Town of Lewiston
Map Site 6: Lewiston Landing

American troops left this spot in their invasion of Canada on October 13, 1812 resulting in the Battle of Queenston Heights across the river.

There are no images of Lewiston in 1812 but it was a compact village situated at the base of the Niagara Escarpment. This was the northern end of the portage around Niagara Falls. Lewiston Landing was at the first navigable section of the lower Niagara River. Before the Erie Canal was built, the portage was the only way to get materials through the five great lakes. The portage was a very strategic route that had been controlled by three nations, the French, the British and the Americans. The population of Lewiston at that time numbered about 200 with approximately 20 structures in the village. The people of Lewiston felt relatively secure with Fort Niagara to the north and Fort Gray to the south.

When the armistice ended, Van Rensselaer was determined to invade Canada at Queenston. General Smythe refused to send his troops from Black Rock to Lewiston. Van Rensselaer had about 3100 men of whom 800 were regular army. The attack was planned for the night of October 12, 1813 starting from Lewiston and crossing over to Queenston. Though outnumbering the British by almost 2:1, the American invasion was beset with problems from the beginning. The Niagara River at that point is very swift and treacherous. After crossing the river once, the experienced boatmen abandoned the boats and soldiers with no knowledge of the river currents were put in their place. Several boats drifted down river where they were exposed to artillery fire from Fort George. Those men that did make it across were faced with the task of climbing up a very steep embankment.



© 2013 NCHS & J.Christian Krull