More About British and American Naval Activities Off the Coast of Pelham During the War of 1812
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In 1812, the Town of Pelham was a sleepy rural settlement considered distant from New York City. The Federal census of 1810 reported that the town consisted of 31 households with a total of 271 inhabitants. The pioneers who lived in the town at that time included members of the Pell, Secor, Pinckney, Rodman, Archer, Bayley, and Guion families, among others.
Not far from the islands that once formed prt of Pelham, the Long Island Sound meets the East River. That meant, of course, that Pelham was one of the small settlements near that strategic point and likely would be in the crosshairs of British Naval ships if those ships began to prowl the waters around New York City. Such prowlers soon arrived after the War of 1812 began.
The War of 1812 was fought between the United States and the United Kingdom (as well as the U.K.'s North American colonies and Native American allies) from June 18, 1812 to February 18, 1815. Long Island Sound from Gardiners Island on the East to Hell Gate on the West was strategically important. Thus it should come as no surprise that there were naval engagements, naval skirmishes, and captures of prizes in the waters off Pelham during 1813 and 1814.
I have written before about Pelham and the War of 1812. For examples, see:
Bell, Blake A., The War of 1812 Reaches Westchester County, The Westchester Historian, Vol. 86, No. 2, pp. 36-47 (Spring 2012).
Mon., Mar. 30, 2009: Orders Issued from Pelham During the War of 1812.
Thu., Nov. 09, 2006: Accounts of Two Witnesses to Skirmish That Occurred Off the Shores of New Rochelle and Pelham in the War of 1812.
Fri., Jun. 16, 2006: Period News Reports Shed Some Light on Pelham During the War of 1812.
Pelham and the surrounding region did not suffer the sort of devastating depredations suffered during the Revolutionary War while the War of 1812 raged. That does not mean, however, that Pelham and its neighbors did not suffer. One scholar of the War has summed up the difficulties faced in the region during the War as follows:
"[The region] felt its pressure heavily in the paralysis of its peculiar industries, the continual drain upon its wealth of men and money, and the wasting excitement caused by constantly impending menaces and a sense of insecurity. From the spring of 1813 until the close of the contest, British squadrons were hovering along its coasts, and, in connection with the Embargo Acts, were double-barring its sea-ports against commerce, and threatening the destruction of its maritime cities and villages."
Source: Lossing, Benson J., 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, Vol. 2, p. 888 (reprint of 1868 edition; Pelican Publishing Co., Gretna, 2001).
British Naval Vessels Move Into the Sound in September, 1813
On Wednesday, September 8, 1813, U.S. Commodore Lewis was conducting a festive and ritualistic "review" of his Flotilla of American gunboats assigned to protect New York City from the British Navy. New York City officials were on hand for the review of the Corps of 600 seamen and their twenty-six sailing ships. One New York City newspaper reported that, as part of the review of the Flotilla:
"The troops went through their designs by platoons, divisions, &c. after which they performed a variety of manoevres, with a precision which would do credit to any regiment. The spectators were exceedingly gratified with the military appearance of these bold tars, whose discipline reflects the highest honour on Com. Lewis, and his officers."
While the review was underway, Commodore Lewis received intelligence that the British Navy was under weigh in Long Island Sound, moving toward New York City. A signal was given to the Corps of six hundred American seamen who instantly embarked with their field pieces to move into Long Island Sound to meet the British. The Flotilla passed up the East River, through Hell's Gate, and anchored directly off the shores of Pelham between Hart Island and the mainland to await the enemy. The maneuver was described at the time as follows:
"Upon a signal being given the corps instantly embarked with their field pieces &c. and the flotilla, consisting of 26 sail, got under weigh within an hour and stood up the bay. They passed through Hell-gate in the night and arrived to the eastward of Throgs point, between 8 and 9 o'clock yesterday morning. At half past 12 P. M. the lead most British frigate approached within 3 miles of the Flotilla and fired 30 or 40 shot. A few were returned by the Gun Boats, but at too great a distance to do execution. The British ships aferwards stood to the Eastward and the Flotilla took a position between Hart Island and the Main."
