From the Otsego Heraldfor Saturday, May 15, 1813
Compiled, with comments
by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL
British Raid Havre de Grace
Havre de Grace, May 3. “This morning, a little after the break of day, a British armed force, under cover of armed vessels which anchored in front of this town ... landed below a small breast work which had been roughly thrown up, and in which were one 9 and two 4 pounders, manned by 50 militia.
“The vessels in front of the town threw three Congreve rockets, one of which passed through a frame house without further damage; another struck a Mr. Webster on the left side of his head, and killed him on the spot; the attack was a surprise, and there was neither an organized resistance nor defence. About six o’clock, a few of the militia, who had occupied the small redout, evacuated it & abandoned the town; the enemy possessed itself of the 9 pounder and two four pounders, & afterwards proceeded with torches and other combustibles prepared for the purpose, to conflagrate several of the houses.
“The two taverns and thirteen houses were burnt to the ground, two stables and several stacks of hay were also burnt; they plundered all the inhabitants whom they found, women and children indiscriminately, ripping open feather beds and throwing the feathers to the winds, and taking with them the ticking; women and children’s clothes were also taken from their persons; they burnt every vessel here except one which lay sunk on the east side of the Susquehanna.
“In the afternoon, between 2 and 3 o’clock, there were four vessels on fire, three schooners & a sloop. After having this specimen of their religion & mode of warfare, worthy of their ancient and established character, marauding and burning, they crossed the river and burnt Cecil Furnace, a blacksmith’s shop, a grist and saw mill, and with their characteristic malignity, they burnt the bridge [by] which alone travelling in carriages can be effected on the post road.
“Thirteen barges lay afloat half a mile below the town, and had threatened publicly to burn Charleston this morning.
“The alarm which this invasion occasioned, extended in every direction to the distance of several miles; and men, women and children, with furniture, horses, sheep &c. were seen flying in every direction. The bay side is generally abandoned. – Aurora.”
COMMENT: Beginning in 1813, the British Navy began to blockade American ports, especially in the areas of the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, and to mount raids against coastal communities there.
Governor Re-elected: Federalists Gain
[Table of April 1813 Otsego County Election Returns]
COMMENT: In New York State elections held in April 1813, Gov. Daniel Tompkins (1774-1825) was re-elected, defeating the Federalist Stephen Van Rensselaer (1764-1839). His Democratic-Republican Party also carried New York’s State Senate. However, the Federalist Party, making an important – if temporary – comeback because of opposition to the War of 1812, carried the New York Assembly for several years, with a big enough majority to choose a Federalist United States Senator. It also elected 19 of New York’s 28 Congressmen.
A year before the Federalist controlled Assembly had changed the name of our village from the village of Otsego, which the previous Democratic-Republican majority had dubbed it when the village was incorporated in 1807, to its present name of the village of Cooperstown. As a result village trustees first elected in 1807 ended their “strike” and began to govern!
In Otsego County voters supported all Federalist candidates, though generally with small majorities.
British Blockade of American Ports
FOREIGN OFFICE, March 30, 1813. His Royal Highness the Prince Regent has been pleased, in the name and on the behalf of his Majesty, to cause it to be signified by Viscount Castlereagh, his Majesty’s principal Secretary of State for foreign affairs, to the ministers of friendly and neutral powers residing at this court, that the necessary measures have been taken, by the command of his Royal Highness, for the blockade of the ports and harbors of New-York, Charleston, Port Royal, Savannah, and of the river Mississippi, in the United States of America; and that, from this time all the measures authorized by the law of nations will be adopted and executed with respect to all vessels which may attempt to violate the said blockade.
COMMENT: Under the international laws of war, a nation may blockade the ports of an enemy, and seize and keep any ships seeking to enter or leave these ports. It must, however, publicly declare such a blockade (as this British order does), and must have enough naval ships around the port to carry it out effectively.
Notice that in this case the blockade only applies to the Port of New York and those to its south; the ports of New England are still allowed to trade, because the New England states were opposed to the war and quite willing to sell goods to Canada and other British destinations. Only later would the blockade be extended to cover them.
Prince George of England (1762-1830) had taken over the duties of his father, King George III (1738-1820) when the King became mentally incompetent in 1811, and was thus called the Prince Regent. Because of his flamboyant style of life, imitated by many of his countrymen, this period and its styles are often referred to as “Regency.” In 1820, when George III died, Prince George assumed the throne as King George IV, and reigned — not very gloriously — until his own death 10 years later.
Died at Springfield on the 10th inst. [May], Miss RUTH HERRICK, late of this village, in the 20th year of her age.
COMMENT: Ruth had made a will on April 27, 1813, dividing most of her property between her five brothers, but giving an additional 20 shillings “for each and every week which my kind and affectionate brother Almerin Herrick has spent or shall hereafter spend in attending on me during my last illness ...”