Death of Brock by Charles Edwin Jakeway

Brock’s Monument on Queenston Heights and Cenotaph Erected on Spot Where He Fell in Battle. Photo from 1908
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The roll of the drum breaks the sleep of the morning,
….As it rocks back and forth in the dawning’s embrace,
And the bugle’s wild echoes sing widely the warning
….That the enemy’s hosts are approaching the place.

From their dreams spring the soldiers, alert for the greeting
….That foemen to foemen are eager to make,
And they grasp up their weapons in haste for the meeting
….Of bayonet with bayonet in thicket and brake.

Through field and through forest the columns advancing,
….Like foam-crested waves on a shore’s rocky head,
Come with flashing of bayonets and mettled steeds prancing,
….The ranks of the blue ‘gainst the ranks of the red.

Then suddenly rings out the musketry’s rattle,
….And thunders the tone of the cannon’s deep boom,
As fiercely they join in the tumult of battle,
….When many brave soldiers are sent to their doom.

Aloft on the breeze is the British flag flying,
….And round it the death-missives whistle and sing
A dirge for the soldiers, who proudly are dying—
….Are dying for freedom, for country and king.

There are veterans there who have fought the world over,
….Regardless of danger, disdainful of death,
And grimly they fall on the sere faded clover,
….And cheer for their king with their fast-failing breath.

There , too, in the carnage and tumult beside them
….Are those who came forth at young Canada’s call,
And though torment and danger and death may betide them,
….They will fight on to vict’ry, or fight till they fall.

They had answered the bugle’s sharp summons of warning,
….Those stout-hearted heroes, the York Pioneers,
And forth in the dusky gray dawn of the morning,
….Had marched to the conflict untrammelled by fears.

And now they are fighting for all they hold dearest,
….Their sweethearts and wives ,and the country they love :
As they think of the ones that their hearts hold the nearest,
….“Protect them !” they gasp to the Father above.

Oh , wilder and fiercer the conflict is growing,
….And sorely the ranks of the red are oppressed,
And fast is the flood of the crimson tide flowing,
….That is draining the lives of the bravest and best !

Can nothing be done to save from disaster
….The resolute men of that brave little band ?
Ah ! who is this coming up , faster and faster,
….Erect in the saddle, his sword in his hand ?

List, list to the cheer that rings high through the forest,
….And list to the tidings that run down the line :
“It is Brock who has come when our need is the sorest !
….At the flash of his sword vict’ry ever will shine.”

With a shout on his lip he leaps into the battle,
….Unheedful of dangers, unconscious of fears,
And his voice rings aloud o’er the musketry’s rattle :
….“Push on to the front the brave York Volunteers !”

He pauses, he staggers, his life blood is flowing !
….Pale, pale grow his features—he’s gasping for breath !
And seething with fury his soldiers are throwing
….Themselves on the foemen, avenging his death.

They chase the invaders, they hurl them before them,
….They sweep o’er the field with victorious tread,
Then they lower the flag that sadly droops o’er them,
….And wrap it with reverence over the dead.

Sad, sad are the souls of the men gathered round him—
….Not triumph but sorrow possesses each breast—
For bravest and noblest of men had they found him.
….He led them to glory, but now he’s at rest.

He’s at rest, but forever the fame of his story
….Will shine on our annals untainted by time,
And ever will glitter the star of his glory,
….Who fell at his post in his bright golden prime.

Source: Charles Edwin Jakeway. The Lion and the Lilies: A Tale of the Conquest and Other Poems. Toronto: William Briggs, 1897

The death notice of Charles Edwin Jakeway published in the Barrie Examiner March 8, 1906 from Find a Grave



Read about the Battle of Queenston Heights

Battle of Queenston Heights, October 13, 1812 by Crowquill

Brock’s Monument from the entrance to the Landscape Of Nations: Six Nations and Native Allies Commemorative Memorial.
Statues of Native Leaders John Norton (Teyoninhokarawen) and John Brant (Dekarihokenh)
Photo by Andrew Porteus, 2019

Now listen U. E. Loyalists
….The high immortal praise
Won here upon this sacred Mount
….In old paternal days.

