THE WAR OF 1812
- Grant Recipient
- 2 Halsey Court, Plattsburgh, NY
- 44.707941, -73.468866
Town of Plattsburgh
On September 6, 1814, a small American force stood between approximately 4,000 British troops and their destination, the village of Plattsburgh. Major John E. Wool of the 29th Infantry Regiment was sent by General Alexander Macomb with 250 men to assist the militia at East Beekmantown. After an initial encounter, Wool conducted a steady fighting withdrawal. Making a stand at Halsey’s Corners, the Americans inflicted the largest number of casualties on British forces during the initial siege before the Battle of Plattsburgh.
The goal of the British, according to the Encyclopedia of the War of 1812 (1997), was to invade the United States for territorial gains. Their forces had just defeated Napoleon in Europe, so they were now able to focus their military strength on North America. At the same time Britain was bringing more troops over, the U.S. was moving their forces out of the Plattsburgh area. Maj. General George Izard had taken the majority of the forces to Sacket’s Harbor, leaving Maj. General Alexander Macomb with just 3,500 men, which, he later said in a letter to the Secretary of War on September 15, 1814, left him with “not an organized battalion among those remaining.” The British, Macomb reported in a statement written and published in the Burlington Gazette on September 16, 1814, had “an army amounting to fourteen thousand men” that “had conquered…various other parts of the globe” and were “led by the most distinguished generals of the British army.”
In Macomb’s recount to the Secretary of War, he notes that the British were moving slowly and that he had sent men out to observe their movements and impede their march. From these troops sent out to observe, Macomb learned that the British had plans to split into two columns and divide “a little below Chazy village” on September 6. To intercept and delay the advancement, Macomb sent out Major Wool with 250 men to help support the militia men already in position. The British columns continued to advance, however, and Macomb was forced to have his troops come back together within a mile of Plattsburgh to try and hold off the British. According to his report, men in the field “did considerable execution among the enemy’s columns,” and they would continue to skirmish with the British until they attacked in the Battle of Plattsburgh on September 11, 1814.
The battle ended in an American victory, and in Macomb’s letter published in the Burlington Gazette, he made sure to call special attention to the men of the militia who joined to help the fight. He specifically appreciated “the zeal with which they came forward in defense of their country,” while noting they deserve “the esteem of their fellow citizen and the warm approbation of their commanders.” The same paper published a piece on September 9 declaring their own appreciation for those who turned out for the militia, stating, “Whatever we think of the war our country is dear to us, and we hope not to see an enemy within our borders.”