Begging your lordships's pardons, the report from the IMUC detachment at our recent glorious victory on the St. Lawrence (near the farm of one John Crysler, esq) is ready for your perusal.
Although small in number, the detachment of our troops under Chris "Corporal Punishment" Wattie gave a good account of themselves in the two days of action against the numerically superior American foe. Ranged alongside the ranks of the 49th of Foot, our muskets added force to the volleys which told with such great effect upon the American line. A number of rankers distinguished themselves in the action, among them Pte. Will "Tiger" Woods and Pte. Tim "Irascible" Avery, who succeeded in capturing a quantity of American powder which they were awarded by a grateful British commander as bounty. In his wisdom, our own Capt. Everett secured the 4 lbs of powder for transport to battalion quartermaster, knowing the privates in question and their propensity for selling powder, gear and other necessaries in order to obtain gin. The two privates, along with I am sad to say Cpl. Wattie, nonetheless somehow secured a supply of strong drink and had to be chastised Sunday morn by a ruddy-faced Capt. Everett for carousing late into the night with a company of ne'er-do-wells from the 89th Regt. who were billetted nearby.
Nonetheless, our victory before a loud and enthusiastic crowd of the local populace, was not besmirched by such high-jinks. Among the onlookers was the former Pte. Brad "Ventilated" Mark, whom after his tragic wounding upon the field of Penetang, has apparently been pensioned off to a farm nearby. One curious incident during the battle commends itself to your lordships' attention: the IMUC coy was bolstered by the presence of one Pte. Smith (Christian name unknown) who was distinguishable from his fellows by his remarkable resemblance to the Famous Capt. Everett. He conducted himself well during a sharp evening skirmish with the American rearguard, despite much shouting and abuse from Cpl. Wattie, however went missing afterwards and is presumed to be among our casualties. Our lone campfollower is also deserving of praise for her efforts cooking, despite the impossibility of lighting a fire in the vicinity of the American forces, and distributing fresh fruit and water to the men to assauge their thirst. She has also completed a series of sketches which will be forwarded to your Lordships in the next post. I wish to also draw your Lordships' attention to the beauty of the countryside upon which the decisive engagement was fought, and the gratitude and generosity of the leading citizens of the nearby village.
I remain your humble and obedient & etc..
Cpl. Chris Wattie
In the autumn of 1812 the American Army, under the command of General James Wilkinson, began its descent to the St. Lawrence River for the projected capture of Montreal. At about the same time another American Army, under the command of General Wade Hampton, began its march on Montreal, approaching it from the south. Wilkinson's army of seven thousand men and twenty-four guns slipped past Kingston in a great flotilla of boats. He bypassed the guns of fort Wellington by landing his troops above the fort and marching down river on the American side while his boats ran past at night. By the evening of November 10th the build of his army had been concentrated at Cook's Point. about two miles east of the farm of John Crysler.
The brigade under General Brown had been detached previously to clear out a small party of militia that had been reported at the Long Sault Rapids. This left on shore about 4000 men under the command of Brigadier General Boyd. Wilkinson had excused himself and lay indisposed on board the flotilla. In the meantime a small British force, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Wanton Morrison, had moved out of Kingston in pursuit of Wilkinson.
At Fort Wellington this small force, numbering about 800 men and officially designated a "Corps of Observation," was augmented by part of the garrison under Colonel Pearson. On the evening of November 10th, Morrison made his headquarters in John Crysler's House, just west of the American encampment.
The next morning Morrison send his skirmisher, consisting of Voltigeurs and Indians , to scout the American camp. when the skirmishers began annoying his pickets, General Boyd determined to turn around and crush the British force that had been following them. Deploying his two brigades for the attack, the two forces met in the open fields of the Crysler Farm. Promising his men a "a fair field and no favour", Morrison was sure that his well-disciplined regulars would prevail in an open-field Europeon-style battle.
In a series of unco-ordinated manoeuvres, the American Army was unable to drive Morrison's force from the field. After a seesaw contest, Boyd ordered his dragoons to charge Morrison's right flank on the King's Road. When this charge was repulsed by a well directed volley of musketry, the American Army began to lose heart Boyd's men quit the field. One of Wilkinson's brigade commanders, General Covington, was mortally wounded during the battle.
The next morning Wilkinson pushed forward to the Long Sault Rapids, only now he commanded a demoralized army. soon after Wilkinson received a message from General Hampton, which informed him that his army would not rendezvous with him at St. Regis as originally planned. In fact, Hampton had been turned back at the Battle of Chatequguay on October 26th and now was in full retreat to Plattsburg. Wilkinson, who hated Hampton in the first place, now had the excuse he wanted, and he retired his army to winter quarters at French Mills, ending the entire campaign.
The failure of he Wilkinson-Hampton Campaign was a turning point. It represented one of America's last chance to win the war with a knockout blow. By 1812 it would be too late, for with the overthrow of Napoleon in Europe, Britain would be able to send enough soldiers for the proper defence of Upper Canada. The twin victories of Crysler's Farm and Chateauguay were truly decisive.
Most of the actual site of the Battle of Crysler's Farm now lies under the St. Lawrence River, a victim of the Seaway Project of the late 1950's. The battle has been commemorated with the construction of a huge memorial mound, created from the earth from the battlefield. The monument, which was dedicated in 1985, was moved form its original site to the top of the mound, where it can be seen today. Incidentally, the victor of the Battle Of Crysler's Farm. Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Wonton Morrison, has been somewhat of a mystery. In 1960, when the St. Lawrence Development Commission was engaged in research on the battle, they did and extensive search for a portrait of Colonel Morrison.
But all efforts to secure a portrait failed. Even into the 1980's, no portrait of Colonel Morrison was thought to have existed.
The Crysler's Farm Battlefield Park is administered by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, and is located east of Morrisburg, Ontario at Upper Canada Village. (Collins, Gilbert, Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812, 1998, pages 184-187)
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