The Americans had assembled a large force of 900 regulars and 2,270 American militia along the Niagara River during September 1812. Major-General Stephen van Rensselaer planned to lead the force across the river into Upper Canada. On the night of 13 October, his regular troops and some militia units crossed the river. By morning, they had scaled Queenston Heights and seized a British artillery position.
A British messenger quickly carried news of the American landing to Major-General Isaac Brock. He gathered a small force of 300 regulars of the 49th Regiment and militia and launched an immediate counterattack on the American force. Brock personally led the doomed charge. Ultimately, a single shot killed Brock, and his troops withdrew in confusion.
British Major-General Roger Sheaffe assumed command and gathered regulars and militia from nearby garrisons. As Sheaffe prepared to attack the American force, Joseph Norton and a band of Mohawk warriors joined him. As the British force advanced, the Mohawks assailed the Americans from nearby woods. Soon, the American ranks were in chaos.
Major-General van Rensselaer ordered the militia on the American side to reinforce their beleaguered comrades on Queenston Heights. But the sounds of battle and the war cries of the Mohawk terrified the American militia, and they refused to cross the river. The Americans on Queenston Heights had no choice but to surrender.
British Major-General Sheaffe took 958 American prisoners including a brigadier-general and five lieutenant-colonels. The immediate threat of an American invasion was over.