Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter XX - Events on the Niagara Frontier and Vicinity in 1812.






Arrival at Niagara Falls. – Departure for Queenston. – An undesirable Horse and Driver. – Lewiston Heights, and the View from them. – Villages of Lewiston and Queenston. – The Suspension Bridge. – The Monument on Queenston Heights. – Description of Brock’s Monument. – Ceremonies at the laying of the Corner-stone. – Evening on Queenston Heights. – A Veteran of 1812. – The Chief of the Six Nations of Indians. – The Place where Brock fell. – Journey from Queenston to Niagara. – Solomon Vrooman. – Appearance of the Country. – A Visit to Fort George. – Remains of the French Magazine there. – Hospitality of Mrs. Lee. – Fort Mississaga in 1860. – Return to Niagara Falls. – Departure for the Grand River. – St. Catharine. – Hamilton, Paris, and Brantford. – Chief Johnson and the Indian Reservation. – Mission-house on Grand River. – Costume of the Chief of the Six Nations. – Indian Weapons. – A Silver Calumet. – Ancient Scalping-knife and its History. – Number and Character of the Indians. – Village of Onondaga and Mohawk. – The Mohawk Church. – Appearance of the Interior. – Building of the Mohawk Church. – Its Bell. – Tomb of the Brant Family. – The "Mohawk Institute." – The Work of the "Institute." – The Commission Plate of the Mohawk Church. – A pleasant Day with the Six Nations. – Black Rock and Porter’s Residence. – Attack on the Works there. – Bombardment of Fort Niagara. – Artillery Duel at Fort Niagara. – A heavy Force near Buffalo. – Orders for Invading Canada at that Point. – Arrangements for Crossing the Niagara River. – The British, forewarned, are forearmed. – Passage of the River. – Incidents of the Attempt to invade Canada on the Upper Niagara. – General Smyth’s Incompetence. – His foolish Swaggering. – Another Attempt to cross the River. – Smyth’s Council of Officers. – The Invasion of Canada abandoned. – Disappointment and Indignation of the Troops. – A harmless duel between Porter and Smyth. – A solemn Farce. – Smyth disbanded. – His Petition to Congress.


"Alas for them their day is o’er,
Their fires are out from shore to shore;
No more for them the wild deer bounds –
The plow is on their hunting-grounds."



At the middle of August, 1860, I visited the theatre of events described in the preceding chapter. I went down to Niagara Falls from Buffalo in a railway train on the afternoon of the 16th. A violent thunder-storm greeted our arrival at five o’clock. As business, not pleasure, was my errand to that great gathering-place of the fashionable and of tourists in summer, I rode to the northern part of the village, and took lodgings at the quiet "Niagara House," where I found room in abundance in chamber and at table. On the following morning, accompanied by the late Colonel P. A. Porter, then a resident of Niagara Falls village, I crossed the suspension bridge, rode up the western bank of the river to Street’s Creek, opposite Navy Island, and visited the battle-ground of Chippewa with Colonel Cummings, a surviving aid of the British general Riall, who commanded in that engagement. Of that visit and its results I shall write hereafter.

I returned to the Niagara House in time for dinner, and at four o’clock started in an old, dusty light wagon, with a jaded horse, for Lewiston, seven miles down the river. It was at an hour when every body was on the road, and every horse and vehicle were employed. I was left without choice, and felt thankful that I was not compelled to go afoot. The driver was a rather rough-cast boy of sixteen years, with a freckled face, a turned-up nose, a mischievous gray eye, sandy hair, and rather intelligent, but uneducated. The horse seemed tipsy as well as tired, for he was constantly leaving the right lines of the highway. His coat was an uncertain brick color, and rough; the harness had dotted him with black bare spots; his tail and mane were thin and frizzled; one of his ears drooped, and his gait, at best, was decidedly "gawky." I was anxious to reach Lewiston in time to cross the suspension bridge to Queenston, and visit places of interest there before sunset, and at the start the boy commenced lashing the beast unmercifully. I remonstrated. "Hain’t ye in a hurry?" he asked. "Yes, but you shall not torture the poor horse in that way," I replied. Such mercy surprised him. "Why, darn it," he said, impatiently, "I’m so used to whippin’ I can’t help it. I never knowed a man afore who cared a whip-snap for a hired hoss. He is lazy, mister – lazy," and he gave the poor animal another severe stroke. So inveterate was the boy’s cruel habit that he would not relinquish it until I took the whip from him, and threatened to leave him by the road side. Even then he would rise occasionally and kick the horse; harmlessly, however, for his toes were ambitiously getting ahead of his shoes.

We jogged on at a fair rate of speed, and met numerous "turn-outs" superior to our own, of which we were not specially proud. Among them was a jaunty little wagon and a span of black ponies, driven at full speed by the owner, the wife of a New York city editor. Her establishment was the "observed of all observers," but we were not jealous; indeed, all thoughts of the road and its frequenters soon faded when, at five o’clock, we reached the brow of Lewiston Heights and beheld the magnificent panorama before us. At the turn of the road, where it descends the Heights, I alighted, and from the site of Fort Gray, 1 now marked by slight mounds, I obtained a view of land and water both grand and beautiful. On the left was seen Queenston Heights, on which stands the new monument erected to the memory of General Brock. At their base lay the village of Queenston. Farther westward a glimpse of St. David’s was obtained; and northwestward, as far as the eye could reach, the level country was dotted with woods and well-cultivated farms. At our feet lay the village of Lewiston; and stretching away to the northeast was the vast plain, much of it covered with the primeval forest. In the centre was the glittering line of the blue Niagara River. Near its mouth the eye could discern the spires of Niagara (old Newark), on the Canada side, and the village of Youngstown, with the mass of old Fort Niagara beyond, on the American side. The whole horizon northward was bounded by the dark line of Lake Ontario, over which was brooding a thunder-storm, flashing fire and bellowing angrily as it moved sullenly eastward.

Leaving this grand observatory with reluctance, we made our way down the sinuous road to Lewiston, every where meeting, in the descent, geological evidences that this bank was the shore of an ancient lake when the Falls of Niagara were doubtless at this place, and that the plain on which the village stands was its bed. The ridge is composed of sand and gravel, and the usual débris thrown up by a large body of water in character essentially different from the surrounding surface. The summit of the Heights is here thirty-four feet above the level of Lake Erie. 2

We passed through Lewiston 3 (a village of about one thousand souls, very pleasantly situated) without halting, and crossed the Niagara River to Queenston, over the suspension bridge, a magnificent structure, with a roadway eight hundred and fifty feet in length, twenty feet in width, and sixty feet above the water. 4 We were at Wadsworth’s Tavern, in Queenston, and had engaged lodgings for the night before six o’clock; and we immediately rode from there up the Heights to Brock’s Monument, near the summit. A short distance above the residence of David Thorburn, Esq. (then the superintendent of the Six Nations of Indians in Canada), at the turn of the road from the highway to the Falls, well up the acclivity, we passed a burying-ground which marks the site of the redan battery. 5 Soon after passing this, we came to the eastern entrance to the monument grounds (about forty acres in extent), and the lodge of the keeper, George Playter, a loyal old man, whose kind courtesies I remember with pleasure. The gate is of wrought iron, highly ornamented, with cut-stone piers surmounted with the arms of the hero. The lodge is also of cut stone. From the entrance an easy carriage-way winds up the hill to an avenue one hundred feet wide, which terminates at the monument in a circle one hundred and eighty feet in diameter.


The monument is built of the limestone of the Heights, quarried near the spot. It is placed upon a slightly-raised platform within a dwarf-walled inclosure, seventy-five feet square, with a fosse around the interior. At each angle of this inclosure is placed massive military trophies, wrought out of the same stone as that of the monument, and about twenty feet in height. The monument is built upon a foundation of wrought stone forty feet square and ten feet thick, resting upon the solid rock of the mountain. Upon this stands, in a grooved plinth, a basement, thirty-eight feet square and twenty-seven feet in height, under which, in heavy stone sarcophagi, are the remains of General Brock and Lieutenant Colonel M‘Donell. On the exterior angles of this basement are placed well-carved lions rampant, seven feet in height, supporting shields with the armorial bearings of the hero. On the north side of this basement is an inscription in bold letters, 6 and upon brass plates in the interior of the column are epitaphic inscriptions. 7

Upon the basement is the pedestal of the column, little more than sixteen feet square, and just thirty-eight feet in height. Upon a panel on each of three sides of this pedestal is an emblem in low relief; and on the north side, facing Queenston, is a representation of a battle scene in high relief, in which Brock is represented at the head of his troops, wounded.

