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War of 1812 - Battles, Leaders and RifleMen

This year and next will mark the 200th Anniversaries of one sea battle upon, and two land battles along the shores of, Lake Ontario - the Battle of York and the First and Second Battles of Sacket's Harbor...

The First Battle of Sacket's Harbor (also spelled as Sackett's) was a naval battle fought on July 19, 1812, between the American and British naval forces that resulted in the American forces repelling the attack on their town and the shipbuilding yard located there...Sacket's Harbor is located on Lake Ontario in Northern New York State. It was the chief shipbuilding yard for the United States during the War of 1812.  (wiki)

The Battle of York was fought on 27 April 1813, at York, Upper Canada (present day Toronto). An American force supported by a naval flotilla landed on the lake shore to the west, defeated the defending British force and captured the fort, town and dockyard. The Americans themselves suffered heavy casualties, including Brigadier General Zebulon Pike who was leading the troops, when the retreating British blew up the fort's magazine.

The Second Battle of Sacket's Harbor or simply the Battle of Sacket's Harbor, took place on 29 May 1813, during the War of 1812. A British force was transported across Lake Ontario and attempted to capture the town, which was the principal dockyard and base for the American naval squadron on the lake. They were repulsed by American regulars and militia...Brigadier General Jacob Brown of the New York state militia took command of all troops at Sackett's Harbor...."(wiki)

Our still unmatched (but dwindling) U.S. Navy, has seen fit to commemorate their role in the War of 1812 in a big way - featuring various "Fleet Week" celebrations across the country. By contrast, our Army
"...doesn't have a commemoration committee planning huge national events for this bicentennial. But it is printing a series of seven booklets to explain the campaigns..."

Me thinks the Army should have commemorated the war in a more prominent way in order to illustrate and advocate the virtues and necessity for preparedness, professionalism and competent generalship (sorely lacking in the War of 1812) in the face of an uncertain future (except for the certain future it faces of major cutbacks in the aftermath of our longest war and the unstoppable domestic war being waged by socialists on the nation's economy.)

Now, as anyone who has followed these latest wars to any depth can attest - our greatest losses (roughly 65 percent of casualties at the height of both conflicts) have come from the asymmetric threat of Improvised Explosive Devices. In the War of 1812, as in most all conflicts, such death by unexpected means was not unknown, witness the following fate of Brigadier General  Zebulon Pike at the Battle of York. But I partially digress.

Paraphrasing my fellow blogger at The War of 1812 Chronicles, perhaps the New York Times and U.S. Army won't blog about the War of 1812, but I will! I, again, call on the past services of historical feature writer par excellence, Elmo Scott Watson, to tell the story of:

Pike and Brown: To Honor Two Generals of War of 1812 - By Elmo Scott Watson
Dayton Review - Mar 20, 1930

from the Utah Digital Newspapers website the following printable pdf are available:

Iron County Record 1930-03-12 To Honor Two Generals of War of 1812 [best pdf]

Kane County Standard 1930-03-21 To Honor Two Generals of War of 1812 [pdf]

Millard County Chronicle 1930-03-13 To Honor Two Generals of War of 1812 [pdf]

For a contemporaneous account about Brigadier General Pike at York, and the amphibious assault and spearhead exploits of the largely forgotten U.S. Rifle Regiment(s) of that war, see:

Niles' weekly register, Volume 4, 1813

also see

Cruikshank, Ernest Alexander (1854-1939) (editor) (1971). The Documentary History of the Campaign upon the Niagara Frontier in the Year 1812. New York: Arno Press. Lundy's Lane Historical Society (Welland, Ont.); Volume 5 [1813]


Extract from a letter from Lieut. Fraser, A. D. C. to Brigadier-General Pike, Published in the Aurora, of Philadelphia, May, 1813.

We embarked the 22d and 23d of April last ; the weather being stormy we returned into port and sailed again on the 25th, and arrived at York in Upper Canada the 27th, about 7 o'clock a. m., and immediately prepared to land opposite the old site of Fort Toronto. A body of British grenadiers were paraded on the shore, and the Glengarry Fencibles, a corps which has been disciplined with great pains for six months past, appeared at another point.

Bodies of Indians were perceived in large groups in different directions, and a considerable number in some woods and underwoods on our leeward flank.

