News of the U.S.: August 1814

August 1:  From Fort Stoddert — “We have from time to time received news from Pensacola of the preparations making by the British for an attack upon some part of the southern country.  From the obvious importance of New Orleans and the Mississippi country, as well as from the nature of their preparations, we have been induced to fear that their views were directed towards Louisiana . . . .”–Raleigh Register, September 16, 1814

August 2:  From Erie — “On Tuesday evening, the 2d inst. a large force of British regulars, militia and Indians, made an attack on Buffalo, having advanced up the river on the American side. The American force there . . . divided into three detachments, and waited in ambuscade until the British regulars advanced within point blank shot, when a destructive fire was opened upon them, which mowed them down.”–Western American, August 20, 1814

August 2:  From Williamsville, New York, from an army surgeon — “You are under a mistake that hospital surgeons are never in danger.  Shot and shells fell around me, and men were killed within ten feet of where I was stationed.  I did not like it, as you may suppose; for, if I am to be shot let me at least have the right to shoot back again.  Here I was attending to the wounded and dying . .  . popped at by the rascals on every side.   Generals Brown and Scott are both wounded.  In our department the idea is, that neither is mortally hit, and both are convalescent.”–Baltimore Patriot, August 15, 1814

August 4:  From Quebec — “The power of England was never displayed in Canada as at present.  The troops which arrive daily are no longer reinforcements, bur complete brigades, moved from the banks of the Garonne to the St. Lawrence, with the whole materiel of an army in the field.  The horses which dragged the cannon at the battle of Toulouse, on the 10th April, are now at Quebec, as well as the pontoons on which the British forces crossed the Adour and Garonne.”–Massachusetts Spy, August 24, 1814

August 6:  “A boat containing 3 men and a quantity of goods, supposed to be persons following the army as retailers, is reported to have passed over Niagara Falls last week.  The names of the persons said to be lost, we have not ascertained.”–Western American, August 6, 1814

August 8:  From Washington — “Whereas great and weighty matters, claiming the consideration of the Congress of the United States, form an extraordinary occasion for convening them, I do, by these presents, appoint Monday the nineteenth day of September next, for their meeting at the City of Washington . . . James Madison.”–Scioto Supporter, August 20, 1814

August 9:  From the Creek territory — “It is understood a treaty was signed on the 9th inst. by Gen. Jackson and the principal Chiefs of the tribe, by which we gain an accession of territory of about twenty-two millions of acres, including the whole of the Alabama, and the valuable part of the Coosa, Cahawba & Blackwarrior.”–Nashville Clarion, August 23, 1814

August 10:  From New London — British navy attacks Stonington, Conn.  “During the action, rockets were sent from the barges, and bombs from one of the frigates, but no material injury was done by them–one house only was fired, which was soon extinguished.  The houses and furniture were much damaged.  Three men were wounded, and two horses killed.”–Scioto Supporter, August 27, 1814

August 11:  From Burlington, a letter states that “every officer on board Commodore M’Donough’s ship, himself excepted, were killed at the commencement of the engagement [on Lake Champlain]; that the slaughter on board both ships was immense; that the New-York militia was drove about 3 miles by the British, but at length drove the British and killed many.”–Maryland Gazette, September 22, 1814

August 12:  From Fort Erie — “Capt. Spencer, mistaking the Royal Scots for one of our own Regiments, advanced within a few yards of it, and demanded what Regiment that was?  The commanding officer answered, Royal Scots!  Very well says Spencer, Royal Scots will remain where they are, when he immediately galloped off and escaped.”–American Watchman, August 31, 1814

August 16:  From Washington — “The [enemy] fleet at Point Lookout was augmented on the evening of the 16th by 30 sail.  There are now 46 sail in all at the Point, viz. 26 ships, 2 gun brigs, and 18 schooners–six ships appear to be transport ships.  . . .  Two of the line of battle ships are Admirals’–One carries a red the other a blue flag.  A part of the sleet stood up the bay on the 17th (Wednesday) at 5 A.M.”–Raleigh Register, August 26, 1814

August 16:  From Marblehead — “Arrived at Marblehead this afternoon H. B. M. transport brig Doris, No. 650, Wilson, from Senegal to Portsmouth, England, taken by the privateer brig Grampus, Capt. Murphy, of Baltimore.  . . .  On board the prize, 2 horses, 1 hyena and a jackal, &c., a present to the royal family, from Senegal.”–Salem Gazette, August 16, 1814

August 17:  From Washington — “We understand that Gen. Armstrong has given it as his opinion that the city of Washington cannot be defended; and it is said he has engaged quarters at Carlisle (Pen.) to which place it is supposed he will retreat should the British make their appearance in the District.”–Adams Centinel, August 17, 1814

August 18:  From Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane to James Monroe — “Having been called upon by the governor general of the Canadas, to aid him in carrying into effect measures of retaliation against the inhabitants of the United States, for the wanton destruction committed by their army in Upper Canada, it has become imperiously my duty, conformably with the nature of the governor general’s application, to issue to the naval force under my command, an order to destroy and lay waste such towns and districts upon the coast, as may be found assailable.”–Shamrock, September 17, 1814

August 19:  From Montgomery Court-House, Maryland — “We arrived at this place last night with our Squadron of Dragoons in fine order, and this moment have received information of 46 sail, including transports, &c. moving in the Potomac.  The country is all in consternation–the militia are ordered out en masse.  Serious apprehensions are entertained of an attack on Washington.”

