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War of 1812 timeline: October 1812 to December 1812

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October 1812 - December 1812

October 1812 

Raising of the Corps of Canadian Voyageurs, Lower Canada.

Although a well-established cargo transshipment service existed between Montreal and the Great Lakes, the Corps of Canadian Voyageurs was raised to militarize and protect this essential system from U.S. attack.  The corps was composed of voyageurs, experienced boatmen mostly in the service of the North West Company, and commanded by company officials like William McGillivray.  Refusing to conform to military life, the voyageurs, predominantly French-Canadians and Métis, were perfectly suited to their transport duties - they were robust outdoorsmen with an in-depth geographical knowledge.  Based at Lachine, Lower Canada, they saw action at St. Regis and also served at western posts like Fort Mackinac.  The corps was disbanded in March 1813 and reorganized as the Provincial Commissariat Voyageurs.


Arrival of British reinforcements to Quebec City, Lower Canada: 2nd battalion of the 89th Regiment.


Construction of a military complex at Chambly, Lower Canada begins.

The fort at Chambly played a defensive role in several colonial conflicts throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.  During the War of 1812, the stone fort, begun in 1709 to replace a wooden fortification, became part of an extensive military complex of several dozen buildings all built within the 1709 commune and included officers' quarters, stables, and barracks for the cavalry, infantry, and Royal Artillery.  This post, along with military works and buildings at Lacolle , Ile aux Noix, St. Jean, Blairfindie and La Prairie, protected several key invasion routes from New York State into Lower Canada.  Connected by the Richelieu River and a network of roads, Chambly served as a British headquarters where troops could be mobilized quickly to other posts along the Montreal frontier.

4 October 1812

Raid on Ogdensburg, New York. In retaliation for the 21 September 1812 attack on Gananoque, Upper Canada, British and Canadian troops assault Ogdensburg, but are repulsed.

6 October 1812

Commodore Isaac Chauncey arrives at Sackets Harbor, New York and begins preparations for strengthening the American naval establishment upon the Great Lakes in order to challenge the British for naval supremacy.

9 October 1812

United States Navy cutting out expedition, led by Lieutenant Jesse Elliot, captures the Provincial Marine vessels Detroit and Caledonia on Lake Erie near Buffalo, New York. 

12 October 1812

British flag of truce fired on at Queenston, Upper Canada; Major Thomas Evans spots American boats in the Niagara River.

13 October 1812

Battle of Queenston Heights, Upper Canada. 

Before dawn, American forces commanded by Major General Stephen Van Rensselaer crossed the Niagara River to attack the village of Queenston.  Initially pinned down on the landing beach, a small force under Captain John Wool scaled the escarpment and captured the important Redan Battery.  British Major-General Isaac Brock was killed leading an attack to regain the heights.  His aide-de-camp John Macdonell fell leading a second charge.  Allied First Nations led by John Norton attacked; their war cries convinced U.S. militia on the American shore not to cross the river.  Major-General Roger Hale Sheaffe won the battle with fresh troops from Fort George and Chippawa.   A disaster for the United States, the battle inspired British forces but the loss of dynamic Major-General Brock was deeply felt. 


Artillery duel between Fort George, Upper Canada and Fort Niagara, New York. The Fort George powder magazine is struck and saved from destruction by Royal Engineer Captain Henry Vigoreux.  A hail of British shrapnel overwhelms the defenders of Fort Niagara.


The British government issues an order-in-council opening Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the New Brunswick ports of Saint John and St. Andrews to a licensed trade in enumerated articles with American citizens.

The British order-in-council only partly arose from Lieutenant Governor Sir John Coape Sherbrooke's concerns about the region's alarming dependence on American provisions. The British themselves needed food for their armed forces in Europe and North America, and Napoleon had disrupted their traditional supplies of naval stores. High prices meant that there was no shortage of New England ship-owners willing to trick or bribe their own customs officials in order to trade with licensed merchants. It came to pass that Royal Navy crews blockading the American coast south of New England were sustained by American bread and beef, while their ships were kept afloat by U.S.-made pitch and tar.


Lieutenant Thomas Macdonough arrives at Whitehall, New York, to assume command of the American vessels upon Lake Champlain.

16 October 1812

Major-General Isaac Brock and his provincial aide-de camp John Macdonell are buried.

After his death during the Battle of Queenston Heights, Major-General Isaac Brock's body was laid in state at Government House in Niagara, Upper Canada.  On 16 October a grand funeral procession carried Brock and his fallen aide, Lieutenant-Colonel John Macdonell, to Fort George, where they were interred.  The band of the 41st Regiment played a slow march with their drums muffed and draped in black cloth.  British soldiers, Canadian militia and First Nations people participated in the solemn event lining the entire route from Government House to the fort.  When the British fired a 21 gun salute, the Americans at Fort Niagara fired in respect for their gallant foe. 

18 October 1812  

USS Wasp captures HMS Frolic north of Bermuda. Later that same day HMS Poictiers takes both vessels.

23 October 1812  

Surprise attack by American militia forces on the British post at St-Regis (Akwesasne), Lower Canada.

Astride the international boundary along the St. Lawrence River, the community of Akwesasne, Lower Canada, became divided as Americans and British fought to secure Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) loyalty.  In part to ensure First Nations fidelity, the Crown sent a detachment of Canadian Voyageurs to garrison the post.  They became the target of an attack by American militiamen from nearby French Mills, New York.  The Americans killed eight, took about 40 prisoners and raided stores and gifts meant for members of that community.  In retaliation, a contingent of British regulars, militia, and Akwesasne fighters successfully assaulted an American militia post situated on the Salmon River near French Mills.  As a result of the initial attack, many First Nations fighters chose to side with the British.

