Battle of Lundy's Lane

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Battle of Lundy's Lane
Part of the War of 1812
Battle of Lundys Lane.jpg
Battle of Lundy's Lane, Alonzo Chappel
Date25 July 1814 (1814-07-25)
Location 43°05′21″N79°05′44″W / 43.0891°N 79.0955°W / 43.0891; -79.0955
Result Inconclusive (see aftermath of the battle)
Belligerents
Flag of the United Kingdom (WFB 2000).svg  United Kingdom
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg  Upper Canada
Flag of the United States (1795-1818).svg  United States
Commanders and leaders
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Gordon Drummond
Flag of the United Kingdom (WFB 2000).svg Phineas Riall   White flag icon.svg
Flag of the United Kingdom (WFB 2000).svg Joseph Morrison  (WIA)
Flag of the United States (1795-1818).svg Jacob Brown
Flag of the United States (1795-1818).svg Winfield Scott  (WIA)
Flag of the United States (1795-1818).svg Eleazer Ripley
Strength
3,500 [1] 2,500 [2]
Casualties and losses
84 killed
559 wounded
169 captured
55 missing [3] [4]

174 killed
572 wounded
79 captured
28 missing [5] [6] [7]

Contents

Official nameBattle of Lundy's Lane National Historic Site of Canada
Designated1937

The Battle of Lundy's Lane, also known as the Battle of Niagara, [8] was a battle fought on 25 July 1814, during the War of 1812, between an invading American army and a British and Canadian army near present-day Niagara Falls, Ontario. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the war, [9] and one of the deadliest battles ever fought in Canada, [10] with over 1,731 casualties including 258 killed.

The two armies fought each other to a stalemate; neither side held firm control of the field following the engagement. However, the casualties suffered by the Americans precipitated their withdrawal, and the British held the strategic initiative.

Background

On 3 July 1814 an American army under Major General Jacob Brown launched an attack across the Niagara River near its source on Lake Erie. His force quickly captured the British position at Fort Erie and then advanced north. Two days later one of his two brigades of regular U.S. Infantry under Brigadier General Winfield Scott defeated a British force commanded by Major General Phineas Riall at the Battle of Chippawa.

A few days after the battle, Brown outflanked the British defences along the Chippawa River and the British fell back to Fort George near the mouth of the Niagara on Lake Ontario. Brown lacked the necessary troops and heavy artillery to attack this position and a British naval squadron controlled the lake. Commodore Isaac Chauncey, commander of the American ships based at Sackett's Harbor, New York, was waiting for new frigates and armed brigs to be completed before he challenged the British squadron. The American squadron was further delayed in port when Chauncey fell ill. As a result, no reinforcements or heavy guns were sent to Brown, and the British were able to move several units across the lake from York to reinforce Fort George. [11]

For most of July, Brown's army occupied Queenston, a few miles south of Fort George. In this forward position they were harassed by Canadian militia and First Nation warriors. On 24 July Brown fell back to the Chippawa River, intending to secure his supplies before advancing west to Burlington. [11] As soon as Brown retired, British light infantry and militia under Major General Riall advanced to Lundy's Lane 4 miles (6.4 km) north of the Chippawa to allow light troops to maintain contact with the American main force. [12]

Battle

Preliminary movements

Early on 25 July, the British Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond, arrived in Fort George to take personal command on the Niagara peninsula. He immediately ordered a force under Lieutenant Colonel John Tucker to advance south from Fort Niagara (which the British had captured in December 1813) along the east side of the Niagara River, hoping this would force Brown to evacuate the west bank. [13] Instead, Brown ordered an advance north, intending in turn to force the British to recall Tucker's column to protect Fort George. The Americans apparently did not know that the British held Lundy's Lane in strength.

The order to retreat to Fort George was countermanded by Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond, who instead ordered for reinforcements to support his position at Lundy's Lane. Gordon Drummond.jpg
The order to retreat to Fort George was countermanded by Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond, who instead ordered for reinforcements to support his position at Lundy's Lane.

