Isaac Brock KB (6 October 1769 – 13 October
1812) was a
British Army officer and colonial administrator from
Guernsey. Brock was assigned to
Lower Canada in 1802. Despite facing
desertions and near-mutinies, he commanded his regiment in Upper
Canada (present-day Ontario) successfully for many years. He was
promoted to major general, and became responsible for defending Upper
Canada against the United States. While many in Canada and Britain
believed war could be averted, Brock began to ready the army and
militia for what was to come. When the
War of 1812
War of 1812 broke out, the
populace was prepared, and quick victories at
Fort Mackinac and
Detroit defeated American invasion efforts.
Brock's actions, particularly his success at Detroit, earned him a
knighthood, membership in the Order of the Bath, accolades and the
sobriquet "The Hero of Upper Canada". His name is often linked with
that of the Native American leader Tecumseh, although the two men
collaborated in person only for a few days. Brock died at the
Queenston Heights, which the British won.
1 Early life
2 Military service
2.1 Early career
2.2 First command
2.3 Transfer to Canada
2.5 Pre-war preparations
3 War of 1812
3.1 Early war and the capture of Detroit
3.2 Death at Battle of
4.1 On British leadership
4.2 In Canada
4.3 In Britain
4.4 In Guernsey
5 Notes and references
6 Further reading
7 External links
Saint Peter Port, where Brock was born
Brock was born at
St Peter Port
St Peter Port on the Channel Island of Guernsey, the
eighth son of John Brock (1729–1777), a midshipman in the Royal
Navy, and Elizabeth de Lisle, daughter of Daniel de Lisle, then
Lieutenant-Bailiff of Guernsey. The Brocks were an English family who
had been established in
Guernsey since the sixteenth century. Brock
earned a reputation during his early education on
Guernsey as an
assiduous student, as well as an exceptional swimmer and boxer. At
age ten, he was sent to school in Southampton. He also studied for one
year in Rotterdam, learning French.
Despite his lack of an extensive formal education, Brock appreciated
its importance. As an adult, he spent much time reading in an attempt
to improve his education. He read many works on military tactics
and science, but he also read ancient history and other less
immediately practical topics. At the time of his death, he owned a
modest library of books, including classic works by Shakespeare,
Voltaire, and Samuel Johnson.
He kept a reputation as an "unusually tall, robust" man throughout
his life, with an adult height of about 6 ft 2 in
(188 cm). Measurements taken from his uniform show that at his
death he had a waist size of 47 inches (120 cm) and the inside
brim of his hat measured 24 inches (61 cm) in circumference.
Though Brock was noted as a handsome man who enjoyed the company of
women, he never married.
Brock had a successful pre-war military career and a quick rise
through the ranks, which many commented on at the time. Some credited
luck and others skill in his rapid promotions, and Brock had
substantial portions of both on his way to prominence. Lacking special
political connections, Brock's ability to gain promotions even when
the nation was at peace attests to his skills in recruiting men and
organizing finances, and ambition.
At the age of fifteen, Brock joined the 8th (The King's)
Foot on 8 March 1785 with the rank of ensign, and was likely given
responsibility for the regimental colours.[Note 1] His elder brother
John was already an officer in the same regiment. As was usual at the
time, Brock's commission was purchased. On 16 January 1790 he bought
the rank of lieutenant and later that year he raised his own
company of men. As a result, he was promoted to captain (of an
independent company of foot) on 27 January 1791 and transferred to
the 49th (Hertfordshire)
Regiment of Foot on 15 June 1791.
His nephew and biographer (Ferdinand Brock Tupper) asserts that
shortly after Brock joined the regiment, a professional dueller forced
a match on him. As the one being challenged Brock had his choice
of terms, and he insisted that they use pistols. His friends were
shocked as Brock was a large target and his opponent an expert shot.
Brock, however, refused to change his mind. When the duellist arrived
at the field, he asked Brock to decide how many paces they would take.
Brock insisted that the duel would take place not at the usual range,
but at handkerchief distance (i.e., close range). The duellist
declined and subsequently was forced to leave the regiment. This
contributed to Brock's popularity and reputation among his fellow
officers, as this duellist had a formidable reputation and was
reportedly regarded as a bully in the regiment. During his time with
this regiment, Brock served in the Caribbean, where he fell ill with
fever and nearly died. He did not fully recover until after returning
to England in 1793.
Once back in Britain he spent much of his time recruiting, and he was
placed in charge of recruits on Jersey. He purchased his majority on
27 June 1795, and rejoined his regiment in 1796, when the rest of
his men returned from the West Indies.
On 28 October 1797 Brock purchased the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and
became acting commanding officer of the regiment, assuming substantive
command on 22 March 1798 with the retirement of Lieutenant Colonel
Frederick Keppel. The rank was apparently bought cheaply; his
predecessor from whom he purchased the rank was advised to sell up and
leave the army rather than face a court martial and probable
In 1799 the 49th was assigned to the Helder Expedition against the
Batavian Republic (now known as the Netherlands), to be led by Sir
Ralph Abercromby. During the troop landings, Brock saw his first
combat on 10 September 1799 under the command of then-Major-General
John Moore. Given that the 49th was in poor shape when Brock took
command, they saw little actual combat. Likely Moore was sparing them
and using more experienced troops to establish the beachhead. Finally
on 2 October the 49th was actively involved in heavy combat at the
Battle of Alkmaar, where they acquitted themselves well, sustaining
only 33 deaths.
