Edmond Curtis (1763 - 1814)

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Birthplace: Kinderhook, Columbia, New York, United States
Death: Died in Fort Erie, Ny (in War Of 1812)
Managed by: Dahlene Mullins
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Immediate Family

About Edmond Curtis

Edmund Curtis and The Siege on Fort Erie in the War of 1812

Edmond Curtis was 13 years old when the American Revolution started. His brothers and an uncle had fought in it. He was 40 when, in 1803, Napoleon's French army went to war with Britain. Nine years later, France and Britain were still at war and Britain had begun impressing Americans into the British Navy. Consequently, Congress declared war against Britain.

Two years after the war began, a battle at Niagara ended with both armies exhausted and claiming victory. The British withdrew to Queenstone and the Americans to Fort Erie. Edmund was at Fort Erie with the Americans.

The American strengthened the small stone fort with a series of earthworks that connected it to Lake Erie and extended some 800 yards to Snake Hill, a sand mound that had been leveled. Man-made obstacles such as felled trees protected much of the line with the tangled branches above ground. About three hundred yards of open land surrounded the area. Swamps and woods surrounded all but the northern end.

Approximately eighteen pieces of artillery covered the approaches and the Americans felt that they held all the cards.

The opposite shore could supply and reinforce them while the British supply line stretched back 40 miles to the mouth of the Niagara.

The British approached from the north and on August 13, began firing on Fort Erie. The cannon balls bounced back like tennis balls. At, the end of the day British General realized it was ineffective and planned to attack during the night of the 14th.

The morning before the attack was clear but that afternoon clouds set in and by evening, a heavy shower had set in. Nevertheless, the British decided to stick to their plan.

A few minutes before 2 A.M. one unit would approach Snake Hill in order to distract the American lookouts. At 2 A.M., another company would attack the Americans at Snake Hill. As soon as they reached Snake Hill, British troops would move to the area between the fort and the lake while another force attacked the fort. The reserve force would be ready to move in and mop up. The British were to make "free use of the Bayonet."

To avoid an accidental discharge that would give them away, the British troops which would attack Snake Hill removed the flints from their muskets, then, despite rain, set out. The distracting unit reached their position late, the American spotted them and opened fire. The British fell back. Some of the British were so close together that one commander was stabbed in the back by a bayonet.

However, their plan of distracting the Americans at Snake Hill had worked. The other unit reached Snake Hill, threw their scaling ladders against the Snake Hill battery and started climbing up, only to find their ladders were too short. The result was that the Americans, got on top of the parapet and shot down on the British troops. Some of the British rallied and waded, waist-deep into the lake, skirting felled trees. They still couldn't breach Snake Hill. Wading back under fire, they retreated.

The noise from the battle at Snake Hill had alerted the Americans on the northern flank and they were ready when the British approached. By then, the rain had stopped but it was still dark. The British marched toward the Americans and the Americans opened fire. The fire was too high and the British closed in without too many casualties. The Americans opened up with heavy sustained fire and one British column fell back. Another column advanced, placed their ladders against the wall, the ladders were tall enough and the British climbed up.

The Americans fired down on the British, crouched, reloaded and fired again. When the British reached the top of the wall, the Americans lunged at them with bayonets and used the steel butts of their guns to drive the British back. A few minutes later, the British returned. Then a third charge. The struggle went on for thirty minutes before the British retreated to a ditch along northeast side of the fort.

Mist, night darkness and musket smoke concealed them from the Americans. An order was given, up went the ladders and the British clambered up. Before the surprised Americans could grab their muskets, the British went at them with swords, pikes and bayonets. The British were over the exterior fort walls.

A steep flight of steps in a narrow passageway led to the interior of the fort. Under enemy fire, neither the British nor the Americans could make it through the passage.

By 4 A.M., the sky was growing light. The American squeezed three to a window and shot into the huddled British.

