The failure of William Lyon McKenzie, Louis Joseph Papineau, and other like-minded reformers to bring about meaningful change in the political, economic, and social structure of Upper and Lower Canada in 1837 did not end the greater possibility of rebellion, and in fact a greater threat came in 1838, with widespread filibustering along the American border. On 11 November 1838, a force of about 400 men set out from New York State for Prescott, Upper Canada, its goal being the capture of Fort Wellington and the severance of communications between Upper and Lower Canada. The force, led by Nils von Schoultz, a true character in every sense of the word, landed and took up positions in a windmill and six stone house at the village of New Jerusalem, where they intended to hold out until reinforcements arrived from Ogdensburg, New York, and from Upper Canada itself. The reinforcements never arrived and the ‘sympathizers’ were left to fight a strong force of British regulars and militia.

Contemporary accounts of the Battle of Windmill are difficult to find, and are often limited in scope. Several brief accounts have been reprinted in J.A. Morris, Prescott 1810–1967 (1967), and accounts of the conflict may also be found in contemporary issues of the Kingston Chronicle and Gazette. However, the information remains somewhat cursory and limited in colour and detail. The letter reprinted below was written on 8 December 1838, the very day Nils von Schoultz was executed, by an officer of the 93rd Highland Regiment of Foot who had taken an active part in the conflict. The letter’s author, Lieutenant Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw, was the eldest son of one of southern Scotland’s prominent landed families.