About the site of the old French fort of Toronto, of which scarcely any vestiges at present remain, we could discern a few horsemen, who we perceived afterwards moving into the town, where strong field works had been thrown up to oppose our landing.

As soon as the horsemen had entered the town we saw the Indians moving in gangs along the skirts of the woods under the direction of British officers, taking post at stations pointed out to them, apparently calculated with some skill as to the point at which the water and the weather must compel us to land.

After these Indians, acting as tirailleurs, were thus disposed we perceived very distinctly the regulars moving out of their works in open columns of platoons and marching along the bank in that order. When they reached the plain of the old fort Toronto they were wheeled off by heads of platoons into the woods and soon appeared in the same order below the plain, just at the position at which our troops were under the necessity of landing.

Major Forsyth and his excellent and gallant rifle corps,* who had been placed in two large batteaux, pulled undauntedly towards the cleared ground where he had been ordered to land, but he was forced by the wind a considerable distance below his destined point.

The fire of musketry and rifles here commenced from the shore, the enemy being within a few feet of the water and in a considerable degree masked by the wood and copse.

Here Major Forsyth ordered his men to rest for a few moments on their oars and soon opened a galling fire upon the enemy. In the moment when Forsyth's corps were lying upon their oars and priming, Gen. Pike was standing on the deck, and, impatient at the apparent pause of an instant and seeing that the rifle corps had been driven by the wind beyond the point at which they were to


have disembarked, exclaimed : " By____ I can't stay here any longer," and addressing himself to his staff: "Come, jump into the boat," which we immediately did, the Commodore having reserved a boat specially for him and his suite. The little coxswain was immediately ordered to steer for the middle of the fray, and the balls whistled gloriously around, probably their number was owing to seeing so many officers in one boat, but we laughed at their clumsy efforts as we pressed forward with well pulled oars.

The infantry had, according to orders, embarked at the same time and formed platoons as soon as they reached the shore. The General took command of the first platoon he reached and formed it below, and ordered the whole to prepare for a charge as soon as we reached the top of the bank. We proceeded in high spirits and mounted the bank under a volley of musketry and rifle shot, but we had not time to force our platoon completely when the British grenadiers showed us their backs. At the very moment of their turning tail the sound of Forsyth's bugles was heard with peculiar delight, as it was the indication of his success ; the effect of the bugle upon the nerves of the British Indians was electric, for they no sooner heard it than they gave a diabolical yell and fled in all directions.

The Glengarry corps skirmished with Forsyth's while the infantry were landing, and Brigade-Major Hunter formed the troops for action as they landed and reached the plain.

The volunteer corps, commanded by Colonel Maclure, flanked the reserve, and the light artillery, commanded by Major Eustis, acting as infantry, covered the left.

It is proper to state in this place the masterly co-operation of Com. Chauncey and the naval squadron under his command. He sent his schooners mounting heavy metal to cover the landing, and kept up so well direct8d and incessant a fire of grape on the woods as to effectually cover our right flank and afforded us great facility in forming our platoons, besides producing the utmost consternation among the Indians. A shot from one of the schooners killed a horse under the aid of the British General, but owing to the shallowness of the water neither the ship nor the brig could be brought in to participate in the action, but the Commodore was through the whole of the action in his boat, encouraging and giving orders to the different schooners. The navy lost two gallant midshipmen and about 20 seamen were killed and wounded in the service of landing.

The troops ordered to land by General Pike when he went on shore were the three companies of Captain Hoppock, (who was mortally wounded in the boat,) Capt. Scott and Capt. Young of the


15th Regiment United States Infantry, all under the command of Major King, (the same who gallantly distinguished himself at Queeuston,) their orders were to reinforce Major Forsyth and effect a landing, and they were forbidden to load or use powder ; the riflemen of Forsyth, as the enemy came up, opened a heavy and effective fire upon the enemy, and the three companies landed in the most complete style : the enemy gave way before our troops could come to the bayonet's point, and were pursued up the bank by our troops. At the top of the bank a fresh body of British grenadiers, (said to be the 8th or King's grenadiers,) made a formidable charge on this column of ours and compelled us for an instant to retire, but our troops instantly rallied and returned to the charge, and with the most complete success, not a man of the grenadiers escaped our fire or charge, and our troops, just reinforced by the remainder of the 15th, remained undisputed masters of the bank. This reinforcement brought the colors of the 15th, which accompanied the platoon of Capt. Steele. The enemy presenting a fresh front the troops were instantly formed for the charge by Major King, who gave them Yankee Doodle, but the enemy did not like our music nor our pikes any better than our rifles — they gave way and fled in the utmost disorder.

