The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Copy of a letter from Com. Isaac Chauncey, to the Secretary of the Navy, William Jones
Geneva Gazette (Geneva, NY), Wed., May 25, 1814

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Copy of a letter from Com. Isaac Chauncey, to the Secretary of the Navy, William Jones
U. States' ship General Pike)
Sacket's Harbor, April 27, 1814 )

SIR - The night of the 25th inst. two of our guard-boats fell in with three of the enemy's boats in this bay. Lieut. Dudley, (the officer of the guard) hailed, and was answered, "guard-boats;" this, however, not being satisfactory, he repeated the hail, but was not answered; finding that the strange boats were attempting to cut him from the shore, he fired upon them; the enemy, laying their oars a short time, pulled in towards Bull Rock Point, without returning the fire.

Lieut. Dudley returned to the fleet, and got a re-inforcement of boats; but nothing more was seen of the enemy that night. Yesterday morning I directed both shores of Chaumont Bay be examined, to see whether the enemy had not secreted himself in some of the small creeks. Nothing, however, was discovered but six barrels of powder, found in the water near the shore, where our guard-boats fired on the enemy; these barrels were all slung in such a manner, that one man could take across his shoulders and carry them; each barrel had a hole bored in the head of about an inch in diameter, with a wooden plug in it; these barrels of powder were evidently fitted for the purpose of blowing our large ship up, if the enemy could have got in undiscovered, by placing them under the ship's bottom, and putting a piece of slow match or port-fire in the hole in the head, which would burn a sufficient time to allow the parties to escape before the fire would communicate to the powder; this also accounts for the enemy not returning the fire of our boats, for, having so much powder in, he was apprehensive of accidents, which no doubt induced him to heave it overboard, to prepare to return the fire if he was pursued.

It would have been impossible for the enemy to have succeeded even if he had alluded our guard-boats (which there are two lines of;) for, independent of all the approaches by water being secured by booms, the Madison is moored across the large whip's stern, within 20 yards, and her guns loaded with canister and bags of musket balls, to rake under the bottom of necessary.

A Lieut.., two Midshipmen and ten men are on watch under the ship's bottom every night, besides a marine guard outside of her - with all these precautions, I think that it would be impossible for an enemy to land near the ship yard unobserved. However, after this discovery of the enemy's intentions, we shall redouble our vigilance and exertions to preserve our fleet to meet the enemy fairly upon the Lake. I have the honor to be, & c.


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Wed., May 25, 1814
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  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.94923 Longitude: -76.12076
Richard Palmer
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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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Copy of a letter from Com. Isaac Chauncey, to the Secretary of the Navy, William Jones