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December 2012


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"Monje, Scott" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 11 Dec 2012 11:14:37 -0500
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I don't know if it will cover that particular cannon, but you might
start with William S. Dudley, ed., The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary
History, vol. 1, 1812 (Washington, DC: Naval Historical Center,
Department of the Navy, 1985).

Scott Monje

-----Original Message-----
From: A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State
history. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Steve Benson
Sent: Sunday, December 09, 2012 1:53 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [NYHIST-L] Sackets Harbor War of 1812

Hi, there,
I'm wondering if anyone can point me in the direction of any primary
sources that might substantiate the story of the "Old Sow", a 32-pound
cannon used in the first battle at Sackets Harbor on July 19, 1812.
Several nineteenth-century histories say that the residents of Sackets
came up with the name after seeing the cannon lying half-submerged in
mud along the shoreline.  Originally destined for the Oneida, the cannon
was set aside in 1810 by Lieutenant Melancthon Woolsey as too cumbersome
and unwieldy aboard that vessel.  Resurrected as part of a shore battery
in 1812, but without appropriate shot available, the defenders of
Sackets wrapped 24-pound cannonballs in carpeting to make it fit.  When
a 32-pound ball arrived on shore from a British gun, it was picked up,
loaded and fired back, raking the Royal George and inflicting calamitous
damage and many casualties and convincing the Brits to flee the scene.
Accounts include references to British sailors laughing at the
incompetence of American artillerymen in the early stages of the battle
and a band on shore sending off the Brits to the tune of Yankee Doodle.

The stories have been labeled apocryphal by some, and I'd like to be
able to determine exactly what was fact and what was fiction about the

Steve Benson