First Blood of the War of
1812—A British Indian Scalped by an American Officer.—Capture of
Michilimacinack.— Brock Leaves York for the Scene of Action.—Letter of
Colonel Macdonell, A.D.C., M P. for Glengarry, to Honourable Duncan
Cameron.—Surrender of Fort Detroit by the Americans.—Articles of
Capitulation.— List of Gold Medals Granted.—Armistice Between Prevost and
Dearborn.—Battle of Queenston Heights.— Death of General Brock and Colonel
Macdonell, A.D.C. — Their Funeral. — Movements on Queenston Heights.—The
Prince Regent's Tribute.—Colonel Macdonell's Address to the. Electors of
Glengarry, March 18th, 1812. — Letter Describing His Death. — Bishop
Hostilities commenced on 12th
July, 1812, when General Hull crossed the Detroit River to Sandwich (perhaps
he thought the date auspicious), invading us with an army of two thousand
five hundred men and a blood-curdling proclamation. It was answered by
General Brock, and the two should be placed in parallel columns, so that the
vulgarity and fanfaronade of the one and the resolute, dignified tone of the
other might be fully understood and appreciated. The grandiloquence of the
American General and the magnitude of what he was going to do was as
remarkable as the dignified common sense of the other, and what he
immediately proceeded to carry into execution.
Brock's admirable production
is generally believed to have been prepared by Mr. Justice Powell, then
Senior Puisne Judge of the Court of King's Bench, of which Court he became
Chief Justice in the year 1816. He was at the time a Member of the Executive
Council and with his numerous duties, General Brock would naturally avail
himself of Judge Powell's great abilities in the preparation of a document
of this nature. I may mention that Colonel Macdonell, the Member for
Glengarry, and Brock's A.D C , was shortly to have been married to a
daughter of Judge Powell's, had it not proved his lot "To change love's
bridal wreath for laurels from the hand of death."
But General Brock did not
confine himself to answering General Hull on paper. He directed Captain
Roberts, then in command at St. Joseph, to take the American fort of
Michilimacinack or Mackinaw, in the straits between Lakes Michigan and
Huron, which in words which afterwards became historic, "was done
accordingly" with a small force of forty five men of the Tenth Royal Veteran
Battalion, two hundred militia and about a like number of Indians. From
Sandwich, General Hull proceeded to Amherstburg, but here again both his
proclamation and his prowess, if not his courage, failed him.
Colonel St. George was in
command of that place with two hundred men of the First Battalion of the
Forty-First Regiment, a few of the Newfoundland Fencibles, with some
artillery men under Lieutenant Troughton, and the Commander of the Forces
was able to announce in General Orders of the Sixth of August that "he had
great pleasure in stating that the enemy under General Hull had been
repelled in three attacks made on the 18th, 19th and 20th of last month upon
part of the garrison of Amherstburg on the River Canard." First blood was
drawn and the first scalp taken on the 15th July, James in his "History of
the War," mentioning that an American officer, a Captain McCulIough, who was
afterwards killed; stated in a letter to his wife which was found in his
pocket after his death, that he had en that day shot an Indian, and had
experienced the pleasure of tearing off his scalp with his teeth and yet
General Hull affected to think the Indians savage and barbarous!
Tecumseth, who proved with
his Indian warriors, such a valuable ally to the British arms, waylaid a
detachment of the enemy about two hundred strong, which had been sent as a
convoy to guard the mail, and cut them to pieces. An expedition, however,
under Captain Muir, who was wounded in the engagement, which was sent to
occupy Brownstown on the American side, through which a second convoy was
expected to pass, failed, with a loss to us of one private killed, two
officers, two sergeants, nineteen rank and file wounded and two taken
prisoners, who were afterwards recaptured by our Indians, and to the
Americans of eighteen killed and sixty-three wounded.
Their force on this occasion
was largely in excess of ours, consisting of all but one company of Fourth
Regiment United States Infantry, a detachment of the First Infantry, with
some artillery and four hundred militia, while oppose to them were not more
than four hundred and fifty men, of whom two hundred were Indians.
General Hull stated in his
official report that "nothing was gained in it but honour," That satisfied
him. He was easily satisfied, as the results showed.
General Brock, who up to this
time had been detained at York, left that place for the scene of action on
the 6th of August with some two hundred volunteers, arriving at Amhersburg
on the 13th. His little band on the way, he stated in his note book, endured
all the fatigues with greater cheerfulness and constancy than he had ever
previously seen evinced, their conduct throughout exciting his admiration.
