Late August, 1814 - British Commander George Prevost masses 12,000 British troops on the New York border to prepare the largest invasion force ever to advance on American soil. His strategic goal is to secure the St. Lawrence River passage between Quebec City and the Great Lakes from American interference. To accomplish that, he must capture Plattsburgh and destroy the naval force there.
The bloodiest single day's battle of the British Army campaign to capture Plattsburgh takes place in actions at and around Halsey’s Corners on September 6, 1814.
Shortly after midnight, Major John E. Wool, commander of the NY 29th Regt., marches north with 250 troops and 50 volunteers to link up with 700 militia under General Benjamin Moore to slow the British advance. At daybreak, they engaged 4,000 troops of the British Army’s right wing at Beekmantown and again at Culver Hill. Overwhelming numbers force Wool to stage a fighting retreat back to Halsey’s Corners. By 8AM, Wool is joined by Captain Leonard with two three-pound cannons. The Americans hold their fire as a half-mile long column of red uniformed troops fill the roadway and draw near. Wool’s order to fire inflicts heavy casualties, the cannons cutting down whole ranks at a time. A British bayonet charge forces the defenders to withdraw again, this time across theSaranac River to General Macomb’s Plattsburgh fortifications for the final battle for Plattsburgh.
Reported British losses that morning are 240 killed or wounded. The Americans suffer 45 killed or wounded, many of them while under heavy fire removing planks as they crossed the Saranac River Bridge .
Highway I-87 now cuts across the old Beekmantown Road which joined Halsey's Corners. On the west side of that highway, you can find the original Isaac Platt House which was occupied by a British Regimental command and where many of the British who were wounded at Halsey's Corners were taken and a few buried. The Platt house is now owned by a local American Legion Post 20 as an administrative building.
Travel the British invasion trail from Canada through Rouses Point, Chazy, Beekmantown, Culver Hill to Halsey's Corners and thence to the Kent Delord House. An annual re-enactment of the British march and engagements with American militia and soldiers is held during the week before the "Battle of Plattsburgh" weekend commemoration.
The War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley by Allan S. Everest published by Syracuse University Press, 1981,