Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Battle of Queenston Heights


Two hundred years ago today on October 13, 1812, American forces invaded Canada at the tiny village of Queenston in Upper Canada. The village consisted of 20 houses, surrounding farms and a military barracks.

Under cover of darkness at 4:00 a.m., some of the many American troops led by Major-General Stephen Van Rensselaer were ferried in boats across the Niagara River to the Canadian side. Navigating through direct cannon fire from the British soldiers stationed at the barracks, the Americans landed and started to scale the Niagara escarpment in order to take the high ground of Queenston Heights.


But Van Rensselaer was unable to get the bulk of his invasion force across the river. Partly it was because of the heavy artillery fire. But mostly it was because his troops were undertrained and inexperienced militia who were reluctant to go into battle.

Major-General Sir Isaac Brock arrived at dawn with more British troops and the York Volunteers militia units. They proceeded to charge up the steep escarpment under American fire. On the way up, Brock was shot first in the wrist and then in the chest. He died almost instantly.


The battle nevertheless went on, of course. More British reinforcements arrived by noon, as did 300 Mohawk warriors, and they all fought their way up the escarpment. The fierce Indian war cries were yet another reason why the rest of the militiamen on the U.S. side of the river continued their refusal to cross.

Even so, the battle was actually going quite well for the Americans until about 4:00 p.m. That's when Brock's second-in-command, Major-General Roger Hale Sheaffe, arrived on Queenston Heights by a circuitous overland route, having detoured fresh British troops and more Mohawk warriors so as to arrive behind the American line.

And that made it pretty much game over. The American troops scattered but, with nowhere to go, had to surrender at the very edge of the precipice.

Upper Canada was saved, huzzah!

Monday: Memorializing Brock, Part 1

Notes:
--First painting by James B. Dennis, 1866
--Second painting by John David Kelly, 1896

20 comments:

Francie M said...

Queenston Heights has always been a well known part of the landscape here. It is a tradition for kids to run down the path to the spot where Brock fell and to play over the ramparts. It is all so beautiful, a well used picnic ground and living memorial to a terrible time in our history.

DEZMOND said...

huzzah indeed
Wish other countries were so lucky in their fight against American invaders and terrorists!

jadedj said...

I don't recall, but I have probably driven through this area many times and didn't know a thing about this battle. Now I am going to look deeper into it. Thanks again.

CraveCute said...

Great series! This is a very painful part of our U.S.A and Canadian histories. I am sure many here in the states would like to forget it. We are not all war mongers here, unfortunately through corporate influence many of those types of people have led our country in the past. This is something that we here in the U.S.A. must fight against constantly. You must realize that most news organizations carry little about Canada unless it is to bash your health care system. I live in a state that borders Canada, yet I know little about you except for what I read on this blog. Thank you for providing a "real person" viewpoint.

JACKIESUE said...

I love learning Canaderian history ..very very interesting..and did that little twirp dezmond call us terrorists?

Rue said...

Most lands were settled/taken-over by someone at some point. I'm rather happy to be a British colony (of sorts) still, but the land was not ours to begin with, of course. How wonderful that the Mohawk were instrumental in helping us!

mrsduncanmahogany said...

I could only imagine living in that time frame would be like. Hard times, even harder if you had to to into battle. I never knew much about this battle, love the Niagara area, now I know more. The Niagara escarpment and surrounding area are so beautiful! Thanks for the great post.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Oh yes, huzzah! Thank goodness we've remained a seperate country. I hate the idea that we were ever at war with our neighbours down south, but there it is. Your history posts are very, very interesting!

Judy said...

So many battles, so many wars...everyone wins and everyone loses...just a part of history...can't change history, but wish we could change the future to avoid all that from happening again...Here's to good relations/neighbors...

Introverted Art said...

I can almost hear the war cries of the indians!!!!!!

Riot Kitty said...

Most of us are never taught about this...of course that's probably because of our (American) nasty role in it. Very interesting series!

Kal said...

I am enjoying these history lessons. I love this period in Canadian history - Indian, British and French and Laura Secord and her box of chocolates kicking some yankee but. OH YEH!

dbs said...

My favourite part about Social studies was the maps.

madtexter (corey james) said...

Wonderful history lesson. I guess we Americans need to learn when to just live and let live. I read a poll lately that said that Canada is at the top of the list as one of the most beloved countries in the world. Although many people want to come to the U.S. for the 'dream', they often don't realize that with that dream comes an immense responsibility to the rest of the world. I hope someday soon that the U.S. (my home) becomes one of those most favored countries again.

As an aside:

Oh, Debz! You are so wonderful. Thank you so very much for your very generous donation to my fundraising efforts for Broadway Cares. It warms my heart to know there are people like you in my life that really want to make a difference and help others.

I'm going to meditate today and send fantastical energy your way. Big hug to you and all of those whom you surround yourself with.

From the bottom of my grateful heart and soul, thank YOU!

Jim said...

\too bad Brock didn't live to see the results of his efforts! And thanks to the Mohawks!

Magic Love Crow said...

Double Huzzah ;o) Great history you are sharing with us Debra! You forget a lot of this, from taking it in school!

Magic Love Crow said...

Just to let you know, you should be getting your prize in the mail on monday ;o)

DWei said...

I bet the Americans skim over this battle in their history textbooks. :P

Sulky Kitten said...

I loved reading this, it's an era in history I knew very little about.

GREAT MILITARY BATTLES said...

Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

Your article is very well done, a good read.