Elizabethtown (Brockville) Feb.6, 1813 - A Forsythe victory

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Elizabethtown (Brockville) Feb.6, 1813 - A Forsythe victory

Post by pud » Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:09 pm

Source: A History Of The War between Great Britain and the United States of America During The Years 1812, 1813 & 1814. G. Auchinleck. Arms and Armour Press and Pendragon House, Great Britain, 1972. pp. 130-131.

“ The River St. Lawrence affords, in its frozen state, during the early part of the year, an easy and safe mode of transit from the American to the Canadian shores, and advantage was taken of this by Captain Forsythe, who commanded a detachment of United States riflemen at Ogdensburgh, to despatch marauding parties across who did not confined their operations to the destruction of public property, but exercised considerable severity towards the unarmed inhabitants.

A nocturnal predatory expedition, which has been thought worthy of being ranked amongst the "brilliant achievements" of American valour, took place on the 6th February. General Armstrong in his "notices of the war" says, "Forsythe, with two companies of a rifle corps in sleighs, ascended the St. Lawrence from Ogdensburg to Elizabethtown on the Canada shore, surprised the British guard, made fifty-two prisoners, (among whom were the Major, three Captains and two Lieutenants), liberated sixteen deserters, and made prize of one hundred and forty muskets and a considerable quantity of ammunition without losing a man of his party." This statement, officially made, was of course highly gratifying and consolatory to the American public; in James' version, however, the affair assumed a different aspect. "After wounding a militia sentry, the houses in the village, the gaol not omitted, were ransacked and the male inhabitants to the number of fifty-two were carried off. Several days, as in the United States, held commissions in the militia." This circumstance, according to James, was a fortunate one, and "the American public was, a few days afterwards, officially told of the capture, in a very gallant manner, of a British guard consisting of fifty-two men, including two Majors, three Captains, and two Lieutenants (of militia not added.) One circumstance, connected with this affair, will place in it its proper light. Major McDonnell of the Glengarry fencibles was despatched with a flag of truce to remonstrate with the American commander about "the depredations committed by the parties under his command." This remonstrance, James adds, was met with "insolence, taunts and boastings," and a challenge to the British officers to meet the Americans on the ice. This challenge could not then be complied with, as Sir George Prevost declined to sanction the proceedings, assigned as his reason, "that he did not wish, by any offensive acts of the sort, to keep alive a spirit of hostility."

This predatory attack was, however, ere long, punished by the attack on Ogdensburgh, which was made on the 22nd, under the command of Major McDonnell, and resulted in the capture of a quantity of ordinance, marine and commercial stores, together with four officers and seventy privates. Two barracks, two armed schooners, and two gunboats were also destroyed. This attack was made under a heavy fire from the American batteries, at the cost of eight killed and fifty-two wounded.”

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