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January 31, 2013

New York blockaded by British line of battleships

Cooperstown Crier

---- — From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Jan. 30, 1813

Compiled, with comments



Spotted Fever Epidemic

Herkimer, NY: Alarming Disease! – For nearly two weeks past, a very alarming disorder, said by the Physicians to be similar to the Spotted Fever, has been raging in this town and its vicinity; and, as it is thought to be contagious, excited almost universal consternation.

This epidemic is believed to be the same which has so grievously afflicted the soldiers in the camps at Buffalo, Ogdensburgh, Burlington, Plattsburgh, &c. where the mortality has been dreadful. Numbers in our own neighborhood have already fallen victims to this terrible malady, and new cases are daily occurring. 

Bleeding has in most, if not all cases proved fatal … Herkimer American.

COMMENT: “‘Spotted Fever’ is another, rather old, name for Epidemic Cerebrospinal Fever, which is a rather old name for Meningococcal Meningitis.” It became epidemic during the War of 1812, spreading largely among soldiers, and from them to civilians. To quote one account from Vermont:

“This entire section of New England, if not a much larger area, during the spring seasons of 1812 and 1813, was scourged by a fearful epidemic, called at first “spotted fever” and later “malignant fever.” So great were its ravages, that the deaths in Vermont reached 6,000 by this disease alone, or about one death in 40 inhabitants. The disease is supposed to be the same as that now called cerebro-spinal-meningitis, and was not then considered contagious.”

The Otsego Herald printed a very long discussion of the causes and presumptive cure of spotted fever, from Dr. John D. Ross of Geneva, NY. I have found a much shorter one, which was probably equally ineffective: “Cure for Spotted Fever-To one quart of lime add one gallon of water. To one quart of tar, add two quarts of water. Let these stand in separate vessels until they froth, skim the froth, pour them together. To this mixture add eight ounces of saltpeter, four ounces of opium — take a glass when going to bed and repeat the same in four or five hours.”

New York blockaded

New York, Jan. 18. Captain Bartlett, who arrived here last evening in the schooner Mayflower, informed us, that the British line of battle ship, Poictiers, Maidstone, and Acasta frigates, and Sophy brig, were all yesterday off Sanday [sic] Hook, and that the Poictiers last evening at sun-set, was not more than 6 miles from the Light House.

From capt. Bartlett, and several of our pilots, who came up from the Hook last evening, we learn that the above squadron captured five vessels yesterday….

New York, Jan. 20. The British squadron off Sandy-Hook, consists of the St. Domingo, Admiral Sir J.D. Warren; Dragon, both of 74 guns; the Poictiers, Capt. Bresford, 74 guns., 4 or 5 frigates and 2 or 3 smaller vessels. They have captured…[long list of American ships]. 

About 30 of the crew and passengers of the captured vessels were put on board a sloop on Monday night, and arrived here yesterday morning. Three or four of the above mentioned passengers … were informed by admiral Warren, that there was not the least prospect of an accommodation between his government and the United States … Merchant Advertiser

COMMENT: The British warships blockading New York City were considerably more powerful than the entire American Navy at the time, and succeeded to stopping American commerce from New York for most of the War of 1812

War measures

The House [of Representatives] again resolved itself into a committee of the whole, Mr. Bibb in the chair, on the bill for raising an additional military force of 20,000 men for one year.

Mr. Sheffey spoke at great length in opposition to the bill, and Mr. Robertson in support of it. When the committee rose, reported progress and obtained leave to sit again.

COMMENT: As indicated, American sentiment was still much divided about the War of 1812. Daniel Sheffey of Virginia was a long-time opponent of the war. Thomas Robertson was the first Congressional representative from Louisiana.

A Tory embarrassed 

Essex, MA: Last week on the arrival of a privateer with her prize in this port, among the spectators gathered on the occasion was a certain Squire -------- of Danvers; who just as the English Captain and another prisoner were landing was uttering the most bitter imprecations against the American government for permitting Americans to capture English vessels, &c.

The English captain, after hearing him through patiently, answered:

“I know not what you be, nor by what authority you abuse your own country and government; but I do know that were you in my country to utter such language, you would lose your head. I am here a prisoner, and the ship which contains my property has been taken from me, and is a lawful prize.

“But I do not blame the American government; my government seized American property when it professed to be at peace; and it has laid down a principle which America ought not to submit to; principles which if they were put in force against England by another nation would not permit her for a moment to hesitate in declaring war.

“Justice is on the side of America; and I am astonished to find, before my foot had reached them on their own shores, an American who can applaud and justify that in his own country’s enemy, an Englishman cannot find ground to excuse in his own government.”

The rebuke was so severe that, for once, a Tory is said to have blushed – to have turned on his heel and departed, without answering the irrefutable arguments of his magnanimous opponent. – Essex Register.