The 49th had been ordered to proceed up the beaches of Egmont-op-Zee,
a steep climb through sand dunes and poor terrain. The risks were
exacerbated by harassment from French sharpshooters, who had excellent
cover. After about six hours of heavy fighting, the attack was stopped
about a mile (1.6 km) short of the British objective. After an
hour of close combat, the French began to withdraw. Brock was injured
in the fighting when hit in the throat by a spent musket ball. His
neck cloth prevented a possibly fatal injury. In his own words, "I
got knocked down shortly after the enemy began to retreat, but never
quitted the field, and returned to my duty in less than half an
Scene from the Battle of Copenhagen
In 1801 while aboard the 74-gun HMS Ganges (commanded by Captain
Thomas Fremantle, a personal friend), Brock was present at the Battle
of Copenhagen. His troops were supposed to lead an assault on the
forts at Copenhagen. The outcome of the sea battle made such an
assault unnecessary, and Brock was able to observe first-hand the
tactical brilliance of Lord Nelson. After the battle, Fremantle and
Brock celebrated the victory with Nelson. In 1802 Brock and the
49th Foot were ordered to Canada.
Transfer to Canada
Brock arrived in Canada with the rest of the 49th foot and was
initially assigned to Montreal. Almost immediately, in 1804 he was
faced with one of the primary problems in Canada: desertion. Seven
soldiers stole a boat and fled across the river (and border) into the
United States. Despite having no jurisdiction on American soil, Brock
sent a party across the border in pursuit and the men were
Brock by Hamilton MacCarthy
A short time later Brock received a report from Fort George that some
of the garrison were planning to imprison the officers and flee to the
U.S. Immediately he boarded the schooner that had brought the message
and proceeded to Fort George, under the command of
Colonel Roger Hale Sheaffe. A hastily assembled honour
guard formed to greet Brock's unexpected arrival. Alone on entering
the fort, Brock ordered the sergeant of the guard to disarm and had
As it was the dinner hour, all the soldiers were in barracks. Brock
ordered the drummers to call out the men. He ordered the first officer
on the scene, Lieutenant Williams, to bring him a soldier suspected of
being one of the mutiny's ringleaders. Pinning the man with a sabre,
Williams took him into custody. The other suspected mutineers were
Brock sent the twelve mutineers and the seven deserters to Quebec for
court martial. The mutineers had planned to jail all the officers
(save Sheaffe, who was to be killed) and to cross the Niagara River
into the U.S. at Queenston. Seven soldiers were subsequently executed
by firing squad. The mutineers testified that they were forced to
such measures by the severity of Sheaffe's command. They said if they
had continued under Brock's command, they would never have taken such
action. Brock was evidently upset by the news that the
conspirators had been shot. In a botched execution, the firing squad
discharged their weapons at too long a distance, so that the condemned
men were not killed instantly.
Brock's younger brother John Savery Brock was compelled to retire from
Royal Navy after his involvement in a mutinous incident; he
induced "his brother midshipmen of the fleet at
Spithead to sign a
round robin against their being subjected to the practice of
mast-heading." "He was recommended privately to retire from the
After a period of leave in England over winter 1805–6 and promotion
to colonel on 29 October 1805, Brock returned to Canada
temporarily in command of the entire British army there. By 1806 the
United States was becoming increasingly hostile to the British Empire;
relations between the two nations continued to deteriorate until war
finally broke out in 1812.
United States had grievances at British violations of American
sovereignty (their navy was impressing US sailors), restriction of
American trade by Britain, and an American desire to gain territory by
invading and annexing the poorly defended British North American
colonies. American grievances included the impressment of American
sailors by the Royal Navy, the blockade of French ports, and a belief
that the British were inciting American Indians to attack U.S.
settlements on the western frontier. War hawks in the U.S. called for
an invasion of Canada to punish the
British Empire and to lessen the
threat to American interests represented by the Native Americans. At
the same time, the US leaders believed that the growing population
needed new territory; some imagined that the
United States was
destined to control all of the North American continent. (This
philosophy was later known as Manifest Destiny.) American hawks
assumed that Canadian colonists would rise up and support the invading
U.S. armies as liberators and that, as
Thomas Jefferson famously
wrote, conquering Canada would be "a mere matter of marching".
In response to this emerging threat, Brock moved quickly to bolster
Canadian defences. He strengthened the fortifications of Quebec by
building walls and an elevated battery. Brock succeeded in creating a
formidable defensive position due largely to his military reading,
which included several volumes on the science of running and setting
up artillery. He also rearranged and strengthened the Provincial
Marine (responsible for transport on the lakes and rivers). He ordered
warships to be built and developed a naval force capable of holding
the Great Lakes. This was to be pivotal during the war. But Brock's
appropriation of civilian lands and labour for military use brought
him into conflict with the civilian authorities led by Thomas Dunn.
