This article was found pasted into a scrapbook entitled, “1838 Patriot War.” The scrapbook is located at the Flower Memorial Library Genealogy Department at Watertown, New York. This article, one of a series written by L. N. Fuller, was copyrighted in 1923 by the Brockway Company, Publishers of the Watertown Daily Times. The series appeared in the Watertown Daily Times in March, April, and May of 1923. John B. Johnson, Jr., Editor/Co-Publisher of the Watertown Daily Times has granted me permission to incorporate these pieces on my website. I feel very honored to have been given this permission. (Shirley Farone)
American Blood Shed
On Soil of Canada
Patriots Fighting On Defensive Hold Positions During First
Day of Actual Combat -- Jefferson County Men Are Killed
--Refuge Taken in the Windmill
NORTHERN NEW YORK IN THE PATRIOT WAR
By L. N. FULLER
(Copyright, 1923, by the Brockway Company, Publishers of the Watertown Daily Times.)
All that night excitement of the wildest kind prevailed on both sides of the St. Lawrence river. In Ogdensburg there were open manifestations of sympathy for the Patriot cause among a large part of the population. Those who possess influence and property, however, could see nothing but ruin in the expedition and called upon all citizens to refrain from taking part in it. But the streets were filled with armed strangers and it was dangerous to express sentiments hostile to the Patriot cause.
In Prescott meetings were held and there was much apprehension when it was realized that a hostile force had landed and was in possession of a strong position. The Patriots under Colonel Von Schoultz had thrown out sentries and under the direction of the able commanding officer the fortifications were strengthened and every effort was made to resist as long as possible. None in the little army slept that night. They were clearly discouraged at the lack of reinforcements that they expected. They realized that their position was a desperate one, but they were determined to fight to the last. Leaders on whom they had depended fled like cowards and remained in safety in Ogdensburg where they could look across the river and see their former comrades preparing for the assault that was to be made.
The morning of Tuesday, November 13, dawned clear. Early in the morning the two schooners which were anchored in American waters were seized by the United States marshal. The Charlotte of Oswego had on board several guns and barrels and boxes of supplies.
The night before the steamer Telegraph arrived in Ogdensburg with Colonel Worth and two companies of United States troops from Sackets Harbor. These troops had a quieting effect on the civilian population in Ogdensburg and Colonel Worth gave notice that he was present to see that the laws regarding neutrality were not violated. The machinery had been removed from the steamer United States and every effort was made to prevent men passing from the American to the Canadian side. It was clearly demonstrated that the civilian authorities were unable to handle the situation.
The British steamers Coburg and Victoria arrived at Prescott in the morning with troops on board and about 7 they, with the Experiment started a bombardment of the windmill, which returned the fire with vigor. The ordnance of the British forces was not heavy enough to make any impression on the thick stone walls of the windmill. Those at Ogdensburg assembled at Mile Point, directly opposite the windmill, where they had grandstand seats for the battle and were out of harm’s way. Many of the valorous patriots who had started with the expedition were in the front row of the spectators seats.
A little after sunrise the British regulars and Canadian militia fled out of Prescott to make the attack. The Patriots formed in the battle behind stone walls about 20 rods northwest of the mill. A small guard was left in charge of the buildings, making the force in the field about 180. The British force consisted of a part of the 83rd regiment, a regular organization and the Canadian militia. Colonel Young of the British regulars seems to have been in command of the entire force, although there were militia officers of equal rank.
The Patriots, fighting on the defensive, were well protected by stone halls. They held their fire until the British were within rifle range and the whole hillside blazed forth. The British were in the open field and were not only subject to the massed (unclear word) of the Patriot forces, but sharpshooters stationed in the windmill picked off the officers.
A woman who sought to get out of the battle area in order to be in a place of safety was struck by a stray bullet and instantly killed and her daughter who was with her was badly wounded. There was desperate fighting and personal bravery on both sides. The Patriots many of whom had never been in battle, fought with the coolness of veterans, inspired by Von Schoultz, the veteran of many European battlefields under Napoleon. The British and Canadians, subject to a galling fire were equally brave.
This contest continued for about three hours, both sides contending stubbornly. The attackers were at last compelled to give way under the hurricane of fire which the Patriots poured into them and retreated. A part of the Patriot army started in pursuit, but a sudden flanking movement was undertaken by the British and 33 of the Patriots were cut off from the main force and taken prisoners. Colonel Von Schoultz determined to take up his position in the windmill. The attackers, encouraged by the retreat of the Patriots to their stronghold, rallied and attacked again, but were unable to dislodge them.
It was during the retreat to the windmill that Captain James Philips of Ogdensburg was killed. A musket ball went through his body causing instant death. He was at the head of his men and was within a few rods of the 83rd regiment, when struck. He had been a wealthy farmer of Canada but had been compelled to leave on account of his liberal tendencies and settled in Ogdensburg. He was but 38 years of age and left a family to mourn his loss.
Charles E. Brown of Brownville was killed at this time. There was one report that he had been trapped in a burning barn, but Captain Heustis is authority for the statement that he was killed on the field. Two rifle balls went through his body. Heustis made an attempt to get the body into the windmill, but was unsuccessful. Brown was a nephew of General Jacob Brown of Brownville, a distinguished officer of the war of 1812. He was 24 years old and was survived by his parents.
Nelson Butterfield of Philadelphia was severely wounded in the body during this engagement and he was carried to the windmill where he lived about 12 hours and died in great agony. He was 22 years of age.
Franklin B. Hough is authority for the statement that the losses during this day were five Patriots killed and 13 wounded, while the loss of the attacking force is given as 100 killed and about the same number wounded. The official British reports place the losses much less than this, but survivors of the battle afterward said that the British loss was extremely heavy and that the ground was covered with dead and wounded red coats.
The Patriots by this time were safe within the windmill and the stone houses that were nearby. The British commander realized the futility of making a direct attack under such circumstances and settled down to await the arrival of heavier artillery, with which he hoped to bombard them out of their positions. The rest of the day was spent in desultory firing, each force keeping a watchful eye on the other. During the afternoon the Patriots set fire to a barn, which was sheltering some of the British sharpshooters.
During one of the intervals of quiet Daniel George of Lyme, with three or four others, attempted to cross the river in a small boat and get hospital supplies with which the wounded could be cared for. The steamer, Experiment overhauled them and took them prisoners. During the melee William Gates of Cape Vincent was struck on the head and was severely wounded. The prisoners were taken to Fort Wellington and later to Kingston.
Among the wounded in the first day’s fighting were two young men from Watertown, Monroe Wheelock and Lorenzo E. Finney. Both were wheelwrights and enlisted about the same time. Wheelock received a severe wound in the thigh. He was carried to the windmill and his wounds were dressed as carefully as possible. He lay there in great distress and was taken prisoner when the Patriot force surrendered. Finney was shot through the body and was seriously wounded. He, too, later removed to Kingston.
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