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Title: Sir Isaac Brock
Author: Eayrs, Hugh S.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                           Transcriber's Note

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been surrounded by _underscores_.

                         CANADIAN MEN OF ACTION

                            SIR ISAAC BROCK


                            SIR ISAAC BROCK


                             HUGH S. EAYRS

                 TORONTO :   :   :   :   : MCMXVIII

                        COPYRIGHT, CANADA, 1918,

                        BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                            OF CANADA, LTD.


                               My Father,

                      George Eayrs, F.R. Hist. S.,

Whose passion for and services in the name of history are at once my
inspiration and my pride.


AS THIS book is published, Canada is celebrating her fiftieth birthday.
The thoughts of all of us travel back along the line of those fifty
years since Confederation swept away all divisions and made the people
of what is now Canada one in name, that they might become one in
purpose, ideal, and spirit. We see our country served by a succession of
great men. Their greatness consisted in trying to weld Canada into this
oneness and in trying to develop our illimitable resources. For this
fifty years and for the fifty before it, Canada had no war to engage her
attention until, in 1914, she joined with Great Britain in the Great War
that the world might be “made safe for democracy.”

While we look with pride at the progress our country has made during
this time of peace, we may well go further back and see some of the
ultimate contributory factors. And as we do this we shall see that in
those troublous days as in the calmer that succeeded them, the history
of Canada gathers itself round two or three men. One of these is
Major-General Sir Isaac Brock.

Brock is called “The hero of Upper Canada.” That he undoubtedly was, but
he was more. He was the hero of Canada, for while his efforts both as
soldier and statesman were peculiarly for one province, their effect was
felt by Canadians of later days from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Indeed
it is not too much to say that Brock’s part in the War of 1812-14 made
fast and sure what is now the Dominion of Canada for the British Empire.
This makes him at once the primal hero of Canada. We have our other
heroes. The names of Frontenac, Wolfe, Montcalm, Carleton, and others
stand out from Canada’s “storied page” and deservedly so, but not one of
them served our country in a way eventually so signal as did Brock.
Wolfe conquered the French; Carleton defended Canada against invasion in
1776; but their work had not the crucial quality of Brock’s.

He was certainly a man of action, and his biography is fittingly the
first title in a series of _Canadian Men of Action_. The older nations
of the world have their great ones. France has its Joan of Arc, Italy
its Garibaldi, Russia its Peter, and Britain its Arthur and its Alfred.
In ten short years in Canada, Brock accomplished much, for while he lost
his life but four months after war was declared, it was his action and,
after, his spirit which animated the defence of his adopted country
against invasion. In considering him and the noble part he played we may
well contrast this man of action with another, who drew his sword three
years ago not that he might help to establish peace, but for his own
selfish end of vainglory. Brock, like thousands of Canadians to-day,
fought for honor and that his country might be free. The spirit of Brock
animates Canada to-day, and “the brave live on.”


                               CHAPTER I
                   EARLY YEARS                     1

                               CHAPTER II

                   EGMONT-OP-ZEE AND COPENHAGEN   12

                              CHAPTER III

                   CANADA: MUTINY IN THE 49TH     21

                               CHAPTER IV

                   RUMORS OF WAR                  32

                               CHAPTER V

                   MOVED TO UPPER CANADA          44

                               CHAPTER VI

                   A FOOLISH BOAST                54

                              CHAPTER VII

                   DETROIT TAKEN                  65

                              CHAPTER VIII

                   HIS HANDS ARE TIED             74

                               CHAPTER IX

                   QUEENSTON HEIGHTS              87

                               CHAPTER X

                   CONCLUSION                     99

                   APPENDIX                      103

                   GENERAL HULL’S PROCLAMATION   103

                   BROCK’S PROCLAMATION          105

                            SIR ISAAC BROCK

                               CHAPTER I

                              EARLY YEARS

THE year 1769 was an important one for Europe. In it were born two men
who were destined between them to change the face of that continent.
These were Wellington and Napoleon. There was another man who first saw
the light in that year. His name was Isaac Brock, and while his life and
work were hardly comparable in their effect and result to those of the
two great Europeans, they were nevertheless an important factor in
shaping the destiny of Canada. It may, perhaps, be laying undue stress
on the work he did to call General Brock the Wellington of Canada.
Necessarily he left less mark on the times in which he lived than did
the Iron Duke, for his task was less monumental and his sphere less
wide. Yet, in relative degree, Brock’s work was immensely important. We
are beginning to realize, a hundred years after his death, just how
directly he affected Canada and indirectly Europe. It would be
interesting, however, to speculate on just what would have been the
result had he remained in Europe. It might,—who knows?—have been his as
much as Wellington’s to save the world from the ambitious schemes of
Napoleon, but in the part he played, Brock admittedly did a very great
deal to make the bounds of Empire “wide and wider yet.”

Isaac was born on October 6th, 1769, and was the eighth son of John
Brock. Of his father we know little. He was a sailor, had been a
midshipman in the navy, and his duty had carried him far afield, to
India and other outposts. Isaac’s birthplace was Guernsey, an island in
the English Channel, which is one of the beauty spots of the world.
There could have been no more fitting cradle for a child who was to
become indeed a man of action than this rugged little island, with its
rocky weather-beaten coast, stern and bold in outline. The heavy seas of
the Channel beat upon it in vain, and it is possible that in after-life,
when he was buffeted by circumstances, his thoughts may have gone back
to his island home, a small but hardy defence against thundering waves
and shrill winds and raging tempest.

He had good blood in his veins, for, far back, there was a Sir Hugh
Brock, a valiant knight of Edward III. Sir Hugh lived in Brittany, just
across the Channel from England and at that time an English duchy. The
French, however, bitterly mindful of Crecy and Poitiers, bided their
time, and when Edward was old and enfeebled, rose and drove the English
out of Northern France. Brittany again became French, and, when the
English were expelled, it is thought that Sir Hugh’s family came to the
Channel Islands, which was like a half-way house between France and
Britain, and there settled.

There were other Brocks in nearer relationship who had won their spurs
both in battle by land and sea and in journeyings afar. As has been
said, Isaac’s father, John Brock, was a midshipman and had travelled to
India, in those days a great distance away. Another relative was the
famous Lord de Saumarez, also a Guernsey man, who had distinguished
himself at St. Vincent and at the Nile. Brock’s mother was Elizabeth de
Lisle, daughter of the lieutenant-bailiff of Guernsey, a position which
corresponded to that now held by our lieutenant-governors, an office the
duties of which, as we shall see, Isaac Brock himself, in later years,
discharged in Upper Canada.

It was not, however, in family tradition and example alone that young
Brock found inspiration for heroic and valorous deeds. He could not but
be imbued with love of adventure. This island home of crag and headland
was the vault of many a memory of heroic deeds, the past scene of many a
stirring exploit of the hardy seafaring folk who had been its dwellers
as long as ever dwellers had been there. Young Brock learned numberless

         “Of moving accidents by flood and field,
         Of hair-breadth scapes i’ the imminent deadly breach.”

Long, long years before, the Druids had their caves and catacombs tucked
away in quaint hiding-places, and to the young adventurer these haunts
and the tales told of them furnished idea and scope for many an
escapade. Stories of Cromwellian and Stuart days, when Cavalier and
Roundhead in turn found refuge in this land of his birth, and evidences
of the resolute defence which the Islanders had offered to the
maraudings and attackings of the French, fostered in Brock an ambition
to emulate the Guernsey folk who were dead and gone.

So, in boyhood days, he played for a while with the things of nature. He
became strong and robust. He was, like his seven brothers, tall and
manly, a precocious boy, a better boxer, a stronger and bolder swimmer
than any of his companions. He would scale jagged headland, or sighting
Castle Cornet, a landmark half a mile from the shore, would brest the
swiftly-running tide, meeting and overcoming

                   “    every wave with dimpled face
                   That leaped upon the air.”

He did not entirely neglect his studies, but gave some time to reading,
particularly along historical lines. There seems to be no doubt,
however, that, like many another boy, his prowess in games was gained at
the expense of his education. At the age of ten he was sent to school at
Southampton, and later was at Rotterdam, where his tutor was a French
pastor. Neither his parents nor himself would be aware, at that time, of
the use that the knowledge of French he there acquired would be to him
when he came to Canada later on.

He chose his profession early in life. For him there could be only two
careers, the navy or the army. Guernsey men, from time immemorial, had
favored the services as a means of earning their living, for the love of
adventure was ingrained in the people. Besides, Brock had two brothers
in the army.

One brother, Ferdinand, had been in the 60th Regiment, and when Isaac
was a lad of ten, had given his life at the defence of Baton Rouge, on
the Mississippi, fighting against the colonial revolutionists. The
other, John Brock, was a captain in the 8th, known as the King’s
Regiment, and probably with the idea of being near his brother, Isaac in
1785 purchased a commission as ensign in the 8th. Thus he had in John a
hand and mind steadied and practised by reason of ten years’ service to
guide and help him in the career he had chosen.

Isaac was keenly enthusiastic about this new life, and his brother’s
example spurred in him the ambition to be a distinguished soldier. His
love for history and his liking for serious reading stood him in good
stead. He had had, perhaps, too much sport and too little study in those
Guernsey days. He allotted his time differently now, and sedulously
spent some hours each day locked in with his books. He was wise enough
to know that he was not too well-equipped for his work. These were the
years when his mind was receptive and plastic, and he used them well. He
served five years and purchased his lieutenancy in 1790, when he was
twenty-one. These were uneventful and quiet days, but they were days of
preparation. Barrack-room and camp taught him the essential elements of
soldierliness. He returned to Guernsey, for he had been quartered in
England, and raised an independent company. This he commanded with the
rank of captain, being placed on half-pay. The quietness and sameness of
soldiering in England palled on him, however, and in the next year he
arranged a transfer to the 49th Regiment, then quartered in the
Barbadoes. These were the men whom he was to learn to love, and many of
whom fought with him when, some years later, he received his death

Joining his regiment in Barbadoes, he served there and later in Jamaica.
There is a story told of him at this time which shows that the courage
of the boy who had been the hero of a hundred daring escapades was his
distinguishing mark in young manhood. A captain in the 49th, who was a
crack shot, was the bully of the mess. Brock, who treated him with
indifference, was singled out as a mark for his insult and was involved
in a duel. The braggart was a little man, but Brock was six feet two—not
a difficult target. Brock had the right, as he had been challenged, to
name the conditions of the duel. When the party reached the grounds
where the duel was to take place, Brock drew out his handkerchief and
insisted that he and his opponent should fight their duel across it.
This would minimize the disadvantage of his own great height. The bully,
recognizing that for once he was fighting with equal chance to kill or
be killed, refused the condition and fled. His brother officers declared
that Brock had won a moral if not an actual victory, and they and he
compelled the expulsion of the bully from the regiment.

Shortly after this incident the 49th moved to Jamaica. Though he enjoyed
the more eventful life there, Brock was a product of a hardier clime and
could not stand the enervating air of the tropics. He fell a victim to
fever and indeed nearly died of it. His man, Dobson, tended and restored
him, and Brock, big-hearted and kindly then as later, never forgot what
he owed to his trusty servant. Dobson remained with him till his death,
which took place a short time before Brock set out on the expedition
against Detroit.

In 1793 Brock returned to England on sick leave and re-visited his old
home, there to regain his health and strength. Subsequently, until the
return of his regiment from Jamaica, he was engaged in the recruiting
service. While employed in this most important work he kept up his hours
of study, fitting himself for the greater things to come.

In 1795, he purchased his majority, and in 1797, at the age of
twenty-eight and after only twelve years service, was gazetted
lieutenant-colonel of his regiment, soon afterwards becoming the senior

As commander of the 49th he had no easy position. The _morale_ of his
men on their return from abroad was bad. The former commander was a poor
disciplinarian, and his men had been allowed to get out of hand.

These were queer days in the services. The men in the navy were in a
perpetual state of mutiny. There had been cases where the seamen had
risen and murdered their officers. There had been a lack of actual naval
fighting for some time, and the consequent dullness, added to the poor
pay, made the navy a somewhat ragged and discontented unit. The seamen
usually took the lead in revolt, and the soldiers sympathized with them.
In the army there was additional reason. The officers were often
bullies. Different ideas of discipline were held from those we know
to-day. The average British officer terrorized over his men. He punished
them heavily for the slightest offence. It was considered the proper
thing to give a man fifty lashes or so for a mild misdemeanor, such as
having dirty boots on parade, and on that scale the punishment was
allowed to over-fit the crime. Bad barrack-room conditions and little
leave were other reasons for growing discontent which smouldered, and
then broke out in mutiny.

So far as his own regiment was concerned, Brock showed his ability to
solve this problem of lax discipline. He was indefatigable in his
efforts to familiarize himself with what was wrong, and unwearying in
the task of setting it right. As we have already seen, he was thorough
in whatever he did. It was so now. He never relaxed vigilance and rested
little either day or night. When he slept, it was with pistols ready to
his hand. Daily he would make the round of the barracks. Whatever
displeased him he ordered changed and frequently he would tear down
insurgent notices from the walls with his own hand. He tempered justice
with kindliness. He was aware that former regimental rulers had tried
the patience of the men a good deal, and he made generous allowance for
this in his own treatment. By so doing he won them over to himself, and
they learned to respect and love him. The men knew that he would insist
on rigid discipline and orderliness, but they knew too that on their
side they might count on justice, not unmixed with generosity and
affectionate regard. Brock made a great change in the temper and
behavior of the 49th. When the Duke of York inspected the regiment,
therefore, he put himself on record that the 49th, under Brock’s
direction, had become instead of one of the worst regiments in the
service, one of the best.