In 1807 Brock was appointed brigadier general.[Note 2] by Governor
General Sir James Henry Craig, the new commander of Canadian forces.
He was to take command of all forces in
Upper Canada in 1810. During
this time Brock continued to ask for a posting in Europe. In June 1811
he was promoted to major general and in October of that year
Francis Gore left for England. Brock was sent to
Upper Canada as Senior Officer Commander of the Troops and senior
member of the [Executive] Council, putting him fully in charge of both
the military and civil authority. He was usually referred to as
President of the Council or Administrator of
Upper Canada (never as
Lieutenant Governor). When permission to leave for Europe finally came
in early 1812, Brock declined the offer, believing he had a duty to
defend Canada in war against the United States.
As Upper Canada's administrator, Brock made a series of changes to
prepare for war. He amended the militia act to allow use of all
available volunteers and ordered enhanced training of these raw
recruits, despite opposition from the provincial legislature. He
continued strengthening and reinforcing defences. Brock also began
seeking out First Nations leaders, such as the
Shawnee chief Tecumseh,
to build alliances with him against the Americans in the event of war.
Although the conventional wisdom of the day was that Canada would fall
quickly in the event of an invasion, Brock pursued these strategies to
give the colony a fighting chance.
Meanwhile, back in England, Brock's brother William faced financial
difficulties, as the bank in which he was a senior partner failed.
Isaac's commissions had been purchased with a loan entered into the
bank's books by his brother, and the Brocks faced a demand for
payment. Isaac could not meet the £3000 debt, but made over the whole
of his salary to his brother Irving, to be used for whatever was
considered most critical: his commission debt or the family's other
War of 1812
Early war and the capture of Detroit
Main article: Siege of Detroit
Governor General Sir George Prevost, whose approach to the war
conflicted with Brock's
United States declared war on Britain on 18 June 1812. Despite his
preparations, Brock was worried about Canadian security. In Upper
Canada, besides the militia, there was only one British regular
infantry regiment, a detachment of retired veterans, and a company of
artillery. These had to be dispersed among several widely separated
posts. Brock's advantage was that the armed vessels of the Provincial
Marine controlled the lakes, and allowed him to move his reserves
rapidly between threatened points.
Brock continually kept the commanders of his posts informed of all
developments. When news of the outbreak of war reached him, he sent a
canoe party under the noted trader and voyager
William McKay to the
British outpost at St. Joseph Island on Lake Huron. His orders to
commander (Captain Charles Roberts) allowed him to stand on the
defensive or attack the nearby American outpost at
Fort Mackinac at
his discretion. Roberts immediately launched an attack on Fort
Mackinac with a scratch force of regulars, fur traders, and First
Nations warriors. On 17 July, the American garrison was taken by
surprise (not being aware that war had been declared) and surrendered.
This victory immediately encouraged many First Nations tribes, who had
hitherto been neutral or undecided, to give their active support to
the British. They hoped to expel the American settlers from their
territories west of the Appalachian Mountains.
Brock felt he needed to go further. He was hampered by Governor
General George Prevost, who had replaced Craig in late 1811. Prevost's
orders from the government, and his own inclinations, were to
emphasise defence. Prevost kept the bulk of his forces in Lower Canada
to protect Quebec, and opposed any attack into United States. Brock
also believed that he was handicapped by inertia and defeatism among
Legislature and other officials.
He wrote to Prevost's Adjutant General,
My situation is most critical, not from anything the enemy can do, but
from the disposition of the people – The Population, believe me
is essentially bad – A full belief possesses them that this
Province must inevitably succumb – This Prepossession is fatal
to every exertion – Legislators, Magistrates,
all, have imbibed the idea, and are so sluggish and indifferent in all
their respective offices that the artful and active scoundrel is
allowed to parade the Country without interruption, and commit all
imaginable mischief... What a change an additional regiment would make
in this part of the Province! Most of the people have lost all
confidence – I however speak loud and look big.
Brock's adversary at the Siege of Detroit, General William Hull
On 12 July, an American army under
William Hull had invaded Canada at
Sandwich (later known as Windsor). The invasion was quickly halted,
and Hull withdrew, but this gave Brock the excuse he needed to abandon
Prevost's orders. Having finally obtained limited support from the
Legislature for his measures to defend the Province, Brock prorogued
the Assembly and set out on 6 August with a small body of regulars and
some volunteers from the York
Militia (the "York Volunteers") to
reinforce the garrison at Amherstburg at the western end of Lake Erie,
facing Hull's position at Detroit. Travelling mainly by water in bad
weather, Brock reached Amherstburg on 13 August.
Here, Brock met Tecumseh, and was immediately impressed. Brock
also read American dispatches captured from Hull's army. He quickly
judged Hull to be timid and afraid of the First Nations in particular,
and the American force to be demoralised and short of rations. Against
the advice of his officers, Brock immediately prepared to launch an
attack on Detroit.
