Monday, June 29, 2015

A Militia's Dilemma

All too frequently this [militia versus U.S. Army] proved disastrous to our armies, and inflicted defeat on our brave troops and frustrated carefully prepared plans. In speaking of this, [Canadian writer] Auchinleck says :

"We contend that the conduct of the greater part of the American militia on this occasion*, may be fairly adduced as an additional proof that the war was far from being as popular as one party in Congress would fain have represented it. It is notorious that many of the Pennsylvania militia refused to cross into Canada, while others returned, after having crossed the line, on constitutional pretexts. The truth is, and American writers may blink it or explain it as they please, that the refusal to cross the border, on the plea of its being unconstitutional, was one of the factious dogmas of the war, preached by the disaffected of Massachusetts, who imagined, doubtless, that the doctrine might be very convenient in the event of war in that region. The Kentuckians marched anywhere, they had no scruples. Why? Because the war was popular with them and they laughed at the idea that it was unconstitutional to cross a river or an ideal frontier, in the service of their country."
*The battle of Queenstown Heights, in which Brock was killed, and which should have been a most decisive victory for our forces. [Source]

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Needed From The Arsenal

Letter from Peter B. Porter, Q. M. G. of the State of New York
Black Rock, June 28, 1812


"There is every reason to believe that the British meditate an attack on Fort Niagara...".

"Bring with you all the arms and ammunition in the Canandaigua arsenal."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pressed At Plymouth

Ten Years of Upper Canada..., by Thomas Ridout and Matilda Ridout Edgar:

"I told him [the Governor, with whom Ridout was conversing] of my being pressed at Plymouth [England], and only escaping by having his letters, at which he laughed heartily." 

[Excerpt from a letter written in London, England dated 17 April 1812]

Friday, June 26, 2015

To The English Mind

To the English mind the War of 1812 was only an episode in the mighty and prolonged struggle against Napoleon, and therefore it finds but cursory treatment in the standard English histories. [Source]

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Service On The Niagara Frontier


Springer and Brigham, loyalist residents of the same locality, were made prisoners, and Westbrook, who accompanied the party, burned his own buildings there.

The discrimination between the cases of Springer and Brigham seems to have been unjust, as, nearly a year and a half before, the former had waxed indignant and complained in writing to Colonel Talbot of Brigham for having mustered his (Springer's) company, during his absence at Detroit, and selected a number of men, under authority from Colonel Bostwick, to fill up his (Brigham's) rifle company, preparatory to service on the Niagara frontier. Springer returned to the country in time to take part in the closing scenes of the war, and took part in the sanguinary engagement at the Falls in October, 1814. His family had in the meantime suffered great privation during his enforced absence.

A letter from Bostwick To Talbot:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Attack Upon Coastal Virginia

Hampton Creek

From Stuart Lee Butler's Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812 [links added]:

On June 22, 1813, a British force of some 2,500 attempted to storm the heavily defended Craney Island."

"Four days later the British attacked Hampton which lay across the channel, and this time their efforts were more successful.  They...threw the Virginia militia back in flight towards Williamsburg." 

"The British ransacked the town (Yorktown), killing civilians, and ravaged a number of women.  The British blamed the rapine on the French chasseurs and recently liberated slaves from earlier coastline incursions."

A summary of the situation: