Historic Niagara Digital Collections

Chapter 3

Item

Title
Chapter 3
Identifier
http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?b=1&ref=oo&id=298034
page
78-103
Type
Text
extracted text
78 AIILITARY

OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

Upon major-general Brock's arrival at FortGeorge, he first heard of that most impolitic
armistice, which, grounded on a letter from sir
George Prevost to major-general Dearborn, had
been concluded between the latter and colonel
Baynes, sir George's adjutant-general. It provided that neither party should act offensively
before the decision of the American govern.
ment was taken on the subject. To the circumstance of the despatch announcing the event,
not having reached the gallant Brock, before he
had finished the business at Detroit, may the
safety of the Canadas, in a great measure, be
attributed. The armistice was already saleiently injurious. It paralized the efforts of that
active officer ; who had resolved, and would
doubtless have succeeded, in sweeping. the American forces from the whole Niagara line. It
enabled the Americans to recover from their consternation, to fortify and strengthen their own,
and to accumulate the means of annoyance along
the whole of our frontier. It sent nearly 800
of our Indian allies, in disgust, to their homes.
It admitted the free transport of the enemy's
ordnance-stores and provisions, by Lake Ontario ; which gave increased facility to all his
subsequent operation in that quarter.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

79

11710;t,
.

CHAPTER III.
Termination of sir G. Prevost's armistice—State
of the American army on the Niagara frontier
—Capture of the Detroit and Caledonia—
American plan of invasion developed—Its de
rangenzent—False intelligence of a deserter—
Ardor of the American troops—Attack on
Queenstown resolved upon--First attempt at
crossing the river foiled—Success of second attempt—Gallant resistance of the British—Arrival of mutual reinforcements—Death of general Brock—Surrender of the American army—
Altered behaviour of the American troops at
Lewistown—American misrepresentation exposed
• —Bombardment between Fort-George and FortNiagara—Brief sketch of general Brock's life
and character.

IT is now time to attend to the operations of
the British and American forces confronting
each other along the Niagara-line. The president of the United States, as might have
been expected, refused to ratify the armistice
which had been agreed upon between sir
George Prevost, through his adjutant-general
colonel Baynes, and major-general Dearborn ;

80

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

and directed six day's notice of the recommence.
nient of hostilities to be given by the command•
ing generals. The American government had
made a proper use of the short period of suspen.
sion ; and, when the 8th of September, the day
for active operations, arrived, a st►ong force,
well supplied with provisions, and styled " the
army of the centre," had assembled on the:
borders of the N fagot-a-river.
This army, commanded by major-general Van
Rensselaer of the New York militia, consisted,'
according to American official returns, of 5206
men ;* exclusive of 300 field and light artillery,.
800 of the 6th, 13th, and 23d regiments, at Fort,
Niagara ; making a total of 6300 men. Of this
powerful force, 1650 regulars, under the coin,
mand of brigadier-general Smyth, were at BlacL
Rock ; t 386 militia at the latter place anti
Buffaloe ; and 900 regulars, and 2270 militia,'
at Lewistown, distant from Black Rock 28 miles.
So that, including the 1100 men at Fort Niagara,.
the Americans had, along 36 miles of their frond
tier, a force of 6300 men ; Of whom nearly two,.
thirds were regular troops ; while the British,;
along their line from Fort-George, where:ma.:
jor-general Sheaffe commanded, to Fort-Erie;
whither major-general Brock had just pra
ceeded, could not muster 1200 men ; nearly hail
of whom were militia.
* Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. I. p. 580. 1 Sec plate I.
-

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

.

Although not strictly 'a 'military enterprise,
the capture, in ten minutes, of two British
" brigs of war, well-armed, and anchored
under the protection of Fort-Erie," by two'
American row-boats, without any artillery, is
an event of too extraordinary a nature, not to
require an investigation. At the surrender of
Detroit, we got possession of the c United States'
brig Adams, of about 200 tons, and mounting .
six 6-pounders. The prize (afterwards named
the Detroit) and the north-west company's brig
Caledonia, of about 90 tons, and mounting two
swivels, were required to convey some of the
American prisoners to Fort-Erie. A party of
militia and Canadian sailm* in tiumber 50,
embarked for that purpose on board the Detroit,
having in charge 30 American prisoners. This
vessel carried, also, well-packed in her hold, a
considerable quantity of small-arms, part of the
spoils taken with gefieral Hull. The Caledonia
had her own crew of 12 men ; to whose care were
entrusted 10 American prisoners. She had on
board a valuable cargo of furs, valued by the
American editors at about 150,000 dollars. The
author of the " Sketches of the War," ludicrously enough, styles these two vessels " wellappointed," or, in other words, well-manned
and officered. He, next, unpacking all the cases,
and distributing the arms, declares that the veS.* History of the United States, Vol. lIT. p. 191. .
VOL. T.

8,2

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

sels were " supplied with blunderbusses, pistols,
cutlasses, boarding-pikes, and battle-axes."
On the morning of the 8th of October, the
two vessels approached, and anchored off Fort.
Erie, the place of their destination ; but which,.
being still without guns, could afford them lot
" protection" whatever. Lieutenant Jesse El?,
liott, of the United States' navy, was, at thin
time, at Black. Rock, superintending the equip.
went of some schooners, lately purchased
the service of Lake Erie. Having just rat
*
ceived a.. supply 0, 50 seamen from New Yorly
he borrowed the same number of infantry and
artillery from general Smyth ;* and, embarking
the whole itt two large boats, was alongsid4
the British brigs at about three hours before dap
light on the morning succeeding their arri
Joined by the prisoners, the Americans nu
bered. 140; their opponents 68. Yet doctor,
Smith calls the capture of these vessels " a very,
gallant achievement;" and he has taken care to,
make his account almost warrant the assertion,
After the capture, lieutenant Elliott succeeded
itt
. • getting the Caledonia close under the 1)40.
.teries at Black Rock ; but was compelled, by&
welhdirecteashot
or two from the Canada-shomo
. •
to run the Detroit upon Squaw Island. Almoif
immediately afterwards, a detachment of they
liniteck States' regiment of artillery, with four
* Sketches of the War, p. 43.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA:

field-pieces, landed on the island ; and a corn.
patty of the 5th regiment soon followed. It was
in vain for a subaltern's detachment of the 49th,
which had been sent from Fort-Erie, to offer any
resistance; - although the- British had contrived
to set firer to the brig, previous to the arrival of
the American troops. The latter completed the
destruction, both of the vessel, and of the greater
part of her stores. But for the defensive measures, to which sir George Prevost had limited
major-general Brock, this active officer would
have destroyed those very schooners, for whose
equipment, as men of war, lieutenant Elliott and
his men had been sent from below ; and, by sodoing, have brought about consequences, far
more important than the safety of the two brigs.
.•- With so many troops under his command,
neral Van Rensselaer very naturally felt anxious
to give a brilliant close to the campaign ;• the
rather, as the national character had been de..
graded, in the eyes of all, by the tame surrendei
of general Hull and his army. A second invat
sion of Canada was, therefore, resolved upon ;
and, if the reader will take the trouble to turn to
Plate I, we will endeavour to explain the plan of
$ttack, as since promulgated by an American
eneral-officer. A road (M M) had been cut, by
general Van Rensselaer's orders, from hiwcamp
at Lewistown (B), six miles through a wood to
(N), at Four-mile creek ; where lay, ready for
c,
-

