At Queenston Heights, he was to command the regular contingent in the initial crossing of the Niagara River from New York State into Ontario. He crossed over the Canadian side of the river once a secure foothold had been established, but his boat crew panicked and returned to the American side of the river, and was absent when the U.S. troops who had crossed were cut off and forced to surrender. He was blamed for the American defeat by Colonel Solomon Van Rensselaer and other officers. Chrystie was accused of cowardice after the incident. Despite this, he was promoted to colonel the following year.