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W h a t r e v i e W e r s h a v e s a i d

Jam-packed with facts and fgures, larded with maps and direct quota-
tions from diaries and offcial dispatches, illustrated with photographic
reproductions of the portraits of the outstanding fgures of this war
as well as of the famous battle scenes, this book must rank among the
better historical works produced in this country.
Montreal Gazette
a good book, lavishly illustrated, and its author is pleasantly unim-
pressed by conventional wisdom.
The Times Literary Supplement
If the 1965 book is an established classic in master historian Donald
E. Gravess learned opinion, then the updated 1999 edition deserves
pride of place in every library. Graves rates Hitsmans book as pos-
sibly the best single-volume account of that strange and far-off con-
fict. Graves has achieved his goal to give the book a new lease on life
by retaining Hitsmans main text and adding additional information
and commentary in the endnotes, doubling the maps , adding many
more illustrations, an extensive biblio graphy (1,000 entries) and seven
new appen dices of vital information.
Ottawa Citizen
Front cover
The painting by Peter Rindlisbacher portrays a crucial moment during the naval
battle on Lake Ontario on September 28, 1813. Commodore Isaac Chaunceys
fagship, the USS Pike, had crippled British commodore Sir James Yeos fagship,
HMS Wolfe. He was prevented from fnishing the job by the quick thinking of Captain
William Mulcaster, who interposed his vessel, HMS Royal George, between the two
fagships and held Chauncey off long enough for Yeo to make crucial repairs that
allowed him to get under way.
The War of 1812 Bicentennial medallion is based on the proposed
"Upper Canada Preserved" medal described on page 315.
Updated by
DonalD E. GravEs
Foreword by
si r Chri stophEr prEvost
r oB i n B r a s s s t U D i o
thE i nCrEDi BlE
War of 1812
J . Ma C k ay h i t s Ma n
A M I L I T A R Y H I S T O R Y

Contents
Foreword by Sir Christopher Prevost xi
Introduction: Mac Hitsman, Sir George Prevost
and the Incredible War of 1812 xv
Authors Preface xxxi
Part i the Origins OF a COnFliCt
1. Years of Tension: The Road to War, 1783-1811 3
2. A General Outline for Defence: Preparations for War,
1811-1812 25
Part ii 1812: the Canadas at Bay
3. Opening Moves, June and July 1812 51
4. Victories in the Old Northwest: August 1812 65
sandWiCh / MiChiliMaCkinaC / Maguaga / detrOit
5. Brock and the Niagara: September and October 1812 83
QueenstOn heights
6. Supply Routes: August to December 1812 104
gananOQue / st. regis / kingstOn
Part iii 1813: hOlding the line
7. Across the Ice: January and February 1813 117
the MarCh OF the 104th / FrenChtOWn / OgdensBurg
8. See-Saw in the Canadas: April to June 1813 136
yOrk / FOrt Meigs / FOrt geOrge / saCkets harBOr / stOney Creek /
lake ChaMPlain / Beaver daM
9. Defeats in the West: June to October 1813 156
ChesaPeake vs. shannOn / lakes ChaMPlain, OntariO and erie /
FOrt Meigs /MOravian tOWn
10. The Autumn of 1813 177
BurlingtOn Bay / Chteauguay / Crysler s FarM / neWark
Part iv 1814: On the OFFensive
11. Occasional Enterprises: December 1813 to May 1814 199
OsWegO / sandy Creek
12. Summer Stalemate in Upper Canada: June to September 1814 213
ChiPPaWa / lundy s lane / FOrt erie / MiChiliMaCkinaC
13. On American Territory: April to September 1814 237
Maine / WashingtOn / BaltiMOre
14. Defeat on Lake Champlain 249
PlattsBurgh, sePteMBer 1814
15. The Treaty of Status Quo: July 1814 to January 1815 268
negOtiating the treaty OF ghent / neW Orleans
aPPendiCes
1. Despatches Respecting Defensive and Offensive Policy 283
2. Order of Battle: British Regular Units and Corps in
North America, 1812-1815 291
3. The Troop Strength of the British Army in North America,
1812-1814 295
4. Canadian Military Units, Upper and Lower Canada, 1812-1815 297
5. Native Military Forces in the Great Lakes Theatre, 1812-1815
(Compiled by Carl Benn) 302
6. British and Canadian Military Heritage of the War of 1812 304
7. British and American Naval Forces in North American Waters,
1812-1814 (Compiled by Robert Malcomson) 308
8. British and Canadian Battle Honours, Medals and Awards of
the War of 1812 312
Endnotes 317
A Bibliography of the British, Canadian and Native War
of 1812 (Compiled by Donald E. Graves) 355
Index 391
See-Saw in the Canadas: April to June 1813
145
1uv ixcvvuiniv w.v ov I8I:
144
farms, for the purpose of getting seed into the ground before the short
summer of this country had too far advanced.
