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St Lawrence County War of 1812 History Trail

The War of 1812 happened right here in our own backyard in St Lawrence County, yet few people are aware of what happened and where. The War of 1812 Virtual Trail is meant to educate us about these important events that shaped our young nation.

Stroll through these sites online or - better yet - make a copy and enjoy a pleasant drive exploring where important events of the War of 1812 happened in St Lawrence County.

Militia encampment at Old DeKalb, May 1812

GPS Coordinates: 44.498909, -75.343067

On April 10, 1812 Congress authorized the raising of 100,000 men from the various state militias in anticipation of the outbreak of war. In response to this call, on May 2, 1812, General Jacob Brown, commander of the 4th Brigade of the NYS Militia, sent muster orders to Lieutenant Colonel T. B. Benedict, of DeKalb, commander of the 123rd regiment of the St Lawrence County Militia.

Benedict was to summon 43 men from the St Lawrence County Militia to be ready at a minute's notice under his "immediate inspection." Benedict ordered the drafting of the local militia on May 5, 1812. The men were to be stationed at the village of Williamstown (Old DeKalb). They were soon joined by 37 men, of Colonel Stone's regiment, under Captain Darius Hawkins from Herkimer County. The men camped and trained for 10 days at the village, probably assembling on the town square, which was adjacent to Colonel Benedict's residence.

Because DeKalb was not a military base and the call was rather sudden, there were no supplies there for the militia. Lieutenant Colonel Benedict used his own money to purchase camp kettles, axes, tents, blankets, rations, and shoes from William Cleghorn's store at DeKalb.

On May 28, 1812 the troops began marching over terribly muddy roads to Ogdensburg. Their route followed County Route 17 from old DeKalb to the Old State Road (County Route 10) through the town of De Peyster to present day Heuvelton, then north on present day Route 812 to Ogdensburg. Lieutenant John Polley (of Massena) left first, followed within a couple days by Lieutenant Elisha Griffin (of DeKalb). Lieutenant Colonel Benedict sent supplies from the DeKalb encampment on to Ogdensburg with Whipple (either Esek or Elisha of DeKalb) including: 4 barrels of pork, 4 axes, one barrel of whiskey, and one fry pan.

Existing Battle of Ogdensburg Trail Markers

Ogdensburg City Hall, corner of Ford & Caroline Streets; GPS Coordinates: 44.697909, -75.492003

Note: At any time some of these markers may be down for repair.

  1. Begin your tour at City Hall. Here you will read about the "Battle of Ogdensburg"
  2. Cross Ford Street and turn right (west). You will find a plaque which details the "Phases of the Battle".
  3. Further west on Ford Street "What caused the War of 1812"
  4. Turn right at the corner of Ford and State Streets. Walk north towards the St Lawrence River. By the Frederic Remington Art Museum is a plaque detailing the smuggling problem in Ogdensburg during the Embargo Act.
  5. Cross Washington Street to the plaque "Ogdensburg and Forsythe: Friends or Enemies?"
  6. Proceed east on Washington Street just past the library. Here you will read about "Failed British Naval Attack"
  7. Near the corner of Washington and Caroline Sts. take a sharp left, follow the diagonal path through the Library park. You will come to a plaque "How Ogdensburg Captured Brockville".
  8. Once you reach the Soldiers & Sailors monument in the center of the park bear right on the path and proceed in that direction to the plaque, "Fort Oswegatchie".
  9. Cross Riverside Avenue, turn left you will find the plaque "British Invasion" located adjacent to the near side of the tennis courts.
  10. At the far side of the tennis courts is the plaque "Attack on the Village".
  11. Cross the intersection of Riverside Avenue and State Street Here you will read about "Sheriff Joseph York's Stand".
  12. Walk west on Riverside Avenue one block to read about "Attack on the Fort".
  13. Turn left on Isabella Street and walk to Washington Street. Near this intersection is a plaque "Phase Two of the Battle of Ogdensburg".
  14. Turn right and walk to the stairs near the historic customs house. Descend the stairs to read about "Daniel Church"
  15. On the right side of the Customs House are two plaques. The first "Abbe Francois Picquet" and the second "Massacre at Fort Bull"
  16. Proceed past the boat launch and follow the winding path through the Greenbelt area to read "A Lone Youth's Defense Against the British", "The Invasion A British View", "After the Battle", "The Escape from Montréal", "Ogdensburg and the War".
  17. War of 1812 Historic SignFollow the sidewalk near the Park circle to Lower Caroline Street where four final plaques are located: "The Patriots' War 1838-1839" , "The Battle of Windmill Point", "What Happened to the Patriots?" and "The Defeat and Capture of the Patriots".

