War of 1812

Battle of the Chateauguay
Battle of the Chateauguay. ©Henri Julien
1813 Oct 26

Battle of the Chateauguay

Ormstown, Québec, Canada

The Battle of Chateauguay, fought on October 26, 1813, during the War of 1812, saw a combined British and Canadian force, led by Charles de Salaberry, successfully defend against an American invasion of Lower Canada (now Quebec). The American plan was to capture Montreal, a key strategic objective, by advancing from two directions—one division descending the St. Lawrence River and the other moving north from Lake Champlain. Major General Wade Hampton led the American forces around Lake Champlain, but he faced numerous challenges, including poorly trained troops, inadequate supplies, and disputes with fellow American commander Major General James Wilkinson.

On the day of the battle, Hampton decided to send Colonel Robert Purdy with 1,500 men to cross the Chateauguay River and outflank the British position, while Brigadier General George Izard attacked from the front. However, the operation was fraught with difficulties, including challenging terrain and harsh weather. Purdy's force became lost and encountered the Canadian defenders led by Captain Daly and Captain Brugière. The Canadians engaged the Americans, causing confusion and forcing them to withdraw. Meanwhile, Izard's troops attempted to use conventional tactics against the Canadian defenders but were met with accurate fire. A supposed offer of surrender from an American officer led to his death, and the Canadian defenders, with bugle calls and war whoops, created the impression of a larger force, causing the Americans to retreat.

Casualties in the battle were relatively light for both sides, with the Canadians reporting 2 killed, 16 wounded, and 4 missing, while the Americans recorded 23 killed, 33 wounded, and 29 missing. The battle had a significant impact on the American campaign to capture Montreal, as it led to a council of war that concluded a renewed advance was unlikely to succeed. Additionally, logistical challenges, including impassable roads and dwindling supplies, contributed to the decision to abandon the campaign. The Battle of Chateauguay, along with the Battle of Crysler's Farm, marked the end of the American Saint Lawrence Campaign in the autumn of 1813.