The Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812

The British Take Fort Niagara

Canadian Reinforcements Raised

Officer, Upper Canada Militia, in 1814

Caption: Officer, Upper Canada Militia, in 1814

At the time, Great Britain was unable to send many reinforcements to Canada, for the very good reason that much of its army was busy battling Napoleonic troops in Spain. It did, however, send six infantry regiments and two marine battalions to North America in 1813. An additional regiment of Fencibles was also recruited in New Brunswick. The number of regular officers and soldiers in North America thus increased to about 18,000, 14,000 of whom were deployed in Upper and Lower Canada. In 1813 the American regular army had reached approximately 25,000 men, not to mention several thousand volunteers.

Canadian volunteers or conscripts were also needed to reinforce the regular British army. Lower Canada raised a fifth battalion of Select Embodied militia, which was incorporated in Montreal in September 1812, as well as a sixth battalion in March 1813, to guard Quebec City. There were also three light infantry companies, three light cavalry units, a company of artillery drivers, a half company of artillerymen and 200-300 Amerindian scouts. Finally, there were approximately 400 men who belonged to a corps that was typical of the country, the Canadian Voyageurs. In all, the army of Lower Canada consisted of some 5,500 officers and soldiers.

In many counties of Upper Canada the Flank companies of the militia regiments were mobilized. Several served along with British troops until the end of 1812, when these soldier-citizens were able to return home. A steadier source of troops was nevertheless needed until the end of the war. In the spring of 1813, therefore, a volunteer militia battalion was incorporated, as well as an artillery company, an artillery driver company, an artificer company, two other light cavalry and a corps of Western Rangers, for a total of approximately 1,000 officers and soldiers, in addition to several hundred Amerindians - it is difficult to know the exact number - mobilized for indeterminate periods of time.