Friday, April 27, 2012
Monarchist Profile: Sir Isaac Brock
His brother was already in the army when Brock, at the age of only 15, joined the 8th King’s Regiment of Foot on March 8, 1785 with a purchased commission as an ensign. He later purchased a lieutenant’s commission and after raising his own company was promoted to captain before being transferred 49th Regiment of Foot in 1791. He was posted to the Caribbean where he nearly died of fever but was sent home and later recovered. After a period of time devoted mostly to recruitment he was made commander of his regiment with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1798. He first saw combat under the famous General Sir Ralph Abercromby in an expedition against the Batavian Republic (the Netherlands) in 1799. His immediate commander was Major General John Moore, himself set to become one of great generals of British military history. In some particularly intense fighting he was wounded in the neck but never left the field and was back on his feet, in command, in less than 30 minutes. Everyone who knew him was impressed by his abilities and deportment. He witnessed Lord Nelson’s great victory at Copenhagen before being posted to Canada in 1802 with the 49th Foot.
A year later, in 1812, his prediction came true and the United States declared war on Great Britain with the goal of what they expected to be a quick and easy conquest of Canada. To defend the vast country, General Brock had only a handful of British regulars, the untried Canadian militia and the First Nations warriors he had persuaded to ally with the Crown. The chances of success seemed hopeless, yet Brock showed nothing but determination. He also had no doubt about exactly what he was fighting for; not only to repel invaders from His Majesty’s Canadian territory but also for the cause of monarchy against republican domination. Brock told his men, “We may teach the enemy this lesson: A country defended by free men devoted to the cause of their king and constitution can never be conquered…” To accomplish this with the meager forces at hand, Brock decided to take bold action. His strategy was an aggressive one, to catch the enemy off guard by doing the unexpected, attacking at every available opportunity to keep them off-balance. This led to an early success with the capture of Ft Mackinac whose American garrison was taken completely by surprise, a victory which also helped persuade the neighboring First Nations to side with the Crown.
The capture of Ft Detroit was an astounding victory for the Crown forces and Brock was awarded the Order of the Bath for this incredible achievement. In their first effort to invade Canada the Americans had been defeated, a general who was a Revolutionary War veteran was utterly humiliated and U.S. confidence in a swift and easy conquest was destroyed. However, Brock had no time to rest on his laurels as the second prong of the American invasion was moving north from New York. With his customary boldness and daring, Brock immediately rushed all available forces to the area and quickly decided to attack the American army as soon as it crossed into Canada before they could grow stronger. It was a brilliant move but a dangerous one. Again, Brock was at every disadvantage yet he knew that if he gave battle immediately, before the American army had moved all of their forces across the river and set up all of their artillery his forces would have their best chance of stopping the invasion before it could really begin.