Tag Archives: Battle of Plattsburgh

Battle of Plattsburgh: Countdown to Invasion (Sept 11)

On September 11, 1814, the American and British naval squadrons on Lake Champlain engage in a long awaited duel to the death, culminating in a decisive American victory.

Owing to the masterful strategic planning of Commodore Thomas Macdonough, the American fleet is able to defend Plattsburgh Bay and defeat the Royal Navy following a fierce 2 1/2 hour battle, the largest of the entire War.

On land, the British commander, General Sir George Prevost makes a monumental blunder when he allows his troops to wait for an hour before commencing the land attack while they finish breakfast. What should have been a simultaneous naval and land assault became delayed and although Prevost’s ground forces succeed in crossing the Saranac River at Pike’s Cantonment, a mile and a half above Plattsburgh, by this time, the naval battle had been decided.

Believing his forces could not hold Plattsburgh without naval superiority on the Lake, Prevost quickly issued orders to his commanders to withdraw. This order was met with shock and frustration by his veteran Generals, who clearly knew a land victory over the meager American Army and Militia was easily within their grasp…-The grand British master plan of invasion from the north had been halted at Plattsburgh.

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Battle of Plattsburgh: Countdown to Invasion (Sept 6)

On September 6, 1814, British and American forces finally collided with deadly effect just north of Plattsburgh, New York.

First contact between a party of New York State Militia and the advance of the British right wing took place in Beekmantown with the Militia withdrawing in great disarray towards Culver Hill.

At the Hill, U.S. Regulars under Major John E. Wool were able to rally some of these men and made a short but heated fight before retiring in the face of the steadily advancing column.

Another stand was made at Halsey’s Corners with the aid of two six pound field guns brought up by Captain Leonard, but after firing only three rounds at the head of the British line, again the Americans were pushed back. On the “State Road” (Route 9 North) the left wing of the British advance had been hampered by obstructions and swampy terrain, but in short order they gained the crossing at the Dead Creek Bridge (Scomotion Creek) and were on their way into town.

Greatly outnumbered, the American units retreated across the Saranac River while the British took up positions in buildings throughout the town. The American Commander, General Alexander Macomb ordered hot shot to be fired into many of these structures and by nightfall, 15 buildings were burning brightly, including the Clinton County courthouse. It was the deadliest day of the entire siege, with 45 American and between 200 and 300 British killed or wounded…-

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Battle of Plattsburgh: Countdown to Invasion (Sept 5)

On September 5, 1814, the massive British Army advancing on Plattsbugh again continued its march south after strategically splitting into two large groups, known as the left and right wing. The right wing of the British Army marched on a route through West Chazy before encamping about two miles north of Beekmantown Corners.

The left wing took the “State Road” (present day Route 9 North) and advanced as far as Sampson’s Tavern (Ingraham) where they made camp. The American forces awaiting the enemy’s arrival on the Beekmantown Road was steadily being increased by the arrival of New York State Militia, streaming in from Clinton and Essex Counties, and 250 U.S. Regulars under Major John E. Wool

The photograph shows Major Wool in 1850, by which time he was a Brigadier General. He went on to serve in the American Civil War and at 77 years of age, was the oldest active duty General on either side. He died in 1869 and is buried in Troy, New York.

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Battle of Plattsburgh: Countdown to Invasion (Sept 4)

On September 4, 1814 General Sir George Prevost, commander of the British Army at Champlain, New York, detached a reserve force and his heavy artillery, and marched southward with between 8 and 10,000 men and occupied the town of Chazy.

Prevost and his staff set up his headquarters in the Alexander Scott house, which stands along present day Route 9. A group of 110 American riflemen under the command of Lt. Col. Daniel Appling who were stationed in the Chazy area fell back towards Plattsburgh along the roadway, destroying bridges and blockading the road as they went, anything that would hamper and delay the British forces.

They eventually met up with a group of about 200 U.S. Regulars under Captain John Sproul on the “State Road” (Route 9) and proceeded to tear up the “Dead Creek Bridge” (Scomotion Creek) near the present day City Beach. There they built a fortified position using planks from the bridge and awaited the enemy. The photo show’s what Col. Appling’s Riflemen would have looked like, distinctive in their green frock coats, proceeding through the woods as they withdraw towards Plattsburgh.

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Battle of Plattsburgh: Countdown to Invasion (Sept 1)

On September 1, 1814, with an invading force of 11 – 15,000 British troops massing just south of the Canadian frontier at tiny Champlain, New York, the residents of Plattsburgh, just 21 miles away, begin to flee for their lives. Many of the 3000 residents seek safety to the south, some removing themselves as far away as Albany, leaving much of the town deserted.

The owner of this house, Plattsburgh businessman Henri Delord, sought refuge at the Quaker Union in Peru after sending his wife Betsey and baby daughter south toward the State Capital. Before leaving the house, however, legend has it that Betsey buried the family’s silver tea service out in the garden.

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Battle of Plattsburgh: Countdown to Invasion (Aug 31)

On this date in 1814, invading British troops, numbering some 11 – 15,000 men, began their march in earnest across the Canadian frontier and into the United States, massing at the small village of Champlain, New York. Under the overall command of Sir George Prevost, the Governor General of Canada, the ranks of this massive army had been recently swelled by the British victory over Napoleon in Europe.

