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Chapter 4: Respite and then the Invasion; Rumblings of Succession.
Chapter 4: Respite and then the Invasion; Rumblings of Succession.

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Why good sir! Capturing Washington was as easy as walking right in. – Sir Isaac Brock.

“During the winter, except for small skirmishes that didn’t change the frontlines, both sides did not fight each other in direct confrontation. The British did not because of the fact that they were finally being supplied from the Home Islands with proper ammunition and proper logistics and said logistics was being distributed evenly. The Americans did not either due to the fact that they needed time to recover from the devastating blows Sir Isaac Brock had managed to hit on America.

However despite this, the war at sea continued to rage on. HMS Java would be sunk by the USS Constitution on December 29th, 1812. A token victory perhaps, as the Java was an expensive ship to maintain for the Royal Navy and had actually been captured from the French, who during the Napoleonic Wars were known for building heavy ships that were hard to maintain. Nonetheless, whilst this token victory did manage to uplift the morale of some of the troops, it did not help at all in the Northern States that consisted of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut. And to many extents the British preparations on the Niagara also kept the New Yorkers an unease as well, for their troubles did not lie in the sea, but the New Yorkers were acutely aware of the danger posed by Brock. By the New Year, Madison had around 1500 Regular troops, mainly from the US 13th Infantry and around 7000 New York Militia ready to face any invasion from Brock. To fail ultimately, however they would put up a good fight.


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The attack on HMS Java.

During the three to four months of dull waiting, neither the British nor the Americans had been twiddling their thumbs however. After Yeo had arrived at York, he had been in close contact with Brock over Navy and Army coordination to eliminate the American threat in Lake Ontario. With the aid of the private shipbuilders that Brock had contracted before Yeo had arrived to York, the Royal Navy had the following ships in Lake Ontario as the ice started to slowly give away on the lake in early 1813:-

  • HMS Wolfe (Sloop of War)
  • HMS Royal George (Sloop of War)
  • HMS King George III (Sloop of War)
  • HMS Lord Melville (Brig)
  • HMS Earl of Moira (Brig)
  • HMS Duke of Gloucester (Brig)
  • HMS Beresford (Schooner)
  • HMS Sir Sydney Smith (Schooner)
  • HMS Duke of Thurso (Schooner)
  • HMS Limerick (Schooner)
The Americans hadn’t been sitting and doing nothing either. By the time the ice started to melt in mid-February, the ships that they had collected in Lake Ontario, mainly Sacket’s Harbor were:-

  • USS General Pike (Sloop of War)
  • USS Madison (Corvette)
  • USS Oneida (Brig)
  • USS Sylph (Schooner)
  • USS Hamilton (Schooner)
  • USS Scourge (Schooner)
  • USS Conquest (Schooner)
  • USS Tompkins (Schooner)
  • USS Julia (Schooner)
  • USS Growler (Schooner)
  • USS Ontario (Schooner)
  • USS Fair American (Schooner)
  • USS Pert (Schooner)
  • USS Asp (Schooner)
  • USS Lady of the Lake (Schooner)
As listed above, the Americans had invested a lot more into the construction of the ships, fearful of complete British domination of Lake Ontario. Nonetheless, the American investment into the shipbuilding program in Lake Ontario came at costs. They had more ships than the Royal Navy in Lake Ontario. However their firepower was heavily lacking in comparison to the Royal Navy. For example, the Royal Navy’s Sloop of War Wolfe had 1 24-pdr gun, 8 18-pdr guns, and 4 68-pdr carronades. Whilst on the other hand, the American sloop of war, General Pike only had 28 24-pdr guns. Formidable in their own right, but still heavily outgunned by the British sloops of war. The disparity between the gun power of the Schooners itself cannot be understated either. For example, the quintessential Royal Navy schooner, for example Beresford had 2 12-pdr guns and 10 32-pdr carronades. American schooners on the other hands only one gun, be they be 9-pdr, 24-pdr or 6-pdr. Very few schooner’s had two guns. This made the American fleet in Lake Ontario heavily outgunned. This would give Yeo the opening he needed when he attacked Sacket’s Harbor on February 27th, 1813…..” Naval History of North America, University of Boston, 2009.