The War Reaches Pelham's Doorstep
Though Commodore Lewis called his corps to action on September 8, 1813, the British Navy had been on the move in the region for a while. In early September, 1813, British Naval ships collected near Gardiners Island at the eastern end of Long Island Sound. See Depredations in the Sound, N.Y. Herald, Sep. 11, 1813, Issue No. 1229, p. 3, col. 3. There also is evidence that at about the same time, British Navy vessels plied the waters near Manhattan (not far from the western end of the Sound). They restricted coastal trade and “excited much alarm”. See The Enemy at Hand, The Telegraph, Sep. 18, 1813, Vol. II, No. 57, p. 3, col. 1.
On Monday, September 6, 1813, the British frigate Acasta, the sloop of war Atalanta and several “tenders” left anchorage in Gardiners Bay and moved westward in Long Island Sound toward New York City. See Depredations in the Sound, supra. The Panic-stricken crews of American vessels in their paths sailed for dear life, attempting to flee the naval vessels. Among such ships were the many “coasters” that regularly traveled up and down the Sound to supply New York City with butter, cheese, vegetables and more. See id.
Many were too slow to escape. The first to be captured was the packet Amazon under the command of Captain J. Conklin. See Latest from the Enemy's Squadron, in the Sound, Voice of the Nation, Sep. 11, 1813, Vol. 1, No. 13, p. 3, col. 1. Among the passengers on board were “several ladies, Mr. John Slesson, Mr. John Graham, a lieutenant in the U. States army, and Mr. Stephen Ketchum”. See id. A second ship escaped by heading to shallow waters near “Hog Island” (today’s Travers Island on the border between Pelham and New Rochelle). See id. At about sundown, the British captured five more sloops off Lloyd’s Neck”. See id. According to one account, the British “succeeded in capturing almost every sloop that was then out” including many of the coasters that supplied the City with butter, cheese and vegetables. Depredations in the Sound, supra.
Though America was at war with the British, the appearance of the British Navy in Long Island Sound was “unexpected”. British Squadron in the Sound, New-York Spectator, Sep. 11, 1813, Vol. XV, No. 1618, p. 2, col. 2. According to one newspaper account, for a distance of twenty miles along both sides of the Sound the militia “everywhere crouded [sic] to the shore to prevent the enemy from landing and to protect the exposed property of their fellow citizens." Id.
On Tuesday, September 7, four British ships of war lingered near the shores of “Horse Neck” (today’s Greenwich, Connecticut) the entire day. The Enemy, Connecticut Journal, Sep. 13, 1813, Vol. XLVI, No. 2394, p. 2, col. 5. The ships ventured as far south as Rye and reportedly captured “7 or 8 sail of coasters – one of them the sloop Elvira bound to Hartford – the captain of which vessel finding that he must be taken, took to his boat with the crew, and got ashore”. Id.
Throughout that day American ships flew before the British vessels in every direction seeking shelter or harbor. The Enemy at Hand, supra. One newspaper reported that during the day “8 or 10 were seen taken possession of by the enemy”. Id. Another newspaper quoted a witness from Mamaroneck who claimed that “the enemy made 30 prizes on Tuesday afternoon [September 7, 1813], 20 of which they sent off to the eastward.” Latest from the Enemy's Squadron, supra. According to yet another account, at 6:30 that evening, a “gentleman” standing on “top of a house at Westchester” saw “two frigates, a sloop of war, and 8 sloops their prizes – at the same time 7 or 8 sail were standing towards them, supposed to have been captured.” The Enemy, supra.
That evening, the unthinkable happened. The British landed troops near Mamaroneck. One of the British “tenders” fired a volley of musketry “at several gentlemen who were walking on the beach”, missing them. Latest from the Enemy's Squadron, in the Sound, supra. The armed sailors came ashore in barges and “stole from 60 to 80 sheep”. Id. The nearby population panicked.
