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Historic America Photography

Redcoats at Sacket’s Harbor

Reenactors dressed as British soldiers fire a volley during an event commemorating the Second Battle of Sacket’s Harbor, fought on May 29, 1813. Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site is located in northwestern New York on Black Harbor Bay, Lake Ontario, in the town of Sackets Harbor.

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Historic America

Capture of Fort Niagara during the War of 1812

A daring British night attack during the War of 1812 quickly secured this old French fort at the mouth of the Niagara River.

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The Second Battle of Fort Niagara was fought on December 19, 1813 between British forces commanded by Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond and American forces commanded by Captain Nathaniel Leonard at the mouth of the Niagara River near Youngstown, New York during the War of 1812. The British night attack was successful, and the fort remained in British hands for the remainder of the war.

On December 10, 1813, U.S. Brigadier General George McClure decided to abandon Fort George on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, which the United States had captured in May. His troops burned the nearby village of Newark to the ground before retreating across the river. Filled with thoughts of revenge, British forces seized the initiative.

On the night of December 19, approximately 562 British regulars commanded by Colonel John Murray crossed the Niagara River under cover of darkness, about three miles south of Fort Niagara. They captured some American sentries who had been warming themselves by a fire, and obtained the watch’s challenge and password. From there, a British soldier feigning a Southern accent gained entry to the fort, and British troops rushed in.

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Historic America

Battle of Plattsburgh Historic Sites

This decisive naval battle on Lake Champlain is celebrated as a pivotal moment in the War of 1812. A large monument towers over Plattsburgh, New York, where you can look out over the water and imagine the old wooden sailing ships locked in deadly combat.

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The Battle of Plattsburgh was fought from September 6 to Sept. 11, 1814 between British forces commanded by Lieutenant General Sir George Prévost and Captain George Downie and American forces commanded by Brigadier General Alexander Macomb and Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough on Lake Champlain and Plattsburgh, New York during the War of 1812. The battle was a major American victory. It stopped the British invasion of New York and led to denial of British territorial demands in the Treaty of Ghent.

In late summer 1814, the British planned to conduct a combined land and naval campaign down Lake Champlain, which had it succeeded, would have drastically altered the balance of power in the region. They gathered approximately 11,000 men and a fleet of four ships and 12 gunboats for the expedition. Opposing them were approximately 6,000 American regulars and militia and four ships and ten gunboats.

Brig. Gen. Alexander Macomb decided to make his stand at Plattsburgh, and sent troops north to harass the British as they advanced. Plattsburgh Bay allowed Commandant Macdonough’s ships to engage the British at close range, where the British would lose the advantage of their long-range guns. On the morning of September 11, the British ships HMS Chubb, HMS Linnet, HMS Confiance, and HMS Finch engaged the American ships USS Eagle, USS Saratoga, USS Ticonderoga, and USS Preble.

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Historic America

Bataille-de-la-Châteauguay National Historic Site

This small historic site and museum commemorates and interprets the Canadian victory that thwarted an American invasion and saved Montreal.

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The Battle of the Chateauguay was fought on October 26, 1813 between American forces under the command of Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton and British, colonial, and Native American forces commanded by Lt. Col. Charles de Salaberry near Allan’s Corners, Quebec during the War of 1812. It was an embarrassing defeat for the Americans, and this, alongside another defeat at Crysler’s Farm, persuaded them to abandon plans to march on Montreal.

The American effort to capture Montreal in 1813 was known as the St. Lawrence Campaign, since it focused on militarily dominating the St. Lawrence River, at the border of the United States and British Canada. In September, Maj. Gen. James Wilkinson and 8,000 men departed from Sackets Harbor, New York and advanced east along the river, while Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton and 4,000 men advanced north from Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain. Wilkinson was defeated at the Battle of Crysler’s Farm on November 11.

Hampton advanced along a road following the Châteauguay River’s north bank, while local French Canadians fed intelligence to Lt. Col. Charles de Salaberry and his men. Salaberry erected barricades across the road and blocked a ford over the river. Hampton split his force into two wings, each with 1,000 men. One wing attempted a frontal attack, while the other swung around the river and attacked the ford.

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Historic America Photography

When Freemen Shall Stand

Francis Scott Key (1779-1843) was a Maryland lawyer and author who wrote the poem that became famous as the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner“, our national anthem. During the War of 1812, Key was aboard a British ship negotiating the release of American prisoners during the Battle of Baltimore and witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry.

Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)

The sights inspired him to write a poem called “Defence of Fort M’Henry”, which was later put to music and re-titled “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Key and his wife were buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery Frederick, Maryland and this monument was erected in his honor.

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Historic America

The 1814 Pultneyville Raid

A sharp fight sent British soldiers fleeing back to their boats when a routine raid on an American coastal town went awry during the War of 1812.

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The Pultneyville Raid was conducted by British forces commanded by Commodore Sir James Lucas Yeo on May 15, 1814 against the hamlet of Pultneyville, New York on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. They were opposed by American militia commanded by Brigadier General John Swift. The raid ended in a close American victory, as British forces retreated with a few captured supplies.

Lake Ontario was a strategic conduit for ships and supplies during the war, and both sides sought to control it. The American government kept military store houses at various points along the lake to resupply its fleet. The British sought to capture or destroy those supplies in a series of raids. On the morning of May 14, six miles west of Pultneyville, British troops from a ship called the King George landed and kidnapped Thomas Fuller and Captain Church. They forced the men to guide them to Pultneyville in a thick fog.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. John Swift had gathered 130 volunteers and militia to confront the British. When the fog lifted the next morning, the British sent out an ultimatum demanding surrender of the supplies or they would fire on the hamlet. Three townspeople rowed out to the British ship and negotiated surrender of the supplies in exchange for assurances the residents would be unmolested. As arranged, several hundred British soldiers landed and took the supplies, however, they also began to loot local homes.

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Historic America

Battle of Crysler’s Farm National Historic Site

Canadians are so polite, they physically erased this humiliating loss for the American Army from existence, except for this small monument and museum overlooking the St. Lawrence River.

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The Battle of Crysler’s Farm was fought on November 11, 1813 between American forces under the command of Maj. Gen. James Wilkinson and British forces commanded by Lt. Col. Joseph Wanton Morrison near Morrisburg, Ontario during the War of 1812. It was a complete victory for the British, and this, alongside another defeat at the Battle of the Chateauguay, persuaded the Americans to abandon plans to march on Montreal.

The American effort to capture Montreal in 1813 was known as the St. Lawrence Campaign, since it focused on militarily dominating the St. Lawrence River, at the border of the United States and British Canada. In September, Maj. Gen. James Wilkinson and 8,000 men departed from Sackets Harbor, New York and advanced east along the river, while Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton and 4,000 men advanced north from Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain. Hampton was defeated at the Battle of the Chateauguay on October 26.

Lt. Col. Joseph Wanton Morrison’s much smaller force of 900 to 1,200 men had pursued the American expedition to Morrisburg, where the two sides made camp on November 10. The next morning, battle occurred almost by accident when scouts began firing at each other, making both armies believe an attack was imminent. Morrison had chosen Crysler’s Farm because of its open terrain, while the Americans had to slog through swampy ground to reach the British.