Drummond participated in the ill-fated attack on
in late May 1813. Although the assault was described as “a scandalously managed
affair,” Drummond distinguished himself by rallying his troops during the
battle. Drummond managed to escape death during the battle when a musket ball
grazed him. Sackets Harbor
Aside from Drummond’s courage in battle, he was also a great diplomat. Drummond earned the respect of John Norton and his native allies. Norton presented Drummond with strings of wampum beads that he wore until his death. Due to Drummond’s good relationship with the natives, he was often called upon to settle disputes between Norton and the Indian Department.
|Siege of Fort Erie map|
With the American invasion of Niagara in July 1814, Drummond was ordered with the two flank companies of the 104th to proceed to the
Drummond arrived in time for the Battle of Lundy’s Lane where he had two horses
killed under him. After the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, Drummond participated in
the failed British attempt to destroy American supply bases at Conjocta Creek.
After this failed assault, the British laid siege to the American held defences
at Fort Erie. After a few days bombardment,
the British launched a daring assault on August 15, 1814.
As Drummond assembled his men for the assault, he bid farewell to the officers as he believe he would not survive the night. Drummond gave his sword to Surgeon William Dunlop before the assault for safekeeping and opted to carry a pike into battle. As Drummond led his men to the North-East demi-bastion they were repulsed by the American gunners inside. After a few attempts, Drummond and his men managed to take the bastion and began pouring into the fort. As Drummond charged into the fort he was shot dead. One American officer describes the incident:
“an officer advanced as far as the door of the mess house . . . [and] gave us orders to kill him - we shot him down and his party gave back at his fall.”
After Drummond’s death, the British in the bastion managed to turn around a cannon and began firing into the fort. This action caused the gunpowder magazine in the bastion to erupt in a “a jet of flame, mingled with the fragments of timber, earth, stone, and bodies of men, rose, to the height of one or two hundred feet in the air, and fell, in a shower of ruins.”
|Explosion of the bastion during the failed British night assault|
The British failed to take
Fort Erie that night and
Drummond lay dead in the American held fort. The next day as the young drummer
boy Jarvis Hanks sees the bodies he notes that Drummond’s body was looted and
that one of the American officers purchased his gold watch. William Drummond
was buried, along with a number of his comrades, in a mass grave in the ditches
of Fort Erie.
If you want to learn more about William Drummond and the Siege of Fort Erie, don’t miss the Siege of Fort Erie on August 11 and 12th. There will be battle reenactments all weekend long as well as a lantern tour after the Saturday night battle. All battles are free to watch! Don’t miss Canada’s largest 1812 reenactment. Click here for the schedule of events.