July 25, 1814
Every army that existed during the Napoleonic Period included within it a corps of “Light Infantry”. The British, in Canada, were no different. Light infantry formed what was called the “advance guard” when the army was on the march. During a retreat of the army light infantry would form the rear guard. During a battle light infantry had the job of covering and protecting the main line of infantry and they did this by “skirmishing” both on the flanks and in the front of an attacking formation. Light infantry used muskets but none the less they were instructed to aim their muskets and musketry at individuals within the enemy ranks. This harassment of the enemy by using skirmishers and a skirmishing tactic was achieved by the light infantry who worked in pairs. Working in pairs allowed one man of the pair to always be loaded while the other member of the pair was loading, thereby protecting each other. Light infantry advanced in a controlled manner but in a loose or staggered formation (rather like a zigzag front). Light infantry, in Canada, were responsible for reconnaissance, which, in Europe, would have been the job, primarily, of cavalry. Cavalry was not as effective in Canada because of the extreme and densely wooded areas. In Canada the British army utilized the Canadian Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles as their own personal force of Light Infantry.
During the first week of July in 1814 the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles found themselves being summoned from their housing in Kingston, Upper Canada, to the Niagara Peninsula. In Niagara, Major General Riall was strongly suspecting that the Americans were preparing to attack somewhere along the Niagara River at any time. The Glengarry Light Infantry, as well as the Incorporated Militia and the 1st, 8th, 41st, 89th, 100th, and 103rd Regiments of Foot were each going to become the battalions of the British Right Division in the quest to suppress and defeat the American advance into Canada.
On July 3rd of 1814 Major General Jacob Brown of the American army struck at Fort Erie in Upper Canada. With close to 5000 troops he swept into Fort Erie, established a stronghold and began to construct the American Fort Erie for that summer. By July 4th he was advancing toward Niagara Falls and at Chippawa he engaged his enemy on the 5th of July in 1814. Brown defeated the British and continued his advance to Queenston Heights where he settled on the 12th day of July 1814. There he waited for his reinforcements that were to be brought by ships under the American Commodore Chauncey. Brown wanted to crush the British in Niagara-on-the-Lake but the American Navy let him down.
General Riall assumed correctly that General Brown was waiting for the arrival of an American squadron. During the night of July 12th Riall sent some of the 8th Regiment of Foot to reconnoitre the American position at Queenston Heights. The commander of the 8th, Evans, encountered and American force along the way and the resulting skirmish saw the American General Swift get killed. The result was a very hasty withdrawal by the remaining American soldiers. Upon learning of this, Riall, on the following night, took most of the 1st, 8th, Field Artillery and Incorporated Militia in an advance movement to 20-Mile Creek where on July 14th he was joined by Col. Hercules Scott and the 103rd Regiment of Foot. The British Commander, Drummond, was still in Kingston, Upper Canada, by this date. It was on July 15th, 1814, that the Glengarry Light Infantry found themselves moving from their camp at Fort York in an advance to the Niagara Peninsula. They found themselves performing this movement with the flank companies of both the 104th and the 89th Regiments of Foot. Once at 20-Mile Creek the troops were reorganized by General Riall and the Glengarry Light Infantry found themselves as part of the 2nd Brigade (the Light Brigade) under the command of Pearson. On the same day American General Ripley (the junior man) was given the order to create a diversion on the River Road near Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake in order to allow Porter to move in behind Fort George to examine the British defences. The details were sent back to Queenston Heights to General Brown of the Americans. Brown decided to move against Fort George but didn’t do so until the 20th of July. Before leaving Queenston Heights, Brown destroyed the fieldworks and marched north.
Brown’s single intention at Fort George was to provoke the British to fight! Brown wanted a battle but neither General Riall, at 20-Mile Creek, nor the garrison of British at Fort George would accommodate him. By July 22nd of 1814, Brown realized that it would be very difficult to take Fort George without his heavy artillery. His frustration made him order a withdrawal and the Americans returned to Queenston Heights. Back at the Heights, Brown encountered Canadian resistance.
