Genealogy Trails

War of 1812

"The War at Sea"


Submitted by Nancy Piper

The Centinel, Gettysburg, Pa , JULY 8, 1812
Philadelphia, June 30, 1812
Naval Action
A seaman belonging to the Schr. Venus, Captain Johnson, arrived in the river Delaware, reports that he spoke Mr. Cook, a pilot off Nantucket shoals on Wednesday evening who informed him that Com. Rodgers had captured the British Frigate Belvidere after a severe action in which the Belvidere had lost between 90 and 100 men. The frigate President had lost two of her masts – the number of killed and wounded on board the President did not exceed 40. They were towing the Belvidere for the first port they could make. The pilot also informed that he had seen the action.
Our informant further adds that Commodore Decatur, with the remainder of the squadron was in pursuit of the Jamaica fleet.
Letters from New York say that accounts were received in that city yesterday of the Belvidere British frigate having been brought into New London, entirely dismasted.

The Centinel, Gettysburg, Pa , JULY 29, 1812
From the Ontario Repository printed at Canandaigua, June 30, 1812
We learn that soon after receiving the news of the declaration of war at Canada, a British boat captured an American vessel on Lake Erie belonging principally to Mr. Peter H. Colt, who was on board – that an American officer, Lieut. Gansevoort of Fort Niagara, with a sergeant, who happened to be over the river at the time the news of war was received, were detained by the British.

An express reached town yesterday morning, which left the lines Sunday evening at 5 o’clock with information that the British forces were assembling in considerable numbers near the river and that their movements indicated a preparation to cross to the American shore. In consequence Maj. Mullany, commanding officer at this place, immediately prepared his troops, above 200 and marched last evening for the frontiers.

The Centinel, Gettysburg, Pa , August 5, 1812
Action upon Lake Ontario
On Sunday the 19th inst., at 9 a.m., the Royal George, the Prince Regent and two brigs entered Sackets’s Harbor, came within one and a half miles of town and commenced an attack and continued the cannonade about one hour, during which time one ball only (a 32 pounder) reached the shore. The brig Oneida lay in shore, half her guns were unshipped and with two nine’s mounted upon a redoubt thrown up on Friday and Saturday preceding by order of Maj. Gen. Van Rensellaer. The two shot from the nine’s hulled the Royal George and one shot carried away the totetop gallant mast of the Prince Regent, when the British squadron bore away.
The British squadron had captured a revenue cutter, and sent the men ashore, with a message that unless the brig which had been taken by Capt. Woolley was immediately restored they would burn the town. The above communication was made to Mr. Cook by the Hon. Mr. Atwater of St. Lawrence.

The Centinel, Gettysburg, Pa , August 26 1812

It appears by accounts received from Halifax that the balance of the war at sea is much against us. The British have taken into Halifax 24 vessels, mostly laden with very valuable cargoes. They have also taken the United States sloop of war Nautilus and 12 or 14 privateers and have captured and burnt 10 vessels in addition to those sent into Halifax. The cargo of one of the vessels taken was estimated at 300,000 dollars.

The Centinel, Gettysburg, Pa , September 9, 1812
Boston, Aug. 31
The U. States frigate Constitution, Capt. Hull, anchored yesterday in the outer harbor, from a short cruise during which she fell in with the English frigate Guerriere which she captured after a short but severe action. The damage sustained by the fire of the Constitution was so great that it was found impossible to tow her into port and accordingly the crew were taken out and the ship sunk.

The Centinel, Gettysburg, Pa , September 16, 1812
The Constitution took and destroyed two English brigs, one in ballast and one loaded with lumber, bound to England. Also, two days previous in falling in with the Guerrier, recaptured the brig Adeline, of Bath, from London, with a full cargo of dry goods, which had been taken 7 days previous by the sloop of war Avenger, took out the crew and ordered her for the first port in the United States.