The column is of the Roman composite order, ninety-five feet in height. The shaft is fluted, and is ten feet in diameter at its base, with an enriched plinth, on which are carved the heads of lions and wreaths in bold relief. The flutes terminate in palms. The capital of the column is sixteen feet square, and twelve feet six inches in height. On each face is sculptured a figure of Victory, ten feet six inches in height, with extended arms grasping military shields as volutes. The acanthus and palm leaves are enwreathed in antique style. From the ground to the gallery at the top of the column is a spiral staircase of cut stone, comprising two hundred and thirty-five steps, lighted by loopholes in the flutings of the column. On the abacus is a cippus upon which stands a statue of BROCK, in military costume, seventeen feet in height, the left hand resting on a sword, and the right arm extended with a baton. 8 This monumental column is exceeded in height by only one of a similar character in the world. That is the one erected by Sir Christopher Wren, in London, to commemorate the great fire that desolated that city in 1666. It is only twelve feet higher than Brock’s. 9

It was sunset when I completed the sketch of the monument, in which is included a distant view of Lewiston Heights, seen on the right, and the village of Lewiston and the plain beyond, seen on the left. Heavy clouds rolling up from the west, and rumbling thunder in the distance, gave warning of an approaching storm. This fact and the lateness of the hour prevented my ascending the shaft to obtain the magnificent panoramic view from its summit, from which, it is said, small villages may be seen southward, the battle-ground of Lundy’s Lane or Niagara, the white spray from the cataract, and the turmoil of the great whirlpool, in addition to the vast stretch of land and water seen at other parts of the compass.

We made our way down the Heights to the village just in time to avoid the storm which fell simultaneously with the darkness. It was severe, but short. The stars were visible soon after it passed by, and I found my way to the house of Mr. Joseph Winn, on the road to the suspension bridge. He was an old resident of Queenston, and familiar with every locality there connected with the battle, although he was not in the engagement. He kindly offered to be my guide in the morning. The night was a tempestuous one, but the sky was cloudless at dawn. At an early hour I visited the landing-place of the Americans near the suspension bridge, and made the sketch printed on page 395. I then followed the high bank of the river some distance, and made my way to the stone building in which the British took refuge after being repulsed by Wool; 10 but the sketch I then made was lost a few days afterward. From the river I went up the Heights to the site of the redan, and then to the point where the Americans were crowded to the verge of the precipice. This was accomplished before breakfast.

When I came out of the dining-room at Wadsworth’s, I found the venerable Major Adam Brown in the little parlor. He was a native of Queenston. At the time of the battle he was a lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the Lincoln Militia under Colonel Claus, then at Fort George, and was not in the engagement. He was in command of a hundred men at the battle of Niagara (Lundy’s Lane), and was in active service during a greater part of the war. While I was writing some memoranda of his conversation in my note-book, he spoke to a person behind me whom I had not noticed, and asked, "Were you the chief who was with the Indians at the dedication of the monument?" "I was, sir," replied a pleasant voice. I turned and observed a fine-looking, dark-complexioned, well-dressed man, whose features and expression revealed traces of the Indian race. We both arose at the same moment. I introduced myself and inquired his name. He informed me that he was George Henry Martin Johnson, a descendant, in the fourth generation, of Sir William Johnson, of the Mohawk Valley, and now Tekarihogea, or commander-in-chief of the Six Nations of Indians in Canada, his father having been the official successor of John Brant. To me this meeting was interesting and fortunate. I intended to visit the settlements of the Six Nations, on the Grand River, during this tour, but was doubtful concerning the best route, and the most important place for obtaining desired information. All was now plain, and, before we parted, arrangements were made for Mr. Johnson to meet me at Brantford a few days later.


On the day of my arrival at Queenston, a committee, appointed for the purpose, had decided upon the exact spot where Brock fell. I visited it in company with Major Brown. A space sixty feet square, within which was to be placed a memorial-stone, had been staked out, and in the centre, the very spot, as the committee supposed, where the hero fell, was marked. 11 As early as 1821, John Howison, in his Sketches of Upper Canada, had said, "General Brock was killed close to the road that leads through Queenston village, and an aged thorn-bush now marks the place where he fell when the fatal ball entered his vitals." The spot marked by the committee is about twenty rods west of the "road that leads through Queenston," and a little eastward of the "aged thorn-bush," which had become a tree twenty feet in height, with two large stems, when I saw it. Near the site a workman was fashioning the blocks of freestone of which the monument was to be composed, and from him I obtained a sketch of it. After making a drawing of the spot, showing the old thorn-tree on the right, and the stately monument on the Heights in the distance, I introduced, in proper place and proportions, the sketch of the memorial-stone to mark the place which Howison said "may be called classic ground." It is a small affair, being only about four feet in height. The ground around it was to be inclosed in an iron railing. The Prince of Wales (Albert Edward) was at that time [August, 1860.] making a tour in Canada, receiving tokens of loyalty every where. He visited Queenston very soon after I was there, and laid the corner-stone of the little monument with imposing ceremonies. 12

I left Queenston for Niagara at about nine o’clock, after riding to the point in the northern part of the village where the "old fort," or barracks, were situated, near the residence of Mr. E. Clements, of the Customs. We immediately passed a creek and deep ravine, and soon came to the first brick house below Queenston, on the left of the road, the residence of the venerable Solomon Vrooman, pleasantly situated, and surrounded by evidences of the highest and most thrifty cultivation.

He was the owner of the point on which the battery bearing his name was situated, 13 and participated in the battle by assisting in manning the nine-pounder that was mounted there. I called to see him, and spent half an hour with him most agreeably. He was a slender man, seventy-six years of age. His native place was in the Mohawk Valley, but he had lived in Canada since the days of his young manhood. He went with me to the spot where the battery was, and pointed out the very prominent mounds that yet remain, near a barn, from which I made the sketch printed on page 391. He told me that one hundred and sixty shot were thrown from that battery during the day, wholly for the purpose of obstructing the passage of the river by the Americans. 14 Its range of the old ferry and the new crossing place at the present suspension bridge was point-blank and effectual. On one occasion during the afternoon, some Americans, trying to escape from Queenston by swimming the river, were brought by the current within rifle-shot distance of the battery, when one of the men in his company raised his piece to fire. Vrooman knocked up the piece, exclaiming indignantly, "Shame on you! none but a coward would fire upon men thus struggling for their lives!"

The road from Vrooman’s to Niagara was one of the most delightful that I had ever traveled. Most of the way it skirted the high bank of the winding river, which was covered with stately trees, through which continual glimpses of the American shore could be obtained. Landward were seen broad fields, from which bountiful harvests were pouring into barns, or green waving Indian corn, or numerous orchards, whose trees were so heavily laden with fruit that they drooped like weeping willows.


As we approached Niagara we passed through first an aromatic pine grove, and then a narrow forest of oaks, beeches, maples, and evergreens, and emerged upon an open plain, the property of the government, with the mounds of abandoned Fort George, on the bank of the river, breaking the monotony of the level far to the right. There were no fences to obstruct the view or the travel on the plain. Cattle were feeding on the short grass, and here and there a footman or a horseman might be seen. We turned out of the beaten road to the right, and drove across the plain to one of the angles of the fort. There I left horse and driver, clambered up the steep grassy sides of the embankment, and commenced a hasty exploration of the interior of the fort. The breast-works in all directions were quite perfect, and the entire form of the fort could be traced without difficulty. There were two or three houses within the works, and the parade and other portions were devoted to the cultivation of garden vegetables.


In the most southerly part of the fort, about three hundred yards from the river, is an old powder magazine, built by the French within a stockade. It was occupied as a dwelling by the family of an English soldier named Lee when I was there in 1860. The higher building seen in the picture is the old magazine. It was covered with slate, and its walls, four and a half feet thick, were supported by three buttresses on each side. The buildings on the left are more modern. The interior of the magazine is arched, and the doors were originally covered with plates of copper fastened by copper nails.

Mrs. Lee was an intelligent woman, very communicative, and free in the dispensation of the hospitalities of her humble abode. We were refreshed with cakes, harvest-apples, and cold spring-water. She filled a small basket with copper coins and other relics, and as I parted with her she wished me good luck in my journeyings. I clambered over an irregular and steep bank northward of the old magazine, visited the site of the "cavalier battery" where Brock and M‘Donell were buried, and sketched the "new magazine," erected by the British in 1812, delineated on page 405. It is of brick. Near it was a small house occupied by an Irish family, and the magazine was used as a pig-sty.


From Fort George we rode to Niagara, half a mile below, halted long enough to obtain refreshments for ourselves and the horse, and then rode out over the garrison reservation, northeastward of the town, to Fort Mississaga, 15 a strong earth-work with a castle, which was constructed by the British during the war of 1812. Cattle were grazing upon the plain; the waters of Lake Ontario, ruffled by a breeze, were sparkling in the distance, and the whole scene was one of quiet and repose. Such, indeed, is the impression on the mind in Canada, as compared with "the States." The turmoil and bustle that marks an American population in large or small numbers, was but slightly manifested there. I found apparent stagnation in Queenston; and Niagara, though a fine and pleasant town in appearance, with a population of about twenty-five hundred, seemed to be reposing in almost perfect rest. It was formerly called Newark, and the present city occupies the site of the little village which the Americans destroyed in 1813. It was one of the oldest towns in the province, having been settled by Colonel Simcoe when he was the lieutenant governor. [1791.] It was a place of considerable trade before the opening of the Welland Canal, about thirty years ago, and is now, as then, the capital of the Niagara District.