Meanwhile, the British General Riall had experienced a great deal of nervousness. On July 16th he moved his Brigade from the 20-Mile Creek to the 12-Mile Creek. Infact, his advance guard, of which the Glengarrys were a part, found themselves as far forward as the Four-Mile Stream, just shy of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Riall’s defeat at Chippawa had shaken his confidence and on July 20th he reported to his superior, General Drummond, that he knew that he was expected to assist at Fort George and that he intended to do just that. So, when the American General Brown retired to Queenston, Riall took advantage of the situation and moved on Fort Niagara on the American side of the river.
General Drummond finally arrived at Fort York (Toronto) on July 22nd of 1814. He found a dispatch from Riall waiting for him that told of the batteries being built at Youngstown on the American side of the Niagara River. Drummond’s decision was quick. He decided that he would attack Youngstown. Fresh troops were needed so he utilized the flank companies of the 89th and 104th Regiments of Foot that had followed him from Kingston. The 89th were sent by ship to Fort Niagara late on July 23rd. Drummond hoped to follow them the next day and attack Youngstown on July 25th. This plan would only work if the Americans remained at Queenston Heights. General Brown did not comply. Commodore Chauncey, of the American Navy, had forwarded a letter on July 20th informing Brown that he was grounded with a severe fever and that his naval squadron would not be coming to Brown’s aid because Chauncey did not trust his naval subordinate. Brown decided to withdraw again back to Chippawa. So, Early on July 24th of 1814, the Americans left Queenston Heights for Chippawa and they followed the Portage Road. The 24th of July was recorded as being a very fine day. The sky was clear and the day was not too hot. The Americans stopped to rest long the way to their camp at Chippawa just south of a junction of two roads; the Portage and a country road known as Lundy’s Lane.
The Canadian-Indian leader, Norton, was situated near St. David’s on the afternoon of July 24th and he witnessed Brown’s withdrawal from Queenston Heights. Norton sent a messenger to inform Riall of the new development. Riall, in turn, instructed Pearson to take his Brigade forward and follow the Americans during their retreat to Chippawa. Pearson had the buglers of the Glengarry Light Infantry sound the assembly very late in the evening of July 24th The Brigade marched for St. David’s. The Glengarry Light Infantry were on the move again with approximately 900 other soldiers.
As dawn broke on July 25th Pearson arrived at the burnt out ruins of St. David’s. He rested his troops for a short time and then continued south on the Portage Road. Brown’s army was stopped just south of Lundy’s Lane behind a thicket of trees lying south of a group of fields below the old church near a hamlet known as Bridgewater Mills. Riall was, in fact, informed that Brown was camped at the Falls of Niagara. Although close to the Falls, Brown was actually on the bluff of the Falls high above the mist but just west of the Portage Road leading to Chippawa.
Riall sent Norton and Merritt with a small force of Indians and Canadian militia toward the Falls. Upon their arrival they found Americans but they observed the Americans further south and just north of Chippawa. Word was sent back to Riall, through Pearson, by mid-morning. But before they left the Americans, Norton and Merritt sent a few musket volleys their way. Pearson, upon hearing the news, decided that the Americans posed no threat at that time. At Willson’s Tavern, just south of Lundy’s Lane on the Portage Road, a forward piquet consisting of two companies of the Glengarry Light Infantry was posted. By early afternoon on the 25th Riall arrived at Queenston where he was met by General Drummond. Here they discussed their plan. Drummond made the decision to assemble all of the British forces at Lundy’s Lane. It was at this time that Drummond ordered Riall to bring Hercules Scott’s Brigade forward to the Lane. The march, for Scott’s Brigade, would be hot and rushed and urgent since they were still back at the 12 and 10-Mile Creeks.
Late in the afternoon on the 25th of July 1814, Drummond, Riall and Pearson found themselves at Lundy’s Lane together. It was about the same time when Riall’s messenger finally reached Hercules Scott who began his hurried and urgent movement toward Lundy’s. Drummond took full advantage of the quiet and calm afternoon realizing that it might well be the final calm before the storm of battle. He gave the order for his men to eat. For some it would be their last meal.
