Thursday, October 3, 2019

Abraham Quackinbush - The Battle of Plattsburgh

The Battle of Plattsburgh, also known as the Battle of Lake Champlain, ended the final invasion of the northern states of the United States during the War of 1812. A British army under Lieutenant General Sir George Prévost and a naval squadron under Captain George Downie converged on the lakeside town of Plattsburgh, which was defended by New York and Vermont militia and detachments of regular troops of the United States Army, all under the command of Brigadier General Alexander Macomb, and ships commanded by Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough. Downie's squadron attacked shortly after dawn on 11 September 1814, but was defeated after a hard fight in which Downie was killed. Prévost then abandoned the attack by land against Macomb's defences and retreated to Canada, stating that even if Plattsburgh was captured, any British troops there could not be supplied without control of the lake.

From the rank of ensign Abraham Quackinbush was rapidly advanced until he reached the grade of First Lieutenant, the official record of his service, as communicated by the War Department being as follows:


Abraham Quackinbush was appointed Ensign, 6th Infantry, January 13, 1813 ; promoted 3rd Lieutenant, 6th Infantry, March 12, 1813; 2nd Lieutenant, April 1, 1813; 1st Lieutenant, June 30, 1814. He served with his regiment in the defense of New York Harbor February, 1813, to June, 1814; in the right wing of the Northern Army, on the Canadian Frontier, to January, 1815; and at Plattsburgh, New York, to June 15, 1815, when he was discharged upon the reduction of the Army to the peace establishment, under the act of March 3, 1815.

* * * (signed) W. P. Hall, Assistant Adjutant General.***

Abraham Quackinbush was assigned to Captain Woolworth's Company of the 6th U. S. Infantry, and joined the army at the Northern Frontier, where he figured in the memorable Battle of Plattsburgh, fought September 11, 1814, when, after an hour's furious fighting, the British vessels, although vastly superior to Commodore McDonough's fleet in number and quality, were forced to strike their colors. Abraham Quackinbush, witnessing this action from the shore, first drew the attention of General Macomb to the British surrender. Concerning the engagement of the land forces in this battle, Captain Walter Bicker, a fellow officer of Lieutenant Quackinbush's, has written:

Battle of Plattsburgh

"In the afternoon of September 11, 1814, the veteran troops of Waterloo, the flower of the British Army, quailed, 10,000 strong, before the American army of 1,500 regular troops and some 3,000 raw militia recruits, and marched back to Canada, whence they came in great pomp, threatening wonders."

Lieutenant Quackinbush remained in the military service until the end of the war, when he was honorably discharged.

He was married March 25, 1818, by the Rev. Christian Bork, pastor of the Franklin Street Reformed Dutch Church, to Sarah McLaren, daughter of Daniel McLaren and Sarah Stowe. Sarah McLaren was born at 163 Broadway, New York City, June 27, 1792. Her father was a native of Comrie, Perthshire, in Scotland, and a descendant of the Clan Mac-Lauren. According to a family tradition, he arrived in New York City on Evacuation Day, having passed the retiring British troops in the harbor, but it has not been possible to verify this tradition, as all of the marine records of that time were destroyed by fire when the British captured Washington in 1814. It is known, however, that Daniel McLaren was in New York in 1784, as on June 15 of that year he acquired a half interest in a plot of ground, 25x100 feet, on lower Broadway, paying 400 American pounds ($1,000) for his share. This property, still a part of the family estate, is now known as No. 163. Later he built a residence in Chatham Square, which is now standing. He died at 108 Bleecker Street in 1826, leaving three children, Vashti (or Vestal, Daniel and Sarah.

For a short time after his marriage Abraham Quackinbush was engaged in the dry goods business in Greenwich street, but retired in 1826, and moved to Bleecker street, which was then "up town." After his father's death in 1843, the farm on Murray Hill was divided into lots and sold, and Abraham purchased four lots fronting on 41st street, paying in the aggregate $600 for the property. Some years later, however, fearing he might never realize more than he gave for it, he sold it at auction for the amount originally paid, and considered himself fortunate in not having to sacrifice any more than the amount of the taxes and the interest on the investment. In 1851 he purchased, and occupied during the remainder of his life, a large house surrounded by land which extended from 86th to 87th streets, between Second and Third avenues. In the immediate neighborhood were the country seats of the Fanshaws, Rutters, Astors, Rhinelanders and other families of prominence.

While never taking an active part in politics, Abraham Quackinbush was, in his earlier

years, an ardent Andrew Jackson Democrat, but afterwards became a Republican, and his last vote was cast for Hayes and Wheeler in 1876. He was always proud of his connection with the army, and was one of the original members of the Military Society of the War of 1812. During the Civil War he read the news with great interest, and frequently expressed the regret that he was not young enough to join the Union Army himself. About the year 1867 Abraham Quackinbush became a member of the Prospect Hill Reformed Church, in Yorkville, of which his son Daniel was the pastor. He died March 12th, 1877, and the funeral services were conducted by the Rev. Dr.Ten Eyck of Astoria, L. I., and the Rev. Mr. Latimer, pastor of the Presbyterian Church on 86th street.

The remains were placed in the family vault at Greenwood Cemetery. Sarah McLaren, the wife of Abraham Quackinbush, died at No. 231 East 86th Street, July 21, 1869.

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