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July 3 1812: Brock to Prevost



On July 3, 1812, Major General Isaac Brock writes to Sir George Prevost, in Lower Canada. Brock writes that he is anxious to receive commands from Prevost as to what steps to take in the "present emergency". Brock has called out the militia of about 800. He also notes "They turned out very cheerfully, but already shew a spirit of impatience". He thinks that he can get about 4,000 men who will be paid in paper currency. Brock`s letter is reproduced below.
Major-General Brock to Sir George Prevost.
Fort George, July 3, 1812.

I have been anxiously expecting for some days to receive the honor of your excellency's commands in regard to the measures the most proper to be pursued in the present emergency.

The accounts received, first through a mercantile channel, and soon after repeated from various quarters, of war having been declared by the United States against Great Britain, would have justified, in my opinion, offensive operations. But the reflection that at Detroit and Michilimackinac the weak state of the garrisons would prevent the commanders from-, accomplishing any essential service, connected in any degree with their future security, and that my means of annoyance on this communication were limited to the reduction of Fort Niagara, which could easily be battered at any future period, I relinquished my original intention, and attended only to defensive measures. My first object has been the calling out of the flank companies of militia, which has produced a force on this line of about 800 men. They turned out very cheerfully, but already shew a spirit of impatience. The king's stores are now at so low an ebb, that they scarcely furnish any article of use or comfort. Blankets, hammocks and kettles, are all to be purchased; and the troops, when watching the banks of the river, stand in the utmost need of tents. Mr. Couche has adopted the most efficacious means to pay the militia in paper currency. I cannot positively state the number of militia that will be embodied, but they cannot exceed, throughout the province, 4,000 men.

The Americans are very active on the opposite side, in the erection of redoubts; we are not idle on our part, but unfortunately, having supplied Amherstburg with the guns which that post required from Fort George, depending upon getting others from Kingston to supply their place, we find ourselves at this moment rather short of that essential arm. I have, however, every reason to think that they are embarked on board the Earl Moira, which vessel, according to Major M'Pherson's report, was to have sailed on the 28th ultimo. The Americans have, I believe, about 1,200 regulars and militia between Fort Niagara and Black Rock, and I consider myself at this moment perfectly safe against any attempt they can make. About 100 Indians from the Grand River have attended to my summons; the remainder promise to come also, but I have too much reason to conclude that the Americans have been too successful in their endeavours to sow dissension and disaffection among them. It is a great object to get this fickle race interspersed among the troops. I should be unwilling, in the event of a retreat, to have three or four hundred of them hanging on my flank. I shall probably have to sacrifice some money to gain them over, and the appointment of a few officers with salaries will be absolutely necessary.

The Americans make a daily parade of their force, and easily impose on the people on this side in regard to their numbers. I do not think they exceed 1,200, but they are represented as infinitely more numerous.

For the last fortnight every precaution has been taken to guard against the least communication, and to this day we are ignorant whether the president has sanctioned the war resolutions of the two houses of congress; that is, whether war be actually declared.

The car brigade has been completed for service with horses belonging to gentlemen, who spared them free of expense.

I have not been honored with a line from Mr. Foster, nor with all my endeavours have I been able to obtain information of any consequence. The Prince Regent made her first voyage this morning, and I purpose sending her to Kingston this evening, to bring such articles as are absolutely necessary, which we know have arrived from Quebec. I trust she will out-sail the Oneida brig.

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