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July 3, 2013

American Victory

Cooperstown Crier


From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, July 3, 1813

Compiled, with comments


Sacket’s Harbor Saved

Dispatch from Brigadier-General Brown, to the Secretary of War ... June 1, 1813. SIR—You will have received my dispatch of the 29th [May] written from the field of battle ... that this post had been attacked by Sir George Prevost, and that we had succeeded in repulsing him ...

In the course of the morning of the 28th .. .the enemy’s fleet ... appeared accompanied by a large number of boats ... I determined to meet him at the water’s edge, with such militia as I could collect and the Albany volunteers ... The care of Fort Tompkins was committed to the regular artillerists and some volunteers, and that of Navy Point to ... the navy ...

A considerable militia force came in, and were ordered to the water side near Horse Island ... Our strength at this point was now five hundred men — all anxious for battle, as far as professions would go. The moment it was light enough to discover ... the enemy, we found ... 33 boats filled with troops ... under cover of the fire of his gunboats.

My orders were, that the troops should lie close and reserve their fire till the enemy had approached so near that every shot might hit its object. It is, however, impossible to execute such orders with raw troops unaccustomed to subordination. My orders were in this case disobeyed. The whole line fired, and not without effect ... but to my utter astonishment they rose from their cover and fled ...

I was personally more fortunate.—Gathering together about 100 militia ... we threw ourselves on the rear of the enemy’s left flank, and I trust did some execution. It was during this last movement that the regulars ... first engaged the enemy—nor was it long before they defeated him. Hurrying to this point of action, I found the battle still raging, but with obvious advantage on our side ... Had not Gen. Prevost retreated most rapidly under the guns of his vessels, he would never have returned to Kingston ... I am, sir ... JACOB BROWN, Brig. Gen. of the N.Y. Militia.

COMMENT: Sacket’s Harbor, in New York state on Lake Ontario near the outlet of the Saint Lawrence River, was throughout the War of 1812 the principal United States naval base and shipyard, and a place of vital strategic importance. On May 29, 1813, the British led by Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost (1767-1816), the overall British commander in Canada during the War of 1812, made a second unsuccessful attempt to capture it from their naval base at Kingston, Ontario.

Brigadier General Jacob Brown (1775-1828), then Major General of the New York State militia, is one of the greatest unsung heroes of the American army. He led the major American offensives in 1814, and was head of the US Army from 1815 until his death in 1828. Alas, he has been largely forgotten.


The Subscriber having been appointed by the President of the U. States, Agent for Vaccination, hereby gives notice, that GENUINE VACCINE MATTER, will be furnished to any Physician or other citizen of the United States, who may apply to him for it. The application must be made by post, and the requisite fee (FIVE DOLLARS) on the current bank paper of any of the middle states, forwarded with it. When required, such directions, &c. how to use it will be furnished with the matter, as will enable any discreet person who can read and write to secure his own family from the small pox, with the greatest certainty, and without any trouble or danger.

All letters on this subject, to or from the undersigned, and not exceeding half an ounce in weight, are carried by the United States mail free of postage, in conformity to a late act of Congress, entitled “An act to encourage Vaccination.

JAMES SMITH, U.S. Agent for Vaccination, Baltimore.

COMMENT: In 1796, Dr. Edward Jenner developed the first successful vaccination against the dreaded disease of smallpox. On Feb. 13, 1813, Congress passed a statute appointing an official Agent for Vaccination to provide genuine vaccination material (there had been a lot of fakes going around). It was the first Federal law on consumer protection and the regulation of drugs. Dr. James Smith (1771-1841) was a Baltimore physician who had campaigned for the law and became the first (and last) U.S. Agent for Vaccination. In 1821, Dr. Smith inadvertently mailed contaminated material to Tarboro, North Carolina, causing an epidemic of smallpox there that affected 60 people and killed 10. As a result, Congress repealed the law in 1822, and passed the question of smallpox vaccination back to the States.

Battle of Stoney Creek

We learn from a source entitled to the fullest credit, that the American loss at the late battle at Forty Mile Creek, in killed, wounded and prisoners, was only 105, including the two generals. The enemy’s loss was treble that amount.

COMMENT: This battle, generally called the battle of Stoney Creek, was fought on June 6, 1813 on the Niagara Peninsula in what is today the Province of Ontario. Two American brigades, commanded by Brigadier Generals John Chandler (1761-1841) and William Winder (1775-1824), both of them political appointees with little military experience, had camped together. A much smaller British unit, commanded by Brigadier General John Vincent (1764-1848), attacked at night and defeated them, after his scouts had reported that “the enemy’s guards were few and negligent; his line of encampment was long and broken; his artillery was feebly supported; several of his corps were placed too far to the rear to aid in repelling a blow which might be rapidly struck in front.” Both the American Generals, wandering around the battlefield, stumbled upon what they thought were American soldiers, but which turned out to be British, and both were captured.

Old Age

London, April 18 ... On the 25th February...died in the county of Derby, Allice Buckley, in the 107th year of her age, who was never afflicted with the tooth-ache, or head-ache, nor ever had an hour’s sickness in the course of her life. Her mother lived to attain the age of 108 years.