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.
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.