Ogdensburg in St. Lawrence County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
How Ogdensburgh Captured Brockville
Ogdensburg Battlefield Trail
On February 6, 1813, Captain Benjamin Forsyth learned from his spies and Canadian sympathizers that the British were holding a large number of Americans in the jail at Brockville. Repeated reports indicated that the Americans were being cruelly treated by their British captors. Forsyth also learned that some of those being held were being claimed by the British as deserters from the British army even though they had become citizens of the United States.
Spies informed Forsyth that the British intended to execute the "deserters" as an example to their own soldiers of what would happen if they fled the army to join the Yankees.
Forsyth and his officers agreed that they would launch a daring raid to rescue the prisoners. Forsyth's rifle regiment and John W. Lyttle's company of volunteers, numbering in total about 200, left at nine in the evening on foot and sleigh for the 12 mile hike to Morristown.
In Morristown, they convinced Arnold Smith, a tavern keeper, to act as their guide. Adjutant Daniel W. Church, a volunteer and veteran of many skirmishes on the ice with the British, suggested to Forsyth that the Americans
The main body marched into the village, stationing themselves in the village square in front of the jail. One of the groups of soldiers, hearing the approach of a company of men, hailed them with the challenge, "Who comes there?"
He was answered by the reply, "not friends of King George."
Unfortunately, not hearing the the [sic] first word of the reply, he mistakenly assumed they were "Friends of King George." He fired, wounding one man.
The company turned out to be the left flank of the American force. Meanwhile, Captain Benjamin Forsyth, with a few men, entered the jail, and demanded the keys. They were surrendered without resistance. Every prisoner, with the exception of one prisoner being held for murder, was removed.
The freed prisoners, together with a group of prominent Brockville citizens who were taken as hostages, returned to Ogdensburgh with the daring raiders.
Forsyth's troops also seized 120 muskets, 20 rifles, two casks of ammunition, but no private property was either taken or destroyed. The prominent citizens were released after the force reached Ogdensburg.
The daring raid is described by modern historians as one of the most daring, though least known, raids of the entire War of 1812.
The raid angered the British, who feared Forsyth's daring and bravado. With his success, the British commanders were convinced that soon the American commander would set his sights on Prescott's Fort Wellington. If Forsyth could force the British from their fortifications in Prescott, the British knew, his cannon could control the river, cutting off the British supply lines to Upper Canada, starving the British troops in western Canada.
New York Governor Daniel Thompkins wrote to Brigadier General Jacob Brown to congratulate the "daring" and courageous Forsyth. Forsyth was promoted by his commanders to the rank of Lt. Colonel by brevet, his commission being dated Feb. 6 to commemorate the raid.
Erected by Standard Shade Roller and Downtown Battlefield Committee.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Patriots & Patriotism • War of 1812. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1899.
Location. 44° 41.969′ N, 75° 29.605′ W. Marker is in Ogdensburg, New York, in St. Lawrence County. Monument is near the Civil War Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial at Library Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 312 Washington Street, Ogdensburg NY 13669, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Civil War Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial (a few steps from this marker); Ogdensburg Public Library (within shouting distance of this marker); Attack on the Fort (within shouting distance of this marker); Ogdensburg And Forsyth: Friends Or Enemies (within shouting distance of this marker); 311 Washington Street (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Frederic Remington (1861 - 1909) (about 300 feet away); Remington Art Memorial (about 300 feet away); Sheriff Joseph York’s Stand (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ogdensburg.
Also see . . .
1. The War of 1812 in the North Country: 200 years later. North Country Now entry (Submitted on July 28, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Benjamin Forsyth. Virtual American Biographies entry (Submitted on July 28, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Raid on Elizabethtown (present day Brockville, Ontario). Wikipedia entry. (Submitted on February 23, 2021, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 23, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 28, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 307 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 28, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.