The Battle of Beaverdams

On June 14th 1813, American Brigadier General John Boyd ordered Lieutenant Colonel Charles Boerstler of the American 14th infantry to march to Decew House near Beaverdams to attack the British troops under the command of Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon.

On June 21st 1813, three American officers stopped at the house of Laura Secord in Queenston. They forced Secord to prepare and serve dinner to them. As these officers ate their meal, they spoke of their impending attack upon the British at Decew House not thinking that Laura Secord was listening.

After the Americans had left her house, as a United Empire Loyalist, Laura Secord realized she had to warn the British troops. Secord knew that this information was so important that she would have to deliver the message personally.

On June 22nd 1813, Laura Secord left home on a perilous journey walking to Decew House to warn the British encampment. Secord successfully delivered the warning to British commander, Lieutenant Fitzgibbon.

On June 23rd 1813, Lieutenant Colonel Boerstler set out for Queenston with 700 soldiers. They rested over night at Queenston before setting out again the next morning. The Americans began marching westward along the top of the Niagara Escarpment through the Village of Stamford.

The leader of the Iroquois Native Americans, Dominique Ducharme had picked out a site along the route where the British and the Native Americans could ambush the Americans. With Caughnawaga Warriors on the right and Six Nations warriors on the left of the guantlet, the Americans were ambushed as they made their way. The fierce battle resulted in many dead and injured. The Americans stood their ground and fought. The British were still outnumbered by the Americans.

Fitzgibbon demanded the Americans surrender from Boerstler, however it was not until the British had received reinforcements and a lengthy period of time did Boerstler know he was overpowered and then surrender.

Once the British and the Native Americans had completely surrounded the Americans, the Americans surrendered, which resulted in the end of the battle of the Beaverdams. This was a Native American victory that was decided by those warriors fighting along side of the British.

Laura Secord became legendary for her courage and determination in warning the British of the impending American attack.
On September 10th 1814, the Americans defeated the British in the greatest sea battle of the war.

Despite British victories at Chateauguay and at Cryslers farm, which ended the American threats of occupying Montreal and Quebec, the American Navy battled the British Navy at the River Thames and was victorious. This battle critically damaged the British naval capability and allowed the Americans to rule the waterways. The battle of the Thames weakened the British hold of the Niagara Peninsula because the American Navy controlled the waters of the Niagara River.

On December 10th 1813, The Americans abandoned Fort George after their numbers had dwindled to less than 100 soldiers. Rather than trying to hang onto the fort without proper reinforcements and supplies, they decided to return to Fort Niagara.

During their withdrawal, the Americans torched the settlement of Newark, burning it to the ground. The British troops who had retreated to Burlington while the Americans occupied Queenston and Newark (Niagara on the Lake) returned to a devastated Newark and an abandoned, but still standing, Fort George.

The British began fortifying Fort George using building techniques developed by the Americans during their occupation. The British began building a new fortification at the mouth of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario directly opposite Fort Niagara. This new Fort was called “Fort Mississauga”.

On December 13th 1813, the British infantry marched to St. David’s.
On December 18th 1813, the British attacked the Americans at Fort Niagara. As the battle raged, soldiers were fighting at close quarters with bayonets and by hand.
On December 19th 1813, the British defeated the Americans at Fort Niagara, where 65 American soldiers died and 6 British soldiers died.

In retribution for the American burning of Newark, the British burned Lewiston, Manchester (Niagara Falls, New York) and Fort Schlosser.

As the British continued their march southward, they continued to burn everything in their path. On December 28th 1813, the British burned the settlement at Black Creek and Buffalo.

The winter of 1813-1814, was mostly quiet again. The Niagara Frontier lay in ruins. The Americans and the British spent the winter re-supplying and reinforcing.
In the spring of 1814, the British had defeated Napoleon in Europe. The British troops in Europe would be re-deployed to the war against the Americans.

The American commander for the Niagara Frontier was Major General Jacob Jennings Brown. It was Major General Brown’s plan to feign an attack on Niagara while actually attacking Kingston instead.

The Americans massed their troops in Buffalo. The British had 2,700 soldiers in the Niagara Peninsula along with Native American allies composed from the Ottawa, Chippewa, Delaware, Munsey, Wyandot, Fox, Shawnee, Moravian, Cherokee, Kickapoo, and Sioux tribes.

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