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Action at Selkirk during the War of 1812

Action at Selkirk during the War of 1812



Capt. James Woolsey attempts to smuggle cannon, cable and other supplies which have been forwarded from Albany through Oswego and Henderson to Commodore Chauncey in Sackett's Harbor to fit out the warships 'Superior', 'Jefferson' and 'Jones' under construction but under a blockade at Oswego and Sackett's. He plans to go up Stoney Creek, then transfer everything overland to Henderson Bay.

Woolsey is escorting 22 long 32-pounders, ten 24-pounders, three 42-pounders, twelve large cables (the largest for the Superior weighing over 9,600 pounds and occupying an entire boat) and an assorted munitions for all. Rowing from Oswego by night in nineteen open boats, he hides inside the Salmon river at dawn.

In addition to oarsmen, he's accompanied by 130 riflemen under Maj. Daniel Appling and rendezvous'd with 150 friendly Oneida's at the Salmon River as escort. One boat is lost in the fog, captured by the British, and the mission is compromised.

After a brief rest, Woolsey re-plans to enter Big Sandy Creek and hide upstream. He departs the Salmon River after rest and breakfast, reaching Big Sandy by noon and heading inland as far as possible. The British pursue with 2 gunboats, 3 cutters and a gig, reaching Big Sandy after Woolsey has gone upstream, but don't discover his move till late in the day. The commander waits until the following morning to pursue Woolsey, only to discover Woolsey has been reinforced overnight, and the battle of Big Sandy Creek ensues. The British were ambushed with heavy losses and surrendered 170 prisoners, their boats, and all armaments. Successfully fitting out the Superior enabled the blockade to be broken and the English naval threat as well.

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