As soon as our forces were all landed and collected we were formed into platoons and marched in that order towards the enemy's works, flanked by the rifle corps.

Our march was by the lake road in sections, but the route was so much intersected by streams and rivulets, the bridges over which had been destroyed by the enemy as they retreated, that we were considerably retarded in our progress ; we collected logs and by severe efforts at length contrived to pass over one field piece and a howitzer, which were placed at the head of our column in charge of Captain Fanning of the 3d Artillery, and thus we proceeded through a spacious wood, as we emerged from which we were saluted by a battery of 24-pounders, but excepting some pikes broken and some bayonets bent these guns gave us no annoyance.

The General then ordered one of his aids (Fraser) and a sergeant to proceed to the right of the battery in order to discover how many men were in the works. We did so and reported to him the number and that they were spiking their own guns towards the shipping.

The General immediately ordered Captain Walworth of the 16th, with his company of grenadiers, to make the assault. Walworth gallantly ordered his men to trail arms and advance at the accelerated pace, but at the moment when they were ordered to


recover and charge the enemy broke in the utmost confusion, leaving several men wounded on the ground, which they abandoned.

We then proceeded in admirable order on a gradual ascent, when a fire was opened upon us of round and canister from the quarters of the British Governor. The General here ordered the troops to lie close while the artillery battery under Major Eustis was brought to the front and silenced the enemy's battery. The firing very soon ceased altogether, and we were expecting a Flag of surrender at the very moment when a terrible explosion of the British magazine took place. The explosion was stupendous, and at the instant the common supposition was a subterraneous mine. The General had just aided in removing a wounded man with his own hands and set down on a stump with a British sergeant we had taken prisoner, whom the General with Captain Nicholson and myself were examining when the explosion took place. The General, Captain Nicholson and the British sergeant were all mortally wounded, and I was so much bruised in the general crash that it is surprising how I survived ; probably I owe my escape to the corpulency of the British sergeant, whose body was thrown upon mine by the concussion.

Brigade-Major Hunter, assisted by Lieutenant-Colonel Mitchell of the 3d Artillery, who acted as a volunteer upon the expedition, formed the troops and we were ready to give or receive a charge in five minutes after the explosion.

The wounds of General Pike were of such a nature as to disable him from all further service, and the command devolved on Colonel Pearce of the 16th Infantry, as the senior officer, who sent a flag demanding an immediate surrender at discretion. They made only one stipulation, which was granted without hesitation, that is, that private property should be respected.

The British General made his escape and a body of regular troops with him, in what direction I have not heard. When the surgeons were carrying their wounded General and his aids from the field our troops, which had just formed, gave a tremendous huzza. The General turned his head anxiously to enquire what that was for. A surgeon who accompanied him said : " The British Union Jack is coming down, General, the Stars are
going up ;" he heaved a heavy sigh of ectasy and smiled even amidst the anguish which must have been inseparable from the state of his wounds. He was carried on board the Pert schooner, together with his Aid-de-camp Fraser, and from thence on board the Commodore's ship, accompanied by the Commodore, who came to attend him. On board the Commodore's ship his gallant spirit fled.

(File in Philadelphia Library.) ...


The Capture of York.

The following is given as an accurate list of the killed and wounded at York, Upper Canada, April 27.

Killed in battle — 1 subaltern, 2 sergeants, 1 corporal, 2 musicians, 8 privates 14

Killed by explosion — 1 captain, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, 29 privates . 38
Total killed 52

Wounded in battle — 2 captains, (one since dead,) 1 subaltern, 3 sergeants, 4 corporals, 22 privates . 32

Wounded by the explosion — 1 Brig-Gen., (since dead,) 1 aid-de-camp, 1 acting aid, 1 volunteer aid, 6 captains, 6 subalterns, 11 sergeants, 9 corporals, 1 musician, 185 privates 222

Total wounded 254

Killed 52

Of the navy — 2 midshipmen and 1 seamen killed, 11 seamen wounded : .... 14

Total killed and wounded 320

(Niles's Register, 12th June, 1813.)

end of excerpt

Another side of the story

MS. Carefully Preserved by the Late Colonel William Allan of Moss Park, Toronto, apparently the Original Draft.

