The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Alarm At The Mouth of the Genesee River
Niles Weekly Register, May 28, 1814, page 314

Full Text

Reprinting of Ontario Messenger, (Canandaigua, N.Y.) May 17, 1814

Alarm At The Mouth of the Genesee River - On Thursday evening last, the British fleet was discovered standing towards Charlotte near the mouth of the Genesee River, where about 160 volunteers were stationed, with one piece of artillery. Captain Stone, the commanding officer immediately despatched expresses with the information to Colonel Hopkins at Boyle, to General hall at Bloomfield, and to General Porter at this place.

On Friday at 12 o'clock, the commodore's new ship came to anchor off the mouth of the river and sent an officer ashore with a flag, demanding a surrender of the place; and promising to respect private property in case resistance should be made, and all public property faithfully disclosed and given up. General Porter (who left Canandaigua, 38 miles distant, at 7 o'clock in the morning with Major Noon) arrived while the flat was on shore, and returned for answer to this disgraceful proposal, that the place would be defended to the last extremity.

On the return of the flat, two gunboats with from 200 to 300 men on board advanced to the mouth of the river, which is about a mile from the town and battery, and commenced a heavy cannonade directed partly to the town and partly to the bodies of troops who had been placed in ravines near the mouth of the river, to intercept the retreat of the gunboats in case they should enter.

At the expiration of an hour and a half, during which time they threw a great number of rockets, shells, and shot of difference descriptions from grape to 68 pounds, a second flat was sent from the commodore's ship, requiring in the name of the commodore of the forces, an immediate surrender, and threatening that if the demand was not complied with, he would land 1,200 troops and 400 indians. That if he should lose a single man, he would raze the town and destroy every last vestige of property, and that it was his request that the women and children might be immediately removed, as he would not be accountable for the conduct of the indians.

He was told that the answer to this demand had already explicitly given - that we were prepared to meet him, our women and children having been disposed of - and that if another flag should be sent on the subject of surrender it would not be protected. The flag returned with the gunboats to the fleet, the whole of which came to anchor about a mile from shore where they lay until 8 o'clock on Saturday morning, and then left the place.

General Porter speaks in the highest terms of the good conduct of the officers and men composing the volunteer corps and of Colonel Hopkins and the militia who had been called for the occasion and were placed under his command. Our force at 12 o'clock on Saturday was 300, and was increased to 500 during the night. Depositions were to be made that if the gunboats had entered the river as expected, they must have been cut off before they could have been reinforced. Every man was at his post during the night, in constant expectation of an attack. The British squadron consisted of 4 ships, 2 brigs and 5 gunboats.

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Date of Original:
May 28, 1814
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Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.2584 Longitude: -77.60222
Peter Warwick
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Alarm At The Mouth of the Genesee River