The American Weekly Messenger; or Register of State Papers, History and Politics for 1813 - 1814 Volume 1
AuthorConrad, John, 1776?-1851
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractRegister of state papers, history, and politics for the years 1813 - 1814. 23 October 1813. Contains a brief article on some skirmishing near Fort George on October 6 (p. 67). A brief account of the skirmishing is in a letter from Brig. Gen. McClure to Governor Tompkins, dated at Fort George, 6 October 1813. It is stated that “about 500 militia volunteers and 150 Indians, commanded by Col. Chapin, attacked the picket guard of the enemy about a mile and a half from Fort George…we succeeded in driving the enemy into the woods, when night coming on put an end to the conflict…” (p. 73).
A letter from Gen. Harrison to the Department of War states that “the Ottawas and Chippewas have withdrawn from the British, and have sent in three of their warriors to beg for peace, promising to agree to any terms that I shall prescribe…Tecumseh heads that which remain with the British…” (p. 73).
The American victory at the Thames River, near Moraviantown, is acknowledged in a letter from Gen. Harrison to the Department of War, dated 5 October, 1813 (p. 74). A lengthy account of the battle follows in a letter by Gen. Harrison to the Secretary of War, dated 9 October 1813 (p. 74-76). It is stated that “…of the British troops, twelve were killed and twenty-two wounded. The Indians suffered mostly—thirty three of them having been found upon the ground, besides those killed on the retreat”. Tecumseh was killed in this battle.
A brief update of the activity at Fort George is included in a letter dated October 12. It is stated that “the enemy have left the vicinity of Fort George. General McClure is closely pursuing them, with about 2000 men, volunteers, militia, and Indians. It is believed he will pursue them at least to Forty Mile Creek” (p. 79).
30 October 1813. Contains an update on the activities in the Niagara region up to October 13. It is written that “Colonel Scott crossed the Niagara on the 13th, with the regulars, for the mouth of the Genessee River, where he would embark for Sackett’s Harbour. The certainty of Proctor’s defeat was not known at Niagara. It is not the design to abandon Fort George; but it is presumed the militia are competent to its defence against any disposable force the enemy can send against it. Our force still remaining in that neighbourhood probably amounts to 1500 men” (p. 95).
6 November 1813. Contains a proclamation by Gen. McClure, commanding officer of the Niagara Frontier, dated at Fort George, 16 October 1813 (p. 109). He states that he “finds the Upper Province deserted by the British army and abandoned by its government—in the peculiar situation of the inhabitants, it is essential to their security, that some regulations should be established for their government, while the American army has the power of enforcing them. The general regrets to say, that illegal, unauthorized and forbidden pillage has been committed by a few…he cannot promise complete security, but he engages as far as his power extends, to protect the innocent, the unfortunate, and the distressed”.
20 November 1813. Contains a letter by Gen. Harrison about the Battle of the Thames (Moraviantown). He writes that “the Indians were extremely desirous of fighting us at Malden. I enclose you Tecumseh’s speech to Proctor: it is at once an evidence of the talents of the former, and the greatest defect of them in the latter”. Tecumseh’s speech to Gen. Proctor is included following the letter (p. 141).
18 December 1813. An extract of a letter to the Albany Register, dated 29 November 1813, states that “I left Fort George on Wednesday afternoon last. An expedition under the command of gen. McClure, consisting of militia, volunteers, regulars and Indians, was to have marched the next day against the British at Burlington Heights…The British are fearful of an attack and have made preparations to resist…” (p. 206).
25 December 1813. An update on a planned attack on Burlington Heights is provided on page 209. It is said that “the expedition against Burlington Heights, which had left Fort George under the command of General McClure on the 26th of last month, was abandoned after the troops had marched twenty miles on the road; the enemy having so entirely broken up and obstructed the roads, and destroyed all the bridges between the Heights and Fort George, as to render the march of our army impracticable”. A similar report can be found on page 224.
1 January 1814. Contains an article and commentary on the American abandonment of Fort George and burning of Newark, as well as the British capture of Fort Niagara and burning of Lewiston, Manchester, and Tuscarora in retaliation for Newark. It is written that “we consider it as unworthy the arms of free America to wage unnecessary war with the whole population, women, children, and all, of a town which we had conquered for the purpose of annexing it to our territory, and to leave, in this season of the year in such a climate, without a roof to shelter their heads, the unfortunate families to whom we were holding out the hope of incorporating them with our union” (p. 225-226).
Mention of Gen. McClure’s failed attack on Burlington Heights is made on page 237. It is also stated here that “General McClure is enlisting men from his brigade, to serve for three months, to assist in defending Fort George and Niagara—Regular troops, amounting to 500, are to be stationed at Fort George this winter”. This is followed by reports of the American evacuation of Fort George and burning of Newark, and the British capture of Fort Niagara and burning of Lewiston, Manchester and Tuscarora.
The appointment of William Perriman (an Indian allied with the British) to Brigadier General is mentioned on page 237, adding that “may Tecumseh’s fate to meted to him, and destruction be the fate of his cruel employers”.
8 January 1814. Contains an extract of a letter from Gov. Tompkins to the Secretary of War, dated at Albany, 24 December 1813. He writes that “Fort Niagara has been taken by the British—the Garrison was surprised. Captain Leonard (1st regiment of artillery) had the command, but it is rumored that he was not in the fort at the time, but with his family some miles off” (p. 254). A letter follows from Brig. Gen. Hopkins to Gov. Tomkins, dated at Buffalo, 20 December 1814, reporting the burning of Lewiston and Tuscarora.