-

-

-

t

-

84

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICAV

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

service, sixty batteaux. From this creek it IS
four miles and a half, by water, to Fort-George;
the whole way under a high bank, which conceals
the boats until they turn Niagara-point. The
ground at Queenstown and Lewistown is so much
elevated, that it may be called a rnouAtain. It
forms an immense platform, and overlooks every
part of the plane below, to its termination at the
banks of ..the Ontario. Consequent-, every
movement: by major-general 'Shea& at Fort.
George, and by the commanding officer at Fort.
Niagara, would be under major-general Van
Rensselaer's eye. It was the general's intention
that brigadier-general Smyth, and his 1650 regulars, should march, by the road (M 1%!), to the
mouth of the Four-mile creek ; there to wait in
readiness for embarking at a moment's notice,
Queenstown was then to be attacked by the
troops under the immediate command of general
Van Rensselaer ; and, as the only force, there stationed, was known •to be two companies of the
49th regiment, and a small detachment of mi•
litia, no doubt was entertained about the town's
being immediately carried, as well as the small
battery on the heights. These operations,
within hearing of Fort-George, could not fail to
draw forth the garrison to sustain the post o
Queenstown, and, if possible, to repel the invaders. The instant the British column was ob
berved to be in motion, general Smyth was to be

.

85

signalled to embark at the creek ; and, so soon
as the British reached Queenstown, he was to
be ordered, by a courier, to attack Fort-George ;
which, being deprived of its garrison, would, it
was expected, make but a vain resistance.*
The American general Smyth's backwardness,
or some other cause, not made public, deranged
the above most excellent plan of attack. In the
mean while, the capture of " 'the two British
brigs of war" near Fort-Erie had spread an irresistible - ardor for conquest throughout the
American army. The troops declared they
"must have orders to act, or, at all hazards, they
would go ►ome.''t About this time, some wag
of a deserter came running into the American
camp, with information, that general Brock had
suddenly proceeded to the westward with the
greater part of his troops, to repel general Harrison's attempt at Detroit. The thing was credited ; the troops were absolutely furious ; and
the general himself concluded he had just hit the
nick of time for getting possession of the peninsula, by a more direct road than that he had
cut through the woods,—a mere traverse across
the river to Queenstown. Accordingly, at three
o'clock on the morning of the 11th of October,
tthis eager troops were gratified by advancing to
' he river-side. Experienced boatmen had been
provided, and a skilful officer, lieutenant Sim,
-

-

WilkiRson's Memoirs, Vol. 1. p. .571.

+ App. No. 11.

,

86

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

sent in a boat a-head ; but the latter played his
countrymen ct trick, and ran away ; exposing
them to a tremendous north-east storm, which
continued unabated for 28 hours, and deluged
the whole camp.*
All, this drenching contributed nothing to
allay, the ardor of American soldiers. Invade
Canada they would ; and general Van Rensselaer
resolved to carry the British works at Queens.
town, before day, on the morning of the 12th.
Thirteen boats were provided, and the embarka.
tion was to take place in the following order:
—Colonel S. Van Rensselaer, the commanding
officer, with 300 militia, and lieutenant-colonel
Christie, with 300 regulars ; lieutenant-colonel
Fenwick and major Mullany, to follow, with
about 550 regular troops, and some pieces of
flying artillery ; and then the militia. It was
intended that the embarkation of the regulars
and militia should be simultaneous, as far as
the boats would suffice to receive them ; but,
having to descend the bank by a narrow path
which had been cut out of it, the regular troops
got possession of the boats to the exclusion of the
militia ; and the latter were ordered to follow in
the return.boats.t •
The only British batteries from which: The
troops could be annoyed in the passage, were
one, mounting an 18-pounder, upon Queenstown.
*App. No, U.
f Wilkinson's Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 578,
;

-

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA

,

heights (G), and another, mounting a 24-pound
carronade, situate a little below the town (L).
The river at Queenstown is scarcely a quarter
of a mile in width, and the point chosen for
crossing (0) was not fully exposed to either
of the British batteries ; while the American
batteries of two 18 and two 6-pounders (I-1), and
the two 6-pounder field-pieces brought up by
lieutenant-colonel Scott, completely commanded
every part of the opposite shore, from which musketry could be effectual in opposing a landing.
With these important advantages the troops em=
barked ; but, a grape-shot striking the boat
in which lieutenant-colonel Christie was, 'and
wounding him in the hand, the pilot and boat.
men became so alarmed, that they suffered the
boat to fall below the point of landing, and were
obliged, in consequence, to put back. Two other
ats did the same. The remaining ten, with
225 regulars,* besides officers, including the
commander of the expedition, colonel Van Rensselaer, struck the shore ; and, after disembark-

ing the men, returned for more troops.
The only force at Queenstown consisted of the
two flank companies of the 49th regiment, and
a small detachment of militia ; amounting, in
All, to about 300 rank and file. Of these about
60, taken from the 49th grenadiers and captain
Hatt's company of militia, having in charge
*

Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 573.

88

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.''

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

a 3-pounder, advanced, at four o'clock in the
morning, with captain Dennis of the 49th at
their head, . towards the river ; near to which
colonel Van Rensselaer had formed his men, to
await the arrival of the next boats. A well-di
rected and warmly. continued fire killed and
wounded,. several American officers and privates, including, among the wounded, colonel
Van Rensselaer and three captains; and drove the
Americans behind a steep bank, close to the
water's edge. In the meantime, a fresh supply of
troops had effected a landing ; and remained, with
the others, sheltered behind the bank ; whence
they returned the fire of the British, killing one
man, and, wounded four. The remaining subdivisions of the 49th grenadiers and of the militiacompany had now joined captain Dennis ; and
the 49th light infantry, under captain Williams,
with captain Chisholm's company of militia, sta,4,
tioned on the brow of the hill, were firing down
upon the invaders.
Of five or six, boats that,attempted to land a
body of American regulars under major M ullany,
me was destroyed by a shot from the hill-battery,
ommanded by lieutenant Crowther of the 41st
egirrient ; two others were captured ; and the
'e mainder,loihd in their object, returned to the
rnerican side. Day-light appeared ; and, at
he same instant, general Brock arrived at the
ill-battery
— •- froth , fprt-George. Observing the
,

89

strong reinforcements that were crossing over,
the general instantly ordered captain Williams
to descend the hill, and support captain Dennis.
No sooner were captain. Williams and his men
seen to depart, than the Americans formed the
resolution of gaining the heights. Accordingly,
60 American regulars,* headed by captain Wool,
and accompanied by major Lush, a volunteer,
also by a captain, six lieutenants, and an ensign
of the 13th regiment, ascended a fisherthadst--_,
path up the rocks, which had been reported to
general Brock as impassable, and therefore was
not guarded. The Americans were thus enabled,
unseen by our troops, to arrive at a brow, about_
30 yards in the rear of the hill-battery. Rein•=1
forcements kept rapidly arriving by the con:
cealed path ; and the whole formed on the broW,.
with their front towards the village of Queen-s.
town.
The moment general Brock discovered the
expected advance of the American troops, he,
with the 12 men stationed at the battery, retired ;
and captain Wool, advancing from the rear with
his more than ten-fold force, " took it without
much resistance. "t Captain Williams, and his
detachment of regulars and militia, were now
recalled ; and general Brock, putting himself at
the head of this force, amounting, in all, to about
90 men, advanced to meet a detachment of 150
* Sketches of the War. p.

