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Stoney Creek 1813

An immediate pursuit after the capture of Fort George might have sealed a larger victory but Dearborn, after occupying Fort George, waited several days and then sent about 2,000 American soldiers after the British. The detachment advanced to within ten miles of the British and camped for the night with slight regard for security and even less for the enemy’s audacity.

On the night of July 5th and morning of June 6th, on the basis of a reconnaisance by the enterprising Lieutenant Colonel John Harvey and local scout Bill Green, the British, using 700 soldiers of the 8th and 49th Regiments, decided on the risky and unorthodox approach of a surprise night attack on the more numerous 3000 American troops. The American sentries were located and bayoneted silently with quick dispatch. The British then charged the American lines sending the enemy into full flight.

Lt Col John Harvey

Two senior American commanders were captured in the confusion. Here is an account of some of the stirring action that night:

‘Not surprisingly, {American generals} Winder and Chandler were both taken prisoner. Winder was in the act of presenting his pistol {i.e. aiming} to Sergeant Alexander Fraser of the 49th when Fraser raised his musket and said, “If you stir, Sir, you die.” Winder then threw down his pistol and sword and said, “I am your prisoner”. He must have realized that Fraser meant what he said, for Fraser had bayonetted seven Americans that night……Fraser was a member of Major Charles Penderleath’s twenty-man party that, during the fighting at Stoney Creek, took as prisoners, not only two generals, but also five field officers and captains and about a hundred other ranks.’ (G. Stanley, War of 1812, p. 188)

The War of 1812 was not dull stuff!

The British troops then returned to Burlington Heights while the Americans retreated east all the way to 40 Mile Creek.

Stoney Creek was important in the outcome of the War, as it prevented a fatal split in the British forces in Upper Canada, and forced the Americans to return to the Fort George area.

Photo by B. Mackay

John Harvey later became well known to Newfoundland as Governor. Harvey Road in St. John’s is named in his honour.