Location: N 44° 43.274 W 075° 29.246 On the St. Lawrence River, approximately 2 km. east of Prescott.
The Rebellion of 1837 in Upper
Canada happened because of the political, religious, economic and social
problems which had arisen with the administration of a control group
called the Family Compact. The time was referred to as the "Dirty
With the defeat of the rebels, many rebel leaders such
as William Lyon Mackenzie, escaped to the United States and found
support for their goal of an independent, democratic and republican
A secret para-military Hunter (or Patriot) Lodge was
formed, unknown to the U.S. Government. This Lodge was a band of
mis-guided band of idealists who were convinced that the Mackenzie and
Papineau Rebellions of the previous year had failed because the Canadian
population had not organized themselves properly against the
imperialistic British and their toadies in the Family Compact and
Chateau Clique. The Hunters were convinced that many would flock to
them and that Canada would become a sister republic of the United
States. The New York Hunters, led by "General" John Ward Birge,
assembled at the Lake Ontario port of Sacket's Harbour for an attack on
Fort Wellington, Prescott. The British had been alerted to their
activities and the reconstruction of Fort Wellington was authorized.
November 12th, two schooners approached Prescott with the Americans.
They attempted to land at Prescott Wharf. However, the customs
inspector, Alpheus Jones, sounded the alarm. The two schooners took off
and one ran aground at Windmill Point. With the defection of General
Birge who claimed sickness and retired to the American shore with 100
men, command now fell to Nils Von Schoultz, a Swedish-Pole, 31 years of
age. He envisaged a quick victory but he would soon find out
differently for he had stumbled into a hotbed of Loyalism. He could not
have found a more unfriendly population.
Schoultz thought the
mill, with its height of 80 feet, would be a great place for sniper
activity and with its thick stone walls, it would be a veritable
A chief instigator along the St. Lawrence and Captain
of one of the invading boats was Bill Johnston, a notorious River Pirate
and smuggler who had burned the British steamboat, Sir Robert Peel.
However, Captain Bill and 30 others went back to Ogdensburg.
Two hundred invaders took refuge in the mill and in the surrounding
stone houses. The mill was a terribly uncomfortable place and they ran
out of supplies. The escape routes and supply routes on the river side
were blocked by British gun boats and a land attack was launched against
them by British regulars and militia on November 13th.
first outside help was from Lt. Col. Gowan and his two companies of
"Royal Borderers" from Brockville, who appeared about noon.
Eventually, 2000 regulars and militia were amassed under the command of
Colonel Young . They launched a direct frontal assault on the American
position but were beaten back after sustaining heavy casualties,
especially from the sharp shooters Von Schultz had placed in the high
windmill tower. Von Schoultz and his men were finally pushed back under
relentless pressure from the British forces on land. After 4 days of
fighting, running short of food and water, with no medical supplies and
stunned by the hospitality of the population, the invaders were
compelled to surrender on the evening of November 16th.
were taken to Kingston where a lawyer, John A. Mac Donald, was counsel
to them. Von Schoultz was hanged at Fort Henry. The British captured
159 prisoners of whom 11 were executed, 3 died of wounds and 60 were
convicted and sent to Australia. The remainder who were mere boys, only
15 to 18 years of age, were given their release papers by John
MacDonald and sent home to the United States.
In all, 48 men were killed and 89 wounded in a vicious battle that helped pave the way to Confederation.
This mill was converted into a lighthouse in the 1870's.