"York, 8th May, 1813.
My Dear Sir, —

Knowing your anxiety for our fate and the interest you have in the safety of this Province, we hasten to give you as accurate an account as we are able of the events which have happened here since the day previous to the attack :

On Monday, 26th April, about five o'clock P. M., an express arrived from Scarborough informing General Sheaffe that the enemies' flotilla, consisting of at least ten sail, was observed at the distance of eight miles, steering apparently for York.

The militia were immediately called to arms, and they assembled with the greatest cheerfulness, as from the number of regular troops accidentally in the garrison it was supposed that we were strong enough to beat any force that could be brought against us in that number of ships. The troops were stationed in different


places during the night to guard every approach to the town. At daylight on the 27th the enemy's ships were seen standing in towards Gibraltar Point, as if they intended to put troops on shore on the neck of land below the town, but soon after, changing their mind, they steered for the mouth of the harbour. The number of vessels now visible amounted to fourteen, and we could see by our glasses that the decks were crowded with troops. About six they began to land above the old French fort, nearly two miles above the garrison. The first division consisted of the rifle corps, which immediately took the woods on gaining the shore. In the meantime I was astonished that the troops and field pieces were not ordered to march much sooner to the place of landing, as it was easy to ascertain it after the flotilla had passed the lighthouse. At length the troops were seen marching towards the shore opposite the enemy's ships, but without artillery, as it was supposed to be impracticable to bring the field pieces through the wood. From the most correct accounts that can be procured, our troops did not proceed to attack the enemy for a quarter of an hour after they had actually reached the ground, during which time they were landing in great numbers. At length the grenadier company of the Eighth, joined by a few militia volunteers, advanced to attack the Americans as they mounted the bank, and behaved with the greatest courage and intrepidity, but unaccustomed to fighting in the woods and conspicuous by their dress, they fell on all sides without even knowing whence the fire proceeded.

The riflemen were hid behind trees and logs and never appeared but when they fired, squatting down to load their pieces, and their cloaths being green they could not be distinguished from the bushes and trees.

About the same time Major Givins with the Indians were actively employed on the right, but they were not supported, and after losing some of their best men, one chief killed and another wounded, they retreated through the woods. The division of the Newfoundland Regiment and a battalion company of the regulars were also engaged, but not being so far in advance as the grenadier company their loss was very inconsiderable. The place chosen by the enemy for landing was very advantageous for their troops, being full of shrubs and bushes ; his riflemen were immediately covered and cut off our people, with little or no danger to themselves. 

From the frequent halts made by our troops on their way to the scene of action and coming up in small divisions there appeared an indecision and want of  energy which was very injurious to the cause. In a very short time the grenadiers and Newfoundland division, with some militia who had joined, were so much galled by the fire of the enemy and had so many killed that they were obliged to retreat upon the


first battery. This was all the fighting we had, and altho' the advantage was not on our side the day, in our opinion, might have been retrieved. The great error committed in the morning was the not attacking the enemy on landing with our whole force. Instead of doing this half our best troops, the Glengarry company and the garrison militia, were sent to deploy in the woods in order perhaps to support the Indians and take the enemy on his flank, but after wandering till they were fatigued they were forced to return by the same paths through which they had marched, and were hardly in time to witness the retreat of the troops that had felt the enemy.
It does not appear that we had above one-third of our people engaged, and these placed in a situation the most disadvantageous that could possibly be imagined for such troops. From the moment of retreat the confusion increased. Few of the officers knew what to do, they had no orders and those who thought that they had orders found them so inconsistent as not to know how to proceed. The consequence was that great numbers crowded into the batteries, and no proper arrangements were made for arresting the further progress of the enemy.

