Battle of Longwoods
The Battle of Longwoods took place during the Anglo-American War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

. On 4 March 1814, a mounted American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 raiding party defeated an attempt by British regulars, volunteers from the Canadian militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 and Native Americans
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

 to intercept them near Wardsville, in present-day Southwest Middlesex, Ontario
Southwest Middlesex, Ontario
Southwest Middlesex is a municipality in Middlesex County, Ontario, Canada.The restructured municipality of Southwest Middlesex was incorporated on January 1, 2001. This amalgamation joined the Villages of Glencoe and Wardsville with the Townships of Ekfrid and Mosa. Southwest Middlesex had a...



In October, 1813, in the aftermath of the American naval victory of the Battle of Lake Erie
Battle of Lake Erie
The Battle of Lake Erie, sometimes called the Battle of Put-in-Bay, was fought on 10 September 1813, in Lake Erie off the coast of Ohio during the War of 1812. Nine vessels of the United States Navy defeated and captured six vessels of Great Britain's Royal Navy...

, an American army under Major General William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

 recovered Detroit (which the British had captured early in the war), captured the abandoned British post at Fort Malden
Fort Malden
Fort Malden is a fort that stands on the remains of Fort Amherstburg in Amherstburg, Ontario. The original fort was abandoned by the British/Canadians in 1813 when Southwest Ontario fell into American hands. The Americans began building a smaller replacement fort on the same site, but this was...

 at Amherstburg
Amherstburg, Ontario
Amherstburg is a Canadian town near the mouth of the Detroit River in Essex County, Ontario. It is approximately south of the U.S...

, and defeated a retreating British and Native American force at the Battle of the Thames
Battle of the Thames
The Battle of the Thames, also known as the Battle of Moraviantown, was a decisive American victory in the War of 1812. It took place on October 5, 1813, near present-day Chatham, Ontario in Upper Canada...

. The British feared that the Americans might follow up their victory and strike at their position at Burlington
Burlington, Ontario
Burlington , is a city located in Halton Region at the western end of Lake Ontario. Burlington is part of the Greater Toronto Area, and is also included in the Hamilton Census Metropolitan Area. Physically, Burlington lies between the north shore of Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment...

 at the western end of Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

, but the period of enlistment of most of the militia troops in Harrison's army was about to expire, and the Americans withdrew.

During the subsequent months, there was a "no man's land" stretching almost 200 miles (321.9 km) between Amherstburg and Burlington, where Canadian militia skirmished with occasional American raiding or scouting parties. Late in December, 1813, the British established an outpost at Delaware
Middlesex Centre, Ontario
Middlesex Centre is a township in south-western Ontario, Canada. It is located to the north and west of London and is in Middlesex County. The Corporation of the Township of Middlesex Centre, formed on January 1, 1998 with the amalgamation of the former Townships of Delaware, Lobo, and London...

, roughly halfway between these two positions, and another at Port Talbot
Port Talbot, Ontario
Port Talbot was the name of a community located west of Port Stanley in Ontario, Canada where Talbot Creek flows into Lake Erie. The village was the original commercial nucleus for the settlement which developed on 5,000 acres of land granted to Thomas Talbot in 1800 by the Crown along the...

 on the shore of Lake Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the...

. On 23 December, the garrison of the post at Delaware surprised and captured a small American outpost near Chatham.

The American commander at Amherstburg was Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Butler of the 28th U.S. Infantry. He sent an expedition under Captain Andrew Holmes to capture one of these two British posts, as circumstances allowed. The expedition consisted of mounted detachments from the 24th, 26th, 27th and 28th U.S. Regiments of Infantry and two six-pounder cannon, and was later joined by some rangers and militia dragoons from Michigan. The raiders, including the regulars, were dressed in buckskins against the cold and were armed with rifles and tomahawks.

American raid

Holmes left Amherstburg on 21 February, moving along the shore of Lake Erie. The ground was soft, and he was forced to abandon his two guns near Pointe au Pelee. After a clash with some Canadian militia who escaped, Holmes decided that the militia would warn the defenders of Port Talbot, and he determined therefore to make for Delaware instead. On 2 March, he was within 15 miles (24.1 km) of Delaware, but cold, hunger and sickness had reduced his force from 180 to 164 men. The British had indeed been warned of his presence, and Holmes learned from a Canadian renegade that 300 men had sallied from Delaware and were within an hour's march of him. Holmes left the Michigan Rangers as a rearguard while his main body retreated five miles to the Twenty Mile Creek. The Michigan troops also fell back after a skirmish with Caldwell's Rangers, who were leading the British advance.

Holmes was urged by some of his subordinates to retreat further, but he determined to hold his position. He occupied a hill overlooking the bridge over the creek, and fortified the hill with a u-shaped abatis
Abatis, abattis, or abbattis is a term in field fortification for an obstacle formed of the branches of trees laid in a row, with the sharpened tops directed outwards, towards the enemy. The trees are usually interlaced or tied with wire...