We found the gate of Fort Mississaga wide open, and walked in without leave. Not a human face was visible. I went up to and around the ramparts, and, taking a position over the entrance-gate, from which I could see most of the interior and Fort Niagara beyond, I sketched the scene. In this view are seen the barracks and the castle, with Fort Niagara across the river in the extreme distance. The castle is built of brick. The walls are eight feet in thickness, and covered with stucco. While engaged with the sketch I was startled by a voice near me. It was that of the whole garrison, comprised in the person of Patrick Burns, who told me to make as many sketches as I pleased, for the fort was uninhabited except by his own family.

At an early hour we started on our return to Niagara Falls. I attempted to drive, but soon became discouraged by the eccentric movements of the horse, when the boy told me for the first time that he was "as blind as a bat." But I have no reason to complain of the animal, for he carried us back in safety, and in time for dinner and for departure by the evening train for the West. Having placed my luggage in charge of a proper person at the suspension bridge station, I crossed that marvelous hanging viaduct on foot, along the carriage-road under the railway gallery, with my satchel in hand. As I left the bridge to ascend to the station on the Canada shore I was hailed by a custom-house officer, of whose business I had not the least suspicion until informed by him. Believing my assurance that the satchel contained nothing contraband, he allowed me to pass, after I had expressed a wish, good-naturedly, that the United States might soon be annexed to Canada, so that revenue officers might be allowed to engage in some other employment.

On entering the cars on the Canada side I met Chief Johnson. We traveled together as far as St. Catharine, eleven miles, where I intended to spend a day or two, and agreed upon the time when we should meet at Brantford. The impressions made by the time spent at St. Catharine, the persons I met at that famous gathering of invalids around a mineral spring, a visit to the battle-ground of the Beaver Dams, the journey to Hamilton, and a ride to Stony Creek, a place made famous in the annals of the war we are now considering by a conflict and the capture of two American generals, are always summoned by memory with great pleasure. Of these I shall hereafter write.

On Tuesday evening, the 20th of August, I arrived at Hamilton, at the head of Lake Ontario, by the Great Western Railway, and spent the night at the "Royal Hotel." Early on the following morning I rode out to Stony Creek, seven miles, and returned in time to take the cars at meridian for Paris in company with a young Quadroon chief of the Six Nations, named M‘Murray, whose mother, wife of the Reverend Dr. M‘Murray, of Niagara, was a half-breed Indian woman, and sister to the first wife of H. R. Schoolcraft, Esq. He was one of the finest formed and most attractive young men, in person and feature, I have ever met.

The road from Hamilton to Paris, nearly thirty miles, passes through a very picturesque country. For five miles it skirts the northern high bank of the great marsh that extends from Burlington Bay to Dundas, and follows, a greater portion of the way, a line parallel with Dundas Street, or the Governor’s Road. At Paris, 16 a large town, situated partly on a high rolling plain, and partly in a deep valley, on Smith’s Creek and the Grand River, I left the Great Western Railway, and took passage for Brantford, seven miles southward, on the Buffalo and Huron Road, which here intersects it. The country was hilly most of the way, but at Brantford it spreads out into a beautiful plain, or high gravelly ridge, overhanging an extensive and well-cultivated region. The town derives its name from the great Mohawk 17 chief, the Indians having a ford across the Grand River here, which they called "Brant’s Ford," it being near his residence. 18 The situation of the town, on the north or right bank of the Grand River, is a healthful one. That river is navigable to within less than three miles of the village. The deficiency in that distance is supplied by a canal. The population is about four thousand.

Early on the morning after my arrival at Brantford I was met by Chief Johnson, who had come up to the village the previous evening for the purpose. We left at six o’clock for the Onondaga Station, about nine miles below, from which we walked to Mr. Johnson’s house, half way between the villages of Onondaga and Tuscarora, the former inhabited by white people, and the latter wholly by the Indians. Onondaga is on the north side of the river, and Tuscarora on the south. We passed several pure-blooded Indians on the way, some of them, who remain pagans, wearing portions of the ancient savage costume; but most of them, men and women, were dressed in the style of the white people around them.


On our way we also passed the old mission-house, constructed of logs in 1827, for the residence of the Reverend Robert Lugger, the predecessor of the present missionary among the Indians there. It is near the left bank of the Grand River; and from the road where the sketch was made is a fine view of the beautiful valley through which that stream winds its way toward Lake Erie.


A walk of a mile and a half brought us to "Chiefswood," the residence of Mr. Johnson, situated on a gentle eminence, with beautiful grounds sloping to the banks of the Grand River, and surrounded by his farm of two hundred acres of excellent land. It is a modest, square mansion, two stories in height, built of brick, and stuccoed. There I was cordially welcomed by Mrs. Johnson, a handsome and well-educated woman, daughter of a clergyman of the Church of England, and the mother of three fine-looking, healthy children. While awaiting preparations for breakfast, Mr. Johnson proceeded to his business office, leaving me to amuse myself with the curiosities which adorned the little parlor. On a table were several rare Indian relics, and the daguerreotypes of some Indian chiefs. Among the latter was one of Mr. Johnson himself, in the military costume of commander-in-chief of the Six Nations, as seen in the engraving. In precisely this garb he appeared, in compliment to my curiosity, when he came to invite me to breakfast. The coat and breeches were white cloth, and the scarf and sash were rich specimens of Indian work, composed of cloth, ribbons, beads, and porcupine quills.


In one hand he holds a handsome curled-maple handled, silver-mounted pipe-tomahawk, 20 and in the other a most formidable weapon, composed of the shank of a deer, with the bare shin-bone for a handle, dried in the angular position seen in the small engraving on the following page, and holding a thick glittering blade, which may be used either in giving deadly blows or as a scalping-knife.


These, with a silver calumet, or pipe of peace, compose a part of the regalia of the civil and military heads of the Six Nations.


These articles had been long in possession of the nation. 21 On the table was also a daguerreotype of Oshawahnah, the lieutenant of Tecumtha at the battle of the Thames, and who in 1861 was yet living on Walpole Island, in Lake St. Clair, off the coast of Michigan. Mr. Johnson kindly presented to me the likeness of himself and of that venerable chief. That of the latter, with some facts concerning him, will be given hereafter.


By the side of the fireplace hung an undressed deerskin sheath which attracted my attention. I drew from it an ancient scalping-knife, half consumed by rust, as seen in the little picture. Its history, as related to me by Mr. Johnson, is curious. When he was about to break ground for the foundation of his house, two or three years previous to my August, visit [August, 1860.], the venerable Whitecoat, a centenarian chief then living at Tuscarora Village, came to him, and, pointing to the huge stump of a tree that had been felled within the prescribed lines of the building, said, "Dig there, and you will find a scalping-knife that I buried seventy years ago. You know," he continued, "that before the laws of the white man governed us, it was the duty of the nearest of kin of a wounded man to avenge his death by shedding the blood of the murderer in like manner, and that the weapon so employed was never afterward used, but buried. I thus took vengeance for my brother’s blood, and at the foot of that tree I buried the fatal knife. Dig, and you’ll find it." Johnson did so, and found nothing but the rusty blade, to which he has affixed a wooden handle, made like the original. Whitecoat was among the warriors who were in the battle at Queenston. More than twenty of his companions on that occasion were living in the Grand River settlements in 1860. The whole number of the Six Nations, with the Chippewas, in those settlements was about three thousand. Of these about five hundred were pagans. The latter are chiefly Cayugas, who are usually of purer blood than the others, and consequently retain more of the Indian feeling and dislike of the Christians – the personification of hated civilization.

Immediately after breakfast I bade adieu to Mrs. Johnson and her interesting little family, and left "Chiefswood" for Brantford, accompanied by the kind-hearted leader in his own conveyance. We went by the way of Onondaga and Mohawk or "The Institute," where Brant first settled. Near the former village Mr. Johnson has a farm, on the verge of which, and close by the town, is a free Episcopal church, built of brick, and devoted to the use of the poor white people of that section. For that noble purpose Mr. Johnson gave the ground and a considerable sum of money. In the village, which is pleasantly situated on a plain, is a small Methodist chapel and some neat cottages. Only here and there an Indian family were seen, and these were found in a state of excitement and grief because of the death of a fine lad, a grandson of Brant, who had been killed by being thrown from a horse that morning.


We reached the old Mohawk church (the first of the kind erected in the province) toward noon, found the door open, and entered. Some carpenters were at work repairing the exterior, but in no way changing its form from what it was originally. It is of wood, and was erected in the year 1783. It is a very plain, unpretending structure within and without. The only ornament, except the upholstery of the pulpit and the upper part of the frames inclosing the Ten Commandments, is a representation of the royal arms of England, handsomely carved and gilt, attached to the wall over the entrance-door, inside. Back of the pulpit are two black tablets with the Commandments inscribed upon them. On the right of it is another tablet, on which is written the Lord’s Prayer, and on the left another, with the Apostles’ Creed, all in the Mohawk language. 22 In front of the little chancel is a neat font. The seats have high backs.