                               CHAPTER II

                      EGMONT-OP-ZEE AND COPENHAGEN

BROCK was soon to realize his dream of active service. Europe was in a
turmoil. Bonaparte’s ambition was insatiable, and unless effective
opposition was offered quickly, he was in a fair way to over-run the
Continent. England, under Pitt, was averse to participation in the
Continental wars, but the prime minister saw that to keep out meant real
danger. In 1798 Pitt agreed with Russia that an army should be sent to
Holland, which was at that time occupied by France under the name of the
Batavian Republic. The ultimate aim of the allies was to seize Northern
France, and thus hold Bonaparte in check. Of the 25,000 men which
England agreed to send, the 49th, Brock’s regiment, was a part.

In early August of 1799 the first detachment of this invading army,
10,000 men, left England, under command of Sir Ralph Abercromby. He was
to pave the way for the larger allied force under the Duke of York,
which would leave as soon as the advance guard had landed in Holland.
Brock took his men with Sir Ralph. The 49th was part of the brigade
commanded by Major-General John Moore, who, later, fell at Corunna in

Nearly two hundred vessels were needed to convey Abercromby’s division.
Ships were different in those days from the great transports that have
carried our own Canadians to France. The expedition set off in fair
enough weather, but hardly had they set sail before they encountered
real opposition in the heavy seas and strong winds of the North Sea. It
was not till two weeks later, towards the end of August, that they were
able to anchor off the Dutch coast. While the army landed, the fleet
fired heavy volleys on the enemy’s position on the low sand hills which
fringed the shore. A few hours later the British occupied the Helder
Peninsula, though it cost them hours of stern fighting and the loss of a
thousand men.

The weather continued against the invaders. The British had no
protection from the heavy rains and bitter winds, and they could do
nothing but await reinforcements. Meanwhile they had several short and
sharp, but minor engagements. In a few days the Duke of York arrived
with the remainder of the British forces, about 7,000, and was joined
shortly afterwards by 10,000 Russians. Much time was taken up by the
landings and the adjusting of the forces, during which the enemy,
protected from the storms, made stronger his position. On September 19th
the Duke ordered an attack on Bergen, but the Russians, who were
impetuous and unused to military discipline, blundered badly, and the
attack failed.

On October 2nd a more determined attack was made upon Bergen, during
which Moore’s brigade led the advance along the sand to Egmont-op-Zee.
This was Brock’s first real battle. The enemy, concealed in the
sand-dunes, offered heavy opposition. The 49th, with the rest of the 4th
Brigade, were the advance guard for a column of 10,000 men under Sir
Ralph Abercromby, and moved along the low-lying coast line for five or
six miles before they were halted by what Brock described as gunfire
comparable to “a sea in a heavy storm.” General Moore ordered the 25th
and then the 79th to charge. The 49th came up on the left of the 79th,
and while they were held ready, Brock, disregarding personal safety,
rode out to view the position. He returned, and taking six companies,
which left Lieutenant-Colonel Sheaffe, his regimental second in command,
in charge of the other four, covering his left, cried “Charge!”

The men crashed forward, in sorry array from the point of view of order,
but with such daring and boldness that the enemy fled before them. This
was Brock’s first victory, and a real victory it was, though it cost him
over a hundred men and several officers. Brock, describing the action,
wrote to his home that “nothing could exceed the gallantry of my men in
the charge.” He himself had a narrow escape. He was looking over the
ground he had taken when a bullet struck him, and, says his brother
Savery, who was an aide to General Moore, and present, “the violence of
the blow was so great as to stun and dismount him, and his holsters were
also shot through.” Luckily he was wearing a thick muffler over his
cravat, and the bullet did not penetrate to his neck.

Savery Brock shared his brother’s indomitable courage. He was paymaster
to the 49th, but anxious to be in at the fighting. He disregarded his
brother’s instructions and was in the thick of it. “By the Lord Harry,
Master Savery,” said Brock, “did I not order you, unless you remained
with the general, to stay with your iron chest? Go back, sir,
immediately.” But Savery detected the pride as well as the rebuke in
Isaac’s tone and answered cheerfully: “Mind your regiment, Master Isaac!
You surely would not have me quit the field now?”

But though Abercromby’s column was successful at Egmont-op-Zee, the
operation against Bergen was a failure through the defeat of the other
columns. The allies retreated. They were in an unenviable position. A
winter campaign was out of the question, and food and supplies could be
had only from the ships at anchor, since Holland was so uncertain a
quantity. So the expedition fitted out at great expense and very hopeful
of success, ended in the shameful abandonment of Holland to the French.
The British returned to England, while the Russians wintered in the
Channel Islands. Brock learned much from Egmont-op-Zee, and if on the
whole the campaign was inglorious, his own part had been a worthy one
and the experience was invaluable.

Brock’s regiment on its return from Holland was quartered in Jersey,
where it remained until early in 1801. By this time Britain found
herself forced to fight a multiplicity of foes. Even Russia had gone
over to the enemy, whose forces daily grew larger and who were spending
time and money in preparation. The line-up looked unequal. On the one
side was Britain. On the other was France, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, and
Prussia. Denmark and Russia had a large fleet in the Baltic. If the
fleets of these two nations should combine with that of France, British
supremacy on the sea would be endangered. As long as she ruled the waves
she was safe from the schemings of Napoleon. Although war had not been
declared, a naval expedition against Denmark as the pivotal foe was
decided upon.

Meanwhile there was more trouble in Brock’s regiment. His second in
command, Lieutenant-Colonel Sheaffe was a brave soldier, but he laid too
much stress on the necessity for rigid and even harsh rule. The men were
sick of this unnecessarily stern disciplinarian who, unlike Brock, did
not temper justice with kindliness, and were daily growing more
resentful. On one occasion, when Brock returned after a temporary
absence, his men on parade cheered him wildly. He sensed in a moment the
situation. He knew that Sheaffe was needlessly autocratic, and he could
see that the men had grown more and more dissatisfied. Still the display
of rejoicing at his return was a flagrant breach of army discipline.
Unwillingly enough, he ordered his men to be confined to barracks for a
week. We can appreciate what it cost him, under these circumstances, to
be stern.

When the fleet was ready for action it was despatched to the Baltic
under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, with Nelson as second in
command. With the fleet went a land force under the command of Colonel
William Stewart, a fine soldierly man, who had the virtues of initiative
and action; Brock with the 49th accompanied Colonel Stewart, to whom he
stood next in seniority. When the expedition reached its destination it
was decided to attack Copenhagen at once with a portion of the fleet and
the land forces, all under the command of Lord Nelson.

Brock, who with a part of his regiment had his station on the _Ganges_,
had instructions to lead in the storming of the Trekoner batteries. The
attack, however, did not take place. The Danes offered such a spirited
resistance that the British infantry never got a chance to do their
part. In fact, they remained inactive through the engagement. They could
only wait and watch, quartered for the moment on the decks of British
vessels, and suffer heavy fusillade from the Danish batteries and ships.
The Danes pounded the British squadron hard. Brock, on the deck, had
several narrow escapes, while his brother Savery, again to be found
where the bullets were thickest, was firing a gun. Savery was
momentarily stunned by grape shot, and Isaac rushing to him, cried: “Ah,
poor Savery is dead.” But Savery was far from dead and proved it by
leaping to his feet with his usual nonchalant smile, and continued
behind his gun.

Towards the end of the battle, Brock, accompanied Captain Freemantle of
the _Ganges_ to the _Elephant_, Nelson’s flagship. He saw Nelson write
his celebrated message to the Crown Prince of Denmark, which ran, “Lord
Nelson has directions to spare Denmark, when no longer resisting; but if
the firing is continued on the part of Denmark, Lord Nelson will be
obliged to set on fire the floating batteries he has taken, without
having the power to save the brave Danes who have defended them.” The
Danes were compelled to bow to Nelson’s ultimatum, and surrender. Thus
the courage of Nelson had saved Britain from attack. The defeat of the
Danes, followed as it was by the death of the Czar of Russia, broke up
the coalition. Britain was no longer in danger.

Brock himself learned much from the Battle of the Baltic. He took heed
of Nelson’s wise and bold action in continuing the engagement in the
face of definite orders from Sir Hyde Parker to retire, and pigeon-holed
the occurrence in his mind. Eleven years later he himself was to take a
similarly bold and strong course when he sent his message to General
Hull commanding the American forces at Detroit, even though his
commander-in-chief had instructed him not to attack the enemy. But
Brock, after Copenhagen, knew that it sometimes paid to risk all and
say: “What men dare, I dare!”

                              CHAPTER III

                       CANADA: MUTINY IN THE 49TH

BROCK collected his men and returned to England. At Copenhagen it will
be remembered that he had part of the regiment with him on the _Ganges_,
but others had been on different vessels. In August of 1801 he reviewed
the 49th at Colchester, to which place they were ordered. They were now
experienced, in some sort, in battle and had shown themselves to be
brave soldiers. Brock could look with pride on the men he had trained.

In the spring of the next year the 49th Regiment was ordered to Canada.
Probably Brock received his orders regretfully. It meant leaving Europe
when in England war was daily imminent, and Brock, as a man of action,
loved action. So did his men. America, at this time, was peaceable
enough, and even had Canada been attractive in other ways, the commander
and men of the 49th would rather have stayed where there was a prospect
of fighting. Moreover, Canada was deemed, at that time, a land of hard
weather and few attractions. It was little known and supposed to be even
less livable. The journey over the Atlantic was feared by some, far more
than the fire of the enemy in battle. The 49th had no very pleasant
memories of garrison duty, and this was all there was to look forward

We can imagine a not very cheerful regiment crossing the uncertain and
treacherous ocean under conditions much less agreeable than exist

One wonders what must have been Brock’s thoughts when he first saw the
St. Lawrence. He was seaborn, and the salt and the breeze were his
inheritance. He must have been greatly impressed as the ship sailed up
the stately river, its shores heavily wooded and all the wonder of its
rolling might stretched out in front of him. He came in time to Quebec,
and no doubt as his eyes rested on those defences which had withstood
siege after siege, his thoughts often turned to Wolfe and Montcalm and
how, within this area on which he now gazed, they had made history. He
was by now a man of grave and serious character and, as many another in
lowlier state has done since, he may have asked himself what this vast
unknown country held for him. It was to hold much, and he for it.

We may try and think, for a moment, what the Canada of those early years
looked like to this new-comer from the Mother country. There were not
more than three hundred thousand people in this country of ours whose
people now number over eight million. More than half were in Lower
Canada. Brock was a military man and he early noticed how badly
protected were the supposedly fortified posts. York, the capital of
Upper Canada, had no defences. Montreal, the greatest city then as now,
had little to repel attack. Kingston had fairly good fortifications, and
Quebec was in a position stubbornly to resist an enemy. These things
Brock came soon to see.

Perhaps even more portentous to Brock was the state of mind of the
average soldier in Canada. These men had come from Britain where the
garrison life was pleasant and full of incident and where the cities
offered excitement and amusement. Canada was a great contrast. It was
sparsely populated. There were no cities, as these British soldiers
understood the term, and the sameness of the life aroused unrest and
discontent. The United States offered an easy refuge for deserters.
There was to be had across the border the daily eventfulness and
excitement which soldiers wanted. Desertions were frequent, and becoming
more so, and Brock saw the danger for his men of the 49th. He did all he
could to make their lot, under not very accommodating circumstances, a
happy one, but the spirit of the regiment was not the cheerful one it
had been a year or so before.

Brock had not been long in Canada before trouble began in the regiment.
He had an idea that one of his men, Carr by name, was waiting his chance
to desert. He questioned him closely, but the man was sullen. “Tell me
the truth like a man,” said Brock. “You know I have always treated you
kindly.” The man broke down at the words and tone of his commander and
confessed that he and others were planning to desert to the United
States. Here we see that Brock was a man who knew human nature. He
decided to cure by kindness, and he ordered Carr to tell his companions
of what had happened. “Tell them that, notwithstanding what you have
told me, I shall still treat you all kindly,” he said. “Let them desert
me if they please.” Wise Isaac Brock! He knew the value of placing a man
on his honor.

After a short stay at Quebec, Brock and his men began their journey to
York, the small but important town that was later to become the great
city of Toronto. The 49th journeyed by water, for there were no trains.
A schooner took the men up to Montreal, where, after resting, they took
boats up the St. Lawrence. Picture what it meant to brave the wildness
and storm of our great river, to these voyagers a waterway quite
unknown, in small and open boats. They had a new experience in portaging
their boats where the rapids were too strong for them. They plied their
oars through the exquisite loveliness of the Thousand Islands, and
Brock, remembering the fairyland of Guernsey, must have marvelled at
this country which, in one place, had a thousand islands, some of them
almost as big as Sark. Eventually the 49th arrived at Kingston, the
second stage. They made the rest of the journey over Lake Ontario in
another swiftly sailing schooner.

By the time the whole trip was completed Brock had been afforded much
food for thought. He saw a country whose resources were barely touched.
Where we now have thriving communities, he saw settlements where the
people might be counted by handfuls. In the long journey up the St.
Lawrence the abundance of fish and game and the vast sources of wealth
contained in the land alone must have amazed him. He came from a country
across which the stage coach could travel in two or three days. But his
journey across but a section of Canada took him weeks. In England the
lakes were not a twentieth of the size of the one upon which York stood.
The meadows and lanes of England were a far cry from the densely
timbered stretches of Canada. The contrast between his country and ours
is sharp enough to-day. It must have been infinitely more so when Brock
made his first Canadian journey.

