Samuel Linnell (118,241,1) and the War of 1812

The Untold Story of Samuel Linnell (118,241,1) and The War of 1812
By Jason J Quick

Samuel’s story starts with a brief summary of the Battle of Henderson Bay and the Second Battle of Sackets Harbor May 28th- 29th 1813.  Commodore, James Lucas Yeo commanded the British Navy and General Sir George Prevost, Governor-General of Canada commanded the British land force.  Yeo’s ships were the HMS Wolfe, Royal George, Earl of Moira, General Beresford, Sir Sidney Smith and Lady Murray.  The British land Force consisted of the grenadier company of the 100th Regiment, two companies of the 8th (The King's) Regiment of Foot, four companies of the 104th Regiment, one company of the Glengarry Light Infantry, two companies of the Canadian Voltigeurs, a detachment of Royal Artillery with two 6-pounder guns and a war band of Native Americans.

The British force set out late on the 27th of May and arrived off Sacket's Harbor early the next morning. The wind was very light, which made it difficult for Yeo to maneuver close to the shore. He was also unfamiliar with the local conditions and depths of water. Shortly before midday on May 28, Prevost’s troops began rowing ashore, but unknown sails were sighted in the distance. In case they might be Chauncey's fleet, the attack was called off, and the troops returned to the ships. The strange sails proved to belong to twelve bateaux (shallow-draft, flat-bottomed boat) carrying troops from the 9th and 21st U.S. Regiments of Infantry from Oswego to Sackets Harbor. The British sent out three large canoes full of Native American warriors and a gunboat carrying a detachment of the Glengarry Light Infantry to intercept them.

British 100th Regiment of Foot
The British force caught up with the convoy at Six Town point off of Stoney Point on Henderson Bay. As the British opened fire, the Americans, who were mostly raw recruits, landed their bateaux at Stoney Point and fled into the woods. The Natives pursued them through the trees and hunted them down. After about half an hour, during which they lost 35 men killed, the surviving United States troops regained their vessels and raised a white flag. The senior officer rowed out to Yeo's fleet and surrendered his remaining force of 115 officers and men. Only seven of the American troops escaped and reached Sackett's Harbor.

L to R British 8th Foot, Canadian Voltigeur, New Foundland Fencible, and Glengarry Light Infantry

Defending Sackets harbor the Americans had about 400 Regular troops; the 1st mounted and un-mounted Dragoons, 1st and 3rd Artillery Detachment, and the 9th US Infantry.  Also present were 750 Militia and Volunteers consisting of; the 55th, 76th, and 108th Regiments of the New York Militia and the Albany Volunteers.  The Navy also had a detachment of Marines manning the Naval Batteries and the ships USS Fair American, Pert, General Pike (under construction) Duke of Gloucester (recently captured and damaged). 
9th US Infantry
The next morning, 29th May, Prevost resumed the attack. The British troops landed on Horse Island, south of the town, under fire from two 6-pounder field guns belonging to the militia and a naval 32-pounder firing at long range from Fort Tompkins. They also faced musket fire from the Albany Volunteers defending the island.  Although the British lost several men in the boats, they succeeded in landing, and the Volunteers withdrew. Once the landing force was fully assembled, they charged across the flooded causeway linking the island to the shore. Although the British should have been an easy target at this point, the American militia fled, abandoning their guns. Brigadier General Jacob Brown eventually rallied about 100 of them to take a stand and halt the British advance.

The British swung to their left, hoping to take the town and dockyard from the landward side, but the American regulars with some field guns gave ground only slowly. They fell back behind their blockhouses and defenses, from where they repulsed every British attempt to storm their fortifications.

Yeo had gone ashore to accompany the troops, and none of the larger British vessels were brought into a range at which to support the attack. The small British gunboats, which could approach very close to the shore, were armed only with small, short-range carronades, which were ineffective against the American defenses. eventually, one British ship, General Beresford, mounting 16 guns, worked close in using sweeps (long oars). When its crew opened fire, they quickly drove the American artillerymen from Fort Tompkins.  Some of Beresford's shot went over the fort and landed in and around the dockyard. Under the mistaken impression that the fort had surrendered, a young American naval officer, Acting Lieutenant John Drury, ordered the sloop-of-war General Pike, which was under construction, and large quantities of stores to be set on fire. Lieutenant Woolcott Chauncey had orders to defend the yard rather than the schooners, but had instead gone aboard one of the schooners, which were engaging the British vessels at long and ineffective range.

