Showing posts with label People. Show all posts
Showing posts with label People. Show all posts

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Fighting Malcolm Clan

The forces that shaped the Upper Canada rebellion in the Western District often affected whole families. The best example is the Malcolm clan, which spawned 13 rebels spread across two generations. Despite two being sentenced for treason and two having rewards on their heads, all survived with great stories to tell.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Henry S. Handy: The Great Western Threat

During the Patriot War, few of the US-based civilian armies that amassed to attack Upper Canada had the luxury of a competent leader or posed any real threat to that British colony. The principal exception was Henry S. Handy and the regiments he formed and armed in 1838.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Colonel John Prince: Battlefield Executions

On December 4, 1838, a band of about 160 Hunters and Patriots crossed from Detroit in the predawn darkness and took over the village of Windsor in western Upper Canada. They were ultimately chased out by the local militia.

When the local militia commander, Colonel John Prince arrived with four more companies of defenders, nothing remained of the battle but smoke and casualties. Upon hearing details of the attack, Colonel Prince began a ruthless campaign of summary justice, executing five prisoners.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Elijah Woodman: From Pacifist to Rebel

Of the 10 published personal accounts by Patriot War rebels, the biography of Elijah Crocker Woodman appeared last, 113 years after his death. Unlike the other Patriot War chroniclers transported to a distant penal colony, he never made it home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Samuel Snow: An Everyman Freedom Fighter

During the Patriot War, tens of thousands of Americans pledged money and materials to help the Canadian rebels win political freedom in Upper Canada. A smaller number—I estimate between 1000 and 2000—actually took up arms and risked their lives by invading Canada. Most of these were the so-called "ordinary guy"—farmers, laborers, and tradesmen. Samuel D. Snow was one of these. The only difference being that he wrote about it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Robert Marsh: Unrepentant Freedom Fighter

Robert Marsh participated in three of the nine raids into Upper Canada during the Patriot War, including the first and the last. In his 1848 memoirs—the short title is Narrative of a Patriot Exile—he demonstrated an unflinching belief in American-style democracy and an unbending dislike of British colonial rule. Despite seven years of hard times, he never regretted his actions.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Edward Theller: Friend to any Underdog

Irish-born Edward Alexander Theller (1804-1859) arrived in Montreal in 1826. Though there less than a year, he learned about the deep animosity the French-speaking populace had for the English government—a feeling any Irishman understood. That exposure set the stage for his later actions.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Thomas Jefferson Sutherland: Lots of Feathers But Not Much Chicken

The story of Thomas Jefferson Sutherland's (1801-1852) exploits in the Patriot War reads like a comedic adventure. As an idealist, the plight of the poorly governed Canadians drew him to their cause. As a writer and one-time sergeant in the US Marines, he had both the power of the pen and sword at his disposal. His skills at oratory brought him to center stage in the pro-Canada movement in Buffalo, New York. He looked like a winner.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Benjamin Lett: 3. The Last Patriot Warrior

By the end of 1839, the Hunter and Patriot movements had atrophied into a pathetic club of old men who schemed and dreamed of impossible glories. With Bill Johnston either in jail or avoiding jail, one Patriot warrior kept Upper Canada on edge: Benjamin Lett.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Patriotes' End: 2. Twelve Hang

Most of the men hanged for their parts in the Lower Canada rebellion did not start out as rebels at arms. Heavy-handed actions by the colonial executive in denying demands for responsible government, and by the British army in response to a peaceful assembly in October 1837, pushed men to the brink.

Monday, October 10, 2011

John A. Macdonald: 2. Starts Political Career

The Patriot War launched the career of a young, gangly, curly-haired barrister from Kingston Ontario. By taking on intensely political clients that others dared not touch and by winning cases that seemed lost from the start, John Alexander Macdonald (January 10, 1815-June 6, 1891) became a household name. He later leveraged that popularity (and his orator gifts) for a foray into politics.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Benjamin Lett: 2. Terrorizes Quiet Cobourg

Late on July 26, 1839, a Hunter gang carrying heavy trunks boarded a small schooner, the Guernsey, at Oswego, New York. The ship sailed at midnight. At daybreak, the strangers emerged on deck, drew weapons from their trunks and took over the schooner.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Benjamin Lett: 1. Begins His Personal War

Throughout the Patriot War, the majority of Patriot and Hunter raiders tended to follow rules of engagement on par with their British enemy. That is, they behaved as soldiers, not murderers. While the British called them pirates and brigands, they were no more or less prone to abuses on the battlefield than the Upper Canadians. There was one notable exception, Benjamin Lett.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Uncle Tom Fights for Canada

Updated February 2014
In January 1838, Canadian militia repulsed Brigadier-General Thomas Jefferson Sutherland at Fort Malden. The militia also captured the Patriot's schooner and her commander, Brigadier-General Edward Alexander Theller.

One of the curious footnotes of the Patriot War is the makeup of the militia. It included an all-black company, with Rev. Josiah Henson, 48, as the senior black officer. Like many, he was an escaped American slave. Canada gave the black militiamen freedom and the opportunities available to free men, and they were grateful.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hunter Prisoners Sent Home, But Not All

Following the hanging of Lyman Leach in February of 1839, 146 prisoners, mostly Americans, continued to languish in Fort Henry, Kingston. Officially, 123 faced the death sentence. As the cold grip of a Canadian winter began to thaw that spring, so did the chilly attitude of the Upper Canada government.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Battle of Windsor: 3. Prisoners Executed

Executions of the Hunters and Patriots captured at the Battle of Windsor began in London, Upper Canada, in early 1839.

An American, Hiram Benjamin Lynn, 26, was the first to fall through the scaffold's trap door. A rebel leader accused of leading the bloody assault on the Windsor barracks, he hanged January 7, 1839.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Battle of Windsor: 2. Prisoners Go on Trial

The Hunters and Patriots captured at the Battle of Windsor faced a trial by court martial in London, Upper Canada, under the same rules and restrictions as their fellow combatants imprisoned in Fort Henry at Kingston. Convictions were almost guaranteed and hanging a likely result.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lyman Leach: A Raider and Rebel Hangs

After the executions of four Hunter raiders in Kingston on January 4, 1839, weeks passed without additional hangings. The remaining 150 prisoners in Fort Henry, who'd seen their comrades taken away to die every week or two, began to believe that the hangings had ceased. The Upper Canada public was tiring of the brutal executions. The time was right to show some mercy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hanging of Hunter Raiders Continues

Throughout December, 1838, the Upper Canada solicitor-general, Lt.-Colonel William Draper, 37, kept up the relentless pace of his show trials in Kingston. In concert, Lt.-Governor Sir George Arthur, 54, confirmed the execution orders that kept the town’s hangmen busy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Battle of Windsor: 1. The Final Campaign

While all eyes were riveted on the trials and executions of captured Hunters at Kingston in eastern Upper Canada, a new army of Hunters and Patriots prepared to attack the colony’s western border near Windsor. It turned out to be the final organized invasion of the Patriot War and a bungled bloody affair like all the raids before it.