morning. I met between Cayuga and this place upward of one hundred families in wagons, sleds, and sleighs, many of them with nothing but what they had on their backs; nor could they find places to stay at." The suffering of the fugitives was terrible.

The almost universal condemnation of General M‘Clure for the destruction of Newark, and the manifold greater enormities committed in retaliation, caused Sir George Prevost to hasten before the world with an assurance that he should endeavor to stop that sort of warfare. He well knew that the judgment of mankind would pronounce farther prosecution of war on that plan to be atrocious, and, in a proclamation issued on the 12th of January, 1814, after justifying the retaliation thus far, said: "To those possessions of the enemy along the whole line of frontier which have hitherto remained undisturbed, and which are now at the mercy of the troops under his command, his Excellency has determined to extend the same forbearance, and the same freedom from rapine and plunder which they have hitherto experienced; and from this determination the future conduct of the American government shall alone induce him to depart."



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