The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Ontario Repository (Canandaigua, NY), Tues., May 24, 1814

Full Text
The War

We have heard of no events of the war on land, since our last. The enemy appeared again off Oswego on the 16th inst. but did not land.

The guns, and other military stores destined for Sacket's Harbor, had been taken on by land, instead of going via Oswego p they would not reach the Harbor as soon by 10 or 15 days. The fleet of Com. Chauncey will thus be longer detained from weighing anchor.


Attack on Oswego.

The following letter from a gentleman in Oswego, to his friend in this town, gives a more particular account of the affair of the 5th and 6th inst. than we have seen. Other letters from the place represent our loss to be greater than is here allow; but we hope they are inaccurate:

"Oswego, May 11, 1814

On Friday last I wrote to you but our mail fell into the hands of the British. They commenced an attack on this place on Thursday last but did not land; they recommenced again Friday morning, landed and stored our fort. Their force consisted of 1500 regular troops - 500 marines, besides sailors. They had two new ships, the one a 44, the other a 54 - in all, four ships and three brigs. We had, to defend the place, only about 150 regulars, under command of Col. Mitchell - about 20 sailors, under command of Capt. Woolsey, and a few militia who did no good at all. Our troops fought with a bravery that did them much honor - they had only five old rusty condemned pieces of cannon, some without trunnions, and all very badly mounted - still the fire of the whole British fleet could not silence them. They were at last taken with the bayonet and boarding pike. One of our sergeants actually stayed by his gun until one of the enemy caught him by his hair and pulled him from it.

"The British were commanded by Lt. Gen. Drummond. Sir James L. Yeo led the advance with sailors, armed with boarding pikes; he was the first that landed, and among the first that entered the fort. Capt. Mulcaster, who last year commanded the Royal George, was mortally wounded, just as he reached our flag-staff on one of the bastions of the fort. He died, I am informed, before that got him on board his vessel.

"The enemy landed on the east side of the fort, near a small shrubbery; a great number of them were killed as they rose that bank, by a party of our troops who were stationed there. Col. Mitchell had been here but a few days previous to the attack, and had not had time to repair the garrison which has been decaying ever since the Revolution, - Our troops retreated to the falls, in good order, and leisurely. The British pursued them but a small distance. The loss of the enemy is estimated at about 100 . - Our loss is about 10 killed, 20 wounded, and 24 taken prisoners. We lost but one officer, Lt. Blaney, who was killed on the field.

"As soon as the British had taken the fort, they crossed over to the village. It would be impossible to describe the scene of plunder and devastation that ensued: - in short, they carried away all they wanted, and what they did not want they destroyed. The druggist store of Messrs. Beach & Co. affords a specimen. On the floor was a pile of drugs, medicines, bottles, paints, sugar, molasses, &c &c. - the heads of liquor casks were stove in and destroyed. While this was transacting, General Drummond and Sir James sent out flags of truce to the inhabitants, who had principally fled at their approach, and solicited them to return to the village and go to their houses, promising them that their persons and property should be held sacred; but as soon as the treacherous rascals got all in they could, they put a guard over them, sent them to the garrison, and confined them until they left here; when, not yet content, they carried off four of the inhabitants - Alvin Bronson, Abm. D. Hugunin, Eli Stevens, and a boy, clerk of Mr. Bronson's, named Carlos Coulton.

"The public property at this place was but trifling; perhaps 300 bbls. provisions for the army, besides some naval stores, the principal part of which was laden on board of a small schooner belonging to Mr. Bronson and myself. The most important articles she had on board were, three 32 and two 24 pounders, for our new ship at the harbor - the rest of her cargo was shot, cordage, &c. This schooner was sunk, but the water not being deep, the enemy got her up again and sent her out. The British were very much disappointed and chagrined to find so small a quantity of public stores here. The U.S. provisions had been previously thrown into the river, so that they got but a small share of it. - I believe the ammunition they expended was worth more than they all got, besides the loss of several valuable officers and a number of men. Col. Mitchell deserves the greatest praise for his judicious arrangements and gallant conduct, and so do his officers and men, for their determined spirit and bravery in disputing the ground, to the utmost extremity, against such a superior force.

