May 09, 2012

A Canadian General – Gordon Drummond

Gordon Drummond was born in Quebec in 1772 and by the age of 17 he joined in the 1st (Royal Scots) Regiment of Foot as an ensign in 1789. Drummond quickly rose through the ranks and distinguished himself in battle on numerous occasions. He was described as a handsome man somewhat above average in height with stern even features, he was cool and controlled, and a good administrator. He married in 1807 and was devoted to his wife and three children. By late 1813, Drummond was sent to Upper Canada to take command of all British forces in Niagara. Upon arriving in Niagara, Drummond ordered a daring raid against Fort Niagara, leading to its capture.  

Gordon Drummond
Drummond was also responsible for the civilian administration of Upper Canada. When Drummond took command, he pressured the legislature to enact harsh penalties for treasonous behavior. This led to the seizure of property and imprisonment for certain individuals, as well as the Bloody Assize trials that culminated in the hanging of eight traitors. As well, Drummond helped to fix the logistical problems present in the Niagara Peninsula by setting food prices and by sending army dependents (wives and children of soldiers) to Kingston.

Drummond was not immune to the dangers of war. At the Battle of Lundy’s Lane Drummond was wounded by a musket ball that entered under his right ear and lodged in the back of his neck. He managed to tie a handkerchief around his wound and continued the battle. He eventually had the ball cut out a few days later. Although Drummond was wounded, he continued to command by sending his army to lay siege to the American army held-up in Fort Erie. The British were unsuccessful in dislodging the Americans, but Drummond and his forces did manage to prevent the Americans from proceeding farther into the Niagara Region.

When the War of 1812 ended, Drummond was knighted and in April 1815 he succeeded George Prevost as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadas. He served in this position for a year before retiring citing ill health. Due to his service in Upper Canada, the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada awarded him large land grants. Drummond decided to donate the land grants, along with his wartime prize money, to the widows and orphans of soldiers. Drummond knew the pain of losing loved ones as one of his sons joined the Royal Navy and the other joined the army; both died in the service. In Drummond’s later years, he lived in a townhouse in London and died in 1854 at the age of 82.

Some historians praise Drummond for his courageous leadership and effective administration whereas others scold him for his lack of dynamism. This summer make sure to visit the Niagara Falls History Museum, Old Fort Erie and Fort George to learn more about Gordon Drummond and form your own opinion of this Canadian General. 

No comments:

Post a Comment