Between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. that evening, the British ships made it to City Island and nearby Hart Island in Pelham. A widely reported chase followed. According to one of a number of accounts:
“The sloop Augusta, Capt. Tolles, sailed on Tuesday for New Haven. Having proceeded about two miles east of Hart Island, she was spoken by several coasters; informed that a British frigate [was] within a few miles of them; and advised to return. Capt. T. immediately changed his course, and stood back in company with about 15 sail. About 10 o’clock the same evening, the Augusta was pursued and hailed by an armed sloop full of men – probably a coaster which had been that day captured by the British squadron and fitted out to decoy and capture others. A volley of musquetry [sic] was fired into the Augusta, and three shot passed through her mainsail. She immediately crouded [sic] sail and escaped.” The Sloop Augusta, Capt. Tolles, Sailed on Tuesday for New Haven, Mercantile Advertiser, Sep. 9, 1813, p. 2, col. 4.
The following day, Wednesday, September 8, 1813, a British frigate and a sloop of war anchored off the shore of Rye. Several “tenders” including two smacks cruised between Rye and City Island. By 11:00 a.m., the British reportedly had “nine sloops and schooners at anchor astern of [them], all of which were supposed to be prizes.” Latest from the Enemy's Squadron, in the Sound, supra.
It seems that it was not until that day (September 8) that New York City dispatched troops to defend lower Westchester County from the British at about the same time Commodore Lewis dispatched his Corps of 600 American seamen. According to one newspaper, “[a] company of mounted artillery, with two pieces of cannon, left [New York City] . . . for New Rochelle, and arrived at Haerlem about sun down.” Id. According to another newspaper report, the same evening a flotilla of “26 gunboats, four large gallies [sic] and six barges under the command of American Commodore Lewis” sailed from New York City up the Sound toward City Island in Pelham. British Squadron in the Sound, supra.
Naval Skirmish Near Pelham and New Rochelle
At about 8:00 the next morning (Thursday, September 9), the American flotilla approached the British ships in Long Island Sound. According to one account, the American gunboats positioned themselves across the Sound stretching from Huckleberry Island (just off the shores of New Rochelle and Pelham) to Sands Point. Wilson, George N., The Invasion of New Rochelle in 1813, The Westchester Historian, Vol. 40, No. 2, p. 27 (Apr. May Jun. 1964). The same account notes:
“Each gun boat carried a crew of thirty-six men. On a carriage on the main deck, each carried one twenty pound long gun, and some of them also had a howitzer. They were forty five feet long, usually rowed or towed, as they carried no sails. One must realize that these gun boats were no match for the frigate or the sloop of war. A frigate was the largest fighting ship afloat at that time; it was a three masted, fore and aft rigged vessel of broad beam, mounting forty-four guns on two decks. The sloop of war was single masted fore and aft, of broad beam, mounting eighteen to thirty-two guns on one deck.” Id., pp. 27-28.
After the American ships maneuvered into position, a British sloop of war hoisted sails and approached Huckleberry Island. Id., p. 28. One of many naval battles of the War of 1812 was about to begin, just off New Rochelle and Pelham shores.
As the sloop sailed within range, the American gunboats opened fire. A cannonade followed, with guns blasting and echoing across the shores of Pelham.
Clearly the skirmish was minor – in the scheme of things. One newspaper account describes the entire engagement as follows: “our flotilla approached so near to one of the British vessels, as to exchange several shot with her”. British Squadron in the Sound, supra. However, according to the same account, the American ship that exchanged shots with the British was “unwilling to hazard a contest” and withdrew eastward. Id.
A modern analysis of the engagement published in The Westchester Historian in 1964 described the skirmish as a “naval engagement” that consisted of a “cannonade going for a few hours”. The Invasion of New Rochelle in 1813, supra. Yet another account suggests that the engagement lasted about an hour. See Lindsley, Charles E., Pelham [Chapter XVII] in History of Westchester County, New York, Including Morrisania, Kings Bridge, and West Farms, Which have Been Annexed to New York City, Vol. I, pp. 705-06 (Scharf, Thomas, ed., Philadelphia, PA: L. E. Preston & Co., 1886).