When the troops were placed under the cover of the first battery, as conveniently as possible, an accident happened, very disastrous to many and exceedingly discouraging to the state of our defenders. By the carelessness of the man who carried the portfire a spark fell into the portable magazine belonging to the battery, which, blowing up, spread death and destruction on every side. From twelve to eighteen were killed and many dreadfully wounded.
The terrible appearance of the killed and wounded, being all black and scorched, dispirited the troops, even after they had recovered from the consternation produced by the explosion, which was the more to be deplored, as there is reason to suppose that the accident was occasioned by crowding the battery with troops who should have been in another place, and thus incommoding the men employed in working the guns. By the vigour and courage of Col. Hughes (Heathcote ?) and Mr. Ingerfield (Ingouville?) the battery was quickly cleared and the guns began again to play upon the enemy. During this time the enemy had landed his cannon, and being more industrious than we contrived to drag two halves (howitzers?) and four sixes along with him as he advanced upon the battery, while we conceived it impracticable in the morning to carry two sixes to the place of debarkation. The militia began now visibly to melt away ; there was no person to animate them nor to tell them when they were to make a stand, their officers knew nothing of what was to be done, each was asking of another, inquiring after the General and running after his aides and messengers in order to ascertain what they should


do. In the meantime the General walked backwards and forwards on the road between the garrison and Mr. Haines's, more than halt' a mile from the troops. It was upwards of an hour and a half after the troops retreated to the first battery before the column of the enemy appeared, and it was the general opinion that then a desperate resistance would be made, but the officers and men, being allowed to remain without orders, they began to retire as soon as the enemy was seen, and the battery was entirely abandoned before it was attacked, on discovering that it was supplied with nothing but round shot. Thus an excellent opportunity of annoying the enemy as he advanced, with grape and cannister, was lost, and a good position for a general engagement given up without resistance.
At the next battery, which was very small, few of the troops stopped, but continued their retreat to the Gov't. House. There they halted,expecting to make a stand, but receiving no orders to that effect the retreat was continued to the garrison.

The retreat was ordered to be still continued toward Elmsley House, and when the troops had passed the garrison, the militia bringing up the rear, the powder magazine was blown up, as had been previously concerted, that it might not fall into the hands of the enemy. The explosion of two hundred barrels of gunpowder, with a great quantity of fixed ammunition, was most tremendous, and killed and wounded a great number of the American troops as they were advancing, among others Brig.-General Pyke was so severely wounded that he died next morning.

The American army was so stunned by the explosion and suffered so much as to be thrown into the utmost confusion, and had they been attacked during their consternation they would have been easily defeated, but as it was merely to deprive them of the magazine, and not a stratagem of war, General Sheaffe cannot be blamed for not taking advantage of its effects, which in all probability were unknown to him.

It is, however, certain that if the explosion had been delayed one-quarter of an hour half the enemy's force would have been blown up and almost the whole wounded. As this was done without the knowledge of many of our own officers they, with their men, were likewise exposed to imminent danger.

The troops halted behind a ravine near by Elmsley House, and many of the militia being fatigued and hungry retired to town to get some refreshment. Indeed it was now generally supposed that General Sheaffe had abandoned all idea of further resistance, and that he was preparing to treat with the enemy. Yet it would have been still practicable to have collected the stragglers, and the regulars were eager to revenge their comrades who had fallen in the


morning, but after remaining an hour in this position a council of war was called and before an opinion was given by any of its members the General ordered the regulars to retreat to Kingston.

The command at York was left with Col. Chewett and Major Allan, who were ordered by Sir Roger to make the best terms they could with the enemy..."
end of second excerpt

For more on York and Sacket's Harbor, I recommend the:


also available at


The pictorial field-book of the War of 1812, or, Illustrations, by pen and pencil, of the history, biography, scenery, relics, and traditions of the last war for American independence [microform] - Lossing, Benson J. (Benson John), 1813-1891, Includes index

The pictorial field-book of the war of 1812, or, Illustrations, by pen and pencil, of the history, biography, scenery, relics, and traditions of the last war for American independence [microform] - Lossing, Benson J. (Benson John), 1813-1891, Includes index



Battle of Sacket's Harbor, The Military and Naval Magazine of the United States, Volumes 1-2, 1833, pp. 17- 24

THE FIRST CAMPAIGN OP AN A. D. C. , The Military and Naval Magazine of the United States, Volumes 1-2, 1833-1834,  6 of 13 installments between 1833 -1835

