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May 15, 2014

Oswego held for 15 hours

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — From the Otsego Herald

for Wednesday, May 18, 1814

Compiled, with comments

by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL

OSWEGO RAIDED

A letter from Onondaga, dated 9th [May]...says: “On Thursday the enemy’s fleet appeared off Oswego, consisting of 3 ships, 2 brigs, 2 schooners, and 11 gun boats, full of men.

“They were twice repulsed, in attempting to land.

“On Friday, however, they made good their landing, with a body of about 1800 men, after a very severe conflict; — captured the fort, and took 6 prisoners.

“Our troops ... amounting to between 3 and 400 regulars, having retreated to the falls, 11 miles from Oswego, where they made a stand, and were joined by a party of militia. ...

“[They] learned that the enemy had re-embarked on Saturday, after being in possession of Oswego 15 hours; they burned the barracks and military store houses, and took away or destroyed all the public property, amounting to about 40,000 dollars.

Several small vessels, with 10 or 12 large guns, were sunk by our people on the approach of the enemy’s fleet.” – Albany Gazette.

COMMENT: Oswego, at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, was an important transit point for weapons and other supplies intended for the major American naval base at Sacket’s Harbor where the Saint Lawrence River flows out of Lake Ontario.

Whole Atlantic Coast Blockaded

Proclamation by British Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane:

Whereas, Admiral ... Sir John Borlase Warren did ... the 16th day of November,1813, declare that not only the Ports and Harbors of the Chesapeake, Delaware, New York, Charleston, Port Royal, Savannah, and the river Mississippi, in the United States of America, were and still continued in a state of Blockade,

But also that part of Long Island Sound, being the Sea Coast lying within Montauk Point and the point ... opposite ... commonly called Black Point, together with all the Ports, Harbors, Creeks and Entrances of the North and East Rivers of New-York ... as well as all the Ports ... on the Sea Coast of the States of East and West Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Lower Countries on the Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia ... were blockaded,

And whereas ... the Enemy availing himself of the supplies which have been furnished by means of Neutral Commerce to those Ports ... left open and unrestricted, hath already fitted out numerous vessels of war...for the purpose of prosecuting the war with Great Britain. 

I do ... declare ... all the remaining ports, harbors, bays, creeks, rivers, inlets, outlets, islands and sea coast of the said United States ... from Black Point to the...boundaries between the ... United States and the British province of New-Brunswick, to be in a state of strict and rigorous blockade.

Given ... at Bermuda, the 25th day of April, 1814. ALEXANDER COCHRANE.

COMMENT: As the War of 1812 progressed, Great Britain had gradually extended its blockade of the American coastline, and now extended it again to cover the entire coast from Canada to the Mississippi. Until now, however, the coast of New England (which was generally opposed to the war) had been exempted, in part to encourage smuggling and the supplying of British warships operating off that coast.

Under international law (not always respected) naval blockades during a war could only be declared when the nation declaring them had the naval power in the area sufficient to enforce them.

With the defeat of Napoleon, and the freeing up of the entire British navy, it was possible to seal off the entire American coastline. This would, among other things, make possible the British conquest of most of what is now the state of Maine.

Murder in Pennsylvania

Harrisburgh, (Penn.) April 30 ... Mr. Isaac Wells, who kept a store in Front a few doors below Market street, in which he slept, was most inhumanly murdered on Tuesday night last. 

He received a stab below the neck ... while in bed, and was afterwards dragged, or by his own exertion, got over the counter — a handkerchief was drawn tight around his neck...to assist in executing the fatal deed.

There was stolen about 2,000 dollars in bank notes. Mr. Wells’ brother, who lives on the opposite side of the river, perceived the store closed after breakfast the next morning ... came over, when ... he was found lying on the door weltering in his blood.

COMMENT: No one was convicted of the murder, but about 20 years later a man in New Jersey awaiting execution for another crime, “declared that he had committed the murder of Wills [sic] ... He ... stated such circumstances ... as would probably have been sufficient ... to have produced his conviction.”

Steamboat News

Steam-Boat travelling has increased beyond all calculation on the Hudson, since its introduction by Messrs. Fulton and Livingston. There are now plying on the north river no less than five boats, four of which perform a passage from New-York to Albany and the other to Poughkeepsie, and back again once in each week, several of which have carried upwards of two hundred passengers at a trip. — Columbian

Distressing Accident. Yesterday afternoon, Mr. LEWIS RHODA, Mr. Fulton’s chief engineer, accidentally got entangled in the works of the new Brooklyn Steamboat, Nassau, had his left arm torn off, and his neck strained. He survived only three hours! — Columbian

COMMENT: The Nassau had just begun service as a ferry between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The local press was ecstatic about this “new and beautiful boat,” which “surpassed the expectations of the public,” crossing in four to eight minutes. “On the day of her commencement she carried at one time 549 passengers, one wagon and two chairs [two wheeled chariots] with their horses, and one saddle horse.”