The Rev. Charles E. Lindsley, a Pelham resident who wrote about the engagement seventy-three years later, documented an eyewitness account of the battle.34 He noted that “Mr. Peter Roosevelt, of Pelham, now in his ninety-second year, is understood to have witnessed the engagement from some convenient hill near the shore” and that the “Rev. Lewis J. Coutant, then a boy of ten or twelve years, distinctly remembered to have heard the echoes of the cannonade . . . rolling and reverberating among the hills back of the town of New Rochelle”. Although Lindsley's account (quoted below) indicates the engagement he described occurred in "August, 1814" he states in the account that: "It was in connection with this bloodless naval engagement that the panic broke out among the militia on Davenport's Neck, an account of which is given inn the history of New Rochelle." Id. This would seem to confirm that the account conveyed the occurrences of September 9, 1813 -- that caused panic on Davenport's Neck -- rather than some otherwise undocumented engagement during the month of August, 1814.
Rev. Lindsley wrote:
“the ships of war moved down the Sound and attacked these gunboats, which had been ordered out, and every height and headland was thronged with spectators. It soon became evident that the gun-boats were no match for the men-of-war. Probably all that saved them from being sunk or captured was the superior familiarity of the Americans with the navigation of the Sound. Among so many rocks and reefs, the heavy war-vessels of the British were afraid to venture, and after a sharp but distant cannonade, in which but little damage was inflicted, the gun-boats withdrew in the direction of New York, and the ships of war returned to New London.” Id.
Following the engagement off the shores of New Rochelle and Pelham, the American flotilla anchored in Pelham waters near Hart Island. British Squadron in the Sound, supra. Within the next day or two, the British ships seem to have withdrawn from the area. The damage, however, had been done. According to one report, the British ships captured about 30 American vessels.
Few of the unfortunate American ships have been identified. According to several accounts, those captured included the following:
Sloop Amazon, Capt. Concklin, of Huntington, L .I.
Sloop Sally, Capt. Ackley of Cow Harbor, L. I.
Sloop Argo, Capt. Jones of Brookhaven, L. I.
Sloop June, of Brookhaven, L. I.
Sloop Elvira, Capt. Griswold of Hartford, CT.
Schooner Nancy, Capt. Mullenex of New York Id.
Today, remnants of the naval skirmish likely still lie beneath the waters of Long Island Sound and under mainland soil. Indeed, according to a booklet prepared in connection with the Centennial Celebration of the Village of Pelham Manor in 1991, the owner of the home at 20 Beech Tree Lane in Pelham Manor (the home in which this author now lives) discovered “high in one of the oak trees on his property” a “cannonball” that he assumed had been fired during the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 during the Revolutionary War. Pelham Manor A Self-Guided Tour Through Time, Item 8 "20 Beech Tree Lane" (1991). Subsequent investigation of the discovery with the original homeowner’s descendants suggests the item may not have been a true "cannonball." Rather, it was a dumbbell-shaped projectile buried deep in the high trunk of an ancient oak and may well have been an example of “bar shot” fired during naval battles to cut ships’ riggings. Consequently, it is at least possible – though certainly not established – that the so-called “cannonball” may have been bar shot fired during the September 9, 1813 naval skirmish that occurred nearby.
* * * * *
Below is the text of a few examples of the newspaper articles relied upon in the preparation of this article. Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.
"New-York, September 8.
THE ENEMY AT HAND.
Yesterday a squadron of the enemy, consisting of two frigates and a sloop of war (which we presume to be the Acasta, Orpheus, and Atlanta) came from their station at Gardiner's Island up to the head of Long Island Sound, and captured a number of coasters and packets, some of them probably with valuable cargoes. Their barges and craft were up to City Isand, 16 or 18 miles from this city and the ships off Hempstead Bay, 5 or 6 miles beyond. -- New Haven packet Augusta, capt. Tall, which sailed yesterday, met a small sloop about 9 o'clock in the evening, from which 30 or 40 musket balls were fired at her, three of which passed through her mainsail; when the sloop stood for another vessel, and the packet made her escape and returned this forenoon. A large number of vessels were in sight at the time flying for shelter or harbor in every direction. It was said that eight or ten were seen taken possession of by the enemy, but no certain account of their names is received.