“Meanwhile, as John Armstrong became the Secretary of War in Washington D.C, Brock began planning his attack. He had in total 9800 troops under his command, of which exactly 1900 were Indians, mostly Iroquois under the command of Captain John Norton, and 3200 regular redcoats. The rest 4700 were Canadian militia troops. Despite this relatively low number of troops in comparison to what invasions counted for on the European Continent during the Napoleonic Era, Brock felt that he was ready to attack and invade Upper New York State. His primary goal was to take Rochester, which despite being a small village at the time, was a key communications line for the Americans. Taking it would blindside the Americans completely and allow the British to take the initiative. To do this, Brock assigned around 1500 to 2000 men under command of Major General Sheaffe who was ordered to watch the flanks of Brock’s troops, and by February 5th, Brock renewed the War of 1812 on the Niagara Front.


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John Armstrong Jr, the new Secretary of War.

During the 5th of February, Brock and his 7000 to men invaded Upper New York and poured in fighting heavy skirmishes with the American troops. The first engagement the Americans and British would have in the renewed hostilities would be the Battle of Twelvemile Creek. The forces of Captain Wilson of the 7th New York Militia opposed the 104th New Brunswick Regiment of the British regulars. Brock was not there at the battle as he was with the 49th Regiment behind shoring up the new supply lines being formed by the invasion. The 700 Regular troops of the 104th Regiment of the Foot fought against the militia in front of them defending the creek. The 104th Regiment, commanded by Colonel Rogers managed to cross the creek and take the positions of the American troops whilst losing very few men. The Battle of Twelvemile Creek saw the British take 12 casualties, of which 4 were killed in the battle, and the Americans took 19 casualties which saw 6 killed in the battle. Captain Wilson of the 7th New York Militia was forced to withdraw from the Creek and instead retreat to the small village of Wilson where he would be available to be reinforced by the American troops.


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Twelvemile creek today.

In the west, Brock arrived at Twelvemile Creek about an hour after the battle ended, after which Brock gave heaps of praise to Colonel Rogers for securing the other side of the creek. Nonetheless, the hard part of the invasion of Upper New York was just beginning as the New York Troops started to become concentrated the further Brock advanced.

Down South as Brock advanced, Sheaffe advanced as well, thought at a more sedate pace. Sheaffe had no intentions of leaving Brock’s flanks open to attack, and knew that it would be his responsibility to ensure that no American would be able to attack Brock at the flanks. He and his troops would have their first engagement on the 9th of February during the Battle of Sanborn which had around 3000 American militias guarding the path ahead. Sheaffe himself only had 2000 troops with him, of which over half were militias themselves. However Sheaffe could see the operational level that the Battle of Sanborn would provide him and Brock with. Should Sheaffe had withdrawn, that would give, around 3000 American troops, and their probable extra 2000 reinforcements ample time to encircle Brock and send Upper Canada into panic, which was something that Sheaffe could not allow.

He took the initiative against the 3000 Americans of the 8th and 9th New York Militias. The Americans were caught by surprise as Sheaffe opened up his 8-pounder guns at the positions of the American troops. The flat terrain made the Americans believe that Sheaffe wouldn’t unleash his artillery guns, as it would have been counter-productive on many levels with the ridges and small hills in the area in ample numbers to shield troops from artillery fire, however Sheaffe took a gamble, and his gamble paid off. The cannon balls tore through the cavalry of the militia and the militia taken by surprise weren’t able to fight properly when Sheaffe sent his troops forward to take Sanborn village. The Battle of Sanborn ended by the end of the 9th as the British troops took control of the village and the American troops were expelled from their forward position which would have been advantageous to them, had Sheaffe been attacked properly by the Americans. The Battle of Sanborn saw 18 British casualties (3 Dead) and 78 American casualties (19 Dead). Sheaffe stopped briefly to keep his lines intact before he began to advance as well, though in his usual sedate pace.

