War of 1812

Battle of Chippawa
Brig Gen Winfield Scott leading his infantry brigade forward during the battle ©H. Charles McBarron Jr.
1814 Jul 5

Battle of Chippawa

Chippawa, Upper Canada (presen

Early in 1814, it was clear that Napoleon was defeated in Europe, and seasoned British veteran soldiers from the Peninsular War would be redeployed to Canada. The 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 was ordered to form the Left Division of the Army of the North. Armstrong 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, under Brigadier General George Izard. The other was at Buffalo, New York, near the head of the Niagara River, under Brigadier General Winfield Scott.

At Buffalo, Scott instituted a major training program. He drilled his troops for ten hours every day, using the 1791 Manual of the 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.

By early July, Brown's division was massed at the Niagara, in accordance with Armstrong's alternate orders. 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 which was defended only by two weak companies under Major Thomas Buck. Late in the day, Scott encountered British defences on the far bank of Chippawa Creek, near the town of Chippawa.

The Battle of Chippawa (sometimes spelled Chippewa) was a victory for the United States Army in the War of 1812, during its invasion on July 5, 1814 of the British Empire's colony of Upper Canada along the Niagara River. 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 preserved as a National Historic Site of Canada.

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Last Updated: : Fri Mar 10 2023