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Maj. Gen. Sir Isaac Brock
Maj. Gen. Sir Isaac Brock
 Maj. Gen. Sir Isaac Brock 
Brock, Maj. Gen. Sir Isaac
b. June 6th, 1769 - d. October 13th, 1812

Nationality: British

Allegiance: British

Category: Soldier


   Born in St. Peter's Port, Guernsey, Brock joined the Eighth (King's) Regiment as an ensign in 1785, became a lieutenant in 1790, and was exchanged to the 49th Foot, where he became a captain, serving in Barbados and Jamaica. He purchased his majority in 1795 and a lieutenant colonelcy in 1797. By the end of that year, he was the senior lieutenant colonel in command of the 49th Regiment. Saw his first action in 1799 as part of Sir Ralph Abercromby's expedition to Holland and received a slight wound while leading a charge over the sand dunes. With his regiment in 1801 on board Nelson's fleet when the admiral attacked Copenhagen.

He first came to Canada along with his regiment in 1802, becoming a colonel in 1805 and a major general in 1811. Brock commanded the garrison at Quebec, all of the forces in Canada, and then starting in September 1811 the troops of Upper Canada.

Brock was faced with the unenviable task of protecting a long border against American incursions, but unlike his superior, Sir George Prevost, overall commander of the forces in Canada, he believed the border to be defensible. Brock countermanded Prevost's orders to show restraint against the Americans by ordering Captain Charles Roberts, commander of Fort St. Joseph, to attack Fort Michilimackinac. The capture of the U.S. fort on July 17, 1812, was the first reversal for the United States on the Canadian border and an impressive psychological blow against the U.S. war effort. It also helped to win over the Indians of the Upper Lakes to the British-Canadian cause. Worse was to follow for the Americans as, within a month, Brock, in concert with Indian leader Tecumseh, aggressively countered Brigadier General William Hull's attempted invasion of Ontario by besieging Detroit. Brock's ominous threat that if a battle began, he would not be able to control the Indians struck fear in the Americans. Early on the morning of August 16, the combined British and Indian forces crossed the Niagara River and to their surprise, Hull surrendered without firing a shot. The victory helped bolster the morale of the people of Upper Canada who had previously experienced a wave of defeatism. The American threat from Michigan Territory and the Old Northwest was eliminated for almost a year, and valuable arms were captured from the U.S. forces.

Brock hurried to the Niagara frontier intending to attack Sackett's Harbor and U.S. vessels near Buffalo but Prevost blocked his initiative. While waiting for the anticipated American invasion across the Niagara River, Brock strengthened the defenses of Forts Erie and George. When the U.S. forces crossed the river at Queenston on the morning of October 13, 1812, Brock rushed from Fort George to meet them. A conspicuous target at over six feet tall, the aggressive general was felled by a single musket ball in the chest and died almost immediately. His aide de camp, Lieutenant Colonel John Macdonell led a second British charge but was killed as well. Major General Roger Sheaffe succeeded to Brock's command and turned the battle in the British favor. Brock and his aide, Colonel Macdonell are buried under an impressive monument which dominates the Heights of Queenston overlooking the Niagara River. Brock had died but his heroism was remembered.

Further reading:

Ferdinand Tupper Brock, The Life and Correspondence of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, K.B. 2nd ed. London: Simpkin, Marshall, 1847.

Wesley Turner, "Isaac Brock" in David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, Encyclopedia of the War of 1812. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 1998, 62-3.

Wesley B. Turner, "Audacity: The Leadership of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock," in Wesley B. Turner, British Generals in the War of 1812: High Command in the Canadas. Ithaca, N.Y.: McGill-Queen's University, 1999, 58-83.

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