[WAR OF 1812]: BROWN, Jacob, Gen.
[Autograph Letter, Signed, Written to Joshua Hatheway at Rome, N.Y. By General Jacob Brown Describing the Attack on Sackets Harbor]
Sackets Harbor, N.Y. May 29, 1813. 1pp. Folio. Old fold lines. Some separation at folds; one tear closed with archival tape. Lightly soiled. Docketed on verso. Good.
A dramatic battlefield letter from the Battle of Sackets Harbor, a key action in the War of 1812
An eyewitness account of the second battle of Sackett's Harbor, on the shores of Lake Ontario, written by the commander of the American forces there, Gen. Jacob Brown, to his friend Joshua Hatheway, Quartermaster General and formerly the commander of the defenses at Sackets Harbor. The town, situated near the entrance to the St. Lawrence River at the far eastern end of Lake Ontario and opposite the Canadian town of Kingston, was a vital defensive point for the Americans, challenging British control of the St. Lawrence and the lake, and preventing a British thrust into New York State. If either side could control both sides of the entrace to the St. Lawrence, they could control the Upper Great Lakes.
Taking advantage of the American action against York, which drew troops away to the western end of the Lake, the British decided to strike. On the 28th of May, 1813, the British Great Lakes squadron under the command of James Yeo appeared off Sackets Harbor, carrying troops under the command of the Governor-General, Lieut. General George Prevost. Having been forewarned by several men who escaped the Battle of Henderson Bay the previous day, the Americans had some time to reinforce their defenses before the British could attack. The British landed on the 28th, but launched their main attack the next morning. They easily routed the American militia, but the regulars under Brown were able to fight off repeated attacks on their fortifications. Prevost, fearing the arrival of more American troops, ordered a retreat which nearly became a rout. Brown was the hero of the day, and was later rewarded with a comission as brigader general. He must have immediately written this letter describing the action:
"Dr. Sir, I received an order some days since from Genl Dearborn to take comm. at this Post. Comd. Chauncey is up the lake. We were this morning attacked as day dawned by Sir George Prevost in person who made good his landing with at least a thousand picked men. Sir James Yeo commanded the fleet after loosing some distinguished officers and of course some gallant men. Our loss is very severe as to the quality of those who have fallen. The enemy left many of their wounded on the Field - but I have no doubt carried off many more. We shall probably be again attacked as Sir George must feel very sore. All I can say is, whatever may be the result we will not be disgraced."
A superb battlefield letter reporting on one of the most significant military actions of the War of 1812.