Previous Index Next

 

184 MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA

 

General Boyd reported that the enemy had put on a bold front and were advancing in column.

A general engagement was imminent, and Boyd, the most incompetent officer in Wilkinson's army,—according to Winfield Scott "vacillating and imbecile beyond all endurance as a chief under high responsibilities"—was left with some 2,400 men and six field-pieces to repel the attack. The armies were now on the spot known as Chrystler's Farm, a place well-adapted for manoeuvring troops.

The British position was admirably chosen. Their right was on the river, protected by gun-boats; their left was covered by a thick pine wood; their entire front spread over nearly a half mile. On the right flank were three companies of the 89th with one 6-pounder, and a little to the front and left the flank companies of the 49th and the Canadian Fencibles with another 6-pounder. On the left, somewhat to the rear and extending to the pine wood, was the remainder of the 49th and 89th Regiments and a third gun. In the wood were the voltigeurs under Major Heriot and some Indians under Lieutenant Anderson. This body of the voltigeurs and Indians was detailed for skirmishing duty. It was they who began the engagement, and, being but a small force, they were easily driven in on the British left.

It was now 2:30 p.m. and the fight was on in earnest, the Americans confident in their superior numbers, the Canadians trusting for victory to their excellent leaders and well-chosen position. The aim of the American commander was to crush either flank of the British, roll them up and attack their rear. A mighty effort was put forth on the front and left by General Swartwout's brigade and an auxiliary force under Colonel Coles, but the companies of the 89th and 49th Regiments on this part of the field moved forward, firing steadily and showing such a confident front that the American force wavered, then broke and were pursued over fences and through the low ground separating the contending armies.


Previous Index Next