It was not long after the pardoning of Carr that Brock had again to face
a similar trouble. Part of his men had gone on to Fort George, while the
others remained with him at York. Brock’s kind treatment of Carr had had
a salutary effect upon most of the regiment, but there were still a few
malcontents. The next summer six of these, at the instigation of a
corporal in another regiment stationed near, deserted, and in a military
batteau—a big flat-bottomed boat, forty feet in length—which they had
stolen, started for Niagara. Brock, the man of action, thought quickly.
He took his servant, Dobson, and manning two boats, started in pursuit.
It was midnight and Lake Ontario was to Brock an unknown quantity, but
the boy who had played with the English Channel in all its moods was
unafraid. After a hard row the pursuers reached Fort George in the
morning, and search parties were organized. The deserters were secured
and made prisoners at Fort George. Brock was as stern this time as he
had been kind before, and his prompt action and personal pursuit put an
end to desertions when he himself was commanding the regiment. It is
said that the commander-in-chief, Lieutenant-General Hunter, who was
then at York, was very much annoyed with Brock for risking his life by
going in person to seek the deserters and read him a severe lecture on
his conduct.

Brock spent a good deal of time familiarizing himself with the Canadas,
or Lower Canada and Upper Canada as they then were. He made many
journeys to Montreal and Kingston by stage and by boat. From Quebec to
Montreal was sixty leagues, and horses must be changed twenty-four times
on the journey which took three days. Brock did a good deal of sailing
too, for he had to get from York to Kingston and Montreal. Canoe and
horse-ferry were often employed. The former was certainly new to Brock,
and even more novel were the Indians who often manned it. Packman and
_voyageur_ excited Brock’s eager interest, and from them he learned much
that was to be valuable in years to come. He got to know the
French-Canadian intimately too; saw him in his native habitat and spent
time in studying him as he did the folk of Ontario. Nothing escaped his
quick eye and quicker mentality. He believed in acquainting himself with
the people with whom he had to deal, and his detailed knowledge of them
placed him in a position accurately to estimate the help they could give
him if ever Canada should be attacked. He could not be unmindful of the
way in which thousands of American settlers were coming into his adopted
country. The people across the border recognized the wonderful resources
of Canada, and as land was cheap they flocked over to possess it. Even
in these early days Brock must have seen signs of the very real menace
which ultimately was to come from the United States.

Meanwhile there was a serious disturbance at Fort George.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sheaffe was commanding that part of the 49th
which was stationed there, and we have seen that he was too harsh a
disciplinarian ever to command a contented as well as an efficient body
of men. For the slightest offence he punished his men very heavily.
These were the days of heavy punishment alike in civilian and military
misdemeanours. Where the soldier to-day would merit a rebuke, in
Brock’s day he was supposed to deserve and got a flogging. Sentences
like 999 lashes from the “Cat”, which was often steeped in brine to
heighten the pain, were frequently carried out, and that for such small
sins as quitting barracks without permission or being deficient in
a detail of parade dress. The cells, too, were constantly occupied.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sheaffe seems to have delighted in inflicting these
punishments. His methods were a direct contrast to those of his senior,
Brock. Small wonder, then, that his men were resentful, and finally
so hot in their anger that their plans included wholesale mutiny, the
murder of Sheaffe, and the imprisonment of the rest of the officers.
The ringleader was a certain Sergeant Clarke.

When Clarke had his plans all ready an accidental word was dropped by a
soldier in the 49th. A hurried meeting of the officers discussed the
situation, and word was quickly sent to Brock, it is said without the
knowledge of Sheaffe. The soldier who bore the message had a bad
reputation in the regiment, and Brock at once jumped to the conclusion
that the man himself was implicated in the plot. Under stern questioning
and threats of severe punishment the soldier broke down and told the
whole story, together with the names of the ringleaders. Accompanied by
Sergeant-Major FitzGibbon, Brock set sail that very hour and landed at
Fort George long before he was expected by the waiting officers. The
guard at the east gate of the fort was headed by Sergeant Clarke
himself, and Brock ordered him to lay down his pike and take off sword
and sash. When this was done, O’Brien, next in command, was ordered to
handcuff the sergeant, and a third soldier, in turn, to manacle O’Brien.
Almost before the officers who had asked his assistance knew that he had
arrived, Brock had the twelve leaders of the plot in irons, and, they,
with the seven deserters already mentioned, were sent to York under

We have read the story of Carr’s intended mutiny, and we have seen that
Brock could be kind and indeed cure by kindness. He knew when to punish
and when to stay his hand. In the case of Clarke he saw that an example
must be made, so that his authority over his men might be seen by them
to be a thing not lightly to be set aside. This time he showed no mercy.

The affair was now one for the commander-in-chief of the forces,
Lieutenant-General Hunter. The men were sent to Quebec, and there tried.
Four of the conspirators and three of the deserters were sentenced to
death, and on March 2nd, 1804, the sentence was carried out, greatly to
Brock’s grief. He was big-hearted and clear-headed enough to know that
Lieutenant-Colonel Sheaffe had been to a large extent responsible in
arousing the evil passions which had resulted in the conspiracy, and
while he recognized that the punishment was just he could not help but
think that the delinquents were more foolish than criminal. When at
York, he got news of the execution, he addressed a full parade of his
men. He thought of the fate of the men who had been with him in Holland,
and he was grave and bitterly sorry when he said: “Since I have had the
honor to wear the British uniform, I have never felt grief like this. It
pains me to the heart to think that any members of my regiment should
have engaged in a conspiracy which has led to their being shot like so
many dogs.”

                               CHAPTER IV

                             RUMORS OF WAR

BROCK, in 1805, was made full colonel. After the incident of the mutiny
he had taken over the active command at Fort George as well as at York,
and at the former, as at the latter, a new and kindlier order of
discipline was worked out. In this, Lieutenant-Colonel Sheaffe seems to
have helped. No doubt he was influenced by reflecting on the trouble he
had helped to cause. Later on, in reporting the excellent discipline of
the 49th, Brock gave a good deal of the credit to Sheaffe. Desertions
were in bad odor, for the commanding officer gave his men no reason for
leaving him.

In October Brock went to England on leave. While he was glad to see his
old friends again, he made business his first consideration and
discussed with the British commander-in-chief, the Duke of York, the
military situation in the Canadas. He proposed the establishment of
veteran battalions. He instanced the attractiveness of desertion to the
soldier quartered near the United States border and pointed out that the
immigration from the United States to Canada of undesirable
settlers—undesirable since they owed no allegiance to the British
flag—might possibly counterbalance the devotion of the United Empire
Loyalists. He suggested that these veterans should serve a certain time
and that they should then be given an opportunity to settle on the land.
The Duke warmly thanked Brock, and later on the plan was adopted.

Brock turned his steps Guernsey-wards, but after a few days there news
of real trouble with the United States made it imperative that he should
return to his command. Shortening his leave, he set sail on June 26th,
1806, and never returned to England.

When he arrived in Quebec he found himself the senior officer of
military rank in the Canadas and, as such, at once assumed the command
of all the forces.

The war cloud was gathering. Although Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar had
finally shattered Napoleon’s dream of invading England, he still hoped
to cripple her by destroying her commerce and cutting off her food
supply. Rapidly he subjugated Austria and Prussia, and when these two
countries were at his feet, from the capital of Prussia he issued the
famous Berlin Decree. This decree forbade France or any of her allies to
trade with Britain and declared that _any_ ship engaged in such trade
might be lawfully seized as a prize of war. Britain did not meekly
submit, but by various orders in council forbade the ships of any nation
to trade with France or any of her allies. Both the Berlin Decree and
the orders in council were very high handed proceedings and bore with
special severity on the neutral nations.

At this time the relations between the United States and Great Britain
were very strained. In order to maintain her navy at its full strength,
Britain had revived her ancient “right of search.” She claimed and
exercised the right to search the ships of neutral nations to find if
they were carrying British subjects who were deserters from the British
navy. The United States protested strongly against this action of Great
Britain, holding that once a British seaman had crossed the decks of an
American ship he was an American, and, moreover, she declined to
acknowledge any right of Great Britain to hold up and to search her
ships on the chance of finding deserters. And now came the British
orders in council as a further source of irritation.

It is true that the commerce of the United States with foreign nations
had practically ceased as a result of the actions of the warring powers
in Europe, but for this the Berlin Decrees were as much to blame as the
orders in council. In fact at this time the United States suffered
innumerable humiliations at the hands of the French. But in spite of
this the whole anger of the United States seemed to be directed against
Great Britain. The bitterness produced by the Revolutionary War had not
yet died down, and there was a strong party in the country who made it
its business to increase the flame of hatred. This party looked with
covetous eyes on Canada, and desired to incorporate it into the United
States. Without question that was the underlying reason for the War of

President Jefferson was a bitter enemy of Great Britain. While Brock was
still in England, the president addressed Congress and said that “the
impressment of American seamen by British cruisers, not at all checked
by the remonstrances of the American Government, was a growing source of
irritation and complaint.... She [Britain] plainly showed a disposition
to narrow the limits of the commerce of neutrals by denying to them the
right of carrying on a trade with belligerents which she did not
interdict with her own subjects.” Britain’s view was that as she was
trying to beat the man who was doing his best to conquer Europe, the
United States should see that if extreme measures were necessary they
must be borne with, even though they hurt for the moment.

At the end of 1805 President Jefferson went further. He came out flatly
and said that “the foreign relations of the United States had been
materially changed since the preceding session.” He charged Britain with
piracy and infesting the American coast with private armed vessels,
“which had perpetrated acts beyond their commission.” And he said: “It
is due to ourselves to provide effective opposition to a doctrine which
is as infamous as it is unwarranted.”

Brock recognized the veiled threat in the words “effective opposition”
and was convinced that Jefferson and that section of the United States
for which he stood wanted war. Hence his quick return to Canada. He knew
that Jefferson’s first act in the event of war would be to try and get
control of the lakes and rivers and to capture the fortified posts.
Brock realized better than any man how weak was the resistance that
could be offered unless the defences of the Canadas were immediately
strengthened. As soon as he had taken up his new command he set about
preparing the defence Canada was to offer. In this he was hampered
rather than helped by the civil authorities. The governor-general of the
Canadas at this time, Sir Robert Prescott, does not seem to have taken
his position very seriously, and Thomas Dunn, president of the Executive
Council, the man with whom Brock had directly to deal, appears to have
been of one mind with Prescott.

Early in 1807, Brock was greatly heartened by proposals from Colonel
John Macdonell, who was lieutenant of the county of Glengarry and had
been for four years commanding officer of the Glengarry Militia
Regiment, for forming a company of Highland Fencibles. Brock forwarded
the scheme to the war office in London and backed it up. It would be, he
said, “essentially useful in checking any seditious disposition which
the wavering sentiments of a large population in the Montreal district
might at any time manifest.” This is an indication that Brock was by no
means sure which way the _habitant_ would go in case of war.

Brock thought he had ground for his suspicions, and he decided to get to
know the folk of Lower Canada better. When Sir James Craig arrived in
Quebec, Brock’s tenure of the office of commander-in-chief ended. Sir
James became that and governor-general in one, but he appointed Brock as
acting brigadier-general. This was confirmed in London. Brock was sent
to Montreal in command of the troops there and quartered in the old
Chateau de Ramesay at Montreal, then a rich centre and the only city of
pleasure and gaiety in Canada.

In Montreal he managed to see a good deal of the fur lords and great
business men of the place. He entered into their social life, and the
French-Canadian then, as now, knew how to be hospitable. This gave the
brigadier a chance to judge somewhat as to where French-Canada stood,
and he had even better facilities when, in September, 1808, he was
superseded in the Montreal command by General Drummond and was moved
back to Quebec. Here he had many friends and he entertained and was
entertained. All sorts of regattas and land sports were held by the
officers of the garrison and, here, as in Montreal, he found a good deal
of pleasure in social affairs. He writes of “a vast assemblage of all
descriptions”—an occasion when he entertained Lieutenant-Governor Gore,
of Upper Canada, and his wife at a dinner and ball. During these days he
unquestionably became reassured as to the loyalty of the people of Lower

He had perhaps been unduly suspicious. The people of Lower Canada, of
course, were almost entirely of French descent. They spoke French, and
Brock feared that in a Franco-America alliance, French Canada would
remember its descent and support Napoleon. There were signs of leaning
France-wards. The French Canadians publicly rejoiced when news of a
fresh victory for Napoleon reached them, and Brock at first certainly
deemed them disloyal. He so expressed himself in his letters again and
again. He could not understand why they should be, for they were much
freer and happier under British rule than they had been when Bigot and
others, during the French regime, had governed them. Yet even in the
early days, Brock was in two minds about them for he wrote: “It may
appear surprising that men petted as they have been and indulged in
everything they could desire should wish for a change, but so it is, and
I am inclined to think that were Englishmen placed in the same situation
they would show even more impatience to escape from French rule.”

But, on the whole, Brock need not have feared. The French Canadians did
not want another rule. Their priests and men in high authority were
loyal to Britain, and they represented the mass of opinion more than the
Napoleonic or American agent who was to be found here and there in Lower

In these days, Brock was not particularly happy. He was worried by the
possibility of war, and taking it on the whole he was not in love with
Canada. Perhaps he was homesick. He heard of former comrades winning
their spurs on the battlefields of Europe, and he compared their lot to
his in a “remote, inactive corner” as he dubbed Canada in a letter to
England. And we know that he had enlisted his brother Savery’s efforts
to have him transferred. It was natural. He was a man of action and had
as keen a desire as any soldier for risk and fame.