The one seen in the corner, at the right of the pulpit, was pointed out to me as that which Brant and his family occupied when he resided there. The area of the interior is only about thirty by forty feet, and is lighted by four arched windows on each side. The timber for the church was floated down the Grand River, sawed and dressed by hand, and carried to the spot by the Indians. The communion service, still used in the church, was presented to the Mohawks by Queen Anne. It has been generally supposed that the bell was also a gift of the royal lady; but, on examination, I found the following "card" of the manufacturer cast upon it: "John Warner, Fleet Street, London, 1786." It was doubtless brought from England at about that time by Brant.

Near the south side of the church is the tomb of Brant and his son and official successors. His original family vault was built of wood. It fell into decay, and in 1850 the inhabitants of the vicinity erected a new and substantial tomb, composed of light brown sandstone. The public ceremonies on the occasion were conducted chiefly by the Freemasons (Brant being a member of that order), assisted by a large gathering of the people from the surrounding country and from the States, especially from the Mohawk Valley, full five thousand in number. Upon a massive slab which composes the top of the tomb are appropriate inscriptions commemorative of both father and son. 23 A picture of the tomb may be seen on page 401. In front of the church, near the entrance-gate to the grounds, is the grave of the maternal grandfather of Chief Johnson, who was in the train of young Brant at the battle of Queenston. A stone slab, with an appropriate inscription, covers his grave. 24

After sketching the exterior and interior of the ancient church and Brant’s tomb, and visiting the much-altered house, a few rods distant, where the great chieftain lived, we went to the "Mohawk Institute," the central point of missionary effort among the Six Nations, commenced and continued by "The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts." 25 Their first missionary to the Mohawks was sent in the year 1702, and from that time to this they have followed the waning tribe and its confederates in the old league with motherly solicitude. This company have maintained a missionary among the Six Nations in Canada ever since their migration thither. They have contributed largely to the repairs of the old Mohawk church, erected a new one in Tuscarora Village, and now maintain at the "Institute" about sixty Indian scholars. These were under the charge of the Reverend Abraham Nelles, the missionary of the station, and his excellent wife, who had been in that useful field of labor since 1829. His family had had ecclesiastical connection with the Six Nations for a century and a half. His faithfulness as a teacher of temporal and spiritual things merits and receives the highest commendations. He resided at the old mission-house, near Tuscarora, delineated on page 421 {original text has "241".}, until 1837, when he took up his abode at Mohawk.

Unfortunately, our visit was at vacation time, and we were deprived of the coveted pleasure of seeing a group of threescore Indian children under instruction. We spent two hours very agreeably with the kind missionary and his family at the "Institute" and the parsonage at the glebe. These have each two hundred acres of fertile land, at the head of the Grand River, attached to them, and are separated by the canal, which carries the navigation of the river up to Brantford. We crossed the canal in a canoe, and at the parsonage, an old-fashioned dwelling near the old "Institute" building, with beautiful grounds around it, we saw many curious things connected with the mission. Among them was one half of the massive silver communion plate presented by Queen Anne to the Mohawks in 1712. The other half a duplicate of this, was lent to a church on the Bay of Quinte.


Upon each was engraved the royal arms of England and "A. R." – Anne Regina – with the following inscription in double lines around them: "THE GIFT OF HER MAJESTY ANNE, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, AND IRELAND, AND OF HER PLANTATIONS IN NORTH AMERICA, QUEEN, TO HER INDIAN CHAPEL OF THE MOHAWKS." In addition to the three pieces given in the picture was a plate, nine inches in diameter, for receiving collections. Mr. Nelles also showed us a well-preserved folio Bible, which was printed in London in 1701, and was sent to the Mohawks with the communion plate. On the cover are the following words in gilt letters: "FOR HER MAJESTY’S CHURCH OF THE MOHAWKS, 1712."

We dined with the excellent missionaries, and then rode to Brantford, a mile and a half distant, where, after a brief tarry, I bade adieu to Mr. Johnson and the Six Nations, when I had only an hour in which to travel seven miles to Paris to take the evening train for Hamilton or Toronto. I had procured a fleet and powerful horse, and in a light wagon, with a small boy as driver, I traveled the excellent stone road, or "pike," between the two places on that hot afternoon with the speed of the trotting-course, yet with apparent ease to the splendid animal. I had four minutes to spare at Paris.

That beautiful day, spent with the Six Nations and their military chief and spiritual guide, will ever remain a precious treasure in the store-house of memory. I could think of little else while on my journey that evening from Paris to Toronto. Of my visit to that former capital of Upper Canada, known as York in the War of 1812, I shall hereafter write. 26

Let us return from our digression from the strict path of history to the Niagara frontier, which we so recently left, and consider the record of events there during the remainder of 1812, after the battle at Queenston.

The British had erected some batteries on the high banks, a little back of the Niagara River, just below Fort Erie, at a point where an invasion by the Americans might be reasonably expected. From these batteries they opened a severe fire on the morning of the 17th of November upon Black Rock opposite, then a place of quite as much importance as Buffalo in some respects.


There were the head-quarters of the little army under General Smyth, and there was the fine residence of General Peter B. Porter, who was then in command there of a body of New York militia, and made that dwelling his headquarters. There were some slight fortifications near Black Rock, but the heaviest cannon upon the breast-work was a six-pounder. All day long, at intervals, the British kept up the fire, at one time hurling a 25-pound shot against the upper loft of Porter’s residence, and soon afterward dropping another ball, of the same weight, through the roof, while he was there at dinner. At length a bombshell was sent into the east barrack with destructive power. It exploded the magazine, fired the buildings, and destroyed a portion of the valuable furs captured on October 9, board the Caledonia a few days before [October 9, 1812.]. This exploit being one of the chief objects of the cannonade and bombardment, both ceased at sunset.

Very little noise was heard along that frontier for a month afterward except the sonorous cadences of General Smyth’s proclamations. At length British cannon opened their thunders. Breastworks had been raised in front of Newark, opposite Fort Niagara, at intervals all the way up to Fort George, and behind them mortars and a long train of battery cannon had been placed. At six o’clock on the morning of the 21st of November these commenced a fierce bombardment of Fort Niagara, and at the same time a cannonade was opened from Fort George and its vicinity. From dawn until the evening twilight there was a continual roar from five detached batteries on the Canada shore, two of them mounting twenty-four-pounders. From these batteries two thousand red-hot shot were poured upon the American works, while the mortars, from five and a half to ten and a half inches calibre, were showering bomb-shells all day long. The latter were almost harmless, but the former set fire to several buildings within the fort, which, by the greatest exertions, were saved. The garrison, meanwhile, performed their duty nobly. They were quite sufficient in number, but lacked artillery and ammunition.

The gallant Lieutenant Colonel George M‘Feely 28 was the commander, and Major Armistead, of the United States Engineer Corps, performed the most important services at the guns and in extinguishing the flames. Captain M‘Keon commanded a 12-pounder in the southeast block-house; Captain Jacks, of the 7th Regiment of Militia Artillery, was in charge of the north block-house, where he was greatly exposed to a raking fire of the enemy; and Lieutenant Rees, of the 3d United States Artillery, managed an eighteen-pounder in the southeast battery, which told heavily upon a British battery with a twenty-four-pounder en barbette. He was soon badly wounded in the shoulder by the failing of a part of the parapet. On the west battery an eighteen and a four pounder were directed by Lieutenant Wendal, and on the mess-house, 29 Doctor Hooper, of the New York Militia, had charge of a six-pounder. South of Fort Niagara, and a dependency of it, was the "Salt Battery," so called, mounting an eighteen and a four pounder. It was directly in range of Fort George, and annoyed the garrison there exceedingly. It was commanded by Lieutenants Gansevoort and Harris, of the 1st Artillery. From these several batteries on the American side many a destructive missile went on terrible errands during the day. Newark was on fire several times before night, and the buildings in Fort George were also fired, and one of its batteries was silenced. 30 During the day an American twelve-pounder burst and killed two men. Two others were killed by the enemy’s fire, and a lieutenant and four men were wounded. These were the casualties of the day on the American side. What injury was done to the British is not known. A shot from the Salt Battery sunk a sloop lying at the wharf on the Canada side. Night ended the artillery duel, and it was not renewed in the morning.

We have observed that General Smyth expressed his opinion to General Van Rensselaer, on his arrival on the frontier, that the proper place to cross the Niagara River for the invasion of Canada was somewhere between Fort Erie and Chippewa. 31 A few days after the bombardment of Fort Niagara, Smyth attempted to act upon that opinion. His proclamation had stirred the people of Western New York, and large numbers had flocked to his standard; for his flaming sentences warmed their zeal, and they believed that all his glowing hopes would be realized and his flattering promises would be fulfilled. On the 27th of November, when Smyth called the troops to a general rendezvous at Black Rock, they numbered about four thousand five hundred. They were composed of his own regulars, and the Baltimore Volunteers under Colonel Winder, the Pennsylvania Volunteers under General Tannehill, and the New York Volunteers under General Peter B. Porter. With these he felt competent to invade Canada successfully.

