The War of 1812: Niagara Frontier and York - 1812 - Page Banner

Table of Contents


1812 Battle of Queenston Heights


Letter T he first significant engagement of the war and certainly the best known to Ontarians was the Battle of Queenston Heights, 13 October 1812 , fought near Niagara Falls. The American attack was initially successful. A large force crossed the Niagara River and was able to outflank the British forces on the Heights and force their retreat from the artillery batteries. General Brock arrived with reinforcements from Fort George and launched an immediate counter-attack, which was repulsed.

Brock was killed in this charge, along with his aide-de-camp Colonel Macdonell, and command transferred to General Sheaffe who was responsible for the defence of the Niagara area.

Watercolour: The Death of Brock at Queenston Heights, [ca. 1908]

Click to see a larger image (210K)
The Death of Brock at Queenston Heights, [ca. 1908]
C. W. Jefferys
Watercolour on paper
Government of Ontario Art Collection, 619871

Brock's death commemorated here served
as a potent symbol of Upper Canadian patriotism in the decades following the war.

While the U.S. forces increased their strength on the Canadian side of the River, General Sheaffe moved his mixed force of Regulars, Militia and First Nations troops around the flank of the invaders.

Letter from Thomas G. Ridout (Brown's Point) to his brother Samuel Ridout, October 21, 1812

Click to see a larger image (206K)
Letter from Lt. George Ridout (Brown's Point) to
his brother Samuel Ridout, October 21, 1812
Thomas Ridout Family fonds
Reference Code: F43, box 2390
Archives of Ontario

"Were it not for the death of Gen. Brock & McDonell our victory would have been glorious and really a matter of triumph, but losing in one man, not only the President of the Province but our ablest General, is an irreparable loss, under the existing circumstances of affairs at a time when his moderation & impartiality had united all parties …"

Letter from Thomas G. Ridout (Brown's Point) to his brother Samuel Ridout, October 21, 1812
Thomas Ridout family fonds
Reference Code: F 43, box MU 2390
Archives of Ontario
Extract from an original letter






The village of Queenston developed in the 20 years before the war along the river's edge and up the bank to the base of the Heights.

Watercolour: Queenston Barracks, [ca. 1793]


The Battle of Queenston Heights was fought in this vicinity. General Brock was killed in the area shown as a clearing behind the barracks.

Click to see a larger image (223K)
Queenston Barracks, Ontario, [ca. 1793]
Elizabeth Simcoe
Simcoe family fonds
Watercolour
Reference Code: F 47-11-1-0-69
Archives of Ontario, I0006921

Print: Ahyouwaighs, Cheif of the Six Nations, 1836

Click to see a larger image (115K)
Ahyouwaighs, Chief of the Six Nations, 1836
F. W. Greenough, Philadelphia
Print
Reference Code: RG 2-344-0-0-8
Archives of Ontario, I0009144

“The indians being most active in climbing up, first came in contact with the enemy and drove them before them for some distance. The Americans however soon rallied…Our troops coming up at the same time opened so good a fire upon the enemy threat they were again obliged to retire. They were immediately pursued by the indians and our Force shouting and hallowing as loud as they could. The Americans now gave way on all sides – many of them jumped off the precipice and many attempted to swim across the River who were drowned or killed by our shot. A white flag was immediately hoisted by the Americans in the battery and they surrendered prisoners of war. We have taken one thousand prisoners - besides killed and wounded…”

Letter from Archibald McLean to unknown,
October 15, 1812
Ferdinand Brock Tupper fonds,
Reference Code: F 1081, box MU 3027
Archives of Ontario
Extract from an original letter

To listen to an excerpt from this letter in wav format (612K), click here.To listen to an excerpt from this letter in "wav" format (612K) click here. It is also available in "aif" format (612K).


Ahyouwaighs (John Brant) (left above) supported the British throughout the War of 1812, participating in the Battle of Queenston Heights and encouraging other members of the Six Nations from along Grand River to fight the American invaders.

General Isaac Brock's death at the battle was considered both heroic and a severe loss to the military effort. Brock's leadership early in the war had been an important factor in preventing an early and probably irreversible victory by the United States. A permanent memorial to him and the victory at Queenston was planned soon after the war ended.

 

[ Return to top of page ]