I was born at Woolley, near Bradford, in the county of Wilts1, on the 16th day of September, in the year 1789, the day on which His Majesty King George the Third came from Longleat to Trowbridge. I entered the Militia service in the year 1807. My mother on hearing I was enlisted (and having two sons before in the army) was so affected, that on the evening of the same day she fell in a fit and never spoke after, and I was obliged to march off the next morning; she expired on the third day after. Our route was for Newcastle upon Tyne, where I joined the Wiltshire regiment of Militia.
After I had learned my discipline, the regiment marched to Norman Cross, to do duty over French prisoners. Those of us who were not perfect in our duty were detached to Petersburgh for improvement; myself with others were soon returned to the prison, being considered fit for duty. Our next route was for Ipswich (Suffolk); I then got a furlough to go home to see my friends. After returning to my regiment, an order was given for volunteering to the line; a considerable number volunteered to the 41st foot2 and having a brother in that corps, I was one of the number. The volunteers soon marched for Portsmouth, and from thence to the Isle of Wight3, in May 1809, embarked on board the Robert transport, and sailed for Quebec; we had a good passage, and arrived in about nine or ten weeks. While at anchor off Quebec, we received orders to take boats and go up the river St. Lawrence; a few miles up the river, an aide de camp from the beach communicated counter-orders, and we returned to Quebec and occupied Jesuit's barracks. After having been there some time, a sergeant came into the barrack room, and asked if there was a lad who wished to be a groom to the quartermaster-general. I replied that I would go. Having dressed myself, the sergeant took me to the quartermaster-general, who asked me if I understood looking after horses, I said I did not, but that I was willing to learn. He replied, "You are the lad, I do not want one that knows too much," he appeared to take an interest in me, as he used to come himself and instruct me in cleaning the horses, &c., and ordered me to Lower Town, to be measured for two suits of clothes; in the winter he went to Montreal, and took me with him, and understanding that I had a brother in the 41st, asked me if I should like to see him, as the regiment was expected at Montreal; he gave me leave to wait his arrival, after which I was to return to Quebec without him, as he was going into the States for a short time. While in company with my brother, Colonel Procter4 enquired who I was, I being dressed in coloured clothes, he was told that I was one of the volunteers come out to join the regiment; he ordered me into the barracks, where I received a suit of regimentals and was ordered into the ranks. I felt very much hurt, being taken away from my master without his knowledge. When he returned from the States to Montreal, and finding that I was not gone to Quebec, he sent to the barracks for me. I waited on him, and he asked me why I had not returned to Quebec; I told him the reason, and asked him if he would wait on the colonel to get me leave to go with him, he said he should not humble to the colonel, but the clothes and the money he gave me I was to keep5. I was then put into the same company my brother was in (Captain Crowder's6). I had not joined the company long, when my captain asked me if I was a scholar, and when I told him I was not, he wished me to go to school and said that he would make a non-commissioned officer of me; which offer I refused, being young and foolish. Some time after this I was picked out for the light infantry company (Captain Muir's7). Soon after, the flank companies received orders to go to Quebec, to form light and heavy brigades, where I had the pleasure of seeing my old master; who treated me very kindly; the brigade was broken up and we returned to Montreal. After lying there about a year and a half, we received a route for Fort George; while here, several incidents happened in which my life was wonderfully preserved. One day, while standing on the quay, a sergeant who was ordered to York, on command, when going on board, his sword fell from its scabbard into the water. I heard him lamenting about it very much, and being a good swimmer I undressed, went into the water and dived for it, found it and brought it up; the sergeant was very thankful and offered me anything I would accept; but this act produced a fit of illness (I being under water a considerable time), it affected my head. Soon after my recovery, as we were on a fishing party I was employed in holding one end of the net, and with the violence of the wind and the waves I was pulled into the water from the ice on which I was standing., and came in contact with the boat, and was almost squeezed to death between the boat and the ice. I was pulled into the boat and carried to the barracks very much bruised, but no bones were broken. Soon after this, we heard that war was proclaimed between England and America8.
One Sunday morning, being on sentry on the bank of the river St. Lawrence9 [The Niagara river, Fort George being about one mile upstream from today's Niagara on the Lake.-ED.], I saw a boat drifting down the river without any person in it; a party of men was warned to go and bring in the boat. While the men were out, the Americans fired on them, which was the first shot I saw fired in anger. On their return, General Brock being informed of the transaction, ordered them out immediately to bring in the boat, and said if they fired again he would open the batteries upon them; they went out and brought her in without any further firing. The general immediately gave orders for a large bank to be thrown up in front of the American fort, to preserve the town; every man went to work immediately, the general staying with us all night. As the flank companies did the duty at the government house10, I was amongst them. Our general was very much beloved; he used to come out and talk very familiarly with us.
[The Capture of Detroit, August 16, 1812]
After fortifying the town, we understood that the Americans had crossed the river from Detroit to Sandwich; to which place we were ordered to march. We proceeded to Oxford, and collected as many volunteers as we could, and from thence to Long Point, where General Brock met us with reinforcements. We then went on to Maldon.[Fort Malden at Amherstburg.-ED.] The general there gave orders for every man that was fit for duty to march for Sandwich, and we left Maldon under his command. The Americans had erected works at Sandwich, but hearing that we were advancing, they burnt and destroyed them, and returned over to Detroit. When we arrived at Sandwich, the general gave orders to build batteries opposite the town and fort of Detroit. When the works were completed, which was on Sunday morning, August 16, 1812, orders were given for the batteries to be opened, and about five hundred of the troops, besides a few Indians [There were, in fact, about 600 Indians, under Tecumseh himself - ED.] and volunteers, were ordered to cross the river, in boats, below Sandwich; our general was with us. The Americans opened their batteries upon us; we made our landing good, and marched towards the town. When we entered the field in front of the American fort, we were marched rank and file and halted; the enemy at the same time marched out of the fort, and formed in three columns; after a short time they returned into the fort again. Our general gave orders that all the spare jackets were to be given to the volunteers, and extended the lines as far as possible. After awhile an officer came from the fort with a flag of truce; General Brock came up to meet the flag of truce, with his attendants to the advance. I was on the advance with the general at the time, and from what we could hear, the officer wanted three days' cessation; to which the general replied, that if they did not yield in three hours, he would blow up every one of them. The officer went back with this message, and returned very soon with authority to surrender the fort; the enemy, shortly after, marched out of the fort and laid down their arms, and we marched in. There was a party warned (of which I was one) to go through the fort, to see if any of the enemy were remaining in it; when I saw three American officers lying dead. One of the men told me that one of these officers said, before night he would wash his hands in British blood. We found two or three of the enemy remaining in the officers' apartments, they were about to destroy the colours of the 4th American regiment, but we took the colours from them11; entering another room, I saw several men and ordered them out. Whilst walking along, I slipped and nearly fell, one of the men said, My dear man, that is the brains of a man killed with one of your shots." After we had got possession and the prisoners were sent off, our general who was about to leave us assembled the troops and thanked them for their gallantry, saying that it would be a feather in our caps as long as we lived. Orders were then given to fire off the Americans' arms. After discharging many of them, we were obliged to leave off and draw the charges, as they were so heavily loaded, some with a musket ball and nine buck shots. But notwithstanding I thus shared in the dangers of this capture, I have received no share of the prize money; two different payments have been made for Detroit, amounting to several pounds each man, but I have received neither; owing to the neglect of the clerk, or some other cause, my name was omitted from being inserted in the prize list.
[The Muir Expedition to Fort Wayne September 1812]
After this, news was received that the Indians had surrounded an American fort.12 About 200 of us, under the command of Captain Muir, were ordered to march towards the Mawme [The Maumee, or Miami river in northern Ohio.-ED.] Rapids. We encamped for several days; we then received orders to march to Fort Defiance13. Part of us marched through the woods, the others, with the ammunition and provisions, went up the Mawme river in boats. We halted one night, the next morning crossed the river; and marched on through the woods until we came to a large open space where we encamped. In the evening, Lieutenant Barnett came to us, and asked us for some provisions, as he had tasted none all the day. We being scarce, my comrade asked me what he was to do. I told him to give him some, as he was a gentleman and a soldier.
In the night we were alarmed by an Indian whoop; every man was instantly ordered to stand to his arms. In a short time, six Indians and an interpreter entered the camp, who informed the captain that they had been out as spies, and in the evening, whilst passing through the woods, they saw a light and made toward it. On arriving near, they discovered five Americans surrounding a fire; they drew near, and when the Americans saw them, they ran to their arms. They (the Indians) ordered them to give up immediately. One of the Americans, who was an officer, asked them if they had any British soldiers in camp. They replied, "No." He then said, "We will not go with you, but you shall come with us." The Indians immediately surrounded them and took them prisoners. While marching them, the officer was heard by the interpreter to say to the men, "Kill four of the Indians, and make your escape," upon which the interpreter ordered the Indians to kill four of the Americans, which they did; the officer endeavouring to escape, the interpreter shot him whilst running. To convince our captain that what they related was true, they pulled from their girdle the five scalps, the officer's ears, and a silver-mounted dagger. We were then ordered to lie upon our arms, and in the morning we returned to Fort Defiance, crossed the river, and encamped.
