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I. Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, K.B. J. A. Macdonell, K.C.
The Editorial Committee assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of statements made, or for opinions expressed in the Papers contained in this volume.
ALEXANDER FRASER, Secretary.
MAJOR-GENERAL SIR ISAAC BROCK, K.B.*
(Born 6th October, 1769; died 13th October, 1812.)
BY J. A. MACDONELL, K.C., GLENGARRY.
"We are engaged in an awful and eventful contest. By unanimity and despatch in our councils and by vigour in our operations, we will teach the enemy this lesson: that a country defended by free men, enthusiastically devoted to the cause of their King and constitution, can never be conquered."
It was with these glorious and inspiring words that MajorGeneral Brock, then Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Upper Canada, concluded the speech with which on the 27th July, 1812, he opened the extra session of the Legislature of the Province, which he had summoned immediately following the declaration of war by the United States on the 18th of June.
He had been appointed Administrator, or President, as the office was then styled, on the 30th of September, 1811, assuming his government on the 9th of October, in the absence of Lieutenant-Governor Gore, who had left York (now Toronto) on the day previous. It was his fate nobly to fall at Queenston Heights on the 13th of the same month in the following year; he therefore held office for but a few days over a year. But that short time was sufficient to obtain for his name immortality, so long as the English language can narrate what in that brief period he accomplished, and to hold forth for succeeding generations of British subjects in Canada and throughout the Empire, the bright example of his genius and his gallantry, his indomitable spirit and extraordinary fertility of resource.
Isaac Brock was the eighth son of John Brock, Esquire, a gentleman of Guernsey, of good family and independent means, who, in his youth, had been a midshipman in the
*Read at the meeting of the Ontario Historical Society at Napanee, Ont, 1912.
Born Oct. 6th, 1768.
Royal Navy, by Elizabeth De Lisle, his wife. He was born at St. Peter's Port, Guernsey, on the 6th of October, 1768, the same memorable year which gave birth to Wellington and Napoleon; and was thus but forty-three years of age at the time of his death. Singularly, and sadly enough, of all the eight brothers who reached maturity, no male descendant is now in existence to bear that honoured name. Brock is described as being always tall and robust for his age; with strength and determination, the best boxer and swimmer of his set, yet at the same time always of the most gentle and kindly nature. In more mature years he was a man of towering frame and commanding aspect. From a primary school at Southampton he was sent to complete his education and perfect his knowledge of the language, to a French pastor at Enters the Rotterdam. He entered the 8th Regiment as an ensign, when fifteen years but little over fifteen; raising an independent company, he was gazetted captain, but shortly afterwards was placed on half-pay. In 1791, by purchase, he exchanged into the 49th Regiment, with which he was destined to be so long and honourably associated, and which took part in the Battle of Queenston Heights, when he died. He served with that regiment in Barbadoes and Jamaica, becoming major in 1795, and lieutenant-colonel in 1797, while yet but twenty-eight years of age. The regiment had fallen into bad habits and worse discipline, but under his command it soon regained its good character; the Duke of York, then Commander-in-Chief, declaring that Lieut.-Colonel Brock, from one of the worst, had made the 49th one of the best regiments in the service. While he exercised his command with vigour and strictness, his discipline was tempered by reason and justice. He possessed that happy quality which the French call "camaraderie," which has always been found in really great soldiers and than which nothing more endears a commanding officer to the men who are fortunate enough to serve under himindeed, the secret of Brock's influence and success was that he really cared for his men, and that they recognized that such was his guiding principle. Under his command, the 49th served under Sir Ralph Abercrombie, and subsequently Sir John Moore, in North Holland, in 1799, where Colonel Brock greatly distinguished himself. The regiment suffered severely at Egmont-op-Zee, where Brock himself was wounded.
In 1801, he was second in command of the land forces in the celebrated attack on Copenhagen by Lord Nelson.
In 1802, he came with his regiment to Canada, and Can-1802. ada was happily destined to benefit by his untiring services to Canada. for the following ten years, while here it was his lot to achieve imperishable renown. The first three years he spent on regimental duty, being quartered at different times with the 49th at Montreal, York, Fort George (Niagara-on-the-Lake), and Quebec. In 1805 he became a full colonel and returned 1805. to England on leave of absence. While there he laid before Recomthe Commander-in-Chief the outline of a plan for the forma-mends fortion of a veteran battalion to serve in Canada.
The Royal Canadian Volunteer Regiment of Foot, of two battalions, which had been raised and placed in 1796 on the regular establishment of the army, and the first battalion of which under Lieut.-Colonel the Baron de Longueuil had garrisoned the posts of Lower Canada, and the second battalion under Lieut.-Colonel Macdonell those of the Upper Province, had, together with all Fencible corps in the army, been disbanded in 1802, during the short-lived Peace of Amiens. Both Provinces were therefore practically without regular local forces. But Britain at this time had her hands full with Napoleon; every available man was required in the Peninsula, and the British Government, seeing no reason or occasion for war with the United States, did not believe that war would take place, and Colonel Brock did not therefore succeed in convincing the Home authorities of the necessity of establishing such a corps at the time. He received, though, the thanks of H.R.H. the Duke of York, Commanderin-Chief, for his communication and his very sensible and valuable observations respecting the distribution of troops in Canada, and the promise that his recommendations would be taken into consideration at a seasonable opportunity. In the light of events which transpired in the near future, the wisdom of Colonel Brock's proposal is apparent. His suggestion was that detachments of the proposed corps should be stationed at St. John's and Chambly in Lower Canada, (now the Province of Quebec), Kingston, York (now Toronto), Fort George (Niagara), Amherstburg, and St. Joseph's Island, in the Upper Province.
mation of veteran battalion.
While on a visit to his family and friends in Guernsey, 1806. Colonel Brock deemed the intelligence from the United home.