15 January 1814. Contains an address by General McClure about recent events on the Niagara frontier (p. 265-266). He writes that, prior the their evacuation of Fort George “I gave orders for all the arms, ammunition and public stores of every description to be sent across the river…and ordered the town of Newark to be burnt. This act, however distressing to my feelings, was by an order of the secretary of war, and I believe at the same time proper. The inhabitants had twelve hours’ notice to remove their effects and such as chose to come across the river were provided with all the necessities of life”. He continues that “I left Captain Leonard in the command of Fort Niagara with about 160 effective regulars, and pointed out verbally and particularly in a general order how he should prepare for an attack, which would certainly take place”.
The Canadian Volunteers (Canadian fighting on the American side) are also mentioned in the address, where it is stated that “the Canadian Volunteers, about 40 in number, under Major Mallery, an officer of great merit, I stationed at Schlosser…” (p. 266). McClure concludes that “your prejudices against me have been the result of feelings misled by the acts of my enemies, and not the result of your sober judgment, operating upon facts and principles. Those facts are now before you. On those facts judge me in your candor, and I will abide the decision”. This is followed by correspondence between Gen. Harrison and Gen. McClure concerning activity on the Niagara frontier, particularly the planned attack on Burlington Heights.
A letter to the editor of the Buffalo Gazette, from Captain Rogers, Brig. Maj. Wilson and Lt. Frazer, dated at Buffalo, 18 December 1813, describes the situation at Fort George prior to the American evacuation of the Fort. It is stated that “the period for which the militia had been drafted, having expired, the general held out every inducement in his power for them to remain, but for a short time, he offered a bounty, but neither love of country nor the shame of abandoning him when the enemy were advancing could prevail on them to remain; in consequence of which he was left with about 60 effective men to maintain Fort George. The British knowing the period when the militia tour of service would expire, availed themselves of that moment to endeavor to retake the frontier, and advanced from Burlington Heights”.
An extract of a letter dated at Canandaigua, 2 January 1814, states that “information has just reached town…that the enemy are eighteen miles this side of Lewiston…marching towards this place with a force of 2000 including Indians. Our force consists of about 4 or 500 effective men. We are almost destitute of ammunition and guns…we are very much alarmed here for the safety of this village” (p. 272). This is followed by an early report of the burning of Buffalo and Black Rock by the British on December 30, and the capture of Fort Niagara by Col. Drummond.
29 January 1814. Contains a letter from Gen. McClure to the Secretary of War, dated at Buffalo, December 22, 1813, reporting the loss of Fort Niagara. McClure writes that “I regret to be under the necessity of announcing to you the mortifying intelligence of the loss of Fort Niagara…Although our force was very inferior and comparatively small indeed, I am induced to think that the disaster is not attributable to any want of troops, but to gross neglect in the commanding officer of the fort, Captain Leonard, in not preparing, being ready, and looking out for the expected attack” (p. 302). This is followed by another letter from Gen. McClure, dated at Batavia, 25 December, in which he writes that “it is a notorious fact that the night on which Fort Niagara was captured, Captain Leonard left the fort about 11 o’clock p.m. I am assured that he has since given himself up to the enemy and that he and his family are now on the Canadian side of the strait”.
A letter dated at Canandaigua, January 11, mentions the retreat of the British to Canada after the burning of Black Rock and Buffalo. It is written that “the enemy re-crossed the river into Canada on Saturday the 1st inst. having completed the retaliation in a way rather more satisfactory to themselves than to us. They left no building standing at Black Rock or Buffalo, except a jail, a blacksmith’s shop used as an armory, and a small house…” (p. 304).
5 February 1814. Contains a lengthy commentary on the proclamation issued by the Governor of Canada concerning the burning of Newark by the Americans and the retaliation taken by the British with the burning Buffalo and Lewiston (p. 305-306).
26 February 1814. Contains a lengthy proclamation by Sir George Prevost, dated 12 January 1814, addressing the retaliation taken against the United States for the burning of Newark. He writes that “the complete success which has attended his majesty’s arms on the Niagara frontier, having placed in our possession the whole of the enemy’s posts on that line, it became a matter of imperious duty to retaliate on America, the miseries which the unfortunate inhabitants of Newark had been made to suffer upon the evacuation of Fort George. The villages of Lewiston, Black Rock, and Buffalo, have been accordingly burned” (p. 359).
The official British accounts of the recapture of Fort George, and the capture of Fort Niagara are included on page 360-361.
5 March 1814. Contains a lengthy official account of the Battle at Black Rock by Gen. Hall, dated at the Niagara Frontier, 6 January 1814 (p. 378-380). An account of the British attack on Black Rock on December 30 can be found on page 382, dated at Quebec, 8 January 1814. He reports “the complete success of an attack that was made at day break on the morning of the 30th December, on the enemy’s position at Black Rock…and after a short but severe contest, the enemy was repulsed in the most gallant manner, and pursued in his retreat to Buffalo.” He concludes that “Black Rock and Buffalo were burnt previous to their evacuation by our troops, together with all the public buildings and the four vessels. A considerable quantity of stores having been sent away before conflagration”.
Addenda to Volume first (four parts). Contains a summary of a report by the War Department, dated 25 January 1814, commissioned by the House of Representatives, to address the causes of the failure of the American army on the northern frontier (p. 450-473). A list of relevant correspondence between American officials is included, some referring to events on the Niagara frontier.