The next morning we heard an Indian whoop. Soon after, the Indians brought in an American prisoner. The captain asked the prisoner who he was and how he was taken. He said he was a quartermaster-sergeant of an American regiment, and was out hunting for honey. The captain then asked him how many men they had in camp and how far they were off. He replied, about 9000, and that they intended to encamp there to-night, but that it was doubtful, as they had to cut the road through the wood for the cannon. Captain Muir then said to Captain Elliott14 (commanding the Indians) we had better retreat as quickly as possible. Captain Elliott replied, he would rather an attempt might be made to cut off their advance. Our captain answered, "If we are exposed to one volley, I shall lose all my men, therefore, I think is adviseable to retreat," to which Captain Elliott agreed. We then lightened the boats by throwing the shot overboard, and retreated to Maldon.15
[ The River Raisin Battle - Frenchtown, January 22, 1813]16
Some time after this we were informed that the enemy were at the river Reasin.[The Au Raisin river.-ED.] Orders were given to cross the river St. Lawrence17. We landed at a place called Brown's Town18, and then proceeded for the river Reasin19, with about 500 of our troops and a few Indians. We had to contend with about 1400 of the enemy, under the command of General Winchester. When within about two miles of the enemy, we encamped for part of the night20; early in the morning, we proceeded to meet them, and under cover of a wood, we approached near to them, unperceived; we formed the line, and had a view of them as they surrounded their fires21. While we were forming, the Indians marched so as to get round their right flank. We had six field pieces, which led on in front of the line. We were then discovered by one of their sentries, who challenged and discharged his piece, which killed one of our grenadiers; we then gave three cheers, and the Indians followed with a war whoop; the fight then commenced very warmly. It was on the 22nd day of January, 1813. Before day-light, we had charged them several times, thinking that we were close upon their line; but our men were so cut up that after every attempt we were obliged to retreat to the cover of a rising piece of ground, with considerable loss. The men at the three guns in our front line were all killed or wounded, with the exception of one man. One of our lieutenants (Clemon) received three or four wounds by musket balls; and a field officer, I think a lieutenant-colonel, fell having received several shots, but was not killed, four of our men advanced to defend him, one of whom took him up and carried him into the rear. As the day approached, we discovered that what had been supposed to have been the enemy's line was a made fence behind which they were sheltered, with holes in it through which they fired at us. About this time my comrade on my left hand was killed. It now being light, I saw a man come from the fence when I said to my comrade, "There is a man, I'll have a shot at him." Just as I said these words and pulled my trigger, I received a ball under my left ear and fell immediately; in falling I cut my comrade's leg with my bayonet. He exclaimed, "Byfield is dead." To which I replied, "I believe I be," and I thought to myself, is this death, or how men do die? As soon as I had recovered so as to raise my head from the ground, I crept away upon my hands and knees, and saw a sergeant in the rear, who said, "Byfield, shall I take you to the doctor?" I said, "Never mind me, go and help the men." I got to the place where the doctor was, who, when it came to my turn to be dressed, put a plaister to my neck and ordered me to go to a barn which was appointed for the reception of the wounded. As I was going, the blood flowed so freely as to force off the plaister. I now saw a man between the woods, and asked him what he did there. He told me he was wounded in his leg. I observed to him that if I had not been wounded worse than he was, I should be back, helping the men. I then asked him to give me a pocket handkerchief to tie round my neck, to stop the blood. He replied, "I have not got one." I said, "If I do not get something, I shall bleed to death." He immediately tore off the tail of his shirt, and wound it round my neck. I then got to the barn, and laid down with my fellow sufferers. I had not been there long before the doctor came and said, "My dear fellows, you that can had better get away, for our men are terribly cut up, and I fear we shall be all taken." He rode away, but soon returned saying, "My dear fellows, we have taken all of them prisoners." At which news I exclaimed, (being quite overjoyed), "I don't mind about my wound, since that is the case."
While in the barn, I was much affected by seeing and hearing a lad, about 11 or 12 years of age, who was wounded in one of his knees. The little fellow's cries from the pain of his wound; his crying after his dear mother; and saying he should die, were so affecting that it was not soon forgotten by me. He was a midshipman, belonging to one of the gun-boats; I think his name was Dickenson.22
I understand that while we were engaged with the enemy, the Indians pressed them on their right, and a part of the American force were sent to oppose them. The Indians overpowered them and killed a considerable number. Some of the Indians produced eight or nine scalps, each. This, no doubt, was one of the principal causes of the enemy surrendering23. There was a heavy loss of killed and wounded on each side. When we arrived at Maldon, there was a general muster of our men's wives anxious to learn whose husbands were amongst the killed and wounded. The hospital would not contain the wounded, in consequence of which some of them were put into the barracks. I was among the latter. The next morning, I got my comrade to wash my neck and shoulder, and I told him there must be something the matter with my shoulder as I could scarcely lift my hand to my head. On examining my shoulder, he thought he could feel a ball near the bladebone. I attended the doctor, and told him I had a job for him. On his examination, he found that the ball which had entered my neck was lodged in my shoulder; he went to work and extracted it, and in about three weeks the wounds were nearly well; and I was able to attend to my duty.
The prisoners and wounded were brought to Maldon, and, after a short stay, were sent down the country. Our light company received orders to march to Sandwich, where some of the company that had been detached joined us.
[The first seige of Fort Meigs, May, 1813]
After this, we were again sent to the Mawme Rapids, with two gun-boats and 11 or 12 pieces of ordnance, and landed about one mile and a half before we came to Fort Maggs24 [Fort Meigs, named after Governor Meigs of Ohio. - ED.], on the opposite shore25. We then moved to nearly opposite the American fort and began to erect batteries. Our preparations were soon discovered by the enemy, and they endeavoured to annoy us by opening their batteries upon us, but we persevered until we had completed the works, with little or no loss, and then we returned the fire. We had a proof that our guns were doing execution, for one of our officers, with his glass, saw a man employed upon a building in the fort, he supposed he was covering their magazine with turf; this officer pointed out the man to one of our gunners, who took an elevation and discharged the gun; the officer saw the man fall from the building26.
Sergeant Smith and six of the light company (I being one of the number) were ordered to dig a place, for to lay a mortar in front of the American fort. The work being nearly completed, Sergeant Smith ordered me to go to the other battery, and let the artillery officer know that the work was ready for the platform; and as I came up from the work, I looked towards the fort and saw a smoke ascend, and then fell to the ground; when a ball passed over me and struck into the earth. I then went and gave the officer the orders that Sergeant Smith sent me with.
A few days after this, the grenadiers and light infantry were ordered back to the camp, and from thence crossed the river with a six-pounder and an howitzer, landed, and in the evening marched to within three or four hundred yards of the fort, and occupied a ravine where the enemy's guns could not bear upon us, and by the morning we made platforms for the gun and howitzer and commenced a fire upon the fort27. Here we remained some days, and at night sentries were posted in the woods, about 30 or 40 yards from the fort.
While lying in the ravine one day, I went up to look round, when a ball came near my head and struck a tree; I then looked round and saw an artillery man shaving his comrade, the ball rebounded from the tree and struck the man that was shaved in his head. He died in the evening of the same day, and left a wife and
three children to mourn his melancholy fate.
[Colonel Dudleys Disaster - May 5, 1813]
One night, as I was on sentry, I heard a person coming through the wood. He accosted me, and gave me to understand that the Americans were coming down on the other side of the river.
When I went off sentry, I acquainted the captain with what the Indian had said, who treated it very lightly; but about ten o'clock the next morning, we heard a great noise and firing from the other side of the river; on looking towards our batteries we were suprised to see our colours down; 1300 of the enemy's troops had come down and got possession of the batteries, with all the ordnance &c. We then received orders to recross the river, and I and one of my comrades had orders to take a box of ammunition and throw it into a creek to prevent its coming into the hands of the enemy. By the time we had done this, the enemy had marched out of the fort, when my comrade said to me, We can stop here, we have no need to go back to the fight", but I replied, "What! see your comrades fighting, and not go back to help them; if you don't go back, I will shoot you," I hastened back, but cannot tell how he acted. When I joined them, they were rallying for the charge. We charged them close under the fort, but were obliged to retreat because of their great guns, and were ordered to make the best of our way to the boats, to cross the river. Several of the officers and men were taken prisoners. After crossing the river, we had orders to march towards the batteries as quickly as possible. When advanced about half a mile, we met a party of our men, with a considerable number of the Americans (prisoners) and were informed, that, on news being received at the camp that the enemy had taken possession of the batteries, the whole force were ordered under arms and marched for the batteries. Sergeant-major Keynes with 12 men advanced in front, and when they came in sight of the enemy, they commenced firing. The sergeant-major was soon wounded in one of his arms, and lost several of his men, but that did not stop them, they were bold and courageous. The main force was not far behind, and very soon the fight became general and continued for about twenty minutes, when the Americans surrendered, but some of them escaped to the woods.
We passed our men and the prisoners and came to the batteries. The light infantry and a party of Indians received orders to go through the woods, in search of those who had escaped. I witnessed several affecting scenes in this pursuit. I saw one of our men and one of the enemy lying dead near together. I saw another of the enemy, that the Indians had met with and scalped, lying in a miserable plight and begging for water; and while covering over his head with boughs, to screen it from the heat of the sun, a party of the Indians came up and found fault with us for shewing any lenity to the dying man; and one of them instantly dispatched him with his tomahawk. We took several prisoners in the woods, and marched them to the camp. In this affair, a considerable number on both sides were killed and wounded. The prisoners being secured, and the detached men being come in, the Indians who had lost many of their companions began to manifest a disposition to be revenged on the prisoners, and actually fired amongst them, and killed one of our men who opposed them in their cruel intentions28. Our officers intervened, and prevailed upon Captain Elliott and some of their chiefs to put a stop to their cruel proceedings29.