He later (3 September) wrote to his brothers,
Some say that nothing could be more desperate than the measure, but I
answer that the state of the Province admitted of nothing but
desperate remedies. I got possession of the letters my antagonist
addressed to the Secretary at War, and also of the sentiments which
hundreds of his army uttered to their friends. Confidence in the
General was gone, and evident despondency prevailed throughout. I have
succeeded beyond expectation. I crossed the river contrary to the
opinion of Cols. Procter, St. George etc.; it is therefore no wonder
that envy should attribute to good fortune what in justice to my own
discernment, I must say, proceeded from a cool calculation of the
pours and contres.
Even with his First Nations allies, Brock was outnumbered
approximately two to one. He decided to use tricks to intimidate Hull.
He dressed his militia contingent in uniforms discarded by his
regulars, making it appear (at a distance) as if his force consisted
entirely of British regular infantry. Brock laid siege to Fort
Detroit, from established artillery positions across the river in
Sandwich. Through a carefully crafted series of marches, he gave the
appearance of having much more numerous forces. He had Tecumseh's
forces cross in front of the fort several times (doubling back under
cover), intimidating Hull with the show of a large, raucous, barely
controlled group of First Nations warriors. Finally, he sent Hull a
letter demanding his surrender, in which he stated, in part, "It is
far from my inclination to join in a war of extermination, but you
must be aware that the numerous body of Indians who have attached
themselves to my troops will be beyond my control the moment the
contest commences." Brock hammered the fort with cannon fire. On
16 August, the day after receiving Brock's letter, Hull surrendered.
Hull, elderly and without recent military experience, was terrified
that the civilian population of the fort, including his own daughter
and grandson, would face torture at the hands of the First
The capture of
Detroit and Hull's army wounded American morale, and
eliminated the main American force in the area as a threat, while at
the same time boosting morale among his own forces. Brock took the
American supplies at
Detroit and used them for his own forces,
particularly the ill-equipped militia. Under prize regulations, a
substantial part of the value of the captured military stores would
accrue to him. (If he had lived longer, he could have settled his
debts.) Brock valued the captured ordnance supplies at £30,000.
Finally, the victory secured the support of
Tecumseh and the other
chiefs in his confederation, who took Brock's actions as both a sign
of competence and a willingness to take action.
Tecumseh evidently trusted and respected Brock, reportedly saying,
"This is a man" after meeting him for the first time. Although
Brock's correspondence indicates a certain amount of paternal
condescension for the First Nations,[Note 3] he seems to have regarded
Tecumseh very highly, calling him "the Wellington of the
Indians", and saying "a more sagacious or a more gallant warrior
does not I believe exist". Brock made a number of commitments to
the Shawnee. He promised to negotiate no peace treaty without
addressing the Shawnee's vision of an independent homeland. There is
no evidence Brock negotiated in bad faith.[Note 4] Brock's
personal integrity and respect for First Nations peoples has been well
documented, and suggest that if he had lived he would have kept his
word to the Shawnee.
The capture of
Detroit led to British domination over most of Michigan
Territory. Brock had planned to continue his campaign into the U.S.,
but he was thwarted by negotiation of an armistice by Prevost with
American Major General Henry Dearborn. This stalled Brock's momentum,
and gave the Americans time to regroup and prepare to invade Canada.
Unable to predict the point of invasion, Brock frantically worked to
prepare defences throughout Upper Canada.
The Prince Regent decreed a silver medal be struck for presentation to
the senior officers to commemorate the event.:357
Death at Battle of
Main article: Battle of
"Push on, brave York volunteers!" shouts Brock, who is shown wounded
at the lower right of the picture.
Meanwhile, American general Stephen Van Rensselaer III, a Federalist
political appointee, in command of a sizable army near Lewiston, was
pressured by the American president to invade. Although Van Rensselaer
had severe doubts about the quality of his troops, he had no choice
but to attack. He was an inexperienced militia general, and not
trusted by the majority of regular army troops. In the early morning
of 13 October 1812, he attempted to cross the Niagara River, leading
to the Battle of
Queenston Heights. Despite heavy fire from British
artillery, the first wave of Americans (under Captain John E. Wool)
managed to land, and then follow a fishermen's path up to the heights.
From this point, they attacked and routed the British artillery. Brock
had arrived from nearby Fort George and moved up to the artillery
battery to gain a better view only minutes before Wool attacked. He,
his aides, and the gunners were forced to beat a hasty retreat,
leading their horses down the steep slope.
Fearing that the Americans would move the rest of their troops across
the river, Brock ordered an immediate attack on their position. True
to his philosophy of never ordering men where he would not lead them,
he personally led the charge on foot. Brock's charge was made by
Dennis' and Williams' two companies of the 49th and two companies of
militia. The assault was halted by heavy fire and as he noticed
unwounded men dropping to the rear, Brock shouted angrily that "This
is the first time I have ever seen the 49th turn their backs!
Surely the heroes of Egmont will not tarnish their record!" At
this rebuke, the ranks promptly closed up and were joined by two more
companies of militia, those of Cameron and Heward. Brock saw that the
militia supports were lagging behind at the foot of the hill and
ordered one of his Provincial aides-de-camp, Lieutenant
Macdonell, to "Push on the York Volunteers," while he led his own
party to the right, presumably intending to join his party with that
of Williams' detachment, who were beginning to make progress on that
Brock was struck in the wrist of his sword arm by a musket ball but
continued to press home the attack. His height and energetic gestures,
together with his officer's uniform and a gaudy sash given to him
eight weeks earlier by
Tecumseh after the Siege of Detroit, made
him a conspicuous target. An unknown American stepped forward from a
thicket and fired at a range of barely fifty yards. The musketball
struck Brock in the chest and he fell. His last words have been
reported as "Push on, brave York Volunteers" (in reference to a
group of the militia Brock favoured) or "Push on, don't mind me"
or Surgite! (Latin for "rise" or "push on" – now used as a
motto by Brock University), and even "a request that his fall might
not be noticed or prevent the advance of his brave troops, adding a
wish, which could not be distinctly understood, that some token of
remembrance should be transmitted to his sister." These accounts
are considered unlikely, as it is also reported that Brock died almost
immediately without speaking, and the hole in his uniform suggests
that the bullet entered his heart. His body was carried from the
field and secreted in a nearby house at the corner of
Partition streets, diagonally opposite that of Laura Secord.
Following the death of Brock, Lieutenant-
John Macdonell became
the senior officer. A lawyer by trade and having little military
experience, Macdonell led a second attempt to retake the redan.
With Williams' men of the 49th starting from brush to the right of the
line near the escarpment and Macdonell's anchoring the left, the force
of between 70 and 80 men (more than half of whom were militia)
advanced toward the redan. Wool had been reinforced by more troops who
had just made their way up the path to the top of the Heights, and
Macdonell faced some four hundred troops. During the charge, it is
reported that the 49th used "Revenge the General" as a battle cry.
Despite the disadvantage in numbers as well as attacking a fixed
position, Williams' and Macdonell's small force was driving the
opposing force to the edge of the gorge on which the redan was
situated, and seemed on the verge of success before the Americans were
able to regroup and stand firm. The momentum of the battle turned when
a musket ball hit Macdonell's mount (causing it to rear and twist
around) and another shot hit him in the small of the back, causing him
to fall from the horse. He was removed from the battlefield and
died from his injuries early the next day. Captain Williams was laid
low by a wound to the head, and Dennis by a severe wound to the thigh
(although he continued to lead his detachment throughout the
action). Carrying Macdonnell and the body of Brock, the British
fell back through
Queenston to Durham's Farm, a mile north near
General Roger Hale Sheaffe, who took command at
In the afternoon, Sheaffe arrived on the battlefield with
reinforcements and took command of the British forces. In sharp
contrast to his predecessors' direct attacks, Sheaffe took a more
cautious approach. This ultimately proved successful, leading to a
total victory over the Americans.
After the battle, Sheaffe and his staff decided to entrust the funeral
arrangements to Captain John Glegg, who had served with Brock for many
years. On 16 October, a funeral procession for Brock and Colonel
Macdonell went from Government House to Fort George, with soldiers
from the British Army, the colonial militia, and First Nations
warriors on either side of the route. The caskets were lowered into a
freshly dug grave at the northeast corner of Fort George. The British
fired a twenty-one gun salute in three salvos, in a gesture of
respect. Later that day, the American garrison at Fort Niagara
respectfully fired a similar salute. Over five thousand people
attended the funeral, a remarkable number given the limited
Upper Canada at that time.
A small cairn at the foot of the
Niagara Escarpment marks the spot
where Brock fell. In 1824, Brock's and Macdonell's remains were moved
into Brock's Monument, which overlooked the
Queenston Heights. That
original monument was bombed and heavily damaged in 1840. (This action
was reputedly by Irish-Canadian terrorist
Benjamin Lett  although
a subsequent Assize failed to confirm this.). It was replaced by a
larger structure 185 feet (56 m) high, built at public expense,
that still stands. Brock's remains were reinterred inside the new
Monument on 13 October 1853. An inscription reads: "
Upper Canada has
dedicated this monument to the memory of the late Major-General Isaac
Brock, K.B. provisional lieutenant-governor and commander of the
forces in the province whose remains are deposited in the vault
beneath. Opposing the invading enemy he fell in action near these
heights on 13 October 1812, in the forty-third year of his age.
Revered and lamented by the people whom he governed and deplored by
the sovereign to whose services his life had been devoted."
On British leadership
Posthumous portrait, c. 1883, by George Theodore Berthon
British military leadership, which had been decisive up to Brock's
death, suffered a blow with his loss. His direct successor,
Major-General Sheaffe, although successful in his approach at
Queenston Heights, was never able to live up to Brock's reputation. He
was criticised by many, including John Strachan, for his retreat at
the Battle of York, and was shortly after recalled to England, where
he continued a successful, if not brilliant, military career.
Brock's successor at Detroit, however, fared much worse.
Procter faced an attack from a resurrected American Army of the
Northwest under future President William Henry Harrison. Harrison set
out to retake Detroit, but a detachment of his army was defeated at
Frenchtown on 22 January 1813. Procter, displaying poor judgement,
left the prisoners in the custody of his First Nations allies, who
proceeded to execute an indeterminate number of them. Subsequent
American victories allowed Harrison to attempt another invasion of
Canada, which led to the
Battle of the Thames
Battle of the Thames on 5 October 1813. After
a successful American charge, Procter's forces turned and fled,
Tecumseh and his American Indian troops to fight alone. They
fought on, eventually being defeated. Perhaps of more importance to
the British, at this battle
Tecumseh died, and their alliance with the
American Indians effectively ended.