See a photo gallery of these signs

First County Courthouse

431 State Street, current site of Post office; GPS Coordinates: 44.695656, -75.491182

October 13, 1813: The British troops shelled Ogdensburg while county court was in session. The court was adjourned and not 5 minutes after the room was cleared a cannon ball passed through the courtroom lodging in the wall above the defense attorney's table. The British fired two dozen rounds at the village in response to a company of US Dragoons passing through town.

Battle between the Julia and Earl of Moira

Morristown, just off the bay; GPS Coordinates: 44.585681, -75.650130

The schooner Julia, sailing from Sacket's Harbor full of military supplies for Ogdensburg, is commanded by Lieutenant H. W. Wells and followed by a Durham boat carrying the rifle company of Captain Noadiah Hubbard for protection.

On July 31st, at 3 pm, the British ship The Earl Of Moira (18 guns) engages the Julia in battle off Morristown. The battle continues until 6:15 when the British ship withdraws to Brockville. Julia floats down stream over night, towed by the Durham boat, reaches Ogdensburg by dawn.

Wilkinson's Troops Disembark

3 miles up river of Odgensburg, intersection of the Stone Church Road and NYS Route 37; GPS Coordinates: 44.6303209, -75.5836994

In the fall of 1813 General Wilkinson commenced the largest movement of US troops ever attempted up until that time. He assembled a force of over 7,000 men. They were to be met by General Hampton from Plattsburgh, with several thousand more men, near Saint Regis. The plan was to sail and march down the St Lawrence River and capture Montréal.

A late summer campaign was planned but, due to numerous delays, the troops finally set off on the 3rd of November, in about 300 small craft and vessels. On the 5th they made it to Morristown where they spent the night. After a conference the next day it was decided that in order to pass the troops and boats safely beyond the British guns at Prescott, they would land and march the troops inland around Ogdensburg and meet the boats downstream.

On Saturday, the 6th of November 1813, the flotilla sailed downstream to near David Giffin's farm, 3 miles above Ogdensburg. There the majority of the troops and supplies were unloaded. (The only road in this area that led to the bank of the St Lawrence River at that time was the Stone Church Road. See map) Two or three men were left to man each boat. Local residents teams and wagons were pressed into service to move the powder and fixed ammunition.

Under the cover of darkness that evening and early the next morning (Nov. 7th) Wilkinson's entire army marched safely around Ogdensburg to the appointed rendezvous point. Despite intense enemy shelling no foot soldiers were lost and only one boatman was killed and two others wounded.

Red Mills

Route 37 about 7.5 miles east of Ogdensburg; GPS Coordinates: 44.769129, -75.368197

On October 16, 1813 Lieutenant Colonel Nelson Luckett's regiment of the US First Dragoons were spread along the southern shore of the St Lawrence River from Ogdensburgh to Red Mills. This was to insure that spies from either side were not crossing the river. At 10 pm on this evening Major Francis Cockburn, the commander of the Canadian Fencibles at Prescott crossed the river and attacked at Red Mills in the town of Lisbon. He captured a Dragoon Lieutenant and 7 privates who were stationed at Scott's Tavern. He took 9 of their horses and tack back to Canada where they were auctioned off. The profits were divided among the captors. During this skirmish a sergeant and a private were killed and another private was badly wounded as they fired from within the tavern.

