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Chapter 1: History Made at Queenston Heights.
The Revenge of the Crown : An Alternate 1812 and Beyond.

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Chapter 1: History Made at Queenston Heights.

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This is the first time I’ve ever seen the 49th turn their backs! Surely the heroes of Egmont will not tarnish their record!” – Sir Isaac Brock.

“The War of 1812, or as it is known in British North America, as the War of American Aggression, or as it is known in the United States, the War of National Humiliation, is a peculiar war. Why it started is itself subject to multiple debates. The American claim that the British were conscripting and impressing Americans into the Royal Navy was without a doubt, true. However the British claim that the Americans used this as an excuse to invade and conquer the Crown Colonies of Upper and Lower Canada are also valid in their argument, as even the moderates in the American government, such as James Monroe and Henry Clay wished to atleast gain Upper Canada in the aftermath of the war.

Nonetheless, war was declared on 18th June, 1812 between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the United States of America. However, the vast majority of British resources were then, being funneled into Europe, with the sole intention of bringing French domination of the European continent to heel, along with their emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. The majority of the veteran, and professional British troops were fighting in Iberia against the French invasion of Spain and Portugal under the command of the Iron Duke, the future Duke of Wellington. The Royal Navy was undertaking a feat that had never been seen before; the blockade of an entire continent. Under the Duke of Wellington, the British Army continued to advance in Iberia, and under famous admirals, the Royal Navy affirmed British naval dominance in the Atlantic and the North Sea. Because of this, Britain had precious little to spare to fight against their once colony. Nonetheless, the American attacks against British North America were nothing more than embarrassments to the American nation. They initially gained a foothold in Upper Canada and managed to create a fear of absorption into the United States among the people of the Canadian populace, many of whom were descendants of the loyalist American population who had fled from America into Canada after America won their independence with the aid of France, Netherlands and Spain.


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Sir Isaac Brock.

During the early stages of the War of 1812, one Sir Isaac Brock received a lot of attention. Major General Isaac Brock was both civil administrator of Upper Canada, and the commander of the military forces stationed there. He was an aggressive commander, and his successful capture of Detroit through deception had won him praise, the reputation as the ‘Savior of Upper Canada’ and a knighthood that he would find out he received after the Battle of Queenston Heights. However his superior at Quebec, General Sir George Prevost was of a more cautious bent, and two clashed with each other over strategy frequently.

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Sir George Prevost.

Brock had hastened back from Detroit, intending to cross into the Niagara, defeat Van Rensselaer before he would be reinforced and occupy Upper New York State. Prevost vetoed this plan, ordering Brock to behave more defensively. Not only was Prevost concerned with Brock’s apparently rash actions, but he was also aware that the British government had revoked several orders in council which affected American merchant ships, and thus removed some of the stated causes of the war. He believed that peace negotiations might result and did not wish to prejudice any talks by taking offensive action. He opened negotiations with General Dearborn, and arranged local armistices. The US government rejected Prevost’s approach, and ordered Dearborn ‘to proceed with utmost rigor in your operations’ after giving Prevost notice of the resumption of hostilities.

While Brock had been at Detroit, Major General Sheaffe had been in command of the troops on the Niagara. Acting under Prevost’s orders, Sheaffe had concluded an armistice with Colonel Van Rensselaer on 20th August, and had gone even further than Prevost’s orders by voluntarily restricting the movement of British troops and supplies. Brock returned to the Niagara on the 22nd, to find the armistice in effect. The terms of the armistice allowed the use of the river by both powers as a common waterway and Brock could only watch as American reinforcements and supplies were moved to Van Rensselaer’s army, without being able to take action to prevent it. The armistice ended on September 8, by which time, Van Rensselaer’s army was considerably better supplied than before. On October 9th, Van Rensselaer’s army tried to cross the Niagara in coordination with the troops of Alexander Smyth who was ordered to strike at Fort Erie. Nonetheless, this crossing failed as Smyth did not attack Fort Erie, and the small crossing attempt was repulsed handily by the Redcoats and Van Rensselaer stopped the crossings immediately after he heard the failure of Smyth to attack Fort Erie.


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Alexander Smyth.

