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After his body laid in state at Government House, Brock’s funeral took place at Fort George on October 16, 1812 at 10:00am.

Hundreds of soldiers, militia and Aboriginals lined up from Government House to the garrison for the procession. The band of the 41st Regiment and drums draped in black cloth provided solemn music, with Brock’s trusted horse, Alfred, preceding Brock’s casket.

Even Brock’s adversaries across the Niagara River, took time to pay tribute to the fallen General. Major-General Van Rensselaer wrote a letter of condolence to Major-General Sheaffe, and advised that a gun salute would be performed at Fort Niagara, "as a mark of respect due to a brave enemy."

Brock’s surviving aide-de-camp, Major Glegg wrote his reflections on the funeral:

"I enclose a plan; but no pen can describe the real scenes of that mournful day. A more solemn and affecting spectacle was perhaps never witnessed. As every arrangement connected with that afflicting ceremony fell to my lot, a second attack being hourly expected, and the minds of all being fully occupied with the duties of their respective stations, I anxiously endeavoured to perform this last tribute of affection in a manner corresponding with the elevated virtues of my departed patron. Conceiving that an interment in every respect military would be the most appropriate to the character of our dear friend, I made choice of a cavalier bastion in Fort George, which his aspiring genius had lately suggested, and which had been just finished under his daily superintendence."

Even 200 years later, students, teachers, and reenactors gathered to pay their respects to Isaac Brock with a recreation of his funeral. Click here to watch a clip from the reenactment.

Posted: 16/10/2012 10:47:35 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

The attack along the Niagara frontier that Brock feared became a reality on October 13, 1812. Before sunrise on the 13th, Americans began crossing the Niagara River under the command of Colonel Van Rensselaer. They were headed, not for the British headquarters at Fort George where Brock was waiting, but for the small town of Queenston.

Brock was woken by the sound of artillery, as the British fired against the invading Americans. When Brock arrived at Queenston, he found that the Americans had taken control of the cannon at the top of the hill, allowing for more troops to cross the river safely.

Brock felt he had no choice but to try to retake the cannon himself. He led the charge up the hill, famously saying that he would never order his men where he would not lead them. Unfortunately, Brock was a conspicuous target and he was shot in the chest before reaching the top. Despite claims that he uttered his last words, "Push on, brave York volunteers," Brock likely died instantly.

Brock’s second-in-command, Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell, took up the fight. He led a second attempt up the hill, but was also shot and died from his injuries the next day.

A group of 300 Mohawk, led by John Norton and John Brant, managed to scale the heights and surprise the Americans. They were able to slow the Americans’ advance and the sounds of their fighting, which could be heard on the other side of the Niagara, deterred many remaining Americans from crossing over into British territory.

The British persisted. By late afternoon, Major-General Sheaffe was making his way towards Queenston with reinforcements – almost 1000 altogether. Sheaffe ordered a British attack and the Americans soon surrendered.

Technically, the Battle of Queenston Heights was a British victory. They prevented an American invasion, and lost only 16 men – the Americans retreated after losing 90 men. However, the triumph at Queenston Heights was overshadowed by the death of Brock, and the loss of a capable and courageous leader.

Over the next few days, Canada's History will honour Major-General Isaac Brock by highlighting the tributes and events that took place in the days following his death at Queenston Heights.

Posted: 15/10/2012 8:43:21 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock hastily writes to Prevost:

The vast number of troops which have been this day added to the strong force previously collected on the opposite side, convinces me, with other indications, that an attack is not far distant. I have in consequence directed every exertion to be made to complete the militia to 2,000 men, but fear that I shall not be able to effect my object with willing, well-disposed characters. Were it not for the numbers of Americans in our ranks, we might defy all their efforts against this part of the province.

Posted: 11/10/2012 9:36:58 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock writes to Prevost and recounts the unfortunate fate of the two British ships, the Caledonia and the Detroit.

Both ships had just been captured from the Americans after the Siege of Detroit, and relocated to the British Fort Erie on the Niagara River. On October 9, a group of American soldiers boarded both ships in an attempt to recapture them.

The Americans were successful in retaking the Caledonia, which was loaded with muskets, furs and other valuable cargo. The ship was taken to the Black Rock on the American side.

The Detroit was more difficult for the Americans to secure. The British opened fire on the Americans, and there was a lengthy exchange of fire. As the Americans sensed defeat, they cut the anchor on the Detroit and it drifted down the river, landing at nearby Squaw Island. Before the British could make an attempt to save the ship, the Americans set it on fire.

The incident gave the Americans a new advantage over Lake Erie, and the stage for more aggressive action on the Niagara frontier.

I had scarcely closed my dispatch to your excellency, of the 9th, when I was suddenly called away to Fort Erie, in consequence of a bold, and, I regret to say, successful attack by the enemy on his majesty's brig Detroit, and the private brig Caledonia, which had both arrived the preceding day from Amherstburg. It appears by every account I have been able to collect, that a little before day a number of boats full of men, dropped down with the current unobserved, boarded both vessels at the same moment, and, cutting their cables, were proceeding with them to the American shore, when Major Ormsby, who witnessed the transaction, directed the batteries to open on them, and soon compelled the enemy to abandon the Detroit, which grounded about the centre of Squaw Island, a little more than a mile below Black Rock. She was then boarded by a party of the 49th regiment; but as no anchor remained, and being otherwise unprovided with every means by which she could be hauled off, the officer, throwing her guns over board, after sustaining a smart fire of musketry, decided to quit her. A private, who is accused of getting drunk, and a prisoner of war, who was unable from his wounds to escape, with about twenty prisoners brought by the Detroit from Amherstburg, remained however behind; these it became necessary to remove before the vessel could be destroyed, and Cornet Pell Major, of the provincial cavalry, offered his services. Being unfortunately wounded as he was getting on board, and falling back into the boat, a confusion arose, during which the boat drifted from the vessel, leaving two of the 41st, who had previously ascended, on board. In the mean time the Caledonia was secured by the enemy, and a cargo of furs, belonging to the North-West Company, landed.

The Caledonia

The batteries on both sides were warmly engaged the whole of the day, but I am happy to say no mischief was sustained by the enemy's fire. I reached the spot soon after sun-set, and intended to have renewed the attempt to recover the Detroit, which I had every prospect of accomplishing, assisted by the crew of the Lady Prevost, which vessel had anchored a short time before; but before the necessary arrangements could be made, the enemy boarded her, and in a few minutes she was seen in flames.

This event is particularly unfortunate, and may reduce us to incalculable distress. The enemy is making every exertion to gain a naval superiority on both lakes, which if they accomplish I do not see how we can retain the country. More vessels are fitting out for war on the other side of Squaw Island, which I should have attempted to destroy but for your excellency's repeated instructions to forbear. Now such a force is collected for their protection as will render every operation against them very hazardous. The manner our guns were served yesterday, points out the necessity of an increase, if possible, of artillerymen to our present small number of regulars. The militia evinced a good spirit, but fired without much effect. The enemy, however, must have lost some men; and it is only wonderful, that in a contest of a whole day no life was lost on our side. The fire of the enemy was incessant, but badly directed, till the close of the day, when it began to improve. Lieutenant Rolette, who commanded the Detroit, had, and I believe deservedly, the character of a brave, attentive officer. His vessel must, however, have been surprised--an easy operation where she lay at anchor; and I have reason to suspect that this consideration was not sufficiently attended to by the officers commanding on board and on shore.

We have not only sustained a heavy loss in the vessel, but likewise in the cargo, which consisted of four 12-pounders, a large quantity of shot, and about 200 muskets, all of which were intended for Kingston and Prescott.

The only consolation remaining is, that she escaped the enemy, whose conduct, after his first essay, did not entitle him to so rich a prize. The enemy has brought some boats over land from Schlosher to the Niagara river, and made an attempt last night to carry off the guard over the store at Queenston. I shall refrain as long as possible, under your excellency's positive injunctions, from every hostile act, although sensible that each day's delay gives him an advantage.

Posted: 11/10/2012 2:09:33 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Earl Bathurst writes to Prevost, praising Brock for his decisive and successful action at Detroit. He asks Prevost to share the news that Brock has been honoured with knighthood of the Order of Bath. Unfortunately, this news could not travel across the Atlantic fast enough, and Brock entered the Battle of Queenston Heights without knowing about this honour he received.

I have had the honor of receiving your dispatch, dated the 26th August, together with its enclosures, from Major-General Brock, and I lost no time in laying intelligence so important and satisfactory before his royal highness the prince regent.

I am commanded by his royal highness to desire you to take the earliest opportunity of conveying his royal highness' approbation of the able, judicious, and decisive conduct of Major-General Brock, of the zeal and spirit manifested by Colonel Proctor and the other officers, as well as of the intrepidity of the troops under the command of Major-General Brock.

"By the united exertions of this little army, the enterprize of the American army has been defeated..."

By the united exertions of this little army, the enterprize of the American army has been defeated; the territories of his majesty in Upper Canada have been secured; and on the enemy's fort of Detroit, important to that security, the British standard has been happily placed.

You will inform Major-General Brock that his royal highness, taking into consideration all the difficulties by which Major-General Brock was surrounded from the time of the invasion of the province by the American army, under the command of General Hull, and the singular judgment, firmness, skill, and courage, with which he was enabled to surmount them so effectually--has been pleased to appoint him an extra knight of the most honorable order of the bath.

Posted: 10/10/2012 9:07:19 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

General Maitland sends his praise and congratulations to Brock. An old friend of Brock's, General Maitland was sure that Brock would be successful in defending the British colony, "if properly supported."

Yesterday being mail day for America, I dispatched my usual monthly letter to the regiment, and in which, as I always do, I desired to be remembered to you with my best and warmest wishes for your health, happiness, and success. I had not then heard, but did a few hours after, of your glorious victory over our most unnatural enemies, (such an one as can hardly be equalled in the annals of history,) that of not only beating, but taking prisoners, more than double your numbers; and now that you have conquered them in the field, I trust that their wrong-headed government will be brought to reason and peace, for it will prove to them, if they persevere, that they will be forced to it, and terms dictated to them.

Therefore allow me, Sir, with the warmest feelings of an old friend to congratulate you, as I do the public, on the essential service you have done the country on the present occasion; as I do my friend, your aide-de-camp, Captain Glegg, as far as the sphere of his duty could assist in the great work; and I glory to say you are both 49-thers. I could write sheets on the subject, but, not to take up your valuable time longer than I have done to express my pleasure and feelings, I will stop by adding the sincere congratulations of all related to me here as well as elsewhere. But I cannot help now observing how prophetic I was in what I wrote to Colonel Vincent yesterday concerning you, which was, that if you mere properly supported, I thought the enemy would never cross the line of your command, a proof of which I had a few hours afterwards.

When you see any of our friends of the 49th, pray remember me in the kindest manner to them, and I am sure they will thank you that they are safe and warm in their quarters in place of having a winter campaign in so severe a climate. And now I will only add my warmest wishes for your health and happiness, and that the same good fortune that has hitherto attended you may continue; and I beg that you will be so good as to convey the same to my friend, your aide-de-camp. Believe me to be, my dear general, &c.

P.S.—I send this after the mail, which left London last night, in hope it may overtake it at Falmouth, as I know the packet seldom sails for some days after her time.

Posted: 08/10/2012 11:01:08 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock needs to be strategic both with the American enemy, and his Aboriginal allies. He's worried about the relationship between the Aboriginals and the British, and fears that the Aboriginals may align with the Americans if a British victory looks unlikely. However, Brock is clear when he tells Prevost that the Aboriginals need to be included as allies in any peace negotiations.

I have been honored with your excellency's dispatch, dated the 14th instant. I shall suspend, under the latitude left by your excellency to my discretion, the evacuation of Fort Detroit. Such a measure would most probably be followed by the total extinction of the population on that side of the river, or the Indians, aware of our weakness and inability to carry on active warfare, would only think of entering into terms with the enemy. The Indians, since the Miami affair, in 1793, have been extremely suspicious of our conduct; but the violent wrongs committed by the Americans on their territory, have rendered it an act of policy with them to disguise their sentiments. Could they be persuaded that a peace between the belligerents would take place, without admitting their claim to an extensive tract of country, fraudulently usurped from them, and opposing a frontier to the present unbounded views of the Americans, I am satisfied in my own mind that they would immediately compromise with the enemy. I cannot conceive a connection so likely to lead to more awful consequences.

If we can maintain ourselves at Niagara, and keep the communication to Montreal open, the Americans can only subdue the Indians by craft, which we ought to be prepared to see exerted to the utmost. The enmity of the Indians is now at its height, and it will require much management and large bribes to effect a change in their policy; but the moment they are convinced that we either want the means to prosecute the war with spirit, or are negociating a separate peace, they will begin to study in what manner they can most effectually deceive us.

Should negociations for peace be opened, I cannot be too earnest with your excellency to represent to the king's ministers the expediency of including the Indians as allies, and not leave them exposed to the unrelenting fury of their enemies.

The enemy has evidently assumed defensive measures along the strait of Niagara. His force, I apprehend, is not equal to attempt, with any probability of success, an expedition across the river. It is, however, currently reported that large reinforcements are on their march; should they arrive, an attack cannot be long delayed. The approach of the rainy season will increase the sickness with which the troops are already afflicted. Those under my command are in perfect health and spirits.

I have the honor to transmit the purport of a confidential communication received in my absence by Brigade-Major Evans from Colonel Van Rensselaer. As your excellency's instructions agree with the line of conduct he is anxious I should follow, nothing of a hostile nature shall be attempted under existing circumstances.

Posted: 28/09/2012 9:51:56 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Prevost responds to Brock’s observation that the Americans may no longer be planning an attack along the Niagara. Prevost figures that they are either counting on Britain to surrender, or they fear an attack on Upper Canada will be easily deterred.

Prevost mentions that he is sending reinforcements to Prescott, a town located on the St. Lawrence River between Kingston and Montreal. Prescott was an important link in Upper and Lower Canada’s communication and supply route, but was just a mile across from Ogdensberg, New York, and extremely vulnerable to an American attack. (The map below, dated 1838, is from the David Rumsey Map Collection. Prescott is indicated by the name of its fort, Fort Wellington. Click to view the full map.)

It no longer appears, by your letter of the 13th, that you consider the enemy's operations on the Niagara frontier indicative of active operations. If the government of America inclines to defensive measures, I can only ascribe the determination to two causes: the first is, the expectation of such overtures from us as will lead to a suspension of hostilities, preparatory to negociations for peace; the other arises from having ascertained, by experience, our ability in the Canadas to resist the attack of a tumultuary force.

In consequence of your having weakened the line of communication between Cornwall and Kingston, a predatory warfare is carrying on there very prejudicial to the intercourse from hence with Upper Canada. I have ordered a company of the Glengary to Prescott to strengthen Colonel Lethbridge, and, under present circumstances, you are not to expect further aid.

I agree in opinion with you, that so wretched is the organization and discipline of the American army, that at this moment much might be effected against them; but as the government at home could derive no substantial advantage from any disgrace we might inflict on them, whilst the more important concerns of the country are committed in Europe, I again request you will steadily pursue that policy which shall appear to you best calculated to promote the dwindling away of such a force by its own inefficient means.

I shall receive with much satisfaction Colonel Proctor's report of having saved the garrison of Fort Wayne from the inhuman fury of the Indians. I am particularly anxious that class of beings should be restrained and controlled as much as possible, whilst there exists a pretence of implicating the national character in their cruelties.

Posted: 24/09/2012 4:43:58 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock sends what is likely one of his final letters to his brother Savery. Brock is anxious for the war to end so that he can return to Europe, and senses that there will soon be a “decisive” event in the Niagara region.

You doubtless feel much anxiety on my account. I am really placed in a most awkward predicament. If I get through my present difficulties with tolerable success, I cannot but obtain praise. But I have already surmounted difficulties of infinitely greater magnitude than any within my view. Were the Americans of one mind, the opposition I could make would be unavailing; but I am not without hope that their divisions may be the saving of this province. A river of about 500 yards broad divides the troops. My instructions oblige me to adopt defensive measures, and I have evinced greater forbearance than was ever practised on any former occasion. It is thought that, without the aid of the sword, the American people may be brought to a due sense of their own interests. I firmly believe I could at this moment sweep every thing before me between Fort Niagara and Buffalo--but my success would be transient.

"I am quite anxious for this state of warfare to end, as I wish much to join Lord Wellington, and to see you all."

I have now officers in whom I can confide: when the war commenced, I was really obliged to seek assistance among the militia. The 41st is an uncommonly fine regiment, but wretchedly officered. Six companies of the 49th are with me here, and the remaining four at Kingston, under Vincent. Although the regiment has been ten years in this country, drinking rum without bounds, it is still respectable, and apparently ardent for an opportunity to acquire distinction: it has five captains in England, and two on the staff in this country, which leaves it bare of experienced officers. The U.S. regiments of the line desert over to us frequently, as the men are tired of the service: opportunities seldom offer, otherwise I have reason to think the greater part would follow the example. The militia, being chiefly composed of enraged democrats, are more ardent and anxious to engage, but they have neither subordination nor discipline. They die very fast. You will hear of some decisive action in the course of a fortnight, or in all probability we shall return to a state of tranquillity. I say decisive, because if I should be beaten, the province is inevitably gone; and should I be victorious, I do not imagine the gentry from the other side will be anxious to return to the charge.

It is certainly something singular that we should be upwards of two months in a state of warfare, and that along this widely extended frontier not a single death, either natural or by the sword, should have occurred among the troops under my command, and we have not been altogether idle, nor has a single desertion taken place.

I am quite anxious for this state of warfare to end, as I wish much to join Lord Wellington, and to see you all.

Has poor Betsey recovered the loss of my young and dear friend, John Tupper?

Posted: 18/09/2012 2:05:58 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock receives news from a deserter that the American regulars at Fort Niagara are well-supplied and ready to launch an attack.