Brock’s first measure in strengthening the defences of Canada was to
make Quebec attack-proof. Sir Guy Carleton, in 1775-1776, had defended
Quebec against American forces under General Montgomery. There might
soon be another attack, and Brock wanted to have Quebec in such shape
that it could repel invasion. He appealed to the council for a thousand
men and sufficient carts for six months to strengthen the walls. But the
civil government of Lower Canada thought his move was a political one
and gave little or no aid. They told him he must do the work himself,
and he did. In a letter to the president of the council he scouts the
suspicions of the civil government and states that his “sole object was
to state the assistance required by the military to remedy a glaring
defect in the fortifications of Quebec, should his Honor conceive that
preparatory measures were necessary to be adopted in consequence ... of
the ... aggressive proceedings in the proclamation of the American

He went ahead and erected a battery mounting eight thirty-six pounders
in the centre of the citadel at Quebec, commanding the heights opposite.
This was first christened “Brock’s Battery,” but when the newly-arrived
governor-general, Sir James Craig, saw it, he thought, says Brock, “that
anything so pre-eminent should be distinguished by the most exalted
name.” It was therefore called “The King’s Battery,” and, wrote Brock,
“this is the greatest compliment that he could pay to my judgment.”

Altogether, at great expense, the fortifications of Quebec were greatly
improved. Proper drill grounds were made and a good hospital created.
Quartermasters at Amherstburg and Kingston were appointed to take charge
of new fleets of schooners and military batteaux which he had

He was not a moment too soon with his work. The international situation
was rapidly complicating. Mention has been made of Britain’s stopping
and searching American vessels for British deserters. This continued and
became more general, and there does not seem to be room for doubt that,
in some cases, British commanders were very autocratic. They gave the
United States legitimate cause for complaint by sometimes carrying off
seamen whom they pretended were British, but who were really American
citizens. The case of the _Chesapeake_ brought matters to a head. It was
suspected by Admiral Berkeley, stationed at Halifax, that some sailors,
whose offence was particularly flagrant, had deserted from the British
sloop _Halifax_ and had found refuge on the _Chesapeake_. The Admiral
ordered Captain Humphreys of the frigate _Leopard_ to insist on the
return of these deserters. Commodore Barron commanding the _Chesapeake_
refused point blank to surrender the men in question, and Humphreys
fired on the United States frigate, which did not return the fire. She
was seized, and the deserters secured by the British commander.
Naturally the United States threatened war. This was answered by an
honorable apology from Britain, however, and the war cloud passed for
the moment. But Brock thought it could not long be delayed. The heart of
the trouble was still there, and sooner or later the irritation which
each nation felt at the other was bound to find outlet in actual
conflict. Hence Brock’s rush to make preparations for adequate defence.

                               CHAPTER V

                         MOVED TO UPPER CANADA

IN 1809 Brock learned that Brigadier-General Baron de Rottenberg was
coming to Canada. He knew that as the Baron was his senior in the
service he would probably be the appointee of Sir James Craig to the
commanding position. About this time he wrote to his sister-in-law, Mrs.
W. Brock: “The spirit of insubordination lately manifested by the French
Canadian population of this colony naturally called for precautionary
measures, and our worthy chief (Sir James) is induced, in consequence,
to retain in this country those on whom he can best confide. I am highly
flattered in being reckoned among the number, whatever inward
disappointment I may feel. Some unpleasant events have likewise happened
in the upper country which have occasioned my receiving intimation to
proceed thither, whether as a permanent station, or merely as a
temporary visit, Sir James Craig has not determined.” Evidently Brock
still had at the back of his mind an idea that the French in Lower
Canada would welcome again the suzerainty of France.

In July Sir James, when Rottenberg came, sent Brock to Upper Canada and,
in September, with his goods and chattels, chiefly consisting of books
which, we have seen, he learned to love as a boy, he moved to Fort
George, Niagara. He had not been there a month before he again felt
restless and anxious to get back to some post where he might see
service, for he expressed a desire to serve with the British forces who
were then in Spain and Portugal. The adjutant-general, Colonel Baynes,
however, replied that Sir James Craig informed him that he did not think
the state of the public service would warrant his relieving Brock from
duty in Upper Canada.

Brock busied himself with the duties attendant on his position and seems
to have spent a good deal of time, as he had done in Quebec, in trying
to gain the confidence of the people. He early saw that the upper
province was by no means restful and his suspicions of a few years ago
that the American immigrants were unsettling the province were thus

In June, 1811, he was promoted to the rank of major-general. Sir James
Craig, with the excuse of ill-health, resigned the position of
governor-general and left for England. Sir James was ill, but he had
incensed Lower Canada so much that his departure at this time was the
best service he could render the country. Before he went he begged Brock
to remain in Canada. “Your presence is needed here,” he said. And a
little later, as an earnest of what the governor-general thought of him,
Brock received a letter from Colonel Baynes in which he said: “He (Sir
James) requests that you will do him the favor to accept as a legacy and
mark of his very sincere regard his favorite horse Alfred, and he is
induced to send him to you, not only from wishing to secure for his old
favorite a kind and careful master, but from the conviction that the
whole continent of America could not furnish you with so safe and
excellent an horse?”

Three months later Sir George Prevost, who was the new governor-general
of and commander of the forces in Canada, appointed Brock president and
administrator of the government of Upper Canada, in place of the
lieutenant-governor who had obtained leave to visit England. Upper
Canada needed him, and Sir George Prevost made a wise move in this
appointment. Bad feeling between Britain generally and the United States
had developed in connection with the Canadas.

Before Craig left for England, amongst the matters he had discussed with
Brock was that of possible trouble between the Indians in Canada and
United States border citizens. Sir James Craig’s policy is outlined in a
letter to Brock: “Upon every principle of policy our interests should
lead us to use all our endeavors to prevent a rupture between the
Indians and the subjects of the United States.” Brock appreciated the
wisdom of this and followed it out. He instructed those under him, who
had charge of territory inhabited by these Indians, to keep a tight rein
on their maraudings and pillagings and did all he could to discourage
border crime. But, doubtless to his amazement, in the summer of 1811,
the government of the United States accused British officers in Canada
of actually aiding and abetting the Indians in their lawlessness. Brock,
naturally, had a hard enough row to hoe, for though he must deprecate
the cruelty of the Indians, he was anxious to preserve friendliness with
them, since, should war come, he desired them as allies, or at any rate,
did not want them as enemies. His position was difficult.

This was but one of the perplexities which the new administrator of
Upper Canada had to face. Just about this time, domestic trouble caused
him great anxiety. He had two brothers in London, William and Irving.
They were partners in a private bank. Serious financial troubles had
been caused by the wars in Europe, and in New York failures had been
many. Brock, in a letter to his brother Irving, reporting these,
prophesied a financial crash in London. He hoped they had “withheld
their confidence in public stock.” Unfortunately, they had not, and
owing to the depredations of Napoleon’s privateers upon the boats
belonging to his banker-brothers, the latter had had to close their
house. When the books were examined there was an item of £3,000, which
appeared as a debt owed to the bank by Isaac Brock. This was really a
personal loan by William Brock to Isaac, but as the transaction appeared
in the books, Brock deemed himself liable. That was a small matter,
however, compared to the trouble which the bank’s affairs had made
between William and Irving. Irving blamed his brother William for the

Brock wrote from Canada to Irving imploring his kindliness to William.
“Hang the world! It is not worth a thought,” he wrote. “Be generous, and
find silent comfort in being so.” Brock knew how his brother William,
who had been so kind to him, was suffering. “Why refuse him
consolation”? his letter to Irving read. “Could tears restore him he
would soon be happy.... My thoughts are fixed on you all and the last
thing that gives me any concern is the call which Savery prepared me to
expect from the creditors.”

Great hearted Brock! It meant much to him just now to find £3,000, but
the suffering of William and the breach between the brothers meant far

He felt that, with an effort he could wipe out his own debt. To Irving
he offered his salary as acting lieutenant-governor, which was about
$5,000 a year. He might, had he been any but the just and honorable man
he was, have paid his debt by money made unfairly out of his office;
but, unlike many public men in Canada before and since, he refused to be
a profiteer. Speaking of his opportunities for finding the money, he
wrote to Irving Brock: “Be satisfied that even your stern honesty shall
have no just cause to censure one of my actions.”

Brock was a great soldier, but he was also a great public servant, and
greater in nothing than his rugged and immaculate honesty. Canada to-day
would be better for more Isaac Brocks!

We are coming to an important time alike for Brock and Canada and some
description of his appearance will be interesting. A lionlike head
crowned a splendidly tall body. It was said that he did not find it easy
to get a hat in Canada to fit him. He was fair-headed and of a ruddy
complexion. The gray-blue eyes, added to his fairness, made him more
Anglo-Saxon than Norman in type. He was bluffly handsome, and his genial
smile was the index to a pervading and unceasing kindliness. He was
indeed a gentle man, and so a gentleman. Somebody might aptly have said
of him, in Martin Tupper’s words: “Yet is that giant very gentleness.”

We have touched, before this, on the abundant largeness of his heart. He
had nothing petty about him. He was glad to praise others when they
deserved it, and he was too big a man to steal the credit that belonged
to subordinates. He was a man of example as well as of precept, and he
knew the greater worth of the example. He was essentially humane and
therefore human. And he had the saving grace of a sense of humor.

He was a man of real lovingkindness—with all that that grand old word
means—towards his fellows. Once a certain Hogan deserted from the 49th.
Describing this he said: “A fair damsel persuaded him to this act of
madness, for the poor fellow cannot possibly gain his bread by labor, as
he has half killed himself by excessive drinking, and we know he cannot
live upon love alone.” Brock was not angry; he was compassionate. He was
always sensible of difficulties and never underestimated them. But he
never appraised them too highly. FitzGibbon, afterwards the hero of
Beaver Dam, tells an experience which shows this. At the time FitzGibbon
was a sergeant-major. Brock ordered him to do something which was
admittedly difficult. FitzGibbon said he was sorry, but it was
impossible. “By the Lord Harry,” cried Brock, “don’t tell me it is
impossible. Nothing should be impossible to a soldier. The word
'impossible’ should not be in a soldier’s dictionary.” FitzGibbon never
forgot that and often quoted it to the men under him, when they were
downhearted and inclined to deem things impossible of attainment.

Brock’s outstanding characteristic was his white humanity. His men loved
him because, though far removed from them in position and station, he
was one with them and one for them.

His headquarters were now at York. He was sure and surer of war with the
United States, and even in December of 1811, he told Sir George Prevost
that, in case of war, he thought Canada should seize Mackinaw and
Detroit immediately. This, he submitted, would impress the Indians, and
also hold up an invading army. Acting on his advice, Sir George Prevost
ordered two armed schooners, the _Prince Regent_ and the _Lady Prevost_
to be equipped, one for each of the two lakes, Ontario and Erie.

Early next year, Brock declined a command in Spain which the home
government offered him, requesting to stay in Canada. He had a great
deal on hand. He had a frontier of 1,300 miles to defend, and that
needed many men and much material. He was greatly concerned about
securing these.

In his first address to the House of Assembly at York in February, 1812,
Brock gave striking evidence that he was thoroughly master of the
political situation in Upper Canada. He had in his ears the shrill
bombast of the political leaders in the United States and knew just how
to estimate it. A president had recently declared that the capture of
Canada was a “mere matter of marching.” A Massachusetts officer offered
to “capture Canada by contract, raise a company, and take it in six
weeks.” Henry Clay “verily believed that the militia of Kentucky alone
were competent to place Canada at the feet of Americans.” Said Brock:
“We wish and hope for peace, but it is nevertheless our duty to be
prepared for war.”

He received the support of the Assembly, and, that spring, was more
soldier than governor. He got to know the Six Nations Indians on the
Grand River. He raised companies of militia. He set about the additional
defence of the Niagara frontier and saw that through. He had only 1,450
British regulars,—and just how far it was safe to arm Canada’s dozen
thousand men who were said to be ready to bear arms, he did not know.

Meanwhile war was almost upon him. May saw large detachments of United
States soldiers sent to Detroit and Niagara. At the latter border they
were drilling busily, and this and kindred signs of war seems to have
got on Brock’s nerves. Since war was to come, he was impatient at delay.
He wanted to take the two posts he had mentioned in the first sharp
attack, and thus hearten his people. He knew the value to be placed upon
_morale_. On June 18th, 1812, war against Great Britain was declared by
President Madison, with the consent of the Congress of the United States
of America. The president placed an embargo on shipping. He raised a
public subscription fund and issued a call for a hundred thousand

                               CHAPTER VI

                            A FOOLISH BOAST

“A HOUSE divided against itself cannot stand.” The United States was not
a union—for war. While Henry Clay and ex-President Jefferson were
breathing out their threatenings and slaughter, New England refused to
concur in the country’s wisdom in declaring war, and Boston flew its
flags at half-mast. And if the United States was not whole in spirit,
she was certainly not in material things. Her soldiers though many, were
raw. Her treasury was empty.

