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American Invasion Stopped at Crysler’s Farm

For the week of Monday November 11, 2013

On November 11 1813, a combined force of British, Canadian and Aboriginal troops defeated a much larger American army at Crysler’s Farm near Morrisburg, Ontario. This battle was one of many fought on Canadian soil during the War of 1812. Though numbering only 1,169 men, the British, Canadian and Aboriginal troops took on 3,050 Americans and won!

A sketch of the Battle of Crysler’s Farm
© Canadian Military History Gateway
U.S. Major General James Wilkinson was leading his men to Montréal. On the way, his army had bypassed Fort Wellington, where the British were gathering forces. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Morrison, the British left the fort to chase the Americans. Morrison’s men caught up at Crysler’s Farm.

Though there were 7,300 U.S. troops ready to fight, only 3,050 of them went to battle. The Americans mistook the well-trained British regulars on the battlefield, who were wearing grey winter coats on top of their distinctive red uniforms, for militia. They believed they were up against a much weaker force and attacked without a proper plan.

Crysler’s Farm was an open, European-style battlefield, which suited the British. As the fighting erupted, Canadian skirmishers alongside First Nations warriors began harassing the American lines. The British regulars then advanced across the open field to engage the main American force. 

Battle of Crysler's Farm commemorative monument
© Parks Canada Agency / Dan Pagé, 2008.

Thanks to their discipline, the British line held under fire, and after two hours of heavy fighting the Americans retreated. The American defeat at Crysler’s Farm, combined with their earlier defeat in October at Châteauguay, meant that they had to call off their invasion. Montréal was saved!

The Battle of Crysler’s Farm was designated a National Historic Site because it was one of the decisive battles of the War of 1812. Today the actual battlefield is under water, but a monument can be found nearby in Upper Canada Village.

To learn more about the defence of Canada, read Salaberry Blocks American Thrust against Montréal and Hot Pursuit at French Creek. For more information on the War of 1812, please visit Parks Canada’s page dedicated to commemorating the War of 1812. To see a typical uniform worn by a British officer at the battle of Crysler’s Farm, visit Artefact of the Week: Officer Dress Coat, 49th Regiment of Foot. A medal awarded to a Canadian who participated in the battle can be seen at Artefact of the week: Military General Service Medal for Hypolite Guilbeault of the Lower Canada Militia.

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