From the Otsego Herald

for Thursday, Feb. 9, 1815, compiled, with comments.

Naval Tragedy

By several gentlemen from the east end of Long Island...who reside near the scene of this melancholy event...we have obtained the following particulars of the uncommonly distressing occurrence: —

The Sylph is a British (ship) sloop of war, rated at 18 guns and carrying 22, and was commanded by capt. Dickens, with a crew amounting, with himself and officers, to 117 souls, of whom 111 have perished.

On Tuesday morning, the 17th [January] at half past 2 o’clock, previous to the snowstorm, the weather being thick and night dark...she struck on Southampton bar, at Shinecock bay, or Canoe Place, 5 miles west of the town; and soon beat over and drove head onwards to within a few rods of the shore.

By daylight she was perceived by the inhabitants, and a number immediately collected and hastened to attempt the relief of the people. From the height of the surf and violence of the sea, was impossible to get to the vessel.

The crew were all safe, 60 of them, in the tops [topmasts and yards] and on the rigging, until half past 8 o’clock.... Directly after a tremendous sea capsized the ship and broke her in two between the fore and main masts; the fore part rolled over and lies keel upwards, and the after part split lengthwise, went to pieces, and drifted to the leeward.

The crew being thus dashed into the sea, were chiefly drowned immediately. A few were seen on spars, and pieces of the wreck, and every exertion made by the spectators on the shore to save them.... The next...morning the bodies of [four] seamen were found on shore at Southampton and buried, and 16 others have drifted far west as Babylon, near Fire Island inlet.

The snow came on about noon, and the storm raged with great violence through the day.... The wind and tide are almost directly along the coast, with a strong undertow off shore, or probably a greater proportion of the crew would have survived.

One of the saved seamen held a little son in his arms until he was chilled to death, when he dropt him overboard. – The Columbian of Jan. 23.

COMMENT: Captain George Dickens had joined the Royal Navy in 1799, at the age of 16, and served until his death in 1815. A memorial plaque made of red cedar from the Sylph is on display at the St. Andrews Dune Church in Southampton. Recent efforts by scuba divers to locate the wreck of the Sylph have apparently been unsuccessful.

Passenger Pigeons

It is well known that the wild pigeon is a bird of passage, and that it frequents these parts regularly every year. In the spring, large flocks come from the south, and disperse amongst the uplands and mountains in the northern parts of this and the neighboring states; where they hatch and rear their young; & in the autumn, they collect together again, and with their young proceed to the south.

Extraordinary, however, as it may seem...since the first of the present month, large flocks of these birds have appeared amongst us, and have scattered themselves as usual throughout the woods.

An old farmer ... says they are very wild, that he recollects but one instance of the kind, happening before during all his life; and that was on a Christmas many years ago. ... A curious question then arises, what could induce these harmless birds, contrary to their nature and custom, to pay us a visit at this inclement season of the year?

COMMENT: The last known passenger pigeon died one hundred years ago, on Sept. 1, 1914. She was a 29 year-old female, named Martha, who lived in the Cincinnati Zoo.

From New Orleans

Dec. 30. The British have landed with a large army and are now within five miles of the city of New-Orleans. We began fighting them on the night of the 23rd [December] and have been at it almost ever since, but the principal mischief has been done by cannonading. ... Gens. Jackson, Carroll and Coffee are worth more than their weight in gold to the American government.

Jan. 6. “On the 23rd December, General Jackson received a reinforcement of 4500 men, since then Adair’s 2500, in all 7000 fine fellows from the Western States, and many others from the neighboring country; so that at this time New Orleans has not one man short of 17,000, and we are told, 7,000 negroes, who work in the trenches day and night.”

Businesses Destroyed

A cotton manufactory in Dutchess county, was burnt on the 29th [January]. And on the 30th, a cotton manufactory at Belville N.J. was destroyed by fire, loss computed at from 30 to 40,000 dollars. – Utica Gazette


In the town of Hartwick, on Monday evening, 30th January, by the Rev. Henry Chapman, Mr. Josephus B. Sizer, of Middlefield, to Miss Edna Hyslop, of the former place.

Five Dollars Reward

Ran away from the subscriber on the 29th [January] Mason Deforest, and apprentice to the shoemaking business. He is thick set, of a dark complexion, about 18 years of age; had on when he went away, a dark mixed broad cloth coat, homespun trowsers considerably worn.

All persons are forbid harboring or trusting him under penalty of the law. The above reward will be given to any person that will apprehend said runaway and secure him in any goal [jail] in the state, or return him to the subscriber, and all reasonable charges paid. Fowler P. Bryan, Unadilla, Feb. 2, 1815.

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