Canada, however, was even worse off. Prevost was of the opinion that
Quebec was about the only place that could be held against the enemy.
Certainly 950 regulars and marines and 550 militia had a gigantic task
in the defending of seven forts, from Kingston to Fort St. Joseph, in
covering a straggling and wretchedly protected frontier, and in
patrolling the huge sheets of water which are our lake district. Even
Brock, outwardly optimistic, fully expected that he would be able to do
little at first. He had to deal with a governor-general who apparently
had no perception and no sense of proportion. Brock at York had received
word of war from the House of Astor in New York, earlier even than some
of the United States commanders were apprised of it. He was a man of
action, and he was for action, and that at once. He believed that often
the best defence is attack, and he chafed under the restraint, anything
but wise under these circumstances, of Sir George Prevost, who daily
adjured him not to strike the first blow. This continued for three weeks
after war was declared. Meanwhile General Hull was marching through Ohio
and Michigan to Detroit, from thence to attack Canada!

Brock saw what Prevost did not see, the significance to the Indians of
an initial victory. If Canada won the first battle, the border Indians
would rally to the Union Jack. They were a considerable factor and had
been canvassed by American agents for many months in the endeavor to
persuade them, in the event of war, to join with the United States. But
Prevost fiddled while Brock burned with indignation!

Almost his first act, when war was declared, was to issue instructions
to Captain Charles Roberts, who commanded at Fort St. Joseph, to take
Mackinaw Island. In Robert’s command were 150 French-Canadians. Though
this was contrary to the orders of Sir George Prevost, Roberts did as
Brock told him. The fall of Mackinaw meant the capture of much
ammunition, many guns, and a rich stock of furs. It also meant a
favorable impression on the Indians, which Brock knew to be of first
importance, and an impression which at once made itself felt.

By July 5th, General Hull with his men had reached Detroit. Seven days
later he crossed the river to Sandwich, losing on his way prisoners,
baggage, stores, and private war-papers to Lieutenant Roulette of the
British sloop _Hunter_. This capture was of the utmost importance, as it
was the information gained from the seized papers that decided Brock to
march directly against Hull. From Sandwich, the American general issued
his famous proclamation, in which he promised “peace, liberty, and
security” to the people of the province he had invaded, if they made no
resistance, but “war, slavery, and destruction,” if they were hostile!

Some of the people at Sandwich had welcomed the United States troops
with open arms, but Amherstburg, Hull’s original goal, abandoned by him
because of the presence of British ships and the strength of Fort Malden
nearby, was not so openly treacherous. Desertions from the British
troops were, however, becoming common, and indeed the effect of Hull’s
proclamation on a certain part of the population was sufficient to cause
alarm. Brock at once countered by the issue of a proclamation in which
he pointed out that Great Britain was ready and willing to defend her
subjects, whether white or Indian, at all time and places and further
urged the folly of trusting to the promises of Hull. This proclamation,
couched in plain but stirring language, had the desired effect in
recalling the people to their senses! All this time Hull and his troops
were spending their time plundering and pillaging the surrounding

In the meantime Brock had called the Legislature to meet in extra
session at York on July 27th. In opening the House he said: “When
invaded by an enemy whose avowed object is the entire conquest of the
province, the voice of loyalty, as well as of interest, calls aloud to
every person in the sphere in which he is placed, to defend his country.
Our militia have heard the voice and have obeyed it. They have evinced
by the promptitude and loyalty of their conduct that they are worthy of
the King whom they serve, and of the constitution which they enjoy; and
it affords me particular satisfaction, that, while I address you as
legislators, I speak to men who, in the day of danger, will be ready to
assist not only with their counsel, but with their arms.” He concluded
his address with the ringing words: “We are engaged in an awful and
eventful conflict. By unanimity and despatch in our Councils, and by
vigor in our operations, we may teach the enemy this lesson, that a
country defended by _free_ men, enthusiastically devoted to the cause of
their King and constitution, cannot be conquered.”

But all the members were not loyal. There was in the Assembly a strong
minority who was more than friendly to the United States. This faction,
indeed, succeeded in preventing the passage of certain measures which
Brock regarded as essential to the safety of the country. In fact, so
dangerous did the opposition become, and so much comfort did it give to
the enemy, that nine days after the session opened Brock, after
consultation with his Council, dissolved the Assembly. But before this
the loyal members had rallied to Brock, had passed the bills which he
wished, and issued a ringing appeal to the loyalty of the people of
Upper Canada.

Before calling the extra session of the Legislature Brock had made up
his mind to lead his men in person against the invaders. The loyal
volunteers gathered round him. Chief among these were the United Empire
Loyalists and their descendants, men who had not forgotten the treatment
they or their fathers had received from the nation that was now again
threatening their lives and their liberty. But even with this loyal
support Brock had his troubles. It meant sacrifice for the farmers to
drop their scythes and enlist, for harvest time was at hand, and they
could not afford to lose their crops. Many, having enrolled, begged for
permission to return and harvest the wheat, which permission Brock felt
he had unwillingly to give. His great fear was of desertions which would
certainly multiply unless he could forestall complaints by action. He
wrote impatiently, but justifiably so, to Prevost, pointing out that he
had wretchedly poor supplies of ammunition and even clothing.

On August 5th, his volunteer army reinforced by the handful of regulars
set out for Detroit. They went by Burlington Bay and Lake Erie, and so
passed the Mohawk settlement. This gave him an opportunity to ascertain
the attitude of the Indians. What he found did not cheer him. The work
of the United States agents had had its effect. The Indians were
distrustful and sulky. Sixty of them gave a sort of promise to follow
him, but Brock now knew beyond peradventure, that unless he had the
initial success, he would have to fight the Indians as well as the

Long Point was reached on August 8th, and here Brock, with a force of
three hundred, embarked. After a stormy voyage lasting five days they
reached Amherstburg. It was lucky that Brock was a seabred man as well
as a soldier. That voyage would have disheartened many a brave man.

News of Brock’s expedition had reached General Hull who had turned tail
and recrossed the river with his men. Captain Dixon, who entered
Sandwich in pursuit of the departing Hull, took the opportunity of
strengthening the defences of the town and placed five guns in position
covering Fort Detroit.

There now comes into the story of how Brock saved Canada, a romantic
figure, Tecumseh. Tecumseh was a Shawanese chief and a brave man. When
the choice had to be made as to whom he and his should serve, he decided
that his loyalty should be to Britain. “I have more confidence” he said
to his tribesmen, “in the word of a Briton than in the word of a Big
Knife!” Tecumseh’s decision was a very important factor in the War of
1812. Having set his hand to the plough he lost no time. He and all the
Indians had been greatly impressed with Brock’s occupation of Sandwich
and Hull’s fear and retreat. This was as Brock had surmised. By a clever
trap Tecumseh ambushed a force under an American officer, Major Van
Horne, which was bringing supplies from the Raisin River to Detroit. He
had not yet met Brock.

Arrived at Fort Malden, Brock received from Colonel Proctor there a
number of papers captured by Tecumseh in his brief engagement with Van
Horne. They turned out to be General Hull’s further instructions from
his government and Hull’s replies. These latter revealed the fact that
the braggart quality of Hull had gone. He was very much down in the
mouth. Sickness was prevalent in his camp. His constant maraudings were
his only source of food and supplies, it appeared, and as his
communications had been cut off, starvation faced him and his men.

Brock, like the great commander he was, saw that the real significance
of the captured correspondence was its demonstration of the lowered
_morale_ of Hull’s men even more than their dwindling supplies. He
decided to act. He knew that it would not be easy to conquer a force
of 2,500, but he remembered Nelson’s threat at Copenhagen and that
it was successful. The old Greeks had a saying which might very well
have been running through Brock’s mind at this time, “They did it
because they thought they could do it.” He was not overwhelmingly
confident, but he knew he could not afford to be unsure of himself. He
sent his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant-Colonel John Macdonell, and Captain
Glegg, under a flag of truce, to General Hull with this message: “The
force at my disposal authorizes me to require of you the surrender
of Fort Detroit. It is far from my inclination to join in a war of
extermination, but you must be aware that the numerous body of Indians,
who have attached themselves to my troops, will be beyond my control
the moment the contest commences.”

Hull was caught between the devil of his own self-contempt and the deep
sea of this supposed force of Indians. He longed to hand Brock his
sword, but he dared not give in without some attempt at resistance. He
had boasted so much that he was compelled to make some sort of showing.
He said he was ready to meet the British forces.

The rest of the day was occupied in planning the attack, while the guns
at Sandwich were pouring forth a desultory fire to which Fort Detroit
replied. Brock wanted to lead his army across the river. Nearly all his
staff opposed him, but he had two brave men who agreed with him. One was
his quartermaster-general, Colonel Nichol, and the other was Tecumseh.

Brock had confidence in Tecumseh and he in Brock. On the occasion of
their meeting, Brock, though it was past midnight, was busy at his table
with his plans and despatches. In the dimly lighted room these two
warriors looked at each other. Brock saw an Indian brave. Tecumseh saw a
brave Briton. He turned to his followers, and almost in the words of
Brutus describing Antony long ago, he said: “_This is a man._” Brock
reciprocated this high regard. Of the Indian warrior he wrote: “A more
sagacious or a more gallant warrior does not, I believe, exist. He was
the admiration of every one who conversed with him.”

Brock discussed his plans of attack with Tecumseh and asked the chief if
he could give him definite information. Tecumseh, who had an intimate
knowledge of the district which Brock planned to make the scene of his
first engagement, took a piece of birch bark and, laying it on the
ground, made a military map, showing all the natural features of the
district. Brock and Colonel Nichol examined the map, and the former
advised with his staff no more. His decision was made and needed no
further deliberating. He would cross the Detroit River in the morning,
though Prevost and the War Office had said him “Nay!”

                              CHAPTER VII

                             DETROIT TAKEN

AUGUST 16th, then, sees Major-General Isaac Brock and his men embarked
for the American shore. Tecumseh had not waited for the main body, but
with Colonel Elliott and six hundred Indians had crossed the night
before, as an advance guard to hold the enemy should they attempt to
hinder Brock.

We can picture the crossing of this comparative handful of men—382
British regulars, 362 Canadian militiamen, and the remainder of the
Indians. They set out to the accompaniment of the booming of the guns
from the _Hunter_ and the _Queen Charlotte_, which were in the river
just above what is now the city of Windsor. Many of Brock’s men were
quite new to the idea of conflict, and doubtless the thoughts of men
before battle then were much the same as they are now. But the sun rose
high in the heavens, and the hearts of the men rose with it. The glint
of the sun’s rays caught the bayonets which moved to and fro as the
batteaux and canoes made swiftly across stream. Blue-shirts of sailors
and red-coats of soldiers colored the scene, which took on a quaint and
awesome quality when the Indians’ gaudy feathers and brilliant paint
began to be discernible as the expedition neared the opposite bank and
finally landed at Springwells, three miles below the fort. The whoops
and strange cries of the Indians did not tend to hearten the enemy.

Brock surveyed the situation. Here was he, against his superior’s
orders, on enemy ground, taking the offensive. He had little better than
half the men his opponent had, and, what is more, his men were for the
most part green and untried, while General Hull’s, though not actually
experienced, were far more highly trained. Above him, as he looked, rose
not far away the heavy walls of a strong fort, with all that that
implied of gunfire and destruction. But Brock knew that if in material
he did not equal Hull, the spirit of his men was unbreakable, while the
braggart who opposed him secretly feared the issue.

His plan was to split Hull’s army. He knew that Hull dare not leave the
fortress unprotected and that that fact would lessen the number who
would give him direct battle. He planned to lure Hull into the open, and
he relied on his few regulars and the inveterate fighters he had in the
Indians to hearten the raw recruits, if they needed any spur other than
that of defending their families and homes. But here a factor was
introduced which would not allow him time for strategy.

He suddenly learned that about 350 men—this number was exaggerated to
him—were away from Hull’s main body, bringing supplies. Hull, aware of
Brock’s approach, had sent peremptory orders to this detachment to
return immediately. They were only a short distance away, and Brock saw
that he must strike at once. This man of action decided to assault the
fort itself. Seldom has there been a more splendidly foolhardy plan. He
drew up his 1,400 men, roughly, half Indian and half white, and prepared
to attack the fort.

It must have looked a hard obstacle to conquer. It has been described as
being constructed in the form of a parallelogram. At each corner was a
strong bastion and all round stretched a moat, twelve feet wide and
eight feet deep. There were palisades of hardwood, ten feet in height,
inclining from the base of the rampart at an angle of forty degrees, and
sharpened at the top. The ramparts were twenty-two feet high, and
breaches for cannon occurred at regular intervals. There was a
portcullis, well provided for small-arm firing, and a drawbridge. And
perhaps the most important thing from the defenders’ point of view was
that the fort commanded quite open country, so that the attacking army
would find it very difficult to remain undiscovered for long. The
fortress, Brock told himself, was going to be hard to take, but it was
worth a determined struggle, not only for the intrinsic gain but also
for what a victory signified. The fort held a great deal of ammunition,
as well as more than thirty guns.

Brock personally led his army in the attack. Colonel Nichol, the gallant
Scottish-Canadian merchant whom Brock had made quartermaster-general of
militia, protested against this. He reined up by the side of the
commander who was riding up and down in front of his army, heartening
them for the attack, and said: “General, I cannot forbear entreating you
not to expose yourself. If we lose you, we lose all.” But Brock, who had
always believed in the inspiration of personal example, turned to his
officer and said: “Master Nichol, I duly appreciate the advice you give,
but I feel that in addition to their sense of loyalty and duty, many
here follow me from personal regard, and I will never ask them to go
where I do not lead them.”

