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May 16 1812: Brock to Prevost


On May 16 1812, Major General Isaac Brock writes to Sir George Prevost, in Lower Canada.  Brock is answering Prevost's letter of April 30 1812, where Prevost urged Brock to use every effort to ensure that there were no confrontations with American forces that could provoke a war. Brock writes in response: "It will be my study to guard against every event that can give them any just cause of complaint." Brock`s letter is reproduced below.
Major-General Brock to Sir George Prevost.

YORK, May 16, 1812.


I have this day been honored with your excellency's confidential communication, dated the 30th ultimo.

I have long since thought that nothing but the public voice restrained the United States government from commencing direct hostilities; and it is but reasonable to expect that they will seek every opportunity to influence the minds of the people against England, in order to bring them the more readily into their measures. It will be my study to guard against every event that can give them any just cause of complaint; but the proximity of the two countries will in all probability produce collisions which, however accidentally brought about, will be represented as so many acts of aggression. It would not surprise me if their first attempt to excite irritation were the seizing of the islands in the channel, to which both countries lay claim: such was represented to Sir James Craig on a former occasion to be their intention.


In addition to the force specified by your excellency, I understand that six companies of the Ohio militia are intended for Detroit. Our interests with the Indians will materially suffer in consequence of these extensive preparations being allowed to proceed with impunity. I have always considered that the reduction of Detroit would be a signal for a cordial co-operation on the part of the Indians; and if we be not in sufficient force to effect this object, no reliance ought to be placed in them.


About forty regulars were last week added to the garrison of Niagara, and by all accounts barracks are to be immediately constructed at Black Rock, almost opposite Fort Erie, for a large force.


I returned three days ago from an excursion to Fort Erie—the Grand River, where the Indians of the Six Nations are settled—and back by the head of the lake. Every gentleman, with whom I had an opportunity of conversing, assured me that an exceedingly good disposition prevailed among the people. The flank companies, in the districts in which they have been established, were instantly completed with volunteers, and indeed an almost unanimous disposition to serve is daily manifested. I shall proceed to extend this system now I have ascertained that the people are so well disposed—but my means are very limited.

I propose detaching 100 rank and file of the 41st regiment to Amherstburg, almost immediately.

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