Brock also tells Prevost of Col. Proctor’s campaign against Fort Wayne, the remaining American fort in the Indiana territory. In early September, a group of men from Potawatomi and Miami tribes launched an attack against the fort, which was poorly defended by a drunken Captain James Rhea, and a small group of Americans. Tecumseh and British Captain Muir led another group of Aboriginals and British regulars to Fort Wayne to aid in the attack.

In the meantime, Major General William Henry Harrison led a group of 2,200 men from Ohio to help reinforce Fort Wayne. The British and Aboriginal attackers soon retreated, and the Americans maintained a hold in the Detroit frontier.

I have been honored with your excellency's dispatch, dated the 7th instant. I have implicitly followed your excellency's instructions, and abstained, under great temptation and provocation, from every act of hostility. The information received from a deserter, and which I had the honor to detail in my last, is far from correct, and, where credit is to be given, the facts apply solely to the regular force. The militia, being selected from the most violent democrats, are generally inclined to invade this province--provisions are in tolerable plenty--the only complaint arises from a want of vegetables. It is currently reported that the enemy's force is to be increased to 7,000, and that on their arrival an attack is immediately to be made. I am convinced the militia would not keep together in their present situation without such a prospect, nor do I think the attempt can be long deferred. Sickness prevails in some degree along the line, but principally at Black Rock.

The flank companies of the royal Newfoundland have joined me. A sergeant and twenty-five rank and file of the Veterans arrived at the same time, whom I propose sending to Michilimakinack.

The enclosed letter from Colonel Proctor will inform your excellency of a force having been detached, under Captain Muir, for the reduction of Fort Wayne. I gave orders for it previous to my leaving Amherstburg, which must have induced Colonel Proctor to proceed, upon receiving intelligence of the recommencement of hostilities, without waiting for further directions. I regret exceedingly that this service should be undertaken contrary to your excellency's wishes; but I beg leave to assure you, that the principal object in sending a British force to Fort Wayne is with the hope of preserving the lives of the garrison. By the last accounts, the place was invested by a numerous body of Indians, with very little prospect of being relieved. The prisoners of war, who know perfectly the situation of the garrison, rejoiced at the measure, and give us full credit for our intentions.

The Indians were likewise looking to us for assistance: they heard of the armistice with every mark of jealousy, and, had we refused joining them in the expedition, it is impossible to calculate the consequences. I have already been asked to pledge my word that England would enter into no negociation in which their interests were not included, and, could they be brought to imagine that we should desert them, the consequences must be fatal.

I shall be obliged to your excellency to direct £5,000 to be transmitted to the receiver-general, for the civil expenditure of this province. Army bills, I make no doubt, will answer every purpose.

This dispatch is entrusted to Lieut.-Colonel Nichol, quartermaster-general of this militia, whom I take the liberty to introduce to your excellency, as perfectly qualified, from his local knowledge and late return, to afford every information of the state of affairs in the western district. He is instructed to make extensive purchases of necessaries for the use of the militia, and I have to entreat your excellency to indulge him with the means of a speedy conveyance back to this place.

Posted: 18/09/2012 9:17:15 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock exchanges letters with Major-General Stephen Van Rensselaer on September 17, 1812. Rensselaer was a wealthy and prominent politician who was running for Governor of New York when war was declared. To remove Rensselaer from the race, the current governor put him in command of the United States Army of the Centre. Although Rensselaer was an anti-war Federalist, he was concerned about public perception and accepted the post so that he wouldn’t appear unpatriotic.

Rensselaer and Brock make arrangements for the prisoners captured at Detroit, and Brock issues a warning about the firing he witnesses from across the Niagara.

S.V. RensselaerMajor-General S.V. Rensselaer to Major-General Brock. Head Quarters, Lewiston.

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of yesterday evening; an extract of a letter addressed to you on the 15th instant by Captain Dyson, of the United States regiment of artillery; also a packet addressed to the Honorable Albert Gallatin, secretary of the treasury of the United States.

Colonel Van Rensselaer will have the honor to deliver this communication, and I have entrusted him to solicit your permission for an interview with Captain Dyson, for the purpose of ascertaining, particularly, the condition of the prisoners of war under his charge, to the end that they may be relieved from Fort Niagara, if practicable; and if not, that I may, without delay, state their condition to the government, that they may receive from the proper department the earliest possible supplies.

The women and children, and such other persons as have accompanied the detachment from Detroit, and ought to be here received, I will immediately receive at Fort Niagara, or such other convenient place as you may order them to be landed at.

In a communication which I some time since had the honor of receiving from Lieut.-Colonel Myers, he assured me that it had been the constant study of the general officer commanding on this line to discountenance, by all means in his power, the warfare of sentinels; yet the frequent recurrence of this warfare within a few days past, would warrant the presumption that a different course has been adopted. I wish to be assured of this fact.

Major-General Brock to Major-General S.V. Rensselaer. Head Quarters, Fort George, Sept. 17, 1812.

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this date. Captain Dyson has obtained my permission to cross on his parole to the United States; he has, however, requested to remain till to-morrow, to settle with the men of his detachment. He shall in the mean time have an interview with Colonel Van Rensselaer.

Measures will be immediately taken to land the women and children at Fort Niagara.

It has been with the utmost regret that I have perceived within these few days a very heavy firing from both sides of the river. I am, however, given to understand, that on all occasions it commenced on yours; and from the circumstance of the flag of truce, which I did myself the honor to send over yesterday, having been repeatedly fired upon, while in the act of crossing the river, I am inclined to give full credit to the correctness of the information. Without, however, recurring to the past, you may rest assured on my repeating my most positive orders against the continuance of a practice, which can only be injurious to individuals, without promoting the object which both our nations may have in view.

Posted: 17/09/2012 11:09:35 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Prevost writes to Brock after receiving his communication regarding American activity across the Niagara River. Prevost tells Brock to take soldiers from Fort Detroit to help defend the British forts along the Niagara, but advises that he has no more reinforcements to provide. He includes an excerpt from Lord Bathurst, who is unwilling to send reinforcements to the North American war while the British are still fighting Napoleon.

Captain Fulton arrived on the 11th instant with your letter of the 7th; the intelligence you have communicated by it convinces me of the necessity of the evacuation of Fort Detroit, unless the operations of the enemy on the Niagara frontier bear a character less indicative of determined hostile measures against your line in their front than they did when you last reported to me. You will therefore be pleased, subject to the discretion I have given you under the circumstances to which I have alluded, to take immediate steps for evacuating that post, together with the territory of Michigan; by this measure you will be enabled to withdraw a greater number of the troops from Amherstburg, instead of taking them from Colonel Vincent, whose regular force ought not on any account to be diminished.

I have already afforded you reinforcements to the full extent of my ability; you must not, therefore, expect a further supply of men from hence until I shall receive from England a considerable increase to the present regular force in this province: the posture of affairs, particularly on this frontier, requires every soldier who is in the country.

In my last dispatch from Lord Bathurst, dated the 4th of July, he tells me, "that his majesty's government trusts I will be enabled to suspend with perfect safety all extraordinary preparations for defence which I may have been induced to make in consequence of the precarious state of the relations between this country and the United States; and that as every specific requisition for warlike stores and accoutrements which had been received from me had been complied with, with the exception of the clothing of the corps proposed to be raised from the Glengary emigrants, he had not thought it necessary to direct the preparation of any further supplies." This will afford you a strong proof of the infatuation of his majesty's ministers upon the subject of American affairs, and shew how entirely I have been left to my own resources in the event which has taken place.

Judging from what you have already effected in Upper Canada, I do not doubt but that, with your present means of defence, you will be able to maintain your position at Fort George, and that the enemy will be again foiled in any further attempts they may make to invade the province. I leave to your discretion to decide on the necessity of sending a reinforcement to Michilimakinack.

Posted: 14/09/2012 9:37:31 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

The Montreal Herald reports on General Hull's arrival in Montreal, noting that he was greeted with politeness and respect.

Last Sunday evening the inhabitants of this city were gratified with an exhibition equally novel and interesting.

That General Hull should have entered into our city so soon, at the head of his troops, rather exceeded our expectations. We were, however, very happy to see him, and received him with all the honors due to his high rank and importance as a public character. The following particulars, relative to his journey and reception at Montreal, may not be uninteresting to our readers:


It appears that General Hull and suite, accompanied by about 25 officers and 350 soldiers, left Kingston, under an escort of 130 men, commanded by Major Heathcote, of the Newfoundland regiment. At Cornwall, the escort was met by Captain Gray, of the quartermaster-general's department, who took charge of the prisoners of war, and from thence proceeded with them to La Chine, where they arrived about two o'clock on Sunday afternoon. At La Chine, Captains Richardson and Ogilvie, with their companies of Montreal militia, and a company of the king's from Lower Chine, commanded by Captain Blackmore, formed the escort till they were met by Colonel Auldjo, with the remainder of the flank companies of the militia, upon which Captain Blackmore's company fell out and presented arms as the general and line passed, and then returned to La Chine, leaving the prisoners of war to be guarded by the militia alone. The line of march then proceeded to the town in the following order, viz:

1. Band of the king's regiment.

2. The first division of the escort.

3. General Hull in a carriage, accompanied by Captain Gray. Captain Hull and Major Shekleton followed in the second, and some wounded officers occupied four others.

4. The American officers.

5. The non-commissioned officers and soldiers.

6. The second division of the escort.

It unfortunately proved rather late in the evening for the vast concourse of spectators assembled to experience that gratification they so anxiously looked for. This inconvenience was, however, in a great measure remedied by the illuminations of the streets through which the line of march passed. When they arrived at the general's house, the general was conducted in, and presented to his excellency Sir George Prevost, and was received with the greatest politeness, and invited to take up his residence there during his stay at Montreal. The other officers were accommodated at Holmes' hotel, and the soldiers lodged in the Quebec barracks. The general appears to be about sixty years of age, and is a good looking man, and we are informed by those who have had frequent opportunities of conversing with him, that he is a man of general information. He is communicative, and seems to bear his misfortunes with a degree of philosophical resignation that but few men in similar circumstances are gifted with. On Thursday last General Hull, with eight American officers, left this city for the United States, on their parole.

Posted: 12/09/2012 9:13:29 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Colonel Baynes writes to Brock from Montreal. Baynes describes the scene as General Hull and the other American prisoners captured at Detroit pass through Montreal on their way to Quebec City.

Sir George writes to you so fully upon the several subjects to which your letters refer, that I have little left to communicate to you. Major Heathcote leaves this to-day, with all the small description of ordnance stores intended for Amherstburg, but we have detained the 12-pounders and shot; as you have helped yourself so amply at Detroit, it is imagined you do not now want them. I enclose a letter from Captain Roberts, who was, I suppose, induced to address himself direct to head quarters, by an opportunity of doing so offering itself at the moment. The North-West gentlemen are very urgent in recommending a reinforcement in that quarter; but Sir George has told them that their representation must be addressed to you, who will act as you deem proper.

Your friend, Mr. Isaac Todd, is arrived, and looking much better for his trip; he was suffered to pass by Albany and the lake. He tells me that Mr. M'Donell is confirmed attorney-general, and that the governor's salary is increased, £1,000 a year. I sincerely trust that it will soon be your own. Sir George has in his official dispatches, after paying that tribute of praise so justly your due, stated as his confirmed opinion, that the salvation of the Upper Province has in a very great measure arisen from the civil and military authority being combined in able hands.

"General Hull appears to possess less feeling and sense of shame than any man in his situation could be supposed to do."

The prisoners, with their general, arrived here on Sunday night; as they had not halted since they left Kingston, and were in a very dirty state, we kept them here on Monday, and they yesterday proceeded to William Henry, on their way to Quebec; the officers are to be on parole in Charlesbourg, and the men confined on board two transports in the river. Sir George has permitted most of the officers, who have families with them, to return on their parole; four of them are proposed to be exchanged for the officers of the Royal Scots, taken by the Essex frigate. Sir George has also consented to allow General Hull to return upon his parole: he is loud in his complaints against the government at Washington, and the general thinks that his voice, in the general cry, may be attended with beneficial effects, and has allowed him to return and enter the lists. General Hull appears to possess less feeling and sense of shame than any man in his situation could be supposed to do. He seems to be perfectly satisfied with himself, is lavish of censure upon his government, but appears to think that the most scrupulous cannot attach the slightest blame to his own immediate conduct at Detroit. The grounds upon which he rests his defence are not, I fancy, well founded, for he told us that he had not gunpowder at Detroit for the service of one day. Sir George has since shown him the return of the large supply found in the fort; it did not create a blush, but he made no reply. He professes great surprise and admiration at the zeal and military preparation that he has everywhere witnessed; that it was entirely unlooked for, and that he has no doubt that his friend, General Dearborn, will share his fate, if he has the imprudence to follow his example. Hull seems cunning and unprincipled: how much reliance is to be placed on his professions, time will shew.

General Dearborn has certainly left Albany for Skeensborough, at the head of the lake, where great preparations have been making in collecting boats and sending the regulars from Greenbush to the stations in our vicinity. Major Cotton, with about 300 men, half of the king's regiment, is stationed at Isle aux Noix, and two gun-boats have been carried into that river, as the enemy's preparations seem to indicate that quarter as their point of attack. Colonel Murray commands at St. John's, and will give them a warm reception. I do not feel a doubt of Jonathan's complete discomfiture and disgrace if he make the attempt: we could, I fancy, bring as many men as he will be able to persuade into the field, and of very superior stuff, for our militia have really improved beyond all expectation in discipline, and with it in spirit and confidence. This town would turn out 2,000 volunteer militia, a great proportion of whom are clothed and very tolerably drilled. We have destroyed all the roads of communication in our front, leaving open the water route only, and these woody positions will be shortly occupied by the Indians of this neighbourhood and a corps of volunteer voyageur Canadians. The enemy's preparations, however, may be a feint to cover some plans in agitation against your province.

I send you a long letter from Kempt for your perusal, with a sketch of Badajos, though no longer recent news. I am sure the interest you take in the success of our arms, and in his share in particular, will induce you to read it with pleasure.

Posted: 10/09/2012 9:05:42 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock writes to Prevost from Fort George. Brock knows that another group of American troops are arriving in the west from Kentucky, and he fears they will attempt another attack on Amherstberg. However, he can't spare any troops, as the Americans are quickly reinforcing their men and materials across the Niagara River, and Brock knows they will be launching an attack any day.

I have been honored with your excellency's dispatch, dated the 24th ultimo, and have to thank you for ordering a company of the Glengary regiment to strengthen Colonel Lethbridge at Prescott, whose force you have been led to believe was weakened in consequence of my interference, but which, I beg leave to state, was done without my knowledge, and contrary to my intention.

The enclosed copies of letters will inform you of the state of affairs to the westward. It appears evident the enemy meditates a second attempt on Amherstburg. The greater part of the troops, which are advancing, marched from Kentucky with an intention of joining General Hull. How they are to subsist, even for a short period, in that already exhausted country, is no easy matter to conceive. This difficulty will probably decide them on some bold measure, in the hope of shortening the campaign. If successfully resisted, their fate is inevitable.

The Indians, it appears by the accompanying documents, were adverse to retreating without first making a trial of their strength. Taking, however, every circumstance into consideration, I am inclined to think that Captain Muir acted judiciously. Should the Indians continue to afford a willing co-operation, I entertain not the smallest doubt of the result that awaits this second attempt to turn my right; but your excellency will easily perceive that doubts and jealousies have already seized their minds. The officers of the Indian department will, I trust, be able to remove all such impressions. Although, from the daily observations of what is passing on the opposite shore, a single man can ill be spared from this line, I have notwithstanding determined to send the two flank companies of the royal Newfoundland regiment to Amherstburg. Fresh troops are daily arriving, supposed to belong to the Pennsylvania quota of 2,000 men, known to be intended for this frontier. After the whole arrive, an attack, I imagine, cannot be long delayed. The wretched state of their quotas, and the raggedness of the troops, will not allow them to brave the rain and cold, which during the last week have been so severely felt.

Between 200 and 300 Indians have joined and augmented the force on the other side. Their brethren here feel certain that they will not act with any spirit against us--so I imagine, if we continue to shew a bold front; but in the event of a disaster, the love of plunder will prevail, and they will then act in a manner to be the most dreaded by the inhabitants of this country.

I beg leave to recommend to your excellency's indulgent consideration, Colonel Proctor's application for an increase of pay as commanding a district, which I request may commence from the 16th August last.

Posted: 07/09/2012 10:06:26 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock returns to Kingston, only to learn that the ceasefire agreement has been repealed. He immediately leaves for Fort George on the Niagara River, where he anticipates the Americans will launch an attack.

Upon my arrival here an hour ago, Captain Fulton delivered me your excellency's dispatch, dated the 31st ultimo, enclosing a letter from General Dearborn, in which the president's disapproval of the armistice is announced. I am in consequence induced to return without loss of time to Fort George. Captain Fulton having expressed a wish to accompany me, I have the more readily consented, as he will be able to give you full information of our actual state. The enemy was very busy upon Fort Niagara, and appeared inclined to erect additional batteries. I may perhaps think it proper to stop their career.

I enclose several documents lately received from Colonel Proctor, at Detroit. That officer appears to have conducted himself with much judgment. I likewise transmit a memorial which I have received from some merchants in the Niagara district, but of course I cannot judge of its merits.

I shall be obliged to your excellency to direct the remittance of the £5,000, for which I sent a requisition some time ago, on account of the civil expenditure of this province, either in government paper or specie, as you may deem most convenient. I doubt not the former meeting a ready currency.

The very flattering manner in which your excellency is pleased to view my services, and your kindness in having represented them to his majesty's ministers in such favorable light, are gratifying to my feelings, and call for my grateful acknowledgments.

Posted: 07/09/2012 9:52:58 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock writes to his brothers following his success at Detroit. He promises to share any reward with his brothers, who are in a dire financial situation in London.

You can see Brock thinking about his own mortality, as the war gets more dangerous and he starts to lose men and friends in the conflict.

You will have heard of the complete success which attended the efforts I directed against Detroit. I have received so many letters from people whose opinion I value, expressive of their admiration of the exploit, that I begin to attach to it more importance than I was at first inclined. Should the affair be viewed in England in the light it is here, I cannot fail of meeting reward, and escaping the horror of being placed high on a shelf, never to be taken down.