Brock believed in co-operation, and while he advanced down the long,
narrow road the battery at Sandwich, commanded by Captain Hall, and the
guns on the deck of the _Queen Charlotte_ poured heavy fire into the
fort. This had its effect, for just at the time Brock’s column was
nearing its destination a shot from Captain Hall’s guns found its billet
in one of the rooms at the fort, wounding and killing several officers
and men. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Bullock was leading the advance guard for
Brock. He had three six pounders and two three pounders. It was a case
of David and Goliath over again, for this sort of weapon was hardly
fitted to the great task in front of Brock. He was leading his men down
the country road, in the very face of a battery of two twenty-four
pounders, two twelve-pounders, and two six-pounders.

General Hull was feeling subdued enough by now. Brock had uniformed the
militiamen he had with him in the old tunics of the 41st, and Hull
therefore imagined that Brock had more regulars than he had at first
supposed. And he was sure too of the presence of the Indians. He
conjured up visions of innumerable scalpings. His last ounce of courage
faded when Captain Hall’s effective shots fell within the fort and he
despatched messengers with a flag of truce to the Captain. Hall,
however, returned word that Major-General Isaac Brock alone could accept

Not far away the Indians were coming through the woods, shrieking their
war-cries, terrifying all who heard. Already the York volunteers had had
some desultory fighting, and they were now only a mile or so from the
battery of heavy guns. But to the American soldiers manning them, as to
the men in the fort, there came no order to fire. Presumably, Hull
expected that the white flag he had despatched precluded any opposition.
Brock, of course, knew nothing of the offer of surrender.

The British advanced to within three-quarters of a mile of the fort and
called a halt to reconnoitre. Brock was amazed to find that the American
gunners had fled to the fort, and that, approaching him was one of
Hull’s staff officers bearing a flag of truce. An hour or two later
Brock led his men into the fort! The way which had seemed so difficult
had become miraculously easy.

It was next day, Monday, August 17th, that Brock formally took
possession of the fort, which implied the surrender of the whole of
surrounding Michigan. There were many prisoners of war, but even more to
be desired, 40 cannon, 2,500 muskets, 60 barrels of gunpowder, 200 tons
of cannon ball, and large stores of other ammunition fell into the hands
of the British. Looking around, the men found horses and sheep and
cattle in abundance. These had been stolen from Canadian farmers by the
marauding Americans. Food too was discovered. The fort had evidently
prepared for a long siege. There was one other prize, a brig called the
_Adams_. With this Hull had hoped to make himself master of the lakes.
Brock converted it into the British Brig _Detroit_.

The fickle population who had welcomed Hull with open arms now shouted
just as hard for Brock. There were great rejoicings, and everywhere the
Union Jack was hoisted. In the fort there were some captured British
cannon which had been taken from the British in the Revolutionary War.
These fired salutes in honor of Brock’s victory, and the guns of the
_Queen Charlotte_ replied heartily.

Brock’s first act, almost, after entering the captured fort, was
characteristic of the man. He ordered that Private Dean, who a few days
previously had distinguished himself at the Canard River and had been
taken prisoner by the Americans, should be brought before him, and in
the presence of the assembled troops warmly congratulated him on his
heroic conduct.[1]

The capture of Detroit was a very real victory. Had the day gone
otherwise, Hull might have made his boasted march to Quebec, and that as
a conqueror. But his march now was as a prisoner of war. Brock had dared
what looked impossible and by a stroke of fortune had won out. His
victory was an imposingly public one. It cheered his men. It made those
Canadian inhabitants who were hesitating declare definitely for the
British, while those with leanings towards the United States kept
silent. It saved Canada from invasion at a moment when, owing to the
shortsightedness of her rulers, she was particularly vulnerable.

Brock apprised Sir George Prevost, modestly enough, of his victory and
wrote to his brothers: “Rejoice at my good fortune, and join me in
prayers to Heaven. I send you a copy of my hasty note to Sir George. Let
me know that you are all united and happy.”

Footnote 1:

  In the general order issued by the commander-in-chief at Quebec on
  August 6th, 1812, the conduct of the 41st Regiment is specially
  praised. The order goes on to say: “In justice to that corps, His
  Excellency wishes particularly to call the attention of the troops to
  the heroism and self-devotion displayed by two privates, who, being
  left as sentinels when the party to which they belonged had retired,
  continued to maintain their station against the whole of the enemy’s
  force, until they both fell, when one of them, whose arm was broken,
  again raising himself, opposed with his bayonet those advancing
  against him, until overwhelmed by numbers.” The names of the two
  privates of the 41st were Hancock and Dean.

                              CHAPTER VIII

                           HIS HANDS ARE TIED

BROCK’S spectacular capture of Fort Detroit brought all Canada to his
feet. Foremost in admiration was Sir George Prevost. Had Brock failed,
Sir George no doubt, would have been as brusque in condemnation as, now
that Brock had conquered, he was fulsome in praise. He had done his best
to hamper Brock, and indeed at the last minute had sent a staff officer
commanding him not to undertake the proposed Detroit expedition, but the
messenger, happily alike for Canada and Brock, had failed to arrive in
time. Provincial authorities and friends rained their congratulations,
while Lord Bathurst, the British Secretary for War and the Colonies,
commended him for his “firmness, skill, and bravery.” Bathurst’s case
was similar to Prevost’s, for he had adjured the governor-general by
repeated messages not to assume the offensive lest the Americans become
unduly aggravated and thus possibly have some genuine cause of
complaint. Nothing could better show the smallmindedness of the class of
officialdom to which Bathurst and Prevost belonged than their
willingness, now that victory was achieved, to share in the credit
therefore. Bathurst wrote to Brock that “the Prince Regent had honored
him for his services by making him an extra Knight of the Bath.”
Unhappily, the man whom the Prince thus delighted to honor and who, one
likes to think, would have honored the order by accepting it, died
before he received word.

Brock’s victory did something to offset the misfortunes which had piled
upon the British in Europe. Just before the news of the capture of Fort
Detroit was received in London, Britain had been beaten in a naval duel.
The American ship _Constitution_ had thrashed the British battleship
_Guerriere_. The shame which Britain felt on this account was deepened
by the knowledge that she had been beaten on her own element by what was
once a colony of hers. News of Brock’s victory, therefore, was
opportune, and the British government was able to point out to the
people that, if America had won a victory on the sea, she had more than
lost it by the surrender of Detroit.

October 6th was Brock’s birthday, the day on which the news of the
victory at Detroit reached London. Brock’s brother William and his wife
happened to be walking in a London park, and Mrs. Brock asked the reason
of the flag-waving and the firing. “Do you not know,” said William,
“that it is Isaac’s birthday? It is in honor of him.” What William said
in jest turned out to be the very truth.

If Brock’s victory had a happy effect on the people of Britain the
opposite was the case in the United States. The Jeffersons, the Clays,
and the Hulls of the United States had led the people to believe that
their northerly neighbor could very easily be conquered. It was a sad
blow to American self-esteem when it became known that Detroit and
Michigan had fallen to a country which they had been taught to regard as
an enemy hardly worth considering. Gloom and discouragement were
everywhere evident, and President Madison ordered the churches
throughout the country to hold services of prayer that success might
come to American arms.

Between Black Rock and Fort Niagara part of the American army was
camped. It did nothing to hearten them for the task that lay before them
to see the men whom Brock had taken prisoners at Detroit, and who had
come by boat to Fort Erie, march along the Niagara River to Fort George.
From there the prisoners were sent down the St. Lawrence to Montreal,
and in some cases, to Quebec. Some Canadian cities, therefore, had an
opportunity of seeing that when Brock bared his arm it was not for
nothing. They might indeed feel hopeful under such a leader. On the
other hand, the American army, badly disciplined, ill in health, and
surprisingly inexperienced were gloomy and morose.

Brock, having left the arrangements for the future government of Detroit
in the hands of Colonel Procter, left for Fort Erie. Hardly had his
schooner passed Amherstburg when it was hailed by the _Lady Prevost_
coming up the lake. The commander gave Brock the news that an armistice
had been concluded between Sir George Prevost and the American
commander-in-chief, General Dearborn, and until President Madison had
ratified or discountenanced this armistice, all actual warfare must

Brock was dumbfounded. Instead of being allowed to finish the task he
had got so well under way, that of clearing the borders of American
troops, he found his hands tied.

General Brock’s plans were all laid. Procter, whom Brock had left at
Detroit, was marching against Fort Wayne in the Miami country with some
regulars and some Indians, and there was little doubt of his success. As
the fort contained supplies, its capture would seriously hamper American
operations. Its defenders were few and were in deadly fear of a horde of
Indians who, intoxicated with their success at Detroit, desired only
further chance to display their prowess. Brock knew that they would show
the garrison at Fort Wayne no quarter, and it was as much to save the
lives of the men of this garrison as to secure the fort that he had
despatched Procter. Now, of course, he had to countermand his
instructions. His plans for raiding Sackett’s Harbor were likewise
spoiled, though the capture of that port would have given the British
complete power over Lake Ontario.

A personal incident in Brock’s voyage to Fort Erie showed how mentally
distraught he was at this time. His schooner, the _Chippewa_, ran into a
fog. The commander lost his bearings and, when the mist lifted, found
himself very near to the American shore. No doubt news of the armistice
had not reached as far down the shore as this, and had the Americans
known of the proximity of the victorious British general, they certainly
would have made an effort to capture the schooner. Brock, who was vexed
and heart-broken, instantly suspected treachery and cried to the captain
of the _Chippewa_: “You scoundrel! you have betrayed me. Let but one
shot be fired from that shore and,” pointing aloft, “I will run you up
on the instant to that yard-arm.”

There does not seem room for doubt that the captain was quite innocent,
and loyal to Brock. Luckily the _Queen Charlotte_, which had preceded
the _Chippewa_ by several days, heard a shot which was fired from the
latter and bore down on the vessel which held the commanding general.
Ultimately she towed the _Chippewa_ to safety.

When Brock arrived at York the joy of the people knew no bounds. They
presented him with an address in which they tried to tell him how
grateful to and proud of him they were. Brock, always generous, took
little credit to himself for the victory, but ascribed it to the
confidence he had in the loyalty, zeal, and valor of the Canadian
volunteers. His exact words are worth quoting: “I cannot but feel highly
gratified by this expression of your esteem for myself; but in justice
to the brave men at whose head I marched against the enemy, I must beg
leave to direct your attention to them as the proper objects of your
gratitude. It was a confidence founded on their loyalty, zeal, and
valor, that determined me to adopt the plan of operations which led to
so fortunate a termination. Allow me to congratulate you, gentlemen, at
having sent out from yourselves a large portion of that gallant band,
and that at such a period a spirit had manifested itself on which you
may confidently repose your hopes of future security. It will be a most
pleasing duty for me to report to our Sovereign conduct so truly

Brock went on to Kingston and employed the time spent on the schooner,
which bore him thither, in writing to his brothers. In the letter which
appears to have been addressed to his brother William, he says: “They
say that the value of the articles will amount to thirty or forty
thousand pounds; in that case my portion will be something considerable.
If it enabled me to contribute to your comfort and happiness, I shall
esteem it my highest reward. When I returned Heaven thanks for my
amazing success, I thought of you all; you appeared to me happy—your
late sorrows forgotten; and I felt as if you acknowledged that the many
benefits which for a series of years I received from you were not
unworthily bestowed. Let me know, my dearest brothers, that you are
again united. The want of union was nearly losing this province without
even a struggle, and be assured it operates in the same degree in regard
to families.”

It is well for us that we are able to catch a glimpse of the humanity of
this man of action. Neither political success nor failure, neither
military advantage nor setback, could exclude from his great heart the
thought of the loved ones at home. He joyed in his successes, because
they would bring pleasure and possibly more practical gratification to
those he loved and who loved him. It was a heavy grief to him that his
brothers were estranged. Though he was never to know it they buried
their difference. By a strange chance this happened upon the very day of
Brock’s glorious death at Queenston. His influence, great in many
things, was greater in nothing than in this, the amity and affectionate
regard which his brothers came to have for each other.

At Kingston, Brock learned that the armistice arranged by Sir George
Prevost and General Dearborn had been refused by President Madison.
September 8th saw the renewal of hostilities between the two countries.
No doubt Sir George had entered into the armistice thinking he acted for
the best. He appears to have been moved by his knowledge that the New
England and several other States were opposed to the war and also by the
fact that the orders in council, which had been the cause of the trouble
between the United States and Britain had been repealed. And he may have
believed that in attempting to avoid a conflict in America he was
relieving Britain of a minor task which was hampering her in her contest
with Napoleon. But to the student and reader of later years the
armistice was an utterly foolish move.

When Brock learned that the armistice had come to an end, he proposed to
Prevost that he immediately attack Sackett’s Harbor from Kingston. Again
the governor-general said him nay, and Brock, disheartened and annoyed,
returned to Fort George there to deal, as best he could, with the
threatened invasion at Niagara.

Naturally enough the United States forces had made great use of the time
granted by the armistice. In very sight of the British supplies of food
had been brought up to the American army at Lewiston. Heavy guns had
been placed at strategic points on the American shore. Large detachments
of troops were sent to the Niagara frontier. Ships which had been held
at Ogdensburg, covered by the British guns at Prescott, had been rushed
to Sackett’s Harbor. Had there been no armistice, General Brock could
have cleared the Fort Niagara district of enemy troops, but now he had,
by reason of the delay, to face four times as large an army.

