The Info List - Battle Of Chippawa

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Coordinates : 43°03′08″N 79°01′29″W / 43.052127°N 79.024720°W / 43.052127; -79.024720


Part of the War of 1812
War of 1812

Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott
leads his infantry brigade forward.

DATE July 5, 1814

LOCATION Chippawa , Upper Canada
Upper Canada
(present-day Ontario

RESULT American victory


United Kingdom
United Kingdom
United States
United States


Phineas Riall
Phineas Riall
Jacob Brown
Jacob Brown
Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott
Peter Porter


2,100 3,500


108 dead 319 wounded 75 wounded prisoners 15 captured 18 missing

60 killed 249 wounded 19 missing


OFFICIAL NAME Battle of Chippawa
Battle of Chippawa
National Historic Site of Canada


* v * t * e

Niagara campaigns

* Queenston Heights * Frenchman\'s Creek * Fort George * Stoney Creek * Beaver Dams * Black Rock * Fort Niagara * Buffalo * Port Dover * 1st Fort Erie
Fort Erie
* Chippawa * Lundy\'s Lane * 2nd Fort Erie
Fort Erie
* Cook\'s Mills

Battle of Chippawa
Battle of Chippawa

The BATTLE OF CHIPPAWA (sometimes incorrectly spelled Chippewa) was a victory for the United States
United States
Army in the War of 1812
War of 1812
, during an invasion of the British Empire's colony of Upper Canada
Upper Canada
along the Niagara River
Niagara River
on July 5, 1814. This battle and the subsequent Battle of Lundy\'s Lane demonstrated that trained American troops could hold their own against British regulars. The battlefield is a National Historic Site .


* 1 Background

* 1.1 Scott\'s Camp of Instruction * 1.2 Niagara campaign

* 2 Battle

* 2.1 Casualties

* 3 Aftermath * 4 Legacy * 5 Notes * 6 Sources


Early in 1814, it was clear that Napoleon was defeated in Europe
, and seasoned British veteran soldiers from the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
would be redeployed to Canada. The United States
United States
Secretary of War , John Armstrong Jr. , was eager to win a victory in Canada before British reinforcements arrived there.

Major General Jacob Brown
Jacob Brown
was ordered to form the LEFT DIVISION of the Army of the North. Armstrong intended him to mount an attack on Kingston , the main British base on Lake Ontario
, with a diversion by militia across the Niagara River
Niagara River
to distract the British. He had however drawn up alternate orders for a major attack across the Niagara, possibly as a contingency plan, but probably to mislead the British through deliberate leaks. Brown considered that he was being presented with two alternate plans, and was free to choose between them. Although Brigadier General Edmund P. Gaines
Edmund P. Gaines
tried to persuade Brown to make the attack on Kingston, it proved impossible for Brown to gain any cooperation from Commodore Isaac Chauncey
Isaac Chauncey
(commanding the American naval squadron based at Sackett\'s Harbor, New York ) which was essential for any such attack. Chauncey was waiting for new ships to be completed and refused to make any move before the middle of July. Brown therefore made the attack across the Niagara into the main effort.


Armstrong had also directed that two "Camps of Instruction" be set up, to improve the standards of the regular units of the United States Army. One was at Plattsburgh, New York
Plattsburgh, New York
, under Brigadier General George Izard . The other was at Buffalo, New York
Buffalo, New York
, near the head of the Niagara River, under Brigadier General Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott

At Buffalo, Scott instituted a major training programme. He drilled his troops for ten hours every day, using the 1791 Manual of the French Revolutionary Army
French Revolutionary Army
. (Prior to this, various American regiments had been using a variety of different manuals, making it difficult to manoeuvre any large American force). Scott also purged his units of any remaining inefficient officers who had gained their appointments through political influence rather than experience or merit, and he insisted on proper camp discipline including sanitary arrangements. This reduced the wastage from dysentery and other enteric diseases which had been heavy in previous campaigns.

There was only one major deficiency; Scott had been unable to obtain enough regulation blue uniforms for his men. Although they had been manufactured and sent to the northern theater, they had been diverted to Plattsburgh and Sackets Harbor. The United States
United States
Army's Commissary General, Callender Irvine, hastily ordered 2,000 uniforms to be made and despatched to Buffalo for Scott's other units, but because there was insufficient blue cloth, short jackets (roundabouts) of grey cloth were used instead. When Scott received the grey roundabouts, he gathered up the blue coatees belonging to his brigade and gave them to the 21st US Infantry (one of the units in Brigadier General Eleazer Wheelock Ripley 's brigade), because "the black coatees of the 21st are a disgrace to the uniform and soldier of the army of the United States" (G.O. 16, Winfield Scott, May 24, 1814).