Some say that nothing could be more desperate than the measure; but I answer, that the state of the province admitted of nothing but desperate remedies. I got possession of the letters my antagonist addressed to the secretary at war, and also of the sentiments which hundreds of his army uttered to their friends. Confidence in the general was gone, and evident despondency prevailed throughout. I have succeeded beyond expectation. I crossed the river, contrary to the opinion of Colonel Proctor,----, &c.; it is, therefore, no wonder that envy should attribute to good fortune what, in justice to my own discernment, I must say, proceeded from a cool calculation of the pours and contres.

"The militia have been inspired, by the recent success, with confidence — the disaffected are silenced."

They say that the value of the articles captured will amount to 30 or £40,000; in that case, my proportion will be something considerable. If it enable me to contribute to your comfort and happiness, I shall esteem it my highest reward. When I returned Heaven thanks for my amazing success, I thought of you all; you appeared to me happy--your late sorrows forgotten; and I felt as if you acknowledged that the many benefits, which for a series of years I received from you, were not unworthily bestowed. Let me know, my dearest brothers, that you are all again united. The want of union was nearly losing this province without even a struggle, and be assured it operates in the same degree in regard to families.

A cessation of hostilities has taken place along this frontier. Should peace follow, the measure will be well; if hostilities recommence, nothing could be more unfortunate than this pause. I cannot give you freely an account of my situation--it is, however, of late much improved. The militia have been inspired, by the recent success, with confidence--the disaffected are silenced. The 49th have come to my aid, besides other troops. I shall see Vincent, I hope, this evening at Kingston. He is appointed to the command of that post--a most important one. I have withdrawn Plenderleath from Niagara to assist him. P---- is sitting opposite to me, and desires to be remembered. James Brock is likewise at Kingston. I believe he considers it more his interest to remain with the 49th than to act as my private secretary; indeed, the salary is a mere pittance. Poor Leggatt is dead, and has left his family in the most distressing circumstances. His wife died last year.

Major Smelt and Captain Brown have sent me your letters, for which I thank you. Let Richard Potenger be assured that his letter afforded me the highest gratification. I trust in Heaven that the whole of his thoughts will be directed to study, and to qualify himself for the holy profession he has chosen. Ignorance is despised in most men, but more particularly in the clergyman educated at one of the universities, who must have neglected so many opportunities of acquiring knowledge.

I received the other day a long letter from Sir Thomas Saumarez, from Halifax. I regret the death of the two Harry Brocks. I have likewise been particularly unfortunate in the loss of two valuable military friends. I begin to be too old to form new friendships, and those of my youth are dropping off fast.

General Sheaffe has lately been sent to me. There never was an individual so miserably off for the necessary assistance. Sir George Prevost has kindly hearkened to my remonstrances, and in some measure supplied the deficiency. The 41st is an uncommonly fine regiment, but, with few exceptions, badly officered. You mention John Tupper in a manner as to leave hope that he may still be living. God grant it! He is a great favorite of mine, and I should lament any disaster happening to him. Perhaps Glegg may be sent home by Sir George, and in that case I hope he will allow you to see the colours taken from the 4th U.S. regiment. The generality of the English will esteem them very little: nothing is prized that is not acquired with blood.

Posted: 07/09/2012 9:42:00 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Prevost writes to Brock with news that President Madison did not approve the ceasefire agreement that Prevost and Dearborn had reached. The temporary ceasefire, which lasted from August 9 to September 8, proved to be a blunder for both sides.

While Hull was holding down the fort at Detroit, he was waiting for Dearborn to organize an invasion of Montreal. It followed that Hull would then be in a much better position to continue his eastward invasion of Upper Canada. However, Dearborn kept delaying and eventually met with Prevost to draft up the ceasefire agreement. The British were already on their way to Detroit and Hull, without the backup from Dearborn he expected, quickly surrendered Fort Detroit.

The ceasefire was also problematic to the British. Under the terms of the ceasefire, men and materials could continue to move along the border. This was much more beneficial to the Americans, who were able to resupply their posts and strengthen their defense in key locations.

I had scarcely closed the letters I addressed to you yesterday, when an aide-de-camp from Major-General Dearborn made his appearance, and delivered to me the dispatch herewith transmitted. It will expose to your view the disposition of the president of the United States on the provisional measure temporarily agreed upon between the American commander-in-chief and myself, in consequence of an earnest desire not to widen the breach existing between the two countries, the revocation of the orders in council having removed the plea used in congress for a declaration of war against Great Britain.

I am much disappointed that the particulars of the surrender of Detroit have not as yet reached me, particularly as my aide-de-camp, Captain Coore, is to leave Montreal this evening for Quebec, where a ship of war is on the point of sailing for Halifax, from whence I expect the admiral will give him a conveyance for England.

Being unacquainted with the conditions attached to the surrender of Brigadier-General Hull's army, and giving scope to your expression of prisoners of war, I have made arrangements for increasing their security against any attempt to rescue them, by ordering Captain Gray to proceed with two flank companies to Prescot.

Posted: 31/08/2012 10:04:42 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Prevost writes to Brock upon hearing about the surrender of Fort Detroit. Prevost tells Brock that an agreement to cease hostilities has been reached, and is awaiting official approval from Washington. This is likely not welcome news to Brock, who was able to secure Aboriginal allies on the promise of a British victory in the war, and would prefer to keep up the momentum from his recent successful attacks.

I received on the 25th, whilst at St. John's, your dispatch, by express from Detroit, of the 16th instant. I do most sincerely congratulate you upon the complete success which has attended your measures for the preservation of Amherstburg. The surrender of Detroit, the capture of General Hull's army with so large a proportion of ordnance, are circumstances of high importance to our country, and which have evinced your talents as an officer in command, and reflect honor upon you, and upon Lieut.-Colonel St. George and Colonel Proctor.

I propose sending an aide-de-camp to England with your short dispatch, together with such details as I am in possession of, respecting Brigadier-General Hull's previous invasion of Upper Canada and of his foiled attempts to invest Amherstburg; but I shall delay his departure from hence until the 1st of September, in hopes of obtaining from you before that time further particulars of the operations which led to General Hull's disgrace.

Well aware of the difficulties you have surmounted for the preservation of your government entire, I shall endeavour to do justice to your merit in my report to his majesty's minister upon the success which has crowned your energy and zeal.

A warrant, giving to you more extensive power over the sentence of such general courts martial as you may be called on to assemble, was signed by me ten days since, and has I hope reached you.

I am in hourly expectation of receiving from General Dearborn intelligence respecting the reception of the proposed suspension of hostilities, in consequence of the revocation of the orders in council, which are the plea for war in the American cabinet; and also whether Mr. Baker has been allowed to assume, pro tempore, the character of a chargé d'affaires at Washington, where Mr. Foster had left him in a demi-official capacity. I consider the arrangement entered into by General Dearborn with Colonel Baynes, requiring the confirmation of the president, to establish its sacredness.

The king's government having most unequivocally expressed to me their desire to preserve peace with the United States, that they might, uninterrupted, pursue, with the whole disposable force of the country, the great interest committed in Europe, I have endeavoured to be instrumental in the accomplishment of their views; but I consider it most fortunate to have been enabled to do so without interfering with your operations on the Detroit.

I have sent you men, money, and stores of every kind.

Posted: 30/08/2012 10:40:50 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

News of Brock's victory at Detroit makes its way around the colonies. William Drummer Powell, the chief justice of Upper Canada, sends his congratulations from Kingston.

I cannot persuade myself to offer my hearty congratulations through the medium of a third person, and hope you will believe that no one sympathizes more cordially than myself in your feelings on the late happy event. I shall never again regret little disappointments, when I consider to what they may lead: had your early representations been attended to and produced their proper effect, you would probably not have to boast of the most brilliant success, with the most inadequate means, which history records. There is something so fabulous in the report of a handful of troops, supported by a few raw militia, leaving their strong post to invade an enemy of double numbers in his own fortress, and making them all prisoners without the loss of a man, that, although your report may be sanctioned by Sir George Prevost, it seems to me that the people of England will be incredulous until they see the exterminating boaster a prisoner in London. We find in a cover by General Sheaffe, that the first report of the cannon taken was one-third short of the real number. I shall hardly sleep until I have the satisfaction of hearing particulars of the wonderful excursion, for it must not be called a campaign. The veni, vidi, vici, is again the faithful report. Your good fortune in one instance is singular, for if your zeal had been thwarted by such adverse winds as frequently occur on the lake, the armistice might have intercepted your career. That it did not I heartily thank God, and pray that nothing may occur to damp the entire satisfaction of yourself and family in the glory so well earned. I am impatient to hear from Colonel M'Donell, but have no doubt that he justified your warmest expectations in every trial. May I beg to be presented to Glegg, and that you, Sir, will believe me, &c.

Posted: 30/08/2012 9:46:52 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock writes to Prevost and provides a more detailed account of the attack on Detroit and the provisions won by the British as a result of the American surrender. Notably absent is mention of Tecumseh's role in the victory.

The force at my disposal being collected in the course of the 15th, in the neighbourhood of Sandwich, the embarkation took place a little after daylight on the following morning; and by the able arrangements of Lieutenant Dewar, of the quartermaster-general's department, the whole was in a short time landed without the smallest confusion at Spring Well, a good position, three miles west of Detroit. The Indians, who had in the mean time effected their landing two miles below, moved forward and occupied the woods, about a mile and a half on our left.

The force, which I instantly directed to march against the enemy, consisted of 30 artillery, 250 41st regiment, 50 royal Newfoundland regiment, 400 militia, and about 600 Indians, to which were attached three 6-pounders and two 3-pounders. The services of Lieutenant Troughton, commanding the royal artillery, an active and intelligent officer, being required in the field, the direction of the batteries was entrusted to Captain Hall and the marine department, and I cannot withhold my entire approbation of their conduct on this occasion.

I crossed the river, with an intention of waiting in a strong position the effect of our force upon the enemy's camp, and in the hope of compelling him to meet us in the field; but receiving information upon landing, that Colonel M'Arthur, an officer of high reputation, had left the garrison three days before with a detachment of 500 men, and hearing, soon afterwards, that his cavalry had been seen that morning three miles in our rear, I decided on an immediate attack. Accordingly, the troops advanced to within one mile of the fort, and having ascertained that the enemy had taken little or no precaution towards the land side, I resolved on an assault, whilst the Indians penetrated his camp. Brigadier-General Hull, however, prevented this movement, by proposing a cessation of hostilities, for the purpose of preparing terms of capitulation. Lieut.-Colonel J. M'cDonell and Captain Glegg were accordingly deputed by me on this mission, and returned within an hour with the conditions, which I have the honor herewith to transmit. Certain considerations afterwards induced me to agree to the two supplementary articles.

The force thus surrendered to his majesty's arms cannot be estimated at less than 2,500 men. In this estimate, Colonel M'cArthur's detachment is included, as he surrendered, agreeably to the terms of capitulation, in the course of the evening, with the exception of 200 men, whom he left escorting a valuable convoy at some little distance in his rear; but there can be no doubt the officer commanding will consider himself equally bound by the capitulation.

The enemy's aggregate force was divided into two troops of cavalry; one company of artillery, regulars; the 4th United States' regiment; detachments of the 1st and 3d United States' regiments, volunteers; three regiments of the Ohio militia; one regiment of the Michigan territory.

Thirty-three pieces of brass and iron ordnance have already been secured.

When this contest commenced, many of the Indian nations were engaged in active warfare with the United States, notwithstanding the constant endeavours of this government to dissuade them from it. Some of the principal chiefs happened to be at Amherstburg, trying to procure a supply of arms and ammunition, which for years had been withheld, agreeably to the instructions received from Sir James Craig, and since repeated by your excellency.

From that moment they took a most active part, and appeared foremost on every occasion; they were led yesterday by Colonel Elliott and Captain M'Kee, and nothing could exceed their order and steadiness. A few prisoners were taken by them during the advance, whom they treated with every humanity; and it affords me much pleasure in assuring your excellency, that such was their forbearance and attention to what was required of them, that the enemy sustained no other loss in men than what was occasioned by the fire of our batteries.

The high sense I entertain of the abilities and judgment of Lieut-Colonel Myers, induced me to appoint him to the important command at Niagara; it was with reluctance I deprived myself of his assistance, but I had no other expedient; his duties, as head of the quartermaster-general's department, were performed to my satisfaction by Lieut.-Colonel Nichol, quartermaster-general of the militia.

Captain Glegg, my aide-de-camp, will have the honor of delivering this dispatch to your excellency; he is charged with the colours taken at the capture of Fort Detroit, and those of the 4th United States' regiment.

Captain Glegg is capable of giving your excellency every information respecting the state of this province, and I shall esteem myself highly indebted to your excellency, to afford him that protection to which his merit and length of service give him a powerful claim. I have the honor to be, &c.

P.S.--I have the honor to enclose a copy of a proclamation which I issued immediately on taking possession of this country.

I should have mentioned in the body of my dispatch, the capture of the Adams; she is a fine vessel, and recently repaired, but without arms.

Posted: 30/08/2012 9:46:35 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

During the night of August 15, Tecumseh led 600 of his men through the Detroit River to Fort Detroit. They arrived at dawn and, by some accounts, marched around the fort in a dizzying formation that exaggerated their strength. Shortly after, Brock arrived with a force of about 330 regulars and 400 militia. Although the Americans outnumbered the British with a force of about 2500, and were fairly well-supplied within the fort, General Hull raised a white flag in surrender without exchanging any fire.

The surrender of Fort Detroit was a major victory for the British, and helped strengthen Tecumseh’s confederacy. General Hull was court-martialed for his actions, and charged with treason, cowardice, and neglect of duty. He was found guilty and sentenced to be shot, although he received a pardon from President James Madison.

On August 16, Brock writes a short note to Prevost informing him of the British victory.

I hasten to apprize your excellency of the capture of this very important post: 2,500 troops have this day surrendered prisoners of war, and about 25 pieces of ordnance have been taken without the sacrifice of a drop of British blood. I had not more than 700 troops, including militia, and about 600 Indians, to accomplish this service. When I detail my good fortune, your excellency will be astonished. I have been admirably supported by Colonel Proctor, the whole of my staff, and I may justly say, every individual under my command.

Posted: 30/08/2012 9:46:08 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Playing on the Americans’ fear of Native American warfare, Brock sends a threatening letter to Hull and demands the surrender of Fort Detroit Head Quarters, Sandwich, Aug. 15, 1812.

"The force at my disposal authorizes me to require of you the immediate surrender of Fort Detroit. It is far from my inclination to join in a war of extermination; but you must be aware, that the numerous body of Indians who have attached themselves to my troops, will be beyond my control the moment the contest commences. You will find me disposed to enter into such conditions as will satisfy the most scrupulous sense of honor. Lieut.-Colonel M'Donell and Major Glegg are fully authorized to conclude any arrangement that may lead to prevent the unnecessary effusion of blood."

ISAAC BROCK, Major-General.
Brigadier-General Hull.

Hull, perhaps calling Brock’s bluff, refuses to surrender and returns the following communication:

Head Quarters, Detroit, Aug. 15, 1812.

"I have received your letter of this date. I have no other reply to make than to inform you, that I am prepared to meet any force which may be at your disposal, and any consequences which may result from any exertion of it you may think proper to make."

W. HULL, Brigadier-General,
Commanding the N.W. Army of the U.S.

Posted: 30/08/2012 9:45:55 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

In light of the surrender of Fort Michilimakinack, and with the knowledge that Hull’s army was weak and insecure, Brock heads to the Detroit front to the British fort of Amherstburg. Shortly after arriving, Brock met the Shawanee chief, Tecumseh, who was leader of a great confederacy of Native Americans. The Americans were threatened by Tecumseh and the confederacy, and the two had engaged in several conflicts in the years leading up to the War of 1812. Tecumseh knew that an alliance with the British, and an American defeat, was the best way to regain land and create an independent nation for the confederacy.

Captain Glegg, who accompanied Brock to Amherstberg, witnessed the meeting between Brock and Tecumseh, and provides us with a first-hand account:

"Tecumseh's appearance was very prepossessing; his figure light and finely proportioned; his age I imagined to be about five and thirty; in height, five feet nine or ten inches; his complexion, light copper; countenance, oval, with bright hazle eyes, beaming cheerfulness, energy, and decision. Three small silver crowns, or coronets, were suspended from the lower cartilage of his aquiline nose; and a large silver medallion of George the Third, which I believe his ancestor had received from Lord Dorchester, when governor-general of Canada, was attached to a mixed coloured wampum string, and hung round his neck. His dress consisted of a plain, neat uniform, tanned deer skin jacket, with long trousers of the same material, the seams of both being covered with neatly cut fringe; and he had on his feet leather moccasins, much ornamented with work made from the dyed quills of the porcupine.

"The first and usual salutation of shaking hands being over, an allusion was made to the late firing of musketry, and Tecumseh at once approved of the reason given by Major-General Brock for its discontinuance. It being late, the parties soon separated, with an understanding that a council would be held the following morning. This accordingly took place, and was attended by about a thousand Indians, whose equipment generally might be considered very imposing. The council was opened by General Brock, who informed the Indians that he was ordered by their great father to come to their assistance, and, with their aid, to drive the Americans from Fort Detroit. His speech was highly applauded, and Tecumseh was unanimously called upon to speak in reply. He commenced with expressions of joy, that their father beyond the great salt lake (meaning the king of England) had at length awoke from his long sleep, and permitted his warriors to come to the assistance of his red children, who had never ceased to remain steady in their friendship, and were now all ready to shed their last drop of blood in their great father's service. After some speeches from other chiefs, and replies thereto, the council broke up. General Brock, having quickly discovered the superior sagacity and intrepidity of Tecumseh, and his influence over the Indians, and not deeming it prudent to develop before so mixed an assemblage the views which were at that moment uppermost in his thoughts, and intended to be carried so quickly into execution, directed Colonel Elliott to inform this Shawanee chief that he wished to see him, accompanied by a few of the oldest chiefs, at Colonel Elliott's quarters. There the general, through the medium of interpreters, communicated his views, and explained the manner in which he intended to carry into execution his operations against Fort Detroit. The chiefs listened with the most apparent eagerness, and expressed their unanimous assent to the proposed plan, assuring General Brock that their co-operation, as pointed out, might be depended on. On General Brock asking whether the Shawanee Indians could be induced to refrain from drinking spirits, Tecumseh assured him that his warriors might be relied on, adding, that before leaving their country on the Wabash river, they had promised him not to taste that pernicious liquor until they had humbled the "big knives," meaning the Americans. In reply to this assurance, General Brock briefly said: 'If this resolution be persevered in, you must conquer.'"