Let us take stock of the situation. On the shores of the Niagara River,
there were enough United States troops to have conquered Upper Canada.
There were over six thousand men between Black Rock and Fort Niagara,
while Brock had only fifteen hundred men, and these distributed at
several points between Fort Erie and Fort George. Thus he had about a
quarter the number of men of the enemy and while their forces were
concentrated his were scattered over a line forty miles long. Again the
odds looked against him. Volunteers in Upper Canada, however, had
rallied to his standard, and he was able to arm them by the very arms he
had captured at Detroit. And once again it should be emphasized that the
Canadian forces had much better _morale_ than that of the Americans.
They felt that they had indeed “their quarrel just.” Moreover, they were
fighting in defence of their homes and families. And they had unbounded
confidence in their commander.

It came to Brock’s ears about October 1st that the United States
commanders planned their invasion somewhere along the British forty mile
line. It later appeared that Queenston was the point decided upon. The
plan of attack seems to have been to capture Queenston, and there to
collect a large army with which, next year, an attempt would be made to
reach Montreal. Luckily for Brock and Canada too many cooks spoil the
broth. There was dissension in the American higher command as to the
precise point at which the attack should be made.

The British suffered a loss on October 9th. The Americans under
Lieutenant Elliott captured two British vessels, the _Caledonia_ and the
_Detroit_. This victory gave a fillip to the now jaded spirits of the
United States troops, and General Van Rensselaer, now that his men had
cheered up, decided to invade Canada. This seems to have been in
disagreement with the views of the other American commander, General
Smyth. Van Rensselaer sent a spy into the British camp. The spy returned
with the information that Brock had set out, with a large force, for
Detroit. The spy, however, did his work but poorly. Brock had left Fort
George, but he had gone only to the other end of the line, Fort Erie.

It still remains somewhat of a mystery why Van Rensselaer, who had a
large army, did not steal along the shore of Lake Ontario, cross the
Niagara at the mouth and try to catch the tail of Brock’s army. Instead
of this, on October 10th, he prepared his boats and got his troops ready
to cross the Niagara River where it whirls and swirls at the base of
Queenston. The British, on the Canadian side, were quite unprepared for
the attack. Very early in the morning of October 11th the first boat of
American soldiers put out. In this boat was Lieutenant Sims. History
does not tell us what happened to Sims. He may have landed on the
Canadian side, but it is more likely that he was caught in the current
and tried to return to the American shore. Whatever became of him, he
had with him the oars for the remaining boats, thus preventing his
comrades following him across the river. To attempt his rescue was
impossible. They waited till dawn, but were finally driven, sodden by
the rain and terror-stricken by the storm, to their camp.

Next day a Major Evans, of the British forces, presented a flag of truce
to Van Rensselaer, which truce was for the purpose of exchange of
prisoners. While this was under way, Evans’s sharp eye noticed that
preparations were being made for what could not be other than an attack
on Queenston. He returned to Queenston and warned Captain Dennis,
commanding the men there, that large boats were concealed on the other
side ready, he thought, for an attack. Brock, at Fort George, must also
be given news at once, thought Evans, and he hastened away to acquaint
the commander with what was afoot.

Evans was right. The fate of the October 11th expedition did not deter
Van Rensselaer from another attempt. This was to be made before dawn
next day.

                               CHAPTER IX

                           QUEENSTON HEIGHTS

IT has been pointed out that the forces under Brock were widely
scattered. His main body was at Fort George, seven miles from Queenston.
At Brown’s Point, three miles away, there was a battery, and a single
gun was mounted at Vrooman’s Point, a mile distant. In the village of
Queenston Captain Dennis commanded the grenadier company of the 49th
Regiment; Captain Chisholm was stationed there with a company of the
second York; Captain Hall’s company of the 5th Lincoln Militia brought
the whole force at Queenston to about three hundred men. At a vantage
point on the height itself was stationed Captain Williams with a light
company of the 49th, supporting the crew of a redan battery of one
eighteen-pounder gun.

Van Rensselaer was confident of victory. He deputed the attack to his
cousin, Colonel Solomon Van Rensselaer, an officer of the regular army,
and to Lieutenant-Colonel Christie, who between them commanded six
hundred men, half militia and half regular. The first of these men
embarked at three o’clock in the morning, when the landscape was dark
and dismal and rain was falling, in a boat from the Lewiston landing.
Their oars were muffled, but the sentries upon the heights on the other
side detected their approach. They fired into the boat, and the noise
brought Captain Dennis and his men at a run. More firing ensued. Colonel
Van Rensselaer, who was in the leading boat, was badly wounded. The
invasion was checked for the moment, and such Americans as had effected
a landing were compelled to hide in the brush overhanging the bank.
Lieutenant-Colonel Christie’s boats were less fortunate. A current
carried them down stream, and they had to return to Lewiston, to set out
again. Under Colonel Fenwick a force of regulars followed the advance
party, but their boat was swept below Queenston and beached there. The
defenders on the height had it at their mercy and fired, wounding
Fenwick and eventually compelling the surrender of the whole boatful.
Another boat which landed at Vrooman’s Point met the same fate.

The defenders’ guns, while they warned the Canadians also warned those
American soldiers still at Lewiston of the opposition to the invading
force. The gunners at Lewiston opened fire on Queenston Heights, in an
endeavor to cover the landing of the attacking troops, while the
Canadian batteries kept on with their grim work of firing volleys into
the boats in midstream. Meanwhile Brock at Fort George was uneasy. He
had sat up most of the night of October 12th making his plans and
writing despatches. He seems to have expected an engagement almost
immediately, for he wrote a letter to his brother about it in which he
said: “If I should be beaten the province is inevitably gone.” He had
hardly gone to sleep on the night of October 12th when the sentry, who
had heard the firing at Queenston, aroused him. So it had come! He
wasted no time, but was soon galloping, unattended, under darkling skies
and pouring rain, to Queenston.

Captain Cameron was at Brown’s Point with a body of men, watching the
battle anxiously. A messenger came to him and urged that immediate word
be sent to General Brock. Lieutenant Jarvis put spurs to his horse and
galloped away, intent on getting to Fort George in the shortest possible
time. He had not gone very far before, through the darkness and mist, he
discerned the general. Brock was riding hard, anxiety on his face, index
to the fear he felt for Canada. He did not even stop but, motioning to
Jarvis to turn his horse and follow, kept on in his grim journey. Jarvis
caught up to the general, and, as they were galloping, he gave Brock his
portentous news. Dawn was just breaking when Brock told Jarvis to hasten
to Fort George with instructions to Major-General Sheaffe to bring his
whole reserves to Queenston. He also ordered Jarvis to tell the Indians
at Fort George to occupy the wood on the right when Sheaffe’s troops
came on. Brock wasted no time in getting to Brown’s Point. On the way he
passed a company of the York Volunteers and instructed Captain Cameron,
commanding them, to follow him immediately. He sped on past Vrooman’s
Point, hastily acquainting Captain Heward with what had happened, and
was very soon at Queenston. He climbed the Heights to the point where
the redan battery was stationed, so that from there he could command a
view of the stream.

In the village of Queenston Captains Chisholm, Dennis, and Hall were
making a brave fight of it against superior forces. Brock, seeing their
predicament, detached Captain Williams and his men and sent them to
help. This left him unprotected, except for eight artillerymen. Day had
dawned and turning his head, Brock saw above him, on the summit of the
heights, a detachment of about sixty American soldiers. The odds were
too great, and the general, with his artillerymen and the crew of the
eighteen-pounder gun, returned to the village, leaving the gun behind.
The British had made one mistake. They had left a path leading up the
bank of the river to the heights unguarded. They had deemed it too
difficult for an attacking force to climb, but this underestimation of
the courage of the enemy cost them dearly. Captain Wool, a United States
regular army officer, reached the summit, and it was he and his sixty
men that Brock saw.

Meanwhile, the battery and the infantry in Queenston village were
keeping the invaders at bay with great difficulty. The eighteen-pounder
had been left behind, and Brock, who as we have seen, knew the
inspiration of personal example, decided himself to win the gun back.
With two companies of the 49th and a hundred militiamen he set out for
the Heights, crying: “Follow me boys.” At the base of the hill he rested
his men. A little later he dismounted, climbed over a low stone wall,
and, his sword flashing, charged up the hill in front of his men.

Captain Wool had been reinforced and now had four hundred men under his
command. One of these men stepped in front of the rest and shot down
General Brock. The bullet struck him in the right breast near the heart.
The wound was fatal, and the death of their commander, more perhaps than
the continuous fire poured upon them from the heights, forced the
British to retire. The underestimation of the enemy had indeed been

Some discrepancy exists as to what were Brock’s last words. According to
Lieutenant Jarvis, who was immediately at his side when he fell, with
the question: “Are you hurt, Sir?” Brock did not reply, but, pressing
his hand to his chest, “slowly sank down.” This is the most probable
version, as it is likely that he was wounded too severely to say
anything at all. Others have it, however, that, just before he died
Brock cried: “Push on, brave York Volunteers!” This story probably has
its origin in the early shout to Captain Cameron, to bring up his men.
Captain Glegg, who acquainted William Brock the next day with the news
of the General’s death, said that, as he fell Brock whispered: “My fall
must not be noticed or impede my brave companions from advancing to
victory.” It is not likely, however, that a plain man like Brock would
have struck an attitude so dramatic. The story of Lieutenant Jarvis
seems most nearly to fit the case. Whatever he said or did not say, this
man of action died as he had lived, bravely and as a man.

Brock’s death filled his men with a just rage, and before night the cry,
“Revenge the General!” was heard from one end of the forty mile line to
the other. His spirit breathed “an inextinguishable flame,” and the
soldiers at Fort George drove the Americans out with little trouble. At
Fort Erie, the men behind the guns, saddened and awed by the death of
their beloved leader, redoubled their efforts on the Americans at Black

The force which Brock himself had been leading had to retreat, leaving
behind the gun which had cost them their leader’s life. With them they
bore his body to Queenston. When his men looked at his corpse they might
say as Antony did of Caesar’s body, “Here is himself, marr’d,” and the
sight of this “bleeding piece of earth” spurred them on in his name and
for his sake.

His men tried again, after his death, to take that fateful gun.
Vrooman’s Point and Brown’s Point furnished their quotas of York
Volunteers to reinforce the troops from Queenston, as Brock had
commanded, and about ten o’clock, under Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell,
Brock’s aide-de camp, another attack was made on the Americans on
Queenston Heights. This too was unsuccessful. Again the troops had to
retreat, while their leader was mortally wounded.

The Americans were sure that they had won a great victory. Messengers
were despatched to Albany with the tidings of the death of Brock and
Macdonell, and the city gave itself up to rejoicings. But the joy was

It became apparent to Van Rensselaer, who with Lieutenant-Colonel
Christie had seen, from the captured redan battery, a long line of
Canadians marching to Queenston, that another battle was inevitable.
These were the reinforcements moving to the front under the command of
Major-General Sheaffe. Van Rensselaer crossed the river, but was met
with a flat refusal from his men to cross the stream to the Canadian
side. The New York militia, who by this time had seen their dead and
wounded and had heard, justly enough, of the bravery of the “Green
Tigers”—this was the name given to the men of the 49th because of the
green in their uniforms—were terror-stricken. While Van Rensselaer was
alternately persuading and threatening, a force of Indians, commanded by
Brant and a young Scotsman, Chief Norton, who had been made an Indian
Chief, had quietly left Fort George, climbed the Heights, and showed
themselves on the left of the Americans. There were not enough of them
to do very much real harm, but they appear to have stricken fear into
the heart of the enemy by their wild cries and to have caught a number
of them and punished them pretty severely.

Major-General Sheaffe commanded about seven hundred men. When he had
looked over the situation, he decided that the best attack could be made
from the rear. He therefore placed some artillery under Lieutenant
Holcroft in a courtyard in the village of Queenston, to check any
attempt the foe made to cross. Along the Chippewa road near the Niagara
river troops were advancing to join Sheaffe. About one hundred and fifty
Indians had moved eastwards from the little town of St. David’s and were
lying in ambush in the woods on the enemy’s right front. Sheaffe himself
advanced with forces now numbering about a thousand. The enemy were
therefore in a position to be attacked from all sides.

The conflict began again at three o’clock, and the opening shot seems to
have been fired by the troops in Queenston who trained their guns on the
river. At the same time the men on the British left attacked the enemy’s
front. They were guided by Indians, who knew every inch of the ground on
the west of the hill. These guides led Sheaffe’s men through the heavy
woods, so that they might attack on this flank. This would be quite
unexpected by the enemy. The Niagara militia with two guns and a company
from the 41st Regiment, were on the right. The York and Lincoln militia,
backed up by the 49th, were in the middle. A company of negroes,
refugees from the United States, gave material assistance to the
British. The six hundred American soldiers on Queenston Heights were
surprised. Instead of an attack from down-stream they had to face one
from the left. They were caught like rats in a trap, but fought
valiantly. They saw that escape was impossible, for the swift current
flowed behind them and they had no boats to take them back to the
American shore. Besides, they faced almost double the number of men.
Lieutenant-Colonel Winfield Scott of the regular army was their
commander, and he was a brave man. His men fired on the advancing
Canadians, but Scott knew he was outnumbered. To the accompaniment of
the savage cries of the Indians, Sheaffe’s men came on in a determined
bayonet charge. The Americans broke in disorder. They had many dead and
dying already, and the rest turned tail and ran to the edge of the
precipice. Half crazed, many threw themselves over. The rest made for
the river bank, but there were no boats, and their only way of escape
was by way of swimming. Few were able to breast the current, and many
perished in the cruel stream. The Americans were badly beaten, and
Scott, having made a brave fight, surrendered all his men then on the
Canadian side to General Sheaffe. It is ten thousand pities that the
gallant Brock was not there to see the result of the work of his hands.