The following letter from
Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell, General Brock's A.D.C., to the Honourable
Duncan Cameron, of York, who was, I believe at the time and continued for
many years subsequently a member of the Government of the Province, has been
placed in my hands through the courtesy of Mr. Ĉmius Jarvis, of Toronto, and
is of interest as giving an account of the journey to Detroit and as being
the last letter written by Attorney-General Macdonell, who was then Member
for Glengarry, and was so soon to die with Brock in the defence of the
"Port Talbot, 10th August,
"My dear Sir,
"We left Dover on the 8th,
between three and four o'clock p.m., and got to this place about six this
morning, when the wind blew sc strong upon the shore that we found it would
be quite impracticable to weather the point about thirty miles ahead and
between which and this place there is no possibility of landing, so were
forced to beach and have our boats into a fine creek where, from present
appearances, it is possible they will remain till to-morrow morning, and how
much longer I cannot say. It has rained almost continually since we encamped
last night, and although the men have been completely drenched, they
continue in excellent spirits and behave in the most orderly and obedient
"Peter Robinson, with his
riflemen, joined us about twelve o'clock to-day, and our fleet now consists
of twelve sail of ail kinds, in one of which is a six pounder (dismounted),
with ammunition, etc. The want of boats obliged the General to send a
detachment consisting of about one hundred men of the Oxford and Norfolk
Militia in a small vessel, which happened to be at Dover, which must have
reached Amherstburg this morning.
"Upon our arrival at Dover it
was said that a sufficient number of boats to embark the whole of the force
assembled there had been got ready, but upon examination we found that
hardly one was in a state for service, and it was not till about four
o'clock next day, with every exertion, that we got ten boats under way. Many
of them are in so bad a state that we are constantly delayed and detained by
them, and will no doubt prevent our arriving as soon as we otherwise would.
Hid there been boats enough we probably would have had with us about one
hundred men more than we have. Our force at present, including the men sent
in the vessel, will be upwards of three hundred and fifty, besides about
twenty Indians, under Cadotte, who has fallen behind. These, with the sixty
men from the Forty-First sent from Fort Erie will, I trust, be found a
sufficient reinforcement to the garrison at Amherstburg to enable us to
effect the desired object. Not having heard a word from Amherstburg since we
left you, we must suppose things remain in the same state.
"I am sorry to say that poor
Chambers was taken so ill just as we were about to embark, that Mr. Rolph
thought it absolutely necessary to detain him. Robinson, however, says that
Colonel Talbot and he were to leave Mr. R.'s yesterday morning, so that we
look out for him every moment. Such a disappointment to him would certainly
be most distressing—I mean being left behind. I hope he may arrive, not only
on his account, but also for the good of the service, which I think would
materially suffer from his absence. Everyone else is perfectly well.
"I do not know how this is to
find its way to you, but as you desired me to write you from each place at
which we should stop, which I think I promised to do, and having got myself
dry. and having a little time to spare, I felt myself bound in conscience to
devote it to the performance of my promise, and I wish with all my heart 1
could say anything which would give you any pleasure to hear. My next,
however, may possibly contain something more interesting.
Chambers, I am glad to say,
has arrived perfectly recovered, not only from his illness, but from his
fear of being left behind, which I believe gave him more uneasiness than all
his other complaints. Remember me to all of those who you think would wish
to hear of me, and say to them what you please for me, and believe me to be
"Your sincere friend am
"Duncan Cameron. Esq."
But when General Brock with
his small force had arrived at Amberstburg it was feared that General Hull
had had enough glory in the affair at Brownstown. and that satisfied with
his magnificent success be had recrossed the river, leaving behind him his
proclamation, the sole monument of his fame. He was apparently much attached
to his own country, though he was destined shortly to leave it tor a
considerable time, and when he again returned his reception by his
countrymen was the reverse of cordial, though they took great care of his
On the 15th August, General
Brock despatched this letter to him:—
"Head Quarters, Sandwich,
August 15th, 1812.
"Sir,—The force at my
disposal authorizes me to require of you the immediate surrender of Fort
Detroit—It is far from my inclination to join in a war of extermination, but
you must be aware that the numerous body of Indians who have attached
themselves to my troops, will be beyond my control the moment the contest
commences. You will find me disposed to enter into such conditions as will
satisfy the most scrupulous sense of honour. Lieutenant Colonel Macdonell
and Major Glegg are fully authorized to conclude any arrangement that may
tend to prevent the unnecessary effusion of blood.
"I have the honour to be,
"Sir, your most obedient
(Signed) Isaac Brock, Major
"Commanding at Fort Detroit."
On the same day General Hull
replied that he was prepared to meet any force at his opponent's disposal,
but changed i s mind the following day, as shown in General Brock's despatch
to the Commander-in-Chief, enclosing the terms of the Capitulation of Fort
Detroit, which were agreed upon without any of the unpleasantness which
usually characterises the proceedings antecedent to such negotiations.