In the earlier part of the afternoon on the 25th Brown decided that Fort Schlosser on the American side of the Niagara River, just above the Falls, would have to be protected and he summarized that the best way to protect Fort Schlosser would be to return to Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake and threaten the British there. To get the job done Brown sent for Winfield Scott who was his best chance at success. Winfield Scott’s Brigade began moving north on the Portage Road toward the junction of Lundy’s Lane by suppertime just as the day was beginning to cool. As he marched his troops from Chippawa he passed Brown’s troops who were seen to be relaxed and in a state of undress, for the most part, sitting in a pasture of tall grass shaded along its Northern extremity by a long line of trees. As Scott rounded the bend on the Portage Road and marched north past the tree line he became cautious that British piquets may be to his front, and he was right. As the Americans advanced north on the roadway Scott began to see pockets of British and Canadian Militia forming and reforming as they slowly retired in front of him. Scott ordered his 9th Infantry west into the scattered woods that lay north of the original tree line. They were being posted as a flank guard and the main body of Winfield Scott’s troops continued their slow advance mirroring the movements of the flank guard.
As the Americans rounded the second bend on the Portage Road they found themselves turning slightly east and suddenly confronted by a sight at Willson’s Tavern. Winfield Scott witnessed several British officers rushing from the Tavern and mounting their steeds, in haste, to retire. One of the British officers was seen to wave and salute the American General Scott before riding away. British bugle calls began in the wooded area to the north and west of the Americans on the Portage Road. Scott new a large enemy lay ahead of him. A few hundred yards later Scott was beside the Tavern himself and he dismounted and went in to question the Tavern’s owner. He was informed that General Riall had two guns and approximately 1100 soldiers in his charge and that he was very near by. Scott remained sceptical that the force was as large as his informant had indicated and, so, he continued with his advance. Within a few more yards shots came from the trees and a few American soldiers were dead. Natives yelled with their war- whoops bent on instilling fear in the American soldiers. Word was immediately sent back to General Brown. Winfield Scott now went into action, as only he knew how to do.
The remainder of the American 9th, the 11th, and 22nd Infantry were forced west into the wooded area and the American guns prepared themselves with round-shot on the Portage. Scott now realized that all the British were in front of him and that none of the British were headed toward Fort Schlosser as an American Scout had previously told him. It was now 7:15 p.m.
Winfield Scott finally ordered his men north from the woods and into a beautifully sunlit clearing. As he rode behind his troops he came into full view of the British lined up along the ridge of Lundy’s Lane. They were within easy range for the British. Scott was furious!
Riall, just minutes before, had ordered his British troops to retire from the Lane. As this was occurring a Native messenger informed Riall that the Americans had suddenly appeared in the open field below. Riall still had Chippawa on his mind. He was still thoroughly convinced that although the Americans looked like militia they were infact American regulars. His mind was swimming. He was now convinced that up to 5000 of Brown’s army were throwing themselves at his feet and he feared for his 1200 men. Riall ordered Pearson to continue the withdrawal. Riall hoped to meet up with Drummond’s men back closer to Queenston where together they could turn and face the American enemy and defeat them. Pearson swiftly withdrew his men leaving behind his infamous rearguard the Glengarry Light Infantry.
A British advance guard was still out in front of the Glengarrys who were now forming the British rearguard. As the advance guard returned to where the Glengarry’s were positioned they became confused as to why the area was almost entirely deserted of their own army. Within minutes the new British front could see dust clouds approaching from the north and they knew that the British troops had been turned around again and were now returning to Lundy’s Lane. The man responsible for this return to the Lane was General Drummond. Together, Drummond and Riall would face the Americans and the Battle of Lundy’s Lane would begin.