+ App. No. 12.

90 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

picked American regulars, which captain Wool
had sent forward to attack him. The American
captain says that, in consequence of the general's
superior force," his men retreated ; adding:
I sent a reinforcement, notwithstanding which,
the enemy drove us to the edge of the bank."
While animating his little band of regulars and
militia to a charge up the heights, general Brock
received a mortal wound in the breast, and int.
mediately fell.
At this moment, the two flank-companies of
the YOrk militia, with lieutenant-colonel M`Don.
nell o the general's provincial aide-de-camp, at
their head, arrived from Brown's-point, three
miles distant. By this time, also, captain Wool
had sent additional reinforcements to captain
Ogilvie ; making the latter's force " 320 regu.
lars, supported by a few militia and volunteers,"* or, in the whole, full 500 men. Colonel
M`Donnell and his 190 men,—more than twothirds Canadian militia,—rushed boldly up the
hill, in defiance of the continued stream of mus•
ketry pouring down upon them ; compelled the
Americans to spike the 18-pounder ; and would
have again driven them to the rocks, had not
the colonel and captain W illiams been wounded,
almost at the same instant ; the former mortally.
The loss of their commanders created confusion among the men ; and they again retreated.
44

* Wilkinson's Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 573.

f. GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

91

Dearing of the fall of general Brock, captain
Dennis proceeded from the valley, towards the
foot of the heights ; and, mounting the general's
horse, rode up, and tried to rally the troops.
He succeeded in forming a few ; but the number
was so inconsiderable that, to persist in a contest, would have been madness. A retreat was
accordingly ordered, by the ground in the rear
of the town; and the men of the 49th, accompanied by many of the militia, formed in front
of Vromont's battery ; there to await the expected reinforcement from Fort-George.
While we had, at this period, not above 200
unwounded men at Queenstown, the Americans,
by their own account, had upwards of 800, and
general Van Rensselaer tells us, that " a number of boats now crossed over, unannoyed, ex.
cept by the one unsilenced gun," or that at Yrs).mont's battery ; consequently, more troops were
hourly arriving. Brigadier-general Wadsworth
was left as commanding officer of the Americans .
on the Queenstown hill ; and general Van Rens.
selaer, considering the victory as complete, had
•_ himself crossed over, in order to give directions
about fortifying the camp which he intended to'
occupy in the British territory.
As whatever brilliant deeds were achieved by
the Americans on " this memorable day," CCM,
fessedly form part of those events which 'have
* App.No.

,

92

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

just been detailed, we will suspend our narrative awhile, till a few of the American state.
ments on the subject have been exhibited for the
reader's amusement.

One writer, and he a general too, says: "The
names of the officers who accompanied colonel
Van Rensselaer on this hardy enterprise, deserve
to be engraven on the scroll of fame, for sur l
mounting obstacles almost insuperable, in the
face of a determined enemy, under a heavy firei
and dislodging and pursuing a superior force,
composed of two (captain Wool says, " four")
companies of the 49th British regiment, advantageously posted, with a body of auxiliary militia and Indians : it was indeed a display of
intrepidity rarely exhibited, in which the conduct and the execution were equally conspicuous. Here true valor, so often mistaken for.
animal courage," (a note acids : In the American. service, temerity is too often taken for bravery &c.") " was attested by an appeal to the
bayonet,, which decided the contest without a.
shot."—” Under all the circumstances, and on,
the scale of the operation, the impartial soldier
and competent judge will name this brilliant
affair a chef crceuvre of the Nvarf't
Mr. Thomson describes the affair with the 190
British regulars and militia upon the hill, thus:
" At this moment a reinforcement arrived, which
;

* App. No. 12.

t Wilkinson's Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 578.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

93

augmented the detachinent to 820 men, Who
were led to the charge; ank making a forcible
appeal to the bayonet,:entirely routed the British
49th regiment, of 600 men, and pursued them
up the height, until the ground was regained,
which the 'detachment had just before lost.
Part of the 41st" (one officer, lieutenant Crowther) " were acting with the 49th, both of which
regiments distinguished themselves, under the
same commander, in Europe; and the latter had
obtained the title of the Egyptian Invincibles,
because they had never, on any occasion before,
been known to give ground ;"*—or, we may
surely subjoin, had such an unprincipled enemy
to deal with. Mr. O'Connor has inadvertently
prefixed "• a part of" to " the 49th regiment" ;
which, in some degree, exculpates him ; but Dr.
Smith, like his friend Mr. Thomson, introduces:
the whole 49th " regiment of British regulars, COO
strong," adding :—" They mutually resorted to
the bayonet ; and after a bloody conflict, the,.
famous invincibles yielded to the superior energy
of their antagonists, although so far inferior in
numbers."1
Leaving these contemptible historians to the
reader's castigation, when he has leisure to in:
ili a it, we have now to call his attention to the
finale of " this memorable day." BetWeen two
-

* Sketches of the
• War, p,''Y5.
t Hist. of the United States, Vol. III. p. 201.

94

and three o'clock in the afternoon, about 50.
Indians, led by the chief Norton, advanced
through the woods and an orchard, towards the
mountain. As they approached, the American
troops, " not knowing their number, at first
faltered."* After a sharp conflict, in which the
Indians lost a few men killed and wounded, and
one made prisoner, the latter very prudently retired towards the reinforcement of regulars and
militia, under major-general Sheaffe, which had
just arrived from Fort-George. This reinforcement, consisting of about 380 rank and file
of the 41st regiment, under major Derenzy, and
about 300 militia, accompanied by one 3 pounder, joined the remnant of the 49th flank companies ; and the whole proceeded to the heights,
by a route through the enclosures ;t the Indians
pointing out to the troops the best track for ascending the mountain. As soon as the British
column had reached a field adjoining the road
to the falls, about 60 of the 41st under captain
Bullock, and a party of militia, arrived from
Chippeway.. The whole British and Indian force,
thus assembled, did not amount to 1000 rank
and file; of whom about 560 were regular troops,
The artillery consisted of two 3-pounders, placed
under the orders of lieutenant Crowther of the
41st. .
The attack commenced by the light infantry
-

*Sketches of the War, p. 73.

95

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

t See Plate I, q. q. q. q.

company of the 41 st,. under lieutenant
tyre, about 35 militia, and the same number of
Indians, composing the left flank of the British
line. After a single volley, lieutenant M'Intyre's
company resorted to the bayonet ; and soon
drove the American right. The main body of the
British now advanced, firing their two 3 pounders, with destructive effect. The Americans
sustained but a short conflict; ere they fled with
precipitation towards the point • at which they
had first landed. There they threw themselves
over the precipice, as if heedless of the danger ;
and many must•• have perished in the flood.
Others, no doubt, swam across ; and some escaped in the few boats that remained entire, or
whose crews could be persuaded to approach the
Canadian shore. " In retiring," says an American author, -" they received considerable aid
from the American batteries, which kept up a
brisk and well-directed fire on the enemy, as he
pressed upon their rear."
All, however, would not do. A flag of truce,
begging for quarter, came from the American
commander. Mr. Coffin, aide-de-camp to general Sheaffe, and lieutenant M'Intyre, accompanied. :the- bearer of the flag, and received the
sword of major-general Wadsworth, the American commanding officer, While Mr. Coffin was
conducting the latter to major-general Sheaffe,
-

* Sketches of the War, p. 7 5.
-

97'

GREAT BRITAIN A1^1IY AMERICA.
.;