The prisoners were then put on board the boats for safety, and put out into the stream. The flank companies were then ordered back to the batteries, where we encamped. The same evening we heard that the American general had agreed to surrender Fort Maggs; and the next morning we were ordered back to the camp; and from thence we crossed the river, with a flag of truce, under the command of General Procter, General Harris [General W.H.Harrison, who became the 9th President of the United States.-ED.] came from the fort, with his attendants, and met our general on the beach, who told him he was come to receive the fort, according to his proposal. The American general said he should not surrender; General Procter replied, "What! not fulfill your own agreement, that would be a violation of the honours of war," or words to that effect. He said he should not give up, for he knew his (General Procter's) strength was far less than his own; and further, that he knew his strength, as well as he himself did. He was willing to exchange prisoners, and when that was effected, if they were not away in two hours, he would open his batteries upon them. It was thought that the American general gained his information respecting our strength from four men (volunteers) who deserted from us the preceeding night30. We exchanged prisoners, and recrossed the river. We then embarked the ordnance, &c., went on board the boats with the remaining prisoners, and sailed for Maldon. The enemy opened their guns upon us from the fort, but we were nearly clear of them and sustained no loss. When we arrived at Maldon, we were employed, when off duty, under the direction of engineers, in strengthening and throwing up works. While here, one day, when on duty, a sentinel was wanted on board a vessel, and I was sent. (I relate this circumstance, to shew something of the cruelty of the native Indians, when they have it in their power). When I got on board the vessel, a person came from below and was put in my charge; as we were walking on the deck I entered into conversation with him; and as near as I can recollect, he related the following sad tale to me. I thought it deserved credit, for his feelings were much excited and the tears flowed freely and plentifully. He said he had a small fortified place, where he and others defended their property; if I remember right, he said they were traders. -
" A party of Indians surrounded our place, and told us that the British troops were near, and would undoubtedly destroy us and take away our property; but if we would admit them, they would protect us and our property. Thinking that this reinforcement would be the means of preserving myself, my family, and my property, I consented, and gave them possession; when they began the work of destruction. They first killed my associates, and then cruelly murdered my children. Not satisfied with this, they took my wife, who was in a forward state of pregnancy, and murdered her before my face; they then ripped her up, and exposed the unborn infant, after which they took me off, a prisoner."
This was a very affecting relation; for hard and unfeeling as I then was, I could not help shedding tears on hearing it, and seeing the distressed state of him that related it.
At this position, the section in which Byfield describes the Battle of Frenchtown January 22, 1813, is found in the original transcript
[The Second Seige of Fort Meigs - July 13-28 1813]
We soon returned to Maldon again, and from thence, with a large party of Indians, went for Mawme Rapids and landed about two miles from Fort Maggs. A plan was then formed, to draw General Harris and his force from the fort. A body of the Indians was placed in the woods31, and directed to keep firing as though two parties were engaged in order to make the American general believe that we had fallen in with a reinforcement, which he was expecting; and endeavouring to prevent their joining him. We were in readiness to advance, and cut off his retreat to the fort if he came out. He came from the fort, but the weather was tremendous, with thunder, lightning, and hail. We supposed that they suspected or discovered the cheat, and returned immediately to the fort; so this project failed.
[The Attack on Fort Stephenson, Ohio, August 1 & 2, 1813]
We returned down the river to Lake Huron, under orders for Fort St. Dresky.[Fort Stephenson at Lower Sandusky. -ED.] We stopped at different places, and went on shore to see if we could obtain any information respecting the enemy. At one place we discovered houses and plantations but no inhabitants, but in one of the dwellings we found a dead body partly consumed; we supposed this place had been depopulated by the Indians. At another place, I and some of my comrades went some way into the woods, where I had a narrow escape from a rattle-snake. I did not see it, at first. It was of great length and size. When I saw it, I drew back. It appeared to be about to spring upon me, when one of my comrades shot it. We took it with us, and the Indians begged it of us, saying that it was between nine and ten years old; and that some part of it would cure the bite of another.
We proceeded and went up the river St. Dresky,[The Sandusky river. - ED.] and disembarked on the beach. The following morning we marched for the fort. The Indians met with a man, and the officers tried him very much to give some information respecting the enemy. He acted as though he was deaf and dumb, so that no information could be gained from him, neither by words nor signs. The gun-boats went up the river near to the fort, and we formed on a piece of ground no great distance from it. The enemy commenced a fire upon the boats and us. The fire was returned from the boats. General Procter sent Major Chambers32 with a flag of truce and demanded the surrender of the fort or he would blow them up. He was led into the fort blindfolded, and received an answer from the American general, for the commandant, that he would not surrender, and that he was ready to be blown to hell at any moment.
We then took up a position near the fort where we were sheltered from their fire; and in the night, made platforms for our guns.33
The following morning it was determined to storm. Our force was divided, and each party received orders which part of the fort to attack. It was thought at the distance we were at that it would be possible to scale the fence. We advanced in file, and formed near the ditch, and found it much deeper than we had expected, and the fence much higher. The light company and part of a battalion company were all that reached the works; the others were beaten back.34 When the enemy found that the others had retreated, their main force was directed against us, and a dreadful scene ensued. Our men, generally, were determined. I saw one of them turn round, his comrade observed it, and said, if he did not face the fire, he would run his bayonet through him. We were exposed to the enemy's fire. My front rank man, the sergeant on my right, Major Short, and Lieutenant Gordon, were killed. My left hand man received six balls, but recovered from his wounds. We that remained alive laid under the bank of the outer intrenchment. The officers and men in the inner ditch were exposed to a swivel gun, and most of them were killed or wounded. I saw one of them come from thence into the ditch were I was, wounded in his mouth, and the piece of lead lodged in it. We remained in the ditch until night, when we received orders to retreat. Before this, I went down the ditch, amongst my dead and wounded comrades, to try to get some ammunition, as mine was expended. I said to one of my comrades, "Bill, how bee'st?" He said to me, "There is one of the Americans keeps firing upon us, out of one of those loop-holes." I asked him to tell me out of which of the holes he was firing, and I would have a shot at him. He told me, and I fired. I had scarcely fired, when I saw my comrade fall back, wounded. I stepped to him, and said, "Bill, what's the matter?" He replied, "They have shot me again." By this time the enemy had nearly ceased firing, and those of the men who could were getting out of the ditch as quickly as possible; I do not believe there was either a commissioned, or non-commissioned officer left in it; and our poor wounded men groaning and crying, saying, "Now we have done the best we could, you are all going to leave us." This the American officer heard from the fort and said, "I know your men are going away, but never mind, by brave fellows, when they are gone, I will come out and take you in and use you well." I said to him, "Why don't you come our now, and we will fight you five to one." He answered, "No, I shall not, but when you are gone, I shall come out and clear the ditch." I then said to one of my comrades, "Now I shall start," and ascended the works. Just as I had got to the top, the flash of the guns caught my eye; I immediately fell on my face when a shower of shot fell near me. I arose and hastened to one of our batteries, when jumping into it, General Procter said to me, "Where are the rest of the men?" I said to him, "I don't think there are any more to come, they are all killed or wounded." He added, weeping, "Good God! What shall I do about the men!"* This was in September, 181335. We were then ordered to march to the boats. 36 We went on board, and proceeded down the river, for Maldon. Before we came to the lake, we stopped and went ashore. Here, one of my comrades who was badly wounded wanted to comply with nature's necessity, and asked me to carry him into the wood for that purpose. My feelings were so excited on account of the distressed state he was in, that I could not find courage enough, at the moment, to comply with his request; but one of my comrades took him up to carry him to the wood, and he died in his arms. We dug a hole in the beach and buried him. After which we arrived at Maldon.
The flank companies were then ordered to Sandwich. This is opposite Detroit. When we took that place, in 1812, a circumstance occurred which I here refer to.
An inhabitant of Detroit, a farmer, who, with his family, were in comfortable circumstances, having a loom for weaving in their possession, sent to enquire if there were any weavers amongst us. I and one of my comrades, being weavers, went to their house, and lent them some assistance in putting the loom to work. They behaved very kindly to us. I visited them often afterwards; and they continued their kindness to me during our stay there. The mistress suggested to me, that if I deserted and went into the States, I should do well. I told her I could not desert my colours; and, that I hoped to see old England again.37
Soon after we came to Sandwich, I was one of a party that was sent across the river to Detroit for fuel. While they were getting it on board the boat, I asked the sergeant to give me a few minutes leave to go and see my old acquaintance. I went to their former residence, but they were not there; the scene was changed. I found them in a cottage reduced to a state of extreme poverty. The Indians had deprived them of all their property. The master was from home. The mistress said she was glad to see me, but had nothing to give me but a piece of bread. I declined receiving it, and felt extremely sorry to see them in such a state of poverty. Having five shillings in my pocket, I gave it to her; and have never repented it since. I then took an affectionate leave of her, and returned to the party. On recrossing the river with the fuel, we were in danger of being sunk by getting enclosed in a shoal of ice, but we were preserved, we got clear and landed about half a mile down the river. The flank companies were again ordered to Maldon. A party from each company were now sent on board to do duty as marines38; and the fleet sailed for Lake Huron to attack the American fleet.[The reference is to the Battle of Lake Erie (not Huron), on September 10th, 1813. -ED.]. The action commenced, and we could hear the report of the guns, and were expecting every hour to hear that our people were victorious; but contrary to our expectation, news was brought that they were overpowered by numbers and every vessel taken.
[The Retreat to Moraviantown: The Battle of The Thames, October 6, 1813]
Orders were then given to prepare to leave Maldon, and to take the ordnance and all that we could with us, but first to destroy the works, &c. In a few days' march, we came to 24-mile Bush (or Moravian Town), and were informed that the American general was pursuing us, with three times our number or more; and instead of using every effort to keep ahead of the enemy until we were reinforced, we were detained in taking forward the general's baggage, &c. It was said that the Indians were inclined to make a stand and endeavour to defeat the enemy, in order to keep possession of the upper country. The Americans gained upon us, and the Indians brought in some of their advance (prisoners). A party was sent back to destroy a bridge in order to check the enemy; while in the act, they were surrounded and taken prisoners. Thus situated, we prepared to meet them in the best manner that we could. The light company and the Indians were placed on the right, to face the Kentucky riflemen. We were thus formed, in a wood, when the enemy came within 20 or 30 yards of us, and sounded the bugle to advance and attack.