For native land our fathers bled ;
….For right and glory’s crown ;
And double vengeance winged their swords
….For wrongs their blood had known.

Fierce Mars came on at first with foes ;
….And gave our Chief to death ;
Then changing sides their ranks he smote,
….And stamped his feet beneath.

’The first year’s war had passed far on :
….Success our arms sustained :
Our leader, during summer months,
….Applause from all had gained.

With skill intuitive he formed
….A various force and good,
Of soldiers trained, militia new,
….And children of the wood.

With these he pressed his rapid way
….To far Detroit’s stronghold ;
And snatched it from our neighbour’s grasp
….With knightly hand and bold.

But now Americans are strong
….On broad Lake Erie’s wave ;
They hope to wrest the honours back ;
….And more than credit save.

The storm-cloud gathers day by day
….Along our river’s course :
It threatens soon to burst in rage
….And test our manhood’s force.

Now bright October paints the woods
….With flame of leafy dyes ;
But Autumn gales have not as yet
….Assailed the resting skies.

Late peach and apple fruits still cling
….Among the foliage sere─
They help to show the country’s worth ;
….And make its homes more dear.

Deciduous woods on Queenston’s crest
….Show now their colours bright ;
While cedar clumps adorn the slope,
….Half-grown and fair to sight.

The juniper and cedar join
….In dense and sombre mass
To shade the vast and swirling stream
….Which here sweeps through the pass.

The river here, its strangling way,
….Through cloven mountains takes ;
Nor can, at once, its step restrain,
….When new its bonds its breaks.

A dread will come to inland youth
….When first he sees that tide,
As there it rolls in volume huge,
….Rock-gored on either side.

Alarming too mount up those crags
….Precipitous, and high :
They too have fear-inspiring look
….For young home-loving eye.

Along the mountain’s steepy base
….The Queenston Hamlet sleeps :
And pleasant homes, though not of wealth,
….Its narrow limit keeps.

And westward spreads a fair rich land ;
….A land by bright suns blessed :
This land from no weak-handed men
….The foe come here to wrest.

October now its Thirteenth day
….Brings in with challenge high :
The foe by night have crossed our lines :
….Our men must fight or fly.

With dawn of light the cannon’s voice
….Calls forth to combat stern :
The blood of all runs fast and high
….And fiercest passions burn.

Excitement boils through both the Hosts :
….No soul has calm or rest :
Not all who see the rising Sun
….Will see him in the west.

Sir Isaac startles in his sleep
….Within Fort George’s walls :
He guesses what has now transpired ;
….That gravest peril calls.

His aids and he to saddle spring :
….Tow’rd Queenston spur their way :
Their rapid steeds will reach the hill,
….—Ere yet ’tis fully day.

But first before he leaves the Fort
….Brief charge─as suited need─
He gives to eager waiting men,
….To follow on with speed.

Two Companies of Forty-First
….With fiery haste fall in :
Militia too and Indian force
….Their equal march begin,

Americans have crossed the stream
….In strong well-armed array :
They now are on the mountain top ;
….And but await the day.

Our two gun battery on the bank
….Poured down its iron hail
When morning showed still coming foes :
….E’en then with some avail.

It struck mid-stream some labouring boats
….Low-pressed, with soldiers full ;
And plunged their men to bubbling deaths
….In deeps unfathomable.

The fight began upon the mount
….While shadowy night prevailed :
Americans with five-fold force
….Our battery there assailed.

Two Companies of Forty-Ninth,
….With help which near they found,
Militia men and Indian scouts,
….Awhile had kept their ground.

But step by step, by numbers forced
….They had their guns to yield :
Yet battling fierce and struggling hard
….They slowly left the field.

They now are pressed quite down the slope :
….In flight all hope is placed :
That moment Brock and staff come up
….In swift and breathless haste.

