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Otsego Herald

February 20, 2014

Back to Sackett's Harbor

From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Feb. 19, 1814

Compiled, with comments

by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL

AMERICAN RETREAT

The camp at French Mills, we understand, has been broken up. Two thousand troops were expected to reach Sackett’s Harbor on Friday last. The residue have proceeded to Malone and Plattsburgh, at the former of which places the sick had arrived on the 2d inst. [February]. The boats had been removed by land.

Three vessels of war are building with all possible dispatch at Sackett’s Harbor; one a ship, intended to mount 44 guns, the other two heavy brigs. The troops are remarkably healthy. – Albany Argus

COMMENTS: The American troops which had sought to capture Montreal were in total retreat, following their rather dismal defeats at the battles of Chateaugay on October 26, 1813, and of Crysler’s Farm on November 11.Not only had the attempt to conquer Montreal failed, but the large number of troops removed from Fort George in Upper Canada and Fort Niagara in New York State had led to the surrender without a fight of those important posts on the Niagara River frontier. The fault was primarily due to the incompetence and quarrelling of the two principal American commanders, Major General James Wilkinson (1757-1825)—incompetent, corrupt, and probably an enemy spy, and Major General Wade Hampton (1752-1835)—an incompetent politician from South Carolina.

This effort to build new warships at the American naval base at Sackett’s Harbor proved no more successful. The 18-gun brigs Jefferson and Jones were launched in April of 1814, but saw no action and were disposed of before 1821. The “ship”—actually the 44-gun frigate Superior, also saw no action during the war. Both the British and Americans then began a race to build even larger ships on Lake Ontario—but the only real naval fighting in 1814 would take place on the much smaller Lake Champlain.

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Otsego Herald
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