June 04, 2014

Good sense & manly spirit – John Vincent

Born in Ireland in 1764, John Vincent entered the army in 1781 as an ensign. By 1783, he transferred to the 49th Regiment of Foot as a lieutenant and became a captain in 1786. He was on active service in the West Indies and during the taking of Haiti. On a return trip to England, his ship was captured by a French frigate forcing his detainment in France for a year. Vincent fought at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 before being transferred to Upper Canada in 1802 where he served at a number of garrison posts before the War of 1812.

By 1813, the now Brigadier-General John Vincent was in command of troops in the Niagara Region when American forces crossed the Niagara River and captured Fort George on May 27, forcing Vincent to order a retreat to Burlington Heights. Vincent decided to follow the recommendation of his second in command, Lieutenant-Colonel John Harvey, to launch a night attack on American forces at Stoney Creek. Harvey was relieved that Vincent accepted his recommendation and wrote about Vincent, “His good sense & manly spirit had no difficulty in deciding upon the proper course.”
Engraving, Battle of Stoney Creek

The battle caused the Americans to retreat to Fort George, ending the American advance into the Niagara Peninsula. Unfortunately for Vincent, he was thrown from his horse during the engagement and was later found wandering in a daze miles from the battlefield without his horse, hat and sword. Naturally, this part was not mentioned in his official report.

The British maintained a blockade on Fort George for several months in 1813. Late in 1813, Vincent ordered a retreat from the Niagara due to the British defeat at the Battle of the Thames. Vincent was later transferred to Kingston, then to Montreal, before being transported to England due to illness. He never saw active service again but was promoted to full general in 1843. John Vincent died unmarried in London in 1848. He received no eulogies from his former subordinates and James FitzGibbon wrote, “He was at all times a feeble man, both in mind and body.”

If you want to find out more about John Vincent and the Battle of Stoney Creek, head out to Battlefield House in Stoney Creek for the annual Battle of Stoney Creek Re-enactment on June 7 and 8. Click here for more information.


  1. On Oct 4 1875 awards ceremony in Hamilton for the Militia. Timothy Downs of the 4th Lincoln. Said at the battle of Stoney Creek he acted as an orderly there to Colonel Vincent, who ran away and left him.

    1. Thanks for the comment.
      It is true that there are some conflicting stories relating to Vincent at Stoney Creek. Some say he was unconscious and others say he ran away. Perhaps the real story will not be known.

  2. My ancestors Isaac Corman and Billy Green were involved in the Battle of Stoney Creek. Here is a video I made at the Battle of Stoney Creek re-enactment June 06 2009. Hope you enjoy.


    1. Thanks, Paul. That's pretty interesting to know about your family and thanks for the video, it looks great.