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Casebook: The War of 1812
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Battle of Beaver Dams
Battle of Beaver Dams
June 24 1813

Location: Beaver Dams
Duration: 3 hours

Soldiers Present
     American: 600 US Army
     British: 50 infantry of 49th Regiment, 465 warriors of the Seven Nations

Total Casualties
     American: 480 Americans captured
     British:

Military Leaders
     American: Lt. Col. Charles G. Boerstler
     British: Lt. James Fitzgibbon, Chief John Norton

Outcome: Decisive British victory

Summary:

   In the summer of 1813, American forces had made incursions into Canada and had occupied Fort George opposite Fort Niagara. On the night of June 23, 1813, Laura Secord, a resident of Queenston, Ontario, overheard American officers billeted in her home planning a raid on British Lieutenant James FitzGibbons outpost at Beaver Dams, 20 miles away. Secord walked the 20 miles (32 km) to warn the lieutenant and his force of fifty men of the 49th Regiment plus 465 Seventh Nation Indians and militia of the impending raid by Lt. Col. Charles Boerstler and his force of around six hundred Americans. The advance warning may have had an effect on the outcome of the subsequent Battle of Beaver Dams the following day, when FitzGibbon and Mohawk chief John Norton surrounded the Americans and forced Boerstler to surrender, persuading him that he was vastly outnumbered by 1,500 regulars and 700 Indians. Fitzgibbon employed the same ruse that Brock had used in forcing the capitulation of Detroit in August 1812: he told Boerstler that he would be unable to restrain the Indians from butchering the U.S. soldiers. On surrendering, Boerstler found that he had surrendered 484 officers and men to a force less than half their number.

The calamity at Beaver Dams had severe repercussions for the Americans along the Canadian frontier and back in Washington, D.C. British General John Vincent strengthened his positions near Fort George and conducted raids near U.S.-held Fort Niagara across the Niagara River. The criticism in the U.S. Congress of General Henry Dearborn's conduct of the war on the frontier led to his removal by Secretary of War John Armstrong.

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Related pages:
  Secord, Laura
       People:  Laura Secord 

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Copyright © Christopher T. George, 2012