War of 1812Events and Locationsfrench

The Battle of Chrysler's Farm


Ann Prevost, daughter of Canada's Governor General


 

The Battle of Chrysler's Farm

On October 17, 1813, American Major General James Wilkinson left Sacket’s Harbour with an army of over 7000 in a flotilla of bateaux. His plan was to sail down the St. Lawrence River and attack Montreal. Progress downriver was slow due the combination of bad weather and British sharpshooters along the shore.

By November 10, British Captain William Howe Mulcaster was hot on Wilkinson’s heels with a flotilla of gunboats carrying two regiments of British soldiers. The Americans had now reached the dreaded Long Sault rapids. To lighten the boats, and to clear the bank of enemies, Wilkinson landed his army near a farm owned by a man named John Chrysler.

This was exactly what the British had hoped he would do. They landed and deployed their two regiments at Chrysler's farm under Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Wanton Morrison with the express intention of engaging the Americans. Wilkinson simply could not leave this small enemy force of 800 intact to dog him all the way to Montreal. Too sick to command himself, he ordered his subordinate, Brigadier General Boyd, to destroy it before marching on.

In the early afternoon, an American regiment advanced towards the British left. Suddenly, a unit of concealed Voltigeurs and First Nations warriors rose and fired. They traded shots with the enemy briefly before the sheer number of U.S. troops forced them to run for their lives, with the Americans in hot pursuit. This was a critical point - if the Americans had managed to force their way between the British 89th Regiment and the swamp beside them, they could have turned and attacked the British rear. But Morrison had the 49th execute a parade-ground maneuver, making it swing backwards one quarter turn as a single unit so as to face the charging Americans with a solid volley. The Americans broke up and ran.

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