Straight up the rapid steep they turn ;
….Nor stop─though most fall dead :
They think not now of dear sweet life
….When by loved General led.

They almost gain disputed line ;
….Ten paces still they want ;
But, ah !  those hoped-for paces ten
….The fates will never grant !

Our mighty Chief here ends his course,─
….He falls !  Stand back !  Give light !
He breathes !  What word was that ?  He’s dead !
….Gone forth to death’s dark night.

That spirit brave, that brightest soul,
….That lived for soldier’s fame ;
That had on distant Europe’s fields
….Won earth-pervading name,

Now reaches here its last sea verge ;
….Its record now is done ;
That masterful and restless soul
….Its fated course has run.

His comrades bear him down the hill
….With under-clasping arms :
And deeply tender anguished love
….Each hero’s great soul warms.

Now while he thus is borne away
….Macdonald steps to front ;
Nor cares he now to live or die,
….As is a brave friend’s wont.

But he too falls in briefest space :
….The force again recedes.
Macdonald falls as fell his chief :
….He too for glory bleeds.

Now men from old Fort George are come
….And Sheaffe is in command ;
But he will not renew the fight
….Till better mode is planned.

Now silence reigns o’er all the scene ;
….Save that, at intervals,
The Indian’s deadly rifle crack,
….Tells where the invader falls.

Our foes had won the upper guns,
….As has before been shown,
And so the battery on the bank
….Was by their shot o’erthrown.

The battery thus upon the bank
….In silence now is lost :
Its silence tells how much we miss
….Our well-placed mountain post.

One gun away at Froman’s Point
….Still sweeps the channelled stream ;
Nor stops till victory crowns our arms,
….’Neath day’s far westering beam.

This single gun seemed ruling Fate :
….The stream could not be crossed :
The foe could not his succours bring ;
….Nor fly when fight was lost.

Good Sheaffe now leaves the northern slope,
….His other course has planned ;
The assault must be on level plain,
….Or e’en from higher land.

The mount still higher climbs to south
….With smooth and easy grade
Above the ground by foes possessed :
….The fight must there be made.

And with this view he leads his force
….Some miles away to west ;
And thus by easy secret paths,
….Ascends the mountain’s crest

While this proceeds till past mid-day
….The foe are kept in fear ;
Young Brant and fifty Mohawk braves
….Infest the thickets near.

And once this clan of fiercest souls
….Burst forth from green-wood nigh
Upon the foe’s unsheltered lines,
….With wild Plutonian cry.

With frightful yells and arms upraised
….They startling fear produced :
Their hatchets cleaved a score of skulls :
….A score of hearts they sluiced.

Now, Winfield Scott, use well thy nerve ;
….This is no sportive task ;
If thou, thyself, shalt see the night,
….’Tis much of Fates to ask.

And well thou prov’st thy val’rous soul ;
….Thy lines stand firm and fixed ;
Which but for thee and words of thine
….Had with red earth been mixed.

But soon the cloud of Indian braves,
….The wood absorbs again ;
Yet ever more that vengeful force
….Hangs round the wooded plain.

And other help these good friends give,
….They keep the highway clear,
And word is so to Chippewa sent
….—Of battle waging here.

The mid-day hour is now long past ;
….Converging troops are met─
Calm Sheaffe is on the table land
….At place himself had set.

From far Fort George he has his men ;
….Of Forty-Ninth those few,
Who first had made that struggle fierce
….To do what none could do.

From Chippewa now a regular force
….Pour in with soldiers’ zeal
And dauntless good militia troops,
….Whose hearts these hard fates feel.

Brant’s band had been all day at hand ;
….A subtle deadly foe :
And Norton now brings other bands
….In paints of gaudy show.

Now Sheaffe his various force arrayed ;
….First Red Coats take their place :
It mikes the blood run fire to see
….Their gallant martial grace.

These troops have fought o’er half the world :
….No men more proud than they ;
They march with readiest step to death,
….As if to scenic play.

Next Loyalists take place abreast,
….Inornate is their host ;
No handsome uniform they wear ;
….Nor measured step they boast.

