History 3813 - Ziedenberg - Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine
Attack on St. Charles
Lord Charles Beauclerk (1813-1842)
1840, 19th century
Ink and watercolour on paper - Lithography
17.3 x 26.6 cm
Gift of Mr. Louis Mulligan
© McCord Museum
Keywords: event (534) , History (944) , Print (10661)
Frustrated by their inability to obtain greater recognition or power in the colonial government, the Patriotes became increasingly radical in their message and action. By 1837, they took a violent turn, instigating the Rebellions of 1837. It was at this point that Lafontaine distanced himself from the militant party and established his propensity for moderate politics that would be characteristic of his career. Empowerment of the colonial peoples would be far more effectively attained through working with the system, not against it. Lafontaine admired the British constitutional principles and felt that their full implementation in the colony would be the solution to the plight of, not only the marginalized French Canadiens, but the entirety of Canadian colonists.
Jacques Monet, "LA FONTAINE, Sir LOUIS-HIPPOLYTE," Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?Biold=38663
P.A. Buckner, "Rebellions of 1837," The Canadian Encyclopedia, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006708.
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Keys to History
Although 800 patriotes had beaten back British troops at St. Denis, British forces, as is evident from this print, had the advantage in terms of firepower. On November 25 at St. Charles, British forces defeated the patriotes, forcing many of their leaders into exile in the United States.
Source : The Aftermath of the Rebellions [Web tour], by Brian J. Young, McGill University (see Links)
The imbalance between British and patriote forces gave well-armed troops a great advantage. The patriotes were badly armed and suffered from inexperienced military leadership.
St. Charles is located some 10 kilometres from St. Denis. Wetherall arrived there after a march along the Richelieu from Chambly, while other British troops were marching along the river from Sorel. The patriotes were ultimately caught in a pincer.
The battle broke out on November 25, 1837 and involved fierce hand-to-hand fighting. Forty patriotes were killed, compared with three deaths among the British troops.
Aside from the imbalance of forces, the patriotes suffered from a shortage of arms and a lack of skilled military leadership. Many of their leaders, including Papineau, went into exile in the United States after the battle.