Governor General Prevost, who often clashed with Brock, he
remained in command of all British forces until after the Battle of
Plattsburgh, in 1814. The battle was intended to be a joint
naval/infantry attack, but Prevost did not commit his forces until
after the naval battle had nearly ended. When he finally did attack,
his forces proved unable to cross the
Saranac River bridge, which was
held by a small group of American regulars under the command of the
recently promoted John E. Wool. Despite a heavy advantage in manpower,
Prevost finally retreated upon hearing of the failure of the naval
attack. For his failure at Plattsburgh, Prevost was recalled to
England to face an inquiry, and a naval court martial determined that
the blame for the loss at Plattsburgh primarily rested with
Prevost. Prevost's health failed him, and he died in early 1816.
Isaac Brock at the
Valiants Memorial in Ottawa
4.5m-tall statue of Sir
Isaac Brock at Brock University
Canadians regard Brock as one of their greatest military heroes.
He was voted #28 on the television show The Greatest Canadian,
although he was not born or naturalized as a Canadian.
Although many Canadians have come to view Brock as one of their own,
Brock never really felt at home in Canada. On the whole, he viewed the
country as a backwater, and earnestly wished to return to Europe to
fight against Napoleon.[Note 5] Brock mistrusted the Canadian
colonists,[Note 6] many of whom he suspected of being American
sympathizers, and he was reluctant to arm them indiscriminately to
help defend the colonies. He favoured expansion of volunteer forces
which could be trained and supervised,[Note 7] as well as the use of
British regulars and Tecumseh's warriors.
Since his death, several legends and myths about Brock have arisen. In
1908, the story of Brock's betrothal to Sophia Shaw, the daughter of
General Æneas Shaw, was first published. There is no supporting
evidence for the claim and most biographers consider it apocryphal.
A legend about Brock's horse Alfred was first published in 1859. The
horse was supposedly shot and killed during the battle while being
ridden by Macdonell, and it is commemorated in a monument erected in
Queenston near the cairn marking the spot where Brock
fell. But little evidence supports this account. The General's
horse "fully caparisoned, led by four Grooms," is listed as preceding
the coffin at the General's interment at Fort George.
In 1816, an unknown company issued a series of private half-penny
tokens honouring Brock with the title "The Hero of Upper Canada".
Private copper tokens became common in Canada due to initial distrust
of "army bills", paper notes issued by Brock when there was a currency
shortage caused by economic growth.
Brockville and Brock in Ontario, Brock in Saskatchewan, General Isaac
Brock Parkway on Highway 405 and
Brock University in St. Catharines,
Ontario, are all named in tribute to Brock. Schools named in his
honour include one in Winnipeg, and public schools in Toronto, Guelph,
Hamilton, London, Vancouver, and Windsor, Ontario. An Ontario
Historical Plaque was erected by the province to commemorate
Major-General Sir Isaac Brock's role in Ontario's heritage.
In September 2012, the
Royal Canadian Mint
Royal Canadian Mint issued a .99999 pure gold
coin with a face value of 350 dollars to honor the bicentenary of
Brock's death. The reverse design was taken from a half-penny token
issued in 1816 as a memorial to Brock. In addition, there have
been quarters that have been released, one with a coloured maple leaf
and the other with a frosted maple leaf.
The Bathurst Street Bridge was renamed the
Sir Isaac Brock Bridge
Sir Isaac Brock Bridge by
the City of Toronto at the suggestion of the Friends of Fort York.
Although Brock's achievements in Canada were overshadowed by
larger-scale fighting in Europe, his death was still widely noted,
particularly in Guernsey. In London, he is remembered at a memorial in
St Paul's Cathedral. This was paid for by £1575 voted by the House of
Commons, which also granted pensions of £200 to each of his four
surviving brothers. For his actions in the capture of Detroit,
Brock was appointed a Knight Companion of the
Order of the Bath
Order of the Bath (KB)
on 10 October 1812. He died at the Battle of
Queenston Heights before
learning of his knighthood.
As a mark of esteem, the Prince Regent made a special grant to allow
the heraldic supporters that would have been incorporated into his
coat of arms if he had lived, to be incorporated into the arms of
Brock's father's descendants, and on monuments raised in Brock's
A British naval vessel named in his honour, HMS Sir Isaac Brock, was
destroyed at the
Battle of York
Battle of York while under construction. The
Regimental Depot of the 49th of foot (later the Royal Berkshire Regt),
was established at Reading and named Brock
Barracks in his memory. It
is now used as a Territorial Army Centre.
Brock's childhood home on High Street, St Peter Port,
stands, and is marked with a memorial plaque. A memorial, paid for by
Canada, is fitted into the side of the Town Church, the parish church
of St Peter Port.
