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Originally from Stokes County, North Carolina, he obtained a lieutenancy in the U.S. 1st Rifle Regiment when it was formed in 1808. By the time the War broke out, he had risen to the rank of Captain and commanded a company.
Based at Ogdensburg, New York during the autumn and winter of 1812, he led the successful Raid on Gananoque and other attacks across the Saint Lawrence River, which threatened the British supply lines to their forces in Upper Canada. In February 1813, the British used a temporary superiority in strength to drive Forsyth from his positions at the Battle of Ogdensburg.
Forsyth's company was ordered to join the main American force at Sackett's Harbor rather than reoccupy Ogdensburg. They led the American assault at the Battle of York, and played a major part at the Battle of Fort George.
Later in the year, Forsyth (now a major) and his men took part in the campaign aimed at capturing Montreal, but were not present at the Battle of Crysler's Farm. Forsyth was promoted to brevet Lieutenant Colonel the following winter. He was active in skirmishing and patrolling north of Lake Champlain in the late spring and summer and was killed in June 1814 in a clash at Odelltown.
His death made him a hero to the people of North Carolina, who named Forsyth County after him. In addition, the state General Assembly paid for his son's education through special legislation and gave him a jewelled sword. Forsyth Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side is also named for him.
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