This fact had allowed battle hardened veterans of Wellington’s Army to be shipped directly to North America to bolster Prevost’s forces and these forces were now just 21 miles from Plattsburgh. The British quickly set to work commandeering any local teams of horses and wagons they could find, pressing them into service hauling the massive quantities of heavy baggage and supplies needed by the advancing Army…-

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New Concise History of the Battles of Plattsburgh

Battle of PlattsburghLake Champlain was a corridor for warfare beginning with Samuel de Champlain’s exploration, but perhaps no moment in the Champlain Valley was as important as the Battle of Plattsburgh, something recognized by both Roosevelt and Churchill.

Although other, more famous, engagements of the War of 1812 were ruses meant to divert U.S. troops away from the prize – Plattsburgh. The Chesapeake Campaign for example, which included the British capture of Washington, DC, the bombardment of Fort McHenry captured in the National Anthem, was intended, as Donald Graves notes, “as a large raid to draw off American troops from the northern theatre of the war.” Continue reading

Lecture: Lake Champlain as Battleground, 1609-1815

The Lake Champlain Basin Program will be hosting John Krueger, City Historian of Plattsburgh and executive director of the Kent-Delord House, for a presentation titled The Lake as Battleground: 1609-1815 on Thursday, March 1st at 6:30 p.m. in the LCBP office in Grand Isle, Vermont. This program is part of the LCBP’s Love the Lake speaker series.

John Krueger began promoting Lake Champlain’s history as a guide at Fort Ticonderoga in 1970. His talk will focus on Lake Champlain as a corridor for warfare, beginning with Samuel de Champlain’s exploration and the conflict of European powers for control of the corridor.


The talk will also cover the history of Lake Champlain during the Revolutionary War between the British and the American forces and their French Allies. Finally, Krueger will discuss the War of 1812 and the Battle of Plattsburgh, which secured peace between the British and American forces in 1814. A virtual tour of Fort Ticonderoga from the comfort of the LCBP office will also be included.

The LCBP office is located at 54 West Shore Road, just north of the Grand Isle ferry entrance on Rte 314. For further information, contact Colleen Hickey, LCBP, at (802) 372-3213.

Lecture on the Battles at Plattsburgh

The Wilmington Historical Society invites you to their program with historian and author Keith Herkalo “September 11th, 1814: The Battles at Plattsburgh” to be held on Friday, August 20th at 7 pm at the Wilmington Community Center on Springfield Road in Wilmington, Essex County, NY.

Would the United States exist if our naval and land Battles at Plattsburgh on September 11, 1814 had been lost? For the United States, the War of 1812 is often referred to as “the second war for independence”. We have learned of the battles at Baltimore, Washington and Sacketts Harbor, but what about the Battles at Plattsburgh?


Keith Herkalo, using personal journals, military journals, contemporary newspaper accounts, and other original source documents, examines the evidence that leads to the conclusion that the Battles at Plattsburgh on land and on Lake Champlain, were actually the key battles of the War of 1812. He claims that were it not for the exemplary talents and skills of two young military officers, Commodore Thomas McDonough and General Alexander Macomb, a small force of regular army and navy personnel and New York Militia, a few thousand Vermont Militia, a handful of Native Americans and Veteran Exempts (those too old for military service), and a group of boys from a local school, the United States, as we know it today, would not exist.

Plattsburgh City Clerk and a charter member of the Battle of Plattsburgh Association, Keith Herkalo believes that the Battles at Plattsburgh and the individuals who fought in the War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley and surrounding area deserve national recognition. Karen Peters, President of the Wilmington Historical Society, notes that many area residents of that time period participated in the land battle, including Major Reuben Sanford of Wilmington who commanded a regiment of detached militia. Stephen Partridge, also of Jay and Wilmington was one of the first to be killed in action in a skirmish at Culver Hill on September 6, 1814, a few days prior to the main battle.

Having grown up in both Philadelphia and Plattsburgh, and spending more than a decade in military service, Keith Herkalo returned to Plattsburgh developing a keen interest in Plattsburgh’s history with a particular attention to Plattsburgh’s involvement in the War of 1812. He is a builder and member of the boat crew of the award-winning bateau “Rooster” (the 37-foot replica of an 1812 era work boat). As an 1812-era re-enactor and an amateur historian he is the research catalyst behind the archaeological re-discovery and preservation of the 1812 Camp Site known as “Pike’s Cantonment” and the Crab Island Graves location. He is the editor of The Journalof H.K. Averill. Sr.: An Account of the Battle of Plattsburgh and Early North Country Community, and author of September 11th, 1814: the Battles at Plattsburgh which documents Plattsburgh’s importance in the War of 1812.

The “September 11th, 1814: The Battles at Plattsburgh” program on August 20th is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For further information, contact Karen Peters at (518) 524-1023 or Merri Peck at (518) 946-7627.

Illustration: Naval battle on Lake Champlain. Engraving in 1816 by B. Tanner.