In the East, Prevost hadn’t been quiet either. He knew about Brock’s planned invasion of Upper New York, and despite his misgivings about the invasion took full part in it to aid his subordinate’s invasion. He needed to first be able to secure British supply lines to Upper Canada and remove the American threat to the supply lines. On February 17th, he ordered Colonel George MacDonnell to attack Ogdensburg and take the city to remove the American threat to the supply line to Upper Canada. Thankfully MacDonnell had been planning an attack on the small American border town for multiple days already and he gave his assent on the next day. He planned his attack on Ogdensburg on the 22nd.


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Colonel George MacDonnell.

On February 22nd, the British troops of the Glengarry Light Infantry, 8th King’s Regiment, Royal Newfoundland Fencible’s and 300 Militias crossed the riverine border in front of them to attack the American town. The Americans were used to seeing British troops drilling on the frozen Saint Lawrence and were taken by surprise when they suddenly charged. The riflemen in the fort held out against the frontal attack, mainly because of the British guns were stuck in the snow drifts, and the American arillery under Adjutant Daniel W. Church of Colonel Benedict’s regiment and Lieutenant Baird of Forsyth’s company fired on the British with mixed results. As the British main body threatened to surround them, they retreated and abandoned the town. The militia retreated back into the civilian population of the town as well. The artillery under Church and Baird managed to put up a tough resistance until both Church and Baird were wounded. The British then took control of the town. The British then looted the military stores of the town and then captured the boats and schooners in the small harbor of the town. MacDonnell then ordered his troops to dig into the town, knowing that it would be able to become a focal point in his planned invasion of New England, which he believed alongside an invasion of New York with Brock would be able to break the American back. The Americans lost 20 killed, 6 wounded and 70 captured during the battle and the British faced 6 killed and 44 wounded during the battle, with most of the wounded coming from the brave artillery resistance put up by Church and Baird.


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Battle of Ogdensburg.

On February 28th about a week after the final ice broke allowing for safe passage of the British warships, Yeo would give the Americans their final defeat in the month. The Raid at Sacket’s Harbor was an audacious move planned in conjunction between Brock and Yeo. Utilizing the Canadian Voyageurs and the ample sailing in the cold experience that they gave Yeo, Yeo and 150 Royal Marines, mainly consisting of the Grenadiers of the 100th Regiment took off from York Harbor with the Royal Navy Fleet of Lake Ontario.


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The Canadian Voyageurs in the War of 1812.

The Raid at Sacket’s Harbor began on 7 a.m., when the British Sloop of War, and Yeo’s flagship on Lake Ontario, HMS King George III attacked from the mist hiding them from the shore batteries of the americans. The carronades burst into Sacket’s Harbor and managed to disable a good amount of the smaller shore batteries as the rest of the Sloops of War, HS Wolfe and HMS Royal George appeared and fired as well.

The Beresford was heavily damaged during the bombardment of the harbor by the main American shore battery, however having three heavy sloops of war fire at you was a death sentence during that era, and the shore battery exploded into heaps of flames as three sloops of war concentrated their fire at the battery whilst the small schooners behind these sloops began to pick up some of the drowned sailors from the Beresford. On land, the militia and some of the regulars planted there were under the command of Brigadier General Jacob Brown. With him, he had the 1st US Light Dragoons, 1st US Artillery Detachment, 9th US Infantry and 23rd US Infantry alongside the Albany volunteers under the command of Colonel John Mills.


