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Battle of Lundy Lane

Battle of Lundy Lane

The Battle of Lundy’s Lane was fought July 25, 1814, and would be the last time the United States attempted to invade Canada. The battle would be the bloodiest battle of the War of 1812 and would result in a tactical draw, but a British strategic victory.

Prelude to the Battle of Lundy’s Lane

Winfield Scott

Portrait of Winfield Scott during the War of 1812

Shortly before the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, the United States saw a series of small victories:

  • Major General Jacob Brown captured the British position at Fort Erie and then advanced north.
  • Brigadier General Winfield Scott defeated a British force at the Battle of Chippawa.
  • Major General Jacob Brown outflanked British defenses along the Chippawa River, but could not dislodge the British from Fort George due to the lack of troops and heavy artillery.

The American army occupied Queenston but was left exposed. They were continually harassed by the Canadian militia and First Nations. Brown fell back to the Chippawa River to reform, secure his supplies, and prepare to advance to Burlington.

When Brown fell back, British light infantry and militia under Major General Riall advanced to Lundy’s Lane.

The Fighting

Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond arrived in Fort George to take personal command on the Niagara peninsula on July 25, 1814.  He quickly ordered Lieutenant Colonel John Tucker to advance south from Fort Niagara with the hope of forcing General Brown to move off the west bank.

In response, Brown ordered an advance north. He did not know that a large British force was waiting for him at Lundy’s Lane.

Winfield Scott and his regulars arrived at Lundy’s Lane and emerged from a forest into an open field. The British artillery began to open fire and inflicted much damage on the Americans. 

Scott quickly regrouped his men and sent the 25th U.S. Infantry to outflank the British left. The 25th caught the British and Canadian units on the flank by surprise and drove them back. The British and Canadians reorganized and rallied, but it did not make a difference.

Major Thomas Jesup sent his light infantry under Captain Ketchum to secure the junction of Lundy’s Lane and Portage. They captured many of the wounded men and messengers that were at the rear of the army. This included British Major General Riall who had been wounded and taken to the rear. 

American’s Night Attack

Winfield Scott’s brigade had put up a scrap but had taken heavy casualties. Timely reinforcements arrived and relieved Scott’s brigade, General Jacob Brown ordered the 21st U.S. Infantry to capture the British guns. 

While the British were distracted by another attack on their right, the 21st U.S. Infantry was deployed close to the British artillery. Lieutenant Colonel James Miller ordered the 21st to fire a volley which killed most of the British gunners. He then ordered a bayonet charge that drove the remaining British from the area and captured the guns. 

The British reorganized and attempted a counter-attack but was unsuccessful.

In a blunder, the British column under Colonel Hercules Scott arrived at the field and was unaware of the changed situation. They were surprised when they were driven back and lost three 6-pounder guns. The British managed to regain their guns, but with the gunners scattered the guns were ineffective.

British Counter-Attack

Drummond reorganized his troops and launched an attack against the Americans in an attempt to regain their guns. His attack was met with fierce resistance and both sides took heavy casualties. Fighting was at close range and gruesome.

The Americans pushed the British back. 

Drummond again reorganized and launched a second attack. The Americans again rallied and held their ground. 

Winfield Scott reorganized his depleted brigade and attacked Drummond in the center of his line. At one point Scott’s brigade was engaged both by the British and another American brigade who were not aware of the identity of the troops at which they were shooting.

Despite the confusion, Drummond’s line was pushed back but the attack could not be sustained. 

Winfield Scott was wounded during the action.

Shortly before midnight, Drummond launched another counter-attack, using every man he could find, although by this time the British line consisted of mixed-up detachments and companies, rather than organized regiments and battalions.

The fighting over the artillery was even closer than before, with bayonets being used at one point, but again the exhausted British fell back.

End of the Battle

By midnight both units were exhausted. 

The Americans had sustained substantial losses including two of their Generals being wounded. 

The British side had also taken heavy casualties, but still had the numbers on the Americans.

The Americans withdrew from the battle and although the British outnumbered them, they did not pursue. The fighting had been intense, bloody, and both sides left respecting each other more than when the fighting started.

British Order of Battle

  • Right Division (Major General Phineas Riall)
    • 2nd (Light) Brigade (Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Pearson)
      • Glengarry Light Infantry (Lieutenant Colonel Francis Battersby)
      • Upper Canada Incorporated Militia Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel William Robinson)
    • 1st Militia Brigade (Lieutenant Colonel Love Parry)
      • Detachments from 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th Lincoln and 2nd York Militia Regiments
    • One troop, 19th Light Dragoons (Major Robert Lisle)
    • Provincial Dragoons (Merritt’s Troop) (Captain William Hamilton Merritt)
    • Royal Artillery (Two 6-pounder guns, One 5.5-inch howitzer)
  • Drummond’s column
    • 2nd Battalion, 89th Foot (Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Wanton Morrison)
    • Three companies, 1st Battalion, 1st Foot (Royal Scots) (Captain William Brereton)
    • Light company, 1st Battalion, 8th (King’s) Foot (Captain Francis Campbell)
    • Light company 41st Foot (Captain Joseph B. Glew)
    • Artillery (Captain James MachLachlane)
      • Royal Artillery (Two light 24-pounder guns)
      • Royal Marine Artillery (Two Congreve rocket launchers)
  • Colonel Hercules Scott’s Column
    • 1st Brigade (Colonel Scott)
    • 103rd Foot (Major William Smelt)
    • Five companies, 1st Battalion, 8th (King’s) Foot (Major Thomas Evans)
    • Flank companies, 104th (New Brunswick) Foot (Captain Richard Leonard)
    • 2nd Militia Brigade (Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Hamilton)
      • Caldwell’s Western Rangers
      • Detachments from 1st, 2nd Norfolk, 1st Essex, 1st Middlesex,
      • 4th, 5th Lincoln and 2nd York Regiments
    • Royal Artillery (Three 6-pounder guns) (Captain James Mackonochie)
  • Reserve (Lieutenant Colonel John Gordon)
    • Seven companies, 1st Battalion, 1st Foot (Royal Scots)

American Order of Battle

  • 1st Brigade (Brigadier General Winfield Scott)
    • 9th U.S. Infantry (Major Henry Leavenworth)
    • 11th U.S. Infantry-Major (John McNeil)
    • 22nd U.S. Infantry (Colonel Hugh Brady)
    • 25th U.S. Infantry (Major Thomas Jesup)
    • Towson’s Company U.S. Artillery (Two 6-pounder guns, One 5.5-inch howitzer)
  • 2nd Brigade (Brigadier General Eleazer Wheelock Ripley)
    • 21st U.S. Infantry (Lieutenant Colonel James Miller)
      • 17th U.S.Infantry (one company)
      • 19th U.S. Infantry (one company)
    • 23rd U.S.Infantry (Major Daniel McFarland)
    • 1st U.S. Infantry (four companies) (Lieutenant Colonel Robert Nicholas)
  • 3rd (Militia) Brigade (Brigadier General Peter B. Porter)
    • 5th Pennsylvania Militia (Major James Wood)

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