"Referring first to the
events, at York, following closely upon the commencement of hostilities,
General Brock states:—
" * * * In the meantime the
most strenuous measures were adopted to counteract the machinations of the
evil disposed, and I soon experienced the gratification of receiving
voluntary offers of service from that portion of the embodied militia the
most easily collected. In the attainment of this important point gentlemen
of the first character and influence showed an example highly creditable to
them, and I cannot on this occasion avoid mentioning the essential
assistance I derived from John Macdonell, Esquire. His Majesty's Attorney
General, who, from the beginning of the war, has honoured me with his
services as my Provincial Aide-de-Camp."
After narrating the events
previous to- his arrival at Amherstburg, he proceeds:
"The force at my disposal
being collected in the course of the 15th, in the neighbourhood of Sandwich,
the embarcation took place a little after daylight on the following morning,
and under the able arrangement of Lieutenant Dewar, of the
Quartermaster-General's Department, the whole was in a short time landed
without the slightest confusion at Springwill—a good position, three miles
west of Detroit. The Indians, who had m the meantime effected their landing
two miles below, moved forward and occupied the woods, about a mile and a
half on our left.
I crossed the river, with an
intention of waning n a strong position the effect of our force upon the
enemy's camp, and in hopes of compelling him to meet us in the field; but
receiving information upon landing that Colonel McArthur, an officer of high
reputation, had left the garrison three days before with a detachment of
five hundred men. and hearing soon afterwards that his cavalry had been seen
that morning three miles in our rear, I decided on an immediate attack.
Accordingly, the troops advanced to within one mile of the fort, and having
ascertained that the enemy had taken little or no precaution towards the
land side, I resolved on an attack, whilst the Indians penetrated his camp.
however, prevented this movement by proposing a cessation of the hostilities
for the purpose of preparing terms of capitulation. Lieutenant-Colonel John
Macdonell and Captain Glegg were accordingly deputed by me on this mission,
and returned within an hour with the conditions, which I have the honour
herewith to transmit. Certain conditions afterwards induced me to agree to
the two supplementary articles.
"The force thus surrendered
to His Majesty's arms cannot be estimated at less than two thousand five
hundred men. In this estimate, Colonel McArthur's detachment is included, as
he surrendered, agreeably to the terms of capitulation, in the course of the
evening with the exception of two hundred men, whom he left escorting a
valuable convoy at some little distance in his rear; but there can be no
doubt the officer commanding will consider himself equally bound by the
"The enemy's aggregate force
was divided into two troops of Cavalry, one Company of Artillery Engineers,
the Fourth United States Regiment, detachments of the First and Third United
States Regiment of volunteers, three regiments of the Ohio Militia, one
regiment of the Michigan Territory.
"Thirty pieces of brass and
iron ordnance have already been secured."
In addition there was handed
over four hundred rounds of twenty-four-pound shot fixed, one hundred
thousand cartridges, forty barrels of powder and two thousand five hundred
stand of arms.
The terms of capitulation
were as follows:—
Camp at Detroit, August 16,
1812. —Capitulation for the surrender of Fort Detroit entered into between
Major-General Brock, commanding His Britannic Majesty's forces on the one
part, and Brigadier-General Hull, commanding the Northwestern army of the
United States on the other part:—
Article I.—Fort Detroit, with
all the troops, regular as well as militia, wilt be immediately surrendered
to the British forces under the command of Major-General Brock, and will be
considered as prisoners of war, with the exception of such of the Militia of
Michigan Territory who have not joined the army.
Article II. —All public
stores, arms and all public documents, including everything else of a public
nature, will be given up.
Article III.—Private persons
and property of every description will be respected.
Article IV.—His Excellency
Brigadier-General Hull having expressed a desire that a detachment from the
State of Ohio, on its way to join his army, as well as one sent from Fort
Detroit under the command of Colonel McArthur, should be included in the
capitula-ti< in, i': is accordingly agreed to. It is, however, to be
understood that such part of the Ohio Militia as have not joined the army
will be permitted to return to their homes, on condition that they will not
serve during the war; their arms will be given up, if belonging to the
Article V.—The garrison will
march out at the hour of twelve this day, and the British will take
immediate possession of the fort.
An article supplementary to
the articles of capitulation, concluded at Detroit, the j 6th of August,
"It is agreed that the
officers and soldiers of the Ohio Militia and Volunteers shall be permitted
to proceed to their respective homes, on this condition, that they do not
serve during the present war, unless they are exchanged.
Brigadier-General Commanding United States Northwestern Army.
An article in addition to the
supplementary article of capitulation, concluded at Detroit, the 16th of
August, 1812 :—
"It is further agreed that
the officers and soldiers of the Michigan Militia and Volunteers, under the
command of Major Whetherall, shall be placed on the same principles as the
Ohio Militia and Volunteers are placed by the supplementary article of the
"Brigadier-General commanding Northwestern Army United States.
