Wentworth Reenactment Society

Two accounts of the 89th at the Battle of Lundy's Lane, one contempoary, one modern.

Col. James Miller, 1814

Col. James Miller To _____________

Fort Erie, July 28th, 1814.

On the evening of the 25th instant, at the Falls of the Niagara, we met the enemy and had I believe, one of the most desperately fought actions ever experienced in America. It continued for more than three hours stubbornly contested on both sides, when about ten o'clock at night we succeeded in driving them from their strong position. Our loss was severe in killed and wounded. I have lost from our Regiment in killed, wounded and missing, one hundred and twenty six. The enemy had got heir artillery posted on a height in a very commanding position, where they could rake our columns in any part of the plain, and prevented their advancing. Maj. McRae, the chief engineer, told Gen. Brown he could do no good until that height was carried and those cannon taken or driven from their position. It was then evening, but moonlight. Gen. Brown turned to me and said: "Col. Miller, take your regiment and storm that work and take it." I had short of three hundred men with me, as my regiment had been much weakened, by the numerous details made from it during the day. I, however, immediately obeyed the order. We could see all their slow matches and port fires burning and ready. I did not know what side of the work was the most favorable of approach, but happened to hit upon a very favorable place notwithstanding. We advanced upon the mouths of their pieces of cannon. It happened there was an old rail fence on the side where we approached undiscovered by the enemy, with a small growth of shrubbery by the fence and within less than two rods of the cannon's mouth. I then very cautiously ordered my men to rest across the fence, take good aim, fire, and rush, which was done in good style. Not one man at the cannons was left to put fire to them. We got into the center of their park before they had time to oppose us. A British line was formed and lying in a strong position to protect their artillery. The moment we got to the center they [the 89th Regiment of Foot. Ed.] opened a most destructive fire on us, killed a great many and attempted to charge with their bayonets. We returned the fire so warmly that they were compelled to stand. We fought hand to hand for some time, so close that the blaze of our guns crossed each other, but we compelled them to abandon their whole artillery, ammunition, wagons, and all, amounting to seven pieces of elegant brass cannon, one of which was a twenty-four pounder, with eight horses and harnesses, though some of the horses were killed. The British made two more attempts to charge us at close quarters, both of which we repulsed before I was reinforced, after which the First and Twenty-third Regiments came to my relief; and even after the British charged with their whole line three several times, and after getting within a half a pistol shot of us, we were compelled to give way. I took with my Regiment between thirty and forty prisoners while taking and defending the artillery. Lieut. Aaron Bigelow of my Regiment was killed; Capt. Burbank and Lieut. Cilley badly wounded; Maj. McNeil badly wounded, so he must it is said lose his leg. It is unnecessary for me to enumerate a quarter of our loss, but we have very few officers left for duty. I am the only full Colonel, and we have but one Lieutenant Colonel left to all regular troops here. We expect reinforcements soon. But I forgot to tell you we were unfortunate about our artillery at last. After Generals Brown, Scott and others were wounded, we were ordered to return back to our camp about three miles, and preparations had not been made for taking off the cannon. It was impossible for me to defend it and make preparations for that too, and it was all left upon the ground except one beautiful brass six pounder, which is made a present to my Regiment in testimony of their distinguished gallantry...[this cannon is at Fort Myer in Washington D.C. Ed] We wounded Maj.-Gen. Drummond, [he was a Lieut. Gen. Ed.] took Maj.-Gen. Riall prisoner with between thirty and forty other officers; how many non-commissioned officers and privates I have not yet learned, as they were sent hastily across the river, but a very considerable number.

Kevin Windsor, 2003

The 89th Regiment after the battle of Lundy's Lane.

Drummond to Prevost.

"In the reiterated and determined attacks which the enemy made on our centre, for the purpose of gaining, at once, the crest of the position and our guns, the steadiness and intrepidity displayed by the troops allotted for the defence of that post were never surpassed; they consisted of the 2nd Battalion 89th Regiment commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Morrison, and, after the Lieut. Col. was obliged to retire from the field by a severe wound, by Major Clifford...a detachment of Royal Scots...a detachment of the 8th...the 41st Light Company...with some militia...repeatedly, when hard pressed formed round the Colours of the 89th Regiment.