The attack commenced on the right, with the Indians, and very soon became general through the line. After exchanging a few shots, our men gave way. I was in the act of retreating, when one of our sergeants exclaimed, "For God's sake, men, stand and fight." I stood by him and fired one shot, but the line was broken and the men were retreating. I then made my escape farther into the wood, where I met with some of the Indians, who said that they had beaten back the enemy on the right, but that their prophet was killed39,[Tecumseh, who fell in the battle near Moraviantown here described by the author. -ED.] and they then retreated. Moravian Town was not far from us, and the Indians wanted to know whether it was in the possession of the enemy or not. They made for this place, placing me in front, and their interpreter asked me if in case I should hear the voice of any one there, whether I should know it to be an Englishman's or an American's. I said I should. When near the outside of the wood, I heard a voice saying, "Come on my boys," in a dialect, which I knew to be American. I communicated the same to the interpreter, and finding that we were discovered by the enemy, the Indians turned round and made their way through the woods, as fast as possible; I followed after as quickly as I could. After awhile, they slackened their pace and I overtook them; we went forward until night came on, when the Indians halted and formed round me, they seemed to be holding a consultation; I supposed it was to decide how I should be disposed of. In this solitary place, and surrounded by savages whose cruelties I was somewhat acquainted with, I had but little hope, at the moment, of ever getting out of the woods. My feelings on this occasion may be more readily conceived than expressed. After a short time, they went on, in Indian file, and I followed until we discovered a light; I was then ordered to go on in front, to ascertain what light it was. I found an old Indian and a little boy, the old man being too far advanced in age to go to war. They then came on, had some conversation, and stopped for the night. I wanted to gain their friendship, if I could, and having some tobacco in my haversack, I distributed amongst them and then laid down. After passing the night, there, we proceeded through the woods, and after some time discovered some cattle feeding. As we advanced, we came to an Indian camp, and after some conversation between my companions and them, one of the females gave me some victuals and spoke to me in broken English. I understood that she invited me to go with them, that is, with their tribe. I accepted the invitation. The interpreter hearing it, called me aside and asked me what I had been saying. I told him. He then told me, that if I went with them, I should go into the back settlements and perhaps never come out of the woods again. This caused me to change my mind. I told the interpreter, that I wanted to find out some road or river, thinking that I should then find my way to some house or place. He then told me that I had better go with him, as he should be in Quebec some time in the following month.
The interpreter and three of the Indians then left the others, and I went on with them. We had not travelled far, when I observed one of the Indians give the interpreter a pair of moccasins for the feet. I then thought that the interpreter had sold me for a pair of shoes, and I shewed some reluctance to go forward. He asked me why I did not go on. I said that I should not without him. He replied, "You are afraid." (I really was afraid, but did not want him to know it). I answered "I am not." We proceeded through the woods until the sun had nearly set. I thought we were drawing near some road, I mended my pace, and was getting in front of them, when one of the Indians tapped me on the head and said that if I did not keep back he would take that off. We went a little farther and picked up a pumpion; in a short time after, I discovered one of my comrades40. This was the best sight I had seen for some time, and my fears and suspicions in a great measure vanished; he had been wandering about, going he knew not where, and, no doubt, was a glad to see me as I was to see him. Soon after this, we came in sight of a public road, and by the roadside we found some flour, some potatoes, and a kettle. We returned with the Indians into the wood and cooked it; we made a division of it and found it very refreshing, being much needed. We stopped in the wood that night; there was a heavy fall of rain, which made it very uncomfortable. The next morning, we crossed the road and went into the woods on the other side; we forded several rivers, and in the evening came to an Indian village. We were invited to one of the huts, and the head of the family was very kind, he killed a pig, and dressed it; boiled some Indian corn, and made soup; and entertained the whole of us in a very friendly manner. We slept there that night, and in the morning I and my comrade took our leave of the old man and our travelling companions who directed us towards Oxford. The same day, we fell in with a party of our men who had charge of the general's baggage. We stopped with them that night; in the morning I found that they were making too free with what they had in charge. I was afraid of the consequences, and said to my comrade, "Let us push forward," but he was inclined to stay, and I went on without him. I was ill prepared for marching, my shoes being entirely worn out; but before night I fell in with a larger party of our men who had escaped, under the command of Captain Bullock41 of the grenadier company. He enquired how I had escaped. I related to him the particulars of what I had passed through. This party proceeded to Oxford, and from thence to the Cross Roads [Ancaster.-ED.] where we remained for several months.
[The Capture of Fort Niagara December 19, 1813]
From thence we marched to Burlington Heights barracks, and after a few days to Fort George, the Americans having left it. Our flank companies, with the 100th regiment, were ordered to attack Fort Niagara. The 100th regiment was at Queen's Town; we marched to that place, and joined them, and from thence crossed the river St. Lawrence,[The Niagara river.-ED.] and landed about four or five miles above Niagara. Generals Drummond and Ryal [General Phineas Riall.-ED.] were with us. Arrangements being made, we moved off for the fort; the 100th regiment was in front. On the way, we surprised a guard, at Young's Town; we took them prisoners and obtained the countersign; but a man made a signal by discharging a rocket, we supposed to alarm the fort; it had no effect, and the man was killed. We advanced quietly, and a party under the command of a sergeant went in front. When he came near the outer sentry, at the entrance to the fort, he was challenged; he advanced and gave the countersign, seized the sentinel, and threatened him with immediate death if he made any noise. He then proceeded to the gate, and was challenged by the sentry inside, he gave the countersign, and gained admittance, but the sentry cried out "The British - turn out the guard." Our force was fully prepared, and in a very short time we had possession of the fort, with very little loss - December 19th, 1813.
[The December Raids - 1813]
The 100th regiment was left in the fort, and we were ordered to Lewis Town, which place was occupied by a small party of the enemy; but before we got there they had quitted the station, leaving one piece of ordinance. Here we were reinforced by a party of the 1st Royals, from Queen's Town; we were then ordered for Slustua.[Fort Schlosser, just above Niagara Falls, on the American side.-ED.] We were a little alarmed in the evening before we started; I was on sentry, and heard something like the movement of troops; it proved to be a party of Indians, bringing two men belonging to the Royals, who, they thought were about to desert. We proceeded, the same night, for Slustua (I was on the advance, with a sergeant's party) and when within about one mile and a half of it, we fell in with an American guard. The sentinel challenged and attempted to fire, but his piece missed fire. We forced our way into the guard room, where they were all in confusion; I seized one of them in a sailor's dress, and threatened to kill him if he made any resistance. We made eight of them prisoners, the others escaped. Our main force went on, and I, with some others, followed with the prisoners. We had not marched far before we came to two roads; we took the wrong one. Soon after we heard some person coming behind. Not having a non-commissioned officer with us, I said to one of my comrades, "Go back, there is somebody coming," but he refused. I then said, "Take care of the prisoners, and I will go back." I had not gone far, when I saw a man; I challenged, and he answered, "A friend." I asked him what he belonged to. He said, "The Americans." I ordered him to stand fast, or I would blow his brains out. He replied, "I am a prisoner." I took hold of him. He then said, "You are one of the men who came into the house just now; one of your men has got my boots; I am the officer of the guard." I told him that I had a pair of shoes in my knapsack, and that he might have them if he would. He said, that if he put them on, his feet would be frost-bitten - December 22nd, 1813. I offered him some rum. He said, he did not expect to be so treated if he was taken prisoner, and wept, begging that I would not let him fall into the hands of the Indians. I told him that if he behaved himself no one should hurt him.
We now halted, thinking to remain until day-light in order to ascertain the right road; we again heard some one coming; I went back some distance and challenged. I was answered, "A friend." I asked him what regiment he belonged to. He replied, "The militia." Not being satisfied with his answers, I drew near to him, and took his arms and ammunition from him. A short time after, we saw another man, with polished arms, by which I knew he must be one of our men42. I said to him, "You villain, what business have you got here." He asked me who I was, and said he was as good a soldier as I was, and challenged me to fight. One of our men (a jocular fellow) said to him, "You do not know who you are talking to, he is an officer, and will have you shot to-morrow." I had a beaver hat on and a silk handkerchief round my neck. (I had lost my cap in the bustle at the guardroom, and found the hat; and was allowed to wear a handkerchief, on account of the wound in my neck)43. From this, the fellow thought that there was some truth in what was said; and begged that I would not report him, but before day-light he thought proper to decamp. He belonged to the Royals.
