This Week in History

Archives

The Battle of Longwoods

For the week of Monday March 4, 2013

On March 4, 1814, British regulars, Canadian militia and First Nations warriors clashed with an American raiding party at the Longwoods – a heavily forested area between present-day Thamesville and Delaware, Ontario. The party, commanded by U.S. Captain Andrew Holmes, sought to push British forces from an outpost they had established in Delaware. The raid, which saw very heavy losses for the allies, was one of many organized by Americans during the War of 1812.

The uniform button of the 89th Regiment of Foot, the Royal Irish Fusiliers
© Courtesy of the Niagara Falls History Museum
The raids began in October 1813, after the U.S.victory at the Battle of Lake Erie. An American army recovered Fort Detroit, captured Fort Amherstburg, and defeated retreating British and First Nations troops at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813. As a result, western Upper Canada lay open to American forces. British regulars, Canadian militia and First Nations allies defending their territory battled the invading Americans during the following months.

The British force was led by Captain James Lewis Basden and consisted of light companies from the 1st (Royal Scots) and 89th Regiments, a detachment of Kent militia, a company of Canadian rangers, and some First Nations Warriors, totalling around 300 men. They clashed with Holmes’ U.S. force of about 180 entrenched on top of a knoll, which became known as Battle Hill. Basden’s men were cut down by musket fire from atop the ravine, which flanked both sides of the hill. As darkness fell, the British force retreated east. However, Holmes knew his troops would be outnumbered if they reached Delaware and realized he could not successfully seize the British post. He began the retreat back to Detroit that same evening. 

Battle Hill Memorial
© Courtesy of ontarioplaques.com

Battle Hill, the site of the Battle of Longwoods, the scene of one of a series of American raids into western Upper Canada in late 1813 and 1814, was designated a National Historic Site in 1924.

This year is the second of the bicentennial of the War of 1812. For more stories about the war, read Hot Pursuit at French CreekMidnight Assault on Fort Niagara, and The Long Walk: 104th Regiment of Foot Departs for Quebec and Kingston in the This Week in History archives. Commemorative events will take place all over Canada. For more information on the War of 1812, visit Commemorating the War of 1812 on the Parks Canada website.

Date Modified: