WAR OF 1812
- Grant Recipient
- 448 Ontario St, Sackets Harbor, NY 13685, USA
- 43.940632, -76.138389
Village of Sackets Harbor
This marker commemorates the landing of the British at Sackets Harbor during the second Battle of Sackets Harbor. During the War of 1812, Sackets Harbor was the primary staging area for U.S. military operations on the Great Lakes. The purpose of the British attack was to destroy the Sackets Harbor shipyard and military supplies. Although American forces repulsed the attack, some supplies were lost and the shipyard partially damaged.
In the spring of 1813, the War of 1812 between the British and the Americans was at a stalemate. Neither side had experienced many battles so far, however this was all about to change when the British saw an opportunity to weaken the United States troops.
At the start of the war in June of 1812, both sides hurried to acquire land along the shores of the Great Lakes. These lakes served as highways for troops and supplies. The British in Canada designated present day Kingston, Ontario to be their main water access point while on Lake Ontario. The Americans opted for Sackets Harbor just west of Watertown, NY (Four Years on the Great Lakes, 1813-1816, Don Bamford and Paul Carroll, 2009).
In April 1813, the American forces attacked York (modern day Toronto), a smaller British naval base. They successfully looted and burned the town, weakening the British troops. In retaliation, the British, under the command of General Sir George Prevost, decided to attack Sackets Harbor (American Battlefield Trust website, 2019).
British Lieutenant David Wingfield believed that without the harbor the Americans would surely lose the war, “if once in our [British] possession, would have been an end to the naval war on Lake Ontario and saved some millions of pounds, and thousands of lives as the Americans had no other harbor along the coast fit for naval depot” (Four Years on the Great Lakes).
The British assumed that the American soldiers and supplies would not be ready for another battle so soon after York. Prevost assembled around 900 soldiers at Kingston. Led by General Jacob Brown, the Americans were anticipating a British attack and had reinforced the town and fort (Missouri Gazette, 5 Jun 1813). They had 1,500 soldiers.
On the morning of May 29, 1813, Prevost began landing troops on Horse Island just a mile away from the Sackets Harbor base. The British managed to make it to the mainland however once there, Prevost realized that the Americans greatly outnumbered them (The Centinel of Freedom, 8 Jun 1813). Consequently, the Americans were perfectly poised to flank the British forces. Recognizing their precarious position, Prevost retreated.
While the Americans claimed the victory it came at a great cost. Fearful that the British would win, American soldiers set fire to store houses, hospitals, and marine barracks to prevent them from falling into enemy hands (The Centinel of Freedom).