The Centinel, Gettysburg, Pa , September 30, 1812
Two British squadrons on our coast.
It is now ascertained that two British squadrons consisting of at least six frigates are on our coast. They have come on the coast for the purpose of falling in with the squadron under the command of commodore Rodgers, when he puts to sea again. The enemy’s force consists of the following frigates, viz.
Belvidere, Eqius, and Maidstone frigates which on Monday last in the forenoon boarded the ship Gangea, from London for this port, off Long Branch, within two miles of the shore, since which they have probably stood to the eastward; and the following shins have taken nearly the same station, a short distance from Sandy Hook, as we are informed by the passengers in the packet, viz.
The frigates Acasts, Statira and Nymph on Thursday, at noon, boarded the British packe 20 miles to the eastward of the Highlands, and the boarding officer stated, that they hourly expected to fall in with Com. Rodgers, from Boston, they having heard of his arrival at that port, and of the capture of the Guerreirs, by the Constitution.

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), October 28, 1812
New York, Oct. 17
Intelligence from the North
Our attentive and obliging correspondent at Albany has enclosed us an extra sheet of the Albany Register, containing the following interesting particulars of the late attack upon Ogdensburg:

From the Ogdensburg Palladium of October 6.
Attack on Ogdensburg.
On Friday last about 40 British boats came up the river St. Lawrence. They arrived at Johnston about sunset, escorted by two gun boats. On their leaving Johnstown for Prescott (opposite this place) a heavy cannonade was opened from the batteries at Prescott upon this village, which continued for two hours, in order to cover the boats, in proceeding to Prescott from Johnstown. The fire was returned in a very spirited manner from batteries, until it was perceived that long shots made but little effect. On Saturday morning the boats were discovered to be in the harbor at Prescott, and early in the morning the enemy commenced a heavy fire on this place from 12, 9 and 6 pounders, which General Brown thought proper to answer. The fire continued for about half an hour. The enemy were mostly engaged all day in preparing their botas for something more serious and at about 10 o’clock on Sunday morning, 25 boats, aided by two gun boats, mounted with nine pounders, moved up the river from Prescott about three fourths of a mile, and then tacked and made for this place. As soon as they altered their course, all the cannon on the batteries at Prescott opened a fire on this village, which was not answered until the boats had advanced about the middle of the river, when our batteries commenced a tremendous cannonade upon thm, which after about an hour caused the enemy to return to Prescott in great confusion.

From the judicious arrangements made by Col. Benedict, Capt Forsyth, Capt. Griffin, Major Bull, Major Demcock, Adjutant Horcakiss, Capt. Hubbard, Capt. Benedict, Capt. McNit, and others, of the troops under their command, as directed by general Brown, had the enemy attempted a landing, an immense slaughter most inevitably have ensued. No person could have been more zealous and attentive than General Brown, through the whole action. Praise is also due to his field, staff and commissioned officers.

By this action the British are taught that 400 Yankees will not decline a combat when attacked by 1000 of their troops. Colonels Lethbridge and Backenbridge led the British in person. Although several hundred twelve, nine and six pound shot were thrown into this village, we are happy to inform our readers that not a single person was either killed or wounded, and very little damage to our village. From several deserters we learn that a number were killed and several wounded on board the bias – that one of their batteries gave way, by which circumstance a 12 pounder was dismounted and that one of their iron 9’s burst and mortally wounded a number of those who were managing the piece. Messers, York, Parsons and Tattle of the artillery deserve praise for their bravery and good conduct through the action.

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), October 28, 1812
From the Ontario Messenger Extra
Canandaicua, Oct 10

Great and Gallant Exploits
The western stage has just arrived and brings us some intelligence, which we hasten to lay before the readers of the Messenger. It appears that the brave sailors who had just arrived to the lines, with other volunteers, in all amounting to 200 men, went from Buffaloe on the night of the 8th and 9th inst., in boats, and took the British vessels, the brig Adams (surrendered at Detroit) and the schooner Caledonia, which were lying under the protection of the British Fort Erie. They completely succeeded in taking the vessels and 50 prisoners, and brought them to Black Rock, and there run them aground. This was about three o’clock in the morning.
The battery opposite Black Rock commenced a dreadful fire upon the vessels; and as Major Wm. H. Cuyler, aid to Gen. Hall and Major Muttany, (23d regulars) were riding down the beach, a shot from the battery struck Major Cuyler, and instantly killed him. It is with much regret that we announce this fatal termination of the services of a brave, active and useful officer. And we regret that so glorious an achievement should have produced such misfortune. Two of the volunteering party were killed and 7 wounded.
When the stage left Buffaloe yesterday morning, the firing from the British continued incessantly. We shall soon hear what was the effect.

