Pages 1005-1011 | Pages 1012-1022
In the war with Great Britain in 1812 and '13 Michigan Territory bore no inconsiderable part, and as it bordered largely on the Canadian frontier could scarcely do otherwise. Detroit being the principal inhabited place in the Territory, and a military post, then in command of Captain John Whistler, 1st U. S. Infantry, the British troops naturally made it an objective point and also Fort Mackinac, likewise garrisoned by U. S. troops commanded by Lieut. Porter Hanks, U. S. Artillery.
The advance of the British troops on these posts and their surrender are matters of familiar history, and it is not intended in this notice to give any detailed account of these events or the cause which brought them about, farther than to make brief mention of military facts connected with them for the purpose, so far as it is possible, of making a record of the officers who were prominent in that part of the war affecting the Territory of Michigan and of those who took part in the defense and surrender of the posts referred to.
In 1805 President Jefferson appointed Colonel William Hull of Massachusetts Governor of Michigan Territory, making his headquarters at Detroit, with Stanley Griswold of Connecticut as Secretary.
The Governor having been an officer in the American Revolution at once saw the necessity for a military organization in the Territory, and without delay took measures to enroll the militia. His action in the matter is found in the following proceedings taken from an official record made in 1805, and under the dates as therein given.
September 10.—The Governor, as commander-in-chief, directs the following organization:
1st. A regiment of infantry of eight companies from all parts
of the Territory except the District of Erie, to be known as the first
regiment. (The Erie District embraced all south of Huron River, Monroe
1006 APPENDIX. APPOINTMENTS.
October 5.—The militia of the District of Michilimackinac is detached from the First Regiment. It will consist of two companies, and be commanded by one Lieutenant Colonel, commandant.
Captain David Duncan promoted to be Lieutenant Colonel of the corps of the said district. Lieutenant Samuel Abbott promoted to be Captain of the first company, Germaine Pothier commissioned Captain of the second com-
September 29.—Lieutenant Christopher Tuttle, Adjutant First
Regiment, promoted to be Captain in First Regiment in place of James
October 3.—The First Regiment being too extensive for one Adjutant, the Commander-in-Chief has promoted Ensign Jean Baptiste Cicott to be Lieutenant and Second Adjutant of the said regiment.
Ruland appointed Major of the Second Regiment in place of Lewis Bond,
October 9.—The militia of the River St. Clair are detached from the First Regiment. They will form four companies, which will constitute one battalion, to be commanded by one Lieutenant Colonel and one Major.
The First Regiment and the Legionary Corps will form one brigade, which will rank as the First Brigade.
The Second Regiment, the Battalion of the River St. Clair and Lieutenant Colonel Duncan's Corps will form one brigade, which will rank as the Second Brigade.
The First and Second Brigades are hereby formed into one Division. Captain George Cottrell, of the District of Huron,* promoted to be Lieutenant Colonel of the Battalion of the River St. Clair.
Captain Louis Campau, of the District of Huron, promoted to be Major
of the Battalion of the River St. Clair.
Peter E. Visger appointed Ensign in the First Regiment in place of Jean Baptiste Cicott, promoted.
This seems to have completed the organization in the territory. There
may have been many changes in the Military Department, but nothing of
record is found until the publication of the following order:
War with England had for some time been anticipated; meanwhile, Governor Meigs, of Ohio, under instructions of the general government had, with great alacrity, gathered together and disciplined a portion of the militia of that State, consisting of three regiments. The 1st from the Sciota Valley, commanded by Colonel Duncan McArthur; the 2nd from Cincinnati, commanded by Colonel James Findlay; and the 3d from the Muskingum Valley, commanded by Colonel Lewis Cass. The other field officers were Majors James Denney and. William A. Trimble, of the 1st; Thomas Moore and Thomas B. Van Horne, of the 2nd and of the 3d, Robert Morrison and. J. R. Munson. On May 25th the Governor placed these regiments under the command of General Hull, who had been appointed a Brigadier General in the U. S. Army on April 8th, when a movement commenced up the Miami Valley.
This force numbered. about 1,200 infantry, with considerable cavalry. Findlay's regiment joined. those of McArthur and. Cass at Urbana, while Lieutenant Colonel James Miller, with the 4th U. S. Infantry, which had been in the engagement at Tippecanoe, also joined the command at the same place.
