The "Lines"
or the
Canadian Border in the Town of Champlain


Many references are made to the "Line" or "Lines".  This the is border between Canada and the Town of Champlain.  The area is usually noted to be near today's Route 276 border crossing which is where most of the activity during the war was centered at.  However, it could be anywhere along the border, including Mooers, Champlain Village and Rouses Point near Fort Montgomery. 

Various references were found related to the "lines" at Champlain and are noted here in order of date. 


Starting in 1812, the Americans camped in Champlain and participated in small attacks in Odelltown and Lacolle.  On at least three occasions, 4,000 troops were camped in the village.  Likewise, the British came over the lines and attacked several border outposts.  Their Indian allies also entered the village numerous times.  This culminated in August of 1814 when 14,000 British soldiers and 200 Indians crossed the lines and entered Champlain.  Two weeks later, on September 11, the Battle of Plattsburgh was fought and the British retreated back to Champlain and then Canada.

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No barracks or block houses existed in Champlain at the start of the war.  This made the leading citizens of Champlain uneasy and prompted several of them to form the Champlain Committee of Safety.  Its members were Pliny Moore, Allen R. Moore (no relation to Pliny), and Samuel Hicks.  They recommended to General Bloomfield that two or three blockhouse be built to house the troops during winter and protect Champlain from Indian incursions across the border.  The committee, led by Pliny Moore, wrote on September 22, 1812 (in part):

    “Recent Rumours & Occurrences makes our situation appear less safe then we have heretofore viewed it      The Indians tho in small parties are frequently seen within four & five Miles of us among the inhabitants the other side the line [“on whom we are informed they commit small depredations on poultry Gardens &c” erased] cannot learn that any have been seen on this side — but themselves say they have [“been in the Town of Mooers &” erased] seen [“the” erased] our Guard [“at that place — in crossing the line” erased] we believe they [“have exceeded their orders — they may do it again in a more hostile manner” erased] are not permitted to Cross the line       The Idea of their being so near us & so small a force to oppose them & that force uncovered by any Block Houses or other fortification & no place for the inhabitants to flee to for protection occasions constant fear & Alarm to the Inhabitants & we are apprehensive that few of them will remain many days without the hope of being better protected — By different persons who left St. Johns Saterday & sunday we learn that the British have Now three Gun boats on the water & that a fourth is nearly ready — these we suppose are intended to oppose any force that may invade them by water & to keep a look out— ...........    We have now with us a respectable man of verasity from the Canada side of the line about six Miles from this Village & about Eight miles from the Lake shore who says he has seen Indians pass his house yesterday       that his brother had much conversation with the Officer — that every thirteenth is a White man — that they have orders not to pass the line & he believes not to pass La Colle River       to take up every American with Arms & carry him to camp for which they are paid eight Dollars     "

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CANADA WAR.
NEW-YORK, NOV. 23 [1812].  Extract of a letter, Plattsburg, Nov. 16.  We are marching for Canada, leaving behind us our baggage and tents; of course we shall have nothing but the Heavens and a blanket to cover us, until we find winter quarters in Montreal, at the point of our bayonets.  Our force rises 6000, and are all in good spirits.

ALBANY, NOV. 23.  The Northern Army was on the lines, and within sight of the enemy, when our informant left it.  Important news from this quarter may be hourly expected. 

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ALBANY, December 1, 1812  [written by Gen. Dearborn]
    Copy of a letter from Champlain to the editor, dated Champlain, Nov. 19.  — “Yesterday general Dearborn arrived at this post, and to-day has issued the following order.  To-morrow we expect orders to march: our advanced guard is already over the lines; indeed, the scouting party last evening passed the river Lacole, routed a body of Indians, and fired their encampment.  We have one man killed, and several slightly wounded, among whom is captain Biddle.”

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The Weekly Messenger
Boston — Friday, December 4, 1812

Northern Army.

    MONTPELIER, NOV. 24. — The Northern Army consisting of seven regiments of Infantry, two companies of heavy Artillery, one regiment of Light Dragoons, and two companies of Flying Artillery, is now encamped at Champlain, N. York, within 80 rods of the Canada line.  Gen. Dearborn joined the army on the 17th inst. to command in person.

    The whole of the Militia late at Plattsburg, Burlington, Swanton, &c. have joined the main army on the lines; and it is understood have generally volunteered to march into Canada.

    A number of scouting parties have already been over the lines.  In an attempt to surround and take a number of Indians, two of the scouting party were wounded by their own men and the Indians escaped.

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    On October 1, 1813, a small party of American militia attacked Odelltown and surprised a picket guard.  British Major J. Perreault was furious about this attack and warned the citizens of Champlain that he would let loose a Canadian and Indian force on the village if the American militia tried anymore attacks.  His threat was described in the Niles Weekly Register:

    A British major. — The following gasconading no-
tice was sent out to judge Moore, of Champlain, by
major Perreault, who commands about sixty Cana-
dians and indians at Odletown.  A few nights previ-
ous to the promulgation of this petty mandate, our
militia had attacked a picket near the lines which so
excited the ire of the British major, that he issued,
without delay, the following “humane advertisement.”

            LA COLE, 10th October.

    “Citizens of Champlain!  — I am happy that huma-
nity should still have so much power over me so as
to inform you that should any of the militia of Cham-
plain, be found hovering this side of the line, I will
let loose upon your village and inhabitants, the Ca-
nadian and indian force under my command.  You
are probably aware that it has been with greatest
difficulty I have till now withheld them.  But your
cowardly attack at midnight, of a small picket of
ours, has torn asunder the veil which hid you from
them — So beware!

          J. PERREAULT, major commanding ad. post.

    “P. S. Major Perreault would be obliged to the
honorable judge Moore, to acquaint the citizens of
Champlain of the tenor of the above humane ad-
vertisement.