|Battle of Malcolm’s Mills|
|Part of the War of 1812|
|United States||Canadian Militia|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Brig. Gen. Duncan McArthur||Lt. Col. Henry Bostwick|
|Casualties and losses|
|1 killed, 6 wounded||18 killed, 12 wounded|
The Battle of Malcolm's Mills was a brief skirmish during the War of 1812 in which a force of American cavalry overran and scattered a force of Canadian militia. The battle was fought on November 6, 1814, near the village of Oakland, in Brant County, Ontario. The skirmish was part of a series of battles fought by American Brigadier General Duncan McArthur on an extended raid into Upper Canada.
In October 1814, an invading American force of about 700 men under Brigadier General Duncan McArthur advanced rapidly as they left Detroit and raided the Thames Valley. The plan was to devastate the Grand River settlements and the region around the head of Lake Ontario which supplied British forces on the Niagara frontier. The Canadian militia in the region was caught unaware by this swift raid from the west, and McArthur's force continued east at a fairly rapid pace, arriving at Brant's Ford on the Grand River on November 5.
McArthur reached Brant's Ford to find that the higher ground on the east bank of the ford was occupied by Major Adam Muir's 50 militia and 50 Haudenosaunee warriors who were prepared to dispute the passage. Teyoninhokovrawen states in his memoires that he was not present at the Ford at the time
After exchanging fire with the Canadian defenders, and knowing that Canadian reinforcements were on the march from Burlington Heights, McArthur decided he was not willing to risk attempting to force a passage. In his journals, McArthur wrote that heavy rainfall had made fording the river impossible. McArthur turned his force south to raid the settlements along the north shore of Lake Erie along a route that would lead them back to Detroit.
On November 6, 1814 McArthur's men encountered a group of 400 Canadian militia drawn from elements of the 1st and 2nd Norfolk, 1st Oxford, and 1st Middlesex regiments. The aim of the Canadian militia was to deflect McArthur's force back the way they had come, or to keep them busy until reinforcements arrived from Burlington Heights.
Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Bostwick of the Oxford Militia, the Canadians formed a defensive position at Malcolm's Mills, now the village of Oakland, nine miles (15 km) southwest of Brant's Ford and blocked McArthur's route to the Lake Erie shoreline. The militia were stationed along the crest of a fairly steep slope overlooking a bridge at the bottom of a marshy valley. The planking on the bridge had been taken up, and a barricade was improvised on the road.
The Americans arrived early in the day and succeeded in sending a flanking force downstream unseen. When the attack began, the American cavalry easily forded the creek and began careful skirmishing to pin down the Canadian force while two columns flanked the Canadian position on both sides. The flanking manoeuvre caught the militia by surprise, and the more experienced American force quickly drove them from the field.
In his journals, McArthur stated that his cavalry lost 1 man with 6 wounded. The Canadian militia suffered several dead and many wounded, but most of them escaped in the panic that ensued during the rout.
The Canadian forces engaged at Malcolm's Mills included:
- 1st Regiment of Middlesex Militia, under Major John Eakins
- 1st Regiment of Oxford Militia, under Lt. Col. Henry Bostwick
- 1st Regiment of Norfolk Militia, under Lt. Col. Joseph Ryerson and Major William D. Bowen
- 2nd Regiment of Norfolk Militia, under Major George C. Salmon
The battle at Malcolm's Mill was the last land battle of the War of 1812 fought in Upper Canada. McArthur's force continued to the Lake Erie shore, burning and pillaging, then headed north and back to the Thames River before continuing down the Thames and along the southern shore of Lake St. Clair, arriving back at Detroit on November 17, 1814. A small party of the British 19th Light Dragoons, led by Major Peter Chambers, shadowed McArthur's force for a large part of their return to Detroit, but the two forces did not engage in fighting. Although McArthur's cavalry forces were strong enough to overpower and scatter the Canadian militia at Malcolm's Mills and to pillage along the Lake Erie shore, they lacked the power to push east of the Grand River and McArthur chose to retreat them to Detroit.
- Misiak, Zig,"Western Hooves of Thunder, McArthurs Raid on the Six Nations, 1814", ISBN 978-0-9811880-3-4, Published 2011, Brantford, Ontario, Canada
- Major R. Cuthbertson Muir, The Early Political and Military History of Burford, La Cie D'Imprimerie Commerciale, 1913.
- Stuart A. Rammage, The Militia Stood Alone - Malcolm's Mills, 6 November 1814, Valley Publishing, 2000.
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