Brock was made aware of the failed attempt at a crossing on 11th October, but he was not certain whether this was mere distraction. On 12th October, Major Thomas Evans crossed the Niagara River under a flag of truce to exchange prisoners with the American forces. He attempted to see Colonel Van Rensselaer but was told that the Colonel was sick. Instead he was met by a man named Toock, who claimed to be the Colonel’s secretary. It was later discerned that Toock was Major John Lovett in disguise, and he repeatedly told Evans that no exchange could arranged until the ‘day after tomorrow’. Evans caught this repetition of the phrase, and spotted several boats hidden under bushes along the shore. He deduced that a crossing was planned for the 13th of October, however when he returned to the Canadian side of the river, found himself ridiculed with mockery and laughter. However Brock, took Evans aside, and after a meeting, was convinced of the possibility of a crossing. That evening he dispatched several orders to the militia to assemble. On 13th October, Brock was at his headquarters in Niagara, Major General Sheaffe was at Fort George nearby with the main British force. There were other British detachments at Queenston, Chippawa and Fort Erie……” A Biography of Sir Isaac Brock, Oxford University, 2002.

“The village of Queenston consisted of a stone barrack and 20 houses each surrounded by a garden and peach orchards. Several farmhouses were scattered through the neighboring fields and pastures. The village lay at the mouth of the gorge of the River Niagara. Immediately south of the village, the ground rose 300 feet to Queenston Heights. The slope from the heights to the river bank was very steep but overgrown with shrubs and trees making it fairly easy to climb. Lewiston was on the American side of the river with the ground to its south rising to Lewiston Heights. The river was fast flowing and 200 yards wide, but was described as being little trouble to even the indifferent oarsman. The British detachment at Queenston consisted of the grenadier company of the 49th Regiment of the Foot under Captain James Dennis, a flank company of the 2nd Regiment of the York Militia under Captain George Chrisholm, and a detachment of the 41st Regiment of the Foot with a 3 pounder grasshopper cannon. The light company of the 49th under Captain John Williams was posted in huts on top of the hill. Meanwhile, an 18 pounder gun and a mortar were placed in a redan halfway up the heights that would be able to cover the riverline and a 24 pounder gun and a carronade were placed in a barbette in Vrooman’s Point, about a mile north of the village, guarded by companies of the 5th Regiment of the Lincoln Militia under Colonel Samuel Hatt. 2 more companies of the York Militia under Captain’s Cameroon and Heward were stationed three miles to the north covering the British flanks. The remaining local militia of the 5th Lincoln Militia were not on duty but were positioned in a manner that could be assembled in a very short notice.


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Battle of Queenston Heights.

Meanwhile the American forces involved were the 6th, 13th and 23rd US regiments of infantry with detachments of the US Artillery serving as infantry. The 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th Regiments of the New York Militia and a volunteer battalion of 900 regulars and 2650 militia were also present. Because of the fact that the US Army was being rapidly expanded, most of the regulars at Lewiston were recent recruits, and Van Rensselaer considered the miltiamen’s drill and doctrine to be superior to that of the regulars. The Americans also had 14 boats, 12 of which could hold 30 men each and 2 of which could hold 80 men each. A last minute squabble over seniority and precedence led to the command of the first landing party being split as well. Colonel Van Rensselaer led the militia contingent and Lieutenant Colonel John Chrystie of the 13th US Infantry led the regulars.

At about 4 a.m. the Americans began crossing the Niagara River on 13th October. 3 boats, including Chrystie’s boats were swept downstream by the current. One landed downstream and the other two, including Chrystie’s landed on the American side of the river. About a few minutes later, the remaining 10 boats under Colonel Van Rensselaer began landing at the village. A British sentry noticed them, and instead of shooting his musket to inform the Americans that they had been spotted, the sentry ran to Dennis’s headquarters to inform the Captain about the crossing. After waiting and observing the American crossing for a few minutes, Dennis’s troops began firing rolling accurate volleys into the Americans in the midst of them coming ashore, firing low so as to inflict debilitating wounds. Colonel Van Rensselaer was hit in the thigh by a musket ball as soon as he stepped out of his boat on the Canadian shore. As he tried to form up his troops and rally them, he was promptly hit 5 more times in the thigh, heel and calf, and though he survived he spent the rest of the battle out of action, weak from his wounds and blood loss. Captain John E. Wool of the 13th US Infantry took over command to retain the American foothold on the Canadian shore.

As this was going on, the British guns opened fire in the direction of the American landing stage at Lewiston and the American guns opened fire at Queenston village. Dennis’s troops were then driven back into the village but kept firing from the shelter of the houses inflicting losses on the American side. As the light grew, the British guns became more and more accurate. As a second wave of 6 American boats began to cross the river, 3 of these boats, including one which carried Lieutenant Colonel Chrystie, panicked as they came under fire. The crews promptly turned the boats around and made a break for the American shore, despite Chrystie’s attempts to stop the crews from doing so. This later caused controversy when Captain Lawrence, commanding one of the boats that did not turn around, asserted that Chrystie had ordered him to turn around and retreat leading to accusations of cowardice being throw at the Lieutenant Colonel. One of the four remaining boats was sunk by fire from the 3 pounder grasshopper and a trio of others, carrying Lieutenant Colonel John Fenwick and 80 men, drifted downstream and landed in Hamilton Cove, around 800 yards downriver, where a detachment of the York and Lincoln Militia quickly surrounded Fenwick’s men. A blistering fire was opened upon the US infantry; Fenwick was grievously wounded in the face of a pistol shot, also receiving musket balls into his right side and thigh. Their boats being destroyed by musket fire, their comrades dying, killed or wounded, the American troops under Fenwick quickly surrendered. The last of the four boats drifted to easy range of the gun at Vrooman’s point and it’s occupants surrendered….” A Military History of the War of 1812, University of Cambridge, 2015.

“At Fort George, Brock had been awakened by the noise of the artillery at Queenston. As he considered that the attack might be a diversion, he ordered only a few detachments to move to Queenston, but galloped there himself alongside some aides, one of whom advised Brock to leave the sash given to him by Tecumseh at the Fort stating that the sash made him susceptible to sharpshooters. Brock followed this advice. Brock passed into the village as dawn broke, being cheered by the men of the 49th, who knew him well, and moved up to the redan to get a better view.

Atop the redan, Brock backtracked immediately as he saw the amount of American troops at Lewiston. He immediately dispatched a messenger back to Fort George asking Major General Sheaffe to come with the main British forces to Queenston immediately. Seeing the sheer amount of American troops and logistical columns, Brock became sure that the attack was not diversionary in nature. The 18 pounder gun and the howitzer were causing great damage amongst the American boats. Since coming ashore, an hour and a half earlier, the US Forces were pinned down along the river. Prompted by Lieutenant Ganesvoot of the US Artillery who knew the area well, the wounded Colonel Van Rensselaer ordered captains Wool and Ogilvie to take a detachment upstream and ‘ascend the heights by the point of the rock and storm the battery.’ The redan had very troops guarding it, the light company of the 49th having been ordered from the heights into the village in support of Dennis and the grenadier company. Wool’s troops attacked about after half an hour after Brock arrived, forcing his small party to flee into the village after quickly spiking the guns rendering them unable to be used.


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Colonel MacDonell leading the attack at the heights.

Carefully assessing his situation, Brock ordered the elements of Dennis’s company to move up the hill and recapture the redan, or at least try to do so. Despite being a lawyer by trade and experience, Lieutenant-Colonel MacDonell led the attempt to retake the redan, together with Captain Williams whilst Brock led the rest of the militia on a diversionary attack on the flanks of the hill to pin the Americans on the hill down. MacDonell and Williams commanded around 80 to 90 men and advanced towards the redan. American Captain Wool had been reinforced by more troops who had made it across the plains and the hill, and MacDonell faced around 400 troops in total. Despite the daunting numerical difference, as well as attacking a fixed position, William’s and MacDonell’s small force drove Wool’s forces towards the gorge, aided by Brock’s pincer and pinning movement. As the Americans tried to regroup, Brock ordered his militiamen and some regulars to start sharpshooting into the midst of Wool’s troops, which disrupted their reorganization attempts, and the battle’s momentum turned when MacDonell took advantage of Brock’s diversion and recaptured the redan forcing Wool to retreat halfway downhill from where he continued to try and retake the redan.