The British took nearly a thousand prisoners, among whom was General
Wadsworth and about seventy other officers. The British on their side
had lost eleven killed and something like sixty wounded. The Indians, no
less gallant, had losses of five killed and nine wounded. History
differs as to the American casualties. There were probably nearly a
hundred killed and about two hundred wounded. So the inextinguishable
flame of Brock’s spirit had blazed the way to victory, for Queenston
Heights was a great victory. Canada, however, grieved so much at the
death of Brock, that not even the feat of arms of his successor
mitigated her sorrow.

To the Americans the death of Brock was “equivalent to a victory.”
President Madison, in his next message to Congress, said: “Our loss at
Queenston has been considerable and is to be deeply lamented. The
enemy’s loss, less ascertained, will be the more felt for it includes
among the killed their commanding general.”

After the battle Brock’s body was taken from Queenston to Fort George.
It was buried under one of the bastions of the fort, and beside it was
laid the body of Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell. During the burial of
Canada’s great general, Lieutenant-Colonel Winfield Scott, now a
prisoner, sent a request to the officer commanding the United States
troops that the flag at Fort Niagara be flown at half-mast as was the
Canadian flag at Fort George, and when the Canadian guns boomed out
their respect for the dead general the American guns responded.

                               CHAPTER X


IF Brock’s prowess at Detroit called forth universal admiration, his
death was the occasion of a wonderful outpouring of affectionate regard
and regret. When the news reached England Earl Bathurst wrote to Sir
George Prevost: “His Majesty has lost in him not only an able and
meritorious officer, but one who displayed qualities admirably adapted
to dismay the disloyal, to reconcile the wavering, and to animate the
great mass of the inhabitants against successive attempts of the enemy
to invade the province.” Nor was British gratitude a matter of words
only. On July 20th, 1813, the House of Commons voted a monument to Brock
in appreciation of what he had done. The monument, at a cost of £1,575,
was erected in St. Paul’s cathedral. Each of Brock’s four brothers was
granted twelve thousand acres of land in Upper Canada, and a pension of
£200 a year for life. A memorial coin was struck in Brock’s honor. Thus
Great Britain tried to show how much she thought of the man who had held
his life so lightly beside the safety and honor of the Empire.

In Canada the sorrow was just as great and more immediate. Colonel
Nichol, Brock’s militia quarter-master, wrote of his death: “Our
situation has materially changed for the worse. Confidence seems to have
vanished, and gloom and despondency seem to have taken its place.” “His
moderation and impartiality had united all parties in pronouncing him
the only man worthy to be at the head of affairs” was the tribute of
Lieutenant Ridout, who himself fought bravely at Queenston Heights. The
newspapers of Canada were genuinely sorrowful, and the Quebec _Gazette_
declared his death was received as “a public calamity.”

A lasting mark of Canada’s esteem was to be found in a fine monument
erected on Queenston Heights. This column which was 135 feet high, and
stood 485 feet above the river, covered a vault to which, on October
13th, 1824—just twelve years after his death—Brock’s remains and those
of his gallant aide were removed. On the occasion of this transference,
a great crowd, in which were almost as many Americans as Canadians,
gathered to honor the memory of Canada’s great general.

This monument unhappily was entirely ruined through the agency of a man
named Lett who, on April 17th, 1840, exploded gunpowder under it. This
man was one of the rebels of 1837 who fled to the United States when his
sedition was discovered. The motives that animated him were petty and
spiteful, but if he thought that by destroying the outward and visible
sign of Brock’s wonderful work, he was besmirching the memory of a great
man, he was very wrong. Canadians flocked to Queenston, and at a public
meeting there it was decided to build a monument even more imposing than
the one so meanly destroyed. The foundation stone for this new monument
was laid in 1853 and it was completed three years later. The formal
inauguration took place on October 13th, 1859. From its base to its
summit, a splendid image of Brock, the monument is 190 feet in height.

So this man of action has been honored, but the greatest monument to his
deed and his memory is in the hearts of the Canadian people. Canada may
well be proud of him, for he saved our country in a very real and vital
sense. He managed to crowd the few short years he was in Canada full of
earnest and devoted service to the country he had adopted and had come
to love. The splendor of his achievement shines out as a beacon, at once
drawing attention to itself as a proof that Canada had its great ones a
hundred years ago, and imposing on all Canadians the same high privilege
of doing something to make glorious and keep stainless the fair name of
their country.

Reuben Butchart, a Canadian poet of power, has written a sonnet in
commemoration of Brock, and this little book could not leave a better
message with its readers than the beautiful words and even more
beautiful thoughts that this poet gives us:

          On Queenston’s hill we reared thy lofty shrine,
            Where sleeps thy fiery heart, our gallant Brock.
            Our many-voiced acclaim shall here unlock
          Time’s chest of honors, proffering what is thine.
          Thy name is with the glorious names that shine
            O’er War’s red flood, a beacon on a rock.
            Thy soul, which bore its hour’s consummate shock.
          All valorous thou did’st to fame consign.

          Sheathed be the blade, nor seek through blood a name
            Our foes are of our household; mingled rife
            Through hourly needs there rings the vital strife
          With doubt and sin, the lust of honor, shame:
          O soul, live greatly; thy self-conquering life
            Shall breathe an inextinguishable flame.


                      GENERAL HULL’S PROCLAMATION

“Inhabitants of Canada! After thirty years of peace and prosperity, the
United States have been driven to arms. The injuries and aggressions,
the insults and indignities of Great Britain, have once more left them
no alternative but manly resistance or unconditional submission.

“The army under my command has invaded your country, and the standard of
Union now waves over the territory of Canada. To the peaceable,
unoffending inhabitant it brings neither danger nor difficulty. I come
to _find_ enemies, not to _make_ them. I come to protect, not to injure

“Separated by an immense ocean and an extensive wilderness from Great
Britain, you have no participation in her councils, no interest in her
conduct. You have felt her tyranny, you have seen her injustice, but I
do not ask you to avenge the one or redress the other. The United States
are sufficiently powerful to afford you every security consistent with
their rights and your expectations. I tender you the invaluable
blessings of civil, political, and religious liberty, and their
necessary result, individual and general prosperity—that liberty which
gave decision to our councils and energy to our struggle for
independence, and which conducted us safely and triumphantly through the
stormy period of the revolution; that liberty which has raised us to an
elevated rank among the nations of the world, and which has afforded us
a greater measure of peace and security, of wealth and improvement, than
ever yet fell to the lot of any people.

“In the name of my country, and by the authority of my government, I
promise protection to your persons, property, and rights. Remain at
your homes, pursue your peaceful and customary avocations, raise not
your hands against your brethren. Many of your fathers fought for the
freedom and independence which we now enjoy. Being children, therefore,
of the same family with us, and heirs to the same heritage, the arrival
of an army of friends must be hailed by you with a cordial welcome.
You will be emancipated from tyranny and oppression and restored to
the dignified station of freemen. Had I any doubt of eventual success
I might ask your assistance, but I do not. I come prepared for every
contingency. I have a force which will look down all opposition, and
that force is but the vanguard of a much greater. If, contrary to your
own interests and the just expectation of my country, you should take
part in the approaching contest, you will be considered and treated
as enemies, and the horrors and calamities of war will stalk before
you. If the barbarous and savage policy of Great Britain be pursued,
and the savages be let loose to murder our citizens and butcher our
women and children, this war will be a war of extermination. The first
stroke of the tomahawk, the first attempt with the scalping-knife, will
be the signal of one indiscriminate scene of desolation. No white man
found fighting by the side of an Indian will be taken prisoner; instant
destruction will be his lot. If the dictates of reason, duty, justice,
and humanity cannot prevent the employment of a force which respects
no rights and knows no wrong, it will be prevented by a severe and
relentless system of retaliation.

“I doubt not your courage and firmness. I will not doubt your attachment
to liberty. If you tender your services voluntarily, they will be
accepted readily. The United States offer you peace, liberty, and
security. Your choice lies between these and war, slavery, and
destruction. Choose then, but choose wisely, and may He who knows the
justice of our cause, and who holds in His hands the fate of nations
guide you to a result the most compatible with your rights and
interests, your peace and prosperity.

        “By the General,

                       “W. HULL,

                       “A. F. HULL,

        “Captain 13th Regiment U.S. Infantry and Aide-de-Camp.”

        “Headquarters, Sandwich, 12th July, 1812.”

                          BROCK’S PROCLAMATION

“The unprovoked declaration of war by the United States of America
against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and its
dependencies has been followed by the actual invasion of this province,
in a remote frontier of the western district, by a detachment of the
armed force of the United States.

“The officer commanding that detachment has thought proper to invite His
Majesty’s subjects, not merely to a quiet and unresisting submission,
but insults them with a call to seek voluntarily the protection of his

“Without condescending to repeat the illiberal epithets bestowed in this
appeal of the American commander to the people of Upper Canada, on the
administration of His Majesty, every honest inhabitant of the province
is desired to seek the confutation of such indecent slander in the
review of his own particular circumstances. Where is the Canadian
subject who can truly affirm to himself that he has been injured by the
government in his person, his property, or his liberty? Where is to be
found, in any part of the world, a growth so rapid in prosperity and
wealth as this colony exhibits? Settled not thirty years by a band of
veterans exiled from their former possessions on account of their
loyalty, not a descendant of these brave people is to be found who,
under the fostering liberality of their sovereign, has not acquired a
property and means of enjoyment superior to what were possessed by their
ancestors. This unequalled prosperity would not have been attained by
the utmost liberality of the government, or the persevering industry of
the people, had not the maritime power of the mother country secured to
its colonists a safe access to every market where the produce of their
labor was in request. The unavoidable and immediate consequences of a
separation from Great Britain must be the loss of this inestimable
advantage; and what is offered you in exchange? To become a territory of
the United States, and share with them that exclusion from the ocean
which the policy of their government enforces; you are not even
flattered with a participation of their boasted independence, and it is
but too obvious that, once estranged from the powerful protection of the
United Kingdom, you must be re-annexed to the dominion of France, from
which the provinces of Canada were wrested by the arms of Great Britain,
at a vast expense of blood and treasure, from no other motive than to
relieve her ungrateful children from the oppression of a cruel neighbor.
This restitution of Canada to the empire of France was the stipulated
reward for the aid afforded to the revolted colonies, now the United
States. The debt is still due, and there can be no doubt that the pledge
has been renewed as a consideration for commercial advantages, or rather
for an expected relaxation of the tyranny of France over the commercial
world. Are you prepared, inhabitants of Canada, to become willing
subjects—or rather slaves—to the despot who rules the nations of
continental Europe with a rod of iron? If not, arise in a body, exert
your energies, co-operate cordially with the king’s regular forces to
repel the invader, and do not give cause to your children, when groaning
under the oppression of a foreign master, to reproach you with having so
easily parted with the richest inheritance of this earth—a participation
in the name, character, and freedom of Britons.

“The same spirit of justice, which will make every reasonable allowance
for the unsuccessful efforts of zeal and loyalty, will not fail to
punish the defalcation of principle. Every Canadian freeholder is, by
deliberate choice, bound by the most solemn oaths to defend the monarchy
as well as his own property. To shrink from that engagement is a treason
not to be forgiven. Let no man suppose that if, in this unexpected
struggle, His Majesty’s arms should be compelled to yield to an
overwhelming force, the province will be eventually abandoned; the
endeared relation of its first settlers, the intrinsic value of its
commerce, and the pretension of its powerful rival to repossess the
Canadas, are pledges that no peace will be established between the
United States and Great Britain and Ireland, of which the restoration of
these provinces does not make the most prominent condition. Be not
dismayed at the unjustifiable threat of the commander of the enemy’s
forces to refuse quarter should an Indian appear in the ranks. The brave
band of aborigines who inhabit this colony were, like His Majesty’s
other subjects, punished for their zeal and fidelity by the loss of
their possessions in the late colonies, and rewarded by His Majesty with
lands of superior value in this province. The faith of the British
government has never yet been violated; the Indians feel that the soil
they inherit is to them and their posterity protected from the base arts
so frequently devised to over-reach their simplicity. By what new
principle are they to be prohibited from defending their property? If
their warfare, from being different to that of the white people, be more
terrific to the enemy, let him retrace his steps. They seek him not, and
he cannot expect to find women and children in an invading army. But
they are men, and have equal rights with all other men to defend
themselves and their property when invaded, more especially when they
find in the enemy’s camp a ferocious and mortal foe using the same
warfare which the American commander affects to reprobate. The
inconsistent and unjustifiable threat of refusing quarter, for such a
cause as being found in arms with a brother sufferer in defence of
invaded rights, must be exercised with the certain assurance of
retaliation, not only in the limited operations of war in this part of
the king’s dominions, but in every quarter of the globe; for the
national character of Britain is not less distinguished for humanity
than strict retributive justice, which will consider the execution of
this inhuman threat as deliberate murder, for which every subject of the
offending power must make expiation.”


                           Transcriber's Note

The following changes have been made to the original text:

                     p. 18 senority -> seniority
                     p. 19 monchalant -> nonchalant
                     p. 29 Clark -> Clarke
                     p. 36 Britan -> Britain
                     p. 38 to to be -> to be
                     p. 75 therefor -> therefore

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