Major-General SIR ISAAC BROCK KB (6 October 1769 – 13 October 1812)
British Army officer and colonial administrator from
Brock was assigned to
Lower Canada in 1802. Despite facing desertions
and near-mutinies, he commanded his regiment in Upper Canada
Ontario ) successfully for many years. He was promoted to
major general , and became responsible for defending Upper Canada
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
American invasion efforts.
Brock's actions, particularly his success at
Detroit , earned him a
knighthood , membership in the
Order of the Bath
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 Battle
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
* 2.4 Mutiny
* 2.5 Pre-war preparations
War of 1812
War of 1812
* 3.1 Early war and the capture of
* 3.2 Death at Battle of
* 3.3 Burial
* 4 Legacy
* 4.1 On British leadership
* 4.2 In Canada
* 4.3 In Britain
* 4.4 In
* 5 Notes and references
* 5.1 References
* 6 Further reading
* 7 External links
Saint Peter Port
Saint Peter Port , where Brock was born
Brock was born at
St Peter Port
St Peter Port on the Channel Island of
the eighth son of John Brock (1729–1777), a midshipman in the Royal
Navy , and Elizabeth de Lisle, daughter of Daniel de Lisle, then
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 . 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
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
hour." Scene from the Battle of
In 1801 while aboard the 74-gun HMS Ganges (commanded by Captain
Thomas Fremantle , a personal friend), Brock was present at the Battle
Copenhagen . His troops were supposed to lead an assault on the
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 captured.
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
Roger Hale Sheaffe
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 him confined.
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
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
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 . by Governor General
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 Lieutenant
Francis Gore left for England. Brock was sent to Upper Canada
as Senior Officer Commander of the Troops and senior member of the
Council, putting him fully in charge of both the military and civil
authority. He was usually referred to as President of the Council or
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
Siege of Detroit
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
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
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,
Militia Officers, 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
Siege of Detroit , General
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
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 Nations.
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, 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. 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 QUEENSTON HEIGHTS
Main article: Battle of
Queenston Heights "Push on, brave York
volunteers!" shouts Brock, who is shown wounded at the lower right of
Meanwhile, American general
Stephen Van Rensselaer III
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
John 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 flank.
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-
Colonel 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
Queenston to Durham's Farm, a mile north near Vrooman's Point.
Roger Hale Sheaffe
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
Battle of York
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. Colonel
Henry Procter faced an attack from a resurrected American Army of the
Northwest under future President
William Henry Harrison
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
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
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
Napoleon . Brock mistrusted the Canadian colonists,
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, as well as the use of British regulars and Tecumseh's
Since his death, several legends and myths about Brock have arisen.
In 1908, the story of Brock's betrothal to Sophia Shaw, the daughter
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.
Ontario , are all named in tribute to Brock. Schools
named in his honour include one in
Winnipeg , and public schools in
Guelph , Hamilton , London ,
Vancouver , and Windsor, Ontario
Ontario Historical Plaque was erected by the province to
commemorate Major-General Sir Isaac Brock's role in Ontario's
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 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,
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
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
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 Guernsey
students 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
The London Gazette . 5 March 1785. p. 121.
* ^ "No. 13166".
The London Gazette
The London Gazette . 12 January 1790. pp. 25–26.
* ^ A B C Sweetman (2004)
* ^ "No. 13278".
The London Gazette
The London Gazette . 29 January 1791. p. 63.
* ^ A B Tupper (1847) pp.5–6
* ^ "No. 13790".
The London Gazette
The London Gazette . 23 June 1795. pp. 659–660.
* ^ "No. 14059".
The London Gazette
The London Gazette . 24 October 1797. pp.
* ^ 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
The London Gazette . 29 October 1805. p. 1341.
* ^ 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
* ^ Steppler
* ^ 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.
* ^ Burroughs
* ^ 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
Retrieved 3 August 2015.
* ^ "No. 16656".
The London Gazette
The London Gazette . 6 October 1812. p. 2040.
* ^ A B "No. 16696".
The London Gazette
The London Gazette . 19 January 1813. pp.
* ^ "Brock University, Canada". States of Guernsey. Retrieved 23
* ^ "Future Student Awards". Brock University. Retrieved 23 April
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