By early July, Brown's division was massed at the Niagara, in accordance with Armstrong's alternate orders. Without cooperation from Chauncey, a direct attack on Fort George at the mouth of the Niagara was impossible. Nor was it possible to land large numbers of troops on the southern side of the Niagara Peninsula and advance on Burlington to cut off the British on the Niagara River
Niagara River
, because the American squadron on Lake Erie
Lake Erie
(and the regular troops at Detroit
) had been diverted to attempt the recapture of Fort Mackinac
Fort Mackinac
on Lake Huron
Lake Huron
. Armstrong suggested that Brown should therefore capture and hold Fort Erie , opposite Buffalo, while waiting for Chauncey to ready his squadron. Brown assented, but was prepared to push much further than the immediate vicinity of Fort Erie.

On July 3, Brown's army, consisting of the regular brigades commanded by Scott (with 1,377 men) and Ripley (with 1,082 men), and four companies of artillery numbering 327 men under Major Jacob Hindman, easily surrounded and captured Fort Erie
Fort Erie
which was defended only by two weak companies under Major Thomas Buck. After a brigade of 750 volunteers from the militia under Brigadier General Peter B. Porter and 600 Iroquois
arrived on July 4, Scott began advancing north along the portage road alongside the Niagara River. A British covering force under Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Pearson was easily driven back before they could destroy any of the bridges or block the road with fallen trees.

Late in the day, Scott encountered British defences on the far bank of Chippawa Creek , near the town of Chippawa . After a brief exchange of artillery fire, Scott withdrew a few miles to Street's Creek. Here he planned to give his troops a belated Fourth of July parade the next day, while Brown manoeuvred other units to cross the Chippawa upstream.

Opposed to Scott was the Right Division of the British Army
British Army
in Upper Canada, under Major General Phineas Riall
Phineas Riall
. Riall believed that Fort Erie was still holding out, and the Americans would therefore have detached large numbers of troops to mask it, leaving only 2,000 men to face his division. He may also have believed that his opponents were militia but was comparatively new to command in Canada and relied on information from Lieutenant Colonel John Harvey , the Deputy Adjutant General for the forces in Upper Canada, that even the United States regulars were of poor quality. Riall determined to cross the Chippawa River and mount an attack to drive the Americans back across the Niagara and relieve Fort Erie.


Early on July 5, British light infantry, militia and Indians crossed the Chippawa ahead of Riall's main body and began sniping at Scott's outposts from the woods to their west. (Some of them nearly captured Scott, who was having breakfast in a farmhouse.) Brown ordered Porter's brigade and Indians to clear the woods. They did so, but they met Riall's advancing regulars and hastily retreated.

Scott was already advancing from Street's Creek. His artillery (Captain Nathaniel Towson 's company, with three 12-pounder guns) deployed on the portage road and opened fire. Riall's own guns (two light 24-pounder guns and a 5.5-inch howitzer) attempted to reply, but Towson's guns destroyed an ammunition wagon and put most of the British guns out of action.

Meanwhile, Scott's troops deployed into line with the 25th U.S. Infantry on the left near the woods, the 11th U.S. Infantry and 9th U.S. Infantry in the centre and the 22nd U.S. Infantry on the right with Towson's guns. At first, Riall was under the impression that the American line was composed of grey-clad militia troops, whom the professional British soldiers held in much contempt. He expected the poorly trained soldiers to fall back in disarray after the first few volleys. As the American line continued to hold steady under British artillery fire, Riall realized his error and supposedly exclaimed his famous phrase "Those are regulars, by God!" (Scott appears to be the only source for Riall's utterance; there is no record of it in any British source.)

The British infantry, with the 1st (Royal Scots) Foot and the 100th Foot leading and the 8th (King\'s) Foot in reserve, were advancing very awkwardly and becoming bunched and disordered, because Riall had formed them into line for an advance over uneven ground with some very long grass instead of keeping them in column, in which they could have advanced more rapidly. Advancing in line meant that Riall's troops moved more slowly and were under fire from the American artillery for longer. The only benefit of using the line formation instead of column was that it increased firepower, yet Riall sacrificed even this advantage by ordering his infantry to fire only one volley before closing with the bayonet. As the redcoats of the 1st and 100th Regiments moved forward, their own artillery had to stop firing in order to avoid hitting them. Meanwhile, the American gunners switched from firing roundshot to firing canister , with lethal consequences for the British infantry. Once the opposing lines had closed to less than 100 yards apart, Scott advanced his wings, forming his brigade into a "U" shape which allowed his flanking units to catch Riall's advancing troops in a heavy crossfire.

Both lines stood and fired repeated volleys; after 25 minutes of this pounding Riall, his own coat pierced by a bullet, ordered a withdrawal. The 1/8th, which had been moving to the right of the other two regiments, formed line to cover their retreat. As they in turn fell back, three British 6-pounder guns came into action to cover their withdrawal, with two more 6-pounders firing from the entrenchments north of the Chippawa. Scott halted his brigade, although some of Porter's Iroquois
pursued the British almost to the Chippawa.


17-year-old soldier “Wound by the bursting of a Bomb”. New York Pension Roll, 1815.

The American official casualty return stated the loss as 60 killed, 249 wounded and 19 missing.

