Raid on Elizabethtown

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Raid on Elizabethtown
Part of War of 1812
Date February 7, 1813
Location Elizabethtown, Upper Canada
Result American victory
Belligerents
United Kingdom United Kingdom United States United States
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Unknown United States Benjamin Forsyth
Strength
Unknown 200 regulars and militia
Casualties and losses
1 wounded
American prisoners freed
52 British prisoners
1 wounded

The Raid on Elizabethtown occurred on February 7, 1813, when Major Benjamin Forsyth and 200 regulars and militia crossed the frozen St. Lawrence River to occupy Elizabethtown, Upper Canada (present day Brockville, Ontario), seize military and public stores, free American prisoners and capture British military prisoners. This was the second successful raid by Forsyth along the St. Lawrence River, having previously attacked Gananoque. The success of the two raids prompted a response by the British, which culminated in the Battle of Ogdensburg.

Background

Following the termination of the armistice between British General George Prevost and American General Henry Dearborn, the Americans, suffering from a lack of supply in northern New York, raided the last British convoy-staging point along the St. Lawrence River at Gananoque between the large British bases of Montreal, Lower Canada and Kingston, Upper Canada.[1] Led by Benjamin Forsyth, the raid was successful and the British did little in retaliation beyond increasing fortifications at Gananoque.[2] The Americans celebrated Forsyth's success and he transferred his command from Sackets Harbor to Ogdensburg.[3] On February 4, 1813, a British detachment from Prescott, Upper Canada crossed the St. Lawrence River on the ice and took a few prisoners at Ogdensburg.[4]

Raid

On February 6, Major Benjamin Forsyth of the United States Rifle Regiment, left Ogdensburg at 22:00 hours at the head of about 200 regulars and militia. He moved his troops to Morristown, New York by sleigh, twelve miles (19 km) up the river and across from Elizabethtown.[4][5] Under the cover of darkness, Forsyth and his men crossed over to Elizabethtown on the ice at 01:00 hours on February 7, and took the town by surprise.[4][6] He left a small cannon on the ice to cover his retreat if necessary.[5]

As Forsyth moved through Elizabethtown, he set pickets to guard streets and moved to occupy the courthouse square. One American sentry was wounded and one British, but Forsyth met minimal resistance and captured 52 members of the garrison. One, a doctor, was paroled immediately. After capturing the courthouse, Forsyth freed the American prisoners from the jail and took stores, muskets and rifles.[4][6] Forsyth set fire to the barracks and then began a 28-mile (45 km) march, returning to Ogdensburg without further action.[4][5]

Aftermath

Following his second successful raid, Forsyth was promoted to brevet lieutenant colonel.[3] His performance convinced the British commanders that Ogdensburg had to be neutralized.[4] Later that month on February 22, a British force led by Lieutenant Colonel George MacDonnell attacked Ogdensburg, driving Forsyth and the American garrison from the town. Forsyth's superior refused to retake the town, forcing Forsyth to relocate back to Sackets Harbor.[3] Forsyth was later transferred to a different combat area altogether in a political move to appease the local population.[5] The British assault on Ogdesnburg would mark the end of significant land battles in the region, though gunboats operating from Sackets Harbor attacking convoys would later force the British to station naval forces in the area with their own gunboats.[7]

Citations

  1. ^ Stanley 1983, p. 87.
  2. ^ Malcomson 2009, p. 204.
  3. ^ a b c Tucker 2012, p. 247.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Mahon 1972, p. 140.
  5. ^ a b c d Collins 2006, p. 207.
  6. ^ a b Stanley 1983, p. 229.
  7. ^ Stanley 1983, pp. 232–233.

References

  • Collins, Gilbert (2006) [1998]. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 (Second ed.). Toronto: The Dundurn Group. ISBN 1-55002-626-7. 
  • Mahon, J. (1972). The War of 1812. New York City: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-80429-8. 
  • Malcomson, Robert (2009). The A to Z of the War of 1812. Plymouth, United Kingdom: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-6838-0. 
  • Stanley, George F. G. (1983). The War of 1812 Land Operations. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada in collaboration with the National Museum of Man, National Museums of Canada. ISBN 0-7715-9859-9. 
  • Tucker, Spencer C., ed. (2012). The Encyclopedia of the War of 1812: A Political, Social and Military History. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio. ISBN 978-1-85109-956-6. 

Coordinates: 44°36′00″N 75°40′41″W / 44.600°N 75.678°W / 44.600; -75.678

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