1. pp 153-162

2. pp 257-267
"It was somewhat amusing to see the contrast between us, who had our maiden fight yet to come, and those who, at York, had passed through the ordeal. When they fancied our hearts began to fail us, they would cast a patronizing look upon us, and seem to say, "cheer up—we will show you the way." There was a difference in the aspect and bearing of the two classes. The heroes of York assumed the privilege of wearing their caps more on one side, of giving greater latitude to their whiskers, and particularly of cultivating large mustachios. Some of us unfledged ones had also permitted the latter to encroach on the upper lip ; but we wore them with a less confident air, and seldom, while conversing, ventured to devote a thumb and finger constantly to them, for the double purpose of calling attention to them, and giving them that Turklike twist, which was deemed the perfection of these labial ornaments" p.264
Correspondence [from a "Yorker"]
"Mr. Editor:—Allow me to correct some slight inaccuracies in the narrative of the first Campaign of an A.D.C. His reminiscences are read with much pleasure by his associates of 1813, and would have afforded still greater satisfaction had they been submitted to the public in a less affected style of writing....The great magazine in the Citadel at York, was fired, not by accident, but certainly by design..."
3. pp 10-20
4. pp. 73-83

5. pp. 200-210
6. pp. 278-288
[Installments 7-11: volume 3 (nos. 7-10) not found available online, volume 4 - no. 11; volume 5 - no. 12, no. 13]
recently published in book form:

First Campaign of an A.D.C.: The War of 1812 Memoir of Lieutenant William Jenkins Worth, United States Army, edited by Donald E. Graves, 2012 

An authentic history of the Second War for Independence:  Comprising details of the military and naval operations, from the commencement to the close of the recent war; enriched with numerous geographical and biographical notes, Volume 2, by Samuel R. Brown, Pub. by J. G. Hathaway, Kellogg & Beardslee, printers, 1815

Official letters of the military and naval officers of the United States, during the war with Great Britain in the years 1812, 13, 14, & 15: with some additional letters and documents elucidating the history of that period, Printed by Way & Gideon, for the editor, 1823

Life of General Jacob Brown. To which are added memoirs of Generals Ripley and Pike, New York, Nafis & Cornish; St. Louis, Mo., Nafis, Cornish & co., 1847

The generals of the last war with Great Britain - Jenkins, John S. (John Stilwell), Auburn, Derby, Miller & Co.; Buffalo, G. H. Derby & Co., 1849
Jacob Brown.--Edmund Pendleton Gaines.--William Henry Harrison.--Andrew Jackson.--Alexander Macomb.--Zebulon Montgomery Pike.--Winfield Scott

 The generals of the last war with Great Britain - Jenkins, John S. (John Stilwell), Auburn, Derby, Miller & Co.; Buffalo, G. H. Derby & Co., 1849
Jacob Brown.--Edmund Pendleton Gaines.--William Henry Harrison.--Andrew Jackson.--Alexander Macomb.--Zebulon Montgomery Pike.--Winfield Scott

The military heroes of the war of 1812: with a narrative of the war, by Charles Jacobs Peterson, W. A. Leary, 1849

The Sackets Harbor Battlefield Alliance

Sackets Harbor celebrates War of 1812 bicentennial - 1812 news

Sword of the Border: Major General Jacob Jennings Brown, 1775-1828, by John D. Morris
Kent State University Press, 2000


In considering the above, I pause here to many more battle exploits of the U.S. Regiment(s) of Riflemen would the U.S. Army Rangers need in order to justify honoring this forgotten "regular army" unit in its historical narrative?
Answer: None. 
After all, it is a narrative that highlights and extols its beginnings and (deserved) exploits as British Colonial Rangers and then later bends to accommodate the "Rangers" of the Confederate States of America - without addressing the seeming incongruity of these choices.  So, wouldn't this be the time and a way for a U.S. Army regular army unit (i.e. the 75th Ranger Regiment with its unique hybrid organizational history of broken designations and lineages) to pay homage in this, the Bicentennial Year of the War of 1812, to the forgotten legacy of valor by a  - "lead the way," raiding, spearhead, assault and ambush - force, without peer in its own time?**
But is the current Army leadership fully aware of their own wartime past not to mention the past of a once unique unit? 
The answer is most doubtful; for how else do you explain the U.S. Army's approach to the Bicentennial?  
It was in this war, by the way, in which a "civilized" foe first respectfully proclaimed "Those are Regulars, By God!" 
Shame on our current Commander-in-Chief for not directing our Army to, or our Army leadership in insisting that it, remembers and honors the soldiers of a long ago war, in a more meaningful and respectful manner!