By 9 a. m. Wool had been shot in the chest by a musketball and had instantly died. By this point, the Americans, whilst they had lost the redan, did hold a portion of Queenston Heights. Colonel Van Rensselaer ordered the American portion of the heights to be fortified. Lieutenant Joseph Gilbert Totten of the US Engineers traced out the positions of the proposed fortifications. Van Rensselaer appointed Lieutenant Colonel Winfield Scott of the 2nd US Artillery to take command of the regulars on the American captured part of Queenston Heights.

Meanwhile at around 11 a. m. British reinforcements under Major General Sheaffe arrived in earnest. Sheaffe had received Brock’s orders to come from Fort George, however had had a hard time managing the troops in good order, which held him up for a good amount of time. Along with him, he brought three 2 pounder guns under Captain William Holcroft supported by the 41st under Captain Derenzy. At 11 a. m. Winfield Scott’s position on the left side of the heights became precarious as the British redan and Holcroft’s guns bared down on him. Both guns fired and after a brief firefight, Winfield Scott of the 12th Artillery had been killed in the firefight and the rest of the remaining American troops withdrew to the plains next to the shore of the Niagara river in the face of overwhelming firepower. Next the 3 six pounder guns alongside the redan began firing at the American shipping on the Niagara river again, making American crossings on the river hazardous once again.

At the same time, 300 Mohawk troops under Captain John Norton and Captain John Brant arrived at Queenston alongside Sheaffe. Both Sheaffe and the Mohawk force grouped up with Brock who had been waiting impatiently for the troops to arrive. The 300 Mohawk troops were ordered to fall upon the defensive line formed by the Americans under Chrystie at the foot of the heights. The Mohawk troops fell upon Chrystie’s men, and were repulsed, but nonetheless, Brock knew about the irrational fear of natives that many American harbored, and indeed, due to the skirmish, the Americans were heavily disgruntled. The warcries of the natives made many American troops at Lewiston too scared to cross the river.

Brock then ordered Sheaffe to conduct frontal diversionary attacks with his reinforcements, whilst Brock took command of the extra troops and took his troops behind the Heights hiding his troops from the American artillery. He led his men to a detour as men from the Chippawa of the 41st Regiment under Captain Richard Bullock joined up with Brock.


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Major General Sheaffe.

When Van Rensselaer saw Sheaffe’s troops attacking frontally, he determined this moment to cross the river from Lewiston again. He However he found the troops in Lewiston disorganized and a mass of disorderly crowds. He was unable to cajole the troops into crossing the river, and he then tried to convince the civilian oarsmen to ferry the troops back and fro from the river, which they refused to do. The Colonel later expressed his total disbelief. ‘….to my utter astonishment, I found that at the very moment when I could strike and provide victory, the ardor of the unengaged troops had entirely subsided. I rode in all directions, cajoling them to fight, but in vain.’ He sent a message to Brigadier General Wadsworth and Chrystie which let them have the decision on to whether or not the Americans would have to withdraw from the battle or not, and promised to send boats if Wadsworth and Chrystie decided to withdraw.

As Sheaffe continued to pin the Americans at the heights, Brock and his forces emerged from the flanks of Wadsworth’s and Chrystie’s force. Wadsworth immediately threw up haphazard earthworks and asked Chrystie to withdraw alongside him as he saw the flanking forces of Brock. Chrystie initially had wished to stay on the Canadian side of the shore, however after he realized the gravity of the situation, with Brock and Sheaffe commanding huge amounts of reinforcements he agreed. Brock attacked at 1 p. m. with the riflemen and musketmen of the British troops leading a bayonet charge at Wadsworth’s men alongside native American troops. The war cries of the Native Americans, made the American militiamen feel themselves doomed, and they retreated en masse without orders. Chrystie managed to flee the battle at the Canadian shore managing to retreat with 70 troops under his command. However by the next half hour, Wadsworth found himself completely surrounded and he surrendered alongside the 350 troops under his command. The rest of the American militia on the Canadian side of the shore fought however, and the Native Americans, angered at the deaths of two of their chiefs, massacred the rest of the American militia who did not wish to surrender, and promptly, the smart and fearful American militias surrendered as well.

