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The Burning of Buffalo

As soon as Fort Niagara had been captured the British under the command of General Riall, march down the American side of the Niagara River. Still seeking revenge for the burning of Newark.

Riall had five hundred regulars and five hundred Indian warriors with him. They marched through Lewiston, Manchester (now Niagara Falls N.Y.), Youngstown burning every farm building for several miles inland from the river.

Meanwhile a company of British troops were approaching Fort Schlosser, a little ways before the fort they captured a blockhouse and also took eight Americans prisoner. The Niagara Frontier on the U.S. side of the Niagara River now lay in flames.

There was almost no resistance, although the Canadian Volunteers did destroy the bridge over the Tonawanda Creek, but Wilcox and his men could at best only delay the inevitable.

The Americans were surprised again on December 30th when General Riall came back, his objective was to capture any supplies that could be moved and destroy the rest including any American ships wintering in Buffalo or Black Rock, and any other buildings that might shelter the American army were to be burned.

Lieutenant-General Sir Gordon Drummond was a man of action and a strict disciplinarian. He wished to avoid the ransacking of American property that had been the trademark of the American occupation on the Niagara peninsula. His orders for the raid on Buffalo and Black Rock were that any men caught looting would be put to death as punishment.

The British forces cross the captured bridge over the Scajaquada Creek. The cannons are booming at Black Rock and the American General Amos Hall has twleve hundred men with him, they put up a fight for awhile then the militia gives way and retreats through Buffalo.

Riall burned both Black Rock and Buffalo and all the buildings he had missed on his first raid.

He reported his losses as one hundred and twelve killed, wounded and missing. General Hall counted the American losses at thirty killed, forty wounded and sixty-nine taken prisoner. One other serious loss to the Americans was the destruction of three of Perry's small schooners which were at Black Rock for the winter.

The British depart keeping a garrison at Fort Niagara. The people of Buffalo slowly return to their village, the frontier from Buffalo through Black Rock to Eighteen Mile creek has been burned black. The British have destroyed three hundred and thirty three buildings. In Buffalo only three are still standing.

Sir George Prevost followed this action with a proclamation stating his regrets that the British had been forced to take measures "so little congenial to the British charactor", but ending with the suggestion that the Americans had better behave themselves in the future.

The flames of Buffalo die down, but this would not be the end. Fire breeds fire, revenge seeds revenge. Before the war ends more homes will be burned on both sides of the border from the smallest cottage to the executive mansion of the President himself.