District General Order 26th July 1814

Lieut. General Drummond offers his sincerest and warmest thanks to the troops and Militia engaged yesterday, for their exemplary steadiness, gallantry, and discipline in repulsing all the efforts of a numerous and determined enemy to carry the position of Lundy's Lane near the Falls of Niagara...The Lieut. General however, cannot refrain from expressing in the strongest manner, his admiration of the gallantry and steadiness of the 89th Regiment under Lieut. Col. Morrison, and Major Clifford...

So after the battle of Lundy's Lane the 89th Regiment was truly bloodied and bruised. Suffering 254 casualties in 6 hours out of 400. This is a 63% casualty rate. Even General Scott of the US infantry, the most pompous officer at the battle, thought that any Regiment that suffered 25% casualties could quit the field with honour knowing it had done its duty. There were 2 officers killed and 10 wounded. Lieutenant Latham (#230) was killed carrying the Colours of the Regiment, and Captain Spunner (# 233) was reportedly killed after he picked up the Colours from the dead Latham. The 10 officers that were wounded in the battle had fairly normal careers after. Lt. Col. Morrison retires from the Army in 1815 and passes command to Major Clifford (#215) (who doesn't know it yet, but has received his Lt. Col. backdated to Nov 11, 1813) Eight of the other officers wounded were Lieutenants. Lieut. Taylor (#251) makes Captain on the 22 April 1825 and retires in 1833. Lieut. Pearse (#180) finally makes Captain on 27 May 1819 (after 13 years as Lt.) is promoted to Major on 24 December 1833 and retired in 1841. Lieut. Sanderson (#181) is promoted to Captain on 27 November 1817 and retires 4 years later. Lieut. Lloyd (#231) and Lieut. Miles (#241) left in 1816 on the reduction of the 2nd Battalion having seen enough of the service. Lieut. Redmond (#186) makes Captain on 28 May 1819 and retires in 1825. Lieut. and Adjutant Hopper, who replaced Adjutant Steel who was captured on the 7 Oct 1813, left the service in 1815 presumably with Lt. Col. Morrison. Lieut. Gray (#236) retires on half pay in 1818. Finally, the lone Ensign casualty, Ensign Saunders (#246) will be promoted to Lieutenant in 27 May 1815 while the Regiment is in Quebec.

In August the Regiment moves to man Fort George and the Queenston area.There is not much left for it to do. The Light Company was brigaded with the Flank Companies of the 104th Regiment and the Light Company of the 100th Regiment. The Lights had 63 rank and file, which left 83 rank and file for the remainder of the 6 companies or 13 men per company. Two companies at York being "boy companies" the Grenadiers in Kingston and the Light Company at Ft Erie.

During the siege of Fort Erie and the Battle, the Light Company was further reduced by 24 leaving only 39 effectives. From here the Light Company was moved to Queenston with the rest of the Regiment on the 23rd of September 1814. There is no strength given at this time. By November 1814 it seems that the Grenadiers may have been moved from Kingston to York. The monthly distribution for November shows the 89th Regiment has 243 rank and file at Queenston, and a further 262 at York. Given that there was 400 brought from Kingston to York in July, and now 505 between York and Queenston, by November, the Regiment either did some serious recruiting or brought forward the Grenadiers. The Regimental records show that there was only 2 Officers taken on strength between July and Nov of 1814 in the 2nd Battalion.

With peace being declared on 24th December the 89th Regiment was no longer needed. The 89th stayed in York until February of 1815 and from there moved to Ernest Town, and then to William Henry. In May the Regiment marched to Quebec and stayed there until June 4 when the embarked for England, bringing an end to almost three years in the Canadas. In August after a voyage of two months the Regiment arrived in Portsmouth and marched to Chichester. In 1816 the Regiment was moved from Chichester back to Portsmouth and then to Sheerness by the summer of 1816. In November the second Battalion of the 89th Regiment was disbanded. For those whose term had not expired and still fit for service, as well as the Regimental Band, since the First Battalion had been without one since 1805, were transferred to the First Battalion in Quilon India where they stayed until 1824.

Total casualties suffered during the war: Killed 61, Wounded 316

Updated May 19, 2006