Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

June 13, 2013

British fortress taken

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, June 12, 1813

Compiled, with comments

by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL

Capture of Fort George

This post was evacuated on Thursday last by the enemy ... On Thursday morning ... 4,000 men under the immediate command of Gen. [Morgan] Lewis, embarked aboard the fleet ...; during the early part of the morning, there was a thick fog, which prevented the landing until 8 or 9 o’clock when the vessels formed a curved line off the point, beyond the light-house, and in the rear of Newark [today “Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario].

A van guard, consisting of 800 picked men, (among whom were [Capt. Benjamin] Forsyth’s riflemen, and a number of Baltimore and Albany volunteers) under the command of Col. [Winfield] Scott, now put for the shore in about 20 boats, and effected their landing in good order; part of them ascended the bank, and were attacked by the enemy, who had drawn his whole force to this point; they gave back and formed on the beach.

A spirited fire was now exchanged for about 15 minutes, which had but little effect on our troops ... sheltered by the bank, but the van again ascended the bank amid a shower of musketry, and compelled the enemy to give the ground. Col. Scott was ably seconded by a powerful and well directed fire from the shipping.

A body of rising [more than] 2,000 men made a landing; and the enemy prudently took up their line of retreat in the rear of Fort George; the flying artillery ... played upon the enemy in his retreat with considerable effect....

[The enemy] had made their escape, except a dozen, who had been left to blow up the magazines. Two small magazines were blown up; a short time after, their principal magazine shared the same fate ... Part of the army entered Fort George; the British flag was taken down, and the American flag substituted in its place, amidst the acclamations of thousands ...

The enemy were commanded by Gen .[John] Vincent; their forces were estimated at 3,000, regulars and militia. We understand that they retreated by the Beaver Dam for the Short Hills, (about twenty miles from Queenston.) It is reported that Gen. Lewis, with a respectable force, has gone in pursuit of the enemy ...

The village of Newark was entirely deserted by its inhabitants ... Buffalo Gazette, of June 1, 1813

COMMENT: The American capture of Fort George, the principal British fortification at the mouth of the Niagara River, opposite the American Fort Niagara, was a major and very welcome victory for the American army. Benjamin Forythe (d. 1814), commander of what we would now call “special forces,” has been described by American historian John Fredrikson as “a consummate light-infantry officer whose reckless hauteur became legendary. Equally disconcerting for superiors was his appetite for plunder, which was rapacious and permeated his entire command.”

Winfield Scott (1786-1866), went on to lead the American offensive in the Mexican-American War (1846), and – promoted to be the first Lieutenant General since Washington – was nominal American commander at the beginning of the Civil War. British General John Vincent (1764-1848) successfully saved the retreating British army, and went on to lead the campaign that forced the Americans to abandon Fort George in December 1813.

NY Governor Election

The official canvass of votes given at the late election in this state for Governor ... [gives] the whole number of votes given in the several Districts for the two candidates ...

Southern dist.: Tompkins 5,869; Van Rensselaer 5,276. Middle dist: T. 8,719; VR. 7,276. Eastern dist. T. 8,813; VR:10,526. Western dist. T. 19,923;VR. 16,649,

Totals: T. (Republican) 43,324; VR. (Federal) 39,718

COMMENT: The re-elected Daniel Tompkins (1774-1825), having defeated Federalist Stephen Van Rensselaer (1764-1839) would go on to become vice president under James Monroe.

Obituaries

Died, at Hartwick...of the consumption, Mrs. MARY POTTER, wife of Mr. Asaph Potter, aged 50.

Died, on the 11th ult. of the epidemic fever, ELIZABETH COMSTOCK, consort of Capt. Calvin Comstock, in the 61st year of her age. She was a kind companion, an agreeable neighbor, a firm believer in the doctrine of the gospel, and a communicant in the church ...

COMMENT: John Calvin Comstock (1748-1818) was married to Elizabeth Watkins Comstock (1744-1813); they had no children. Asaph Potter (1757-1818) was the husband of Mary Haskins Potter (1863-1813).

Prisoner Exchange Stopped

London, April 15 ... Saturday the American Consul was informed by government that no cartels [ships operating under flags of truce] would be permitted to leave this country for the United States, until further orders; and we learn that, in consequence of this discrimination, a vessel which was on the point of sailing with passengers and prisoners has been stopped.

This ... is said to have been occasioned by the receipt of intelligence from Sir J. B. Warren, that the exchanged of British subjects naturalized in the United States, had been peremptorily demanded by the American government, under a menace of detaining all the British prisoners that might fall into their hands

To this demand, Sir J. B. Warren refused a prompt refusal.

COMMENT: Up until this decision, there had been regular exchanges, man-for-man, of soldiers captured by the other side in the War of 1812. The issue now was whether the British could consider captured naturalized American soldiers (who had formerly been British subjects) as still British and thus accuse them of treason. It led to an end to the exchange of regular army prisoners (though captured militiamen were still often released), and the development of often harsh prison camps on both sides.