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