Return of the ordnance taken
at the Fort and batteries at Detroit, August 16th, 1812 :—
twenty-four pounders, eight twelve-pounders, five nine-pounders. Brass
ordnance—three six-pounders, two four-pounders, one three-pounder, one
eight-inch howitzer, one three and a third inch ditto.
The surrender of Detroit
electrified all Canadians. It was the first enterprise in which the militia
had been engaged, and the courage and success of their volunteers animated
and encouraged ali No more was there of doubting or wavering; disaffection
sunk out of sight. Brock became the idol of Upper Canada ; and no man ever,
by his dauntless example, both moral and physical, and by effecting much
with small means, had more honestly won the homage of the people.
It was a sad and strange
coincidence that on the day of his death and that of his chief of staff,
Glengarry's representative, at Queenston Heights, the guns of the Tower at
London proclaimed the victory at Detroit!
A medal was struck to
commemorate the victory, and gold medals were awarded to the following :—
Major-General Sir Isaac
Brock, killed in action 1812.
Lieutenant Colonel John Macdonell, A.D.C., killed in action in 1812.
Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Latouche Chambers, Forty-First Foot, died in 1828.
Colonel Mathew Charles Dixon, R.E.
Lieutenant-Colonel Mathew Elliot, Canadian Malitia.
Lieutenant-Colonel T. B. Glegg, Forty-Ninth Regiment.
Major Adam Muir, Forty-First Foot.
Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Nichol, Canadian Militia.
Major-General Sir P. Bligh St. George, C.B., K.C.H., died m 1836.
Major Joseph Tallon, Forty-First Foot.
Lieutenant Felix Troughton, R.A., died id 1815.
The names are taken from the
army list of 1852, which gives the rank subsequently attained in the army by
Colonel Macdonell's was
forwarded to his family after his death with the following letter to rny
grandfather from the Duke of York, Commander-.n-Chief of the Forces :—
"Horse Guards, May 16, 1820.
"Sir,—The King having been
graciously pleased to command that the officers present at the capture of
Detroit should be permitted to bear a medal in commemoration of that
victory, I have to transmit to you the medal which would have been conferred
on the late Lieutenant-Colonel John Macdonell of the Canadian Militia, and
which His Majesty has been pleased to direct should be deposited with his
family as a token of respect which His Majesty entertains for the memory of
"I am, sir, yours,
"Duncan Macdonell, Esq."
On the other hand, as soon as
a cartel was effected, and General Hull returned to the United States, he
was placed under arrest and the Administration exhibited charges for capital
offences against him.
He was eventually tried at
Albany, N. Y., by a court-martial, of which General Dearborn was present, on
January 3, 1814, charges of treason, cowardice and neglect of duty being
preferred against him. He was practically acquitted of the first, but was
found guilty of the second and third charges, and sentenced to death, but on
account of his revolutionary services and advanced age (which was only
fifty-nine years, however, at the time of the surrender), was earnestly
recommended to the mercy of the President, who approved of the sentence of
the Court, but remitted the execution of it.
The feeling in the United
States appears to have been varied as to his conduct, though on the whole
decidedly adverse, as might naturally be expected. After the publication of
his defence, however, a public dinner was tendered him in Boston as an
evidence of the appreciation of its people. That was, and is, no affair of
ours. If they were satisfied, the people of Canada had every reason to be.
The proclamation remains an imperishable monument of his good intentions.
As soon as possible, after
concluding the necessary arrangements at Detroit, on the 22nd August,
General Brock, with such of his men as could be spared, left for the Niagara
frontier, intending to follow up in that direction the advantage gained at
Detroit. The vigorous measures he proposed to adopt, however, were not only
hampered but nullified by the armistice which Sir George Prevost, acting
under orders from England, and General Dearborn, the American commander, had
concluded. The British Order-in-Council, which the Americans urged as the
cause of the war, which had been revoked by order of the 23rd June, seven
days after the declaration of war by the United States, an action on the:1'
part the British Government concluded would suffice to effect the recall of
the declaration. In this they were mistaken, and the unfortunate armistice
afforded the Americans the opportunity they desired of strengthening their
several positions in the vicinity of Montreal, at Niagara, and further west.
After it had served their purpose it was repudiated by the President.
General Brock's correspondence with his brother shows the very natural
impatience with which he was obliged to remain inactive. On September 18th
he states that he believes he could sweep everything before him from Niagara
to Buffalo. By the middle of October, however, the Americans had assembled
on the Niagara frontier an army of six thousand three hundred men, of which
force three thousand one hundred and seventy were at Lewiston, under the
command of General Van-Ranssalaer. To oppose this force General Brock had
part of the Forty-First and Forty-Ninth Regiments, a few companies of
militia and about two hundred Indians, in all one thousand five hundred
men—dispersed, however, at different points between Fort Erie and Fort
The Americans decided upon an
attack, and before daylight on the morning of October 13th, a large division
of their army, numbering some one thousand four hundred men, under
Brigadier-General Wadsworth effected a landing at the Village of Queenston,
immediately oppose Lewiston, not however without strenuous opposition from
such of the British forces as could be collected in the vicinity. Some of
them were driven back, their boats being disabled or sunk, but the greater
number succeeded in gaining the summit of the mountain, after which no
resistence could be offered to those crossing from Lewiston.
A gentleman who will be well
remembered by many of the older people of Glengarry, who resided for very
many years in Cornwall and was Judge of the United Counties, the late Judge
Jarvis, was not only an eye-witness of, but an active participant, in the
events of that day. He had been one of those who had attempted to prevent
the landing of the Americans. His account of what followed will be read with
interest. Il's given in Auchinleck's History of the War," page 104 :—
"On retiring to the north end
of the village, on the Niagara road, our little band was met by General
Brock, attended by his Aide-de-Camp, Major Glegg and Colonel Macdonell. He
was loudly cheered as he cried, 'Follow me, boysI' and led us a pretty smart
trot towards the mountain: checking his horse to a walk, he said, 'take
breath, boys; we shall want it in a few minutes.' Another cheer was the
response both from regulars and militia. At that time, the top of the
mountain and a great portion of its side was thickly covered with trees, and
was now occupied by American riflemen. On arriving at the foot of the
mountain, where the road emerges to St David, General Brock dismounted, and,
waving his sword, climbed over a high stone wall, followed by the troops.
Placing himself at the head of the light company of the Forty Ninth, he led
the way up the mountain at double quick time, in the very teeth of a sharp
fire from the enemy's riflemen—and, ere long, he was singled out by one of
them, who, coming forward, took delibrate aim and tired. ' Several of the
men noticed the action and fired, but too late, and our gallant General fell
on his left side, within a few feet of where I stood. Running up to him, I
required, 'Are you much hurt, sir?' He placed his hand on his breast, but
made no reply, and slowly sunk down. The "Forty-Ninth now raised a shout
'Revenge the General,' and regulars and militia, led by Colonel Macdonell,
pressed forward, anxious to avenge the fall of their beloved leader, and
literally drove a superior force up the mountain side, to e considerable
distance beyond the summit. The flank companies on the York militia, under
Captains Cameron and Howard and Lieutenants Robinson, McLean and Stanton,
besides many others whose names I forgot, eminently distinguished themselves
on this occasion."
General Brock's biographer
and relative, Mr. F. B. Tupper, after describing the fall of the gallant
officer, continues :—
"His Provincial Aide-de-Camp,
Colonel Macdonell, of the militia, and Attorney-General of Upper Canada, a
fine premising young man, was mortally wounded soon after his chief, and
died the next day at the early age of twenty-five years. Although one bullet
had passed through his body, and he was wounded in four places, yet he
survived twenty hours, and during a period of excruciating agony his
thoughts and words were constantly occupied with lamentations for his
deceased commander and friend. He fell while gallantly charging with the
hereditary courage of his race up the hill with one hundred and ninety men,
chiefly of the York Volunteers, by which charge the enemy was compelled to
spike the eighteen-pounder in the battery there, and his memory will be
cherished as long as courage and devotion are reverenced in the Province."
Had the Americans by this
time received reinforcements, the fate of the battle might have been
different, but all the authorities, American as well as Canadian, agree that
those who still remained on the opposite side of the river exhibited the
utmost poltrooney. General Van Rmssalaer crossed with a view of urging them
on, but they absolutely refused to cross. Reinforcements, however, had
arrived for the British under General Sheaffe, who, on the death of General
Brock, assumed command, until the force amounted to between 800 and 1000
men. The invaders were surrounded, and although they fought most gallantly,
their cause was hopeless, and Colonel Macdonell's horse was shot under him
at this time—just before he himself fell.
The last rush being made
every American was swept from the hill Van Ranssalaer, finding it impossible
to urge a single man to cross the river, sent boats to enable those who had
previously crossed to retreat to their own side, but a fire being maintained
upon the ferry from the battery on the bank, at the lower end of Queenston,
these boats were completely dispersed. Brigadier Wadsworth was, therefore,
compelled, after a vigorous conflict had been maintained for some time upon
both sides, to surrender himself, with all his surviving officers, and. nine
hundred men, about 5 o'clock in the afternoon.
