UPPER CANADIAN REBELLION, 1837–38 215
complete preparation for defence, the rebels made no attempt at this time to attack Kingston.
In the London district, Dr. Duncombe, one of Mackenzie's supporters, made a tentative effort to raise the standard of revolt. Colonel MacNab was sent against him with 500 militia and volunteers. Duncombe fled to the United States and his followers were scattered.
Mackenzie, having escaped to the United States, made his headquarters in Buffalo. Here he set to work with characteristic energy to enlist the support of American sympathizers and organize an "Army of Liberation" to invade Canada. Rensselaer Van Rensselaer, of Albany, was appointed Commander-in-Chief and the occupation of Navy Island in the Niagara river was decided upon as the first step in the campaign against Canada. As Navy Island was unoccupied, the invaders experienced no difficulty in taking possession, but, to Van Rensselaer's disgust, instead of the several hundred who had volunteered to follow him to the island as a nucleus of the future army, exactly twenty-four men appeared at the rendezvous on December 13th. During the following days a number of recruits from the American side and a few Canadians joined the force. Van Rensselaer also man-aged to obtain several pieces of artillery from one of the New York State arsenals, with which he opened fire on the Canadian shore, doing some slight damage.
As soon as word was received of the occupation of Navy Island, 2,000 militia under Colonel MacNab were rushed to Chippawa, opposite the island. Sir John Colborne sent a detachment of artillery with several guns, mortars and Congreve rockets, the latter a formidable projectile in those days, filled sometimes with combustible material, sometimes with small shrapnel. At the same time Sir Francis Bond Head sent a formal complaint to the Governor of the State of New York, and also through the British Embassy to the federal authorities in Washington. But as no effective steps were taken to check the raiders, Colonel MacNab determined to take