Yet they will travel step for step
….All ground the veterans gain ;
And arms of theirs in that red fight
….Will take e’en redder stain.

They would not live as coward knaves
….On soil which once was theirs ;
But while they live their hands shall do
….What freest freeman dares.

They come from scattered dear loved homes
….To take this soldier’s post ;
And each one here his life devotes,
….Nor thinks too much the cost.

And feathered Indians come long side ;
….A semi-savage clan,
They come to vindicate their claim
….To common fame of man.

Their soul is filled with grateful sense,
….For words kind Brock had said
And they will now avenge his shade,
….Or they lie stark and dead.

Chiefs Brant and Norton lead their tribes
….High clamouring for their prey :
And scarce the chiefs have rule enough
….Their forward course to stay.

The final deadly strife begins,─
….Two field guns’ horses fly
Forth on the plain at fullest speed
….The ranks of foes to try.

Their shot makes dangerous strain at least ;
….But Scott steps forth once more,
And waves his hat upon his sword─
….His words his troops restore.

For loud he calls with chieftain’s voice,
….Reminds of country’s fame ;
That here they must by life or death,
….Sustain her splendid name.

The orders now pass on our lines ;
….“ Avenge the General slain ;
Three British cheers ; one musket round ;
….The rest the steel must gain.”

And thrice rang out the wild hurra,─
….Mens’ roar in fighting mood ;
It rolled for miles far o’er the land :
….The cry of blood for blood.

Next flashed a blaze from all our front─
….Then onward moves the mass ;
They step to time with sounding tread,─
….Earth trembles as they pass.

The Red Coats gay with levelled steel
….Move on with martial pace ;
And stern militia, nerved as high,
….Their equal ground do trace.

The Indian braves need not the spur,
….But come with whoop and yell ;
That they have not brave grateful hearts
….No tongue of truth shall tell.

Scott’s men cannot this onset meet─
….They come not here for right ;
They break, re-form, and break again :
….Then rush in headlong flight.

And fierce and furious was that charge─
….A tempest’s thundrous rain ;
It rolled the foe like stubble weak
….Along the darkling plain.

Nor stopped it in its angry sweep
….Till all the hill was crossed ;
And it had pushed o’er eastern rocks
….The panic stricken host.

At river side where woods are thick
….A thousand men now hide ;
One half of these had made good fight,─
….The rest no fight had tried.

And but for Sheaffe’s humanity,
….Which prompt our Indians checked,
A three-fold bloody tragedy
….The invading force had wrecked.

Nine hundred men lay down their arms─
….’Twere vain so placed to fight ;
And grieved and sad they bend to Fate,
….Subdued by Fortune’s blight.

Twelve hundred men on either side
….Upon this field had stood ;
And foes had fallen full three to one,
….Nor yet their stand made good.

Our land is free─has proved its power,─
….It holds its rightful own ;
Our starting point this battle is :
….We here have manhood shown.

Brave, noble Sheaffe, bright crown is thine :
….Thy valorous sage delay
Brought victory back to grace our Flag
….When lost had seemed the day.

And name of Brock shall never die
….While Queenston looks afar ;
’Twill be in all the onward times
….Our upward guiding star.

Fate gave him two and forty years
….To gain the fame be loved ;
And ever in that briefer space
….As demigod he moved.

His fall refined each manly soul
….Of all his mixed command ;
And still he lives in patriot hearts,
….The genius of our land.

In dying he his Flag bore on─
….Straight on, where glory bade ;
It faltered not while in his hands,
….Nor on it fell a shade.

The Spartan King came not from out
….The famous fatal straits ;
But Greeks from him learned how to die :
….What fame on heroes waits.

Achilles died in prime of youth,
….The chief of Homer’s song ;
He rather would for glory die.
….Than unknown life prolong.

Descendants of the Refugees !
….Think how this field was red !
Think how our fathers fighting hard
….Found here a gory bed !

If ye shall basely yield your claim
….To your great heritage,
How vile and weak will be the name
….Ye leave to future age !