Posted: 30/08/2012 9:45:40 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Prevost writes to Brock from Montreal, having learned of the American surrender of Fort Michilimakinack. He is relieved that it happened after Hull's invasion of Upper Canada at Detroit, and hopes the victory will persuade the Aboriginals to create an alliance with the British to fight against the Americans.

Your letter of the 4th instant, enclosing the proceedings of the executive council of the 3d.; Captain Glegg's letter of the 5th instant, transmitting copies of letters from Colonel Proctor to you of 26th and 30th July, with the correspondence between Brigadier-General Hull and Lieut.-Colonel St. George, and the intercepted correspondence of the former, together with your letter to Colonel Baynes, of the 4th instant, were all delivered to me on my arrival at this place yesterday. The information they contain is highly interesting, and I lose no time in dispatching to you Brigade Major Shekleton, as the bearer of this letter, and for the purpose of receiving whatever communication you may have to make in return. Being fully aware of the necessity of affording you such reinforcements as the exigencies of the service in other parts of the two provinces would permit, I had, previous to the receipt of your letter, made arrangements for that purpose.

Major Ormsby, with three companies of the 49th regiment, protecting a considerable supply of ordnance and ordnance stores, left La Chine on the 6th instant for Kingston and Fort George, taking with him £2,500 for the payment of the regular and militia forces. Major Heathcote, with one company of the 49th regiment, about 110 men of the Newfoundland regiment, and 50 picked Veterans, are to leave La Chine on the 13th instant. With this detachment, an additional supply of ordnance stores and camp equipage for 500 men will be forwarded for Upper Canada; and as soon as a sufficiency of bateaux can again be collected at La Chine, Colonel Vincent is under orders to proceed to Kingston with the remainder of the 49th regiment, and a subaltern of the royal artillery and ten gunners, with two 3-pounders.

When these reinforcements reach you, they will, I trust, enable you successfully to resist the internal, as well as external, enemies opposed to you, and materially aid the able measures you have adopted for the defence of Upper Canada.

With regard to the queries you have submitted to me on the subject of martial law, I have to observe, that it has not fallen within my experience to see martial law proclaimed, except in those places where it has been declared under the authority of a provincial legislature, which of course regulated the mode in which it was to be executed. As the martial law which you purpose declaring is founded on the king's commission, and upon the extreme case of invasion alluded to in it, I am inclined to think that whatever power is necessary for carrying the measure into effect, must have been intended to be given you by the commission, and consequently, that the power of assembling courts martial and of carrying their sentence into execution, is included in the authority for declaring martial law. The officers of militia becoming themselves subject to martial law when it is declared, I conceive they may sit upon courts martial with officers of his majesty's regular forces; but upon both these points I desire not to be understood as speaking decisively--extreme cases must be met by measures which, on ordinary occasions, would not perhaps be justified. Your situation is such as to warrant your resorting to any step which, in your judgment, the public safety may require. I should therefore think, that after taking the best opinions you can obtain from the first law characters you have about you respecting the doubts you entertain on this subject, you need not hesitate to determine upon that line of conduct which you shall think will best promote the good of the service, trusting, if you do err, to the absolute necessity of the measures you may adopt, as your justification for them to his majesty's government.

"...my mind has been very much relieved by finding that the capture took place at a period subsequent to Brigadier-General Hull's invasion of the province..."

Your letters of the 26th, 28th and 29th July, with the several enclosures and papers accompanying them, were received by me shortly previous to my leaving Quebec; the last containing Captain Roberts' official account of the capture of Fort Michilimakinack. Great credit is certainly due to that officer for the zeal and promptitude with which he has performed this service; at the same time I must confess, my mind has been very much relieved by finding that the capture took place at a period subsequent to Brigadier-General Hull's invasion of the province, as, had it been prior to it, it would not only have been in violation of Captain Roberts' orders, but have afforded a just ground for the subsequent conduct of the enemy, which, I now plainly perceive, no forbearance on your part would have prevented. The capture of this place will, I hope, enable the Indian tribes in that quarter to co-operate with you in your present movements against the enemy, by threatening his flanks, a diversion which would greatly alarm him, and probably have the effect of compelling him to retreat across the river.

I send you enclosed a copy of the official repeal of the orders in council, which I received last night by express from Quebec. Although I much doubt whether this step on the part of our government will have any effect upon that of the United States, the circulation of the paper evincing their conciliatory disposition may tend to increase and strengthen the divisions which subsist amongst the people upon the subject of the war. I therefore recommend to you to have a number of copies struck off and distributed.

Colonel Baynes is still absent upon his mission to the enemy's camp. Your letter to him of the 29th ultimo was received at the same time with those I have last acknowledged. Colonel Lethbridge I have directed to return to Montreal.

The issue of army bills has taken place at Quebec, and I hope to be able shortly to send you a supply of them.

Posted: 30/08/2012 9:45:26 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Having closed the session of legislature, Brock writes to Prevost from York and wishes to clarify his powers.

I have the honor to enclose a statement made by me yesterday to his majesty's executive council, which will fully apprize your excellency of my situation. The council adjourned for deliberation, and I have no doubt will recommend the prorogation of the assembly and proclamation declaring martial law, but doubts occurred in contemplation of such an event, which I take the liberty to submit to your excellency, and request the aid of your experience and superior judgment.

1.--In the event of declaring martial law, can I, without the sign manual, approve and carry into effect the sentence of a general court martial?

2.--Can I put upon a general court martial, after martial law is proclaimed, any person not a commissioned officer in his majesty's regular forces? In other words, can officers of militia sit in conjunction with those of the line?

Posted: 30/08/2012 9:45:14 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Prevost writes to Brock and shares intelligence that Britain might still entertain negotiating a truce with the Americans. Prevost decides to send Colonel Baynes to the United States to try to work out an armistice with General Dearborn.

Last evening an officer of the 98th regiment arrived here express from Halifax, the bearer of dispatches to me, dated on the 22d ultimo, from Mr. Foster, who was then in Nova Scotia.

I lose no time in making you acquainted with the substance of this gentleman's communication. He informs me that he had just received dispatches from England, referring to a declaration of ministers in parliament, relative to a proposed repeal of the orders in council, provided the United States government would return to relations of amity with us, the contents of which may possibly induce the American government to agree to a suspension of hostilities as a preliminary to negotiations for peace;--that he proposed sending his majesty's hired armed ketch Gleaner to New York, with letters to Mr. Baker, whom he had left at Washington in a demi-official capacity, with directions to communicate with the American minister and to write to me the result of his interview. Should the president of the United States think proper to signify that hostile operations should cease on the American side, Mr. Foster suggests the expediency of my being prepared to make a similar signification on our part.

As I propose sending Colonel Baynes immediately into the United States, with a proposal for a cessation of hostile operations, I enclose for your information the copy of my letter to General Dearborn, or the commander-in-chief of the American forces.

Mr. Foster also submits the propriety of our abstaining from an invasion of the United States territory, as only in such an event could the American government be empowered to order the militia out of the States. I am led to believe from this, that General Hull, in possessing himself of Sandwich, has exceeded his instructions; particularly as Mr. Foster informs me that Mr. Monroe had told him Fort Maiden (Amherstburg) would not be attacked, but that General Hull had stated to a friend of his, some time ago, that he would attempt it.

A report has been made to me that a frigate and six transports, with the Royal Scots (1st battalion) on board, from the West Indies, are just below Bic;--in consequence of this reinforcement, I have ordered the company of the 49th regiment, sent to Kingston, to remain there; and in addition to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, and a detachment of an officer and 50 Veterans most fit for service, now on their route to that station, I shall order Major Ormsby, with three companies of the 49th regiment, to proceed from Montreal to the same post, to be disposed of as you may find it necessary.

Lieut.-General Sir J.C. Sherbrooke has informed me that one of the transports, with part of the Royals on board, has been captured by the United States frigate the Essex; that she has been ransomed and the officers and troops allowed to proceed, upon condition that they are not to serve against America until regularly exchanged. The vessel and troops had arrived at Halifax, and will shortly be sent hither.

Posted: 30/08/2012 9:44:54 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Prevost writes to Brock from Lower Canada. Prevost advises that he has sent Roger Hale Sheaffe to assist Brock at Fort George. Sheaffe, an American-born loyalist, served under Brock previously in the 49th Regiment of Foot and the two fought together in the Baltic prior to their current post in Upper Canada.

Prevost has found out that Britain repealed the Orders in Council on June 17. Of course, this information did not cross the Atlantic in time and the Americans signed their declaration of war on July 18. A “remarkable coincidence,” is one way to put it, Prevost!

I have received your letter of the 20th instant, accompanied by the copy of two letters from Lieut.-Colonel St. George, who is in command at Amherstburg, and some interesting documents found on board a schooner, which had been taken by the boats of the Hunter.

In consequence of your having desired Colonel Proctor to proceed to Amherstburg, and of your presence being necessary at the seat of government to meet the legislature of Upper Canada, I have taken upon myself to place Major-General Sheaffe on the staff, to enable me to send him to assist you in the arduous task you have to perform, in the able execution of which I have great confidence. He has been accordingly directed to proceed without delay to Upper Canada, there to place himself under your command.

I believe you are authorized by the commission under which you administer the government of Upper Canada, to declare martial law in the event of invasion or insurrection; it is therefore for you to consider whether you can obtain any thing equivalent to that power from your legislature. I have not succeeded in obtaining a modification of it in Lower Canada, and must therefore, upon the occurrence of either of those calamities, declare the law martial unqualified, and of course shut the doors of the courts of civil law.

The report transmitted by Captain Dixon, of the Royal Engineers, to Lieut.-Colonel Bruyeres, of the state of defence in which he had placed Fort Amherstburg, together with the description of the troops allotted for its defence, give me a foreboding that the result of General Hull's attempt upon that fort will terminate honorably to our arms.

If Lieut.-Colonel St. George be possessed of the talents and resources required to form a soldier, he is fortunate in the opportunity of displaying them. Should General Hull be compelled to relinquish his operations against Amherstburg, it will be proper his future movements should be most carefully observed, as his late march exhibits a more than ordinary character of enterprize.

Your supposition of my slender means is but too correct; notwithstanding, you may rely upon every exertion being made to preserve uninterrupted the communication between Kingston and Montreal, and that I will also give all possible support to your endeavours to overcome every difficulty.

The possession of Malden, which I consider means Amherstburg, appears a favorite object with the government of the United States. I sincerely hope you will disappoint them.

Should the intelligence, which arrived yesterday by the way of Newfoundland, prove correct, a remarkable coincidence will exist in the revocation of our orders in council as regards America, and the declaration of war by congress against England, both having taken place on the same day in London and at Washington, the 17th June.

Posted: 31/07/2012 3:53:14 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock writes to Prevost and shares the news of the successful capture of Fort Mackinac, and is sure to point out that it was justified in light of Hull’s invasion at Sandwich (even if Brock didn’t know about Hull’s invasion prior to sending his force to Fort Mackinac!)

I have the honor to transmit herewith a dispatch this instant received from Captain Roberts, announcing the surrender by capitulation, on the 17th instant, of Fort Michilimakinack.

The conduct of this officer since his appointment to the command of that distant post, has been distinguished by much zeal and judgment, and his recent eminent display of those qualities your excellency will find has been attended with the most happy effect.

The militia stationed here volunteered this morning their services to any part of the province without the least hesitation. I have selected 100, whom I have directed to proceed without delay to Long Point, where I purpose collecting a force for the relief of Amherstburg. This example, I hope, will be followed by as many as may be required. By the militia law, a mail refusing to march may be fined £5, or confined three months; and although I have assembled the legislature for the express purpose of amending the act, I much fear nothing material will be done. Your excellency will scarcely believe, that this infatuated house of assembly have refused, by a majority of two, to suspend for a limited time the habeas corpus.

The capture of Michilimakinack may produce great changes to the westward. The actual invasion of the province justifies every act of hostility on the American territory.

It was not till this morning that I was honored with your excellency's dispatches, dated the 7th and 10th instant. Their contents, I beg to assure your excellency, have relieved my mind considerably. I doubt whether General Hull had instructions to cross to this side of the river; I rather suspect he was compelled by a want of provisions. I embark immediately in the Prince Regent for Fort George. I return here the day after to-morrow, and shall probably dissolve the legislature.

Posted: 29/07/2012 3:50:55 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock opens an emergency session of legislature at York. Brock is concerned by the lack of motivation and discipline in the militia and, in several speeches, argues for changes to the Militia Act to better prepare the colonies for American attacks. The legislature agrees to provide more money to finance the militia, and creates penalties for men who refuse to obey orders.

Honorable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly,

The urgency of the present crisis is the only consideration which could have induced me to call you together at a time when public, as well as private duties elsewhere, demand your care and attention.

But, gentlemen, when invaded by an enemy whose avowed object is the entire conquest of the province, the voice of loyalty, as well as of interest, calls aloud to every person in the sphere in which he is placed to defend his country.

Our militia have heard that voice, and have obeyed it; they have evinced, by the promptitude and loyalty of their conduct, that they are worthy of the king whom they serve, and of the constitution which they enjoy; and it affords me particular satisfaction, that while I address you as legislators, I speak to men who, in the day of danger, will be ready to assist, not only with their counsel, but with their arms.

We look, gentlemen, to our militia, as well as to the regular forces, for our protection; but I should be wanting to that important trust committed to my care, if I attempted to conceal (what experience, the great instructor of mankind, and especially of legislators, has discovered,) that amendment is necessary in our militia laws to render them efficient.

It is for you to consider what further improvements they still may require.

Honorable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly,

From the history and experience of our mother country, we learn that in times of actual invasion or internal commotion, the ordinary course of criminal law has been found inadequate to secure his majesty's government from private treachery as well as from open disaffection; and that at such times its legislature has found it expedient to enact laws restraining for a limited period the liberty of individuals, in many cases where it would be dangerous to expose the particulars of the charge; and although the actual invasion of the province might justify me in the exercise of the full powers reposed in me on such an emergency, yet it will be more agreeable to me to receive the sanction of the two houses.

A few traitors have already joined the enemy, have been suffered to come into the country with impunity, and have been harboured and concealed in the interior; yet the general spirit of loyalty which appears to pervade the inhabitants of this province, is such as to authorize a just expectation that their efforts to mislead and deceive will be unavailing. The disaffected, I am convinced, are few--to protect and defend the loyal inhabitants from their machinations, is an object worthy of your most serious deliberation.

Gentlemen of the House of Assembly,

I have directed the public accounts of the province to be laid before you, in as complete a state as this unusual period will admit; they will afford you the means of ascertaining to what extent you can aid in providing for the extraordinary demands occasioned by the employment of the militia, and I doubt not but to that extent you will cheerfully contribute.

Posted: 27/07/2012 3:46:09 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock writes to Prevost from Fort George. His letter reveals the uncertainty of an alliance with Aboriginals against the Americans. Despite the American invasion at Sandwich, Brock has received word that many Aboriginals continue to remain neutral, and Brock fears that some might even fight on the side of the Americans.

Since my dispatch to your excellency of the 20th instant, I have received information of the enemy having made frequent and extensive inroads from Sandwich up the river Thames. I have in consequence been induced to detach Capt. Chambers with about 50 of the 41st regiment to the Moravian town, where I have directed 200 militia to join him. From the loud and apparently warm professions of the Indians residing on the Grand River, I made no doubt of finding at all times a large majority ready to take the field and act in conjunction with our troops; but accounts received this morning state that they have determined to remain neutral, and they had consequently refused, with the exception of about fifty, to join Captain Chambers' detachment.

I meditated a diversion to the westward, the moment I could collect a sufficient number of militia, in the hope of compelling General Hull to retreat across the river; but this unexpected intelligence has ruined the whole of my plans. The militia, which I destined for this service, will now be alarmed, and unwilling to leave their families to the mercy of 400 Indians, whose conduct affords such wide room for suspicion; and really to expect that this fickle race will remain in a state of neutrality in the midst of war, would be truly absurd. The Indians have probably been led to this change of sentiment by emissaries from General Hull, whose proclamation to the Six Nations is herewith enclosed.

I have not deemed it of sufficient consequence to commence active operations on this line, by an attack on Fort Niagara. It can be demolished, when found necessary, in half an hour, and there my means of annoyance would terminate. To enable the militia to acquire some degree of discipline without interruption, is of far greater consequence than such a conquest. Every thing in my power shall be done to overcome the difficulties by which I am surrounded; but without strong reinforcements, I fear the country cannot be roused to make exertions equal to meet this crisis.

I proceed immediately to York, to attend the meeting of the legislature, and I hope to return on Wednesday. The charge of this frontier will in the mean time devolve on Lieut.-Colonel Myers, who appears worthy of every confidence. The actual invasion of the province has compelled me to recall that portion of the militia whom I permitted to return home and work at harvest. I am prepared to hear of much discontent in consequence; the disaffected will take advantage of it, and add fuel to the flame. But it may not be without reason that I may be accused of having already studied their convenience and humour, to the injury of the service.

I should have derived much consolation in the midst of my present difficulties had I been honored, previously to the meeting of the legislature, with your excellency's determination in regard to this province. That it cannot be maintained with its present force is very obvious; and unless the enemy be driven from Sandwich, it will be impossible to avert much longer the impending ruin of the country. Numbers have already joined the invading army; commotions are excited; and the late occurrences at Sandwich have spread a general gloom. I have not heard from Lieut.-Colonel St. George, or from any individual at Amherstburg, since I last had the honor of addressing your excellency, which makes me apprehensive that Colonel Proctor has been detained on his journey too long for the good of the service.

