News of the US: Week One of May 1813

May 1:  From Annapolis — “About 140 American prisoners were landed in this city on Thursday evening last from the {HBM] San Domingo, 74 [Admiral Warren], then lying off the harbor.  . . . The sailors all concur in the opinion, that the British are very badly manned, and think a number of their vessels might be taken, if a vigorous attempt was made.  They complain very heavily of bad treatment by the British while on board, and swear they will take revenge if ever they should have an opportunity.”–Richmond Enquirer, May 11, 1813

May 1:  From Kent County, Maryland — “Since I addressed you last, the enemy have commenced their wanton warfare on our Bay shore; a ship of war passing down the bay lat Tuesday commenced a bombardment on S. Wilmer’s house, of your city, and after firing 15 shot at the house, 6 of which lodged in the wall, and 2 passed through the house; they also landed at a Mr. Medford’s a few miles above Mr. Wilmer’s and after treating Mr. Medford with extreme rudeness, robbed him of all his sheep, cattle, hogs, bacon and even setting poultry, and escaped with their booty thus honorably obtained.”–Baltimore Patriot, May 5, 1813

May 1:  From Philadelphia — “Last evening information was given to the Marshal of the United States for this district, that a barge was lading at Market-street wharf, with provisions for the British blockading squadron in the Delaware.  Before the Marshal was able to reach the spot a considerable number of people had collected, found seven or eight hundred wt. of fresh beef, and report says a British license; upon which they very deliberately made a noose upon one of the ship’s ropes, through which they were about to run the head of a Major P._________, of New Jersey, and hoist him a little bit off the ground when the Marshal arrived and took the accused under his protection.”– Intelligencer, May 6, 1813

May 2:  From a Montreal paper — “The enemy [U. S.] re-embarked from York, on Sunday the 2d instant, after burning a part of the barracks, and all the public stores that were not destroyed previous to their getting possession of that place.  The enemy’s loss on this occasion is said to be about 500–300 were destroyed by the blowing up of the Magazine . . . Richmond Enquirer, June 4, 1813.

May 2:  From Mobile – “The first number of an American newspaper was, on the 2d ult. issued from the town of Mobile, by the title of the ‘Mobile Gazette.’  It will, no doubt, be found faithful to the constitution and the government, as it is conducted by Mr. James Lyon, a man of talents who has often been a political sentinel on the watchtower of the constitution.”—United States’ Gazette, June 2, 1813

May 3:  From a lady near Havre-de-Grace, Maryland — “Since I wrote you last, Havre-de-Grace has been visited by a terrible bombardment.  . . .. The enemy robbed every house of everything valuable that could be carried away, leaving not a change of raiment to one out of ten persons; and what they could not take conveniently, they destroyed by cutting in pieces or breaking to atoms.–The admiral himself was present at this work of destruction, and gave orders for it to his officers.”–Democratic Press, May 17, 1813

May 3:  From Newport —  “The passengers [on the latest cartel from England] further state, that the sufferings of the Americans imprisoned in that country are very great.  They are fed with black bread; only one pound and a quarter per day is allowed them, and half a pound of beef, bone and all, which when boiled will make four or five mouthfuls; or in lieu of the meat they are given three smoked herrings:  this generally constitutes an allowance for twenty-four hours!  In England they have about 1500 American prisoners, who are confined in gaols and prison ships. “–Charleston City Gazette, May 21, 1813

May 3:  From Castine, Maine — “I do most earnestly request you to purchase me some Indian Corn, as we are starving here for bread, and not a bushel to be purchased for love or money–Dont for God’s sake fail–If you cannot get Corn send me Flour or Groat-Bread.”–Boston Weekly Messenger, May 14, 1813

Fort Meigs

May 4:  From Cleveland — “By the express just arrived from the Westward, we are informed, that the allied British and Indian forces, have been obliged to raise the siege of Fort Meigs.  The attack commenced on the 29th of April and continued until the 4th inst when 600 volunteers arrived from Kentucky, and carried the enemies batteries on the West side of the river.  The volunteers continued the pursuit of the enemy until they were compelled to retreat in their turn, and lost 150 men prisoners.”–Eastern Argus, Maine, May 27, 1813

May 4:  From the Kentucky Gazette — “It is known to every person acquainted with Indian affairs, that the British North West Company, are equally principals with that government, in instigating their fellow savages to all the murders and massacres of our women and children on the frontiers–that previous to the declaration of war this company were the principals and agents through whom all the scalping knives and tomahawks were distributed.”–Nashville Clarion, May 4, 1813

May 4:  From Missouri — “Robert Stuart, one of the partners of the Pacific Fur Company, arrived the 4th of May at St. Louis, from the Pacific Ocean.”–Western Spy, July 3, 1813

