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A Signal Victory on Lake Champlain
THE BATTLE OF PLATTSBURG
By James P. Millard
The British force was formidable- seasoned, well-disciplined troops recently arrived from Europe. The same army that had served victoriously under Wellington was to march down the western shore of Champlain crushing what small resistance could be afforded by the nascent American Army and militia. Prevost was confident- the American record so far in this conflict had been abysmal. The campaigns in Canada had been disastrous. The time was ripe to carry the war into the heart of the young nation, and once again the vital Lake Champlain water corridor would play a crucial role.
As thousands of British troops poured across the border Plattsburgh became a frenzy of activity. General Alexander Macomb, commanding a force of 3400 soldiers, over half of whom were unfit for duty, was determined to make a stand. He held no illusions as to what he faced. The odds of success were small, but failure was not an option. Immediately, Macomb asked General Benjamin Mooers to call out the New York Militia. Riders and couriers were sent out on horseback to alert the surrounding villages and towns of the invasion. War had come home to the North Country-militia units in all neighboring counties were ordered to report for duty. Once the local militia had been called up, Macomb appealed to Vermont for help.
By September 3, at least 11,000 well-appointed British troops were massed at Champlain, New York. Among Prevost's troops were infantry, light dragoons, sappers and miners, along with a formidable force of artillery and rocketeers. Shortly after arriving Prevost set about impressing teams and wagons from the local populace into the service of the invaders. Meanwhile at Plattsburgh, a mass exodus was occurring. The Village of some 3,000 had been vacated until it was populated almost entirely by military personnel. This American force, while growing daily, was comprised of a motley collection of regulars and militia, many unfit for duty due to illness. On the lake, Commodore Thomas Macdonough was aware of the British advance. He moved his fleet into position in Cumberland Bay...
A signal victory on Lake
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