THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Oct. 7 to Oct. 13)
Land and Sea
This week sees action between U.S. and British forces on both land and sea.
U.S. Brigadier Gen. James Winchester, formerly commander of the U.S. Northwest Army and now subordinate to recently promoted Major Gen. William Henry Harrison, advances with his troops to Fort Defiance in Ohio (Oct. 7). Early in 1813 those troops will advance into Indiana, Michigan and Canada as Harrison launches another invasion of Canada.
In the waters between Canada and New York State, two Marylanders — U.S. Army Capt. Nathan Towson and Navy Lt. Jesse Elliott — capture the British brigs Caledonia and Detroit (Oct. 8) near the British Fort Erie on the Niagara River opposite Buffalo, N.Y. While the Caledonia escapes to an American port and becomes the USS Caledonia, the Detroit meets a grimmer fate. Swept down the river within range of the British guns, the ship is beached by the Americans when their ammunition runs out. British and American guns later destroy the brig.
Towson later serves as an artillery commander at the battle of Queenston Heights in Canada (Oct. 13). The engagement is considered the first major land battle in the War of 1812 as some 1,300 British soldiers, Canadian militia and Mohawk Indian allies drive off yet another American invasion of Canadian territory — this time near the present site of Niagara Falls, Ontario.
The battle is considered a British victory even though the commander Major Gen. Sir Isaac Brock (the Hero of Detroit) is mortally wounded. Hundreds of U.S. troops are taken prisoner and nearly 300 are killed or wounded. Among those captured is Lt. Colonel Winfield Scott, who will win glory as the victorious U.S. commander in the Mexican-American War.
About 1,300 Americans — both regulars and militia — make it across the river to Canada but more than half are pinned down on the landing beach and unable to support the U.S. troops who capture the high ground on Queenston Heights.
The American beat back a counter attack during which Brock is killed, but are unable to hold without reinforcements and supplies. Complicating matters, many New York militia units refuse to leave their home state and fight on Canadian soil.
Entry filed under: National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, SHAKO, Special Operations, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, Traditions. Tags: amphibious warfare, Battle of Queenston Heights, Canadian Army, Mohawks, Sir Isaac Brock, War of 1812, War of 1812 Bicentennial, Winfield Scott.