A letter to B. Burwell, M.D., Buffalo, from J.W. Clark, 15 January 1838
KeywordBurwell, Bryant -- Correspondence
Ontario -- History -- 1791-1841
Canada -- History -- Rebellion, 1837-1838
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AbstractA letter addressed to B. Burwell, M.D., Buffalo, from J.W. Clark, dated January 15, 1838. The letter describes the events around Navy Island during the aftermath of William Lyon McKenzie’s failed rebellion in Upper Canada, when the rebels retreated to Navy Island in the Niagara River.
Letter transcription: Saturday, Niagara Falls, 9 o’clock a.m. Dear Sir, I wrote a line yesterday in great haste to Lucy saying that we were home too late for the Lockport cars & would be detained a day—I also stated that the rumor was that the Navy Islanders would attempt an invasion of Canada last night—You will have heard all about the nights transaction ere this arrives.
I walked with the Commissary General all the way to Schlosser last evening – It was a beautiful evening & we had a good view of the cannonading at Chippewa upon Navy Island. The General says it was the most brisk firing that has happened since the war began. We could see the shells issue from the guns & trace them all the way in their curvature until they struck & exploded in the air or on the island. The round shot whistled merrily among the trees & skipped upon the waters. There were some hundred or more wagons assembled at Schlosser & the teamster folks were mute on the subject of their business.
Van Rensalear declared to his friends here that he expected steamboats down from Buffalo in which he intended to embark his munitions of War & that the men would land & ride up the River probably to make a landing some where up the river …
I think it is all for the best however: as it will show to the world that our people will support the laws & with the disappointment & failure & the brisk charge from Canada I hope will bring the Islanders to their senses & perhaps all will now be settled without bloodshed & without incurring the awful retaliatory consequences of an invasion of Canada & a probable defeat &c &c – Volunteers continue to arrive for the Island from great distances – But the true affairs on the Island are discouraging & many are disposed to get out of the scrape. …
You can readily conceive how weak the plan was of departing last night – Brave soldiers to require wagons to carry them a few miles & incur the liability of such a requisition in publishing their plan – which Chippewa was prepared to take advantage of - & then again their exposure to our troops on this side when separated from their arms - & the exposure of those boats to the cannon on both sides in the rapids at Black Rock.
I have just talked with a man & his wife from Toronto day before yesterday – They were obliged to leave because the man would not take up arms. They talk hard about the tories in Canada & hope McKenzie will succeed – They think the war is not begun yet. They think there are forces enough at home to revolutionize without the help of the states people also that the tories swear vengeance on Buffalo &c &c …”