Colonel MacDonnell's death at Queenston Heights; 1812

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Colonel MacDonnell's death at Queenston Heights; 1812

Post by pud » Thu Dec 27, 2007 2:30 pm

A man of Glengarry, a Canadian hero, fights and dies, at Queenston Heights along with another Canadian hero; Maj.-Gen. Isaac Brock. The account is from a wonderful old book that I highly recommend, especially to those of you who have children interested in anything related to the War of 1812. It is as follows:

Source: The Good Soldier: The Story of Isaac Brock. Toronto: Macmillan, 1964. D.J. Goodspeed. P.p. 145 – 154.

“Then it happened. While the advancing soldiers watched in horror, they saw an American militiamen coolly step out from behind a tree not thirty yards away from General Brock. The soldier raised his musket, took careful aim, and fired.,… The musket-ball entered the General's breast and passed cleanly out through his left side. His huge figure faltered, swayed for a moment, then crumpled and fell. General Brock lay still upon the damp ground beside a small bush of wild thorn.

Brock died almost instantly, and with his death the advancing line faltered and stopped. A groan went up from the British soldiers when they saw their leader down. Two of them picked up his body and began to carry it down the hill. A moment later the entire line was in retreat.

Not long afterwards Colonel Macdonell arrived at the foot of Queenston Heights with the two companies of York Volunteers, some ninety men in all. Wild with grief and rage at the General's death, Macdonell formed up the York Volunteers beside the regulars and militia who had retired with Brock's dead body and about nine o'clock led them up the hill in a second attack.

By now, however, Captain Wool had been reinforced. Instead of 150 Americans on the Heights, there were 300, and they were commanded by a very brave and determined officer. Nevertheless, in spite of outnumbering the British by nearly two to one, the Americans at first fell back before Macdonell's fierce advance.,… The Americans retreated almost to the brink of the escarpment overlooking the river before Captain Wool could get them to stand and form. An American officer hoisted a white flag, but Wool tore it down and gave orders for a final musketry volley to be followed by a charge.

That last volley wounded Captain Williams, and Macdonell's horse was shot from under him. As the brave aide-de-camp was falling, another musket ball struck him and passed through his body. With both Macdonell and Williams down, the advancing British line wavered and halted, then broke as the Americans charged with Wool at their head.,…

At Queenston, in one of the cottages overlooking the river (legend has it that it was the cottage belonging to Laura Secord) a little group of officers and men paused long enough to deposit General Brock's body. They laid it down on the bare floor of the tiny parlour and hurriedly covered it with a pile of old blankets so that the advancing Americans would not discover what a deadly blow had been struck at the British cause that morning. Then the retreat continued.

,… Colonel Macdonell, in great pain from his wound, was borne back to Fort George as carefully as the rough road allowed. He knew that he was dying himself, but he spoke continually of General Brock and of what his loss would mean to Canada.,…

With Brock dead and Macdonell and many other officers wounded, the British and Canadians at Vrooman's Point were badly disorganized. They did not number more than about 250 all ranks.

At two o'clock, however, the Americans on Queenston Heights looked down and saw, some two and a half miles away, General Sheaffe's force from Fort George on the march to Vrooman's Point.,…

There, hemmed in between the gorge of the Heights on one side and Sheaffe's army on the other, the Americans were in a desperate situation. Probably there were no more than 600 of them on the hill top, although in and around the village below there were another 400 who did not join in the battle.,…

The battle opened when the Americans made a half-hearted attempt to turn the British right by advancing across a patch of broken ground that was covered with bushes and scrub pines. They were met by such a hot fire from the 41st Regiment that they halted and turned back in confusion. Then the Indians at the other end of the line and the light company of the 41st in the centre rushed forward to form an advanced line of skirmishers.,… The Americans began to give way before it. Seeing this, Sheaffe ordered the "General Advance" to be sounded.,… Within seconds the entire American force was broken and in-flight. Colonel Scott tried without success to rally his men; their only thought was to get away.,…

Colonel Macdonell lived, in constant agony, for a full 20 hours after having been shot, but he died in the early morning of October 14. The British lost only two officers as a result of the battle, but those two had been the flower of the army.”

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