News of the U.S.: December 1814

December 1:  From Salem — “Captain Fish, of the brig Speed, who arrived at Salem on the 1st inst. in 14 days from Havanna, states, that on the day he sailed, a letter of marque from New Orleans arrived there, and reported, that 152 sail, of all descriptions, with 15,000 troops on board, had arrived off the mouth of the Mississippi for New Orleans; and that a number of them had passed the bar. [A comparison of dates will, therefore, furnish no testimony to discredit the report mentioned above.  The number of vessels and of troops, is, however, probably overrated.]–New York Spectator, January 7, 1815

December 2:  From New York — “We learn, verbally, by the Jenny, that the British merchants have determined not to permit their trade to cross the Irish channel without convoy, in consequence of the great number of captures made in that quarter by the American privateers.”–Weekly Aurora, December 6, 1814

December 3: From the Plattsburg Republican — “It is reported that the British are contracting for several thousand sleighs, and for ten thousand Buffalo skins; and that a winter campaign is the order of the day in Canada.”–Raleigh Register, December 30, 1814

December 5:  From New York — “The Steam-Boat Fulton, capt Bunker, which went to Hudson on Friday afternoon, with about 500 militia men, returned yesterday morning, and yesterday afternoon started again for Hudson with a like number–conveying to their homes, in two trips, 1000 of our fellow citizens, who, for three months, have been performing military duty in the vicinity of this city.”–Baltimore Patriot, December 8, 1814

December 6:  From the Tennessee Enquirer — “THE KENTUCKY DETACHMENT, Left the falls of Ohio on the 21st Nov. for the South.–The Tennessee Detachment passed Dover on the 27th Nov. Same Destination.”–Albany Argus, January 6, 1815

December 7:  From a Bermuda paper, news of the arrival at Barbadoes of a large British expedition — “as there is no other point in these latitudes, to afford an ample field for the exercise of so large an armament, their destination is undoubtedly for New-Orleans, the capital of Louisiana; and it is but fair to conjecture that it is the purpose of our ministers to extend the  line of military operations along up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers till they meet and communicate with our forces contiguous to Lakes Michigan, Erie and Ontario, in Upper Canada; –and thus completely encircle the United States.”–Richmond Enquirer, January 18, 1815

December 8:  Sheriff’s Office, Wilkes-Barre — “To Rosewell Karson.  Take Notice, that Elizabeth Karson, your wife, has filed her petition against you for a divorce from the bonds of Matrimony, and that an alias subpoena has issued and is in my hands, returnable to the first Monday of January next, before the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne county, to be holden at Wilkes-Barre in and for said county, and which time and place you will attend, and shew cause if any you have, why the petition and libel of the said Elizabeth should not be granted, and why the bonds of Matrimony should not be dissolved.”–The Gleaner, December 30, 1814

December 9:  From Burlington – “We learn from unquestionable authority, that the enemy are preparing to build another fleet at the St. Johns and Isle aux Noix.  Four large frigates and smaller vessels, it is said, are contracted for, and to be built and ready for the lake service early next spring.  The enormous price of three dollars per day is offered American carpenters to work on these vessels.  We are happy to learn that only a few wretches are found base enough to accept of this offer.”—United States’ Gazette, December 21,  1814

December 12:  From Tappahannock, Virginia — “The enemy have at last left us, after burning a part of Tappahannock.  They then landed, and marched to Farnham Church, seven miles from the river–burnt the post office, and took away many negroes, and returned unmolested to their shipping; after defeating our small force, took from us one gun, wounded and took prisoner capt. Shackleford of artillery, whom they paroled.”–National Intelligencer, December 17, 1814

December 12:  From Washington — At a public dinner given to the late Secretary of the Navy William Jones:  “In the course of the toasts, the very beautiful and touching lines composed by a gentleman (F. S. Key, esq.) of this district, whom circumstances had thrown on board the British fleet, during its tremendous attack on Fort M’Henry, were sung with great effect by several guests. [First public performance?]–Aurora, December 16, 1814

