Saint-Denis and Saint-Charles
First Victory to the Patriotes
Caption: The Patriotes capture a piece of British artillery during the Battle of Saint-Denis, 23 November 1837
The first task was to subdue the Patriote counties around Montreal. A column of 300 British soldiers, consisting of detachments from the 24th, 32nd and 66th regiments, artillerymen with a 12-pound howitzer and members of the Royal Montreal Cavalry, left Sorel under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Stephen Gore. It was to join up at Saint-Charles with another column from Chambly, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Wetherall in the heart of Patriote country. But when they reached Saint-Denis on November 23, Gore found himself facing approximately 800 barricaded Patriotes under the command of Dr. Wolfred Nelson. Although only 200 of them had muskets, their accurate fire soon forced the British scouts to turn tail. Gore then decided to shell the village, but even at a distance of 320 metres four artillerymen were shot before the howitzer could fire a single shell. The British nevertheless succeeded in taking a few houses. In the end, after six hours of combat, Gore was forced to order a retreat, abandoning the howitzer to the Patriotes. The losses were not heavy: six dead, 10 wounded and six missing among the British; 12 dead and seven wounded among the Patriotes. Nelson's men were jubilant; the farmers armed with pitchforks and old muskets, some of which dated back to the French regime, had beaten the well-trained and properly armed British soldiers.
- Date modified: