The Battle of Ogdensburg was a unique chapter in the War of 1812. At the mouth of the Oswegatchie River on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, Ogdensburg was originally a French trading settlement and home to more than 3,000 Iroquois Indians. By 1812, American settlers had built a small village and established trade with British Canadians across the seaway.
The St. Lawrence River, as the border between the United States and Canada, was a vital waterway that saw dozens of small naval battles as each side sought to control it. Both sides attacked vulnerable supply shipments being ferried up and down the river.
With the outbreak of hostilities, Brig. General Jacob Brown used Ogdensburg as a jumping-off point for raids on British shipping. The Americans began building Fort Oswegatchie between what is now Franklin and Elizabeth Streets on Riverside Drive to defend the village.
On the chilly morning of February 22, 1813, the fort was still unfinished. The St. Lawrence River had completely frozen over, and a contingent of 520 British troops hauling several cannon on sleighs, led by Lieutenant Colonel “Red George” MacDonell, advanced across the ice.