USS General Pike

By this time, Prevost was convinced that success was impossible to attain. His own field guns did not come into action and without them, he was unable to batter breaches in the American defenses, while the militia which Brown had rallied were attacking his own right flank and rear. He gave the order to retreat. Prevost later wrote that the enemy had been beaten and that the retreat was carried out in perfect order, but other accounts by British soldiers stated that the re-embarkation took place in disorder, and each unit acrimoniously blamed the others for the repulse. (Condensed from Wikipedia)

Patrick May Map of Sacketts Harbor 1815

Samuel’s Story

Samuel Linnell was 3rd Sgt. In Samuel Harger’s Co. of Pamelia Township, Jefferson Co. Militia.  The unit was part of the 108th Infantry Reg. Commanded by Maj. Calvin Britain.  Samuel was mustered from March 4th to March 25th, 1813 and was Paid $5.56 for service at Brownsville, NY by J Edmonds Paymaster.  Samuel was probably training around the home of General Jacob Brown who resided in Brownsville and was the commanding General of the Jefferson Co. Militia. 

On May 28th, 1813 Samuel Linnell was called out to defend Sackets Harbor from an expected attack by the British forces.  Samuel was living in Brownsville (later changed to Pamelia) Township and now a Second Sargent in Captain Samuel Harger’s Co. of 108th New York Militia. Capt. Harger was ill, so Lieutenant Andrew Newell was acting as commanding officer.  Samuel’s unit quickly marched to Sacketts Harbor by dusk and was assembled in a defensive position next to other Militia units on the bank of Lake Ontario near and facing Horse Island.    That on or about the 28th of May 1813 orders were received from the Colonel to muster the Co. and march them to Sackets Harbor to defend that port from an attack mediated by the enemy. Capt. Harger being sick and unable to take the command of said company” - Andrew Newell (SLP)
Samuel Linnells's Service Index Cards

Early the next morning on the 29th, the British along with a group of Indian allies landed close to their position and a light battle ensued.  The ground where the action commenced partly cleared and obstructed by brushes and fallen timber, and troops were during the action compelled to retreat, this deponent sprained his ankle during the action and was unable to retreat with the rest if the Militia.  He was surrounded by enemies and Indians and was felled to the ground by a severe blow inflicted by an Indian with the breech of a gun on the back of this deponent’s head, and while this deponent was down, an Indian seized this deponent by one of his testicles and pulled it with all his strength, while others held him down, which gave this deponent such pain as to deprive him of all strength.” – Samuel Linnell - 1832 (SLP)

Samuell was assisted by the Indians to the shore of Lake Ontario and taken by canoe to the HMS Royal George a 20-gun sloop.  Samuel was captured with Ensign Abraham Graves, John Ayers, Joseph Cook, and Jonathan Ingalls and about 25 other soldiers mostly from the 76th New York Militia.  Samuel had no hat and a strip of bearskin was around his head” when he first saw him.  The ship already had about 130 captured prisoners aboard from the previous night’s battle at Henderson Bay.” - Abraham Graves – 1832 (SLP)

Samuel Linnell's Capture

The next day the Royal George sailed to Kingston, Ontario, Canada a few miles away.   On May 30th the men were formally surrendered as prisoners of war.  He had been captured (Abraham Graves), together with Mr. Jonathan Ingalls, Mr. Ayres, Mr. Cook, and Mr. Linnell, by the Indians, and taken on board the enemy's fleet when they returned to Kingston, where he and his companions were formally surrendered into the hands of the British General, as prisoners of war. He had had no food from the time of leaving home on Thursday p.m., until Sunday p.m. following, except one small biscuit which the Indian chief had given him.” - Abraham Graves, New York Reformer, Links in the Chain Article by Solon Massey - March 24th, 1859 - The Canadian prisoner of war record of Samuel’s capture shows him being captured on the 28th of May because he was probably lumped in with the other 130 prisoners from the battle at Henderson Bay.

By June 8th the captured Soldiers had been transferred by ship and were recorded being in Quebec.  The British POW Records show that Samuel was processed on the 24th of June in Quebec and aboard the British prison Ship Malabar.  The Malabar was moored just south of Quebec on the St Lawrence River.  It was a modified 56-gun fourth-rate formerly belonging to the British East India Company commanded by the POW agent, Capt. Francis Kempt.  The Malabar was considered a “black hole” and had deplorable conditions.   with 12 ounces of salt beef and 12 ounces of hard bread his only daily allowances for provisions during the whole time.  There were an average of two-hundred prisoners confined on board the said ship stowed and shut below nights, with no change of clothes & without shoes and badly fed, we all became filthy emaciated and covered with vermin, great numbers died, this deponent became sick and feeble” - Samuel Linnell  1832 (SLP) -  In February following, Mrs. Graves got another letter from her husband which gave the intelligence of the death of Mr. Ingalls and Mr. Ayers, by disease induced by cruel suffering and confinement in the hold of a filthy prison ship, and by Starvation. The truth was, that they were dead at the time of the date of the first letter by Mr. Graves, which was about the last days of July, though he did not know it at the time.” - Abraham Graves, New York Reformer, Links in the Chain Article by Solon Massey - March 24th, 1859