On the afternoon of Sunday, November 7, 1813 Wilkinson and his army having successfully marched around Ogdensburg reentered their boats here and resumed their trip downriver to Montréal. They cleared the Galop Rapids without incident.

As taken from the book St Lawrence County in the War of 1812, Folly and Mischief by John M Austin.

The Burning of the Militia Barracks at Waddington (Hamilton)

Island View Park; GPS Coordinates: 44.865493, -75.205577

November 10, 1813

Soon after Wilkinson's troops pass Waddington, Lieutenant Morrison and Captain Mulcaster of the Royal Navy enter Waddington and demands goods taken in an October raid on British boats. They threaten to burn the village. David Ogden and Alexander Richards sign capitulation papers, agreeing instead to return all captured goods to Canada the next day. British forces burn the barracks before retreating across the St Lawrence.

Confiscation of War booty by British at Madrid (Columbia)

middle of village; GPS Coordinates: 44.748257, -75.132567

January 1814: Loyalist Captain Reuben Sherwood crossed the St Lawrence River near Point Iroquois at night and marched to Columbia Village (Madrid). He pressed local teams into service and recovered the remainder of goods taken in the October ship raid. Sherwood returned to Canada without losing a single soldier.

Militia Barracks at Massena

near Massena Center, at intersection of County Route 42 and Donahue Rd; GPS Coordinates: 44.961770, -74.827171

In 1812 a Mr Emerson built a militia barracks here at an expense of $550. The barracks were burnt by Major Joseph Anderson of the Stormont Militia in September 1813.

The St Lawrence Turnpike (or Russell Turnpike)

County Route 24

The road was authorized by an act of the state legislature in 1809 to run from Malone in Franklin County, through Russell, to Carthage in Jefferson County.  This road was built specifically to connect Sackets Harbor, west of Carthage, with the Chateaugay Trail at Malone so as to facilitate transportation of troops and supplies between the military installations at Sackets Harbor and Plattsburgh. The Russell Turnpike was the most important east-west road in the state during the War of 1812.

Russell Arsenal

site of former Knox Memorial School, GPS Coordinates: 44.431334, -75.149965

In 1809, the state legislature authorized the construction of a state arsenal in the village of Russell as part of a chain of nine arsenals built to guard the northern and western frontier.  The arsenal would serve as a storage building for small arms, ammunition, and artillery to be distributed to troops serving in the St Lawrence District.  The three story building was constructed of three-foot thick stone walls, and surrounded by a high wall with iron spikes on top. It was furnished with 500 stand of arms. Supplies were carried from here to the garrison at Ogdensburg at various times during the War of 1812. The building was later used as a school.

Kellogg's Public House

Intersection County Route 10 and County Route 11, De Peyster; GPS Coordinates: 44.538883, -75.445642

In 1806, Silas Kellogg came into the town of De Peyster (then Oswegatchie) and established a Public House near where Bristol's original log Inn stood. He was a tenant of James Averill, who owned the property. By 1814 he had built on the site; a frame two story dwelling 30 by 40 feet with two wings 24 feet long, and two frame barns each 30 by 40 feet.

Kellogg's Public House served as the community gathering spot for the surrounding area in what was then part of the towns of Oswegatchie and DeKalb. The area would be organized into the town of De Peyster in 1825.

On February 22, 1813 the British attacked and captured the village of Ogdensburg. Forsythe's company of Riflemen, were forced to flee Ogdensburg to the west. They fled up the river to Milye's, thence south to Thurber's on Black Lake, thence cross country to Kellogg's Inn on the State Road. George Knight was a member of Forsythe's company and had a farm within a mile of Kellogg's. He led the soldiers cross-country to the Inn. Several citizens of Ogdensburg also fled the village and took refuge at Kellogg's. The next day General Jacob Brown traveled to Kellogg's and conferred with Forsythe there. The troops then retreated from Kellogg's to Sacket's Harbor.

