There were few bright spots for British forces defending Canada from the Americans in 1813. York, the new capital of Upper Canada, had been captured and looted (see my April 27 post Americans Attack York, Destroy New Legislation) and Newark soon suffered a similar fate. General Henry Dearborn was well pleased with himself. He now had a solid line of communication from Buffalo to the head of Lake Ontario.
General Vincent, who had defended Fort George at Newark, led his surviving troops to Burlington (near Hamilton) and expected help, if necessary, from Colonel Procter’s force in the Detroit area.
In the meantime, Dearborn missed an opportunity to finish him off. Instead of following up the success at Fort George, Dearborn waited for five days, perhaps because it was raining hard. Then he heard rumours that Procter was sending reinforcements to Vincent and decided that he had better take action before they arrived. Generals Winder and Chandler set out for Burlington with 2,000 infantry, cavalry and artillery, whereas Vincent now had about 1,600 men.
The Americans force camped at Stoney Creek for the night of June 6, about 6 miles from Burlington, but their movements had been followed and reported by Canadian volunteers. General Vincent sent out a scouting patrol which brought him word that the American tents were strung out in a long line, and that their artillery was badly placed. Vincent immediately ordered an attack. His troops made their way through the woods in the darkness and stormed the camp at two o’clock in the morning. There was a sharp fight in which the British lost 214 men, but both Generals Winder and Chandler were taken prisoner with 123 others.
The Americans still had enough strength to retaliate, but lost heart when Admiral Yeo’s ships were seen approaching. Yeo bombarded the American position at Forty Mile Creek, and they decided to retreat to Fort George.
Vincent received help from an unexpected quarter when the 104th New Brunswick Regiment arrived. It had left Fredericton in winter, marched 400 miles on snowshoes to Quebec and was then transported to Kingston by ship. After fighting at Sackets Harbor, New York, it travelled another 500 miles to join Vincent’s army. The march of the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment was one of the notable achievements of the war.
If you want to read more about the Battle at Stoney Creek, I suggest About, .com‘s article written by Kennedy Hickman, and then History of War. There’s also Battlefield House Museum and Park and finally, Wikipedia.
- Americans Attack York, Destroy New Legislation (tkmorin.wordpress.com)
- fort george brewing in astoria, or – home of the goonies! (notallbeersareblonde.com)
- In Memory of a Special Friend (cozycabinnews.wordpress.com)
- The Battle of York, 200 years ago, shaped Toronto and Canada: Editorial (thestar.com)
Saved by the Queen,
I thought, before I started researching, that she was … serious-type of person. But I have to say that the more I read, the more I like her!
Wow. Last-minute rescues and lost opportunities. So many battle strategies seem like “seat of the pants” operations.
And the history books, the ones that teach kids, do not mention these … There are heroes, but not “lucky”. 🙂