British National Archives, American prisoners of War, 1812-1815, Transfer to Matilda Cartel pgs. 197-198

According to British records, the Malabar was set to sail for England after Nov 20th, 1813 and was going to drop off some of the prisoners off at Halifax.  Samuel was recorded being received at Halifax Dec 15th from the Malabar and spent the next 6 months at the military prison at Melville Island.   The conditions at Melville were just as bad as the prison ship.  This deponent was then sent as a prisoner to Halifax where he arrived in December and was confined in a prison, with about 1000 others and suffered from cold, famine, foul odor, and the small pox” - Samuel Linnell – 1832 (SLP)

Melville Island Map by John G. Toler 1812
Melville Island Prison

On May 31st 1814 Samuel and Joseph Cook were boarded on the Privateer ship Matilda Cartel and sent to Salem, Massachusetts in a prisoner exchange negotiated by Colonel Thomas Barclay “we arrived on the 7th of June 1814.  The said Linnell was put on board a sailboat and sent to Fort Independence Boston. This deponent went from Salem by land and saw him there again. (Fort Independence). This deponent returned to his home in Watertown, Jefferson County and the said Linnell arrived home in about a month afterwards.  When the said Linnell arrived at Fort Independence he was about naked, all the prisoners suffered very severely during their captivity.” - Abraham Graves – 1832 (SLP)

On the 8th he (Abraham Graves) went to Boston, where he remained until the 14th when he took the stage for home, where he arrived, without accident or adventure, on the 19th day of June, 1814.  - Abraham Graves, New York Reformer, Links in the Chain Article by Solon Massey - June 2nd 1859.

Britsh Prison Hulk

It was widely believed Back home that Samuel and the other soldiers were killed, but Ensign Graves was allowed to write letters back to home in July since he was an officer and gave updates on the soldiers. “The general opinion was that he was taken prisoner or killed (Samuel Linnell)” - Andrew Newell 1832 (SLP) “It Was sometime in the afternoon before any person who was from that immediate neighborhood returned from the battlefield to relieve the dreadful suspense, by anything like reliable information upon the subject of the results of the engagement. Mr. Winslow l could assure the family that he had been personally present at the scene of strife—that the British had been defeated, and had fled to their vessels and set sail for Kingston, leaving many of their dead and wounded on the field. He could not answer the question of most importance, however, for he had not seen Mr. Graves since the conflict closed. The next day there was a thorough and systematic search Instituted among the dead and wounded, and through the surrounding woods and fields, but all in vain. It was rumored a few days afterwards that some dead bodies had been found in an obscure spot in the woods near the Harbor, and that they had been buried in a pit, which had been dug for that purpose. Mr. Winslow and Mr. Potter repaired at once to the spot designated, and exhumed the bodies, with the view of settling the question of the fate of Mr. Graves; but the only satisfaction derived from the effort was of the negative kind—simply proving that he was not a tenant of that apology for a grave.—The hope that remained was, that he might have been captured as a prisoner of war, and be in the hands of the enemy.—It was, however, a dreadful alternative, and a harrowing suspense to wait until some time towards the last of July before a letter was received from him, written at Quebec, giving the welcome intelligence that he was in good health, though a prisoner in the hands of those whose tender mercies were remembered as cruelty by our fathers in the period of the revolution.” - Solon Massey from accounts of Mr. Winslow, New York Reformer, Links in the Chain Article June 2nd 1859

After Samuel returned home, he requested payment for 424 days at about .36 cents per day as well as $42 for clothing and $4 for the 20-day trip from Boston back home.  When the government finally settled his claim, it paid only for 409 days.  Samuel's incarceration as a POW and the injuries he received eventually took their toll on him.   On Dec of 1832 with his attorney Justin Butterfield, Samuel petitioned the House of Representatives to receive a Pension for injury in the war.

