THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Nov. 4-Nov. 10)

November 6, 2012 at 12:33 am 1 comment

Friendly Fire

In early November 1812, U.S. Major Gen. Henry Dearborn – commander of the Northern Army (except for the troops in the West now commanded by William Henry Harrison) – makes plans for another invasion of Canada.

Henry_Dearborn
(Art Institute of Chicago via Wikipedia)

This time it is to be a thrust from northeastern New York against Montreal. Dearborn — who has dallied in the Albany, New York area for most of the war, trying to recruit troops while planning his invasion strategy —  has been prodded into attack mode by President James Madison.

By Nov. 10, Dearborn – a Revolutionary War hero, former congressman and Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of War – has moved much of his 6,000-man force to the New York-Canadian border near Plattsburgh, New York.

On Nov. 20, an advance U.S. party commanded by Col. Zebulon Pike (the discoverer of Pike’s Peak in Colorado) moves on Lacolle Mills in Quebec near the village of Champlain, New York, where a blockhouse is garrisoned by about 40 Canadian militia and Indians.

Pike’s vastly superior numbers overwhelm the blockhouse defenders who retreat. But then a U.S. militia unit comes out of nowhere — thinks the blockhouse is still held by the enemy — and fires on Pike’s men, who return fire. Both U.S. units think they are fighting the redcoats and not fellow Americans. When they finally discover their mistake the Americans troops are confused and demoralized.

The British under Major Charles de Salaberry, aided by 300 Mohawk Indians, seize the opportunity and counterattack driving the Americans back across the border.

Lacolle Mills Blockhouse today
(Wikipedia)

The fiasco convinces Dearborn to abandon his planned attack and orders his troops into winter quarters.

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Entry filed under: National Security and Defense, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, Traditions. Tags: , , , , , , .

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