Chapter Five, It Begins
The Fight Against Treason [page 179]
Lean Times [page 190]
The Fight Against Treason
The story line from this point on is inspired by William Hamilton Merritt’s narrative, written in 1814 when he was a prisoner of war in New York State, published in 1902, by the Niagara Historical Society, Volume #9, edited by E.A. Cruikshank. Regarding the capture of traitors, Lt. William Hamilton Merritt recorded, “. . . [Brock] was very well pleased with my proceedings,” (Cruikshank, Vol. #9.)
Passages presented on pages 184-5 are based on material from “Journal of Major John Norton 1809-1816,” pages 294-300. Norton reports that Brock told him:
In a time when travel was by foot or on horseback, Brock moved like a whirlwind, proroguing the Assembly in York (Toronto) on August 5 and arriving at Dover, centred on the northern shore of Lake Erie at a distance of 80 miles on August 8. Sometime in between, probably on the 7th, Brock met with the Haudenosaunee, en route, at the Grand River (Antal, pages, 91-92.)
Though it is for dramatic effect that I compressed in time Lt. Merritt’s foray among the disloyal and the news that the American Fort Mackinac had been captured; still, these events did both occur in July, 1812, and they led, I believe, to the Haudenosaunee’s conclusion that the British would not sit on their hands, as they did most infamously at Fallen Timbers some 28 years earlier.
And, of course, the Haudenosaunee did recommit, sending a few warriors west with Brock on Aug 8th and later playing a crucial role in the defense of Queenston Heights. The meeting at the Onondaga Council House is inspired by John Norton’s account in “Journal of Major John Norton 1809-1816,” pages 295-300, wherein Norton describes the effect the capture of Fort Mackinac had on the Nations in general and his personal efforts at outlaw chasing on the Thames River on his way to Fort Amherstburg. Also, reference Tupper, “Correspondence,” page 217, Brock to Prevost, regarding General Hull’s communications with the Haudenosaunee.One of the escaping ‘banditti’ was Simon Z. Watson (‘banditti’ is a word Brock used in his correspondence and may it derive from military accounts of the European Peninsula war.) Watson, who along with other traitors (e.g. Ebenezer Allan and Andrew Westbrook), enrolled in the American backed, ‘Canadian Volunteers’ to spread destruction across the western portions of Upper Canada for the next two years. See Tupper, page 218, re Watson leading a force of fifty traitors against the western counties.
In Quaife’s “War on the Detroit,” pages 238/239, the unknown American author of the journal “Capitulation” describes the quantities of stores collected on the excursion to Baldoon and concludes “The colonel having receipted for every article . . . We left the people our warm friends.” [unknown author’s emphasis.] Antal, page 46 has a different view in regard to the gathering of provisions from the locals: “. . . he [Colonel McArthur of 3rd Ohio] provided useless receipts to the bilked owners.”
Brock’s address to the militia actually occurred at Culver’s Tavern near present-day Simcoe, Ontario. The volunteers took ship at Port Dover, a few miles to the southeast on Lake Erie. For the sake of brevity, I have conflated the events.
Though virtually indecipherable on first reading, Robert Lucas’ “Journal” entry for July 20 is instructive of one invader’s attitude in regard to the fate of the Canadien locals. “It is truly distressing this evening to see women and children running for their house those in favour of the British for fear of us, those in favour of us for fear of the British. Those whose fortune it is to reside at the seat of war must experience trouble.”
Another aspect of looting is presented by the author of “Capitulation” on Quaife’s pages 245/246, where he cites General Hull’s Order of July, 18th,