 (defences made of felled trees and branches).

Early on 4 March, Caldwell's Rangers exchanged a few shots with the Americans and then feigned a retreat, hoping to draw the Americans out of their defences. Holmes did indeed pursue for 5 miles (8 km) before the Michigan Militia Dragoons warned him that the British were preparing an ambush, and he hastily returned to his position.


The full British force followed up the Americans and arrived at Twenty Mile Creek at 5 p.m. that day. The force consisted of two companies of regulars (the light company of the 1st Battalion, the 1st Regiment of Foot (Royal Scots), numbering 101 men, and the light company of the 2nd Battalion, 89th Regiment of Foot, numbering 45 men), two full-time militia units (the Loyal Kent Volunteers and Caldwell's Western Rangers, numbering 50 men between them) and 44 Native American warriors (Wyandots and Potawatomi
The Potawatomi are a Native American people of the upper Mississippi River region. They traditionally speak the Potawatomi language, a member of the Algonquian family. In the Potawatomi language, they generally call themselves Bodéwadmi, a name that means "keepers of the fire" and that was applied...

s under Sauganash
Billy Caldwell, baptized Thomas Caldwell , known also as Sauganash, was a British-Mohawk fur trader who was commissioned captain in the Indian Department of Canada...

, or Billy Caldwell as he was known to the British). In all, this force numbered about 240 men. The British commander at Delaware, Captain Stewart of the Royal Scots, had not expected action and had gone to confer with Colonel Matthew Elliot
Matthew Elliott (loyalist)
Matthew Elliott was born in County Donegal, Ireland in 1739 and died on May 7, 1814 in Burlington, Ontario. He was a trader, farmer, Indian Department official, political, fur trader, and militia officer during and after the era of the American Revolution...

 of the Essex Militia, so the force was commanded by Captain James Lewis Basden of the 89th.

Although Basden had only a rough idea of the ground and American strength from the Rangers' earlier reconnaissance, he nevertheless attacked immediately. He ordered the Rangers and Volunteers to outflank the Americans to the north and the Native warriors to do the same from the south, while he himself led the regulars directly against the front of the American position. The Rangers, militia and Indians crossed the creek out of range of the American position and began skirmishing on the flanks. The regulars opened fire against the American centre, with little effect. Basden then led a charge against the American position. As the British advanced towards the bridge, bunched into a column by the narrow road, the Americans poured a withering fire into them, mowing down the leading troops.

Basden only became aware of the abatis after the British had crossed the bridge, but nevertheless led an advance up the hill. The British were unable to climb the icy slope in the face of the heavy fire and were beaten back. Basden himself was wounded in the leg, and Captain Johnston, leading the light company of the Royal Scots, was killed. The British regulars then fell back into the ravine through which the creek flowed and tried to drive the Americans from the hill with musket fire from behind trees, but the Americans firing from a height inflicted heavy casualties.

On the flanks, the Indians had not pressed their attack. The Rangers had been more successful, but were too few to risk an attack into the American position. As darkness fell at about 6.30 p.m. the entire British force, now commanded by Ensign Mills of the 2/89th, retreated.

The British had suffered 14 killed, 51 wounded, 1 wounded prisoner and 1 missing. The Americans lost 4 killed and 3 wounded.


Although Holmes had defeated Basden's force, he knew he was outnumbered and decided that he would be unable to capture the post at Delaware. At 9 p.m. he abandoned his position at Twenty Mile Creek and retreated to Detroit. The British also later abandoned the outpost at Delaware.

However, the two American 6-pounder guns which Holmes had abandoned near Pointe au Pelee were later discovered by another local Canadian militia unit, the Loyal Essex Volunteers. The Volunteers destroyed the carriages and concealed the guns in a black ash swamp, where they remained to the end of the war.

Holmes was promoted to Major, but was killed a few months later at the Battle of Mackinac Island
Battle of Mackinac Island
The Battle of Mackinac Island was a British victory in the War of 1812. Before the war, Fort Mackinac had been an important American trading post in the straits between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron...

. Basden recovered from his wound, and later fought at the Battle of Lundy's Lane
Battle of Lundy's Lane
The Battle of Lundy's Lane was a battle of the Anglo-American War of 1812, which took place on 25 July 1814, in present-day Niagara Falls, Ontario...

. At the end of the year, he was temporarily in command of the remnants of the 2/89th Regiment. (He was later made Companion of the Bath
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

 after serving in the First Anglo-Burmese War, and returned to Canada to serve during the Rebellions of 1837
Rebellions of 1837
The Rebellions of 1837 were a pair of Canadian armed uprisings that occurred in 1837 and 1838 in response to frustrations in political reform. A key shared goal was the allowance of responsible government, which was eventually achieved in the incident's aftermath.-Rebellions:The rebellions started...


The battlesite was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1924.
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