Laura Ingersoll Secord was the young wife of James Secord, a settler in Queenston, Upper Canada. The War of 1812 was very personal to Laura. Like her husband and many others in Upper Canada, Laura had been born in the United States and had relatives across the line. But she was fiercely loyal to the British Crown, and was committed to the defence of the colony.
The story of Laura Secord's famous act of patriotism begins on the evening of June 21, 1813. Several American officers forced their way into the Secord home and ordered Laura to serve them dinner. The food was plentiful, the wine flowed, and as the evening wore on, the officers grew boisterous and carefree, boasting of their plans to crush the remaining British resistance in the area. As Laura quietly washed the dishes, she listened to the voices of the American officers through the thin partition.
"We'll make a surprise move against FitzGibbon at Beaver Dams." It was the voice of Colonel Boerstter. "We will destroy his headquarters and take the whole detachment captive." Laura stood motionless with a warm plate in her hands, realizing that unless Lieutenant FitzGibbon was warned, the entire Niagara peninsula would be lost. She glanced at her husband, who had been wounded six months earlier at the Battle of Queenston Heights and was still barely able to walk. Then, in a tone of quiet determination, Laura told her husband that she was going to take the message to FitzGibbon herself.
At dawn the next morning Laura began her journey dressed in her regular attire of a settler's wife. In some versions of the story, Laura carries a milking pail and leads her cow along the road, as a cover for inquiring American sentries, although there is no hard evidence to support these details. In any...