25 October 1812

USS United States defeats HMS Macedonian west of the Canary Islands.

November 1812 

American troops commanded by Major General Henry Dearborn leave Plattsburg, New York and begin their march toward Montreal, Lower Canada.


Under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles-Michel de Salaberry the Voltigeurs and 300 First Nations fighters from Kahnawake (Caughnawaga), march toward Lacolle, Lower Canada, to oppose Major General Henry Dearborn's force.

10 November 1812

Flight of HMS Royal George. United States Commodore Isaac Chauncey's squadron chases Royal George into Kingston Harbour, Upper Canada.

Sailing from Sackets Harbor, New York, Commodore Isaac Chauncey's U.S. Navy squadron happened upon HMS Royal George and pursued her into Kingston Harbour exchanging fire with the vessel and several shore batteries.  Following the confrontation, in which several prize vessels were captured, Chauncey confidently reported to his superiors that his vessels now had command of the lake.  This clash, the first considerable battle on Lake Ontario and the only action at Kingston during the war, demonstrated U.S. naval prowess.  Consequently, the British strengthened their naval establishment at Kingston by having the Royal Navy assume command of the Provincial Marine, producing warships at the navy yard and reinforcing the town's defences.

13 November 1812

A non-commissioned officer of the 104th Regiment, stationed in St. Andrews, New Brunswick begins instructing the local militia in drills.

14 November 1812

Captain Gustavus Nicolls, Royal Engineers, submits a report to Lieutenant Governor Sir John Coape Sherbrooke with recommendations for the defence of New Brunswick.

The report of Captain Gustavus Nicolls, Commanding Royal Engineer at Halifax, emphasized the significance of the Saint John River and the town of Saint John. The river was important because of the winter connection that it provided to the Canadas, and because an enemy in possession of it would threaten Nova Scotia from the landward. Nicolls was struck by Saint John's commanding position at the river's mouth, and wrote that it was "the key of the province. Affording it every protection possible becomes, therefore, a matter of consequence." His recommendations to defend the town against landward attack from the west, from which he thought it most vulnerable, would lead to construction of what is today known as Carleton Martello Tower National Historic Site of Canada.

20 November 1812

First Battle of Lacolle, Lower Canada.

Planning to march on Lower Canada and capture Montreal, U.S. Major General Henry Dearborn gathered between 5,000-6,000 regulars and militia at Plattsburg, New York, for the offensive.  The day after his arrival at Champlain, New York, on 19 November, his forces advanced and seized a British blockhouse at Lacolle from a small force of Canadian militia and First Nations fighters.  In the confusion of battle, some of the advanced guard was fired on by other American forces resulting in several casualties.  Lieutenant-Colonel Charles-Michel de Salaberry soon arrived with contingents of Voltigeurs and First Nations allies to repulse the invaders.  The Americans withdrew to Plattsburg where they went into winter quarters.  A second attempt at Lacolle would take place in 1814.    

21 November 1812

Artillery duels along the Niagara River between Fort George, Upper Canada and Fort Niagara, New York and Fort Erie, Upper Canada and American batteries at Black Rock, New York.

22 November 1812

HMS Southampton under Captain Sir James Lucas Yeo defeats USS Vixen off the coast of Georgia. Yeo will later command British naval forces on Lake Ontario.

23 November 1812

A combined force of British soldiers, Canadian militia and First Nations fighters from Akwesasne successfully strike back against American militia stationed at French Mills, New York in retaliation for a surprise attack on St. Regis (Akwesasne) October 23, 1812.

28 November 1812

An American invasion attempt is repulsed at Frenchman's Creek near Fort Erie, Upper Canada.

Following the defeat at Queenston Heights, Brigadier General Alexander Smyth took command of the U.S. troops on the Niagara frontier.  Before dawn on 28 November, his troops landed north of Fort Erie and attacked British positions near Frenchman's Creek.  The first wave of attackers was repulsed after heavy fighting and Smyth called off the main invasion at daylight.  A second botched attempt two days later infuriated his men. Smyth was fired on by his own troops and forced to flee to Buffalo, New York.  He was allowed to resign his command. Smyth is remembered as the author of the standard U.S. army drill manual used during the war, and for bombastic proclamations he produced.

December 1812

Major-General George Stracey Smyth commissions a second privateer chaser, the armed schooner Hunter, for service in the Bay of Fundy.

5 December 1812

HMS Plumper is lost after it strikes a ledge near Point Lepreau in the Bay of Fundy, claiming the lives of 42 crew and passengers.

17-18 December 1812               

A First Nations force defeats American Colonel John B. Campbell's troops at the Battle of Mississinewa, Indiana Territory.

29 December 1812

Off the coast of Brazil, USS Constitution takes HMS Java after a hard fight. 

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War of 1812 Timeline

Section 1: 1775 - November 1811
Section 2: January 1812 - June 1812
Section 3: July 1812 - September 1812
Section 4: October 1812 - December 1812
Section 5: January 1813 - March 1813
Section 6: April 1813 - June 1813
Section 7: July 1813 - September 1813
Section 8: October 1813 - December 1813
Section 9: January 1814 - March 1814
Section 10: April 1814 - June 1814
Section 11: July 1814 - December 1814
Section 12: January 1815 - 1871

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