On the 18th of June following the expected declaration of war was made by Congress. On the 24th Hull received a dispatch from the War Department directing him to hasten with his troops to Detroit, and there await further orders. On the 30th, after a tedious and fatiguing march, much of it over unbroken roads, cut through woods and swamps, Hull, with his army, reached the rapids of the Maumee, a few miles above, where the city of Toledo now is. On July 1st he sent forward by a vessel for Detroit some of his invalids, with all his baggage, entrenching tools, hospital stores, and a trunk contain-
ing all his instructions and. military papers, including muster rolls of his whole army. A smaller vessel was sent up at the same time. The larger one took the main channel of the Detroit River, between Malden and Bois Blanc Island, and was there captured. The other followed the American channel west of Grosse Isle and. reached Detroit without interruption. When near the River Raisin a dispatch reached him on July 2nd, informing him of the declaration of war.
Pushing on with all haste to Detroit, reaching there on the evening of the 2d, where he rested his weary troops and awaited orders, as directed in his instructions. In the meantime the British authorities in Canada had received earlier intelligence of the declaration of war, and acting accordingly had concentrated a force at Malden, and were constructing works at that point and Sandwich, some of their troops taking position on the road at the bridge, on the Canard River, five miles above Malden.
On arriving at Detroit Hull's army became impatient for action, clamoring to be led into Canada to drive off the "Fort Builders" and attack Malden. On July 9th Hull received orders giving him full authority to commence offensive operations, and on the evening of the 11th, with about 1,600 men, including a battery of six pounders, in command of Captain Samuel Dyson, U. S. A., moved in boats across the river to Sandwich, the enemy abandoning their position at that point and falling back on Malden. Hull there issued an address to the people, but made no further demonstrations individually, which to some extent resulted in placing him in an unfavorable light with his officers.
In the meantime Colonels McArthur and Cass, with others, made several reconnoissances in force without opposition, which fully demonstrated the weak condition of the military force in that part of Canada. McArthur pushing up the Thames as far as the Moravian towns above Chatham, entered upon a foraging expedition and returned with considerable supplies, while Captain Joseph Watson, of the Michigan militia, at one time Secretary to the Governor and Judges of the Territory, and Register of Detroit, with a small cavalry force raided into Canada as far as Westminster. Cass moved down toward the Canard river with a detachment of 50 regulars and 250 volunteers in command of Colonel Miller, and on coming near the bridge across that stream discovered that it was defended with cannon by a force of British troops, which he attacked and drove from their position, falling back on their works at Malden, when darkness set in, rendering pursuit impracticable at that time. A refusal of Hull to follow up this advantage chagrined Cass so much that he became very much enraged and did not fail to criticise unfavorably his commander in the most severe terms.
Hull's action on that occasion was made one of the charges of which he was found guilty by the court martial before which he was finally tried. It was fully established by competent authorities that had the advance on Malden been followed up at that time its capture would have been easily accomplished, as the garrison were at the time actually preparing to evacuate the place, in expectation of an attack which they had not sufficient force to resist. The possession of that point was, in the estimation of the officers then with Hull of the utmost importance, as it would have given the Americans command of the Detroit river and its approaches, and with their batteries could have prevented the enemy's vessels from entering or navigating the stream, and most likely would have broken up the Indian headquarters, which in all probability would have deterred the Indians along the American side of the river from
going over to that point and taking side with the British, which they did not in any force until the early part of August, and then, it is said, reluctantly, if not under compulsion.
The news of the war reached the British post at the island of St. Joseph's, in St. Mary's river, about the middle of July, which was garrisoned by a company of regulars numbering 46 officers and men in command of Captain Chas. Roberts. On the 16th of July this force embarked for Mackinac on board the armed brig Caledonia, with 250 agents and employees of the Northwest Company and traders, together with 500 Indians. The white Canadians were led by John Johnston, Crawford, Pothier, Ermatinger, La Croix, Rolette, Franks, Livingston, and others, all traders. They were joined on the passage by from 80 to 100, and on their arrival at Mackinac about 70 allies were added to the force.