This increased restriction upon our coasting trade has excited much alarm in this city, and the flying artillery have received orders to start instantly for the scene of danger. We cannot suppose, however, that the enemy, will remain in this quarter. If nothing but the Valiant is left off New London, commodore Decatur will have an opportunity of going to sea attacking the 74, or following the squadron up the Sound & engaging them, if they remain long enough to give him notice of their situation.
Source: THE ENEMY AT HAND, Otsego Herald [Cooperstown, NY], Sep. 18, 1813, p. 2, col. 2.
"British Frigate in Long-Island Sound. -- We learn from a gentleman who left Horse Neck [today's Greenwich, Connecticut] yesterday afternoon, that there were two frigates and a sloop of war under sail off Sands' Point, standing towards New-York. They had in company eight sloops which they had captured, one of which was the Elvira, belonging to Hartford, (Connecticut,) the captain as perceiving he could not save his vessel, was determined they should not make him a prisoner, and with his crew took to the long boat and made godd their landing at Horse Neck, about 30 miles from New-York, and nearly opposite Sands' Point on the Long-Island shore. Two boats crew of the enemy, it is said, went on shore at the Saw-Pitts last evening, but committed no depradations. -- The alarm had been spread thro' the towns on the Sound, and the Militia were turning out with alacrity to meet the foe.
The following was endorsed upon the way bill of the Eastern Mail Stage that arrived this morning:
STAMFORD, (Conn.) Sept. 7, half past 9 P. M.
Three British armed ships are in the Sound off this place. A frigate at anchor near Captain's Islands. They have taken a few coasters -- one supposed to be a New-Haven Packet from New-York.
A. DAVENPORT, Post-Master."
Source: British Frigates in Long-Island Sound, New-York Evening Post, Sep. 8, 1813, p. 2, col. 5.
"Flotilla Review -- On Wednesday the Corporation of this city proceeded to Sandy Hook, and reviewed the Flotilla under the command of Commodore Lewis. The Gun Boats, drawn up in a crescent in Spermaceti Cove, were handsomely decorated with various colours, and made a brilliant appearance. The members of the Corporation passed in front of the Flotilla, and on landing in the Cove reviewed a fine corps composed of 600 seamen. On approaching the right, they were complimented with a discharge from the field pieces, the officers saluting as they passed along the line in front. The troops went through their designs by platoons, divisions, &c. after which they performed a variety of manoevres, with a precision which would do credit to any regiment. The spectators were exceedingly gratified with the military appearance of these bold tars, whose discipline reflects the highest honour on Com. Lewis, and his officers; and the greatest praise is due to the men. The Corporation next went to Fort Gates at the north point of the Hook, where they were received with the usual military compliments by the battallion on duty at that station under the command of capt. Wadsworth. Whilst these Reviews were performing, intelligence was received by the Commodore of the Enemy's approach to this city by way of the Sound. Upon a signal being given the corps instantly embarked with their field pieces &c. and the flotilla, consisting of 26 sail, got under weigh within an hour and stood up the bay. They passed through Hell-gate in the night and arrived to the eastward of Throgs point, between 8 and 9 o'clock yesterday morning. At half past 12 P. M. the lead most British frigate approached within 3 miles of the Flotilla and fired 30 or 40 shot. A few were returned by the Gun Boats, but at too great a distance to do execution. The British ships aferwards stood to the Eastward and the Flotilla took a position between Hart Island and the Main."
Source: Flotilla Review, New-York Evening Post, Sep. 10, 1813, p. 2, cols. 2-3.
