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A Signal Victory on Lake Champlain
THE BATTLE OF PLATTSBURG
By James P. Millard

Part III- Culver's Hill,
Halsey's Corners, and Dead Creek Bridge

The three forts south of the Saranac were the scenes of feverish activity as the British juggernaut pushed south from the border. The few men Macomb had at his disposal knew their only hope of holding back the mighty British army was a strong defensive barrier. This... and a victory in the bay. That outcome was out of their hands- they could only wait and take solace in the impressive fleet at anchor in a line in Cumberland Bay. In the meantime, they did what they could- strengthened the forts and batteries.

Fort Moreau, the largest of the earthen embrasures, halfway between the Saranac and the lakeshore was commanded by Col. Melancton Smith. Site of Fort Moreau at Plattsburgh Barracks Site of Fort BrownMoreau was manned by the 6th and 29th regiments. Fort Brown, close by the southern bank of the river was under the charge of Lieutenant Col. Storrs. This fort was manned by detachments of the 30th and 31st regiments. Fort Scott- 33rd and 34th regiments, closest to the lake, was commanded by a Major Vinson. The blockhouse and battery closest to the mouth of the river were commanded by Captain Smith and Lieutenant Fowler. Most of the troops with Smith in the blockhouse were convalescents who were well enough to remain behind as the sickest soldiers were evacuated to Crab Island.

On September 5th, Macomb issued his orders, stating his plan of defense:

"... The troops will line the parapet in two ranks leaving intervals for the artillery. A reserve of one-fifth of the whole force in infantry will be detailed and paraded fronting the several angles, which it will be their particular duty to sustain. To each bastion are to be assigned, by the several commanders of Forts, a sufficient number of infantry to line all the faces (in single rank) of each tier. Should the enemy gain the ditch, the front rank of the part assailed will mount the parapet and repel him with its fire and bayonet. If the men of this rank are determined, no human force can dispossess them of that position..."1

Marker erected in 1895 at the Site of the engagement at Culver HillRetreating  from Chazy, Appling's riflemen fell back to the Dead Creek bridge between the Village and Cumberland Head. Here, Macomb had sent 200 infantrymen under Captain John Sproul along with two cannon to hold the bridge and delay the left flank. The combined forces were assisted in their efforts by American gunboats just off shore. It was during this engagement that the intrepid Silas Duncan received his horrible wound, as the British forces brought up artillery and turned these guns on the American vessels.

The British right flank was having its own problems. Driving south through Beekman's Town, they had scattered a group of militia. They were met at Culver's Hill by a determined force of regulars under Major John Wool. Wool had under his command but Monument erected in 1895 commemorating the action at Halsey's Corners.250 men, but they surprised the British and put up a spirited defense. Soon, they also were forced to pull back to Halsey's Corners, a mere mile and a half from a critical bridge within the Village. Prevost lost officers at Culver's Hill- among the dead were a Lt. Colonel Wellington, and Ensign Chapman. Many enlisted men were killed and wounded on both sides. 

At Halsey's Corners, Wool was reinforced by Captain Leonard and two field pieces. Here another stand was made with devastating results for the oncoming British. Leonard set up his cannon at right angles to the road, where they were hidden from view. The infantry took positions behind a stone wall and other obstacles. The oncoming columns of Redcoats advanced straight into the maw of these guns, which were discharged repeatedly with deadly effect. The British responded bravely and charged the American line with bayonets, resulting in a retreat from this last post outside the Village. The main road into the Village of Plattsburg lay open before them...

A signal victory on Lake Champlain 
The Battle of Plattsburg

continues HERE
Part IV- War in Plattsburg, New York: 
September 6-11, 1814.

 The battles on land within Plattsburg

Source/Notes:

1 William S. Rann. 1886. History of Chittenden County, Vermont. Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co. Publishers) 167

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