War of 1812

Battle of Queenston Heights
2nd Regiment of York Militia at the Battle of Queenston Heights. ©John David Kelly
1812 Oct 13

Battle of Queenston Heights


The Battle of Queenston Heights was fought between United States regulars with New York militiamen, led by Major General Stephen Van Rensselaer, and British regulars, York and Lincoln militiamen, and Mohawk warriors, led by Major General Isaac Brock and then Major General Roger Hale Sheaffe, who took command after Brock was killed. The battle was fought as the result of an American attempt to establish a foothold on the Canadian side of the Niagara River before campaigning ended with the onset of winter.

Despite their numerical advantage and the wide dispersal of British forces defending against their invasion attempt, the Americans, who were stationed in Lewiston, New York, were unable to get the bulk of their invasion force across the Niagara River because of the work of British artillery and the reluctance on the part of the undertrained and inexperienced American militia. As a result, British reinforcements arrived, defeated the unsupported American forces, and forced them to surrender. The decisive battle was the culmination of a poorly-managed American offensive and may be most historically significant for the loss of the British commander. The Battle of Queenston Heights was the first major battle in the War of 1812.