December 14:  From a letter from New York — “A company of 64 has just been filled up, pledging each to the other, that in the event of the enemy burning New-York, they will, at every sacrifice burn the city of London or perish in the attempt.  They are all men of property, where all is at risk.  I hope the Baltimoreans will second the motion.”–Adams Centinel, December 14, 1814

December 15:  From New York –“Lieut. Kirby, who arrived in the Hartford Stage last night, has communicated the important information, that the U. S. Frigate President, Com. Decatur, was captured by a squadron of the enemy, consisting of a 74 gun ship, a razee and 2 Frigates, on Sunday the 15th inst. the day after she left port.  The President gave them a running fight of 4 hours . . . .”–Plattsburgh Republican, February 4, 1815

December 16:  Letter from New Orleans — “The coloured men (300) this day marched under Lacoste.  . . .  It is now one o’clock.  Next mail I hope to give you glorious news, Jackson’s victory.”–Plattsburgh Republican, January 21, 1815

December 16:  From New Orleans — Major Gen. Andrew Jackson, commanding the 7th U. S. Military District declares the city and environs of N. Orleans under strict martial law, and orders that in future the following rules be rigidly enforced, viz. Every individual entering the city will report to the Adjutant General’s office, and on failure to be arrested and held for examination.  No person shall be permitted to leave the city without a permission in writing, signed by the General or one of his staff.  . . .  The street lamps shall be extinguished at the hour of nine at night . . . .”–Raleigh Register, January 20, 1815

December 17:  From Boston — “Our messengers have not yet returned from the great city [Hartford, Connecticut].  We do not know whether war is to be proclaimed against the Emperor of Morocco, the King of Tartary, or the Dey of Algiers; but one thing we do know, viz.–That it will not be declared against Britain.”–Pittsburgh Mercury, January 4, 1815

December 18:  From Savannah — “We understand that the troops at Fort Hawkins, amounting to 2,500, under the command of maj. gen. M’Intosh, took up their line of march for Mobile on the 18th inst.”--Aurora, January 10, 1815

December 19:  From Plymouth, England — “We are sorry to learn, that of four large ordnance transports, which sailed from Portsmouth, with supplies of the most essential importance to our army in Canada, not one arrived safe; two were taken by American privateers, and two lost.”–Essex Register, March 4, 1815

December 20:  From the Hartford Convention — “The gentlemen who have been often named as forming this body, convened in this city on Thursday last.  As their proceedings, like those of all persons ‘whose deeds are evil,’ are involved in darkness, we can inform our readers of but little respecting them.”–Providence Patriot, December 24, 1814

December 21:  Part of Message of the Governor of Ohio to the legislature — “It is with much regret that I inform the legislature, that from the best information I can obtain, the 1500 stand of arms received from the U. States, have been so distributed, lost or destroyed, as to put it out of my power to account for 100 complete stand.  The situation of the state, at his important moment, is truly disagreeable in this respect.–Scioto Supporter, December 31, 1814

December 22:  From H. B. M. ship Ramilies — “Our troops finally landed about the 22d ult. within ten miles of New-Orleans after encountering in open boats, dreadful hardships, grounding every half hour and suffering from the most severe cold, that frost could produce.”–Boston Daily Advertiser, March 25, 1815

December 23:  From New Orleans –“The British have landed 3000 men–our troops made an attack on them last evening at 8 o’clock.–the enemy is defeated, and we have taken a number of prisoners.  The Tennessee militia behaved equal to regulars.”–Providence Patriot, January 28, 1815

December 23:  Notice from the Trustees of the University of North Carolina — “While the encreased prices of articles necessary for the Steward’s table seemed to demand an augmentation of the price of Board, the dissatisfaction manifested by many of the Students during the two last sessions, indicated the propriety of making better provision for the next year.  The Trustees, therefore, have been obliged to stipulate for Board for the ensuing year at seventy-five dollars, or thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents a Session . . . .”–Raleigh Register, December 23, 1814

