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Beaver Dams, affair at the.

After leaving Fort George the British established a strong post and depot of supplies at the Beaver Dams, among the hills 18 miles west of Queenstown. Dearborn determined to attempt the capture of this post and its stores, and for that purpose he detached 570 infantry, some cavalry under Major Chapin, a few artillerymen, and two field-pieces, all under the command of Lieut.-Col. Charles G. Boerstler. They marched up the Niagara River to Queenstown (June 23, 1813), and the next morning pushed off westward. Their march appears to have been discovered by the British, for while Chapin's mounted men were in the advance and marching among the hills, Boerstler's rear was attacked by John Brant, at the head of 450 Mohawk and Caughnawaga Indians, who lay in ambush. Chapin was instantly called back, and the Americans in a body charged upon the Indians and drove them almost a mile. Then Boerstler hesitated, and the Indians, rallying, bore upon his flank and rear, and kept up a galling fire at every exposed situation. The Americans pushed forward over the Beaver Dam Creek. fighting the dusky foe at a great disadvantage, and made conscious that they were almost surrounded by them. After keeping up this contest, for about three hours, Boerstler determined to abandon the expedition, when he found himself confronted by an unexpected force. Mrs. Laura Secord, a slight and delicate woman, living at Queenstown, became acquainted with Dearborn's plans, and at the time when Boerstler and his forces left Fort George--a hot summer evening — she made a circuitous journey of 19 miles on foot to the quarters of Lieutenant-Colonel Fitzgibbon (who was in command of some regulars at the Beaver Dams) and warned him of his danger. Thus forewarned, he had ordered the Indian ambush, and, displaying his men to the best advantage after Boerstler had crossed the creek, he boldly demanded the surrender of the Americans to Major De Haven, commander of the district. For this purpose Fitzgibbon bore a flag himself. He falsely assured Boerstler that his party was only the advance of 1,500 British troops and 700 Indians, under Lieutenant-Colonel Bisshopp, and that the barbarians were so exasperated that it would be difficult to restrain them from massacring the Americans. Boerstler. deceived and alarmed, agreed to surrender on certain conditions. De Haven, whom Fitzgibbon had sent for, came up with 200 men, and Boerstler and 500 soldiers were made prisoners. It had been agreed that the captives should be protected and sent back on parole. This promise was broken. The Indians plundered the captive troops, and the latter were sent to Burlington Heights and kept prisoners of war. When Boerstler was first attacked by the Indians, he sent a courier back to Dearborn for aid, and that commander sent Colonel Christie with 300 men to reinforce him. When they reached Queenstown, they heard of the surrender, and hastened back to camp with the sad intelligence. The British advanced upon Queenstown, and, occupying that place, soon invested Fort George.

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Charles G. Boerstler (9)
Fitzgibbon (3)
Chapin (3)
Caughnawaga Indians (2)
De Haven (2)
Henry Dearborn (2)
Laura Secord (1)
Beaver Dams (1)
Alexander Christie (1)
John Brant (1)
Cecil Bisshopp (1)
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June 23rd, 1813 AD (1)
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