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Otsego Herald

August 22, 2013

Cooper cannons sink

From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, August 21, 1813

Compiled, with comments

by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL

Cooper’s Military Failure

We are informed that a Floating Battery, in the form of an Octagon, constructed under the superintendance of Mr. William Cooper, formerly of this village, was stove to pieces on its way from Oswego to Sacket’s harbor, the fore part of July. It is said that 15 men were navigating it, one or two of whom were drowned, and the remainder considerably injured. It is stated to have been built at the expense and risk of Mr. Cooper, and to have cost about 5000 dollars —intended to have carried 16 heavy guns.

COMMENT: This was James Fenimore Cooper’s older brother William (1785-1818), best known for his dubious career at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton):

Major Robert Carr, Commander of Fort Ontario at Oswego wrote in a letter dated July 23, 1813 that: “A flimsy piece of work built or put together by a William Cooper called a floating battery but no better served than a raft sailed a few days since (16th) and took on board two brass twelve pounders with their carriages by order of General Lewis. When half way to the [Sacket’s] Harbor, a storm arose and the raft went to pieces while at anchor 1,200 yards from the shore near Great Sandy Creek. Two lives were lost and the guns went to the bottom in 14 feet of water without buoys.”

William Cooper did not attempt to build another “Ark,” as this “floating battery” was called.

Lost Child Found

Chambersburgh [PA], July 20. A Child 22 months old, son of Mr. John Mitchell ... during a short absence of its mother, about noon on Wednesday ... strolled from the house, and was not found until Friday evening.

The father being from home, Mrs. Mitchell immediately informed the neighbors of the loss of her child, who with a humanity highly commendable forsook their harvest fields to seek the little fugitive — their search proving fruitless, upwards of one hundred men assembled on Thursday, and regularly searched every part of the woods for a considerable distance around the house, but no traces of the child were discovered.

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