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October 16 1812: Brock and Macdonell are Buried



On October 16 1812, a solemn procession proceeds from Government House at Niagara to Fort George for the burial of Major-General Isaac Brock and Lieutenant-Colonel John Macdonell. Thousand crowd the streets. Officers wear crepe on their left arm and on their sword knotsAt the head of the procession Major Campbell leads sixty men of the 41st Regiment. Sixty members of the Canadian Militia follow. The remaining corps and detachments of the garrison with about two hundred Natives line the route as the procession passes. The band of the 41st Regiment plays the Dead March, drums covered with black cloth,  and muffled. Next comes the Late General's riderless horse, fully caparisoned, led by four grooms. 

The body of John Macdonell on a horse drawn wagon is followed his father Alexander Macdonell

The wagon carrying the body of General Brock comes next. Major General Sheaffe and Lieutenant Colonel Meyers are the chief mourners, followed by civil staff and friends. The inhabitants of the province follow at the end of the procession. 

At about 10 o'clock in the morning the caskets are lowered into a single freshly dug grave at the northeast corner of Fort George.   A twenty-one gun salute in three salvos is fired. At 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the American garrison at Lewiston also fires a twenty-one gun salute on orders of Major General Van Rensselaer. Major Glegg, who was responsible for organizing the funerals, would later recall: "...no pen can describe the real scenes of that mournful day. A more solemn and affecting spectacle was, perhaps, never witnessed". 
The letters exchanged between Major General Sheaffe and Major General Van Rensselaer are reproduced below.The generals agree to extend the armistice and thank each other for offers of assistance and the salute in honour of General Brock.

Major General  Sheaffe to Major General Van Rensselaer. 
Fort George, 16th Oct, 1812. 

Sir -I have heard with great regret that Col. Van Rensselaer is badly wounded. If there be any thing at my command, that your side of the river cannot furnish, which would be either useful or agreeable to him, I beg that you will be so good as to have me apprised of it. I have the honour to be, sir, with much esteem, 
Your very devoted servant, 

R. U. Sheaffe. 

Major Gen. Sheaffe to Gen. Van Rensselaer
Fort George, 16th Oct., 1812. 

Sir - As the period assigned to the cessation of hostilities is drawing to a termination; and the intended exchange of prisoners and sending over the wounded and the militia will require much more time than remains of it; and as, moreover, part of this day is to be devoted to paying the last offices of humanity to the remains of my departed friend and General, I feel it to be my duty to propose a prolongation of the armistice to such a period as may be necessary for the complete execution of those humane purposes. Lists are prepared for all the prisoners here, distintiuishing those of the line from militia; and Brigade Major Evans, who has been appointed by me to arrange (he business with Capt. Dox, will be ready to proceed in it, as soon :us that officer comes over. I have the honour &c. 

Major General Van Rensselaer. 

Gen. Van Rensselaer to Gen. Sheaffe. 
Head Quarters, Lewiston, Oct. 16th 1812. 

Sir - I have this moment had the honour to receive your two letters of the present date I most cheerfully agree to extend the cessation of hostilities for a time amply sufficient to discharge all duties of humanity to the brave who are wounded, or prisoners; and the just tribute of respect to the gallant dead. For these purposes I agree to the further cessation of hostilities, until 4 o'clock of the afternoon of the 19th instant. 

I shall order  a salute for the funeral of General Brock to be fired here, and at Fort Niagara, this afternoon. 

You will please to accept, sir, the grateful acknowledgments of Col. Van Rensselaer and myself, for your kind offer of anything in your power which might contribute to his comfort. I do not know that he is at present destitute of anything essential. 

As this, sir, is probably the last communication I shall have the honour to make to you from this station, I avail myself of the opportunity to tender you the assurance of my great esteem and consideration. 

I have the honour, &c. 

Captain N. Leonard to Gen. Van Rensselaer. 
Fort Niagara, Oct. 16th, 1812, 4 o'clock p. m. 

Sir, I have the honor to acknowledge * * * of this Instant. The Salute in honor of Gen. Brock will be fired at Sun-set. I delivered your letter to Col. Winder. I am, &c. 


Gen. Sheaffe to Major Gen. Van Rensselaer
Fort George, 16th Oct., 1812. 

Sir- I feel too strongly the generous tribute which you propose to pay to my departed friend and chief, to be able to express the sense I entertain of it. Noble-minded as he was, so would he have done himself I have directed the prolongation of the armistice until four o'clock in the afternoon of the 19th instant, to be communicated along this line. 

I feel a perfect confidence, sir, that nothing will be omitted on your part to ensure a strict execution of the agreement respecting the militia officers and men, as well as any others not yet exchanged, who are released from their captivity. 

Allow me. sir, to express a hope that the time is not far distant when the restoration of peace and amity between our respective countries, may afford me an opportunity of assuring you, personally, of the respect and esteem with which T have the honour to be, sir. 

Your most obedient and devoted servant, 

Major General Sheaffe

Notes

The Water colour is by Francis George Coleridge (1838-1923) and is entitled a "A view of Niagara River and the Brock Monument, 1865" and can be found here

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