Episode 16: Launch Point for the Capture of Fort Niagara

December 2nd, 2010Posted by admin

As you travel the Greater Niagara Circle Route down along the Parkway towards Niagara-on-the-Lake you’ll pass by an unassuming little historical plaque next to a ravine, reading “The Capture Of Fort Niagara 1813.” The marker’s not only a few kilometers from Fort Niagara, it’s on the wrong side of the river. In fact it’s commemorating the ravine itself, where the attack was launched.

On December 10th of 1813 Newark burned. The town we now call Niagara-on-the-Lake was put to torch by the Americans, condemning its residents to a harsh winter without shelter. The British sought vengeance, and their commander Gordon Drummond quickly put together a plan. Boats were requested from Burlington, sent down Four Mile Creek and then carried over land to Fort George. On the night December 18th they were brought down to the ravine with an accompaniment of 562 men. The force consisted of detachments from 100th and 41st Regiments, the Royal Scots, the Royal Artillery, and the Canadian Militia. Their field leader was John Murray.

In the early morning of December 19th the boats departed. The bateaux (shallow, flat bottomed boats) crossed silently to a point on the American shore above Youngstown. Instructed to use bayonet only, the soldiers quietly descended upon the town. They capturing American pickets stationed there, forcing them to reveal the challenge and password used to access Fort Niagara’s gates. The American force at Fort Niagara was underpowered and quickly fell to the British attack.

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