Calendar of Events
NIAGARA ON FIRE! www.niagaraonfire.com
Battle of Fort George - Backgrounder
On May 25, 1813, artillery from a US Naval squadron, from Fort Niagara and from US cannon batteries on the Niagara River opened a massive barrage of Fort George and its dependencies. Hit with mortar shells, red-hot shot and standard cannon balls, the wooden buildings of the fort and of Navy Hall were destroyed.
Two days later, an American invasion force of some 5000 men landed on the shore of Lake Ontario, just west of the Town of Niagara. The defending force of British regulars, Canadian militia and Aboriginal allies, about 1000 men in total, were forced to retreat after a sharp action on the lakeshore at the landing place.
The British abandoned the town and the ruins of the fort, retreating towards Queenston and finally towards Burlington Heights at the head of the lake near present day Hamilton.
The Americans took possession of the fort and town and assigned an army to pursue the British up the lake towards Burlington Heights. This force camped at Stoney Creek on the approach to Burlington Heights on the night of June 5. Here they were attacked by a much smaller British force in the early hours of June 6 and so were forced to retreat back to Niagara. On their retreat, the US forces were fired on by a Royal Navy flotilla at Forty Mile Creek (Grimsby) and harassed by Six Nations warriors and British regulars. This hastened their retreat to Fort George.
For the rest of the summer and into the autumn of 1813 the Americans remained in control of the Niagara/Fort George beachhead but were able to make little headway in expanding their invasion into Upper Canada. By December, they realized that it was not strategically expedient to try and defend Fort George. They retreated across the Niagara River on December 10, burning the Town of Niagara as they departed.
The British quickly reoccupied the ruins of Fort George and on December 19 captured Fort Niagara. For the rest of the war the British occupied Fort Niagara and Fort George and began construction of Fort Mississauga to guard the mouth of the Niagara River. Butler’s Barracks, a commissariat and barracks complex, was begun at the same time in the spring of 1814.