Kentucky Guard participates in Canada’s ‘Battle of Longwoods’

Staff Report

The Kentucky National Guard honor team and Maj. Bill Draper, Kentucky National Guard chaplain, participated in the Battle of Longwoods commemoration in Ontario, Canada Mar. 8. (photo by: Barbara Whelan Upper Thames Military Reenactment Society)

The Kentucky National Guard honor team and Maj. Bill Draper, Kentucky National Guard chaplain, participated in the Battle of Longwoods commemoration in Ontario, Canada Mar. 8. (photo by Barbara Whelan, Upper Thames Military Reenactment Society)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky National Guard sent a group of Soldiers to Canada Mar. 8 to participate in the Commemoration of “The Battle of Longwoods,” which took place during the War of 1812. In that battle, a mounted American raiding party stopped an attempt by British regulars, volunteers from the Canadian militia and Native Americans to intercept them near Wardsville, in present-day Southwest Middlesex, Ontario.

“It was a great honor to support the Battle of Longwoods Bicentennial Commemoration and Funeral Rites for 21 courageous men who died serving their country,” said Maj. Bill Draper, state support Chaplain for the Kentucky National Guard. “The three phase ministry of the United States Army Chaplaincy Corps is to, Nurture the Living, Care for the Wounded, and Honor the Fallen. I know of no greater responsibility than to remember and honor those warriors who fall in battle.”

Draper took an honor guard team with him to Canada, consisting of 1st Lt. Paul Wilkerson, Sgt. Jarred Turner, Sgt. Brandon Tagarook and Spc. David Adams in order to participate in the service.

Catholic Father Mark Sargent, the Diocese of London, Ontario helped to coordinate the support provided by the Kentucky National Guard.

He had this to say:

Father Mark Sargent emcees the DrumHead Funeral Ceremony. This is the first service ever in honour of those killed at Battle Hill on 4 March, 1814. He is flanked by Rev Brian McKay of the Upper Thames Military Reenactment Society and Chaplain Bill Draper from the Kentucky National Guard. (photo by: Barbara Whelan Upper Thames Military Reenactment Society)

Father Mark Sargent Diocese of London, Ontario emcees the DrumHead Funeral Ceremony Mar. 8 during the Battle of Longwoods commemoration in Ontario, Canada. This is the first service ever in honour of those killed at Battle Hill on 4 March, 1814. He is flanked by Rev Brian McKay of the Upper Thames Military Reenactment Society and Chaplain Bill Draper from the Kentucky National Guard. (photo by Barbara Whelan, Upper Thames Military Reenactment Society)

I cannot begin to properly convey the deep gratitude that is owed to you and the members of the Kentucky National Guard who make the extra effort to assist in the commemoration and funeral rites for those who fell at the battle of Longwoods. It is sometimes difficult to understand how the strands of time and circumstance bind us together is acts of faith and remembrance. Given the scope of our recent deployments, the battles of 200 years ago are small by comparison, however for those who made the long march north, this far off place would have been their “great adventure” – for others, their final journey.The Colour Guard, accompanied by Chaplain Bill Draper were outstanding ambassadors of your great State. Their professionalism and attention to detail added to the overall success of the day. In particular the actions of Chaplain Draper and his words of remembrance for the fallen of both sides, his quiet presence and gentle spirit gave meaning to the words of remembrance and helped the several hundred in attendance to see the importance of the event. The entire Colour Guard party demonstrated the very best of the Soldiers code – they, and the many members of your staff who assisted made the extra effort to help twenty-one long forgotten men, rest in peace.Events of 200 years ago seem to still draw our nations closer together. Although we may live on either side of a very large border, our histories and common stories have much in common. It is humbling to see how the sands of time continue to pull us together. I could never have imagined that the burial of these men would have impacted the community in quite the way it did. Time seems to have given us a new filter through which to look at once frightful events and put them in a new light, but to see the many young Soldiers who were on parade knowing that they were no older than the ones being remembered was a visible reminder of how the profession of arms is connected in every generation.Thank you Sir, for your kind assistance and support. The men of Kentucky who crossed the border in 2014 represented the very best of their State, as did their forebears of two centuries ago. It is an honour to have had them as our guests.

The Lake Erie Beacon Community Newspaper covered this event as well. With their permission, you can see the story in its entirety below.