As early as the 25th, General Smyth issued orders for "the whole army to be ready to march at a moment’s warning." "The tents," he said, "will be left standing. Officers will carry their knapsacks. The baggage will follow in convenient time." After giving directions for the embarkation of the troops in the boats provided by Colonel Winder, to whom that important service was intrusted, he gave the following directions for forming the troops in battle order on the Canada shore: "Beginning on the right, as follows: Captain Gibson’s Artillery; the Sixth and Thirteenth Infantry; Captain Towson’s Artillery; the Fourteenth and Twenty-third Infantry as one regiment; Captain Barker’s and Captain Branch’s Artillery; the Twelfth and Twentieth Infantry; Captain Archer’s Artillery; General Tannehill’s Infantry; a company of Riflemen; the Infantry of Colonel Swift and Colonel M‘Clure; a company of Riflemen; General Porter’s Infantry; Captain Leonard’s Artillery; a battalion of Riflemen on each flank, in a line perpendicular to that formed by the main army, extending to the front and rear." 32

Every thing was in readiness on the 27th [November, 1812.] for invasion, and arrangements were made for the expedition to embark at the navy yard below Black Rock at réveille on the morning of the 28th. Seventy public boats, capable of carrying forty men each; five large private boats, in which one hundred men each could be borne; and ten scows for artillery, with many small boats, were pressed into the service, so that three thousand troops, the whole number to be employed in the invasion, might cross at once. That evening Smyth issued his final order, directing Lieutenant Colonel Boerstler to cross over at three o’clock in the morning with the effective men of Colonel Winder’s regiment, and destroy a bridge about five miles below Fort Erie, capture the guard stationed there, kill or take the artillery horses, and, with the captives, if any, return to the American shore. Captain King was directed to cross at the same time at the "Red House," higher up the river, to storm the British batteries. It was left to the discretion of Boerstler to march up the Canada shore to assist King, or to return immediately after performing his allotted work at the bridge. "It is not intended to keep possession," said the order. "Let the wounded be kept from the public eye to-morrow. You [Colonel Winder] will remain on this bank and give directions." 33

General Smyth had so long and loudly proclaimed his designs against Canada, and had so fairly indicated his probable point of invasion, that the authorities on the other side were prepared to meet him at any place between Fort Erie and Chippewa. Major Ormsby, of the Forty-ninth, with a detachment of that and the Newfoundland regiment, was at the fort. The ferry opposite Black Rock was occupied by two companies of militia under Captain Bostwick. Two and a half miles from Fort Erie, at a house on the Chippewa road, was Lieutenant Lamont, with a detachment of the Forty-ninth, and Lieutenant King, of the Royal Engineers, with a three and six pounder, and some militia artillerymen. Near the same spot were two batteries, one mounting an eighteen and the other a twenty-four pound cannon, also under Lamont. A mile farther down was a post occupied by a detachment under Lieutenant Bartley; and on Frenchman’s Creek, four and a half miles from Fort Erie, was a party of seventy under Lieutenant M‘Intyre.

Lieutenant Cecil Bisshopp was at Chippewa with a part of the Forty-first Regulars, some militia and military artillery, and near him was Major Hatt with a small detachment of militia. The whole number of British troops, scattered along a line of twenty miles, did not, according to the most reliable estimates, exceed one thousand men.

Before the appointed hour on the morning of the 28th [November.], the boats were in readiness under the general superintendence of Lieutenant Angus, of the navy, at the head of a corps of marines and seamen, assisted by Lieutenant Dudley, Sailing-master Watts, of Caledonia fame, 34 and several other naval officers. It was a cold and dreary night. At three in the morning [November 29.] the advanced parties left the American shore for their respective destinations. One, under Lieutenant Colonel Boerstler, consisted of about two hundred men of Colonel Winder’s regiment, in eleven boats; and the other, under Captain King, was composed of one hundred and fifty regular soldiers, and seventy sailors under Lieutenant Angus, in ten boats. King’s party were discovered upon the water a quarter of a mile from the shore, and were so warmly assailed by volleys of musketry and shot from a field-piece at the Red House, that six of the ten boats were compelled to return. The other four resolutely landed in good order, in the face of the storm of bullets and grape-shot from flying artillery; and before King could form his troops on the shore, Angus and his seamen, with characteristic impetuosity, rushed into the hottest fire and suffered considerably. King formed his corps as quickly as possible, and the enemy were soon dispersed. He then proceeded to storm and take in quick succession two British batteries above the landing-place, while Angus and his seamen rushed upon the field-pieces at the Red House, captured and spiked them, and cast them, with their caissons, 35 into the river. In this assault Sailing-master Watts was mortally wounded while leading on the seamen. 36 Angus and his party returned to the landing-place, with Lieutenant King, of the Royal Artillery, wounded and a prisoner. Supposing the other six boats had landed (for it was too dark to see far along the shore), and that Captain King and his party had been taken prisoners, Angus crossed to the American shore in the four boats. This unfortunate mistake left King, with Captains Morgan and Sproull, Lieutenant Houston, and Samuel Swartwout, of New York, who had volunteered for the service with the little party of regulars, without any means of crossing. King waited a while for re-enforcements. None came, and he went to the landing-place for the purpose of crossing, with a number of the British artillerists whom he had made prisoners. To his dismay, he discovered the absence of all the boats. He pushed down the river in the dark for about two miles, when he found two large ones. Into these he placed all of his officers, the prisoners, and one half of his men. These had not reached the American shore when King and the remainder of his troops were taken prisoners by a superior force.

Boerstler and his party, in the mean time, had been placed in much peril. The firing upon King had aroused the enemy all along the Canada shore, and they were on the alert. Boerstler’s boats became separated in the darkness. Seven of them landed above the bridge, to be destroyed, while four others, that approached the designated landing-place, were driven off by a party of the enemy. Boerstler landed boldly alone, under fire from a foe of unknown numbers, and drove them to the bridge at the point of the bayonet. Orders were then given for the destruction of that structure, but, owing to the confusion at the time of landing, the axes had been left in the boat. The bridge was only partially destroyed, and one great object of this advance party of the invading army was not accomplished. Boerstler was about to return to his boats and recross the river, because of the evident concentration of troops to that point in overwhelming numbers, when he was compelled to form his lines for immediate battle. Intelligence came from the commander of the boat-guard that they had captured two British soldiers, who informed them that the whole garrison at Fort Erie was approaching, and that the advance guard was not five minutes distant. This intelligence was correct. Darkness covered every thing, and Boerstler resorted to stratagem when he heard the tramp of the approaching foe. He gave commanding orders in a loud voice, addressing his subordinates as field officers. The British were deceived. They believed the Americans to be in much greater force than they really were. A collision immediately ensued in the gloom. Boerstler ordered the discharge of a single volley, and then a bayonet charge. The enemy broke and fled in confusion, and Boerstler crossed the river without annoyance. 37

It was sunrise when the troops began to embark, and so tardy were the movements that it was late in the afternoon when all were ready. General Smyth did not make his appearance during the day, 38 and all the movements were under the direction of his subordinates. A number of boats had been left to strand upon the shore, and became filled with water, snow, and ice; and as hour after hour passed by, dreariness and disappointment weighed heavily upon the spirits of the shivering troops. Meanwhile the enemy had collected in force on the opposite shore, and were watching every movement. At length, when all seemed ready, and impatience had yielded to hope, an order came from the commanding general "to disembark and dine!" 39 The wearied and worried troops were deeply exasperated by this order, and nothing but the most positive assurances that the undertaking would be immediately resumed kept them from open mutiny. The different regiments retired sullenly to their respective quarters, and General Porter, with his dispirited New York Volunteers, marched in disgust to Buffalo.

Smyth now called a council of officers [November 28.]. They could not agree. The best of them urged the necessity and expediency of crossing in force at once, before the enemy could make formidable preparations for their reception. The general decided otherwise, and doubt and despondency brooded over the camp that night. The ensuing Sabbath dawn brought no relief. Preparations for another embarkation were indeed in progress, while the enemy, too, was busy in opposing labor. It was evident to every spectator of judgment that the invasion must be attempted at another point of the river, when, toward evening, to the astonishment of all, the general issued an order, perfectly characteristic of the man, for the troops to be ready at the navy yard, at eight o’clock the next morning [November 30.], for embarkation. "The general will be on board," he pompously proclaimed. "Neither rain, snow, or frost will prevent the embarkation," he said. "The cavalry will scour the fields from Black Rock to the bridge, and suffer no idle spectators. While embarking, the music will play martial airs. Yankee Doodle will be the signal to get under way. . . . The landing will be effected in despite of cannon. The whole army has seen that cannon is to be little dreaded. . . . Hearts of War! to-morrow will be memorable in the annals of the United States." 40