96

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

newspaper,) at the conclusion of " a most accu.
rate account" of the Queenstown battle, fixes the
number of Americans that crossed the river at
1600; consisting of 900 regulars, and 700 militia.
The editor of the " Sketches of the War!"
says:—" The British force in the different bat-'
tles, with the exception of the first, was at no
time less than 1100 ; in the last and fourth engagement it was much greater.'•* Doctor Smith
fixes the British force at 2200.t Mr. O'Connor)
estimates the prisoners at ", -about 700;" and;
,

lieutenant M'Intyre received, as prisoners of
war, lieutenant-colonel Scott and 71 officers, to.
0-ether with 858 non-commissioned officers and
privates, of the American army. These were ex.
elusive of the two boat-loads of troops which
had been captured in the morning.
If we consider Mr. Thomson's account of the
number of Americans surrendered, to refer to
the non-commissioned officers and privates only,
and then add his loss in wounded, 82, we shall
obtain 846; not far short of lieutenant Min•
tyre's return. None of the other American histo.
rians seem desirous to be particular on this point.
The above 82 wounded include such only as had
not been brought to the American side in the
course of the day. We may safely estimate such
as had been brought over at as many more ; and
those that succeeded in re-crossing the river,
either by boats or swimming, and others that
were drowned in the attempt, must have
-amounted to one or two hundreds. Mr. Thom.;
son states 90 as the number of Americans killed
in action. That, added to the number of pri.4
sorters, makes, without reckoning those taken
in the boats, 1021.—Dr. Smith says :—" In the
course of the day about 1100 troops, regulars,
volunteers, and militia, passed into Canada from
Lewistown ; very few of whom returned."* But
the " Albany Gazette,". (an American northern
* Hist. of the United States, Vol. III. p. 200.

:

,

then adds :—" This little band surrendered to'
about five times their number,"I or 300 mend
These are the delusions so industriously practised
upon the American people :.- - DO - wonder •those
among them who have. never been beaten into a.
contrary opinion still fancy they are possessed
of the prowess ofdemi-gods: •
The British loss 'in this! 'decisive-affair
amounted to 11 killed and 60 woundedoifahe•
-

regulars and militia,' and to five killed and:rtine
wounded, of the Indians. :Although Mr.TrtiOrts.:
son had stated the American l'oss..at9Ockilled,
and 82 (another) account says 100) wounded-;
and, in reference to-n:4, had said : ." Theit
not known," lie could not refrain from adding,:
With
with an air of triumphant pleasantry
.
regard to close tirstr' courageous fighting the
,

,

,

;

,Sketches of the War, p..76.
of the;I:T..S.Y.+III p. 200. 4 Ilist.of the War, p. 50.
,

1BL. 1.

H •

-98

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

victory belonged to the Americans ; but with
regard to the loss which was sustained, it was
exclusively yielded to the British.*
General Van Rensselaer's letter gives a ludicrous account of the behaviour of the American
militia at Lewistown. These men, a day or two
previous, were for invading Canada, without
waiting for orders from their commanding officer. Now, all the exhortations of their general,
of lieutenant-colonel Bloom, and even of the
grave " Judge Peck," could not induce them to
budge a step. A north-east storm for twentyeight hourst was nothing, compared to what
their wounded comrades had told them they
must expect, if they came in contact with the
brave 49th, " the green tygers," as they called
" The ardor of the unengaged troops,"
says the general, " had entirely subsided." By
contrasting all this with the national feeling excited by such writings as it becomes our unpleasant task to investigate, the difference between
reality and fiction strikes forcibly on the mind.
The number of American troops, whose discretion came so well to their aid, is stated at
from 12 to 1500; and the number of regulars
and militia at Lewistown, exclusive of the several detachments ordered from Black Rock, Buffaloe, and Fort-Niagara, and whose commanding
* Sketches of the War, p. 76.
App. No. 11.
f See p. 86

CREAV BRITAIN AND AMERICA

90

officers can boast of their names being " engraven on the scroll of fame" for having " done
honor to their country upon this memorable
clay," amounted to 3170 ;* a tolerable proof
that, at the lowest estimate, 1600 Americans
crossed over to Queenstown, on the "memorable"
13th of October, 1812.
When general Wilkinson complains that the
executive has not rendered " common justice to
the principal actors in this gallant scene," not
exhibited it to the country " in its true light,
and shewn what deeds Americans are still
capable of performing ;"t--who among us can
retain his gravity ? " It is true," says the
general, " complete success did not ultimately
crown this enterprise ; but two great ends were
obtained for the country : — it re-established
the character of the American arms ;"—it did
indeed !—" and deprived the enemy, by the
death of general Brock, of the best officer that
has headed their troops in Canada throughout
the war ;"—truth undeniable !—" and, with his
loss, put an end to their then brilliant career ;"
—yet the capture of general Wadsworth took
place in less than five hours afterwards.
The instant we know what the Americans expected to gain, a tolerable idea may be formed
of what they actually lost, by the attack upon
Queenstown. General Van Rensselaer, in a lettei
,

* See p. 80 1- Sketches of the War, p. 76.
11 2

78 AIILITARY

OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

Upon major-general Brock's arrival at FortGeorge, he first heard of that most impolitic
armistice, which, grounded on a letter from sir
George Prevost to major-general Dearborn, had
been concluded between the latter and colonel
Baynes, sir George's adjutant-general. It provided that neither party should act offensively
before the decision of the American govern.
ment was taken on the subject. To the circumstance of the despatch announcing the event,
not having reached the gallant Brock, before he
had finished the business at Detroit, may the
safety of the Canadas, in a great measure, be
attributed. The armistice was already saleiently injurious. It paralized the efforts of that
active officer ; who had resolved, and would
doubtless have succeeded, in sweeping. the American forces from the whole Niagara line. It
enabled the Americans to recover from their consternation, to fortify and strengthen their own,
and to accumulate the means of annoyance along
the whole of our frontier. It sent nearly 800
of our Indian allies, in disgust, to their homes.
It admitted the free transport of the enemy's
ordnance-stores and provisions, by Lake Ontario ; which gave increased facility to all his
subsequent operation in that quarter.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

79

11710;t,
.

CHAPTER III.
Termination of sir G. Prevost's armistice—State
of the American army on the Niagara frontier
—Capture of the Detroit and Caledonia—
American plan of invasion developed—Its de
rangenzent—False intelligence of a deserter—
Ardor of the American troops—Attack on
Queenstown resolved upon--First attempt at
crossing the river foiled—Success of second attempt—Gallant resistance of the British—Arrival of mutual reinforcements—Death of general Brock—Surrender of the American army—
Altered behaviour of the American troops at
Lewistown—American misrepresentation exposed
• —Bombardment between Fort-George and FortNiagara—Brief sketch of general Brock's life
and character.

