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THE WAR OF 1812   129

Chauncey that ascendancy on Lake Ontario which enabled him later on to destroy York.

During the armistice the United States generals had assembled about 6,000 men between Buffalo and Fort Niagara on the Niagara frontier—a distance of thirty-six miles. On October 13th, General Van Rensselaer, commanding the force stationed between the Falls and Lake Ontario, made a disastrous attempt upon the British position at Queenston Heights. Before dawn an advance force of over 300 men, under the command of Colonel Solomon Van Rensselaer, a cousin of the general, crossed the swift river in boats and gained a footing on the Canadian shore. The troops stationed at Queenston consisted of two companies of the 49th and 200 of the York militia. One 18-pounder gun was in position on a spur of the heights, and a carronade raked the river from a point about a mile below. The United States force, covered by the fire of two 18-pounders, and two field-pieces from their own side, effected a landing with little loss, the gravest being the wounding of Van Rensselaer, who was compelled to return to the American shore. The British offered a desperate resistance to the landing, but when day broke fully 1,000 of the enemy had reached Canadian soil, where they were joined during the morning by possibly 500 more.

Shortly after daybreak Brock arrived. Awakened by the firing, and realizing the nature of the attack, he had galloped up from Fort George at breakneck speed. For the purpose of observation he ascended to the 18-pounder battery, dismounted, and was surveying the field, when fire was opened from the height above, which Captain Wool and a detachment of United States regulars had gained by an almost inaccessible path used by fishermen. The volley was promptly followed by a rush for the gun. Brock ordered the gun to be spiked, and with the twelve gunners of the battery retreated to the shelter of Queens-ton. He returned to the attack with a detachment of the 49th, 100 strong, charged up the hill and was so far successful as to recapture the spiked 18-pounder. But at


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