News of the US: Week Three of December 1812

December 15:  From the London Star — “The hopes which the Americans have built upon their navy, in a contest with Great Britain, must be destroyed ere we can hope for a permanent peace–they must, in fact, be beat into  submission . . . .  It is, indeed, highly ridiculous to hear America talk of maritime rights.  What means has she of enforcing them?–National Intelligencer, February 22, 1813

December 15:  From Ogdensburgh — “Today about 11 o’clock, a flag of truce crossed over to Prescott–the commandant at that place told Captain Benedict that on the 28th ult. 400 of our troops crossed into Canada at Chippeway–An action took place in which 100 of our troops were killed.  All the officers in a British company were killed, and the company taken prisoners.–British reinforcements arriving, our troops withdrew  in good order, taking the prisoners with them.” –Salem Gazette, January 1, 1813

December 15:  From Nashville, on the occasion of the militia rendezvous there– “We do not pretend to know every thing which history contains; but we will aver that we know of no instance in history where on the simple request of the government, a detachment so large, with a surplus so great, rendezvoused with so much precision on a given day, at a   given point, prepared to make a voyage of 1310 miles in search of an enemy that the government shall point out to them.”–Nashville Clarion, December 15, 1812

December 16:  From Salem — “On Wednesday and Thursday last the following vessels were picked out of the Vineyard fleet, off Cape Cod, by the privateer schooner Liverpool Packet, 12 days from Halifax  . . . [there follows a list of 10 ships]  The privateer might have taken more, but had not men to spare, and has doubtless made the best of her way home with her prizes.  . . .  Where are Mr. Jefferson’s hundreds of gun-boats, that were to protect our coasting trade, now left a defenceless prey to the enemy?”–Salem Gazette, December 22, 1812

December 16:  Perpetual Motion — “Mr. Readheffer of Chesnut Hill, (Pennsylvania) it is said, after eleven years study, has invented the long sought for perpetual motion.  The machine is put in motion by the descent of weights on an inclined plain, which after descending a given distance, by an ingenious contrivance recover their place, and thus render the motion perpetual.”–Massachusetts Spy, December 16, 1812

December 16:  From the London Courier — “The capture of the Macedonian is as we said yesterday, an event equally surprising and afflicting.  The American frigates are stated to have a larger complement of men, and to carry heavier metal than ours; but still, British seamen have been used to contend with superiority of force, and to conquer.”–Raleigh Star, April 9, 1813

December 17:  From Washington, from a member of Congress — “Junius has remarked that the virtues of a private individual are vices in a king.  Nothing is more convenient, or indeed necessary to a nation, than that the person who wields the sceptre of power should be as little troubled with feeling, or with the compunctious visitings of our nature as possible.  The worst enemies of Mr. Madison allow him to possess a considerable share of those sensibilities which to the man do honor; but which his political friends confess are detrimental to the President.”–Salem Gazette, December 29, 1812

December 17:  From Chillicothe – “We understand that gen. Winchester has left his camp at Defiance, and is now at the Rapids of the Miami—72 miles from Detroit.  Gen. Harrison is at Sandusky, facilitating the operations of the army, preparatory to its march.”—United States’ Gazette, January 2, 1813

December 17:  From Washington — “The bill to increase the navy being under consideration in committee of the whole, a motion to strike out the provision for building ships of the line was negatived:  but the same subject being taken up the next day was carried 56 to 53–with a view to increase the number of frigates.”–Niles’ Weekly Register, December 26, 1812

December 18:  From Philadelphia — “The following intelligence was written on the back of a letter addressed to a member of congress from Kentucky.  ‘Part of Hopkins’s army have been defeated near the Prophet’s town, with the loss of 7 killed–News brought by captain Richard Taylor.'”–New York Spectator, December 23, 1812

December 18:  From Boston — “Just arrived, brig Rising States, from Baltimore, via the Vineyard; left the latter place on Monday morning, and towards evening off Cape Cod Light, was captured by the English privateer Liverpool Packet–she had then captured  seven sail, and having so many prisoners, put them on board the rising States and let her proceed–It is feared many others will fall into her hands, as a number of the Vineyard fleet being but a few leagues distance.”–Boston Weekly Messenger, December 18, 1812

December 18:  From Franklinton, Ohio, encounter with the Indians — “Lieut. Waltz, of captain Markle’s company (from Greensburgh, Pa.) was shot through the arm, and not being satisfied with that, he again endeavored to mount his horse, and in making the effort was shot through his head.  His death was glorious.”–Niles’ Weekly Register, January 9, 1813

December 19:  “March of the four footed Troops. Four thousand six hundred and forty-eight large fat hogs have been driven from this neighborhood, within a few days, destined for the rapids, for the use of the N. Western Army.”–Scioto Gazette, December 19, 1812

December 19:  From New York — “The Drafted Militia of this State, which have been dragged from their homes, and compelled to suffer the hardships incident to a military life at Burlington, Plattsburgh and Champlain, have lately been dismissed at Burlington, without their pay, drawing SIXTY CENTS per man to support them on a march of 130 miles, at this inclement season of the year; and have been obliged to live upon the generosity of the inhabitants.  They have now mostly returned home from the late unnecessary, expensive and fruitless campaign; in the full belief that this war is disadvantageous and ruinous.”–New York Spectator, December 19, 1812

December 19:  From Boston – “An intelligent gentleman who reached town yesterday from Ontario, acquainted us, that he rode in company with captain Swartwout, an aid of general Smyth, and bearer of his despatches to Washington, who confirmed all the particulars of the disgraceful termination of the threatened invasion of Canada; but that the blame did not all lie at Smyth’s door.  He stated that general Smyth had express orders from general Dearborn not to pass over unless he could carry with him 3000 men, which he could not muster . . . .”—United States’ Gazette, December 26, 1812

December 20:  From the Northern army — “”A letter in the Baltimore Whig, supposed to be from its editor, who is with the army of the centre, says Smythe had 800 regulars and 2800 volunteer or ready to embark, when he abandoned his expedition.  . . .  We are ordered to build huts for ourselves to winter in; but neither nails nor other articles to be supplied by the public.  I am weary of this sort of war, yet loth under present circumstances to return to Baltimore, even if I were permitted.”–Connecticut Gazette, January 6, 1813

December 20:  From Yarmouth, Cape Cod –“Last evening, in attempting to cross Bass-river, the following persons were drowned:–Anthony Barker and wife, of Harwich; Aaron Crowell’s wife, of Yarmouth, and Hannah Baxter, of Dennis, daughter of Eb. B. the boat being leaky, the women being frightened, the boat upset, and 4 were lost out of 6.”–Salem Gazette, January 1, 1813

December 21:  From New Orleans–“Yesterday the 7th U. States regiment came into town from their summer quarters, and the 3d regt. is expected in a day or two; besides which 1509 Mississippi and 3000 Tennessee Militia are on their way, for what purpose no body can imagine.”–Richmond Enquirer, January 26, 1813

December 21:  From New York — “Arrived yesterday at this port, the private armed schooner, General Armstrong, Captain Bernard, from a successful cruise, during which she captured six British vessels.”–Charleston City Gazette, January 4, 1813

December 21:  From Burlington, Vermont, to General Chandler — “Sir–The subscribers, a committee on the part of a number of citizens of Richmond, beg you to accept two sleigh loads, consisting of vegetables, apples, butter, cheese, apple-sauce and fowls, for the use of the sick troops of at this place.”–Aurora, January 1, 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