The patriot spirits in their graves
….Who died for country’s cause
Would scorn a kindred with such souls,
….Who know not glory’s laws.

Remember U. E. Loyalists
….The glory of this hill !
How raged your fathers ’gainst the foe !
….How stern their patriot will !


Ottawa.                       Crowquill.

Source: The Dominion Illustrated Magazine, vol. IV, No. 89, March 15, 1890

Crowquill is a pseudonym used by poet Rev. Archibald Lampman, Senior, (1822-1897) father of renowned poet Archibald Lampman [Junior]. Lampman senior was an Anglican Minister and a son of United Empire Loyalists who moved from New Jersey after the American Revolution

Many thanks to Arden Phair for bringing this poem to my attention.



The Battle of Queenston Heights by Francis Sparshott



Brock and Sheaffe
Image from the St. Catharines Standard,
Oct. 10, 2012

The Yankees stood on Queenston Heights
in coats of modest grey
and Brock has brought his fencibles
to make them go away

Who is that sweating officer
waving a useless sword?
That’s General Sir Isaac Brock
who wants to be a Lord

God bless the British soldier
who wears a coat of red
it makes a splendid target
and so they shot him dead

They laughed to see the fencibles
run down the hill in fear
but Roger Sheaffe has scaled the Heights
and caught them in the rear

Who is this cool young officer
who shoots us through the heart?
That’s Major General Roger Sheaffe
who wants to be a Bart

Now all you bold Canadian girls
remember Queenston Heights
it’s thanks to such as Brock and Sheaffe
that you sleep safe at nights

Cool Sheaffe was made a Baronet
and back to England sent
but Brock still stands on Queenston Heights
upon his monument

Source: Francis Sparshott.  The Naming of the Beasts. Windsor, Ont.: Black Moss Press, 1979.

Originally published in Descant

About Francis Sparshott

Read the article The Hero of Queenston about the treatment of Sheaffe

Read about Isaac Brock

Read about Roger Sheaffe

D.M.R. Bentley briefly discusses this poem by Sparshott in his essay (now archived on the WayBack Machine) Monumental Tensions: the Commemoration of British Political and Military Heroes in Canada from his Mnemographia Canadensis, volume 1: Muse and Recall

Brock by Charles Sangster

charles sangster
Brock’s Monument, Queenston Heights
from John Charles Dent’s The Last Forty Years: Canada Since the Union of 1841

 13th, 1859 *

One voice, one people, one in heart
……..And soul, and feeling, and desire !
……..Re-light the smouldering martial fire, 
……..Sound the mute trumpet, strike the lyre, 
……..The hero deed can not expire,
……………The dead still play their part.

Raise high the monumental stone !
……..A nation’s fealty is theirs,
……..And we are the rejoicing heirs,
……..The honored sons of sires whose cares 
……..We take upon us unawares,
……………As freely as our own.

We boast not of the victory,
……..But render homage, deep and just,
……..To his  to their  immortal dust,
……..Who proved so worthy of their trust 
……..No lofty pile nor sculptured bust
……………Can herald their degree.

No tongue need blazon forth their fame  
……..The cheers that stir the sacred hill
……..Are but mere promptings of the will
……..That conquered then, that conquers still ; 
……..And generations yet shall thrill
……………At Brock’s remembered name.

Some souls are the Hesperides
……..Heaven sends to guard the golden age,
……..Illuming the historic page
……..With records of their pilgrimage ;
……..True Martyr, Hero, Poet, Sage :
……………And he was one of these.

Each in his lofty sphere sublime
……..Sits crowned above the common throng,
……..Wrestling with some Pythonic wrong,
……..In prayer, in thunder, thought, or song ;
……..Briareus-limbed, they sweep along,
……………The Typhons of the time.

* The day of the inauguration of the new Monument on Queenston Heights.

Source: Charles Sangster. Hesperus, and Other Poems and Lyrics. Montreal: John Lovell, 1860.