* Major Benjamin Forsyth's company of the U.S. 1st Rifle Regiment

"In 1808, the United States Army created its first Rifle Regiment. During the War of 1812 three more Rifle Regiments were raised but disbanded after the war. The Rifle Regiment was disbanded in 1821. [No mention made of the Voltigeur and Foot Riflemen Regiment during the Mexican-American War] During the Civil War, Sharpshooter regiments [1st U.S Sharpshooters and 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters]  were raised in the North with several companies being raised by individual states for their own regiments.[and also disbanded in 1864]" (wiki_"Rifleman")

** "Battles of" - unless otherwise noted)
Raid on Gannanoque, Raid on Elizabethtown, Ogdensburg, York, Ft George, Stoney Creek, Skirmish at Hoople's Creek, Massequoi Village, LaColle Mills, Sandy Creek, Odletown, Conjackta Creek (their "finest hour"!), Ft. Erie and Siege of, Cook's Mills, Plattsburg, Point Petre/Point Peter/Fort Peter

! "Conjockta Creek must be ranked as one of the decisive engagements of the War of 1812 and a clear strategic triumph for the United States." - quote by noted U.S. Army in the War of 1812 historian John C. Fredriksen

Battle of Scajaquada [Conjockety/Conjocta] Creek Bridge, by Bill Parke

Fredriksen was the award winning author of Green Coats and Glory: the United States Regiment of Riflemen, 1808-1821, Old Fort Niagara Association, Nov 1, 2000
see my classmate, Kevin Kiley's USMC (ret.) astute, and still standing, 2001 review of "This little gem of a book" at:

For a short but comprehensively composed narrative on this special unit (as well as the Voltigeurs and Sharpshooters), while still available online, please see:
"U.S. Regiment of Riflemen" in Fighting Elites: A History of U.S. Special Forces, by John C. Fredriksen, 2012, pp. 23-28

"The Regiment of Riflemen was the first formal United States special forces unit because of its unconventional uniform, weapons, and tactics.  It proved so successful during the War of 1812 that three more rifle regiments were raised....(picture caption)