IT is now time to attend to the operations of
the British and American forces confronting
each other along the Niagara-line. The president of the United States, as might have
been expected, refused to ratify the armistice
which had been agreed upon between sir
George Prevost, through his adjutant-general
colonel Baynes, and major-general Dearborn ;

80

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

and directed six day's notice of the recommence.
nient of hostilities to be given by the command•
ing generals. The American government had
made a proper use of the short period of suspen.
sion ; and, when the 8th of September, the day
for active operations, arrived, a st►ong force,
well supplied with provisions, and styled " the
army of the centre," had assembled on the:
borders of the N fagot-a-river.
This army, commanded by major-general Van
Rensselaer of the New York militia, consisted,'
according to American official returns, of 5206
men ;* exclusive of 300 field and light artillery,.
800 of the 6th, 13th, and 23d regiments, at Fort,
Niagara ; making a total of 6300 men. Of this
powerful force, 1650 regulars, under the coin,
mand of brigadier-general Smyth, were at BlacL
Rock ; t 386 militia at the latter place anti
Buffaloe ; and 900 regulars, and 2270 militia,'
at Lewistown, distant from Black Rock 28 miles.
So that, including the 1100 men at Fort Niagara,.
the Americans had, along 36 miles of their frond
tier, a force of 6300 men ; Of whom nearly two,.
thirds were regular troops ; while the British,;
along their line from Fort-George, where:ma.:
jor-general Sheaffe commanded, to Fort-Erie;
whither major-general Brock had just pra
ceeded, could not muster 1200 men ; nearly hail
of whom were militia.
* Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. I. p. 580. 1 Sec plate I.
-

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

.

Although not strictly 'a 'military enterprise,
the capture, in ten minutes, of two British
" brigs of war, well-armed, and anchored
under the protection of Fort-Erie," by two'
American row-boats, without any artillery, is
an event of too extraordinary a nature, not to
require an investigation. At the surrender of
Detroit, we got possession of the c United States'
brig Adams, of about 200 tons, and mounting .
six 6-pounders. The prize (afterwards named
the Detroit) and the north-west company's brig
Caledonia, of about 90 tons, and mounting two
swivels, were required to convey some of the
American prisoners to Fort-Erie. A party of
militia and Canadian sailm* in tiumber 50,
embarked for that purpose on board the Detroit,
having in charge 30 American prisoners. This
vessel carried, also, well-packed in her hold, a
considerable quantity of small-arms, part of the
spoils taken with gefieral Hull. The Caledonia
had her own crew of 12 men ; to whose care were
entrusted 10 American prisoners. She had on
board a valuable cargo of furs, valued by the
American editors at about 150,000 dollars. The
author of the " Sketches of the War," ludicrously enough, styles these two vessels " wellappointed," or, in other words, well-manned
and officered. He, next, unpacking all the cases,
and distributing the arms, declares that the veS.* History of the United States, Vol. lIT. p. 191. .
VOL. T.

8,2

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

sels were " supplied with blunderbusses, pistols,
cutlasses, boarding-pikes, and battle-axes."
On the morning of the 8th of October, the
two vessels approached, and anchored off Fort.
Erie, the place of their destination ; but which,.
being still without guns, could afford them lot
" protection" whatever. Lieutenant Jesse El?,
liott, of the United States' navy, was, at thin
time, at Black. Rock, superintending the equip.
went of some schooners, lately purchased
the service of Lake Erie. Having just rat
*
ceived a.. supply 0, 50 seamen from New Yorly
he borrowed the same number of infantry and
artillery from general Smyth ;* and, embarking
the whole itt two large boats, was alongsid4
the British brigs at about three hours before dap
light on the morning succeeding their arri
Joined by the prisoners, the Americans nu
bered. 140; their opponents 68. Yet doctor,
Smith calls the capture of these vessels " a very,
gallant achievement;" and he has taken care to,
make his account almost warrant the assertion,
After the capture, lieutenant Elliott succeeded
itt
. • getting the Caledonia close under the 1)40.
.teries at Black Rock ; but was compelled, by&
welhdirecteashot
or two from the Canada-shomo
. •
to run the Detroit upon Squaw Island. Almoif
immediately afterwards, a detachment of they
liniteck States' regiment of artillery, with four
* Sketches of the War, p. 43.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA:

field-pieces, landed on the island ; and a corn.
patty of the 5th regiment soon followed. It was
in vain for a subaltern's detachment of the 49th,
which had been sent from Fort-Erie, to offer any
resistance; - although the- British had contrived
to set firer to the brig, previous to the arrival of
the American troops. The latter completed the
destruction, both of the vessel, and of the greater
part of her stores. But for the defensive measures, to which sir George Prevost had limited
major-general Brock, this active officer would
have destroyed those very schooners, for whose
equipment, as men of war, lieutenant Elliott and
his men had been sent from below ; and, by sodoing, have brought about consequences, far
more important than the safety of the two brigs.
.•- With so many troops under his command,
neral Van Rensselaer very naturally felt anxious
to give a brilliant close to the campaign ;• the
rather, as the national character had been de..
graded, in the eyes of all, by the tame surrendei
of general Hull and his army. A second invat
sion of Canada was, therefore, resolved upon ;
and, if the reader will take the trouble to turn to
Plate I, we will endeavour to explain the plan of
$ttack, as since promulgated by an American
eneral-officer. A road (M M) had been cut, by
general Van Rensselaer's orders, from hiwcamp
at Lewistown (B), six miles through a wood to
(N), at Four-mile creek ; where lay, ready for
c,
-

-

-

-

t

-

84

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICAV

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

service, sixty batteaux. From this creek it IS
four miles and a half, by water, to Fort-George;
the whole way under a high bank, which conceals
the boats until they turn Niagara-point. The
ground at Queenstown and Lewistown is so much
elevated, that it may be called a rnouAtain. It
forms an immense platform, and overlooks every
part of the plane below, to its termination at the
banks of ..the Ontario. Consequent-, every
movement: by major-general 'Shea& at Fort.
George, and by the commanding officer at Fort.
Niagara, would be under major-general Van
Rensselaer's eye. It was the general's intention
that brigadier-general Smyth, and his 1650 regulars, should march, by the road (M 1%!), to the
mouth of the Four-mile creek ; there to wait in
readiness for embarking at a moment's notice,
Queenstown was then to be attacked by the
troops under the immediate command of general
Van Rensselaer ; and, as the only force, there stationed, was known •to be two companies of the
49th regiment, and a small detachment of mi•
litia, no doubt was entertained about the town's
being immediately carried, as well as the small
battery on the heights. These operations,
within hearing of Fort-George, could not fail to
draw forth the garrison to sustain the post o
Queenstown, and, if possible, to repel the invaders. The instant the British column was ob
berved to be in motion, general Smyth was to be

.

85

signalled to embark at the creek ; and, so soon
as the British reached Queenstown, he was to
be ordered, by a courier, to attack Fort-George ;
which, being deprived of its garrison, would, it
was expected, make but a vain resistance.*
The American general Smyth's backwardness,
or some other cause, not made public, deranged
the above most excellent plan of attack. In the
mean while, the capture of " 'the two British
brigs of war" near Fort-Erie had spread an irresistible - ardor for conquest throughout the
American army. The troops declared they
"must have orders to act, or, at all hazards, they
would go ►ome.''t About this time, some wag
of a deserter came running into the American
camp, with information, that general Brock had
suddenly proceeded to the westward with the
greater part of his troops, to repel general Harrison's attempt at Detroit. The thing was credited ; the troops were absolutely furious ; and
the general himself concluded he had just hit the
nick of time for getting possession of the peninsula, by a more direct road than that he had
cut through the woods,—a mere traverse across
the river to Queenstown. Accordingly, at three
o'clock on the morning of the 11th of October,
tthis eager troops were gratified by advancing to
' he river-side. Experienced boatmen had been
provided, and a skilful officer, lieutenant Sim,
-

-

WilkiRson's Memoirs, Vol. 1. p. .571.

+ App. No. 11.