As soon as Riall knew the Americans were advancing, he ordered his troops to fall back to Fort George and ordered another column under Colonel Hercules Scott to move from St. Davids to Queenston to cover his withdrawal, rather than advance to his support. These orders were countermanded by Drummond, who had force-marched a detachment of reinforcements to Lundy's Lane from Fort George. The British were still reoccupying their positions when the first American units came into view, at about 6:00 pm. [14]

Scott's attack

Lundy's Lane was a spur from the main Portage Road alongside the Niagara River. It ran along the summit of some rising ground (about 25 feet higher than the surrounding area) and therefore commanded good views of the area. The British artillery (two 24-pounder and two 6-pounder guns, one 5.5-inch howitzer and a Congreve rocket detachment) were massed in a cemetery at the highest point of the battlefield.

The American 1st Brigade of regulars under Winfield Scott, with Towson's artillery company, [13] emerged in the late afternoon from a forest into an open field and was badly mauled by the British artillery. [15] Scott sent the 25th U.S. Infantry, commanded by Major Thomas Jesup, to outflank the British left. The 25th found a disused track leading to a landing stage on the river and used it to pass round the British flank. They caught the British and Canadian units there (the light company of the 1st Battalion of the 8th (King's) Regiment and the Upper Canada Incorporated Militia Battalion) while they were redeploying and unaware of the American presence, and drove them back in confusion. The British and Canadians rallied, but had been driven off the Portage Road. Jesup sent Captain Ketchum's light infantry company to secure the junction of Lundy's Lane and the Portage Road. Ketchum's company captured large numbers of wounded and messengers, including Major General Riall, who had been wounded in one arm and was riding to the rear. Most of the prisoners escaped when Ketchum, having briefly rejoined Jesup, ran into an enemy unit while trying to return to the main body of the American army, although Riall and militia cavalry leader Captain William Hamilton Merritt remained prisoners. [16]

Jesup's action and the steadiness of Scott's brigade persuaded Drummond to withdraw his centre to maintain alignment with his left flank, and also pull back the Glengarry Light Infantry, who had been harassing Scott's own left flank. The withdrawal of Drummond's center left the artillery exposed in front of the infantry. [17]

Brown's attack

After he was instructed to take British guns, Lt Col James Miller, commander of the 21st U.S. Infantry, responded "I'll try, Sir." AR Miller James.jpg
After he was instructed to take British guns, Lt Col James Miller, commander of the 21st U.S. Infantry, responded "I'll try, Sir."

By nightfall, Scott's brigade had suffered heavy casualties. Brown had arrived late in the day with the American main body (the 2nd Brigade of regulars under Brigadier General Eleazer Wheelock Ripley and a brigade of volunteers from the militia under Brigadier General Peter B. Porter). As Ripley and Porter relieved Scott's brigade, Brown ordered the 21st U.S. Infantry under Lieutenant Colonel James Miller to capture the British guns. Miller famously responded, "I'll try, Sir". [18]

While the British were distracted by another attack by the 1st U.S. Infantry on their right, Miller's troops deployed within a few yards of the British artillery. They fired a volley of musketry that killed most of the gunners and followed up with a bayonet charge; this captured the guns and drove the British centre from the hill. The British infantry immediately behind the guns (the 2nd Battalion of the 89th Foot) tried to counter-attack, but were driven back by Miller and Ripley.[ citation needed ]

Meanwhile, the British column under Colonel Hercules Scott was arriving on the field, already tired from its unnecessary diversion via Queenston. Unaware of the changed situation, they blundered into Ripley's brigade and were also driven back in disorder, losing their own three 6-pounder guns. These were recovered by a charge by the light company of the 41st Foot, but were either abandoned again [17] or remained in British hands but could not be brought into action as the drivers and gunners had been scattered. [19]

Drummond's counter-attack

While the Americans tried to deploy their own artillery among the captured British guns, Drummond (who had been wounded in the neck) reorganized his troops and mounted a determined attempt to retake his own cannon. There was no subtlety; Drummond launched an attack in line, without attempting to use his many light infantry to harass or disorder the American line, [20] or to locate any weak points in it. The Americans beat back the attack after a short-range musketry duel over the abandoned British guns, in which both sides suffered heavy casualties. [21] The Glengarry Light Infantry, who had once again begun to harass the American left flank, were mistaken for Americans by other British units and forced to withdraw after suffering casualties from British fire.

