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September 22 1812: We shall Invade Canada [Again]




On September 22, 1812, John Lovett, a poet, lawyer and now an army Major, is still stationed in Lewiston with the American Army of the Center. On this day he writes to his friend Joseph Alexander. Lovett is also the secretary to the commanding officer Major General Van Rensselaer. The general is being pressed to attack. Lovett writes:
"General Van Rensselaer is well aware of the critical situation he is in: it has been announced to him from all quarters; from the highest to the lowest authority: he sees it, feels it every hour. But, after all, having taken into consideration the incalculable consequences which must result from falling back from his present position, he has determined to risk events. In the last general deliberation which was had upon the subject, he sat and heard all that was said, then rising up he said " No, what will the world think we are made of? No: I'll Die before I'll quit this ground, and there's no more to be said about it." 
Lovett ends his letter by writing:"I think, I begin to see how the crisis is forming. We shall invade Canada."  Lovett's letter is reproduced below. 

Major Lovett to Joseph Alexander. 
Head Quarters, Lewiston, 22d Sept., 1812. 

Dear Alexander, I have lately received two letters from you, and thank you kindly for them: in our situation, letters from friends, come like the cooling stream to a famishing Pilgrim in a desert of sand. General Van Rensselaer is well aware of the critical situation he is in: it has been announced to him from all quarters; from the highest to the lowest authority: he sees it, feels it every hour. But, after all, having taken into consideration the incalculable consequences which must result from falling back from his present position, he has determined to risk events. In the last general deliberation which was had upon the subject, he sat and heard all that was said, then rising up he said " No, what will the world think we are made of? No: I'll Die before I'll quit this ground, and there's no more to be said about it." And there has been no more said about it. The enemy appear to be in a state of preparedness to give, or receive an attack. Every day or two they make some movement which indicates dispositions to attack us immediately. Night before last every ship they have on Lake Ontario came into the mouth of Niagara River, then, to be sure, we thought it time to look out for breakers. But yesterday when Col. Van Rensselaer went over with a Flag to Fort George, there was not a Ship in sight, nor a General Officer there, where gone, we know not. Notwithstanding the most positive orders on both sides, our Sentinels have kept up almost a constant warfare for a month past. On the Bank of the River Musket Balls are about as thick as Whippowills in a summer's evening. A wretch fired the other evening, at Judge Barton and myself as we were setting upon our horses on the bank; the shot came in a correct line but fell 20 rods short, in the River. Last Saturday morning one of our lads returned the Compliment: and put his ball so quick thro' a lad's head on the other side that he fell dead without even winking. Over came Lieut. Col. Myers with whom [ had the honor of an hour's conference on the bank, both talked it largely and returned good fellows. In short we are all fire and powder on both sides the River, and every day that passes without blood seems to me more and more strange. We have made the best possible dispositions of the force we have to meet an attack, if it comes, I am very certain there will be some old fashioned fighting, we can't help it; for in truth, we can't run away without fighting and I believe this is the best way to post an army of raw Troops. It is now about eleven days we have lain in this situation. It has become as much a matter of course to fix my papers and prime my Pistols when I go to bed, as it is to pull off my Boots.

And after all, I cannot tell whether they will attack us or not; but if they do not they are certainly governed by some considerations of policy which they may consider of more importance than cutting up a little 2,000 Army. Time must determine. We are promised reinforcements by companies, Battalions, Regiments, Brigades, and I might almost say Armies; but not a single man has joined us in some weeks. Besides, our men here are getting down very fast within three or four days. This morning Report of Sick was 149. We have lately had the most tremendous storm of cold rains and wind that I ever saw at this season of the year, it was eno' to make an Ox quake. The wind was terrible, hail, lightening, thunder and the whole army of terrors seemed pressed into requisition. Many tents blew up and over; the General's Marquee was deluged, bed and all drenched. My Tent hooks gave away; I jumped out of my Blanket, in quick time, to save my papers stood in my shirt-tail for half an hour, holding tho sides together, until I had not a dry thread to brag of; and when I went to my Blankets, they were as wet as myself, however, I made the best of them thro' the night. O, the glorious life, and the innumerable comforts of Soldiers!

Give Mrs. Lovett the enclosed, it contains an impression of General Brock's Seal, with his most appropriate Motto, " He who guards, never Sleeps." The Campaign will wind up with some very interesting occurrences, I think, I begin to see how the crisis is forming. We shall invade Canada. Come what may you may be assured we shall not disgrace Albany. Do write often. I entirely agree in opinion with Gen. V. R. who on reading your last letter made this observation, " He writes more like a Gentleman than any of them" and added " I had no idea he was such a man I" there's for ye: and no man knows better, or more highly appreciates the character of a true bred Gentleman than that same General. I had no idea of his perfect finish in Etiquette.
I am your friend,
John Lovett.

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