When the morning came we proceeded, and soon came into the right road. We found that our men had got possession of Slustua, which was a mill and a place for public stores. The guard made some resistance, and the officer commanding it was killed. I saw him lying dead, and asked the officer (my prisoner) if he knew him. He said that he was a dear friend of his, wept over him, and said that he had been on parole three times. I then gave up the prisoners, and was put on guard, to prevent the men from making free with the liquors, &c., in the stores. Orders were then given to destroy the stores and to burn the buildings; some of the provisions were thrown into the river. When this work of destruction was completed, we returned to Lewis Town. Two circumstances happened, here, of a very serious nature. One of our men went into the woods and was murdered by an Indian. We manifested much displeasure respecting it. The tribe, to make an atonement for this act, caused the murderer to be killed and exposed in the public road for some days. We were ordered under arms, one night, when one of our men, by his carelessness, caused his piece to explode, and the contents passed through his right hand man and killed him. From Lewis Town, we crossed the river, for Queen's Town - December 22nd, 1813. We marched up the lines to cross over again, in order to attack Black Rock44; and were reinforced on the way by men from the Royals, and 8th regiment. Our force was then divided. The Royals went above Fort Erie, to cross the river above Black Rock; the remainder was to cross below Fort Erie, so as to land below Black Rock. Fort Erie is nearly opposite Black Rock, on the opposite side of the river. We effected our landing according to orders. The first that landed surprised a guard, commanded by a Major Cotton, and took them prisoners. The line was then formed, and had orders to remain still until morning, if nothing happened; and then to advance on the firing of a gun. We had not been there long, when a person came mounted within 20 yards of our line, and exclaimed, "Damn you, Major Cotton, where are you and the British landing." General Ryal, being not far from him, said "I pray, sir, who are you?" The other replied by asking the same question. The former answered, "I am a British General," and challenged him. The other said, "I am an American general." General Ryal, then said, "If you are a man and a soldier, stand before me." He instantly turned his horse and rode off in great haste. The Royals, in crossing the river, were carried by the violence of the stream so far down the river as to be exposed to the enemy's batteries, and suffered much, but they effected a landing. Some time after this, the Americans came out of town and formed. We laid close and quiet according to order, and heard the American general say, "Make ready, present, blaze." Their shot took no effect upon us. We arose, returned the fire, and laid down again45. As they did not fire again, we concluded that they had retreated.
We remained in our position until the gun fired, when we faced to the right; and having gained some ground to the right, turned to the left by sections; and advanced until we came near to the entrance of the town, where we formed the line on the first section. They fired upon us as we were forming, and we returned it as fast as the sections came into line. The enemy soon began to give way. There was a heavy fire kept up from a large building. A party of our men advanced, and stopped the firing by taking possession of the building. We now discovered that the Royals were exposed to their batteries, being carried farther down the river than was intended. We then directed our fire upon the men that were working the battery guns. About this time the enemy sent a party into the wood, to flank us on the left; but they were received by a party of our Indians stationed there for that purpose, and were beaten back with loss. They made an attempt to turn one of their battery guns upon us, but could not succeed. As many of the Royals as survived, about this time, effected a landing. We now pressed the enemy very closely, and they began to retreat for Buffaloe. We got possession of Black Rock and the Batteries, and pursued them to Buffaloe. I saw one of the Royals, with blood flowing very freely from his face; I said to him, "You are wounded, you had better go back." He replied, "No, lad, I'll pay some of them first." The enemy made but a short stay at Buffaloe; they gave us a shot from a mounted gun and retreated. We took possession of the place, being apprehensive that the enemy would get reinforcements and return upon us. Orders were given to destroy both places by burning; no dwelling was to be spared except one, where the dead body of a child lay who had been shot in the street; this was in compassion towards the sorrowful mother. We stopped until the evening, refreshing ourselves and burying the dead; and then recrossed the river and marched down the lines, to Fort George. At this place, my brother met with an accident which cost him his life.
When our company was at this place, before the taking of Detroit, we were 110 strong, but now reduced to 15 men only fit for duty; some of them had been wounded, myself for one. The other part of the company, both officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates, were either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners.
We marched from Fort George, to York, where the second battalion joined us - July 25, 181446.
Our company, now filled up, was ordered, under the command of Captain Glue, to Point Frederick, Kingston; supposing that the Americans would cross from Sacket's Harbour, and attack it. We remained here until the weather broke up, and then returned to York again.
About this time the man who messed the officers complained that owing to the high price of provisions he could not continue to do it without permission to keep a canteen, and to be allowed a man to assist him. Permission being granted, he requested to have me; as I belonged to the light company he was at first denied, but it was afterwards granted, with an order, that when the company was wanted for any particular duty I was to attend. While at York, I went into the hospital to see the wounded. One of the 8th regiment, who had lost a leg, said, "That's the man that saved my live," and related how, saying, that when he was knocked down, I had pulled him behind a tree, to shelter him from the enemy's fire. I recollected the circumstance; he was very kind to me during our stay together.
[The Battle of Lundys Lane - July 25, 1814]
Our regiment now received orders for Fort Niagara, to relieve the 100th regiment. While here, we were expecting the enemy, and were often under arms all night, and the guns kept loaded to receive them if they attempted to storm. The light company was repeatedly sent across the river to Fort George, as there was a force of the enemy in that quarter. The enemy made their appearance, but the forts were opened upon them, and they went back. The flank companies were then ordered to Lewis Town, information having been received, that the enemy were in that neighbourhood. A field piece accompanied us, and the light company was extended into the wood, on the side of the road, to prevent us from being surprised from thence. We found much obstruction, the enemy having blocked the way with a large quantity of brush wood.
When we came near Lewis Town, we got a sight of a party of the enemy, encamped. When they saw us, they went off in quick time, and left the camp and their provisions partly dressed. We followed them some distance but they did not stop to face us, and we returned. At this time, the British on the other side of the river were engaged with the enemy, at Lundie's Lane. We could hear the report of their great guns. Our captain informed us that he had received orders to cross the river to assist them; and the grenadiers, with the field piece, were to return to Niagara. We crossed and landed at Queen's Town. It was at this place, that the much lamented veteran, General Brock, received his death wound by a shot from an American rifleman. We moved from this place in quick time for about seven miles, and waited for orders, near Lundie's Lane. A noggin of rum was given to each man. We then moved on for the field of action. We had a guide with us, and when we came near the field, our captain was called upon, by name, in a loud voice, to form on the left of the speaker. It being night, we could not discover what regiment it was. The guide positively asserted that it was one of the enemy. Our bugle then sounded for the company to drop47. A volley was then fired upon us, which killed two corporals, and wounded a sergeant and several of the men. The company then arose, fired, and charged. The enemy quitted their position; we followed and took three field pieces48. In the morning, we collected the wounded and received orders to burn the dead. One of the Indians persisted in throwing one of the wounded Americans on the fire while living, although prevented several times; one of our men shot him, and he was burned himself. At this fight, General Ryal was wounded, and himself and his orderly (one of the 19th dragoons) were taken prisoners. We were now ordered to join the regiment at Niagara; but before we marched, General Drummond, personally, thanked us for our conduct in the fight. The whole of the army were thanked, in public orders; namely, the Royals, 8th, 49th, 89th, and 103rd regiments. The 89th suffered severely in this engagement.
[The Raid on Black Rock 3 August 1814]
We joined our regiment at Niagara, and in a short time part of the regiment, including the light company, was ordered to cross the river to Fort George; and from thence, towards Fort Erie. In going up the lines, we fell in with our main force. We were expecting to storm Fort Erie, when orders were given, for the 41st, and part of the 104th, with a rocket party49, under the command of Captain Perry,[The whole force which, on the night of 2/3 August 1814, was sent across the Niagara to take Black Rock and Buffalo, was under Colonel Tucker50.-ED.] to cross the river below Black Rock. While on the water, we heard firing in the direction of Black Rock. We landed, and advanced towards it. When we were here last, there was a bridge between us and the town over a small creek51, but the enemy had destroyed it, and on the inner bank they had thrown up breast works. They commenced firing upon us, we advanced, thinking to charge, when we discovered that the bridge was gone. We instantly retreated and remained until day-light, when a party was ordered to erect a temporary bridge across the creek, and our company and the rocket party were to cover them. We stood some time, and some of our shot took effect. We saw one of the enemy fall, who was daring enough to get upon their works. About this time, I received a musket ball through my left arm, below the elbow52. I went into the rear. One of my comrades, seeing that I was badly wounded, cut my belts for me and let them drop. I walked to the doctor, and desired him to take my arm off. He said it might be cured without it; and ordered me down to a boat, saying that the wounded men were to cross the river, and they (the doctors) would soon follow. The party failed in erecting the bridge, and retreated with loss. When on the other side of the river, the wounded were put into a house, and the doctors soon came. They examined my arm, and made preparations for amputation; but after a further consultation, they told me, that although I was rendered unfit for further service, yet, if the wound could be healed, it would be better for my hand to remain on, if it was not much use to me, and that had better be first tried. I was then sent to my regiment at Niagara.