21
This movement into Upper Canada was now possible because the prom-
ised reinforcements had already begun to arrive at Quebec by ship; indeed
the 2/41st and 98th Regiments had arrived from the West Indies only a
few days before they were placed under orders for Upper Canada. Also or-
dered to proceed to Kingston were a car brigade of light artillery, Captain
Colemans Troop of Volunteer Light Dragoons, the balance of the lst Royal
Scots, four grenadier companies of other regiments and the lst Light Bat-
talion of Infantry.
This last unit, and a 2nd Battalion, had been organized six weeks earlier
from the fank companies of the fve battalions of Select Embodied Militia
and the light infantry companies of the regular regiments then in Lower
Canada. Both battalions were intended for employment in lesser mixed
detachments of regulars and militia, with the same companies always kept
together to create more intimately that Esprit de Corps and mutual conf-
dence so essentially necessary to insure success in the Field.
22
Another car
brigade of light artillery
23
was to be formed at Quebec and sent forward to
Montreal, along with six companies of the 103rd Regiment, the Canadian
Fencibles, the 19th Light Dragoons which had recently arrived with only a
few horses, and De Meurons Regiment.
Shortly after these despatches had left Kingston for Montreal, word
reached the town that Commodore Chaunceys tiny feet was off the mouth
of the Niagara River. It began cannonading Fort George on the morning
of May 25 and soon managed to set fre to all the log buildings within. The
American assault landing fnally was made on the early morning of May
27. It was led by Colonel Winfeld Scott, who had been appointed Adjutant
General to Major-General Dearborn following his exchange as a prisoner
of war, and included Major Forsyths rifemen. Dearborn being ill and none
of Brigadier-Generals John P. Boyd, John Chandler or William A. Winder
being competent to command even a brigade, Scott was really in charge of
the whole operation.
The defenders were a polyglot force: about 1,000 all ranks of the 8th
and 49th Regiments of Foot, Royal Newfoundland Fencibles and Glen-
garry Light Infantry Fencibles, and 300 continuing members of militia
fank companies. Brigadier-General John Vincent had earlier divided his
garrison into three groups and decided to launch counter-attacks wherever
the enemy should effect a landing, rather than allow himself to be bottled
up in an inadequate fortress which could be demolished by the guns of
Chaunceys naval squadron.
24
This plan, however, was not given a chance of execution. When the as-
sault came, the detachment of British troops and Indians stationed nearest
the American landing place were obliged to fall back, and the fre from the
Shipping so completely enfladed and scoured the plains that it became im-
possible to approach the beach.
25
Scotts assault force was followed ashore
by the brigades of Boyd, Winder, and Chandler. After suffering consider-
able casualties, 52 killed and 306 wounded or missing, Vincent withdrew
his troops from the fort to a concentration area out of range of Chaunceys
naval guns. There after waiting the approach of the Enemy for about half
an hour, Vincent subsequently reported to Prevost,
I received authentic information, that his force consisting of four to fve
thousand men had reformed his columns and was making an effort to
turn my right fank At this critical juncture not a moment was to be
lost, and sensible that every effort had been made by the offcers and
Men under my command to maintain the Post of Fort George, I could
not consider myself justifed in continuing so unequal a contest, the
issue of which promised no advantage to the interests of His Majestys
Service. Having given orders for the Fort to be evacuated, the Guns to
Canadian Light Dragoon, 1813
Raised in Lower Canada, this
provincial unit saw considerable
action in the Niagara and along the
Detroit River in 1813. (Painting by
G.A. Embleton, DND, Canada)
See-Saw in the Canadas: April to June 1813
147
1uv ixcvvuiniv w.v ov I8I:
146
be spiked, and the Ammunition destroyed, the Troops under my Com-
mand were put in motion and marched across the Country in line par-
allel to the Niagara River, towards the position near the Beaver Dam
beyond Queenston Mountain.