The garrison of Mackinac consisted of 57 officers and men, commanded by Lieutenant Porter Hanks of the regular army. The British landed in the night on the beach at what has been known ever since as the "British Landing," which is on the side of the island reaching farthest from the fort. Hanks, on the 16th, having heard a rumor of expected trouble with the Indians on St. Joseph's Island, arranged with Captain Michael Dousman of the militia, a resident of Mackinac, to watch the movements of the Indians at that island. Dousman started out by water on this duty, embarking on the evening of the night on which the British lauded, and was captured when only about fifteen miles out by the approaching force, and was compelled to give his parole with the promise to assemble the people of Mackinac on the west side of the island, to put them under the protection of the British guard, and to warn them against going to the fort, and at the same time to inform them that if any resistance was made by the garrison there would be an indiscriminate massacre of the whole population. He also agreed not to inform the commander of anything occurring. He succeeded in collecting the people, but did not in keeping secret the movements of the enemy, as Hanks had been informed through another source, and at once prepared for defense. In the meantime the British had taken possession of Fort Holmes, an elevated and very strong point which with artillery would completely command the whole island and approaches, rendering the fort in which the troops were utterly indefensible and resistance useless.
Hanks was completely surprised, the appearance of the British force being the first notice he had received that war was going on. Seeing at once that his position was untenable, and ascertaining the overwhelming force against him, he concluded to surrender, but did not do so until honorable terms had been obtained, coupled with the unanimous opinion of both garrison and people that it was the only course left for him to pursue, and in accordance with the terms of capitulation the prisoners marched out of the fort with the usual honors of war and were paroled.
Lieutenant Hanks, with his officers, reached Detroit on the 29th of July. His report to Hull of the results at Mackinac, which he heard for the first time, seemed to disturb him and gave him apparent alarm, as on that day he called for reinforcements.
Colonel Proctor, of the British Army, reached Malden a day or two before Hanks's arrival at Detroit, coming by way of Lake Erie, but bringing no additional force with him, yet the news from Mackinac strengthened the cause of the enemy, and as a result the Brownstown Indians under Walk-in-the-Water were induced to submit or adhere to the British.
Sometime after the movement of the Ohio troops on Detroit, two companies of volunteers were organized in that State, one at Chillicothe, under Captain Henry Brush, with 69 officers and men, the other officers being William Beach, Lieutenant, and John Stockton, Ensign. The other company was raised at Sandusky by Captain Thomas Rowland; this company joined Captain Brush, on the Maumee, August 1st, when a battalion was formed with Brush as commander. This command, with supplies for Hull's army, arrived at the Raisin on the 9th, where Brush ascertained that a British force was posted at Brownstown, cutting off all communication with Detroit, and having learned that this force was largely superior in point of numbers he concluded to await further developments.
Hull having received information that Brush was on his way from Ohio to Detroit with supplies, on August 4th detached Major Van Horne, with about 150 riflemen of Findlay's regiment, with some militiamen men to meet him and act as an escort and guard. Meantime information having reached Proctor of the movement he sent across the river a force of soldiers and about 300 Indians, intercepting him near Monguagon, where Van Horn made a spirited and gallant attack, but was repulsed and defeated, being compelled to return to Detroit, reaching there on the evening of the 5th, having lost in the affair 18 killed; 12 wounded, and about 70 missing, most of whom returned to camp. The only officers mentioned as being with him in this engagement, although there must have been others, are Captains Gilchrist, Rostan Lewis, Bostler (wounded), Lucar and McCullock (killed).
The Monguagon affair was also made a charge against Hull, of which he was found guilty, for failing to keep his communications open, in sending out Van Horne with insufficient force.
The answer of Hull to the urgent demands of his officers for an
immediate attack on Malden, was what he considered the deficient
condition of his artillery, a difficulty which finally seems to have
been overcome, for on the 6th of August he ordered an advance on Malden,
and on the 7th everything was in readiness, but information having been
received from Generals Porter and Hall, then on the Niagara frontier,
that a British force had moved westward from that quarter, Hull, in face
of the remonstrances of his officers, ordered his army to the American
side of the river, which was accomplished after dark on the 8th, leaving
only a small detachment of about 150 or 200 men in a stockade on the
bank of the river, where they remained only two or three days.
On August 9th the military post of Fort Dearborn, Chicago, had by Hull been ordered abandoned, and the garrison of regulars in command of Captain Nathan Heald, 1st U. S. Infantry, directed to proceed overland to Detroit, Chicago being at the time surrounded by Indians. The movement was made in the face of the strongest appeal of the citizens for protection, and. against their united and repeated protests, all of which Heald. disregarded under the plea of obedience to the orders of his superior officers, but did not move for several days, increasing thereby the danger. On the 15th, at 9 o'clock in the morning, the garrison marched from Fort Dearborn, and in great pomp, with
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Pages 1005-1011 | Pages 1012-1022