Read about Charles Sangster

D.M.R. Bentley discusses this poem by Sangster in his essay (now archived on the WayBack Machine) Monumental Tensions: the Commemoration of British Political and Military Heroes in Canada from his Mnemographia Canadensis, volume 1: Muse and Recall



From Queenston Heights by Charles Sangster

Crowd at the Base of Brock’s Monument,
ca. 1914
Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Eleven.    Welcome to the Sabbath bells ! 
A blessing and a welcome !    At this hour
One prays for me at home, two hundred miles
From where I lounge along the grassy knoll,
Far up upon this classic hill.    The air
Hath a delicious feeling, as it breathes
Its autumn breath upon me ; air so calm,
One cannot feel the beat of Nature’s pulse.
No, not a throb.    The heav’nly influences,
Hearing that maiden’s prayer, lean down and move
My being with their answerings of love.
The myriad-tinted leaves have gravely paused
To listen to the spheral whisperings —
The unvoiced harmonies that few can hear
Or feel, much less interpret faithfully ;
And the swift waters of the dizzy gorge,
Stunned with their recent plunge against the crags
That hide Niagara’s iris-circled feet,
And lashed to very madness as they wound
Their circling way past rocks and fretted banks,
Melt into calm in the blue lake beyond,
As starlight melts into the distant sea.

….Those ancient willows have a solemn droop ;
You scarce can see the dwelling they adorn :
Behind them rest the grain-denuded fields.
Here, to my left, an unpretending town ;
There, to my right, another ; like two friends,
Each thanking heaven for the Sabbath-pause,
And the brief respite from man’s curse of toil.
The church bells pealing now and then a note,
Swell the bless’d Pæan with their silver tongues.
The very tombstones yonder, near the church,
Look whiter for the eloquent Repose.
….A few short paces through the cedar trees,
Where the pert chipmunks chatter, and the birds
Select and melodize their sweetest notes,
And I have gained the level.    Toward the lake,
The cloudlike points of land are seen
Blending with old Ontario, and the gorge
Hurries its whirling current past the banks 
That glass their fair proportions in the stream.
….Here is the Monument.    Immortal Brock,
Whose ashes lie beneath it, not more still
Than is the plain to-day. What have we gained,
But a mere breath of fame, for all the blood
That flowed profusely on this stirring field ?
‘T is true, a Victory ; through which we still
Fling forth the meteor banner to the breeze,
And have a blood-sealed claim upon the soil.
‘T were better than Defeat, a thousand times.
And we have rightly learned to bless the name
Of the Old Land, whose courage won the day —
We, the descendants of her Victor-sires.
But dearer than a hundred victories,
With their swift agony, the earnest Calm,
That, like a Blessing from the lips of God,
Rests on the classic plain, o’er which my feet
Tread lightly, in remembrance of the dead—
My Brothers all, Vanquished and Victors both.
And yet my heart leaps up, poor human heart !
As I lean proudly, with a human pride,
Against this pillar to a great man’s name.
Yet I would rather earn that maiden’s prayer,
Than all the fame of the immortal dead.
….There may be furrows still upon the field,
Ploughed up with the wild hurricane of war
On that eventful day.    Here, certainly,
An angry missile grooved this honored rock.
Though nearly half a century has pass’d,
The fissure still is here, and here the rust
Left by the iron messenger of death,
As it sped forward like an angry fate,
Sending, perhaps, ten human souls to hell.
….There, there was pain. Here, where the wondrous skill
Of the mechanic, with this iron web
Has spanned the chasm, the pulse beats hopefully,
And thoughts of peace sit dove-like in the mind.
Heav’n bridge these people’s hearts, and make them one !

Source: Charles Sangster. The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay and Other Poems. Kingston, Ont.: J. Creighton & J. Duff, 1856

Read about Charles Sangster

D.M.R. Bentley discusses this poem by Sangster in his essay (now archived on the WayBack Machine) Monumental Tensions: the Commemoration of British Political and Military Heroes in Canada from his Mnemographia Canadensis, volume 1: Muse and Recall