26
Here he had earlier established a supply depot in a large stone house.
And here he was joined by Lieutenant-Colonel Bisshopp with all the de-
tachments from Chippawa to Fort Erie, two more companies of the 8th
Regiment and Captain Barclays naval party headed for Amherstburg. This
last comprised three lieutenants, one surgeon, one purser, one masters mate,
seven British seamen and twelve from the Provincial Marines establishment
at Kingston. The next morning Vincent changed the direction of his move-
ment and retreated overland towards Burlington at the head of Lake On-
tario, with what now totalled 1,600 regulars and fencibles. The continuing
militia had been dismissed to their homes, to be recalled when needed.
The American army had only 40 killed and 120 wounded, but otherwise
had little to show for its assault on Fort George. Vincents force was far from
being destroyed and was encamped at Burlington by the time Brigadier-
General Winder was fnally ordered in pursuit on June 1. Major- General
Dearborn had gained only one immediate advantage by occupying the Nia-
gara frontier: the naval vessels at Black Rock, hitherto unable to get past
the guns of Fort Erie, now joined Captain Perrys squadron at Presque Isle.
Commodore Chauncey had hurried back to Sackets Harbor on May 31,
following receipt of word that Sir George Prevost and Sir James Yeo had
been there with an expedition from Kingston. As soon as they had verifed
Chaunceys absence, Prevost decided to create a diversion in Vincents fa-
vour by attacking Sackets Harbor. With luck he could destroy its dockyard
and the corvette under construction. There was not time to wait for the
reinforcements en route from Montreal so the greater part of the existing
garrison of Kingston was embarked in Wolfe, Royal George, Earl of Moi-
ra, two armed schooners, two gunboats and 30 bateaux on May 27. They
crossed the eastern end of Lake Ontario during the night. Colonel Baynes
was to command the assault force of about 750 all ranks. This consisted
of the grenadier company of the 100th Foot with a section from the lst
Royal Scots, two companies of the 8th, four companies of the 104th, one
company of the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles, two companies of the
Canadian Voltigeurs and an artillery detachment with two 6-pr. guns.
The expedition was in position off Sackets Harbor before daylight on
Friday, May 28. Prevosts subsequent despatches state that light and ad-
verse winds preventing their nearing the Fort until the evening, arrange-
ments were made for the attack at the dawn of the following morning.
27

Commodore Yeo disagreed: having participated in combined operations
elsewhere, he knew that conditions were never likely to be perfect and that
it would be bad for morale to keep the troops cooped up for at least another
12 hours. But he was only the naval commander.
The only gain during the day of waiting was the capture of 12 Ameri-
can barges with supplies bound for Sackets Harbor from Oswego. Another
seven barges gained Sackets Harbor which was now thoroughly alerted.
Militia were thronging in from the countryside to reinforce the 400 regulars
in garrison. Major-General Jacob Brown had come from his nearby home
to assume command, in accordance with an arrangement made earlier
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
The attack on Sackets Harbor, May 29, 1813
1. British landing point. 2. Blockhouses. 3. Fort Tompkins. 4. H.M.S. Beresford.
5. Village. 6. New ship. 7. Fort Volunteer. 8. U.S. schooners.
B
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See-Saw in the Canadas: April to June 1813
149
1uv ixcvvuiniv w.v ov I8I:
148
by Major-General Dearborn. The senior American regular offcer left by
Dearborn at Sackets Harbor was only too glad to see this doughty militia
offcer.
28
Brown guessed correctly that the British would attempt to land on Horse
Island, a wooded 24 acres joined by a fordable neck of sand and gravel to
the mainland about a mile southwest of the tiny harbour and dockyard.