December 24:  From New Orleans, from a man guarding British prisoners taken the day before — “The men that I have with me, I mean prisoners, stated that the force is commanded by Admiral Cochrane and Gen. Keene, that it consists of about 3000 men, and that they expected to have taken the city this morning by day light, not apprehending any resistance.”–New York Spectator, January 28, 1815

December 25:  From New Orleans  — “on the 25th, the ship Louisiana and the schr. Caroline dropped down the river abreast of the wings of the enemy, and opened their fire on them.  The British suffered considerably from the brisk uninterrupted fire of our two vessels, and were at last compelled to retire to the swamps.”–Maryland Gazette, February 2, 1815

December 25:  From Salem — “The number of British prisoners on board the prison-ship in this town is 336. At this season of general festivity and holiday joy in their own country, and throughout Europe, the hand of sympathy and generosity has reached even them, in their bonds; and yesterday they sat down to tables loaded with roast turkies, plumb puddings, and other good things which distinguish Christmas . . . “–Boston Daily Advertiser, December 28, 1814

December 26:  From New Orleans — [The British] erected a battery on the shore from which they fired red hot shot and succeeded in setting fire to the Caroline and blew her up, not however, before the brave capt. Henly had taken on shore all his guns.  Not a man was hurt in consequence of the Caroline blowing up.”–Maryland Gazette, February 2, 1815

December 27:  The treaty of peace was ratified on this date by the Prince Regent of England.–Columbian Centinel, February 22, 1815

December 27:  From the Federal Republican — “By an arrival from Jamaica at a southern port, it is confirmed that a British force (12000 strong,) sailed on the 20th of last month for New-Orleans.  it must have arrived as early at the 15th of the present month.  Gen. Jackson had at that period, about 5000 men.  it is said 800 men are on their way to join him from Tennessee, Georgia, &c. but that they would not reach him before the beginning of January.  From these facts, we are induced to fear that New-Orleans will fall–And if it does so–we have no hopes of being able to wrest it from the enemy.”–New York Spectator, December 31, 1814

December 28:  From Louisville — “Passed the Falls on the 28th ult. the Steam Boat Enterprize, loaded with public property, consisting of 24 pounders, carriages, shells, small arms, &c. for Gen. Jackson’s army.”–Providence Patriot, February 4, 1815

December 30:  From Gov. Claiborne, in New Orleans, to Governor Blount — “The enemy remains encamped about 7 miles from this city, within full view of our army under the command of general Jackson.  The force of the enemy is variously stated, from 4 to 7000.  . . .  The American army is drawn up in a line, extending from the Mississippi to the Cypress Swamp, having in front a wet ditch and an entrenchment impenetrable to musquetry or smaller pieces of ordnance–the right flank covered by the river, and the left by the swamp, and the whole defended by several pieces of cannon of various calibre, 32, 24, 12 and 9 pounders.”–Scioto Supporter, January 24, 1815

December 30:  From Col. R. Butler, Camp 6 miles below N. Orleans  — “On the 23d at night, we attacked the enemy; and as reported by deserters, we killed, wounded and took prisoners about 500.  Our loss comparatively very small.  Cols. Lauderdale and Henderson have bit the dust, and are no more.  . . .  we are in fine spirits, and have no doubt of drubbing the rascals.”–Augusta Herald, February 2, 1815

December 31:  From Plattsburg — “We have late accounts from the Isle Aux Noix, which put it beyond a doubt that the enemy is preparing for a winter campaign.  His force is represented at 16,000 men in the vicinity of Montreal, St. Johns and Chambly.  . . .  Every preparation is made to give them a grand entertainment and we have no doubt the exhibition will meet their most sanguine expectations.”–Raleigh Star, January 27, 1815

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