Benjamin Forsyth

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Lieutenant Colonel

Benjamin Forsyth
BornStokes County, North Carolina
DiedJune 28, 1814
Odelltown, Lower Canada
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1800; 1808—1814
Brevet Lieutenant Colonel
UnitRegiment of Riflemen
RelationsJames N. Forsyth, son

Benjamin Forsyth was an American officer of rifle troops in the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States. Born in North Carolina, Forsyth joined the United States Army in 1800 as an officer and was a captain of the Regiment of Riflemen at the outbreak of war in 1812. He led raids into Upper Canada along the Saint Lawrence River in 1812–13 before transferring south and taking part in the battles of York and Fort George. Promoted to brevet lieutenant colonel, he held a command along Lake Champlain. Forsyth was killed in June 1814 at Odelltown, Lower Canada.

Early life and career[edit]

Originally from Stokes County, North Carolina, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 6th Infantry Regiment on April 24, 1800 and was discharged on June 15, 1800. He was commissioned as a captain in the Regiment of Riflemen on 1 July 1808.[1]

War of 1812[edit]

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.

On October 24, 1812, Forsyth wrote to President James Madison that he had served as a captain for four years without promotion and requested a brevet promotion in recognition of his service.[2] Forsyth was promoted (not brevetted) to major on January 20, 1813 and brevetted to lieutenant colonel on February 6, 1813.[1]

The Raid on Elizabethtown occurred on February 7, 1813, when Benjamin Forsyth and 200 men crossed the frozen St. Lawrence River to occupy Elizabethtown and seize military and public stores, free American prisoners, then capture British military prisoners.[3]

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, Lower Canada.


Following his death, the people of North Carolina named Forsyth County after him.[4] In addition, the state General Assembly paid for his son's education through special legislation and gave him a jewelled sword.[citation needed] Forsyth Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side is also named for him.[5]


  1. ^ a b Heitman p. 430
  2. ^ Stagg p. 441
  3. ^ Mahon, J. (1972). The War of 1812 {Pg. 140}. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-80429-8
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 128.
  5. ^ Feirstein, Sanna (2001). Naming New York : Manhattan places & how they got their names. New York, New York: New York University Press. p. 59. ISBN 9780814727126. Retrieved 23 May 2018.