Brock University in
Ontario provides scholarships to
who achieve sufficiently high grades. In 1969, the Guernsey
Post Office issued postage stamps to commemorate his life and
Notes and references
^ Traditionally the regimental colours were placed in the care of the
regiment's most junior officer, which in this case would be Brock.
^ In British practice of the time brigadier general was not a
permanent rank but an appointment of colonels or lieutenant colonels
for a specific purpose or period of time
^ See letters from Brock to Lt.-Gen. Prevost, dated 2 and 3 December
1811, quoted in Tupper (1847) p.123–130
^ See for example, letters from Brock to
Colonel Procter, dated 17
September 1812, and Sir George Prevost, dated 18 September 1812,
quoted in Tupper (1847) pp.310–311, 314–315
^ See letters from Brock to his brothers dated 5 September 1808 and 19
November 1808, quoted in Tupper (1847) pp. 72–74
^ See letters from Brock to his brothers dated 31 December 1809, and
to the Right Honourable W. Windham, dated 12 February 1807, quoted in
Tupper (1847) p. 75, 46
^ See letter from Brock to Viscount Castlereagh dated 25 July 1807,
quoted in Tupper (1847) p. 63
^ Kosche (1985)
^ Tupper (1847) p.viii
^ a b c d e "Isaac Brock–Saviour of Canada". Historica Canadiana. 27
November 2006. Retrieved 16 July 2008.
^ a b c d e f g h i j Stacey (DCB)
^ Tupper (1847) p.4–5 and 88
^ Wilson, W.R. (2004). "The Earthly Possessions of Sir Isaac Brock".
Historical Narratives of Early Canada. Retrieved 31 July 2008.
^ Tupper (1847) p.4
^ a b c Malcomson (2004)
^ a b Tupper (1847) p.6
^ "No. 12627". The London Gazette. 5 March 1785. p. 121.
^ "No. 13166". The London Gazette. 12 January 1790.
^ a b c Sweetman (2004)
^ "No. 13278". The London Gazette. 29 January 1791. p. 63.
^ a b Tupper (1847) pp.5–6
^ "No. 13790". The London Gazette. 23 June 1795.
^ "No. 14059". The London Gazette. 24 October 1797.
^ Tupper (1847) p.8
^ Tupper (1847) pp.18–20
^ a b c Tupper (1847) pp.26–30
^ Tupper (1847) pp.31–32
^ Tupper (1847) pp.348–349
^ Nursey (1908), p.49
^ Tupper (1847) p.22
^ "No. 15856". The London Gazette. 29 October 1805.
^ Letter from Jefferson to
Colonel William Duane, 4 August 1812
^ Tupper (1847) pp.108–109
^ Tupper (1847) p.110–113
^ Tupper (1847) pp.224–225
^ Stacey, quoted in Zaslow, p.13
^ Tupper (1847) pp.241–242
^ Tupper (1847) pp.244, 253
^ Stacey, quoted in Zaslow, p.17
^ Tupper (1847) p.246
^ Tupper (1847) p.254
^ a b Tupper (1847) p.262
^ Gevinson, Alan. "Namesake of a Peacekeeper". Teachinghistory.org.
Retrieved 8 October 2011.
^ Tupper (1847) p.253
^ Tupper (1847) pp.318–321, 347
^ Porter, Maj Gen Whitworth (1889). History of the Corps of Royal
Engineers Vol I. Chatham: The Institution of Royal Engineers.
^ Cruikshank, in Zaslow, p. 33
^ a b Cruikshank, in Lundy's Lane Historical Society, p. 9
^ a b Nursey (1908), p. 177
^ Hitsman, Graves, & Prevost (2000), p. 96
^ Cruikshank, in Zaslow, p. 36
^ Tupper (1847), p.331 footnote
^ Tupper (1847) p.331
^ Latimer (2007), p.79
^ "Battle re-enactment, Brock funeral parade weekend highlights".
Niagara Advance. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
^ Malcomson (2003), p. 154
^ Nursey (1908), p.161–162
^ Malcomson (2003), p. 155
^ Cruikshank, in Lundy's Lane Historical Society, p. 10
^ Cruikshank, in Zaslow, p. 38
^ Collins (2006), p.116
^ Malcomson (2003), p.216
^ "Brock's Monument". Tourism Niagara. Retrieved 7 November
^ a b "Commemorative Plaques & Markers". Niagara Parks. Archived
from the original on 31 July 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2008.
^ Whitfield & Turner
^ "The Battle of the River Raisin". River Raisin Battlefield. Archived
from the original on 25 July 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2008.
^ Fredriksen (2001), p. 72
^ "The Greatest Canadian". CBC. Archived from the original on 5 June
2008. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
^ Nursey (1908), pp. 79, 136
^ Tupper (1847) p. 341
^ Whelan, Martin (26 July 2001). "The Coin Collection: Hero of Upper
Canada". Waterford County Museum. Archived from the original on 8
December 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
Ontario Plaque". Archived from the original on 7 February
^ "2012 Sir
Isaac Brock $350 Gold Coin". Coin Update. 10 September
2012. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
^ "Direction". Friends of
Fort York and
Garrison Common. Retrieved 3
^ "No. 16656". The London Gazette. 6 October 1812. p. 2040.