The loss to the British was
sixteen killed and sixty-nine wounded, while that of the American side, in
addition to the fine hundred made prisoners with one gun and two stand of
colours taken, was ninety killed and about one hundred wounded Some of the
Americans, terrified by the Indians, flung themselves over the cliff,
endeavoring to cling to the bushes which grew upon them, but losing their
hold, were dashed on the rocks beneath, while others who reached the river
perished in their attempts to swim across it. It will scarcely be credited
that contemporary American writers attempted not only to deny that they were
completely routed on this occasion, but so far to pervert the truth as to
claim it as a victory for their arms, one of them, a General Wilkins,
alleging that under all the circumstances—and on the scale of operations the
impartial soldier and competent judge will name this brilliant affair the
chef d'oeuvre of the war." Well might Mr. Auchinleck suggest that if this
was considered by them to be the chef d'eeuvre of the War, he would like to
know in what light the capitulation of Detroit is to be regarded.
Their only advantage was in
the death of General Brock, though to quote the words of Mr. Symons, Canada
"had also to deplore the loss of the eminent services and talents of
Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell, Provincial Aide-de-Camp and Attorney-General
of the Province, whose gallantry and merit rendered him worthy of his
On the 16th October, the
bodies of Major-General Brock and Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell were interred
at Fort George. As a tribute to the magnanimity of the enemy it is recorded
that during the funeral procession from Queenston to Fort George, a distance
of about seven miles, minute guns were fired at every American post on that
side of the line, and all appearance ot hostilities suspended "as a mark, of
respect due to a brave enemy." The funeral cortege; while all ostentatious
display was avoided, was necessarily most imposing. It was as follows;—
Fort Major Campbell.
Sixty men of the Forty-First
Regiment, commanded by a subaltern. Sixty of the militia, commanded by a
captain. Two six-pounders, firing minute guns. Remaining Corps and
detachments of the Garrison, with about two hundred Indians in reversed
order, forming a street through which the procession passed extending from
the Government House to the garrison Band of the Forty-First Regiment. Drums
covered with black cloth and muflled. Late General's horse, fully
caparisoned, led by four grooms. Servants of the General. The General's body
servant. Surgeon Muirhead, Doctor Kerr, Doctor Moore, Staff-Surgeon Thom,
Reverend Mr. Addison. the body of Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell, A. D. C.,
with pall-bearers as follows : Captain A. Cameron, Lieutenant Jarvis,
Lieutenant J R. Robinson, Lieutenant Ridout, J. Edwards, Esq., Captain
Crooks, Supporter, Supporter. Mr. Dickson. Captain Cameron, Chief
Mourner—Mr. Macdonell, the body of major-general Brock. Supporter.
Supporter. Jas. Coffi , Esq., I) A. C. g. Captain Williams, Forty-Ninth.
Pall-bearers- Captain Vigoreaux, R. E. Major Merritt, I,. H, M Captain
Derenzy, Forty-First, Lieutenant Colonel Clarke, L. M. Captain Dennis,
Forty-Ninth, Lieutenant-Colonel Butler, Captain Holcroft, R A., Colonel
Claus. Supporter. Supporter. Brigade Major Evans. Captain Glegg, A. D. C.
Chief Mourners— Major-General Sheaffe, Lieutenant-Colonel Myers, D.Q.M.G.
Ensign Coffin, A. D. C , Lieutenant Fowler, A. D. Q. M. G. The civil staff.
Friends of the deceased. Inhabitants.
"I enclose a plan of the
procession," wrote Captain Glegg, the surviving Aide-De-Camp, "but no pen
can describe the real scenes of that mournful day. A more solemn and
effecting spectacle was perhaps never witnessed. As every arrangement
connected with that affecting ceremony fell to my lot, a second attack being
hourly expected, and the minds of all being fully occupied with the duties
of their respective stations, I anxiously endeavoured to perfurm this last
tribute of affection in a manner corresponding with the elevated Virtues of
my deceased patron. Conceiving that an interment in every respect military
would he the most appropriate to the character of our dear friend, I made
choice of a cavalier bastion in Fort George, which his aspiring genius had
lately suggested, and which had just been finished under his daily
On the 1,3th October, 1824,
the remains of General Brock and Colonel Macdonell were removed from Fort
George and deposited i n the resting-place prepared for them in the first
monument which was erected on Queenston Heights by the Legislature of Upper
On the 17th October, 1840,
that monument was destroyed by an American miscreant named Lett. In 1853,
the Militiamen and the Indian warriors of the Province, by voluntary
subscription, raised the present noble structure (which exceeds in height
that of any other monumental column, ancient or modem, known, with the
exception of that designed by Sir Christopher Wren in London, to commemorate
the great fire of 1666, which is twelve feet higher), the ceremony of laying
the foundation stone and for the third time interring the bodies of Brock
and Macdonell taking place on the 13th of October of that year. The
Administrator of the Government being invited to lay the corner-stone, but
being unavoidably prevented, caused the following General Order to be
Quebec, 1st October, 1853.
"militia general order.
