Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Who Was Sir Isaac Brock?
Major-General Sir Isaac Brock commanded all the British troops in Upper Canada (now Ontario) and was Lieutenant-Governor of the province as well. A well-educated and cultivated 42-year-old Englishman, he chafed at his assignment to such a colonial backwater. But he was trained to put Duty above all else and so he did his job well in Canada. He had no use for American democracy and republicanism -- those concepts were "as treasonous in his lexicon as communism will be to a later generation of military authoritarians." *
Brock diligently and meticulously prepared for war and the expected invasion by American troops. He had the great foresight to align his forces with the aboriginal warriors of Tecumseh the Shawnee chief. That turned out to be the smartest and most crucial defensive manoeuvre of the entire war.
By July of 1812, the Americans had already tried to invade Canada at the town of Sandwich (now Windsor) but were successfully repelled. In August, Brock and Tecumseh joined forces and captured Detroit from the Americans. Actually, it was an easy victory because U.S. General William Hull was so terrified of Indians that he went completely to pieces and surrendered Detroit without a fight. Hull was later court-martialed for cowardice but was spared the death penalty because of his previous exemplary service in the Revolutionary War.
Tomorrow: Who Was Tecumseh?
* Pierre Berton, The Invasion of Canada 1812-1813, p. 83.
--Posthumous portrait of Brock by George T. Berthon, c. 1883.