Drummond deployed his army along the ridge of Lundy’s Lane. He now had approximately 2200 men at his disposal. He would not retreat. He would stand come hell or high water. Drummond decided to utilize his two 24- pounders, his two 6-pounders, his detachment of rockets, and his 5 1/2-inch howitzer. His army was placed behind the Royal Artillery. The sun was low and just above the tree line as Drummond looked toward the Americans in the field below him. Drummond’s guns had clear fire toward the south and the east where the Americans boldly stood. The Incorporated Militia and the light company of the 8th Regiment of Foot protected Drummond’s left flank. The Glengarry Light Infantry, who were posted west on the laneway leading to Skinner’s Farm, held Drummond’s right flank. The Glengarrys were first on to the battlefield and history would show that they would also be the last ones off the battlefield. As the Battle progressed, Norton’s Indians and a few members of the local Canadian Militias later joined them. The British artillery opened fire and maintained a steady rate of death against the Americans for nearly an hour and a half. Winfield Scott’s brigade was all but decimated and he became increasingly frustrated and staggeringly furious that he was not receiving reinforcements after sending word several times asking for immediate assistance. At one point Scott’s frustration saw him advance his men just as the Royal Artillery was cutting them down. This exposed Scott’s left flank and the Glengarry Light Infantry began doing their job of delivering death to the Americans more effectively. The Glengarrys were moved forward by their commanding officer, Col. Francis Battersby. The Glens formed a skirmish line behind the trees that lined Skinner’s laneway. The rail fence was kicked flat a few moments later and the Glengarrys advanced. As they neared the American flank a good portion of the Americans turned to face the Glengarrys and they formed a small but separate front. It was later recorded that the Glengarrys, having taken advantage in every possible way of the terrain, seemed not to be affected by the American volleys. Truly, it must have had a very damaging effect on the American 11th Infantry that faced the Black Stump Brigade. The Glengarrys, in their dark green uniforms, blended with the trees, the ground, and the terrain as darkness befell the battlefield. Meanwhile, the British guns continued their rhythm of death.
General Brown finally joined the fight. The presence of his troops caused feelings of extreme nervousness for Drummond. The American guns moved forward supported by Brown’s new troops. Drummond’s left flank is overwhelmed and his army started to collapse and retire north of the Lane. Drummond’s right flank held fast. As Brown takes over from his battle weary subordinate, Scott, and American cease-fire is witnessed. Drummond takes advantage and has the Glengarrys retire toward Skinner’s laneway where they reform their previous front. Contact between the enemies was now broken and the new infantry line that Drummond had established now ran beside and behind the Royal Artillery. Drummond had at his disposal, four companies of light infantry as well as the Glengarrys. Still, he did not throw down a skirmish line in front of his artillery. Nobody knows why
Winfield Scott had, by now, found himself another horse. He now had less than half the men he started with. Brown sympathized and put fresh troops in front of Scott’s brigade. Scott’s men, or what was left of them, were now the reserve.
Drummond had been nervously patient the entire Battle. Still, he craved the presence of his reinforcements under the command of Hercules Scott. Between 9:30 and 10 o’clock p.m., Hercules arrived.
As Hercules’s men poured onto the battlefield the exhausted British gave a rousing cheer that sent chills down the spines of the Americans. Hercules Scott’s division was blown. They had covered 20 miles on a forced march that day of which the last few miles were done at double time. And, adding to that tide of exhaustion, they knew they still had to fight a raging Battle. This one particular moment in time at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane must have been extremely psychological for all three parties involved; the British on the field, the British arriving to the field, and the Americans on the field.
Darkness and fatigue made it difficult for Drummond to realign his reinforcements with his dead, dying and exhausted. But, Drummond now had a renewed confidence with almost 3700 men under his command just a thousand or so away from the quantity of Americans he faced. The newly arrived 104th Regiment was shoved into a 50-yard hole that existed between the advanced skirmish line of the Glengarrys and the line of infantry commencing the right flank along Lundy’s Lane consisting of the 103rd and 1st of Foot.
Forming up in this location for the 104th Regiment was a daunting task in the dark, made particularly unnerving by the fact that both armies spoke the same language. Challenges rang out along the line to make sure that new soldiers, either closing or advancing, were indeed friend and not foe.
