Battle of Beaver Dams June 24th 1813

British Lieutenant James FitzGibbon, was stationed at the Decew Falls supply depot and was sent into the area to cause trouble and harrass the American forces there. The American commander at Fort George, General John Boyd, decides that FitzGibbon must be captured or driven out of the area.

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Boerstler leaves Fort George and travels down the River Road with a force of about five hundered and fifty men and three cannon. The men under his command consist of his own regiment, the 14th U.S. Infantry, also known as the Maryland Infantry, a company of the 23rd U.S. Infantry, and a comapany of the 6th U.S. Infantry. In addition to these troops there were 20 members of the 2nd Light Dragoons and a company of Light Artillery.

They arrive at the the village of Queenston in the evening. In an effort to keep his plans secret, Colonel Boerstler posted guards all around the village so no one could leave. While in Queenston the American commander stays at the home of James and Laura Secord. Mrs. Secord over hears Colonel Boerstler and his men boasting of their mission. She slips away to warn Lieutenant James FitzGibbon. It is quite possible that Lieutenant FitzGibbon was already aware of the impending American attack, but he was indeed appreciative to Mrs Secord.

Early the next morning the Americans got underway.

FitzGibbon's force at Beaver Dams consisted of about 80 British regulars and 250 native warriors, most of them were Caugnhnawaga Mohawks from Quebec. The native forces were commanded by Dominique Ducharme, and it was these natives that would do the majority of the fighting.

The Natives waited in the woods to ambush the Americans.

Major Chapin, and about fifty of his men were on horse back as an advance party of the U.S. forces. As the Americans rode by a wooded area the trees erupted in musket fire and Indian war cries. Many men were killed or wounded, the remaining U.S. advance guard tried to take cover in a gully, but everywhere the Americans turned they were met by heavy musket fire. Colonel Boerstler orders the support companies and the dragoons to stay and guard the wagons and supplies. He then orders the men to set up the cannon. The native warriors charged from the woods just as the American gunners set up the cannon. A single blast of grapeshot from the cannon killed five chiefs and severely wounded one Indian boy. Boerstler led his men through the woods and here the Americans met a large force of native warriors who slowly pushed them back, many casualties were taken. By now many of the U.S. officers had been killed or wounded causing more confusion among the men. Colonel Boerstler regrouped his force. His plan was to now return to Fort George, but he was surrounded. The Americans then faced another heavy attack from the Native warriors. Boerstler himself had been wounded twice in the thigh, his troops were very dazed. The British troops were visiable now in all directions. Colonel Boerstler could not make out how many Redcoats there were. He knew it would be difficult to fight his way back to Fort George, as they were very low on ammunition. A short time passed when out of the woods came a British Officer on a horse and offered them a way out. To surrender they would be offered protection from the scalping knife. The Americans felt they had no choice and surrendered there troops and three cannons to the British, unaware that they outnumbered the British and Native warriors.

Beaver Dam, the battle that gave Canadians an enduring national heroine in Laura Secord.

Terms of the Surrender

CLICK HERE to see the monuments to this battle at Battle of Beaver Dams Park in Thorold Ontario, Canada.