Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Battle of Chippewa, 200 Years Ago Today

July 5th is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Chippewa, in which a force of United States regulars, militia and Mohawk Indians routed a force of British regulars. The principal part of the battle came as the British commander, seeing a mass of American infantry wearing drab jackets, assumed they were militia and sent forward two battalions of regulars, with a third in reserve, to deal with them. The "militia" turned out to be the well-drilled brigade of General Winfield Scott. Just as importantly, the company of artillery under Captain Nathan Towson had advanced further than the infantry, and was able to enfilade the British line with canister. Scott was also able to throw forward his two flank regiments to double-enfilade the two leading British battalions. The result was a humiliating defeat for British regulars in the field, although the 8th Regiment of Foot was able to form line and put up a respectable rear guard action.

The British army fell back to Fort George to await reinforcements, while the Americans advanced to Queenston Heights... and waited for reinforcements and siege artillery, which never arrived.

Here's a run down of the forces involved, based on a wargame scenario I researched about a year ago:

United States Army: Left Division
Major General Jacob Brown

1st (Regular Infantry) Brigade
Brigadier General Winfield Scott
9th United States Regiment of Infantry--348 men
11th US Infantry--433 men
22nd US Infantry--229 men
25th US Infantry--370 men
Detachment of Pioneers--20 men

2nd (Regular Infantry) Brigade
Brigadier General Eleazar W. Ripley
21st US Infantry--676 men
(Treat's Company, 21st Infantry detached picket--30 men)
23rd US Infantry--349 men

3rd (Militia and Volunteers) Brigade
Brigadier General Peter B. Porter
Battalion, Pennsylvania Volunteers--753 men
Mohawk Indians--600 men

Battalion, Corps of Artillery
Major Jacob Hindman
Captain Nathan Towson's Company, 3 (twelve-pounder) guns
Captain Thomas Biddle's Co., 3 guns
Captain John Ritchie's Co., 2 guns
Captain Alexander Williams' Co., 5 guns

Company, 2nd US Light Dragoons, 68 men.

British Army: Right Division
Major General Phineas Riall

1st Battalion, 1st Regiment of Foot, 40o men.
1st/100th Regiment, 350 men.
1st/ 8th Regiment, 380 men.

Light Companies (detached), 300 men.
Battalion, Lincoln Militia, 300 men.
Mohawk Indians, 400 men.

Artillery, 2 light twenty-four pounder guns, 1 5.5 inch howitzer.