[Byfields Return to England and Subsequent Fate53]
After a few days, our doctor informed me that my arm must be taken off, as mortification had taken place. I consented, and asked one of my comrades, who had lately gone through a like operation, "Bill, how is it to have the arm taken off?" He replied, "Thee woo't know, when it's done." They prepared to b[l]ind me, and had men to hold me; but I told them there was no need of that.54 The operation was tedious and painful, but I was enabled to bear it pretty well. I had it dressed, and went to bed. They brought me some mulled wine, and I drank it. I was then informed that the orderly had thrown my hand to the dung-heap. I arose, went to him, and felt a disposition to strike him. My hand was taken up and a few boards nailed together for a coffin, my hand was put into it and buried on the ramparts. The stump of my arm soon healed, and three days after I was able to play a game of fives, for a quart of rum; but before I left the fort, a circumstance happened which I here relate. There was a sentry posted near the wood, to prevent any of the men entering it, and we had to go near the sentry for water. One of the artillery-men went on pretence of fetching some water, and when the sentry's back was turned towards him, he started into the wood, for the purpose of deserting, and the sentry (one of the 41st) shot him. The ball entered his body, and the wound proved mortal; he was brought into the barracks. His captain came into the barracks to see him. The dying man charged him with being the cause of what had happened. The captain left the room and he died shortly after. My comrades, and the messman whom I had been serving, out of kindness and respect to me, made a subscription, of several pounds, and gave it to me. As soon as the wounded men were somewhat recovered, they were ordered, from the different regiments, to go on board the boats used in the river, to go to Kingston, and in going down the river, we went on shore by night. On board the boat I was in was a young man, a sailor, who had lost one of his arms near the shoulder. I felt a kind regard towards him, and we became comrades. He was going down the country, to be cook on board a King's ship, the St. Lawrence, 110 guns; he shared with me the gratuity my friends had bestowed upon me. From Kingston we proceeded to Montreal; and from thence to Quebec. One evening, after going ashore, I took a walk, alone, a little way into the country, and came near a large neat looking house, and seeing a lad, I asked him who lived there, he replied, "A three-handed man." I said, "That's the very man that I want to see, as I have but one hand; if he should be disposed to give me one of his, we shall have two apiece." The lad said that by a "three-handed man" they meant that he was wealthy. After going a little farther, I went into a farm house the inhabitants of which behaved very kindly to me, and the mistress made up a bed for me for the night. When I came to Quebec, I met with some of my old comrades who had been wounded and taken prisoners. I was extremely glad to see them. They related the scenes and hardships they had passed through; and one of them said he was left amongst the dead, his wounds were considered incurable; but he begged them to attend to him, for he thought he should recover. After remaining in that state four days, before anything was done for him, they paid some attention to him. He was then in a great measure recovered, but not well. General Procter, being in Quebec, I waited on him, and asked him for a certificate for the capture of Detroit, which he freely gave me; and told me that he would give me such a recommendation that I need not fear, but that a sufficient provision would be made for me. He asked me the particulars of the battle at Moravian Town. I told him all the particulars I knew. He further said that he was going to Montreal, and ordered me to call on him before he went, or before we embarked for England. [this unusual solicitude of a brigadier-general for a private soldier was perhaps not altogether disinterested. Procter was, then, awaiting court-martial for his performance at Moraviantown, and may have been looking for defence witnesses.-ED.] Some time after, a woman told me that the general wanted me. I attended to the order immediately, but the woman had delayed delivering the message. The general was gone, and I did not see him, neither have I had the satisfaction of seeing either of my officers since, although I have made many enquiries.
We now had orders to go on board the Phoenix transport, and sailed for England. We had a tolerably good passage, but was a little alarmed, one night, by a sudden squall of wind. The sails backed and we were near foundering, but in a short time the vessel righted, and all was well. We landed in the Isle of Wight, and marched into Newport barracks, Dec. 1814.
After examination, we were sent to Chatham, by water. Having been passed by the inspecting officer, there, I was sent to Chelsea. I appeared before the board, and was ordered nine pence per day pension.
My feelings were much excited, that day, on learning that our bugle-horn man, who was a young soldier, who had been but in one action, and had lost a fore arm about the same length as mine, was rewarded with one shilling per day. I must say, that I felt very much dissatisfied with nine pence, and I made several applications, at different times, to The Honourable Commissioners of Chelsea Hospital, to augment my pension, but without success. Hearing of a field officer residing in the neighbourhood of the town where I live, and that he was a soldier's friend, I made bold to wait on him, and requested that he would be pleased to hear my case. He kindly condescended to comply with my request, and after hearing my statement, he was of opinion that I was not remunerated for my services and loss. He, very kindly, said he would represent my case, and it was not merely a promise, he persevered until he had caused an addition to be made to my pension of three pence per day. For which I very kindly thank him, and shall be ever bound gratefully to acknowledge his kindness to me.
Being deprived of my trade, in consequence of losing my arm in the service, and having received several very severe wounds, it was with great difficulty I could support my wife and children in a respectable manner; my pension at that time being only nine pence per day.
One night, I dreamt that I was working at my trade, and on awaking, I related my dream to my wife and told her I could weave; she said, "Go to sleep, there was never such a thing known as a person having but one arm to weave," and on going to sleep a second time, I had the form of an instrument revealed to me, which would enable me to work at my trade. I awoke my wife, and told her the circumstance. I went to a blacksmith of the name of Court, and having drawn a design for him on a board, he made an instrument for me, similar to the pattern, with the exception of some little alteration, which I though was for the best, but which, on trial, I was obliged to alter to the shape I saw in my dream; and I am happy to say that I have been enabled to labour for my family, and keep them comfortably, for nearly twenty years, in the employ of Edward Cooper, esq., clothier, Staverton works, near Bradford, Wilts.
This document was prepared by James Yaworsky from the Byfield manuscript as printed in John Gellner(ed.) Recollections of the War of 1812. Three Eyewitness Accounts. (Toronto: Baxter Published Company, 1964). At least one probable typographical error in that edition was identified by the writer (blind when bind was almost certainly meant - see footnote 54) so anyone using this edition for serious academic purposes would be well advised to track down the original manuscript.
All editorial notes by the editor of the Recollections collection are in the text in boxes and in italics thus: [original editor comments]. Not all editorial notes in the Gellner edition have been retained. All endnotes, and textual insertions in boxes and bold thus: [The Capture of Detroit] are by the current editor. Some paragraphs of the original manuscript have been split in order to add titles at appropriate places. The current editor is not aware of whether the paragraphs herein are as in the original manuscript, or were created by the primary editor, John Gellner. I also moved the section wherein Byfield describes the Battle of Frenchtown, January 22, 1813, to its proper chronological point in the story.
Having said all of the above, I hope you found this version of Byfields remarkable story easy to access, and that the headings and endnotes I have added are useful.
The Bender Courtmartial, July 1815. Montreal, J.Lane, 1817.
J.M. Brereton, A History of The Royal Regiment of Wales [24th/41st Foot] 1689-1989 Cardiff, Published by The Regiment, 1989.
Dennis Carter-Edwards, The 41st (the Welch) Regiment: 1700-1815unpublished Parks Canada article.
E.A.Cruikshank,(ed.) Documents Relating To the Invasion of Canada and the Surrender of Detroit 1812 Ottawa, Government Printing Bureau, 1912. (referred to in Notes as Detroit)
Richard Glover, Peninsular Preparation, Cambridge University Press, 1963.
Richard Glover, Britain At Bay, London, George Allen & Unwin, 1973.
Donald Graves (ed.), The War of 1812 Journal of Lieutenant John Le Couteur, 104th Foot - Merry Hearts Make Light Days, Ottawa, Carleton University Press, 1993. (referred to in the Notes as Le Couteur);
Larry L. Nelson, Men of Patriotism, Courage & Enterprise! Fort Meigs in the War of 1812, Canton, Ohio, Daring Books, 1985.
The Procter Courtmartial Transcript, 1815 (unpublished);
John Richardson, The Canadian Brothers; or, The Prophecy Fulfilled first published, 1840.
John Richardson, War of 1812(first published 1842),(Casselman Edition), Toronto, Historical Publishing Company, 1902. (reprinted by Coles Publishing Company, 1974), (referred to in the Notes as Richardson).
David A. Simmons, The Forts of Anthony Wayne, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1977;
George Stanley, The War of 1812: Land Operations, Ottawa, National Museums of Canada/Macmillan, 1983.
John Sugden, Tecumseh's Last Stand, Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1985.
Morris Zaslow (ed.), The Defended Border - Upper Canada and the War of 1812, Toronto, Macmillan, 1964.
1 Wilts is the County of Wiltshire.To its west lies the major city of Bristol, to the south, Southampton and Portsmouth. The County includes Stonehenge and the major city of Salisbury. Trowbridge is a major town located in the north-east of the county. Bradford on Avon (to give it its full title, probably adopted to avoid confusion with the major Midlands City of Bradford located hundreds of miles to the north east near Leeds and Manchester) is located about 2 1/2 miles downstream on the River Avon from Trowbridge, and about 5 miles upstream of the City of Bath (where, coincidently, General Procter would die in 1822). Bradford on Avon is approximately 17 miles as the crow flies from Bristol. This setting is pastoral, unlike the industrialized setting of Bradford in the Midlands: Byfield was, to all intents and purposes, a country boy.
2 Manpower demands towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars led the British to encourage volunteers from the Militia to join line regiments. See Richard Glover books cited in Sources for detailed information. A substantial cash payment was often made, and the term of enlistment was usually either a fixed term of years, or for the duration of hostilities, instead of unlimited i.e. in effect for life. Large numbers of patriotic militiamen eventually volunteered for foreign service under these schemes. These soldiers were generally more motivated and intelligent than the usual sweepings of the gutters that the peace-time British army relied on for many generations. Byfield is an excellent example of the high quality of the militia volunteers. On the other hand, Byfields mothers reaction to the news of his enlistment illustrates that however higher the overall quality of army recruits at this point in the Napoleonic Wars, the general publics perception of the Army - especially before its string of victories in Spain under Wellington - was not very positive! Pension records show that Byfield enlisted in the 41st on April 1, 1809 at the age of 21, he was 67 tall, is listed as being a weaver, and his behaviour in his 2,063 days service with the Regiment is recorded as good. The pension records do not record Byfields term of enlistment .
3 For a description of the great depot on the Island of Wight at Newport - from whence most British soldiers sent on foreign service at this time period embarked - see Le Couteur, p. 52
4 Henry Procter was born in 1763; and commissioned as ensign in the 43rd Regiment of Foot on April 5, 1789; promoted to be lieutenant in December, 1791; captain, November 30, 1792; major, 1795; lieutenant-colonel in the 41st, October 9, 1800; colonel, July 25, 1810. He took over the command of the Western District and the Right Division of the forces of Upper Canada on the departure of Brock, and defeated General Winchester at Frenchtown on the river Raisin, January 22, 1813. He was granted the local rank of brigadier-general February 8, 1813. He defeated an attempt by General Clay to raise the seige of Fort Meigs, May 5, 1813, but failed to capture that post. He was promoted to be major-general, June 4, 1813. The disastrous result of the naval action on Lake Erie, September 10, 1813, forced him to abandon Detroit and Amherstburg, and the small force under his command was overtaken and defeated by General Harrison at Moraviantown, October 5, 1813. He was tried by court-martial and suspended form rank and pay for six months for negligence during the retreat. He died at Bath, England, October 31, 1822. Cruikshank, Detroit, p. 74.