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Brigadier General Jacob Brown

The Royal Marines were given the strict order of committing themselves to a hit and run attack on the harbor, knowing that in a drawn out affair, the better numbers of Brown would win over. The Royal Marines landed ashore by quarter past 7 and started setting the schooner’s and ships in the harbor alight. This provided cover for most of the Royal Marines as the smoke and mist combined gave a smokescreen for the Marines as they moved forward and picked off isolated American groups in the harbor one by one giving heavy casualties. By 7:45 a.m., as the American militia and regulars started to concentrate and counterattack, the Royal Marines retreated backwards where they boarded the Royal Navy once again and left the harbor. Then Yeo ordered his fleet to move back into British controlled waters. The Raid of Sacket’s Harbor was a hard defeat for the Americans. Around half of their fleet on Lake Ontario was burned to the ground, and a good portion of the fleet damaged with extra time needed to repair them. They only had the USS Lady of the Lake, USS Madison, USS Oneida and USS Tompkins in the water capable of proper service with the USS General Pike and USS Fair American in need of heavy repairs. The Royal Marines faced a 38 casualties of which 7 were killed, around 4 were wounded and the rest were captured by the Americans. However the American sides also faced around 297 casualties, of which 44 Americans were killed (the majority were killed atop burning ships), and the majority of the rest were wounded in the fires of the raid.


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Aftermath of the Raid at Sacket's Harbor.

These four attacks during the month of February, 1813 gave a hefty defeat onto the hands of the Americans, and by this point panic was the rule of the streets in the young republic……” A Military History of the War of 1812. University of Cambridge, 1998.

“In Early march, the atmosphere permeating throughout North and North-Central United States was one full of panic. Yeo’s raid at Sacket’s Harbor basically put a lid on America’s intentions of winning naval dominance on Lake Ontario and pushing Brock back. This also posed a heavy question on the Invasion of New York as well. Since before with the naval dominance on the lake being a constant struggle between the USN and the RN, it was possible that Brock’s supply lines could be hampered, however the naval dominance on the Ontario completely in the hands of the Royal Navy, the supply lines of Brock was fully consolidated and wasn’t in any remote danger of being cut off.

By this point however with MacDonnell and Prevost poised to invade New England, and Brock and Sheaffe poised to attack New York, the situation was tense enough, and the morale of the American public only held up by the fact that in the Atlantic one on one battles in the open seas seemed to be favoring the Americans. That all changed however, when Britain extended their Naval Blockade of the United States of America on March 1, 1813. At first, the naval blockade put by the Royal Navy only extended itself to Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware, and New England had been exempt from the blockade till that point; partly because the Royal Navy needed coordination from the army, because the British government wished to ferment anti-war feelings in New England whilst simultaneously feeding Wellington’s army in Iberia. However by the turn of the year, the British merchants had begun turning to Egypt and India for the grain needed by Wellington’s army in Iberia and the successes of the British troops made the admiralty rethink their plan and on 1st March 1813, the Naval Blockade of the United States of America was extended to New England as well.


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The Blockade of the United States of America.

This had an immediate effect on New England’s economy, which was already smarting from the war. From the declaration of war to 1st March, 1813, New England’s trade fell from an estimated $114 million to $78 million, however by the first week of the blockade, the value of the trade dropped right down to somewhere between $45 to $55 Million. This halving of trade on the sole sector that controlled the economy of the New England states led to a brutal blow to the New English economy, and with the British poised to attack, real calls on what to do began to start throughout the American Northeast.


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Timothy Pickering.

One Timothy Pickering, a federalist leader and a representative of Massachusetts in the House of Representatives, he blasted President Madison and the entire Democratic-Republican Party for the failures of the American government and military during the current war with the United Kingdom. He called the war ‘A dastardly act. If Albion were not focused on France and the European continent, then Washington DC wouldn’t have ever attacked the British possessions in Canada, knowing and perhaps even fearing that Britain would be able to bring her full might against the Union. This war is an act of cowardice in its full. If even now with the majority of their attention at Bonaparte they can defeat us, then what would you expect in a one on one fight? The government is only thinking for itself and not for the states either. New England has been hurt to the point that unemployment runs rampant, banks fail in the streets and our customs barriers are useless. If the government cannot hold itself responsible and act accordingly, then the states will have to work themselves out, with or without the government.’

By this point, with the coffers of New England drying up fast the New English states were by this point openly howling at Madison to end the war. However Madison already angry at the ‘unpatriotic’ manners of the New English did not listen to their demands other than sending a token 250 Regular troops to Massachusetts. This infuriated the population of New England.

