THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (March 2-March 8)

March 3, 2014 at 1:13 am 1 comment

Raiding and Evading

Map courtesy of Parks Canada

Map courtesy of Parks Canada

After retaking Fort Detroit in 1813, the Americans cross the Detroit River and take several posts in what is now the southern part of the Province of Ontario. On February 21, 1814 the commander of the American-occupied Fort Malden at Amherstburg, sends Captain Andrew Holmes to capture one of two British-Canadian outposts: the village of Delaware or Port Talbot on Lake Erie.

Holmes has mounted detachments of the 24th, 26th, 27th and 28th U.S. Infantry regiments and two small cannon. He is joined by rangers and militiamen from Michigan in a march along Lake Erie to Port Talbot. By March 2, within 15 miles of  Delaware village, Holmes’ force of 180 has been winnowed down by cold, hunger and sickness to 164 effectives. He’s abandoned the two small cannon in the mud.

Learning that a force of British and Canadians are within an hour’s march from his position, Holmes retreats to Twenty Mile Creek. He leaves the Michigan Rangers as a rearguard. They, too, fall back, after a skirmish with the British advance party, Caldwell’s Rangers.

Holmes digs in on what will become known as Battle Hill behind defenses made from felled trees. After another skirmish with Caldwell’s Rangers, the Americans repel a frontal attack by 130 British regulars (of the 89th and Royal Scots regiments) and almost 100 Canadian militiamen, Rangers and Native American warriors, all under the command of Captain James Basden. The redcoats have trouble negotiating a steep ravine and the icy slope under withering American fire. Several British-Canadian officers killed or wounded.

British-Canadian assault at Longwoods 1814. (Painting by James Mason)

British-Canadian assault at Longwoods 1814.
(Painting by James Mason)

It is a small battle lasting only 90 minutes. The British-Candian force suffers 14 killed and 51 wounded. Only 4 Americans are killed and 3 more wounded. After dark, Holmes retreats to Amherstburg. The battlefield becomes a Canadian National Historic Site.

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Entry filed under: National Security and Defense, SHAKO, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, Traditions. Tags: , , , , , .

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