Pages

September 5 1812: Van Rensselaer Frets



On September 5, 1812, Solomon Van Rensselaer writes to his friend Abraham Van Vecheten. He knows that war is to start again in three days and he is worried. He writes:
In short we are deficient in almost everything: four 18-pounders, two twelve-pounders; eight Six's; and two four's, are all the Ordnance we have for the defence of this Line; two six's honey-combed, some of them without Shot and six without Harness. Fort Niagara not tenable (you all suppose it impregnable. Not so, it cannot be maintained 15 minutes), and the Stores are now Removing with a view to abandon it, and in this place Capt. Leonard buried two 13 Inch Mortar and Six 8J Inch Howitzers for the want of Shells.
Van Rensselaer's letter is reproduced below.
Sol. Van Rensselaer to Abraham Van Vechten. 

Lewiston, 5th September, 1812.

My Dear Sir, - This Evening Mr. Swan arrived in three days from Albany on Express from Gen. Dearborn, with Information that a large body of British Troops had left Montreal for the opposite bank of this River and Cautioning Gen. V. R. to guard against a Surprise from them, and if hard pressed to make a Safe retreat, his caution against a surprise is unnecessary, and as for a retreat we shall not think of, until we have tried some blustering Democrats who pretend to be full of fighting and crossing the River, but their opinions as to crossing no attention will be paid to, until it is proper we should come to Action, and then they will be brought to a Close one. With the force which arrived yesterday under the Command of Lt. Col. Fenwick, we have in the aggregate of Regular Troops and Militia two thousand two hundred men Detached on a frontier of forty miles, from Fort Niagara to Buffalo. While the British have opposed to us (besides the force Dearborn speaks of) from every information we can get, and from their appearance every day in our view, at least that number of Regular Troops, with strong Batteries at every Crossing point to meet and of these there are but very few owing to the extreme height of the Banks.

In short we are deficient in almost everything: four 18-pounders, two twelve-pounders; eight Six's; and two four's, are all the Ordnance we have for the defence of this Line; two six's honey-combed, some of them without Shot and six without Harness. Fort Niagara not tenable (you all suppose it impregnable. Not so, it cannot be maintained 15 minutes), and the Stores are now Removing with a view to abandon it, and in this place Capt. Leonard buried two 13 Inch Mortar and Six 8J Inch Howitzers for the want of Shells.

No Surgical Instruments, lint, bandage or Hospital Stores; no forage and no Quarter Master. Peter B. Porter has been only twice in Camp since we have been here, and instead of getting the feast ready, is attending to his private affairs; he is an abominable Scoundrel, and I have made no Secret in telling his friends so. [This difficulty was all made up, they were good friends many years before death.]

I have written at least a dozen letters to Harriot without receiving a line from her since I left home. She certainly must be ill or perhaps something worse, pray let me beg of you to Remove the weight that hangs on my mind on her account, by informing me Candidly and Explicitly of her Situation. The recollection of the late overwhelming event at home, I fear has been too much for her, remove my anxiety and put me at rest.

Phil's letter has alarmed me, and his is the only one I have received. I look with much Solicitude for the Mail on Monday. You must excuse me for not writing to you before; the Detail of the Camp, and Every thing in Relation to the Troops, takes up all my time, I have no one to assist me. Adieu, present my best respects to Mrs. Van Vechten and those who ask or think about me. But above all comfort my poor Harriot, my heart Bleeds for her, and be assured that in whatever situation I am placed, I am your affectionate and Sincere friend.
Sol. Van Rensselaer.

No comments:

Post a comment