Story By: Andrew Hibbert, published March 14, 2014

The War of 1812 monument is revealed during the Battle of Longwoods Commemoration which took place in Ontario, Canada Mar. 8. (photo by: Barbara Whelan Upper Thames Military Reenactment Society)

The War of 1812 monument is revealed during the Battle of Longwoods Commemoration which took place in Ontario, Canada Mar. 8. (photo by Barbara Whelan, Upper Thames Military Reenactment Society)

As was reported in our February 28th edition the engagement at Twenty Mile Creek on Longwoods Road was a defeat for the British troops and Colonial militia. Their attack up the icy slope to the wellfortified American hilltop position was a total failure and the British withdrew with 52 wounded, leaving 16 dead on the snow-covered slopes. They had been soundly defeated and returned to the British encampment at Delaware. During the battle 5 US soldiers were killed.The US officer Captain Andrew Hunter Holmes led his cold and hungry forces back to Fort Detroit, fearing the British would return with reinforcements.The Battle of Longwoods represented a major turning point in the war in the London District. The British subsequently withdrew from Delaware to Burford, just west of Brantford, turning this part of Upper Canada into a no-man’s land, subject to American raids from Detroit against area farms in search of food and supplies. Settlers in the Thames Valley were constantly robbed and pillaged. Many frightened families abandoned their farms and did not return even when the war ended late in 1814.

On Saturday March 8th both Canadian and American reenactors met at the exact location of the Battle of Longwoods Road to both recreate the battle and to commemorate those who had been killed during the original battle 200 years ago. Several hundred spectators gathered on what is now a paved Longwoods Road (Highway 2) to watch the reenactment and participate in a memorial service Officiated by Canadian Reverend Richard Golden and by a Chaplain from the Kentucky National Guard, Major William Draper.

British troops return from battle

British troops return from battle during the Battle of Longwoods Commemoration which took place in Ontario, Canada Mar. 8. (photo by Barbara Whelan, Upper Thames Military Reenactment Society)

The reenactment started at 2:00 in the afternoon and was followed at 2:45 by the Dedication of the new Memorial Plaque that commemorates the battle and lists the names of those, both American and British soldiers who were killed.Because there had never been a proper military burial of the dead after the battle, an official Drum Head Funeral Service was held for the 21 soldiers who died in the service of their country in the Battle of Longwoods conflict. At 3:00 pm all the reenactors formed up in front of the new memorial to commemorate the lost soldiers.Chaplain Draper had travelled to Canada with a Kentucky National Guard Colour Party to be part of the commemorative service.

Sergeant Turner commented on how cold the weather was when Linda Hibbert said “actually its quite mild, only minus two degrees. I don’t think our friends from Kentucky were impressed with our weather.

Also represented at the Memorial Service on Saturday was the Canadian Armed Forces 31 Combat Engineer Regiment (The Elgins) from St. Thomas. Some of their members were reenactors and wore traditional 1812 uniforms while most of the party wore their modern uniforms to the service. The Elgins have a long history as a combat regiment dating back to the mid 1800’s.

On Tuesday March 4th a one-acre property, that surrounds the original battle site and was owned by the County of Middlesex, was transferred to the Municipality of Southwest Middlesex. This sacred ground, part of the battlefield, was dedicated as a park in memory of those who fought and died at the Battle of the Longwoods.

The battle and following memorial was filmed by Crocodile Productions to be part of a documentary feature.

The British Forces in 1814 Commanded by Captain James Basden included The Royal Scots Light Company, The 89th Regiment of Foot Light, The Western (Caldwell) Rangers, The Kent and Middlesex Militia and The British Indian Department Killed in action were: Capt. D. Johnstone, Lieut. P. Graeme, Sgt. James Savage, John Bunn, Tomas Jones, Abraham Taylor, Wm. Condon, Thomas Murphy, Uriah Trimm, Thom Connors, Wm Shaw, Lawrence Wall, John Hazeldine, James Sheldon, James Hogan and Alex Smith.

The American Forces Commanded by Captain Andrew Hunter Holmes included The 24th U.S. Infantry, The 27th U.S. Infantry, The 28th U.S. Infantry, The Michigan Mounted Infantry and The Michigan Military Calvary. Killed in action were: Philip Beard, Levi Bunnell, Joseph Donahoe, Thomas Watkins and Eri Wooden

 

 

 

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