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September 5, 2013

Water atrocities

Cooperstown Crier

---- — From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, September 4, 1813

Compiled, with comments


Barbarities of the Enemy

House of Representatives Committee REPORT:

That they have collected and arranged all the testimony on this subject which could at this time be procured. This testimony is submitted to the consideration of the House, arranged under the following heads:

First. Bad treatment of American prisoners;

Second. Detention of American prisoners as British subjects, on the plea of nativity in the dominions of Britain, or of naturalization;

Third. Detention of mariners as prisoners of war, who were in England when the war was declared;

Fourth. Compulsory service of impressed American seamen on board British ships of war;

Fifth. Violations of flags of truce;

Sixth. Ransom of American prisoners from Indians in the British service;

Seventh. Pillage and destruction of private property on the Chesapeake bay, and in the neighboring country;

Eighth. Massacre and burning of American prisoners surrendered to officers of Great Britain, by Indians in the British service. Abandonment of the remains of Americans killed in battle or murdered after the surrender to the British. The pillage and shooting of American citizens, and the burning of their houses after surrender to the British under the guarantee of protection;

Ninth. Outrages at Hampton, in Virginia.

COMMENT: The Report goes on to provide a few details under each heading. Though there are nine headings, these allegations (some of which were undoubtedly true) can be grouped into three major subjects: (1) the treatment of American sailors; (2) the raids following from the British blockade of the American coastline, especially around Chesapeake Bay; and (3) the behavior, and British failure to control the behavior, of Native Americans fighting on the British side.

American Warships on Lake Ontario

Commodore Isaac Chauncey to the Secretary of the Navy ... 16th August, 1813.

SIR — I arrived here this day with this ship, the Madison, Oneida, Governor Tompkins, Conquest, Ontario, Pert and Lady of the Lake. The Fair American and Asp I left at Niagara. Since I had the honor of addressing you last, I have been much distressed and mortified; distressed at the loss of a part of the force entrusted to my command, and mortified at not being able to bring the enemy to action.

COMMENT: This letter goes on to discuss the loss of several ships to the British fleet on Lake Ontario. In fact, both Isaac Chauncey (1779-1840) and British Commodore Sir James Yeo (1782-1818) were very cautious commanders, avoiding action unless they felt certain of victory — and frequently avoiding action altogether. Naval warfare on Lake Ontario (in contrast to Lakes Erie and Champlain) was thus pretty much a draw until 1814, when the British build and launched HMS Saint Lawrence, for a time the most powerful warship in the British Navy, and with it gained control of the Lake.

Militia Draft

The commandant of the 3d Brigade of Artillery is ordered to furnish ..3 60 men ... Should companies volunteer, their services will be accepted ... The whole to form a Brigade, to be commanded by Brigadier General Geo. McClure ...

COMMENT: Brig. Gen. George McClure (1771-1851), of the New York Militia, committed one of the worst American atrocities in the War of 1812, when on Dec.10, 1813, while evacuating Fort George in Upper Canada, he burned the nearby town of Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake), giving no notice, and leaving its 400 women and children stranded in the snow. In retaliation, the British quickly burned Lewiston, Black Rock, and Buffalo in New York state.


Accident. — On Monday morning last, a son of Mr. William Fairchild, of this town, about five years of age, was either thrown out of a cart, or in attempting to jump out of the same, broke his neck, which occasioned instantaneous death.

DIED — In this town on the evening of the 2d [September] of the typhus fever, Mrs. HANNAH FLINT, wife of Moses M. Flint, aged 28, the 25th of June last, leaving 4 small children. She was resigned to her fate, and closed her eyes, in the sleep of death, under a conviction that she should rise in the morning of the resurrection to enjoy a happy immortality.

COMMENT: William Fairchild (1780-1854) and his wife Lucy Higby Fairchild (1788-1822), whom he married in Cooperstown in 1804, had six children. The little boy who died was Anson Fairchild (1808-1813).

Moses Howe Flint (1769-1834) from Worcester, MA, died Worcester, NY. In 1806 he married (2nd marriage of 3), a cousin, Hannah Flint (1785-1813). They had three children, all born in Cherry Valley..


A field piece, of novel description, admirably suited to the purpose of flying artillery, has been invented and cast by Mr. Hume at the Armory, where a model is exhibited that would convince the greatest sceptic [sic] of its efficacy. It is simple in its structure, perfectly safe, and requires only 2 men to load and prime it. The cartridge with ball is rammed in at the breech, and it may be fired twice in the time requisite for a single discharge of Cannon in the usual way ... Compiler

COMMENT: Although a Mr. Charles Gobert had written to Secretary of State James Monroe on Feb. 1, 1813, requesting army assistance in making a model of a breech-loading cannon he said he had invented, workable breech-loading cannons had to await the Civil War period before being perfected. Gobert was also a promoter of “perpetual motion” machines. I have not identified Mr. Hume.