Posts tagged ‘War of 1812 on the Niagara frontier’

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (October 26-November 1, 1814)

Trouble on the Frontier

October 26

The Last Raid

(Courtesy of

(Courtesy of

U.S. Brigadier General Duncan McArthur leads a force of 700 mounted infantry out of Fort Detroit across into Lower Canada (modern day Ontario) to raid the Thames River Valley. McArthur plans to burn out settlements along the Grand River and up around the head of Lake Ontario, an area that supplies flour for British forces on the Niagara frontier.

The raid may also divert British attention from U.S. occupied Fort Erie in Canada opposite Buffalo, New York, which U.S. troops are preparing to evacuate.

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Another Fort Fails

The U.S. Army’s fortunes continue to fade in the Upper Mississippi Valley.

After losing Fort Madison, in what is now the state of Iowa in 1813, and Fort Shelby near modern day Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin earlier in 1814, to Indian attacks, the Army is getting ready to abandon Fort Johnson in Illinois Territory.

Established just a month earlier by future U.S. president Major Zachary Taylor after defeat his troops are repelled by the Sauk and other allied Indian tribes at the Battle of Credit Island, Fort Johnson sits on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi.

However, the company of soldiers stationed there abandon the hastily constructed fort when provisions run out and there is no word of resupply. They make their way down river to Cap au Gris near St. Louis in Missouri Territory.


MAP: via Wikipedia

The Upper Mississippi River during the War of 1812. 1: Fort Bellefontaine U.S. headquarters; 2: Fort Osage, abandoned 1813; 3: Fort Madison, defeated 1813; 4: Fort Shelby, defeated 1814; 5: Battle of Rock Island Rapids, July 1814 and the Battle of Credit Island, Sept. 1814; 6: Fort Johnson, abandoned 1814; 7: Fort Cap au Gris and the Battle of the Sink Hole, May 1815


October 27, 2014 at 1:08 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (August 3-August 9, 1814)

U.S. Fort Besieged.

Another U.S. invasion of Canada is starting to come apart.

Siege of Fort Erie (via Wikipedia)

Siege of Fort Erie
(via Wikipedia)

After the brutal July 25 Battle of Lundy’s Lane, U.S. troops under Major General Jacob Brown withdraw south along the Niagara River — between what is now Ontario, Canada and New York State–  to Fort Erie, a British fort captured by the Americans on July 3. Brown is severely wounded at Lundy’s Lane and is about to be evacuated across the Niagara to Buffalo, New York. He and his remaining brigade commander, Brigadier General Eleazer Wheelock Ripley have not seen eye-to-eye since Lundy’s Lane. And when Ripley suggests abandoning the 60-year-old fort and taking the U.S. Army back across the Niagara to Buffalo, Brown sends for another general, Brigadier Edmund Gates to take over command of his battered army, which numbers about 2,500 effectives.

A British-Canadian-Native American force of 3,000 under the command of Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond arrives at Fort Erie on August 4 and begins to lay siege to the post on August 4. The slow pace of Drummond’s pursuit gives the Americans time to enlarge the size of the fort and beef up its decrepit defenses overlooking where Lake Erie flows into the Niagara River

While his troops set up siege lines and earthworks, Gordon — who is also lieutenant governor of Upper Canada (today’s Province of Ontario) — sends a 600-man raiding party across the river to capture or destroy American supplies and provisions. The attackers are made up of troops from three British regiments — the 41st, 89th and 100th Foot — as well as soldiers from the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment.

But the bridge the British need to cross to get to raid Buffalo and the Navy yard at Black Rock on the New York shore has been destroyed. And a detachment of 240 men from the 1st U.S. Rifle Regiment — along with some volunteers — open fire on the raiders, preventing them from repairing the bridge. The British lose 10 killed, 17 wounded and 5 missing to gunfire before withdrawing back across the Niagara.

!st U.S. Rifle Regiment (U.S. Army Center of Military History)

!st U.S. Rifle Regiment
(U.S. Army Center of Military History)


August 3, 2014 at 8:28 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (July 20-26, 1814)

Fort Shelby Falls.

Attack on Fort Shelby

Attack on Fort Shelby

On July 20, three days after a British-led force open their attack on Fort Shelby (in what is now Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin) outnumbered U.S. forces surrender the fort to the enemy.

The surrender terms: Lieutenant Joseph Perkins and his men can leave the fort and return to U.S. Army headquarters for the Upper Midwest outside St. Louis in Missouri Territory — but the fort and the Americans’ arms, ammunition and provisions now belong to the British. Perkins leaves with 60 soldiers from the U.S. 7th Infantry Regiment — seven of them wounded. They had faced a combined force of British and Canadian regulars, Canadian militia and a large contingent of Native Americans. Three Native Americans were wounded in the fray.

Meanwhile a U.S. relief force of 120 regulars and rangers is heading up the Mississippi in six boats, but they are ambushed by several hundred Sauk, Fox and Kickapoo warriors at the Rock Island Rapids on July 22. Major John Campbell was able to fight clear of the ambush when the Governor Clark — the supply boat driven down river from Prairie du Chien by British canon fire —  emerged from the waters of the Mississippi, driving off the Indians. Campbell’s relief force loses 35 casualties.

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Bloody Lundy’s Lane

Battle of Lundy's Lane

Battle of Lundy’s Lane

Fighting resumes on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. After the Battle of Chippawa (July 5). British and Canadian forces under Major General Phineas Riall withdraw north to Fort George where the Niagara River flows into Lake Ontario.

The Americans pursue two days later, stopping at Queenstown five miles away from Fort George. But the U.S. commander, Major General Jacob Brown realizes he doesn’t have enough troops or heavy artillery to attack the fort and withdraws  south of the Chippawa River on July 24. Now the British commander, Major General Phineas Riall, follows Brown south with 1,000 men and stops for the night at Lundy’s Lane.  On July 25, Brigadier Winfield Scott, with about 1,000 men, attacks Riall, who orders a retreat.

But when British Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond — the lieutenant governor of Upper Canada — shows up with 2,000 reinforcements. Riall turns around and attacks Scott’s troops. It’s 6 p.m. — time when most soldiers break off fighting for the day, but Lundy’ Lane is turning out to be an unusual and bloody battle.

Riall is wounded and captured. Brown shows up with reinforcements. The Americans capture the British cannon but lack the skills and equipment to turn the canons on the British. Three times they counter British attempts to recapture the guns at a bloody cost. The fighting is often hand-to-hand.

Scott is severely wounded, taking him out of the war. Brown is also wounded. The main battle lasts from 8:45 p.m. until midnight. Troops on both sides are exhausted. Brown withdraws, planning to regroup and attack again in the morning. But that doesn’t happen and Brown leads his army South to Fort Erie where this latest invasion of Canada began less than a month earlier.

Lundy’s Lane is considered one of the bloodiest of the war with both sides losing more than 800 each in dead, wounded, captured and missing.

July 21, 2014 at 12:19 am Leave a comment


June 2023


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