This Week in History
The Battle of Beaver Dams
This story was originally published June 25, 2012
On June 24, 1813, smack in the middle of the War of 1812, an American force launched what it believed would be a surprise attack against a small British outpost at militia officer John DeCew’s house in present-day Thorold, Ontario. However, First Nations allies of the British were warned of the impending attack and were able to ambush the Americans in the Battle of Beaver Dams.
Three days prior to the Battle of Beaver Dams, Laura Secord from Queenston had overheard Americans discussing secret plans to attack the British at DeCew House. She journeyed 32 kilometres across dangerous terrain to warn the British of the pending attack.
Mohawk leader John Norton said of the battle, “The Caughnawaga Indians fought the battle, the Mohawks got the plunder and Fitzgibbon got the credit.” Fitzgibbon gave full credit to the First Nations who fought the battle in his official reports, but the media and the public portrayed him as the victor. Much later, Laura Secord was credited as the heroine who warned Fitzgibbon. The defeat of the Americans was significant as it left the British in control of the Niagara region for the remainder of 1813.
Battle of Beaver Dams is a national historic site; remembered as an important British victory largely accomplished by the First Nations. Laura Ingersoll Secord is a national historic person for her role in the War of 1812.
For more information on the Battle of Beaver Dams and the role of Laura Secord, see Laura Secord in the This Week in History archives.
Celebrate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 with us! For more information on the war and commemorative events, visit Commemorating the War of 1812 and War of 1812 Artefacts on the Parks Canada website. Be sure to read other This Week in History stories about the War of 1812 such as: “St. Joseph...the Military Siberia of Upper Canada”, The British Lose Ground, A Warrior's Death, HMS Shannon defeats and captures USS Chesapeake and This Means War!
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