Blockhouse/Beasley's barn

When the British army arrived on Burlington Heights in late May of 1813, they had to build defenses against an attack from the approaching American army. The quickest and easiest way to do this was to use natural features of the landscape as well as existing buildings as the starting point for building defensive works. Burlington Heights landowner Richard Beasley had several structures which the British were able to make use of for temporary barracks and in at least one case they converted a barn into a blockhouse. It is highly likely that Beasley’s barn was square in shape and built of logs with or without external clapboarding. The only changes the army had to do with the log barn was to create firing steps for troops to stand on, around the inside walls and then cut loopholes at breast height for the average soldier so that they could fire on the enemy from the safety of the thick log structure. It is also highly likely that ditches were added around the perimeter to act as an obstacle and add to the already commanding position of the blockhouse. As the term suggests blockhouses were meant to be self-contained miniature forts placed strategically to “block” a route of march. Purpose designed blockhouses often had built-in gunpowder magazines and roofs that could be removed to allow for the upper story to be used as a raised artillery battery. Blockhouses also often had an upper story that was larger in dimension than the lower story so that firing ports (trapdoors) around the edges of the walls could be opened to allow troops on the upper floor to fire down upon the enemy below.