This day in Canadian history belongs to Laura Secord. The story of the Battle of Stoney Creek was told on June 6. After being reinforced by the arrival of the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment, General Vincent was ready to counter-attack the Americans on the Niagara Peninsula. He began to move his main force from Burlington, and sent several companies of infantry to Beaver Dam, ready to strike at Queenston.
The American commander, General Dearhorn, heard about the move and sent Colonel Boerstler with 570 men and two guns to make a night attack on Beaver Dam. While they were marching there, they stopped to rest at Queenston. Some of the American officers were talking openly about the purpose of their mission.
Laura Secord and her husband, United Empire Loyalists who had left Massachusetts to live at Queenston, overheard the American officers talking about the attack they were going to make on Beaver Dam, and decided that the British must be warned. Laura’s husband had been wounded in the fighting at Queenston Heights the previous year and could not make the trip. So, on June 23, 1813, Laura left their home and pretended that she was going to milk the cows. She was barefoot and carried a milking pail.
It was a brave thing to do. Laura Secord had to walk through the woods alone to get to the nearest British position. There were many frightening moments, and she became weary and footsore. On the way she suddenly found herself in the midst of a band of “whooping” Indians. They let her continue on her way when she told them that the “Long Knives” were coming, and that she was going to warn the British. Eventually, she reached a patrol of red coats under Lieutenant Fitzgibbon and related her story.
As it turned out, her journey had been unnecessary. The British had already been warned and the Indians were in place to ambush the Americans. This does not detract from Laura Secord’s bravery and self-sacrifice.
Colonel Boerstler and his men walked right into the ambush of 200 Mohawk and Caughnawaga Indians, and after fighting in the woods for two hours, surrendered to Lieutenant Fitzgibbon to escape what hey thought would be scalping by the Indians.
Ms. Secord is indeed a heroine. To read more about her and what she did, I suggest going to the Toronto Public Library for a painting depicting “Where Laura Secord, on the 23rd of June 1813, Crossed the Twelve Mile Creek”. Then the Niagara Falls Info. For a treat, I suggest visiting Friends of Laura Secord. A very good start!