The Undeclared War between Britain and America, Part 1: 1837-1842

During the years that led up to the Anglo-American Treaty of 1842, writes Henry I. Kurtz, both countries played a dangerous game of “brinksmanship” along the Canadian border.

Late on the night of December 29th, 1837, a party of Canadian militia under the command of Captain Andrew Drew silently boarded several boats on Chippewa Creek and struck out across the moonlit waters toward American soil. Their objective was Fort Schlosser—once a French military post, then just a wharf, a tavern, and an old storehouse—on the New York side of the Niagara River. Berthed there was the Caroline, an ageing steamer employed in running guns and supplies to a group of Canadian rebels entrenched on Navy Island in the middle of the river.

Shordy before midnight, the amphibious force pulled up alongside the steamer, and Captain Drew and his assault party clambered aboard. They were at once challenged by the watch, then fired upon. After an exchange of volleys, during which one American was killed and several others were wounded, the passengers and crew fled to shore—save one man and a boy who were taken prisoner.

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