"Depradations in the Sound. -- The British frigate Acasta and sloop of war Atalanta, with several tenders left their anchorage in Gardiner's bay, the forepart of the week and on Tuesday appeared off Tinicock point, in the track of all the coasters, which supply this city with butter, cheese, vegetablles, &c., and as they came into this prt of the sound unawares, they succeeded in capturing almost every sloop that was then out. Capt. Hopkins of the sloop President from this port bound to Brookhaven, returned last evening and informs that he saw yesterday from Sands' Point lighhouse 21 sail of coasters in possession of the enemy; among them were the following: -- sloop Amizon [sic?], Concklin, of Huntington; sloop Sally, Akerly, of Cowharbour; sloop Argo, Jones, of Brookhaven; sloop Juno, -- of do.; Schr. Nancy, Molyaeax, of New York; this last being in ballast, was given up to the captain.
Two o'clock, P. M. -- The Sloop American eagle, Capt. Raymond, has just arrived from Stafford, into which place she was chased by an armed smack. Capt. R. states that our flotilla got under way this morning from Hart Island and stood to the eastward under a press of sail, in pursuit of the frigate Acasta and Atalanta sloop of war, then in sight."
Source: Depradations in the Sound, New-York Evening Post, Sep. 10, 1813, p. 2, col. 3.
"New-York, September 9.
FROM THE ENEMY'S SQUADRON IN THE SOUND.
Yesterday morning a British frigate and a sloop of war were at anchor off Rye Neck, about 10 miles above New Rochelle, in the middle of the Sound, where they remained at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, becalmed, with six sloops and schooners, (their prizes) at anchor astern of them, and several tenders cruizing about the Sound, two of which, apparently smacks, were several miles this side of New Rochelle. In the morning at 11 o'clock, the enemy had 9 sloops and schooners at anchor astern of them, all of which were supposed to be prizes.
A gentleman from Mamaroneck informed us that the enemy made 30 prizes on Tuesday afternoon, 20 of which they sent off to the eastward; and that the same evening they sent their barges ashore in the neighborhood of Mamaroneck, and stole from 60 to 80 sheep. A sloop was also chased into Mamaroneck by one of the tenders, and escaped without any other damage than a shot through the mainsail. A sloop that had made a harbor in Stamford, was cut out by one of the tenders, who fired a volley of musketry at several gentlemen who were walking on the beach, but fortunately did not hit them.
We are informed that a gun brig and frigate are cruizing [sic] about ten miles to the eastward of Rye Neck.
The inhabitants from Haerlem to Stamford are considerably alarmed, and the militia have turned out with the greatest alacrity -- they are however in want of small arms, artilery and ammunition, which is not to be had in their neighborhood, in consequence of which we understand they have made application to the commanding officer in this city for the necessary supplies, which we presume will be readily granted.
We likewise understand that the gun-boat flotilla are bound up sound, and are confident, if they should meet the enemy in a similar situation to that of yesterday, they could be able to give a very satisfactory account of him.
A company of mounted artillery, with two pieces of cannon, left this city yesterday afternoon for New Rochelle, and arrived at Haerlem about sun down."
Source: FROM THE ENEMY'S SQUADRON IN THE SOUND, The Geneva Gazette [Geneva, NY], Sep. 22, 1813, p. 2, col. 3.
"New-York, September 9.
LATEST FROM THE ENEMY'S SQUADRON IN THE SOUND.
The Ramilies, Commodore Hardy, has gone to Halifax. It is not known whether the fear of torpedoes or the want of repairs has been the cause. Capt. Oliver succeeds him on the station, whose force consists of the Valiant, Acasta, Orpheus, and Atalanta. It is said, that Commodore Decatur will immediately leave his retreat at New-London. -- Since Capt. Oliver has assumed the command of the British squadron, they have run down the Sound, and made a general sweep of the coasting craft.
Yesterday morning a British frigate and a sloop of war, were at anchor off Rye Neck, about 10 miles above New Rochelle, in the middle of the Sound, where they remained at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, becalmed, with six sloops and schooners, (their prizes) at anchor astern of them, and several tenders cruizing [sic] about the Sound, two of which, apparently smacks, were several miles this side of New Rochelle. In the morning at 11 o'clock, the enemy hd 9 sloops and schooners at anchor a stern of them, all of which were supposed to be prizes.