,

86

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

sent in a boat a-head ; but the latter played his
countrymen ct trick, and ran away ; exposing
them to a tremendous north-east storm, which
continued unabated for 28 hours, and deluged
the whole camp.*
All, this drenching contributed nothing to
allay, the ardor of American soldiers. Invade
Canada they would ; and general Van Rensselaer
resolved to carry the British works at Queens.
town, before day, on the morning of the 12th.
Thirteen boats were provided, and the embarka.
tion was to take place in the following order:
—Colonel S. Van Rensselaer, the commanding
officer, with 300 militia, and lieutenant-colonel
Christie, with 300 regulars ; lieutenant-colonel
Fenwick and major Mullany, to follow, with
about 550 regular troops, and some pieces of
flying artillery ; and then the militia. It was
intended that the embarkation of the regulars
and militia should be simultaneous, as far as
the boats would suffice to receive them ; but,
having to descend the bank by a narrow path
which had been cut out of it, the regular troops
got possession of the boats to the exclusion of the
militia ; and the latter were ordered to follow in
the return.boats.t •
The only British batteries from which: The
troops could be annoyed in the passage, were
one, mounting an 18-pounder, upon Queenstown.
*App. No, U.
f Wilkinson's Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 578,
;

-

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA

,

heights (G), and another, mounting a 24-pound
carronade, situate a little below the town (L).
The river at Queenstown is scarcely a quarter
of a mile in width, and the point chosen for
crossing (0) was not fully exposed to either
of the British batteries ; while the American
batteries of two 18 and two 6-pounders (I-1), and
the two 6-pounder field-pieces brought up by
lieutenant-colonel Scott, completely commanded
every part of the opposite shore, from which musketry could be effectual in opposing a landing.
With these important advantages the troops em=
barked ; but, a grape-shot striking the boat
in which lieutenant-colonel Christie was, 'and
wounding him in the hand, the pilot and boat.
men became so alarmed, that they suffered the
boat to fall below the point of landing, and were
obliged, in consequence, to put back. Two other
ats did the same. The remaining ten, with
225 regulars,* besides officers, including the
commander of the expedition, colonel Van Rensselaer, struck the shore ; and, after disembark-

ing the men, returned for more troops.
The only force at Queenstown consisted of the
two flank companies of the 49th regiment, and
a small detachment of militia ; amounting, in
All, to about 300 rank and file. Of these about
60, taken from the 49th grenadiers and captain
Hatt's company of militia, having in charge
*

Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 573.

88

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.''

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

a 3-pounder, advanced, at four o'clock in the
morning, with captain Dennis of the 49th at
their head, . towards the river ; near to which
colonel Van Rensselaer had formed his men, to
await the arrival of the next boats. A well-di
rected and warmly. continued fire killed and
wounded,. several American officers and privates, including, among the wounded, colonel
Van Rensselaer and three captains; and drove the
Americans behind a steep bank, close to the
water's edge. In the meantime, a fresh supply of
troops had effected a landing ; and remained, with
the others, sheltered behind the bank ; whence
they returned the fire of the British, killing one
man, and, wounded four. The remaining subdivisions of the 49th grenadiers and of the militiacompany had now joined captain Dennis ; and
the 49th light infantry, under captain Williams,
with captain Chisholm's company of militia, sta,4,
tioned on the brow of the hill, were firing down
upon the invaders.
Of five or six, boats that,attempted to land a
body of American regulars under major M ullany,
me was destroyed by a shot from the hill-battery,
ommanded by lieutenant Crowther of the 41st
egirrient ; two others were captured ; and the
'e mainder,loihd in their object, returned to the
rnerican side. Day-light appeared ; and, at
he same instant, general Brock arrived at the
ill-battery
— •- froth , fprt-George. Observing the
,

89

strong reinforcements that were crossing over,
the general instantly ordered captain Williams
to descend the hill, and support captain Dennis.
No sooner were captain. Williams and his men
seen to depart, than the Americans formed the
resolution of gaining the heights. Accordingly,
60 American regulars,* headed by captain Wool,
and accompanied by major Lush, a volunteer,
also by a captain, six lieutenants, and an ensign
of the 13th regiment, ascended a fisherthadst--_,
path up the rocks, which had been reported to
general Brock as impassable, and therefore was
not guarded. The Americans were thus enabled,
unseen by our troops, to arrive at a brow, about_
30 yards in the rear of the hill-battery. Rein•=1
forcements kept rapidly arriving by the con:
cealed path ; and the whole formed on the broW,.
with their front towards the village of Queen-s.
town.
The moment general Brock discovered the
expected advance of the American troops, he,
with the 12 men stationed at the battery, retired ;
and captain Wool, advancing from the rear with
his more than ten-fold force, " took it without
much resistance. "t Captain Williams, and his
detachment of regulars and militia, were now
recalled ; and general Brock, putting himself at
the head of this force, amounting, in all, to about
90 men, advanced to meet a detachment of 150
* Sketches of the War. p.

+ App. No. 12.

90 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

picked American regulars, which captain Wool
had sent forward to attack him. The American
captain says that, in consequence of the general's
superior force," his men retreated ; adding:
I sent a reinforcement, notwithstanding which,
the enemy drove us to the edge of the bank."
While animating his little band of regulars and
militia to a charge up the heights, general Brock
received a mortal wound in the breast, and int.
mediately fell.
At this moment, the two flank-companies of
the YOrk militia, with lieutenant-colonel M`Don.
nell o the general's provincial aide-de-camp, at
their head, arrived from Brown's-point, three
miles distant. By this time, also, captain Wool
had sent additional reinforcements to captain
Ogilvie ; making the latter's force " 320 regu.
lars, supported by a few militia and volunteers,"* or, in the whole, full 500 men. Colonel
M`Donnell and his 190 men,—more than twothirds Canadian militia,—rushed boldly up the
hill, in defiance of the continued stream of mus•
ketry pouring down upon them ; compelled the
Americans to spike the 18-pounder ; and would
have again driven them to the rocks, had not
the colonel and captain W illiams been wounded,
almost at the same instant ; the former mortally.
The loss of their commanders created confusion among the men ; and they again retreated.
44

* Wilkinson's Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 573.

f. GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

91

Dearing of the fall of general Brock, captain
Dennis proceeded from the valley, towards the
foot of the heights ; and, mounting the general's
horse, rode up, and tried to rally the troops.
He succeeded in forming a few ; but the number
was so inconsiderable that, to persist in a contest, would have been madness. A retreat was
accordingly ordered, by the ground in the rear
of the town; and the men of the 49th, accompanied by many of the militia, formed in front
of Vromont's battery ; there to await the expected reinforcement from Fort-George.
While we had, at this period, not above 200
unwounded men at Queenstown, the Americans,
by their own account, had upwards of 800, and
general Van Rensselaer tells us, that " a number of boats now crossed over, unannoyed, ex.
cept by the one unsilenced gun," or that at Yrs).mont's battery ; consequently, more troops were
hourly arriving. Brigadier-general Wadsworth
was left as commanding officer of the Americans .
on the Queenstown hill ; and general Van Rens.
selaer, considering the victory as complete, had
•_ himself crossed over, in order to give directions
about fortifying the camp which he intended to'
occupy in the British territory.
As whatever brilliant deeds were achieved by
the Americans on " this memorable day," CCM,
fessedly form part of those events which 'have
* App.No.

,

92

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

just been detailed, we will suspend our narrative awhile, till a few of the American state.
ments on the subject have been exhibited for the
reader's amusement.