The enemy's cavalry, amounting to about fifty, are led by one Watson, a surveyor from Montreal of a desperate character. This fellow has been allowed to parade with about twenty men of the same description as far as Westminster, vowing as they went along the most bitter vengeance against the first characters in the province. Nothing can shew more strongly the state of apathy which exists in most parts of the country; but I am perhaps too liberal in attributing the conduct of the inhabitants to that cause.

Mr. Couche has represented to the head of his department the total impracticability of carrying on the public service without a remittance of specie, or a government paper substitute. He was in expectation of making arrangements with some individuals that would have enabled him to proceed, but I much fear that the whole project has fallen to the ground. The militia on this communication were so clamorous for their pay, that I directed Mr. Couche to make the necessary advances, and this has drained him of the little specie in his possession.

My present civil office not only authorizes me to convene general courts martial for the trial of offenders belonging to the militia, but likewise the infliction of the sentence of death; whilst, in regard to the military, my power is limited to the mere assembling of the court. I beg leave to submit to the consideration of your excellency, whether in times like the present I ought not to be invested with equal authority over each service.

I herewith have the honor to transmit two letters, one from Captain Roberts, commanding at St. Joseph's, and the second from Mr. Dickson, a gentleman every way capable of forming a correct judgment of the actual state of the Indians. Nothing can be more deplorable than his description; yet the United States government accuse Great Britain of instigating that people to war. Is not the true cause to be found in the state of desperation to which they are reduced by the unfriendly and unjust measures of that government towards them?

Posted: 25/07/2012 3:43:05 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

In response to General Hull’s proclamation at Sandwich, General Brock issues his own counter-proclamation from Fort George.

The unprovoked declaration of war by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and its dependencies, has been followed by the actual invasion of this province, in a remote frontier of the western district, by a detachment of the armed force of the United States.

The officer commanding that detachment has thought proper to invite his majesty's subjects, not merely to a quiet and unresisting submission, but insults them with a cell to seek voluntarily the protection of his government.

Without condescending to repeat the illiberal epithets bestowed in this appeal of the American commander to the people of Upper Canada, on the administration of his majesty, every inhabitant of the province is desired to seek the confutation of such indecent slander in the review of his own particular circumstances. Where is the Canadian subject who can truly affirm to himself that he has been injured by the government, in his person, his property, or his liberty? Where is to be found, in any part of the world, a growth so rapid in prosperity and wealth, as this colony exhibits? Settled, not thirty years, by a band of veterans, exiled from their former possessions on account of their loyalty, not a descendant of these brave people is to be found, who, under the fostering liberality of their sovereign, has not acquired a property and means of enjoyment superior to what were possessed by their ancestors.

This unequalled prosperity would not have been attained by the utmost liberality of the government, or the persevering industry of the people, had not the maritime power of the mother country secured to its colonists a safe access to every market, where the produce of their labour was in request.

The unavoidable and immediate consequences of a separation from Great Britain must be the loss of this inestimable advantage; and what is offered you in exchange? To become a territory of the United States, and share with them that exclusion from the ocean which the policy of their government enforces; you are not even flattered with a participation of their boasted independence; and it is but too obvious that, once estranged from the powerful protection of the United Kingdom, you must be reannexed to the dominion of France, from which the provinces of Canada were wrested by the arms of Great Britain, at a vast expense of blood and treasure, from no other motive than to relieve her ungrateful children from the oppression of a cruel neighbour. This restitution of Canada to the empire of France, was the stipulated reward for the aid afforded to the revolted colonies, now the United States; the debt is still due, and there can be no doubt but the pledge has been renewed as a consideration for commercial advantages, or rather for an expected relaxation in the tyranny of France over the commercial world. Are you prepared, inhabitants of Canada, to become willing subjects, or rather slaves, to the despot who rules the nations of continental Europe with a rod of iron? If not, arise in a body, exert your energies, co-operate cordially with the king's regular forces to repel the invader, and do not give cause to your children, when groaning under the oppression of a foreign master, to reproach you with having so easily parted with the richest inheritance of this earth--a participation in the name, character, and freedom of Britons!

The same spirit of justice, which will make every reasonable allowance for the unsuccessful efforts of zeal and loyalty, will not fail to punish the defalcation of principle. Every Canadian freeholder is, by deliberate choice, bound by the most solemn oaths to defend the monarchy, as well as his own property; to shrink, from that engagement is a treason not to be forgiven. Let no man suppose that if, in this unexpected struggle, his majesty's arms should be compelled to yield to an overwhelming force, the province will be eventually abandoned; the endeared relations of its first settlers, the intrinsic value of its commerce, and the pretensions of its powerful rival to repossess the Canadas, are pledges that no peace will be established between the United States and Great Britain and Ireland, of which the restoration of these provinces does not make the most prominent condition.

Be not dismayed at the unjustifiable threat of the commander of the enemy's forces to refuse quarter, should an Indian appear in the ranks. The brave bands of aborigines which inhabit this colony were, like his majesty's other subjects, punished for their zeal and fidelity, by the loss of their possessions in the late colonies, and rewarded by his majesty with lands of superior value in this province. The faith of the British government has never yet been violated--the Indians feel that the soil they inherit is to them and their posterity protected from the base arts so frequently devised to over-reach their simplicity. By what new principle are they to be prohibited from defending their property? If their warfare, from being different to that of the white people, be more terrific to the enemy, let him retrace his steps--- they seek him not--and cannot expect to find women and children in an invading army. But they are men, and have equal rights with all other men to defend themselves and their property when invaded, more especially when they find in the enemy's camp a ferocious and mortal foe, using the same warfare which the American commander affects to reprobate.

This inconsistent and unjustifiable threat of refusing quarter, for such a cause as being found in arms with a brother sufferer, in defence of invaded rights, must be exercised with the certain assurance of retaliation, not only in the limited operations of war in this part of the king's dominions, but in every quarter of the globe; for the national character of Britain is not less distinguished for humanity than strict retributive justice, which will consider the execution of this inhuman threat as deliberate murder, for which every subject of the offending power must make expiation.

ISAAC BROCK,
Major-Gen, and President.
Head Quarters,
Fort George, July 22, 1812.
By order of his honor the president.
J.B. GLEGG,
Captain and Aide-de-Camp.

Posted: 22/07/2012 3:39:58 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock writes to Prevost from British headquarters in Fort George. About 2 weeks prior, the British captured the American schooner Cuyahoga Packet, as it sailed along the Detroit River. Unaware that war had been declared, General William Hull sent the schooner ahead to Fort Detroit with medical supplies, weapons, and about 30 regulars, while he and his men made the trek over land. The British forces at Amherstberg, who received word of war the day before, caught sight of the schooner sailing down the Detroit River, quickly approached the vessel and forced its captain to surrender the ship.

After going through the ship’s supplies, the British were pleased to find that it was also transporting General Hull’s personal correspondence. The letters contained key information about Hull’s strategy and resources, and were quickly sent to General Brock.

My last to your excellency was dated the 12th instant, since which nothing extraordinary has occurred on this communication. The enemy has evidently diminished his force, and appears to have no intention of making an immediate attack.

I have herewith the honor of enclosing the copy of two letters which I have received from Lieut.-Colonel St. George, together with some interesting documents found on board a schooner, which the boats of the Hunter captured on her voyage from the Miami to Detroit.

From the accompanying official correspondence between General Hull and the secretary at war, it appears that the collected force which has arrived at Detroit amounts to about 2,000 men. I have requested Colonel Proctor to proceed to Amherstburg, and ascertain accurately the state of things in that quarter. I had every inclination to go there myself, but the meeting of the legislature on the 27th instant renders it impossible.

I receive this moment a dispatch dated the 15th instant, from Lieut.-Colonel St. George, giving an account of the enemy having landed on the 12th and immediately after occupied the village of Sandwich. It is strange that three days should be allowed to elapse before sending to acquaint me of this important fact. I had no idea, until I received Lieut.-Colonel St. George's letter a few days ago that General Hull was advancing with so large a force.

The militia, from every account, behaved very ill. The officers appear the most in fault. Colonel Proctor will probably reach Amherstburg in the course of to-morrow. I have great dependence in that officer's decision, but fear he will arrive too late to be of much service. The enemy was not likely to delay attacking a force that had allowed him to cross the river in open day without firing a shot.

The position which Lieut.-Colonel St. George occupied is very good, and infinitely more formidable than the fort itself. Should he therefore be compelled to retire, I know of no other alternative than his embarking in the king's vessels and proceeding to Fort Erie.

Were it possible to animate the militia to a proper sense of their duty, something might yet be done--but I almost despair.

Your excellency will readily perceive the critical situation in which the reduction of Amherstburg will place me.

I do not imagine General Hull will be able to detach more than I,000 men, but even with that trifling force I much fear he will succeed in getting to my rear. The militia will not act without a strong regular force to set them the example; and as I must now expect to be seriously threatened, I cannot in prudence make strong detachments, which would not only weaken my line of defence, but, in the event of a retreat, endanger their safety.

I am now given to understand that General Hull's insidious proclamation, herewith enclosed, has already been productive of considerable effect on the minds of the people. In fact, a general sentiment prevails, that with the present force resistance is unavailing. I shall continue to exert myself to the utmost to overcome every difficulty. Should, however, the communication between Kingston and Montreal be cut off, the fate of the troops in this part of the province will be decided. I now express my apprehensions on a supposition that the slender means your excellency possesses will not admit of diminution; consequently, that I need not look for reinforcements. It is evidently not the intention of the enemy to make any attempt to penetrate into the province by this strait, unless the present force be diminished. He seems much more inclined to work on the flanks, aware that if he succeed every other part must very soon submit.

My last official communication from the Lower Province is dated the 25th ultimo, when the adjutant-general announced the receipt of intelligence, by a mercantile house, of war being declared by the United States against Great Britain.

Posted: 20/07/2012 3:33:30 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

When Brock learned that the Americans declared war again Britain, he knew he needed to take swift action – even if Prevost was set on a defensive approach only.

Brock sent William McKay to the British post on St. Joseph Island, where they assembled a party made up of British regulars under Captain Charles Roberts, members of the North West Company, and Aboriginal allies from Ojibway, Ottawa, Sioux, Menominee, and Winnebago nations. Brock went back and forth on his orders to Roberts, but eventually told him to use his own discretion in deciding what was necessary to defend the British post at St. Joseph. Brock wanted them to take Fort Mackinac, an American trading post located on an island in Lake Huron.

The British force soon found out from an American captive that Lieutenant Porter Hanks and his men at Fort Mackinac weren’t aware that war had been declared. With this valuable information, and with Brock’s implicit permission, the British set out in the North West Company schooner the Caledonia.

They landed at the American fort in the middle of the night, and quietly ushered the villagers out of their homes and gathered them at one end of the island. The British set up a cannon on the hill overlooking the fort and set off a single warning shot to Lieutenant Porter Hanks. Completely taken by surprise and intimidated by the number of British and Aboriginal men, Hanks had no choice but to surrender the fort. The first engagement of the War of 1812 ended as quietly as it began.

Posted: 17/07/2012 10:49:14 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

On July 12, 1812, Hull landed in Sandwich (Windsor) and issued a proclamation to the residents of Upper Canada. Following the popular belief that Upper Canada would not resist invasion, Hull claimed that the Americans were there to free and protect the colonists from the "tyranny" of the British. At the same time, he used a threatening tone to caution residents against joining the British side.

"Inhabitants of Canada!--After thirty years of peace and prosperity, the United States have been driven to arms. The injuries and aggressions, the insults and indignities of Great Britain, have once more left them no alternative but manly resistance or unconditional submission.

The army under my command has invaded your country, and the standard of union now waves over the territory of Canada. To the peaceable, unoffending inhabitant, it brings neither danger nor difficulty. I come to find enemies, not to make them. I come to protect, not to injure you.

Separated by an immense ocean, and an extensive wilderness from Great Britain, you have no participation in her councils, no interest in her conduct. You have felt her tyranny, you have seen her injustice--but I do not ask you to avenge the one or redress the other. The United States are sufficiently powerful to afford you every security, consistent with their rights and your expectations. I tender you the invaluable blessings of civil, political, and religious liberty, and their necessary result, individual and general prosperity--that liberty which gave decision to our councils and energy to our conduct in our struggle for independence, and which conducted us safely and triumphantly through the stormy period of the revolution--that liberty which has raised us to an elevated rank among the nations of the world, and which has afforded us a greater measure of peace and security, of wealth and improvement, than ever yet fell to the lot of any people.

In the name of my country, and by the authority of my government, I promise protection to your persons, property and rights. Remain at your homes--pursue your peaceful and customary avocations--raise not your hands against your brethren. Many of your fathers fought for the freedom and independence we now enjoy. Being children, therefore, of the same family with us, and heirs to the same heritage, the arrival of an army of friends must be hailed by you with a cordial welcome. You will be emancipated from tyranny and oppression, and restored to the dignified station of freemen.

Had I any doubt of eventual success, I might ask your assistance; but I do not. I come prepared for every contingency. I have a force which will look down all opposition, and that force is but the vanguard of a much greater. If, contrary to your own interests and the just expectation of my country, you should take part in the approaching contest, you will be considered and treated as enemies, and the horrors and calamities of war will stalk before you. If the barbarous and savage policy of Great Britain be pursued, and the savages be let loose to murder our citizens, and butcher our women and children, this war will be a war of extermination. The first stroke of the tomahawk, the first attempt with the scalping knife, will be the signal of one indiscriminate scene of desolation. No white man, found fighting by the side of an Indian, will be taken prisoner--instant destruction will be his lot. If the dictates of reason, duty, justice, and humanity, cannot prevent the employment of a force which respects no rights and knows no wrong, it will be prevented by a severe and relentless system of retaliation.

I doubt not your courage and firmness--I will not doubt your attachment to liberty. If you tender your services voluntarily, they will be accepted readily. The United States offer you peace, liberty, and security. Your choice lies between these and war, slavery and destruction. Choose, then, but choose wisely; and may He who knows the justice of our cause, and who holds in his hand the fate of nations, guide you to a result the most compatible with your rights and interests, your peace and prosperity."

W. HULL.
By the General, A.F. HULL.
Capt. 13th Regt. U.S. Infantry, and
Aide-de-Camp.
Head Quarters,
Sandwich, July 12, 1812.

Posted: 13/07/2012 10:57:01 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock writes to Prevost and gives a detailed account of his situation at Fort George. He expresses his discontent and distrust for the men in the militia, describing them as impatient and uninspired. Perhaps this is Brock’s tactic to get Prevost to agree to a more offensive approach.

With the exception of occasional firing from the opposite shore, (the unauthorized act of an undisciplined militia,) nothing of a hostile nature has occurred on this communication since I last had the honor of addressing your excellency.

The enemy is busy constructing batteries at different points in the river, but he does not appear to have yet received cannon to place in them. We are doing all we can on this side to counteract his views, and the arrival this morning of the Royal George and the vessels under her convoy, bringing various pieces of ordnance, will give us in this respect a decided superiority.

"... it appears likewise evident to me that the greater part are either indifferent to what is passing, or so completely American as to rejoice in the prospect of a change of government."

The militia, which assembled here immediately on the account being received of war being declared by the United States, have been improving daily in discipline; but the men evince a degree of impatience under their present restraint, that is far from inspiring confidence. So great was the clamour to return and attend to their farms, that I found myself in some measure compelled to sanction the departure of a large proportion; and I am not without my apprehensions that the remainder will, in defiance of the law, which can only impose a fine of £20, leave the service the moment the harvest commences. There can be no doubt that a large portion of the population in this neighbourhood are sincere in their professions to defend the country; but it appears likewise evident to me that the greater part are either indifferent to what is passing, or so completely American as to rejoice in the prospect of a change of government. Many who now consider our means inadequate, would readily take an active part were the regular troops increased. These cool calculators are numerous in all societies.

The alacrity and good temper with which the militia, in the first instance, marched to the frontiers, have tended to infuse in the mind of the enemy a very different sentiment of the disposition of the inhabitants, who, he was led to believe would, upon the first summons, declare themselves an American state. The display for several days of a large force was made, I have every reason to believe, in that expectation.

Nearly the whole of the arms at my disposal have been issued. They are barely sufficient to arm the militia immediately required to guard the frontier. Were I furnished with the means of distributing arms among the people, in whom confidence can be placed, they would not only overawe the disaffected, but prove of essential use in the event of invasion. The militia assembled in a wretched state in regard to clothing; many were without shoes, an article which can scarcely be provided in the country.

After the cannon, which have arrived this morning, are mounted, I shall consider my front perfectly secure. I do not imagine the enemy will hazard a water excursion with a view to turn my flanks. He probably will wait until winter, when the ice will enable him to cross with the utmost facility to any part between Fort Erie and as far as Long Point. My situation will then depend upon the force the enemy may bring to invade the province. Should the troops have to move, the want of tents will be severely felt.

A person who left Sandwich yesterday week, pretends that the enemy was then in the act of cannonading the place. I have not heard from Lieut.-Colonel St. George since my last letter to your excellency.

An officer is so absolutely necessary to command in the eastern district, that I have consented to Major-General Shaw proceeding thither in that capacity. I have full confidence in his judgment, and his conduct in the field is undoubted. He of course will assume the command in virtue of his militia rank, and will be liable to be superseded by any lieutenant-colonel your excellency may be pleased to appoint.

The expense of defending this province will unquestionably be great; upon a rough calculation, and supposing that 4,000 militia be constantly embodied, it cannot be estimated at less than £140,000 per annum. However great the sum, it will be applied to very considerable advantage, provided your excellency be enabled to send reinforcements, as without them it is scarcely possible that the government of the United States will be so inactive or supine as to permit the present limited force to remain in possession of the country. Whatever can be done to preserve it, or to delay its fall, your excellency may rest assured will be exerted.

