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August 25 1812: Sneaky Dearborn

On August 25 1812, General Dearborn writes to General Van Resnnelaer, in charge of the Niagara region, enclosing a letter to be sent to the British advising that the armistice is at an end. Dearborn also writes that the letter is only to be sent once further reinforcements, including cannon, arrive in the region.  The armistice was thus more helpful to the American side. It allowed Dearborn  more time to send reinforcements to the border and helped cover up the ineptness of his earlier efforts.   

It is also clear that the armistice is a bit shaky. On the same day General Van Rensselaer is writing to apologize and release some British troops that had been captured the day before. This was in breach of the armistice. Brock replies with thanks to Van Rensselaers' letter.  He also writes that he will honour the armistice, which he only heard about on August 23 1812. In this regard, Brock writes: "I, in consequence, despatched early yesterday morning, an express to Amhersthurgh, ordering a cessation of all offensive operations against the United States, in that quarter; and likewise to exert every influence in restraining the Indians from committing any acts of hostility". The letters are reproduced below.

General Dearborn to Gen. Van Rensselaer
Head Quarters, Greenbush, Aug. 25, 1812.

Sir, As soon as practicable after the receipt of this, you will please to have the enclosed letter directed to the Commanding Officer of the British forces at Fort George, at Niagara, conveyed to him by a flag; and the letter directed to Gen. Hull, you will please to have forwarded to him by express, with as great despatch as practicable; and at the expiration of four days after the letter is delivered to the British Commanding Officer at Fort George, you will consider the temporary conditional agreement for suspending offensive operations between the forces under your command, and the British forces in your vicinity, as no longer binding on either side; and you will act' accordingly; and you will make every exertion in your power for annoying the enemy, as well as to guard against any attack from him. Considerable reinforcements have been sent on from Montreal to strengthen their positions in Upper Canada; and I trust you will very soon receive such additional force from this State, and from Pennsylvania, as will enable you to pass into Canada with safety and effect. A large reinforcement is on its march under Brig. Gen. Dodge, for Sacketts Harbour and Ogdensburgh, as well as for Plattsburgh. 1 have ordered thirty bateaux to Niagara, and an equal number to Sacketts Harbour, and have directed the building of proper scows for the transportation of ordnance. If the enemy should have detached from Fort George, it may afford you an opportunity to strike a blow. I  have the honour, &c.

P. S. Sir, it will be advisable to wait until the arrival of Lt. Col. Fenwick with the cannon, and stores shall be rendered certain, within four days, before you send the enclosed letter to Fort George. I presume he must arrive before this reaches you; but it may be otherwise.

(Signed) H. Dearborn.

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Major Gen. Stephen Van Rensselaer.
Major General Van Rensselaer to Major General Sheaffe.

Sir, Head Quarters, Lewiston, August 25, 1812.
I have learnt, with regret, that last night a subaltern officer with a few soldiers and citizens, contrary to my orders, passed over from the American shore, and on Buckhorn Island, surprised and brought off a sergeant and five men, with a boat. Early this morning, I ordered the sergeant and men released, and the boat restored to them.
I have the honour, &c.

Major General Sheaffe, Commanding, &c. S. Van Rensselaer.

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Major General Isaac Brock to Major Gen. Van Rensselaer. Sir, Head Quarters, Fort George, 25th August, 1812.

Major General Sheaffe having communicated to me your letter of this date, addressed to him, I seize upon the first moment to express my thanks for the measures you have adopted to prevent the possibility of any misunderstanding which might have arisen in consequence of the unauthorized act of one of your subaltern officers. It was not until my arrival at Fort Erie, late in the evening of the 23d instant that I learnt that a cessation of hostilities had been agreed upon, between General Dearborn and Sir George Provost; and I, in consequence, despatched early yesterday morning, an express to Amhersthurgh, ordering a cessation of all offensive operations against the United States, in that quarter; and likewise to exert every influence in restraining the Indians from committing any acts of hostility.

The fortune of war having put me in possession of Detroit and its dependencies, a small garrison has been ordered to occupy the Fort, the chief object of which was to afford protection to the inhabitants of the Territory. I have the honor to enclose a copy of a Proclamation which I issued upon this occasion. I have the honour, &c.,
Isaac Bkock.

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