"Murray's Raid"
in the Village of Champlain

   August 3, 1813

    The next time Champlain saw major conflict was in August of 1813.  British commander Colonel John Murray, who was previously stationed at a garrison in St. John's, Québec, was given an order which included “the destruction of public buildings, military stores, and vessels…”  He set out from Isle-aux-Noix and was to sail to Alburg, Swanton, Burlington and Plattsburgh.  Two of the ships that he used were the former Eagle and Growler that were captured on June 3. 

    On July 31, Murray and his troops entered Plattsburgh and burned down all of the government property the army was using including a blockhouse, arsenal and even the hospital.  That next morning, on August 1, the raiders broke into two groups.  One group headed to Burlington and the other group went to Point au Roche and then Chazy Landing.  While at Chazy Landing, they burned the store of Judge Matthew Saxe.   In a letter written to Pliny Moore on August 1, Saxe warned of the British raid and mentioned the belief that the British would march to Champlain and burn the block houses there.  It is likely that his store had not been burned yet since no mention of it is made in this letter:

    The British Staid on Sandy Pint [Point]
Iselamot last nite and this morning about
Sunrise about 10 of the Boats Steered for the
Mouth of your River, and the Remainder
went Round the Iseland Northend.    I got
up my Horse to let you know of there comeing
but by the time they got half way a
Cross the lake a Signal Gun from those
Boats which ware going on to Missiskoui
Bay turned them all that way so that
I did not Send to you — but I this mom
 ent heard that there Plan was to
Burn the Publick Property at Swanton
& Champlain both to day — I think there
is no doubt but you will have a Viset 
from them before to morrow nite — I think
you had better Remove the Publick Property
all from your Vilage, if not already done
and tare down the Block Houses
if they Stand so near any other Buildings
as to Communicate fire in Case they are
Burnned by the enemy —
    We think we can See the Smoke
Rise at Swanton.   a Great Smoke is to
be Seen directly east of this Place
they turned the Pint of Alburgh about
Nine oClook this morning.  they would
then have 12 Miles by water & four by
Land to Swanton Falls     the Smoke
appeard about 3. oClock P.M
    Your Obedeant Servt in hast
            Matthew Sax

    the officers told Mr. Sherman last
nite that they intende to Send 300 Men
to Champlain this Morning

    On August 3, while rowing back to Swanton, Murray sent a small party of soldiers to the Great Chazy River where they marched to Champlain.  The soldiers burned a barracks, a storehouse and two blockhouses.  The storehouse contained hay that was stored for the military.  Finally, Murray's soldiers captured a company of Clinton County militia who were later exchanged for British prisoners.  Pliny Moore wrote on this day (Aug. 3) in his diary: “Block Houses burnt by British.”   Murray's campaign of destruction ended on August 4, only seven days after it began.  His soldiers were likely in Champlain less than a day.  (In Pliny Moore’s diary, he also wrote about another event related to Murray’s raid:  July 31: “British at Plattsburgh.” 

    The burning of block houses on August 3 by the British made the residents of Champlain realize that they were defenseless to British raids.  At the time, no troops were stationed in Champlain.  Pliny Moore wrote a letter to General Benjamin Mooers and tried to persuade him that troops needed to be placed in the village.  Mooers was planning to sail to Burlington to discuss this matter with Gen. Hampton.  Mooers wrote on August 17:

    Yours of the 10th & 13th Inst. I have received the letter handed me yesterday by the post master — I note the Contents — Yesterday I had arranged to have left this Early this morning for Burlington to see Genl Hampton        the wind high & unfavourable has prevented it — but Expect to set out as soon as wind & weather will admit          I hope a sufficient force will be thrown upon the lines to prevent depredations & it is to be hoped that none will take place on Either side upon the peaceble inhabitants     I shall use my Exertions and power to prevent it which I have no objections should be known on the other side but should the Enemy make depredations on our side the lines they must Expect retaliation will be made on them  — please to inform the inhabitants that I shall use my best Endeavours for the protection of their persons & property — —

    The Boston newspaper, Columbian Centinel, of August 14, 1813, had a short article describing Murray's Raid in Plattsburgh.  Of interest, is that the article mentions Lieut. Sidney Smith.  Smith had picked up Captain Oliver Herrick’s men in Champlain in the boats Growler and Eagle and was captured by the British shortly afterwards.

Of PLATTSBURG — A letter from a gentleman of candor and intelligence, dated at Plattsburg, 3d inst. two days after the British had left that place, gives some additional particulars: — “The invading force consisted of three gunboats and 47 batteaux, each caring 30 men (regulars).  They burnt the arsenal, store-house, block-house, and commissary store-houses (formerly occupied by Mr. Sailly for pot-ash works), and the containment at Vredenburgh Falls.  They carried away with them property to the amount of 7 or $8,000; all of which might and ought to have been moved to some place of safety; a part of the property taken had been seized by the collector and stored in the commissary store.  Those who stayed at home found no difficulty in preventing their houses from being plundered.  Old Mrs. SMITH moved and left her house alone, with a principal part of her furniture — Col. MURRAY, who commanded the expedition, called on her house, and finding that it had been deserted, inquired whether it was not the residence of Sidney Smith, when at home, and on being informed that it was, placed a centinel at the door, with instructions to protect every thing appertaining to it from harm; and Mr. Bleecker informs me, that every thing was found by the family when they returned, exactly as they were left— that no person had been in the house.” — Note, Mr. SIDNEY SMITH, mentioned in the above extract, commanded one of our vessels of war on Lake Champlain, lately taken by the British, and is now a prisoner in Canada.