The British advance guard, still on the right flank in Skinner’s Laneway, were fired upon by their own army consisting of the 104th and 103rd Regiments of Foot. It happened when the entire line of Glengarrys rose in unison to retire to retrieve more ammunition. The dark silhouette looked as if it were an advancing enemy. The once nearly straight line of enemy facing enemy in just over three hours of fighting had slowly started to curl in favour of the Americans from the southeast toward the northwest. The British guns were captured. Finally, Drummond had his new Battalion in order and he gave the command to march and advance!
The British advance continued until the enemy was close enough for volley fire to be effective. The first British volley was given and it was followed by several hellish minutes of volley exchange between the armies at a very close range. It was a bloodbath. One American officer was found dead the next morning with over 30 musket ball wounds inflicted upon his body. His wounded, but living, horse lay crumpled beside his master. Eventually the British line out-flanked the Americans on both their left and right. But after almost 25 minutes it seemed to Drummond that the Americans remained unshaken. Drummond thought of a tactic and he implemented it immediately. The British ceased-fire and slowly retired leaving the battlefield and disappearing over the hill of Lundy’s Lane toward the north. It was 10 p.m.
Both armies took advantage of the sudden quietness and the stalemate. The young General Ripley of the American army had his men scavenge ammunition from the dead and dying. The captured British guns were inspected and prepared. The British re-mustered. . General Ripley knew the British would be back. Then it happened. Out of the darkness Ripley could hear the sound of marching in front of him. The British were forming again. By now 45 minutes had lapsed. The men of both armies ravaged from Battle and from thirst could hear the raging Niagara Falls to the east of their position. It must have been maddening. Drummond’s new attack was the same as his previous attack but he was cautious not to come as close the second time round.
The British guns are attacked but the Americans held fast. The British withdrew to the crest again. By 11:00 p.m. Drummond decided to throw his best redcoats, the 1st and 89th Regiments, in the centre of his long line, at the Americans. He advanced them and for almost 30 minutes a musket duel blazes between the enemies. Again, the British are unable to take back their own guns. During this time the American General Scott blunders in the darkness. His already ravaged Brigade suffers even more losses as he marches his brigade, from the British left to their right, between the enemies where he is caught in the crossfire. Of the almost 900 men that Winfield Scott began with that evening he has only 100 of them left able to stand and fight. The American General Brown is shot through his inner thigh dangerously close to his family jewels. Brown is shot again, somewhere on his left side. He falls to the rear of his army, still on his horse, but relinquishes command to General Scott. General Scott is knocked unconscious by a musket ball that pierces his left shoulder. Scott relinquishes command to General Ripley.
By around midnight both armies had fought themselves to a stalemate. The British General Drummond retires his army, yet again, beyond the ridge to the north. The Americans are left on the battlefield and consider themselves the victors, but it’s not over yet. General Scott sends word to General Ripley that if the British reappear to drive them away once and for all with the bayonet. General’s Brown and Scott are taken back to Chippawa to be nursed. General Ripley starts to formulate his own ideas. Ripley stood his ground for only 30 minutes and then decided that the British were not going to return to Battle. The night fell silent but for the moaning and groaning of the dying and wounded and the dull roar of the mighty Niagara Falls in the background. Ripley ordered his men to bring the captured British guns to their camp at Chippawa. And, due to their extreme fatigue, they simply refused because they were unable to comply. The American artillery had already removed themselves from the battlefield. The American wounded were collected and removed to Chippawa. The biggest problem regarding artillery was the fact that many of the horses were dead and carriages were, in many cases, severely damaged. In the end only one British gun was harnessed and pulled back toward the American camp.
