1965 Letter from the Scottish United Services Museum About a War of 1812 Relic

1965 Letter from the Scottish United Services Museum About a War of 1812 Relic

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On offer is an interesting letter that connects directly to a major battle in the War of 1812 between the

British colony of Canada and the United States. This document is a letter from the Scottish United Services Museum in Edinburgh (now The National War Museum) to a resident in Queenston, Ontario in Canada. 

This letter refers to the last major battle in the War of 1812 – the Siege of Fort Erie. The battle was one of the last engagements of the War of 1812, between British and American forces. It took place during the Niagara campaign, and the Americans successfully defended Fort Erie (now the city of Fort Erie, Ontario) against a British/Canadian army. During the siege, the British suffered high casualties in a failed storming attempt. This letter refers directly to a disastrous event that occurred in the storming attempt. One unit, the 103rd Regiment of Foot, stormed a blockhouse and for a time occupied it. Incoming American fire detonated a powder magazine in the blockhouse and nearly 300 men were killed instantly. The Regiment was virtually wiped out in that battle and was disbanded 3 years later.

The letter writer, Gerald Willox, apparently had found a button from the uniform of a soldier in the 103rd , presumably on or near the grounds of the old fort. He had sent it to the Museum for verification. This letter confirms its authenticity:

This makes the 103rd button of course a rather pathetic and interesting relic, especially when you describe how it was found. [WA Thorburn, Curatror]

About the War of 1812: 

The War of 1812 was a war fought between the United States and Great Britain and the Canadian colony. The war was fought within the overall world-wide military conflict between Britain and Napoleonic France. American grievances focused around the practice of the Royal Navy stopping neutral American ships and seizing American sailors.

The Americans invaded Canada on several fronts but were defeated in a series of battles by a combination of British regular forces and Canadian Militia. An American force took Fort York (today’s Toronto) and burnt it. The next year, British and Canadians assaulted Washington DC and burnt Washington, including the White House. The war ended in a peace treaty that restored borders to their original status where they have remained to this day. The was is scarcely recalled in Britain today as it was part of a far larger conflict. In America, it is recalled as an American victory.

In Canada, it is seen as a major event wherein Canadians were able to repulse a much larger opponent and protect their territory.

For a historian, especially of the War of 1812, this letter is a mute testament to the violent events that form part of the narrative of the founding of the Canadian nation.

The double-sided, typed letter measures 8.25 inches by 5.75 inches. The envelope is included. The letter is in excellent condition.

Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information or to request photos. (Kindly include the SKU, listed on this page above the price, in your e-mail so we can more easily answer your questions.)

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