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), November 4, 1812
Splendid Action
Meadville, October 14, 1812
Mr. Brickland, a soldier of Col. McArthur’s regiment, surrendered at Detroit, arrived here yesterday from Buffaloe, which place he left on the 10th inst. and states that on the 9th in the afternoon, a number of sailors arrived there from New York. On the same evening the brig Adams and the Caledonia, came down to Fort Erie and anchored. The sailors were already tired of being on shore, and determined to get on board as soon as possible. On the same night about 100 of these brave tars, with Captain Chepins of Buffaloe, went on board of boats and boarded both the vessels. They had cut the cables of the vessels before they were discovered and took complete possession of them. Capt. Chepins, cut off the ear of the captain of the Caledonia, before he surrendered.

At Black Rock, Major Schuyler, aid of Gen. Hall, stood on the shore with lights and 200 men with him, to catch the cables of the vessels and secure them. The Caledonia was secured; but at the time the brig Adams was going down, the Major was unfortunately killed by a cannon ball from the British fort. The vessel swung round and drifted down to the square island.

The vessels were boarded at 2 o’clock at night and the cannonade on both sides commenced about three o’clock and lasted until about half after nine next morning. There were three of the sailors killed by a cannon ball.

Soon as the brig Adams grounded, our men abandoned her, taking with them the prisoners which amounted in both vessels to 52. In the morning the British sent over boats and scuttled her. A colonel, whose name our informant does not recollect, was ordered on the island with 160 men to repulse the British force, which consisted of 48. The colonel shamefully retreated against the wish of his own men. Capt. Chepins then volunteered with 25 picked volunteers, landed on the island, attacked the British, and without losing a man killed 40 of the enemy. Three only escaped. They set fire to the brig in pursuance of orders to do so, on the appearance of more boats. The boats however, which appeared were American boats coming up the river to their assistance. She burned down to the water edge. She was loaded with stores, such a cannon ball and powder, surrendered at Detroit and carried eighteen guns. All the stores are saved and are estimated at 100,000 dollars. The Caledonia was loaded with furs belonging to the north western company and the cargo is estimated at 160,000 dollars. The prize money to each of the brave sailors will be about 5,000 dollars. American forces are about 20,000 on the whole line and will cross in a few days.

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), November 4, 1812
Buffaloe, October 13
Commendable justice in the enemy.
In our paper of Sept. 29, we gave an account of the plunder of several families at Sturgeon Point, by the crew of a British boat.

A proper representation of the same having been made to the British commander at Fort Erie, last week, a flag arrived and brought over all the plundered articles they could find about the boats or ship and 300 dollars in British gold to repair the damage. We understand that a letter accompanied the money and goods, disavowing the unwarrantable act, and apologizing in a very handsome manner for the outrage. The evils of war would be much diminished, should this principle be acted upon at all places on the frontiers.

From several of the American prisoners who were captured on board of the Adams, we have the following account from Detroit:

The Adams left Malden on the 5th, and arrived at Fort Erie on the 8th. They state that the expedition that went against Fort Wayne, on the 14th September had returned to Malden on the 4th of October unsuccessful. The expedition consisted of 400 regulars and militia and 1500 Indians. They proceeded towards Fort Wayne until they came within 16 miles of an American army, which they learned from a prisoner their spies took to be Harrison’s. They then precipitately retreated leaving much of their ammunition &c. on the ground. It was understood at Malden that Harrison was advancing upon Detroit with his army. The Queen Charlotte was detained at Detroit, on account of the expected arrival of Gen. Harrison. At Detroit much property had been destroyed by the Indians. It is much feared that the savages will massacre all the Americans at Detroit. The above gentleman did not understand that any scalps were paid for by the British. The British commanders had in several instances ransomed American prisoners taken by the Indians.



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