Major-General Sir Isaac Brock KB (6 October 1769 – 13 October 1812) was a British Army officer and administrator, who was assigned to Lower Canada in 1802. Despite facing desertions and near-mutinies, he commanded his regiment in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) successfully for many years. He was promoted to major general, and became responsible for defending Upper Canada against the United States. While many in Canada and Britain believed war could be averted, Brock began to ready the army and militia for what was to come. To this end he oversaw improvements to the fortifications at Quebec and improved the Provincial Marine which was responsible for transporting troops and supplies on the Great Lakes. Though appointed brigadier general in 1807 by Governor General Sir James Henry Craig, Brock was frustrated by a lack of supplies and support.
However, he worked to alter the militia act to expand his forces and began building relationships with Native American leaders such as the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, and nations such as the Anishinaabe. Brock felt that British military fortunes were bleak. In Upper Canada, he possessed only 1,200 regulars which were supported by around 11,000 militia. As he doubted the loyalty of many Canadians, he believed only around 4,000 of the latter group would be willing to fight. Despite this outlook, when the War broke out, the populace was prepared, and quick victories at Fort Michilimackinac and Detroit defeated American invasion efforts.
Brock’s actions, particularly his success at Detroit, earned him a knighthood, membership in the Order of the Bath, accolades and the sobriquet “The Hero of Upper Canada”.
Brock died at the Battle of Queenston Heights. Leading two companies of the 49th Regiment and two companies of York militia, he charged up the heights assisted by aide-de-camp Lieutenant Colonel John Macdonell. In the attack, Brock was struck in the chest and killed, as was his aide who died in a second charge. However the battle was eventually a British victory. [Q will be for Queenston]
Twelve years after Brock’s death, a 130 foot stone monument was erected in his honour on the heights near the spot where he was killed. His remains, as well as those of Macdonell, were reburied beneath the monument in an elaborate ceremony attended by many of his contemporaries. In 1840, the monument was destroyed by a massive blast of gunpowder, ignited by an American sympathizer. The monument was subsequently rebuilt in 1856, 52 feet taller than before. Today, the monument, which now straddles the longest undefended border in the world, remains one of the most imposing historical landmarks in Canada. Relics of Brock’s career can be seen at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, where his bullet-pierced tunic is prominently on display.
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: