10 December 2011

War of 1812

Burning of Newark [Now Niagara-on-the-Lake] 10 December 1813

Ref; Burton's 'Flames across the Border, 1813-1814' pages 251 thru 257.
Above gives a very detailed description of events of the day. 'It was snowing with a bitter east wind blowing off the lake and before darkness falls there will be few walls standing in this doomed village' The American commander, George McLure, is defending his decision to burn the town and brandishes a letter from Armstrong written the previous October
"Understanding that the defense of the post commited to your charge may render it proper to destroy the town of Newark, you are hereby directed to apprise its inhabitants of this circumstance, and invite them to remove themselves and their effects to some place of greater safety"
McLure is virtually on his own with only a few soldiers with him. Now, torches and lanterns lit, directing his men to various corners of the town to fire houses and public buildings, Willcocks ride besides him, settling old scores and cursing anyone who protests as a Tory.
Col. Murray of the 100th Reg't and William Merritt enter the town. Ninety-eight homes, barns and stables have been destroyed. Four hundred poeple are homeless.
In the hearts of the homeless and soldiers there is one common emotion: a desire for retalation. "The senseless burning of Newark will send an echo down the corridors of history, for it is this act, much more than the accidental firing of the legislature at York, that provokes a succesion of incendiary raids that will not end until the city of Washington itself is in flames"

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