War of 1812: Laura Secord

War of 1812: Laura Secord

Laura Secord overhead some American officers’ conversation about a planned attack on the British outpost at Beaver Dams. She then started her famous journey to warn British Lieutenant James Fitzgivvon on June 22nd, 1813. This article examines the War of 1812 heroine, Laura Secord.

Laura Ingersoll Secord, heroine of the War of 1812, came to Upper Canada from Massachusetts with her family in 1795. Her father, who had sided with the Patriots during the American revolution, came to Canada in hopes of regaining his lost family fortune. The Ingersolls settled in the Niagara Peninsula and opened a tavern. It was in Niagara that Laura met James Secord, a United Empire Loyalist. Two years after her arrival, Laura and James were married. In the early 1800’s the Secords moved to Queenston from nearby St. David’s. It was from this Queenston homestead that Laura Secord began the journe­­­y that has earned her a place in Canadian history.

The Secords had been ordered to billet American soldiers in their home. On the evening of June 22, 1813, Laura and her husband James overheard an American plan of an attack on British forces. The Americans were planning an assault against Lt. James Fitzgibbon at Beaverdams. With that position captured, the Americans could control the entire Niagara Peninsula. Upon hearing the plan, the Secords knew that Fitzgibbon must be warned. Injured at the Battle of Queenston Heights the previous October, James could not attempt the journey. Despite the danger and unsettled country, Laura decided she would go to warn Fitzgibbon.

Her journey along a 32 km route took more than 18 hours to complete. Fearing discovery by American patrols that were in possession of that part of Niagara, Laura Secord daringly made her way to DeCew house on the outskirts of Thorold. The dangers of such a journey were many – wolves, wildcats and rattlesnakes were common in the peninsula at this time, as were unfriendly Native forces. A woman walking alone toward enemy lines risked being arrested or even shot. Overcoming exceedingly hot temperatures and wild, unsettled land, Laura hiked through thick woods and across streams, leaving her feet blistered and bleeding.

At Beaverdams, Laura Secord encountered Native forces who were allies of the British. Upon hearing her news, they accompanied her to DeCew house where she was able to deliver her vital message to Fitzgibbon. As a result, the Native forces, under the command of John Norton and Dominique Ducharme, ambushed the invading Americans and defeated them at the Battle of Beaverdams, June 24, 1813.

Although Laura was due much of the credit for the victory, her heroism was soon forgotten. It wasn’t until 1860, almost fifty years later, that Laura received recognition of her act during a visit by Edward, Prince of Wales. She died in 1868 at the age of 93 and is buried in Drummond Hill Cemetery. In 2003, the Minister of Canadian Heritage designated Laura Secord a Person of National Historic Significance for her heroic actions during the War of 1812.

And that’s it for this War of 1812: Laura Secord article


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