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January 2, 2014

Burning Of Niagara-On-The Lake

Hugh C. McDougall Contributing Writer
Cooperstown Crier


From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Jan. 1, 1814

Compiled, with comments



BAD NEWS. The evacuation of Fort George, and the burning of Newark by our troops, has had the effect we feared. We can see no possible good that could have been expected by the destruction of private property when abandoning that post. We were extremely sorry to hear of that procedure, because we do not wish to see the bad examples of the enemy followed by our government. The British, as usual, have retaliated upon our defenceless inhabitants on the Niagara frontier, in the most ferocious manner. Whenever they obtain an ascendency, they seem to delight in deeds of barbarity that one would suppose would shock the humanity even of the most ruthless savages.

We have given below some of the details relative to this melancholy affair.—Most sincerely do we commiserate the sufferings of those who have to abandon their homes at this inclement season, to seek that protection for their lives which had ought to have been rendered them by government.

COMMENT: Fort George the principal British fort on the Niagara Peninsula had been captured by the Americans on May 27, 1813. General George McClure (1771-1851) had been left in command with only about 100 men, when most of the American troops had been sent east for an notably unsuccessful attack on Montreal. Among those still with McClure was Joseph Willcocks (1773-1814), a Canadian politician who had switched sides and led a small group of similarly inclined Canadian defectors.

When it became clear that McClure could not defend Fort George, he abandoned it and (in defiance of his orders but evidently urged on by Willcocks) burned down the town of Newark [today’s Niagara-on-the-Lake]—giving its inhabitants only an hour or so to abandon their homes and flee into the wintry and snowy night. The British quickly began a series of drastic reprisals, causing much panic.

Burning of Lewiston

Utica Gazette, December 28.... The last western mail brought information that the enemy landed at 5 mile meadows, on Sunday the 19th inst. with a force of about 1000 men including a large body of Indians. They proceeded to Lewiston, which they sacked and burnt, killing such of the inhabitants as were not able to make their escape.... In the mean time, the largest division of the invaders are stated to have taken Fort Niagara by surprise, the garrison of which consisting of about 100 effective men, were put.... [rest of article illegible].

Further News

Ontario Messenger, Dec. 21.... About sunrise this morning a large number of Indians, and perhaps 6 or 700 regulars, (of the enemy) landed at the 5 Mile Meadow—they immediately shewed themselves at Lewiston. We have of course deserted the place. We heard the cannon at Fort Niagara when we left Lewiston. You need not be told that the road is full of women and children. Some of our citizens are taken, others killed.... JONAS HARRISON, NATH’L ALLEN, DAVID S. HALL.

Batavia, Dec. 19, 1813. As the most part of the arms are in Fort Niagara, if that is taken ,we shall have but few public arms in this part of the state, therefore, let every man who has a gun carry it with him, because the enemy are between us and the Fort.... JOSEPH ELLIOTT.....

It will be perceived from the above intelligence, that Fort Niagara is besieged and the enemy between us and the principal depot of arms and ammunition, express should be sent to Canandaigua, to request the commandant of the arsenal to forward arms, ammunition, &c., immediately. DANIEL DAVIS, Lt. Col.....

Caledonia, 20th Dec. 1813, 2 o’clock, P.M. In consequence of the above alarming intelligence, the inhabitants of this and the neighbouring towns, are requested to meet at F. Atwater’s tavern in the village of Canandaigua for the purpose of adopting measures for the relief of our western brethren.....


DIED—in this town, on the 25th ult. (December), Mrs. MARY METCALF, aged 78. She had for many years been a professor of religion and adorned the doctrine which she believed. When the hour of her exit arrived she calmly resigned herself to her fate, and bade a final adieu to the transitory scenes of this world, under the full conviction that through the merits of her Saviour she should inhabit another and a better.

COMMENT: Mary Abell (1736-1813) came from Lebanon, CT. In1754 she married her first husband Jared Clark and bore him nine children. After his death in 1775, she then married her cousin Zebulon Metcalf (1729-1802), a widower with seven children, and about 1800 they moved to Pierstown, above Lake Otsego, in what was known as the Metcalf settlement. By “professor” the article means only that she was a publicly devout Christian—not that she taught religion in any formal fashion.


THE members of the “Otsego Sugar-Stick Society” are requested to meet at OSTRANDER’S Coffee-House, on Monday Evening the 3d of January, at 6 o’clock. PER ORDER. Dec. 30th, 1813.

COMMENT: Ostrander’s was at today’s 184 Main St., Cooperstown.

Victory in the South

Fourth Victory Over the Creek Indians. Washington City, Dec. 17. Gen. Floyd of the Georgia militia has prostrated a body of Indians in the Creek nation. With 900 men and 400 Indians he precipitated himself upon...their principal town, attacked 1500 warriors, killed 200 and burnt the town. It was perhaps one of the largest and best built Indian villages in North America having 400 houses. His loss was only 11 in killed, and 54 in wounded.