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Ogdensburg and Gananoque

Letter The narrowness of the St. Lawrence River in the Eastern part of the province facilitated the crossing of troops, both American and British. Small towns on each side of the river were raided for supplies and to destroy enemy depots.

The garrison at Ogdensburg on the American side had been strengthened early in the War as part of the effort to gain control over the St. Lawrence, the natural line of communication between the British provinces.

The illustration to the right shows Ogdensburg as it appeared in 1830.

Watercolour: St. Lawrence River, at Ogdensburgh, 1830

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St. Lawrence River, at Ogdensburgh, 1830
Thomas Burrowes
Thomas Burrowes fonds
Watercolour
Reference Code: C 1-0-0-0-81
Archives of Ontario, I0002200


Watercolour: Gananoque from the St. Lawrence River, 1830

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Gananoque from the St. Lawrence River, 1830
Thomas Burrowes
Thomas Burrowes fonds
Watercolour
Reference Code: C 1-0-0-0-87
Archives of Ontario, I0002206

In 1812 Gananoque was a small, unfortified hamlet. It was the target of the first American raid on September 21st, 1812. They seized goods and burnt down the only military depot there, built by Joel Stone during the previous summer

"This certify (sic), that in the month of July 1812 I called on Col. Stone for a store to deposit therein the provisions for the troops at the post at Gananoque. He informed me that he had not any proper and secure building, that we would forthwith build a store for that purpose, which he did do with dispatch. [This certify] that the King's provisions etc. was therein deposited and the same was burnt by the Enemy."

Extract from an original Certificate by William Ross, D.A.G.G. July 1814
Joel Stone family fonds
Reference Code: F 536, box MU 2892
Archives of Ontario

 


Civilians on both sides of the border preferred it when the military left things alone. A raid by one side was sure to lead to a response in kind.

"Upon my return to [Utica] I found David Smith, who informed me the Saturday after we left St. Lawrence, Foresyth made an expedition to Brockville, by the way of Morris Town. Surprised it brought off Mr. C. John, Capt. Stewart, [Corly], Capt. Sherwood, David [Hubbel], and 40 or 50 others, took them to Ogdensburg, paroled them & let them return – no lives lost. Great expedition Forsyth suffered no soldier to enter a house, so far so good. The folly, and mischief this may produce, can only be anticipated. I hope for the best. I am anxious to return before other folly is commenced …"

Extract from an original letter from Nathan Ford (Ogdensburg)
to his brother David Ford, February 13, 1813
Ford family fonds
Reference Code: F483, box MU 1054
Archives of Ontario






Nathan Ford comments on a British raid on Ogdensburg on February 22, 1813.

"I have not time to tell you the history of Ogdensburg. I shall write you the particulars. At present I can only tell you Ogdensburg has been taken, & plundered all the public stores, cannon & many families have been stripped to the last shirt. The garrison is burnt and also the barracks & also the schooner together with my still house. You are all safe in Morris Town, they have been over they destroyed nothing. I am happy to hear of your safe arrival. I shall write you particularly tomorrow, we are all in confusion. I was in [Utica] when the thing happened."

Extract from an original letter from Nathan Ford (Ogdensburg)
to his brother David Ford, February 27, 1813
Ford family fonds
Reference Code: F483, box MU 1054
Archives of Ontario



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Battle of Chrysler's Farm

Letter The most concerted effort by the United States to cut the St. Lawrence supply line came in the fall of 1813. Concurrent invasions were launched against Montreal via the St. Lawrence and overland into Lower Canada from the south. American troops on their way down from Sackets Harbour, were pursued by British forces under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Morrison. A battle was fought on November 11th when Major General Wilkinson ordered his army to advance from the Long Sault.

Illustration: Map of the Chrysler's Field, 1869

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Map of the Chrysler's Field, 1869
Benson J. Lossing,
The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812

An illustration
Reference Code: 971 .034 LOS, page 654
Archives of Ontario




"Gen[era]l Boyd with 2500 men was ordered to disperse the pursuing army which Gen[era]l Wilkinson estimated at 900 men. Wilkinson with the raiders prepared to decend (sic) the Long Sault. Gen[era]l Boyd found the British drawn up in order of battle & the engagement lasted with obstinancy (sic) upon both sides for three hours & an half. When our troops gave way and retreated, our loss is stated by the officers to be 500 killed, wounded & missing."

Extract from an original letter from Nathan Ford (Ogdensburg)
to his brother David Ford, November 13, 1813
Ford family fonds
Reference Code: F483, box MU 1054
Archives of Ontario

"My dear father, … I suppose you have had a full account of Col. Harveys gallant affair of the 11 at Chrysler. I was on the field of battle the next morning & it was covered with American killed & wounded. We had buried some & about 80 lay dead, some scalped some horses were intermingled among them. We had 11 killed on the field and 135 wounded some of them whom died. Poor Capt. Naime was killed at the close of the battle almost the last shot fired. It was fought at Chryslers house on a burnt piece of ground half a mile square. Our army were drawn up in a solitary line of 1,000 men from the woods to the river. The enemy is send out of the woods in two large columns of 2,000 each besides 300 horses…"

Letter from Thomas G. Ridout (Montreal) to  his father Thomas Ridout, November 20, 1813

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Letter from Thomas G. Ridout (Montreal) to
his father Thomas Ridout, November 20, 1813
Thomas Ridout family fonds
Extract from an original letter
Reference Code: F 43, box MU 2390
Archives of Ontario

To listen to an excerpt from this letter in wav format (554K), click here.To listen to an excerpt from this letter in "wav" format (554K) click here. It is also available in "aif" format (555K).


The Americans continued their advance after the defeat at Chrysler's, but withdrew across the St. Lawrence and into winters quarters after word was received that the joint operation against Montreal under General Wade Hampton had turned back after the defeat at Châteauguay in Lower Canada.

 

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