Canadian U.S. Volunteers

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The Canadian Volunteers in 1812

 The Impact of the Volunteers on the War of 1812

The most notable impact of Willcocks and the Canadian Volunteers was the press for and burning of Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake) on 10 December 1813 to deny the British any ground worth holding. When the Volunteers were done, only three buildings were left standing amidst the ashes. An American witness of the burn campaign noted that Willcocks had led "banditti through the town on that fateful night . . . applying the epithet of Tory to any who disapproved of this flagrant act of barbarity." The act of psychological terror had the opposite result Willcocks intended on the initially apathetic Canadians. The burning of Newark steeled the Canadians' resolve and rallied their support for the British war effort, including the reprisal attack on Fort Niagara and the burning campaign waged on American soil between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

 Willcocks and others were charged with treason, though he escaped the fate of his eight captured comrades who were executed for their betrayal of Britain in the wake of the Ancaster Bloody Assize trials of 1814. The Canadian Volunteers, whose numbers never exceeded that of a single company, saw combat at Chippawa , and Lundy's Lane. Willcocks found his own bloody end while leading a skirmish during the Seige of Fort Erie, September 1814. After the Treaty of Ghent, with the war over, the Canadian Volunteers were forced to rebuild their lives in the US, since neither Washington nor London had secured any territorial gains to share with their armed forces. They were given land grants and compensation by their new country, unable to return to their old one under penalty of death.


Joseph Willcocks and the Volunteers

An enemy of Brock, blocking his attempts to prepare for a possible war with the US, was Joseph Willcocks. Born in Ireland, Willcocks was an ambitious and cagey young man interested in making a name for himself in a variety of fields, often with the help of political patrons. A former sheriff and respected publisher, he turned to politics and became a member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, but earned a bad name for himself as well as a conviction for contempt of the House, which landed him in jail. Still, he managed re-election, but he soon ran afoul of Brock.


Initially, Willcocks served Brock as part of the mission to secure the allegiance of the Six Nations to fight alongside the British. No coward, Willcocks also fought alongside the First Nations during the retaking of Redan Bay. Brock died in 1813 and stricter martial law was applied in the Canada's. Willcocks rallied against these efforts as anti-democratic, and soon became disillusioned with Britain's war effort. In July 1813, he committed treason by offering his service to the United States while still a serving member of the governing body of Upper Canada. With the rank of major in the American army, he raised the Canadian Volunteers, comprising mainly recent immigrants from the US

Willcocks lies in an unmarked grave, ignored by the country he fought against and forgotten by the country he fought for.


 The Canadian Volunteers Muster Roll in 1813

Willcocks, Joseph    Major     July 10
Totman, Joshua    Adjutant    July 18
Jackson, Sr., Sam    Q. Master    July 18
Dorman, John    Surgeon    July 18
Frisbee, Gideon    Captain    July 1 8
Huggins, Robert    1st Lieutenant    July 18
Baker, Joseph    2nd Lieutenant    July 18
Jackson, Jr., Sam    Ensign    July 18
Hendershot, Jacob S.    Sergt. Major    August 2
Wickham, Sam    Q. Master Sgt.    July 18
Seely, Sias H.    Sergeant    July 18
Smith, Luther    Sergeant    July 18
Thomas, Seneca    Sergeant    July 18
Jac, Josiah    Sergeant    July 18
Proctor, Oliver    Corporal    July 18
Gee, William M.    Corporal    August 2
Fox, Amaser    Corporal    July 18
Pollock, James     Private    July 18
Gough, John    Private     July 18
Prentice, Gilbert    Private     July 18
Mansfield, Isaac    Private    July 18
Curtice, Grove    Private    July 18
Bennett, John H.    Private    July 18    AWOL
Brown, Matthew    Private    July 18
Farnam, Joseph    Private    July 18
Salrs, Mordic    Private    July 18
Howell, Phineas    Private     July 18    AWOL
Haskins, Olisha    Private     July 18
Wilder, Michael    Private     July 18
Smith, William    Private     July 18
Smith, Timothy    Private     July 18
McGarvin, James    Private     July 18    AWOL
Averil l, David    Private     July 18
Instine, Dsaniel    Private     July 18
Jackson, William D.    Private     July 18
Lovett, Joseph     Private     July 18
Bennett, John     Private    July 18
Follett, Henry     Private     July 18
Mead, Chauncey     Private     July 18
Kelley, George     Private     July 18
Oustuhoudt, Lucas    Private     July 18
Piersons, David     Private    July 18    Wounded
Olmsted, Job     Private     July 18
Cafs, David     Private    July 18
Johnston, John S.    Private     July 18
Dill, Johah    Private    July 18    Died Aug. 16
Ingraim, William    Private     July 18    Wounded
Beemer, Henry     Private     July 18    AWOL
Fow, John     Private     July 18    AWOL
Felly, Ambrose     Private    July 18
Lockwood, John     Prive     July 18
Vanderburg, Jacob G    Priv    18 July
McGee, James    Priv    August 2
McCraney, Thomas   Priv    August 10
Robinson, William    Priv    August 10
Reynolds, William    Priv    August 10
Philips, Daniel     Priv    August 10
Wilcot, Paul     Priv    August 10    Wounded
Conway, Samuel     Priv    August 10
Myers, Charles    Priv    August 10
Meyers, Joshua    Priv    August 10
McLaughlin, Laughlin    Priv    August 10
Scott, John     Priv    August 10
Gillis, Aias(?)    Priv    August 10
Follett, Abel     Priv    August 13 or 15?
McCarter, William    Priv    August 13 or 15?
Newland, Cornelius    Priv    August 22
Bradt, Janius (?)    Priv    July 22    AWOL
Olmsted, Enoch     Priv    July 22
Lepan, Anthony     Priv    July 22
Lane, Peter     Priv    July 22
Lane, Jacob     Priv    July 22
Gardner, George T    Priv    July 22