This battle was fought on a midsummer night, when less than three thousand British and Canadian troops fought six hours against a much superior force, led by the ablest officers who had taken part in the war. For three hours, from six to nine o’clock at night, less than two thousand held the height, which was the main object of attack from the beginning to the end of the conflict, and kept at bay the forces that were led against them with a stern determination to win the position. Sunlight gave way to the twilight of a July evening, and dense darkness at last covered the combatants, but still the fight went on. Columns of the enemy charged in such close and rapid succession that the British artillerymen were constantly assailed in the very act of sponging and loading their guns. The assailants once won the height, but only to find themselves repulsed the next instant by the resolute daring of the British. Happily at the most critical moment, when the defenders of the hill were almost exhausted by the heroic struggle, reinforcements arrived, and the battle was renewed with a supreme effort on both sides. For three hours longer, from nine o’clock to midnight, the battle was fought in the darkness, only relieved by the unceasing flashes from the guns, whose sharp reports mingled with the deep and monotonous roar of the great falls. It was a scene worthy of a painter whose imagination could grasp all the incidents of a situation essentially dramatic in its nature. The assailants of the Canadian position gave way at last and withdrew their wearied and disheartened forces. It was in all respects a victory for England and Canada, since the United States army did not attempt to renew the battle on the next day, but retired to Fort Erie, then in their possession. As Canadians look down “the corridors of time,” they will always see those flashes from the musketry and cannon of Lundy’s Lane, and hear the bugles which drove the invaders of their country from the woods of Chateauguay.
The war did much to solidify the various racial elements of British North America during its formative stage. Frenchmen, Englishmen, Scotsmen from the Lowlands and Highlands, Irishmen and Americans, united to support the British connection. The character of the people, especially in Upper Canada, was strengthened from a national point of view by the severe strain to which it was subjected. Men and women alike were elevated above the conditions of a mere colonial life and the struggle for purely material necessities, and became animated by that spirit of self-sacrifice and patriotic endeavour which tend to make a people truly great.
THE EVOLUTION OF RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT (1815—1839)
SECTION I.—The rebellion in Lower Canada.