A map from 1869 that shows the positions of the American and British forces during the battle. Battle of Niagara Falls map.jpg
A map from 1869 that shows the positions of the American and British forces during the battle.

Undeterred by his first failure, Drummond launched a second attack, using the same methods and formation as in the first. Although some American units wavered, they were rallied by Ripley and stood their ground. [22] While the combat was taking place, Winfield Scott led his depleted brigade (which had been reorganized into a single ad hoc battalion under Major Henry Leavenworth) in an unauthorized attack against Drummond's centre. Scott's brigade was engaged both by the British and by units of Ripley's brigade, who were not aware of the identity of the troops at which they were shooting. Drummond's line was driven back but Scott's men broke in disorder and retreated, before rallying on the American left. [23] Scott rode to join Jesup's regiment, still out on the right flank, but was severely wounded shortly afterwards.

Shortly before midnight, Drummond launched a third counter-attack, using every man he could find, [24] although by this time the British line consisted of mixed-up detachments and companies, rather than organised regiments and battalions. The fighting over the artillery was closer than before, with bayonets being used at one point, but again the exhausted British fell back.

End of the battle

By midnight both sides were spent. On the American side only 700 men were still standing in the line. Winfield Scott and Jacob Brown were both severely wounded. Brown would soon recover but Scott's injury removed him from the campaign. With supplies and water short, Brown ordered a retreat. Porter and Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Hindman (Brown's artillery commander) protested but complied. Ripley apparently did not learn of Brown's order until he realised that Hindman's artillery had been withdrawn. [25] Although urged by Porter to maintain his position, he also withdrew. [19] The British still had 1,400 men on the field but they were in no condition to interfere with the American withdrawal. Drummond had ordered some units to hold the Portage Road and left some light infantry outposts near the Americans, but had withdrawn the remainder a short distance west along Lundy's Lane. [26]

The American artillerymen had suffered severely during the fighting, and Hindman had difficulty finding sufficient draught horses to get all his guns away. One American 6-pounder gun had been lost earlier during the close-range fighting, when its drivers had been hit by musket fire and the horses drawing it had bolted into the British lines. [18] Hindman also had to abandon a howitzer with a broken carriage. The Americans were able to drag away one captured 6-pounder gun that had earlier been pushed to the bottom of the high ground in the centre of the former British position. [27] Hindman later found more horses and sent a team back to recover one of the prized British 24-pounder guns. The team was captured by British parties who were wandering around the battlefield. [28]

Aftermath

Map of the Niagara Frontier in 1814. Following Lundy's Lane, American forces fell back to Fort Erie, losing the initiative on the Niagara Peninsula. Niagra River and Territory, 1812.jpg
Map of the Niagara Frontier in 1814. Following Lundy's Lane, American forces fell back to Fort Erie, losing the initiative on the Niagara Peninsula.

In the early hours of the morning of 26 July, Brown ordered Ripley to recover the abandoned British guns the next day. Reinforcing his exhausted men with detachments that had been left at Chippawa, Ripley moved out at daybreak with 1,200 soldiers but found that Drummond had reoccupied the battlefield with 2,200 men. [29] Ripley withdrew, unmolested.