And a crisis started to brew as prominent New English politicians began to whisper conspiratorially with one another.

Nonetheless a victory for the young republic was coming, though not in the way they thought it would…..” New England During 1812, The Commonwealth Institute of History, 1936.

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Chapter 5: The Battle of Rochester
Chapter 5: The Battle of Rochester

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“In the West, the war hadn’t started as fast as Tecumseh would’ve liked, but nonetheless, Colonel McKay, with the 900 Natives, and 1300 troops under his control, finally gave the order for the go ahead for Tecumseh and the British troops to renew the fighting on the Michigan Frontier on March 1st.

At the time, Fort Meigs was the only block for McKay and Tecumseh in the west, and the fall of said fort would have allowed the British and their native allies to conduct their operations with unrestrained impunity. Both Tecumseh and McKay could see the value in taking the fort. The First Siege of Fort Meigs was an eye-opener for the young colonel and the overconfident Shawnee chief however. Fort Meigs, for all its deficiencies was a heavily defended fort. McKay and his troops only had 3 six pounder artillery guns with him which would not be sufficient to break the walls and redoubts of the fort.

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Fort Meigs.

On March 3rd, the First Siege of Fort Meigs took place as Tecumseh and McKay’s forces attacked the fort and laid siege to the fort. The fort under the command of Major General Henry Harrison was also well defended. The fort itself consisted of the largest detachment of American engineers in the west under Captain Eleazer D. Wood. The 2nd US Dragoons had also sent a detachment under Major Ball, and the 1st US Artillery under Major Amos Stoddard consisted of a good amount of heavy guns. The 17th and 19th US Infantry detachments under Colonel James Miller also constituted the largest amount of US regulars in the west. The rest of the American troops consisted of Kentucky and Ohio Militia, whose contribution to the siege was negligible at best. Under McKay, He had the Western Rangers, 1st and 2nd Regiments of the Essex Militia and the 1st Regiment of Kent Militia alongside the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry and detachments of the 41st Regiment of the Foot. Tecumseh had divided his forces into two, with the Shawnee warriors directly under his command, and he Wyandot warriors were given to Roundhead to command.

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Major General Henry Harrison.

The Siege started when the Newfoundland Fencibles started assault after assault on Fort Meigs and suffered a good amount of casualties. Under the command of Tecumseh, and pincer movements from the Indian troops, the Newfoundland troops almost breached the Fort on March 11th, by reaching its frontal redoubt and capturing it for a brief amount of time, however by then McKay ordered the troops to withdraw. The casualties he had found in the week and a half long siege was too high for him to commit himself to, and McKay’s inexperience worked around his later stellar record. Tecumseh was enraged at McKay’s withdrawal, and initially fought by himself intending to take the fort by himself, however Roundhead and Black Hawk, Tecumseh’s advisors and Lieutenants managed to calm the hothead Shawnee and force him to see reason and Tecumseh withdrew as well a day later from McKay. They regrouped in Detroit as the First Siege of Fort Meigs had been an utter defeat for the British troops. The American casualties during the short siege is unknown, however the British faced 14 killed, 47 wounded, and 41 captured alongside 19 Indian casualties.

Nonetheless, a good amount of British captains were sniped by American marksmen during the retreat, and the organizational disorder that McKay had to deal with made the First Siege of Fort Meig’s a well-earned victory for the American troops…….” America, or How Not To Start Nation Building, Penguin Publishing, 2009.

“The American victory at Fort Meigs did a good amount of morale boosting in the American troops, however this was soon going to be dampened down almost immediately. On March 27th, after a good six weeks of slight cautious marching, Sheaffe’s and Brock’s forces reached the outskirts of Rochester in Upper New York. Taking said village would give the British massive initiative into the War of 1812.

