Bridge ceremony to honour first War of 1812 casualties

The Windsor Star

BY JULIE KOTSIS, THE WINDSOR STAR JULY 13, 2012

The Amherstburg War of 1812 sign is pictured in this file photo.

The Amherstburg War of 1812 sign is pictured in this file photo.

Photograph by: Monica Wolfson , The Windsor Star

The Amherstburg War of 1812 sign is pictured in this file photo.
Photograph by: Monica Wolfson , The Windsor Star
The soldiers who fought at River Canard 200 years ago will be honoured during a ceremony Monday.

Ron Lapointe, who’s been working to have the County Road 20 bridge at River Canard named for the two privates who protected it in 1812, said Monday’s event will include representatives from all the groups which fought there.

He said the exact itinerary hasn’t been set yet but he expects representation from Fort Malden National Historic Site, the Provincial Marine, Essex and Kent militia, First Nations and a sailor and officer from HMCS Hunter.

They will be gathering to commemorate the bicentennial of the first British casualties of the War of 1812 and the bravery of the two men who faced approximately 280 Americans on the “little wooden bridge.”

Pte. James Hancock and Pte. John Dean of the 41st Regiment from Fort Malden were there on July 16, 1812, as Gen. Hull’s troops marched through present-day LaSalle, advancing toward Fort Malden.

Obviously outnumbered, Hancock and Dean stood their ground and fought. Hancock was shot and died on the bridge – the first British soldier killed in the war. Dean, his arm broken, was taken prisoner.

But Lapointe said the Americans retreated, returning three or four days later. They then faced members of the First Nations and British soldiers as well as local militia. The Provincial Marine, stationed on the Queen Charlotte, lobbed cannon balls against the Americans at the bridge.

Lapointe said the Americans were defeated three times before retreating back to Sandwich.

“It was the beginning of our nationhood,” Lapointe said. “We had all these groups coming together under a banner of a nation even though there wasn’t a nation yet.

“It’s significant that the first battles of the War of 1812 occurred right here in our county.”

The public is invited to the ceremony, which begins at 1 p.m. on the banks of the River Canard on the west side of the current bridge.

 

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