Having been suddenly called away from York, I had not time to close my dispatch, giving your excellency an account of my proceedings during my stay at Amherstburg. I now have the honor to forward two documents, detailing the steps taken by the Indian department to prevail on that unfortunate people to accommodate their differences with the American government.

Posted: 12/07/2012 1:42:55 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

George Prevost writes to Brock in this letter dated July 10, 1812. The issue of war has divided many Americans, with most in the southern states in favour of the war, and most in the eastern states opposed to it. Prevost cautions Brock against any offensive act that will unite the Americans and strengthen their force. While Prevost writes this letter, the American General William Hull is preparing his troops to cross the Detroit River and invade Upper Canada at Sandwich (present-day Windsor).

Colonel Lethbridge's departure for Kingston affords me an opportunity of replying more fully and confidentially to your letter of the 3d instant, than I could venture to have done the day before, yesterday by an uncertain conveyance. That officer has been desired to transmit to you, together with this dispatch, a copy of the instructions given to him for his guidance until the exigencies of the service make it necessary in your estimation to substitute others, or to employ the colonel in any other situation of command. In them you will find expressed my sentiments respecting the mode of conducting the war on our part, suited to the existing circumstances; and as they change, so must we vary our line of conduct, adapting it to our means of preserving entire the king's provinces.

"I consider it prudent and politic to avoid any measure which can in its effect have a tendency to unite the people in the American States."

Our numbers would not justify offensive operations being undertaken, unless they were solely calculated to strengthen a defensive attitude. I consider it prudent and politic to avoid any measure which can in its effect have a tendency to unite the people in the American States. Whilst disunion prevails among them, their attempts on these provinces will be feeble; it is, therefore, our duty carefully to avoid committing any act which may, even by construction, tend to unite the eastern and southern states, unless, by its perpetration, we are to derive a considerable and important advantage. But the government of the United States, resting on public opinion for all its measures, is liable to sudden and violent changes; it becomes an essential part of our duty to watch the effect of parties on its measures, and to adapt ours to the impulse given by those possessed of influence over the public mind in America.

Notwithstanding these observations, I have to assure you of my perfect confidence in your measures for the preservation of Upper Canada. All your wants shall be supplied as fast as possible, except money, of which I have so little, as to be obliged to have recourse to a paper currency.

The adjutant-general has reported to you the aid we have afforded, in arms and ammunition, to your militia at Cornwall, Glengary, Dundas, and Stormont.

To prevent an interruption to the communication between the two provinces, it is fit a system of convoy should be established between Montreal and Kingston; and as Major-General de Rottenburg is to remain here in command of a cordon of troops, consisting of regulars and militia, (established in this neighbourhood to prevent an irruption for the plunder of Montreal,) whilst I attend to parliamentary duties at Quebec, on that subject you may communicate direct with the major-general, as he has my instructions to co-operate with you on preserving this important object.

Posted: 12/07/2012 1:30:31 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Colonel Baynes writes to Brock after receiving his letter of July 3, and emphasizes the need for defensive actions. In addition to the "embodied" militia (volunteers with little military experience or training), the British have also raised "flank" companies. These units are made up of younger men from the colonies, who will receive some military training.

I was highly gratified yesterday in receiving your letters of the 3d July, for we have felt extremely anxious about you ever since we have learnt the unexpected declaration of war, which had been so long threatened that no one believed it would ever seriously take place; and even now it is the prevailing opinion that, from the opposition testified by the eastern states, offensive measures are not likely to be speedily adopted against this country. Sir George is inclined to let these sentiments take their course, and as little advantage would accrue by more active measures on our part, our present plans are all defensive. General de Rottenburg is arrived, and the flank companies embodied are on their way: this corps, with the embodied militia, will form a chain from La Prairie to St. John's, with a light corps advanced in their front. We have reports of the 103d regiment being in the river, and, it is added, recruits for the 100th regiment.

Sir George has had applications from so many quarters for militia below Kingston, that to insure a general arrangement and to adopt the best system that circumstances will admit, he has directed Colonel Lethbridge, the inspecting field officer here, to proceed through the line of settlements to see the several colonels and corps of militia so as to fix their quotas, and afterwards to proceed to Kingston and assume the command of that post, if necessary: he will be placed under your orders, but you will perhaps not wish to bring him in contact with the 41st regiment, as he is senior to Colonel Proctor.

Sir George desires me to say, that he does not attempt to prescribe specific rules for your guidance--they must be directed by your discretion and the circumstances of the time: the present order of the day with him is forbearance, until hostilities are more decidedly marked.

Posted: 09/07/2012 9:52:41 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

George Prevost is relieved to hear that Brock did not take any offensive actions against the Americans. Prevost knows that the Americans are divided on the war, and he fears that any offensive move from the British will only unite and strengthen their opponents.

It was only on my arrival at Montreal that I received Mr. Foster's notification of the congress of the United States having declared war against Great Britain; the fact had been previously ascertained through mercantile channels.

I am convinced you have acted wisely in abstaining from offensive operations, which in their effect might have united a people governed by public opinion, and among whom too much division exists, at this moment, to admit of its influence in promoting vigorous measures against us.

The manner of the flank companies of militia turning out must have been very satisfactory to you. I hope your supplies of ordnance and ordnance stores, on their way from Kingston, have arrived safe.

I have caused arms, accoutrements and ammunition, to be forwarded for the use of the Cornwall, Stormont, and Dundas battalions of militia. Camp equipage for 500 men shall be sent to you as soon as possible, together with muskets.

We are on the eve of substituting paper for bullion. I am aware of the Canadian prejudice against such a circulating medium, but it must give way to the imperious necessity of the times.

It is highly proper you should secure the services of the Indians; but restrain and control them as much as you can. Whatever appointments you deem indispensably necessary you are authorized to make, as well as the sacrifice of some money to gain them over. It is proper we should maintain our ascendancy over the Indians, and feed with proper food their predeliction for us.

Colonel Lethbridge, an inspecting field officer, is under orders for Kingston, and there to wait your commands.

Posted: 09/07/2012 9:28:53 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

With news of war still making its way through the colonies, Col Baynes and George Prevost hear rumours that Brock has taken an American fort. Prevost revisits martial law and an oath of allegiance, and speaks of the need for more money. To help finance the war, the British government issued Army Bills (see below, image courtesy of CurrencyMuseum.ca) — the first use of paper money since the Seven Years' War. Paper money increased in use and legitimacy in the colonies during the War of 1812.

We have a report here of your having commenced operations by levelling the American fort at Niagara. The general is most anxious to hear good and recent intelligence from your quarter.

There is no considerable assembly of troops in our neighbourhood as yet; the flank companies, embodied under Colonel Young, are on their march, and the 2,000 militia will form a chain of posts from St. John's to La Prairie. The town militia of this and Quebec, to the amount of 3,000 in each city, have volunteered being embodied and drilled, and will take their proportion of garrison duty to relieve the troops.

The proclamation for declaring martial law is prepared, and will be speedily issued. All aliens will be required to take the oath of allegiance, or immediately quit the province.

Our cash is at its last issue, and a substitute of paper must per force be resorted to. This has been Sir George's principal object in calling the legislature together.

You have a very arduous and difficult card to play, and have our sincere and confident wishes for your success. Sir George strongly recommends extreme moderation in the use of the Indians, and to keep them in control as much as possible.

Posted: 04/07/2012 9:15:45 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock writes to Sir George Prevost from the British headquarters at Fort George. With a firm tone, Brock reminds Prevost that he has yet to provide official orders in light of the Americans' declaration of war. Brock reports on the supplies and men at Fort George, and what he observes from the Americans across the way at Fort Niagara.
 

I have been anxiously expecting for some days to receive the honor of your excellency's commands in regard to the measures the most proper to be pursued on the present emergency.

The accounts received, first through a mercantile channel, and soon after repeated from various quarters, of war having been declared by the United States against Great Britain, would have justified, in my opinion, offensive operations. But the reflection that at Detroit and Michilimakinack the weak state of the garrisons would prevent the commanders from accomplishing any essential service, connected in any degree with their future security, and that my means of annoyance on this communication were limited to the reduction of Fort Niagara, which could easily be battered at any future period, I relinquished my original intention, and attended only to defensive measures. My first object has been the calling out of the flank companies of militia, which has produced a force on this line of about 800 men. They turned out very cheerfully, but already shew a spirit of impatience. The king's stores are now at so low an ebb, that they scarcely furnish any article of use or comfort. Blankets, hammocks and kettles, are all to be purchased; and the troops, when watching the banks of the river, stand in the utmost need of tents. Mr. Couche has adopted the most efficacious means to pay the militia in paper currency. I cannot positively state the number of militia that will be embodied, but they cannot exceed throughout the province 4,000 men.

"...to this day we are ignorant whether the president has sanctioned the war resolutions of the two houses of congress; that is, whether war be actually declared."

The Americans are very active on the opposite side, in the erection of redoubts; we are not idle on our part, but unfortunately, having supplied Amherstburg with the guns which that post required from Fort George, depending upon getting others from Kingston to supply their place, we find ourselves at this moment rather short of that essential arm. I have, however, every reason to think that they are embarked on board the Earl Moira, which vessel, according to Major M'Pherson's report, was to have sailed on the 28th ultimo. The Americans have, I believe, about 1,200 regulars and militia between Fort Niagara and Black Rock, and I consider myself at this moment perfectly safe against any attempt they can make. About 100 Indians from the Grand River have attended to my summons; the remainder promise to come also, but I have too much reason to conclude that the Americans have been too successful in their endeavours to sow dissension and disaffection among them. It is a great object to get this fickle race interspersed among the troops. I should be unwilling, in the event of a retreat, to have three or four hundred of them hanging on my flank. I shall probably have to sacrifice some money to gain them over, and the appointment of a few officers with salaries will be absolutely necessary.

The Americans make a daily parade of their force, and easily impose on the people on this side in regard to their numbers. I do not think they exceed 1,200, but they are represented as infinitely more numerous.

For the last fortnight every precaution has been taken to guard against the least communication, and to this day we are ignorant whether the president has sanctioned the war resolutions of the two houses of congress; that is, whether war be actually declared.

The car brigade has been completed for service with horses belonging to gentlemen, who spared them free of expense.

I have not been honored with a line from Mr. Foster, nor with all my endeavours have I been able to obtain information of any consequence. The Prince Regent made her first voyage this morning, and I purpose sending her to Kingston this evening, to bring such articles as are absolutely necessary, which we know have arrived from Quebec. I trust she will out-sail the Oneida brig.

Posted: 03/07/2012 9:00:11 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

In this letter dated June 25, Colonel Baynes informs General Brock that the United States has declared war against Great Britain. Merchants along the border were among the first to know about the declaration of war, and news spread through unofficial channels quickly. As seen in the newspaper excerpt below, the Montreal Herald learned of the war as early as June 24 — just 6 days after the formal declaration. 

Sir George Prevost desires me to inform you that he has this instant received intelligence from Mr. Richardson, by an express to the north-west company, announcing that the American government had declared war against Great Britain. This dispatch left New York on the 20th instant, and does not furnish any other circumstance of intelligence whatever. His excellency is induced to give perfect and entire credit to this report, although it has not yet reached through any official channel. Indeed, the extraordinary dispatch which has attended this courier, fully explains his not having received the minister's letters, of which he will not fail to give you the earliest intimation.


Mr. Richardson informs his excellency that it is the intention of the company to send six large canoes to receive their furs by the Grand River, (or Ottawa,) and should it be thought expedient to reinforce the post of St. Joseph, that they will be able to carry six soldiers in each boat. Anxious as Sir George feels to render you every aid in his power, and to afford every possible assistance and protection to the north-west company, who have on their part assured his excellency of their ready and active co-operation to the utmost of their ability, his excellency, nevertheless, does not think it advisable, under existing circumstances, to weaken the 49th regiment, which occupies so important and critical a station; nor can he hold out any certain prospect of any further reinforcement until the arrival of the troops he has been led to expect from England, but directs me to assure you of his cordial wish to render you every efficient support in his power.

Posted: 25/06/2012 2:51:32 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

George Prevost writes to Brock on May 27, 1812:

I was much pleased to find, by your letter of the 22d ultimo, you had taken precautions to prevent any act occurring within your control that should afford the government of the United States a legitimate pretext to add to the clamour artfully raised by it against England.

The circumstance which happened to the guard stationed opposite to Queenstown, arrived here much exaggerated. Your account of it silenced the idle reports in circulation.

I agree with you in deploring the limitation, until the end of the ensuing session, in the operation of the militia act for Upper Canada; but as in the event of hostilities it might not be possible to convene the legislature, then the bill would in all probability continue in force during the war, provided you were not induced to make an exertion for a more perfect law.

Colonel Baynes having informed me he had an opportunity of communicating with you more expeditiously than by post, I desired him to make you acquainted with the peaceful intelligence I had just received from Mr. Foster; but although it comes with a good deal of reservation, still it warrants me in recommending the most rigid economy in carrying on the king's service, and in avoiding all expense that has not become absolutely necessary, as it is with the utmost difficulty money can be raised for the ordinary service.

I am apprehensive that I cannot look forward to the pleasure of seeing you before the end of August, as my presence in the province is become indispensably necessary during the first operation of the new militia law.

Many thanks for the particulars of the transaction which led to the censure passed by the house of assembly on Chief Justice Scott.

Posted: 27/05/2012 11:03:13 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

The United States Congress is divided on the issue of war with Britain. General Baynes writes to Brock and includes an excerpt from the letter of Mr. Foster, a British ambassador to the United States.

Sir George has allowed me to make the following extracts from a dispatch of Mr. Foster's, dated the 28th April, which I do in the minister's own words: "The American government affect now to have taken every step incumbent on the executive as preparatory to war, and leave the ultimate decision to congress, as vested by the constitution in that body, which is fluctuating as the sea: there is a great party in the house of representatives for war, composed principally of the western and southern states—members who have little to lose, and may gain, while the northern and eastern states are vehement against it. The embargo seems to have been resolved upon, because at the moment they did not know what else to do. The cabinet wished only sixty days—the senate made it ninety. Our government leaves no room to expect a repeal of the order in council, yet they wait for the return of the Hornet. Something decisive must then be known; perhaps when they become completely convinced of Bonaparte's playing upon them, it will end in declaring against France. The question of adjournment was lost, notwithstanding there was an absolute majority known a few minutes before in its favor. The ruling party are split into many; the old revolutionists, jealous of younger men taking a lead. The army cannot, I conceive, soon be filled up—they get few recruits."

You will have heard, long ere you receive this, that the 49th regiment is ordered home; the 41st are by the same authority to return to Europe, but Sir George will not, under existing circumstances, attempt to relieve the posts in Upper Canada, so that there will be no immediate change in your quarter. Sir George regrets that he has not field officers of the description you require to command at Kingston and Amherstburg. The only prospect of relief in that respect which he has in view, is from the arrival of the absent inspecting field officers.

The arrangement you propose respecting the unfortunate delinquents of the 41st regiment, will perfectly meet the approbation of Sir George, who approved of your not forwarding the resignation of the younger members, or indeed of any, if they are worthy of consideration.

Kempt has brought his name into notice in the assault of La Picurina, an outwork at Badajoz, where he commanded, being on duty in the trenches. The Glengary levy goes on swimmingly.
Posted: 27/05/2012 10:50:53 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Major-General Brock writes to Sir George Prevost:

I have this day been honored with your excellency's confidential communication, dated the 30th ultimo.

I have long since thought that nothing but the public voice restrained the United States government from commencing direct hostilities; and it is but reasonable to expect that they will seek every opportunity to influence the minds of the people against England, in order to bring them the more readily into their measures. It will be my study to guard against every event that can give them any just cause of complaint; but the proximity of the two countries will in all probability produce collisions which, however accidentally brought about, will be represented as so many acts of aggression. It would not surprise me if their first attempt to excite irritation were the seizing of the islands in the channel, to which both countries lay claim: such was represented to Sir James Craig on a former occasion to be their intention.

In addition to the force specified by your excellency, I understand that six companies of the Ohio militia are intended for Detroit. Our interests with the Indians will materially suffer in consequence of these extensive preparations being allowed to proceed with impunity. I have always considered that the reduction of Detroit would be a signal for a cordial co-operation on the part of the Indians; and if we be not in sufficient force to effect this object, no reliance ought to be placed in them.

About forty regulars were last week added to the garrison of Niagara, and by all accounts barracks are to be immediately constructed at Black Rock, almost opposite Fort Erie, for a large force.

I returned three days ago from an excursion to Fort Erie—the Grand River, where the Indians of the Six Nations are settled—and back by the head of the lake. Every gentleman, with whom I had an opportunity of conversing, assured me that an exceedingly good disposition prevailed among the people. The flank companies, in the districts in which they have been established, were instantly completed with volunteers, and indeed an almost unanimous disposition to serve is daily manifested. I shall proceed to extend this system now I have ascertained that the people are so well disposed—but my means are very limited.

I propose detaching 100 rank and file of the 41st regiment to Amherstburg, almost immediately.

Posted: 27/05/2012 10:48:53 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Colonel Baynes tells Brock of recruitment activities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Of course, it is difficult task to ensure loyalty to the British, with so many former Yankees living in the colonies.

I have great satisfaction in telling you that I have reported the Glengary light infantry more than complete to the establishment of 400 rank and file, and have received Sir George Prevost's commands to recruit for a higher establishment; indeed, the quotas the officers have engaged to fulfil will nearly amount to double that number; and from the very great success that has attended our exertions, I have no doubt of succeeding by the end of this year.

"I am assured from various channels that the men I have got are generally young, rather too much so, and of a good description, there being very few Yankees amongst them."

Two officers have divided Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for their hunting ground, and are permitted to recruit Acadians; and Lieutenant Ronald M'Donnell, of the Canadians, proceeds in a few days to Pictou and the highland settlements on the coast and gulf: he is an officer that appears to be eminently qualified for that service, and he is sanguine that the proffer of lands in the Scotch settlements of Upper Canada will induce great numbers to enter. I am assured from various channels that the men I have got are generally young, rather too much so, and of a good description, there being very few Yankees amongst them.

