The Battle of Cooke's Mill
20th of October, 1814
by Jesse Pudwell
Published here by permission of the author.  All rights reserved.  This article was originally published as a posting on the War of 1812 Onelist mail group.  This article may not be used without the permission of Jesse Pudwell.

This is the story of a lesser known battle/skirmish that took place about 9 miles west of Chippawa in Upper Canada...

Cooke's Mills.

On the 17th of September, 1814, General Drummond was attacked by the Americans in Fort Erie but managed to withstand the blow. However, it reduced his numbers, yet again, by about 600 killed or wounded.  This prompted Drummond to leave his enemy, General Brown, behind.  So, between the 21st and 24th of September, Drummond withdrew his army, including guns and stores, and retired to quarters in Chippawa.

Drummond remained in Chippawa until about mid October, when the Americans replaced Gen. Brown with Gen. Izzard.  Izzard brought with him about 2400 fresh regulars....he naturally had to do something with them, as winter was coming on strong. As well, just prior to Izzard arriving in Ft. Erie, Brown's troops had received about 700 reinforcements. Izzard, the new Chief Commander, was to move down the Niagara with 8000 soldiers!

Drummond, thankfully, caught wind of what was unfolding at Ft. Erie and pulled his weaker, smaller, force back again to Ft. George, at Niagara on the Lake, and also to Burlington Heights, just beyond the Niagara Peninsula.

As Drummond was withdrawing from Chippawa, he had information that Izzard had sent about 1500 men, under command of General Bissel toward the interior with the intent to surround the British at Chippawa and cut them off at the rear. Drummond sent about 650 men immediately into the interior, west up Lyon's Creek, to stop their advance. It worked!

In the end, the British losses were 19 killed or wounded.  The Americans claimed 67 killed or wounded.

The Niagara Peninsula today.
Almost all of the old battlefields are now paved over.

It happened something like this:
On the morning of October 12th, word reached the British lines at Chippawa that Izzard had landed in Ft. Erie.

On the 14th October, guns sounded the alarm at Ft. Chippawa in the morning.  The 100th and 89th Regt.s' marched immediately to Lundy's Lane where they slept without blankets waiting, on old ground, for the worst.  The word was that the Americans, with almost 8000 men, had engaged in a few shots and shells with the rear-guard, at Streets Creek (Chippawa Battlefield.)  The rear guard was formed by the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles.  The Glengarries retired smartly, through the field using the earthen mounds of the 100 day old graves of fallen friends and enemies as cover.

After a rottenly cold night of bivouac, the morning of the 15th saw the 2 mile advance of the Lundy's Lane Corps to the tavern by the lane. They crept over the battlefield and graves and disturbed ground of the hill. There they stayed until about 8 o'clock that night, then they moved toward the Chippawa entrenchment's. There, they attempted to sleep.

October 16th, having stood during their sleep because the ground was so wet, the morning light revealed the American army.  The Americans were standing by Streets Creek and a large body of them were sent into the woods for a surrounding approach.

On the 17th, There was little change.  It was still a dead-lock at a distance, with the British trying to figure out what the Americans were up to.

At 3 o'clock in the morning of the 18th October, the British were turned out.  They marched through thick mud toward "Cooks Mills". It was very slow going.  They received word several hours into their march to return to their previous quarters.  They did, returning in time for an evening meal.

Once again, early on the morning of the 19th october, the British were turned out.  This time there was no turning back! The morning, of course, was really still night!! It was very cold, damp and dark. They marched, sometimes, through knee deep mud. About mid-way, they stopped and slept in the mud for nearly an hour while the 100th Regt. crossed the river/creek in bateaux. Once they were over, they slept, while the 89th crossed the creek.  Nearly nine miles later, they arrived at a spot known as Pik's House, a watering shed for travel horses. Once there, they were issued the order to have fires, cook and then sleep.

When the 89th and 100th opened their eyes on the morning of the 20th October, the Glengarries were beside and amongst them and had breakfast going for them all!  By 7 o'clock in the morning they had eaten and prepared to move on. They did, and they joined the 82nd Regt.  They were all commanded by the Marquis Tweeddale and Col. Myers. The Glengarries formed an advanced guard.

About an hour into the advance they reached Cooks Mills where the Glengarries became suddenly engaged with the enemy.

There was a clearing for the British and Canadians to work in. The Chippawa Creek was to the British left. It was about a mile through the clearing to the woods on the right. The Americans were to the left of the clearing across the creek about half a mile away.   The americans were seen crossing a make-shift bridge to get at the British. About 400 hundred Americans blocked the British advance within a few minutes.

The 82nd and the 100th formed line and pushed against the American right. The advance guard, Glengarries, were soon overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of enemy musket fire, and they retired under cover of a British gun and four rockets.

Two Glengarry Light Infantrymen in a file pair.
This is from part of a photo taken by Peg Mathews, at Mississinewa, Indiana.

The Light Company of the 82nd Regt. moved into an advance position, allowing the 100th and rest of the 82nd to turn, retire, front and re-engage. As this was being executed, the rockets gave their "Red Glare" to the Americans and threw them off their game.  Before long, the British and Canadians had retired to the security of a fence line.  Unfortunately, the British gun was too far to the right and rear to do any real good...

...and then it was over.
The Marquis issued the order for retiring fire to the 82nd's Lights and the Glengarries. The regulars withdrew, as the 82nd on the right, and the Glengarries on the left, alternated their retiring fire.  It was apparently a beautiful execution of drill by the "Light Bobs."  The Americans came out of the woods when they saw the British retiring...and gave a cheer.

The British junior officers counted about 1500 to 1800 americans advancing out of the woods, checking the retiring force of the British, but they did not engage any longer.  They stood and literally watched the British and Canadians fade away. Rather appropriate, for it was the last time the Americans engaged the Canadians and British in battle in Canada's Niagara.

It marked an end. Like two opponents who had crossed in the night, neither giving in and neither taking ground. The War of 1812 was coming to a close.  It seemed as the men of both armies sensed it.

Sgt. Jesse Pudwell
HM Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles (Re-Enacted)
Chippawa, Upper Canada (above the Niagara Falls)

Return Main Whistle Signals Regt de Meuron
Regt de Meuron
Photo Gallery War of 1812 Cooke's Mill Laura Secord Musket Amunition Platoon
Exercise & Musketry