British Troops

The Central Division of the British army arrived at Burlington Heights on May 29th, 1813 after the fall of Fort George two days earlier. All troops at Niagara River posts were ordered to join up with Brigadier General Vincent’s forces at Richard Beasley’s house at Burlington Heights. Vincent signed an agreement with Beasley for the use of his property. The army continued to use the site for 2 years and three months. In that time the troops used Beasley’s cereal grass and hay for their mattresses. They made use of his existing buildings for housing. They burnt his fence rails and a large number of his hardwood trees for fuel. According to Beasley’s claim, the army also dug trenches erected earthworks for batteries, cut down his orchard and his garden fence. Documents dated June 1st 1813 indicate that 1,658 men were present from various units of the British army and militia. On the night and early morning of June 5th/6th 1813 a British force made up of 704 men mainly taken from the 8th and 49th regiments attacked the American encampment at Stoney Creek. Men from the Royal Artillery, Royal Artillery Drivers and the Coloured Corps stayed behind. While it is unknown how many women and children accompanied their men to Burlington Heights, it is reasonable to assume that at least some of the men had their wives with them. A reasonable estimate of the number of women that were present on the Heights in June of 1813 is about 170. While an estimate is possible for the number of women present, it is not possible to estimate the number of children because the army placed no limit on the number of children in a family. In the fall of 1813 after the British loss at the Battle of the Thames, retreating troops (primarily the 41st regiment and First Nations allies from the west) and their families as well as other civilian refugees also arrived at Burlington Heights. This placed a great strain on the army’s capacity to house and feed all the new arrivals. Encouraged by hunger a small yet highly visible minority of troops and warriors ventured away from the garrison on the Heights to the local farms where they took food and other goods often leaving farmers fearful of the very troops who were supposed to defend them. Of all damages caused by the war around the Head of the Lake submitted to the Board of Claims, at least 50% were directly caused by British troops and First Nations allies.