The Battle of Queenston Heights by Lieut.-Col. J. R. Wilkinson

Fought October 13th, 1812

wilkinson
Brock’s Monument on Queenston Heights and cenotaph erected on spot where he fell in battle, Canada. A Keystone View Stereotype, 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

They crossed in the gray of the morning,
‡‡Stole o’er from the other shore,
To invade the land of the Maple Leaf,
‡‡Two thousand proud foes, or more:
A detachment of the old Forty-Ninth,
‡‡And Dennis’s brave volunteers,
Opposed their landing determinedly,
‡‡Opening on them with cheers.

The roar of the guns from the battery
‡‡Rolled down Niagara’s gorge,
Awakening Brock and his fearless men
‡‡From their rest at old Fort George.
And in a hot haste Brock and his aides-de-camp
‡‡Rode fast through the pale, cold light,
Bidding Sheaffe and his men to follow on
‡‡To aid in the coming fight.

Meanwhile the Americans won the heights,
‡‡And the guns half way below;
Their loss was a serious menace, too,
‡‡In the hands of the haughty foe.
Swift as the fleet wind Brock gained the vale
‡‡And lifted his flashing eye,
Measuring the foe on the cold, gray steeps,
‡‡And the battery nearer by.

“The guns must be won!” Brock quickly cried,
‡‡And came an answering cheer
From the intrepid, ready Forty-Ninth —
‡‡Brave souls devoid of all fear!
“Forward! charge home to the battery’s side!”
‡‡And dauntless he led the way,
Driving the foe from the smoking guns
‡‡By the cold steel’s deadly play.

Heroically leading, he drew their fire,
‡‡And fearlessly fighting fell,
Pierced through the breast by a mortal shot,
‡‡The leader all loved so well.
“Don’t mind me,” he thoughtfully cried;
‡‡“Push on, brave York volunteers!”
Sent a message to his sister over the sea,
‡‡His eyes suffused with tears.

Thus perished war’s genius gloriously,
‡‡A great leader, young in years;
So loved and mourned for, brave, pure soul,
‡‡Thy name we bedew with tears.
Gallantly Sheaffe by St. David’s moves up,
‡‡Turning their flank by the way,
Gaining the heights by an impetuous rush,
‡‡Not a moment held at bay.

Consuming volleys they hurl on the foe,
‡‡Then charge with their deadly steel,
And hundreds are slain in the mad mêlée —
‡‡See, the foe in panic reel!
The British line sweeps resistlessly down;
‡‡The proud foe must surely yield.
Ha! they break — they break into headlong flight
‡‡In defeat from that blood-red field!

Over the heights in mad flight now leaping,
‡‡Some were impaled on the trees,
Where mockingly their garments fluttered
‡‡For years in the storm and breeze.
Some plunged in the cold, rushing river
‡‡To gain safely the other shore,
But were lost in the swirl of its waters,
‡‡And were heard of nevermore.

Nine hundred men surrendered to Sheaffe,
‡‡A force greater than his own.
Ah! ’twas a gallant day, and nobly won;
‡‡Signally the enemy were overthrown.
And standing there on the glorious Heights,
‡‡They cheered for country and King;
They unfurled the “flag of a thousand years”;
‡‡Their shouts o’er the scene did ring.

‘Twas a far-famed day for our lovèd land,
‡‡Ring it over the world so wide;
Like veterans Canadians fought that day,
‡‡With the regulars side by side.
Dearly the victory was won for us
‡‡In the death of beloved Brock.
Immortal hero! thy irreparable loss
‡‡Was to all a grievous shock.

They muffled their drums and reversed their arms,
‡‡And marshalled around his bier,
And solemnly bowed their war-worn heads,
‡‡And silently dropped a tear.
E’en the painted savages loved him well,
‡‡And o’er each stoical face
Stole a shadow of pain and tenderness,
‡‡Hallowing that sacred place.

A grateful country has planted there
‡‡A monument tow’ring high,
His memory e’er to perpetuate,
‡‡Pointing ever to the sky.
The hero and his aide, parted not by death,
‡‡Secure their relics rest there,
In the lovely land of the Maple Leaf
‡‡Ever so loyal and fair.

Aye, a grateful country placed it there —
‡‡On earth there’s no grander scene —
And we sing with a grateful, fervant heart
‡‡To our Country and our Queen.
Revere, then, the dead, and honor them still,
‡‡They died our freedom to save;
God bless the flag of a thousand years,
‡‡May it long o’er us proudly wave!

