|Battle of Lundy's Lane
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|Author:||admin [ Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:11 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Battle of Lundy's Lane|
The Battle of Lundy's Lane was a battle of the War of 1812 on July 25, 1814, fought in present-day Niagara Falls, Ontario. It was the bloodiest battle ever fought in Canada.
Lieutenant-General Gordon Drummond, with about 2200 British, Canadian and native troops, engaged an invading American army of approximately equal strength under General Jacob Brown.
The brigade of Winfield Scott, who had won the Battle of Chippawa on July 5, emerged in the late afternoon from a forest into an open field, and were badly mauled by the British artillery placed within a cemetery on a hill (Graves, 1997). As night fell, American reinforcements under Eleazer Wheelock Ripley arrived, and captured the British guns. The battle continued into the night, where darkness merged with smoke from the guns to heavily limit visibility. British reinforcements under Colonel Hercules Scott also arrived, and the American force withstood three determined British attempts to retake their cannon. Moreover, both sides occasionally fired upon their own troops as the battle revolved around the cemetery.
The battle had seen much messy fighting in close quarters. Veteran British soldiers, who had fought against Napoleon in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular War, were horrified at the carnage they had witnessed at Lundy's Lane. The battle confirmed that the American forces, now using French Revolutionary training and tactics, had evolved from a poorly-trained militia into a professional army. Scott is widely credited for this change, having modelled and trained his army using French drills and exercises.
Around midnight, the battle finally ended, with both sides having lost about the same number of men - 878 British and 860 American. The Americans could drag away only one of the captured British guns, and lost one of their own guns when its horse team bolted into the British lines. General Scott and Jacob Brown were both wounded, as was General Gordon Drummond, the senior British commander. Drummond's deputy, General Phineas Riall had been wounded and captured early during the battle.
At the cessation of fighting, heavy casualties, sheer exhaustion and lack of supplies and water forced the Americans to withdraw to Chippawa, a few miles to the south. They subsequently burned the bridges behind them before retiring to Fort Erie, Ontario. Equally exhausted, the British returned to the field later in the morning after the Americans had left and disposed of some of the dead and then withdrew 7 miles to the north to Queenston.
Like the overall war, there is some dispute about the actual outcome of the battle. Canadians will say, based upon General Drummond's report that the British held the field, that the Americans retreated. Americans will say the British retreated during the night, but took it back when the Americans retreated due to lack of supplies in the morning. Evidence compiled by Donald E. Graves, a Canadian historian employed at the Directorate of History, Department of National Defence Canada provides what is likely the most complete and unbiased interpretation of the battle to date and appears to support the American argument (Graves, 1997). In summary Graves argues that General Drummond failed to utilize skirmish pickets to protect his guns which were consequently captured by the Americans. The American force therefore appears to have won a pyrrhic victory, having captured the devastating British artillery and forcing the British to withdraw from the heights after failing to recapture their guns. In retrospect to the actual war, however, the British may also claim a victory, as they had succeeded in their main objectives to push the invading American forces out of Canada. The battle may therefore be declared as an Americal tactical victory and a British strategic victory.
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