On February 22, 1813, about 500 British soldiers and Canadian militia marched across the frozen St. Lawrence River and took Ogdensburg, N.Y., by force. In doing so, the troops under Major George MacDonnell resoundingly ended the American threat to the Upper Canada supply route at Prescott, Ont. This daring action also launched some half-true or fanciful stories that continue to find their way into discussions of the war.
The facts are these: In 1813, there was no St. Lawrence Seaway linking Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean. Food, weapons and ammunition came by ocean-going vessels to Quebec, then by river barges and schooners to Montreal and finally by flat-bottomed batteaux to Prescott. Here they were loaded onto Great Lakes ships for distribution in Upper Canada.
The route was Upper Canada’s lifeline to Britain and it went right past Ogdensburg and Prescott. Ogdensburg at the time was being defended by the…
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