Eamonn O'Keeffe


Analysis of the newly discovered general court martial of Canadian Fencibles Lieutenant John de Hertel offers a remarkable glimpse into the workings of War of 1812-era military justice. After exploring the backgrounds of the principal actors, this article employs witness testimony to vividly reconstruct the fateful altercation between Lieutenants Peach and de Hertel on 22 May 1815 at Fort York in modernday Toronto. Subsequent attempts at conciliation, the trial itself, and de Hertel’s vitriolic defence are examined in detail, followed by concluding reflections on the insight gained through study of this affair and the potential of courts martial as historical sources on the Napoleonic British Army.