Brock’s forces had been moving forward for weeks by this point, supplied by Yeo through Lake Ontario where the British Royal Navy moved with impunity. The American troops had in the event of fighting with Brock withdrawn to Rochester and had prepared redoubts, and small fortifications all over the small town to protect it, and the commander of the American troops at Rochester, Major General Zebulon Pike called it “The last line of defense of New York.”

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Zebulon Pike.

Rochester itself was a small town of around 900 peoples. And the citizens there weren’t enthused that their village was about to become the scene of a battle. Unknown to them, it would become the deadliest battle fought in the War of 1812, and also the final turning point.

The Battle of Rochester would take place in and around Rochester and the places surrounding said place. Brock determined that the three entrances into Rochester from Hilton, Spencerport and Churchville would be the best option for the British advance from. He assigned the 8th Regiment of the Foot alongside Meritt’s Volunteer Cavalry Militia to attack from Hilton. At Spencerport, the place where Brock estimated would be the main attacking line, he placed the 49th Regiment of the Foot, Royal Newfoundland Fencibles, and the Glengarry Light Infantry alongside the Royal Artillery as well. Down south in Churchville, the 104th Regiment of the Foot, 1st Lincoln Militia and the 1st Iroquois Regiment was placed. The 1st Iroquois Regiment was commanded by John Norton and included the Iroquois volunteers for the British. As such, the forces at Churchville was commanded by John Norton, the forces at Spencerport was commanded by Brock himself directly, and the northern troops at Hilton was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John Harvey.

On the American side, the town of Rochester was protected at the north by the 21st US Infantry, and the US 1st Rifle Regiment. The 5th, 8th and 3rd New York Militia had been placed south to protect the southern flank of Rochester. The middle and easiest way into Rochester was protected by the 6th and 15th US Infantry. The 16th US Infantry was kept in Rochester in reserve alongside the 3rd US Artillery. The American forces were commanded by Brigadier General Zebulon Pike and under him, were Colonels Isaac Chauncey and Henry Dearborne. Pike commanded the town and the central pathway himself, and the northern route was commanded by Chauncey whilst the southern flank was commanded by Dearborne.

All in all, Brock had around 6,500 troops under his command, and Pike had 7500 troops under his command.

At around 7 a.m. in the morning of March 27th, the 49th Regiment of the Foot’s companies were ordered to attack the positions of the 15th US Infantry at Elmgrove, where Pike had created the first lane of redoubts. The 49th Regiment was supported by the 7th Royal Artillery which blasted the redoubts with cannon balls and attacks. However nonetheless, despite attacks by the British 49th Regiment of the Foot, the 15th US Infantry managed to resist the attack. In the north, the 8th Regiment of the Foot under Harvey was then ordered to attack Braddock Bay where the 21st US Infantry had made their home and base. The 8th Regiment, supplemented by the volunteer cavalry under Meritt attacked the positions taken by the 21st US Infantry.

It was at this time, that Yeo and Brock revealed their trump card. Yeo as he was in command of the Lake Operations, and Brock as he was in command of the land troops, they had collaborated with each other at a level that probably hadn’t ever been seen in North America till that time. Yeo’s warships appeared in front of Braddock’s Bay and started a general bombardment of the fortifications present in the bay and the subsequent barrage of carronades alongside the attack of the 8th Regiment was too much for the 21st US Infantry to bare. The 21st US Infantry retreated back to Charlotte, where the second line of defenses, not available to attack from the waters lay. However Harvey did not attack Charlotte as he had to consolidate his position in Braddock’s Bay first. As this was going on, Yeo’s transport ships began unloading heavy 24 pounder guns on Braddock’s Bay which formed the 3rd Royal Artillery in North America. Approximately 4 24 pounder heavy guns were unloaded onto the bay alongside two right pounder guns, which would be extremely consequential to the British attack that was coming.