In mid March 1813, Colonel McDonald, head of the British forces at Prescott sent 6 Indian scouts into the town of Oswegatchie searching for military activity. The frightened residents of De Peyster area sought refuge in Kellogg's Public House.

Blockhouse at Gouverneur

Clinton Street about 400 feet north of Main; GPS Coordinates: 44.336135, -75.469636

In the summer of 1812 the citizens of Gouverneur built a blockhouse in the middle of the road near the intersection of Main Street and Clinton Street.

Rossie Blockhouse

Somerville-Wegatchie Rd Barker Rd; GPS Coordinates: 44.284540, -75.576071

In 1812 the residents of Rossie built a blockhouse. The first town meeting of the Town of Rossie took place in the blockhouse in March 1813. The blockhouse was torn down in 1840.

Grave site of War of 1812 Soldiers

Pierrepont, along the Russell or St Lawrence Turnpike (Ct Route 24) on west side of highway, 1.3 miles south of NYS Rte 56; GPS Coordinates: 44.566105, -74.985792

A historic marker marks the grave site where several soldiers of the War of 1812 died while marching on the St Lawrence Turnpike.

Whitehouse Bay

Intersection of Route 37 and County Route 131; GPS Coordinates: 44.910084, -75.023012

The site of Samuel Stacy's ferry where US troops under General Wilkinson first crossed the St Lawrence River in preparation for the Battle of Chrysler's Farm. (The actual bay is now flooded.)

British incursion into Rossie

Center of hamlet of Rossie on County Route 3, at the intersection with County Route 8; GPS Coordinates: 44.378841, -75.655288

British force of 60 men under Captain Thomas Frazier cross into Hammond and proceed to Rossie in pursuit of horse thieves. Summer 1814.

The Pine Grove: Site of War of 1812 military encampment on the St Lawrence Turnpike

The Grove can be seen about four miles from Edwards village toward Gouverneur, on State Highway 58 at the intersection of Route 58 and Talcville Rd; GPS Coordinates: 44.294017, -75.310026

In the Pleasant Valley area of the Town of Edwards, near the Fowler town line grew a grove of pine trees during the War of 1812. These tall, coniferous trees provided a natural shelter for the groups of United States soldiers traveling from Plattsburgh to Sackets Harbor battle area.

Edwards was settled in early 1812 by the Asa Brayton, Jr family, followed closely by the Abel Bancroft family. The wives of the two families each had a baby that year, with Mrs. Brayton's baby being the first baby born in the new settlement and it is believed Mrs. Bancroft's baby was the second born.

The story handed down through the generations tells of Mrs. Brayton baking bread for the soldiers camped only about a half-mile away from the Brayton's log cabin. Their cabin was still in Pleasant Valley (aka "Hungry Hollow"), but located by Pork Creek which was the source of water for the encampment. For many years after the war, military artifacts were found by the men farming that land, some of which can be seen at the Edwards History Center.

The Pine Grove was a well-known landmark for many years. About 1910, Arba Kerr, local pharmacist, bought the grove of trees for $500.00. Then about three years later he built his house located at 9 Maple Avenue in Edwards village. It is believed the trees he cut from the Pine Grove became the lumber with which he built his home where he lived the rest of his life. The house still stands on Maple Avenue in Edwards village.

Harvesting the pines about 1910 did not destroy the grove however, as the trees seeded themselves and there is still a small stand of the trees at the same site as the original Pine Grove.

[Laverne Freeman, Edwards Town Historian]

Raid on Hopkinton

US Route11B at County Route 55; GPS Coordinates: 44.698265, -74.657572

February 22, 1814

Soldiers of the British 103rd Regiment of Foot soldiers under the command of Major Peter William de Haren, traveled to Hopkinton from French Mills to confiscate 289 barrels of flour. The flour had been left in Judge Hopkin's Barn by the retreating US forces. All but 90 barrels were carried away. The remainder were left to local inhabitants on condition that none be given to the US military.