It was probably a spark from the muzzle flash of a British lieutenant that fell through the cracks in the wooden floor of the bastion and ignited an ammunition magazine. One witness said, "Every sound was hushed by the sense of an unnatural tremor, beneath our feet, like the first heave of an earthquake," and then "the centre of the bastion burst up, with a terrific explosion; a jet of flame, mingled with fragments of timber, earth, stone and bodies of men, rose to the height of one or two hundred feet in the air, and fell, in a shower of ruins."

Panic broke out. British and Americans fled from the fort.

Outside the fort, the siege became series of attacks and continued for another 32 rainy days. On September 17, Americans mounted an attacked that resulted in 614 British deaths and 512 American deaths, including that of Edmund. Shortly afterwards, the siege, which cost numerous British and Americans life, resulting in mass burials, was lifted and the American remained in possession of Fort Erie until that November when they destroyed it and returned to the United States. The British had attacked the Americans at several locations while the Battle of Fort Erie was being fought; they burnt the Executive Mansion in Washington and engaged in the Battle of Fort McHenry which resulted in the national anthem "The Star Spangled Banner." Two months after the Battle of Fort Erie, the war ended. Neither side won, but the Napoleon Wars had ended and the British no longer impressed Americans into the British Navy.

Edmund's son, Enos Curtis married Ruth Franklin, nine years before Edmund died. He had been in Missouri with the Mormons who said, 'Our fathers fought for this country and we have a right to vote.' It was about thirty-two years after Edmund's death that Enos and Ruth were evicted from Morely Settlement, Illinois.

Edmund Curtis served as a Private in Captain Issac Wilson’s Co. of New York Volunteer Milita Infantry. This Co. under Churchhill’s 164th New York Milita regiment. [Lieut. Col. Worthy L. Churchill]. Edmund’s date of appointment or enlistment is dated as Aug 29, 1814.To what time engaged or enlisted;Sept 17, 1814.Remarks and alterations since last muster:He is reported; Missing, lost in action 17 Sept 1814, near Ft. Erie. [above information taken from two Company Muster Rolls].Edmund’s term of service is listed as 27 days. Expiration of service, or of this settlement; Sept 24, 1814; Pay per month 8 dollars. Amount of pay 7 dollars and 20 cents. [taken from Company Pay Roll][Source: National Archives of Veterans Records]. Company Muster Roll taken for Aug 29 to Sept 14, 1814 has name spelled Edmond. This roll is dated Ft. Erie Sept 14. Company Muster Roll taken for Aug 29 to Sept 24, 1814 has name spelled Edmon. This roll is dated Fort Erie Sept 24. Company Pay Roll, not dated, has name spelled Edmund. Flames Across the Border; The Canadian~American Tragedy, 1813~1814; by Pierre Berton gives a good account of the Battle at Ft. Erie for Sept 17. [pgs. 356 and 357]

-------------------- Find a Grave

Birth: Apr. 27, 1763 Sharon Litchfield County Connecticut, USA

Death: Sep. 17, 1814 Fort Erie Ontario, Canada


Family links:

Parents:
  • Jeremiah Curtis (1728 - 1807)
Children:
  • Enos Curtis (1783 - 1856)*

Burial: Body lost or destroyed

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Edmond Curtis's Timeline

1763
April 27, 1763
Kinderhook, Columbia, New York, United States
1779
January 2, 1779
Age 15
Preston, New London, Connecticut, United States
January 2, 1779
Age 15
Of Preston, New London, Conncticut
1783
October 9, 1783
Age 20
Kinderhook, Columbia, New York, USA
1784
1784
Age 20
Middleberry, Columbia, New York
1786
March 19, 1786
Age 22
Of, , Columbia, Ny
1788
1788
Age 24
Kinderhook, Columbia, New York
1789
1789
Age 25
Cherry Valley, Canajoharie, Otsego, Montg.
1790
1790
Age 26
1793
August 2, 1793
Age 30
Middleberry, Columbia, New York