Down south, Norton began using the American fear of native Americans to his utmost advantage. Norton whipped the Native Americans into a frenzy and made them cry at a high pitched voice, with their war cries carrying all the way to Black Creek where the New York Militia were based and supposed to protect the southern flank to Rochester. Unfortunately for Norton, only around a quarter of the militia fled unlike the half or two thirds that he thought would flee. However Norton not giving up, struck at the Militias at around quarter past 11 during midday as the Native Americans started to conduct hit and run tactics against the New York Militia. When faced with the Native Indians however, the Militia started to slink off. The Iroquois then started to surround Black Creek, providing a huge scare to the 8th New York Militia. By exactly midday, the Iroquois started to push their advantage and started to make the encirclement smaller and smaller. The 8th New York Militia around half an hour past 12 surrendered to John Norton, who managed to thankfully stop any sort of massacres that may have come to pass.

At the center, Brock ordered the 49th, and the 104th Regiments started to harry and attack the redoubts made by Pike facing Spencerport. Brock then ordered the 104th to harry south to Manitou and start an encirclement of the redoubts at Elmgrove. However Pike who anticipated this move, sent the 16th US Infantry which had been kept in reserve to protect the flanks of Elmgrove. The 104th Regiment and the 16th US Infantry then started to fight in a bitter struggle to gain dominance in Manitou as the two fought. Slightly up north, the 8th Regiment and the militia cavalry of the Canadians assaulted Charlotte, however were unable to break through.

Brock leading from the front managed to keep the morale of the troops high enough as he commanded the 49th Regiment by himself and took charge in many of the assaults on the redoubts at Elmgrove. However around quarter before 2, a musketball hit his thigh, and he was forced to go back to Spencerport from where he continued to direct the battle and the troops, even though he couldn’t fight on physically by himself. Egged on by their commander, the 49th Regiment finally overran the redoubts at Elmgrove and this put the 16th US Infantry now caught between the 104th Regiment of the Foot and the 49th Regiment of the Foot almost encircled. However after a series of desperate delaying actions, and long range artillery support from the 3rd US Artillery, the 16th US Infantry managed to break out from Manitou and entered Lyell from where the retreated back with the rest of the American troops at the center into the Trolley Creeks and ponds where Pike had managed to disguise many redoubts as barriers blended into the swampy environment around there. At around 3 in the late afternoon, the heavy artillery that had been unloaded by Yeo’s transport ships reached Brock’s position, and Brock ordered the guns to fire at will in Trolley Creek and destroy the redoubts enough so that the 104th and the 49th could take the redoubts and assault the town of Rochester itself.

Whilst the bombardment did soften the defenses, and many forward redoubts fell to the 104th and 49th, the inner and middle redoubts however held, mostly due to the fact that the heavy gun’s range did not extend so far, and the cannons were disrupted by the heavy foliage around the area.

However by the evening Norton and his Iroquois troops were starting to advance and managed to link up with Brock’s center forces and faced the redoubts themselves as night started to fall.

As the night started to befall the battleground, fighting largely ceased except for small potshots here and there. Nonetheless, Pike started to reorganize his men to create a better defensive position around Rochester, whilst Brock, utilizing the excellent trackers from the Iroquois kept a keen eye at the troop movements that Pike was conducting. In this manner, Brock knew the positions that Pike’s men were positioning themselves into, and by extension, Brock knew what kind of moves that Pike would probably conduct himself into. That night, Pike sent an urgent message to Washington pleading for more men and requesting around 2000 regulars and 3000 militia. However as dawn broke out, Brock immediately used his intelligence gathered from the Iroquois trackers to his advantage and pushed just as dawn broke, as the artillery blared and fired.

By 8, the middle redoubts had been seized and by that point the 15th and 16th US Infantry had retreated back into Rochester Proper. In the north, Harvey learning about Brock’s attack pushed at Charlotte as well, utilizing his smaller artillery guns to pound the redoubts around the area. This did not manage to break the American lines, however with the heavy artillery fire, it forced the major components of the 3rd US Artillery to move north to Charlotte to protect the redoubts and fortifications there. And this was when Brock made his move. Limping forward with his injured leg, where he had been shot with a musketball, Brock allegedly raised his sword and shouted attack. The 49th and the 104th attacked immediately with the Iroquois warriors not far behind them.