Ripley had not yet received Word from Generals Brown and Scott. He was now in full command but did not know it so he kept waiting for orders from General Brown. When Ripley did finally hear that he was in command he called a conference of officers and told them to collect as many of the dying and wounded as possible and extract themselves from the battlefield and he did so assuring them that he had received a direct order from General Brown to withdraw the army. Ripley asked his subordinate officers of their opinion and they were nearly all in agreement to withdraw. The one American officer who remained in dissension was Porter. Porter was against leaving the field because he knew that it would turn a victory into defeat. Porter was aware that Ripley was a man who always tended to shy away from Battle and he was almost heartbroken that Ripley still insisted on taking orders from a General who was severely wounded and several miles away from the battlefield. Ripley was in command but was acting like a puppet. Ripley had genuine concern that his army was too weak to receive yet another attack by the British should they decide to return to the field anytime soon. So, Ripley relinquished the battlefield to the British at Lundy’s Lane.
Over the half-hour, or so, that the Americans took to vacate the battlefield the British General Drummond was taking full advantage of his army being separated from the battlefield. They tended to their wounded and realign themselves in preparation to either return to the battlefield or to engage with the enemy should they decide to advance upon their position to the north. The Light Companies of the 89th and 104th regiments that Drummond had left on the battlefield as an outpost took to ground and observed the American decision to retreat. Drummond eventually sent the regulars of the 89th Regiment even more north from the battlefield while the remainder of the Right Division moved away up Lundy’s Lane about another half-mile. Neither enemy army could truly see what the other was doing or where they were positioned. Both armies, due to their severe exhaustion and depleted numbers, simply let the midnight darkness take its course. Both sides now had to endure listening to the screams and moaning and agony of the injured, wounded and dying left alone to contemplate their fate on a damp and bloodied battlefield.
Within minutes of forming as the American rear guard, Harris decided that his dragoons had done the job and he could see no British, at least not in the darkness, returning to the battlefield. He began following the American army back to Chippawa. One of the American gunners, Hindman, became greedy for a British 24-pounder. Hindman sent two of his lieutenants with an artillery detachment back to the battlefield for a British gun. After an unusually long time, Hindman decided to return to the battlefield to see why his lieutenants were taking so long. Upon Hindman’s advance he saw the problem; the British were already again in possession of the battlefield as well as the wagons and the 24- pounder that Hindman so desperately wanted to take with him.
The 89th Regiment’s Light Company had been ordered by their Lt. Col., William Drummond, to pull all the dead horses into a single line to act as a breastwork should the Americans decide to attack again. It soon became obvious to them that the Americans had decided to leave the battlefield and so they began to relax. For most, the remaining darkness that night was cold and damp as they found themselves either sleeping or attempting to help the wounded. Whichever was done it was a wretched business. An officer of the 104th, Lieutenant John Le Couteur, witnessed the dawning of the new day at about 5:00 a.m. Hundreds of dead lay sprawled and fallen everywhere. In some cases the heads of enemy dead from both armies lay just a few feet from each other. Dead horses were everywhere. The entire scene would have been enough to put any man that was still living and witnessing the carnage over the edge.
General Drummond reformed his able troops into three lines at sunrise. He had been reassured that the Americans were nowhere in sight. At some time just before 8 o’clock a.m., Drummond moved his entire division to the battlefield where they were given the orders to clean it up. Just over 200 Canadian, British and American casualties found their way to Surgeon Tiger Dunlop of the 89th Regiment. Trenches were quickly dug into the battlefield’s sandy soil where the dead of the British and Canadians were buried. Many of the fallen Americans were simply piled and burned in funeral pyres. The smoke and the stench of burning flesh were sickly. Eventually, word came that the Americans were returning to the battlefield. All work ceased and the British formed rank and file yet again.
By 2:00 a.m., General Ripley had returned to the American camp at Chippawa. He was surprised to see that there were nearly 1000 men that had not even taken part in the Battle at Lundy’s Lane. He reported to General Brown and was told to make sure that he returned to the battlefield by dawn. Ripley slept. Brown ordered the American artillery readied for first light. Only then did the artilleryman sleep. When morning broke the Americans were not ready and reveille came late. Ripley found it difficult to rally the entire division and prepare them for a return to Lundy’s Lane. So, he only managed a very slow formation of his own division. Brown, witnessing Ripley’s hesitation, was furious. Brown issued the order, by way of messenger, to every individual commanding officer to prepare their men to march immediately. The result was that it was nearly 9:00 a.m. before 1500 Americans began their advanced north again to the battlefield. The Americans were in no condition to fight and the officers and men alike were astonished that they were about to attempt to renew the previous day’s fight.
