CHAPTER 5: Demobilization
Start of the 1838 Rebellions
Ongoing Incidents on the Border
Throughout 1838 the insurgents kept both provinces on the alert. On February 28 some 250 armed men led by Dr. Wolfred Nelson crossed the border at Week's House and proclaimed the independence of Lower Canada. They then immediately returned to Vermont when the British troops and volunteers approached! Back in the United States, they were disarmed by the American army. At the beginning of March in Upper Canada the Patriots occupied Pelee Island near Windsor. On March 3 a detachment of the 32nd and 83rd regiments, supported by loyal volunteers, attacked and scattered them after a brief and heated battle. Eight Patriots were killed and the British lost six soldiers and a volunteer. In May a small Canadian ship, the Sir Robert Peel, was taken and burned in the Thousand Islands. In June between 40 and 70 Patriots, hidden in the Short Hills of the Niagara Peninsula, captured a detachment of a dozen Queen's Lancers. But the alarm was sounded and a search by hundreds of militiamen sent them running.
In Lower Canada, with the situation having calmed somewhat, Sir John Colborne demobilized many of the loyal volunteers in the early summer but kept open the option to recall them in the event of an emergency. He could also count on reinforcements of regular troops from Great Britain and Gibraltar.