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1813
Account of Billy Green the Scout (1794-1877)
on the Battle of Stoney Creek, June 5, 1813

I was the first white child born at Stoney Creek, being born February 4, 1794, and at the time of the Battle of Stoney Creek I was 19 years old, my home being in Stoney Creek up to that time. My father, brothers and sisters lived there also. We heard that the American army were camping down east below the Forty [Forty Mile Creek, now Grimsby, Ontario), so my brother Levi and I went down the road on top of the Mountain about 6 o'clock in the morning on June 5. We got to the Forty and stayed out on the Peak of the Mountain above the Forty until noon, when we espied the troops marching up the road. We stayed there until all the enemy but a few had passed I through the village. Then we yelled like Indians. I tell you those simple fellows did run. Then we ran along the Mountain and took down to the road that the Americans had just passed over. Levi ran across a soldier with his boot off, putting a rag on his foot. The soldier grabbed for his gun, but Levi was too quick for him, hitting him with a stick until he yelled with pain and some of the scouts fired at us. We made our way to the top of the Mountain again. I whooped like an Indian and Levi answered. By this time the settlers came out to the brow of the Mountain to see what was going on. Among them were the Lee brothers who lived near the brow of the Mountain at that time. They went home and the rest of us went to brother Levi's place on the side of the Mountain. When we heard them [the enemy) coming through the village of Stoney Creek, we all went out on the brow of the hill to see them. Some of them espied us and fired at us. One ball struck the bars where Tina, my brother Levi's wife, was sitting holding I Hannah, her oldest child, on her arm. We all went back to the Mountain to one of Jim Stoney's trapping huts. Tina went to the house with Hannah, her child. Not long after, two American officers came up to the house and asked her if she had seen any Indians around there. She said there was a band of Indians on the Mountain. The officers left, and Tina came out to where we were hiding and whistled. I answered her and told them I would go down to Isaac Corman's. When I got there I whistled and out came Keziah, my sister [Corman's wife). I asked her where Isaac was, and she said the enemy had taken him prisoner and taken the trail to the beach.

I asked her how she knew. She said Alf had followed them to the swamp. [Alf was their oldest son.) I asked, "Where is Alf?" and she said he was in the cellar with Becky and Jane, his two sisters. I went down to the cellar and Alf told me where to go to find his father. I started and ran; every now and then I would whistle until I got across the creek. When I heard Isaac's hoot like an owl, I thought the enemy had him there, but he was coming back alone. I was going to raise an Indian war-whoop to scare them when I saw Isaac coming. I asked him how he got away and he said, "The major and I got a-talking, and he said he was second cousin to General Harrison. I said I was first cousin to General Harrison and came from Kentucky. After talking a little longer a message came for the major; he said, 'I must go; you may go home, Corman.' I said I couldn't get through the lines. 'I will give you the countersign,' and he did."

Isaac gave the countersign to me; I got it and away I came. When I got up the road a ways I forgot it and didn't know what to do; so I pulled my coat over my head and trotted across the road on my feet and hands like a bear. I went up the hill to Levi's house and got Levi's old horse "Tip" and led him along the Mountain side until I could get to the top. Then I rode him away around by the gully, where I dismounted and tied old Tip to the fence and left him there, making my way on foot to Burlington Heights.

When I got there they took me for a spy, and I had to tell them all I knew before they would believe me. It was about 11 o'clock p.m. I explained to Colonel Harvey where and how the American army were encamped near Stoney Creek. He suggested a night attack on the enemy. After Colonel Harvey had a short interview with General Vincent, it was decided to start at once for Stoney Creek, and they commenced to hustle.

We got started about 11.90 p.m. Colonel Harvey asked me if I knew the way, and I said, "Yes, every inch of it." He gave me a corporal's sword and told me to take the lead. Sometimes I would get away ahead and go back to hurry them up. I told them it would be daylight before we got there if we did not hurry. Someone said that would be soon enough to be killed.

We got down the east side of the Red Hill Creek, near William Davis', when three sentries fired at us, and then ran over to the south side of the creek. Then we came on more carefully after that. I espied a sentry leaning against a tree. I told the man behind to shoot him, but Colonel Harvey said, "No, run him through!" and he was dispatched. The next sentry was at the church. He discharged his gun and demanded a pass. I commenced to give him the countersign and walked up to him. I grabbed his gun with one hand and put my sword to him with the other. His old gun had no load in it. He had shot the ramrod away.

Then we could see the camp fires; we cut across and got in Lewis' lane, when the order was given to "Fix flint! Fire!" and we fired three rounds and advanced about one hundred yards. Then we banged away again. There was a rush in our middle flank. Their south flank charged, then came orders for our flank to charge. This is where we lost most of our men. We got bunched right down under them. The centre rank captured two of their guns, then the general order was given to charge and we drove them back. We could hear them scampering. We were ordered to fire and we shot all our powder away. When it commenced to get daylight we could see the enemy running in all directions.

In the flat just across the creek near Lewis' Lane about five hundred American soldiers were encamped in advance of their artillery, which was situated on a hill directly in front of the road that our troops must pass. The five hundred on our left were the first that were discovered excepting those that were taken prisoners in the church. Two thousand of their men were on the hill to the right and about one thousand on the hillside just east of the James Gage house. They were burning James Gage's fence rails for their camp fires.

Major Plenderleath, with thirty men of the 49th, and Major Ogilvie, with the 8th or King's Regiment, charged and captured four field pieces in very gallant style. Generals Chandler and Winder were captured near their cannon. Our General Vincent came in the rear of his army to Stoney Creek that night, and somehow got lost in the bushes and the dark foggy night. He was found in the morning after the battle, down near Van Wagner's. He had lost his hat. Seth White and George Bradshaw found him. We lost about eighty killed and one hundred and forty wounded. Their loss was two hundred killed and two hundred and forty wounded. The settlers held to scare the enemy by giving war-whoops from the top of the hill. After the battle was over we got William Gage's oxen and stoneboat and his son Peter, John Lee, John Yeager, I and several others buried the dead soldiers on a knoll near the road where the enemy had placed their guns and where the road then turned south towards the Gage house; the road then went south of the Gage house and south of the cemetery, also north of Red Hill past William Davis' house. William kept a hotel there at the time, and it was used as a hospital for some of the wounded soldiers after the battle was over. The old Dr. Case homestead, near Hamilton, was also used for the same purpose. John Brady kept hotel at Stoney Creek at the time of the war of 1819, and the Americans refreshed themselves and their horses at his expense and did not leave his premises until they had eaten and drunk all that they could find around his place.

***

Source: "Billy Green, The Scout" by Mabel W. Thompson, Ontario History, October 1952



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