The Numbers Game; American Col. Macomb and Ogdensburg, 1813

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The Numbers Game; American Col. Macomb and Ogdensburg, 1813

Post by pud » Sun Feb 04, 2007 8:22 pm

Source: Niles's Weekly Register, Baltimore, Md., 6th March, 1813, Volume 4,p.9.

"Colonel Macomb, Commanding at Sackett's Harbor, to Major-General Dearborn.
SACKETT's HARBOR, 9 a.m., Feb. 23, 1813.

SIR,-I have this moment received an express from Captain Forsyth informing me of the enemies having succeeded in driving him out of Ogdensburg yesterday morning at 9 o'clock. It was not done without a severe contest in which the enemy suffered very considerably. The enemy attacked in two columns of about 600 men each, at about eight o'clock in the morning. The Captain reports twenty men killed and wounded, among the latter Lieutenant Baird, and from the coolness with which his riflemen fired that the enemy must have lost three times that number. The Captain retreated with all his force to Black Lake, about nine miles this side of Ogdensburg.

N.B.-The enemy had more than double the number under Captain Forsyth. There were no stores of any consequence at Ogdensburg."

The above quotation is an amazing example of how numbers can be inflated, or deflated, according to the military needs of the day. The Canadian commander at the Battle of Ogdensburg, George Macdonell, actually deflated his numbers by approximately 150 soldiers while the American Colonel of the district randomly decided to inflate the Canadian/British numbers by double (600 soldiers)!

It's also amazing to see that the Colonel has, as a final note, decided to indicate that there were no stores of any consequence left by Forsyth at Ogdensburg. The Canadian Military Secretary, Freer, and the Canadian commander at Ogdensburg, Macdonell, both indicated the enormous amounts of goods and stores that were retrieved and taken from Ogdensburg back to Canada. Why, therefore, would Macomb indicate to his superior that there were actually no stores of consequence left by his retreating force at Ogdensburg? Even the independent American witness who reported to the American Daily Advertiser of Philadelphia managed a more true and accurate representation of the events and aftermath at Ogdensburg. Oh, how the propaganda machine spins it's ugly tales. :shock:

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