Baron Francis de Rottenburg (1757–1832) was a Swiss-born officer and colonial administrator who served in the French army 1782-1791, and then joined the British army in 1795. He was promoted to Major General and assumed command of the Montreal district when the War of 1812 broke out. This was an important post because of its location on the St Lawrence River and its close proximity to the American border.
In June 1813, he succeeded Major General Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe as military and civil commander in Upper Canada. He was accused of neglecting civil duties and of being unduly cautious in his military decisions. Rottenburg’s main concern was to preserve the army, and he was prepared to withdraw his forces to Kingston, a potential target for an American attack, if Sir James Yeo lost naval control of Lake Ontario. Nevertheless, Rottenburg ordered probing attacks against the American occupiers of Fort George and the town of Niagara as well as raids across the Niagara River. However, his refusal to send reinforcements to Major General Henry Procter, commanding on the Detroit frontier, contributed to the British defeats at the Battle of Lake Erie and the Battle of Moraviantown.
By early November he knew an American army was proceeding down the St Lawrence River against Montréal and he ordered Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Morrison to pursue the invaders. Morrison defeated part of the army at Crysler’s Farm on 11 November 1813.
The partial martial law that Rottenburg imposed in the Eastern and Johnstown districts, to force farmers to sell food and forage to the army, was an unpopular move which his successor repealed but was nevertheless forced to re-impose upon all of Upper Canada.
In December 1813, Rottenburg was succeeded by Lieutenant General Sir Gordon Drummond, and returned to his previous posts in Lower Canada. Later in 1814, when substantial British reinforcements arrived in Canada. Sir George Prevost prepared to invade the United States by way of Lake Champlain. He placed Rottenburg in command of a division of three brigades. However, Prevost personally led the campaign, which was defeated at the Battle of Plattsburgh. However, Rottenburg played no conspicuous part in the battle, with the result that he was not touched by the chorus of criticism that descended on Prevost, in part from the three brigade commanders, all of whom had seen action in the Peninsular War. In fact, Rottenburg served as president of Procter’s court martial.
Rottenburg remained in Lower Canada until July 1815 when he returned to England, where he died in 1832.
PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS
Details on my 2015 A to Z theme and a linked list of posts can be found on my A to Z Challenge page, which also has a linked list of my 2014 posts.
The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, we blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.
My theme is ‘The War of 1812’, a military conflict, lasting for two-and-a-half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies. The Memoirs of a British naval officer from the war is central to my novel “Seeking A Knife” – part of the Snowdon Shadows series.
Further reading on The War of 1812: