The Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812

Laura Secord and Beaver Dams

A Secret Overheard

Laura Secord discovered by British Amerindian allies, 22 June 1813

Caption: Laura Secord discovered by British Amerindian allies, 22 June 1813

On the Niagara Peninsula, after their defeat at Stoney Creek, the American soldiers regrouped at Forty Mile Creek. But on June 7 Yeo's flotilla shelled their camp, forcing them to retreat precipitately to Fort George, which thus became the final fort in the peninsula to harbour American soldiers. Dearborn nevertheless sent a contingent of 575 men, under the command of Colonel Charles Boerstler, to attack the British outpost at Beaver Dams (Thorold) by surprise. Their effort failed to account for the actions of a genuine Canadian heroine, Laura Secord.

Laura Secord, née Ingersoll, a humble housewife in the village of Queenston, had like so many other women of her time to deal with the horrors of war. In the early summer of 1813 her life was not easy, with her husband James disabled following an injury sustained at Queenston Heights. On June 21 some American officers arrived at their door demanding food. During the meal, the Secords heard them discuss the surprise attack they were preparing. Laura decided to go and warn the British at Beaver Dams. She left the following morning at dawn, making a wide detour to avoid the American patrols. Following a stream through the woods, she kept walking until nightfall, uncertain of the way, until she arrived at an Amerindian camp. By chance, the Amerindians were British army scouts who led her to Lieutenant James FitzGibbon, commander of a small detachment of 50 men from the 49th Regiment at Beaver Dams. FitzGibbon immediately instructed the scouts to cut off the Americans' route.

Additional Images

James Fitzgibbon's 1820 testimonial regarding Laura Secord
Interpreter, Indian Department, 1812-1815
Mohawk Warrior from Tyendinaga, 1813