"The Lieutenant General,
Administrator of the Government, being unavoidably prevented from attending
the ceremony of depositing the remains of the lamented Major-General Sir
Isaac Brock and his Aide-de-Camp, Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell, and laying
the corner-stone of the monument about to be raised on Queenston Heights,
has been pleased to appoint as his representative on that deeply interesting
occasion Colonel Donald Macdonell, Deputy Adjutant General of Militia for
"His Excellency has much
pleasure in nominating for this duty the brother of the gallant officer who
fell nobly by the side of the Major-General in the performance of his duty
as Provincial Aide-de-Camp.
DeSalaberry, Deputy Adjutant-General Canada East, and Lieutenant-Colonel
Irvine, Provincial Aide-de-Camp to the Governor-General, will be pleased to
accompany Colonel Macdonell on this occasion.
The silver trowel with which
the corner-stone was laid on that occasion, having on one side the crest and
aims of Sir Isaac Brock, and on the other those of Colonel Macdonell, with
an inscription stating the circumstances of the presentation, was presented
to Colonel Donald Macdonell, and is now in the possession of his family.
Shortly after the
Attorney-General's death, the following letter was addressed to his father:—
"York, March 20, 1813.
"Sir,—I am directed by His
Honour the President to transmit to you the extract of a letter received by
His Excellency Sir George Prevost from Earl Bathurst, and written by the
command of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, as it will no doubt afford
some satisfaction to all the members of the family to which the late
Attorney-General was so great an ornament, to learn that his merit has been
recognized even by the Royal Personage who wields the sceptre of the British
Empire : on which His Honour commands m? to declare his personal
I have, &c.,
"Nath. Cot fin,
"Alexander Macdonell, Esq."
The following was enclosed :—
Extract of a letter from the
Right Honourable Earl Bathurst, one of His Majesty's principal Secretaries
of State, to His Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir George Prevost, Bart.,
dated Downing street, 8th December, 1812:—
"His Royal Highness has also
been pleased to express his regret at the loss which the Province must
experience by the death the Attorney-General, Mr. Macdonell, whose zealous
co-operation with Sir Isaac Brock, will reflect lasting honour on his
Mr. E. B. Tupper states that
Colonel Macdonell, at the time of his death, was 25 years of age. This,
however, is a mistake. Family records in my possession snow that he was born
at Greenfield, Glengariy, Scotland, on the 19th April, 1785, which would
make him a little over twenty-seven, and, therefore, a child of seven years
of age when his family came to Canada in 1792. He was, together with his
brothers, educated by the late Bishop Strachan at the Cornwall School. He
was admitted a student at law on the 6th April, 1803, and was called to the
Bar of Upper Canada in Easter term 1808. He was appointed Attorney-General
of Upper Canada on the 28th November, 1811
The following is his address
to the electors of Glengarry when returned for that County shortly before
his death. It was dated York, March 18, 1812:—
To the free and independant
electors of the County of Glengarry :—
"Gentlemen,—As the me is not
far distant when you will be called upon to exercise one of the most
valuable and sacred privileges secured to you by our happy Constitution—the
choice of a person to represent you in the House of Assembly of the
Province— I beg to offer myself as a candidate for that truly honourable
"Connected with many of you
by the ties of blood, and possessing one common interest with you all, I
trust that it is unnecessary for me to assure you that in aspiring to so
distinguished a situation I am not actuated by any personal considerations
district from your prosperity and that of the Province in general.
"If you should feel
yourselves justified in honouring me with so flattering a mark of your
confidence, it shall be my most anxious endeavour by my conduct to convince
you that it has not been misplaced, and of the sincerity with which I
subscribe myself, " Gentlemen,
"Your Friend and
We have seen that he gave the
best proof of his sincerity, and amply justified the confidence which the
people of Glengarry placed i 1 him. He was succeeded temporarily in his
office of Attorney General by Mr. Robinson (afterwards Chief Justice Sir
John Beverley Robinson, Bart.), who was a student in his office at the rime.
He di d unmarried, but as previously intimated, was shortly to have been
married to a daughter of Chief-Justice Powell, who survived until a quite
recent period. A member of that estimable lady's family has placed at my
disposal the following letter addressed to her by her brother at the tune of
Colonel Macdonell's death. I give such portions of it as can properly be
made public —
"My Dear Sister,—How
sincerely do I regret, with all, the loss of our young friend—poor fellow.
He was dreadfully wounded and said that he suffered great pain. I think he
was wounded in three different places—in the head, through the body and in
one of his wrists, besides being trampled by his horse. Mr. F. and myself
wished very much to have seen him while he was living, but were told that he
was too low to be disturbed. Perhaps we escaped a dreadful sight. The
discharge of blood from the wound in his body was said to have been
wonderful. Your brother saw him and said that ll had gone through two beds
to the floor. He kissed your brother and gave him his hand and pressed it,
but it was very faintly. While your brother was there his uncle, Mr.