"Our large new ship at the harbor was launched on the 1st instant - I was present - she has sixty-six ports on her sides - the two new brigs are rigged - another ship, as large as the Pike, is on the stocks, and will be completed soon. - We have intelligence from Kingston, and it is believed, that the British have commenced a vessel at that place which is to carry one hundred and ten guns!"*

{*The same vessel, probably, lately mentioned in a Montreal paper, as intended to carry eight guns. - Ed. Repos.]


The following proceedings of the inhabitants of Oswego, alluded to in the last Repository, having excited some conversation, and having been pronounced in the Messenger, "infamous"" and "disgraceful stipulations," we insert them, that every man may judge for himself how far the people of Oswego, situated as they were, unprotected by government, while at the same time it place public property there, that induced an attack from the enemy - are justified in the measures they adopted


"At a meeting of the inhabitants of the village of Oswego, on the 13th April 1814, convened for the purpose of taking into consideration the present exposed situation of said village, and of adopting some uniform and general rules of conduct to be observed by the said citizens in case of an invasion by an armed British force - Col. Eli Parsons was chosen chairman, and Samuel B. Beach appointed secretary. Resolved, unanimously, That the inhabitants of this place duly appreciate, and will, under all circumstances, preserve and maintain the duty which, as good and faithful citizens, they owe to the government of the United States.

Resolved, That the village of Oswego is at present left without any aid or the prospect of any from the government of this state or of the United States, capable of defending it against invasion.

Resolved, That our present condition, in case of an invasion by a respectable armed British force, is not the duty nor is it advisable for the citizens of this place to attempt resistance to the same by force of arms.

Resolved, In case the British naval force, on Lake Ontario, shall appear on this place and menace the landing of an armed force, or otherwise menace or attempt the destruction of the same, that Col. Eli Parsons, Edmond Hawkes, Esq., Peter D. Hugunin, Esq., Samuel B. Beach, Thomas H. Wentworth, and Mathew M'Nair, be, and they are hereby appointed a committee, on the part and the behalf of the inhabitants of this village - whose duty it shall be (or the duty of any three or more of them) to meet the said British force, or the commanding officer of the same, or any flag which may be sent by the said commanding officer, as soon as may be needed necessary after their appearance, with full powers to make all lawful stipulation; and to use all lawful endeavors to obtain from the said commanding officer, security and immunity to the lives, persons, and private property of the inhabitants of the said village.

Resolved, That the proceedings and resolutions of this meeting be signed by each member of the same, and that each member individually, and for himself voluntarily pledges his honor, that he will in all things be strictly bound and governed by any article of capitulation which may be made or any stipulations which may be entered into by the committee above named, within the limits of their authority, for the general security of the persons and property of the inhabitants of this village, and that he will conduct himself accordingly.

Eli Parsons, Samuel B. Beach, Eli Stevens, Stephen B. Grummon, Hezekiah Wing, Portius I. Parsons, Zenas Hastings, Thomas C. Wentworth, Jehiel Hart, Micah Dougherty, Asahel Hawley, William Tryon, W. L. Olloway, Benj. Case, Abraham D. Hugunin, Peter D. Hugunin, Elias Parks, Mathew McNair, Daniel Hugunin jun., Asa Rice, Amos Porter."

I certify, that on the 13th day of May last, a flag was received from the British naval force lying off the mouth of Genesee River, of whom a certain paper was received signed by a number of the inhabitants of the village of Oswego, of which the above is a true copy. Taken by request of Col. Caleb Hopkins and Capt. Isaac Stone.

May 15, 1814

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Tues., May 24, 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.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Ontario Repository (Canandaigua, NY), Tues., May 24, 1814