CANADA/USA HISTORY YOU MAY NOT KNOW #10
Continuing with the CBC production "Canada - A People's History"
CANADIANS KNOW HOW TO FIGHT
In the fall of 1813 the Americans hold the Western frontier of
"upper" Canada. But they now face the simple truth that no army
can conquer Canada without taking Quebec.
The French Canadians have always known that sooner or latter they
It is an improbable army that digs in the defense on the
Chateauguay river. French Canadian standing shoulder to shoulder with
the British. Loui Guay and David Johnson and other French and
Red-coat Englishmen. They are led by French General De-Salubiere,
a man whose grandfather fought "against" the British and whose
father fought "for" the British. Now French and British will face
a common enemy.
The American strategy is a classic "pincer" move, one force will
march North along the Chateauguay river, while a second force
comes down the St.Lawrence. When they meet Montreal will fall.
The Canadian army have chosen to make their stand on the banks of
"Our General selected a strong position, and we began to fortify
ourselves with trees and to form entrenchments. Behind these
works we lay for 3 days and 3 night waiting for the enemy" writes
soldier Charles Panguay.
In the coming battle 24 year old Panguay of the Canadian
"Fencables" will be sited for bravery. He and De-Salubiere know
they will be out-numbered, and if they fail "lower" Canada will
On the morning of October 26th 1813, 4,000 Americans take to the
field; they know they are facing only a FEW HUNDRED Canadians in
the forward lines.
Legend has it that an American officer came forward to demand
their surrender. And it was De-Salubiere himself who answered
with a musket ball.
What is certain is that when the Americans opened fire, they
think they have won the battle. Cheers ring our from their army.
But when all the smoke cleared Charles Panguay and the other
Canadians have stood their ground.
"All of our men fired from 35 to 40 rounds, so well aimed, that
the prisoners told us the next day, every shot seemed to pass at
a man's breast of head" - Charles Panguay.
(The musket was terrible in hitting a target if not in the hands
of a skilled musket shooter - Keith Hunt)
It is over in a few hours!
The Canadians believe the Americans have retreated only to mount
another attack. And so for 8 more days Panguay and the others lie
behind their barricades in the cold and wet, and wait.
"We suffered so much foul weather that some of our men fell sick
every day. I now know that a man can endure without dying more
pain and hell than a dog. There are many things I could tell you
more easily than I can write them. But you will be convinced by
this affair that Canadians know how to fight" - Panguay.
Charles Panguay died a few months later.
The Americans never do get to Montreal. A few weeks after the
victory at Chateauguay, the second half of the American invasion
plan also crumbles.
On November 11th in the fields of John Chrysler's farm, a greatly
out-numbered force of British regulars and Canadian militia,
drives the invaders back.
For the second time in less than 40 years the Americans have
tried to conquer "lower" Canada and failed!
Now their focus shifts back to "upper" Canada. And this time the
threat will come from WITHIN as well as from WITHOUT!
To be continued
When it came to an American army meeting the British red-coats,
with both armies standing in nice orderly lines to face and shoot
at each other, most of the time the British Red-coats would win.
Why, well the musket firing rifle was not easy to use and hit the
bull's eye, the British were expertly trained marksmen. This is
why in the American revolution against Britain, the Americans
always lost when fighting this "gentleman, stand in line against
each other" and shoot. When the Americans finally used the "hit
and run" - the "ambush" type fighting, that is when they took the
upper hand over the British. Why the Americans went back to
"stand up in line and shoot at each other" with the British and
French Canadians is a mystery to me. But hence in so doing they
lost most of the battles even when they had the larger army.