Befitting its status as an elite unit, the Regiment of Riflemen proved to be one of a handful of American units capable of successfully tangling with their more veteran British adversaries with reasonable prospects of success..baptism of fire on November 11, 1811...performed competently at the Battle of Tippecanoe...spring of 1812, several companies under then-major Smith marched
from Georgia into Spanish East Florida to partake of the so-called Patriot War against Spain...lacked sufficient manpower to formally besiege...St Augustine...By the spring of 1813, the bulk of Smith's forces had been transferred from Florida to Canada to fight...
Well trained, well armed, and well led, they were one of the most tactically formidable units deployed by the American side in this conflict...riflemen..distinguish themselves in combat..Captain Benjamin Forsyth...war's most notorious raider.....Many prisoners and musket stocks, previously captured from the Americans at Detroit, were among the booty hauled back to base designated the shock troops during General Zebulon M. Pike's amphibious descent on York (Toronto) on April 27, 1813...shot the fine grenadier company of the 8th (King's Own) Regiment to pieces...On May 27, 1813, ...again spearheaded the amphibious attack against Fort George,...remained active in the vicinity...frequently skirmishing with enemy light troops and Indians....boarded boats and sailed down the St Lawrence River...November 11, 1813,...led...ashore at Hoople's Creek, Canada and completely dispersed a large body of militia without loss...wintered at French Mills, New York, endured deprivation and suffering with the rest of the army...tactical successes under other commander's. On October 11, up Lake Champlain against ...netted 74 militia captives and a mountain of contraband goods...
Congress, dissatisfied with the conduct of the war thus far, was understandably impresses by the uniform excellent performance of the riflemen, and on February 10, 1814, they authorized three more rifle regiments...under Major Daniel Appling,...May 30, 1814, his men scored one of the regiment's greatest successes by ambushing a large detachment of British sailors and Royal Marines at Sandy Creek, New York,, capturing two gunboats and five barges..lopsided affair totaled 19 dead, 28 wounded, and 133 captured against a tally of 1 riflemen wounded...restrained [Oneida Indian
allies]...from massacring prisoners...Forsyth...resumed raiding activities in Champlain Valley, where on June 24, 1814, his green jackets beat off an attack by 200 British light troops and Indians at Odeltown, New York,...[28 June Forsyth] died in a skirmish...exacting revenge...On August 10, 1814, a rifle detachment under Lieutenant Bennett Riley ambushed...Frontier Light Infantry near Champlain Village...For all their reputation as unruly, fast-fingered malcontents, the riflemen remained formidable adversaries in the art of bush fighting and marksmanship
Defining Activity: Fort Erie...British forces...700 picked light troops...cross Niagara River, march south, and quickly capture the settlement of Buffalo...move, if successful, would cut the American garrison at Fort Erie off from its supply line,...would have no alternative but to surrender or
starve....Buffalo was defended by a detachment of 240 men of the 1st and 4th Rifle Regiments under Major Ludowick Morgan and Captain Jonathan Kearsley...correctly deduced that they were preparing to cross that evening...spent entire day constructing a low-lying breastwork on the south bank of Conjocta Creek, the bridge over which the British would have to pass...paraded them in full view of the enemy and marched back to Buffalo.  Once out of sight,...marched them secretly back to their the predawn darkness...[British] approached the bridge...riflemen, exercising superb fire discipline, cut loose with a devastating volley...the riflemen's best conducted action of the war and a clear strategic triumph for the United States...highlights the superior training, weapons, and marksmanship of riflemen over musket-armed opponents in controlled circumstances...
siege of Fort Erie unfolded,...petit guerre of outposts in the adjoining woods...almost daily conflict with the elite Glengarry Fencibles, a green clad, musket-armed light infantry unit recruited from Canadians...shoot each other to ribbons over the ensuing weeks...August 13, 1814, Major Morgan, the "Hero of Conjocta," fell in a heavy skirmish, three riflemen killed... August 15, 1814, riflemen were active in helping to repulse..surprise assault......Costly skirmishing outside the fort resumed until September 17, 1814,...General Jacob Brown...led a violent sortie against the British siege works...riflemen sustained a further 11 dead and 19 wounded, including Colonel James Gibson, 4th Rifles, the highest ranking army fatality of the entire campaign, but the attack succeeded in wrecking the British batteries.
Other rifle companies were conspicuously engaged in actions around Plattsburgh, New York. On September 6, Major Appling led a detachment of 100 marksmen alongside the 29th U.S. Beekmantown Road..ensuing skirmish against the vanguard of a huge British invasion force...inflict 55 casualties...Appling's men fought with distinction at the September 11, 1814, battle of Plattsburgh,...successfully repelled several British attempts to force their way over the Saranac River. The final action...January 13, 1815, Captain Abraham A. Point Petre, Georgia..[with one] company of riflemen and a single company of the 43rd U.S. Infantry..,..overrun by 700 Royal Marines and...2nd West India Regiment...

consolidate back into a single Regiment of Riflemen in May 1815.
The postwar career of the riflemen is also worthy of note, for it performed actively throughout the early stages of western settlement and exploration. In 1815, Colonel Smith led them to St. Louis, Missouri, which served as a base camp for several extended frontier forays.  By 1817, his riflemen had helped establish Fort Armstrong (on the Mississippi River), Fort Crawford (Prairie du Chien), and Fort Howard (Green Bay).  Another detachment under Major William Bradford ventured south along the Arkansas River to establish Fort Smith (in honor of their colonel) in present-day Arkansas.  In 1819, several companies constituted the Yellowstone Expedition of Colonel Henry Atkinson, which culminated in the founding of Fort Atkinson in present-day Nebraska.  The troops
performed useful service in all these capacities, but on March 2, 1821, Congress abolished the regiment [on Major General Brown's recommendation to Secretary of War J.C. Calhoun] to reduce military expenditures.  In its 13-year existence, the regiment of Riflemen, from the standpoint of weapons, distinctive attire, and effectiveness in unconventional warfare, functioned as the nation's first special forces unit.  It certainly set the bar high for all similar units that followed for the remainder of the century." - JC Fredriksen


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