It was, we believe—indeed we have reason to know—a favorite military maxim with Colonel Harvey, and invariably acted up to whenever opportunity was afforded for its application, that defensive warfare, when the invading foe is greatly superior in number, is best carried on by a succession of bold and active offensive operations. The result of this theory was, in the instance under question, an offer to General Vincent to head a night attack and penetrate into the very heart of the enemy’s encampment, as an only means of extricating the army from its perilous position, and restoring (if successful) to the victors that moral confidence which was necessary to the honor of the army, and the preservation of the country. Fortunately, we repeat, for the glory of the British arms, Colonel Harvey’s proposal was accepted, although not without much doubt and indecision on the subject, and during the night of the 5th June the small band of heroes, destined to achieve so glorious a result, were silently get under arms for the disproportionate encounter. At the head of seven hundred and twenty bayonets Colonel Harvey dashed in upon his slumbering and unsuspecting enemy, amounting to more than quadruple his own force, and well provided with field artillery. So bold and unexpected was the attack, that the enemy fled, with the utmost precipitation, to a position called the forty mile creek, a distance of ten miles, leaving their Generals and a vast number of prisoners and military stores in the hands of the victors. Here they fell in with a reinforcement under General Lewis. So opportune however had been the blow struck by Colonel Harvey, and such the panic created by it in the American ranks, that even with this additional force, they, on the sudden appearance of the British fleet, with a small body of troops on board, after sustaining a short cannonade, continued their retreat to Fort George, leaving their tents standing, nor halting until they had gained their place of destination.
Thus, by this judicious and by far the most brilliant achievement of the war, was the centre District freed from the triumphant presence of the enemy, as the western had been, in the preceding year, by the bold and well timed movement of General Brock upon Detroit, with an equally inferior force.
The history of the war furnishes no similar enterprizes. Both were the results of a bold conception, and prompt and successful execution. Of the two, perhaps Stoney Creek was the most dashing and decided, since there the adverse armies actually came into collision.
In October of the same year, [Footnote: The anachronism referred to in the Preface. The events here described, occurred in 1812, and not in 1813.] a numerous body of Americans, principally troops of the line, had been collected under the orders of General Van Ransaellar, and advantage was taken of a dark night in October to push them across the river, with a view to the occupation of the commanding heights above the village of Queenston. In this, favored by circumstances, the enemy were eminently successful.—