The American army fell back to Fort Erie, first deliberately destroying the old British fortifications along the Chippawa River and burning the bridges behind them. Because they were short of transport, they had to abandon or destroy much equipment and supplies to make room for the wounded on the available wagons. Drummond was later to claim that the Americans had retreated in disorder. After burying some of the British and Canadian dead on the battlefield and burning many American corpses in large funeral pyres, the British withdrew to Queenston until Drummond received reinforcements. [30]

In respect to the effect of the battle on the War, the British won a strategic victory, as the Americans on the Niagara had suffered so many casualties that they were now badly outnumbered, and were forced to retire to Fort Erie. Richard V. Barbuto says, "On 26 July, Brown's plan to advance on Burlington Heights was irretrievably shattered... Drummond had secured the forts at the northern end of the Niagara, and he had blunted an American advance. Although there was still a lot of fight in both forces, the balance of combat power on the Niagara Peninsula had swung from the invaders to the defenders". [31]

Casualties

The British official casualty return had 84 killed, 559 wounded, 42 captured, and 193 missing. [3] The Americans captured 19 British officers and 150 other ranks, giving a revised British casualty total of 84 killed, 559 wounded, 169 captured, and 55 missing. [4]

The original American official casualty return, dated 30 July 1814, gave 171 dead, 572 wounded, and 117 missing. [32] A slightly later version gave the same number of killed and wounded but 110 missing. [5] Donald Graves says, "British records state that four officers and 75 Americans of other ranks captured at Lundy's Lane were imprisoned at Quebec in the autumn of 1814. The remainder of the missing were probably the wounded or dead left on the field after Ripley withdrew". [6] Three officers of the 22nd U.S. Regiment of Infantry; Lieutenants William Sturgis, John D. Kehr and Robert M. Davidson, who appear on the casualty list as "missing" and "supposed to be killed" [33] were later confirmed as having been killed on 25 July. [7] This gives a revised American loss of 174 killed, 572 wounded, 79 captured, and 28 missing. Graves speculates that the discrepancies in the proportions of killed and wounded men between British and American casualties may be accounted for by the Americans not collating their casualty returns until five days after the battle, when some of those originally listed as missing were confirmed to have been killed, and some severely wounded men had died of their wounds. [34]

Analysis

There had been much fighting at close quarters. Veteran British officers, who had fought against French armies in the Peninsular War, were horrified at the carnage they had witnessed at Lundy's Lane. Drummond reported, "Of so determined a Character were [the American] attacks directed against our guns that our Artillery Men were bayonetted by the enemy in the Act of loading, and the muzzles of the Enemy's Guns were advanced within a few Yards of ours". [35] The battle confirmed that the American regular forces had developed into a highly professional army. Scott is widely credited for this progress, having modelled and trained his troops using French Revolutionary Army drills and exercises, although not all the American units present at Lundy's Lane had benefitted from this training. [36]

Evidence compiled by Donald Graves, a Canadian historian employed at the Directorate of History, Department of National Defence Canada, argues that General Drummond failed to use skirmish pickets to protect his guns, which were consequently captured by the Americans. Drummond also showed little tactical finesse during his counter-attacks, not using his light infantry to their best advantage and mounting only straightforward frontal attacks. American historian John R. Elting suggests that if Drummond had instead concentrated on the vulnerable American left flank, he might have won a decisive victory. [29] (Drummond had much administrative experience, but had previously seen action only in the abortive Flanders Campaign in 1794 as a comparatively junior officer, and in the Egyptian campaign in 1801 as commander of a battalion.)

The Battle of Lundy's Lane National Historic Site of Canada. Lundy's Lane Monument.jpg
The Battle of Lundy's Lane National Historic Site of Canada.

Battlefield and memorials

Lundy's Lane Historical Museum (now the Niagara Falls History Museum) in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, on Lundy's Lane near the battle site. Lundy's Lane Historical Museum.jpg
Lundy's Lane Historical Museum (now the Niagara Falls History Museum) in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, on Lundy's Lane near the battle site.