 this deponent further saith that during his imprisonment he suffered more than his constitutions could endure.  That he has never recovered from the injury his health experienced during his said imprisonment.  That this deponent has never recovered from the injury which it received as aforesaid.  But of late year has grown worse as this deponent increased in years and gives this deponent a great deal of pain and his health and strength and inconsequently he is now unable to do scarcely any labour. That when this deponent exerts himself a pain exudes from it to his kidneys and this deponent further saith that he is now 54 years old; that until very recently he has been in very comfortable circumstances, and thought he would not apply for a pension, but recently his circumstances have changes, and his disability from the injuries aforesaid increases and this deponent considered as it his duty to invoke an application for that relief of which he is entitled.  This deponent has heretofore felt a delicacy about exposing to the public the injury which he received in his private parts as aforesaid , which has also had some influence on the mind of this deponent in delaying his application until this time and this deponent further saith, that he had a family and children, and is a farmer, and this deponent further saith that after his he continued to reside in Pamelia aforesaid until about 16 years ago when he removed to the town of Orleans in the same county where he has ever since, and still doth reside and this deponent further saith that at the time he was knocked down and injured as aforesaid.  There were no person belonging to our troops who witnessed it that this deponent is acquainted with or can find that our troops at the time 40 or 50 rods in observance of this deponent on the retreat, when the  enemy overtook him and injured him as aforesaid,  That this deponent can only from his service, captivity, and return and the visible marks and all his strength while others held him down, which gave this appearance of the said injuries get upon him and the effect of said injuries.  This deponent further saith that he was paid by the paymaster of the New York Militia for his monthly pay during his captivity as aforesaid, after his return home as aforesaid.  But this deponent has never received any other pay, nor has ever received any pension, and this name is not on the pension roll of any agency in any State nor has this deponent ever before applied for any pension.  - Justin Butterfield, attorney -1832 (SLP) Unfortunately Samuel’s pension was later denied for the fact there was not a witness to see his injury occurring.  

After Samuel returned from being incarcerated, he was mustered out 3 other times as a Private under Capt. Henry Knowles; 1. July 10th, 1814 for a march to the great Sacket River, 2. Sept 14th and 15th 1814 for the Defense of Eastham, and 3. Dec 19th and 20th 1815 for the Battle of Rock Harbor.

Letter Samuel sent to the US House of Representatives

Samuel Linnell married Eunice Mosher August 22nd, 1797 in Belgrade, Maine and subsequently moved to Jefferson County New York about 1810.  Samuel died August 13th 1847 in Clayton Township, Jefferson County, New York probably at his son Charles' residence at Clayton Centre  .  In 1853 the widowed Eunice applied and received certificate 21771 for 160 acres of Bounty Land for her Husband's service in the war of 1812.  The land was located in Vermillion, Illinois and was sold to land speculator Thomas Ellis.

Eunice Linnell's Bounty Land Certificate

Eunice died November 28th, 1852 in Clayton Center, Clayton Township, Jefferson Co. New York where she was also buried. Genealogist Adda Barnes Williams of Jefferson County, New York wrote in her journal that Samuel was buried next to Eunice in Clayton Center.  Currently, there is no stone next to Eunice and hopefully, soon that will be rectified.

Samuel and Eunice’s fathers, both participated in the Revolutionary War.  Samuel’s father, Joseph Linnell served as a Private in the Barnstable Co. Mass. Militia under Captains; Micha Hamilton, Ebenezer Baker, and Jacob Lovell. Eunice’s father, Jonathan Mosher was a Private in the Dartmouth, Mass. Militia in Thomas Kempton’s Co. under Col. Timothy Danielson.  

- Wikipedia: Battle of Sacket’s Harbor
- Linnell Family Newsletter May 2001 and Feb 2001.
- (SLP) HR23A-D9.1 (House Committee on Invalid Pensions, Claims) Samuel Linnell, Congress 23, Session 1, pg. 216. Scanned by S. Waitz at NARA 04/38/18
- Links in the Chain by Solon Massey. Various articles in The New York Reformer Newspaper, Watertown NY.
- Canada, Registers of Prisoners of War, 1803-1815, Registers of Prisoners of War Americans (1812-1815) pgs. 708 and 788
- British National Archives, American prisoners of War, 1812-1815, Transfer to Matilda Cartel pgs. 197-198
- War of 1812, Prisoner of War Records, 1812-1815, Manuscript Number 85 pg. 1
- War of 1812, Prisoner of War Records, 1812-1815, Manuscript Number 93 pg. 7
- H. Niles, Niles' Weekly Register Volume 7, (Baltimore. 1815) pg. 147
- Adda Barnes Williams, Muster Roll of The Jefferson County Soldiers of the War of 1812, From - Original Records at The National Archives (1942) pg. 19
- New York, War of 1812 Payroll Abstracts for New York State Militia, 1812-1815, Lenderman - Lockland, Asa B, slide 737
- US Bounty Land application 21771, Scanned by Vonni Zullo at the NARA Archives, 11/5/19
- Adda Barnes Williams, Jefferson County, New York cemetery records: gravestones copied with death date prior to 1885,pg. 563