5 this incident is the first of several indications in the text that Byfield did not have great admiration for Henry Procter.
6 Captain William Crowder (proper spelling: Crowther) was involved in a serious dispute with Colonel Procter regarding a proposed exchange of commissions with Procters brother in the years preceeding the War of 1812, see Carter-Edwards. Byfield would not have heard good things about Colonel Procter from Crowther! Procter on Crowther: I therefore conceiving him quite incorrigible and unworthy of remaining in the regiment signified to him my determination if he did not send me his resignation to prefer Charges against him stating to him at the time what his misconduct had been. Carter-Edwards give the source of this quote as PAC, RG81, Vol. 910, pp. 3-5, Procter to Colonel A. Shaw, 20 December 1808. Procters personality problems with some of his senior officers would play an important role in the disastrous retreat to Moraviantown in 1813 (see Procter courtmartial,and Sugden Tecumsehs Last Stand, p. 81). It is interesting to note that Captain Crowther was still serving with the 41st during the 1813 retreat - in the capacity of assistant engineer to the Division!
7 Adam Muir rose from the ranks to be sergeant-major of the 41st Regiment, and was appointed adjutant with the rank of ensign, September 30, 1793. He served during the operations in San Domingo in 1794, and was promoted to be lieutenant, July 12, of that year, and captain on February 9, 1814. Cruikshank, Detroit, p. 45. Muir was one of a small minority of British officers at this time period who rose through the ranks. He commanded one of Brocks brigades at the capture of Detroit in August 1812, having acted in independent command in some of the operations preceeding that victory. As will be seen, he was entrusted with the command of an expedition sent to support an Indian seige of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and he took a prominent role in every operation of the Right Division (as the British/Canadian force acting on the Detroit frontier was titled) throughout the remainder of the War, until his capture at Moraviantown.
8 War was declared by the Americans June 18, 1812. British forces in Upper Canada were notified shortly thereafter - and before American forces were, which led to the success of the British suprise attack on Mackinac, and the capture of Hulls baggage on the Cuyahoga in the Detroit River off Amherstburg.
9 maps of Fort George sometimes describe the Niagara River as the St. Lawrence: see map of 1810 by A.Gray (National Archives of Canada, H2/440/Niagara/1810, NMC19551, produced in the Niagara Historical Society booklet The Battle of Fort George, Niagara on the Lake, 1990, page 18, showing the relative locations of Forts George and Niagara, wherein the Niagara River is labelled River St. Lawrence and in much smaller letters, generally called the Niagara River. Evidently, both the Niagara and Detroit Rivers were considered to be the St. Lawrence, with Lake Ontario and Lake Erie being merely enlargements of the River! While this seems strange to the modern reader, it should be noted that this sort of nomenclature is used to this day: the St. Lawrence just west of the City of Montreal flows through Lac Saint-Louis and Lac Saint-Francis, while downstream of Montreal it flows through Lac Saint-Pierre. Lakes Ontario and Erie are merely much larger lakes... the precedent remains the same.
10 Navy Hall, Niagara-On-The-Lake?
11 The captured colours of the 4th U.S. regiment can still be viewed at the regimental depot of the 41st Regiment - now amalgamated with the 24th to form the Royal Regiment of Wales - at Cardiff, Wales. A recent photograph of these colours is included in Breretons History of the Royal Regiment of Wales.
12 The reference here is to the Muir expedition which took place in September of 1812. Muir led a small force to support Indians who had a loose blockade of Fort Wayne Indiana under way. This expedition marked the maximum penetration of British/Canadian forces in to the mid-west American states.
13 Fort Defiance was built by Anthony Waynes U.S. forces in their campaign against the western Indians in 1794, located at the junction of the Maumee & Auglaize Rivers, northwest Ohio. It was abandoned by the Americans in 1797, after Fort Miami had been evacuated by the British. By 1812, probably only its fairly substantial earthworks would have remained. For a description of the fort, see pages 15 & 16 of David A. Simmons, The Forts of Anthony Wayne, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1977.
14 Matthew Elliott was born in Maryland in 1739; and became a trader among the Indians of Ohio at an early age. when the revolutionary agitation began he was a resident of Fort Pitt (Pittsburg), and fled to Detroit, abandoning considerable property. He was appointed an interpreter in the Indian Department by Lieut.-Governor Hamilton, and subsequently promoted to the rank of captain. In 1780 he accompanied Captain Henry Bird of the 8th Regiment in his raid into Kentucky; and afterwards commanded the western Indians in the actions at the Blue Licks and Sandusky, in which the frontiersmen of Kentucky and Pennsylvania were defeated with severe loss; was thanked in despatches for his services. He was appointed assistant agent for the western Indians in 1790, and promoted to be deputy superintendent in 1795. He was summarily dismissed from the latter office in 1798 in consequence of a quarrel with Captain Hector Maclean of the Royal Canadian Volunteers, the commandant at Amherstburg, but was reinstated in 1808 (when war seemed imminent with the United States) at the urgent recommendation of Lieut.-Governor Gore, who stated in his letter on the subject to Sir James Craig, that throughout this country (Upper Canada) it is the general sentiment that he is the only man capable of calling forth the energies of the Indians. He commanded the 1st Regiment of Essex militia from the time of its organization until his death, with the rank of colonel; and represented that county in the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada from 1801 to 1812. He was awarded a gold medal for his services at Detroit; and was present at the actions at Frenchtown, Miami, Sandusky, Moraviantown and Buffalo. He died on service at Burlington Heights May 7, 1814, literally worn out by his exertions. Cruikshank, Detroit, p. 4.
15 For a discussion of this little-known but extremely interesting expedition, see Stanley, pages 115-116, Richardson (who was a participant) pp. 93-102, Muirs official report dated Sept. 30,1812, is reproduced in Richardson, pp. 296-300.
16 This section of Byfields narrative in the original manuscript is out of chronological order and appears later. It has here been moved to its chronologically correct position.
17 In this case, Byfield means the Detroit River.
18 Trenton, Michigan, site of a Wyandotte Indian village in 1813.
19 The River Raisin settlement was composed mainly of French-Canadians and was known as Frenchtown in 1813. It is now Monroe, Michigan.
20 The column had crossed
the Detroit River over the ice. The evening camp was in snow-covered
woods. Richardson page 134 describes the advance thus:
No sight could be more beautiful than the departure of this little army from Amherstburg. It was the depth of winter; and the river at the point we crossed being four miles in breadth; the deep rumbling noise of the guns prolonging their reverberations like the roar of distant thunder, as they moved along the ice, mingled with the wild cries of the Indians, seemed to threaten some convulsion of nature; while the appearance of the troops winding along the road, now lost behind some cliff of rugged ice, now emerging into view, their polished arms glittering in the sunbeams, gave an air of romantic grandeur to the scene.
On the night of the 21st, we halted and bivouacked in the open air, about five miles from the enemys position, with no other protection from the cold than our great coats, and the fires which were kindled at our feet.
21 Procter has been criticized
for his extremely rigid and conventional tactics, instead of launching
a swift suprise attack such as that utilized at Stoney Creek later
in the year. See Richardson, page 134:
The conduct of Colonel Procter on this occasion has ever been a matter of astonishment to me, and on no one principle that I am aware of, can it be satisfactorily accounted for. The Americans were lying in their beds undressed and unarmed, and a prompt and forward movement of the line, either would have enabled us to have taken them with the bayonet at advantage, or to have seized the intermediate close fence, forming a parapet from which they shortly afterwards so severely annoyed us. Instead of this, he commenced firing his three-pounders in answer to the alarm of the sentinels who, at length perceiving us, had rapidly discharged their muskets - thus affording them time and facility for arming and occupying the only position from which they could seriously check our advance.
22 interestingly enough, the young midshipman was undoubtedly John Richardsons brother, Robert Richardson, 14 years of age. See Richardson pages 137-138.
23 Byfields somewhat grudging acknowledgment of the Indian part in this victory is about the only time he credits the Indians for their actions in support of the alliance. It would seem a reasonable deduction to conclude that he was not overly fond of the Indian Allies, although his attitude might reflect ignorance based on the white troops being kept as separate as possible from the Indians.
24 Fort Meigs is located in Perrysburg, Ohio, a suburb of Toledo. It was sited in a commanding position covering the foot of the Maumee River Rapids. The Maumee River formed part of a chain of bodies of water which enabled communication by small boats between Lake Erie and the Mississippi/Ohio Rivers, hence it was a strategic corridor during the fur-trade and early pioneer periods.
25 the north bank, camp was made on the river flats below the site of Fort Miami. The British often referred to the Maumee River as the Miami, in consequence, the 41st was awarded a battle honour for its Regimental Colours entitled Miami.
26 In fact, the Americans had excavated extensive bomb-proof traverses in the interior of Fort Meigs and had fairly low casualties from the British bombardment - see Richardson p. 159, Nelson pg. 69. Nelson states that as Harrison had only 360 rounds of ammunition for the forts 18 pdr cannon, they were ordered to be fired sparingly(pg. 69), and in fact a reward was given for retrieving British cannon balls so they could be returned to their senders...(pg. 70). Nelson states that only seventy to eighty Americans had been killed by the artillery bombardment during the seige, and a further 189 wounded (p. 83).
