The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Montreal Herald (Montreal, QC), May 28, 1814

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Kingston, May 12th, 1814.

The storming of Oswego has been the subject of much conversation, without the public being gratified with a private sketch. As a result of your valuable paper, which has often given me pleasure; in return, if you think the following worth inserting, you are at liberty to do so, from an eye witness, and an unprejudiced observer.

"On the morning of the 5th inst. at day light, the alarm guns fire[d]? along the coast; some hours after we anchored off Oswego, several gun boats were sent in to find the strength of the Fort, which was executed with the greatest coolness, particularly the one under the command of Capt. Collier, who was the most exposed. Those Boats were recalled, and the troops ordered to be ready that evening, which was prevented by a very heavy squall, that occasioned the ships to make sail off shore.

On the following day we returned, and orders sent for the troops to rendezvous by the Prince Regent. The detachment of Seamen and a few Marines, Princess Charlotte.

The Wolf received orders to place herself in the best position near the Fort; Capt. Popham displayed great skill and gallantry, and succeeded in carrying the Commodore's orders into effect. Shortly after the Signal was made by the George, to close to the Wolf; while the Sir Sydney Smith Schooner scoured the shore in the Town side, where a large body of Militia were perceived. The Princess Charlotte firing single shot slowly.

At noon our troops pushed for the shore, under cover of the Moira, consisting of the second Batt. Royal Marines, two flank companies of De Watteville's and one of the Glengary Regt. all under the command of that gallant veteran, Col. Fischer. The Boats proceeded to the Shore with that silence so characteristic of the British Soldier, until the Fort opened their fire, when they were answered with repeated cheers.

The Melville, covering the detachment under that valuable officer Capt. Mulcaster.

The Boats grounded on large stones under a very heavy fire of Grape, Canister and Musketry; the gun boats drawing nearly four feet water, occasioned the loss of nearly one half the ammunition; some of the troops up to the necks in the water; but such as the rapidity and cool determination of the Royal Marines (so much accustomed to Boats, &c.) who formed, advanced, and carried the Fort in fifteen minutes, without returning a shot, although exposed to a dreadful fire. The Seamen ably supported them while the Watteville's and Glengary's were successfully skirmishing with the Enemy outside. Every thing appeared to me who was a cool spectator on Board, like magic. The part of the Fort opposite the Ships was first mounted, in face of the Enemy, at same instant almost, the front facing the Town; in short every one seemed anxious to be first, and the Fort was covered nearly at the same moment.

In the midst of this scene, an Officer was distinctly seen mounting the Flag Staff, tearing from it the American Colors, which was nailed, placing in its stead the British; the fire shortly after this instance of intrepidity, (which is the admiration of every one) ceased and all became as it were a Calm.

The Boats returned with the reserve to the shore viz. Four companies of De Watteville's. Our loss has been very considerable; the Enemy must have suffered severely; they certainly behaved with great spirit, but I am truly sorry to state that many British deserters were among them, who fought, I am told, with desperation.

Not an instance of cruelty was known to be committed, although the Fort was taken by storm, with the additional circumstance of their colors being nailed, when no quarter could be expected it reflects great disgrace on their commanding officer; while it proudly adds to the British character, fulfilling the old adage that the "Brave are merciful." Some valuable property has been captured, and a quantity destroyed with their public store houses &c. &c. Five companies of Marines came off that evening; also De Watteville's and Glengary's leaving three companies of the former to destroy the Fort which was completely effected, and all returned by three o'clock next morning.

Never could an expedition be better formed or executed; his honor General Drummond, Com. Sir Jas. Yeo, Col. Harvey, &c. &c. were much exposed; the Commodore having one ball through his Cap, and twice grazed in the pantaloons. The Royal Marines are spoken of in the highest style possible, therefore, the praise of an individual can be of little service; to a Corps that stands so high in the list of Fame De Wattevilles do honor, to the veteran who commands them. The Glengary's speak always for themselves in every action."


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May 28, 1814
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Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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Montreal Herald (Montreal, QC), May 28, 1814