I have long letters from my friends at home, giving me a detailed account of the death of my excellent and best of friends: the duke of York sat by his bedside for half an hour the day before he died, and, Somerville says, was extremely affected. Sir James, (Craig,) on the contrary, rallied from the pleasure he experienced from this condescending kindness. Sir James had a codicil written fair for his signature, the chief object of which was to add a legacy for a female cousin whom he did not know to be in existence, and to direct the sale of the priory and freehold, which cost 12,000 guineas, to enable the payment of the legacies: this instrument, not having been executed, will lead to what he most deprecated and wished to avoid, a lawsuit. The heirs at law will possess the freehold; and Wilkie, who, besides £6,000, is left the two houses in London, furniture, &c, as residuary legatee, will be stripped of the whole that is not given by special bequest, to make up the legacies: he will however, I believe, have at least £10,000 left--very ample payment for his services.

Sir George has announced his intention of recommending Battersby to be lieutenant-colonel of the Glengary corps, and ordered him to take the command of the recruits assembled at Three Rivers. Your major of brigade[50] will be recommended to succeed to his majority in the king's regiment.

Posted: 14/05/2012 8:55:09 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

In this letter to Brock, Prevost encourages both caution and preparation. With increasing tension at the border, both sides must be careful to avoid any kind of confrontation that could quickly escalate into war.

I have just heard from Mr. Foster that the secretary at war, at Washington, has transmitted orders to Governor Tompkins, of New York, to send 500 of the state militia to Niagara, 500 to the mouth of the Black River, opposite to Kingston, and 600 to Champlain, in consequence of the hostile appearances in Canada. Mr. Foster is of opinion the government of the United States calculates that something will happen on the part of these men to produce a quarrel with the British troops, which may lead to retaliation on both sides, and occasion hostilities to commence, as in this way alone, it seems thought, an unjust war can be forced on the American people, who are represented as really averse to it. We must, therefore, use every effort in our power to prevent any collision from taking place between our forces and the American.

I have also received information that the American garrison at Fort Chicago, not exceeding 60 men, has been ordered to Detroit, in consequence of apprehensions from the Indians.

Posted: 30/04/2012 8:49:02 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Brock writes to George Prevost and tells about increasing tension at the border. The U.S. Congress has placed an embargo on all their ships, to decrease the chances that Britain could seize U.S. ships or personnel in the event that war breaks out.

I had the honor yesterday to receive your excellency's letter, dated the 21st ultimo, and I entreat you to believe that no act within my control shall afford the government of the United States a legitimate pretext to add to a clamour which has been so artfully raised against England.

We have received the account of the renewal of the embargo, and that the most rigorous measures have already been adopted to prevent the least infringement of it upon the Niagara river. Armed men, in coloured clothes, are continually patroling along the shore. These troops are stated to have recently arrived, but I have not been able to ascertain whether they belong to the new levy or to the militia. They are reported to amount to about 300. Colonel Proctor has doubtless written fully on the subject, but unfortunately the letters, by some negligence, were left at Niagara. The accounts which have reached me are not therefore so satisfactory as could be wished. An idle boy is stated to have wantonly fired with ball at the guard opposite Queenstown, and it appears that the Americans were guilty of a similar outrage by firing during the night into a room in which a woman was sitting. Luckily no mischief followed. Being detained here upon civil business, I have sent Captain Glegg over to see how matters stand, and to arrange with both civil and military the best means of preventing a recurrence of a practice which may easily lead to serious consequences. I hope to be at Niagara myself the day after to-morrow.

I beg leave to assure your excellency, that I receive with no small degree of pride the praise bestowed on my endeavours to improve the militia system of this province; and as the bill underwent some alterations after the departure of Colonel M'Donnell, particularly in limiting its operation to the end of the ensuing session, I shall have the honor to forward for your excellency's information the law as now enforced. I have, by partial and gentle means, already commenced to give it operation, and I make not the least doubt that a sufficient number will be found ready to volunteer to complete the flank companies; and I here beg leave to call your excellency's attention to the clause which authorizes the training of the flank companies six times in each month; but as no provision is made for remunerating the men, I presume to submit for your excellency's indulgent consideration, that the commissaries be instructed to issue rations for the number actually present at exercise. These companies I expect will be composed of the best description of inhabitants, who in most cases will have to go a great distance to attend parade; and, unless this liberal provision be allowed, will be liable to heavy expense, or be subject to considerable privations. According to my present arrangements, the number embodied will not exceed 700, and when the companies are completed throughout the province, they must be calculated at 1,800; and, as during harvest and the winter months few or no parades will take place, the total expense attending the measure can be of no material consequence in a pecuniary point of view, and may in a political light be productive, at this juncture, of considerable benefit.

I have likewise to request that such portion of clothing as your excellency can conveniently spare from the king's stores, may be forwarded, to enable me to clothe such companies as are the most likely to be called upon duty.

I am anxious to hear the real object of the embargo; should it be directed solely against England, the probability is that it leads to a war; but should France be included in its operation, nothing of the kind need be dreaded.

In the expectation of having the honor of seeing your excellency shortly at York, I limit, for the present, the works of the military artificers at this place, to preparing a temporary magazine for the reception of the spare powder at Fort George and Kingston, and the excavation of the ditch for the proposed fortifications of the spot on which the government house stands.

I transmit, for your excellency's perusal, a detailed account of the transactions which led to the unjustifiable censure passed by the house of assembly upon Chief Justice Scott. It is written by Mr. Nichol himself; and the warmth with which he has expressed his indignation at the wanton exercise of a power yet undefined, as far as regards this province, is not therefore surprising. I am convinced that whenever the business is brought legally before the judges, they will refuse to sanction the enormous power, under the name of privilege, which the house arrogates to itself. The executive will in that case be placed in a very awkward predicament: Mr. Nichol having commenced civil actions against the speaker and sergeant at arms for false imprisonment, will, should he succeed in obtaining damages, bring the question with double force on the _tapis_. The violence and ignorance which, in all probability, will mark the proceedings of the house, cannot fail of producing a dissolution. I apply forcibly to ministers for instructions, but should they be contrary to the opinion which the judges of the court of king's bench have formed of the law, I am led to believe they will not influence the members; therefore, one of two alternatives must be resorted to, either the appointment of more docile judges, or the decision of the question by a British act of parliament. I trust, for the tranquillity and prosperity of the province, that the latter mode may be preferred. I have thus freely, and perhaps with rather too much haste to be sufficiently explicit, stated the difficulties which in all likelihood I shall have to encounter at the next meeting of the legislature.

Should the effect of the embargo appear to be directed solely at Great Britain, I shall avail myself of the confidence placed in me, and order the purchase of horses, to enable the car brigade to act in case of necessity. This, being a service which requires infinite trouble and practice to bring to any degree of perfection, cannot be too soon attended to.

Posted: 23/04/2012 9:13:33 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Lieutenant John Le Couteur, whose father recently wrote to Isaac Brock from Portugal, comes from a military family. His grandfather, Sir John Dumaresq, also writes to Brock, asking for special attention to be paid to the young recruit. Lieutenant John Le Couteur will soon make his own mark in the family, by leading a difficult march from Fredericton to Kingston almost a year after this letter.

I hope you will pardon the liberty I take of giving a letter of introduction to you to my grandson, Lieut. John Le Couteur, of the 104th, son of Major-General Le Couteur, who is on his departure for Quebec with recruits. His father, who is now in Portugal, had some hopes his son might have been allowed to be on his staff; but it seems that could not take place until he has served a certain time in the regiment. He is a young man (not yet eighteen) of an excellent disposition, educated at Marlow, where he has given the most pleasing testimonies of early professional abilities and attention to his duty. I shall esteem, it a great favor, as well as his father, for any mark of attention or notice which you may have it in your power to shew him whilst under your command.

Posted: 20/04/2012 9:10:55 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Major-General Le Couteur writes to Isaac Brock from Portugal. Le Couteur asks for extra care and protection of his seventeen year old son, Lieutenant John Le Couteur, who is joining the 104th Regiment of Foot in New Brunswick.

I am here in consequence of a mistake in orders sent to me by Lord Palmerston, to join the army in Portugal, when his lordship meant Jamaica. On my arrival at Lisbon I found out the mistake, and I hope in a few days to sail for my real destination.

My son, whom you perhaps will remember an infant when you were in Jersey, will have the pleasure to deliver you this letter, if the 104th regiment be in your neighbourhood. He is only seventeen years old; very young to be sent loose on the wide world. Allow me to recommend him to your kindness and friendly protection; and should he be quartered at some distance from you, permit me to request you will be so good as to introduce him to some steady officer, or to such of your friends as might be in his neighbourhood. I shall hope to have him soon as my aide-de-camp.

Posted: 20/04/2012 8:55:59 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Major-General Brock provides instructions to Lieutenant-Colone Nichol on raising two companies in preparation of war with the United States.

The power which is vested in the person administering the government, by the amended act of the militia, passed the last session of the provincial parliament, of forming two flank companies, to be taken indiscriminately from the battalions, being limited to the end of the ensuing session, would almost deter me from incurring public expense upon a system which will cease to operate before its utility and efficacy can well be ascertained.

But being anxious at this important crisis to organize an armed force with a view of meeting future exigencies, and to demonstrate by practical experience the degree of facility with which the militia may be trained for service, I have to request you to adopt immediate measures for forming and completing, from among such men as voluntarily offer to serve, two companies, not to exceed one captain, two subalterns, two sergeants, one drummer, and thirty-five rank and file each, in the regiment under your command.

You will have the goodness to recommend two captains, whom you conceive the best qualified to undertake this important duty; the nominating of the subalterns is left to your discretion.

Such other regiments as are conveniently situated to receive military instruction, shall have an opportunity afforded them of shewing their ardour in the public service, which cannot fail of creating a laudable emulation among the different corps.

Assisted by your zeal, prudence, and intelligence, I entertain the pleasing hope of meeting with very considerable success, and of being able to establish the sound policy of rendering permanent to the end of the present war, a mode of military instruction little burdensome to individuals, and every way calculated to secure a powerful internal defence against hostile aggression.

Printed rules and regulations, for your future guidance, are herewith forwarded: the most simple, and at the same time the most useful, movements have been selected for the practice of the militia.

Experience has shewn the absolute necessity of adopting every possible precaution to preserve in a proper state the arms issued to the militia, and of guarding against the heavy defalcations which have heretofore occurred.

You will make applications to the officers commanding at Fort Erie for the number of arms and accoutrements wanting to complete the men actually engaged to serve in the flank companies; and that officer will be instructed to comply with your requisition, upon your transmitting to him duplicate receipts, one of which is to be forwarded to head quarters, that you may become responsible for the articles delivered to your order: at the same time, the most liberal construction will be given to any representation accounting for such contingencies as are incidental to the service.

Posted: 09/04/2012 9:47:21 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

In this letter to Brock, Colonel Baynes discusses the passing of Sir James Craig, the previous Governor General of the Canadas. Sir James Craig (whose portrait you can see below) had a tumultuous career in the Canadas, undertaking a number of controversial measures to strengthen the power of the British, English-speaking population there. Suffering from an illness for many years, Sir James Craig resigned from his position in Canada in the summer of 1811 and returned to London, where he died on Jan. 12, 1812.

Many thanks for the very kind and friendly note which accompanied your letter of the 9th ultimo, and I beg you to rest assured, that I am very sensible of your friendly disposition towards me, and feel particularly grateful and flattered by the kind manner in which you have the goodness to express it.

Sir James Craig

The American papers, under the head of English news, as late as the 20th January, give a circumstantial account of the death of Sir James Craig, on Sunday, the 12th, at his house in Charlotte Street. There are too many circumstances corroborating an event which was so greatly to be apprehended, to leave a shadow of doubt of the severe loss that all, who were favored with his friendship, have sustained. To me, from my earliest youth, he has been the best and kindest friend, a steady and powerful patron; for few sons ever experienced more truly paternal care and affectionate regard from the best of fathers, than I have received at the hands of that best of men. The grief that I cannot suppress is a selfish tribute to my own irreparable loss: his release from a state of cruel, lingering suffering, which, as I had so long witnessed, he bore with a degree of fortitude and patient resignation unparalleled, could have been no cause of regret to him, and therefore ought not to be so to those who most sincerely loved him; but I have so long been accustomed to cherish the grateful and affectionate sentiments of a highly favored son to the best of parents, that however I might have been prepared for this inevitable shock, I still feel that there are affections so rooted in our hearts, that this world's changes can never efface the impression. His memory will long be remembered with admiration by all who knew his merit. As a soldier he had few equals, and no knight had a fairer claim to the proud title of "sans peur et sans reproche"; while the widow, the orphan, and every distressed object that claimed his aid, will testify the generous heart that once animated that good and honorable man.

The ladies of this house always beg to be remembered to you, with the sincerest good wishes for your health and happiness. Mrs. Baynes has been plotting with Mrs. Colonel Robertson to elope and pay you a visit, pressing Heriot into their service as their knight errant.

Posted: 02/04/2012 8:14:02 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

In this letter dated March 19, 1812, Colonel Baynes informs General Brock that an amendment to the Militia Act will allow for an additional 2,000 soldiers in Lower Canada.

I regret to find by your late letters to Sir George Prevost, that your expectations from your legislature have not been realised to the extent of your well grounded hopes. Sir George, who is well versed in the fickle and untractable disposition of public assemblies, feels more regret than disappointment. He has a very delicate card to play with his house of assembly here, who would fain keep up the farce of being highly charmed and delighted with his amiable disposition and affable manners: they have even gone the length of asserting, that these traits in his character have afforded them the most entire confidence that in his hands the alien act would not be abused. They have, however, taken the precaution of stripping it of its very essence and spirit, while last year they passed it without a division, when Sir James, (Craig,) on whose mild and affable disposition they did not pretend to rely, told them that it could only alarm such as were conscious of harbouring seditious designs. They have passed an amendment to the militia bill, which, though not affording all that was required, is still a material point gained. 2,000 men are to be ballotted to serve for three months in two successive summers; one of their strongest objections was the apprehension of the Canadians contracting military habits and enlisting into the service.

"I will not comment on American politics, in which we all appear to agree that the deep-rooted jealousy and hatred of that people must in the end lead to hostilities..."

Sir George has directed me to inform you, that he will be ready to render you any assistance in his power to strengthen the Upper Province; but that unless reinforcements arrive from England, (in which case you may depend upon having a due proportion put under your immediate command,) his means of doing so are but very limited. His excellency is not sanguine in his expectation of receiving reinforcements this summer; on the contrary, the appearance of hostilities beginning to abate at Washington, and the pledge held out in the prince regent's speech of supporting with energy the contest in Spain and Portugal, are likely to prevent troops being sent to this quarter, unless a more urgent necessity of doing so should appear. I will not comment on American politics, in which we all appear to agree that the deep-rooted jealousy and hatred of that people must in the end lead to hostilities, and that it behoves us not to lose sight of an event which, if not prepared to meet, we shall find more difficult to repel;--under this impression, Sir George is disposed to promote the several plans you have recommended to him, relating to the general line of conduct you would wish to adopt in the defence of the important province committed to your charge. If no additional forces be sent out, he will send up the strong detachment of the 41st, composed of uncommonly fine young men, and in very good order: the general has it also in view to send you a strong detachment of the Newfoundland regiment, selecting their seamen and marine artificers, who will be most useful in the proposed works to be carried on at York; and here I am apprehensive that the means of augmenting your strength must be bounded, unless the Glengary Levy can be rapidly formed, and Sir George is sanguine in his expectations of its being speedily placed upon a respectable footing: in that case, it could occupy Kingston and that line of communication between the provinces, which you deem so essential to be guarded. This corps will have the very great advantage of starting with a better selected body of officers than has fallen to the lot of any Fencible regiment in Canada. I hope you will feel inclined to bring forward Shaw as one of your captains, as without your countenance I fear he will find it an arduous task to provide for himself and his brother. The uniform of the corps is to be green, like that of the 95th rifles.

Sir George expressed himself very sensible of the policy of the line of conduct you would wish to pursue respecting the Indians; but as other considerations of the greatest political delicacy are so minutely interwoven with them, and as the American government are already inclined to view every transaction with those people with a jealous and suspicious eye, he would recommend the utmost caution and forbearance, lest a different line of conduct might tend to increase the irritation between the two governments, which it is evidently the wish of Great Britain to allay.

Our weather has been, and still continues for the season, severer than ever was recollected by the oldest stagers, and has rather put our Halifax friends out of conceit with the fine climate of Canada, particularly as Lady Prevost's health is delicate, and she is very sensible of cold. Mrs. Cator and Mrs. Baynes beg to be most kindly remembered to you. General Bowes accompanied Kempt to Portugal in the end of December.

Posted: 19/03/2012 12:18:22 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

In this letter to Colonel Baynes dated March 9, 1812, Brock expresses his thanks to Governor-General Prevost for approving the addition of two companies to the Glengary Fencibles.

I received yesterday your letter dated the 20th February, and have to express my thanks to Sir George Prevost for his readiness in attending to my wishes.

His excellency having been pleased to authorize the raising of two companies under my superintendence, giving me the nomination of the officers, I have to acquaint you, for his information, that Alexander Roxburgh, Esq., has been appointed by me to raise men for a company, and William M'Lean, gentleman, for an ensigncy. The former is a gentleman strongly recommended to me by Mr. Cartwright, of Kingston; and the latter, the son of an officer formerly in the 25th regiment, who, having settled in this country, has become one of the most influential characters in it. He is a member of the house of assembly for the district of Frontenac. I have not yet determined in respect to the remaining commissions, but will report the instant the individuals are nominated.

Captain Dixon (royal engineers) proceeded four days ago to Amherstburg, with the gentlemen who were returning from their parliamentary duties.

I request you will have the goodness to inform me of the probable time I may expect the honor of seeing Sir George Prevost, as I shall consider it a duty, which I shall execute with the utmost pleasure, of meeting his excellency at Kingston.