27 the remains of these gun positions can still be viewed in a cemetery located near the Fort. The current ownership of the positions vests in Fort Meigs historic site. Anyone who has viewed these works must be struck by their exposed position hence vulnerability to an American sortie. Nelson states that the fire from this battery was largely ineffective to the point the Americans thought a sympathetic person was deliberately sabotaging the aim! Nelson, p. 73. But Procter only had one Royal Artillery officer (Richardson quotes Procters official report, p. 162 - Illness from successive fatigue deprived me of the services early of the only Artillery officer, on an occasion when three would have found ample employment...)The officer would obviously have been kept at the main battery on the north bank.
28 Richardson gives the murdered British soldiers name as Russell, an old and excellent soldier, p. 154.
29 Most accounts agree that the massacre did not stop until Tecumseh appeared. One private of the 41st who tried to intervene was killed by the Indians as noted above. Tecumseh reputedly called Procter a coward for doing nothing to stop the massacre, which occurred in and about the ditch at Fort Miami, located on the river bluff above the British camp. See Nelson pp.77,79. This site is now an historic park, although a large part of the former fort has been washed in to the Maumee since 1813.
30 Byfields account of Harrisons proposed surrender is apparently not substantiated by any other source and is not referred to in most histories of the War.
31 The plan referred to was Tecumsehs. See Nelson, p. 104, 111, for a full account, including confirmation of the tremendous thunderstorm Byfield mentions. Procter embarked on this expedition under pressure from his Indian allies. Fort Meigs was far too strong for the British force to tackle head-on at this point in the War.
32 Peter Latouche Chambers was born in 1788; and commissioned as ensign in the 41st Regiment of Foot, June 21, 1803; promoted to be lieutenant, April 19, 1806, and captain, May 14, 1808. He was awarded a gold medal for his services at Detroit; and appointed deputy assistant quartermaster-general to the Right Division, February 14, 1813. He particularly distinguished himself by gallant conduct in a critical situation in the action at the Miami river, May 5, 1813, but was taken prisoner at Moraviantown, October 5, 1815(sic) and detained upwards of a year in captivity. He was granted the brevet rank of major, February 25, 1815; and substantive rank, May 3, 1821. While leading a storming party in the assault of a stockade at Kemmendine in Burmah he received a severe wound in the face from a spear. He was granted the Cross of the Bath, April 12, 1826, and promoted to be lieutenant-colonel commanding the 41st Regiment, April 5, 1827. He died at Bangalore in Mysore, August 29, 1828. - He was an officer of the first order; an extraordinary devotion to his regiment combined with a desperate valour being his chief characteristics. - Lomax, History of the 41st Foot, p. 372 Cruikshank, Detroit, p. 84-85. Chambers was involved in a bitter quarrel with Procter after Moraviantown, where Chambers, perhaps resenting Procters accusation that the 41st had not behaved properly at that battle, accused Procter of being a coward. See Procter Courtmartial for details. Chambers was also apparently feuding with Muir over credit from the 41sts actions during the May 5, 1813 action at Fort Meigs involving the destruction of Dudleys force; Chambers evidently could be a malicious enemy: it appears from the transcript of the Bender courtmartial that as Bender was related in some way to Muir, Chambers was not above trying to frame him with false evidence.
33 According to Stanley, the landing, British artillery bombardment, and ill-fated infantry assault on the American fort all took place on August 1, 1813. Both Byfield and Richardson state the assault took place on the 2nd. Richardson give the time of the assault as 4 oclock in the afternoon.
34 The Bender Courtmartial testimony gives graphic descriptions of the failed attack; this wing of the British force was pinned down in a ravine just short of the Fort ditch by the volume of fire put up by the American garrison.
35 the attack on Fort Stephenson was inadequately planned. The faith of the Regiment in Procter received its worst blow of the war. However able an administrator, many of Procters tactical decisions appear to be of mediocre to poor quality.
36 as mentioned above, these events all took place on August 1, 1813.
37 It is interesting to note that reinforcements from the Centre Division were reaching Procter continuously during this period. On August 3, a detachment of the 2nd battalion of the 41st which had been sent from Europe reached Procter in Sandusky Bay. The detachment had come over under the command of Lt. Colonel William Evans and included Ensign James Cochran, who left a narrative of his experiences in the War. See Sugden, Tecumsehs Last Stand, pp. 10, 224, 232. Dennis Carter-Edwards, A Short History of the 41st Regiment of Foot notes the arrival of the 2nd Battalion at Quebec in the spring of 1813.
38 this story represents an indication of the superior motivation, loyalty, and morale of British soldiers who had volunteered from the Militia to serve for the duration of hostilities. The mythical scum of the earth private would have undoubtedly deserted given this golden opportunity.
39 an examination of personnel from the 41st seconded to the Lake Erie squadron shows only one lieutenant sent with approximately 150 privates and non-commissioned officers. Examination of the casualty returns shows that members of the 41st were parcelled out to each ship. Byfields evidence that men were taken from each company is further evidence that might lead to several conclusions about how these infantrymen were used on the ships. One only wishes Byfield had given us a hint as to how these men were selected: were they those with nautical backgrounds, the best marksmen - or the dregs of each company? The answer to this question would be interesting evidence as to how the British high command viewed the squadrons chances in the inevitable battle.
40 the name Tecumseh does not appear so much as once in Byfields account. The Prophet Tecumsehs brother, survived the War of 1812. As spiritual leader of the Indian resistance movement both before and during the war - although his reputation was tarnished somewhat by the Indian defeat at Tippecanoe in 1811 - The Prophets importance has perhaps been underestimated by white historians, who tend to focus on Tecumseh.
41 Byfields story of his solo escape from the Battle was evidently not an isolated incident, as this meeting with a solo comrade shows. These stories constitute evidence of the total break-up and scattering of the British troops in fairly dense woods.
42 Richard Bullock was the senior officer of the 41st to escape capture after Moraviantown - see Richardson p. 229.
43 Here is interesting proof that most British regulars serving in Upper Canada probably did not brown their musket barrels. The polished metal would shine brightly in the sun, which would be somewhat intimidating to the enemy - if also making concealment harder. Keeping the muskets properly polished would also be a time-consuming chore - but a polished musket was perforce a clean one...
44 The 41st, including its light company, was obviously still wearing leather neck stocks at this time. Because of Byfields neck wound suffered in January at Frenchtown, he did not have to wear the leather stock, which might have abraded his wound.
45 Rialls attack on Black Rock and Buffalo took place on December 30-31, 1813, at the end of which the entire American side of the Niagara River had been plundered and burnt, the only exception being Fort Niagara, which the British occupied for the duration of the War.
46 This incident is an example of the adaption of British tactics to conditions in North America: lying down, and also treeing, were tactics occasionally used to avoid what was often very accurate American gunfire. Le Couteurs account also notes adoption of such tactics on numerous occasions.
47 Byfield has evidently confused the date a new amalgamated Light Company under Captain Glue(Glew) was formed from elements of the 1st and 2nd battalions with the date of the Battle of Lundys Lane. The formation of the unified company obviously took place early in the spring, as Byfield goes on to describe how it was ordered to Kingston until the weather broke up.
48 Here is evidence that at least the Light Company of the 41st was using bugle signals. Also, another example of common sense in the face of hostile fire: the companys casualties if it had not dropped would undoubtedly have been much higher.
48 Le Couteur (p. 174)
also describes this incident:
As we marched up, to my utter astonishment, I saw the Captain of Artillery passing me. What, in the name of fortune, brings you from your guns? Two of them were taken at the Bayonets point and my Gunners are despatched. They made me a Prisoner, shoved me into the church above there, but as I saw a window at the other end and no one watching. I jumped out and here I am. Captain Glew of the 41st Light Company who was on the left under the crest of the hill, saw all this. When Jonathan thought He had the Guns safe, and like a raw fool had bayonetted the horses as well as what men he could catch, and fancied the centre of the battle won - bold Capt. Glew charged them with his gallant light bobs and retook our Guns, and one from the enemy. He ought to have been made a Knight Bannaret or a Major on the spot.
It is worth note that not only does Le Couteur provide independent verification of Byfields account, but even agrees as to the number of guns captured (3).
49 A battery of Congreve Rockets joined British forces on the Niagara River for the 1814 campaign.
50 Tuckers raid was a failure. The plan was to launch an attack by stealth on batteries on the east bank of the Niagara river which flanked those at Fort Erie, and also to destroy the American supply depot. Drummond was displeased that Tuckers troops broke and retreated and censured them in a general order. Stanley, p.325. Tucker himself was known in the army as Brigadier Shindy - Graves, in Le Couteur, p. 197, states that a shindy was a dance and the nickname implies that he was excitable and not steady in action. Le Couteur- who was present - states the failure was owing to Col. Tuckers total want of military command. Le Couteur, p. 184.
51 Conjocta Creek
52 Stanley, page 223-24, mistakenly states that Byfield was wounded during the raid on Black Rock in December of 1813. Pension records confirm that Byfield suffered the loss of his left forearm from wounds received in action with the enemy at Black Rock U.S., August 3, 1814.
53Because of his wound, Byfield missed the night assault on Fort Erie, August 15, 1814. Casualties in this ill-fated attack in which the 41st flank companies participated included every officer. Only 39 of 120 escaped death, wounding, or capture (Defended Border, p. 163). Brereton quotes casualties as being 1 officer, 40 other ranks killed, 4 officers and 35 wounded, out of 140 men (Brereton p. 98). The 41st participated in no other major actions in the war, being withdrawn to Fort George in September 1814. Byfield himself had fought in virtually every major action of the 41st in the War, and most of the minor ones. Of the 41st's major actions, he only ?missed? the Battle of Queenston Heights in 1812, and the attack on Fort Erie in 1814.
54the Recollections script has the word "blind," but it seems this is probably a typographical error, as the word "bind" is obviously more appropriate.