August 20:  From Baltimore -“it is ascertained the object of the British is the city of Washington, and that the whole of the force which lately entered the Chesapeake had gone up the Potomac and the Patuxent.  The militia of Baltimore, in the number of 2500, had been ordered out, and had taken up their line of march for Washington.”–Providence Patriot, August 27, 1814

August 20:  From New York — “The offers of personal services continue with unabated patriotism, to be tendered towards completing the works for defence in this city.  . . .  this day being assigned for receiving the services of THE PATRIOTIC SONS OF ERIN, And their numbers being reported at about 1500, the whole ground was assigned to them.  At 5 o’clock this morning; the whole body marched by wards, under their respective officers, to the Park, from whence, being formed into companies of 50 each, they marched in two great divisions.  . . .  They then proceeded to fort Green, where their posts were assigned them by the chief engineer . . . .”–Shamrock, August 20, 1814

August 22:  From New York — Summons to his former crew of the Essex by David Porter — “‘FREE TRADE AND SAILOR’S RIGHTS.  To the Crew of the Old Essex.  Sailors—The enemy is about attempting the destruction of your new ship at Washington, and I am ordered there to defend her.  I shall proceed immediately, and all disposed to accompany me will meet me at 5 o’clock this afternoon at the Navy Agent’s Office.  D. Porter.”–Columbian Centinel, August 27, 1814

August 22:  Letter dated Washington, Monday Evening — “The distress here and in Georgetown is beyond description–women and children running in every direction.  . . . I have just returned from taking a load of children eight miles out of town, and the whole distance the road was filled with women and children.  . . .  The President and all the Secretaries passed about an hour since on horseback.  Col. Monroe, Secretary of State, was very near being made a prisoner yesterday, and Gen. Winder to-day ventured rather too far.  I am fearful by 12 o’clock tomorrow this city will not be ours.”–New York Spectator, August 27, 1814

August 24:  From Washington — “On Wednesday the 24th ult. about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the Enemy, supposed to be from 10 to 12,000 strong reached Bladensburg (about seven miles north of the City) under the command of Lord Hill, where they were met by about 5,000 American troops, under the command of Gen. Winder, consisting of about 500 Regulars, Com Barney’s men from on board his flotilla, about 1800 volunteers from Baltimore; the volunteers of the City, and the remainder Militia.  The contest was a short one . . . .  How it happened that our force was so incompetent for the occasion remains to be explained.”–Raleigh Register, September 2, 1814

August 24:  From Baltimore – “The President taken the field!  It is reported that the president and the Secretary of War slept in gen. Winder’s camp on Monday night.  We understand that gen. Winder was encamped at that time in the Wood Yard, about 12 miles from the City of Washington.”—United States’ Gazette, August 27, 1814

August 26: From Pensacola, British headquarters — “Order of the day for the first colonial battalion of the royal corps of marines” –“The noble Spanish nation has grieved to see her territories insulted; having been robbed and despoiled of a portion of them while she was overwhelmed in distress and held down by the chains which a tyrant had imposed on her . . . .The treacherous Americans, who call themselves free, have attacked her, like assassins, while she was fallen.  But the day of retribution is fast approaching.  These atrocities will excite horror in the heart of a British soldier, they will stimulate you to avenge them and you will avenge them like a British soldier.”–New York Spectator, October 12, 1814

August 27:  From Washington — “The enemy took possession of the city, burned the Capitol, the President’s House, Treasury, and War Offices, and some private houses–but to give the Devil his due, his conduct here was as orderly as could have been expected.  The little conflict which took place on Wednesday last at Bladensburg, afforded the gallant Baltimoreans an opportunity of distinguishing themselves.  They fought bravely and made havoc among the British–the fact is, little was done except by them and Com. Barney’s Flotilla men.”–National Advocate, September 1, 1814

August 28:  From Detroit — “Since my last, colonel Croghan with the balance of the expedition of Michilimakinac, with the exception of two gun-boats,  left to cruize on lake Huron, have returned.  The British are at present left without any vessel on the upper lakes: as our forces have succeeded in destroying their last, to wit, the ‘Schooner Nancy,’ mounting three guns.”–Pittsburgh Mercury, September 7, 1814

August 29:  From the Commander of H. B. M’s forces in the Floridas to Natives of Louisiana –“Natives of Louisiana, on you the first call is made to assist in liberating from a faithless and imbecile government, your paternal soil.  Spaniards, Frenchmen, Italians and British, whether settled or residing for a time in Louisiana, on you also I call to aid me in this just cause.  The American usurpation in this country must be abolished and the lawful owners of this soil put in possession.”–Maryland Gazette, October 27, 1814

August 31:  From Washington —  “The enemy was conducted through the city by a former resident, who, with other detected traitors, is now in confinement.  Cockburn was quite a montebank in the city, exhibiting in the streets a gross levity of manner, displaying sundry articles of trifling value, of which he had robbed the President’s house . . . The enemy did not bury their dead, except those in the immediate vicinity of their camp.  The rest, in number near two hundred, were buried by a committee of our own citizens sent out for the purpose.”–Providence Patriot, September 10, 1814

August 31:  From Washington — “Mr. Secretary Monroe has, in pursuance of the united requests of the commanders of the various description of troops assembled in this district accepted the command of the military force now in the vicinity.”–National Intelligencer, September 1, 1814

About the Author

Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.

Mary Bowden