By early 10 a.m. on March 28th, Pike decided that the battle was lost, especially as with each quarter of an hour, another block fell to the British troops. He ordered a general retreat immediately. A good portion of the American troops managed to escape, however the 3rd New York Militia was surrounded by Norton’s forces in the southern sector of the town, and in the north of the 1st US Rifle Regiment was forced to capitulate as the 8th Regiment of the Foot managed to encircle them. By midday the retreat was complete and Pike was retreating towards to Onondaga.

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A Depiction of the Battle of Rochester.

By 1 the Battle of Rochester was over. The Battle of Rochester was perhaps the bloodiest battle fought on North American soil during the War of 1812. It saw around 15,000 troops in total fight it out with another. The British casualty figures were high as well, despite having won the battle. 92 British troops were killed, around 583 wounded in the fights, and around 180 troops were captured and 30 troops went missing for a total casualty rate of around 800 troops. The Americans also faced horrendous casualties. Around 187 American troops had perished, and 621 troops were wounded. What was alarming however was the 1600 captured troops and the 27 missing troops. Whilst the British took high casualties as well, the Americans took the most horrendous casualties they had ever taken in near remembrance.

Brock realized that he couldn’t advance for about a few days as well because of the fact he had to rest his troops as well and attend to the wounded. The 1600 Americans that were captured were transferred to York through Rochester Harbor with Yeo’s transport ships. Yeo’s ships also restocked the ammunitions that Brock had, and by the next week, Brock would be on the offensive once again…..” Isaac Brock At War, Osprey Publishing, 2009.

“In the north, Colonel George MacDonnell hit south from Ogdensburg and captured Redwood without much resistance to his troops. After regrouping his troops, MacDonnell laid siege to Fort Drum.

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Fort Drum today.

Down south, Rear Admiral George Cockburn also decided to get inside the action as his squadron sailed down to Chesapeake Bay for raid against the American troops and important ammunition stores around the area on April 2nd.

Cockburn’s fleet was anchored off Turkey Point, separated from Havre de Grace by an area of shoal water to shallow for large ships to navigate. Cockburn therefore sent Commander John Lawrence at the head of a flotilla of sixteen light schooners to cross the shoals beginning at midnight on 2nd April. Despite or because of intelligence of an impending attack somewhere north and not Havre De Grace, most of the militia had departed before the raid and fewer than 40 militia remained at Concord Point Battery when the flotilla attacked at dawn. These troops briefly returned fire until a group of Congreve rockets used by the flotilla managed to kill one civilian and 3 militia forcing them to withdraw. Lieutenant George Augustus Westphal then stormed and captured the Concord Point Battery.

American Second Lieutenant John O’Neil manage to man another batter, the so called ‘Potato Battery’ until his cannon’s recoil struck him dislocating some of his muscle. O’Neil retreated to fire on the British with a musket while he unsuccessfully tried to signal to the Militia to return. The townspeople and the remaining militia retreated as Westphal and his troops drove them further from the tow. The British then looted the ammunition stores of the town, a vital portion of America’s ammunition disposition around the Chesapeake. Around 45 of the 60 houses in the area were burned down, and Westphal burned the crops in the fields, and looted the granaries of the town and carted them off to the Royal Navy to transport to the Maritime colonies.

After the Raid on Havre De Grace, Cockburn sent his troops up the Susquehanna River where he destroyed the ammunition stores and depots there as well before the troops retreated backwards. Principio Furnace, a major ironwork and cannon foundry, responsible for around a fifth of the cannons being used in the New York Front was destroyed by the attack before Cockburn and his fleet retreated as well…..” The Royal Navy During the War of 1812, Osprey Publishing, 1976.

“In British Occupied Upper New York, an old regiment, an old loyalist regiment, named the New York Volunteers or the 1st Dutchess County Company was reactivated for service as the old loyalist and defectors from America were used to form the regiment to fight. They soon joined Sheaffe and his troops by Mid-April.”
The Regiments of the War of 1812, University of Havana, 1998.
 
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