The aftermath of the Battle of Queenston Heights had widespread impacts. The British side had lost 23 men killed, 89 men wounded, and 22 captured along with 3 missing in action. Around 80 to 90 Americans died in the battle, and around 950 troops, including 110 officers were captured by the British army. Around 7 Americans were also missing in action after the battle.

After the battle, Brock immediately proposed a small armistice for 4 days, which Van Rensselaer accepted, as both exchanged dead bodies with one another. After this, Van Rensselaer immediately resigned, and was succeeded by Alexander Smyth, the officer who had failed to attack Fort Erie. Soon after the armistice ended, Brock would pursue the American troops into Upper New York and continued the War of the 1812 from there…..” The War of Isaac Brock, Penguin Publishers, 1998.

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This is a TL I've been writing ever since I joined AH.com
Unlike some of other TLs, this is going to be a long drawn out one, with updates coming once in a week or two, so bear with me!
How's the beginning?
 
Nice work. It might be nice to number ([1]) the POD(s) as I always find that useful. There are a couple of very minor typos ("He however he" and "However Brock, took Evans aside, and after a meeting,...").

I currently have access to two online university libraries (Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Huddersfield) and so am happy to try and find any sources you might need.

Northstar
 
Nice work. It might be nice to number ([1]) the POD(s) as I always find that useful. There are a couple of very minor typos ("He however he" and "However Brock, took Evans aside, and after a meeting,...").

I currently have access to two online university libraries (Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Huddersfield) and so am happy to try and find any sources you might need.

Northstar
Thanks! i would appreciate the sources later on!
 
Pugilist Isaac Brock is going to kick some ass! I have a soft spot for any TL that doesn't kill Brock so I'm looking forward to this!
Indeed, on the operational level, the logistical feats Brock committed himself and the absolutely madlad operations he conducted for the era when I read them were quite astonishing. Though, he was cautious when the situations demanded it. I do hope I can portray him properly.

P.S - I love your timeline.
 
Indeed, on the operational level, the logistical feats Brock committed himself and the absolutely madlad operations he conducted for the era when I read them were quite astonishing. Though, he was cautious when the situations demanded it. I do hope I can portray him properly.

P.S - I love your timeline.
Many thanks! I do like Brock and feel that the war would probably have changed dramatically were he still alive. His audacity coupled with his sheer force of personality could have accomplished some great things. Though things still have to go well on the lakes to change appreciably from OTL!

Looking forward to more.
 
Well, the timeline Decades of Darkness by @Jared has an *Draka-like US (here's a link to it: https://www.alternatehistory.com/decadesofdarkness/). OTOH, if you want the US to go fully mad, read the TL What Madness is This? by @Napoleon53 (here's the link to Volume I: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/what-madness-is-this-volume-i-the-union-forever.451900/ and Volume II here: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/what-madness-is-this-vol-ii-the-pinnacle-future.483964/ and here: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/what-madness-is-this-volume-ii-prophecies-in-the-dark.490976/).

While I suggest you not rip off either timeline completely, there are probably some ideas for your TL there...

I've also been wondering what would have happened if Brock lived ITTL...
 
Well, the timeline Decades of Darkness by @Jared has an *Draka-like US (here's a link to it: https://www.alternatehistory.com/decadesofdarkness/). OTOH, if you want the US to go fully mad, read the TL What Madness is This? by @Napoleon53 (here's the link to Volume I: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/what-madness-is-this-volume-i-the-union-forever.451900/ and Volume II here: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/what-madness-is-this-vol-ii-the-pinnacle-future.483964/ and here: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/what-madness-is-this-volume-ii-prophecies-in-the-dark.490976/).

While I suggest you not rip off either timeline completely, there are probably some ideas for your TL there...

I've also been wondering what would have happened if Brock lived ITTL...
I have read the TLs, and while I do like them......I don't intend for this TL to be dystopian in such ways.
 
I have read the TLs, and while I do like them......I don't intend for this TL to be dystopian in such ways.
Reminds me of Wrapped in Flames: The Great American War and Beyond in terms of writing style, format and the British and the Canadians fighting the Americans. It even has the word "Beyond" in the subtitle.
 
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I am obviously a bit of a sucker for realistic Canada focused timelines and this seems to fit the bill rather nicely! Keep it up, I'll be watching how this unfolds.
 
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