The 1814 Siege of Fort Erie and Saving Waverly Woods

One of the War of 1812’s Fiercest Battles Was Fought in the Waverly Woods Area – Now Targeted for Urban Development – Where Bodies of Soldiers May Still Be Buried In Unmarked Graves

A Message form Marcie Jacklin, a leading member of  Community Voices of Fort Erie

Posted August 15th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Tonight (this August 15th) I am thinking about the Siege of Fort Erie.

On Sunday August 15th it will be the 207th anniversary of when the British soldiers along with Swiss and others attempted an attack on the American soldiers who held Fort Erie at that time.

A recent re-enactment in Fort Erie, Ontario, on the lawns outside Old Fort Erie near Waverly Woods, of one of the War of 1812’s bloodier battles. file photo, Niagara Parks Commission

It was a three-prong attack and one of the columns led by Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fischer approached Towson’s Battery at Snake Hill during the night from the west marching through Waverly Woods/Erie Beach.

The men walked a long distance in the dark and rain and the troops had disarmed their guns so as to be silent on their approach. Unfortunately, the American knew they were coming, and the battle was horrific. Many lives were lost.

Inside Waverly Woods – under threat of urban development – in Fort Erie, Ontario. Could their be bodies from a War of 1812 battle in and around this forest, buried at this site?

It has been alleged by many who gave personal testimonies in the past and present but wish to remain anonymous, that bodies have been kept secret or thrown into the garbage. There was an attempted cover-up of the discovery of 28 bodies which were exhumed with great respect in 1987, but only once the police were notified.

This was the bloodiest battle fought on Canadian soil in our history and has never been properly respected and the men who fought or fell in this battle have never been honoured.

 There are many reasons why I suppose – the huge loss by General Drummond, the barrier to growth and development. However, in my heart I feel it is wrong not to acknowledge the sacrifice the soldiers made that day. Most other significant battles in Canadian history have been respected. 

If you have or know of anyone who has artifacts from the Waverly Woods/Erie Beach area and would like to donate them to a museum, arrangements can be made. Please email

In the late 1980s, the remains of 28 U.S. soldiers from the War of 1812 were discovered during an archeological dig on grounds very near Waverly Woods. Here are some of the flag-draped coffins of remains found at site called Snake Hill, before they were repatriated to a military cemetery in the United States.


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One response to “The 1814 Siege of Fort Erie and Saving Waverly Woods

  1. The site where the American bodies were exhumed was proved to be the location of an American field hospital. Wounded Americans could be taken to Buffalo just across the river. The British were far from any place where they could take their wounded and the dead were buried where they fell as was the practice of the day. Where are they? It is very possible that they lie in the area of Waverly Woods according to reports going as far back as the time of the war itself.

    The American soldiers’ remains were repatriated with enormous respect, as should be done. At the time, US military officials at the highest levels went out of their way to support the exhumation and repatriation in every way that they could. They said they NEVER leave their soldiers behind no matter how long ago it had been.

    We must respect the dead soldiers who fought for us as well. It would be a travesty to desecrate even more of the bodies of those young men who fought for what would eventually become Canada. It was sinful (not to mention a crime) to throw bodies into the garbage, have them cemented under a garage floor or skulls taken home as souvenirs. This is all documented in “Death at Snake Hill – Secrets of a War of 1812 Cemetery”, Litt, Williamson, Whitehorne. A very interesting read! How can we with a clear conscience repeat such heinous acts?

    Overseas there are monuments and military cemeteries that honor Canadian soldiers. in my opinion this should be a national historic site. We must respect the dead, particularly those who gave their lives so our infant country could be born. How many Fort Erie residents, let alone Canadians in general, are even aware of this sacred place?

    There is also a You Tube video about the exhumation and repatriation.


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