One writer, and he a general too, says: "The
names of the officers who accompanied colonel
Van Rensselaer on this hardy enterprise, deserve
to be engraven on the scroll of fame, for sur l
mounting obstacles almost insuperable, in the
face of a determined enemy, under a heavy firei
and dislodging and pursuing a superior force,
composed of two (captain Wool says, " four")
companies of the 49th British regiment, advantageously posted, with a body of auxiliary militia and Indians : it was indeed a display of
intrepidity rarely exhibited, in which the conduct and the execution were equally conspicuous. Here true valor, so often mistaken for.
animal courage," (a note acids : In the American. service, temerity is too often taken for bravery &c.") " was attested by an appeal to the
bayonet,, which decided the contest without a.
shot."—” Under all the circumstances, and on,
the scale of the operation, the impartial soldier
and competent judge will name this brilliant
affair a chef crceuvre of the Nvarf't
Mr. Thomson describes the affair with the 190
British regulars and militia upon the hill, thus:
" At this moment a reinforcement arrived, which
;

* App. No. 12.

t Wilkinson's Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 578.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

93

augmented the detachinent to 820 men, Who
were led to the charge; ank making a forcible
appeal to the bayonet,:entirely routed the British
49th regiment, of 600 men, and pursued them
up the height, until the ground was regained,
which the 'detachment had just before lost.
Part of the 41st" (one officer, lieutenant Crowther) " were acting with the 49th, both of which
regiments distinguished themselves, under the
same commander, in Europe; and the latter had
obtained the title of the Egyptian Invincibles,
because they had never, on any occasion before,
been known to give ground ;"*—or, we may
surely subjoin, had such an unprincipled enemy
to deal with. Mr. O'Connor has inadvertently
prefixed "• a part of" to " the 49th regiment" ;
which, in some degree, exculpates him ; but Dr.
Smith, like his friend Mr. Thomson, introduces:
the whole 49th " regiment of British regulars, COO
strong," adding :—" They mutually resorted to
the bayonet ; and after a bloody conflict, the,.
famous invincibles yielded to the superior energy
of their antagonists, although so far inferior in
numbers."1
Leaving these contemptible historians to the
reader's castigation, when he has leisure to in:
ili a it, we have now to call his attention to the
finale of " this memorable day." BetWeen two
-

* Sketches of the
• War, p,''Y5.
t Hist. of the United States, Vol. III. p. 201.

94

and three o'clock in the afternoon, about 50.
Indians, led by the chief Norton, advanced
through the woods and an orchard, towards the
mountain. As they approached, the American
troops, " not knowing their number, at first
faltered."* After a sharp conflict, in which the
Indians lost a few men killed and wounded, and
one made prisoner, the latter very prudently retired towards the reinforcement of regulars and
militia, under major-general Sheaffe, which had
just arrived from Fort-George. This reinforcement, consisting of about 380 rank and file
of the 41st regiment, under major Derenzy, and
about 300 militia, accompanied by one 3 pounder, joined the remnant of the 49th flank companies ; and the whole proceeded to the heights,
by a route through the enclosures ;t the Indians
pointing out to the troops the best track for ascending the mountain. As soon as the British
column had reached a field adjoining the road
to the falls, about 60 of the 41st under captain
Bullock, and a party of militia, arrived from
Chippeway.. The whole British and Indian force,
thus assembled, did not amount to 1000 rank
and file; of whom about 560 were regular troops,
The artillery consisted of two 3-pounders, placed
under the orders of lieutenant Crowther of the
41st. .
The attack commenced by the light infantry
-

*Sketches of the War, p. 73.

95

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

t See Plate I, q. q. q. q.

company of the 41 st,. under lieutenant
tyre, about 35 militia, and the same number of
Indians, composing the left flank of the British
line. After a single volley, lieutenant M'Intyre's
company resorted to the bayonet ; and soon
drove the American right. The main body of the
British now advanced, firing their two 3 pounders, with destructive effect. The Americans
sustained but a short conflict; ere they fled with
precipitation towards the point • at which they
had first landed. There they threw themselves
over the precipice, as if heedless of the danger ;
and many must•• have perished in the flood.
Others, no doubt, swam across ; and some escaped in the few boats that remained entire, or
whose crews could be persuaded to approach the
Canadian shore. " In retiring," says an American author, -" they received considerable aid
from the American batteries, which kept up a
brisk and well-directed fire on the enemy, as he
pressed upon their rear."
All, however, would not do. A flag of truce,
begging for quarter, came from the American
commander. Mr. Coffin, aide-de-camp to general Sheaffe, and lieutenant M'Intyre, accompanied. :the- bearer of the flag, and received the
sword of major-general Wadsworth, the American commanding officer, While Mr. Coffin was
conducting the latter to major-general Sheaffe,
-

* Sketches of the War, p. 7 5.
-

97'

GREAT BRITAIN A1^1IY AMERICA.
.;

96

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

newspaper,) at the conclusion of " a most accu.
rate account" of the Queenstown battle, fixes the
number of Americans that crossed the river at
1600; consisting of 900 regulars, and 700 militia.
The editor of the " Sketches of the War!"
says:—" The British force in the different bat-'
tles, with the exception of the first, was at no
time less than 1100 ; in the last and fourth engagement it was much greater.'•* Doctor Smith
fixes the British force at 2200.t Mr. O'Connor)
estimates the prisoners at ", -about 700;" and;
,

lieutenant M'Intyre received, as prisoners of
war, lieutenant-colonel Scott and 71 officers, to.
0-ether with 858 non-commissioned officers and
privates, of the American army. These were ex.
elusive of the two boat-loads of troops which
had been captured in the morning.
If we consider Mr. Thomson's account of the
number of Americans surrendered, to refer to
the non-commissioned officers and privates only,
and then add his loss in wounded, 82, we shall
obtain 846; not far short of lieutenant Min•
tyre's return. None of the other American histo.
rians seem desirous to be particular on this point.
The above 82 wounded include such only as had
not been brought to the American side in the
course of the day. We may safely estimate such
as had been brought over at as many more ; and
those that succeeded in re-crossing the river,
either by boats or swimming, and others that
were drowned in the attempt, must have
-amounted to one or two hundreds. Mr. Thom.;
son states 90 as the number of Americans killed
in action. That, added to the number of pri.4
sorters, makes, without reckoning those taken
in the boats, 1021.—Dr. Smith says :—" In the
course of the day about 1100 troops, regulars,
volunteers, and militia, passed into Canada from
Lewistown ; very few of whom returned."* But
the " Albany Gazette,". (an American northern
* Hist. of the United States, Vol. III. p. 200.

:

,

then adds :—" This little band surrendered to'
about five times their number,"I or 300 mend
These are the delusions so industriously practised
upon the American people :.- - DO - wonder •those
among them who have. never been beaten into a.
contrary opinion still fancy they are possessed
of the prowess ofdemi-gods: •
The British loss 'in this! 'decisive-affair
amounted to 11 killed and 60 woundedoifahe•
-

regulars and militia,' and to five killed and:rtine
wounded, of the Indians. :Although Mr.TrtiOrts.:
son had stated the American l'oss..at9Ockilled,
and 82 (another) account says 100) wounded-;
and, in reference to-n:4, had said : ." Theit
not known," lie could not refrain from adding,:
With
with an air of triumphant pleasantry
.
regard to close tirstr' courageous fighting the
,

,

,

;

,Sketches of the War, p..76.
of the;I:T..S.Y.+III p. 200. 4 Ilist.of the War, p. 50.
,

1BL. 1.