Posted: 08/03/2012 4:57:51 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

This letter was written by Colonel Baynes in Quebec to Isaac Brock on March 5, 1812. Baynes makes reference to Isaac Brock's decision to stay in Upper Canada. Previous to this, Brock had made several requests to return to Europe to join his fellow countrymen in the war against Napolean. However, by the time his request for leave was granted, war with the United States seemed imminent, and his sense of duty convinced him to stay in the British colony.

Colonel Baynes recounts the Governor General's (George Prevost) address to the Assembly of Lower Canada. As Brock experienced at the Legislature in York, most members were unenthusiastic about the prospect of war and did not support the measures put forth to prepare the colonies for conflict.

I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 12th February, which I have communicated to Sir George, who is highly pleased to find you are satisfied to retain the important post you fill, and which you appear to govern under such very auspicious prospects. I sincerely trust you will be able to keep your subjects, and particularly your house of representatives, in the same good humour and sound principles which they have hitherto testified.

"... he compared the factious cabal to Æsop's fable of the ass kicking at the dying lion."

You will perceive in the main sentiments of Sir George's opening address, a perfect accordance with your own: the answer of the assembly led to a very violent and personal debate, which lasted with closed doors for nearly eighteen hours. It would have been more to their credit had they left out the allusion which has drawn from Sir George a very appropriate retort. Your friend, James Cuthbert, was very warm and eloquent upon the occasion, and the demagogue party seemed sensible of the severity of his satire, when he compared the factious cabal to Æsop's fable of the ass kicking at the dying lion. Having vented their spleen, they will, I believe, prove a little more tractable: the militia bill has a prospect of being materially amended, and they will, I think, allow a proportion of about 2,000 men, or perhaps a few more, to be incorporated for two or three months, for three successive years; after the second year to be replaced by a new quota, and to be selected by ballot, and no substitutes permitted to serve in the place of a militiaman drawn by lot: this will be a great point gained.

Posted: 05/03/2012 9:41:58 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

In this undated letter from February, 1812, Isaac Brock reports to Governor General George Prevost on Upper Canada's legislative affairs. To Brock’s surprise, the legislature did not agree to the suspension of Habeas Corpus or an oath of abjuration. For this, Brock largely blames the American residents of Upper Canada. He questions their loyalty and is not convinced that they would take up arms for the British to fight against their former countrymen. He advises the Governor General to encourage British settlement in Canada, and to raise regiments by awarding land titles to British or Canadian men who decide to enlist.

I cannot permit Colonel M'Donnell to return home without giving your excellency a short account of our proceedings here.

I had every reason to expect the almost unanimous support of the two houses of the legislature to every measure the government thought it necessary to recommend; but after a short trial, I found myself egregiously mistaken in my calculations.

The many doubtful characters in the militia made me anxious to introduce the oath of abjuration into the bill: there were twenty members in the house, when this highly important measure was lost by the casting voice of the chairman.

The great influence which the numerous settlers from the United States possess over the decisions of the lower house is truly alarming, and ought immediately, by every practical means, to be diminished. To give encouragement to real subjects to settle in this province, can alone remove the evil. The consideration of the fees should not stand in the way of such a politic arrangement; and should your excellency ultimately determine to promise some of the waste lands of the crown to such Scotch emigrants as enlist in the Glengary Fencibles, I have no hesitation in recommending, in the strongest manner, the raising of a Canadian corps upon similar offers, to be hereafter disbanded and distributed among their countrymen in the vicinity of Amherstburg. Colonel M'Donnell being in full possession of my sentiments on this subject, I beg leave to refer your excellency to him for further information.

"A strong sentiment now prevails that war is not likely to occur with the United States..."

The bill for the suspension of the habeas corpus, I regret to say, was likewise lost by a very trifling majority. A strong sentiment now prevails that war is not likely to occur with the United States, which, I believe, tended to influence the votes of the members; I mean of such who, though honest, are by their ignorance easily betrayed into error.

The low ebb of their finances appears to stagger the most desperate democrats in the States, and may possibly delay the commencement of direct hostilities; but should France and England continue the contest much longer, it appears to me absolutely impossible for the United States to avoid making their election; and the unfriendly disposition they have for some years past evinced towards England, leaves little doubt as to their choice. Your excellency, I am sensible, will excuse the freedom with which I deliver my sentiments.

Every day hostilities are retarded, the greater the difficulties we shall have to encounter. The Americans are at this moment busily employed in raising six companies of Rangers, for the express purpose of overawing the Indians; and are besides collecting a regular force at Vincennes, probably with a view of reinforcing Detroit. Indeed, report states the arrival of a large force at Fort Wayne, intended for the former garrison. Their intrigues among the different tribes are carried on openly and with the utmost activity, and as no expense is spared, it may reasonably be supposed that they do not fail of success. Divisions are thus uninterruptedly sowed among our Indian friends, and the minds of many altogether estranged from our interests. Such must inevitably be the consequence of our present inert and neutral proceedings in regard to them. It ill becomes me to determine how long true policy requires that the restrictions now imposed upon the Indian department ought to continue; but this I will venture to assert, that each day the officers are restrained from interfering in the concerns of the Indians, each time they advise peace and withhold the accustomed supply of ammunition, their influence will diminish, till at length they lose it altogether.

I find that ever since the departure of Priest Burke from Sandwich, the £50 per annum paid from the military chest to that gentleman have been withheld, on what account I have not been able to ascertain. The individual at present officiating is highly spoken of; and as several gentlemen of the Catholic persuasion have applied to me to intercede with your excellency to renew the allowance, I presume to submit the case to your indulgent consideration.

Posted: 29/02/2012 5:15:22 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

Colonel Baynes, lieutenant-colonel of the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencible Regiment and staff officer to Governor-General George Prevost, responds to Brock's letter of February 12, 1812. Writing from Quebec, Baynes expresses concern that the French population will not react well to Brock’s proposed measures. He makes reference to the previous Governor-General, Sir James Craig, who undertook a number of controversial measures to strengthen the power of the British, English-speaking population, which had the effect of fostering a French-Canadian nationalism in Lower Canada.

Sir George is much pleased with the favorable account Captain Gray has given him of your proceedings. Your speech is highly approved of here, and we shall rejoice to find our house following so laudable an example as your commons have shewn them: but I am not sanguine; they have already commenced with great illiberality and violence to vent their spleen and resentment against Sir James (Craig) in votes of censure, and I fancy Sir George, with all his amiable, conciliatory mariners, will hardly succeed in keeping them within bounds.

Posted: 22/02/2012 10:17:25 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

In this letter dated Feburary 20, 1812, Colonel Baynes advises Isaac Brock that Governor General George Prevost has approved the addition of two companies in preparation for war with the United States.

Captain M'Donnell has not clearly understood the purport of his mission to Upper Canada, and the general regrets that he should have proceeded the length he has done without having previously received your advice and instructions, to obtain which was the chief object of his visit to York. It is to be hoped, however, that sufficient patronage still remains open to meet your wishes, as the appointment of three of General Shaw's sons may be considered, from the sentiments of friendship and regard you have testified for that officer, to be almost equivalent to anticipating your own choice of them. And Sir George has directed me to inform you, that he readily accepts of your proposal to recruit two companies, to be added to the Glengary Fencibles; the nomination of the officers, viz. two captains, two lieutenants, and two ensigns, to rest entirely with you. The general has approved of the following quotas of men for the respective ranks: captains 30, lieutenants 15, and ensigns 20; the commissions to be issued on completing the quota, and such as complete their proportion quickest, or exceed in extra number of recruits, will have priority in regimental rank. I am not aware that Sir George purposes nominating a lieutenant-colonel; but I am sure that you will not feel less disposed to promote the formation of this corps, when I inform you that it is his intention to recommend me to the commander-in-chief for the appointment of colonel.

Posted: 20/02/2012 10:50:03 AM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

In this letter to Colonel Baynes, Brock reflects on last week's speech to the legislature. He outlines proposed measures to prepare for war with the United States and begins to plot a strategy for the Detriot frontier.

The assurance which I gave, in my speech at the opening of the legislature, of England co-operating in the defence of this province, has infused the utmost confidence; and I have reason at this moment to look for the acquiescence of the two houses to every measure I may think necessary to recommend for the peace and defence of the country. A spirit has manifested itself, little expected by those who conceived themselves the best qualified to judge of the disposition of the members of the house of assembly. The most powerful opponents to Governor Gore's administration take the lead on the present occasion. I, of course, do not think it expedient to damp the ardour displayed by these once doubtful characters. Some opposed Mr. Gore evidently from personal motives, but never forfeited the right of being numbered among the most loyal. Few, very few I believe, were actuated by base or unworthy considerations, however mistaken they may have been on various occasions. Their character will very soon be put to a severe test. The measures which I intend to propose are:

1.--A militia supplementary act. Sir George will hear the outlines from Captain Gray.

2.--The suspension of the habeas corpus. A copy of the act now enforced in the Lower Province.

3.--An alien law.

4.--The offer of a reward for the better apprehension of deserters.

" Every man capable of carrying a musket, along the whole of that line, ought to be prepared to act."

If I succeed in all this, I shall claim some praise; but I am not without my fears. I shall send you the militia act the moment it passes into a law. The more I consider the new provisions, the more I am satisfied (giving of course every proper allowance to the disposition of the people) they are peculiarly calculated to meet the local situation of the country. I have not a musket more than will suffice to arm the active part of the militia from Kingston westward. I have therefore to request that the number of arms may be sent, according to the enclosed requisition, to the places therein specified, on the communication between Glengary and Kingston. Every man capable of carrying a musket, along the whole of that line, ought to be prepared to act. The members of the assembly from that part of the country are particularly anxious that some works may be thrown up as a rallying point and place of security for stores, &c, in the vicinity of Johnstown. I shall request Colonel M'Donnell to examine, on his return, the ground which those gentlemen recommend as best suited for that purpose. Being immediately opposite Ozwegatchie, some precaution of the sort is indispensable, were it only to preserve a free communication between the two provinces. I have been made to expect the able assistance of Captain Marlow. Should he be still at Quebec, have the goodness to direct his attention, on his way up, to that quarter. He had better consult. Colonel Frazer and Captain Gilkinson, men of sound judgment and well acquainted with the country. The militia will have of course to be employed on the works.

I must still press the necessity of an active, enterprizing, intelligent commander being stationed on that important line of communication. I wish Colonel Ellice were here to undertake the arduous task, as it is wholly impossible that I can do so. Every assistance in my civil capacity I shall always be ready to give, and to that point my exertions must be necessarily limited. Niagara and Amherstburg will sufficiently occupy my attention. I deliver my sentiments freely, believing they will not be the less acceptable.

I discussed every point connected with Amherstburg so completely with Captain Gray, that I do not find any thing very essential was omitted. Colonel M'Donnell will be able probably to give us further insight as to the actual state of affairs there. He was to make every enquiry and, as far as he was permitted, to judge himself of the relative strength of Detroit. Lieut.-Colonel---- preceded him by some days, but in such state of mind that forbids my placing any dependance in his exertions. When I first mentioned my intention of sending him to Amherstburg, he seemed diffident of his abilities, but pleased at the distinction. However, when he received his final instructions, his conduct in the presence of some officers was so very improper, and otherwise so childish, that I have since written to say, if he continued in the same disposition, he was at liberty to return to Niagara. I did not directly order him back, because at this time I consider an officer of rank necessary at Amherstburg, particularly during the absence of Messrs. Elliott and Baby, who are both here attending their parliamentary duties. You will imagine, after what I have stated, that it is the influence of his rank I alone covet, and not his personal aid. He has very fortunately given timely proof that he is in no way ambitious of military fame, therefore unfit for so important a command. Should it please his excellency to place the 41st and 49th at my disposal, I propose sending the former regiment to Amherstburg, as we cannot be too strong in that quarter. I have already explained myself on that point, and Captain Gray is furnished with further arguments in support of the measure. I have delayed to the last the mention of a project which I consider of the utmost consequence in the event of hostilities. I set out with declaring my full conviction, that unless Detroit and Michilimakinack be both in our possession immediately at the commencement of hostilities, not only the district of Amherstburg, but most probably the whole country as far as Kingston, must be evacuated. How necessary, therefore, to provide effectually the means of their capture. From Amherstburg it will be impossible to send a force to reduce Michilimakinack. Unless we occupy completely both banks, no vessel could pass the river St. Clair. What I therefore presume to suggest for his excellency's consideration, is the adoption of a project which Sir James Craig contemplated three years ago. The north-west company undertook to transport 50 or 60 men up the Ottawa, and I make no doubt would engage again to perform the same service. If therefore a war be likely to occur, at the time the canoes start from Montreal, I should recommend 40 or 50 of the 49th light company, and a small detachment of artillery, embarking at the same time for St. Joseph's. Should hostilities commence, the north-west would not object to join their strength in the reduction of Michilimakinack; and should peace succeed the present wrangling, the 49th detachment could be easily removed to Amherstburg.

Posted: 12/02/2012 9:25:54 PM by JOANNA DAWSON | with 0 comments

On October 9, 1811, Brock succeeded Lieutenant-Governor Gore as the administrator of Upper Canada. As the commander of the colony's troops, and acutely aware of the war that was looming with the Americans, Brock's first order of business was to ready the colony for an invasion. On February 3, 1812, Brock opened the session of legislature at York:

"Honorable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly.

"I should derive the utmost satisfaction, the first time of my addressing you, were it permitted me to direct your attention solely to such objects as tended to promote the peace and prosperity of this province.

"The glorious contest in which the British empire is engaged, and the vast sacrifice which Great Britain nobly offers to secure the independence of other nations, might be expected to stifle every feeling of envy and jealousy, and at the same time to excite the interest and command the admiration of a free people; but, regardless of such generous impressions, the American government evinces a disposition calculated to impede and divide her efforts.

"I cannot, under every view of the relative situation of the province, be too urgent in recommending to your early attention the adoption of such measures as will best secure the internal peace of the country, and defeat every hostile aggression."

"England is not only interdicted the harbours of the United States, while they afford a shelter to the cruisers of her inveterate enemy, but she is likewise required to resign those maritime rights which she has so long exercised and enjoyed. Insulting threats are offered, and hostile preparations actually commenced; and though not without hope that cool reflection and the dictates of justice may yet avert the calamities of war, I cannot, under every view of the relative situation of the province, be too urgent in recommending to your early attention the adoption of such measures as will best secure the internal peace of the country, and defeat every hostile aggression.

"Principally composed of the sons of a loyal and brave band of veterans, the militia, I am confident, stand in need of nothing but the necessary legislative provisions, to direct their ardour in the acquirement of military instruction, to form a most efficient force.

"The growing prosperity of these provinces, it is manifest, begins to awaken a spirit of envy and ambition. The acknowledged importance of this colony to the parent state will secure the continuance of her powerful protection. Her fostering care has been the first cause, under Providence, of the uninterrupted happiness you have so long enjoyed. Your industry has been liberally rewarded, and you have in consequence risen to opulence.

"These interesting truths are not uttered to animate your patriotism, but to dispel any apprehension which you may have imbibed of the possibility of England forsaking you; for you must be sensible that if once bereft of her support, if once deprived of the advantages which her commerce and the supply of her most essential wants give you, this colony, from its geographical position, must inevitably sink into comparative poverty and insignificance.

"But Heaven will look favorably on the manly exertions which the loyal and virtuous inhabitants of this happy land are prepared to make, to avert such a dire calamity.

"Our gracious prince, who so gloriously upholds the dignity of the empire, already appreciates your merit, and it will be your first care to establish, by the course of your actions, the just claim of the country to the protection of his royal highness.

"I cannot deny myself the satisfaction of announcing to you from this place, the munificent intention of his royal highness the prince regent, who has been graciously pleased to signify that a grant of £100 per annum will be proposed in the annual estimates, for every future missionary of the Gospel, sent from England, who may have faithfully discharged, for the term of ten years, the duties of his station in this province.

"Gentlemen of the House of Assembly,

"I have no doubt but that, with me, you are convinced of the necessity of a regular system of military instruction to the militia of this province;--on this salutary precaution, in the event of a war, our future safety will greatly depend, and I doubt not but that you will cheerfully lend your aid, to enable me to defray the expense of carrying into effect a measure so conducive to our security and defence.

"I have ordered the public accounts to be laid before you, and have no doubt but that you will consider them with that attention which the nature of the subject may require.

"Honorable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly,

"I have, without reserve, communicated to you what has occurred to me on the existing circumstances of this province. We wish and hope for peace, but it is nevertheless our duty to be prepared for war.

"The task imposed on you, on the present occasion, is arduous; this task, however, I hope and trust, laying aside every consideration but that of the public good, you will perform with that firmness, discretion, and promptitude, which a regard to yourselves, your families, your country, and your king, call for at your hands.

"As for myself, it shall be my utmost endeavour to co-operate with you in promoting such measures as may best contribute to the security and to the prosperity of this province."

Posted: 07/02/2012 11:06:13 AM by TANJA HUTTER | with 0 comments

Few military figures are as revered in Canada as Sir Isaac Brock. As both a General and administrator of Upper Canada, Brock has earned the reputation of a brave, intelligent and noble leader. Despite suffering an untimely death at the Battle of Queenston Heights in October, 1812, Brock is largely credited with the successful defense of the British colonies in Canada during the War of 1812. For two hundred years since, Canadians have created monuments, schools, and towns in honour of their British-born knight in a scarlet tunic.

But how did General Brock feel about the colonists in his care? Did he love us as much as we loved him? How did he feel about being stationed in the British colony, while his English countrymen were fighting Napoleon in Europe? What did he make of the people, the climate, and the politics in his new home?

Fortunately, Brock was a man of many words. His letters, memoirs, and papers were kept safe by his younger brother and revealed 30 years after General Brock’s death. As we embark on the War of 1812 bicentennial, Canada’s History will share Brock’s words in a series called “General Correspondence.” Check back often as we learn more about Brock’s life, the War of 1812, and this key chapter of Canadian History.

Posted: 06/02/2012 9:10:10 AM by TANJA HUTTER | with 0 comments
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