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Re: [WarOf1812] Lundy's Lane Artillery

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  • R. Feltoe
    Dear Mark, Based on my readings, the following is what I believe was the sequence leading to the capture of the guns by the American s and is an edited version
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2001
      Dear Mark,
      Based on my readings, the following is what I believe was the sequence
      leading to the capture of the guns by the American's and is an edited
      version of what I'm putting in my book.

      ...On the open ground to the south of the hill, General Ripley brought the
      Second Brigade to the foot of the slope, with the Twenty-first Regiment
      (Colonel Miller) on the left and the Twenty-third (Colonel McFarland) on the
      right of the Chippawa - Queenston Road. He then ordered his two regimental
      commanders to attack the battery; with Miller's regiment moving directly up
      the slope while McFarland's column would advance, under Ripley's personal
      supervision, before wheeling into line and assaulting the position from the
      flank along Lundy's Lane.

      At the same time, General Brown made a personal reconaissance of the
      American left flank and discovered that a strong body of British troops lay
      to the west of the British guns (Captain Brereton's 1st (Royal Scots)
      Regiment, two companies of Incorporated Militia (Captain Fraser, Captain
      MacDonell) and the Light company of the 41st Regiment (Captain Glew)).

      Concerned that this force could advance and outflank the American assault
      on the guns, Brown advanced the companies of the First Regiment (Lieutenant
      Colonel Nicholas) to complete the left of the American assault line and
      issued orders for it to make a showing against the enemy to their front and
      deter the British from moving to the protection of the guns as Ripley's
      regiments attacked. Returning to the American centre, Brown then ordered
      the Twenty-first to storm the guns, before continuing east until he reached
      the Chippawa- Queenston Road, looking for the Twenty-third Regiment to order
      it forward as well .

      Advancing up the slope under the cover of the darkness, the Twenty-first
      Regiment heard firing from both the right and left. The noise from the
      right was the Twenty-third regiment, who ran into a wall of fire from the
      British 'corner' consisting of the left flank of the 89th Regiment and three
      companies of Incorporated Militia. Together these units quickly routed the
      Twenty-third, killing Major McFarland and most of the leading company in
      that column. The firing from the left was where the First Regiment had
      inexplicably tried to assault the British line; receiving in return the full
      effect of the fire from the augmented battery and the troops stationed to
      the west of the guns. Within moments Nicholas realised that any further
      advance would be suicidal and led his men back down the slope in disorder.

      These movements, while achieving little beyond mounting the American
      casualty roll, did distract the British gunners on the hilltop, as well as
      the troops on either side, thus allowing Miller's troops to creep up through
      the undefended centre to within point-blank range of the guns. Here they
      formed behind the cover of a split-rail fence and delivered a devastating
      volley into the crowd of artillerymen, fully occupied with attending to
      their guns. Most of the men in the battery were either killed or wounded by
      this fire, while the teams of horses that had just brought up the additional
      guns (from Hercules Scott's column) were either similarly killed or
      stampeded away to the west, where they careened through the lines of the
      British right flank, disordering that formation and preventing it from
      mounting a counter attack. Following up their lethal fire, the Twenty-first
      charged forward with the bayonet, finishing off any survivors who resisted
      and capturing the guns.

      Directly behind and slightly below the artillery position on the crest, the
      detachment of the 89th Regiment was caught off guard by the sudden volley
      and charge of the Americans. Fortunately, General Drummond was nearby and
      ordered an immediate counter attack to regain the vital guns. Marching
      forward, the 89th opened fire into the milling mass of dark shapes vaguely
      discernible amongst the guns. Attempting to continue with the bayonet, they
      were met in return with fire from the reforming Americans. ...
      Unable to dislodge the Americans, the 89th were eventually forced to
      retreat, but soon returned with detachments from the Incorporated Militia,
      the Royal Scots and 41st Regiments. Twice more, the two lines clashed and
      the carnage continued, including the wounding of General Drummond, who was
      hit in the neck by a musketball, narrowly missing the commanders main
      artery; but the Twenty-first held its advantage of the higher ground,
      eventually forcing the British to withdraw to the foot of the hill, leaving
      their entire artillery force in American hands...

