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Battlefield Park – A museum park dedicated to the pivotal War of 1812 battle

September 2020

The Stoney Creek area of southern Ontario was the site of a pivotal battle in the War of 1812. Called the Battle of Stoney Creek, a battle fought on 6 June 1813, it marked a turning point in the war.

Around 700 British soldiers and Mohawk warriors, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel John Harvey, successfully attacked a much larger American force of around 3400 soldiers, under command of Brigadier-General William Winder, Brigadier- General John Chandler, whom had set up camp on the farm of Mary Gage.

LCol Harvey’s soldiers had been garrisoned at a camp approximately eight miles to the west on Burlington Heights, near the current-day site of War of 1812 and Rebellion of 1837 veteran Sir Alan MacNab’s home Dundurn Castle.

The battle lasted less than 45 minutes, with LCol Harvey’s soldiers attacking the American encampment under cover of darkness. By morning, the Americans had retreated toward Forty Mile Creek (present day Grimsby) and the British now occupied the former American camp.

Both sides sustained heavy casualties. The British recorded 23 killed, 136 wounded 52 taken prisoner and 3 missing. The Americans recorded 17 killed, 38 wounded and 7 officers (2 brigadier-generals, 1 major, 3 captains and 1 lieutenant) and 94 enlisted men taken prisoner. Among those taken prisoner were Brigadier-General Winder, Brigadier- General Chandler, Captain Peter Mills and Captain George Steele, the last three of whom were wounded.

After further battles, the Americans were forced to withdraw back across the Niagara River, and they would never again advance that far into the Niagara Peninsula again.

The Battlefield Monument at Battlefield Park is a 100 foot limestone block monument that commemorates the Battle of Stoney Creek, and serves as a focal point on the property. It’s the second largest monument built in Canada to commemorate the War of 1812; second to the monument to General Sir Isaac Brock in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Dedicated on 6 June 1913, the 100th anniversary of the battle, it was built in the English Gothic Revival style using Queenston Limestone, comprising a tapered, castellated tower rising from a buttressed, square base that references the keep of medieval castles. Other English Gothic Revival embellishments include buttresses, corbel tables, label mouldings, battlements, a pointed arch doorway, Gothic and slit windows, leaded windows and batten double doors with iron rivets and strap hinges.

Observation decks at the top of the base of the podium and at the top of the tower afford views of the entire battlefield area.

The names of the British soldiers killed in action at the Battle of Stoney Creek are listed on the Stoney Creek Battlefield Monument: Samuel Hooker, Joseph Hunt, James Daig, Thomas Fearnsides, Richard Hugill, George Longley, Laurence Mead, John Regler, John Wale, Charles Page, James Adams, Alexander Brown, Michael Burke, Henry Carroll, Nathaniel Catlin, Martin Curley, Martin Donnolly, Peter Henley, John Hostler, Edward Killoran, Edward Little, Patrick Martin, John Maxwell.

The Battlefield Monument was unveiled following a signal given by Queen via the transatlantic telegraph cable from England.

Now known as Battlefield Park, the 15.5 acre parkland property that formerly belonged to the Gage family is now part of a living history museum that includes the original Gage house, which was built in 1796 and is now known as Battlefield House. Along with the Nash-Jackson House,

The property had been bought by the Women’s Wentworth Historical Society (WWHS) from Sara Calder, the great-granddaughter of Mary Jones Gage, the original property owner, whom had come to north New York State in 1790 with her two children after the death of her husband John Gage, Sr. in the American Revolutionary War.

The WWHS, along with Sara Calder, played a role in the construction of the Battlefield Monument and the preservation of Battlefield House as a museum.

Battlefield Park and Museum was officially opened by Lady Aberdeen on 23 October 1899. The WWHS maintained the property until 1962, when they turned it over to the Niagara Parks Commission.

Since 1981, on the first weekend in June, the Battlefield Park hosts a re-enactment of the Battle of Stoney Creek. Visitors can walk through the encampment, as costumed interpreters depict life in the early 19th Century, along with watching costumed British and American soldiers re-enact the battle.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlefield_House_(Stoney_Creek), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Stoney_Creek, https://www.hamilton.ca/attractions/hamilton-civic-museums/battlefield-house-museum-park-national-historic-site, https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=8165&pid=0, https://www.hamilton.ca/attractions/hamilton-civic-museums/re-enactment-battle-stoney-creek.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/battlefield-park-a-museum-park-dedicated-to-the-pivotal-war-of-1812-battle/

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