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History

May 20, 2014

Willsboro to mark Boquet Battle Bicentennial

WILLSBORO — Even as the bicentennial of a widely known battle in Plattsburgh approaches, so does the 200th anniversary of the Battle of the Boquet.

The Town of Willsboro, the Willsboro Heritage Society and the Society of the Second War with Great Britain are planning to mark the event with a daylong celebration on Saturday, June 14.

The tale of the historic fight is often hidden among greater battles War of 1812, but it remains ensconced in historic records kept at Willsboro and in old newspaper and military accounts.

The skirmish ensued May 13, 1814, four months before the last major assault by the British on American soil in the Battle of Plattsburgh.

An attack intended as a surprise drew 150 members of the Essex County Militia’s 37th Regiment to the wooded and steep shoreline where the Boquet River empties into Lake Champlain.

WARM WELCOME

Willsboro drew British attention that day because of substantial stores held in the flour mill located 2 miles upriver.

The British brig Linnet, which military accounts say had 20 guns, sailed to the mouth of the Boquet River with a flotilla of six sloops and schooners and 10 row galleys commanded by Capt. Daniel Ping.

The troops had intended, some accounts say, to raid and then burn the gristmill.

They marched into the village and had reached the streets when they were greeted by village merchant Levi Higby, who ran a substantial forge and a distillery contracted to supply American troops.

Higby invited the British to visit his ironworks and, in the meantime, had his family set a table for their feast, urging the soldiers to test his best and strongest liquors. The soldiers apparently imbibed heartily, as Higby sent word in secret to muster the Essex County Militia.

 MILITIA ATTACK

The British commander, the story goes, got wind of an impending attack and returned to the rowboats, scuttling the raid and ordering his drunken men quickly back toward the lake.

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