"To-morrow" came, but not the promised achievement. All the officers disapproved of the time and manner of the proposed embarkation, and expressed their opinions freely. At General Porter’s quarters a change was agreed upon. Porter proposed deferring the embarkation until Tuesday morning, the 1st of December, an hour or two before daylight, and to make the landing-place a little below the upper end of Grand Island. Winder suggested the propriety of making a descent directly upon Chippewa, "the key of the country." This Smyth consented to attempt intending, as he said, if successful, to march down through Queenston, and lay siege to Fort George. 41 Orders were accordingly given for a general rendezvous at the navy yard at three o’clock on Tuesday morning, and that the troops should be collected in the woods near by on Monday, where they should build fires and await the signal for gathering on the shore of the river. The hour arrived, but when day dawned only fifteen hundred were embarked. Tannehill’s Pennsylvania Brigade were not present. Before their arrival rumors had reached the camp that they, too, like Van Rensselaer’s militia at Lewiston, had raised a constitutional question about being led out of their state. Yet their scruples seem to have been overcome at this time, and they would have invaded Canada cheerfully under other auspices. But distrust of their leader, created by the events of the last forty-eight hours, had demoralized nearly the whole army. They had made so much noise in the embarkation that the startled enemy had sounded his alarm bugle and discharged signal-guns from Fort Erie to Chippewa. Tannehill’s Pennsylvanians had not appeared, and many other troops lingered upon the shore, loth to embark. In this dilemma Smyth hastily called a council of the regular officers, utterly excluding those of the volunteers from the conference, and the first intimation of the result of that council was an order from the commanding general, sent to General Porter, who was in a boat with the pilot, a fourth of a mile from shore, in the van of the impatient flotilla, directing the whole army to debark and repair to their quarters. 42 This was accompanied by a declaration that the invasion of Canada was abandoned at present, pleading, in bar of just censure, that his orders from his superiors were not to attempt it with less than three thousand men. 43 The regulars were ordered into winter quarters, and the volunteers were dismissed to their homes.

This order for debarkation, and the fact that just previously a British major, bearing a flag of truce, had crossed the river and held an interview with General Smyth, caused the most intense indignation, and the most fearful suspicions of his loyalty 44 in the army, especially among the volunteers, whose officers he had insulted by neglect. The troops, without order or restraint, discharged their muskets in all directions, and a scene of insubordination and utter confusion followed. At least a thousand of the volunteers had come from their homes in response to his invitation, and the promise that they should certainly be led into Canada by a victor. They had imposed implicit confidence in his ability and the sincerity of his great words, and in proportion to their faith and zeal were now their disappointment and resentment. Unwilling to have their errand to the frontier fruitless of all but disgrace, the volunteers earnestly requested permission to be led into Canada under General Porter, promising the commanding general the speedy capture of Fort Erie if he would furnish them with four pieces of artillery. But Smyth evaded their request, and the volunteers were sent home uttering imprecations against a man whom they considered a mere blusterer without courage, and a conceited deceiver without honor. They felt themselves betrayed, and the inhabitants in the vicinity sympathized with them. Their indignation was greatly increased by ill-timed and ungenerous charges made by Smyth, in his report to General Dearborn, against General Porter, in whom the volunteers had the greatest confidence. 45 His person was for some time in danger. He was compelled to double the guards around his tent, and to move it from place to place to avoid continual insults. 46 He was several times fired at when he ventured out of his marquee. Porter openly attributed the abandonment of the invasion of Canada to the cowardice of Smyth. A bitter quarrel ensued, and soon resulted in a challenge by the general-in-chief for his second in command to test the courage of both by a duel. 47 In direct violation of the Articles of War, these superior officers of the Army of the Centre, with friends, and seconds, 48 and surgeons, 49 put off in boats from the shore near Black Rock, in the presence of their troops, at two o’clock in the afternoon of the 12th of December, to meet each other in mortal combat on Grand Island. 50 They exchanged shots at twelve paces’ distance. Nobody was hurt. An expected tragedy proved to be a solemn comedy. The affair took the usual ridiculous course. The seconds reconciled the belligerents. General Porter acknowledged his conviction that General Smyth was "a man of courage," and General Smyth was convinced that General Porter was "above suspicion as a gentleman and an officer," 51

Thus ended the melodrama of Smyth’s invasion of Canada. The whole affair was disgraceful and humiliating. "What wretched work Smyth and Porter have made of it," wrote General Wadsworth to General Van Rensselaer from his home at Geneseo, at the close of the year. "I wish those who are disposed to find so much fault could know the state of the militia since the day you gave up the command. It has been ‘confusion worse confounded.’ " 52 The day that saw Smyth’s failure was indeed "memorable in the annals of the United States," as well as in his own private history. Confidence in his military ability was destroyed, and three months afterward he was "disbanded," as the Army Register says; in other words, he was deposed without a trial, and excluded from the army. 53 Yet he had many warm friends who clung to him in his misfortunes, for he possessed many excellent social qualities, He was a faithful representative of the constituency of a district of Virginia in the national Congress from 1817 to 1825, and again from 1827 until his death, in April, 1830.



1 See note 3, page 407.

2 Lake Ontario is 334 feet lower than Lake Erie. The current of the Niagara River that connects them is not very rapid above Schlosser and below Lewiston, and the river makes nearly the whole of that descent in the space of nine miles. It falls perpendicularly at the great cataracts, 154 feet on the Canada side of Goat Island, and 163 feet on the American side. It is supposed that the river originally flowed over the face of the precipice at Lewiston. By the gradual wearing away of the rocks in the lapse of ages, the Falls have receded seven miles, becoming continually lower. "The precipice over which the present Falls flow is composed of solid limestone, with shale above and below. The wearing away of the shale above has formed the Rapids, and the disintegration of that below has left the limestone in overhanging masses until they break off with their own weight." – French’s Gazetteer of the State of New York.

3 Lewiston was so named in honor of Morgan Lewis, who was an officer in the Revolution, and governor of the State of New York in 1804.

4 This bridge was destroyed by a gale of wind at the close of 1863. Fortunately no life was lost. The Lockport Journal relates the following incident in connection with its destruction: "During the day upon which the Lewiston bridge was carried off by the wind, a boy, whose parents reside in Canada, but is at work in Lewiston, went over to Canada on a short visit to his parents. Just before the bridge went down, the boy proposed starting for his place of business in Lewiston. His father accompanied him. As they reached the bridge it was swaying to and fro over the boiling waters far beneath. The boy hesitated a moment, but, as this motion of the bridge was not unusual, he stepped upon it, his father still with him, and proceeded to cross. They both went to about the middle, when the rapid and unusual motion of the bridge greatly increased their fear. The father turned about, and the boy went on, both running at their fastest speed for the opposite shore. They had just time to reach the shore on each side before the structure was borne away."

5 See page 398.

6 The following is a copy of the inscription:


"UPPER CANADA has dedicated this monument to the memory of the late MAJOR GENERAL SIR ISAAC BROOK, K. B., Provincial Lieutenant Governor and Commander of the Forces in this Province, whose remains are deposited in the vault beneath. Opposing the invading enemy, he fell in action near these Heights on the 13th of October, 1812, in the forty-third year of his age. Revered and lamented by the people whom he governed, and deplored by the sovereign to whose service his life had been devoted."


7 On one plate is the following:


In a vault underneath are deposited the mortal remains of MAJOR GENERAL SIR ISAAC BROOK, K. B., who fell in action near these Heights on 13th October, 1812, and was entombed on the 16th of October at the bastion of Fort George, Niagara, removed from thence, and reinterred under a monument to the eastward of this site, on the 18th October, 1824; and, in consequence of that monument having received irreparable injury by a lawless act on the 17th of April, 1840, it was found requisite to take down the former structure and erect this monument; the foundation-stone being laid, and the remains again reinterred with due solemnity, on 13th October, 1853."


The other plate has the following inscription:


"In a vault beneath are deposited the mortal remains of Lieutenant Colonel JOHN M‘DONELL, P. A. D .C., and Aid-de-camp to the lamented MAJOR GENERAL SIR ISAAC BROCK, K. B., who fell mortally wounded in the battle of Queenston, on the 13th October, 1812, and died on the following day. His remains were removed and reinterred with due solemnity, on 13th October, 1853."


8 This monument was designed by W. Thomas, Esq., of Toronto, and was erected under his superintendence. The contractor was Mr. J. Worthington.

9 We have observed that a former monument to the memory of Brock was shattered by powder in 1840. The act produced the greatest indignation throughout Canada. A meeting was held on Queenston Heights in June following, composed of about eight thousand people. One of the most active men on that occasion was the late Sir Allan M‘Nab. There was a military parade and salutes with artillery. In Toronto the day was observed as a solemn holiday. All the public offices were closed, and business was generally suspended. Delegations and crowds of citizens flocked to Queenston from Kingston, Toronto, Cobourg, and Hamilton. The lieutenant governor, Sir George Arthur, and his staff, were there. Sir George presided. He addressed the meeting. Chief Justice Robinson, Sir Allan M‘Nab, and several others, also made speeches. A number of Brock’s surviving soldiers were also present. Resolutions were passed; and when the public proceedings were ended, six hundred persons sat down to a dinner under a pavilion erected on the spot where the hero fell, at which Chief Justice Robinson presided. The result of the affair was the formation of a building committee for the erection of a new monument, of which Sir Allan M‘Nab was chairman. * The money for the purpose was raised by the voluntary subscriptions of the militia and Indian warriors of the province. A grant from the Provincial Parliament enabled the committee to lay out the grounds, and erect the gate and keeper’s lodge. The foundation-stone was laid on the 13th of October, 1853, and on the same day the remains of Brock and M’Donell were reinterred with imposing ceremonies. The day was very fine. There were pall-bearers and chief mourners. When the remains were deposited in their last resting-place, the corner-stone was laid by Lieutenant Colonel M‘Donell, brother of one of the dead heroes. The late Honorable William Hamilton Merritt, M. P., delivered an address, in which he spoke highly of the character and services of the Indians in the War of 1812. Mr. Thorburn, Indian agent, responded in their behalf, and read an address from the chiefs present, which breathed sentiments of loyalty and affection for the English queen. As a mark of respect, an American steam-boat at Lewiston lowered its flag to half mast.

* The following named gentlemen constituted that committee: Sir Allan M‘Nab, M. P.; Chief Justice Sir John Brush Robinson; Honorable Mr. Justice M‘Lean; Honorable Walter H. Dickson, M. L. C.; Honorable William Hamilton Merritt, M. P.; Honorable Thomas Clark Street, M. P.; Colonel James Kerby; Colonel John M‘Dougal; David Thorburn, Esq.; Lieutenant Garrett; Colonel Robert Hamilton; and Captain H. Munro.

The pall-bearers were Colonels E. W. Thompson, W. Thompson, Duggan, Stanton, Kerby, Crooks, Zimmerman, Caron, Thorne, Servos, Clark, Wakefield, and Miller. Among the chief mourners were Colonel Donald M‘Donell, the deputy adjutant general for Canada East, Colonel Taché, Lieutenant Colonel Irvine, the survivors of 1812, and the chiefs of the Six Nations.

10 See page 398.

11 I was told that some old residents of the village declared that the place where Brock fell was westward of the thorn-tree, and at least twenty paces from the spot selected. James Cooper, a blacksmith, who was within six feet of Brock when he fell, said it was west of the thorn-tree; and Henry Stone, who lived in the stone house near the field, declared that he saw the blood of Brock on rocks west of the tree.

12 The Prince of Wales arrived at Queenston on the 17th of September, and on the following day he laid the cornerstone of the little monument. Near the spot was erected a triumphal arch, on which, in large letters, were the words "VICTORIA – WELCOME." The veterans of 1812, who were present, formed a guard of honor for the young prince. In the background were the St. Catharine’s Riflemen with a brass band. A silver trowel was presented to the prince with which to perform the ceremony. Upon it was engraved the following Inscription: "Presented to His Royal Highness ALBERT EDWARD, Prince of Wales, by the Brock Monument Committee, on Queenston Heights, 18th September, 1860." On one side of the monument was placed the following inscription: "This stone was placed by his Royal Highness ALBERT EDWARD, Prince of Wales, on the 18th of September, 1860." On the other side, "Near this spot Sir Isaac Brock, K. B., Provisional Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, fell on the 13th of October, 1812, while advancing to repel the invasion of the enemy."

13 See Map on page 382.

14 The battery was crescent-shaped. Engineer Gray, in his manuscript report now before me, thus describes it: "It is built en barbette (that is, without embrasures), and has a high breastwork to the river. On the north, a frame house, intended for a barn; on the west is a gun, mounted en barbette (on the top of the breastwork), and flanked by the skeleton of a house. Within five rods of this runs the highway to Fort George."

15 Mississaga or Massasauga is the Indian name of a small black or dark brown rattlesnake, twelve or fourteen inches in length, which usually inhabits tamarack and cranberry swamps in Northwestern Ohio and Canada West. This is the name of an Indian tribe; also of a large stream in Canada West that empties into Lake Huron. In the little view of Fort Mississaga given on the next page, Fort Niagara is seen on the right in the distance, and Lake Ontario on the left {original text has "west".}.

16 Paris was so named on account of the gypsum, or "plaster of Paris," which abounds there.

17 The word Mohawk, in that language, signifies "flint and steel."

18 Those of the Six Nations who joined the British during the Revolution were promised by the governors of Canada, Carleton and Haldimand, that they should be well provided for at the close of the war. But in the treaty of peace in 1783, no provision was made for the Indians. At that time the Mohawks, with Brant at their head, were temporarily residing on the American side of the Niagara River, near its month. The Senecas offered them a home in the Genesee Valley, but Brant and his followers had resolved not to live in the United States. He went to Quebec to claim from Governor Haldimand the fulfillment of his promise. He had fixed his eye upon a large tract of land on the Bay of Quinte. But the Senecas did not wish them to go so far away, and they chose a large tract on the Grand River. This matter being settled, Brant went to England at the close of 1785 {original text has "1775".}, and during the remainder of his life he devoted much of his time to the moral improvement of his people.

The grant of land on the Onise, or Grand River, which Brant, in the behalf of the Indians, procured in 1784, comprised an area of twelve hundred square miles, or, as Brant expressed it when asked how much would satisfy them, "six miles each side of the river from its mouth to its source." The whole country thus granted was fertile and beautiful. Of all that splendid domain, running up into the country from Lake Erie toward Lake Huron to the Falls of Elora, the Indians now retain only comparatively small tracts in the vicinity of Brantford. In 1830 the Indians made a surrender to the government of the town plot of Brantford, when it was surveyed and sold to actual settlers. It soon grew into a large and thriving village.

19 It will be observed, in the signature of Mr. Johnson, that a character in the form of a Z precedes the word "chief" This indicates an arm bent at the elbow, and signifies that the head chief is the right arm of the nation.

20 These ornamental tomahawks are not for practical use. The handle, fourteen inches in length, contains a tube that answers the purpose of the stem of a pipe, and the head of the tomahawk is arranged as a pipe-bowl. In this specimen the blade and handle are connected by a silver chain. The blade is brass except the steel edge.

21 I saw and sketched these objects at the store of Mr. Allan Cleghorn, in Brantford, whose great interest in the welfare of the Indians in that vicinity caused him to be elected to a chieftaincy among them, according to the old Indian custom – a compliment equivalent to the presentation of the "freedom of a city" to meritorious men.

The silver calumet, or pipe of peace, used at councils and in making treaties, above delineated, was quite old. On the broad, ornamented silver plate under the bowl and part of the stem was the following inscription: "To the Mohawk Indians, from the Nine Patentees of the Tract near Schoharie, granted in 1769." On one side of the bowl was the figure of a white man, and on the other that of an Indian. These were connected with the representation of the sun on the front of the bowl by a union chain. Suspended from the stem in a festoon was, first, a silver chain, and then strings of wampum. The stem was eighteen inches in length.

The sword seen in the picture was presented to Mr. Johnson in 1849 by T. D. Beverly, Esq., of Three Rivers, Canada, because of the chief’s speech to the Six Nations (when assembled on the queen’s birthday), in deprecation of the action of the Canadian Parliament in paying Mr M‘Kenzie and "other rebels" for their losses during the civil war in 1837 and 1838. It was an elegant sword.

Mr. Johnson was born near Brantford on the 7th of October, 1818. He was a lineal descendant of Sir William Johnson, through Sir John Johnson, whose son Jacob was his grandfather. His military commission as chief of the Six Nations gave him the rank and pay of colonel. His influence was powerful, and he had the esteem of his people and of the white inhabitants.

22 The following is a copy of the Lord’s Prayer, as written upon the tablet in the old Mohawk church:

"Shoegwaniha Karouhyakouh teghsiderouh, Wagwaghseanadokeaghdiste; Sayanertsherah aodaweghti; Tsineaghsereh egh neayaweane ne oughweatsyake tsioni nityouht ne Karouhyakouh. Takyouh ne Keah weghniserate ne niyadeweghniserake oegwanadarok; Neoni toedagwarighwyastea ne tsiniyoegwatswatouh, tsiniyouht ne oekyouhha tsitsyakhirighwiyoesteanis ne waonkhiyatswatea. Neoni toghsa tagwaghsharinet tewadadeanakeraghtoeke: Nok toedagwayadakoh tsinoewe niyodaxheah: Ikea iese saweauk ne kayanertsherah, neoni ne kashatsteaghsera, neoni ne œweseaghtshera, tsiniyeaheawe neoni tsiniyeaheawe. Amen."

23 The following are copies of the inscriptions:


"This tomb is erected to the memory of THAYENDANEGEA, or Captain JOSEPH BRANT, Principal Chief and Warrior of the Six Nations Indians, by his Fellow-Subjects, admirers of his fidelity and attachment to the British Crown. Born on the banks of the Ohio River, 1742; died at Wellington Square, * U. C., 1807.


"It also contains the Remains of his Son AHYOUWAIGHS, or Captain JOHN BRANT, who succeeded his Father as Tekarihogea, and distinguished himself in the war of 1812-15. Born at the Mohawk village, U. C., 1794; died at the same place, 1833. Erected 1850."


The tomb is surrounded by a heavy wooden fence.

