War of 1812 Cemetery

This cemetery dates back to the winter of 1812-1813 when the American Army then camped in Buffalo moved to Williamsville and built a series of log cabins not far from here for their winter quarters.  The owner of the land on which the cabins were built stipulated that no burials were to be on his property. But a burial place was needed for the soldiers who did not survive the winter. So the burials came here on property owned by the Holland Land Company.

That army moved out in spring 1813 with an assault on York (Toronto), then on to capture Fort George and Fort Erie. In October 1813 Army Surgeon Doctor Mann moved all his patients in western New York to Williamsville and set up a field hospital in those abandoned log cabins. That hospital then added to the burials at this cemetery.

In December 1813 the US Army abandoned Fort George and Fort Erie and retreated across the Niagara river but burned the Village of Newark (Niagara on the Lake)before they left. This led to retaliation by the British and the British capture of Fort Niagara and then the burning of Buffalo, Black Rock, Fort Schlosser (Niagara Falls), Lewiston and Youngstown.

In the spring of 1814 a large American Army was camped at Flint Hill in Buffalo training for another assault into Canada. That assault took place in July 1814 and led to the surrender of Fort Erie and then the battles of Chippewa, Bridgewater (Niagara Falls) and the siege and battle of Fort Erie. These battles produced many casualties and the need for an official general military hospital to be built in the area. That hospital would again be built near here in Williamsville. The hundreds of casualties treated at that hospital from those battles added substantially to the burials here.

After the war ended in early 1815, the 4th Infantry Regiment commanded by Lt. Col. Ranney was left in charge of the hospital and the cemetery. A young Lieutenant in that 4th Infantry, Jacob Norton, writing home to his family wrote this about the cemetery, “The army burying ground at this place when we first came, was in a miserable situation, – Many of the graves were not more than half filled, and they had been dug promiscuously without regard to order, so that it was difficult in some places to distinguish the graves. Lt Col Ranney had them mounded up and clotted with sard, the stumps dug up, a fence built round it, a gate with an arch over the way, upon the arch was inscribed” – “Sacred to the memory of those men who died of wounds received in the memorable fields of Chippewa, Bridgewater and Erie, – They rest in honor and deserve the gratitude of their country”