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Prevost, Sir George 1767-1816

Military officer; born in New York City, May 19, 1767; son of Augustine Prevost; entered the British army in youth, and served with distinction in the military operations in the West Indies, especially at St. Lucia. In January, 1805, he was made a major-general, and in November a baronet. He was second in command at the capture of Martinique (1808), and the same year he became governor of Nova Scotia. He was made lieutenant-general in 1811, and in June of that year he succeeded Sir James Craig as governor of Canada, which office he retained until his return to England, in 1814. He ably defended Canada in the War of 1812-15. With a large force of Wellington's veterans, he invaded New York in September, 1814, and was defeated in battle at Plattsburg on the 11th.

The cause of the sudden panic of the British troops at Plattsburg, and their precipitous flight on the night of the battle there (see Plattsburg, battles at), was inexplicable. The Rev. Eleazar Williams declared that it was the result of a clever trick arranged by him (Williams), as commander of a secret corps of observation, or “spies,” as they were called in the Western army. Governor Chittenden, of Vermont, restrained the militia of his State from leaving it. A few days before the battle an officer (Colonel Fassett) from that State assured Macomb that the militia would cross the lake in spite of the governor. After the officer left, Williams suggested to Macomb that a letter from Fassett, declaring that a heavy body of militia were about to cross the lake, sent so as to fall into the hands of the British general, would have a salutary effect. Macomb directed Williams to carry out the plan. He went over to Burlington, and received from Fassett a letter to Macomb, in which he said Chittenden was marching with 10,000 men from St. Albans, that 5,000 men were marching from St. Lawrence county, and that 4,000 from Washington county were in motion. This letter Williams placed in the hands of a shrewd Irishwoman at Cumberland Head, who took it to Prevost just after the battle at Plattsburg had ended. Prevost, who was naturally timid, was greatly alarmed by the “intercepted” letter, and at a little past midnight his whole army were flying in haste towards the Canada frontier. He died in London, England, Jan. 5, 1816.

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