* Wellington Square is a pleasant little village in Nelson Township, situated on Lake Ontario, eight miles from Hamilton, and now (1867) contains between four and five hundred inhabitants. There, north of the beach which divides Lake Ontario from Burlington Bay, Brant made his abode, in a handsome two-storied mansion, beautifully situated, long before the present village had existence. There he lived, in the English style, until his death. His widow (third wife), Catharine, was forty-eight years of age at the time of his death. She preferred the customs of her people, and soon after her husband’s departure she left Lake Ontario and returned to Mohawk, on the Grand River. Her son and daughter remained at the "Brant house" on Lake Ontario, and lived in elegant style for several years.

24 The following is a copy of the inscription:


"In memory of GEORGE MARTIN, Mohawk Chief. Born at Kanajohara, U. S., Dec. 23, 1767; died at Grand River, C. W., Feb. 18, 1853, aged 86 years."


Chief Johnson has in his possession a silver medal, presented to his grandfather more than seventy years ago by George the Third. On one side is a profile of the king. On the other is a landscape. In the foreground is a lion in repose, and a wolf approaching him with awe. In the distance is a representation of the Mohawk church on Grand River and the mission-house near.

25 This society was incorporated by Parliament in 1701. It is the successor or continuation of an earlier one, in 1561, under the title of The Company for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England and Parts Adjacent in America. It was composed partly of members of the Church of England and partly of Protestant Dissenters.

26 The Indian name was Darondo or Toronto, signifying "Trees on the Water." This was in allusion to the long, low, sandy point (now an island), within which was the Bay of Toronto. On that point were, and still are, many trees. The distance is so great that from the shore at the city they seem to be on the water. When Colonel Simcoe became lieutenant governor of the Upper Province he endeavored to Anglicize the settlers by making them familiar with English names and things. With this object in view he gave English names to all places, and the Indian name of Taronto was changed to York, in honor of the Duke of York. It was known for many years as Little York.

27 This is from a sketch made by the writer in the summer of 1860, from a pier in the Niagara River. The house is upon the high shore of the river. It was then owned by Mr. Lewis F. Allen.

28 M‘Feely was commissioned a major in March, 1812, and in July was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He became colonel of infantry in April, 1814, and was disbanded in June, 1815.

29 The Indians were jealous of any attempts of the French to build any thing like a fort among them. The French succeeded by stratagem. They obtained permission to erect a great wigwam, or dwelling, and then induced the Indians to go on a long hunt. When they returned the walls were so advanced that they might defy the savages. They completed the building in a way that they might plant cannon on the top, and used it as a mess-house. Under it was a deep dungeon, and in that dungeon was a well. It is believed that political prisoners from France were confined in that dark prison. The water of the well was poisoned at one time, and a story was believed by superstitious soldiers that at midnight the headless body of a Frenchman might be seen sitting on the margin of the well, where he had been murdered.

30 Thompson, in his Historical Sketches of the Late War, page 80, says," Such was the spirited earnestness of both officers and men at this battery, that when, in the most tremendous of the bombardment, they had fired away all their cartridges, they cut up their flannel waistcoats and shirts, and the soldiers their trowsers, to supply their guns." He also speaks of the wife of an Irish artilleryman, named Doyle, who had been made a prisoner at Queenston, and to whom a parole had been refused, determined to resent the act by taking her husband’s place as far as possible. On the occasion now under consideration she took her place at the mess-house, and supplied the six-pounder there with hot shot. Regardless of the shot and shell that fell around her, she never quitted her station until the last gun had been fired.

31 See Smyth’s letter to van Rensselaer, note 2, page 389.

32 Manuscript order, November 25, 1812: Winder Papers. In that order the directions for attack were given as follows: "1. The artillery will spend some of their first shot on the enemy’s artillery, and then aim at the infantry, raking them where it is practicable. 2. The firing of musketry by wings or companies will begin at the distance of two hundred yards, aiming at the middle and firing deliberately. 3. At twenty yards’ distance the soldiers will be ordered to trail arms, advance with shouts, fire at five paces’ distance, and charge bayonets. 4. The soldiers will be silent, above all things, attentive at the word of command, load quick and well, and aim low."

33 Manuscript order of General Smyth to Colonel Winder, November 27, 1812: Winder Papers.

34 See page 386.

35 A caisson is an ammunition chest or wagon in which powder and bomb-shells are carried.

36 See page 386.

37 Colonel Winder’s manuscript report to General Smyth, December 7, 1812. Winder had attempted to re-enforce the troops on the Canada shore, but failed. On the return of Angus and his party, he was ordered to cross the river with two hundred and fifty men. Within twenty minutes after the order was given, he and his troops were battling with the current and the floating ice. Winder’s boat was the first and only one that touched the Canada shore, the current having carried the others below. The enemy, with strong force and a piece of artillery, disputed his landing. Resistance would be vain, and Winder ordered a retreat, after losing six men killed and twenty-two wounded. On his return he formed his regiment at once, to join in the embarkation at dawn.

In the report above cited Colonel Winder paid the following compliment to Captain Totten, of the Engineers, who, at the time of his death in 1864, was Chief Engineer of the Army of the United States: "It is with great pleasure I acknowledge the intelligence and skill which Captain Totten, of the Engineers, has yielded to the works which are raising. To him shall we be indebted for what I believe will be a respectable state of preparation in a short time."

38 Thomson’s Historical Sketches, etc., page 85.

39 General Smyth’s dispatch to General Dearborn, December 4, 1812.

40 Autograph order, Winder Papers, dated "Head-quarters, Camp near Buffalo, Nov. 29, 1812."

41 Smyth’s dispatch to General Dearborn, December 4, 1812.

42 Autograph statement of Colonel Winder.

43 General Smyth’s report to General Dearborn, December 4, 1812.

44 It is proper to say, in justice to General Smyth, that there were no just grounds because of that event for any suspicions of his loyalty. Colonel Winder had been to the British camp with a flag two days before, to make some arrangement about an exchange of prisoners, and this visit of the British major was doubtless in response.

45 General Porter was a partner in business with Mr. Barton, the army contractor for the Niagara frontier, and General Smyth alluded to him in his report as "the contractor’s agent." He charged him with "exciting some clamor" against the measures of General Smyth, and said, "He finds the contract a losing one at this time, and would wish to see the army in Canada, that he might not be bound to supply it."

46 His friend Colonel Parker, a Virginian, in an autograph letter before me, written to Colonel Winder on the second of December, said: "Major Campbell will inform you of the insult offered to the general last evening, and of the interruption to our repose last night. God grant us a speedy relief from such neighbors!" – Winder Papers.

47 There appears to have been much quarreling among the officers on that frontier during the autumn of 1812. Only three months before, Porter and Colonel Solomon Van Rensselaer had such a bitter dispute that it resulted in a challenge from Porter, but they never reached the dueling-ground on Grand Island. General Stephen Van Rensselaer watched them closely after he heard of the challenge, and was prepared to arrest them both when they should attempt to go to the island. – Statement of Solomon Van Rensselaer, among the Van Rensselaer papers.

48 Lieutenant Colonel Winder was Smyth’s second, and Lieutenant Angus was Porter’s.

49 The surgeon on that occasion was Dr. Roberts, and the assistant surgeon was Dr. Parsons, afterward surgeon of Perry’s flag-ship Lawrence, in the battle on Lake Erie, and now [1867] a resident of Providence, Rhode Island.

50 This is a large island, containing 20,000 acres, dividing the Niagara River into two channels. (See map on page 382.) On this island the late Mordecai Manasseh Noah proposed to found a city of refuge for his co-religionists, the Jews, and memorialized the Legislature of the State of New York on the subject in 1820. The project failed because the chief rabbi in Europe disapproved of it. Noah erected a commemorative monument there, but it and his scheme have passed away.

51 In a letter of Lieutenant Angus to Colonel Winder the next day, he said: "A meeting took place between General Smyth and General Porter yesterday afternoon on Grand Island, in pursuance of previous arrangements. They met at Dayton’s tavern, and crossed the river with their friends and surgeons. Both gentlemen behaved with the utmost coolness and unconcern. A shot was exchanged in as intrepid and firm a manner as possible by each gentleman, but without effect. . . . . . The hand of reconciliation was then offered and received." – Autograph letter, Winder Papers. Another account says that the party returned to Dayton’s, where they supped and spent a convivial evening together.

52 Autograph letter to General Van Rensselaer, December 30, 1812.

53 General Smyth petitioned the House of Representatives to reinstate him in the army. That body referred the petition to the Secretary of War – the general’s executioner! Of course, its prayer was not answered. In that petition he asked for the privilege of "dying for his country." This phrase was a subject for much ridicule. At a public celebration of Washington’s birthday in 1814 at Georgetown, in the District of Columbia, the following sentiment was offered at the table during the presentation of toasts: "General Smyth’s petition to Congress to ‘die for his country:’ May it be ordered that the prayer of said petition be granted."

A wag wrote on a panel of one of the doors of the Hall of Representatives –

"All hail, great chief! who quailed before
A Bisshopp on Niagara’s shore:
But looks on Death with dauntless eye,
And begs for leave to bleed and die.

Oh my!



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