February 7, 1813: Raid on Elizabethtown

Benjamin Forsyth

One of the more daring American raids in the War of 1812 occurred on the evening of February 6-7, 1813.  On February 4, 1813 a detachment of British soldiers had crossed the frozen Saint Lawrence and attacked Ogdensburg, New York.  They recrossed the Saint Lawrence with American prisoners.  Major Benjamin Forsyth, a resourceful officer of the First American Rifle Regiment had no intention of letting this British raid go unanswered.  At 10:00 PM on February 6, he led 200 regulars and volunteers from Ogdensburg on a twelve-mile march through bitter cold to Morristown, New York.

From Morristown, he and his men crossed the frozen Saint Lawrence and took Elizabethtown completely by surprise.  He freed the American captives from the local jail and recrossed the Saint Lawrence with 52 British soldiers in tow.  In one night he and his men had marched 28 miles and launched an attack, all in arctic cold.

This was only one of several notable exploits by Forsyth during the War.  I suspect that he would have been a well-remembered figure in American history, but for his failure to survive the War.  He would die in a skirmish at Odelltown, Quebec in June, 1814.

Published in: on February 7, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on February 7, 1813: Raid on Elizabethtown  
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