A gentleman from Mamaroneck, informed us, that the enemy made 30 prizes on Tuesday afternoon, 20 of which they sent off to the eastward; and that same evening, they sent their barges ashore in the neighborhood of Mamaroneck, and stole from 60 to 80 sheep. A sloop was also chased into Mamaroneck, by one of the tenders, and escaped without any other damag, than a shot through the mainsail. A sloop that had made a harbor in Stamford, was cut out by one of the tenders, who fired a volly [sic] of musquetry at several gentlemen who were walking on the beach, but fortunately did not hit them.
We are informed that a gun brig and frigate are cruising bout 10 miles to the eastward of Rye Neck.
The inhabitants from Haerlem to Stamford are considerably alarmed, and the militia have turned out with the greatest alacrity -- they are, however, in want of small arms, artillery and ammunition, which is not to be had in their neighborhood, in consequence of which, we understand, they have made application to the commanding officer in this city for the necessary supplies, which we presume will be readily granted.
A company of mounted artillery, with two pieces of cannon, left this city yesterday afternoon for New Rochelle.
In addition to the above, a letter from Huntington, dated the 7th inst. says -- 'Yesterday we were alarmed by the arrival of two British ships of war off our harbor, one of which was seen to capture the packet Amazon, capt. J. Concklin; the other, opposite Hog-Island, was seen to capture five sloops. Three other ships (supposed to be British) were at the same time discovered several miles to the eastward, and we have no doubt but the Sound will be closely blockaded as low down as Sand's Point, which, will make it very hazardous for any coasters to attempt to pass the Sound.
'We are all under arms, and have sent a guard to the Sound shore, to watch the movements of the enemy, who will give a good account of him should he attempt to land.
'Among the passengers on board the Amazon, were several ladies, Mr. John Slosson, Mr. John Graham, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and Mr. Stephen Ketchum."
Source: LATEST FROM THE ENEMY'S SQUADRON IN THE SOUND, Ontario Repository [Canandaiqua, NY], Sep. 21, 1813, p. 4, col. 2.
"New-York, September 10.
The Sound Fleet. The British squadron reached the head of Long Island Sound, about 20 miles from this city, on Wednesday, and captured a considerable number of coasters and packets, the names of but one or two of which we have ascertained, and took a quantity of sheep from the main at Mamaroneck. One of their craft was down as far as Riker's Island, 10 or 12 miles from the city, it was said, in the course of the evening, probably for the purpose of reconnoitring and obtaining information. Intelligence was promptly communicated to the gun-boat flotilla at Sandy-Hook, and before Thursday morning commodore Lewis, with 25 boats, had got up from his station and proceeded, in the course of the night, as the wind happened to be fair, through Hell-Gate towards the enemy. By 9 o'clock he was at Sand's Point, 10 miles from a British frigate and a sloop of war, who got under way upon his approach and stood towards him. At 1 o'clock in the afternoon, the commodore had come to anchor in Hempstead Bay, with his flotilla in line of battle ready to receive the enemy. The British, with the wind off shore, stretched in towards him until they got so near as to exchange 10 or 15 shot with him, at too great a distance, however, to produce any effect. They then stood off to the east ward, with a heavy breeze, left the commodore in possession of the ground, and were soon out of sight from the neighborhood. Thus ends their first pickaroon sheep-stealing expedition up Long Island Sound. And at the sight of commodore Lewis's flotilla and sound of his cannon has satisfied his majesty's officers, without feeling the weight of his metal.
Much spirit and resolution were exhibited by the citizens of this place on the near approach of the enemy in our waters and depredations on our coasting trade. -- Before night two fast sailing sloops were armed, fitted and manned; one from the U.S. sloop of war Alert, and the other by volunteers, at George's Slip, who crowded the vessel, and departed amidst the shouts of thousands of spectators. We may hope they may be able to make some recaptures, if the incendiary enemy has not burnt or destroyed all the prizes that have not been ransomed -- one being seen on fire yesterday afternoon. Com. Lewis was at Hart's Island when last heard from."
Source: The Sound Fleet, Otsego Herald [Cooperstown, NY], Sep. 18, 1813, p. 2, cols. 2-3.
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