The site was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1937. [37] [38]

The site of the battle is now a residential and commercial area of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Part of the battlefield site was preserved next to the Drummond Hill Cemetery on Lundy's Lane east of Drummond Road. Other memorials added to the site include:

Orders of Battle

British / Canadian order of battle [40] [1] American order of battle [40] [2]

Commander, Upper Canada (Lieutenant General Sir Gordon Drummond)

  • Right Division, British Army in Canada (Major General Phineas Riall)
  • Morrison's Force from the Forts at the River Mouth [est. 761. officers and men] (Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Wanton Morrison)
    • Three companies, 1st Battalion, 1st Foot (Royal Scots) [171 officers and men] (Captain William Brereton)
    • Light company, 1st Battalion, 8th (King's) Foot [est. 65 officers and men] (Captain Francis Campbell)
    • Light company, 41st Foot [est. 60 officers and men] (Captain Joseph B. Glew)
    • Eight companies, 2nd Battalion, 89th Foot [425 officers and men] (Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Wanton Morrison & Major Miller Clifford)
    • Artillery [est. 40 officers and gunners] (Captain James Machlachlane, RA)
      • Royal Artillery [Two 24-pounder guns] (Lieutenant Richard Tomkyns, RA)
      • Royal Marine Artillery [Section of Two Congreve rocket launchers] (Sergeant Austin, RMA)
    • Force of Mohawk and Western Warriors (est. between 400-500)
  • Colonel Hercules Scott's Force
    • 1st Brigade [est. 1070 officers and men] (Colonel Hercules Scott)
      • Five companies, 1st Battalion, 8th (King's) Foot [275 officers and men] (Major Thomas Evans)
      • Seven companies, 103rd Foot [635 officers and men] (Major William Smelt)
      • Flank companies, 104th (New Brunswick) Foot [120 officers and men] (Captain Richard Leonard)
      • Royal Artillery [est. 40 officers and gunners] (Captain James Mackonochie)
        • Three 6-pounder guns
    • Reserve (Lieutenant Colonel John Gordon)
      • Seven companies, 1st Battalion, 1st Foot (Royal Scots) [400 officers and men] (Lieutenant Colonel John Gordon)
    • 2nd Militia Brigade [est. 250 officers and men] (Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Hamilton)
      • One detachment, 1st Norfolk Regiment, Norfolk Militia
      • One detachment, 2nd Norfolk Regiment, Norfolk Militia
      • One detachment, 1st Essex Regiment, Essex Militia
      • One detachment, 1st Middlesex Regiment, Middlesex Militia
      • One detachment, Caldwell's Western Rangers

Note:

  • the companies of the Royal Scots and 8th King's were very understrength, after the Battle of Chippawa earlier in the month.

Left Division, United States Army (Major General Jacob Brown)

Notes:

  • Captain Williams and Lieutenant Douglass's companies could not be brought into action during the battle.
  • Colonel James Fenton, commander of the Pennsylvania Militia regiment, was away on leave at the time of the battle.
  • Around half of the NY Militia Regiment was still at Lewiston, NY under the command of Colonel Philetus Swift, New York Militia.
  • Captain Harris of the U.S. Light Dragoons was in overall command of both mounted units during the battle.

Legacy

At Queenston Heights and Lundy's Lane our brave fathers, side by side
for freedom, homes, and loved ones dear, firmly stood and nobly died.
And those dear rights which they maintained, we swear to yield them never.
Our watchword evermore shall be, the Maple Leaf forever!

Catherine Lundy

Catherine Lundy was born in the late 1700s to Elizabeth Garvey and Lieutenant Daniel Shannon of the British army. [45] As a teen, she married Thomas Lundy, who she would eventually have eight children with. [46] They settled at Lundy Lane, just one mile west of Niagara Falls. On July 25, 1814, British soldiers passed her house on their way to meet the Americans. Rather than fleeing with everyone else, she provided them with water after their 14-mile march. Furthermore, as a battle broke out just one mile east of her property, she opened her home to tend to the wounded. The British army was so appreciative of her help that one officer gave her his sword as a thanks. [47] Catherine Lundy died in the middle of the 19th century, going down in history as a "saint".