Macdonell, was with him, which must have been a great comfort to him. Poor
Mr. Macdonell seems very much disturbed. He died on Wednesday at twelve
o'clock, and the moment before he died he desired his servant to lift him
up. He was perfectly sensible to the last, poor fellow. I wish you could ail
have shared with us the gratification, though a melancholy one, of taking a
last look at him. He looked quite natural. I cut a curl of his hair, which I
shall preserve—poor fellow! I sincerely regret him. I always felt a
friendship for him, because I knew his superior worth. He has left few of
his age that possess that purity of mind that he did. The General I regret
as a good man and a loss to his country, but John Macdonell I feel for as
one of the family. Mrs. P., I suppose, has given you a description of the
funeral. Poor Captain Glegg was very much overcome. Even Dereny wept, and I
believe there was not a man preseni that did not shed a tear. The Yankees
themselves, if we may judge by their conduct, felt regrets. They fired a
salute from the Fort opposite us and another at Queenston. General Van
Ransselaer sent a message to General Sheaffe to say that if it be agreeable
he would do it as a proof of respect he felt for so good a man and so
excellent an officer as General Brock. It was very extraordinary if it was
meant well. We are in constant fear of another attack from them. They are to
give three hours' notice, but there is no confidence to be placed ill their
word. [The balance of the letter is of a private nature.] " Adieu, my dear
sister, and believe me
ii Miss M. B. Powell, York."
Mr. John Beverley Robinson,
late Lieutenant-Governor of the Province, sent me recently the following
verses, written by Archdeacon (afterwards Bishop) Strachan, which he
discovered when looking through some of the Bishop's papers. They have, I
believe, never before appeared, and are well worth publishing.
Verses on looking at the
bastion of Fort George at Niagara (iSI-§), where Sir Isaac Brock and his
gallant Aide-de-Camp, Colonel Macdonell, were temporarily laid before being
removed to the monument at Queenston Heights.
Why calls this bastion forth
the patriot's sigh?
And starts the tear from beauty's swelling eye?
Within its breach intrepid Brock is laid
A tomb according with the mighty dead.
Whose soul devoted to its country's cause
In deeds of valour sought her just applause.
Enrolled with Abercrombie, Wolfe and Moore,
No lapse of time his merits shall obscure.
Fresh shall they keep in each Canadian heart,
And all their pure and living fires impart.
A youthful friend rests by the heroe's side,
Their mutual love Death sought not to divide
The muse that gives her Brock to deathless fame
Shall in the wreath entwine Macdonell's name.
On plates within the column
of the present monument at Queenston Heights are the following inscriptions:
In a vault underneath are
deposited the mortal remains of the lamented
MAJOR-GENERAL, SIR ISAAC
Who fell in action near these
Heights on 13th October, 181'2, and was entombed on the 13th October at the
Bastion of Fort George, Niagara; removed from thence and reinterred under a
monument to the eastward of this site on the 13th October, 1824, and in
consequence of that monument having received irreparable injury by a lawless
act on the 17th of April, 1840, it was found requisite to take down the
former structure and erect this monument—the foundation stone being laid and
the remains again re-interred with due solemnty on 13th October, 1853.
In a vault beneath are
deposited the mortal remains of
MACDONELL, P.A.D.C. K.B. ,Aide-de-Camp to the lamented Major-General Sir
Isaac Brock and who fell mortally wounded in the battle of Queenston, on
the, 13th October, 1812, and died the following day.
His remains were removed and
re-interred with due solemnity on 13th October, 1853.
There were but few newspapers
in Upper Canada in 1812. The "York Gazette" of October 17th, 1812, in
announcing the victory, made mention of the member for Glengarry as follows:
"Nor let us forget to lament the untimely fate of the young, the
affectionate and the brave Lieutenant-Colonel John Macdonell, who received a
mortal wound about the same time as his beloved General. Attached to him
from affection, his constant follower in every danger, this amiable youth is
now buried with him in the same grave."
In the Toronto "Week" of 23rd
October, 1891, a tattered fragment is produced, copied from the Niagara
"Tee" of October 24th, 1812, and demonstrating the difficulty of obtaining
local contemporaneous accounts of these affairs. It would seem to have given
a full description of the engagement and of the time and circumstances of
the death of General Brock and Colonel Macdonell. After describing the fight
around Vrooman's Battery it states :—
It was in the engagement last
named that we have to regret the loss of Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell, A. D
C. to General Brock. He was shot whilst on horseback encouraging the men.
The Province of Upper Canada, by the death of Colonel McDonell, has been
deprived of one of its most enterprising young men; the discerning eye of
the Major-General had singled him out, and was forming his mind to have
become a prominent figure among us. Fortune had already begun to lavish her
favours, and her blushing honours stood thick upon him : he has appeared and
passed away frum us like a brilliant meteor in the firmament. His remains
were interred beside his beloved friend and patron, General Brock "