H •

-98

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

victory belonged to the Americans ; but with
regard to the loss which was sustained, it was
exclusively yielded to the British.*
General Van Rensselaer's letter gives a ludicrous account of the behaviour of the American
militia at Lewistown. These men, a day or two
previous, were for invading Canada, without
waiting for orders from their commanding officer. Now, all the exhortations of their general,
of lieutenant-colonel Bloom, and even of the
grave " Judge Peck," could not induce them to
budge a step. A north-east storm for twentyeight hourst was nothing, compared to what
their wounded comrades had told them they
must expect, if they came in contact with the
brave 49th, " the green tygers," as they called
" The ardor of the unengaged troops,"
says the general, " had entirely subsided." By
contrasting all this with the national feeling excited by such writings as it becomes our unpleasant task to investigate, the difference between
reality and fiction strikes forcibly on the mind.
The number of American troops, whose discretion came so well to their aid, is stated at
from 12 to 1500; and the number of regulars
and militia at Lewistown, exclusive of the several detachments ordered from Black Rock, Buffaloe, and Fort-Niagara, and whose commanding
* Sketches of the War, p. 76.
App. No. 11.
f See p. 86

CREAV BRITAIN AND AMERICA

90

officers can boast of their names being " engraven on the scroll of fame" for having " done
honor to their country upon this memorable
clay," amounted to 3170 ;* a tolerable proof
that, at the lowest estimate, 1600 Americans
crossed over to Queenstown, on the "memorable"
13th of October, 1812.
When general Wilkinson complains that the
executive has not rendered " common justice to
the principal actors in this gallant scene," not
exhibited it to the country " in its true light,
and shewn what deeds Americans are still
capable of performing ;"t--who among us can
retain his gravity ? " It is true," says the
general, " complete success did not ultimately
crown this enterprise ; but two great ends were
obtained for the country : — it re-established
the character of the American arms ;"—it did
indeed !—" and deprived the enemy, by the
death of general Brock, of the best officer that
has headed their troops in Canada throughout
the war ;"—truth undeniable !—" and, with his
loss, put an end to their then brilliant career ;"
—yet the capture of general Wadsworth took
place in less than five hours afterwards.
The instant we know what the Americans expected to gain, a tolerable idea may be formed
of what they actually lost, by the attack upon
Queenstown. General Van Rensselaer, in a lettei
,

* See p. 80 1- Sketches of the War, p. 76.
11 2

V
100 MILITARY OCCURFIENCES BETWEEN

to major-general Dearborn, written five days
previously, says thus :—" Should we succeed, we
shall effect a great discomfiture of the enemy,
by breaking their line of communication, driving their shipping from the mouth of this river,
leaving them no rallying point in this part of
the ,country, appalling the minds of the Canadians, and opening. a wide and safe communication for our supplies ; we shall save our own
land,—wipe away part of the score of our past
disgrace,—get excellent barracks and winter
quarters, and at least be prepared for an early
campaign another year."—W ho --1•Could believe
that this very letter is given at length in general
Wilkinson's book, and precedes, but alew pages,
those ridiculous remarks into which an• excess of
patriotism had betrayed him.
.
• . It is often said, that we throw away by the pen,
what we gain by the sword. Had general
Brock been less prodigal of his valuable life,
and survived:Abe Queenstown battle, he would
have made the 13th of October a still more
" memorable .day, by crossing the river, and
carrying Fort-Niagara ; which, at that precise.
time, was nearly stripped of its garrison. Instead of doing this, and thus putting an end to
the campaign upon the Niagara•frontier, majorgeneral Sheaffe, general Brock's successor, allowed himself to be persuaded to sign an armistice; the very thing general Van Rensselaer

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA. 101

wanted. The latter, of course, assured his panic-struck militia, that the British general had
sent to implore this of him ; and that he, general Van Rensselaer, had consented, merely to
gain time to make some necessary arrangements.
Such of the militia as bad not already scampered
off, now agreed to suspend their journey homewards, and try another experiment at invasion.
On the 15th, all the militia who had been.made
prisoners, including the wounded regulars; were
sent across the river; upon their parole : so were
the whole of the American officers; not excepting major Mullany, and several others, known
to be British subjects .even their ,sidearms were restored to them. - The non-com4missioned officerS, and privates of the regulars were marched to Montreal, to await their
exchange. The American editors acknowledge
that the prisoners . were treated with uncommon
kindness by ". the victorious enemy ;" yet one
editor adds : " For want of will or power, they
put no restraint upon their Indian allies, who
were stripping and scalping not only the slain,
-but the dying that remained on the field of
battle. " Doctor Smith says::. No restraint,.
however, was imposed upon the Indians by ge-i
neral Sheaffe, a native of Boston.". He then, to
prove that the Indians " stripped and scalped
the slain, and y even the wound4,a4 dying
-

Sketches of the War, p. 76.

102

GREAT nutti'lli ikEitiai.u- 103

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

Americans," says
Captain Ogilvie saw the
corpse of ensign Morris stripped even of his
shirt, and the scull of a soldier who had been
wounded, cloven by a tomahawk :"* but, whether the ensign's shirt had not been stolen by one
of his own men, or the hole in the soldier's scull
was not a wound he had received in the battle,
is deemed a needless inquiry.
While the British and Americans were engaging at Queenstown, the batteries at Fort-George,
under the direction of brigade-major Evans,
opened a fire upon those at Fort-Niagara ; which
was returned with hot shot, and continued during several hours. The spirited cannonade on
the part of the British compelled the American
garrison, commanded by captain N. Leonard, to
retreat, with the loss of two men killed by the
bursting of a 12-pounder, and several men
wounded by shot. The American account says,
hot shots were used on both sides. On the contrary, none were, or could be fired from FortGeorge ; and the effects of such as were fired from
Fort-Niagara are thus described in the American account :—" From the south block-house of
the American fort, the shot was principally directed against the village of Newark, and several
houses were set on fire, one or two of which were
entirely consuuled."t
llist. of the United States, Vol.
p. 201.,
t Sketches of the War p, 77,
;

.

Considering the character of the distingnislied
thief who fell on the British side at the QueensOwn battle,—of him who, undoubtedly, was
" the best officer that headed their troops throughout the war,"—it will surely be deemed a pardonable digression to give a brief sketch of the more
prominent features of his life and character.
Sir Isaac Brock was born at Guernsey, in Ock
tober 1769; consequently, was but 43 when he
received the fatal bullet. He had entkred the
army at the age of 16, and been lientenanti
colonel of the 49th regiment since 1797. During
the campaign in Holland in 1799, he distinguished himself at the head of his regiment, and
was second in command of the land forces at
the battle of Copenhagen. He was gallant and
' undaunted, yet prudent and calculating ; devoted to his sovereign, and romantically fond
of his country ; but gentle and persuasive to
those whose feelings were less ardent than hi4
own. Elevated to the government of Upper
Canada, he recliiiined the disaffected by ilia&
ness, and fixed the wavering by argument : all
hearts were conciliated ; and, in the trying
moment of invasion, the whole province disk
played a zealous, and an enthusiastic loyalty.
Over the minds of the Indians general Brock
had acquired an ascendancy, which he judiciously exercised, for purposes conducive no less
to the cause of humanity, than to the interests of

Item sets