Chateauguay National Historic Site of Canada

The Battle of the Châteauguay National Historic Site commemorates the Battle of Châteauguay that took place on 26 October 1813, during the War of 1812, when Canadian troops under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles-Michel de Salaberry defeated a larger American force.

The national Historic Site is surrounded by farmland of the St. Lawrence Lowland on the north bank of the Rivière Châteauguay, 50 kilometres southwest of Montréal. It is located almost at the centre of the battlefield, which at the time extended some 15 km in length. The area designated as having national historic significance corresponds to the entire area of the battlefield and is therefore much larger than the historic site administered by Parks Canada.

The site was originally commemorated when the federal government erected a stone obelisk in 1895 at the small community of Allan's Corner, near the battlegrounds. Formal designation as a national historic site was granted later by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1920. An interpretative centre, a building of contemporary architectural design, has been open to the public since 1978. The centre's indoor lookout offers a panoramic view of part of the battlefield while a scale model enables visitors to visualize the events that marked the British victory. The centre also has displays showing the daily life of a common soldier during the War of 1812 from recruitment to combat.

Overview of the Battle of Châteauguay

In the summer of 1813, the United States invaded Lower Canada, seeking to take Montréal in order to cut British supply lines to Upper Canada. Two armies were involved in the American advance, Major General James Wilkinson via the St Lawrence River and Major General Wade Hampton via the Rivière Chateauguay, and they intended to join forces at Île Perrot on the St Lawrence.

Hampton's force of more than 4000 men was stopped on its march toward Montréal by some 1500 Canadian soldiers commanded by de Salaberry. Only 300 of de Salaberry's forces were actually engaged in the main battle. Through innovative devices and scare tactics, including the blowing of bugles in the woods and shouting to suggest a large force of defenders, de Salaberry's force of Voltigeur Canadians, Fencibles and Aboriginal allies were able to confuse the Americans, who became overly cautious and soon retreated. Another 160 of de Salaberry's troops were positioned at a ford of the Châteauguay, east of Salaberry's position, and prevented Hampton's flanking force from crossing the river.

Wilkinson's force also was not successful reaching Île Perrot as it was defeated during the Battle of Crysler's Farm and turned back after getting word of Hampton's defeat. Montréal was not seriously threatened for the remainder of the war.

Author: Gail Kudelik

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