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August 2, 2012

Canadian refugees


---- — From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, August 1, 1812

Compiled, with comments


Weather: Utica 1812 Almanack: Clear and pleasant weather.

Five Dollars Reward

Ran away from the subscriber on the 19th inst. [July], a NEGRO MAN, named Thomas, about 18 years of age, nearly 6 feet high, very large feet, and a scar under one eye. Whoever shall return said negro to the subscriber, shall receive the above reward and necessary charges. JAMES MOREHOUSE. Maryland, July 20, 1812.

COMMENT: James Morehouse came to the village of Maryland about 1794, the first house in the area. James Mourhouse [so spelled] is buried in Maryland cemetery, d. Nov. 28, 1831, aged 85. In 1820 he still owned one slave.

A Singular Circumstance

We understand, that, among the new Recruits who arrived today at the Rendezvous at Greenwich, are a father and brother, and six sons. The father has brought with him a wife and four other children. Three of the enlisted sons have with them their wives and seven children. Thus the number of this family party amounts to twenty-three. Who has the honor to command this patriotic company we have not heard. The party were enlisted about 60 miles west of Newburgh; -— and, before they commenced their march to Head-Quarters, none but the mother of the family had ever seen the North River. — New York Spectator

Canadian Refugees

Buffalo, June 14. Expecting a descent from the American army, the Canadians have, for ten days past, been removing their families and effects from the [Niagara] river, into the interior. At Newark, Queenston, and other villages on the river, there are no inhabitants, except a few civil officers and soldiers. It is even said , that an immense quantity of specie, plate &c. from various parts of the province, have been boxed up and destined to Quebec.

The militia of the province are ordered out en masse. Great discontent prevails in consequence of this requisition: there being no help to gather in the crops, the clamors of the people are but little short of open rebellion. There is no civil authority in Canada — no magistrate will act — the martial code has usurped the civil code.

Many young tradesmen in Canada from the states will be ruined. They cannot collect their debts, nor bring away their property — but many have come away and left their all in jeopardy.

On Wednesday morning last, during a thick fog, four British soldiers, standing as centinels on the river near Fort George, swam over to the American shore. Three of them brought their arms.

It is stated by gentlemen of intelligence at Lewiston, that the government of Canada have in their employment, under pay, 250 Indians, armed complete — a part of them mounted.

COMMENT: Like many other reports of the time, these accounts were at least somewhat exaggerated.

Battle No. I

We are indebted for the following account of the late attack upon Sackets Harbor by the British squadron on lake Ontario, to a gentleman who was present during the engagement. The attack was made on Sunday the 19th inst. [July].

The British squadron, consisting of the Royal George, 22 guns, Earl Moira, 16 guns, Prince Regent 10 guns, and a small tender of 4 guns. came into the bay early in the morning on Sunday, the wind being in their favor. The brig Oneida, capt. WOOLSEY, got under weight and stood across the bay, and remained out until he distinctly ascertained the force of the enemy, and deeming it imprudent to engage a force so much superior to his own, he came to anchor near the south side of the Bay in 10 feet water.

The English, supposing themselves sure of their prize, sent a summons on shore for the brig and the Lord Nelson, a vessel some time since captured by capt. Woolsey, to surrender peaceably, and promised that the inhabitants and their property should not be molested if their demand were complied with....

Capt. Woolsey had also given orders to moor his brig with spring cables so as to wind [move] her broadside to the enemy in any direction, and commenced taking out nine of his guns to mount on the battery on the hill.

While this work was going on, the fleet were making their way into the Bay, and as soon as they came within reach of the 32 pounder capt. Woolsey opened his fire upon them....He stood by the 32 pounder and directed it to its object. Capt. Camp was in another part of the work and did wonders. A shot from one of his brass field pieces carried away the main-top-gallant-mast of the Earl Moira, and another shot from his guns took effect in the hulls of one or both the other vessels....

The firing lasted about half an hour, during which time a great many shots were fired from the enemy’s vessels but three only reached the shore....The British squadron lay about three fourths of a mile from shore, and it is evident the Commodore had no knowledge of our having any guns mounted....During the whole time the Oneida brig lay snug in her berth entirely out of reach of harm....

As soon as it was known that the squadron was standing out of the bay, our troops moved to the lake shore -- with their colors waving, and gave three cheers, the music playing Yankee double from one end of the line to the other. On our part not a man was hurt. The enemy has no doubt suffered considerably....

Capt. Woolsey, as usual, did everything proper and prudent. His skill as an engineer no doubt saved us the brig and the other vessels in the harbor....Arrangements, I understand, were made to destroy the brig in case she could not have been defended.

COMMENT: The Oneida was the brig on whose construction James Fenimore Cooper had worked in Oswego in 1806. -- Utica Gazette