Source: Lieut.-Col. J. R. Wilkinson. Canadian Battlefields and Other Poems. 2nd ed. Toronto, William Briggs, 1901

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Brock: Valiant Leader by John Daniel Logan

Logan Brock
General Sir Isaac Brock leaving Fort George on the morning of Oct 13th 1812 for Queenston Heights. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

O VALIANT leader of the little band
That, fearless, forward rushed to victory,
Tho far outnumbered by the enemy,
And, daring death, saved our Canadian land, —
What honors can we pay the noble name
Of one who held as naught th’ invaders’ art
Of war,— whose glory hath become a part
For evermore of our Canadian fame?

Lo, on the looming crown of that ascent
Where thy life ceased, a loyal host hath reared
To thee — whose patriot heart was pure, nor feared,—
A high commemorative monument!
Still is thy memory green who fell to save,
Still, Brock, art thou the bravest of our brave!

Source: Logan, John Daniel. Songs of the Makers of Canada and Other Homeland Lyrics.  Toronto: William Briggs, 1911.

Click to see more poems about the Battle of Queenston Heights and other Poems of the War of 1812 in Niagara

Ode to a Bytown Youth by J. A. Murphy

“Enshrined in the records of Canadian achievement a century ago, is the fascinating and thrilling story of a daring feat performed at Brock’s monument on Queenston Heights by a young Bytonian — Matthew Murphy, father of Mr. J.A. Murphy of 412 McLeod Street. Mr. Murphy has penned the following lines relating to the historic incident but fuller details will be found in a story elsewhere on this page.” Ottawa Citizen, December 17, 1938

S.E. View of Brock’s Monument on Queenston Heights as it appeared May 9, A.D.1841
“S.E. View of Brock’s Monument on Queenston Heights as it appeared May 9, A.D.1841”
              I
Well nigh a century ago, Beside Niagara's river, On Queenston Heights was struck a blow Brock's monument to shiver.
A dastard alien's coward hand Had piled within its bottle A quarter hundred powder bags The tower to o'ertopple.
When fired, the blast was strong enough The wooden stair to shatter, Mortar and stone proved all too tough, For such a piffling matter.
As angry embryo nation rose To right the wrong intended, From town and country, copse and close, Their various ways they wended.
Not trains nor aeroplanes, nor cars Conveyed these sturdy yeomen. None carried arms though some bore scars, But all were worthy foemen.
They rode, they ran, they sailed, they swam O'er trails through swamps, wet, dreary; Berries and leaves their stomachs cram, Footsore they were, and weary.
From nearby hills and dales they come, From broad Ontario's beaches, Where'er a spark or loyal flame Gave urge to man the breaches.
Another such determined host Not all our land could muster They frightened rebels from our coast And quelled the Yankee bluster.
Continue reading "Ode to a Bytown Youth by J. A. Murphy"

The Battle of Queenstown (October 13, 1812) by William Banker, Jr.

When brave Van Rensselaer cross'd the stream,
    Just at the break of day
Distressing thoughts, a restless dream,
    Disturb'd me where I lay.

But all the terrors of the night
    Did quickly flee away:
My opening eyes beheld the light,
    And hail'd the new-born day.

Soon did the murdering cannon's roar
    Put blood in all my veins;
Columbia's sons have trod the shore
    Where the proud Britain reigns.

To expose their breast to cannon's ball,
    Their country's rights to save,
O what a grief to see them fall!
    True heroes, bold and brave!

The musket's flash, the cannon's glow,
    Thunder'd and lighten'd round,
Struck dread on all the tawny foe,
    And swept them to the ground.

I thought what numbers must be slain,
    What weeping widows left!
And aged parents full of pain,
    Of every joy bereft.

The naked savage yelling round
    Our heroes where they stood,
And every weapon to be found
    Was bathed in human blood.

But bold Van Rensselaer, full of wounds,
    Was quickly carried back;
Brave Colonel Bloom did next command
    The bloody fierce attack.

Where Brock, the proud insulter, rides
    In pomp and splendor great;
Our valiant heroes he derides,
    And dared the power of fate.

 Continue reading "The Battle of Queenstown (October 13, 1812)  by William Banker, Jr."