The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego County Whig (Oswego, NY), May 8th, 1839

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Another Outrage on the American Flag
-Attack on an American Schooner in the Welland Canal.

Capt. Hugunin, of the Schr. S. Girard, arrived this morning from the Welland Canal, has furnished us with the following statement and letters for publication. Capt. H. is one of our most respectable Lake Master, and his statement may be relied on as strictly true. The letters fully corroborate his report, were corroboration needed. Time has been when the American flag was respected wherever unfurled. It must be again. These outrages of a rabble soldiery must be restrained- they will not bear more repetition with impunity.

We give the statement of Capt. H. in his own language.-

Schr. Stephen Girard, Capt. John C. Hugunin, left Oswego Monday 15th April, for Cleveland via Welland Canal. Passed through unmolested to last lock at Gravelly Bay. On arriving there we was assailed by about 150 soldiers, in uniform under mounted officers. They ordered me to take in my stripes and stars calling us damned Yankees, declaring if they did not come down, they would come on board and down with them themselves. Said nothing in reply, when one of the officers ordered some of the soldiers to get into the after rigging, and cut the halyards, which order they obeyed, and in bringing the colors down got them afoul in the crosstrees; when the officer ordered the soldiers down, and said he would make the damned Yankees take them down.

I was forced to send one of my men aloft, and get the flag down, the men threw it on deck, when I was ordered to send it ashore, which I was obliged to do, after which we attempted to get the schooner out of the lock, and when she was nearly through the officers ordered the soldiers to shut the gates upon her, in which attempt they failed, but caught the small boat which hung upon the davits, and stove it, leaving in a sinking condition.

The officers then ordered the soldiers to stop the schooner by taking out her lines. They failed in this attempt, as the wind blew from the north. We succeeded in getting canvas upon her, and after receiving a good pelting from stones, we made out to get out of their way. The wind was very light, and soon we discovered a boat manned with men coming after the schooner. The boat got within ten to twelve rods, when the wind breezing up, and night coming on, we soon left them out of sight.

Capt. H. states that the flag was received with shout and yells by the soldiery, stuck upon a pole waved in derision and then torn in strips.

Since Capt. H's arrival at this port a portion of the torn and insulted flag, and the following letters have been sent him by a special messenger


Port Colborne Apr. 23, 1839.

Sir- I have the honor to inform you that having called a meeting of officers of this Battalion, on the subject of the outrage offered to your vessel and flag last night at this port, it was unanimously resolved that a subscription should be raised from among themselves forthwith, to purchase a new color for your schooner, which they request your acceptance of and beg of you to receive the assurance of their deep and unfeigned regret at on occurrence so calculated to destroy confidence, and interrupt the return of better feelings on this frontier:

In conveying to you, this expression of their sentiments and feelings, I beg to assure you that by no one is the late transaction more deeply deplored than by myself; and that I am extremely grieved that I was not apprized in time to offer you my apology before you quitted the shore.

On learning of it, although the weather was hazy, night setting in, and no boat at hand, I despatched a canoe with two men to return you the flag, and express my deep regret at the affair, I immediately placed in confinement those charged with the offence, and have instituted a court of Enquiry relative to it.

Trusting that you will receive this unanimous and immediate reprobation of this transaction, from the Officers of this Battalion, together with the new color, as an earnest desire on our part to repair the injury inflicted.

I have the honor to be, sir,
Your most ob't and humble serv't
C.J. Baldwin,
Col.& Lt. Col. Com 6th Prov. Bat. Mil

To Captain Hugunin, of the Stephen Girard
Port Colborne April 23, 1839
Capt. J. C. Hugunin:

I am very sorry for the unfortunate affray which took place on board your vessel last evening, and lament that I did not accompany you down, when you brought me your clearance, which would have prevented the occurrence. Those of the men who could be identified were immediately put under arrest and will be punished for their folly. They were elated with the idea of having been disbanded, and had indulged in taking too much liquor. They are preparing to march from hence tomorrow morning.

I understand your boat was injured, the repair of which and any other damage you may have sustained, I will engage to remunerate on behalf of the Welland Canal Company. I hope you will not allow this event to prevent your returning through the Canal, or influence other thereto, as you may be assured every endeavor will be exercised to facilitate your transit through the Canal, and prevent any obstacle upon your route.

I remain, Sir
Your most ob't
J. Black
Collector Welland Canal Co.

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Date of Original:
May 8th, 1839
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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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Oswego County Whig (Oswego, NY), May 8th, 1839