      As to the details of the supposed spiking of the guns

      ...On top of the hill, the desperate fight to hold onto the guns had cost
      Miller's command dearly and he desperately needed reinforcements. Fearing
      that a British counterattack would regain the guns, Miller ordered the
      removal of the pieces towards the American side of the hill... Upon arriving
      on the hilltop, Ripley took overall command and decided the captured
      artillery could be better served as part of the new line of defence. He
      therefore countermanded the removal order, while sending for Hindman to
      bring forward the American artillery batteries.

      This was done in rapid order with Towson placing his guns in Lundy's Lane,
      slightly to the right of the Twenty-third Regiment, while Ritche's battery
      was located forward of the First Infantry Regiment. Biddle's battery
      remained at the foot of the hill, on the crossroads, to cover the Queenston
      Road. With these pieces in place, further inspection of the captured
      British artillery, revealed that the essential hand tools required to load
      and fire the guns were either broken from the initial fight, or were
      entirely missing. As a result, the captured guns were deemed unworkable and
      Ripley ordered Captain McDonald (Nineteenth Regiment) to locate General
      Brown and get permission to remove the British artillery to the security of
      the American camp. Descending the hillside, McDonald almost immediately came
      upon General Brown and his staff moving up the slope with Jesup's corps.

      Dismissing the Lieutenant's request on the grounds that
      " .there were matters of more importance to attend to at that moment." Brown
      rode to the crest of the hill and the guns were left where they were...


      ...Following the third assault, Ripley was particularly concerned that
      another attack would result in the retaking of the guns by the British. To
      prevent this happening, he prevailed on Porter to detach a force of men to
      drag off the captured guns. Without horses or proper drag ropes, the
      already exhausted militiamen started in their assigned duty, manhandling the
      massive pieces across the rough ground and down the incline to the south
      side of the hill. In this way the battery was further scattered across the
      hillside and possibly only one piece, a brass 6 pounder, actually reached
      the bottom of the slope before the men rebelled

      ".being tired out and half dead for want of water, the most of our faces
      scorched with powder, we refused to do any more."

      ...Hindman returned to the positions of his batteries to oversee their
      removal to the camp at Chippawa. Biddle's battery was relatively untouched
      and was soon limbered up and on the move; picking up on the way the British
      6 pounder left by Porter's militia. On the hilltop, however, the situation
      was significantly different. All of the American and British battery horses
      and gun crews were either dead or missing and the guns stood undefended in
      Lundy's Lane, well in front of the retired American line. In response,
      Hindman collected whatever artillerymen or soldiers he could muster and
      proceeded to wheel off the majority of Towson's and Ritchie's guns by hand.
      But without enough men to complete the job in a single effort, Hindman was
      forced to leave behind one of his own 6 pounder guns, a howitzer, and two
      ammunition wagons; as well as the remaining British artillery pieces, for
      what was expected to be a second trip. ..

      Informed that Hindman had already withdrawn his guns from in front of the
      American position, Ripley made the decision to quietly withdraw from the
      hilltop, much to the disgust of General Porter.

      Without bothering to establish a rearguard, the surviving troops formed
      composite units and then marched from the field, while stragglers and
      smaller detachments were used to bring away as many of the wounded as could
      be found. However, without Hindman or his artillerists, no effort was made
      by the infantry to see that Ripley's earlier order to remove the British
      guns had been completed.

      Hindman, on the other hand, did attempt to return for the remaining guns by
      sending forward a detachment of artillerymen and wagon drivers to prepare at
      least one of the British 24 pounder pieces for transportation; while he
      attempted to locate spare horses and bring them up to haul off the prizes.
      Upon his return, he found that the guns and at least part of his detachment
      had been overrun and re-captured by the British; forcing him to retreat as
      quietly as possible towards the American camp. During this journey, Hindman
      met Towson, returning with horses on a similar errand. Apprising Towson
      that the hill and the guns were once again in the hands of the British, the
      two officers gave up their attempt and returned to the American camp, where
      they were immediately engaged in working on preparing defences for an
      anticipated British attack on that position before dawn...

      Sorry for the inordinate length of this e-mail but that's how I saw it

      Regards, And Happy New Year,
      Richard Feltoe
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