The Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812
Invasion Repelled at Queenston
Caption: Map of the Niagara Peninsula
At Niagara, another American army was slowly forming. After a number of delays owing to conflicts between the generals of the regular army and the militia of New York State, some 7,000 men were gathered together at the beginning of October. On the Canadian side, General Brock's army was much smaller in number: there were four Americans for each British or Canadian soldier! On October 13 General Solomon Van Renssalaer crossed the Niagara River with his men and dug in on a hillside at Queenston. Brock attacked immediately so as not to give the Americans time to settle in and allow the rest of their army to cross. The 41st, the 49th, the Niagara militias, the Toronto volunteers and the Amerindians attacked. The American position was shaken, but Brock died from a gunshot wound to the chest. General Roger Hale Sheaffe took over, and sent the Americans scrambling.
This defeat exposed the major shortcoming of the Americans: the inconsistent quality of their armies. In this instance, the New York militia panicked and appealed to its constitutional right to serve only within the limits of the state of New York, refusing to cross the river! Thousands of these militiamen thus stood by and watched their compatriots calling to them for help as they fell to enemy fire or were taken prisoner.
Elsewhere, the planned attacks did not take place, and this is how the great invasion of 1812 ended. The Americans were routed everywhere and Michigan fell to the Anglo-Canadians. But in adversity the Americans were not quick to throw down the gauntlet; on the contrary.
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