After an unsuccessful attempt to take over the Niagara Peninsula and rendezvous with the American naval squadron on Lake Ontario, the battered American forces retreated from Lundy’s Lane to Fort Erie. There they immediately started to expand the area of fortification. Upon completion, the American lines consisted of the Fort itself, a gun battery on the river bank, Douglass’Battery and a long fortified line to the south with two
batteries, Fanning’s and Biddle’s. The half mile long line ended on the shore of Lake Erie at Snake Hill with Towson’s battery.
By August 7, 1814, the main British forces occupied the heights approximately 1.6 km/ 1 mile north of the American position. Here they built a series of breastworks and siege batteries for guns, rockets and mortars. The British, greatly encouraged by the capture of two American schooners by the Royal Navy, planned an assault to regain the Fort. On August 15, at 3 a.m, Lt. General Gordon Drummond launched a four-pronged night attack. One column was to take Towson’s Battery on Snake Hill, the second was to take Douglass’ Battery on the East Side of the Old Fort, and a column of Native warriors was to act as a distraction near Biddle’s Battery. A fourth column was to capture the North-East demi-bastion of the Old British Fort. Only the last column was successful and even then for only a short period. The British gained the bastion, turned the artillery around, but then disaster struck. The expense magazine located
directly under the gun platform exploded. The surviving British retreated to their siege line. American losses were less than 100. The British losses numbered 1000, but the siege continued.
Make sure to take a look at “Niagara at War, 1812” by Cosmo Condina!