British losses had been heavy; the 100th Regiment, which held the center, was reduced to ...one Captain 303 British regulars (not including Captains Bird and Wilson, who come under the 'wounded prisoners' category), 16 Canadian militiamen and an unknown number of Indian warriors wounded; 75 British regulars (including Captains Bird and Wilson) wounded and captured by the Americans; 9 British regulars, one officer of the British Indian Department and 5 Indian warriors taken prisoner unwounded. A further 9 British soldiers and 9 Canadian militiamen appear to have deserted. This gives a grand total of 108 killed, 319 wounded, 75 wounded prisoners, 15 unwounded prisoners and 18 missing.

A curious feature of the British casualty list is that the 1st Battalion, 1st (Royal Scots) Regiment was officially a Scottish unit, yet out of the 36 enlisted men of the battalion who were killed at Chippawa and whose nationality has been identified in the regimental records, 20 were Irish, 8 were English, one had "the Army" as his nationality and only 7 were Scottish.


Two days after the battle, Brown completed his original intended manoeuvre and crossed the Chippawa upstream of Riall's defences, forcing the British to fall back to Fort George. It was not possible to attack this fortified British position because Commodore Chauncey was still failing to support the American army on the Niagara peninsula. No reinforcements or siege artillery could be brought to Brown's army. At the same time, the British were able to rush reinforcements to the Niagara front and soon became too strong for Brown to risk a direct attack. Eventually, a series of feints and manoeuvres led to the Battle of Lundy\'s Lane a few weeks later.


The Battle of Chippawa, and the subsequent Battle of Lundy's Lane, proved that American regular units could hold their own against British regulars if properly trained and well led. It is generally considered that Riall, although misled as to the strength of the American forces and their quality advanced overconfidently, and his mistaken tactics led to the heavy British casualties.

The 25th Infantry was later combined with the 27th, 29th and 37th Infantry Regiments to form the 6th Infantry Regiment . The 6th Infantry's motto is "Regulars, by God" from this battle.

Ten active regular infantry battalions of the United States
United States
Army (1-2 Inf, 2-2 Inf, 1-3 Inf, 2-3 Inf, 4-3 Inf, 1-5 Inf, 2-5 Inf, 1-6 Inf, 2-6 Inf and 4-6 Inf) perpetuate the lineages of American infantry regiments (the old 9th, 11th, 19th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Infantry Regiments) that were at the Battle of Chippawa.

The Corps of Cadets of the United States
United States
Military Academy at West Point wear gray parade uniforms, but the assertion that they were adopted in commemoration of Scott’s troops at Chippawa appears to be a legend, possibly started by General Scott himself. The reasons given in 1815 for its selection were simply that it wore well and was considerably cheaper than the blue one.

The site is preserved in the Chippawa Battlefield Park, a unit of the Niagara Parks Commission , with a battle monument and interpretive plaques south of Niagara Falls in the town of Chippawa, Ontario
Chippawa, Ontario
. The site of the battle was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1921.


* ^ Graves,Donald E.. The Battle of Lundy's Lane
Battle of Lundy's Lane
on the Niagara in 1814. Baltimore, Maryland: The Nautical & Aviation Publishing, 1993. pages 64-66 * ^ A B Wood, p. 119 * ^ A B Hendry, Douglas, British Casualties Suffered at Chippawa, 5 July 1814. Ottawa: unpublished research report, Directorate of History, Department of National Defense, Canada, December 1991. Hendry's findings appear in Graves, Red Coats and Grey Jackets, referred to on Page 135–136 and given in detail in Appendix E, pp. 176-178 * ^ A B Graves, pp. 178-179. Although Graves gives a list of 21 Canadian militiamen killed, three of the names (John Thompson, Timothy Skinner and Stephen Peer) appear twice on the list, making 18 the correct total * ^ A B Cruikshank, p. 42 * ^ A B Wood, p. 118 * ^ A B Cruikshank, p. 43 * ^ Red Coats "> * ^ Battle of Chippawa
Battle of Chippawa
Archived June 9, 2012, at the Wayback Machine ., National Register of Historic Places


* Cruikshank, Ernest A. (1971). A Documentary History of the Campaigns on the Niagara Frontier in the Year 1814. New York: Arno Press Inc. ISBN 0-405-02838-5 . * Elting, John R. Amateurs to Arms:A military history of the war of 1812. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80653-3 . * Graves, Donald E. Red Coats & Grey Jackets: The Battle of Chippawa. Toronto & Oxford: Dundurn Press. ISBN 1-55002-210-5 . * Graves, Donald E. The Battle of Lundy's Lane
Battle of Lundy's Lane
on the Niagara in 1814. Baltimore, Maryland: The Nautical & Aviation Publishing. ISBN 1-877853-22-4 . * Hitsman, J. Mackay; Donald E. Graves. The Incredible War of 1812. Toronto: Robin Brass Studio. ISBN 1-896941-13-3 . * Latimer, Jon . 1812: War with America. Cambridge, MA: Belknap/Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-02584-9 . * Wood, William (1968). Select British Documents of the Canadian War of 1812. Volume III, Part 1. New York: Greenwood Press.

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