The War of 1812 Magazine
Issue 6: April 2007
Documents, Artefacts and Imagery
A Painting by George Jones, RA. of
the Rescue of Captain John Wilson after the
During a recent battlefield tour in the
The battle of Chippawa was the first major engagement between Major-General Jacob Brown’s Left Division of the United States Army and the Right Division of Upper Canada led by Major-General Phineas Riall. Both commanders committed a brigade onto the plain of Chippawa during the afternoon of 5 July 1814. The three British units included the 1/1st Foot, 1/8th Foot and 100th Foot. The 1st Foot formed the centre of the British line and its pre-battle reported strength was 500 all ranks under Lt Col John Gordon. Heavily engaged during the battle, the Royals suffered one officer and 77 other ranks killed and eight officers and 144 other ranks wounded. Two officers were taken prisoner and 77 solders were reported as missing.
Captain John Morillyon Wilson was one of the two
severely wounded officers that were taken prisoner. He had been
wounded seven times and left for dead on the battlefield. A native
armed with a knife then attacked him, but
The image accompanying this article is an oil painting
by George Jones, RA (1786-1869), showing Captain John Wilson being
saved by the native woman after the battle of Chippawa. George
Jones also served in the
Jones never visited the site of the battle of Chippawa and probably based his painting on material provided from the Royal Scots. He also injected a healthy dose of artistic licence as his painting depicts Wilson’s rescue as occurring near the falls, which are actually several miles north of the battlefield. There were several buildings on the battlefield, but no church. Jones likely wanted to appeal to what his audience expected to see in a painting from the Niagara. One wonders where Captain Wilson eventually found himself after the battle, as the Americans held the field at then end of the day and would probably have collected him quickly. Despite these questions, the painting is an interesting piece of art related to the 1814 Niagara campaign.
The image of the work by George Jones is reproduced here with the permission of the Commanding Officer of the The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment).Notes
more information on this fascinating battle, consult the standard
work by Donald E. Graves. Red Coats & Grey Jackets: The
Sutherland. His Majesty’s Gentlemen: A Directory of British
Regular Army Officers of the War of 1812.
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