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THE WAR OF 1812   133

Plattsburg for his proposed attack upon Montreal. Moving his headquarters to Champlain, N.Y., he sent forward, on November 20th, a force of 1,200 men to make a reconnaissance in force across the frontier. At Lacolle, a few miles north of the boundary, the column came into contact with the advanced posts of a picket of some 500 militia and Indians under Colonel McKay. McKay so handled his small force that the enemy, in the dark, fired upon their own people, killing several, and then, much disconcerted, retreated to Champlain.

The whole militia of Lower Canada was at once called out and the flank companies of the Montreal militia regiments and a troop of militia dragoons crossed the St. Lawrence to Longueuil and Laprairie. The Pointe Claire, Riviere du Chene, Vaudreuil, and Longue Pointe Battalions were ordered from headquarters at Lachine to cross to Caughnawaga and march to L'Acadie; and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions of Montreal militia were also sent to the front. Winter was coming on, and Dearborn, disconcerted by the affair at Lacolle, and by the spirit shown by the people of Quebec, retreated upon Plattsburg and Burlington and went into winter-quarters.

The first year's campaign had certainly ended disastrously for the United States. None of their expeditions had met with success, while the British had captured and held the enemy's two principal military posts in the west, Detroit and Mackinaw. But the outlook was not very bright for Canada, one of the principal reasons being the impending loss of the control of the lakes. England still postponed the despatch of the proper naval officers, sea-men, and shipbuilders to Canada, vainly cherishing the hope that the United States Government, in view of the repeal of the obnoxious Orders-in-Council, would be willing to make peace. On the other hand, the armistice had enabled the United States naval officers on Lake Ontario to increase their fleet; the naval establishment at Sackett's Harbour was a busy hive of industry; and Commodore Chauncey was working might and main to establish the


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