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Lundy's Lane etc.

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  • R. Feltoe
    To Rob Henderson, Having just seen your statement of the British not re-occupying Lundys Lane following the withdrawal of the US troops and can t agree with
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 27, 1999
      To Rob Henderson,
      Having just seen your statement of the British not re-occupying Lundys Lane
      following the withdrawal of the US troops and can't agree with you. As a
      result,I am wondering if my submission of a couple of days ago got posted on
      this topic which clearly shows they did. I am therefore re-posting it below
      for your consideration and opinion. And if that piece did not get out did my
      info on the rifles question and Runchys coloured Corps get out too?

      ... We all have our
      favourite armchair General hats on when we look back over the ages to assess
      who did or did not win. I think it more advantageous to look at what the
      people on the spot, at the time, have to say. Now lets get it straight, I do
      not mean the official whitewashed reports sent in by the commanders of both
      sides, but rather the side comments and views of the men on the front line.
      Their attitudes give perhaps the clearest indication of what each side
      thought the result of the battle was and who had control of the field after
      the fighting ended.

      For example, (1) In Le Couteur (104th Foot) following your previous
      reference to the use of dead artillery horses ( therefore directly at the
      crest of the hill as is stated in the book) for a defense line, he continues
      "I was on duty that night... there were three hundred dead on the Niagara
      side of the hillock and about a hundred of ours, besides several hundred
      wounded. ...Our mens heads and those of the Americans were within a few
      yards of each other at this spot... the scene of the morning...we had to
      wait on our slaughterhouse till 11" ( He and his men were obviously in
      possession of that part of the field after the battle!)
      Likewise,(2) Lt Henry Ruttan (5th coy IMUC) wrote in his unpublished memoir
      "... Before sunrise on the morning of the {26} July... I had the
      satisfaction of seeing our men mustering on the battlefield..."
      (3) Lt Duncan Clark (7th coy IMUC) wrote in his journal "... The victory was
      complete. The enemy had,in the majesty of his pride disappeared from Lundys
      lane when the writer of this sketch looked at his watch, which told him by
      the light of the moon it was 11 o'clock [lets remember folks that no
      standard time zones existed yet and quoted times can vary by over an hour
      between regimental accounts] ...The British troops now in possession of the
      battlefield the remainder of the night and the whole of the next day engaged
      in burying..."
      (4) Testimony from the US Court of Enquiry into the conduct of General
      Ripley (March 1815) stated that following the 3rd British assault to
      recapture the guns the US 2nd Brigade remained on the hilltop for about
      30-40 minutes, following which they were ordered to retire abandoning their
      guns and many of their wounded, arriving back at Chippawa after midnight.
      (5)Private John Castello (104th Rgt) "...we arrived [at the battlefield] at
      half past 9 oclock in the evening. After the action was closed, the British
      Army lay during the remainder of the night in Lundys Lane, about a quarter
      mile [aprox. 450 yards] from the heights towards the river..." {i.e about
      where the Lundys Lane Museum now sits RIGHT ON THE BATTLEFIELD}.
      (6) Brevet Major Murill Marston (US 21st Infantry) wrote in March 1815 that
      while his detachment was stationed at the rear of the battlefield he was
      ordered around 11pm by General Brown to wait with his force until the rest
      of the retreating army had passed and then follow them back to camp.

      But by far and away the best evidence of what the result of Lundys Lane was
      to the men of the US army AT THAT TIME comes from the direct statements of
      Colonel H. Leavenworth (9th US Infantry) writing in Jan 1815. on that
      officers opinion of receiving General Ripley's order to return to the hill
      of Lundys Lane the morning of the 26th. "... from what I saw of our
      forces...and from what I had seen of the enemys force the preceeding
      evening, I did think it the most consumate folly to attempt to regain
      possession of the field of battle and every officer with whom I conversed,
      among whom were many of the first distinction, expressed their astonishment
      at such an attempt and that every exertion was not made immediately to take
      up the line of march for Fort Erie..."

      I may be biased in my own views on the battle (being British by birth,
      Canadian by citizenship and reenacting a Canadian regiment) but it would
      appear to me that the words "Folly to attempt to regain" and "every
      exertion...to take up the line of march for Fort Erie" suggest that this was
      not just an Army that had experienced a temporary halt in its single goal of
      sweeping the British and Canadian troops from the Niagara. Nor does it leave
      me feeling that they wanted to go on the defensive from their secure
      encampment. Rather that this was an Army that KNEW it was beaten in this
      battle and wanted to put as much distance between themselves and the enemy
      as possible. Evidenced by their subsequent abandonment of vast amounts of
      supplies and tentage,( which were put to very good use by the supply-
      starved British over the following weeks) and their desperate activities in
      throwing up defensive works at Fort Erie before the British arrived.

      Hope this clears the air
      regards Richard Feltoe
    • R Henderson
      Just a quick note to Rob T. and Richard F, Thanks for your comments. The list I posted on Lundy s Lane was some quick observations by Don G. Yes a number of
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 1, 1999
        Just a quick note to Rob T. and Richard F,

        Thanks for your comments. The list I posted on Lundy's Lane was some quick observations by Don G. Yes a number of accounts show the British on the field (great
        submission Richard detailing each account), however I am not sure if Don was referring to which part of the field with his comment. Really its a splitting hairs
        exercise. Again, as I mentioned before, unfortunately Lundy's Lane cannot be treated as a black and white "who won". Everyone is crazy to try. The fact is US Army of
        1813 would not have stood up to the pounding the Left Division gave them at Lundy's Lane. One last comment that Don G. sent me on the subject:

        "When you get right down to it, LL was the worst kind of battle, an
        unplanned meeting engagement with continuous reinforcement on both sides.
        At its end, both armies had fought themselves to a standstill and neither
        was really in shape to resume active fighting."

        Lundy's Lane = stalemate

        Not a conclusion that will ever make the masses happy. (O.K., O.K. I think Lundy's Lane has died more times than its combatants - on to new topics).

        As for Don's new book on Crysler's Farm (really US 1813 campaign on Montreal), he sent the manuscript off to the publishers today for printing in May. However I hope to
        have some excerpts from it on my website in the next week or so (free time allowing) .

        All the best,


        Experience the War of 1812 at: http://www3.sympatico.ca/dis.general/1812.htm

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