There was great anxiety felt in the spring of 1814, to have the Superior
, ship-of-war, built at Sackett's Harbor
, hastened for sea, lest Sir James L. Yeo
would roam over Lake Ontario
the unrestricted lord of the waters.
Heavy guns and cables destined for her were yet at Oswego
The roads were almost impassable, and the blockade of Sackett's Harbor
made a voyage thither by water a perilous one.
The gallant master-commander, M. T. Woolsey
, declared his willingness to attempt carrying the ordnance and naval stores to Stony Creek
, 3 miles from Sackett's Harbor
, where they might reach Commodore Chauncey
On May 19 Woolsey
was at Oswego
with nineteen boats heavily laden with cannon and naval stores.
The flotilla went out of the harbor at twilight, bearing Major Appling
, with 130 riflemen.
About the same number of Oneida Indians
agreed to meet the flotilla at the mouth of Big Salmon River
, and traverse the shore abreast the vessels, to assist in repelling any attack.
found it unsafe to attempt to reach Stony Creek
, for the blockaders were vigilant, so he ran into Big Sandy Creek
, a few miles from the harbor, under cover of a very dark night, and landed the precious treasure there.
heard of the movement, and,
ignorant of the presence of Major Appling
and the Indians, proceeded to attempt to capture the flotilla on the Big Sandy.
That stream wound through a marshy plain about 2 miles, and at that time was fringed with trees and shrubs.
Among these Major Appling
riflemen and the Indians.
's boats were stationed some cavalry, artillery, and infantry, with field-pieces, which had been sent there from Sackett's Harbor
The confident Britons
, sure of success, pushed up the sinuous creek with their vessels, and strong flanking parties were thrown out on each shore.
The guns of the vessels sent solid shot upon the American
flotilla and grape and canister among the bushes.
These dispersed the cowardly Indians
, but young Appling
's sharp-shooters were undisturbed.
When the invaders were within rifle-range the riflemen opened destructive volleys upon them, and at the same time the artillery on shore opened a furious cannonade.
So sharp and unexpected was the assault, in front, flank, and rear, that the British
surrendered within ten minutes after the first gun was fired in response to their own. They had lost a midshipman and seventeen men killed, and at least fifty wounded. The Americans
had one rifleman and one Indian warrior wounded, but lost no life.
They captured the British squadron, with about 170 officers and men as prisoners of war. A ponderous cable for the Superior
, 22 inches in circumference, and weighing 9,600 lbs., was borne to the harbor in a day and a half, on the shoulders of 200 militiamen, carrying it a mile at a time without resting.