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Lundy's Lane, battle of.

The contest near the great cataract of the Niagara is known in history by the names of “Bridgewater,” “Niagara Falls,” and “Lundy's Lane.” The latter is better known. On his retreat from the battleground at Chippewa, July 5, 1814, the British general, Riall, fled down the borders of the Niagara River to Queenston, put some of his troops in Fort George, and made his headquarters near the lake, 20 miles westward. Drummond was mortified by this discomfiture of his veteran troops by what he deemed to be raw Americans, and he resolved to wipe out the stain. He drew most of the troops from Burlington Bay, York, Kingston, and Prescott, with a determination to drive the invaders out of Canada. With a force about one-third greater than that of Brown, Drummond pushed forward to meet the latter. In the mean time Brown, after burying the dead and caring for the wounded, had moved forward to Queenston and menaced Fort George. He expected to see Chauncey with his squadron on the Niagara River to co-operate with him, but that commander was sick at Sackett's Harbor, and his vessels were blockaded there. Brown waited many days for the squadron. Losing all hope of aid from Chauncey, he fell back to the Chippewa battle-ground. On the 24th intelligence reached him that Drummond, with 1,000 men, many of them Wellington's veterans, had landed at Lewiston, opposite Queenston, with a view to seizing the American stores at Schlosser, above the falls. Brown ordered Scott to march rapidly with a part of the army and threaten the forts at the mouth of the river. Towards evening on the 24th Scott went forward with his brigade, Towson's artillery, and a few mounted men, and near the verge of the great cataract he saw some British officers leave a house, mount their horses, and ride

Site of the British battery—1860.

rapidly away. Believing an advance guard of the British were near, Scott dashed into the woods to disperse them, when he was confronted by Riall with a larger force that he had at Chippewa. The Americans [496] were in great peril. To stand still would be fatal; to retreat would be hazardous, for it might create a panic in the main army. So Scott resolved to fight the overwhelming force. At sunset a desperate battle was begun, which ended at near midnight. Riall's force was 1,800 strong, posted in slightly crescent form on an eminence over which passed Lundy's Lane, a highway stretching westward from the Niagara River. Upon that eminence the British had planted a battery. Scott perceived a blank between the British left and the river, and ordered Major Jesup with his command to crawl

James Miller's medal.

cautiously, in the evening twilight, through the underbrush that covered the space and turn that flank. Jesup obeyed, and successfully gained the British rear and kept back reinforcements sent by Drummond. At the same time Scott was hotly engaged with Riall. Brown, apprised of the situation, had pressed forward with his whole army and engaged in the fight. Perceiving the key of the British position to be the battery on the hill, he turned to Col. James Miller, of the 27th Regulars, and asked, “Can you storm that work and take it?” “I'll try,” was the prompt reply. With 300 men he moved steadily up the hill in the darkness, along a fence lined with thick bushes that hid his troops from the view of the gunners and their protectors who lay near. When within short musket-range of the battery, they could see the gunners with their glowing linstocks, ready to act at the word fire. Selecting two good marksmen, Miller directed each to rest his rifle on the fence, select a gunner, and fire at a given signal. Very soon every gunner fell, when Miller and his men rushed forward and captured the battery. This gallant exploit secured a victory; not, however, until a terrible hand-to-hand fight in the darkness with the protectors of the guns had ensued. The British fell back. They attempted to retake the battery (consisting of five brass cannon) but failed, even after being reinforced by 1,500 men sent forward by Drummond from Queenston. Meanwhile, General Scott had been fighting desperately but successfully, and had been severely wounded by a musket-ball in his shoulder. General Brown was also severely wounded, and the command devolved upon General Ripley. The British were repulsed, and the Americans fell back to Chippewa, with orders from General Brown to return after a brief rest, before the dawn, and occupy the battlefield. The always tardy and disobedient Ripley failed to obey the order, and the British returned and took possession of the battery (excepting one piece) and the field. The battle had been fought by about 4,500 British troops and 2,600 Americans. The latter lost in killed, [497] wounded, and missing, nearly one-third of their whole number; the British lost 878, or twenty-six more than the Americans. Both armies claimed a victory. Ripley, whose disobedience caused the Americans to lose the advantages of a victory won at midnight, led the army to Fort Erie, where he was soon afterwards superseded by Gen. E. P. Gaines. The exploit of Miller in capturing the battery was considered one of the most brilliant of the war. The moment that General Brown met Miller afterwards, he said, “You have immortalized yourself.” Congress voted him the thanks of the nation and a gold medal.

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