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Hamilton. It's Happening Here!

Historical Timeline

Summer of 1812Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, K. B., circa 1883

Major General Isaac Brock is believed to have passed through Burlington Heights which was the home of Richard Beasley and eventually became the site of Dundurn Castle (built in 1834-35). Apparently Beasley had no intention of welcoming the General and his troops because he removed the bucket and chain from his well so that the troops were unable to drink.

1812 
The first year of the war saw successes for the British side at Michilimackinac, Detroit and Queenston Heights.

April and May of 1813 
York, the capital of Upper Canada, and Fort George at Niagara on the Lake are taken by the Americans. British troops retire along the south shore of Lake Ontario to Burlington Heights (Dundurn National Historic Site)

June 1st 1813
Major General Vincent and 1,628 men – some with their wives and children – arrive at Beasley’s property on the Heights. Vincent makes a deal to allow his men to stay at the site. They immediately begin turning the property into a fortified supply depot. The Heights are occupied by the military until 1815.

June 6th, 1813 Battle of Stoney Creek by Ontario artist Peter Rindlisbacher
700 men led by Vincent surprise an American force of 3,500 at Stoney Creek, put them into confusion and force them to withdraw to 40 mile creek (Grimsby). After a bombardment by the Royal Navy, they eventually retire back to Fort George. In mid-December the Americans burn the village of Niagara and retire across the Niagara River.

July 1813 
American troops land at Wellington Square (City of Burlington) and make their way to Burlington Heights from the north with the intent to attack the British encampment. Convinced of the strength of the position, the Americans re-embark on their ships and head for York which they sack for a second time that year.

December 19th, 1813
Troops from Burlington Heights (including a young Allan MacNab who eventually builds Dundurn Castle) join a British force which crosses over the Niagara River in late December and burns both military and civilian structures as far south as Buffalo in retaliation for the burning of the parliament buildings at York and the Village of Niagara.

August 8th, 1813Forward hatch of the sunken Scourge

The armed American Schooners Hamilton and Scourge sink in a storm in Lake Ontario 10.5 km off of what is now Port Dalhousie in St. Catharines. The ships are discovered in 1973, become a National Historic Site of Canada in 1976 and are acquired by the City Of Hamilton in 1980.

September 28th, 1813
British and American fleets in Lake Ontario maneuver for advantage before closing and engaging in a fierce battle which damages both flag ships. The maneuvers appear to observers as though the ships are in a regatta racing. The British retire westward on the wings of a storm — closely chased by the American fleet – to Burlington Bay where they anchor outside of the Little Lake (Hamilton Harbour). Unable to press home their advantage, the Americans retire. The interaction is known as the Burlington Races.

September 1813
The British lose naval control of Lake Erie. American raiders and disloyal citizens burn and capture mills, homes and supplies from loyal citizens. The raids continue on and off into 1814.

October, 1813
British troops at Amherstburg (Windsor), retire eastwards toward Burlington Heights. They are pursued by an American army which forces the British to turn and fight near the Moravian village on the Thames (Battle of the Thames) in the London area. Tecumseh, leader of the Native Confederacy of the Northwest is killed during the battle.

After the defeat between 3,000 and 4,000 men and women make their way to Burlington Heights.

Suffering from lack of supplies, First Nations and British troops are forced to forage on their own amongst the farms near and around Burlington Heights. Money and livestock are stolen, civilians are beaten. A local vigilante committee is formed to deal
with the marauding soldiers and warriors.

1813 and 1814
American forces and disloyal Upper Canadian citizens join forces to burn and pillage the communities of Southwestern Upper Canada. British forces also had a hand in the burning. Both sides claimed that is was done to keep the materials of war from falling into enemy hands. The burning of Dover Mills, Malcolm’s Mills, Fairfield and Oxford caused a large amount of damage and took years for the communities to rebuild and recover economically

May to July 20th 1814
Treason trials are held in Ancaster to convict some of the men involved in the raiding that happened in 1813 and 1814. Eight men are executed by hanging in 1814 in sight of the garrison on Burlington Heights. The trials are known as the Bloody Assize.

December 24th 1814
The War of 1812 officially ends. News of the Treaty of Ghent (Holland) which ends the war does not arrive in North America until a month later.

April 24 1815
Wampum Ceremony at Burlington Heights.  The William Claus Wampum Belt was presented by Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs William Claus on behalf of Prince Regent George IV, to the Six Nations and their Allies, with the promise that no one would interfere in their customs and territories ever again, and they would never be called upon again in war. The belt was sold to a collector in the late 19th century and disappeared.  In 1996 it was identified as part of the Smithsonian Institute’s Native American Collection, and the repatriation process was begun by Six Nations of the Grand River. The belt was successfully repatriated in 2011.

 

 

The above is not in anyway an extensive list of War of 1812 events. For more historical background, the following sites are suggested:
Archives of Ontario War of 1812 Online Exhibit http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/english/on-line-exhibits/1812/index.aspx
Niagara War of 1812 Bicentennial Legacy Council www.discover1812.com/links
The War of 1812 Website www.warof1812.ca/1812events

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