^ a b "No. 16696". The London Gazette. 19 January 1813.
^ "Brock University, Canada". States of Guernsey. Retrieved 23 April
^ "Future Student Awards". Brock University. Retrieved 23 April
Burroughs, Peter (1983). "Prevost, Sir George". In Halpenny, Francess
G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. V (1801–1820) (online ed.).
University of Toronto Press.
Collins, Gilbert (2006). Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of
1812 (2nd ed.). Toronto: Dundurn. ISBN 978-1-55002-626-9.
Cruikshank, Ernest A. (1964). "The Battle of
Queenston Heights". In
Zaslow, Morris. The Defended Border:
Upper Canada and the War of 1812.
Toronto: MacMillan. OCLC 480289.
Fredriksen, John C. (2001). "Isaac Brock". America's Military
Adversaries. Sant Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. Retrieved 3 August
Hitsman, J. MacKay; Graves, Donald E.; Prevost, Christopher, Sir
(2000). The Incredible War of 1812: A Military History. Toronto: Robin
Brass Studio. ISBN 1-896941-13-3.
Latimer, Jon (2007). 1812: War with America. Harvard University Press.
Kosche, Ludwig (Summer 1985). "Contemporary portraits of Isaac Brock:
An analysis". Archivaria. 1 (20): 22–66. Retrieved 3 August
Malcomson, Robert (2003). A Very Brilliant Affair: The Battle of
Queenston Heights, 1812. Toronto: Robin Brass Studio.
Malcomson, Robert (1 October 2004). "Picturing Isaac Brock: heroes
attract legends like magnets attract iron. But what is really true
about Isaac Brock, the saviour of Upper Canada?". The Beaver:
Exploring Canada's History. Canada's National History Society.
Retrieved 25 July 2008. (Subscription required (help)).
Nursey, Walter R. (1908). The Story of Isaac Brock. (published online
by Project Gutenberg). Toronto: William Briggs.
Stacey, C. P. (1983). "Brock, Sir Isaac". In Halpenny, Francess G.
Dictionary of Canadian Biography. V (1801–1820) (online ed.).
University of Toronto Press.
Stacey, C. P. (1964). "The Defence of Upper Canada". In Zaslow,
Morris. The Defended Border:
Upper Canada and the War of 1812.
Toronto: MacMillan. OCLC 480289.
Steppler, Glenn A. (1983). "Roberts, Charles". In Halpenny, Francess
G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. V (1801–1820) (online ed.).
University of Toronto Press.
Sweetman, John (2004). "Brock, Sir Isaac (1769–1812)". Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/3468. Retrieved 17 July 2008. (Subscription
Tupper, Ferdinand Brock, ed. (1847). The Life and Correspondence of
Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, K.B. (2nd ed.). London: Simpkin,
Marshall & Co.
Whitfield, Carol M.; Turner, Wesley B. (1985). "Sheaffe, Sir Roger
Hale". In Halpenny, Francess G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. VIII
(1851–1860) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
See also: List of books about the War of 1812
Benn, Carl (2003). The War of 1812. Oxford: Osprey.
Berton, Pierre (1980). The Invasion of Canada, Volume 1, 1812–1813.
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 0-316-09216-9.
Berton, Pierre (1991). The Capture of Detroit. Toronto: McClelland
& Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-1425-2.
Berton, Pierre (1991). The Death of Isaac Brock. Toronto: McClelland
& Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-1426-0.
Lamb, William K. (1962). The Hero of Upper Canada. Toronto: Rous and
Mann. OCLC 4770927.
Malcomson, Robert (1996). Burying General Brock: A History of Brock's
Monuments. Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON: Friends of Fort George.
Riley, Jonathon (2011). A Matter of Honour: The Life, Campaigns and
Generalship of Isaac Brock. Midpoint Trade Books.
Tupper, Ferdinand Brock (1845). The Life and Correspondence of
Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, K.B. London: Simpkin, Marshall &
Co. OCLC 2227295.
Turner, Wesley B. (2011). Astonishing General: The Life and Legacy of
Sir Isaac Brock. Dundurn Press.
Published dispatches by Brock relating to the capture of Fort Detroit.
"No. 16653". The London Gazette. 6 October 1812.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Isaac Brock.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Brock, Sir Isaac.
Historica.ca Article on Isaac Brock, Complete With References
Information on Isaac Brock's family and genealogy
The Friends of Fort George: Brock's Monument
Isaac Brock at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
Isaac Brock at Internet Archive
Various Research on
Brock University Library Digital
Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada
1811 to 1812
Roger Hale Sheaffe
Lieutenant Governors of
D. A. Macdonald
J. B. Robinson
H. A. Bruce
W. R. Macdonald
Province of Canada
E. W. Head
F. P. Robinson
British Province of Quebec
Carleton (2nd time)
* The Crown's representative from 1759 to 1791, and from 1841 to 1866
held the office and rank of Governor-General.
War of 1812
Francis Scott Key
"The Bold Canadian"
"The Hunters of Kentucky"
"The Star-Spangled Banner"
Opposition in United States
War of 1812
War of 1812 Bicentennial
ISNI: 0000 0000 7373 6642