These were ringed by batteries and blockhouses. Therefore Brown lined his
500 militia along the waters edge by the ford. The few regulars spared from
the fxed defences were posted along the edge of the woods to the rear of
the small clearing beside the shore.
Shortly after daylight on May 29, Bayness force was able to get ashore on
Horse Island, despite the complete absence of surprise and with the troops
in poor spirits after being exposed most of the night to drizzling rain. They
quickly formed up and charged across the ford. Most of the American mi-
litia fred too soon and then fed, as Brown had expected; but he managed
to withdraw about 100 in a formed body.
With these he tried to work around the fank of the invaders who were
now closely engaged with the American regulars under the trees. The Brit-
ish intention was to swing left and force the line of the nearest blockhouses
from the landward side, and then destroy the dockyard installations. The
action became confused but the Americans slowly but surely were pushed
back on the line of blockhouses. Captain Andrew Gray was killed leading
an assault on one of these, which proved impervious to attack by men in
the open. A continuing off-shore breeze prevented Yeos squadron from
getting close enough for its guns to batter these defensive works, and the
carronades of the smaller gunboats, never intended for fring at other than
level targets, were completely ineffective. Browns handful of militia began
pressing from behind Bayness right fank, and Prevost apparently became
convinced in his own mind that there was no chance of success. According
to his report, he reluctantly ordered the Troops to leave a Beaten Enemy,
whom they had driven before them, for upwards of three hours, and who
did not venture to offer the slightest opposition to the re-embarkation, and
in perfect order.
29
Three captured 6-pr. feld guns and 154 prisoners were
also brought away. Casualties had, however, been considerable: 47 killed,
154 wounded and 16 missing.
Not all the attacking force shared Prevosts conviction that abandon-
ment of the attack was well judged. We brought all our wounded away it
was possible to remove, Sergeant Comins of the 8th Regiment wrote,
and embarked on board ship tired, hungry, wet and thirsty, highly mysti-
fed and looking very sheepish at one another; you would hardly have
heard a whisper until that powerful stimulant grog was served out when
the Tower of Babel was nothing like it, everyone blaming another, nay
some of them were rash and imprudent to lay the blame on anyone but
themselves. As for my part, I thought much but said little, having got a
wound in my thigh which began to pain me as soon as I got cold.
30
Mystifcation indeed continued long after the event and the timing of the
attack on Sackets Harbor has been one of the more confused moments in
a war not noted for clarity.
The American version, of course, was greatly different. Had not General
Prevost retreated most rapidly under the guns of his vessels, Jacob Brown
wrote in his report, he would never have returned to Kingston.
31
Browns
own conduct led to his being appointed a brigadier-general in the regular
army. American losses had been 21 killed and 85 wounded. At the height
of the action, when the attackers appeared likely to win, the naval offcer
in charge of the dockyard had set fre to the new ship under construction,
a captured schooner, and a large quantity of naval stores. Fortunately for
Commodore Chauncey, the fres were extinguished before too much dam-
age was done.
32
On June 4 Chauncey, now back at Sackets Harbor from Niagara, wrote
the Secretary of the Navy that his 14 vessels mounted 62 guns; but Yeo had
seven, which with six gunboats, carried 106 guns. If he leaves Kingston, I
shall meet him. The result may be doubtful but worth the risk.
33
Actually
Sir James Yeo had sailed for the head of Lake Ontario on the previous day
to harass Major-General Dearborns army on behalf of Brigadier-General
Vincent. On board his vessels were nearly 220 regulars of the 8th Regiment
and a quantity of stores and ammunition for Vincents division of the army
in Upper Canada.
The Enemy having dared to pursue this Division by moving a Corps
of 3500 Men with 4 Field Guns and 150 Cavalry to Stoney Creek, Lieuten-
ant-Colonel John Harvey strongly urged Vincent at Burlington to make
a forward movement for the purpose of beating up this encampment.
34

Harveys reconnaissance of June 5 had revealed that the Americans had
encamped at Stoney Creek for the night in a feld beside the road: their
sentries were few and badly placed, and it would be easy to mount a night
attack from the surrounding forest. Vincent agreed and gave Harvey 700