General Drummond had prepared his men. They sat in near silence waiting and listing as the Americans advanced closer and to within musket ball a distance. The American Ripley halted his troops and ordered a reconnaissance westward through the woods. Curiously, the report came back to him that the British outnumbered the American force by nearly one third. Ripley called a conference of his subordinate officers once again. All, this time, were against renewing a fight with the British. Ripley ordered the burning of Bridgewater Mills and the column began its slow march back to Chippawa. Ripley rode ahead of it to give his report to General Brown. Again Brown was furious and Ripley had to use General Proctor’s name as another officer who was opposed to renewing the attack Lundy’s Lane. Brown’s final statement to Ripley, before he dismissed him, was to sarcastically tell him to do as he pleased.
Within the next few hours the Americans broke camp at Chippawa and began their retreat to Fort Erie. It was a sham. Brown and Scott were put into boats and were rowed up the Niagara toward Fort Erie. The inexperience of the boatmen nearly caused Scott’s boat to be swallowed up by the Falls, but they recovered. Almost 40 wagons were filled with wounded Americans who were eventually allowed to take what they pleased and the loads were dumped into the Niagara! It’s no wonder that the British thought that the American withdrawal to Fort Erie was done with extreme haste and in fear, but by 11:00 p.m. the Americans were in their new camp.
By noon on July 26th of 1814 the Americans had again left the battlefield at Lundy’s Lane. The Canadian and British forces remained on the battlefield for several hours waiting for every last American to disappear from their view. The British watched in horror as the Bridgewater Mills burned to the ground. By 3 o’clock in the afternoon not an enemy was in sight. Drummond sent his Light troops to Chippawa. The Canadian Militias were released and he sent the rest of his army north to Queenston. The Battle was done.
Both sides recorded essentially the same overall losses; almost 900 per side. The British would later record the event as the Battle of Niagara. The Americans would later record it as many as three different ways; the Battle of Bridgewater, the Battle of the Falls, and the Battle of the Cataract. To the Canadians it has always been remembered as the Battle of Lundy’s Lane.
As the final days of summer approached in 1814, on September 17th, during the Siege of Fort Erie, the Glengarries had an opportunity to stare General Ripley down and show him a thing or two about attacking Canadians. It happened as the American General Porter advanced along a muddy trail in the drizzling rain toward the British lines at Fort Erie. It was early in the afternoon and Porter had managed to outflank the first British entrenchment where he gave the signal to attack. Back in the American Fort, General Brown ordered another subordinate, Miller, to advance and engage with the enemy alongside General Porter’s column. In the British trenches, at the second battery, the British 82nd of Foot engaged with the Americans. An American Officer was caught by the 82nds Commander, Captain Pattison, who demanded that the Americans surrender. As the American soldiers were grounding their firelocks the American Officer shot Pattison Dead. The resulting outrage experienced by Pattison’s men at the dishonourable act was that they slaughtered many of the Americans there and then in hand to hand combat with the bayonet. Porter and Miller moved to the third British battery where their troops started to show disarray. General Brown could see that his officers were in trouble and he sent General Ripley, and the reserve, to assist. Ripley actually lost his way and was seriously injured in his retreat, as the British counterattacked using the Glengarries and Allied Indians.
Because the Glengarry Light Infantry did not bear the brunt of the majority of fighting at Lundy’s Lane, but instead did their job and held the British right flank forever and an eternity, their overall loss was relatively small compared to the British regular forces that day. They were recorded to have only a total of 56 casualties, of which, only 3 were confirmed to have been killed in battle. The Glengarries later received the battle honour of “Niagara” just prior to their disbandment in 1816.
Article courtesy Jesse Pudwell