Capture of Fort Erie
July 3, 1814, Fort Erie, Upper Canada
A new invasion of Canada was planned under the command of Gen. Jacob Brown, aimed at the Niagara Peninsula. Fort Erie was the first objective that stood in the way, which required its capture.
Gen. Gordon Drummond, the British commander in the area, hoped that the garrison at Fort Erie could at least buy him enough time against the American invasion to consolidate his forces. Maj. Thomas Buck was given command of the fort with a garrison of 137 British soldiers.
On July 2, Brown's orders for the invasion of Canada were read out loud to the Left Division at evening role call. During the day, accompanied by Gen. Winfield Scott, Brig. Gen. Moses Porter, and two of his engineer officers, Brown had reconnoitered the Canadian shore of the river and devised a plan for a landing operation.
On July 3, the American forces, numbering 4,500 men under Brown, crossed the Niagara River at Black Rock. They pushed south towards the fort, attacked the British pickets, and took up positions at Snake Hill. As Brown's force crossed into Canada and approached Fort Erie, Buck fired only a few shots at the Americans from the fort's cannon. Brown demanded the surrender of Fort Erie, allowing 2 hours for consideration. The fort surrendered shortly afterward.
On July 3, at 6:00 P.M., the British soldiers, almost 200 in number, marched out of the fort and stacked their arms. They became prisonors and were to be transported to the American side.
One part of Buck's command that escaped was a small detatchment of the 19th Light Dragoons.
As soon as word of the American crossing had reached the night before, Buck had dispatched them to warn Gen. Phineas Riall.
The Americans had captured an important fort at little cost. The fort's garrison had bought the British little time and Buck was later court-martialed for his hasty surrender.
From their new base at Fort Erie, Brown next marched up the Niagara River and met the British at the Battle of Chippawa.