Notes

  1. 1 2 Graves (1997), pp. 261–262.
  2. 1 2 Graves (1997), pp. 257–258.
  3. 1 2 Graves (1993), p. 173.
  4. 1 2 Graves (1993), p. 174.
  5. 1 2 Wood, p. 164.
  6. 1 2 Graves (1993), p. 175.
  7. 1 2 Whitehorne, pp. 149–150.
  8. The War of 1812 Archived 14 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  9. Heidler (2004), p. 161.
  10. Belanger (2009), p. 72.
  11. 1 2 Graves (1997), p. 104.
  12. Graves (1999), p. 107.
  13. 1 2 Elting (1995), p. 190.
  14. Elting (1995), p. 191.
  15. Graves (1997), pp. 129–131.
  16. Graves (1997), pp. 138–141.
  17. 1 2 Graves (1997), p. 145.
  18. 1 2 Elting (1995), p.193
  19. 1 2 Elting (1995), p. 195.
  20. Graves (1997), p. 167.
  21. Graves (1997), pp. 170–171.
  22. Graves (1997), p. 174.
  23. Elting (1995), p. 194.
  24. Graves (1997), pp. 180–181.
  25. Graves (1997), pp. 182–183.
  26. Graves (1997), p. 187.
  27. Graves (1997), p. 183.
  28. Graves (1997), p. 185.
  29. 1 2 Elting (1995), p. 196.
  30. Elting (1995), p.197
  31. Barbuto, p. 229
  32. Cruikshank, p. 421.
  33. Cruikshank, p. 423.
  34. Graves (1997), pp. 197–198.
  35. Hitsman (1999), p.228
  36. Elting (1995), pp. 179–180.
  37. Battle of Lundy's Lane [ permanent dead link ], Directory of Designations of National Historic Significance of Canada.
  38. Battle of Lundy's Lane . Canadian Register of Historic Places . Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  39. "Battlefield Commemorative Wall". City of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Archived from the original on 10 December 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
  40. 1 2 Graves, Donald E. (1997). Where Right and Glory Lead!: The Battle of Lundy's Lane, 1814 (Second ed.). Robin Brass Studio. pp. 257–263. ISBN   978-1-896941-03-5.
  41. "PM and Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall commemorate the War of 1812 - Prime Minister of Canada". Archived from the original on 17 June 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  42. Hayes (2012), p. 275.
  43. John Garvin, "Duncan Campbell Scott," Canadian Poets (Toronto: McLelland, Goodchild & Stewart, 1916), 133. UPenn, Web, 1 April 2011.
  44. "Gangs of New York | Gangster Movies". Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  45. "Thomas Lundy and Catherine Shannon". Fenning Genealogy. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  46. Shan. "Catherine Lundy". emaze. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  47. Fleming, Esther. "Catherine Lundy". SidmartinBio. Retrieved 7 January 2022.

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Twenty-three currently active battalions of the Regular Army earned credit for campaigns during the War of 1812: two Air Defense Artillery battalions, six Field Artillery Battalions and seventeen Infantry battalions. These twenty-three battalions represent two Air Defense Artillery, four Field Artillery and seven Infantry regiments. Three additional Air Defense Artillery regiments have been awarded shared credit for War of 1812 campaigns, but the lineages of the artillery companies that earned those credits have not been perpetuated by currently active battalions.

The 103rd Regiment of Foot was a line infantry unit of the British Army. Though only existing for just over 10 years, the regiment would see more action than most of its 100-series regiments.

The Battle of Conjocta Creek was an attempt by British forces under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Tucker to raid the American supply depots at the towns of Black Rock and Buffalo. The Raid was ordered by British Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond in hopes of causing an early American surrender at Fort Erie. On the morning of August 3, 1814, Tucker and his men met a small force of American riflemen under the command of Major Lodwick Morgan. After fighting for about an hour, Tucker and his men were defeated, and withdrew across the Niagara river to Canada. The battle played a major role in the Siege of Fort Erie's failure, due to the supply post at Black Rock being able to continue supplying the American force defending Fort Erie. This resulted in the British eventually withdrawing from their siege positions around the fort to Chippawa on September 21st, 1814.

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