May 4: From the Boston Palladium — “As all the States East of the Delaware have chosen a majority of the ‘Friends of Peace and Commerce’ into their Legislatures, except Vermont . . .  it seems a most favorable time for forming a COMMERCIAL LEAGUE, among these States.  Let Conferees be appointed by the respective Legislatures, an they would form a CONFEDERATION, or COMPACT, in support of our commercial rights, which would defy the enmity and machinations of the slave-holders and backwoodsmen.”–Baltimore Patriot, May 4, 1813

May 5:  –From Baltimore — “Charlestown was not burnt yesterday morning.  Hughes’s Furnace and Stump’s warehouse were certainly destroyed.  Mr. Pinkney, son of the attorney general, states that in the attack on Havre de Grace, three of the enemy were killed and two wounded.  One American was killed by a rocket.–An Irishman, naturalized, was taken off by the British.  The men stationed at Havre de Grace for its defence fled, a letter states, at the approach of the enemy; the officers were the first to desert.”–Richmond Enquirer, May 14, 1813

May 5:  From Stephen H. Moore, Capt of the Baltimore volunteers, from Niagara, on taking York  — “Gen. Pike, however, the brave and gallant projector of this enterprize fell in the very moment of complete victory, at the head of his column.  . . . Lieut. Irvine received a bayonet through his right shoulder at the moment of stepping out of the boat, but is doing very well—Gill and Warner escaped unhurt.  P.S. My company distinguished themselves gloriously, and were noticed for their determined spirit.”–Missouri Gazette, July 3, 1813

May 5:  From Zanesville, Ohio — ” On the 5th May, a division of between seven and eight hundred men, under the command of Col. Dudley landed on the west side of the river opposite to fort Meigs, by order of Gen Harrison, for the purpose of storming the British batteries which they effected without much loss.  They spiked the cannon and took several Englishmen prisoners.  The only formidable force near the fort were Indians, who retreated, and were pursued without much order by the Kentuckians—They kept skirmishing with them for some considerable time, until the British, who were encamped some distance in the rear of the batteries came up, and cut off their retreat to the river.  . . .  The prisoners were taken to the old fort, when they were counted, and stated by the British officer to amount to about 530.  Having been left in the fort under a small guard, the Indians broke in  upon them and killed a number.  Two of the English soldiers were killed by the Indians in attempting to defend them; Tecumseh and Col. Elliot soon came to their relief and put an end to the massacre.”–Charleston City Gazette, June 3, 1813

May 6:  From a letter from Quebec — “In the Woolwich, 44, with Capt. Yeo, came about 30 captains, lieutenants and midshipmen, and 450 picked seamen; who yesterday sailed in schooners for the Lakes.”–Boston Gazette, June 14, 1813

May 6:  From George-Town, Kentucky — “It is probable, that those of the mounted volunteers, who wish to carry a rifle, in preference to a musket, will be requested to go unarmed to Newport, where they will be furnished with a rifle made at Harper’s Ferry, which will shoot point blank 200 yards; besides they are short and calculated for the woods.  . .   It is a notorious fact, that in the north western army, the best woodsmen put by their very best rifles, and took the public rifles made at Harper’s feerry.”–Aurora,  May 25, 1813

May 6:  From Savannah — “By a gentleman arrived in Tuesday’s southern stage we are informed, that this day Amelia-Island was to be evacuated by the Americans and given up to the Spaniards, should the commandant and troops arrive to take possession of it.  They were on their march thither some days previous from Augustine.”–Centinel of Freedom, June 1, 1813

May 7:  From Paris — “I find the council of prizes are restoring a great many American vessels some of which have been captured 3 or 4 years.  Mr. Diehl of Port Penn, who was captured in the ship Betsey of Philadelphia, and whose ship and cargo was condemned by the emperor himself has lately had a decree reversing the condemnation and restoring ship & cargo worth 600,000 francs–he has been here 34 months.”–National Intelligencer, September 18, 1813

May 7:  Letter from a resident of Havre-de-Grace [Md] to his son in this place —  “The British landed, plundered and burnt about eighteen or twenty houses.  . . Two of your sisters have lost nearly their all, as well as most of the citizens.  If the men on sentry had been watchful we might have had some time to remove our furniture, but some were drunk and the rest asleep, and the enemy was upon us before we were aware of it.  The men beat the women running.  They took John O’Neale prisoner, and several others; but a flag was sent to the squadron and they were all released and returned this day.   Had the men stood their ground like John O’Neale they could have beat the enemy off—he was taken along side the cannon.  The enemy informed the prisoners that they would burn Georgetown and Alexandria before they went to Baltimore, so be on your guard.”–Charleston City Gazette, May 20, 1813

May 7:  From George-town Crossroads — “The attack on us commenced a little after day, with 20 barges and about 700 men; and cannister, grape, 18 lb shot, and rockets, flew over the towns and fields in every direction.  We fortunately had no men killed . . . .”–National Intelligencer, May 15, 1813
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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